Wednesday, October 29, 2008


This was our old packaging of our Guest Bar Samplers. It's nice and they do well but I wanted something different.

So this holiday season we created 3 different samplers with different packaging.

Free the Elves, with the fragrances peppermint candy, Christmas Wreath and Sparkling Snowflakes.

Kozy Up To Winter, (pictured)with the fragrances Gingerbread, Cinnabun and Hazelnut

Boston Tea Party, with fragrances green tea, chamomile and mango sage.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

15% Off Sale

Are your minds on the state of the economy, or the election and who is going to be our next president and can he get us out of this mess?

I believe those of us in business are holding our breath waiting till it's safe to breath a sigh of relief.

So what do we do? I'm not going to let a bad economy drive my business into the ground nor should you.

Stratagize with other store owners, create some kind of events to attract customers. Also be aware today's customer wants a sale, wants to know that they are saving money. That's what we have to do to keep going.

And this is the reason for the post. I offered a 15% off on orders of $200 or more at the beginning of the month and this sale ends on Halloween. Now this can put extra money in your pocket or it could give you the opportunity to have a sale.

A $29.00 loaf at 15% off brings the cost of the loaf to $24.65 and if you cut 1" slices then each slice costs you $2.05 each. At this cost you can do a sale of 3 bars for $15. and still make a nice profit.

Anyway I hope you all are doing well, keeping up.

Next new item we are coming out with is a guest bar sampler. There will be The Boston Tea Party, Free the Elves and Come Home for Kozy. I should have pictures for you next week.

Till next time

Monday, October 20, 2008


Our loaf soaps are sold by the slice usually for that individuals use. Now that the holidays are fast approaching I thought I might offer some suggestions on other ways to sell our loafs.

Pictured here is a half a loaf of soap. You could also just cut your loafs into thirds. The slice was cut for the sake of the picture. Added a ribbon and a bath brush viola you have a great gift set. Outlet stores usually have great deals on bath accessories. Another idea is go to an outlet store like T.J. Max and look for bamboo cutting boards. Add your half or third of a loaf to the board, with a dinner knife. (I like going to salvation army and getting the more fancier silver knifes) Wrap it all up in cellophane and you have a great gift idea. This will look so special on someone's bathroom sink.

Another great place to find some inexpensive bathroom accessories is the dollar store. You can get bathroom holders and scrubbies and more there. Use your imagination to come up with some great ideas combining things to make it a great gift.

What I might add to the loaf would be

Loofah (dollar store has them)

nylon scrubbie

cutting board

soap dish

bath brush

pretty wash cloth or hand towel.

If you should decide to do this wrap your loaf up with some cellophane or saron wrap then attach your item.


In the course of making our soaps there is always left overs. So not to be wasteful we make these little guest bars (they are actually bigger than a guest bar weighing in at least 3 oz). Pictured you see a really nice set of black and white.

For a very limited time we are offering 5 sets to our wholesale customers for $5, that's a $1. per set. You can easily retail each gift set for $5.

What you will get is 10 different soaps and 5 organza bags. The soaps will be assorted and so will the bags. Each soap will come shrink wrapped and a label will be attached. We would not be able to identify the fragrance, but customers love sniffing and smelling. Soaps and bags will coordinate to create a nice package. Ribbon is not included. We are sorry but we can't accommodate any color or fragrance requests.

These will not be put up on the wholesale site so email me if you are interested in these.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Our loaf soaps are a big hit with customers and we added 3 more to our product line to celebrate the holiday season. Each loaf weighs 4 lbs and yields 12 1" slices. Each slice weighs at least 5 ozs and we recommend at least a $6. retail price.

Using striking copper and red showcased in a pale yellow bar we've created what we think Santa's perfect drink would look like. We specially blended scents to create a cinnamonny egg noggy scent that will have you singing Merry Christmas. I promise the scent will just fill the room.

Green and gold are popular colors for the season and we took advantage of that to create this wonderful soap. This fragrance is a combination of Christmas trees, peppermint, spearmint and vanilla. It's a nice warm winter night type of fragrance.

Christmas morning everyone hopes that under the tree is a big bright red present wrapped in a bow. Here it is and we fragranced this soap with a peppermint candy scent. One whiff of this wonderful fragrance will make you think of Christmas and gift giving.

We so enjoy creating new and different designs. With this process we decide what the bar should look like and then come up with just the right fragrance. We love our work and we hope you will love our designs as much as we do. Our hope is that you and your customers will love them as much as we do.

Linda Nigro

You can see these and all of our other wholesale products at

Thursday, October 2, 2008



We are introducing to our wholesale line our collection of masks, Dead Sea, Anti-Oxidant and Chocolate Mud Slide. For a limited time buy 10 get 2 free. You are encourage to mix and match offering your customers some choices. Use coupon code mud at checkout.

Dead Sea Mud Mask
Ingredients in our mud masque make it an ideal product for those with troubled skin. The dead sea clay with brine helps tighten pores and stimulate circulation. The addition of Shea Butter helps protect the skin. Bentonite clay and Aussie Black Clay help pull the oils and toxin from the skin and sea kelp and glycerin are added for their moisturizing benefits.

