Thursday, December 13, 2012

Murphy's Law...

Packaging design may be the single most annoying factor in running your own goods based business.  It's tedious and deceivingly difficult.  Just when you think you have it all worked out, a monkey wrench comes flying in out of nowhere....usually after you've spent money on labels, boxes, tags, bells and whistles - rendering your business bank account smoking, with no progress or final end result.  Inevitably, something doesn't work out.  The labels are too big, the boxes are too small, it's not cost effective...on and on.  It's really enough to drive me to alcoholism.  MINIMUM, a righteous bender.

I've had the same packaging for years.  I didn't even like it to begin with, but went with it because it did what it needed to do at the time, and I just got lazy and simultaneously too busy to deal with it.  I'm not a Kraft/country aesthetic kinda person, yet that's what I had going on. Makes perfect sense. 

This past week I have suspended making product and focused my energy on creating a sleeker, more upscale look to my product line.  How freaking hard can that be?  I'm computer savvy.  I can work a label program decently, most times.  I designed a new logo & new labels with a new black and silver color scheme.  Not just for my soap, but all my B&B goods and even tucked away ideas for a future candle line, as well.  That means ordering new labels.  Many shapes and sizes. Many made of differen't material depending on application.  I ordered new boxes.  I figured out it was just as effective to order business cards online as it was for me to burn through ink to print them myself, so I bought those too.  Of course, new labels created more issues.  Now I needed to change containers on a couple of things too, in keeping with my new look.  There's another whole new ball of wax....
Then there's embellishments.  Ribbons, baubles, assorted accessorizing ideas...all of which end up scaled back because my soap would need to be sold for about $45 a bar to offset the cost.   *creativity squelched*.

Now the boxes don't work.  They look good and all, but are just large enough to make what I can fit in a flat rate envelope, far less than what my customers are used to getting for that price.  CURSES!  Also Microsoft Word is for chumps.  I hate that program.  Ever try to center an image in a template?  Maddening.  Screw you, Bill Gates.

You smell what I'm cookin' now, don'tcha?  *sigh*  It all seemed so simple in my head.

At any rate, I have moved on to Plan J now, purchased even more stuff to rework things, and still have no end product.  Nor have I made anything new for the actual shop, while fielding countless emails and Facebook posts about where the hell their favorite soap is. 

This time would have been much more well spent swirling a paper umbrella in a fruity chick drink in the tropical sun somewhere. 

Look for new the 2067 line!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It's The Hap Happiest Time Of The Year....

I am a terrible blogger.  The worst.  For someone who loves to write, I find myself neglecting this blog more often than visiting it these days.  Like all soapmakers, I am ass-deep in the holiday season production right now.  As bananas as it always is, I am enjoying cranking out all the scents we look forward to all year.  All the piney, sugar plummy, cranberry laden fare we'll all be sick to death of by the end of october. :p  My kitchen has seen more glitter lately than Adam Lambert's Mac pallet in Ru Paul's Interior Illusions Lounge.

Shante, you stay.

So, what have I made so far?....

I think that about covers it, to date.  I wish I were as organized and efficient as many others are, and concocting a scheduled release, but I'll just keep cranking them out til mid-december, willy-nilly.  The creative juices tend to dilute in too much pre-planning, for me.
So anyway...if nothing else, it's a welcome distraction from the political hellscape that is permeating all of America right now.  Looking forward to seeing what everyone else makes this year!
Until my next post... Feliz Navidad.




Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Give it away, Give it away, give it away now....

I've had some thoughtful discussion with friends today about a trend in the soaping community, and it sparked an interest in the thoughts of other shop owners, or hobbyists who do what we love to do.

I'm a little disenchanted with You Tube, lately. I remember when I first started this soap adventure, and the only information you could find online was some bullshit 25/25/25 recipe of olive, coconut and palm and maybe one (with all due respect) crusty video from Nancy Today.  (Love ya, Nance.)  Now everybody and their flippin' mother is making videos and giving away all the techniques and information and I feel like the market is getting so saturated with it. Half of the craft was in the process....the journey.  Every day, more and more shops are lining the pages of Etsy, Artfire and BuyMyCrap.Com and it begs the question sometimes: Why are people working so hard on their product, and then going on YouTube and giving it all away to every shmoe with a spatula?  Now, there are those that guard every tiny shred of knowledge like they have the keys to unlocking cancer hidden in their tub of cocoa butter.  I'm not talking about THOSE clowns.  We all know them.  I will freely help newbies out with hints and techniques, I'll tell soaper friends how I do certain things without giving it a second thought, and they will for me, as well.  I can sit here and think of several nuggets of discovery though, that took insane amounts of time and work (did I mention work?) to arrive at, and now you can, through the magic of the internet, go online to a soaper's channel, and within one video, or a light sifting through their comments section, gather someone else's hard work and dedication, and put your product up for sale in a fraction of the time it took it's messenger.  So what do I care?  It's capitalism!  It's opportunism!  "Too bad you didn't have these resources, Lori, but we do, so suck up your sour grapes and step off my good fortune", ya old bat". 


I discussed this with a few friends of mine, insanely talented soapmakers and artists in their own right.  One says, it's a pointless tail chase.  Another opinion is that You Tube is about the community and not sales and secrecy.  Admirable, and I do see the validity of the point, but I'm not doing this for my health, either. I assume most people that count their small businesses as income can agree.  The reality is that if you can get your exact Triple Swirl Sooper Dooper Double Butter Yak Milk soap in ten other shops this week, you've sorta leveled your own playing field.

Look, I love sharing videos as much as the next slob, and I count myself among the fortunate that have learned loads from the experience of others. Little hints, generalized technique are all invaluable to our community. What I'm puzzled about, at times, is watching someone I know work their butt off developing a product, some cool technique or some special "niche" they've created for themselves, and then slap it on You Tube complete with step-by-step instructions, FO blends and/or ingredient lists.   A week from now, your blood, sweat and tears will be a fish in a sea of blinding sameness, and I wonder if enough value is being placed on your work and artisanship.  Or worse, are we doing a disservice and dilution to the art itself?


Sunday, June 17, 2012


Every Dog Has His Day....

Even at 17, I knew what kind of father you would be someday. Somewhere in the murk of all of my flaws, I have always had great instincts. After 28 years of sharing this journey together, I have more admiration and love for you than I ever have. In your eyes and arms is the beautiful dichotomy of kindness and strength, where I have learned safety, trust, and what it means to be in the trenches with someone for better or worse. Yours, are the only eyes, who have seen me for all I am and love me, without question, in spite of it. I am prettier... taller... smarter... and more worthy than I have ever allowed myself to believe.
These days, when you reach for my hand, I can feel our hard-earned, and sometimes difficult history between us, and I feel comfort, and triumph and such gratitude that we are fighters...and believers. We make a great team. Raising kids is not for the weak. When life brought us a challenge, and I was afraid, I always knew I could climb onto your back and you'd carry me through it. When you were unsure, I would just grab your hand, take the lead, and let your feet follow the tracks I made ahead of you, until we reached the answers.

Sometimes, when I stop to think of the probability that someday, the world will know a You Without Me or a Me Without You - I crumble under the weight of that cosmic reality. There is nobody in the world I would have entrusted my children with, but you. You are every bit the father I knew you'd be.

 Happy Father's Day.

Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm Moving!

Etsy has just become too costly for me.  I decided I prefer to KEEP some of my profits and move onto greener pastures.  I'll keep my Etsy shop open while I work out the kinks, but please check us out at our new location:

You can also follow us at Pinterest:

And for super duper advanced previews of all of our new products before they even hit the website, you can check us out on YouTube and also Facebook

See you there!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

No Rest For The Wicked...

It's really time to slow down. This is the the third batch of soap this week that has gone rogue. Cute, right? I yawned all through this one and went to move it aside, tripped and smashed my hand right down inside mold.

It hit me all at once last night that I haven't taken a good, deep breath in months. Oh, I'm not complaining, mind you....just observing. I'm grateful. In a time when many people less fortunate than I can't find work, I am thankful every day for opportunities I'm blessed with. I work impossibly hard at what I do. I do. I started this little adventure a little more than four years ago. What started as an occasional sale or pity buys from my friends and family (love you guys!) has now become a thriving business for me. I start my days early on a treadmill, and it almost always ends with me soaping into the night, or packing orders as the clock tips over into a brand new day. Hubby and daughter long asleep, as the glow of my computer screen dimly casts light on yet another invoice...another label....another formulation...another hand scribbled "thank you" and smiley face.

I never stop. Multitasking is now the order of the day. There's always a project, a personal fire to put out, animals to be cared for, a man to spend time with, an acre to mow, an elderly mom, unanswered email, kids that (thankfully) still need me - even though they went and grew up on me when I wasn't looking...on and on and on. It's really quite nuts. What am I doing?! My daughter came into my office late into the night the other day and asked me what I was up to. I answered "working", barely lifting my eyes from my paperwork and she responded by saying" You're always working." Ouch. Reality check...table for one...

I tell my kids all the time that there's no free ride in this world. You have to work hard to succeed at whatever you do. It doesn't just happen by osmosis. Tell yourself you can do it, and put some ass into it and you can do anything. I believe in those things. My husband, if you can believe it, works even harder than me. Lately though, finding a healthy balance has been a challenge. Yesterday was another long day. My hubby and I have been building my 20 year old daughter a new bedroom in our basement from the studs up, and began at about 9 am. again this day. We worked into the evening, putting new base mouldings and crown moulding up and long after everyone went to bed that night, I finally put my second batch of soap into the oven at about midnight at the end of that day. It's been this way for months. Whatever project we get into, I'm right there beside him, lifting hundred pound rocks, shlepping drywall, or wielding a mean nail gun. I'll work as hard as any man. I realize now that no break is just going to come, here. I'm never caught up. I have to make time to take better care of things.

I've been working on my health the last four months. I'm, in general, a healthy person in that I don't have any major illnesses or anything. I don't smoke (12 years since I quit - go me!), I don't do drugs, not really a huge drinker... But as the 40's reared their ugly head, extra weight crept on (it had nothing to do with eating entire cellophane'd sleeves of cookies!) and I felt pretty gross. I've been a thin person all my life, 'til recent years. Now I eat healthily, work out 6 days a week, dropped several chins, strengthened my muscles which has done wonders for the two bad discs in my back so....I'm feeling pretty good about that. I look in the mirror and kinda see the old me again. Only older. Too bad there's no treadmill for that shit! I busted my ass, I'm not gonna lie. But again....that takes up a huge chunk of my life and day. How do I fit everything in? I haven't had time to read a book in ages. I used to read every day. What would Bethanny Frankel do? That chick does everything. :p

I guess I'll figure it out, but the picture's pretty clear. There needs to be better balance and time to just veg out once in a while. And nobody wants smooshed soap...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Run-In With A Dillhole....

It takes all kinds.  We all need a little crazy in our lives to keep the balance, but today I was introduced to a lovely young specimen, who dipped the whackadoo a little too far into the shallow end of the gene pool, this evening.

Backstory:  I sold a bar of soap to this person on Etsy who goes by the handle "strawberrynugget".  Sounds cute and cuddly doesn't it?   She purchased from me, one of my facial soaps which is formulated with carrots and honey and various yummy things for skin care for the face.  I visited my feedback page tonight and was shocked (shocked!) to find this charming statement waiting for me:

"I ordered carrots and honey facial soap. I received goat milk soap instead. Such careless packaging for only one item! Don't want to waste my time returning this and then getting the right purchase. It's not fair for me to have to do that."

As one can imagine, I was concerned and slightly (okay, more than slightly) annoyed to see this, especially since I know I didn't send the wrong item and she didn't even contact me to let me try to make her happy, if she wasn't satisfied.  It was just all WHAM!  "nasty nasty nasty".   Geez, lady.  Bully, much?    I instantly knew what was afoot here.  So...never one to mince words, I began the odyssey into SoapGate....

Me:  Why would you leave such a terrible comment on my feedback? I dont understand why you wouldnt contact me first and give me the opportunity to address whatever issues you may have had. I DID send you the Carrots & Honey soap, which also happens to be a goat milk soap and says as much right in the listing. I also see that you have left nasty feedback for several other sellers. Also? I just let all the other Etsy sellers I know what you're doing, and not to sell to you.
Not very nice.

Dillhole:  that's ok. I just escalated this to a claim. PayPal will make you refund me for wrong item sent. And I will let Etsy know you are trying to damage other people's reputation

Me: Thats ok by me too. I see your game. You're doing to this to several Etsy sellers to get free stuff and refunds. Pretty old and tired move, actually.....but you obviously need the money so...  Perhaps a better job....
File away.....I can make claims too, or you can remove it and we can try to work it out. 

Dillhole: No no. I am not a dishonest person at all. Honestly.

The money is not much at all. It's the principle of it.

SHAME ON YOU. You sent me the wrong item!

If you had let me send you the item back so that you can see that you DID SEND ME THE WRONG ITEM, then all would have been ok. But instead, you are harassing me in these emails which I will report. PayPal and Etsy keeps track of this. It's a no no. Shame on you

(At this point I am thinking to myself "Dang...even if I had made a mistake (which I didn't) she's awfully freaked out about it isn't she?  I think she needs a bran muffin and a Yanni CD....)

Me: I didnt send you the wrong item. If you really believe I did, please attach a photo....we'll work from there.

I've alerted Etsy. If you really have the wrong item, there should be no problem with sending me a photo, right?  :::nudge:: right?

Shame on YOU, sweetheart.  I know what's up here....

She sends me this:

CLEARLY, my soap.....CLEARLY the Carrots & Honey

Dillhole:  PIcture is sent above for Etsy and Pay pal to look at.
And I will not be taking back my negative feedback because of your HORRENDOUS customer service and personal attacks. YOU ARE HORRIBLE.

Now I'm horrible.  My mom prolly dresses me funny too.  Really, sister.....attempt decaf....

Me: Ummm yes...thanks for the turn the box to the side and read what it says.....

Dillhole (Still ranting)  PayPal will take care of this now. I will not stand for any more personal attacks.

Me:  That is clearly my carrots & honey soap, and you frothed at the mouth on me because you couldnt turn the box to the side and read it?   Are you kidding me, lady?  

Also, I am pretty well received for customer service and have many, many regulars. Have you seen my feedback?  Or did you not read that either?

Dillhole disappears into cyberspace....POOF.....never to be heard from again....

So the moral of the story, kids?  Ya might want to read ALL SIDES of the box.  :p

You can't write good shit like this.....  :)

Until my next post!