The Soap Is Coming! The Soap Is Coming!

Y’all, I am super excited about this announcement: the soap is coming! When I first started doing research to formulate my perfect bath bomb recipe, I came across a bunch of recipes for cold process soap. I took a cursory glance but was waaay too intimidated to give it a try. Soap making involves the use of sodium hydroxide (i.e. lye) to catalyze the saponification that turns oils into soap. This involves all sorts of safety gear and precautions, dedicated tools, and overall seemed out of my league. I was having fun making bath bombs and scrubs and that was enough.

Never say never! Lemon poppyseed cold process soap was one of the first batches I made.

However, I kept coming back to it. It was a challenge. The soap designs I was seeing were so beautiful and inspiring. I’m obsessed with my fragrance oils and was dying to use them in as many ways as possible. Then I started getting feedback from my customers: “I love the bath bombs; I wish you made soaps to go with them” or the common refrain “I don’t have a bath tub, but would definitely use a soap”. I was tempted.

Simply Naked oatmeal soap. Unfragranced and gentle enough for even the most sensitive, delicate skin.

One day, I happened to be visiting my dear friend Summer and her mother. She saw my bath bombs and candles and remarked that she would love some soap to go with it. I explained that it was too hard and that I didn’t think I could do it. She looked me in the eye, told me that I was talented, and that she believed in me. That’s all it took! I attempted my first batch of cold process soap that week.

Spa bar, filled with skin loving oils and shea butter and packed with exfoliating finely crushed walnut shells.

So once again, I went down the rabbit hole, researching anything and everything I could find about how to make the best cold process soap. I don’t just want it to look pretty, I want it to feel great! I want my soaps to contain only sustainable, environmentally friendly ingredients I’d be comfortable letting my kids use, just like my bath bombs. I’ve done a lot of experimenting. Some batches were big successes, others were soapy failures. Regardless, I’m having an absolute blast!

Winter forest soap that smells like fresh pine. Perfect for the winter holidays!

The hard thing for me about cold process soap is the wait time. I chose to focus on cold process soap, rather than melt and pour soap, so that I could control every single ingredient that goes into my soap. It takes 3-4 days after the soap has been poured to unmold and cut. Then the soap needs to “cure” (i.e. dry out) for 4-6 weeks so the bars get hard and don’t dissolve in water (because who wants a bar of soap that only lasts a week?!). As a result, my soaps won’t be ready for sale until the end of November and the wait is killing me! I’ve been using some of my early batches and am in love! I can’t wait for people to try it out and become artisan soap converts like me (spoken from a person who previously was a Dove body wash kinda girl).

This lavender soap smells so heavenly and makes me so happy!

If you’re interested in ordering a bar, DM me on any of my social media sites or email me at I’m only making scents one loaf at a time which makes approximately 9-10 bars of soap. I want to see what fragrances, designs, and bar sizes sell before I commit to mass production. So if you see a bar, email me to reserve one. Once they’re gone, you’ll have to wait another 2 months for me to make more of that type and style. So get your orders in now while they last! I’m also taking holiday orders, so if there’s a type of soap or fragrance you’re dying to have, let me know and I’ll make it just for you in time for the holidays. Individual bars are $5 each and custom designed soap bars (you can pick the fragrance, colors, oils and butters) are $6 per bar with a 3 bar minimum order.

Wild Rose bars are beautiful, smell divine, and are topped with just a dash of dried rose petals.

I can’t wait for you to try them!

Happy bathing!

Mama K

Big Things Are Happening!

It’s been a hot minute since I last updated this blog and big things have happened! I started vending at the Apex Farmers Market in Apex, NC. It’s my first time working a farmers market and I’m having an absolute blast! Miss me last week? No worries, I’ll be there every week through November 2nd and I’ll be doing their Winter Markets as well!

Me and the kiddo at my first Farmers Market in Apex, NC

I am in heaven talking to folks about my products. I love explaining how and why I make what I do, how my products are different from what’s available in chain stores, and why. I absolutely adore when folks come back the next week and tell me how much they’ve enjoyed my stuff – it is so gratifying! I love the people (and dog) watching. I really enjoy the camaraderie with the other vendors and craftspeople and of course I can’t help but shop for myself! I get baklava every week from Asali, my house is adorned with pumpkins from Papa’s Pumpkins, and I ordered my Thanksgiving Turkey from Andrea’s Homestead.

Scenes from the Apex Farmers Market

In other news, I also teamed up with Medicine Mama’s Farmacy in Raleigh! Medicine Mama’s Farmacy is North Carolina’s premier purveyor of the highest quality NC-grown and NC-made CBD products. I now make CBD infused bath bombs, using the Medicine Mama’s own CBD oil, available exclusively at her shops in the Raleigh area!

Lavender and Spearmint and Eucalyptus CBD infused bath bombs available exclusively at the Medicine Mama’s Farmacy.

I’m now starting to prepare for the upcoming holiday season. Bath bombs make great gifts, so check out my shop on Etsy and get your order in sooner than later!

Happy bathing!

Mama K

The Audacity to Cold Call

Sometimes I surprise myself. I’m not sure what was in the water when I decided that it was totally reasonable to try and start my own small business – must have been something good! I look back and am shocked. Shocked by how much I didn’t know about starting a small business before I decided to take the leap. Astonished at the utter hubris I had to think my products were worth selling. Astounded at my utter confidence that my initial investment would one day be recouped. But I’m not shocked and saddened. I’m shocked and amazed!

Here’s the thing: if I had any idea of exactly how hard this would be, I never would have tried. It’s not unlike parenting, really. If one really, fully understood all the work, time, money, thanklessness, anxiety (both real and imagined), and heartbreak involved in raising a child, few would ever screw up the courage to do it. But ultimately, despite how hard it is, it’s totally worth it. Sure, there are sleepless nights, but there are also breathtaking moments of joy. With this baby business, I’ve had both.

Despite my brief moments of rock solid confidence, I have had my fair share of sleepless nights. What if this was all a huge mistake? What if I never make back my initial outlay? How much debt is too much debt? I’m an idiot; I should have used that money and gone to Iceland, not start a stupid small business! What was I thinking? What if no one really likes my products? These are the thoughts that invade my sleep and chase my dreams away.

On other days, though, my confidence returns. And on those days? Those days, I make cold calls. While Mama K Breaking Bath is currently pretty much only sold via my Etsy store, I would love to one day see my products in stores. And so I cold call. All. The. Time.

If I see a store that looks like it supports local crafters, I send them an email. Local Farmers or Craft Markets? Email. Go in person. Talk to people. Hand out business cards. 99% of the time I get politely rejected (or get no response at all). 1% of the time I get mild interest that never seems to come to fruition, despite my best efforts to follow-up without coming off as harassing (the line is finer than one might imagine). You need to have audacity in spades and an ego of steel to make cold calls because most of the time they just don’t go your way.

So yeah, starting up a small business is hard and scary, but there are awesome moments as well. This weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of vending for my first time at a small pop-up event. I successfully put up and took down my display. I had my first ever credit card transaction. For the first time, I was able to talk to complete strangers about my products, why I love them, and why I think they should buy them. You know what? Some of them did! I was really proud and can’t wait until September 22 when I’ll have my first opportunity to vend at the Apex Farmers Market. Until then, the sleepless nights will likely continue, the Etsy hustle will be ceaseless, and the cold calls? They’ll keep coming…

Happy Bathing!