Anti-Oxidant Mask

This mask is filled with clay, butter, aloe and fruit extracts. It is perfect for those with sensitive skin. The French Pink Clay is very gentle and does not draw oils from the skin. Avocado butter is a very rich moisturizer, as is Aloe .The red raspberry extract is a natural astringent, antiseptic and anti-bacterial product. Cranberry extract helps restore radiance to all skin types. 4oz

Chocolate Mud Slide
This masque is a quality dark chocolate masque without the clays or muds. Chocolate is rich in iron, magnesium and has softening properties along with a high anti-oxidant properties.
Shealoe is a blend of aloe gel and shea created to soothe dry and irritated skin. Rice bran oil is also moisturizing. Along with this is Tarmind Seed Extract (wonderful cosmetic ingredient) that helps increase moisture to the skin.
Stop by our web site at for our mud masks.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I'm one of those people that refuse to give up. Now before you think wow what a great attribute let me tell you it really could be a curse.
I've sort of reinvented myself or business to just keep it going. If I find something doesn't work right away I go on to the next thing. Such as Ebay, man for the life of me I can't sell a thing on there. Others that I know personally are doing okay making some money and others are doing really well. Me I don't know if it's the product (you can't smell soap on-line) or what. So my thought was back to the drawing board. You do realize that all these ideas are to generate money so I can make a nice living doing what I love to do.
So then I said to myself, myself, how about trying craft shows again. Okay cause the money could be good. On the Sponge Docks for Labor Day weekend there was a craft show so I took $150 of our earned money and applied. I got accepted and was promised a spot near the entrance to the mall where my store is in. They honored that request.
Saturday the first day of the show was brutally hot and ugly humid. My son was complaining about the heat as he trucked our tent, tables, soaps etc. Because of my age the sweat was pouring off of me. It's pretty disgusting to be a sweating senior citizen. By the time I got the booth looking some what decent I was soaked thru and thru down to you know what. Plus on top of that the others (my daughter and son deserted me) well not really I told them to retreat to air conditioning.

So we are set up and the heat is still unbearable standing still. I'd be shaking my head thinking, what was I thinking. Well the relief finally came in the form of a storm. Yup rains came, customers left, even though I only made about $20 during the heat. So we shut down early fearful that our tent would fly away and that would increase our costs to the application fee plus a new tent with a $20 day.

Next day was worse. Oh the weather was better but the rain was threatening again, (weather bureau said more of same for Sunday) and the wind was so bad that one of us had to hold the tent down as we watched people walk by our booth.
Okay I came away from that experience to never do it again, yup I decided to ditch the idea of craft shows. Just way too much work that I don't enjoy.
So are you wondering yet what's my new idea.

Teaching Soapmaking Classes.

I think I'm good at this soapmaking and I've had people ask me if I have classes. Will I be giving away trade secrets, maybe but I think it would be okay. If you read up on marketing and all of that stuff you'll read about how you should show yourself as an expert. This will do that for our company and hopefully they'll come and buy our products when they see the time, love, enthusiasm we put into our products.

I'll be holding soapmaking classes starting in October. I've designed some new Halloween type of soaps (pictured here) and I thought it might be fun for others to learn how to do it. If you are in Tarpon Springs come sigh up!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jumble Bubbles Reinvented

What's New and What's Old

Selling on ebay didn't prove to be as successful as I had hoped for. It's summer and I know that on ebay that's a slow time for sales, It's on to plan B

So my scrap soaps (that's really not a good name for it) the parts that make my Jubble Bubble soaps is still growing. So when business is bad (ebay) I then try to think of another solution. I do sell these loaf slice bars at the store for a great price but I love to move things quickly. So I decided to do a craft show at the Sponge Docks for the Labor Day Weekend.

This might prove to be doubly good. Sell my Jumble Bubbles and direct them to my store with a coupon. So I have a plan, another plan.

So as I was getting to make these Jumble Bubbles (originally in loafs) I came across some old food molds that I had used years ago. Now in soapmaking anything resembling food seems to be a hit, so I thought it might be nice to create these loaf cakes (sort of bundt like) with my leftover soap. Well I got so into it that I decided to create my entire craft show event around the theme Soap Desserts. My creative juices were so happy!

Some look like cakes others look like jello and then some look like petit fours. They are all adorable and might just have to be added to my regular line.

These were so much fun to make and doing the drizzle was the best. I'm trying to master doing a pour of soap that resembles confectionary sugar icing that is solid on the top and drizzles down the bottom. It's about the temp of the soap I'm thinking.

After all these years doing soapmaking I realized that if I can't bring new creative ideas of soaps into the line I'm not happy and Linda wants to be happy.

Let me know what you think of the soaps. I'll try to remember to post some pictures of the display at the show. My idea for the display is to look like a bakery with each sliced cake (soap) on a clear glass plate on a pedestal.

I'm also going to be offering a 2 lb loaf cake wholesale (not using scraps) for a great price ($12.50)to my wholesale customers. I've come up with about 10 different fragranes, all food related. I'll keep you posted. The Petit Fours might also be available I just have to work out the pricing. These guys are about 3 ozs of soap and would make a perfect favor.

Thanks for stopping by


Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Decision To Sell On Ebay!

Most soapmakers have this problem of leftover soaps and the dilemma of what to do with them. With my style of soapmaking you just can't always judge how much soap you are going to need so it happens that you have leftovers.

While we concentrated on our wholesale orders and keeping our store supplied our scrap soaps grew and grew to a point of it taking over our studio. Now I'm not one to keep everything, I do pretty well with throwing things out, but these leftover scraps of soap represent dollars to me.

So I decided to make some loaf soaps with the scraps and call them Jumble Bubbles. I realized that because they were a jumble of different soaps I couldn't sell them for the same price as my other loafs so I had to come up with a price that would benefit both the consumer and me. We put them in our store for $3.00 each or 4 for $10 and they did very well. Only problem was I didn't think we were selling them fast enough. I like to move product quickly.
Then I thought I should try selling on ebay at a starting bid of $14.95. I was targeting companies looking to resell so they could also sell these at the $3.00 price. At this price I was breaking even but I would be getting my money on soap that was just sitting there doing nothing.
I jumped in with both feet, listed the loafs and waited and waited. About every hour I would check and see if there were bids and if not see how many people looked at my listing. Each hour that passed I got more and more discouraged. My initial reaction was that I'm unlucky and just don't have what it takes to sell on Ebay. But I realized that the successful powersellers just have knowledge that I don't have and I'm out to find out what that is.
I've done some searching about selling on Ebay and found useful info and will be making changes this week. I'll just keep building on new knowledge that I get.
When design season comes around for us we end up with loafs that just don't make the grade, like the one pictured. So again not to waste them we decided to offer these also on ebay.

Anyway if you are in the market for great soap at even greater price check out my listings. Click here to see my listings on ebay

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What's New For Fall!

It's the beginning of July and we may be a bit late in creating our fall and winter soaps. We focused that last couple of days talking about what we wanted them to look like. Today was the day we put those ideas into soap. We created one Works of Art Soap called Fall of Colors (picture to the left) During the colder months the warmer scents become very popular like our Oatmeal Milk and Honey soap during the winter we can't keep it in stock, now it's just sitting on the shelf. So creating soaps for the fall and winter is not only about the look to emphasize those months but about the scents. So we decided to do a smores soap, now that might remind you of the summer, Barbequing but the scents we used to create it is totally warm winter. We used a hazelnut for the graham crackers, marshmallow for the marshmallow and chocolate fudge for the chocolate. Yummy! We haven't cut into the loaf yet but will post a picture tomorrow. I do know that the soap smells great.

It wouldn't be fall without a pumkin so we created one to add to our line of loaf soaps. With creating soaps especially loaf soaps what you think might be a really great design doesn't translate once you make the soap. This is what happened with our pumkin soap. We did make two different designs and this picture is our second try and I'm not 100% happy with it. I love the colors I love the abstract interpetation of a pumkin but I think the pumkin might need to be a bit darker. Tomorrow we'll do the tweaking.

Designing new soaps is what I love the most but I have to tell you that it takes a lot of energy and at the end of the day I'm pretty tired.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Soapier product reviews!

Here are three sites (with more to come) that reviewed our products!

Laura Williams Musings has a wonderful blog and gave us a great review!

Scribbit is a fascinating blog about motherhood in Alaska. We sponsored Michelle's June contest with a $50 gift certificate. We had given her samples before hand and LOVED our Luscious Body Lotions.

Mummy Product Reviews gave us a GLOWING review of our products, and we couldn't be happier!

We also just signed up with two PR firms. We're very excited. We've already gotten a nice response from our first press release! We'll keep you posted!

John @ FILS/Soapier

Our re-designed store!

So! It's been a while since I've been here, and the site deserves an update. So, here goes:

First off, we've gotten a very nice response from the PR firm press releases we sent out. 15 different magazines, news stations and newspapers across the country are interested in seeing samples.

Now, let me put this into a bit of perspective, because I think it's important.

The release we sent out, we were told to expect about .5 to 1% response. We got less than that.

BUT. Prior to our sending out the release, we had ZERO exposure to these venues. So, we're all very excited.

Getting the Soapier brand out is what's important. We have another release going out in two weeks... we feel things are moving in a great direction.

I also wanted to post some images of our store, so people can check out what we're trying to accomplish here in Tarpon Springs.

You can kind of get an idea of what the store looked like a few months ago, here. It was good for our soft opening, but it wasn't enough. Here are some more shots.

We had the back wall orange, the side walls a kind of light orange. Couple months later, my mom wasn't too pleased with the colors, she said they weren't inviting enough.

The right side of the shop, the shelves, while inventive, weren't economic enough when showing product. The left side, the stained wood shelves, we all liked those. We liked the height of them for customers, and how clean they looked.

So, we changed the paint, changed the center display, added some great signs, changed the back wall display and the right side displays to this:

If you look at this picture, the top right, you'll see that empty shelf on the top. I put some more product out, so that they were straight, and shot this.

Looks better, right? Isn't that crazy?

Here's the outside of our shop:

We're kind of tucked away in the corner, but we get some very decent traffic during the season.

This is just a little display sign outside we use to get people to come in. It's two sided. The other side says "SOAPIER - SALE"

Redesigning the store window is next. Right now it's kind of functional, but plain.

We recently hired someone to work Monday - Thursday at the store, to free up my time so I can help at the shop, which needs cleaning and organizing. Then I'll start to work on more PR, the website, our fledgling myspace page and more.

Thanks for visiting, let me know what you think of the new shop!


Saturday, May 10, 2008

displaying products

My son, who works at our retail store, wrote this article on displaying products in small retail stores. He used our own soaps as examples. Here it is!


Displaying product ideas for small stores

This is going to be one of those posts that will be in the "I know that" column for some, and the "Neat ideas" column for others.

What I want to talk about is how to display retail products properly. Now, this isn't an article on how to display items in a chain store where the home office gives strict guidelines on how to display and market product.

This is for small boutique shops that sell product they don't manufacture. Gift shops, salons, soap and spa product stores, etc. I'll be using our products to demonstrate... since we sell our products exclusively ;)

Promoting products in store

One of the things we wanted to help solve for our customers was promoting our line in their stores.

First In Line Soap, as a wholesale loaf soap seller, is trying to make the in-store marketing of our products as easy as possible. What we do is provide each loaf soap we sell with decorative signs, wrapping paper for individual slices, and decorative labels for each fragrance/design.

