We were so lucky to have Congressman Rick Larsen (Democrat, Washington State) visit Otion – The Soap Bar yesterday. Congressman Larsen was at Otion to make soap (of course) and learn more about the FDA Globalization Act and other issues facing small business. Since Congressman Larsen was most recently on the House Small Business Committee before being moved to the Budget Committee for the House, he is well aware of the complexities and challenges facing small business today.
Congressman Larsen did a great job making soap but more impressively, displayed a nuanced grasp of the economic situation that small businesses are facing right now. He was not surprised to hear that Bramble Berry and Otion serve many small business customers who are making a comfortable part-time or full-time living selling soap and toiletries. While he is busy on the HR 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as soon as a stimulus package passes the House and Senate and is signed into law, he will turn his attention to other matters, such as the FDA Globalization Act. I was quick to praise lawmakers and Government in general for modifying the FDA Globalization Act of 2008 to the current iteraction which is something we, as an industry, can work with. It was gratifying to have our work recognized and taken seriously and I shared this with the Congressman.
During his time at Otion, Congressman Larsen learned about fragrance oils, colorants and of course, melt and pour soapmaking. He exclaimed one point, “I can’t believe how easy this is!” I was quick to jump in, “Yes, it is easy! And soapmakers have been safely making soap like this for a long time. The handmade beauty industry has an excellent safety record.” Congressman Larsen was well aware of the CPSIA laws (blogged about here) and the stay from testing that was just enacted, partially due to small businesses being adversely affected by the law. He expressed interest in continuing to monitor and learn more about the FDA Globalization Act of 2009 to ensure that another small industry (the very small business beauty industry) would not be too negatively affected.
Here are Congressman Larsen’s soaps, all popped out. He did a great job for his first try! Rick Larsen serves on the U.S.-China Working Group and travels to Asia frequently to help educates Members of Congress on U.S.-China issues. The soap he made perfectly encompasses his interest in China and small business.