Top Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Trade Associations And Why You Should Join

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Are you wondering if you should join an industry trade association?

I joined the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild in 2009 and have remained a member.  I have used a lot of their member benefits and have been to multiple conferences.  In fact, I teach at the conferences these days.  I have certifications through the guild and appreciate their work to lobby for its members.  I would certainly recommend them, but feel you should learn a little bit about your options, which are kind of slim in the handcrafted industry.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of the major ones.
A trade association is an organization founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry. An industry trade association participates in public relations activities such as advertising, education, political
lobbying and publishing, but its main focus is networking. Associations may offer other services, such as producing conferences, networking or charitable events or offering classes or educational materials. Many associations are non-profit organizations governed by laws and directed by officers who are also members.
  • Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild (HSCG)
  • Indie Business Network (IBN -formerly Indie Beauty Network)
  • Guild of Craft Soap & Toiletry Makers (GCSTM)

Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild (HSCG)

Taken from their website:

The Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild is the only international non-profit trade association serving the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry. The object and purpose of The Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild is:

  • to promote and educate the public about the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry;
  • to act as a center of communication among, and to circulate information beneficial to, members of the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry;
  • to foster the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry through education and training; and
  • to represent the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry in matters concerning legislation and regulations affecting the industry.

Membership is open to all soap and cosmetic handcrafters anywhere in the world who make any type of handcrafted soap and/or cosmetics, as well as to the vendors who provide products and/or services to the handcrafted soap industry.

Benefits include:
  • $1M Product Liability Insurance
  • Free webstore and business listings
  • Numerous discounts with vendors
  • Soapmaker Certification Program
  • Annual Conference


Costs (annually):
  • $100 Professional membership
  • $480 with insurance in US
  • $500 with insurance in CA


Taken from website:

The Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild’s Soapmaker Certification Program was undertaken in order to encourage and promote the highest professional standards among HSCG members. The Program also presents criteria by which members can measure their soap making knowledge and skill as well as creates a centralized repository for industry-standard information and resources.

The Certification Program benefits the handcrafted soap making industry as a whole by establishing an industry-wide standard of excellence in soap making. Achieving these certifications will benefit the member as it demonstrates dedication to professional standards and builds credibility with customers.

 There is NO certification program that is recognized by the governing bodies of most countries.  This is not the same as being permitted to sell (or certified to sell) these products within the EC guidelines.

Indie Business Network (IBN)

 Taken from website:

Launched in 2000 by award winning home-based business advocate Donna Maria Coles Johnson, Esq., Indie Business Network is the first trade organization serving manufacturers of handmade soaps, cosmetics, candles, artisan perfumes, aromatherapy products, jewelry, baked goods, confections and other artisanal consumer products.

 Benefits include:
  • Educational materials
  • Liability insurance
  • Supplier discounts
  • Business promotions
  • Indie Cruise


Costs (annually):
  • $150 Membership
  • $398 Additional for insurance in US
IBN is run by an individual for profit.

Guild of Craft Soap & Toiletry Makers (GCSTM)

Taken from website:

The Guild of Craft Soap and Toiletry Makers (GCSTM) is a non-commercial organisation which provides information and guidelines about handmade soap crafting and the EU legislation that regulates the cosmetics and toiletries industry.

GCSTM is run by volunteers who give their time freely for the benefit of both our members and the profession as a whole. The Guild operates an open admissions policy and membership is FREE to any soap or toiletry maker who holds safety assessments for their product range.

The Guild has two very specific aims:

  • To raise awareness of the legislative standards that are in place that apply to craft soap and toiletry products
  • To register as members of the Guild crafters who work in compliance with this legislation and who hold relevant public liability insurance
There are a handful of smaller soap and cosmetics groups,
which offer the following:
  • Networking
  • Conferences or Events
  • Supplier Discounts
  • Industry Education


There are also numerous associations for larger businesses in cosmetics and fragrance.

You may want to consider joining local organizations such as a Chamber of Commerce, as these often offer networking opportunities outside of the industry.

 Are you a member of a trade association?  How do you feel about your membership?  Share comments below.  Just click on the number of comments to open the text box.