Friday, December 04, 2009

Thanks Darlin!


Today we received a gift box of cookies from one of our "weekly" customers. Thanks Darlin'
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Changing Relationships One Lippie at a Time

Recently, we hosted a Lipstick Color Challenge on our forum ( Each of the 30 participants received an assortment of pre-colored, pre-finished lipstick bases as well as the tools and containers needed to formulate their own unique color blends.

The idea behind the contest was to make it easy for people to just dig in and have fun with color. At the end of the contest, participants were invited to submit photos and the winners received gift certificates for our shop. The above link shows the winners of this part of the contest.

But who were the real winners, really? Read the following to find why we think gathering around a microwave with a pile of lippies is good for the planet.

"Ok we're done playing with our kit. There were 5 of us and we each made one formula as we did it as a family project, my boyfriend had such a good time, he made a couple extra for his mom to give her for Christmas . . . I about fell off my chair when he didn't stop at his obligatory lippie . . He went into it so grudgingly, with no experience and totally got into it and then went beyond. HE was the last one sitting at the table mixing away, it was adorable. Not only that but he wrote down his formula for it even though it's a once in his lifetime gift for his mom and I didn't even make him! The kids loved it, even the ones who would rather have been playing "wii", when they were done, they said "That's it? That was easy" and "Can I make more tomorrow? . . .

. . . It was nice having that family time where everyone got creative and all truly had fun. We're always doing family projects but that was the first time everyone played in makeup. And you know, the big manly man who made lipstick for his mom? I overheard him on the phone with his sister confirming which shade his mother wears and how he thinks he should make her one that's more of a peach. Yep, he might be going back for seconds with the kit and solo!"

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pressed Powder Redux

Tomorrow I'm teaching my first class on how to press powders (eye shadows, blushes and so forth). Below is a little video showing my studio!

I worked really hard to conceptualize this cosmetic process for the home cosmetic chemist and while I still have some loose ends, its gratifying to see it come together.

Bottom Line: set deadlines (real ones like a class) and you'll accomplish more, even if it stresses you out!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Community Participation Update

For those who have interest in how this project is going forward, it looks like the Maker's Meet won't happen in September as I had hoped, but things are nonetheless moving forward!

Our new deadline is November 15th when I am scheduled to teach a class on making pressed powders and lipstick at I have notified all participants that the class is both for them, as well as a rough draft of my program I am putting together for neighborhood youth.

It's been a lot of fun to try to bring this one home. We ("we" meaning "the universe") are still very much in the innovation phase of Make Your Own Natural Color Cosmetics, so there is a lot of research which needs to be done. A lot of recipe writing and equipment getting and "best way to do this" figuring out.

I am tackling this with my assistant, Lennye, in the stolen moments between running my business and sleeping. I used to try to tell her what I wanted done in a day, but it turned out I spent a lot of time explaining myself and it was confusing for her and frustrating for me.

We have since stumbled on a solution which works very well for us. I now give her the day's work in the form of a "test" or "lab assignment". I sit down and list a series of questions and experiments that I want to her accomplish and then I leave blanks for her to fill in the answers.

We have found that by doing this she stays focused on answering the questions I have, I get the answers I am looking for, and we are magically pulling together the beginnings of a lab assignment.

As the photo shows, I'm not doing this in any kind of fancy way -- but it works, and it moves us forward.

Yeah us!

Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Pretty Pink Folder

Long ago I learned to compartmentalize some of my small business owner activities so that they don't overwhelm.

  • I order new supplies once a week (Wednesdays) and I don't even think about it in between.
  • When bills come in, I immediately tuck them into my "pink folder". I only sort through and pay bills on Friday.
  • I come in at 9:00 and leave at 6:00 and weekends are not for working.
It's like Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. In life, we need to meet the physiological basics first (food, water, sleep, etc) before we concern ourselves with the "higher" needs.

Similarly, I find that if my inventory is well stocked, my bills are paid, and my mind and body are refreshed by family and friends, then all the other stresses of owning my business are manageable.

Even if I do work extra hours (not really that uncommon), at least I have made an agreement with myself that I don't have to, so staying is more of a pleasure than a stress.