Mama K

First time vending at Escape the Ordinary Pop-Up Shop on 7/14/19

QuickBooks and Other Misnomers

I am trying to be a responsible small business owner. I am trying so hard to follow all the rules and guidelines (of which there are MANY). I have a tax ID for my business so that I can report any and all sales taxes to the IRS in April. I carry it with me to all vending opportunities (OK, so my first real vending opportunity is actually later today, but I will be bringing it, and plan to continue this practice in the future, just FYI). This means I’ve had to look up tax information. Did you know there is not only a state sales tax but also county and local taxes as well? I’ll be honest, I didn’t. NC sales tax is 4.75%, but if I sell in Durham County, the sales tax rate is actually 7.5%. When I sell at the Apex Farmers Market this fall, I’ll be in Wake County, where the sales tax is 7.25%. Basically, the final price of my product depends on where I sell it. As I’m not a brick and mortar shop, primarily a mobile and online retailer, it gets pretty complicated fast.

I have also applied for a LLC (Limited Liability Company) via LegalZoom. What is a LLC and why do I think I need one? According to Legal Zoom:

Forming an LLC gives your business its own legal identity. In the eyes of the law, it’s a separate ‘person’ that can own money and property, have a bank account, make agreements, sue people, and be sued.

Because of this, your business’s creditors can’t go after any money or assets that aren’t owned by the LLC. Your home, bank account, and other personal assets are protected. By contrast, if you operate a sole proprietorship or general partnership, you and the business aren’t legally separate, and everything you own is at risk”.

As I am a home owner, the idea of losing my house or retirement account because someone wants to sue my business is terrifying. So yeah, I want a LLC. But it’s not cheap (nothing ever is). Do you know how many bath bombs I need to sell to cover the costs of a LLC? Let’s just say it’s a lot.

And this brings me to QuickBooks. I’ve always been a TurboTax user, and find its interface pretty user friendly. QuickBooks is serviced by the same company, Intuit. After doing some research, I decided QuickBooks was the right fit for my small business book keeping. So I signed up.

First off, nothing about QuickBooks is particularly quick or easy for me. Unlike TurboTax, it is not designed for bookkeeping newbies, or at least, not ones with absolutely no business savvy like me. I tried to set up rules to organize my business expenses. Then, after reviewing, realized I used the wrong category and had to manually change 90% of the hundreds of entries. And when I was done? When I had painstakingly entered in all my expenses and profits? When I had synced my Etsy page, my PayPal account, my Square reader, and linked my credit card and bank accounts? I got to see in plain, easy to read numbers exactly how in the red I am. As a result, I am now officially calling QuickBooks “SadBooks” (or “MeanBooks”, or “BrutallyHonestBooks”, or “IfYou’reHavingABadDayDon’t LookBooks”).

I haven’t even started on the rabbit hole that is FDA requirements for selling cosmetics (which bath bombs, lotions, and scrubs are legally considered). I’ll save that post for another time.

On the bright side, I have my first real vending opportunity today! If you’re local, please consider swinging by 1415 E. NC HWY 54 Durham, 27713 and saying “hi”! Also, am pretty excited about new product labeling that will be rolling out soon. Stay tuned!

Happy Bathing!

Mama K

Sneak peek of the rough draft of new labeling. I’m so excited and will tell you all about it when it’s ready!

Free Shipping… For Now

So I asked folks on Facebook and Instagram what they would prefer: a more expensive item that ships free or a cheaper item that you have to pay shipping for. The results were pretty unanimous: free shipping (thanks, Amazon). As my entire business plan is about giving people what they really want, I have decided to offer free shipping options on my Etsy site!

Full disclosure: I had to raise the prices a little to compensate for the free shipping (i.e. build the shipping price into the cost of the item). It’s possible my site will confuse people now, as I elected to have the same items listed at the original price as well (but shipping is NOT free on those items). I think the free shipping items are pretty well marked and easily found on my site; do you? Should I get rid of my original prices all together and simply have slightly more expensive items that all ship free? Please leave your feedback in the comments – I WILL read them!

I’m not sure how this whole free shipping thing will work out. I’m not sure if people who were on the fence will now order. Maybe some of my long distance friends and family will be incentivized to give my stuff a try? Perhaps I’ll lose all my profits in shipping. Unlike Amazon, I can’t afford to undercut brick and mortar stores like LUSH, or even Amazon, as much as I’d like to. So I’ll try it for a little while. If people don’t seem interested (i.e. aren’t buying the free shipping items) I’ll take them down. Consider this an experiment.

