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How To Get The Best Currency Exchange Rates When Transacting With PayPal

Okay, this isn’t related to soap at all–but I hope it will be useful for those of you out there who purchase things online and have to pay using foreign currency.

I learned something new today: when paying for a bill in a foreign currency using Paypal, you can choose between using

  1. Paypal’s currency conversion rate, or
  2. your credit card issuer’s rate.

I called up my bank, and they told me that their credit card follows Visa’s International Exchange Rates, plus a 1% transaction fee. After a quick run on Visa’s site, I found that it was better to select my credit card’s currency conversion rate over Paypal’s. Bear in mind though, that the final rate may differ slightly, because the actual transaction date may be later than the day you got the indicative rate for.

I also discovered that I saved paying an extra 9% of the invoice by opting to transact in my supplier’s home country currency, instead of their USD-based invoice. This was also after comparing rates. (I don’t know if there are instances where the reverse happens, but I would imagine that it could.)

This took me a couple of hours to do (because I was working at home, and my kids are on a short school break), but it saved me several hundred ringgit.

Lesson learned: it’s worthwhile spending time making comparisons – at least for big ticket purchases.

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Goat’s Milk and Patchouli Now Available As Ugly Ducklings

Once in a while, we make a slip up in our production, which results in botched batches. For the ones which are perfectly fine in terms of efficacy and quality, but are wrongly sized, cut, or packaged, we offer them for sale as Ugly Ducklings, at special prices.

For the first time ever, our flagship Goat’s Milk and Patchouli bars will be sold as Ugly Ducklings. We entered the wrong batch size in our spreadsheet, and resulted in bars that are about 10% smaller (and 10% cuter…? :p).

So we have decided to do the following:

  1. Price this batch of soap at RM20 (naked – usual price is RM23 per bar) and RM21 (wrapped);
  2. Send a special 15% savings coupon to everyone who has backordered and paid for this particular batch of GMP, to make up for the smaller soap bars they will be receiving.

We’re really sorry for this slip up, but we hope this will help to make up for our mistake. As always, thanks for your continued support (even when we stumble along the way).

Read more about our Goat’s Milk and Patchouli soap here. The special Ugly Ducklings price is applicable only while stocks from this particular batch are available.

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New Distributor – Foh Peng

We know that our shop has quite sporadic opening hours, so to help us attend to those of you who can’t make it to our place when we are open, we have asked the kind owners of Syarikat Perniagaan dan Ubat Foh Peng if we could place some of our soap bars in their store. They’ve agreed, so now you can get hold of some of our more popular offerings from our neighbour just downstairs from us! 🙂

They are located between Public Bank and Semenyih Memorial Hills’ office. Our staircase is off to the right. You can’t miss their signboard.

Personally, it is a little surreal for me that now we can see our soap on their shelves. I grew up around this area, you see, so I have memories of this shop since I was a teenager.

Lots of people go to Foh Peng to stock up on baby supplies (milk powder, diapers, wet wipes etc) as well as household dry goods. And of course, chinese herbs. They’ve got quite a well-stocked apothecary, and are able to recommend you all kinds of herbal preparations to address common ailments. They have a particular combination of herbs that you boil to make a pretty tasty drink to combat coughs, and it’s pretty effective – it’s worked on my kids, consistently.

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Now Undergoing Final Testing – Smoothing Hair Serum for Dry, Coarse Hair

my hair before and after using hair serum

It’s been a rather long time since we last launched a new product. This one is something I have been keeping an eye on for quite a few months now, because I find that I benefit from using it too.

I grew up with frizzy, dry hair which my mother had tried fruitlessly to tame, or straighten through use of all kinds of salon products or treatments. It was only after I switched away from using commercial shampoos about 4 years back, that my hair finally changed its texture to become more relaxed and soft – I could finally embrace my curls, instead of fighting against them.

Unfortunately, I realise now that I ruined my hair again when I decided to colour it about two and a half years back. I loved my sea green highlights, but it came at a price–after two rounds of bleaching, 5 hours in the salon, and subsequent giving up on my Mane Event shampoo bar in favour of commercial shampoos that claimed to be colour-protecting, my hair texture has now changed completely. 🙁 Gone are the soft locks that I could leave loose around my shoulders. These days I have to tie back my hair, and sometimes hide the crazy mass of frizz behind me by pulling it into a bun.

I’m quite sure that eventually my hair will grow out of this phase, and hopefully regain its softer feel. In the meantime, I’ve been managing to look half decent by blending a hair serum for myself. It’s been about 12-13 months since I first started making and using it, and now I think I’m quite sure I’d like to release it as an actual product for Kinder Soaps (after I get more feedback from other testers).

Here are some before and after shots that I finally made the effort to take (Note: I applied just 3-4 drops per section of hair, and about 20 drops in total for this particular session):

Observe that in the photo on the left, my frizzy hair is so coarse that you can see right through it to the wall behind me. After applying the serum, my hair seemed to be able to relax into its neighbouring strands, which calmed down the “lion’s mane” look I usually have. It’s glossier now too.

