Friday, December 18, 2009

Hackers need to get a life!

Well as promised I am letting everyone know what happened to the site. I want to pass this information on to those people that want to or are planning on unning OSCommerce as their shopping cart system (and potentially any other shopping cart based on php).

On Decemeber 10th, or near there, a vulnerability was discovered in OSCommerce that allows access to the file manager (the brain of the website essentially). On December 11th, my site was attacked and a malicious script (virus) was injected into the files that was a command to snag everyone's credit card data. Being that I do not accept credit card data or numbers through the site, this hack was in vain, although it did cause me lost hours and money trying to remove the script and patch the vulnerability.

Thankfully due to the last hacker attempt, I have a wonderful programmer I use out of the Ukraine who knows his stuff and got on it asap. If anyone ever needs a referral to a programmer that is fast and knows his stuff, send me an email, he's great!

So the site has been patched, which is great for me, but may not be for some other sites that have no idea this vulnerability exists and can exist. For now, please be cautious when purchasing anything online with your credit card through any OSCommerce websites. If the option exists to phone in your number use it! Or stick to PayPal.

The perpetrators (from what we can gather) are based in Vietnam. That's pretty much all we know. They are hacking into sites with vulnerabilities (which being this is a new one pretty much every site has it).

I wanted to share this because I want the word passed around about what is happening. OSCommerce has been notified and hopefully they will provide a fix for it. Until then pay a php expert to fix it.

Thank you,

Randi Carr

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Website and Shopping Cart Questions answered!

I receive many questions from people about my website and who I got to build it, how much it cost, and the like.

To save myself time and to avoid repetition I am going to answer these questions here.

Question: Who did I get to design my website?

Answer: Nobody. I did it. I am the only one who builds it, maintains it and updates it. I hope this explains why I never get it updated on time. I can also say I hate every minute of it. I do have the know-how now though, so I see no reason to pay for someone else to do it.

Question: How much did it cost?

Answer: Monetarily nothing. Time wise, hundreds and hundreds of hours. To be honest I am probably way into the thousands of hours. I use OSCommerce an open source program that is free. I do, however, pay for the webspace and the domain names.

Question: Do you have any recommendations on where I can get a shopping cart?

Answer: This one depends. Basically you need to answer the following questions and go from there:
  • How much effort and time do you want to invest in your website?
  • What does your budget look like?
  • Do you mind the headache of maintenance and upkeep?
  • Are you picky? Meaning do you want it to look a certain way or you will be frustrated?
  • How elaborate are your needs? For instance, how many products are you going to need to list?
  • Do you want it to automatically calculate shipping?

If your needs are basic and you don't want the headache of upkeeping a store other than basic descriptions and such then I suggest you go with a hosted site like Homestead or Pro Stores or NetStores.

If you want to do it all yourself and do not mind learning php script and the like go with either OSCommerce or ZenCart or something. You will still need to purchase webspace and a domain name. For webspace I HIGHLY recommend Acornhost. Their pricing is right and their tech support is excellent. I have never had my website down due to them (I have however torn it down myself with the wrong code). For domain names, I suggest Netfirms. They are reasonably priced and renewal is simple. Managing your domains is easy too. (For instance I have and that also point to the home page. This would fall under managing the domains).

If you want a fairly happy medium you can buy a template for either OSCommerce or ZenCart and then customize it. You will need to learn the basics of php still to do this and depending on the template, they range anywhere fro $50 to $5000 (exclusive). You would still be responsible for any maintenace or upgrades to the site.

Or you can pay a programmer to do it all for you. From what I can tell, the going rate depends and a website takes many many hours, so it is not a cheap investment. be prepared to spend at least $1000 on something pretty simple. My website at this point is worth about $5000, from what I have been told (I could be wrong).

There are many more options than listed above, but it is based on your budget and time essentially. What works for one, may not work for another. I suggest you check out all of your options and go from there. Many programs offer free trials. Use them.

As a side note... this is what my store looked like before I started programming it... . They give you this and you convert it one line at a time to make it your own.

I hope this answers some questions. Have fun!


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Business side of things: To incorporate or not? That is the question.

I often hear people are thinking about incorporating their businesses because they think it is a safer bet when it comes to liability. I thought I would share some information with everyone (to the best of my knowledge) about this process and what shield it actually does provide to a business.

The main thing is most people seem to get incorporation and liability insurance confused. We will start with a definition of each.

Liability insurance (specifically, product liability) covers a person or entity (corporation) in the horrid event that something goes horribly wrong when a person uses their product. Allergic reactions, skin trauma, etc are covered by this.

Incorporation creates a business that is a seperate entity entirely from the individual. The finances and assets are the corporation's, not the individuals. In the event that a person wishes to stop doing the business, it is a much harder process to dissolve the corporation than a sole proprietership. The tax savings and credit availability are generally the big bonuses to incorporating.

Now where does this leave us? When a person incorporates their business they buy shares into it. Each share is worth a percentage of the business. For a small business such as soap making or cosmetic making the person normally ends up 100% Shareholder and is also titled Director, President, Treasurer and Secretary of that company. Now if the company does not have insurance and something bad happens as a result of the use of the product that company sold, litigation can happen and the company can be instructed to pay out for the damages.

What if the company does not have the assets required to cover the amount they have to pay out?
This is where people seem to think a corporation can save them. If the company does not have enough assets to pay in full then the litigation system looks at the shareholders of the company. In the event that you are 100% Shareholder and hold all the positions in question you can be deemed responsible for the turn of events. You are after all directing the company and making the decisions for it. This means you can be sued for the resulting balance. Yes, the company is gone at this point as everything has been taken from it, but you are not 100% shielded from litigation. They need to get their money somewhere!

So, why do I bring this up? Because I know how hard it is to find product liability insurance. I do have a link to a company that does provide it on my home page. Some people refuse to pay the annual preium and feel that incorporating, being a one time cost, is a better option. Please know that the two are not the same. An incorporated company still needs insurance, so it is no real savings.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bitten by the bug 2.

As I sit here typing I am waiting for my lye water to cool. Mistake #1. I meant for the water to be coffee in place of water. Oops.

This time I am ready though. I have my mold (I'm using a cardboard box as a log mold) lined and big enough. I have my coffee grounds set aside and my coffee butter and essential oil premeasured and ready to go. I have the thermometer ready (wish I could find my infrared one though, Sam apparently took it and cannot remember where she put it!). My colourant is ready. Now I just need to wait for the perfect numbers on the thermometer.

45 minutes later:

Well, the time came and I started to drizzle the lye water into the oils. As I turned on the stick blender something was definitely wrong. Sputter sputter, cough choke.. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! So I am stirring the liquid with one hand and trying to fix the blender with the other (took skill). I get it to work for 5 more seconds... I stir again, I get it to work again for a couple seconds... OH NO!!! MY SOAP!!!!!!!! Then when I didn't think it could get any worse I hear Logan crying... screaming... he wants his mommy, daddy doesn't cut it. CRAP! Not only is my soap going to fail because I cannot get my blander to work, my child is going to help the process. So I drop the soap idea, it's making me mad anyway. I run to Logan... settle him down... resign myself to the fact my wonderful Coffee Cocoa butter soap is a disaster. Logan goes back to sleep.

Back to the kitchen. I look in my bucket. I have liquid... nothing more. I grab my stick blender... might as well try and see what happens. I press the button. BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ... hey? It's working... It runs for about 1 minute and 30 secs.... trace starts to appear... YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I dump in my butter and coffee grounds... blend it up for a few more seconds. Take out some of the soap batter, toss in my essential oil and colourant... stir it up. Give the soap in the bucket another quick buzz to thicken it a bit more. Pour it into my cardboard mold. I then pour the colored soap into the mold from a height and swirl a bit. It isn't the colour I planned (too black), but oh well... it traced, I don't care!

I wrap it in a towel... and I got smart this time (with the help of some seasoned soap makers), I preheated the oven to 170 and turned it off. I'm hoping it will help the soap gel fully this time.

So... do I have soap? I think so... is it pretty? Probably not... do I care? No... IT TRACED PEOPLE!!!!

I'll post pics when I unmold it tomorrow (or the next day).

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bitten by the bug!

As many of you know, I have never made CP soap before. I was scared to because of the kids, Sam especially (3 years old), she likes to get involved in everything. I needed to wait until she was old enough to understand to stay AWAY from anything to do with Lye. We finally hit that milestone, she understands Lye is BADDDD and will let me handle it and keep away.

Now being a supplier of soap making ingredients and equipment, I have always felt silly giving people advice on a topic I know quite a bit about, however I have never actually experienced it. I relate it to that of a surgeon who knows the ins and outs of surgery, can tell you exactly how to do it or what not to do and the consequences of certain actions, yet he/she never actually performed surgery.

So tonight was the night. The girls were downstairs watching a movie now that we have a toy room for them. Logan was sleep... time to make soap!

Now I admit, I bought a kit. I figured for the first time, it would probably be a good idea. At least I know the recipe works and I could fully see the trace and go through the stages without wondering if my recipe was right if something did go wrong.

The recipe is a 1 pound beeswax CP soap recipe. The instructions say it will take 20-25 minutes to trace with a stick blender. Thankfully, I had spoke to a friend of mine, well seasoned in soap making, prior to going through the motions and she had mentioned it probably would take closer to 5 minutes.

So, I have my lye water cooled and ready, my soaping oils warm and ready, it's time to put them together and make soap... the real deal. I slowly drizzle my lye solution into the oil as the directions state and hand stir at the beginning to incorporate the two mixtures thoroughly. Then I turn on my stick blender on low and beat the soap batter for about 30 seconds, turn it off and stir with the stick blender shut off for another 30 seconds or so. It then comes to my attention that the Tupperware container I had planned on using as a mold was not big enough. I yell to my hubby to PLEASSSEEE go downstairs and find the soap molds on my top shelf and bring one up. He asks which one (I have 300 molds)? I say whichever... don't care ANYTHING!

Another 45 seconds or so has gone by and I am still alternating with the blender and by hand. The next thing I know I am yelling for him to HUUUURRRYYYYY! The batter is starting to trace and quickly! I turn off the stick blender and start hand stirring while giving him militant directions on prepping the mold! By total luck I had Calendula oil sitting next to me that had just been pressed. I told him, grease it with THAT! No sooner had he finished when the soap had to be poured, it was pretty darn thick.

I got the soap batter poured into the molds and then I noticed... by total luck (hubby didn't know what kind of soap I was making) he had brought my Bee and Honeycomb Milky Way Mold up. It may look good after all.

The soap is now sitting in the oven (to keep away from children and everything else) wrapped in a towel until tomorrow when I will take a peek and hopefully be able to unmold it. The leftover that I did end up pouring into the Tupperware container is going to be very ugly... my liner moved and it is a big mess. I figure I might be able to carve it into a flower or something as the creases will make lovely petals (not really, but that is how my mind works). It doesn't matter anyway, this was batch #1 and the purpose was merely to experience the process. If it's not pretty, so be it. I have a funny feeling I will have many batches to get all that right as I have already been bitten by the bug and have come up with about 20 different ideas on what I can do in the past hour.

I see it all the time... the bug that is. The glint in the eye of the person who got that first successful trace. I never in a million years figured I would get the glint too. This happened less than an hour ago and as I sat on the living room chair after it was all said and done telling my hubby about a coffee soap idea I have, my hubby looks at me and says "It has happened to you now too." And he grins. Sadly, he is right. I doubt I will ever be the same.

ETA: Pics added (soap out of mold) I'll update with pics after the cure.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Newsletter: Bulk buys, new stock and lower pricing!

Hi all!

As the Christmas season is fast approaching we are doing our best at Creations from Eden Inc to bring in large quantities of product to facilitate our customers needs. We now have 5 gallon pail quantities of Coconut 76, Palm and Glycerin. Coming within the next 3 weeks we have Castor Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Almond Oil and Organic Coconut Oil also available in 5 gallon sizing. Please see our bulk section for more on these products.

In addition to the above, we would like to extend an offer to our customers to see how much interest it generates. We are offering Pomace Grade Olive Oil in 18KG (close to 19.9L) quantities for a price of $185.79. However, if we have more than 6 pails preordered we will lower the price to $170.40. If you are interested and would like to only purchase it if the minimum is met, please email me and let me know.