What this does is provide customers with an easy to read sign on the name and fragrance of the product. Wrapping a slice of soap and putting our decorative label on it does a few things. One, it reminds people of the product name they purchased and, two, sends them home with a little gift to open.

One of the things we've noticed at First In Line Soap is that our customers buy small quantities. Space might be the issue. We completely understand. Having our own retail shop forces us to not only make compromises with purchasing product, but also allows us to be creative in our displaying ideas.

Let's use our loaf soaps, which are our best sellers, as an example of customers making smaller purchases due to limited space issues.

Space issues

Customer A has ordered two loafs of soap.

2 loafs of soap (and a slicer) would cost $83, plus shipping. We have a $75 minimum for first time buyers.

We recognize that space is always going to be a factor when it comes to displaying product. Most small business owners will tell you that they never have enough space.

Regardless of size, the fact is that a full store always looks better than an empty one.

What if you want to introduce a new product, but you only have a small space?

The first thing you're going to have to do is get some specifications. It would be a shame to buy a new product line and find out that not only is the space too small... but now you're stuck with all this new product, and you can't properly display it!

First In Line Soap loafs are 1-foot long, 4-inches wide and yield 12 1-inch slices.

On a 5-foot wide table that is 2-foot deep... that's a pretty impressive presence of soap you've got there! You could have a display similar to what we have at our Soapier retail store.

Now, maybe you have that 3-foot table. We're a new product for you and you want to see how things sell. So you buy two loafs.

What you're going to get is a pretty empty table with two great smelling soaps on it... but nothing that is going to catch your customers eye.

I recognize that this might be a bit of an exaggeration, but from our experience, we get so many customers that purchase only two to three loafs of soap, and not even multiple loafs of each! While there is no break in price for purchasing multiple loafs, we're all consumers. We all know that going into a store and seeing a rack of similar items triggers something in our brain that entices us to buy. Repetition, in all of its many forms, works to get people's attention.

Having a large selection of product (from one brand or multiple) can never really hurt you. But, having a range of products from a single brand you trust (and have experience with) will give the product a more impressive presence in your store, and will certainly catch your customers eye.

In our store we have a large set-up in the middle of the shop where most of our loaf soaps are. We also have our soap slice cutter there, so customers can watch us cut fresh slices for them.

We know most stores can't afford to give up that much space. But if you are opening up a new store (or looking to re-design your shop), you might want to consider displaying your strongest items (whether it be soap or stuffed animals or chocolate) like we have.

Let's take a look at two of our smaller soap products, our Soapier Accent Soaps and our Loofah Boats when it comes to displaying.

Soapier Accent Soaps are about 3.5-inches wide by 1.5-inches high and come in six fragrances.

Here's what you get when display 4 of our Kitchen Soaps. We get these kinds of orders all the time.

As a consumer, I would look at that and not be interested. The sign is nice enough, but there's nothing to hold my attention except for a bunch of white space. Put this in a store corner, and it will either get hidden or dismissed pretty quickly.

Here's what we did at our retail store. And while we know that space defines product quantities, you can be inventive on how you'd display 8-12 of these bars.

We used clear glass plates and stacked soaps all over, like they were spilling off the plate. The colors are such that that Kitchen Soap is striking, a contrast between the Chamomile, Clay and Seaweed, Jasmine and Orange Soaps. It almost serves as an anchor. And when customers get a whiff of chocolate and coffee soap... well, they always comment on it.

Don't have this much space? No problem! Get a large platter and stack the soaps that way. They are all very distinctive, people won't have a problem distinguishing between them.

Our Loofah Boats are a great combination of glycerin soap and loofah. They come in four great fragrances and are a hit with men and women looking for a soap and exfoliant in one. There are some people who are partial exclusively to loofahs, and they love this produce.

Here's an example of displaying them when purchasing a small handful.

When Soapier first opened, we didn't have signs up for our products. The store is so small, we figured that if people wanted to ask a question about a product, they would just ask. This is hardly ever the case.

Most customers don't want to be bothered with asking questions. They can see what the product is. They want to know the price and move on.

So we started making signs up for our products, and using a simple clear plastic bowl you can buy at K-Mart for $15, we displayed them like this:

Huge impact, nice sign, colorful, fragrant... makes a statement, right? Not a lonely box shoved in a corner, but a display that will attract customers. The ones you WANT to target.

The last example I'm going to give you is with our sugar scrubs. Sugar scrubs are not a cheap spa product. Super high end brands can sell for $40, minimum. It's not something retailers want to take a chance with because six of each fragrance from some of these companies will end up costing you an enormous outlay.

First In Line Soap respects its wholesale customers. And, frankly, in this economy, purchasing a new product can be quite scary. We deal with it every day as we try and stock our retail store with more and more bath accessories. What will work, what won't, what we won't be able to give away... we know the drill.

But just like everything else, if you're ready to take that step in purchasing a new product like our Sweet Sugar Scrubs, presence is key.

Our Sweet Sugar Scrubs come in a number of fragrances. 8 to be exact. You are going to want to offer your customers a choice of them, naturally. Perhaps not all 8, but 4 at the minimum.

Sugar scrubs look GREAT when stacked together. We suggest 6 of each fragrance. Take a look at how nice and vibrant our Sweet Sugar Scrub selection looks:

At our store, customers go right to it. All those colors, all those possible fragrances... they love it.

One of the things we suggest (though sometimes it's not possible) is to offer sugar scrub demonstrations for your customers. We have ours set up like this.

