Have you ever wondered how a product was made? Probably not. I know that for a long time I didn't. I would just walk into a store and pick something off the shelf, not paying any attention to the ingredients or the manufacturing process, pay for it and leave. It never occurred to me the time and effort that went into making it, nor unfortunately the kind of ingredients in it. That is until I started making products myself. This is the best part for me; making something that people like and continue to buy. However, there is another aspect to the process that I enjoy a lot, and that's dealing with customers directly and understanding their needs.
Over the past year, I've had multiple requests to make specially crafted products. Some customers are allergic to certain ingredients or just prefer certain fragrances and they contacted me to suggest changes to a product in my current line or to create something totally different for them. I look forward to this kind of request because it challenges me to come up with new ideas and gives me direct access to my customers' needs.
I thought you might like a sneak peek into the process from idea to final product. The customer brings me an idea and we discuss what they would like in the final product. Sometimes they are very specific with their request, and other times I have the latitude to craft something on my own depending on the kind of herbal or skincare product they want. I make suggestions based upon the properties they would like in their remedy, i.e., something to moisturize dry skin, soothe an itch or rash, aid their immune system, or even help with room clearing.
After we agree on the final product, off I go to my lab. Sometimes it's relatively easy to make the changes, but sometimes it takes revamping the entire formula and making several test batches to get it just right. That's why formulators keep detailed formulation sheets so that they know what process they followed, how much of each raw material they used, and this allows them to make quick adjustments. Also, the sheets come in handy when a different size batch is needed; a quick and simple change in the batch size automatically increases or decreases the entire formula.
The Formulation Sheet contains the product name, batch size, ingredients, the sequence for adding each ingredient, how/when the materials are added, what percentage each ingredient is in the whole batch, and the amount in grams for each ingredient, and so on. The bottom of the sheet details the exact production process from beginning to end so that anyone could duplicate the recipe. Doing the same thing, the same way makes for a consistent result. The formula works!
In addition to the formulation sheet, there is the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) document, required by the FDA, that must include the name of the product, batch number (each product is assigned one), date of production, preparation time, yield, and a list of each of the ingredients along with the batch number from the raw materials wholesaler. This is so that the manufacturer can trace each ingredient in a product back to the wholesalers' batch ingredient in case a customer has issues with the product. Once the product is finished. It is placed in the appropriate container and properly labeled per FDA guidelines.
Of course, this is a simplified version of what goes into making a product or special order. Whew! Seems like a lot doesn't it? Well, it kind of is, but once you have the process documented, you can breeze through many of these steps. And it also helps when you love what you do. A lot of care and attention to detail goes into each product. It's so satisfying when a customer says "I love it" and orders more.
Here are just a few of the special orders that I've done and have subsequently added to my product line:
From top left: Liquid hand soap with certain essential oils, foot massage oil. Starting bottom left: room-clearing spray, rose body oil, and moisturizing body butter.
I do hope you've enjoyed this peek behind the curtain. If there's an area that you have an interest in or if you'd like to discuss a special product just let me know.
Please share your comments. Hope you'll join me again. Just click on my name above to follow me.
Peace and Herbal Blessings,