Earlier this month in Atlanta we were delighted to attend the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild (HSCG) Conference. The HSCG, which meets nationally once a year, is a non-profit trade association for small businesses handcrafting soaps and cosmetics, and for the handcrafted soap and cosmetics industry as a whole.
The HSCG’s Mission
The HSCG works to provide legislative advocacy for all soap and cosmetics handcrafters at both the state and federal levels, keeping a balance of fairness between large corporate cosmetics businesses and the many small businesses around the country. What often makes sense legally for a large company may not help small businesses, and for this we are grateful to have the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild working in Washington, D.C.
A Voice for Small Businesses
A good example right now is a Dove campaign that is out, which has incorrect information about using handmade soaps. The HSCG has created a video to correct this information, and to correctly remind people that handcrafted soaps are made with quality oils, clays, and other natural ingredients, while Dove and other “beauty bars” on the supermarket shelves are filled with synthetic detergents.
Without a group like the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild, no one would ever be able to correct misinformation like this, as many small businesses cannot afford to be proactive on their own. There is strength in numbers!
Gathering Together to Share, Listen, and Learn
Along with being advocates for the small business community, the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild also works hard to provide quality speakers at its annual HSCG Conferences. Among the topics covered were wholesale, trade booths, public relations, basic business operations topics, and techniques for production.
Most of the businesses present were in the soap industry, with a good number also representing the handmade cosmetics industry. There were a variety of vendors there, many of whom we regularly purchase ingredients from, so it was nice to put faces with names. Our vendors that supply our fair trade shea butter and the one who supplies our fair trade Virgin Marula Oil were present, and we were able to see ingredients and equipment that is new to the market.
Meeting the Human Faces Behind Ayr’s Ingredients
At the Conference I sat next to a lovely woman who was personally involved in the women’s co-op in Ghana where our shea butter is produced, and the work that she and her mother are doing for the community there is incredible. It is stories like hers that really continue to motivate me to find more and more ingredients that are organic, fair trade, and sustainable.
Ayr: Independent & Handcrafted
Ayr Skin Care as a company really falls between two worlds. We are definitely in the indie market, as we’re an independent business not sponsored financially by a corporation, which is why we are looking forward to our booth next January in the Los Angeles Indie Beauty Expo.
However, unlike many Indie beauty companies, we are still handcrafted, so we also fall under the HSCG umbrella. The Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild to me represents where our roots are. We began by making things by hand, and we still do it that way in small, handcrafted artisan batches.
The Quest for Better Skin Care
Yet, rather than stay in the “all oil”, or “balm” category of crafting, I realized that this was not enough for aging skin. I went on to take many classes, courses and to educate myself in the more refined world of peptides, plant stem cells, and other active ingredients. And so the world that we operate in nowadays really is a hybrid one: It is handcrafted, with all the care that comes from that, but it is also moving forward, looking to the most results-driven skin care ingredients, and staying current with the trend towards having the most transparent ingredients, sourcing, and natural preservatives.
Skin Care for People with Sensitive Skin
Then, on top of all of that, at Ayr—unlike many other Indie companies, and certainly most of the large skin care lines—we do not use any common allergens, including synthetic fragrances and colors. Ayr Skin Care’s Reveal Exfoliating Foam Facial Wash, for example, is a pale pink color, but that color comes directly from the extracts and the grape and goji berry juices in the formula.
Looking forward to Applying What We’ve Learned!
We came back from the HSCG Conference all fired up and ready for the next steps. We have the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild international conference in Toronto next month as well, and will be able to get a feel for the international market and trends in the beauty industry.
We feel grateful for the opportunity to attend these conferences and know that the information we have gleaned will translate into the continued developments and improvements in the products we create at Ayr Skin Care.
Bye for now!