In a couple weeks I’ll be celebrating my second anniversary as Sheila Sacks Designs, but I’ve been dabbling in soaps for quite a few years now. A question I am often asked at shows relates to how I come up with my seasonal and limited edition fragrance collections. Truth be told, I have around 100 fragrance and essential oils in my current inventory, and the variety is ever evolving. So how do I manage to narrow it down to only one or two dozen scents?
Trial and Beautifully Scented Error
Let me share a secret with you… I cannot handle strong fragrances. I veer away from the potpourri section of holiday stores, and I will ::never:: make a soap with dominant notes of patchouli. So when I saw soaper after soaper making super strong floral-scented soaps, I took a 180 and opted for a different kind of scent, which led to a different kind of customer. In the beginning I went with the basics: Cucumber Melon, White Tea & Ginger, and other similar scents. They were fresh, they were light, and they were some of my favorite scents. Except they weren’t very popular in November, which was when my events were. So I did another 180. I brought in warm custom blends like Chai Almond and Cranberry Sandalwood, and they were a hit, which is why they are still around today. Perfect, right? Except for one issue…
Cranberry is not a Summer Berry
In the spring of 2014, I started expanding my business and attending more shows year round. I brought in the best sellers, like cranberry sandalwood, which was a huge hit that winter. And it didn’t sell. Why not? Because I once again realized that there’s a scent for every season, and that chill that remains in April evokes dreams of a tropical paradise, not of a holiday wonderland. So I changed it up again. I brought back fun and bright fragrances like papaya coconut and sangria, as well as light florals like cherry blossom and lavender. These were scents for people who couldn’t handle strong fragrances but still wanted attractive soaps in their washrooms and to give as gifts.
No Longer the Reluctant Shopper
After receiving quite a few different requests for the infamous bacon-scented soap (because there aren’t enough bacon-scented items out there already), I finally went ahead and made the leap and designed my own custom creation. I debuted this “classy” maple-glazed bacon scented soap last summer at a well-attended family festival, but I wasn’t seeing much of a response. To be honest, most men tend to veer away from craft tents, and I was missing 50% of my target audience. So I put up a simple sign the next day that read “Ask Me About Bacon Soap,” and suddenly men started dragging their significant others to my table to investigate. And it dawned on me that since my soaps aren’t the standard “flowery” type, why am I not offering more unisex fragrances year-round? So I started rolling out new soap fragrances like Shave & A Haircut, Tobacco & Bay Leaf, Sandalwood, Beer, and Alpine Frost, and will continue to brainstorm new fragrances for men and women of all ages. In addition, I’ve developed gift sets like a Beer & Bacon Bucket o’ Soap, complete with a duct tape label, as well as rustic shaving sets featuring quality Italian shaving brushes in wooden cigar boxes.
The Customer is Always Brilliant
Once I came up with my three collections of three to four scents each, I was done, right? Not exactly. As a creative, I’m always looking for a challenge, and by adding “Limited Edition” soaps to the mix, I have the ability to dabble with new ideas and test them out in small batches. In the past this has led to soap cupcakes, a six-scent wine soap collection, soaps on a rope, and more recently, the mysterious black soap. A few weeks ago, a customer mentioned to me his interest in a soap that was entirely black. I’ve used activated charcoal in the past for wedding favors, so I accepted the challenge and created a sandalwood-scented soap. It was beautiful, and all I needed was a clever name. After a brainstorming session with a few other like-minded individuals, I settled on “Moriarty.” It was strong, it was mysterious, and it fit the soap perfectly. So did I let this go where it stood? Of course not! In the next few days I’ll be introducing the rest of a “221B Bather Street” limited edition collection, so stay tuned!
I hope I provided you with some insight into the gradual process of developing the soaps that make their way into each of my collections. Sheila Sacks Designs is ever evolving, and I hope you stay tuned for new and exciting products!