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Brushes, Containers, Formula, etc.

Been a while since I’ve done one of these and figured it would be good to get all of the thoughts and changes in one place…

Brushes/Viking resurgence

I have been making brushes now for a few months. This is something I have wanted to do since I first started in wetshaving about 15 years ago. This desire prompted me to buy a lathe, where I did succeed in making a few brushes for myself and as gifts for the guys in my wedding party in 2007. I moved on to other things in the “turning” world like pens, bowls, etc. and when I moved to attend graduate school, my lathe became idle for a long period, probably close to 10 years. As some things changed in my life, I started making soap again, which led to Viking being launched in Spring 2016, and my interest in making brushes returned around that time as well, but I was overwhelmed in re-familiarizing myself with how to turn, securing handle materials/knot supply, researching and gathering finishing supplies, etc., so I just took my time slowly acquiring what I needed to get started. Well, as you know, Viking took a nose dive (personal reasons) in late 2017 into most of 2018 when I considered closing the business down, but I made some necessary changes in my life to allow Viking to resurface early this year. It’s been a struggle to get back to where I was in early 2017, but things are progressing well and I’m happy with where Viking sits and the brush making journey.

I feel that my best brush work is currently taking place and I plan to start doing “drops” where I make a group of brush handles available at once rather than posting them one by one on the site as they are completed. I have secured a nice supply of ebonite, all sorts of synthetic and wood materials, and have also started casting my own blanks, so there will be some really cool stuff coming down the pipeline. I have also developed a nice relationship with a knot supplier that makes the best shaving knots in the world in my opinion. There are now several knot options available on the website for your consideration. I plan to offer more synthetic knot options moving forward also.

The brush buying process is broken into two categories – the handle and the knot. If you wish to purchase both, I will assume that you want me to set the knot for you. I will touch base with you after the order to see if you have any preferences on the loft and will then set the knot for you prior to shipping the completed brush. If you want to do it yourself, that’s fine and we will determine that with the post-order correspondence. I am also happy to sell handles and knots separately and welcome those orders.

Custom brush orders are also open, please email me at vikingsoap@gmail.com to get a conversation started and your custom brush ordered – I’ve had some great interactions with customers and really cool brushes created as a result of the custom process so far!

Keep on the lookout for the first official brush ‘drop’ – it should be happening around 8/12. I will send an email out the the subscriber list and also announce the drop on Instagram and Facebook, so be sure to follow one of those for the information.

New soap containers & formula tweak

I have been on the hunt for a new container supply for a while now and finally succeeded in finding what I wanted at the price I wanted. I have used the blue jars in the past mostly for economical reasons, but they are also decent to lather in. However, I’ve always had my eye on something different, more in line with what other artisans use – the Parkway jars. Those are now in use for Hedeby and Ironside, and as old stock is sold and new made, all soaps will migrate into the new jars. They are wider and more robust, providing more a better ‘in-tub’ lathering experience. They do add a little bit extra cost, which is passed on in the new pricing, but I feel it’s worth it and you are still getting the best value in shaving soap on the market with our great performing soaps. That has been and always will be my goal – to provide a reasonably priced soap that performs with the best in the shaving soap market. I know there are a lot of options out there, but you simply will not find a better value than Viking Shaving Soap. I have extensively researched and tested ingredients and have ultimately found that the KISS model (keep it simple stupid) applies to shaving soap as well, in my opinion. You will find a fairly simple ingredient list compared to other offerings, but I stand by my formula that has received great reviews over the years.

There was one area, however, that I would get feedback regarding that I have changed to reflect that feedback. This is in the area of post-shave performance. Not that it was bad, but did have some room for improvement. I have made a change to my formula to reflect this, and have received great feedback on it so far. I think you’ll be pleased with the new formula – all soaps, old containers and new in the store are the new, 2019 formula for my soaps.

New scents?

I’ve been asked if there are any new scents on deck for Viking. Yes, there are a few that I plan to release in the coming months. I plan to extend the ‘Scandinavian Country’ series by releasing Norway, Denmark, and Sweden soaps. Will share more details as they are available.

Lastly, I really want to thank everyone who has supported Viking during the high and low periods – it means a lot to me and I couldn’t have made it back without the support. I also want to remind everyone that this is a side venture for me, I have a full time day job in Research & Development in Agriculture, and a family that I love spending time with, so Viking-related business happens for a few hours at the end of most days, so if things seem slow, that’s why, but there’s always something brewing! Please feel free to reach out at any time for a chat, I love discussing anything in the wetshaving realm with customers!

Thanks and keep on shaving! See my Instagram feed below for some pictures of recent brushes, updates, etc.

 

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2019 Update!

I’ve finally taken the plunge back into soap making… I was unsure if Viking would be around this year, and spent most of last year not paying much attention to it for a variety of reasons. Ultimately, I decided that I’d regret it if I let it collapse, so worked a few things out personally and am back to it!

Will have a handful of soaps back available within the next week and will hope to have most scents (soaps and balms at a minimum) back in stock within the course of a few months.

Thanks for everyone’s support and looking forward to spending more time with you again!

Andrew

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Long needed update!

Greetings fellow Vikings!

Wanted to take a minute and update you on a few things happening at Viking Soap & Cosmetics.

  1. We have made a few changes to the formulation to reflect some supplier arrangements and ingredient inclusions and as a result have had to up the price slightly (only 75 cents on each product).
  2. We have heard that the scents are weak in some of the soaps, so have adjusted those just slightly to bump the scent strength.
  3. Our production batches have now doubled in size and we are working to get stock built up for not only here, but at ‘The Shaving Shop Club’ (https://shavingshopclub.com/), where we’ll try to maintain some stock as well. Excited for this opportunity!
  4. Citron has changed from a fragrance oil soap to an exclusively essential oil soap, which has made for a much more interesting and notable scent. Plus, we’ve upped the menthol a bit in it as that was a common critique of the soap.
  5. We are working to also build up the inventory of the balms associated with each soap, and hope to have that completed in the next month or two.

We truly appreciate everyone’s support and look forward to providing some of the best value in wet shaving moving forward! As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns.

– Andrew

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Update to our base formula

I greatly appreciate all the feedback folks have provided us over the last 3 months. Even though we have had very good success with the first variation on the formula, some (including me at times) felt the soap was too soft to be lathered effectively in containers.

I took this feedback into strong consideration and have modified my formula accordingly to increase the hardness and “in-tub” lathering ability of the soap.

Rest assured, the ingredients have not changed – other than the ratio of our saopnification agents, so you can expect the same performance from a lather, cushion, and post-shave feel that you did with the previous version — but with a harder soap.

Thanks for your support and feedback, it’s invaluable for me!

– Andrew

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A great first week!

Just wanted to take a minute to thank all the folks who stopped over at VikingSoap.com this last week to help with the official launch, things went well and we are looking forward to the product getting into more hands as deliveries are made.

As always, if there’s anything we can do to help out, please feel free to let us know! Suggestions and feedback are appreciated.

We have more body soap that is curing with some new scents that should be ready in the next few weeks.

We will also be working to incorporate more scents into the aftershave balm line, and be working on our aftershave splash formula. We will also be working on hand/body lotion, liquid hand & face soaps, and shampoo. Keep checking back for more updates!

Use the social media icons near the top of the page to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

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Making product!

Tonight marks the first official production night! Final packaging decisions were made last week and the containers and labels all arrived safe and sound within the last few days. To say we are excited is an understatement!

This is truly a labor of love, all of our products are made in extremely small batches and containers hand-filled. We hope you will enjoy them.

Here’s a picture of some body soap curing and some random experimental stuffs we have going on.

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And a picture of the first containers filled with Old Norse Shaving Soap! Will cure a few days while we build more stock and be available for sale within the next week or two.

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Thanks for checking in!

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Tallow!

As I love to do everything as close to ‘from scratch’ as possible, rendering tallow from beef suet was an absolute must for me. Tallow is a somewhat controversial ingredient, but I feel confident that I am using a product that may otherwise be discarded from the meat industry, which is very prevalent in Iowa.

Right up the highway about 15 minutes from my home is a small traditional meat locker who I contacted about obtaining some beef suet (fat surrounding the kidney area – the best for tallow) to render tallow with. They were happy to supply some suet to me that was already run through a meat grinder, which makes for much easier rendering. In the past, I’ve trimmed, cubed, and ground the suet myself and that adds a ton of labor to the process; finding someone who has already performed those tasks makes my life easier.

This is what the suet looks like after it’s been run through the grinder.
Suet

The first step is to slowly melt (render) down the tallow to separate the liquid fats from the small bits of meat and gristle that are inevitably found in suet, regardless of how well it’s trimmed. After the first rendering, the tallow is poured through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth to get rid of the majority of the bits. Some always seems to get through the first filtering. After this, the tallow is allowed to harden in a bowl, after which it is rendered again – this time with a bit of water and salt to help collect the remaining bits of gristle and meat. Again, the tallow is strained through the same apparatus and cooled in the refrigerator to harden. After hardening, the pure tallow is collected from atop the small pool of water in the bottom which contains any remaining impurities.

Here’s what it looks like after the second hardening.
Tallow

Now it’s ready to make some fine shaving soap!

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Lots o’ Work

Man, this is a lot more involved than I thought it would be! But, it’s been fun so far. Currently working through packaging options and think I finally have it nailed down. These aren’t final, but here is the first (older) option, of which there will be some since I bought some stock of the clear bottles that I need to use, but the blue bottle will be the choice moving forward. Easier to hold in one hand to pump and nicer looking in my opinion.

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New Style
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Old Style

Working on labels next (mostly designed, just need to finalize sizes and options), and have also added a bunch of pictures to a few of the products. Good times! Still hoping to have things officially launched around May 1st. Thanks for checking in!

– Andrew

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What’s happening at Viking Soap?

I am currently working on finalizing packaging options/labels, and refining final formulae. Starting up an online store has brought significantly more challenged than I anticipated! And when I step foot into a new realm, I like to go all out rather than piecing it together as I go (a certain degree of that will still occur). Building this website was made fairly easy with WordPress, but for someone with very little background in web site setup (and especially the ecommerce side of things), it took a little figuring out to say the least.

I wanted to make sure the website was set up and functional so that when the stock is finally built, we can ‘cut the ribbon’ and hit the ground running.

The other thing I’m doing is trying to figure out what the final lineup of products will look like. The three that you see listed in the menu will certainly form the foundation, but I do envision that there will be hair care products, hand & body lotion, liquid hand and face soaps, beard oil, and possibly baby products, which is why I chose to name it ‘Soap & Cosmetic’ rather than just ‘Soap.’

Hope things will be ready to roll out in a month or so. I will have about 5 tubs of soap available from run #2 in the next few days, so if you are interested, please let me know and we can work out a cheap shipping option.

Thanks!
Andrew

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Welcome to Viking Soap!

Welcome to Viking Soap & Cosmetic!

This has been a whirlwind 5 weeks or so. I have been a soap maker for quite some time, and truly enjoy the hobby, although I had let it get away from me for quite a while as life got busy. I came back with full steam and a renewed passion for the hobby and have decided to make a go at turning it from a hobby into a small side-business. I am very happy with how my creations have evolved and want to share them with the world and try my hand at running a small business.

I hope you find something you will enjoy and get some good use out of here! Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to make your experience better.

Thanks!

– Andrew