Do I accomplish everything I want in every day? Nope. Do I move forward on my projects as quickly as I would wish? Nope. Do I take each day with a relaxed and open heart: as much as I can.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Patent Pending on Natural Pigments

Recently I was contacted regarding the company 100% Pure and its patent pending for use of fruit, vegetable, flower and seed pigments for use in cosmetics.

The concern was that if 100% Pure succeeds in their patent then it will negatively affect all natural cosmetic companies.

The author requested that we call the examining attorney Tania Ashby at 571-270-1348 and that we write a formal complaint to the commissioner for patents

The Commissioner
for Patents
PO Box 1450
Alexandria, VA 22313-1450

OK, I have passed the word along, now here is what I have thought about this over the years.

1) The folks at 100% Pure are based here in the Bay Area and I have talked with them as well as sold product to them. In particular, the female founder has taken a mineral makeup class from me when I taught years ago at This in itself doesn't mean anything but I wanted to let you know that the people behind 100% Pure are just people. In some ways they are small, independent natural businesses just like yours (if you have one), although perhaps better funded. They operate out of a 30,000 square foot warehouse in Oakland.

2) I always scratched my head over this patent, because the FDA regulates what color additives are approved for use in cosmetics and the list touted by 100% Pure aren't FDA approved. In my mind, 100% Pure was (is) in violation of the FDA regulations regarding color additives in cosmetics.

3) But lots of companies do use "fruit, vegetable, flower and seed pigments" in their products. For example, Aveda uses botanicals in its formula for Black Malva shampoo. But Black Malva is not on the FDA list of approved color additives. I think the reason they get away with this is because they add it as a "botanical additive" not as a "color additive". Typically, color additives are at the end of an ingredients list in the "may contain" section. I suspect that Black Malva is up there above the "may contain" designation and listed as a botanical. Botanical additives are not regulated by the FDA. This tricky little slippery slope has been used by all kinds of natural cosmetic manufacturers to insert natural coloring agents into their products.

4) So why the patent application by 100% Pure? After scratching my head for about a month, I finally sat down and read the the patent, quickly (patent application number 20060280762) . My read was that they are by-passing the FDA regulations for their current product line by claiming that they are not coloring the cosmetic, they are coloring the body, the fact that there is a cosmetic in between is kind of an "afterthought". For example, cherry juice stains the lips. Yes, there is some waxy oil blend (read: lipstick) which is used to apply it to the lips, but the cherry juice is not there to color the waxy oil blend, it is there to stain the skin of the lips. Maybe I am misunderstanding the patent application, but when I rephrased it that way at least I understood how they were getting around FDA regulations.

5) But let's say I'm wrong.
Let's just say we all agree that "fruit, vegetable, flower and seed pigments" are not approved for use in cosmetics by the FDA.
Let's say that 100% PUre is currently manufacturing in violation of FDA regulations by claiming that they use natural pigments to color their cosmetics -- pigments which are not on the approved list. Are people being harmed? Nope. Why is that? Because the ingredients are not inherently unsafe. They are not approved by the FDA simply because no one has no one has invested the money necessary to have them become FDA approved. Why would they when they have so many reliable analine dyes to use instead.

6. So, perhaps the folks at 100% Pure are pure genius. Even if natural pigments are not FDA approved I assume that this does not prevent you from filing a patent for the idea. And if you held a patent on the idea, funding for such FDA approval would easily follow because all of a sudden you would own something that everyone -- especially the big guys -- would be willing to license. As an example, perhaps the
attorney for a patent-holding 100% Pure would argue that the ONLY reason the Black Malva is in the Aveda shampoo formula is because Black Malva is a dark pigment and it offers some natural darkening to the hair. It does not offer any other qualities (such as shine, or silkiness). Therefore the use of the Black Malva in the shampoo formula violates the patent and therefore Aveda must cease and desist and/or pay 100% Pure a license fee.

OK, lots of guessing, speculating and noodling in the above. I'm not telling you what the situation is, I'm throwing in my two cents. I'm sure there are some errors in my thought process and I welcome feedback. But if I'm right even 80%, I have to say, the folks at 100% Pure smarter than I originally thought.