We are also taking orders for the following (quantities are in brackets, these are US gallons, for approximate weight/volume please email):

Babassu oil (gallon, 5 gallon)
Organic Palm Kernel (5 gallon)
Organic Palm (5 gallon)
Organic Castor Oil (5 gallon)
Jojoba Clear & Golden (5 gallon)
Olive Squalane (gallon, 5 gallon)
High Oleic Sunflower & Safflower (5 gallon)

Organic Palm Stearin (gallon, 5 gallon)
Organic Palm Kernel Stearin (gallon, 5 gallon)
Rice Bran Oil (Refined and Unrefined) (5 gallon)
Organic Rice Bran (gallon, 5 gallon)
Organic Soybean Oil (gallon, 5 gallon)
Refined Mango Butter 25KG...
Natural Organic Cocoa Butter 25KG
Organic Refined Shea 25KG
Organic Deodorized Cocoa Butter 25KG

And the same goes for the above as for Olive Oil, if 6 or more 5 gallon pails are ordered pricing will be lower (as we can justify ordering drums at that point). Please email for a price list. The order will be going in next week, so please act fast.

New and back in stock!
~ Jojoba Clear
~ White Beeswax
~ Clear PET low profile jars with black lids 2oz, 4oz and 8oz

~ 1oz Cosmetic Double Walled jars with domed lids.
~ Shea Butter Organic Refined
~ Hempseed Unrefined Conventional
~ Hempseed Unrefined Organic
~ Cetyl Alcohol
~ Safety Glasses

Arriving Soon!
~ Wheatgerm Oil Refined
~ Rice Bran Oil Refined
~ Deodorized Cocoa Butter
~ Fractionated Coconut Oil
~ Sweet Almond Oil
~ Tucuma Butter
~ Milky Way Molds & Stamps
~ Pine Essential oil
~ Dark Patchouli
~ Larger quantities of various Essential Oils such as lime, lemongrass, orange and Tea Tree!

We have managed to negotiate lower pricing on the following:
~ Cetyl alcohol
~ Glycerin
~ Natural Mango Butter
~ PH Strips
~ Natural Shea Butter
~ Refined Shea Butter
~ Sodium Hydroxide
~ Stearic Acid Triple Pressed

Watch for lower pricing on many more items in the weeks to come!

Please be advised we will be closed Monday, October 5th for supplier meetings. If you have anything on your wish list, please let us know so we can bring it up in the meeting. Items so far are BTMS, DLS Mild, Cromollient, Honey Quat and more. If you are interested in any of these products and have not let us know, please do so. The more interest we receive in a product, the more likely we are to bring it in. Also note we have a wish list under “discussions” on our Facebook page (as well as regular shipment updates and tidbits of information) that I review regularly.

Thank you all once again, for your patience in this time of transition for us. We greatly appreciate it!

Happy Creating!

Randi Carr

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Newsletter: Coupon and more!

With all the of changes happening at Creations from Eden the last month or so, as a thank you for your patience (and the fact we do not want to move all of the inventory) we are offering all of our customers a limited time, single use coupon discount where everyone will receive the Tier 5 discount plus an additional 5% off orders from now until Sunday, July 26th, 2009. This amounts to savings of 20% on most items (new stock, clearance, bulk and sale items do not apply).

Please use coupon code "SUMMER " to take advantage of this offer!

Please note, our fall restock orders are going in July 31, 2009. If you are looking for something we do not have in the store, or items in large quantities, please let us know by the 29th so we can give out quotes and make sure everything is added to the orders. We expect to receive the stock by mid August.

Anyone that received the previous bulk buy pricing sheets please note that we have managed to lower our bulk pricing on many items such as coconut oil, palm oil, deodorized cocoa butter and much more. These items are slowly being added to
bulk in stock when the pricing is set in stone. To take advantage of these bulk quantities, please order as soon as possible. Items will be added regularly in the next two weeks. For bulk buy terms, please click here.

Thank you all and Happy Creating!

Randi Carr