Thursday, August 27, 2009

Maylee's Garden

I am always thrilled to help promote a great craftsperson, especially when I am so familiar with their product. But when a friendship blooms as I do business with someone, it makes it all the more enjoyable to get to know them even better, and let others know what a gem I found!
I met Libby Goldsmith through ArtFire and Etsy, now we're FaceBook friends and we often trade products, as the fit just works. I LOVE her laundry and body soaps and she loves my KaBoogie shoes!

How about you tell us a bit about yourself, how did you come to your craft?

Hi! My name is Libby, I have three children, two boys and a girl ages 16, 11, and 22 months...yes that is a long time between the last two LOL. My daughter was a home water birth and the most glorious experience of my life. It was as perfect as a birth can possibly be. The highlight of my life for sure. I live in Louisville Kentucky with my husband of 7 years who is originally from Malaysia. I used to work in the nursing field before I became disabled with Fibromyalgia and Arthritis. I met my husband at a nursing home I worked at. We been together ever since. I am a *( columnist in the Marketing Department for and I am the leader of the Bluegrass Etsy Street Team. (

I received your laundry soap in a trade, and was so blown away by the incredible scent in my whole bathroom when I opened my washing machine! The basil and cloves is my favorite so far, how do you come up with these awesome combinations?
A lot of times, I open up the essential oil bottles, and put a couple of them together and sniff. If I like it it goes in the soap, if not I figure out what I can put with it to make it good...I get a lot of my custom blends this way.
What sets your product apart from your competition?
Good question! A few things that sets me apart is the amount of time I take with my soap, my line of "pure" soaps scented with essential oils, and the recipe I have formulated. My soapmaking process is the hot process method which means I cook all the lye out of the soap so a bar of soap I made this morning is ready to use tonight. My recipe has a lot of more expensive oils in it that have moisturizing properties. I also add unrefined shea butter to the soap as I am hand mixing in the scent. So the shea stays intact and is not damaged by heat, the scent is also not changed from the heat either. The way I make my soap it ends up being like play-doh. This is how I am able to get the cool spiral soap. I roll it up like a jelly roll! My laundry soap is very good stuff as you know. What sets me apart from the competition in this area is the amount of fragrances I have available in laundry soap.
How long have you been making soaps and sewing your lovely skirts?
I started sewing in 2005, and discovered I could make clothing REALLY well. When I saw how impressed my mother was with my skill, I thought I may be on to something here! I started selling my handmade clothes for plus size women on Ebay and then went to Etsy in 2006. I have had a lot of fun sewing for my friends and customers. I truly enjoy making plus size ladies feel beautiful because they ARE! I started making soap as a hobby in 2006, and after so many rave reviews from friends, opened up Maylee's Garden on Etsy in May 2008. I got into making soap at first for the thrill of playing with a caustic substance, and the desire to make a pure and safe bath soap for my family. After reading about all the chemicals in commercial bath soap I got a little scared. This site is a great reference to look up all stuff in your bath soap I wanted a safe alternative for us. I really never dreamed it would end up being a nice little business for me. I just wanted to save some money and avoid skin cancer! I feel blessed to have been making these products before Maylee was born. She has always used my good soap made with love. I always used the lavender essential oil scented soap on her for her bath. Put her right to sleep every time.
What are your major promotional avenues?
I love to promote through StumbleUpon a lot recently. I have seen a lot of success from my efforts there, and I continue to use it every day to help promote everything I do. I also twitter and facebook is fun too, I can be found on Plurk daily as well. I have also read up a lot on SEO. Its VERY important for sellers to know whats up with this and how it works. I think really hard about titles and tags or keywords, and the first few sentences of a listing description. This is what google picks up...if your selling on Artfire that is...not to slam Etsy but you guys know the deal with them and SEO LOL Do you feel they are effective? Yep! I have google analytics proving Stumbleupon is doing good as far as hits on my blog and my Marketing articles. I use the "stats" feature on Artfire to see that twitter and facebook is working. The SEO strategy is working well. I get most of my Artfire traffic from Google, that's what I want to see!
How similar to the soap making process is the process for making your laundry soap?
They are one and the same. The only difference is with the laundry soap I don't add shea butter to the soap and I don't scent it till it is ordered,That way the scent is stronger, and you will actually smell it in your laundry since its freshly prepared when I ship your order. 7. What websites do you sell on? Etsy and Artfire. I am loving my Artfire Studio. ALL my stock is listed on Artfire where my Etsy shop has mostly laundry soap listings as that is what sells the most over there.

What is the difference between "essential oils" and "fragrance oils"?
Great question and I am sooo glad you asked! Essential oils are the pure extracts from the plant itself, they are also quite pricey in regards to fragrance oils which are man made. One note about essential oils is any soap containing fragrance oils should be used with caution if your pregnant cause some oils could cause a miscarriage, same with herbs. Do your homework and find out which herbs and oils are a no-no in pregnancy and avoid those.For the rest of us they are safe and pure with no weird chemicals since they come from nature. Fragrance oils are made in a lab with scent chemicals. Some of these oils can contain "bad" things just like in commercial bath and body products. Lately there have been a lot of suppliers selling Pthalate free oils, and that is all I buy for my soaps. Pthalates are bad news so are parabens. There are neither of these in my soaps. However I do not know the full composition of the fragrance oils so I cant say they are 100% safe and pure and still be able to sleep well at night. In my opinion the health risk of a handmade soap with a fragrance oil is a LOT less than a commercial soap containing them. Some people also have allergies to the fragrance oils too. So that's something to consider before making your purchase from a handmade soap seller. I carry fragrance oil scented soaps because I love all the fun scents that you just cant get with essential oils. I use them on my baby as well. But each person is different. As a buyer you make the call on that issue. Should people with sensitive skin or other issues choose one over the other? If you have sensitive skin I would recommend trying an essential oil scented soap first. I have had family members with terribly sensitive skin use my fragrance oil scented soaps with NO problems at all. I always feel like sensitive skin is just sensitive to the massive amounts of harmful chemicals in commercial soaps. If it says its natural and its sitting on a shelf in your local big box store, trust me its NOT natural one bit! Read labels!
Explain why your soaps are safe for septic systems, and powdered laundry detergents aren't?
No surfactants, nothing weird in it to throw off the chemical balance a septic system requires to stay in working order. Soap is pretty natural, so it has no effect on local rivers and streams. The PH of soap is also fairly neutral and close to our skin's PH, so its easy on your skin and the environment too. Fish don't grow legs if they are exposed to soap (smiles). Commercial laundry soaps are generally Ok for septic systems, but not for the environment. There are so many different components to a commercial laundry soap, there are fabric brighteners, chemicals to break down dirt and oils, chemicals to make bubbles, plus a lot of laundry detergent is made from petrol and petrol is something that should'nt be dumped into rivers and streams. You don't want oil in your water supply for sure.
Do you sell in retail stores as well as online?
As of now, no. However this may change in the future!
Any advice for successful online selling?
Make your shop look professional, take awesome pictures of your products, write a good description for your item, study SEO and what it means for you, and choose your tags and keywords well. Promoting is a big part of it too. If your a new shop I would recommend spending an hour a day promoting yourself, getting active in Etsy or Artfire forums and just getting your name "out there" Once you are established and have a good customer base, you wont have to promote so hard. Maybe an hour a week will be good. Its hard work at first but it is so worth it when you can kick back and watch the sales roll in and spend more time on what really matters, crafting!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Two things...

If you haven't seen it on twitter, check out this KaBoogie shoe giveaway going on now!

AND...come read my guest post on where I bare my soul on juggling and surfing. While raising 6 kids, I decided to reveal my super secret mom type advice!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Winding Down

Jeepers crows, man, summer fell on top of the cold, ugly spring like a big, sweaty, drooling St. Bernard, and just as soon it'll be bounding off to smother someone else. Meanwhile, it seems like there's a mad rush to fit in our quota of amusements before their first year in school starts. Oh, yes, this is PROOF that homeschoolers definitely have it made. When they're talking about the "freedom" associated with it, this is one reason why!

If you have kids in a large age range, you know how hard it is to amuse them all in the same places. The little kids can amuse themselves almost anywhere, as long as there's water or sand. This place we went to, Breezy Picnic Water Slides, in Douglas, MA seems to suit all of our needs. Hubby took a well deserved day off, and since #1 son was at encampment and we didn't have to secure a friend for him to stomp around with, it was an easy day.

The entire park is fenced in. It's not a large park, so you can pretty much relax, there's only one gate out. Finding your wandering 5 yr old is short work, especially since they can find you just as easily. There's plenty of picnic tables, the large grassy area is mostly under the shade of many large shade trees, and you can actually see most of the park from your table. Super family fun.
Some complain that it's an over priced park. You be the judge. It's $17 for a water slide bracelet, $6 or 7 for a park pass (no slides). I priced up Water Country, and it's $33 or so to get in. So, if you're a parent dragging around a 2 year old who can only play in the short waterscapes, you still pay. Breezy Picnic has only 3 slides, but the wait isn't nearly as long as one of those large park tube rides. Just sayin...

What I like the most, is that it's an old timey-feeling park without the strip mined landscape, you can sit under a tree, the crowds are actually bearable, and though the price seems steep, compared to the 1 1/2 hr away-double-the-price alternative, it's doable. The one huge problem with this park. If you fall at the top of your first slide ride, and dislocate your shoulder, having to leave the park, don't even bother asking for a pass to get in another time. Not even if there's a hurricane. Not ever. They're completely inflexible!

I'm sure you're all wrapping up summer activities, rejoicing in the coming of school. I'm mixed about it. I want my kids to have this school experience they wanted. I want to spend more time with my two youngest, and I want to give my KaBoogie biz more focused attention. However, I think this adjustment period will be harder on me than on them! Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How Much is Too Much?

Etsy, Artfire, 1000 Markets, SilkFair, IndiePublic....I'm getting dizzy. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr...all the places (plus SO many more) we can sell or promote our craft. Do we help ourselves by using as many of them as we can or does this hurt, taking away from time best utilized elsewhere?

I'd love to hear of your most efficient combinations of promotional sites, social networking sites, and sales venues. So far I think I am doing too much promoting in too many places, having to maintain pages on so many sites that I forget to update some of them! What's your winning combo? Where do you best spend your precious time promoting? I'd love to know!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New at KaBoogie

I've been cranking out boogie shoes for my next show, it's the Milford Oyster Festival in Milford, CT on August 15th. If anyone from the area is looking for a fun art festival/cultural festival to go to, this one's been around for over 30 years. Come visit KaBoogie and have some fun!

These are some of the items I've been working on during all the rainy days we've been having. Seems like summer has finally come to CT, so I hope to see some of my CT etsy friends!

This first pair isn't listed yet, but will be in my etsy shop soon...