Disclaimer: Seller Spotlights are hand selected by the ArtFire Staff and contacted personally. We ask sellers to tell us a bit more about themselves and their business through their own eyes.
Handmade Goat Milk Honey Soap by Soapsmith
I make soap.
Hello, my name is Bonnie Klisiewicz Bartley. I am a soapsmith, like a blacksmith, silversmith, or coppersmith – I make soap.
I live in Altoona in Central Pennsylvania. The area is abundant in natural beauty. My home is located on 5 wooded acres, atop a hill in the heart of the breathtakingly glorious Allegheny Mountains – thus, the inspiration for the name Allegheny Hearth Soaps
. I was born in Altoona and have lived here my entire life. It was a wonderful place to raise my three sons, who are now adults. I plan to remain in this warm and welcoming place for the rest of my life, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Bonnie of Soapsmith’s garden in the Allegheny Mountains
The requests just kept coming.
When we moved into our home in 1975, the property was completely outlined with mature pine trees. The first autumn, our yard was covered with pinecones. I picked 21 bushels and decided to make pine cone wreaths as Christmas gifts. Several people who were gifted with the wreaths asked to purchase them for their family and friends.
Through the years, the requests just kept coming. The store where I am employed was generous enough to allow me to place my floral arrangements and artwork for sale. 32 years later, I still work there. My soap cart offers my wares to our customers.
Soapsmith Cold Process Soaps
Soap making is one of my passions. I find great satisfaction in formulating products that pamper the skin and care for my customers. Working with the many aspects of the craft, I am able to be a mad scientist as well as an artisan.
I find great satisfaction in formulating products that pamper the skin and care for my customers.
I am inspired by nature: my garden, the spectrum of colors, the textures, the herbs and flowers, the trees, the fragrances – all of creation. I also draw inspiration from my customers. They are the greatest. Many of them are so kind to take the time to write me notes and emails thanking me for the results they get from using my products. They sing my praises to their friends and neighbors, which grows my business. I am grateful to them and dedicate my efforts to them.
Herb Harvesting at Soapsmiths White Bridge Farm
I also draw inspiration from my customers.
Harvesting Herbs at Soapsmith’s White Bridge Garden
Infused Oils made from Herb Harvest
Mentoring the next generation of artisans.
I am always mindful of the many generations of craftsmen who have passed along their skills. I strive to work for the advancement of the craft by honing my methods and techniques. I willingly mentor the next generation of artisans. I do demonstrations and presentations at symposiums, conventions and gatherings and I actively participate in soap making forums.
In all aspects of my life, I am known for my organization and attention to detail. That attribute greatly contributes to my success in my family life, career, business and volunteer work. I manage my time carefully in order to meet the demands of a busy life.
Soap being cured in the Soapsmith Studio
I made my first soap in 1979.
I am a self taught artisan. I take advantage of every opportunity to learn all aspects of soap making. I read books, attend classes and conferences, I belong to organizations dedicated to the advancement of the craft and I converse with other soap makers to exchange ideas. I purchase my supplies from many vendors, searching the markets for the finest ingredients available. The internet has been wonderful. I made my first soap in 1979.
The only oils and butters were limited to what was available in local supermarkets. Now I can revel in delights like shea, mango and cocoa butters, coconut, palm & avocado oils. Essential and fragrance oil selections are astounding.
Black drawing salve, amish recipe adapted by Soapsmith
My studio shelves are filled with enticing amber bottles that I can blend to my heart’s content. Colorants safe for cosmetic use are also readily available. I dance for joy when the delivery truck brings a new box filled with new delights, begging to be concocted into something unique and original that is sure to thrill my customers.
Fragrance Oils and Colorants at Soapsmith’s Studio
Thanks to the exposure I have received from my ArtFire shop, my products are offered as private label for retailers like Free People, Urban Outfitters and the Home Shopping Network. I never pitched my wares, they all found me on ArtFire.
I have a well established local customer base 35 years in the making. It is at the request of my customers, who are always asking if I have a website that I have decided to branch out to online selling. My ArtFire studio is my main venue for online selling. I have found success selling on ArtFire. I have amassed over 1.7 million item views and shipped 20,000 items. I was a complete newbie to internet selling.
I had never taken a product photo and didn’t even know about things like banners and avatars. ArtFire provided me with the education to learn how to optimize my listings with good SEO that drives traffic and sales to my items.
Thanks to the exposure I have received from my shop, my products are offered as private label for many small artisan gift shops in many countries and a few major retailers like Free People
and Urban Outfitters
and even a television Home Shopping Network
Soapsmith Gemstone Soap Collection on the Free People website
Soapsmith’s Raw Crystal Soap on the Free People Website
The best part is that I have never approached any shops or pitched my wares – they all come to me, thanks to ArtFire. One day I had an order for a single bar of the rose quartz crystal soap. The address came up as invalid so I did a Google search and I saw it was for the corporate headquarters for Urban Outfitters. Did I dare to think it was their buyer… it was! I sent the soap and two days later the buyer called me. She said she found my products on ArtFire. It took some convincing from her over a couple of weeks for me to accept that large of an order. I have been in tons of small shops for decades but nothing on this scale, it was quite and undertaking!
Bonnie Klisiewicz Bartley, Soapsmith
Since I make everything one at a time it is difficult to fill such huge orders. My sons help me do the heavy lifting but I still make them all. Orders in the thousands means that I have to ship by tractor trailer
. Once they were put up for sale on the Free People site, I was shocked to see that they sold out in three days and received 17,000 Instagram likes in 10 hours.