This review was a long time coming. I find North America has some fantastic reviews on companies and on products sold. But like most things when you move across the world, not all things are done the same way. Many of the various companies we DIY’ers need to buy from to keep up with our hobby and our DIY addiction, just don’t seem to have much in the ways of customer reviews here in Europe for products or the company in general. There are some Facebook posts where they sort of review a shop, but very rarely they will go into specifics and usually just give praise. I’ve learnt not to trust Facebook reviews for very few people actually write objective negative reviews on Facebook especially when they see everyone else is not of the same mind. Or they are just complaining.
I’ve discovered, usually on the Facebook groups, it is just someone venting about a business and generally speaking, it is usually because they didn’t read everything they should be reading before buying. And this Feefo stuff, well, more on that below. Let me just say, you can’t review products after a certain amount of time. No matter how much you try or want to.
But! First things first. Cheeky Bath Treats, Scrub Me Down, basically me, Barb, I don’t receive any kick backs for these reviews. I receive nothing free, I get no products, kits, discounts, or free delivery. As much as I really would love for my next order to be free for this review, or even just get some new and exotic oils, unfortunately, I get nothing in exchange for this review. So now that it is sorted that you know, I don’t get anything back from this review, let’s tuck in!
Company name: The Soap Kitchen
Address: Unit 8, Caddsdown Industrial
Park, Clovelly Road, Bideford,
Devon, EX39 3DX
Review Month: August 2018. All these opinions listed in this review might have been listened to and maybe TSK has changed a little. So please! Pay attention to the date.
I get the feeling that most of The Soap Kitchen’s customer base are not all that thrilled with various aspects relating to TSK. And some, for very good reasons. With just a few simple tweaks here and there, The Soap Kitchen could really be great. I find all the products I have bought from TSK to be of high quality, and I truly can find no faults with the actual products I have bought from them.
Word of Mouth:
I’ve been part of a number of EU/UK Facebook groups for soaping, bath bombs, and cosmetics for a number of years now, and I have laughed my arse off a time or two at some of the folk in the Facebook groups- but since I want to remain in these Facebook groups, I can’t go into to great detail. Let me just start off by saying that, sure, TSK has a number of real issues they need to work on, this one issue that needs some tweaks, but it is truly not that big of an issue. One of the biggest problems a few customers seem to have, is that the customer does not read the item description.
Obviously, I am not going to buy a sweet almond oil blend because, well, it’s a blend. And I want to buy sweet almond oil because I want to use sweet almond oil- and not a blend. For that asking price, you know the blend is not going to be the bestest of blended oils, and/or have much actual almond oil in it. I’m going to buy the Sweet Almond Oil for soap, and the organic one for lip and cosmetics (selling feature!). Because, I want sweet almond oil. So I’m going to buy sweet almond oil. And the same type of situations arose from TSK’s Vitamin E, Sodium Hydroxide, and some various bath bomb ingredients. If memory serves. From what I have discovered from making my various purchases to TSK over the past year, these situations have occurred chiefly because the customer did not read the actual title of the ingredient.
However; this all being said, in the customers defence, TSK does not identify its products/ingredients very well. And that has driven me friggen bananas on more than one occurrence. I’ll go into that a little further on down below, but take a look at the Sweet Almond Oil (Blend) product page (picture above). Here is where I could understand the customers dissatisfaction- IF they were new to the craft of DIY. But, most people are not. We are mostly seasoned pro’s when it comes to buying and being in the EU, that means one of the things we are after is the COA/MSDS/IFRA and any other piece of documentation we can get our latexed gloved hands on for our PIFs. TSK doesn’t report what type of oil it is blended with. Even the INCI name: Prunus dulcis (Prunus amygdalus var. dulcis), has it only listed as straight up sweet almond oil. So I can somewhat understand where the customers are coming from having these questions and complaints.
At the end of the day, the customer should have asked or inquired about what kind of blend the various oils are and waited for a response before buying. On the other hand, TSK should really have this type of information posted and listed on the product pages. When it comes to providing the customer with information, TSK seems to be as closed off and as secretive as a tight arsed as a former employer of mine eating a pickle.
