Home Show Info by Karol Hovis
A big thank-you to Karol Hovis for taking the time to pass along this information on selling your handmade products via home shows.

Have you ever attended a Tupperware or Partylite show? A
soap/candle show is much like that. Basically, I take a display of
all my products into my hostess's home, have a short discussion
about the items, and let folks place orders. Sounds simple enough,
yes? LOL
In more detail: You need:
>>~a folding table for display
>>~a plain tablecloth
>>~examples of each item you make
>>~if you do lots of different fragrances, buy yourself one of those little
>>organizers that has small compartments. In each one, put a sample soap or
>>candle. Be sure to make a chart so that people know which scent is in each
>>box. I have 2 of these...one for soaps, one for candles.
>>~order forms (duplicates are helpful, although I haven't found one that I like yet)
>>~cash for change

Once I have a date set for the show, I ask the hostess for a list
of names and addresses. I print up postcard invitations on my
computer, and send those out about 10 days in advance. Always send
your hostess one, too, so that she feels sure that they have gone
out. Each invitation should include a VERY small blurb about your
company/products, the time/date/place of show, and and RSVP with
the hostesses phone #. If you are going to give each guest a free
gift, mention it on your invite.

Show up 1/2 to 1 hour before the show and set up your table and
display. I always make sure that my table is "approachable",
because people will want to come up and see everything. As far as
the display, I don't do anything fancy. I place my smaller packing
boxes along the back of the table, under the cloth, so that I have
kind of a shelf or tiered effect. That is as fancy as I get. :-)
Make sure you have your brochures, order forms, calculator, and
pens handy.

After everyone has arrived and been seated, introduce yourself,
thank your hostess, and give a very short talk about your products.
This is the time that I really try to sell my handcrafted products,
and where I take advantage of the opportunity to get on my soapbox
just a tiny bit! I explain to everyone my personal belief that many
of our skin problems are related to the excess of chemicals in
commercial products, and that is why I make my own products with
the bare minimum of additives. You will have your own philosophy of
sales, of course, but know it and be ready to talk about it before
you get there! This is also a good time to point out your "special"
products, or the ones you have brought for people to try out. (More
on this later.) Also, briefly explain your hostess program as well.
(more on that later too!)
I really only talk for a few minutes, because I have been at those
interminable home shows where the consultant insists on giving a
looooooong spiel about the company history, the fine products, the
hostess program, the consultant program, why you too should sell
these fine products, how much $$ she makes doing so, etc....you
know what I mean, I bet. At any rate, then I answer any questions
that folks may have, and hand out brochures, forms, and pens, and
invite everyone to come up to the table to touch and sniff. (If
people seem shy, invite someone outgoing, or ask your hostess to
come up; that will break the tension.)
Now, mingle, have snacks, and answer questions. :-)

More on your order form: Name, address, phone number, hostess name,
email if you are setting up any kind of email list, lots of space
to order. Just a basic order form will work. At one time, I tried
to set up an "item #" ordering system, and it got to complicated
for me. Now I just make sure that customers have plenty of room to
write "Summer Tumbler, Spiced Orange" when they order that candle.
In your brochure, use bold print on your item names, and people are
more likely to write them down correctly. ;) I have started a Light
& Lather club...sort of a monthly soap-of-the-month thing, and I
have a space for that on the order form too, so they can indicate
if they want to join.

As orders come in, total up with taxes, and check over EVERY form
to make sure that you understand exactly what they are ordering.
Also make sure you have a phone # if possible, just in case there
is a question later. Check with the people who order to see if they
too would like to have a show.

After you have all the orders, gather everything up, see if there
are outside orders you need to add to the total, and figure out a
show total. Let the hostess know how much free product she is
receiving, and either take her order then or call her in a few days
to find out what she wants.
Now! Go home and start making stuff!! LOL

When I get home, I run order forms on my computer, or you could
have duplicates of the orders made at a copy shop. Life will be
much easier if you have 2 copies, as you will want one for your
records. Before I even start on an order, I run a master sheet so
that I know how many of each item I need. Then I make it all at
You can decide if you want to separate the orders out, or just
deliver a big box for your hostess to deal with. :-) I separate
them into individual orders, bag them into plain brown bags (like
lunch bags!), write the buyers name on the front, and add a
colorful sticker that says "Thanks for your order!" with my company
name and phone number.

My hostess program: Adapt however you see fit. Each hostess
automatically receives 10% of total sales in free product (anything
from the brochure.) If she receives a booking, I add on 5%. If she
receives more than one booking, I send her a $10.00 gift
certificate (for each show) for more free stuff AFTER those shows
have held. That's pretty much the extent of it. I needed it to be
uncomplicated, my life is confusing enough as it is!

Trying out products at the show: Have a sample of soap ready at the
sink for everyone to try. I also make a lot of other products, like
butters and scrubs, and I always--ALWAYS--have these there for
people to try. This will have a big effect on your sales, so it is
worth it!!! I sell a product I call Handyfeet Butter (I got it from
the soapnuts library, it is a recipe submitted by helz, but can't
remember what she called it now...). I package it in 4 oz jars,
sell for 4.50, and let everyone try it at shows. It sells like
hotcakes. Same with the scrubs that I do. BTW...if you don't do ANY
other products, salt scrubs are worth adding to your line! Salt,
almond oil, a touch of eo or fo if you want, and you have a lovely
product that is easy to make, sells great, and has a wonderful
profit margin. I sell a 16 oz jar for $12.00, and sell a LOT of
those. ;-> But I digress.

Free gifts: I do give each guest a free gift, and actually a very
nice one! Whenever I pour m&p soaps, I pour the leftovers into the
Milky Way heart molds, so I always have a nice variety on hand. At
home shows, every person who places an order receives a
heart-shaped soap, cause I LOOOOVE my customers! (Yep, I really say
that....it is the only hokey part of the show. LOL) Be sure you say
that everyone who places a paid order gets one...not everyONE at
the show, or you will be wiped out by the kids and people who don't


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