Monday, October 15, 2007

Harvest Arts

This photo is from the show I did the weekend before last, and not from the Harvest Arts Festival ~ but the soaps displayed are the same, and so was the display layout. Jumbled country style?

This year's Harvest Arts was a blast! This is the first year I've done the show where the time flew by so quickly, I was surprised when they rang the end bell! I sold TONS of soap, got two hook-ups for teaching both soap and perfume-making classes, and was invited to contribute to a 6-week long indoor holiday craft show. It's up in Shaver Lake, my old childhood stomping grounds. So it was a fun, successful weekend.

On a down note ~ you could feel this coming, couldn't you? ~ I agreed to barter some soap with the now infamous 'goat soap lady' of Harvest Arts, and when I took three of my premium olive/shea/org. cocoa butter artisan style soaps to her booth to complete the trade, she tells me, "Y'know, I love to barter, but I don't want to use your soap. I've used only my soap for the past ten years and I just don't want to use your soap." Pause. "But you can take one of mine as a sign of good will." I could have slapped her. I did take one as a sign of MY good will, then I got bitchy as I walked away and threw her stinky feta rank soap into the trash can. I was so mortified while she was going on about not wanting to use my soap, I couldn't even speak. I just stood there thinking that now I know the reason why her soaps haven't evolved from what they were 7 years ago, when I first started doing this show.

She had come to my booth earlier in the day and we spoke a bit about soapmaking and the problems (hers, not mine) associated with soapmaking, and that's when the barter agreement came into play, and I was actually giving her advice. She bragged about her ten years of soapmaking experience, yet didn't know what a stick blender was, and was under the impression that NO metals could be used in the soapmaking process (she was speaking on the metal blade of the stick blender). I had to wonder as she was standing there if she used a steel pot to blend her soaps, or was she so paranoid about the metal issue that she was blending in plastic -- or wood? And she still stirred her soap with a wooden spoon, taking an hour to do what a stick blender does in four minutes. As I stated earlier, now I understand why her soaps haven't evolved from the curdled feta stage.

This was the second time I tried to befriend this woman, the first time we did complete a trade, but she was very unpleasant and touched the soaps I gave her like they were contaminated with ebola. I ended up throwing out the soaps she gave me because they smelled like milk-fed baby vomit scented with lavender.

On an up note (ha!) when I asked how she did this year she said, "Well, I still have to pay my booth fee," $110, "but, uh, I guess I did ok. I think I did." I did do well, though she didn't ask. Made my booth fee and nearly four times more than that.

So maybe all of this means I'm no better than she is as a person. But I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have blurted out to her face how I really feel about goat milk soap, and that she's the primary reason why I feel the way I do about them. No. I just kept my mouth shut. Until now :)


  1. I am sad to hear there are still infamous soapers like The Feta Lady. I had a couple run-ins with a 'castille soapmaker' who made soap that looked like and had the consistency of plumber's putty.

    She didn't even have to try at driving people from her table, at the two events I saw her at. Scowling at your would-be customers, and then coming to bitch at the fellow soaper within the earshot of the would-be customers, kind of shoots your chances at sales right outta the water.

    Anyway, I made the mistake of offering to barter soap. And got a "what is this? Smurf poo?" reaction. It was a blue bar of soap and she practically dropped it. Not obnoxious robin's egg blue, just azulene-tinted blue. Ah well.

  2. Heh ~ they're still 'out there', though in varying degrees of nastiness. The weekend before last I had a show on the other side of the mountain from this one and there was another soaper there. I actually bought a couple of her soaps. I don't believe I can justify a crappy attitude against another soaper based only on the fact that they're potential competition -- I base it on whether their soap is any good -- then I'll begin to worry, but I still know how to play nice :) Her soaps are very nice, though she uses fragrance oils in some. She did have a little 'tude as well, but nothing compared to Feta-head. She's one of those volume soapers who repeatedly say, "I make batches in *fill-in-the-blank* lb increments." This lady added, "Because it's all I can lift," implying she'd make, oh, I don't know, 90 lb batches if she had bigger muscles? Other than that, she was perfectly civil.

    Smurf pooh? I want some! I'll be the only girl on the block with her very own bar of cartoon dooky!



  3. I'm such a dork! I don't base my attitude toward other soapers depending on whether their soaps are any good (gawd!) -that does make them competitive! I base it on THEIR attitude toward me, and usually after I've been talking to them a while. Or if they roll up into my booth and with their lips curled and make subtle underhanded comments WHEN THEY HAVEN'T EVEN TRIED THE SOAP!

    My editorial privileges have been revoked :)




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