One of the things I love to see is lots and lots of products/ingredients when I search for something. And with The Soap Kitchen, you’ve got a winner! You get oodles of hits for things typed into the search bar. So I’m a happy camper here. My issue comes from the actual product page. And granted, since they have upgraded/updated/changed servers (can’t really remember what went on, just things got a little better and more organised on the website and less cluttered), things have gotten a little better. And, to make matters even better, they are working on this problem… slowly… but it is being worked on. Still a ways to go to be a top notch website.
In the EU, if you plan to sell a product to someone, you need to provide a lot of paperwork and ensure you have that paperwork with you at all times when you sell something. Oh yeah. You can imagine this North American’s (now Polish) surprise when I found out that at any market anywhere in the EU I can walk up to a soap maker and ask to see their IFRA document for this or that soap that they sell. Oh yeah. And the maker has to supply that document right then and there or otherwise, they are illegally selling. So, as I mentioned above with the information and latex gloved hands, we want that documentation when we place an item into our carts, and not waiting two to five days for a TSK help desk rep to tell us that they are not the right department and to email this person and they will send it to you. At their leisure. Of course. Rarely within 48 hours will you get a response. Which really sucks if you are in a time crunch. It was actually just so much easier to change my suppliers of micas to another company. So now I buy my colourants from another company and not TSK. Not because TSK was cheaper/more expensive, but because getting my hands on the documentation was proving to be a disaster. With terrible customer service.
And was just less headache inducing getting it from another company.
The EU documents needed for selling a product made with various ingredients should be supplied; batch number, up to date on the website. A customer should not have to hunt down a person and wait for a reply. This should be right there.
I made the decision ages ago to buy my fragrance oils from another company for TSK’s fragrance descriptions were inadequate on the website. There was no information about the scent notes, about if the fragrance oil discoloured the soap, accelerated trace, how it acts in soap making, flashpoint. Sure, a lot of the variables in soap making are from things like temperatures, ingredients and a couple other things, but a lot of the issues or problems that arise for soap making, is the fragrance oils. And yes, a customer should do their own testing to see if their fragrance oil will morph their colourant choices. But shouldn’t there be a note on the various fragrance oils that it is a known fragrance oil to discolour soaps? Or accelerate trace? It would be nice to know that a fragrance oil is easy to work with or would be better in hot process soap.
Now this next part might just be me being greedy or perhaps I’ve been spoilt for a long time looking on various websites where one can buy a product. Many various suppliers will list a whole slew of information in a description and a big one being recommended usage rates. Almond Oil for example is 1-100% depending on what you want to use it in. Panthenol is 1-5%. Another greedy feature I’d love to see is links to a recipe. It’d be awesome to see some crazy exotic oil in a suggested formula.
TSK likes to hand write out their labels on a label sticker, and stick to the bag, box, jug, container, bucket. And this drives me bonkers. There have been a few times where I have no idea what oil or powder is in my hands because the hand writing is so much worse than mine. I’m not quite sure how someone on this earth could have worse handwriting than mine (I’m told by more than a few people my penmanship is worse than a doctor on speed), but my penmanship has met its match!
How I would solve this problem; include the batch numbers on the invoice. This would actually be easier as then for the customer it would just be a simple copy and paste for our files, but also, it is easier to identify numbers over words. I’d love to be able to suggest some glorious and amazingly snazzy way to solve the issue of the labels falling all over the place, this is not just a TSK issue. Many various oil sellers have the same problem. My one supplier printed their labels via a laser printer and I never had an issue with legibility, but they pre-poured and stocked their products. And TSK hand pours each order to save on costs in the long run. But, at the end of the day, I think as long as the batch numbers are on the order invoice, that might be a simple solution that could solve a lot of problems. Maybe even supplying some additional information like when it was bottled would be helpful!
Over the past two years, I’ve bought a teeny tiny amount of some things (1g) to massive amounts of other things (hello 25kg!).
Let’s talk about the big pails of solid fats. I bought big buckets of coconut and palm oil. They took a bag and lined the bucket then poured in the fats and let them solidify. Awesome. No problems here. Works like a charm! Liquid oils over 10kg fantastic! No complaining here. Love how they were nice and put them in jugs of 5kg each for ease. Now lets move onto the 2.5kg of Kaolin Clay. They took the clay into a bag, tied the worlds tightest knot around the opening of the bag, then put that bag into another bag and taped it up. Yeah, can we talk about how big of a mess that made? Or some of the powdered ingredients had wickedly tight knots whilst others had zip ties? Some came with one bag, whilst others came with two. Let’s not talk about the Bladderwrack powder I’m still cleaning up. Or the cosmetic pink and green clay that has no where to go because it was knotted, couldn’t get the knot undone so had to clip a corner, then scramble to find a suitable container and it was only in one bag whilst many other items were double bagged. Or the rose buds that refused to be unknotted and now live in a lunchbox container- yup. I wasted a lunchbox container and all that precious space on rose buds. Not to mention that I bought 500g of mango butter, and it arrived in a knotted plastic bag (pictures below).
How I would fix this problem: Set up your SOP and make all powders and dried herbs are packaged the same. Set it out, all bagged products gets a knotted bag, then inserted into another bag that is zip tied. Or better yet, ziplock bags! Put the ingredient into a ziplock bag and toss that into a bag and zip tie it. Please, for the love of the exotic oil gods, stop knotting bags! I’m not sure how much more my poor fingers can take!
I live in Ireland now. My profanity now knows no bounds and made the ears of many a neighbours turn red over these knots.
Sure, I get it, they want to keep the costs down. But for goodness sake, at least give us something to work with here! I mean is that all too difficult? Double bag everything.
Pretty please with sugar balls on top?
Dear lord. Thank goodness their prices are reasonable, and their ingredients are fantastic. And they have a fantastic selection. Because they aren’t all that good at customer service! You ask them a question, and they reply sometimes up to a week later. And usually that is to tell you that their department doesn’t handle those types of questions, email the following email and they can help you/send you the information you are looking for.
My next little issue with them, is that I love leaving reviews. I actually leave reviews anywhere I can. I do believe that people leaving reviews is an important part of a customers responsibility especially when buying online. I bought my ingredients, and before my ingredients were even shipped from The Soap Kitchen, I got an email to review the various ingredients. And because I had already opened the link, I was then closed off from making any further comments on the various items I bought and I bought over 50 different items.
And that is why I decided to make this section of the blog, Company Reviews. There are a couple of sites I buy from now here in the EU that don’t have customer reviews on their websites. Which is strange for me. I do feel that customer reviews when you go to buy something are important. Especially if you are planning to make something to sell. I would hate to spend a couple hundred pounds/Euros + delivery, only to have discovered I was lead around by the nose and lost it all on subpar ingredients. It would be nice to see TSK encourage more thorough customer reviews on ingredients. Each maker uses a product in various ways, it would be neat to find out how a base ingredient acts in specific ways, and offer some sort of kick back for well crafted reviews. Rather than just seeing comments like, “great”, “good”, “quality”.
Delivery times…. well, this is an issue no matter where you shop from. In this day and age, people order something today, and they want it tomorrow morning. I know I do. But that is just unrealistic. For my latest order, I did have to wait an extra long time before my order was sent off because it was a massive order. However; this is clearly stated on the website.
Taking that into consideration, I can understand why it took a little longer than usual to receive my order.
Finally, there are a couple other ways that could make The Soap Kitchen shopping experience an amazingly great experience, like updating the customer profile pages with links for various ingredients bought in the past. At the moment, if you click on the picture, you just get a new page with that picture. It’d be nice to be able to right click on a product name and that product page opens. I like to buy the same soap ingredients over and over, and trying to find the right link is a pain in my backside! Or a more modern and “clean” product description page. Or when you search for “lavender essential oil” you get the actual lavender essential oil hits and not every single product they make and sell with lavender essential oil.
But these are minor issues compared to those listed above.
I do like The Soap Kitchen and I do plan on ordering from them again in the future. I truly hope that they listen to their customers when we all talk about the same issues.
But my biggest words of advice for you the customer? When ordering from The Soap Kitchen be sure to always have some containers and some various sized ziplock bags on hand. And toss some packing tape over the labels to try to have them last longer!