Folks, running a small, primarily on-line business is hard. The whole point of this was to sell better, healthier bath bombs at a lower cost than places like LUSH and with less chemicals and additives than big box stores. I worry that my prices now don’t reflect that. Trust me, I’m only making a few cents profit on each bath bomb; this is purely a side job. No way am I anywhere close to even consider leaving my day job. But more than anything, I want people to be able to try my products. To love them as much as my family does. Because I think they are good and am really proud of them.

Local folks, no worries! I’ll still be selling my big bath bombs for $6 and the smaller ones for $3. You can buy them from my directly, just email me and we can arrange for a date and time for you to swing by and pick up. Or come to my pop-up shop this Sunday from 2-5pm at 1415 E. NC HWY 54, Durham 27713. Or catch me this fall at the Apex Farmers Market! You don’t have to go through Etsy to get my products locally, promise!

For folks who aren’t local, here’s what’s now shipping free:

Both the small (2.5″) and jumbo (seriously, they’re huge 3.25″) bath bombs

Burn Baby Burn 100% Soy Candles (my current obsession). If I don’t have a fragrance you wanted listed, message me and I’ll make one just for you!

Dry Spell Lotion Bars. I adore them, and trust me, lotion in a stick is where it’s at! If I don’t have a fragrance you wanted listed, message me and I’ll make one just for you!

Again, my hope is you try them and love them. I know I do!

Happy Bathing!
Mama K

The FOMO is Real

In the beginning, it all seemed so simple. Develop some great products that I’d want to buy myself.  Give them to friends and family and see how they like them. If they like them and they are truly a product I would spend my own money on, begin to sell them to friends and family. If they sell well, open an Etsy shop. Bing, bang, boom – small business level unlocked, right?! Yeah, it didn’t quite go that way…

First of all, I owe infinite thanks and gratitude to my friends and family who willingly beta tested my products.  The feedback they gave me (and I asked for it to be blunt) largely affected the products I sell today. Want to know why there are no purely yellow bath bombs anymore? Someone told me when dissolved, they reminded them of pee in the tub. Want to know why I’ve gotten rid of the flower petals (other than on my rose and lavender bath bombs) and instead decorate my bath bombs with dissolvable toppings? Someone told me they hated scooping “floaters” out of the tub when the bath was over (ewwww!). So yeah, I hear you! My products are tailored to please YOU: your feedback MATTERS and I absolutely listen!

Beta testing completed, I opened an Etsy shop. Now, this sounds simple enough, and really, the Etsy interface is pretty user friendly. Still, it ain’t as easy as it looks, folks, especially for someone who’s a bit of a luddite and has absolutely no graphic design or business know-how. I didn’t know how to price my products. I didn’t know how much to keep “in stock’ and how much to make ‘to order”.  While I prefer to make to order as much as possible, bath bombs require significant drying time, up to 48-72 hours depending on the humidity (and in the NC summers, it’s humid, y’all). I want to ship orders quickly, but I need product that is actually dry enough to ship (otherwise it crumbles). Also, my Etsy orders seem to come in spits and spurts; sometimes days or weeks will go buy without a sale. Other times, I’ll get 5 orders in a day. Some days people view my shop, and other days it’s a ghost town.  I’m honestly not at all sure I’m doing the whole Etsy thing right. I have no idea how to market, how to get people to try my products when there are so many others to chose from. But maybe, maybe if I sold them in person and people had a chance to try them, then they’d want to order more, right? Heck, I should sell them at a Farmer’s Market or Craft Fair! Duh…

And here’s where the FOMO comes in folks.  FOMO, or “Fear Of Missing Out” for those of you less hip to modern slang, is real y’all and I have a raging case of it.  You see, I live in a city with an amazing Farmer’s Market.  They even have a neighboring craft market, the perfect place to sell my wares!  I looked. They aren’t accepting new vendors until 2020. You have to submit in application in the fall of the year prior to even be considered for a space. There is no guarantee of being accepted, even if you get your application in on time. Such was the case for other neighboring cities and towns. I was too late to apply. 

What about Craft Markets? Certainly there are holiday craft fairs and festivals I could apply to?! First of all, finding a contact person for all these fairs and festivals is hard work. Second, getting those folks to respond to you? Like pulling teeth. And when you do finally get a response? My experience has been that the window for vendors has sadly closed literally days before I made my cold call. The most devastating one was with a local craft market I would have loved to participate in that closed the application window literally hours before I cold called. Don’t worry, I’m on their wait list, their mailing list, and now follow them on all social media platforms. I won’t miss the opportunity next year!

So now I have to wait.  I’m so excited about my products and am dying to sell and see if people like them. I want to “dial in” my business and only make what people really want. But how can you even know what people really want if you have to wait for your opportunity to sell?! Who would have though applications for Farmer’s Markets and Craft Fairs were done nearly a year in advance? I certainly didn’t! Everything always looks so casual and informal. It’s not! It’s months of planning, orchestrating, applying, rejection, dusting off and applying again. Its only because of all their hard work that these folks are able to make it look effortless.

So I’ll keep tinkering on Etsy and filling sporadic sales when they come. But it isn’t all staring yearningly at Farmer’s Market booths and counting down the days until the fall application season begins for 2020. I actually have an amazing opportunity to vend at a pop-up self care event right here in Durham this Sunday, 7/14!  While I’m tickled, I’m also super nervous. What if no one shows up? Will my credit card reader actually arrive in time and work? What if people do show up but they just don’t want my stuff? What if they do want my stuff but I didn’t bring enough? How much should I even bring?  Should I bring it all?  That’s crazy!  I’ll just bring 99% (ha). Oh my god – what do I even wear?! Yeah, I’m excited, but I’m a wreck.

So, I’ll admit, I have some Farmers Market and Craft Market FOMO. But my turn will come. I just need to wait and be patient. In the mean time, I’m gonna keep on making awesome products available on Etsy. This Sunday. I’ll be selling them in person at 1415 E. NC HWY 54, Durham NC 27713 from 2pm-5pm. Come on by, say “hi”, and check out my stuff! I hope you love it as much as I do!

Happy Bathing!

Mama K

Because I Give a Damn

One of the main reasons Mama K Breaking Bath started in the first place, besides my obsession with making bath bombs, is I just don’t like all the chemicals used in bath and cosmetic products. The kiddo and I are also anti-animal testing when it comes to bath and beauty products. I’m pretty passionate about what goes on my and the kiddo’s body. I also try to be a good human and kind to the earth. That’s why:

• All the fragrances in my Mama K Breaking Bath products are phthalate-free.

What are phthalates and why should you care?  According to the NIH, “Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl. Phthalates are used in many consumer products, including: Cosmetics and personal care products… The health effects of exposure to phthalates are not yet fully known but are being studied by several government agencies. One phthalate, Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), is an endocrine disruptor and can cause cancer. Some phthalates may affect human reproduction or development”. 

• I use reusable glass containers whenever possible, otherwise it’s BPA-free plastic.

• I only use biodegradable glitter. 

Unlike regular cosmetic grade glitter, biodegradable glitter is made from biodegradable cellulose film. This means that once its in the natural environment, microbes consume it, causing no harm to the environment. Is it more expensive? You bet! Is it worth it? I think so.

• My candle wicks are 100% hemp and coated in beeswax.

While it’s true that lead-core wicks have been banned in the US for over 20 years, I wanted to know exactly what was burning in my candles and that they were chemical free. 

• My candles are 100% soy (not a soy/paraffin blend).

Many candles are made from paraffin, a petroleum byproduct, or a soy/paraffin blend. To create paraffin, petroleum waste is chemically bleached, deodorized and made into wax. When burned, paraffin wax can release toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air including acetone, benzene and toluene, which are known carcinogens.

