Advertise With Us

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fraud Or Friend?

I know everyone has to make a living, but the more I poke around, the more I see new soaps around that are private labeled.  Now, I private label my soap to a few companies, too, which means that I am part of the whole private label industry.  I'm a soapmaker that provides soap to people who can't make it and would like to offer them to their customer base. 

What urks me is that people are creating companies to sell soap and bath and body products, but are just ordering from artisans and wholesale outlets, repackaging the products and claiming they made it all. By hand. That is what makes me nuts.  Why create a company that carries and sells everything that was made by others and claim it's theirs?  Seems like fraud to me.  And dishonest.  One of the problems I see about that is the more "soap companies" or B+B companies that pop up, the more saturated the market becomes, making it harder for real soap makers to make a living.  It's true that some people are better at branding and marketing than others and these people get in there and sell the wares to customers that would have otherwise, perhaps, chosen other indie companies that make them.

I can't compete with certain companies that wholesale their soaps for $1.79.  Raw materials have almost doubled since I started soaping and where is the profit?  How can one make soap and sell it for that and be able to pay for groceries?!  I can't. 

I know that safflower and sunflower oil is cheaper than olive oil and shea butter, etc, but people don't care what it's made of as long as it claims it's organic.  Here is another problem I have.  Organic doesn't mean better.  Organic just means that pesticide wasn't used in producing the products.  That's not always a good thing. Don't insects and other pests carry disease and can be carried through to the food, fruit, oils, etc?  I have had food poisoning on two separate occasions eating organic foods.  Both were "pre-washed" and packaged. 

I have been tempted to call people out, but then it really doesn't matter what I think or who sells what.  We live in a free society with choices, and I honor and support that.  Who am I to say I think it's a double-cross?  I believe in rights, but it still makes me mad.  It's hard to always be telling prospective customers that my ingredients and formulations are of superior quality and that my scents are carefully chosen and blended, just to purchase from the cheaper supplier.  What can I do other than continue making the soap and products that are good and of high quality and stand behind it and hope I get through this recession.  Because it's hard out here.  This isn't my second job. 

This is everything.

32 comments:

Under the Willow said...

Interesting post Joanna. I'll have to look closer at other companies because I haven't noticed this happening.

I agree with you- this is just dishonest and I'm glad you brought it to our attention.

As another soap maker who's well aware of the cost of the actually product-it's amazing that any of us are still in biz.

Goes to show we really really must LOVE what we do, and care what we use on our skin, and our loved ones.

B said...

<3 THANK YOU <3

Marga said...

It's not fair and a difficult one!
A lot of work of the well-known artist Picasso was made by his students ;-(

Joanna Schmidt said...

Marga: that I did not know. I was an artist's apprentice in college and I painted "in the lines" for him. Huge paintings! Needed a ladder and sometimes scaffolding. He drew outlines and I blocked out colors for him O.O

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Joanna, my soap is still my hobby but my heart screams along with you. We sell certified organic meat which is very different from folks who call their meat "all natural". It costs us large amounts of money and time to produce a fantastic product and then someone comes along who raises their animals in confinement on very cheap crappy feed and undersells us to the restaurants. It makes me furious! This is what I do. I keep producing the VERY BEST product I can, I tell everyone why it is better (for our animals and for them)and when all the cheap, badly produced meat (or soap or anything) bites them in the arse, as it will, I will be here to sell them the good stuff. But it will likely cost them alittle more:)

The definition of ethical behavior is simple "Do the Right Thing Well" and you are Joanna, You are

Tierra Verde Handmade Soap said...

I also find it an atrocity when people misrepresent their product to be something it's not in terms of saying their melt and pour is cold process or hot process-even to the point of listing ingredients as you would cold process or hot process.Their is no shame in fully disclosing that you make melt and pour-in fact perhaps there are many positives to being strictly a melt and pour soapmaker,but don't misrepresent your product.

I make strictly cold process,my raw materials are a bit more expensive to say the least+the process is considerably slower(I can't rush as 4-6 wk cure time.)soooo,all of this amounts to a more costly end result.Melt and pour soapmakers don't elude to the public that you go through this same process when you clearly do not. This leads to a misinformed public that then does not understand the difference blurring the lines between the two different products and their attributes. Be honest and have integrity for the product you make.Isn't that what handcrafting is all about-the integrity and honor we have for our product?

Burnt Mill Candles and Soap said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Burnt Mill Candles and Soap said...

This is part of why I don't wholesale. Maybe it is because I went to photo school so I have more of an artist brain but I can't stand someone else calling my work theirs and also taking the profit. So I am retail only and if you want it you have to get it from only me. Could I make more money also doing wholesale probably but I wouldn't be happy about it so I don't do it.

