Chemistry 185 Soap Firms

Much of the work for this course resides in student partnerships (firms) established for the purpose of making and selling handcrafted soap. At the beginning of the semester, each student pays a non-rufundable activity fee of $50, which covers the costs of all supplies. This is the only real money that will change hands between students and the College. It is a fee, not a deposit, and will not be returned at the end of the semester.

Upon paying the activity fee, however, each student will have $50 of capital to contribute to the partnership of his choice. This capital is entirely educational in nature. It has no value outside of the class. Each firm may use its combined capital to buy equipment and supplies from the Chemistry Stockroom. At the end of the semester, all of the assets of all of the firms remain the property of the College. Except for the activity fee, all transactions with the Chemistry stockroom are in educational dollars, which have no value outside of the class.

When the production period for the soap firms has concluded, we will hold a juried soap “sale.” Firms will set up a display of their Finished Goods, with one bar set aside from each soap line for jurors to wash with. Jurors will be allocated a budget for buying soap and will keep the soap they “bought”. For each bar of soap “sold,” nine bars will be removed from Finished Goods, assumed to have sold at the same price. Firms will be provided with sales figures at the end of the first week and may adjust their prices for the second week. Firms may also specify a confidential clearance price to be used on the last day of the sale.

There must be at least two soap firms in the class. Except for this restriction, students will decide how many partners make up their firms. All details of the partnership must be spelled out in a contract, which may be altered only by unanimous consent of all partners. At a minimum, the contract must specify the name of the firm, the names of all of its partners, the capital contributed by each partner, and the percentage of the firm's profits that are assigned to each partner. In addition, three positions must be assigned:

  • Managing Partner: the only partner who can purchase supplies from the stockroom, write checks against (or deposits to) the firm checking account. At the end of the semester, the managing partner and the stockroom manager will inventory the firm's assets. Any discrepancies will be charged to the firm. Each week the managing partner must report changes in the checking account to the accounting partner and any soap sold to the recording partner.

  • Accounting Partner: the partner responsible for maintaining the accounts using the GnuCash program. The accounts must be kept current as of 5:00 PM Friday of each week. Otherwise, the firm will be charged a fee for each infraction. The official accounts reside on the Scientific Soapmaking Forum. The accounting parner updates this file each week.

  • Recording Partner: the partner responsible for maintaining batch records for the materials used by the firm. These records reside in a notebook kept in the Chemistry stockroom. The notebook must be kept current as of 5:00 PM Friday of each week. Otherwise, the firm will be charged a fee for each infraction. The recording partner must report material flows (RM, WIP, FG, COGS) to the accounting partner each week.

Firms may assign other responsibilities to partners. All partners, however, are responsible for understanding the accounts and batch records for the firm.

Labwork is allowed only during the scheduled class period. Students are not allowed in the lab any other times unless accompanied by the instructor or stockroom manager.