Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Holiday update

It's been a while. Here's what's been happening with Pepo Park.
We're in 2 stores in Kirkland (Herban Wellness and uBRDO) and 1 brewery (Black Raven Brewing). At uBRDO and Black Raven, we're selling custom products: Lips Extreme lip balm and beer-inspired soaps, respectively.

We've been in 6 shows so far, with 2 to go. They've all been great.
There were 2 trunk/house shows, the first Holiday EtsyRAIN show, Shoreline Holiday Show, Phinney Ridge Winter Fair and the Kirkland Holiday show.
The EtsyRAIN show led to Pepo Park being carried in a 3rd store! Black Door Studio is carrying dog soap and salve. You can read all about it, and see a lovely photo, here.

What's left:
Dec. 11 - Christmas Brewtique, 5 pm, Naked City Taphouse
Dec. 19 - Holiday Sale on Queen Anne, 10-2
Check out the Pepo Park site for maps, etc.

If you can't make it to a show, you can order online. I can get stuff to you by Christmas if you order by Dec. 16.

Thanks to everyone for your support so far this holiday season. It's been a great one!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Three weeks down...

Three weeks down. In that time, I've made over 14 batches of soap. That is a lot of soap and storage is becoming an issue. :) But, the house smells so good!

Still to do to prep for the holiday sales:
  • make lip balm
  • make bath salts
  • make bath bombs
  • make salve
  • package and label all of it
I think it's doable. And, it's fun!

While I manufacture products, Defined By Eye is working on our new Web site. It's a vast improvement over the current site - really attractive design. It should launch in early December. Stay in the know and get special offers by becoming our fan on Facebook.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Taste it!

People often smell my soap and say, "It smells good enough to eat." Others see it from a distance and wonder if it's cheese. I say, "Smells better, tastes worse." But, I've never tasted my own soap. I'm just going on my childhood experience(s) of having my mouth washed out with soap when I say it tastes worse.

This week, I was presented with a bar of my soap that had a wet film on it. There are many reasons this could happen and my mind jumped to the worst: Failed batch! Leaking essential oil! Leaking lye!!! Poison!!!!!

If I'd been calm, I would have rememberd that the rest of the batch is fine so this must have been a storage issue. But, I could easily test to see if it was essential oil. Just wipe off the wet film and smell it. It didn't smell. Phew. But, did that mean it was lye?!?!?!

In soapmaking, there is a thing called "the zap test". It is used to test if your soap is lye heavy or leaking lye. You touch your tongue to the soap and if you get a "zap" it's lye and that's bad. Ew. I had never tried this. I have never licked a battery, why would I voluntarily lick soap? But, on this day, I had to figure out what was going on, so I licked the film that was on my hand. Ew. Very soap. No lye. The film was plain water from the air, regular old condensation. The soap was being stored in a cold place and it's been raining a lot.

Phew! And, ew!!! Pass the gum!

I made chocolate soap once. It was really nice soap - very rich, made with cocoa butter, cocoa powder and chocolate. It looked like a brownie. Didn't taste like one, just ask my friend's son. :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

6 weeks!

Wow! Six weeks since my last post.
Six weeks can be a long time or a short time.
It's been a long time since my last post. But, it's only a short time until I'm in the middle of the holiday selling season!

The past six weeks:
Pepo Park finished up the summer season at the Juanita Farmer's Market on Oct. 9. It was a great summer. It only sort of rained once! Absolutely incredible. Thanks to everyone who made it down to Juanita Beach Park this year.
Pepo Park soap is now available in downtown Kirkland at Herban Wellness!
And, our Black Raven Brewing IPA soap was sold at the Enumclaw Oktoberfest by Sweet As Can Bee Honey. We really appreciate them taking our soap down to Enumclaw for us.

The upcoming six weeks:
Soaping and concocting in preparation for the 5 (!!!!) sales I'll be at this holiday season. In addition, we'll have orders from friends, our Etsy site, the Web site. I made a big list of everything that needs to be made and a schedule for getting it done. As always, Shawn is a big help. And, my mom - she's coming from Costa Rica to help with the sales.

Will you be visiting one of the shows? Is there an all-natural product you're interested in seeing us make? Or, a scent combo that you'd like to see? Leave a comment and let us know.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fun time in Ballard!

Tonight, I drove over the lake on a weekday (something I try to avoid) to meet up with an fellow Team EtsyRain member, Kristen. Kristen is a potter and she's going to be making soap dishes for me.

The only thing is, neither of us is a soap dish designer. I had one that I'd found that I liked some things about, so we took it from there and came up with 5 prototypes that use various methods for keeping the soap dry and drained. It was really nice to play with some clay.

After the dishes dry, Kristen will do the first firing. Then, she'll glaze them and fire again. The prototype dishes will be ready for usability testing in mid-Sept.

Let me know what you'd like to see in your ideal soap dish. Or, what you don't like about your current soap dish.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The right tool for the job

I always want to kick myself after I buy the right tool for the job after struggling with the wrong tool. I was reminded of this tonight.

In soapmaking, you can use almost anything for a mold and almost any pot (not aluminum or tin) or spoon. You need a scale. None of those items needs to be fancy.

But, you might really benefit from a tool to open those 5 gallon buckets. I rejoiced for days when I got mine a few years ago. Long gone is the feeling that I might lose my fingernails entirely as I tried to pry the lid off my base oils. This site has a lot of them. I picked mine up at the local Cash & Carry (Smart & Final for some of you).

My latest "OMG!! Why didn't I get this before!?!? I should just kill myself for being an idiot and not buying this earlier but I won't because I love it!!!!" purchase is the For Crafts Sake QuickCut Soap Cutter. What an incredible time and frustration saver. Not to mention, nice even width bars!!

(photo from For Crafts Sake)

I love my soap cutter. I love my pail opener. I love my DishDrawer and my Tivo.

The soap cutter allowed me to cut 180 bars in 20-25% of the time it used to take giving me more time to watch the TiVo. :)

What is your favorite "right" tool? Talk about it in the Comments section.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Saponifier Magazine supplier survey

Take it today! If you've already taken it, take it again because they had to reset it.

The survey closes on August 27, so get your opinions heard before then.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lil' Soap t-shirt is back in print!

At the HMSG conference in May, my Lil' Soap t-shirt from Threadless was a big hit. Unfortunately, it was out of print.

However, I just got word that they've reprinted it! So, get yours now before it's too late.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Supporting local causes

I really like to support "local". To this end, and for our health, we're trying to eat food that is grown locally and even bought a deep freeze to make this easier to do year 'round. I'll be freezing our fav summer foods over the next few weeks, especially berries!!

Other local things we're supporting:
The Kirkland Canine Festival
Please stop by the Pepo Park / Anandi's Laboratory booth & say "Hi". We'll have treats for the pups and for the peeps.

And, a cause not local to me, but perhaps local to you or to your interests.
The Crosby Mint Farm in St. Johns, Michigan is the oldest mint farm in the US. They're facing foreclosure in 23 days and are trying to sell drams of peppermint and spearmint to raise funds.
I'm a lover of essential oil so their predicament struck a chord with me. Check out their site and if you like what they have to say, buy a dram or 2 of their essential oil.

I know, you want to know how I helped the farm. I got 2 candles, some mint eo (the kit of 7 drams so that I can share the goodness) and some toffee. I can already smell the deliciousness in my mind's eye.

I hope to see you at the Juanita Farmer's Market or at the Kirkland Canine Festival! :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Handcrafted Soapmaker's Guild Conference sneak peak

In May, I attended the Handcrafted Soapmaker's Guild Conference in Palm Springs, CA.

Next year, the conference will be held April 30-May 2 in Denver, CO.
Here's a preview of what you can expect.

I'm still blown away by the great stuff I learned and how nice everyone was. In a year where you're counting every penny, I was glad that I spent a few going to the conference.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Get local!

On July 3, I was at the Juanita Friday Night Market selling my soapy wares.
It was a great day to be at the market. The sun was out, it was hot.
It really felt like summer. And, great summer foods were plentiful.

Dog days. Dogs enjoy cool water that flows from QuilBay Oyster's coolers.

The Pepo Park booth was flanked by emilkman and Burton Brother Homemade Ice Cream.
It was very hard for me to be next to that delicious ice cream and I gave in early. After I tasted the flavors I hadn't tried yet, I chose cherry with choc chip.

I was visited by several friends. Neighbor Lynne who gave me a 1/2 pint of raspberries, Personal Trainer Evelyn and "Long Haired" Jen (I know a lot of people named Jen so they each have a nickname). Jen kept me company for most of the market and helped me pack up. She earned a free bar of ginger spice soap and a 1/2 flat of raspberries from Hayton Farms. I took another 1/2 flat home. Delicious!

Berries from Hayton Farms:
Other plentiful items: Cherries, apricots, squash, beans, peas, lettuce, flowers and more.

A gorgeous bouquet designed by Moua Gardens just for Independence Day.
Fruits and squash from Family Pepper:
And, don't forget the crafts. Soap (of course!), jewelry, carved stones, Bottlecrap, glass, clothing and the kids' booths.

The market is weekly through October. Come visit!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pepo Park visits Australia

I've been off line for a few weeks. Shawn and I went on a long overdue vacation to Australia. We haven't been on a real vacation for a while and I haven't been to Australia for 25 years. So, overdue in a few ways.

Anyway, on to the most important topic: Soap!!

I was very pleased to meet two soap makers. Kary of Blossoms In Cream and Shirley of A Slice of Soap.

Kary makes beautiful cold process cake & cupcake soaps as well as regular bar soaps. They all smell great and the cake & cupcake soaps are beautiful. She sells at the
Windsor Craft Market on the 1st & 3rd Sunday of the month. I bought a cupcake (mouthwatering lime), a slice (looks like a latte but smells like Peru balsam), and 3 regular bars. Kary uses essential oils to scent her soaps like I do. For information, contact Kary at blossoms.cream (at)

The cupcake and slice I bought:
Kary's display of cake and cupcake soaps:Shirley from A Slice of Soap makes beautiful dessert soaps out of melt and pour. My personal favorite was her licorice allsort, despite my strong dislike for the real food. :) They are beautiful and colorful. Shirley has a store in Cremorne and also sells at The Rocks Weekend Market.

Cake. Admit it, you'd like to eat that!
Chocky cupcakes:Licorice allsorts:I don't know what you call these, but if you could eat them, I would. Note the layered hearts on the left. I can taste the strawberries! Pie, jello & cupcakes:
It was a great trip. And, as you can see, great soap!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Juanita Friday Market recap

It was gorgeous on the shores of Lake Washington on Friday. Sunny, the perfect temperature...
People were happy to be out and about on such a lovely day.

We offered special pricing on some items to celebrate opening day of the market. And, everyone who purchased something got a free lip balm. We were really pushing the new flavor (chocolate orange truffle from Brambleberry) because it smells so great!

The Pepo Park booth:
Left side:
Right side:
Some of the other items for sale: flowers, herbs, baked goods, veggies, jewelry, batik, glass, honey, dips, soup (can't wait for the Thai Pumpkin in the fall), and seafood. And, ready to eat: kettle corn, gyros, crepes, and hot dogs. During the course of the afternoon & evening, I had 2 gyros, kettle corn and a lemonade.

Beautiful herbs from Mt. Vernon Herbs:
Poppies. I swear, they are real:
First of the season garlic. Delicious!
We'll be there next week! I'm looking forward to getting more people hooked on handcrafted soap and seeing what else the farmer's will be bringing in!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Juanita Friday Market opens today!!

We're introducing two new products today. And, we'll have special opening day offers including free lip balm for the first 50 purchasers.

The new products are Mozz Off and the chocolate orange truffle lip balm. The Mozz Off is looking pretty darn good in our new packaging.

My engineer Dad

Dad is labeling lip balm. He had a great idea - a line on the tubes to help you line up the labels so they go on straight.

Thanks, engineer Dad!

He's labeling my newest lip balm - chocolate orange truffle. Got it at Brambleberry. It's smells so good, it's sick!

Dad putting shrink bands onto the lip balm

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Market time!

Here at Pepo Park, we're (Mom, Dad, Shawn and I) cramming to get ready for the Juanita Friday Market.

I can't wait! There will be lots of vendors and of course, your favorite soapmaker & seller - Pepo Park! It's every Friday from 3-7 pm, through October.

Go here, click the link for Juanita Beach Park to get a map.

Shawn makes bath bombs.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I love chocolate!

Anyone who knows me knows that I love chocolate. I love to eat it, bake with it, do tastings with fancy chocolate and I even collect antique chocolate molds. Since I love making soap too, it was inevitable that my two loves would meet in a bar of soap.

I wanted the soap to be scented naturally. I started with cocoa butter - not strong enough. I added cocoa then melted chocolate. Still not strong enough. Finally, I turned to Brambleberry's dark rich chocolate. Now, it had a great smell!

The soap looks like a brownie. I made it a year ago and have been "saving" it. Not sure what for, so this morning, I broke out a bar from my stash. The cocoa butter makes it a very luxurious bar. The cocoa and real chocolate cause it to have a "muddy" lather. So, it looks like you're really getting clean!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunny soapy day!

It's a sunny holiday weekend in Kirkland!
I'll be making 2 batches today. Haven't decided what to make yet.
Perhaps a batch of lemongrass to match the sunny skies. And, whatever inspires me when I check out my stock of essential oils.

Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, enjoy your long weekend & be safe!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Free chocolate!

While my focus on this blog is soap, natural body care, local and handmade, I think we can all use information about free chocolate even if it isn't local or handmade!

M&M Mars is giving away free chocolate to the first 250,000 registrants every Friday through the summer as part of their "Real chocolate relief act".

Check out this site every Friday to register!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Craft show vending A-Z

Last night, my friend Susan and I met on Capital Hill for the Grassroots Business Association presentation on craft show vending. The presentation was done by Kristen Rask and Moxie, two seasoned craft show-ers.

Kristen and Moxie covered everything (literally, A-Z) starting with applying to shows, preparing for your show through to surviving the show.

In summary:
  • When applying, follow the instructions. Seems "duh", but apparently people are constantly not following instructions. I guess this is good for those of us who do follow directions.
  • Take good photos.
  • If you are not accepted, don't wallow.
  • Practice your display.
  • Don't forget the essentials. There is an exhaustive list here, 160 "must haves". When you see the list, you'll know what you really do need and what you don't need/should ask the venue about.
  • Enjoy yourself while at the show, even if the sales aren't happening.
  • Take time to recover after the show.
There are also tips here, from Etsy.

Kristen and Moxie were great presenters. A lot of fun, funny, and appropriately sarcastic. :)
I'd gladly listen to any advice/presentation they do in the future.
They'll be at Maker Faire in the Bay Area, May 30-31. Check 'em out if you're there. Fun, felty and cute stuff. Also, Lisa from Feto Soap will be there.

Buy handmade!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lil' Soap t-shirt

My soap t-shirt is known as "Lil' Soap" on the Threadless site. They only have one size left.

If you want one but they don't have your size, go to the site and vote. They'll reprint it if they get enough votes.

(image courtesy of

Soap boxes

Finding good boxes for soap was a big topic at the HMSG Conference.
I mentioned Grigsby Paper Box and the place I'm having mine made (Eagle IMS).
The Box Coop was also mentioned.

But, I just found these boxes on Susan Emery's site. She was at the conference, too.

It's hard to find boxes because regular box making companies don't make boxes that are the shape of soap. You'd think that a basic, smallish rectangle would be easy to find. But, it's not.

Good luck on your box search! :)

Coloring your soap

One of my favorite sessions at the HMSG Conference was Lori's session about color. Coloring soaps is hard because different coloring agents (dyes, pigments, herbs, clays, etc.) react differently depending on many things that seem random. Some fade over time.... It's definitely art as science. Lori tested 70+ colors and presented the results to us.

A slide of all the soaps/soap colors:

Six colors of clay:

Clay names/types:
I'd like to do another "shout out" because Lori never uses PowerPoint. She must have labored for hours to get her deck together, get all of the photos in so nicely, etc. Not to mention, laboring over the color experiments.

Photos added

I've updated each post from the Handcrafted Soapmaker's Guild conference with photos.
I had a great time, met great people, learned a ton and am now very inspired and overwhelmed!

A few more photos:

Debbie and Erin enjoy their masks:

Bob and
Irv enjoy their masks and some laughs care of Wendy Liebman and Jon Reep:

Feathers & fun! :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Six degrees...

Yesterday, I was in a session by Jamila White (the e-commerce diva) and she mentioned Picnik as a great photo editing tool. Picnik is the brain-child of Jonathan Sposato, a former co-worker of mine.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

HMSG - Day 2

The day started with the Annual Meeting of Members. Elections, votes, etc.

At the HSMG, we vote with our spatulas:


Then, great sessions. I only have time to post a few quotable quotations:

"It's asthma. I do not have that piglet thing." -
Linda is a great lady with a tonne (added the "ne" for extra tonage and metric-ness) of knowledge. Linda makes 900 bar batches. I don't think I've ever had that much soap around at one time, let alone in 1 batch! Also, a "PowerPoint shout out" to Linda. She lost her presentation and redid it overnight. I really liked how she presented only images, not slides and slides of words.

"Don't do it, Sweetie. It's going to go rancid." -
Linda (again)
Sage advice to all of us about superfatting given to
Jim, the youngest soaper in attendance.

Finished the day with a nice dinner, spa facials courtesy of
Dead Sea Bulk Materials (smoooooth!) and drinks with Vanessa and Erin.
Erin and Bob:

Good night!

HMSG Conference - Day 1, night

Wow. Wow. Wow. Three cheers, or maybe even four, to Essential Wholesale (listed previously as Kayla). Though, it was slightly surreal to go to a Mardi Gras themed party after attending Convergence in March.

We had a fun table:

Ruth and Lori:

Bill, Me, Barbara:

Anne and

Angie, Debbie, Erin:

1. Amazing party. Great food, great entertainment. Wendy Liebman and Jon Reep made us laugh and laugh. Both were totally funny.
2. Amazing gift bag. I am in looooove with their
creme. OMG! It is insanely fabulous and I can't wait to try their other products.
3. Super fun table of new friends (see above).
4. Also, fun "after party" with even more new friends. And, again, inspirational discussions.
(Sorry, the pictures didn't turn out well.)

It's so great to be an attendee over being a "booth worker" or other.

Pictures coming on Friday, once I get home.

Forgot to mention: Got kudos for the packaging. Yay, Mikeyvi!!! Can't wait to see how it does in the competition!!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild Conference - Day 1

What an awesome day! We started with an inspirational keynote by Erin Brockovich.

Erin Brockovich:

Then, plenty of great information about:
  • viral Internet marketing (like blogging and Facebook - become a fan)
  • good manufacturing practices
  • embedding stuff into your CP soap
  • making lotion
There are a few quotable quotations:
"There is nothing sexier than a hairnet and gloves." - Kayla Fioravanti
I went as far as to buy some safety goggles. Still holding out on hairnets & gloves.
"Soap is just science." - Kelly Bloom
And, this is why it's fun for me! I love the experimentation.

I'm really inspired to get home and try some new things. And, I've been inspired by the people I've met who are making cool products or making a living doing this. Some even do both! :)

Now I'm off to the big dinner. Apparently, even the hotel staff are excited about it, so it must be good.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild Conference - Day 0

Today, I arrived at the Miramonte Resort & Spa in Palm Springs, CA for the conference.

At the airport, we (Anne-Marie and I) were met by Sr. Cathleen. We waited for Susan, Linda, and Vanessa then we drove out to the resort and registered for the conference. We were given huge bags of swag. Really great samples, catalogs, notebooks & notepads, a big bag of lavender, coupons, a water bottle and more from suppliers and sponsors. I also entered the new box design into a packaging contest.

The Miramonte is very nice as you can see from their Web site and these photos.

Ballroom (many sessions were held here):

Spa (no, I didn't go):

I had a lovely dinner with Vanessa. I had a healthy salad and whole wheat pasta with chicken sausage. I would have thought I was at the ProClub, except it's super warm here and we ate outside.

It's time to pour over the swag and plan for tomorrow. I need to fit in the gym and the spa among a huge variety of awesome conference content. The keynote speaker is Erin Brockovich which should be interesting.

Photos from the EtsyRAIN Spring Craft Show

Posting a few photos from the weekend's craft show, then off to bed.

The table:

Basket o' soap:

The table from the other end:

Thanks to Shawn for helping me set up.

Tomorrow I leave for the Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild annual conference. I'm not sure what to expect, though I'm quite sure it will be nothing like the last conference I went to.