• I use SLSA (NOT SLS or SLES) which is derived from coconut and palm oils. 

What is SLSA? It is classified as a safe skin friendly surfactant for both skin and hair because of its large molecular structure. This mild plant derived surfactant creates a lather that effectively removes dirt and bacteria, without stripping or drying sensitive skin. SLSA is also hydrophillic, This means it is attracted to water, which enables it to dissolve more readily in water, thus providing superior rinse ability.  

• All my products are vegetarian and all but the lotions (which contain small amounts of beeswax) are vegan.

• I use organic ingredients whenever possible.

• All my products are homemade and handmade and are never tested on animals (although they are frequently used by a happy 9 year old child!).

I do all this because what goes into your bath and beauty products matters, at least to me. Know your ingredients! I’m happy to chat about what and why I use what I do anytime!

Happy Bathing!

Mama K

Who Am I and Why Am I Here?

Hi! My name is Kate. I am a single mom with a wonderful 9 year old son. I am also the creator, sole proprietor, and artisan behind Mama K Breaking Bath, a small business of homemade, handmade bath bombs, body scrubs, lotion bars, and 100% soy candles. My products are available on Etsy here. I never envisioned myself as a small business owner; I’m a nurse by trade. Heck, I never envisioned a lot of how my life has unfolded, yet here we are! I know next to nothing about how to start and run a small business, so I thought, why not write about my triumphs and tribulations publicly?! Perhaps someone else is interested in the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to get a small business *hopefully* up and running. God willing, someone will read this and have some magic words of wisdom to share. Maybe it will make another small business owner feel less alone in a jungle full of larger corporations who seem to be doing it bigger and better effortlessly. Fingers crossed someone will see it, buy a product, love it, and tell a friend!

Mama K Breaking Bath: The Origin Story
When I was a kid, I loved bubble baths. Sadly, I was allergic to the ingredients in Mr. Bubbles, so I didn’t get them too frequently. As a tween and teenager, I did develop a deep and abiding love for bath oils, which luckily I wasn’t allergic to. I loved how they fragranced and colored the bath water. I loved how they dissolved in the tub and left my skin feeling soft and smelling nice. But sadly, the individual bath oil that dissolved in the tub seems to have gone the way of the snap bracelet: out of vogue.

Not too long ago, I stumbled across bath bombs. They seemed a cross between what I loved about bubble baths (the fizz) and what I loved about bath oils (the scent, color, and skin soothing properties). I was in heaven, and so was my son. But holy cow – were they expensive! $7-10 for one of those babies! I went to a big box store’s cosmetics aisle to see if I could get them for cheaper. After all, at this point, my kid was asking for one with every bath. I could get them slightly cheaper there, but holy geez! The chemicals in those things! No way was my kid getting in a tub filled with chemical I couldn’t pronounce! So I decided to try and make my own.

Down the rabbit hole I went. It took me months of experimentation to develop a recipe that satisfied both myself and my son. I wanted a product made with all natural, vegan, and organic ingredients when at all possible. I wanted maximum fizz with minimum chemicals. I wanted pretty color, but not so much that my relaxing bath was followed with a need to scour my tub to remove residue. I wanted nice smelling, skin softening, eye appealing bath bombs. It was not easy. I wasn’t always successful. But when I was finally satisfied, I had something I was really proud of and wanted to share.

My bath bombs look pretty. They smell great. They make bath water pretty and skin soft. I am obsessed. My kid is obsessed. And hence, Mama K Breaking Bath was born. She is my second baby. As are all infants, she is not easy and requires a lot of help and supervision. She keeps me up at night. She stresses me out. She also brings me a great deal of joy, happiness, and pride. I know from experience that parenting is hard; I expect having a small business is not entirely different. It will take a lot of effort, patience, and learning to help her grow into a thriving, happy, healthy, mature thing. 
Thanks for joining me on this crazy ride!M

Happy Bathing!

Mama K