Saturday, May 18, 2013

If you aren't curious...

I have to confess I'm surprised at the lack of curiosity from some of the readers of this site. I link constantly in the posts I write, and I can't believe how many comments or e-mail messages I see asking me questions that could have been answered by clicking on one of those links. (I'm thinking about the ingredient cetyl alcohol from Friday's post.)

You don't have to know everything to make a great product, but it's fun when you do! You can make a gorgeous whipped butter or lotion following someone else's recipe, but you're beholden to those ingredients and that process if you don't spend a little time reading and learning. You'll be unable to figure out what makes a good recipe, which leaves you making products that suck and wasting your precious supplies. You'll be unable to fix a lotion fail and you'll end up spending a ton of money on the same ingredient at different suppliers' shops if you don't know INCI names.

Follow your curiosity and see where it leads! Follow that link to the next one, then the next one, then the next one, and read until you see the same information repeated a few times. Get into the workshop and that try that thing that sounded interesting when you thought of it in the shower, then figure out why it worked or didn't work. (Like my solid body wash idea!) Get into the workshop and get a feel for your ingredients (like we did with oils in the Newbie Tuesday series on the skin feel of oils and butters).

If you aren't curious, I really don't think you should consider creating a business making bath & body products. To become a proper artisan, you need knowledge, and the only way to get that knowledge is through hard work and curiosity. (How do you know you have the interest and the aptitude to create products if you don't learn all you can?) You should be able to write recipes and predict the viscosity and skin feel of the product before you consider selling, and you should be able to make substitutions on the fly when you run out of ingredients. 

If you really want to make products, make yourself a promise that you'll be curious for an hour this week and learn more about one ingredient. Check out the emollients (oils, butters & esters) section and learn about one oil or butter this week, check out the extracts section to learn about your favourite botanical ingredient or hydrosol, or look to the bath & body guides to ingredients on the right hand side of the blog and find an ingredient you love! I know we're all pressed for time, but I can guarantee you can find 9 minutes a day to read something interesting on this blog or others you frequent! And by the end of the year, you'll have learned about thirty (or more) ingredients for such a small investment every day!

What are you curious about and where will you start?


Anonymous said...

I sympathize with your plight. But sometimes people do not pay attention (ie read the whole article to see the links etc.).

I teach classes and mention something and then I have students asking a question which I gave the answer to already. I have had to learn to expect questions to material I have already covered.

Minnie said...

Hi Susan,

I totally agree! How's anyone going to learn if all they want are the answers! My first batch of lotion was a success, but let me tell you I had many fails! I went back and researched every single ingredient I used. I was then able to fix the problem. We have to know how things work!

I suggest to everyone; find something that interests you (from the side bar) and start there. When I first found her blog I took the time to read the side bar. Ok, that was after I got sucked in! Haha! Then, I took the time to navigate my way around.

Keep up the great work Susan!

Hissy Fit said...

"If you aren't curious." Okay, I had to laugh at this title. This is a concept so alien to me. Instead, I find myself with 6 or 7 open tabs dedicated to your blog, because my curiosity was peaked by this, then this, and oh, what about this. It takes extraordinary control to focus on one topic at a time.

If you are not curious, intrigued, and passionate, forget having a business in any area that doesn't fuel you to pursue passionately. If you are motivated by the idea of making money, that's like a carpenter being motivated by his hammer.

Making products for yourself, friends, and family can be extremely rewarding. Doing so for the public may not be. Follow your passion. It's the best guide for a Best Life.

Katherine Chiu said...

I find myself wandering from link to link, reading avidly. How can you NOT be curious! I have to put a time limit on how much time I spend reading and researching each day, but over time, it's thrilling to realize how much my knowledge has increased thanks to generous, knowledgeable blogs like yours. Thank you so much for all of your hard work and dedication!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous! (Can you please leave your name in the future as per the request on the upper right hand side of every page? Thanks!) I'm not saying people need to pay complete attention, but I don't understand why someone wouldn't look at a link on a page or check out the FAQ or look at a section called "oils" if they are interested in those topics! It confuses me.

Hi Minnie, Hissy Fit, and Katherine! I'm with you! Thank goodness for tabbed browsing, eh? My reading list is always filled with things I need to follow up on when I have more time! My curiosity really knows no bounds. Last weekend, I wasn't feeling that well after a medical thingie, and I spent almost all of Saturday and Sunday reading astronomy blogs. Don't you just love reading something then seeing where the links take you? I can start reading something about a band that interests me and end up reading about agrarian economies!

Anonymous said...

Heehee! The title of this post piqued my curiosity as I was looking for more info on lotion bars. I don't understand people who aren't curious. If I'm doing something, I want to know everything I can about it. How boring would it be to just follow recipes without knowing why each ingredient is important?! The reason I'm addicted to this blog is precisely *because* you explain the how and why of everything. You've taught me more than every other source combined, and that's because you are just as curious as those of us who come here to learn.

Okay, enough ranting. I need to get back to learning about lotion bars so I can make my own recipe to use for Christmas gifts!

Katie Z (for some reason I can't sign in through Google to post comments anymore)