When I first began creating handmade bath & body products, I mistakenly thought that what I was doing was incredibly obscure, that my new hobby was so far out there that noone else could possibly share the interest. Boy, was I ever wrong. As time went on, I met more and more people who loved making soaps, hair products, lotions, and bath bombs. It wasn't long before I discovered an entire world online dedicated to the craft that I loved. After I began working at From Nature With Love, I was amazed again to see just how large a community I was a part of all these years.
From time to time, we receive emails and phone calls from folks who are trying to find local members of the handmade bath & body community. Some folks are looking for classes or workshops, while others are hoping to get in touch with other artisans socially. Thanks to the internet, meeting other members of the "By the Batch" community is surprisingly easy. Here are some resources that can get you started.
From Nature With Love Instructor Directory – The Instructor Directory on From Nature With Love features workshop and class instructors for a wide variety of subjects. Learn from experienced teachers about everything from soap making and skin care to aromatherapy and massage! You can check the directory for instructors in your area, or hook up with teachers through the web.
Craftster.org – With a small, but lively Bath & Beauty Bulletin Board, Craftster is a great place to hob nob with other enthusiasts online. Craftster is known for its collection of alternative crafts, making it an especially wonderful place to meet up if you are prone to getting experimental with your handmade products. In addition to their lively online community, Craftster features a massive City Guide Bulletin Board, where you can communicate with crafters in your local city, state, or region. Don't forget to also check out Craftster's Community Calender, which features both local and online events.
Meetup.com – Meetup.com is an awesome resource for finding classes, workshops, and local clubs. Just search for a keyword, such as "soap making" or "aromatherapy" and your zip code to find a list of related Meetup Groups in your area. If there isn't a group available yet, you can start your own by becoming a Meetup organizer.
Street Teams on Etsy.com – If you are an Etsy seller, you can find an incredible amount of support locally and online through Etsy Teams. Etsy Teams are member run organizations that work together to help promote each other through blogging, team sales, social networking, and more. There are regional Teams, which can hook you up with local Etsy sellers, or Teams united by a common craft, such as soap making. Check out the huge list of Team Profiles to find the right Team for you.
Yahoo Groups – Yahoo Groups are online meetups where folks with a common interest, such as soap making, or handmade bath & body, can discuss their crafts. There is a huge soap making, and hand crafted skin care community on Yahoo Groups, with groups that specialize in everything from Soap Making, to Bath Bombs, or Candle Making. There are also a number of Yahoo Groups that bring together crafters from a particular state or region, making them a great resource for locating workshops, classes, or groups in your area.
Going.com – A great place to find local events, Going.com features pages for 30 major cities. Visit the city page near you and search Going.com by keywords such as "crafts" "soap making", or "aromatherapy" to find related events going on in your area. Craft shows, classes, and workshops are often listed on Going.com. Check back often to see what's new.
Google – When all else fails, resort to the all mighty search engine. Google is my personal favorite, but any one you choose should do the job. The key to finding what you're looking for efficiently is keyword choice. Try using your zip code, your city's name, or you state's name along with keywords that describe what you are looking for. For example, to find a soap making workshop in my area, I would search for "soap making workshop 06478" or "aromatherapy class Oxford, CT". Try different combinations of keywords before giving up your search. If you can't find a workshop or class in your area, try searching for a craft center near you. Contact them to let them know that you would be interested in a particular kind of workshop. They may consider adding it in the future. It is also worth asking the folks at your local craft center if they know of a teacher who you could meet with privately. Often, centers have a roster of teachers that they use for their classes. They may know someone who teaches privately.
Photo by Patrick Hajzler