Greetings from Washington DC where it is warm, muggy and surprisingly easy going in climate. I brought my running shoes and am hoping to go on a run through the monuments tomorrow morning.
We had an extremely busy day meeting with Congresspeople and staffers who are working on the Safe Cosmetics Act potential legislation. Debbie May from WholesaleSuppliesPlus and I met ahead of time to go over the results of the industry survey. The results were extremely helpful. Some results from the survey 1998 small handcrafted soapmakers took:
94% of respondents were female
98% of respondents hand produce soaps, lotions and/or cosmetics and of those, 80% of them sell products for profit
44% of respondents depended on income from soap to pay for mortgage, rent and/or household bills
99% of respondents support the production of safe cosmetics
85% feel current regulations produce safe cosmetics
83% feel additional regulations would not impact public safety
82% of respondents believe there should be small business considerations taken into account when defining “Good Manufacturing Practices”
Staffers were interested and appreciative of this information. As many times as representatives on behalf of the handcrafted soap industry have been to Washington DC, there are always new people to educate and introduce to handcrafted soap. Both Debbie and I brought handcrafted soap to showcase and whenever possible, leave with staffers.
Since the Safe Cosmetics Act has not been scheduled for official discussion in committee in 2011, we are here to exchange information and do further education about the handcrafted industry. We’ve been showing slide shows on how soap is made, explaining who some of our customers are and discussing current legislation versus proposed potential legislation. Our message is clear: small business supports safe cosmetic manufacturing (and currently practices safe cosmetic manufacturing) and any potential legislation should have special considerations with regards to fees, ingredient and product registration and manufacturing practices.
If you have any thoughts about what you’d like us to share in DC tomorrow or in the future, let me know. I would love to hear from as many soapers as possible. Leave me a comment and let’s chat.
Had to post one more thing, I read the article and checked out the congress women. Before I googled them I said to myself they must be democrats and sure enough!! They are!!! Rules and regulations, fees, control and taxes, taxes and more taxes. Now I’m angry!! I might even need to rethink who I buy my products from!
Take all that energy and build an awesome business that you can be proud of – follow all the regulations, do your labeling correctly and be one of the shining examples I can show our Congresspeople next time I go back! =)
Oh just great!! The government found another way to stick their hands in the pot!! It doesn’t matter how small to them…take..take..take!! When will America say enough is enough!!!! Wake up America…when will it stop. They have sucked this generation dry and there is no end in site for our children!! Very Disappointed…
So far, there hasn’t been a lot of movement in this area – but the FDA continues to come under fire in the food industry so I would expect it to eventually spill over into the cosmetics industry.
But, we’re definitely watching out for it and will continue to educate about our awesome small business industry. Generally, when we walk into the offices of a Congressperson, they haven’t heard of our industry or their staffers are amazed. I mean, who thinks about where their soap is produced? =) Education is where it’s all at. Our small indies are producing a vastly superior product to what’s already on the shelves at most mass market options in my opinion.
The DC Soapery says
Thank you both for taking time out of your busy schedules (and away from your families), to represent us. Next time you are in DC it would be a pleasure to meet you!
There are significantly important reasons why businesses should follow many of the provisions in the proposed legislation of the SCA. I think we all understand that, however, even the greatest of intentions and ideas, are unnecessarily costly and and turn out poorly if the implementation needs are misunderstood, misrepresented and/or poorly planned.
1.)Who will review, manage and monitor the businesses reporting their revenue, product lines, materials, and whether or not these businesses are following the correct process and procedures?
2.)How will the new laws or procedures ensure ‘safer’ products and how will we know? What are the benchmarks and what are the measurement tools? What is the reporting mechanism? How can we feel confident that the new legislation has achieved its intent successfully?
3.)What size organization and how much process has to be put in place to enable the effective and efficient management of this new legislation if it passes? The FDA is already overwhelmed with current workload in managing food and drugs, taking on the cosmetics industry will most likely drown them.
4.) Has anyone on the congressional committee provided their estimated cost of implementing this new legislation in total for the entire industry (costs to business (small, medium or large), the organization tasked with managing this legislation, the federal and state governments, as well as to the consumer?
Thank you for the time and consideration of my thoughts. Apologies if they have already been answered elsewhere.
Bramble Berry Customer
Owner, The DC Soapery
All great points and questions that you have. Your brain is very analytical =)
Right now, there are a variety of different bill drafts floating out there – none of which have gotten far enough for the government to do any cost accounting or estimating.
There are industry bills (written or strongly influenced by strong industry advocacy groups) that are science based but have a lot of red tape. These bills are less inclined to give small business exemptions.
Then, there are activist bills (written or strongly influenced by groups concerned about hidden toxins they believe are lurking in cosmetics). These bills generally are more friendly to small business.
It’s anyone’s guess which bill will go the distance and make it out of committee. But in the meantime, we’re all just watching closely, continuing to talk to stakeholders, and working on our businesses. No matter what happens, I am extremely passionate about seeking small business exemptions and it is clear, in talking to lawmakers, that they have no wish to hurt the little guy (aka us). We just need to make sure we are not accidental, collateral damage.
I pride myself on how far I have come in such a short time regarding knowledge and safety in terms of my product and labeling compliance, ect…and there is always something more to learn about everything, however, I think many home based bath and body manufactures/sellers are also realizing that their items are often considered ‘luxury items’. I think this economy has taken a huge bite out of the growth rate for serious small business owners of all types. I’m glad to be breaking even at this point and plan for profit to follow, someday. However, if many of these new regulations go into effect, such as having a chemist on board (um, yikes), I will be out of a major investment in terms of time, money and passion because there is no way I or many of my fellow soapers could possibly afford such rigorous testing. I do understand the necessity of something happening to regulate cosmetics and other goods, especially with the many unsafe imports and foods I have heard about in the news this past year. It’s a tough issue and a fine line we all need to walk on with bunny slippers
Too much government control/legislation is not a good thing for any business,
Especially small businesses.
At this time the US has lost many jobs and manufacturing companies to
Other countries that have no regulations because it is much cheaper to develop products without any control. Thus, we can’t compete with their prices and you go out of business.
Although I think there should be certain criteria to follow, we have to make sure
This does not increase your cost of doing business!
Thank you both for looking out for us!
Thank YOU for being customers. It’s because of you guys that we even have businesses to talk about in Washington =)
I do agree with Rachel above. Instead of imposing taxes and additional fees for practicing safe manufacturing practice, rather give minority dominant small business owners a tax break of incentives for practicing such action would be wonderful. Government tends to force something into people in certain ways, rather awarding them for their good deeds. I am sure no one here are objecting on safe manufacturing practice.
Safe (or “good”) manufacturing practices are something all small business work extremely hard to be in compliance with and while I can’t speak for everyone, it would seem strange to object to safe manufacturing practices! =) Of course, if GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) are made into law, I’d like small business considerations to be taken into account. For example, suggested GMP requires a chemist on staff and that might be a little much for a small, emerging business to comply with. Meeting with decsionmakers and staffers, we were able to bring that very point up (among others). Thanks for posting your thoughts. =)))
Thanks for doing this!
Toni Bible says
I just wanted to say that I personally have spent alot of time, money, and resources to educate myself on how to make and put out a safe, good product. This is one reason I chose to start making my own products. In every industry there are people who choose to do the wrong thing. I think overregulation from a government body that can’t handle what it has to do now is definetely not the answer!
Thanks to you and Debbie for doing what you are doing for the industry!
Thanks for your thoughts Toni. You bring up a good point – it is *already* illegal to make unsafe or misbranded cosmetics. Small businesses often start their businesses precisely because they are unhappy with the options they find on the shelves of their stores. Small business wants to make a better product than what exists on the marketplace today. “One size fits all” legislation may inadvertently hurt emerging businesses and we’re educating as best we can about the ramifications of this potential legislation.
Thank you and Debbie for your representation of our industry! It must be difficult with your baby at home. You know the needs of small business and will do well by us.
I miss him when I’m gone (I’m on the plane back now). Thankfully, he has his Dad who is an amazing Dad who makes him laugh and laugh and laugh. =)
Thank you for representing us and educating people about our industry. We should not be punished because our craft is profitable enough to making a living off. I doubt anyone is against safe products, but these new laws will not ensure safety anyone more then the current laws.
Thank you for your support Sherene. We’re working on educating lawmakers on the ramifications on all of our small business customers should legislation without small business considerations be passed.
I’m all for safe manufacturing practices, however in this economy we can’t afford to put unnecessary financial burdens on small (predominantly women) business owners. How about rather than making us pay the government fees for registering etc…how about the government offer small woman-owned cosmetic business TAX BREAKS for participating in Safe Cosmetic manufacturing free programs, registeries, certifications, etc. Everybody wins. Besides, I can almost guarantee you that our handmade products are already far “safer” than the chemical laden junk they put on the grocery store shelves.
I like the way you’re thinking Rachel. After all, positive reinforcement works better than negative reinforcement for many things in life and this industry is run by women (as you point out) who are trying extremely hard to support families, grow their businesses and employ people in their community. We are all hoping for small business considerations with any potential legislation that might be brought forward in the future.
Thank you so much for representing small crafters and educating members of congress on a piece of legislation taht could have a negative impact on us! I find it ironic that the Safe Cosmetics Act could end up harming small businesses that have always cared about using only quality ingredients in their soaps and cosmetics. (Heck, I bet many of us got started because we didn’t like or wanted to improve what we found on the shelves in nationwode stores.)
Lisa, I think you’re right! That’s the majority of the anecdotal stories I have heard about why our customers got into the business – they wanted to make a better product than what they could find on the shelves or they wanted to customize for a family member or friend with sensitive skin or allergies so I definitely agree with your assessment there. =)