In the great scope of people and companies that make soap and cosmetic items, on one end of the hallway you have most of us…the home crafters…who started making soap, lotions, balms, fizzies, etc. for some reason. Perhaps it was a love for crafts, a desire to have more natural, controlled options for the products we put on our skin, or some other passion for the craft.
At the other end of this scope are the big soap and cosmetic manufacturers who are there primarily to fulfill a need in the marketplace and make a profit. Perhaps completely honorably and honestly and legally…but, still, essentially driven by profit.
Some of us, however, fall somewhere in between. We have a great love for the art and craft of soap and cosmetic manufacture…but have grown our craft into a business…and ultimately also want to make a profit.
But what often happens is that we don’t grow our businesses smartly. We fuel them with love and passion and dedication, but don’t lay the foundations for good business practices.
This foundation for good business practices has been a passion of Marie Gale’s for many years.
About Marie Gale and the Book
She got us started doing things right in her book on Soap and Cosmetic Labeling. Her new book, Good Manufacturing Practices for Soap and Cosmetic Handcrafters goes even further in offering soap makers the guidance to have a successful business.
Gale defines “Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)” as “The quality assurance procedures and practices which ensure that products are consistently produced and controlled to the quality standards appropriate to their intended use.” To her, it is this consistency and control that helps to eliminate mistakes, reduce risks, and assure that your products are always right, always.
Overview of the Book
1 - Getting to Know GMP
Covers definitions and the overall concepts of GMP and why they are critical to the success of your business.
2 - Documentation Basics
These documents are the foundation for establishing your GMP. The important thing with GMP is to have everything written down in a well-organized and safe system.
3 - Procedures
Here is where the documentation needs to start in earnest, and is a step that many of us skip. We may keep records of the recipes we've created, but do we keep records of how we made those recipes, or how we prepared the equipment or our work space before we made that recipe? These standard operating procedures related to your operation form the backbone of the documentation of your operation.
4 – Ingredients and Packaging Materials
Like the procedures documentation, while we may record our recipes, and we may know the qualities of our soap making oils, but do we record where we got each of the ingredients? Do we keep documentation on lot numbers and verify quality? Even ingredients as simple as water need to be handled and documented consistently.
5 – Production and Manufacturing
This section will be more familiar to most of us in that it’s probably something that even the most basic of soap making businesses do – record their formulas and recipes. But GMP takes this a step further by implementing documentation of master formulas and batch records.
6 – Quality Control
Once we’ve made the product, how do we test it for quality? While we may be following our GMP for consistency from batch to batch, but how to we take samples and test this?
7 - Getting Started
Steps 1-6 are pretty daunting. I completely understand why each of them is vital to establishing a system of GMP, but they are still pretty daunting. Gale takes a step back and helps you get started, prioritizing the steps to address first, and reviewing, revising and improving your system as you go along.
In each of the easy-to-understand sections, Marie Gale's book is full of great examples and templates for your own documentation. From a “Standard Operating Procedure” on calibrating your scale to a “Batch Record” for perfect lotion, Gale provides superb guides to use. This is definitely a book that anyone from a real beginner to someone with an already established business can get a lot of benefit from, and, as Gale says on the book cover:
Protect your passion!
Maintain the highest possible product quality...