Sunday, 12 June 2011

My New Soap Display

Lots of people have made lovely comments about my new soap display stand shown in the last blog posting so I thought I would show you how It was done.

Firstly - get yourself a good, friendly carpenter!  
Mine is called John Salter and as well as being a friend and fellow pilot he also does some work for my partner Rik who is a builder.  I sat down with John and we designed the stand together just with an idea, pencil and paper and not much else.  He then went away and built it for me.  We decided to make the stand out of pine not MDF which would have made the thing far to heavy.

Creating the look
I knew I wanted the shelves to fit quite a few soap ranges and I really wanted it to have the look of a market stall.  Many people who visit my stalls at the various farmers markets in the area often comment on how nice my wooden trugs look.  I made these myself out of pine, painted them in a variety of different colours, distressed the look with a sander and finished them with a couple of coats of varnish.  They have withstood the test of time very well and do look good.  I use laminated cards for each soap with the illustration, explanation and ingredients on my trugs, however I knew there would not be space for this on the shelves so I planned a painted blackboard strip that could be market up with blackboard pens and, again, would help to give the impression of a market stall.

The trugs and my lovely Rik at Taunton Flower show last year

Christmas in Exmouth
 Then John turned up with the unit and I could not have been happier.  I think it looks really great just in pine!

Finishing the look
I mixed cream emulsion paint with acrylic colours to get the finished colour I wanted.  Each shelf was painted twice, firstly with a light colour, then, once dry, overpainted with a much darker version.  Between the two layers I rubbed the corners and edges with a candle to wax up the areas that I wanted to look distressed and worn.

After the paint was completely dry, I got out my little hand held sander and worked on the edges and corners until the paint layer on top came off and exposed the lighter colour underneath and, in some places, the wood.

Close up of the final distressed look
 The whole thing was then finished with a couple of coats of mat varnish to seal it.

The finishing touches were made by using photoshop and a variety of good quality images of my soaps, I managed to create a montage of my top products with my name underneath.  I got this printed out on a large photo printer courtesy of Claire Sloane and Edd King at Exmouth Studio  (thank you soooo much guys!). The photograph was then stuck onto the top of the stand and the base board cut out with a jigsaw to make a soap silhouette across the top.

The whole thing was then stocked up, chalk names added and a product information sheet printed.

All in all, I am very happy with it.  It is only a prototype and there is room for improvement, it is also quite large, fine for a big retailer like Dart Farm but not ideal for a smaller shop. I would like to work with John to tweak the design, maybe look at making something half the width or with only two shelves.  A lot of work and not cheap to produce but I think it makes the difference.

If you want to have control over how a retailer displays your soaps you need to provide them with something that shows off your products to their best advantage and in a way that you want.  I think eye (and nose) level is best it will catch the customers both visually and with lovely wafting soap smells - sure to stop them in their tracks!  The alternative is to have your soaps shoved in a basket in a dark corner - well at least it could be.  A final tip, always go and have a look again a few days after the soaps get in there (if you can, of course) check that simple things are right, like the correct soaps in the correct places etc.

Id love to hear what you think, how do you solve the problem of displaying your creations?


  1. Wow very good! I cant do this work.

  2. I didn't notice the distressing on your previous post! Great detail. I also like that you used chalk for the labeling so that you can always switch it up if you want.

  3. Thanks Anne Marie, yes the chalk idea also means it looks more like a market stall which is the overall look I was trying to achieve, and I can, as you say, change the soaps I put on display whenever I want too. Two birds with one stone, as they say!

  4. wow, i want to have those as decorative things.. not as soap.. lol, so beautiful, hope i can also make some of those..

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