The Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild’s conference will be held in Tampa, May 19 – 21.

They’ve invited me back to be a speaker and I am so thrilled to participate again! I LOVE soap conferences and always go home with more knowledge and fun memories. That got me thinking about the benefits of going to a soap making conference. I sent out a questionnaire to several of my soapmaking friends to get their feedback and takeaways from attending. Here is what they had to say!

My panel of soap conference goers includes:

1. What is the #1 benefit that you have personally gained from attending the HSCG conference?

“Besides life long, business propelling contacts, the most useful tips and tricks come from the chit chat that takes place in between the groundbreaking sessions.” – Charlene Simon

“Networking with other attendees, including speakers and vendors!” – Julie Koenig

“The knowledge. It is every where from the speakers, to the vendors and from my attendees. Talk to anyone of them and you will come away learning something you didn’t know before.” – La Shonda Tyree

“Talking about the conferences with my customers shows how professional and serious I am about soap making.” – Angela Carillo

“Meeting industry experts. People like Donna Maria of the Indie Business Network, and Anne-Marie of Bramble Berry. I had known them only online before, and meeting them face-to-face was worth the price of the ticket alone. I’ve met so many amazing people at soap conferences years ago, who I’m proud to call my friends today.” – Lori Nova Endres

“#1 benefit:  Knowledge and camaraderie beyond my expectations and an incredible feeling of belonging to an esoteric group of people who understand the highs and lows of this business.” – Sue Finley

“The shared sense of belonging that is created by our community of cottage soapmakers. My usual favorite are the keynote speakers, as they serve as a motivating catalyst for the rest of the conference.” – Benjamin Aaron

“The networking is amazing at conference. I get to share what we are doing with Lovin Soap Project and talk to soapers about how they can help support us by signing up for Soap Collaborative Magazine!” – Amanda Gail

2. What is your most memorable conference experience?

“I would have to say attending the Mardi Gras party in Palm Springs.  That was my first conference and I was hooked!” – Julie Koenig

“The year I won $500 from Essential Wholesale during the Miami Conference when they hosted one of the conference dinners.” – La Shonda Tyree

“Skipping a workshop at the conference (can I say that?) to meet Ann Evanson (who was a speaker that year) at the bar and having her personally show me how to use Twitter. Big step out of my comfort zone.” – Angela Carillo

“DISCO NIGHT!” – Sue Finley

“Ha! I have to agree with Sue…Disco Night was fun! My most memorable conference experience was meeting my best friend, Holly Port in Miami! We had so much fun together.” – Amanda Gail

“Omg so many ! Denver was my favorite. I met some life long friends, My business went to another level after that weekend.” – Holly Port

“Getting to hear Barbara Corcoran talk.” – Benjamin Aaron

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3. Who have you been most excited about meeting at a conference?

“Every year the speakers get bigger and better. Every conference is a whole new explosion of ideas that I can use in my business.” – Charlene Simon

“I was most excited about listening to and meeting Barbara Corcoran.” – Julie Koenig

“Barbara Corcoran – I am a huge Shark Tank fanatic and was excited to hear her speak as well as meet her in person.” – La Shonda Tyree

“There isn’t one person in particular. I’ve mostly been excited to physically meet the other soap makers I knew on social media only.” – Angela Carillo

“My favorite people to meet at the conferences were my suppliers. Owners I’ve spoken to over the phone, through email, and who I’ve been ordering from for years. It’s so nice to finally put a face and a real person behind a business that you already support. Makes the customer loyalty that much stronger.” – Lori Nova Endres

“I was most excited to meet Charlene Simon, a dynamo in our field and someone who provides inspiration and a real can-do attitude.  She shows us that we can start from nothing and make a huge impact on an already flooded industry!” – Sue Finley

“Marla Bosworth , Debbie May , Debbie Chialtas , Amanda Gail 🙂 Anne Marie Failoa , Rose Cunfer, Lashonda Tyree, Donna Marie” – Holly Port

“Probably all of the suppliers, as I order from them on such a recurrent basis, it is nice to see the fine folks behind all the things that make my business go.” – Benjamin Aaron

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4. What is the most memorable session/topic that influenced your business or you as a soapmaker?

“Product labeling requirements definitely pushed my business in the right direction.” – Julie Koenig

“Again, there isn’t one I can pick out. I enjoy the different soap making technique, social media and business workshops most.” – Angela Carillo

“In the handful of conference I’ve attended, my favorite presentations were by Kevin Dunn. He’s hilarious first of all, and by doing the actual scientific experiments to prove or disprove the conventional wisdom that everyone seemed to be following, he really moved soapmakers and modern soapmaking forward by leaps & bounds. I nicknamed him “The Soap Whisperer.” – Lori Nova Endres

“The most memorable session/topic was Lela Barker’s session on branding.  It made me focus more on how I wanted my company to be perceived and it prompted me to hire Benjamin Aaron to help me take my business to the next level.” – Sue Finley

“In Miami a few years ago, I heard Larry Plesent of Vermont Soapworks give a talk about Economy of Scale. I really needed to hear it, as my business at the time was at a real crossroads when it came to the need to scale up and really get out there in a bigger way.” – Benjamin Aaron

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5. What’s your #1 networking tip while attending conference?

“Even if you are introverted by nature, break out of your shell at the conference.  The amount of knowledge you can gain by speaking to fellow soap makers is amazing.  This is your opportunity – take full advantage of it.” – Julie Koenig

“Walk up to someone who is alone and introduce yourself.  Chances are he/she is just as shy and nervous as you are and is looking for someone to talk to.” – Angela Carillo

“Bring business cards, of course, but also be interested in what other people are doing.  I learned so much from, for example, Tammy Cressotti of Mimi’s Apiary!  She’s a beekeeper who incorporates her wax, honey, etc. into her products.  I met many people who were doing things just a bit differently or who were making different products; I learned a lot.  Talk to as many people as you can and find out their story.  You learn so much.” – Sue Finley

“Just jump in, do not expect people to come to you. YOU go to them ! Make friends. You will not be disappointed.” – Holly Port

“One year (Portland) I gave each person (total strangers) at my networking lunch table a bar of soap and asked them to use it that night and give me their honest opinion about it, from the packaging to the scent. It was a nice way to make new friends.” – Benjamin Aaron

6. Any other random tips or thoughts on attending conference?

“Never sit alone – you can’t gain valuable information if you’re by yourself.  Pack a sweater or jacket, as the temperature in the meeting rooms can fluctuate.” – Julie Koenig

“Definitely bring a larger suitcase and pack lightly with your clothing since you will come home with lots of goodies from the conference and the vendors. This way you won’t have to worry about how you going to get things back home. The larger items you can ship from the conference since the HSCG has UPS on the last day to help with shipping the heavy stuff home.” – La Shonda Tyree

“It’s an amazing experience to immerse yourself in all aspects of soap making for 3 days. To be surrounded by and talk to others who share your passion is not to be missed.” – Angela Carillo

“Pack light because you’re bringing back a shi*load of stuff.  Bring spending money because there is so much soap and cosmetic supply “bling” that you’ll be like a kid in a candy shop.” – Sue Finley

“Be prepared to be pumped and excited ! Take everything you learn and make a list! I always learn something that helps my business!” – Holly Port

“Bring extra money for the bar! Soapmakers love to party!” – Benjamin Aaron

Thank you to my panel for answering my questions!

Have you been to a soap making conference? Please feel free to answer some of the questions in the comments below with your thoughts! 🙂

Happy Soaping!

Amanda Gail

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