Interview with Beth Cole Byrne
There is a kind yet elusive person in the ethers of the soap community on-line… At least for me. Beth Cole Byrne. You might know her from her works with Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild or her work with Making Soap, Cosmetics and Candles Magazine, but did you know about her soap making business? I didn’t either! Along with all the other colorful details, here is Beth Cole Byrne’s interview with Sorcery Soap.
Was there a moment you knew soap making was for you?
Interestingly enough, I started making bath and body products, but was firmly against making soap. You see, I began reading about soap making before the stick blender was in use and so many soap makers were flying by the seat of their pants, reporting their results, which were not always good! Well, after reading about it enough, I knew I had to make it myself, but I was nervous. I saw a demo at the New York State Fair and thought, “That’s what I was afraid of? I’m going to make cold process soap!”
I did and as hooked from the first batch.
Were there creative endeavors in your past that you can see contributed to discovering soap making? What do you see in hindsight prepared you for your soap endeavors?
I have always been a creative and artistic person, but never an artist. Therefore, I was interested in a number of crafts and other endeavors. The one that got me into soap making was gardening. Early on, I discovered herbs, which led to my bath and body product making and then soap.
Are there any aspects of soap making that others might not know about you? Probably not, I’ve been around so long, lol. I guess the fact that I am not a soap artist might not be well known. I am too impatient.
Does your activities with the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild influence your creations?
My activities with the HSCG do indeed influence my creations and not because it gives me less time. It makes me more focused on my goals so I don’t follow all of those wonderful rabbit trails that pop up. In addition, I am more focused on business and safety, correct procedures and so on, than I would otherwise be.
What prompted you to specialize in body care products for gardeners?
Gardening is in my blood. Like a dog on a scent trail, I am in the garden as soon as weather allows. It’s hugely enjoyable and rewarding, but it is hard on the body, particularly the hands. Who better to develop products for gardeners than a gardener?
You attended the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild Conference in Las Vegas this year. What were your favorite aspects?
Ah, so many things come to mind. . . the people, first of all. As part of the Board of Directors (for a few more days) I worked with an amazing team getting ready for and running the conference. I was able to see friends I only see at conferences and meet new soap makers I previously communicated with online. It was so much FUN!
After that, I have to say the lotion making seminar I led was the next best thing because I love teaching, especially when I have interested and engaged students. They were incredible.
I also enjoyed the soaps entered in the Soapers Showcase; seeing the beautiful creations in person is a feast for the eyes. Catching a few seminars is helpful in motivating me to be the
best I can be. Meeting vendors face-to-face and sampling their wares is a treat! That is what the conference is about.
What do you want to for the future of your soaping endeavors?
I want to finish my book, first of all, but I will also work on my wholesale side and work at teaching more.
If you could change something about our industry, what would that be?
In my many years in the industry, I have met many soapers and bath and body makers who are knowledgeable, yet kind and helpful. For the most part, people do well. Unfortunately, a
few are not quite so accommodating. If I had the influence to change that, I would. I would also like to be an influence for good practices in manufacturing, labeling and so on to continually raise the (dare I say it?) bar.
What is your favorite part of soap making?
I cannot decide. It is either when the oils and lye water emulsify or when I cut the soap to reveal a bar that usually looks better than I imagined it would. I am obsessed with emulsification, but a cut bar of soap is truly beautiful.
What makes you laugh about soap making?
For me, it’s how my soap rarely turns out as planned! I have illusions of grandeur, but accelerating soap or soap that won’t accelerate or colors that disappear or morph force my sense of humor.
Is there something not many know about you? Another activity that supports your soap making and endeavors indirectly?
I am Managing Editor of Making Soap, Cosmetics and Candles Magazine, I make candles, I write and copy write and edit on the side. I can’t help it; it is a compulsion.
What do you want others to know about you?
I am happily married, the mother of six and grandmother of 12. I have two grand-puppies and love animals, especially puppies and kittens. My second ideal career would be as a puppy
cuddler (I don’t however, want to clean up after them or house train). Spending time with my grandchildren is the best thing ever and is why I put up with my kids as teenagers! My husband recently sent me a meme that said, “Grandmas don’t babysit; they have play dates.” That describes me perfectly.
Ways to find Beth Cole Byrne’s soap works: