Baby Steps

Growing an online presence is a series of baby steps that are sometimes overwhelmingly baffling to me. Does that happen to you? Sometimes I’m making decisions based on “I hope this is right” instead of really finding out the details and understanding the process. For example, I *think* I finally linked my website and my blog! 😀

Baby steps are also a great way to approach skin issyoos. I generally favor a more conservative approach to addressing things like acne, dry skin, eczema, and rashes. As a kid who broke out rolling around in the grass, hives, allergic reactions to the weirdest things, it’s the simple stuff that works.

I always kind of stutter when people ask me for advice. Why? I don’t want to EVER come off as a snake-oil maker/saleswoman. If you’ve asked me for advice, I’m gonna tell you precisely what worked for me. And here’s my normal process for evaluating these types of things:

Does it appear to be an internal reaction or external reaction?

If external – was the skin thoroughly and use something like our Whipped Shea Butter. That stuff is amazing! A few weeks ago I broke out under my FITBIT. Had a bunch of oozy gross bumps. Washed it, put on a good dose of Whipped Shea Butter and immediately the itchiness went away, and a day or two later all of my bumples were gone!

If internal – do what you need to do for an allergic reaction. Doctor. Anti-histamines. Whatever. Don’t mess with that!

As for acne solutions, I usually recommend our Activated Charcoal Complexion Soap. Seems to help remove excess dirt and gunk from the skin, and the lavender/lemongrass/tea tree essential oil combo PLUS goat milk make for a soothing bar of soap. The other recommendation is our Lavender Oats soap. Again, it’s gentle and mild, and finely ground whole oats gently exfoliate dead skin cells and soothes the skin.

If those tiny little baby steps work well, you’ve got your solution. If not, remember to keep it simple. Throwing everything at a break out or an allergic reaction might only further irritate the skin. Completely the opposite of what you want to have happen!

~ Karen




Buy My Stuff!

Wherever you are in the wide world, it’s likely that you are looking forward to the upcoming change in seasons in your neck of the woods. We are hopefully winding down on our second nor’easter in a week, with another on the horizon early next week. I’m ready for the change in seasons.

For many of you, the end of winter means your skin is overdue for some seriously decadent pampering.

You know me and Hemlock Springs Soaps is here to help. That’s why we want to remind you that what’s left of our super skin hydrating Whipped Shea Butters need to find a new home so we can make room for our spring line.

I bet there’s room in your boudoir for some of our mood-setting perfumes,  or maybe you need a restock of freshly made soaps, made with rich, organic shea butter and fresh, creamy goat milk.

Just because the weather is punishing you, doesn’t mean you should punish your skin!

Head on over to the newly redesigned website to SHOP NOW:  Hemlock Springs Soaps

coconut soap

~ Karen



Do You Procrastinate?

Do you procrastinate? According to blogger Tim Urban, who has studied this stuff a lot, everyone is a procrastinator. Some people figure out how to get things done anyway. I think I’m one of those people, some of the time. I mean, I’m working on this  so I’m not losing my chips when it gets super busy!  This video makes some good points on the topic, and is super funny too. It’s only 14 minutes long, and I suspect you might find a giggle or two along the way.

What do you think? Can you relate to the Instant Gratification Monkey? I can! He’s a cute little buggar. Cuter than the Panic Monster.

I’d love to know your thoughts. How do you overcome the temptation to give into the Instant Gratification Monkey? And if you’re not a procrastinator, please share your secrets — we need them!

Learn more about Tim Urban at his website

~ Karen


Confessions of a Soapmaker (Business Edition)

So. I embrace all the hats of being a solo entrepreneur. Mostly.  Sort of.

What am I trying to say? Here goes the Confessions part of my blog. But focusing on aspects of business.

Parts of me adore making product. I hate the mess. I love packaging. Until I have 500+ soaps that need a sweet little wrapper , label and packing. I adore getting lost in numbers, but hate the time vortex I get caught up in doing accounting and paperwork. I love doing fairs and markets and festivals until I’m on the couch after a long day, too tired to do much more than drool and watch TV that has no value beyond primitive entertainment. If that.

Why do I sound whiny? Cuz. Every year at this time I have a desire to be better at keeping track of my inventory. I have a laptop and software. I have the desire. It’s marrying the two I struggle with. I fear I have to wipe out all the previous years’ information and wipe the slate clean, take a complete inventory, and try to carve out time to record purchases AND sales to have a much better handle on what is coming in and going out of my biz. Last year, you might have seen me do an inventory before and after shows to help me track it. Yeah, that lasted a whopping 2 months.