Basically, if someone is interested, you ask them what fragrance they'd like. Once they've chosen, you use the pitcher of water to wet their hands. Use a small spatula or spoon and spoon some of the sugar scrub into their hands. They rub their hands with it (make sure you tell them to get the backs!) and then use the pitcher to clean off the sugar scrub, all the while toting the sugar scrubs wonderful properties and selling points.

Give them a clean washcloth to dry their hands and viola.

The Sugar Scrub Hand Spa Treatment has been enormously successful in our retail shop.

Soap as a new product

This question is the rub, right? To try a new product or not to try.

I don't think anyone can really answer this question for you. And if they try and answer the question for you, chances are they're the salesman.

In regards to our products, the only thing you can do is the research and feel your customers out. Are you getting requests for soaps? Do you have space to market, display and sell a new product correctly?

There are very few products that sell themselves.

First In Line Soap prides itself on selling quality products, colorful, fragrant and unique, at good price points for our wholesale customers. We want you to make money, and we want your customers to like our products.

In the end you have to trust your own instincts. Because at the end of the day you have to look at your store and be proud of it. You have to look at your daily report and be happy, or figure out how to improve your business. You have to be happy with your decisions and stay positive.

It's hard, but we're not giving up. And neither should you!


John Painz
VP Marketing
First In Line

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cash Flow And Being Thrifty!

I was brought up with the notion that you when you buy something you go for the best price, even if it's a bit more than you need right now you know down the line that you'll use it. I now realize this isn't a good way of doing business in regards to cash flow problems.

What I (we) need to do is not bring my (our) personal spending styles to my (our) business. When faced with a buying decision we should mentally review and calculate what is the best business decision to make in regards to cash flow.

Now ABC company has a great item you want to bring into your store. You think it will be well received and your customers will buy it. Now minimum order is $100 but if you spend $500 you get free shipping. Click there goes that thrifty mindset on getting something of value for free.

But it's really not free because you've just invested $500 in merchandise that you are not sure will do well in your store. The $100 order would make a nice display and if they sell of course you'll make a bit less profit because shipping isn't free but it's a much safer investment for your money to just order the small amount and not get caught up in bargains. If it goes really well then do the bigger order.

I love sales and bargains and they just seem to find me and because I have an impulsive nature it's a problem. Hopefully I've learned my lesson after getting rid of about $300 worth of inexpensive jewelry for free to a friend who has a store that might do better selling it than I did. I tried everything to sell that stuff from ebay to garage sales to flea markets, but I realized that I was wasting my energy and time (especially when the flea market yeilded me $0.00 for 7 hours of work. )

So this morning I was up early and thinking about this and how I'm just moved to buy more because shipping is less. Now there's inventory to think about how to move it out and that's not a smart business move.

Now I'm not saying to keep your store empty with just a small amount of stuff, that's not my point. I'm saying that when you are purchasing an item don't make the decision to buy more because there is a sale.

Cash flow is king in the business world, not saving dollars and cents. Think cash flow first before making a buying decision.



Sunday, March 9, 2008

Soap Has New Companions!


Well, has launched it's new line of body wash, lotion and massage oil. I'm extremely proud of them. You can see them at our website (link above).

I love color and all of my soaps reflect that. I think that bright, happy colors can put a smile on anyones face and that's my intention. So when we developed our bath gel line I was adamant on them also having great color appeal and I'm pretty sure we have accomplished that. Now the lotion... I opted to keep that in it's natural color.

Same with the massage oil. But John our in-house graphic designer made sure that the labels were colorful but simple.

All three products have been tested in my store and my direct selling division and they all do very well. I wouldn't launch a product wholesale unless I knew it would do well for my retail customers. I feel very confident that a store can bring these products in and do well with them, also. Of course there are ways that it won't do well and I'll discuss that later.

The body wash has lots of color, some pumice and bamboo in it for exfoliating, plus lots and lots of suds. Use this wash with a favorite scrubby or wash cloth and it will last a long time.

The milk and honey lotion is sooo rich and thick that just a bit goes a long way. Now, I've tested many formulas and I'm pretty particular about what I want. I hate a lotion that you rub on and it creates a drag feeling as you are rubbing it in. That was one of my criterias for a good lotion (lack of drag) and, of course, the other was that it not feel greasy. When customers are sampling our lotions they are amazed how little they need.

Massage oil is my favorite. This is one of my morning rituals of getting out of the shower and applying the massage oil to my damp skin. The oil soaks right in and does not feel greasy. Massage therapists will love it also because it doesn't stain sheets.

Each of the products are in a very good price range, retail price of both the lotion and bath wash is $12 and the massage oil is $9.

To sell soap products successfully you need to have impact. If you decide to sell my bath gel, lotion and massage oil and order only 3 of each you are setting yourself up for failure. Sitting only 3 of each on a shelf will make the customer think it's the bottom of the barrel and it's merchandise that's been sitting around for awhile. You need a bit of impact and think about how a test of 6 bottle sets (preferable all the same scent), would look as opposed to just 3. It will draw your customers attention and create possible a sale every time.

Think about how these new products will fit in your store and how you'll be displaying them. All important things to keep in mind when you want a product to do well in your store and, of course, make you money.

In our retail store in Tarpon Springs our bath gel and lotion sit on a shelf with the matching soaps and massage oils. We keep the bath gels and lotions together (about 9 of each), a loaf soap, and then the massage oils this is for one scent.

It took some tweaking in our new store to get it right and we knew when we were on to something when groups of the same fragrant products started selling.

I would love to discuss with you your display dilemmas. Feel free to send comments and questions about your own display problems and solutions!


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Location Location and Location!!

Well I bit the bullet and moved my store.

I always wanted to have a store in an out of the way place and have it become a very popular place to visit. That's what my goal was for Soapier when I opened my store in Tarpon Springs in 2006 at it's location on Safford Ave.

Safford Ave is in the historical district of Tarpon off the main thoroughfare of Tarpon Ave. I know many many businesses have become successful even when they are off the main path of shoppers, I thought I could do that also.

Maybe I could have, but my focus wasn't just on retail. I have a web site (actually 2) and a wholesale business that needed my attention. The retail store took up time but to make Soapier a brand name and a place customers hunted for (and returned to) took up more time and resources than I had.

Plus, having the manufacturing in the same store (and with some rush orders) it never failed that product that was to be shipped always spilled over in to the retail portion of the store making for a less than pristine looking retail space. So we battled with keeping the store looking good while rushing to manufacture for our wholesale customers.

The Sponge Docks of Tarpon Springs is a wonderful place to visit and I'm told it gets 1 to 2 million visitors a year.

Hmmm... lots of foot traffic!

So I met a fellow store owner down there and he recommended I see his landlord for a space in The Sponge Exchange Mall.

To make a long story short (too late), I did that and I got a space for a reasonable rent with more than enough square footage to merchandise my products.

Now "the season" ends in 6 weeks and I was determined not to miss a day of it. (The season is during the cold months up north when the snow birds come to stay for the winter in Florida)

Our lease started on March 1st and the other tenant moved out on the evening of February 28th so we (myself, my daughter and son) took leap year day to paint, clean and move in ready for opening on March 1st.

Are you wondering if we did it? We did and the store looks good. It is a work in progress but our sales for yesterday surpassed anything we did on a normal Saturday at the old store. I'll post our pictures of before, during, and after.

So now I'm convinced if you are going to open a store do it in a good location and pay the additional rent... it's usually worth it. The fighting for customers on an off-the-beaten-track location is an uphill battle depleting energy and monetary resources that you might have been able to use in a more productive way in a better location.

Our old location will still be ours but it will only be our manufacturing plant. We did need more space for that so the new store helped us out in that way also.

It was fun but very tiring and I'll be taking my vitamins just to get some energy back.

One of my philosophies is don't give up. Try to think of new and different ways to get business back on track.


Friday, February 8, 2008

Networking Is Important


Now, I've heard about this networking for years and just thought it was only for those professional type people. I have a store and wholesale business and just didn't feel like it was important for me to make the time to attend any of these events. Plus, when you are a small business you are wearing way too many hats and the networking hat just didn't seem to fit.

Today I've totally changed my mind. How this happened was I had a Valentine's Party at my store. The reason was to sell product, and I wanted it to be an event that those attending would have fun. Major advertising went through a Tarpon Springs chamber blitz. This is email and faxes to all the businesses in the area. Plus we sent out invites to other customers.

9 people showed up and most of them were my friends. I hate selling products to my friends. It was something I was taught not to do as a kid, but anyway, I was so disappointed. Sales were great but attendance was very poor. Now I worked very hard for this event and to have so few show up was very disappointing but I said I have to step back and take a look at this and figure out why. My fragile ego wanted to jump right in and say "no one likes you, Linda," but I knew that wasn't true. So I thought and thought and then had my 'ah ha!' moment. 

It's not that they don't like me, they don't know me. 

So with that I decided it was important to go to the networking events and form relationships with other business people.

The first event coming up was a Tarpon Springs Chamber event that's called Coffee With Class. It's held at the Tarpon Springs Yacht Club and breakfast is served from Panera Bread. So I was determined to go and start meeting and getting to know other business people from the area. 

The one thing that I hate at these events is the 30 second elevator speech. For 30 seconds all eyes are on you and you speak about your business and who you are. Usually as I start to speak my brain goes dead, I'm frantic in my head searching for where all of my thoughts went. The best is the red face that always happens when attention is on me. I feel the blood slowly rising up my neck and reaching my chin area then my cheeks then all the way up to the forhead. An Italian, 58 year old woman isn't pretty with a beet red face. All this is going on as I'm searching for those words that decided to hide from me.

Sometimes you just have to do things outside your comfort zone. This is one of them.

So off I went and did my little elevator speech, mine was probably 20 seconds long, that's how long I've determined the blood takes to get to the top of the head.

But success was achieved

One meeting and I met two woman who want to introduce my products into their spa.

One meeting and a sale at the store.

One meeting and another wholesale customer.

If you have a store, you just might feel like I did, that networking isn't an avenue for you. Let me now, after my revelation, say 'uh uh,' because it is. 

First off it's free!!! Free advertising for your business. The only thing it costs is your time. (I know that's valuable) 

If you have a gift shop, think of all the people you meet that need to buy gifts and when the time comes for that gift, after developing a relationship with you, they'll think of your store, plus they'll recommend your store to others.

Now on the otherside of this is meeting people who you develop relationships with who can be of service to you. I know I'd much rather do business with people who I know and trust.

There is a new business that opened up in Tarpon called Liberty Tax. 

The owner and the employees are all high energy full-of-life people. For the grand opening they were standing in costumes such as the Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam on the street waving to all passers. But my reason for mentioning this is I met them at the event and they are such nice knowledgeable tax people and I would love to have my taxes done by them if I didn't already had an accountant. The next person they meet at a networking event probably won't have an accountant...

So I'm still struggling with the going out and meeting people through networking but I'll just keep on stretching my comfort zone and doing it. I'll report back later on my experiences.

Standing still is boring. I just have to keep on growing.