I do see soaps out there that I recognize as another soap makers so it does happen that people claim it as their own.

Jepp said...

La Honestidad deberĂ­a ser el primer ingrediente de cualquier Jabonero, soapmaker.
Me he permitido poner una referencĂ­a a tu post en mi blog, gracias.
http://www.olijabones.blogspot.com/#!http://olijabones.blogspot.com/2012/01/del-mar-y-la-montana.html

Amy Warden said...

I stopped selling wholesale for this reason as well. It just didn't set well for me to see someone else selling my soaps on the web. They weren't necessarily claiming they had made them, but still.

Also, I'd never really thought about how organic foods could carry disease.

All good points, Joanna! Keep doing what you're doing. :)

Becca said...

Thank you.
All I can say is just keep making the best soaps you can. Strive to be YOUR best, and in the end you won't have any regrets...

The Soap Sister said...

Boy, I feel your pain, Joanna! I see misrepresentations all the time -grrrr! My personal pet peeve(s) are "all natural" soaps that aren't and cheap ingredients that are chosen for price alone (or perhaps ignorance, who knows?) Poor hubby cringes when I get on a rant about this...glad to know I'm not alone in the frustration! :)

M Konnerth said...

Great post Joanna. I couldn't agree with you more. I work very hard to figure out -test - retest - my formulations and blends to get them just right.
I do private label, but my name and my integrity are still visible on and inside the packaging. I couldn't imagine passing some thing off as mine, that wasn't...and like your other readers - I too believe that it's important for us to continue to sing the praises of why our truly hand crafted products are superior. The people who purchase based on price alone are not our customers any way. Hang in there! : )

My Planet Earth Soaps said...

Great post Joanna! I am so lame I am just starting to blog and am navigating my way around posting and adding etc. so this may or may not attach. ;p I live in Canada and shipping is insane for me to get my raw materials for soap making. I live on an island as well which makes it even more expensive. I know what you mean about some companies wholesaling for dirt cheap but I bought a bar of soap from one of these companies last week to try it out and it was not good. The quality of the soap was not good (my skin felt very dry after use) and I struggled to smell the essential oil that they said was in the bar. I am going to keep doing what I am doing and making what I believe to be a quality bar of natural soap. I am going to keep educating people on the benefits of using a quality natural soap and I am going to pray for some flat-rate shipping miracle in Canada lol. Mike :)

Jarmelia- DIY Hair Care Products said...

I understand where you're coming from and I agree.

I just try to focus on my products and do my best to make sure I'm making the most of my market.

There will always be others but, I don't focus on them.

Ellesar said...

I have never made soap, and have now discovered soap nuts, so probably won't be buying much now, but I can totally understand your chagrin. I was looking up wholesale ingredients to make bath bombs and the supplier sells soap to be fiddled about with (coloured and perfumed) and then the buyer calls it their own. NOT homemade at all! There must be loads of these suppliers around.

Mercedes said...

I agree with you because I also suffer this problem. I fear all we can do is educate the public on how to differentiate and appreciate other truly natural products and other manufacturers themselves are not.
As far as I know, as you have permission to make (at least in Spain, although not everybody complies) to sell the company must also indicate they are manufactured.
Of course, another option is to not build brands. I do not manufacture to others and I always carry my brand products. Could the solution?

J said...

I don't understand why melt pour people always get called out by cp soap makers. Good soap feels good whether it's from a high quality base or from a well designed recipe from scratch. I've bought a lot of soap from cp soap makers that were junk, and have tried great soap made from a base.

The ingredients for mp soap base often does look similar to cp soap.

Spending more time to create a cp soap should definitely be commended but I'm sure people that make great melt and pour soaps spend a lot of time testing out their formulations as well.

Customers online buy soap from the way they look, described, packaged, and great customer service. Looking at Etsy, the top soap makers do work with mp, but I'm sure their customers keep going back because they really enjoy the products.

Tierra Verde Handmade Soap said...

"I don't understand why melt pour people always get called out by cp soap makers. Good soap feels good whether it's from a high quality base or from a well designed recipe from scratch. I've bought a lot of soap from cp soap makers that were junk, and have tried great soap made from a base."

This post was about misrepresenting a product-I am not at all saying that m&p is not of good quality.My point is if you are a m&p soapmaker do not try to pass it off as cp-it does happen and it is not the same thing.This leads the public into believing they are getting something they are not.This isn't about whether m&p is as nurturing as cp or how similar the ingredients are-this is about misrepresentation- pulling the wool over the eyes of the public because they may not know the difference. It's wrong in terms of misinforming the public-and it means a cp soapmaker has to work extra hard to educate the public as to the process involved etc.

Joanna Schmidt said...

J - I wrote this post in my frustration of misrepresentation, as Tierra Verde said. In fact, I wasn't even thinking about MP soaps, nor did I mention them, but that is another story in my book for another day, another discussion.

Thank you all for your sweet support

ettaandbillie said...

Thanks for shedding light on this growing problem. I have been selling on Etsy for 3 years now and have seen a huge increase in soapers that don't actually soap but buy logs from a wholesaler and pass it off as their own - a super no no in my book when you are a site that is focused on handmade. It really irks me when I see people with "organic" soap they are selling for $5 or $6 a bar. I make my soap with all organic oils and mostly organic herbs, essential oils etc - you cannot possibly be making that much off a $5 bar unless you can buy in huge bulk and make a ridiculous quantity at one time -even then it seems tough. M Konnerth and Jarmelia have a point - just focus on making the best soap you can. I trust that Karma will catch up with the people who pass off others work as their own.

stephde said...

I completely understand your frustration and I'm so glad to see this post! This is my living as well. I feel sorry for the public that wants to buy handmade and support a small business, when they are just buying into, well, a scam.
Your soap is beautiful and I have to believe that people will eventually find the products that are truly handmade & high quality and stick with them!

Anonymous said...

Agree with you, however I think you may be wrong about the organics/pests issue. As far as I know, the vectors for food poisoning via pests are post-production (roaches/rats in warehouses, etc), not anything that occurs during the time when pesticides would or would not be applied. The in-field vectors are all human, aren't they? (Workers who don't wash their hands, as an example.)

Bio Sanjaya said...

Thank the information,

Agree with you, and i hope everything better.

Joanna Schmidt said...

I just want to say to all of you that I am frustrated, not disgruntled. I think as artists and soapmakers who put their heart and soul into what they do should be commended for their work. And compensated. That's why I started this blog way back when.

I love you all!

Laura said...

I agree with you all... very dishonest.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I read this post. I did not know this was happening in the soap world. However, I must make a statement that I love and appreciate both CP and M&P soap. I have purchased both and they both performed the same on my skin. One isn't better than the other, just more time consuming.

Wildly American Soap Co said...

Thank you... I totally agree! I have had similar conversations trying to explain that knowing ingredients and your supplier is more important than a stamp that says organic on it's own.

There is also packaging to consider...if you place a wonderful ingredient in a package that leaches chemicals, who cares if it is organic? Educating customers about what makes you unique is almost as big a job as creating great product.

Great blog, LOVE the pic! LOL

Hartley said...

I can no longer compete! and closing out my etsy shop! there are just to many that don't make a single B&B product in their shop and claim handmade they just forgot to mention that it's not made by them!

sl meyer said...

THANK YOU for calling this out! Like you I'm sick of it. I've been a vendor/exhibitor at venues where I recognize the wholesale brands or makers of the soap being sold. Many bars are distinctive in coloring. Some sellers don't even bother to change the names. I have called out several before the events when I know who's going to be there and have even challenged right at the venue. Some of these events will be juried and I've told and had the judges to come by my studio and they can see the shelves and stacks of my supplies and my soaps curing and the jugs of my handmade mixes waiting to be scented and packaged. Some do, some don't. I turned down an invite from my huge regional fair when they added a pioneer homesteading arts catagory because the judges didn't even know the difference between melt & pour, actual true soap and the pre-bought private label.

Meagan and John said...

I am not yet a cold process soap maker, I actually combine ingredients to make home made laundry soap, and I do try to be very honest about the point that I make the combine store bought ingredients to make my laundry soap, never once have I claimed to make the soap that is in the laundry soap--but with that said, nothing aggravates me more than when I see a home made laundry soap that is 'safe for sensitive skin' and it contains ingredients that anybody with Google could easily discover is in fact very corrosive and not isn't even safe for normal hardy skin--what even aggravates me more is that I know that is a cheap product because it contains that item and yet they still charge more than I do to make it--grrrr, and people think cause it says safe it is.

I did though like your blog because I do hope to start creating cold process goats milk soap using the milk from my goats, and excited to start trying it (currently have about 3 gallons worth of goats milk in my freezer to use for the experiment)

Cynthia P said...

You are so right. I too am making my own body butters and soaps for my friends...I am out of money and waiting payment just to make up what I spent. I would have to definitely raise my prices...because they want to see these herbs and all...in the product and I can not afford it, if I don't raise prices. I may lose my customers...because they will think I am just trying to get rich.