So here’s my confession: I need help! I want to be able to do it all, but I don’t have the time or energy as the business grows. And this is such a good thing to recognize. My challenge is bringing someone on board is terrifying to me! Truthfully,  I need a Girl Friday. Someone who knows what I need, has the determination to learn the software (I taught myself and fear I don’t know enough to teach someone the right way) and someone to organize the business end of things. That would allow me to do more of the development and selling of my products.

The scary part is…while I know this would help my biz grow, it’s hard to come up with the funds to pay someone to do this. Who else has been in this crazy catch-22? Do you know someone else who has been in this situation? How did they handle it? How do you choose the right person to be able to do this?

I’m determined to make this business as big and profitable as possible – someday my goal is to sell it (altho the thought of selling my baby is scary!) These are all signs of growing pains of a healthy business. If you have advice or resources to share, I’m open to suggestions!

Thanks for letting my pour my heart out and share what’s up behind the scenes.



What’s In Your Soapmaking Pot Today?

I belonged to a soapmaking forum ages ago (well, I still do but rarely, if ever, visit any longer). One of my favorite threads was a weekly “What’s In Your Soap Pot” thread, where any and all would post what soaps they were making. It was so inspirational – I was in awe of those full-time soap makers who listed an endless list of fabulous soaps they were making. It would be weeks, if not months, before I’d make soap for my various few fairs and festivals I did back in those day. However, now that I do this as my full-time passionate gig…

Since January 1 I’ve made over 3,000 bars of soap prepping for my spring shows so far.

Those numbers even knock ME out! Happy day!

Today, I made another 700+! Today, in soapmaking history, I made batches of Sexy Woman, Sweet Cherry Blossom and Dazzleberry. I’ve still got some of the men’s line soaps to make (yes, I’ve created a men’s line called Handsome Devil Sundries!)

Not to mention the new booze-themed “On The Rocks” soaps made with salts!

Lots of stuff humming along. Have to prep and pack a bunch of soaps for wholesale orders in coming days…it’s all good.

And the house smells lovely, btw. 😉

~ Karen


Losing Weight the Low Carb Way

Might as well call this my accountability blog. 😀

I’m a lifetime Weight Watcher. All told on WW, over the years, I’ve probably lost 75lbs following the diet. Most recently, I joined back in November and diligently measured and tracked my food. Lost a few pounds, but as a full-fledged diabetic my blood sugar numbers soared and I lost a little weight, but I didn’t lose as much weight as I expected or wanted, and I was STARVING.

For years I have dabbled in low carb/moderate protein/high-ish fat. It’s kind of controversial because we have been so conditioned by the medical community and diet corporations to believe fat = bad and low calorie is best. But when you look at the simple diets of our ancestors, they got their carbs from plant-based foods and ate meat laden with fat. Granted, they we much more active than our sedentary lives today (as I sit here, pontificating from my comfy chair…) but we can take some lessons from their eating habits.

Weeks ago, I quit weight watchers and went all in on low carb/high fat way of eating (notice I didn’t say diet…). I’m  not losing weight as fast as many people as insulin is a fat storing hormone, and I seem to have lots of stores of it. But this morning, my blood sugar was 90 when I woke up. It was as high as 118 yesterday, and a few weeks ago a staggering 198. With medications. And I saw a little blip on the scale in the right direction. So far, I’m down 16.5 lbs, with a bunch more to go.  I’ve got a little more pep than usual, feel less creaky and cranky, and am looking forward to my steaming cup of coffee with heavy cream in it this morning. 🙂

If you want more info on LCHF, I highly recommend or the reversing diabetes facebook group. There’s also a pretty interesting video on youtube called “Butter Made My Pants Fall Off” that explains a little better than I can how it all works.

By the way, I’m moisturizing the heck out of my skin this week…soooooo dry and trying to minimized the appearance of saggy baggy skin. I’m using TONS of No Drama Mama Cream. Get you some!

~ Karen


So…I’ve been making a lot of soap!

It’s been a while, but I’m determined to blog once or twice a week this year. It might happen, it might not. But since I last blabbed here, much has happened!

But before I rehash all that, going forward this is a place for me to yap about the things I think are intriguing and might just interest you, too. All two of you who read my blog. Some days it might be a story. Some day, it may to be tempt you into purchasing one of the many amazing handmade soaps I make and sell on my website  (*cough cough  Maybe I’ll share some business stuff happening, and I even have some research and educational stuff about the things I make that might be of interest to you, too.

If you’re pleasantly surprised and like what you read, I welcome comments and shares as I build my little place on the big open innerwebz.

~ Karen