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|Articles - December 2011|
|Tuesday, November 15, 2011|
Page 1 of 2
By Jennifer Roland
Oregonians are buying artisan, whether it is gloves they purchase from a crafter on the website Etsy, home-brewed beer they buy from a co-worker, or specialty cheese they pick up at a farmer’s market. Add to the list: handcrafted bar soap.
The growth in the number of Oregon’s artisan soapmakers has been impressive over the past 25 years. In 1986, when Laurie Fiesel of Laurelstone Soaps in Oregon City began selling her handcrafted soap, she found only two other soapmakers in the state. Now there are 125 active businesses registered with “soap” in the name in the state. The industry’s only trade association, the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild, has seen steady national growth of about 150 members per year for the past six years, says Marie Gale, former president of the guild and owner of Chandler’s Soaps in Broadbent. Oregon is a national player in the handcrafted soap market; the guild’s 2012 conference will be held in Portland in May.
Oregon’s soapmakers sell their wares at craft and county fairs, retail locations and on Etsy. Although Etsy is only one channel in the market for handcrafted products, it has been a poster child for the handcrafted movement. The company doesn’t take credit for creating the movement, but it serves as a representative snapshot of the market. Since it launched in 2005, Etsy sales have grown to more than $300 million each year and are on track to top $400 million this year. Handcrafted soaps make up about 6% of the products currently offered for sale on Etsy.
Within this market niche, variety has grown with the number of producers. Fiesel’s flagship soaps are made with goat’s milk, and Gale’s are known for including no animal products. The price point for most handcrafted soaps is similar, about $4–$6 per bar, compared to as low as $1 for other bar soaps, so consumer preference for a particular formulation or fragrance is usually the deciding factor. Jamie Futoran, owner of Soap Dreams in Medford, which is known for the use of beer in its soaps, says she initially worried the market was oversaturated, “but once I got to a certain point, it just didn’t feel like competition.”
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
Les Schwab has put a premium on customer service since 1952, when legendary namesake Les Schwab founded the company with one store in Prineville. (Schwab died in 2007.) But if the corporate principles remain essentially the same, the world around this iconic Oregon business has changed dramatically.
Friday, March 28, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
The next mysterious (or disastrous) event could be one that you or your team might suddenly need to respond to, probably under intense scrutiny.
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BY DEBRA RINGOLD | GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
How can we strengthen the performance of institutions charged with teaching what Francis Fukuyama calls the social virtues (reciprocity, moral obligation, duty toward community, and trust) necessary for successful markets and democracy itself?
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
A self-proclaimed “chile head,” John Ford “grows, eats and does everything spicy.”
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BY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER
It may be obvious, but most farmers don’t make a lot of money. According to preliminary data from the 2012 Agriculture Census, 52% of America’s 2.1 million principal farm-operators don’t call farming their primary occupation. Farm cooperatives may offer a solution.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Our 100 Best Companies project turned 21 this year, so pop open the Champagne. Our latest survey gives us plenty to cheer.
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