Kaila Westerman

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Green Cleaners made by Clorox

In 2008, Clorox Corp (based here in Oakland, CA) came out with a line of green cleaning products. More than 99% of the ingredients in their new GreenWorks line come from natural, non-petrochemical sources. The ingredients include:
  • Water
  • Alkyl Polyglucoside. This is a detergent surfactant made from coconut oil
  • Ethanol SDA-3C. This is a dirt-dissolving solvent made from corn oil
  • Glycerine. A solvent from corn oil
  • Lemon oil. From Lemons, obviously, there for the fragrance
  • Kathon, a preservative which is part of the 1% of the formula derived from petrochemicals. But it is biodegradable
  • Milliken Liquitint Blue HP and Bright Yellow dyes. Also part of the 1% of the formula derived from petrochemicals.
As you probably know, most commercial cleaners do not provide a full ingreidents list such as Clorox has done. If you want more information about a commercial cleaner, you can visit The Green Guide, an online publication of National Geographic.

Hope these sites lead you to new ideas!

Kaila Westerman

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Press Release

August 11, 2009

Changes to the Mixing Pot
Pigment Lady's Simple Pleasures purchased by TKB Trading

It was 1996. EBAY and Craigslist were uncertain startups right along with Lori Schenkelberg's “Pigment Lady” and Kaila Westerman's “TKB Trading”.

“We met in an AOL chat room,” explains Kaila. “What started out as a hobby for us, quickly became micro businesses. Our other chat room buddies included ElaineWhite (who had just published a book on soapmaking), Melody Upham (founder of Rainbow Meadows soapmaking supplies) and Linda Jines (founder of Sweetcakes Soapmaking and Candle Supplies). None of us would have imagined our futures unfolding as they did. At the time, we were simply trying to make soap.”

The Pigment Lady was the first to offer repacked pigments and dyes to soap makers at an affordable price. In 1996, her son was just entering first grade; he is now entering college. “It's been a long journey which has been comprised of a lot of hard work, a lot of fun, and a lot of life lessons thrown in for good measure,” says Lori. “I could not have done it without the loyal soap making community which supported me throughout the years, and I thank them!”

Lori's decision to sell her business to Kaila is one which will benefit her Simple Pleasures customers. Kaila's TKB Trading already offers hundreds of pigment, dye and mica options, and her customer service and loyalty are unsurpassed.

For information on TKB Trading, visit them at or
To contact Lori and wave “goodbye”, please shoot an email to

Friday, August 07, 2009

Last month we took a day off to have a company outing. We took the ferry to San Francisco, then rented bikes and biked across the Golden Gate Bridge. Here are some photos. They should play as a slideshow automatically, just be patient!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Work in Progress

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Baby Steps to Community Participation

My business is a simple one. It boils down to buying large quantities of interesting stuff, packing said stuff into smaller quantities and then shipping it out to people who have the time and energy to play with it.

While it is gratifying to be part of my customers' creative cycle, the work is work. It's routine. I try to be very Zen, to see the task in front of me as meditation. But, during a recent "meditation" I calculated that I had been meditating for about 30,000 hours. Time to be enlightened!

In our neighborhood, there is a laundromat, Woody's Laundry and Drapes. I've known Woody for several years. He immigrated from China and started this laundry our rather rundown part of town. Later, he added a cafe. In addition to growing his business, Woody touches the people of this neighborhood. He began to host "outdoor movies" free for the neighborhood. He signed up to host the National Night Out parties. Does the neighborhood love Woody? Yelp has 48 positive reviews on his laundromat. Who reviews laundromats except the most rabidly loyal?

I am aware that my business also touches people, I get feedback along that line pretty much every day and I appreciate it. But this week, I commit to being more like Woody. I commit to taking baby steps to bring our business closer to having a positive impact on our immediate neighborhood.

Our first baby step is tomorrow when we take time out to repaint the building facade. Next step is to complete our "public" space by the end of August (right now it pretty much looks like a rainbow exploded in here).

In September, we will host a Maker's Meet. The Maker's Meet will be a by-invitation event for community leaders who work with the youth in our area in a creative way (art teachers, community organizers, etc). Our plan is to introduce them to what TKB does, what it has and what we know. I think once they get to know us, opportunities to impact will come at us like snowflakes in Minnesota: unique, soft, deep and cool.

Wish us luck!

Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Micro Fine Rose Powder

This just in: Roses that are crushed micro fine and end up so powdery smooth you can use them as a face powder! We also got in a micro fine Coconut Powder.