Linda Nigro

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Focus Focus Focus

I have a problem with not being able to focus on my goals. This is an issue with me because I see opportunities in everything. Now, I kinda like that about me, but I do forget I have limits.

So this year (and part of last year) I decided to identify my goals and commit to them. Actually, it's really one goal broken down into smaller ones.

Acceptance is almost the whole battle when it comes to making character corrections, and I had and have accepted the fact that I get distracted but it hasn't helped. I'm tempted every day and there are times I'm off in left field and it might take me 3 or 4 days to realize I'm off course.

Who do I blame? Beause I really want to blame someone. Is it the internet? Is it the guys out there selling get rich quick stuff? Is it the wizard telling you to follow the yellow brick road?

This day and age of over-load information can wreck havoc on our thoughts. Everyday I get bombarded daily with new ideas on marketing, selling, making some cash with affiliates etc. I can't help myself falling into a trance shaking my head yes and it ends up that I look like the bobbing figurine on the back of some of those cars.

Today was no exception. I'm reading marketing ideas from a really great email and I'm tempted to buy his book (you know the books always seems to be the answer) but I got pinched from someone (I live alone) and I realized WAIT... is this going to help me accomplish my goal? Huh... what's my goal again? Yup, I was drunk with promises of riches and glories!

Okay, back to square one. My goal, yes I have to remember. It's not internet marketing guru's goal... it's my goal.

My goal, then, has to be broken down into steps to achieve it. So if I'm off on the internet highway, tempted by the goodies others are promoting, I've strayed the path.

Today I'm once again writing my goal. Then I'm going to break it down into steps, then each and everyday I'm going to work hard on those steps.

I'd like to believe that I'm not the only one who suffers from this malady. You know, now that I think about it, the internet isn't really to blame... it's the get rich quick schemes that come across the highway, tempting us with their falsehoods.

Okay, so what I want you to do today is write down your goals for the year. Then pick the one that will have the most impact on your life. For me it's my business. I eat, sleep, dream (etc) my business. Then, break down that goal into steps that you need to do to make it. This exercise comes from the author Brian Tracy who has helped me with my business tremendously.

One of the things today I was thinking about is Disney World. I was just recently there and, because I'm a soap maker, I was curious about the different soaps they sell in Epcot. Well I found some and I have to tell you they were almost ugly. The wrapping were terrible and the designs were amateurish. So this got me to thinking. "How great would it be to have MY soaps in Disney World" So my very imaginative brain was conjuring up all the details on how I would get my soaps into Disney.

What was that you asked? Is this one of my goals? Well it might seem on the surface to be with my goals (I do sell wholesale soaps) but it's not. Every part of our goals takes time, energy, planning and working and building on each other. It's like creating a firm foundation. One day I will sell to Disney but it's not today. Today I'm working on what I've decided is important for my business and chasing Disney today might just be a waste of time and energy. Disney is in the future. If I really want to get that account I have to do the other things first. Understand?

Someone once told me that most creative people are like me, (did they mean distracted, unfocused, scatterbrain, ditzy?) and I puffed up and strutted around because of the evidence that I'm creative. I love being told I'm creative. Being creative is what I love to do and be, but it's no excuse for not being disciplined in my goals. More than being creative I want to be successful. So with my plan in hand, I'm off to conquer my goals and my distractions. You do the same. You can, you know!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Buying Trip For My Retail Store

How many of you went to the Atlanta's Americasmart Gift Show? I was there for 3 days and invested $1000 to get there for myself and my partner. It was a hefty investment that was alot for me but I felt it was needed.

When money is tight as this economy is creating you think is this a wise way to spend my money? I think it was, because I got to see things that will help my business.

If you want your customers to keep coming back to you then you have to show them new and different things. Is there another way then going to the shows to find different items to purchase for your customers? You might be answer yes I can see things in the trade magazine and your right but not everyone advertises and the ability to see in person is invaluable. Your customers are expecting that you will go out and purchase items for them to purchase that they will love and probably not the thing they loved yesterday.

You might ask should it just be Atlanta's show, well that's a good place to start but I have a theory that those on the east coast should go west and the west coast should go east. Why you might ask, well new companies are going to start out where they are located and there's a good chance you just might find a new company with a great product that your competitor doesn't know about.

Big shows, small shows, craft shows go to as many as you can. This will familiarize you to what is out there and I promise you that when you come across something new and exciting it will get your creative juices going.

Another great source for products is the craft shows. I found a company at a craft show that sells a sugar scrub to die for who was willing to wholesale it to me and that was 2 years ago and we still are selling a bunch of her product. No one else around me has that product.

Retail today is tough but it can also be looked at as an opportunity for change and for growth both for the store and owner.

Oh one more tip, if it's a new product for you don't order at the show, go home sleep on it, talk about it, think about it, etc and then if it still feels right, order. Impulse buying is a curse, ask me how I know :-)

Go out there and get em!!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Different Type Of Advertising!

I was thinking about my first store I had in the 80's. I remember being able to sell the thing I loved first before anything else. This kept happening and it impressed me. I think I realized then that because I liked an item my talk of it would show my excitement. My excitement would then excite my customer and then a sale! So with this I felt that my opinion on items in my store were regarded as important by my customers.

So I was thinking about this today while I was showering using our Loofah Boat soap. Now the Loofah Boat soap is my favorite. I love this soap! Here is a soap that makes you feel great. I lvoe this bar because the loofah when you use it on your skin makes you feel awake and alive. I used that first bar till the very end. Now when a customer comes in looking for something I'll be sure to tell them about how much I love the Loofah Bar. I'm sure that I'll sell quite a bit of Loofah Boat. Now you know how thoughts travel and build into other areas. So I realized that my wholesale customers should be offering a sample bar of soap to their sales team. Get them to try the soaps. Let them have from first hand experience of this and then this way they actually know what this soap is like. Now they may really love it (and I think they will) and then they can't help but to tell your customers. We love to sell what we love.

