Monday, October 7, 2013

Super Soapers "October 2013, Featured Artist"!!

"Featured Artist" 
Hilary Goldman

Super Soapers: Tell us a little about yourself.

Hilary Goldman:
Bonjour! My name is Hilary and I live in Berkeley, California. I’ve lived in the bay area now for 29 years - YOWZAH. I came out here as a summer intern in computer science with IBM in 1983 – and was smitten with California! So with much luck and persuasion I managed to get hired on after graduation. During my time at IBM I met my husband (that’s what you do sometimes when you work at the same company ;+). After a decade at IBM I moved on to work for Charles Schwab for 15 years, and, at the same time completed a Masters Degree in business, at night. I really liked the integration and use of technology to streamline and solve business related problems. When not needing to solve problems (although I suppose that is a constant in life) – I enjoy bike riding and settling in with a good book, drinking coffee, big zinfandels, and time with friends and family. I’m a big "Francophile" and have traveled many times to France; avec mon mari avants enfants et maitenent avec mes jemeaux identique. Our kids (identical boys, age 11) attend a local French-American school in our city, and they have reached a level of fluency that surpasses us. I’m still stuck in the basic tenses of past, present, and future – but both my husband and I can slowly carry on a French conversation. In 2011 (I had already left my corporate life behind in 2009) – my husband’s company said he could leave for a one year non-paid sabbatical and a job upon return. So our family uprooted and jumped at the chance to live abroad. I closed A Slice of Delight and we took a life sabbatical – moving to Dakar, the capital of Senegal, West Africa (where French is spoken) to live for one year. You’d think it would have been France but, the compass directed us to a new contient. Our goal was to just immerse ourselves in the country, the language, the food, music, transportation, culture and the people. Our kids attended a French/Senegalese school and my husband and I both had volunteer projects. Me – teaching English to young Senegalese women, and my husband revamping a schools special "one lap top per child network". It was an exceptional experience and will always be, one life-altering event, that has grounded us in ways we never imagined. Since our return a year ago, I have re-opened A Slice of Delight, & resumed myself to making soap again.

SS: How did you get started in soapmaking?

HG: I’m kind of a crafty person and already enjoyed scrapbooking and card making. I took a soap crafting 101 class at The Nova Studio, taught by Lori Nova in Richmond, California in 2007 (an hour bike ride away from my house), and I had a lot of fun. I found myself then taking another one, taught by Soapylove, who was a guest instructor. One Soapylove class, always, leads to another. Top that with Soap Queen TV episodes, and all of a sudden I found myself delving into a new hobby.

Then in April of 2009, I took the opportunity to transition out of my high technology profession after 25 years, with much support from my husband, to "rest" and "rejuvenate". Frankly, I was just burnt out and needed a break! My company, with whom I still have high regards, was going through layoffs and I took a chance to put the message out there that I was ready and okay to leave.

My husband had done the same thing at one time in his corporate career, so I was confident that there would be an upside to the downtime. As a technical project manager I was accustomed to overseeing things with a plan in place. And now, for the first time, I was just going to "meander" a bit.

Not much time lapsed before the "resting" unleashed my creative juices to begin, nurture and grow "A Slice of Delight". So I atteded another Soapylove class, where I talked with Debbie about starting my online presence, and she so, firmly, and sweetly stated - “So, what are you waiting for”…and that was it - the transition from hobby to business began.

SS: Do you CP or MP, & why?

HG: I do MP mainly because that is the first class I took. And once I kept building on all the techniques that can be applied to melt and pour, the possibilities just seemed endless. Admitingly, I do enjoy the instant gratification, turnaround, of the melt and pour process.

SS: What inspires you most?

HG: When a person finds my soaps attractive, at a fair or online, and actually buys one (or more ;+}). It’s a tingly happy feeling. And even, more so, when you see them return – because they know exactly where your booth will be. Or, if online they write you a nice feedback that just, gushes, with oodles of lathery delight  

SS: Do you consider yourself an artist?

HG: I’ve never thought of myself that way directly, but I was referred to, at a craft fair once, as “The Picasso of Soap”, even if my favorite painter is Chagall.  I guess, when you start to cut and mold soap that is embedded inside of more soap, or you create patterns, circles, waves, or diagonals with molds, which I do, then yes, I guess it is artistry of another kind.

SS: How has soapmaking changed your life?

HG: One thing – it has introduced me to a whole new bath and body industry (of which I’ve barely scratched the surface to understand), and the opportunity to make personal connections that were, never, imaginable before taking on this new path. Running my own business has allowed me to exercise all kinds of other professional business skills that were hibernating. It’s refreshing to see some MBA nuggets of learning coming to the forefront. But perhaps the most important change was actually closing shop – letting it go for a year while in Senegal – staying focused on that magical year – and finding the confidence to know that I would preserve to get the momentum to start again. And here I am! 

SS: How would you describe your creative process?

HG: Good question. Cookies, Cakes, Target and Crate and Barrel. I’m not talking about "eating" or "shopping", but surfing online, perusing paper & online catalogs or popping into a brick and mortar store, & seeing how the merchandising and color palates are pulled together. Many times I buy fragrances from their description on the supplier’s websites. It’s always fun when the new scents arrive. I smell the fragrances and let them percolate. Sometimes the aroma makes a straight on “HELLO” with me and other times not right away. It takes some “relationship building” with the scent. Eventually I’ll see colors that tie me back to the fragrance, and somewhere, somehow, a design is born.

SS: What do you benefit the most from other artists in your craft?   

HG: The willingness to share and learn from other crafters who feel at ease in helping others. I’m very happy to have been invited into this group and recognizing the names of soap crafters who I have admired for so long. It’s nice to get help and guidance when I ask. 

SS: Now for a little bit of fun.
Most soap artists seem to be all about their FO's & EO's, which of course are an important part of soapmaking, & everyone knows that scent is the major trigger sensory known for people. If you could explain which, FO or EO, has triggered the biggest memory from childhood, or the most important time in your life, which would it be & why? (this is optional of course).

HG: I suppose at this point the FO that has the most meaning to me would be BB’s "Rise and Shine". It was one of the first fragrances I bought, and after taking in the notes of orange, apple, grapefruit, peach, strawberry, and loganberry, I came up with a design, and something triggered me to change the name to “Groovy Day”. I took the worst photos. My packaging needed help, and I barely understood Etsy, or even how to create a listing. BUT, I decided to post the soap. It was late at night, and I figured I’d solicit a friend to buy it, so I could see how a transaction worked. My approach on this is a throwback to my ‘software testing’ disciplines. Well, I woke up, and my soap listing was gone. Gone Gone. What? Then I see these 2 e-mails in my inbox. OMG! Someone actually bought my soap. Out of that transaction, I realized I did not charge enough for shipping, and forgot to setup taxes. And with ALL that learning, I got this for a feedback, "What a fun and happy soap! Thank you so much! I will for be back!!!!"  (it was and she did!) Of course it took some time before more soaps were sold, but from that day forward, it was my “Grooviest Day” ;+}


You can find more information about Hilary & her soaps by visiting the links below:
 A Slice of Delight -Hand Crafted Soaps - Lather Up and Treat Yourself!online shop -
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This interview was conducted & edited by Misty Raines Clapp, Super Soapers Creator & Admin.
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