I chose these two particular powders because they do not have a strong odor (as some botanicals do), and between the two of them, we have the basic skin tones (pink from the rose and a yellow/brown from the coconut). As a result we can use them to make finishing veils or even foundations if we wished.

We've started playing with them, and although the color payout isn't fabulous, they do offer some color. Here are some links to some recipes we have started with. More to come in our Recipe section.


Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC

Friday, July 17, 2009

Special Opportunity through July 19, 2009

As you may know, we have added a "customer review" function to our website. I would like to get the ball rolling on this and the best way is to get a lot of reviews up. Once there are a lot of reviews on the site, more people will be likely to put in their two cents, and hopefully everyone will benefit.

So, here's what I'm proposing.

For every review you post, between now and Sunday night (midnight) July 19, I will credit you $.75, up to a maximum of 26 reviews. This adds up to $19.50 which is equal to the amount of a minimum order of $16.50 plus first class shipping. Therefore, you could end up getting an order shipped to you completely free. Or, you can simply apply the gift certificate to any order you place, large or small.

On Monday, July 20, I will issue gift certificates for the total of your credit.

Now here are the all-important ground rules which we will enforce strictly, arbitrarily and without checking in with you first. Please do not participate in this opportunity if you are likely to get angry at TKB for determining that you have not followed these rules:

1) In order to write a review, you will have to register at our site and do it at the site. We will not accept emails.
2) You can only review a product which you have actually purchased from TKB Trading.
3) You cannot cut and paste essentially the same review for each product. You have to create up to 26 unique statements. Also, you can't copy from your friends or from other reviews on the site. You have to come up with your own words.
4) The reviews do not have to be all "Five Stars", just honest and helpful.
5) The reviews cannot direct people to a different company or resource, or compare our products to another company's products (even if it does so favorably, it just wouldn't be polite).
6) You must be willing to let us edit your review for content.
7) You do not have to do 26 reviews, you can do just one, and we will give you a $.75 gift certificate. It doesn't matter to us.
8) If we are overwhelmed, we reserve the right to end this opportunity earlier than Sunday (although I doubt that will happen). There will be NO rainchecks. So you probably should check this blog first before you start your reviews to make sure that we are still running this program (I'll keep this post up to date).
9) Your review must be longer than just a few words and it must be heartfelt, meaningful and useful to people who read it.

Here are examples of reviews which would be rejected:
  • "Love this color, use it all the time!"
  • "This brown is beautiful."
  • "Great buy, best I've seen"

Here are examples of reviews which would earn you a credit (actual examples from our website):
  • for both black and white skin! Used as a wonderful all round eyeshadow on my african dark skinned friend. And as an eyeliner and in the crease for mt green eyes and very light skin for at smokey effect.
    Its fantastic around green and brown eyes.
  • I made this color, but I had a problem...I didn't have enough Pearl White, so I didn't add as much in, but the color turned out the same...It just doesn't look as light...but when I put it on my finger...It is a very close match. I love this color...I paired it with Beach sand..and I got compliments all day long!
  • I purchased this at the same time as my ingredients for my foundation, concealer, setting powder, and it fits great in my purse or travel bag for touch ups. I think I will buy the smaller size for blush and eyeshadow.

If you have any questions, let me know. If you plan on telling your friends about this opportunity, please make sure they are aware of ALL the rules because I would hate to disappoint anyone.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Matte Color Blends

We are working on getting about 50 matte color blends up in our recipes section.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Twitter Etiquette

Like about a million other people, I am a newbie at (Twitter is the moment-by-moment social networking site which turns blogs into a slough of primordial goo).

When I read the tweets, I feel like I'm squeezed into the 14 Mission Trolley in San Francisco: hot, crowded, surrounded by strangers speaking a foreign language and trendsetters busily making plans on their cell phone. And out of it.

In desperation, I recently twittered a plea for instructions and got a tweet back with a link to Twitter Etiquette. Amidst the suggestions at this link this one really struck me:

The author suggests people keep their private conversation or their business and private lives separate by creating separate Twitter accounts. It probably sounds really obvious, but the original idea of Twitter seemed to blur the line and made me feel that whatever I shared went to business associate, lover and enemy all alike.

For me, the suggestion boils down to setting up one twitter account strictly for business updates "Follow TKB Trading at to be alerted when there are new products, sales, and general announcements" and another for personal "Follow Kaila Westerman at for updates on Kaila's success with losing 5 pounds, lowering her cholesterol or whatever else she is worrying about today!" Once the two accounts are created, I can control who gets my tweets and whose tweets I receive.

Now, if I can just get everyone else to do this too.

Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC
for now, follow tkbtrading at

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Video: Fauxnique's favorite lipstick colors

"liar lips" "pink suspense" "blond venus" "first bite" "almost nude"

This four minute video is both a drag queen makeup tutorial and a list of lipstick names. Get inspired.

Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Coffee Klatch

Did you know July 26th was Savvy Auntie Day? A day to celebrate neices, nephews, and godchildren.

Conveniently, there is also a website for us ladies who love kids (that are not "our" kids).

Savvyauntie started just one year ago (anniversary is July 9th). Let's give them a shout! Other women's oriented sites to visit: Geared to the professional woman in her 30's. Typical advertiser is Joffreys coffee from Seattle. Geared to social women who like to share problems and solutions. Typical advertiser is Nordstrom. Young and urban, Sex and the City on a budget. Typical advertiser: McDonalds. Geared to the brainy, sensible, doctorates among us. Typical advertiser is Tiffany's.

Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC

Monday, July 06, 2009

Reframing the Brand

Recently I attended a Green Expo in San Francisco and it was interesting to see the number of booths dedicated to various different enterprises. Surprising to me was the number of independent organic chocolatiers. Seems that hand crafted chocolate is just as dynamic an entreprenuerial industry as hand crafted soap, toiletries and cosmetics.

Locally, we have several chocolatiers many of them quite large. San Francisco's Ghiradelli, of course, Berkeley's Sharfenberger, and then a bunch of others including a company you can find in between Pier One and Fisherman's Wharf, TCHO (pronounced Choh).

Let's talk about TCHO.

This American Life radio shows explains in episode #383: Origin Story how much we American's love a good entreprenuerial back story. That's why HP spent millions to recreate the garage that was used by Mr's Hewlette and Packard at the start of their company. And why Google, which started at Stanford University with lots of backing dollars, moved after two years into a garage, stayed their for six months then moved out. Just so they could have a garage back story.

Thco's brand story is complicated and involves many elements. The main one is the idea of chocolate gone high tech. This is based on the fact that the main chocolatier used to design systems for the space shuttle. Watch their TCHO is video and ask yourself, if you were to make a similar video of your company, what would it look like? What would it say about you?

Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC

Friday, July 03, 2009

Max Factor Shuts Down

Say Bye-Bye to another cosmetic company with fascinating entreprenuerial roots. In 2010, the current owner of Max Factor will discontinue the product in the U.S.

Max Factor was begun by Maximilian Faktorowicz in the early part of this century. His company became really famous during the golden age of Hollywood (1920's and 1930's), where his products were used and promoted by famous actresses such as Judy Garland and Claudette Colbert.

Max Factor's list of innovations in the cosmetics industry is long, including the fact that he actually coined the term "Makeup" to describe making up ones face! But what really interests me is some of the interesting ideas the company had which might have life in them today as a kind of "retro return" to the somewhat greener roots of cosmetics:
  • Nail "Polish" in which beige colored powder is sprinkled on the nails and buffed with chamois to give shine and some tint. This is nail polish without the toxic chemicals and varnishes, a completely green concept that could find legs today. (The product was introduced in 1925 and called Max Factor's Supreme Nail Polish)
  • In a similar vein, they introduced Society Nail Tint in 1927, which was a small porcelain pot filled with a rose colored cream. One applied this to the nails and buffed for a natural rose color.
  • Also, Society Nail White was a tube of chalky white liquid that was applied under the nails and left to dry, similar to a french manicure.
  • Colorless, clear mascara
Hmmm. I always find that looking at the old books on cosmetics, or the innovations of the old companies is chock full of fun, retro ideas.

Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Recipe Section added to our Website

Last week we added a Recipes tab to our website. This week, and all through July we will be diligently adding recipes.

Our first project has been to photograph and upload all the various nearly 100 color blends created by our customers in last year's Pop Mica Recipe Roundup. These will give everyone more ideas on how to work with the Pop Micas to create their own unique products.

As we finish that project, we will turn our attention to more complex challenges such as foundation blends, how to make pressed powders and more.

Our Recipes Section is probably the most exciting thing at TKB right now, so check it out often in July.

Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Communication between Old and New

I was away last week visiting my parents, who are in their 80's and assisting an uncle who is in a nursing home. For one week, my fingertips fell away from the pulse of ecommerce onto the frailer, paler, pulse of elderly wrists.

When these people pass away, I will miss them; but this trip I was also struck by how much I will miss their modes of communication. For example, my dad loves to give me informative clippings. He gives them at the start of a visit, rifles through the manila folder for more at the end and mails them in thick packets in between, often with a handwritten note: "You probably already know this stuff. All's well here. Dad"

Compare this with the communication I received from a 20-something customer. She had bought our kit and had a question but didn't know how to get hold of me, so she posted a query on our You Tube account.

Repeat: This young woman had my kit and therefore also had my website URL and email address but she didn't know how to contact me. I've heard that to someone of her generation email = snail mail. But I hadn't really realized that my email is as useless to her as my twitter address is to my elderly uncle.

It reminded me of 12 years ago, when I started my business and would get 100 phone calls a day. Now I get about 20. Five years ago, I used to be flooded with emails, now not so much. This despite the fact that sales are up.

At that moment I finally GOT it. Social Networking IS the revolution, and I gotta get with the program. No point in resisting any longer.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Reading All Plaques Makes you Green

My father is the ultimate plaque reader. As a child, we marked road trips not by miles but by plaques read. Those "off road" historical markers? The ones that you saw beat-up, kid-smeared green station wagons turning out for? The ones that you happily disregarded ? Yeah. We read 'em.

No wonder then, that on Father's Day this year, I felt compelled to read a plaque. It was early evening outside the FM Smith Recreation Center in Oakland. I was the first to arrive for our Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council Meeting. Milling about the rec center was a handful of youth, in the distance the thump of a basketball and squeak of sneakers. Marijuana smoke wafted.

Five minutes passed but none in my group had arrived yet and the center was still locked. I scanned the park trying to find the source of the smoke then noticed in the distance four life- sized mules covered in graffiti. Next to them, an equally graffiti-decorated plaque. I reluctantly made the trek.

Turns out that the FM Smith Rec Center is named after Francis Marion Smith, known internationally as "Borax" Smith. Born in Wisconsin in 1846, went to Nevada at the age of 21 to make his fortunes. While there, he discovered and staked a claim for a borax mine. Built an empire on this natural mineral and marketed it as 20-Mule Team Borax because it took 20 mules to haul the mineral from the mines. Later, settled in Oakland with his wife and did wonderful things like build housing for orphaned girls and develop rail systems in the area. Died, donated this part of his estate to the City as a park.

20-Mule Team Borax is still made and sold, now by the Dial Corporation. It is a very popular ingredient in home-made, natural, biodegradable cleansers:
  • Automatic Diswasher Detergent: equal parts borax and baking soda, 2 tablespoons per load.
  • All-purpose Cleaner: 2 tbsp vinegar, 1 tsp borax, 2 cupts hot water, 1/4 cup liquid soap.
  • Natural Laundry Detergent: 1 cup washing soda, 1/2 cup borax, 1 bar soap, 3 gallons water. For a visual guide (including videos) on how to make this recipe as well as examples showing how well it cleans: Simple Dollar
It was early evening. The city about me hummed, squaked and squealed. As a person who moved to California from the midwest when I was 21, as a seller of minerals, a lover of natural cleansers, an Oakland resident involved in making my city a better place. I felt the rush of a connection to another time and place.

I used to think plaques were dorky. Now, I just wish I live long enough and do well enough in my life to have a plaque of my own. Graffiti covered or not.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Color Blending till the Cows Come Home

I've had a week of color blending. Swatching colors across my forearm and fingers so many times during the day that my skin is a little raw.

I just spent four hours "duping" a single color, and I am awed. That I get to have such a great job, that it took me so long, that I actually succeeded.

Here's what I've learned so far:
  • A single blend probably consists of no more than 5 elements.
  • Start with the pigment base. To that add the hilite. To that add the main hue. Finish with the complementary tweaking to neutralize the hue.
  • Wash, rinse, repeat.
  • Take breaks between attempts.
  • Keep notes and samples.
  • Ask other people for feedback.
  • Count Blessings.

Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Product:: Roll on Tube

This just in! We now have Roly Poly Bottles! (Also known as plastic bottles with a rolling ball applicator and a white cap).

For me, a Roly Poly is very retro. Reminds me of the 70's: summer, hanging out in the yard with a lemonade, a book, sunscreen and of course, roll-on watermelon flavored lipgloss.

But of course they can also work for other neat things such as glitter (our microfine glitter works great). You can fill the tube with straight glitter or you can suspend the glitter in some kind of base such as a lotion, a lip gloss, castor oil. You choose.

Hope you enjoy!

Kaila Westerman

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Lori Nova

Recently, Lori Nova celebrated her birthday. In honor of this, let me introduce her to you.

Lori runs The Nova Studio in Point Richmond, California. Her studio offers a variety of bath and body care classes, soap making intensives, and general art classes. Lots of friendly folks come to her classes over and over again.

I've taken several classes at Lori's studio: Liquid Soapmaking, Coloring with Confidence, Natural Perfumery, Hot Process Soapmaking, Artist Trading Cards, Advanced Melt and Pour, to name a few. Whenever I'm bored, I check out her website to see if there is something new to catch my eye.

Lori has won numerous awards for her decorative soaps, and has been a speaker at the Handcrafted Soap Guild annual gatherings more times than I can remember.

Lori is very active in the soap making and natural bath and body care DIY community and a valued resource. Yea Lori!

Monday, June 15, 2009

I want to be Linda Mason

This blog entry started out as a book review of a book I love, Eye Candy (Mason, Linda, New York, Watson-Guptill Publications, 2008, $14.95). The book is written by Linda Mason, a New York makeup artist for over 30 years. It is a collection of 55 eye shadow "looks" done up on regular clients, friends and family. Long story short: it's good.

I say that the entry started as a book review but as I was writing, I remembered that Linda had put together a fun little promo video on it, and so I went to her site to find the link.

And then I just got lost in her site. O-M-Double-G. I want to be Linda Mason. I think, if you are making your own cosmetics and are looking for inspiration, you might want to be her to.

Enough of what I think, go to her site: Spend the rest of your time browsing it.
You will be inspired, I guarantee.

Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Making pressed powders

If you want to make your own pressed-powder makeup, using just a few ingredients, you can!

Pressed powders are less messy than loose ones, also their colors are more intense and they tend to have a little better staying power on the skin.

To make a pressed powder, you will need:
  • Some kind of powder to press (some blend that you have created for eye shadow, foundation or blush)
  • A binder of some kind (recipes below)
  • Something to press into (you can press into a small jar, or in to a compact or a cosmetic tin)
  • Something to press with (you can use your thumbs, a coin, or something more sophisticated which you make up.
Binder recipes can be very simple. Here are three:
  • 2 parts dimethicone, 2 parts fractionated coconut oil, 1 part jojoba oil
  • 1 part dimethicone, 1 part fractionated coconut oil
  • 1 part dimethicone, 1 part jojoba oil, 2 parts alcohol.
Simply shake the binder in a bottle and then either squeeze or spray it onto your loose powders. Then stir or mix together. I like to put everything in a plastic bag and mush it around.

You will use about 10-15% binder to 85-90% color. Said another way, 1/2 teaspoon binder to 1 tablespoon powder. You want the powder to be damp and pressable.

Once the ingredients are mixed together, spoon them into their container and press. I suggest you cover the surface of the powder with some plastic wrap and then press with something firm such as your fingers, or a coin wrapped in plastic. If you really get into it, you can come up with your own devices using c-clamps and other hardware.

Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC

Dimethicone, an introduction

Dimethicone is a kind of Silicone, which is made from petrochemicals. Dimethicone comes in different thicknesses. Our Dimethicone is a liquid, about the viscosity of canola oil. But it is not oily. It is odorless and has a silky feel as you rub it onto your skin.

Dimethicone is popular because it is a great emollient (an emollient soften, soothes and protects the skin by acting as a barrier layer on the skin/hair, keeping the natural water/moisture from drying out). For this reason, you will often see dimethicone used in formulas for lotions, as well as hair care products. Usually, it is not more than 1% - 5% of the formula.

Our color-cosmetic customers like to use Dimethicone for several projects:
  • to make a makeup primer
  • to turn their loose powder makeup into a "pressed powder" (see other blog post)
  • to improve the slip, shine and feel of a lipstick or lip gloss
Dimethicone does not dissolve in water and doesn't really like to dissolve in castor or jojoba oil, either! It can be added to a formula which uses some kind of emulsyfing agent, however. Dimethicone will dissolve into such things as essential oils.

Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

What happened to our old space?

For 10 years, TKB Trading operated out of the first floor of a triplex in downtown Oakland (356 24th Street). Although we had a storefront, we never used it. So we are really happy to see our old space blossom into something new and different: SMITHS, a storefront project by crafter/artisan/artists Allison Smith.

She has converted the studio into an intimate public space for "makers". Tonight's event is an a craft-action dye happening "Indigo Girls" which Brooklyn-based artis Travis Boyer has been performing since 12/08. Participants are invited to come and dye whatever they like in a natural fermentation indigo dye vat. According to the artist, "the process of dying marks the dyers; it stains our hands and customes but also facilitates profound illumination."

It's happening tonight, and yes, I am "so there".

Monday, June 08, 2009


You may (or may not) have heard of Frankenlippies. The idea behind them is to make your own unique color of lipstick by slicing off bits of commercial lipstick you have on hand, melting them together and refashioning them into one brand new lipstick.

We actually did a Frankenlippie contest back in 2008 using our products. You can view the video here It's kind of a long video, so if you get bored, my feelings won't be hurt.

Recently I was contacted by a woman who does Frankenpolishes. Here is here blog spot: Now this a fun link. It's fun to see all the colors she can create. So check her out for fun!

Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC

Friday, June 05, 2009

Van is a graduate

TKB's key employee is Van Nguyen. She is the shipping and packing supervisor for our company. Van grew up in Vietnam and dropped out of high school to support her family by selling fresh fruits on the streets of downtown Saigon. In her early 30's she emigrated to the USA to make a better life for herself.

Because Van is distantly related by marriage to my husband, I hired her as soon as she arrived. She didn't speak a word of English but she was a hard worker.

Over the years, we have celebrated many milestones as every semester she plugged away at the local community college, determined to be the first in her family to get a college degree.

Today, eight years later, she has achieved her goal. We are proud of Van and lucky to have such a great role model in our lives.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

What happened to my Blogging!

In February, 2008, the date of my last post, my company was housed in the same 1500 square foot basement where we had been for the last 8 years. We were packed to the gills! Every day I was straddling inventory while answering phone calls and meanwhile tucking in my buttocks enough to let others squeeze by.

I knew where I wanted to move and what the building would look like. I knew the neighborhood, the price, the size, the architecture. But of course I was much too busy to actually look for this new space, plus forget about all the paperwork required to apply for a real estate loan. But a girl could dream. And I did, over and over, it was my daily refrain.

Then, one day completely out of the blue, two men knocked at our door. No one ever knocked at our door except the UPS driver and the Mail Carrier, so we opened it to these two angels with great suspicion. Apparently angels sometimes have a brokers licenses, because they took one look at my space, listened to my dream and handed me a flyer. "You need to buy THIS building". When I went to see it, I touched its concrete block walls and knew immediately I had found my new home.

Long story short, after months of negotiation, the price came down to a place where I could act, and we moved into our new warehouse on July 5th, 2008.

Since that time, it has been a whirlwind of growth at TKB Trading. All along I had thought I wanted more space so that I wouldn't have to tighten my buttocks. Turns out that was the least of my concerns, because with more space comes growth, with growth comes responsibility. More employees, more paperwork, more inventory, more stress.

Here we are almost a year later. Although my buttocks are a little less exercised, my "Risk Muscle" is greatly strengthened. I've gotten past of shock of the move, and I've gotten more comfortable with the current level of pressure and responsibility that my small business demands of me. One year later, I am relaxed enough to begin enjoying the creative aspects of my business, including regular blogging.

I'm happy to be here, and I look forward to sharing with you as 2009 unfolds. This is an exciting time to discover dreams, and we are so fortunate for every opportunity we have to do so.

Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC