Lora's Beauty Website

For handcrafted soap visit the online store or the Etsy Store!

Lora's artisan soaps, an affordable luxury.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

So Many New Things To Talk About

It's been about 1 1/2 years since I retired from my job as a software developer. I kept telling myself once I retired I'd have more time to deep dive into my sales data from Etsy and my website. I had illusions of downloading the data and loading it into a database and writing all kinds of queries against it to determine my best sellers, what people ordered most, ordered least, etc. Basically, do what I had done for the past 20 years at my job.

Well, I'm happy to report I haven't done that. I haven't written one single query against any data anywhere in the past year and a half! Amazingly, I didn't need to. I know what sells and what doesn't because I make the soap, package it up, and mail it every day. And you know what? I make a lot of dish soap and shampoo bars and conditioner bars. Those items really sell on my Etsy shop.

I also know from practical experience that my body soaps sell more on my website and in person bazaars and markets. So armed with that knowledge I'm happy to offer more dish soaps in new scents and shapes, more shampoo and conditioner bars in new scents, and new body bars as I prep for the upcoming holiday markets.

Let's start with the new dish soaps that have hit my Etsy shop and website this month. I'll now offer a GIANT sized rectangular bar! This bar will be 3.5" X 3" X 1.5" and 8 oz, twice the weight of my round soaps and will come in several scents including the new Basil Orange. 

Speaking of new scents, I've added a new scent in my popular round dish soap, lemon basil. 

Another new dish soap shape I've added is a smaller round bar. This bar is approximately 2.25 inches in diameter and has been created, per a request from a customer, to work as a replacement for the dish that comes with the popular Full Circle dish soap set. Naturally, it will work in any soap dish, but if you purchased the Full Circle set, think of this bar the next time you need dish soap.

For a limited time, I have a cube sized dish bar. This is limited because I discovered it was painfully hard to remove these bars from the mold.

Two new shampoo bar scents are coming to my Etsy shop and website this month. 

There is a lavender tea tree bar

and an activated charcoal bar scented with patchouli spearmint. 

Both these bars are vegan and made with aloe vera water, avocado butter, and the other same great ingredients as my current shampoo bars. 

For more variety, I've also added a lavender conditioner bar to my Etsy shop.

Three new body soaps will be available this holiday season. Two of those will make it to my Etsy shop and website, the other one will be sold only at the holiday markets. 

I've been wanting to make a Honey & Beeswax body bar for sometime and am happy to offer this one made with goats milk, tussah silk, and all the nourishing oils and butters found in my other body soaps. This bar can be found in my Etsy shop and website.

Also debuting online later this month is my Indigo Peppermint Basil bar. So much more than just a dye, indigo has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb and contains many skincare benefits.

Stay tuned as the holiday season progresses I'll have new gift sets and discount codes for subscribers of my blog! 

If you're local to the Portland Oregon area, my first holiday market will be November 4 & 5 at Hinson Memorial Baptist Church, 1137 SE 20th Ave. Add a reminder to your online calendar! this is a nice, laid back market that also serves coffee, pastries and lunch.

Friday, August 19, 2022

How your package gets to you

I've written before about packaging and shipping your Lora's Beauty orders. As someone who does a lot of ordering by mail, I know it's important. 

Today's post is about how your package gets to the post office. I either walk or bike all packages there. I do this because I love the calm of walking or riding through my neighborhood and it's a great way to get exercise since the round trip is around 3 miles, but most importantly, I do it to be as environmentally friendly as possible. 

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you have probably seen my 'Journeys to the Post Office' posts. I deliver packages everyday to the post office except on Sundays. That means if you place an order on Monday, it will be in the mail and on it's way to you on Tuesday. Sometimes, if you time it just perfectly, I'll get it in that day's mail.

In case you don't follow me on social media, or you've missed my 'Journey to the Post Office' posts, I thought I'd share some photos from all the season's walks here today.

Let's start with Autumn! Don't worry, that little dog can get his head out of the fence.

Most of the time winter involves a walk with an umbrella but this day we had snow!

As always, spring follows winter!

Finally, summer!

Next month I begin gearing up for the holiday season! That means making a batch of soap just about everyday. I've been keeping a list of new holiday soaps to make including a honey&beeswax bar, an orange eucalyptus mint bar naturally colored pink&green, a navy blue and white bar naturally colored with indigo and scented with cedarwood, peppermint & basil, and finally a smaller round dish soap that will fit in the popular Full Circle dispensers as replacement soap.

Until next time, enjoy the last days of summer!

Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Thing About Shipping and Four New Products!

After mailing over two thousand packages, I've discovered a few things about shipping within the US, and would like to share them with you. 

When ordering from Lora's Beauty website or Etsy shop, you should never pay in shipping costs more than the cost of a USPS Flat Rate Padded Envelope ($8.45 as of today). I offer free shipping on all orders over $35 and I've priced my products so orders under $35 can fit in a flat rate padded envelope.

On my website, I make sure that you're never charged more than that, however, I don't have that kind of control on my Etsy shop. 

On my website, I have set up shipping rules so any purchases under $12 will ship for $5, purchases $12 to $34.99 ship for the cost of a padded flat rate envelope, and purchases over $35 are free to ship.

On Etsy I have to enter the weight of each item individually as it's packaged. So a 5 oz bar of soap with packaging would weigh about 7 oz to ship. Etsy then uses the USPS data to lookup the destination of the package and returns the price to mail the 7 oz package from Portland, OR (where Lora's Beauty is.) Over charges can happen when multiple bars of soap are purchased since they'll be mailed in one box. For example, two 5 oz bars in one box would really weigh approximately 12 oz (5 X 2 + 2) but Etsy figures it as 14 oz. Amazingly, over charges don't happen that often and I refund them when they do. 

Now onto some more exciting news! I have new products in my shop!!

Have you ever found yourself with small bits and pieces of soap that are too small to hold in your hand? Or have you ever wanted a washcloth where you could just slip your bar of soap into it and use it for scrubbing your body? Well, Lora's Beauty now has handmade crochet soap savers that will solve both these problems!

These soap savers are made with 100% cotton yarn and have a tiny loop on the corner so you can hang them to dry between uses. All my soap's sizes and shapes will fit in them.

Also new in my shop are my spirits inspired soaps!

There's one made with whiskey,

one made with gin,

and one made with aquavit!

These soaps aren't just fun, they're also great for your skin. Each bar contains aloe vera gel, silk fibers, and either whiskey, gin, or aquavit spirits, as well as all the wonderful oils and butters found in all my soaps.

Aquavit, being made with vitamin E rich caraway seeds, improves skin appearance.

Gin, thanks to the lovely juniper berry, provides smoother, softer skin.

Whiskey contains wonderful antiseptic capabilities making it a great choice for oily skin and a defense against acne. 

One of each in a gift box would make a wonderful gift!

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Twelve Years Running and Three Other Things Happening At Lora's Beauty

May has always been a special month for me. Besides it being my son's birthday month, it's also the month I first started Lora's Beauty!

It's hard to believe it's been 12 years since I first opened my online shop at Lorasbeauty.com

One of my goals this year, and every year, is to continue to grow Lora's Beauty. I'd love to do that through my website but my Etsy shop generates over 90% of my business. Etsy has been great at generating sales and I have had nothing but good encounters on it. However, I'd feel more comfortable if my sales were diversified across different platforms. That's why in April I opened a Mindful Market Place shop.

Mindful Market Place is similar to Etsy in that small business can create shops. The difference is there is a real push for 'conscious capitalism.' Conscious capitalism is the belief that business is more than just making a profit and shoppers can make a difference by buying from people or companies that share their values. 

It's pretty heady stuff and I'd like to see it take off but the marketplace is relatively new and it doesn't have a lot of traffic yet. I'm also not too keen on the shipping choices. The only shipping option is to calculate shipping per number of items in which you create a fixed price for the first item and then one amount for each additional items. To get around this, I increased the price of each of my products and then offered free shipping on all of them with no minimum purchase requirement. It's not perfect but I'm hoping as Mindful Marketplace grows, the shipping options will improve.

In May I took a vacation to visit my son in Connecticut. He and his fiancee moved there last August. They bought a beautiful house and have quickly made it a cozy home. I'm so proud of them and I had a wonderful visit. 

From Connecticut, I flew to North Carolina to visit an old friend. It was there that I had an idea for a new soap! My friend was doctoring his leg from multiple bug bites with calamine lotion. He said it was what his doctor recommended. 

My mind went to soap and the thought of adding calamine to soap to soothe itchy bug-bitten skin. I quickly went online and ordered some calamine powder. Once I returned home, I made my new Calamine, Oatmeal, and Honey Goats Milk Soap!

Calamine has long been used to relieve irritation from minor skin issues like hives or bug bites. It also works well to dry out rashes caused from poisonous plants. 

Besides calamine powder, I've added colloidal oatmeal and honey to the already great ingredients of olive oil, goats' milk, cocoa butter, castor oil, rice bran oil, and tussah silk. The essential oils of rosemary, lavender, and eucalyptus complete the soap. This bar is now available on my Etsy shop and website

Finally, I want to mention something I'm sure everyone has noticed lately, the cost of everything has increased. This includes the cost of ingredients used in making my soaps, lotion bar, and ceramic dishes. Even the Etsy fees to sell my products has increased. Because of this, I have raised the price for most my products approximately .25 cents per item and, at least for now, I have not increased the price of items sold on my website. So for the best deal, shop directly from my website! The coupon code LBTHANKYOU will give you an additional 10% off on purchases from my website and Etsy store.

One last thing...if you follow me on Instagram (if you don't click here) you probably already know this, I have a trio of new soaps coming out later this summer made from liquor! Specifically they are made from aquavit, gin, and whiskey. It took a little bit of chemistry to figure out how to add spirits to soap but I got it working. Look for more details in my blog next month!

Thank you for your interest in and support of Lora's Beauty!

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

An Updated View Of The Soap Studio And Two Other Things To Know This Spring

Hello! I've been making soap for well over a decade now and like most soapmakers, I started in my kitchen. It wasn't until February of 2020 that I finally created a dedicated workspace for soapmaking. I'm thrilled to share some photos with you now since I've done even more organizing in it. First, there's a couple business topics I need to cover.

I'll start with the one I always mention this time of year, the heat and my conditioner bar. With the weather warming up across the US it becomes more difficult to mail the Moisturizing Hair Conditioner Bar since temperatures over 90 degrees will melt the bar as it's packed with moisturizing butters. 

If you like the bar and plan on reordering, I’m encouraging people to order more soon if you think you might run out before the end of summer. Most likely, by the end of May I’ll need to pack all bars in a 4 oz tin with screw on lid increasing the price $2. This tin is an optional add on outside of the summer months.

The second thing I'd like to mention is I'm going on vacation!! This will be my first vacation since 2020, before Covid changed the world, and I'm definitely looking forward to it! I'll be visiting my son and his fiance in Connecticut then going to see my friends in North Carolina. My shop and website will remain open and I've secured someone to fill orders while I'm gone. I have complete confidence in my unpaid helper(😊) but I wanted to mention it especially if you're a repeat customer. My vacation is the first two weeks in May.

Now on to the exciting stuff!! Before and after photos! If you're like me, I love before and after photos especially if they have to do with hairstyles or remolding! 

As I mentioned, back in 2020, I hired a local contractor to remodel a few things in my basement laundry room to make it a functional space that I could make soap in. While they were at it, I had them increase the closet space in the downstairs bedroom.

Here's a peak at what the basement looked like.

This view is looking through the closet in the bedroom after they demolished the wall.

Here's a photo of the closet with the wall before it was demolished and enlarged.

In this photo you can see on the right the new wall for the walk in closet and the space where my new sink and countertops will live.

Since there is a bedroom down here and the tv room, it was important that I had good ventilation while making soap so part of the renovation included a heavy duty fan vented outside.

This is the 'after' photo of the same area with the sink and countertops! This is still a laundry room and the washer and drier are to the right of the sink like the photo above.

Moving to the left of the sink, this is my countertop and open shelving below for supplies.

Continuing to the left, this is my worktable where I fill mail orders and store my 5 gallon containers of oils and the lye. I rearranged this area recently so I had all my mail supplies in one place. I also dry herbs here that I picked from my garden to use in some of my soaps.

Mailing boxes and essential oils are right behind the blue worktable.

My drying rack for curing soap is to the right of the essential oil rack.
Did you know that each bar of soap needs to cure approximately 4 weeks?

Here's a wider view of the curing rack and shelf that holds the mail boxes and essential oils.

After the soap has cured, I move them to my storage area directly behind the curing rack behind the curtains. I hung the curtains to protect the finished bars from dust and germs.

On the soap storage shelves, I hold each variety of soap in a cardboard box to provide plenty of air circulation.

Here you can see I'm working on getting my stock up while I'm on vacation!

Around the corner, I have another rack that holds more soap supplies and molds. Hey! There's my water bottle! I was looking for that!

Finally, deep in the back of the basement corner behind the screen in the photo above, I've set up a photo booth area to photograph my products.

I use all types of lights from every angle to get the best photos as there isn't much natural light in this corner.

That's my soap studio! It really is a workspace so it's not designer perfect but the longer I work in it the more I find ways to streamline things and improve them.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

The One Moisturizer For All Your Rough Skin Needs Plus A Little Insight On Moisturizers

After receiving several inquiries into whether I sold a moisturizer, I've added another new item to the Lora's Beauty Store! 

But first, did you know there are three types of moisturizers? I'm not talking creams vs lotions vs serums, no, the three types are characterized by the way they work.

Those moisturizers that fill in crevices so the skin appears smoother are typically made with oils and lipids (fatty acids). These are known as emollients and usually include ingredients found in those expensive anti aging creams.

Moisturizers that hydrate the skin by binding moisture from the air to the skin are known as humectants. Humectants are usually water based. Glycerine is an example of a humectant.

Finally, those moisturizers that provide a protective barrier on the skin to lock in moisture are know as occlusives. Ingredients that are occlusives are beeswax, silicones, and petroleum jelly.

Depending on many factors like age, weather and even genetics, you may need one type of moisturizer more than the other, however, most products contain ingredients from multiple categories. Such is true for my new lotion bar.

This bar contains only three ingredients; rice bran oil and cocoa butter, which are both emollients, and beeswax an occlusive. The end result is a lotion bar that forms a protective barrier on the skin to lock in moisture as it fills in those dry, rough patches on your skin.

Perfect uses for this bar are to smooth rough elbows, heels, knees, and hands and to heal chapped lips. It also will work to tame fly away hair by applying to fingers then smoothing fingers over hair.

These lotion bars are unscented aside from the natural scent of cocoa butter. They come in a 2 oz tin with screw on lid so they'll fit nicely into a purse, gym bag, pocket, or carry on without fears of spilling.

You can find these bars on my website and etsy shop.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Does Soap Go Bad and Three Other Things You Need To Know

Just like food, soap has a shelf life. 

The shelf life of handmade soap can be determined by looking at every ingredient that goes into the soap. The shelf life of the soap corresponds to the ingredient with the shortest shelf life. For most natural soaps, the ingredients with the shortest shelf life are essential oils, which are usually a year. 

Here's where it gets tricky though. After a year, your handmade soap can still be used and it will work just fine, it may however, not smell quite as strong as it used to and in some cases it may smell not as good. However that doesn't mean the soap has expired or turned rancid, it's still soap and will continue to  clean and fight germs. For the oils in the soap to go rancid, if properly made and stored, could take several years.

Being a soap maker, I use all my older bars. I am currently using a bar of soap in my spare bathroom that is close to 3 years old. It works fine and smells good. I've kept it stored in a cool, dry environment until using it to extend the shelf life.

So, how can you tell if that bar of handmade soap you found in the drawer in your bathroom is still good? Let your nose guide you! Does it smell good? Does it have no smell? Then put it in your shower and use it. If it smells rancid then toss it.

Recently I became aware of a new use for my dish soap and would like to share it with you; it makes a wonderful spot remover for clothing! Get the dish brush wet and rub it over the dish soap. Then gently rub it over the spot on your clothing and toss it in the laundry (with my new laundry soap of course)! Give it a try and perhaps you'll find that spot remover will be one less plastic bottle to buy!

I've received a number of inquiries on if I have an unscented variety of my conditioner bar.  As of this year I can now answer that question with a yes! The bar is rich in cocoa butter so there is still a faint scent, however, no essential oils are added to the unscented variety.

Finally, I want to mention a new color finish to my shave scuttles. Desert Rabbit ceramics is supplying me with a beautiful matte finish dish! Right now I only have it in black but I've been told I'll soon be able to stock matte finishes in other colors and in the popular soap dish! Look for this addition this spring!