Business Planning 2022 Edition

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A

amd

I seem to do this every year, and my reminder to start planning 2022 popped up on my calendar. I'm still making soap Sept through May, so my plan is to make any new fragrances for 2022 first, that way I have roughly 6 months of sales to determine restock level before I run out of time to make the soap.

A few notes I'm making so far for 2021:
Still too large of a soap lineup, need to downsize just a titch more.
Expanding data collection to include profit margins was a huge project but so worth the time.
Still struggling with social media engagement, but at least I've settled into a bit of a rhythm.
I have found a few additional outlets for selling, including stocking a salon for product to use in their services, but I've still been told NO a lot. (If you don't ask, the answer is always no.)
The markets I've been doing have been phenomenal. I think I've finally gotten past the "$100 is a good market" phase of my business. This also means that I don't have to do ALL the markets.
I expanded the B&B side a bit sooner than planned, but I had lab testing that validated that I was making a good product. It was a slow release with getting vinyl labels printed, and the investment of buying more labels than I will use in a year has been daunting. I decided though that this means making sure that I have a lineup that is well selected and can run for two years.
Took a stab at wax melts and they bombed. After having customers ask for them for years, they didn't want them when I finally made them. Go figure. People are weird.

Looking ahead at 2022:
Downsize soap lineup to 15
Continue social media engagement attempts
Continue pursuing wholesale opportunities
Finish B&B lineup - including face lotion, face scrub, men's body lotion, maybe another fragrance for foot scrub/lotion(??), switching out shampoo bars, and adding conditioner bars.

So what's your plans?
 

Tara_H

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I'm very tentatively thinking of starting a small online side line in soap accessories... I don't want to bite off more than I can chew, but I've contacted the local enterprise office, and my husband is helping me with research on the legal aspects of creating a business. Baby steps, basically!
 

Cat&Oak

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I recently finished inventory for cold process soap to start out I have 13 different 7.5 pound fo/eo batches.

During this time I have been filming YouTube videos all set to private for now.

Still need to set up my business bank account and get my insurance through HSMG which I will do in the next month.

Am planning on going with Etsy at first for the SEO and as I become more successful I have my own domain and website I can add a shop too.

There is a small farmers market I am planning on attending weekly starting next year as well as "The best of the west rib cook-off" which has many vendors and is huge.

I am planning on starting my Etsy shop mid August and then dropping all the YouTube videos at the same time. I need to decide if I want to do Instagram as well.
 
A

amd

starting a small online side line in soap accessories
soapmaking accessories or things like soap dishes etc? I always thought if I were crafty enough I'd find a way to add on some fun things.

I am planning on starting my Etsy shop mid August and then dropping all the YouTube videos at the same time. I need to decide if I want to do Instagram as well.
I personally found Etsy to be more headache, and more expensive to manage. It's been several years since I took my Etsy shop down so maybe they've improved it. I do know that soapmakers are still complaining that it is hard to get found by new customers on that platform. If you're thinking to use it to manage in-person customers reordering, it may work better. Schedule out your YT vids so that there's regular content [note to self: work on this], I wouldn't do a massive drop all at once, and definitely promote videos on social media. I haven't had luck selling on Insta, so I use it more to connect to other makers, but I know plenty of soapmakers who do use it to promote their business well. Just my 2 cents based on my own experiences, different regions seem to do better at some things than others, so just because it didn't work for me doesn't mean it won't work for you.
 

Cat&Oak

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@amd Thank you so much for the great advice! I plan on doing a YouTube video once a week and as of now I have made about 15 videos. I was going to drop all at once so when people see the videos they can go right to my shop to buy. How would you do it differently? Should I drop the videos now?

I have no illusions about this I am expecting it will take a minimum three years to build a customer base.

I'm not thrilled to be starting with Etsy but they do have a program if you offer free shipping on some of your items it pushes you to the top of the search engine.

I appreciate your experience and knowledge and it confirms what was in my mind.
 

