Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Getting to Start Over

Have you ever had one of those days or weeks where you wish you could turn back the clock and start over? I know I sure have, on more than one occasion. Today was one of those days.

  • 5am – get up and stumble downstairs to turn on coffee pot and feed cats. Note to self: dishing canned cat food at 5am does not go on my list of favorite things to do in the early morning.
  • 5:10 – 6:50 – things are pretty much “normal” (teeth brushing, fixing other half’s lunch, reading online news, etc)
  • 6:50 – the realization that I am supposed to leave in 25 minutes sets in – ACK!!
  • 7:20 – heading out to the car after spending a frantic 25 minutes or so getting showered and dressed, putting on make-up, making my lunch, and forgetting to grab a bottle of my pain relief lotion (ARGH!)
  • 7:25 – nearly hit by a driver who was making a right turn on red as I was making a left turn with the green turn arrow.

o Go to enter the building and door is locked. Notice “Will Return” sign is set for 8 o’clock.

o Put my things back in the car and pass the time jotting down some ideas that have been bouncing around in my head

  • 8:00 – still no sign of Todd, so I continue to wait
  • 8:25 – drive down to a local BP to buy a cold drink and use the facilities (dang coffee!!)
  • 8:28 – car battery is dead (and the battery is only a month old!)
  • 8:29 – debate beating my head against the side of the BP but call other half instead
  • 8:35 – walk to Walmart across the street to buy jumper cables since other half has never bought any (?!?!)
  • 9:00 – other half picks me up from Walmart and we move the car so he can jump the battery.

o The battery takes the charge and the car starts.

o I drive the Durango to work and the other half drives the car home … where the battery promptly dies again.

  • 9:25 – park at Alabaster; put my now warm drink in the freezer to chill and sit down to fill out paperwork
  • 10:25 – arrive home again since I can’t actually work until my employment packet is processed (a worker's comp thing Todd was told aboutt this morning!)
  • 2:00 – make a quick run to Walmart to pick up a few things to hold us until Saturday
  • 2:35 – almost hit by a speeding vehicle in our subdivision a block from our street
  • 2:36 – decided I’m not driving anywhere for a couple of days after the two near misses and the car’s battery dying

Yep, today was one of those days I wish I could start over. But unlike other days such as this, I do get to start over next Monday, my first “official” day of work.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

A New Job!!

Last week I met with Todd Ervin, owner of Alabaster Fragrance & Color (aka Alabaster Candle Supply). After nearly two hours discussing a preliminary list of responsibilities, I walked out as a new employee. While I don’t exactly have a title or position (e.g. Customer Service) at this point, I’m not complaining. I brought a copy of the list home and showed it to my other half. His comment was “Wow honey, this was written for you”. While my other half doesn’t particularly care to talk about making soap or other products, and tends to tune me out when I try to talk to him about them, he does know me and my love of handcrafting.

I agree with my other half. While I’m not going to say this is a ‘match made in heaven’, it’s pretty darn close. And the best part is that I not only have a new job, I have one within the industry I love. As a supplier, Alabaster serves both the candle and bath & body crafters in Alabama and beyond. I don’t know a lot about candles (although I’m sure I’ll be learning!), but I do know bath & body, and that is where most of my responsibilities are. I’ll also be doing some marketing and promotion, as well as special projects, live chats, and more.

So where does this leave DP Naturals? Honestly, at this point I’m not sure. I’ve been planning to begin gearing up to take it to the next level, getting serious and making the effort to become a full fledged business. Now I’m not so sure. At the end of May, I briefly posted on my food blog about my spine condition. Trying to take DPN to the next level is not physically possible for me at this time. I need to work a regular job, and on top of that, I would have to be on my feet making lots of products for the markets and such I would need to do on my days off. And let’s not forget all the household responsibilities.

My back just can’t handle it all, and I know this as fact. Since early March, I’ve had a part-time job that required me to be on my feet 6 to 7 hours a day. There was also a physical element to the job with pushing and lifting. I used double-stacked fatigue mats, and they helped, but I was still exhausted and in pain when I got home. While the job proved to be too much for me, I am thankful that I had it given the current economic and employment situation. I learned quite a bit, and I hope to apply some of it to my position at Alabaster.

DP Naturals is not going away at this time. I suppose you could say it’s on an indefinite hiatus while I get settled into my new job, continue the therapy for my back and spine, and give thought to it all. I will still be making products for friends and family, as well as products for orders that happen to come in. I will also continue to write for Saponifier Magazine as the Toiletries Editor.

Working for Alabaster is the right thing for me at this time. It also will allow me to do what I love to do, and get paid for it. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Scent It Your Way

Every person's sense of smell is different. Not only do we perceive scents and aromas differently, but we also prefer different levels of fragrance, especially in products we use frequently. Your desired fragrance level may be purely personal preference, or it may be due to sensitivities, allergies, asthma, or other condition.

Because we know that we're all different when it comes to sense of smell, we have decided to add a new Fragrance Level option to all products where customers choose their fragrance. You can choose Light or Normal fragrancing for any product where this option appears.

While we never over-scent any product, we do realize that even our low fragrance usage might be too much for some people. Our Normal level of fragrancing in personal care products is about 1% maximum, although it does ultimately depend on the strength of the fragrance, and whether or not we are using essential oil. Our Light fragrance level will be no more than half of our Normal level.

Starting in 2009, we will also be offering a line of lightly fragranced soaps. As with personal care products, the fragrance level will be approximately half of what we typically use.

I personally know the problems that can be caused by sensitivities to fragrances and fragrance levels. I have customers with allergies and asthma. I want our customers to be able to enjoy our fragranced products without problems, and it is our hope that the new Fragrance Level option helps accomplish this.

Shop at DP Naturals

Monday, October 20, 2008

Coconut Madness

I have gone from not being able to stand coconut in any way, shape or form (other than using the oil in soap), to really liking it. I discovered just how much I like the taste of coconut milk in food dishes (see today's post in my food blog). And the aroma of fresh coconut is simply amazing.

Coconut Oil is one of the standard oils I use in almost all of my soaps. Its fatty acid composition brings both hardness and big, fluffy bubbles to soap. I’ve made soaps without any coconut oil at all, and I didn’t like them as much.

I have a batch of All Natural Coconut Milk Soap made only with coconut oil available. It has a beautiful white color, and fluffy lather that is both creamy and silky in feel. My Spa Salt Bar is primarily coconut oil with a small amount of castor for extra conditioning.

I’m also a big fan of Fractionated Coconut Oil. This light-weight, medium chain fatty acid fraction of coconut oil is wonderful in many products, giving emolliency without being greasy. It also has an extremely long shelf life, making it useful in many applications. I use this wonderful oil in our regular Hand & Body Lotion, as well as our Silken Perfume Oil.

Using more coconut also includes using more of the milk. In addition to my current Coconut Milk Soap, I plan on using the milk in more soaps. I just love milk (any type!) in soap. I think it improves the feel of the lather, as well as providing extra conditioning and moisturizing to the skin. Milk is also wonderful in bath products. Check out the Coconut Milk version of my Foaming Milk Bath.

I’m currently testing bath & body formulations using coconut milk, including a new hand & body lotion. So far I really like this lotion. My skin had dried out quite badly while I was sick recently, and just a few applications of this lotion took care of it completely. Other products in the formulating and testing phase include shampoo and conditioner.

Still on my "To Do" list is to find the perfect coconut fragrance to use in these products. To that end, I invite you to vote in my poll in the sidebar. Also feel free to leave a comment to make a suggestion. The poll will be open until 7am CST on November 1st.

Coconut Milk Hand & Body Lotion, as well as other coconut-based products, should be available early next year. Subscribe to our blog to keep up-to-date on our Coconut Madness line.

See the companion post at our DPN Food blog

Sunday, October 19, 2008

New DPN Food Blog

Why a food related blog when I make handcrafted soap and skin care products? Why not? I enjoy food (sometimes a little too much!) and cooking (for the most part; there are those times when [insert reason here] ). I also enjoy sharing recipes and experiences.

And so I've decided to start this blog as a creative outlet for my culinary experiences and ramblings, as well as sharing recipes and items of interest that I come across during my Internet surfing.

You can find my new blog at DPN Food

Bon App├ętit!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Jennifer Fuller for U.S. Senator in Alabama

Tuesday, November 4th, is Election Day. We will be electing a new President and Vice President for our country. As you may or may not know, Alabama’s U.S. Senator for District 6, Spencer Bachus, is also up for re-election.

Up until about a week or so ago, Senator Bachus was unopposed in the race. Not any more. Alabaster resident (and personal friend) Jennifer Fuller has thrown her hat into the ring as a write-in candidate.

While I don’t agree with all of Jennifer’s positions (I have yet to meet anyone that I agree with completely), I support her campaign efforts. One of the reasons I support Jennifer is because she opposes the proposed FDA Globalization Act of 2008.

Jennifer enjoys using natural products, especially handcrafted ones. She also supports the efforts of small businesses, especially local cottage industries such as ours. It didn’t take her long to decide which side she supported as she read about the Act.

I encourage every crafter who makes soap and/or other bath & body products, and who lives in Alabama’s 6th U.S. Congressional District, to support Jennifer’s campaign effort. Spread the word to family, friends, and customers. Remember, if the FDA Globalization Act passes, chances are you will be out of business very quickly, and your customers will be forced to buy mass manufactured products. Electing Jennifer means we will have a friend and supporter in Congress, which is never a bad thing.

You should support Jennifer if:

* You make soap and/or cosmetic products

* You buy handcrafted soap and cosmetic products

* You buy natural (handcrafted or not) personal and skin care products

* You work in a business/industry that falls under FDA regulation/oversight

* You support local artisans and small/cottage businesses

* You’re ready for a change in our federal government

Visit Jennifer’s campaign website by clicking here

Friday, October 17, 2008

Stop the FDA Globalization Act of 2008

An Open Letter to Our Elected Officials at the Federal, State and Local Levels:

I own a small cosmetics business in Alabama, and I am writing because I am familiar with your commitment to small businesses in our country. The draft discussion of the FDA Globalization Act of 2008 is now being marked up in the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and I am strongly opposed to it.

The stated purposes of the draft law are to provide FDA with funding and to protect consumers. But cosmetics have a stellar safety record and there is no need to pass laws that would hurt small businesses while offering no safety benefits consumers.

If passed, the new law would impose fees on my business of anywhere from $2,000 to $12,000 per year, and require me to comply with burdensome paperwork and manufacturing requirements that no small business can afford.

I write to ask you to vote against the FDA Globalization Act of 2008 when the time comes. At a time when small and family businesses like mine are dealing with increased shipping and materials costs, as well as increases in consumer prices, it is unfair and unnecessary to enact new laws that would put small businesses out of business. If the FDA Globalization Act passes, I will be out of business the very same day. I cannot afford the fees, employees, or the time required to fulfill the Act’s provisions.

Please refer to a petition that a trade group I am familiar with has prepared to help spread the word. At the link, you can watch a short video, read the petition and then read the comments of literally thousands of people across the nation who oppose this new law.

Click here to watch the video, read the petition and comments, and to sign the petition.

Links for Additional Information:

Essential Wholesale Blog *

Wholesale Supplies Plus Blog *

The Organic Beauty Expert Blog - The FDA Globalization Act and why the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is full of hooey

Soap Queen (Bramble Berry) Blog *

* Indicates Multiple Articles on the Topic

About Us

We are a small, home-based creator of artisan soap, and personal and skin care products. Our mission is to bring nature and science together to offer the best in innovative, natural source products.

Dragon's Pearls Naturals is built around our commitment to quality and ethics, and the best in customer service. We are passionate about what we do, and strive to share this passion with our customers.

Dragon's Pearls Naturals offers a selection of products for personal and skin care needs, from basic cleansing to specialty skin care. Most of our products are based on natural ingredients, such as shea butter, sunflower seed oil, aloe vera, herbs, and other botanicals.

We offer Custom Formulation for those with specific needs. If you have allergies to specific ingredients, asthma, or other special needs, we will be happy to work with you to create products you can use and enjoy.