I see and hear a lot of discussion abut artisan soap makers who have closed up operations in the last 2 years or so. Has anyone put together a list of those who have stopped producing since around January 2023 to the present? There seems to be quite a lot of chatter about those who we'll lose this year, but it's all speculation of course. I'm curious.

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I haven't seen a list, but good idea. Welcome to DFS!

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Chicago Suburbs
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of small business fail during the 1st two years. 45% fail in five years and 65% fail in 10 years. Thus, the amazing thing is that a few artisans have made it to the 10 year mark; it is not easy.

Designing, producing, marketing, selling, and distributing shaving soaps is not an easy feat. It requires knowledge of chemistry, biology, perfumery, logistics, accounting, business, web design, graphics design, and other skills I have overlooked. Most soapmakers start as either individual proprietors or perhaps a family unit. It is unusual to have all the skills needs to sustain such as business over many years. Many artisans simply run out of money or energy or their life takes a new direction. 

Of the many artisans whose products I have explored over the past 10 years, I know of the following losses:

Australian Private Reserve- I believe the owner passed away.
Cold River Soap Works- I understand the owner got tired of ecommerce. 
Oleo Soapworks was renamed Chicago Grooming Company, but is still in business
Although not a artisan soap, Williams Mug Soap has been discontinued. It was first produced in 1840.

That is a surprisingly small percentage of the soap makers I have evaluated.

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(This post was last modified: 06-10-2024, 12:13 PM by Tedolph. Edited 4 times in total.)
Seems to me that the market for people willing to pay 20x what a puck of Williams used to cost is very limited, and there are way too many suppliers for that universe of customers. Moreover, some of the so called artisan products really weren't any better, and many not as good as some of the much more affordable mass market products. Honestly, I can only think of a handful that I believe were better than some of the famous (to us) names, and many that were worse.

Now don't get me wrong. I am all for somebody following their passion and chasing their dream. But much like wine making, it can be done at home in small batches but it is surprisingly difficult to produce an excellent product at a mass market price.

I expect we will continue to see shake outs in the industry. One thing that helps is discontinuities in the mass market. The fading away of some very old line tallow based soaps has created some opportunities.

Now if only some clever artisan would figure out how to resurrect the Valet Auto Strop Model "C" open comb single edge razor that would really be something........

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(This post was last modified: 06-10-2024, 12:33 PM by Miamelting. Edited 1 time in total.)
I could just live with Soap Commander and Stirling forever most likely.  I went to reorder a tub of Talbot and found they were gone.  Then I saw a video from Latherhog talking about soap artisans that closed up so decided to post this question.

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Soap Fiend
Talbot Shaving is the one I came in to post . . . and I will, anyway.

[Image: image.png]
Talbot Shaving – Holland Glen

Only tub, to date, of which I've bought an extra.  It's a nice, bright, soapy green.

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You can add Panna Crema/Nuavia and Dr. Jons

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"Always walk where you like your steps"
Enjoyed Pannacrema. Bummer

Sent from my SM-A536U using Tapatalk

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Posting Freak
(06-10-2024, 09:53 PM)Oasisdave Wrote: You can add Panna Crema/Nuavia and Dr. Jons

That was a decent soap but it was too expensive and they never improved the base to stay competitive. I pulled out a tub of Rossa a couple of months ago and and it was obvious that it had been left behind performance wise.

Posting Freak
Some that come to mind:

Mickey Lee Soapworks

There’s also Châtillon Lux that sold his line of post shave fragrances to Declaration Grooming. Shawn is still in business but he sticks to perfumery. 

More will come to mind

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