Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lessons Learned

It's amazing how quickly my business is evolving.  Being a business and marketing geek from way back, I had mapped out some possible outcomes when I decided to monetize my #soapmaking hobby. My guess was that I'd have a handful of sales per month in the first year or so, and would likely operate at a precipitous loss for the first year or two.  Hey, this isn't something that most people do to get rich!

I've been so absolutely astounded at how wrong I was! While I'm still operating at a loss at less than 60 days in, I can say that the loss is far less than anticipated, and my sales have been much higher than expected.  Because of the underestimated demand for my product (lovingly #handmade #soap), I find myself behind the proverbial eight ball a lot these days.  I've done one bazaar, and have two more lined up for early next year.  My soaps are already being sold in one shop, and I'm starting to look for more wholesale opportunities.

Sales have been way better than expected!

One thing I've learned is that I need to plan better for a higher level of production.  Since my soap takes four or more weeks to cure, there's a lot of advance planning and resource procurement that I definitely need to do a better job of streamlining.  For example, I ran out of lye the other day.  As anyone who makes soap knows, you just can't make soap without lye.  I ordered some more lye, thinking I could just run to my local source to pick up a pound or two of lye while I waited for my order to come in...only to find out that my local source is going out of business!  Yikes!  So I've been without lye for over a week now.

Not only did this conundrum highlight my need to anticipate supply needs better, it forced me to pivot.  I don't want to waste time waiting for the UPS guy to show up with my lye, so I've been working on some other products.  I found that I really enjoy making bath fizzies (aka bath bombs), and the instant gratification of having them done and ready to go to market within a day or two is a nice contrast to the four week cure time of my cold process soaps.

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade...er...Citrus Splash bath fizzies, in this case.
I've also spent some time on Pinterest recently.  I'm going to be honest, and please don't throw me out of the suburban housewife club.  I kind of don't get Pinterest.  I mean, I understand what it is and what it does, but I just kind of don't get it.  It's like a bookmark bar, but with pictures?  I guess that functionality just isn't something that was missing in my life until now.  Nonetheless, I think that soaps, lotions, and bath fizzies can be really visually appealing, so I think Pinterest can be a good medium for showing off my favorite creations.

So, as I enjoy the holiday vacation with my husband and kidlets (and try to wait patiently for my darn lye to show up), I'll be making bath fizzies, and of course, testing them out.  It's for research, you see. The things we do in the name of science!