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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.

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New Wholesale Price List for 2017

Just a quick heads up that this is now available on our Wholesale Page for download. Bearing in mind that our new palm-free formulations will be gradually introduced to our stock, the retail prices will be changed only once existing stock has been sold out, and revised formulations are available for sale.

You will also notice that some retail prices still remain at RM22 per bar–this is because we are trying our best to maintain prices for you, while also still operating at margins that can sustain our business. 🙂

Our minimum order quantity is just 60 units per SKU (Stock Keeping Unit, i.e. an individual item), so if you’d like to consider stocking our all-natural soap for sensitive skin in your shop, or to sell online, just drop us an email at sales@kindersoaps.com, and we’d be happy to help answer your queries.

Have a lovely week ahead!

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Of Surfing And Getting Out Of One’s Comfort Zone

michelle's diary entries for Jan 2017

I was just about to write “Happy New Year” to start this blogpost… and then realised that it’s already February 5th. I’m late, as usual…! :p

Last year, I very briefly met Tony Meloto, who is the founder of Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm in the Philippines. You really should take the time to read about what they do and why they do it–it’s pretty inspiring stuff. They were going to run their 4th Social Business Summit from January 20th till 22nd. It sounded interesting (because I had no idea what social entrepreneurships were all about, or how they are run), so I decided to go.

Here’s the rub: I’ve never been to the Philippines. I don’t know anyone there. I’ve never travelled solo.

I also have a weird fear of getting into airplanes.

I could either a) be afraid of all the unknowns present in this situation, and stay ‘safe’ or b) do all the necessary planning, and trust that everything will eventually turn out fine.

No prizes for guessing which route I took. :p

I did my budgeting, browsed through Airbnb, wrote some emails and booked my flights. Thinking of making the most of the trip to a new country, I was going to spend 8 days learning how to surf on a tiny island off Mindanao called Siargao, then fly over to Luzon to attend the Social Business Summit at GK Enchanted Farm. All on my own.

It was the most life-changing 13 days I’ve had to date.

disembarking our twin turbo prop airplane at Siargao

There were many situations where it was a lot better that I did not know what to expect. For instance, the fact that I would be arriving in typhoon season for the Philippines (a deadly one had just passed through Manila over Christmas), or that the only way for our plane to land in Siargao was by sight–if it was too foggy (as it often was, over that island), the plane would have to turn back for Cebu.

I was also presented with several occasions where I literally had to suspend what I thought to be my better judgement. One of them was when I got stuck in Cebu’s horrible lunch hour traffic snarl, with just 45 minutes left to my gate closing for the one and only flight to Siargao–and all the taxis passing by my pickup point were occupied. Just as I was about to give up on public transport and entertain the scenario of waiting for the next flight the following day, a toothy old man walked up to me with an oustretched arm holding a spare helmet, gestured to his beat up motorcycle and said that he could get me to the airport in time for 120 pesos, “No problem!”.

I had a suitcase, a backpack and my handbag on me. I looked at the motorbike, and the ratty helmet.

I needed to catch that plane.

So I popped on the funky smelling helmet and off we went, my luggage squeezed between us, one hand balancing my handbag on top of said luggage, the other clutching the seat tightly. We were getting damp from the rain. Zigzagging for 20 minutes in between lorries, cars and vans, which were just inches away from us at times.

As I tumbled off the motorbike at the airport with the silliest grin on my face (I imagined), I thanked the man profusely, and vowed never again to give only 2 hours’s traveling time to any airport from then on.

This was also the first time I became that crazy passenger you may have spotted at the airport, running full pelt past the check-in counters and desperately searching for her boarding gate.

view of the sea from Pesangan beach

It rained almost every day I was there. It wasn’t torrential, but enough to get you soaking wet if you stayed out for more than 5 minutes. But it did make the one or two days (and the hours in between showers) where the sun burst through the clouds – absolutely glorious.

cockfighting entrant, Magpupungko rock pool, Pesangan, an outrigger

For 8 days I was surfing, exploring some parts of the island on foot, others by motorbike or habal habal, catching up with some reading, and just relaxing, taking in the sights and observing people.

I got caught underwater, at times almost breathless, when the whitewash kept crashing into me and my surfboard, making me bump and scrape my legs on the reef; ate an entire breakfast from fresh coconuts that my instructor and his brothers tossed out from the trees they had climbed, just after we paddled exhausted to the shore; sped down roads on the back of motorbikes while being stung by the rain; and saw vibrant rainbows against the backdrop of a heavy, blue-gray sky.

Every one of these experiences made simple things like having a warm plate of rice in front of me (and the realisation that I was still breathing!) feel like something to be so grateful for.

When I finally had to say goodbye to the island and the lovely new friends I made there, I thought I would miss my new routine too much to fully appreciate the conference I was going to in Bulacan, two hours out from Manila. Thankfully however, I was wrong.

At Gawad Kalinga, I met yet more wonderful people, heard inspiring stories from young Filipinos who were determined to lead their families and communities out of poverty by learning how to be effective entrepreneurs, and had the chance to roam around a fully working farm.

By the time I got on my 5th and final flight that would take me home, I felt like some old parts of me had been slowly, lovingly taken away–to be replaced with new perspectives, ideas and beliefs. All thanks to the myriad of mini adventures, as well as some very interesting people I had the good fortune of connecting with in my brief jaunt in the Philippines.

I was charmed by how happy most of the locals were, despite clearly being financially poor. Both in Siargao and Gawad Kalinga, the community was tight, and practically everyone knew each other by name. They made genuine connections amongst each other. They were contented, and had everything they needed. The land and sea provided for them, as long as they continued to nurture and protect it.

It was clear, however, that modern consumerism was catching on, as evidenced by what the little sundry shops were stocking up on (junk food, mass made clothing and toiletries, english TV dramas etc). There were many new concrete buildings being erected along the single main road that ran along the eastern coastline, and I fear that if ever I came back to Siargao, the island would have lost some of its backwater charm to loud, touristy establishments. I hope I will be wrong about this too.

It also gave me some fresh ideas for Kinder Soaps, in terms of what we should be focusing on, new products and the like. As much as I relished the quiet downtime while abroad, I was quite glad to touch down in KL so I could get back into the swing of things at work again. And I was beginning to really miss my family too!

All in all, January has been surprisingly enriching. It makes me feel like it’s just the beginning of a very eventful year to come, and I will need to somehow muster the discipline daily to keep my shoulder to the wheel… especially when times get tough (which they will).

May you be blessed with the mental and emotional fortitude to make 2017 your year. Hugs from me. 🙂

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Kinder Soaps Is Going Palm-Free in 2017

It’s been a long time coming. We are officially going to rework ALL our soap formulations to completely exclude palm oil from now onwards.

For years, we at Kinder Soaps have been agonising over the use of palm oil in our soap. We’ve held on to it for so long because

  • it lends good lather, cleansing and moisturising properties to our soap;
  • it is the cheapest ingredient we hold in our inventory;
  • it is very accessible.

That is, it makes good business sense to keep using the stuff in our products.

However we can no longer turn a deaf ear, nor a blind eye to the many issues surrounding the use of palm oil globally. The ones that are of particular interest to us are

  • rampant deforestation of virgin rainforests to make way for new plantations;
  • the use of the slash and burn technique to clear old crops in Indonesia, which gives rise to the choking haze that has to be suffered by its citizens, as well as its neighbouring countries, every year.

Our choice to distance ourselves from using this key trade crop for our country may not leave any significant impact on the industry as a whole – but we will certainly be able to sleep better at night, knowing that we are actively taking steps to be a smaller part of the problem.

(I keep thinking of the future environment that my children will grow up being accustomed to – easy access to unspoilt forests, or just swathes of mono-cultured land?)

What does this mean for our customers?

You will still be getting great soap bars that are just as nourishing for the skin – which will also be even more gentle on our environment. 🙂

We will be using a lot more coconut oil in our soap base formulations. They make for hard, long-lasting bars of soap that also give wonderfully fluffy lather, and together with the olive oil and cocoa butter, the resulting soap will still have great moisturizing properties too.

This decision comes at a price – doing away with palm oil means that it will cost more for us to produce each bar of soap. So as we gradually roll out the new palm-free formulations to replace the soaps that eventually get sold out, we will also be adjusting their prices upward, between 10-15%. Some soaps may be their prices revised by an even larger percentage, because of their essential oil prices (we haven’t decided on their price tiering just yet). For now, however, you will still be able to get your soap at the old price of RM22 per bar.

So all in all, we are very excited to roll out our new formulations – and to be a part of the global movement to hopefully make a sustainable change to this earth-damaging, yet critical, industry.

Please share our story with your Facebook network, your friends and family. We will need your support more than ever, as we try to do our best by Nature, on whom we depend entirely for all our needs. And if you have anything to add to this issue, please comment on this post or get in touch with us at ask@kindersoaps.com. We’d be more than happy to chat with you. 🙂