What a wonderful year it has been. So full. So adventurous. I really can’t believe how much we have done in 1 year. I took my business to a different level and got a studio – a dedicated space for production, as a health and safety requirement here – and shop. Opened the doors in July. Learned a ton. Worked what feels like a zillion Markets. Met so many people. Worked very hard. Got closer to my husband with his dedication to the business as well. Moved house. Travelled to different areas of Spain. Hosted visits. When it comes to the business, what are the top 5 things I learned from my experiences in 2012?
1. Owning and running my own business is hard work and extremely rewarding, probably the 2nd most rewarding thing I have done in my life, the 1st being raising my daughter.
2. Having a web-site and a shop are one thing, bringing people to them are another thing entirely. It is rare they just stumble upon us. Most of the people that come to either the web-site or shop are either from our personal networking at markets, or from word of mouth from other people. Sitting back and waiting for people to come, does not work. Bringing them in is CONSTANT work.
3. My clients are not that interested in colours or prettiness of a soap. They are usually looking for a remedy for something, or fall in love with a scent. What sells the first soap or product to a new client is either our recommendation for a remedy or a scent. What sells the next product to a return client is performance of the product.
4. Doing what I believe in with my heart and soul, feels amazing, and reminding myself to stick with it. An example - I could have purchased thousands of premade canvas soap bags from China for pennies… but I don’t know if they were made in a sweat shop, under horrible conditions… so, a for a little more money, I have gathered together materials and labour from here, supporting my local economy, providing local work and….. I just never thought I would be so proud of a bag in my life. I adore those little bags. I believe in only natural ingredients the healing magic from the natural things offered in this very area where I live. I believe in supporting small local businesses. I feel best when I stick to these values, when my choices are based on these values rather than simply cost, and I believe most of my clients value this as well.
5. Building a business is a slow process; it takes dedication, patience, a positive outlook, strength, a lot of energy, a full belief in myself and my product and commitment to my values. The months when sales have been slower, I need to do extra work to keep myself positive. But things do come around and sales do pick up. It is up and down and slowly building.
I hope some of this can help others out there. I love reading personal experiences from others out there, doing similar things.
5 things I have learned in my soap making over the past year?
1. Environment (temperature & humidity) greatly affects soap making.
2. Cinnamon Leaf Oil is NOT the same or even remotely similar to Cinnamon Bark Oil. Cinnamon leaf is like clove, Cinnamon Bark is Cinnamon.
3. Pure 100% freshly pressed Argan Oil stinks, but it is wonderful. (My jojoba supplier is bringing in argan nuts from Morrocco and making the oil)
4. Having a spacious area for soap making is marvelous, it has made the process even more enjoyable for me.
5. Making liquid soap is very enjoyable as well, just requires a lot more babysitting and time.
Next year for the business? I will get into that in my other blog… this blog is more personal… so personally? 1) Exercise more, get back into my daily morning walk routine 2) Get to Yoga-Pilates more frequently 3) Spend more time with my daughter 4) Take a vacation with my family and I can’t think of much else I would change in my personal life right now. It’s all pretty good.
I hope you all had a fabulous holiday and are as excited as I am about the adventures to come in 2013.
Happy Soaping everyone!