Making your own soap and toiletries can be a very rewarding and lucrative hobby, there is a big market for natural and wholesome skincare which contains local ingredients with names that you can recognise.

The first thing to do is to perfect your recipes and ingredients. Your skills in using simple ingredients to make delicious smelling, skin friendly and effective soaps and creams are vital. Development time is not wasted, make your product perfect, test, experiment and create. Keep a ‘recipe book’ to ensure the final products are consistent and of a high standard.

See also: The story of the Little Soap Company

You do not need formal qualifications for running a soap company but you may want to highlight any qualifications, courses and awards to increase your credibility and customer confidence.

Once you have perfected your products, decide on your packaging. Make sure it complements your simple and pure ingredients. Look at recycled and biodegradable packaging from renewable and sustainable sources and choose a simple design. You will have to tackle the labelling, ingredients must be clear and included in the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients). But this is a positive, it's a chance to show just how wholesome your soaps and creams are.

Your products are likely to be considerably more expensive than basic brands so will be an impulse buy, at least until your customers are convinced and keep coming back for more. Make sure you are selling at places where people are looking for gifts, personal treats and something different, try farmers markets, country fairs and independent shops.

See also: Business start-up guide - Handmade cosmetics maker

When selling directly try to think differently, wedding favours, corporate gifts and event venues are a good market. Boutique hotels and high-end B&B's want to offer their customer something different so you may be able to supply in bulk.

Use social media to engage with customers but don't just 'sell,' talk about your ingredients and recipes, share tips and advice for problem skin, share pictures and customer feedback. It may go against your principles to jump on the latest bandwagon or the latest 'chic' ingredient but you will need to update, change and adapt your products to keep abreast of trends, and it's a great story.

Make sure that you get the legalities right, any products that customers put on their skin must comply with the law. Even if you are only making and selling on a small scale, your products are bound by the Cosmetic Products Regulations and each product must be uploaded to the Central Notification Portal. Most of these processes only have to be done once and your customers will be reassured that they are protected and the products reach the highest standards.

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