This section is the worst of my frizzy hair. In this photo it doesn’t look remarkably different after using the serum, but it certainly feels a lot softer than it was before.

Okay, now this shows quite a noticeable change in my hair texture. I love how my curls look after using the serum – and transformation happened in under a minute, if not instantly.

In case you’re wondering why my hair was in such a bad state in these photos (which I took today!), it’s because Life got in the way – I got caught up with everything else and neglected to make the serum for a few months now. I’ve only been using virgin coconut oil on and off to moisturize the ends of my hair, but as you can see, it doesn’t really work well for me.

Anyway, there are so many things I like about this blend:

  1. It’s all-natural. Just plant oils. No silicone, no preservatives, no fragrances.
  2. It smells beautifully of flowers, but it’s not overly feminine. I used my favourite essential oils to scent it – and it turns out that they’re also very helpful for nourishing the scalp. They’re currently not in any of our products, so our regulars might be happy to know that there will be something new to smell as well…! :p
  3. It works perfectly as a light-weight moisturizer for the face and body too. I purposely made it such that it could accompany me on my holidays, whether with family or solo (I always travel as light as possible), and is a real workhorse to keep everyone’s skin and hair happy.

Right now it’s mainly the scent of the blend that I need to tweak a little more to get it right.

Do you think you’ll find this helpful to you, or someone you know? Please share this post with them – I’d love to know what you all think of any current hair products you are using, and what your experiences have been like.

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Thank You For The 2017 That Has Been

Phew, what a year it has been…! I personally felt like it was one where Kinder Soaps was forced to “grow up” – or maybe it was me who experienced it. 🙂 There were many ups and downs, the biggest and most tumultuous being the dreaded GMP audit in April, and having the shop raided in October because our products’ notification numbers with the NPRA had expired, and I had forgotten to renew them (that’s a whole different story for another day, but suffice to say that it’s all been sorted out now, thank goodness).

I wish I had more to share about exciting new products for the coming year, or that we have been successfully expanding our distribution to bump up our sales – but in reality the whole of 2017 felt like we were in survival mode most of the time. Whatever you’ve heard about entrepreneurship being a lonely journey for a founder, it’s all true. Being one who is also acutely aware that time spent with family and my children is of paramount importance also prevented me from spending more time on developing the business. So we trundled on with attacking the daily grind without looking into growing aggressively.

And yet we’re still here. And there have been so many moments where I stood back and felt amazed at this reality. Knowing exactly how I work (chaotically, and in bursts of effort), I can confidently say that this is because of everyone who comes into contact with the company. Not me.

Firstly, we have been blessed with an amazing team of staff at Kinder Soaps who have done a terrific job of keeping the studio running smoothly, the paperwork tidy and customers happy through the year. They work with care, and because of this, I barely have to check in on them and yet work still gets done. It’s easy to take this for granted, and I hope that I can do them justice by doing whatever I can to make sure they always have work to keep them busy, and to provide them a safe space for them to call their second home.

Secondly, our customers. Despite our many (embarrassing) disrupted supply situations, despatch hiccups and idiosyncratic shop hours, you have stuck by us through these years, and even recommended your friends and family to try our wares. We must be doing something right… :”) But even so, we are always looking to do better, bit by bit. Our purpose of being is to serve you, and if you have any suggestions for us on how we can improve our products or services, please get in touch with us any way you feel most comfortable with, whether by phone, email, or coming over to chat with us at the shop. I cannot promise that we will act on every one of them, but we’ll certainly try to take on the ones that make the most sense.

Thirdly, our vendors. We demanded a lot from you in this past year – and you delivered. Thank you for building a mutual trust between us, and we even became friends. I personally discovered how incredibly useful it was to have Gogetters at the ready to help us with handling tricky despatches (who else would want to handle and deliver 25kg cartons, sometimes containing caustic sodium hydroxide, at a tip of the hat?), and even braving unfamiliar government offices to take care of paperwork submission? If you haven’t heard of Goget.my, you really need to check them out. The time (and heartache!) they saved me was invaluable. Thank you all for your support, and we look forward to a more prosperous 2018 for all of us.

Finally, my family and friends. You encouraged, chided, lectured, and most importantly, loved me for the broken, imperfect person I am. I cannot thank you enough for this. I feel like I haven’t been a very good connection in the past year, and I’d like to fix that. :”)

So this is my piece to round off the year (and so that I can finally check off this to-do item that has been sitting in my journal for months…! :p). We look forward to continue serving you in the year, and many more, to come. 🙂

 

Much love,
Michelle and the Kinder Soaps family

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Pausing Our Referral Programme

Hey everyone,

To those of you who have been participating actively in our Referral Programme, thank you.

Unfortunately we haven’t been able to run it as effectively as we’d like, so we will be putting it on hold until we can figure out how to make it work better for you.

As a company that pours all its heart and resources into crafting great products by hand, we don’t have a large advertising budget to work with. We rely heavily on good people such as yourselves to tell your friends and family about our products, and hopefully they will become our customers too. We know that lots of you already do this, which is why we thought setting up a referral programme was a good idea.