Now I can hear you saying thatit's just another expense that you can't afford, but I think it's not an expense but an investment, a marketing advertising investment. This is a marketing idea that will increase sales.

Try this with one salesperson and keep track of the amount of sales that person has with the soap.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Distaste Of The Dishwasher

What does the dishwasher have to do with wholesale and retail soap? Well actually nothing except you do use soap to wash the dishes but not the kind I sell.

This is a confession blog entry about my love hate relationship with the dishwasher. This is an almost daily struggle.

I love the diswasher and how it cleans my dishes, the silverware well that can use some help.
I love the dishwasher because I can just dump them (dirty dishes) into the dishwasher and viola my kitchen is clean. The dishwasher is amazing and I wouldn't be without it.

But here's the problem, I hate to empty it. I really do and I avoid it like the plaque. Now this is really serious because I can look at that dishwasher with it's clean dishes and know it has to be emptied and I start to make promises to it and me that I'll get to it. Hmm when?

So at night I'm tired and I know that the dishwasher wants to be done but I'm tired and I just promise myself that tomorrow morning I'll do it cause I'm a morning person. So that night's dinner dishes sit in the sink waiting patiently to be put into the dishwasher.

Morning comes my energy level is high, I eat breakfast, drink coffee, walk the dog but decide that I'll just empty the dishwasher when I get home cause I really want to get to my business and that's way too important. So in the sink goes my breakfast dishes.

Nighttime boy am I beat I worked a good long day and I deserve this glass of wine and in a whisper I hear the dishwasher calling me. Especially when I see how dirty looking the kitchen looks with all those dirty dishes. "Dishwasher please I have had such a busy day, I promise tomorrow morning" On the counter goes the dinner dishes (cause the sink is full) with an I owe you to the dishwasher.

Morning comes with a resolve that I won't leave till the kitchen is clean. I keep that promise but first before I clean the kitchen I have to empty the dishwasher. I open the door with an ugh under my breath and just dig in. Not 5 minutes has passed when the dishwasher is done, cleaned out, empty, ready for the new batch. 5 minutes and that ain't no lie. All that promising and procrastinating for what? To get away without doing 5 minutes of work and it's really not work it's just putting dishes away I never broke a sweat or got achy joints or muscles from it.

I really can't figure out why I feel this way, so you might ask do I procrastinate putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher? Absolutely not I'm always ready to put in the dishwasher dishes that are dirty though except if the dishwasher has to be emptied.

So there is no rthyme or reason to this madness, I guess I'm just a bit crazy and have a phobia about emptying the dishwasher. How does that sound? You don't buy it, hmm me either.

Till next time


Monday, January 7, 2008

Who Knew I Could Do Gift Baskets!

Being in the soapmaking business for the last.....8 years people would always ask me "why don't you do baskets". Then my mind would start wandering to all the attempts I made to come up with a good looking basket. I was willing to settle for good not great. But I have to tell you all attempts were horrible. Why you ask?

Well for one I HATE shrinkwrapped baskets. They look so cheesy and cheap so anytime I did one and did the shrinkwrap covering it was ugh. Plus have you ever felt that stuff? You know we are affected by all of our senses and feel is one of them and touching that shrinkwrap after it's be shrunk feels like brittle saron wrap now what kind of impression in your mind would that conjure up?

Okay so no shrinkwrap, NEXT I went on to cello on a roll from the local craft store. Have you ever tried to cut that stuff? Dear Cello On A Roll has a mind of it's own and hates the scissor. When you finally get it cut to fit, you gather it all up around the basket with products, add the ribbon and with all that work what does it look like? Folds and folds of cello and if you look really close you can see the product. Nope I hated that almost as much as the shrinkwrap.

Ohhh one day I came across some netting at Walmart for $1.00 a yard. Bought all they had went back to the store and did up some more baskets because I was convinced this was the way. Well this was getting better but I just wasn't happy, I didn't feel that zing when I'm totally happy with what I've done. These baskets reminded me of bridal or baby shower gifts and they weren't.

One thing I did forget to mention in my quest for the good looking basket was I wasn't placing my merchandise high enough in the basket. Actually all of the stuff should be up as high as the rim of the basket. Did anyone think to start a Gift Basket University for us people who need alot of help making baskets. This would save the trial and error period.

Gift basket creating is an art, and I didn't think I had it, which was depressing. With realizing one aspect of a good looking basket was to position the items way up and also using glue dots I was starting to get a bit hopeful that I might just get it yet. I wanted to create a basket that someone would be happy to give as a gift.

So for our Valentine push we decided to order some very cute stuffed animals from Even at my age (58) I still love stuffed animals. Now Burton and Burton is geared towards gift basket companies and they have some cello bags in sizes big enough for gift baskets. So I decided to try them. I am so happy that I did that I'm doing a happy dance. Now each bag costs about .20 each but they are so worth it. There are no folds that your merchandise is hiding behind. The quality of the cello is such that it's a crisp and clean look (remember creating for all senses) and most of all my merchandise looks fabulous darling.

Oh yeah and the stuff animals holding my product in the gift basket doesn't hurt either. I'll post some pictures as soon as they are done this week.

So if you haven't thought about doing gift baskets in your store do try it and if you have and were like me and had problems with them just keep plugging away and if I can help please feel free to email me at