Early in our soap making adventure we began getting requests for shaving soap. Not one, not two, but each time we set up there was a constant stream of men asking for shaving soap. As you may know, Steve immediately put his focus into researching formulas, ingredients, and the chemistry behind shave soap, while i went for the packaging aspect of the soap. Unique to shaving soap is bentonite clay, a fine powdered clay that enriches the soap, makes it a bit harder, and apparently assists with the foaming process. Chemistry determined, the first hurdle was done. Next was to determine what to use for a mold for the soap. PVC pipe, cut in half down the middle answered that question nicely. Now that Steve had the size of the “puck” and my work began to develop a packaging that would preserve the soap, provide a nice visual presentation, as well as stand up to transporting, and shipping.
Like any new company, cost must be held down… so the thought of buying ready made boxes was out… the cost per box would raise the price of the soap beyond what the market seems to bear. I turned to the resources of the internet… gosh, what a great age for finding anything you need. I found several free patterns for boxes, and began my experiment with a piece of 60 lb card stock. How amazing is it that the first box i patterned and cut was a perfect size for the pucks. So it was off to Pat Catan to buy some heavy weight scrapbook stock…. color coordinated, ofcourse. We have chosen brown for the sandalwood, and a deep green for the bay rum.
The more we read about shaving soap the more we discovered how this is a growing trend of returning to older ways, and of celebrating the art of shaving, rather than just a necessary grooming ritual. That said, we did our homework on the finer points of shaving with this type of soap and developed a small booklet that is snugged into each box.
The soap itself could not be just placed in the box… we wanted to wrap it just as all of our soap is wrapped. The round shape posed another adventure – how to wrap it and have it look professional. I turned to my trusty bar of oval soap my aunt gave me many years ago, as a souvenier of her trip to Paris. Yes, the answer was french wrapping – that is, carefully pleat folding the paper around the circle, with a label holding the folds in place at the center of the puck. I practiced this a bit. My first attempts were rather rustic, but as I worked at the folding process more and more the soap began to look more professional.
Our first batch of shave soap was taken to market last September, and by November we knew we had a winner. One by one people stopped to ask about it, buy it, ask for the accessories.
The next idea was born – The shaving kit. Initially we purchased a half case of small ceramic bowls which fit the pucks perfectly, and bought shave brushes locally at a wholesale supply company. The store bought bowls gave way to amazing pottery and stoneware done by local artists. We love the idea of collaborative efforts – their pottery married with our soap… and this has been a nice direction.
This year we have been playing with how to market the shaving soap – finding it getting lost in the mix. Last saturday we tried something different… tilted an old wine crate on its side, put another crate inside it, and used the entire set up for shelving… soap on the bottom, shave kits on the middle and top with the sign prominently displayed atop the shelf. For the first time this summer we had a lot more people noticing and commenting on the shave soap. Perhaps it is working. (A picture of the shave soap set up is at the beginning of this post.)
If you have any ideas or suggestions for improving the appearance of our display please let us know. We love suggestions.