Unfortunately, the numbers show that we are consistently losing money from running this campaign, rather than boosting our sales. 🙁 So even though some of you have been faithfully sharing your referral codes with your networks, getting the word out about Kinder Soaps (thank you so much!) and enjoying the rewards in the process, we will need to put this programme on hold – hopefully only temporarily.

We will pause the Referral Programme officially on Monday, 9th of October 2017.

We are sorry to have to do this, but like I said, we may get this up and running again in the future. In the meantime, you can still share your referral code with your networks, and if they make a qualified purchase before the 9th of October, you’ll still be able to claim your reward.

Thanks again for your continued support for us in general – we’re truly grateful that we have such a terrific bunch of customers, some of whom we have had the privilege to consider as friends. 🙂

If there is anything at all we can do to help you with regards to caring for your skin in an environmentally conscious way, call us at 03-77320955 during our shop opening hours, or drop as an email at ask@kindersoaps.com anytime. We’d be most happy to chat with you.

Have a lovely week ahead!

Warm regards,
Michelle

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Thank You For Helping Us Minimise Plastic Usage!

Hello everyone! I’ve decided to take a bit of a breather from the work grind to write instead.

Most of you are probably aware of our efforts to reduce our reliance on plastic, especially when it comes to packaging our soap. In 2014 we began selling our soap in beeswax cotton wraps, which are made in-house and entirely by hand. Then to push the envelope further with regards to minimizing packaging, we started offering the option of buying our soap without any form of wrapping.

And from what we have observed, it really is possible to do away with packaging entirely–I am so happy to see this! You all are truly helping to reduce our environmental impact.

So much of our modern-day city life is saturated with messages that imply that you need more of something or other in order to be happier / more successful in life. I disagree. We can be happier with less stuff, to make more room for other more fulfilling pursuits. (For more practical ideas or discussions about what minimalism really is, I encourage you to visit this inspiring website.)

So in terms of the products that you buy, you have shown us that you care more for the product itself, and that you are quite happy to do away with superfluous packaging.

We have also chatted with numerous customers who shared that they have simplified their skincare routines to basic cleansing with soap, and moisturization if necessary. You make your own simple yet nourishing and effective scrubs out of foodstuff that you already have in your kitchen (yay!) – which means purchasing less cosmetic products in their own packaging. Your skin doesn’t need much more than that, unless you have a medical condition that requires special treatment.

Using less also means you are channeling fewer things to landfills.

So, to those of you who have been purchasing our soap bars, wrapped or otherwise, thank you for helping us do our bit to reduce our environmental impact in the course of meeting your skincare needs.

Operationally speaking, we’re taking little steps forward to encourage recycling, reusing and reducing waste material. Our ingredients arrive in plastic jerry cans, bags, and bottles made of plastic, glass and aluminium–we try our best to recycle all of these. I’ve made our cleaning kakak responsible for the collection of all our recyclable plastic bottles and containers, so that she can sell them for additional income (she seems quite happy with this arrangement). Glass bottles are a little trickier because of their weight and fragility, but I think CRC would be willing to come over to collect them to be sold to recycling centres too (although I’ve heard that glass doesn’t command as good a price as paper or plastic).

Paper scraps from our soap mold liners are used to wrap our free soap samples (so we can ditch the plastic zip lock bags). This was Christine’s idea.

We have also begun stamping our soap bars with their names, along with their “best used by” dates, so they are easy to identify even in the absence of any form packaging.

I’m sure there will be more we can do. Lots of inspiration came from the practices of other eco-conscious people around us – like yourselves!

Do share with us what you do to reduce your use of packaging for cosmetics, or for any other area in your daily life, for that matter. It’s always interesting to hear your stories. 🙂

And again, because we can’t say this enough–THANK YOU for doing your bit for our environment. You inspire us to follow suit.

Have a terrific week ahead!

Much love,
Michelle

p/s: Have a peek at our range of soap bars here – those of you with skin concerns may benefit the most from what we have to offer.

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Our Soap Sampler Pack Has Been Changed

We have decided to offer two 50g bars of soap for our Sampler Pack, instead of the three 33g slices. We noticed that most new customers were usually comparing 2 types of soap–and on top of that, having slightly larger soap slices gives them the opportunity to have a slightly longer trial period for each piece.

The price has been changed to RM24 per 2-pc pack as well.

Hope this helps! Pop over to the Soap Sampler Pack page to give our soap bars a whirl.

 

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Soap Bars Now Bear Their Names!

Today we received an extra special parcel – one that will help you identify your soap bars right away, even without a shred of packaging on them. 🙂

We will now be stamping our soap bars with their names! Here’s a bar of Teselli as an example, which also has a best-by date on the narrower edge (something that we have been doing for a while now).

Thank you for supporting us in our efforts to be kinder not just to our skin, but to our environment as well. #zerowaste #packagingfreecosmetics

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Revised Opening Hours: 11am till 4pm

Hey everyone, just a very quick note that we have revised our shop hours to be as follows:

11am – 4pm
Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays
Closed on public holidays

Do give us a call at +603-77320955 before you decide to drop by, so that we can ensure that one of our Sunshines will be available to attend to you.