Learning, traveling, and time off

So I’ve been home for about a week and a half and finally getting a minute to finally write about the Tucson conference, flying on a plane for the first (second, third, then fourth) times, and what it was all like.  It’s been hectic since we got back home to say the least.

The Saloon (1280x722)

William enjoying Old Tucson and the buildings now used in films, tv & commercials.

A few days after returning my mom passed away.  It was quick, from all reports it was painless, and she’s no longer lost in the darkness that was Lewy Body Dementia, but smiling, healthy pain-free and spending time with her parents above.  Her memories are all back where she wanted them and she’s watching over us as we muddle on, but her words, favorites phrases resonate in our heads and even occasionally fall out of our mouths as we sound more and more like her every day we spend in our own lives.  If any of you reading this knows anything about Lewy Body Dementia, you know what it’s like to watch your parent or loved one slowly disappearing and there’s nothing you can do to stop it or bring them back. It’s irreversible, hereditary, and scary as hell.  My sisters & I watch each other closely know, wondering when, if, and how quickly.  We’re terrified, to say the least.  But we have families and they need us, so we live our lives and march on.  So that’s what I’m doing after spending some time reflecting, getting my house back in order, and then helping hubby when he fell ill.

Apparently the hubby has something like walking pneumonia.  It looked like it to me, but his antibiotics ran out right before we had to leave, so they didn’t get refilled and a redo of his chest x-ray wasn’t done in the time frame the doctor’s office wanted, so we came back with a sicker hubby, I’m frantic, and we rush over to doctor’s offices, drug stores and diagnostic imaging offices.  As we await the results, he began a new course of a stronger, different antibiotic prescribed by his regular physician, so our fingers are all firmly crossed this works and he finally gets better.  Just in time for him to fly off to Central and South America for two weeks.

I’ll be planning a baby shower for my daughter in the time just prior to his departure because the party is set for the day before he leaves, so I won’t be able to help him as he prepares for his trip, but he’s been doing this for a long time before I ever showed back up in his life, so he can pull this together one time without me.  My daughter’s due in September and they’re expecting a little girl, so it’s Alice in Wonderland theme decorations for her party and lots of interesting unique games her younger brother is dreaming up for the big event.  I can’t wait to see how this all turns out.  I’ll try to get pictures at the time, but it all depends on how busy I am.

Queen of Hearts, Alice In Wonderland

Queen of Hearts, Alice In Wonderland

 

 

So, back to Tucson, and the HSCG Conference. For those of you that aren’t members, or in the industry, or just never heard of them, HSCG is Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild.  I’m a member of this on the professional level because I sell to the public.  At this level they offer liability insurance, mentoring, vendor discounts, and of course the conferences with lots of opportunities to learn more about your current skills, expand your horizons into new areas, gain insight into how to grow your business and so much more I can’t even begin to list it all!  I love being a member of the Guild, but the one thing I really enjoyed about this year’s is that while it was my first conference, my first flight, my first trip out of state to a state that doesn’t touch my home state of NC, and I had the opportunity to take the test to become certified.

I'm a Certified Lyer!

I’m a Certified Lyer!

So what does it mean to become a Certified Soapmaker?  It gives you 1) bragging rights.  You can proudly show all who visit your site, Facebook page, blog, etc, that you know your craft and have the confidence to make a quality product you are proud to place your name & brand on.  Once the documentation is filed with HCSG, I’ll be able to upload a badge for all the sites associated with Neecy’s brand and customers can be assured when seeing this badge that I’m serious about what I do, know what to do to make a quality Bath & Body product, and they can trust what I create to sell to them as safe.  2) It gives your customers peace of mind.  You’re not a lightweight who’s just starting soaping,.  You’ve done this for a while, studied the science behind it, know what to do and even more importantly, what NOT to do.  This was important to me and lays the groundwork for moving upward onto the next step, which is Advance Certification.  I’ve already begun building a plan for that level and will be posting on it as time allows.

The conference had numerous knowledgeable guest speakers giving their time to teach us a new skill, opening new doors into our field so we can become, multifaceted Bath & Body crafters on a professional level with the best of the best.  I’ve learned so much from that conference, and though exhausting as it all is, attending those classes is definitely worth every penny and every minute spent!  I’ve learned about how to make bath fizzies, or bath bombs as some call them, but I’ll stick with fizzies to avoid being marked for a watch list somewhere after using the word ‘bomb’.

I bought a couple of  extraordinary books there at a great price (vendors offer discounted prices on their products at these events!), Lela’s Barker’s 155 Words You Need To Know; Practical Wisdom for Creative Entrepreneurs, which is a gold mine of valuable information  in so many respects I don’t have time to list them all here.  You simply must get her book if you’re seriously wanting to grow your business in a way that will get you to your business goal! Lela spoke on pricing your products, and I realized that I’m undervaluing my own time and product, so a reevaluation of my product lines is in order.  First of ’15 will see those results implemented.  Also check out Lela’s site, LuckyBreakConsulting.com  or her blog, Lucky Break Consulting/Blog .  It will provide hours/days/weeks of reading centered around your business’s success.

Another speaker I truly admired and thoroughly enjoyed learning tons from is Kerri Mixon, a 16th generation soapmaker, who talked about how to create clear soap.  It’s begun like a cold process, then reverts to hot, then is treated in a particular way to make it clear.  Her lecture opened my eyes up to a whole new avenue of soaping that I’m very excited to try out soon!  I’ll post the results when I’ve had a chance to try it out.  Good or bad.

The other speaker to throw light onto a new topic for me was Holly Port.  Holly taught the class on how to make bath bombs & fizzies, which aren’t exactly the same thing.  The ‘bombs’ aren’t necessarily going to fizz, but will dissolve to create a spa bath that moisturizes & scents your skin.  The fizzies will do much the same thing, but with a fizzy foaming action that happens when they come in contact with water.  Her new book, released at the conference fresh from the publishers, was sold at a discount to attendees, which of course was snapped up as quickly as humanly possible.  I’ve already read through it once, and definitely will add these items into my line soon!

If you make soap, but have never joined HSCG or gone to a conference, you seriously need to consider both in the future.  It’s completely worth every minute and every dollar spent.  I’d love to go to every single one every single year, but I know it’s not feasible for me to manage that at this particular point in my life, so I’ll plan on going to the 2016 conference next, which will be in Tampa, Florida at the gorgeous Saddlebrook Resort (look it up, it’s mind-blowing!).  I’ll have to pass on 2015’s, however if you’re interested and perhaps if you live nearby, it’s in Indianapolis, Indiana, April 18-20, 2015, at the Westin Downtown Hotel. There’s a limit to the number of attendees to 450 and 15 have already signed up for next year’s, that’s how major it is!

As I close this post out, here are a few more pics from the trip  out to Tucson – enjoy!

IMG_1797 (960x1280)Agave in Bloom (1280x960)IMG_1786 (1280x960)The shady spots (1280x960)Loews in its natural habitat (1280x960)

 

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