i have been wanting to get a blog post out for months!
first, I want to thank you all for voting for us to have summer hours. I cant even explain how much those two extra hours a day did for us, and me, personally - it seems silly, just two hours - but it really mattered in my life. I could have dinner done by 6 instead of 9, my local farm market was still open which meant I was able to eat fresh daily. I could even squeeze in a visit with family without being completely exhausted...and still make it home to let my dogs out before they hated me. I had more energy every day while I was at work. my focus was better, my feet didn't hurt nearly as bad as usual, I was able to complete all my daily tasks at work and at home, and still make it to bed by 10. -- I get up at 5:30 am so that I have time to have a coffee, check my morning emails, let my dogs out, work out, get a shower, pack lunch and still make it to work before our deliveries start coming in around 9. so those 10-6 days we're open, were really long days for me, and it was tough, 7 days a week... not gonna lie. so thank you, again, for understanding and allowing us a little extra time. and, just so you know, our hours will go back to 10-6 starting sept 23, which is the first day of fall. ;) my goodness!! speaking of fall...……………...
I cant even believe fall is almost officially here! as many of you know, our big holiday release is small business Saturday - every year. which means -- I have to have every single bar of soap I am releasing made by October 15th. which means, my holiday season - the busiest I can ever possibly be in production starts august first. but even prior to august, im pretty busy planning, figuring out what ingredients I need, how much of what, and hoping like all you know what that everything arrives and goes as planned, but I also expect it not to. which, has already happened lol - a few oils out of stock and something I had planned to make, had a spike in price on one of the ingredients I needed so unfortunately … etc etc, you get the idea. on the other hand, its kinda nice when those things happen because it forces me to switch gears and figure out something else. which, is one of my favorite things to do - problem solve. which is actually the entire point of this post.
anyhow - when production started for me, I told the girls in the shop to not worry if they see other product getting low - that I simply must focus on soap as its cure time is crucial and I cant be bothered with the other things at the moment. and, well, ive got to tell you -- I have been so incredibly happy at work making soap and only soap. as id be chipping away cutting and stamping bars - id be thinking - I do lots of that when im cutting and stamping.Its almost like being on a treadmill - over and over-- it clears all the clutter in my head and allows to me think clearly. and my thoughts all kept leading me to the same place. soap. more soap. I started out as a soap company because I love making soap. I didn't make 30 different products, and multiple scents in each one. I made soap. and I had a lot of varieties of it.
it wasn't too long ago - that when I would make a " new" or a " test batch" of something different -- it would hang around the shop for a month or two. adding yet another soap to the mix. but in the last year or two- every time we release a small batch - its typically gone within two weeks, if we are lucky - and its not uncommon for them to be gone within less than a week. so I have this small problem, good of a problem as you might think it is lol.. its an awful one for me because I simply feel I am letting everyone down.
just a couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine was in town and stopped in the shop to see whats new - and I was horrified when I realized, all we had for soap - was all we ever have for soap. nothing else. it hit me so hard after my friend left - I couldn't stop thinking about it. I still cant stop thinking about it. so, I realized my focus on soap has fallen to the wayside, not because I stopped loving soap - but because I let the business start to run me. I was so caught up trying to get each kind of puck in stock, have new varieties of whips out, have multiple kinds of liploves made, meltdowns, scrubbles, oh crap we are down to the last 5 bug sprays, oh man there are only 20 refresher sprays left , etc etc etc..... and all of my time and efforts and half of the funding was going to products that really aren't where my heart is, and aren't the core of this company, certainly not, how on earth do I expect it to stand when the foundation is being ripped from it?
stop. Heidi. just stop.
when I do, and I think about it? I think about the "soap" tab on our website - that has the same ole same ole soap listings, and half of those go out of stock from one month to the next because I cant even keep up with the staple bars. why? well.. a few reasons actually, mostly because the business is growing and its harder and harder to gauge and keep up with the stock due to its cure time, and sometimes things go out of stock because ingredients are unavailable, and sometimes its because my time, energy and everything it takes to make it is being taken away by so many other things. so what can I do about it. what is within my power to change it...… focus. my focus. I am in control of that.
as I was saying earlier, this last month that I have devoted to soap and only soap making has been the best month of my whole year so far - and whats crazy about that is - ive made 4-5 times the amount of soap this month than any given month. ive been doing dishes like you cant imagine, ive been scooping and measuring and mixing and pouring and cutting and stamping like my hands are bionic... and whats craziest is, im not exhausted, im not sick of it, im not bored or anything of the sort - im energized if anything. im excited, im happy..... and the best part is, it shows in the soap. ( omg wait until you see the fall release this year guys!!!!) September is another soap only month for me. and I am looking so forward to it. im so so excited to have as much soap as I do made, and I am even more excited to have this next entire month to make just as much more. I honestly cannot recall the last time I devoted this much time to soap only in the production area.... but I promise you, you will see the difference in the product that comes out.
im at a crossroad right now. and I feel a shift - im not certain how much or what exactly will change, but change is on its way. and whatever happens, I know for as long as I trust my gut, the right things will happen.
at some point, and im not even sure why or how - but we ended up with a certain assortment of " staple bars" those included crud, fij, rooibos, frenchy, bar none, bar 21, monster chunk and spa bar. and back in the day I was able to always stock those and still manage to stock 3 or 4 others to be available too. I think whats happened is that the business has grown, so the staple bars are leaving faster than they used to, and most of my time is spent restocking just those bars - leaving me no time to make others, as im also having to stock every other product we make. and maybe that assortment was great 5 years ago, but something ive noticed is that over the years, there have been a lot of bars, " limited" bars to have come out that are fantastic bars, in demand bars, and I just mentally put them on a back burner because ive got to get these "staple soaps" made. :/ very frustrating for me and honestly, I feel a lot of the other soaps that have been around blow some of these staple bars out of the water ;)
another problem I have, is guilt. I suffer from guilt when someone is upset that something is out of stock. I suffer guilt when someone says they wish there were more soaps available, I suffer guilt if someone says their favorite bar hasn't been made in two years. we have been in business ten years. and typically we release a new bar every month, or bring back something that's been made before. so if you think about that - over the span of ten years, that's quite a variety of soaps!!!
so how do I fix the problem im faced with? well. for starters I narrow down the " staple" bars to be exactly what staple bars should be.. and that, is a very small list of soaps that cover the bases for anyone with a skin issue. because a lot of our customer base relies on us for that - soaps you can know and depend on always being in stock. don't freak out - that doesn't mean your spa bar or monster chunk wont ever be back - in fact I plan to make an honest effort to keep as many soaps in stock as I possibly can, but what it does do - is free up a lot of time for me, and also makes my ordering and production a way easier and more economical process. it takes away a lot of the emotional pressure I feel when I think I am letting people down, and it also gives me back the freedom to create and evolve.. and, just fyi - I happen to be an aquarius INFJ type 5 enneagram with severe adhd haha! in short - if you try to push all of that into a box, its a recipe for disaster ;) and lately, I feel pushed into a box. not good.
there are many things that are absolutely within my power to change. and ive been thinking about them for a good long time now. i have some plans in mind, but i also know it may take some adjusting once set in motion. that said, i dont want to set myself up for failure by telling you all what my plans are, but i will say to expect some changes. ... and as they happen, to expect some blog posts explaining why ive chosen certain things to change.
who knows, i may just completely overhaul the " staple bar " line. i may not have staple bars known as anything other than crud and bar none, and anything else is a mystery from one month to the next, i just dont know exactly how this will go, but i know i am going to be figuring out a way to have more soaps available at any given time. because frankly, to me, what is known as " the line" has become incredibly boring to me. time for change.
if you made it through this post, i appreciate your time :D and also, your interest in what is going on in the mind of the maker - thank you in advance for your understanding. and oh, btw, just a heads up ---- you guys are in for a treat this small business saturday! we are having more fun this year than i think we've ever had. we are better prepared, ahead of schedule in production, and having a total blast picturing what this small business saturday will entail. keep an eye out for details on our october release ( you know we always release a sept, and oct bar leading up to our big november release --- and this years october release is ahhhhmazzzing!)
alright guys, thats all for now!