Friday, December 28, 2007

Me, in Carpet

I saw an article about how some guy hooked carpets which were portraits of big CEO's and then sold them for 1,000's of dollars. My dad is a carpet-hooker and thought he'd try the scaled-down, little CEO version worth . . . what, ten bucks? Here I am, in carpet.
Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Korean/Japanese Household Items as Molds

I'm lucky to live a stone's throw from Oakland's Koreatown, and I always enjoy shopping there -- especially when on the hunt for soap molds. I found two possibilities in my last expedition I wanted to share with you.

This first one is called a "Kimchi Cutter". Kimchi is spicy, pickled cabbage eaten in Korean cuisine. But for soapmakers this cutter makes a smart little loaf mold. It measures about 11" long, 6" wide and 3" deep. It's especially nice because it comes with a lid and the cutting device stores flat inside the lid, making the whole thing very compact and perhaps a good way to transport loaf soaps to and from a craft show. At the store it cost me $9.99. Google Kimchi Cutter to find one of your own.

This next find looks like a kind of jello mold. Sorry I can't be specific about company brand or name of product, the entire package is in Japanese. For $4.99 I got three small loaf style molds: a half round, a square and a wavy bottom. All three have lids as well as some kind of a release lever to help get the jello out of the mold. The molds measure about 8" long and 2.5" deep and wide.

Another option to consider are sushi Molds. These come round and in triangles. Either way they make great bath bomb molds, as well as soap molds. I found these at, but I image these are pretty easy to find online because sushi is so popular. In fact has flower-shaped sushi molds.
Well, hope you got some inspiration. I just got hungry!
Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pen Turning. Learn something new today.

Financier Warren Buffet says that he always tries to go to bed at night a little smarter than when he woke up earlier that day. If you are having a hard time accomplishing that goal today, let me help by introducing you to pen turning.

Did you know that there are people dedicated to the hobby of handmaking pens by turning them on a lathe? I didn't until I was contacted by a man named David who asked permission to link to my website so that other pen turners could purchase our colorants for their projects.

Here is David's educational link with photos: MasterdCrafts (p.s., note the TKB Trading liquid colors in use!)


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Makeup for Women of Color / Marketing your Brand

Yesterday, I was contacted by the Toni Payne Element5 Mineral Makeup. She asked me to let you know about her company: that it exists, that it specializes in mineral makeup for women of color. Also, that she has an online shop called

I am dutifully reporting said facts. I can't comment on Toni's products as I've never seen them (although I imagine they are wonderful, since she is clearly a creative and energetic business woman). Instead I'd like to comment on what strikes me about Toni's "body of work" as a businesswoman.

First, I applaud Toni for branding her own name. A little 'who is' searching shows Toni has several websites. A fashion site called was created in 2003 (reseller of a variety of fashion products), Element5 was created in 2005 (focus on makeup) and tonipayneonline was created in 2006 (kind of a blend of the two).

Not only did Toni establish her brand with tonipayneonline, she also uses her name as a subtitle to the other two sites (as in: Hot 'n Trendy by Toni Payne and Elements Mineral Makeup by Toni Payne). Branding your personal name allows you to fluidly move from product idea to product idea while maintaining some consistency in the mind of your customers.

Second, I want to draw your attention to the idea of splitting "best sellers" off your main site into a more focused site. I don't know why Toni created her Element5 makeup site as separate from her hontntrendy site, but if I were to extrapolate from my own business, my guess would be that the mineral makeup was a good seller for her and she wanted to focus her customers and her marketing efforts on that one product concept.

My business (, could take a hint from Toni on this one. For example, our bath salt colors are famous for being "the best" for stability and performance. While we sell them consistently every week, it is not uncommon for me to receive emails from new customers who can't find the products on my website. A quick and easy "bath salt" key at the home page might help, but how about if I created a website Uh. Hey, wait a minute. That's a good idea . . . 'scuse me while I toddle over to purchase that URL. OK. Done.

Finally, atta-girls to Toni for actually contacting me and asking me to blog about her. Of course, she may not have expected this particular focus on my blog, but getting your name out there is always a plus. Toni is also good at getting her name in the fashion magazines. Go to the press section of tonipayneonline and you will see the results of her efforts to get her mineral makeup mentioned in the magazines.

Ok, gotta go. Too many new ideas thanks to Ms. Payne!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Natural Hair Dyes

A greying friend recently asked about this topic and I googled up a great article on the subject written by Laurie Berger of the Vegetarian Times in 1998. Here is the hyperlink -- which includes references -- my quick summary follows below: Hair color to dye for: the good, the bad and the ugly on natural cover-ups - natural hair dyes

  • Studies have linked hair coloring to cancer (! women who dye their hair have a 50% greater risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma).
  • Several "natural" hair dyes are now available off the shelf (! Natural hair dyes account for 10% of the annual $1.25 billion hair dye market).
  • Be forewarned: "natural" is a word without any legal meaning in this industry. A self-claimed natural dye can be just as toxic as your off-the-shelf chemical stuffed Clairol (made from coal tar dyes).
  • But natural dyes which are safer than the coal-tar-dyes are quite effective and a National Cancer Institute spokersperson says: "Based on what we now know, natural hair dyes are a safer choice. But avoid products with coal tar, which has been found to contain human carcinogens."
  • Henna is a the most natural (and well-known) plant based dye. Many claim it doesn't cover grey (like my friend), but there are ways to work with it to make it more effective and this article discusses them!

Personal Note. I will always cherish the memory of my mom dying my hair for me when I was 42. At some point during one of my too-rare visits, she delicately suggested that it was time I started coloring my hair. I gave her permission to dash off to the store and pick the product and hue and I allowed her to apply it while we sat kvetching in the kitchen. Because I moved away from home at a young age (17), I have few female bonding memories with my mother. So I guess there is one good thing to say about Clairol.