Chicken Scratch has been one of my favorite shops for awhile, with many of owner, Beth's items in my favorites. Chicken Scratch is full of handmade vegan bath and body product: massage candles, scrubs and bath bombs that look good enough to eat - even if you are a carnivore!
Now, before I get hungry looking at Beth's Cranberry Fig Soy Candle and Gingerbread Bath Bomb, here's a little bit more on her and her shop:
NM: How long have you been making candles and bath and body products for? Which did you start out with first?
BM: I've been creating bath & body products for about two years. I started with melt & pour soap, but wanted to branch out and get a little more involved in my products. I experimented and gave a few gift baskets to friends at work. Soon I had enough people demanding candles and bath bombs that I opened shop on Etsy.
NM: How did you begin making these items? What attracted you to them?
BM: My sister and I had fooled around with homemade cosmetics when we were teenagers - you know, mayonnaise hair conditioners and such. I've always been a DIYer because we could never afford many luxuries. After I became a vegetarian in my twenties, I began reading product labels and becoming concerned with what I was putting in and on my body. I realized I could concoct many products myself and have the satisfaction of knowing exactly what went into them. Now I try to keep all the ingredients of my products familiar and pronounceable - as well as vegan, of course!
NM: What differentiates your handmade products from others in the same category?
BM: I focus on vegan and cruelty-free ingredients, and madly research everything I include in my products. I also like the idea of creating "spa luxuries", little things to spoil yourself when you need a pick-me-up. Over the next year I'll be expanding my product line to include massage oils, facial scrubs and masques, and hair treatments.
NM: Your shop states your items are vegan. What materials are generally used in bath and body or candle products that are not vegan?
BM: I only use soy wax in my candles, instead of beeswax or petroleum-based waxes. Soy burns cleaner and longer than beeswax. Even the wicks are cotton fiber dipped in soy wax - I have to get them from a separate supplier. I also don't use lanolin, which is derived from sheep's wool, or other more obvious products like honey or milk powder. Sometimes the preservatives used come from questionable sources or contain parabens. I only use optiphen or essential oils like rosemary and grapefruit seed.
NM: Do you have any items for sensitive skin? Dry skin?
BM: I can make any of my products unscented or color-free, and will make substitutions in case of allergies. My body butters are wonderful for dry skin - they contain shea butter and cocoa butter, as well as avocado oil. My candles are great moisturizers, too - I light one during my bath and then smooth down my legs with the warm oil afterwards.
NM: How long do your candles last?
BM: My candles are good for about two full body rubs, head to toe. You can get several back massages out of them. If you're only burning them (which is just half the fun), they last about 25 hours.
NM: What inspires your mixtures/scents?
BM: I live steps away from a huge park, and everything in Southern California blooms year round. As I walk to work in the afternoons, I breathe in the eucalyptus, plumeria, magnolia and jasmine. I want to capture all these smells and send a little California sunshine around the world. It's hard not to get inspired.
NM: Do you have anything special for the holidays?
BM: I listed Gingerbread Men fizzing bath bombs and a Fresh Cut Spruce massage candle. I expanded my listings so that all scents are available in all products (although you can always request a custom order). I also have a big package of new scents at my place - including a Frankincense & Myrrh blend, Turkish Mocha and Snickerdoodle.
NM: Are your items available anywhere other than Etsy and Artfire?
BM: I have cold process soaps on sale at the Old Globe Theatre gift shop in San Diego - so if you're in the area, stop on by!
NM: Where/how do you promote your shop?
BM: I'm a member of the EtsyVeg team and do a lot of group promoting with them on blogs. I'm on twitter - chknscratch - and always notify my followers of new items or sales, and offer twitter exclusive promos. My facebook fan page is facebook.com/chickenscratchbathandbody.
NM: Do you sell your items at craft fairs? If so, what advice can you offer artists considering their first fair?
BM: I haven't ventured into the strange new world of craft fairs yet.
NM: What is your favorite item in your shop? Why?
BM: I love my Eucalyptus Lemongrass massage candle because it was my first product created and listed. The scent is bright and happy, and an instant hit with my customers and friends. I rub out my poor arthritic knees when they ache, or a little on my chest when I feel congested.
NM: Do you belong to any groups on Etsy, Artfire or elsewhere? Tell us a little bit about them.
BM: I belong to EtsyVeg, a group of sellers who are vegetarian or vegan and sell vegetarian goods. Check out our blog - etsyveg.blogspot.com. It's a wonderful, supportive and creative group of people. I feel like I have friends all over the world - and besides helping me with business advice, we talk about everything: families, vegetarian recipes, politics.... I'm so lucky to have found this group.
NM: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
BM: I love a challenge, so bring it on! I'll customize any product to your liking, or create something unique just for you. I also welcome wholesale or bulk inquires.
Your Name: Beth Merriman
Shop Name: Chicken Scratch Bath & Body
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Website URL: chickenscratchbathandbody.com
Etsy URL: chickscratch.etsy.com
Artfire URL: chickenscratch.artfire.com
Facebook Fan Page: facebook.com/chickenscratchbathandbody