Juggsy

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Slowly restarting. So my business plans are minor ones. I don't want to fully launch again yet. I don't need my body to do a burn out like it did in 2013. So my goals are:

Updated my logo - will let it sit for a few months before final decision.
Re-starting a social media presence
Keep the same pace with my Diploma (Dip. Personal Care Formulation)
Start batching more regularly (I have enough order from friends and family to be batching 1-2 loaves per week) I just am worried I will overload. But, I think I can easily do 1-2 loaves a week. Have 6 batches ready at end of July plus 2 huge 5kg slabs of melt and pour (for my 10 year old to play with) that has been curing now for four weeks. So I think on weekend she can use.
Keep Testing formulas - have several friends engaged in testing products for me. I plan to keep testing while I'm completing study. Then I will pay the huge fees involved in lab testing. I already know salt scrub and my soaps are good to go. Paid couple of grand in 2011 to have salt scrub tested.
Find more sustainable packaging solutions for salt scrub - currently glass jars and bio bags - but been looking into home compostable solutions.
Organise my schedule better - not keeping up with demand - I want to limit scents. To how many? I have no idea. I knew as soon as I started posting again online I'd be asked for salt scrub, I just didn't expect I would have so many regular orders. I think scrubs have finally become popular. I have been asked to do coffee ones again, as well as facial scrubs but I'm not ready yet and I'd like to finish dip before I get new products lab tested.
I already feel overwhelmed with the work, assignments and cost of my diploma and keeping family and friends soaped up. I don't want to rush. I've had some well meaning friends trying to get me to start markets etc again. I wouldn't have enough stock to do so and I don't want to fully launch until I've finished study.
I would like to do some proper business training.
Learn to say no! I'm shocking when friends say "can you do this" yes, yes, yes. Then my FMS kicks in due to excess stress and I tend to fall down. It's taken my years just to even get up again. So, I don't want to rush and it still feels raw without my (should be) oldest daughter. I know, that continuing "her business" is honouring her, even changing the logo, feels like a betrayal. My own ****, as they say. ;)
I'm on the other side of a recent "high", I've come down to earth realising I needed to slow down. Oh my last goal is to investigate shopify. It seems more popular than before. I'm unsure if I will use esty again. So I want to research the newer ecommerce stuff.

Enough babbling. x
 
A

amd

How would you do it differently? Should I drop the videos now?
If you're not setup to buy yet, and that's your intention with the videos, then I would wait.
My experience is that in the description to have a link to shop the exact item, most people will naturally look at other items in your store to make it worth the shipping. Or maybe I'm not following your train of thought on this? It really depends on who you're marketing the videos for. Other soapmakers? Then they will care more about links to what you used to make the soap. Customers? I think they'll shop through the site through the direct link.

I'm not thrilled to be starting with Etsy but they do have a program if you offer free shipping on some of your items it pushes you to the top of the search engine.
Right, which means you have to have a higher price to account for the "free shipping" = Etsy fees. I had to mark my bars at roughly $9.50 to sell with free shipping. Etsy used to do this (not sure if they still do) but they also charge a fee for using their shipping rates. Typically I would end up making maybe $2 a bar by the time shipping was paid and all the fees, yielding a profit of roughly $1. It wasn't worth my time to package the order. Again, this was several years ago (at least 3) so perhaps their fees have improved. Keep in mind too that being at the top of the search engine just because you offer free shipping doesn't mean you're the only one at the top of the search engine. Have you searched for soaps on Etsy? For example, just now I searched "love spell handmade soap" with free shipping filter... 268 results. Lavender yielded 5,679. Handmade soap for gifts yielded 33,914. I spent a lot of time creating listings and keywords to even be able to get into the first 5 pages of searches, and still struggled with sales. I'm not trying to deter you from Etsy, but make sure you've done all the homework and the math. I do know that for some makers they use Etsy for customers to reorder after making in person sales, rather than getting their own website. If that's your intended use, then it may be a very good platform for you. I just don't think it's very good for "catching customers in the wild".

Slowly restarting. So my business plans are minor ones. I don't want to fully launch again yet. I don't need my body to do a burn out like it did in 2013.
I lived that for so many years! That's one of the reasons that collecting data became so important to me. It gave me a clearer picture of how much I need to make, so I can do it during the times that I have energy or my family isn't so busy. I also work FT outside of the home, so many days I just want to come home and chill.

Organise my schedule better - not keeping up with demand - I want to limit scents. To how many? I have no idea.
I started with 6 in each product lineup. I make 3 different types of soap, so I've been running at about 18, which is still a bit too much, so next year I'm downsizing to 5. I figure if I hit the major scent types (herby, citrus, clean, musky, and floral) in each lineup, I should have something for everyone. My B&B is at 5, I had planned for 6, but I'm struggling releasing the 6th one. I hate designing labels so that's the big holdup, but really I'm struggling a bit to keep up with the 5 that I have.

Oh my last goal is to investigate shopify. It seems more popular than before.
That's on my list too. I checked it out when I first started 6 years ago, it seems to have changed a lot. For several years after that first go, I was like "don't. don't ever." but I've relaxed on that stance a bit as so many successful soapmakers recommend it. I'm still not sure it's worth paying $25+ a month for me though. My online orders are a bit hit and miss. Some months I'll have two or three orders every week, and then other months I might get one for the whole month. But it doesn't hurt to look around at it, right?
 

Juggsy

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I lived that for so many years! That's one of the reasons that collecting data became so important to me. It gave me a clearer picture of how much I need to make, so I can do it during the times that I have energy or my family isn't so busy. I also work FT outside of the home, so many days I just want to come home and chill.
We originally started a business to raise money for children with DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma), a brain stem tumour with a death sentence. My 5 year old was diagnosed with it - she's the longest survivor in Australia, 21 months. most die within 6 months), so she was making craft items, hair accessories, art and we were giving all the profit to DIPG research. So, I kinda disappeared when she died. I did a few markets after, but my heart wasn't in it. I really struggle with daily pain from FMS the grief made it so much worse. At 44, I already have arthritis in my joints, my neck, back (spine), so I'm sure that doesn't help the FMS. What I struggle with most is my inability to not over do it. I'm not good at regulating my activity. I know if I'm on my feet all day, I will swell up and won't be able to walk etc. But, doesn't that stop me. :rolleyes:😂 I can totally relate to just wanting to chill. Between trying to complete modules, and my family, finding time is a bit difficult.

I like the idea of collecting data, I do bujo, so everything is noted. But, what sort of data are you collecting? I know I'm currently trying to take notice of popular scents. I will go through old receipt books to find what sold the most other than salt scrub. I know I was averaging 50 kgs of Himalayan salt each month (one of the only suppliers that I didn't lose my account through inactivity or because I cancelled by ABN).

I started with 6 in each product lineup. I make 3 different types of soap, so I've been running at about 18, which is still a bit too much, so next year I'm downsizing to 5. I figure if I hit the major scent types (herby, citrus, clean, musky, and floral) in each lineup, I should have something for everyone. My B&B is at 5, I had planned for 6, but I'm struggling releasing the 6th one. I hate designing labels so that's the big holdup, but really I'm struggling a bit to keep up with the 5 that I have.
I did have 5 types of soap - I have already made the decision to stick with 2 or 3 but scents. It does my head in. I did the herb, citrus, clean, woody, musk, and floral but within those 6 - I had 3 different blends. Which is way too much choice, I was thinking instead of having so much choice to do "limited edition" ones? I don't know. I need to research more. As you said, collect data. 🙃😉🙂

That's on my list too. I checked it out when I first started 6 years ago, it seems to have changed a lot. For several years after that first go, I was like "don't. don't ever." but I've relaxed on that stance a bit as so many successful soapmakers recommend it. I'm still not sure it's worth paying $25+ a month for me though. My online orders are a bit hit and miss. Some months I'll have two or three orders every week, and then other months I might get one for the whole month. But it doesn't hurt to look around at it, right?
There's also wix, I don't know much about them but I read a comparison between the two. Think wix was slightly cheaper. I know in Australia, the shopify just for facebook is 29.95 a month. I thought it was only $15 but maybe on in US? I know I need to investigate it all. It's all changed in last 7 years.

I agree that online sales can be hit or miss but markets can be too (just depends). I have a friend who is extremely successful online because she does subscription boxes. Standard shipping as product doesn't change so she can get a good deal on shipping. It seems shopify is the most popular among the mummy bloggers and businesses. They have a package that's 2 grand per month - must be for bigger businesses? I can't imagine many small businesses doing that. ☺
 
A

amd

I like the idea of collecting data, I do bujo, so everything is noted. But, what sort of data are you collecting?
I'm not sure if I can explain it well, but Imma try! It might be clearer with some image snips, but I'm at work and my file is at home, so if it seems confusing I'll try explaining again at home. I have two sheets on an excel spreadsheet - the first sheet I track every batch I make with an assigned number, what it is (for example, I have two different sizes lotion the same scent, plus a scrub by the same scent so I break it out as B&B lotion 16oz or 8oz scent, or B&B sugar scrub scent), COG total, how many I made, COG each, and price I sell at. Then I track how many I sell by month. This gives me my inventory cost of current stock as well, just so I can see how much money I have tied up in what hasn't sold - or if I'm planning a big show and expecting to sell $1000 but I only have $200 in inventory (which is roughly $900 retail) then I know I better get my butt in gear and make stuff.

The second sheet pulls the data from the first and tracks total number of items sold, COG, COGS, retail cost, and profit margins (this includes the dollar amount and %) for all of my products. I have a couple different levels I - like first is overall Soap, B&B and Lip Balms, second level breaks out the different categories of soap (aloe, CM, OMH etc), B&B (lotion, scrub, shampoo, etc), and then the third level breaks each of the second level into the different scent categories. So in a glance I can look at first level and see if Soap is profitable or if I need to promote it more. Or I can look at second level and see how scrubs overall are doing. Or I get really fine and see if a particular scent is doing well, if it needs a push to promote, or if it has been promoted but is still sucking eggs and needs to go away.

COG = Cost of Goods
COGS = Cost of Goods Sold

It's taken me several years to figure all this out, every year adding a bit more information to the second sheet, but this year I think I have it all where it needs to be.

I was thinking instead of having so much choice to do "limited edition" ones?
That's what I do - for example, I only make Lilac scent for a specific show, so it's limited edition. Or if I have some ingredients to use up - such as last year I had a bit of leftover GM from a custom order so I made a limited edition batch of GM soap. It's something I don't worry about having to maintain, when it's gone it's gone. I do the same with certain scrub and lotion fragrances too, sometimes I have a teeny tiny bit left from soapmaking that isn't enough to use in another batch of soap, but it is enough to add to scrubs or lotions, so I'll do a limited edition on that.

Think wix was slightly cheaper.
A lot of programmers I know don't like Wix/Weebly/Foursquare type of builders... but I'm not tech saavy enough to explain why. I used Weebly until they got bought by Square, now I use Square Online, which has some limitations (or maybe I just haven't figured out how to best use it, see above re: tech saavy) but for $5 / mo it works well enough for right now. As I grow I'm always trying to look ahead for improvements, so that's why revisiting Shopify is on my list. If Wix is setup like Weebly was, for the price of a business plan they do offer a lot of features... but they only have value if you use them. Website management and professional photos are two tasks I'm hoping to take off my plate. In fact I've given up on photos so much in 2021 that I haven't even taken pictures of my product this year.
 

Juggsy

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I'm not sure if I can explain it well, but Imma try! It might be clearer with some image snips, but I'm at work and my file is at home, so if it seems confusing I'll try explaining again at home. I have two sheets on an excel spreadsheet - the first sheet I track every batch I make with an assigned number, what it is (for example, I have two different sizes lotion the same scent, plus a scrub by the same scent so I break it out as B&B lotion 16oz or 8oz scent, or B&B sugar scrub scent), COG total, how many I made, COG each, and price I sell at. Then I track how many I sell by month. This gives me my inventory cost of current stock as well, just so I can see how much money I have tied up in what hasn't sold - or if I'm planning a big show and expecting to sell $1000 but I only have $200 in inventory (which is roughly $900 retail) then I know I better get my butt in gear and make stuff.

The second sheet pulls the data from the first and tracks total number of items sold, COG, COGS, retail cost, and profit margins (this includes the dollar amount and %) for all of my products. I have a couple different levels I - like first is overall Soap, B&B and Lip Balms, second level breaks out the different categories of soap (aloe, CM, OMH etc), B&B (lotion, scrub, shampoo, etc), and then the third level breaks each of the second level into the different scent categories. So in a glance I can look at first level and see if Soap is profitable or if I need to promote it more. Or I can look at second level and see how scrubs overall are doing. Or I get really fine and see if a particular scent is doing well, if it needs a push to promote, or if it has been promoted but is still sucking eggs and needs to go away.

COG = Cost of Goods
COGS = Cost of Goods Sold

It's taken me several years to figure all this out, every year adding a bit more information to the second sheet, but this year I think I have it all where it needs to be.


That's what I do - for example, I only make Lilac scent for a specific show, so it's limited edition. Or if I have some ingredients to use up - such as last year I had a bit of leftover GM from a custom order so I made a limited edition batch of GM soap. It's something I don't worry about having to maintain, when it's gone it's gone. I do the same with certain scrub and lotion fragrances too, sometimes I have a teeny tiny bit left from soapmaking that isn't enough to use in another batch of soap, but it is enough to add to scrubs or lotions, so I'll do a limited edition on that.


A lot of programmers I know don't like Wix/Weebly/Foursquare type of builders... but I'm not tech saavy enough to explain why. I used Weebly until they got bought by Square, now I use Square Online, which has some limitations (or maybe I just haven't figured out how to best use it, see above re: tech saavy) but for $5 / mo it works well enough for right now. As I grow I'm always trying to look ahead for improvements, so that's why revisiting Shopify is on my list. If Wix is setup like Weebly was, for the price of a business plan they do offer a lot of features... but they only have value if you use them. Website management and professional photos are two tasks I'm hoping to take off my plate. In fact I've given up on photos so much in 2021 that I haven't even taken pictures of my product this year.

I understand what you are suggesting with data, we did have something similar set up but for older stuff.

So very clever!

I did see a program (can't remember what it was called - was being promoted by cosmetic chemist association) that worked out formulation cost etc has all sorts of ways to track etc but the monthly cost isn't justifiable when excel does the same thing if you put the right formula in. I have a Dr Maths in my house who likes spreadsheets and statistics whom I usually task with setting up excel spreadsheets. 😂 Free labour always good, shame my son won't make custom boxes for me again for a buck each. Apparently his time is more valuable then that. 😜😂


I understand why programmers don't like Weebly, Wix etc. limitations of programs for graphics, customisation etc

Thanks for taking the time to respond.


You are so extremely organised 🥰🥰 I'd love to see a photo of your excel spreadsheets.
 

The_Phoenix

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Gosh, 2022? I'm still planning for the second half of this year. My brain is programmed to plan quarterly, so that's what I've been focused on. Keep in mind that it will be one year in September since officially launching as a business owner. Lots of room for growth and gaining knowledge.

Items I will add the next three months:
*Whipped body butter
*Non-tallow body salve (I sell a tallow salve that is popular but some would prefer non-tallow)
*Lip balm

Things I am considering
*I've been making shampoo bars and discovered that my last formula works great for curly hair, but not straight hair. As much as I want to sell shampoo bars, I'm putting it on the back burner for now.
*Wax bark/melts. Again, another rabbit hole. This is as close as I want to get to making candles. My plan is to make three or four fall holiday scents and see how those sell.
*Emulsifying sugar scrub. Mostly for self-serving purposes because it's a product I would actually use. I don't have an interest in making products that I likely wouldn't use.

Which is a nice segue to lotion making. I've made lotion and creams in the past, but that's a whole rabbit hole I don't think I have the brain space for again. Maybe that will change in 2022 but I feel confident not including it in my lineup. I do want an additional product to serve as a vehicle for some of my favorite fragrances, but the whipped body butter and emulsifying sugar scrub, I think, will be sufficient.

I'm still really sucky at book keeping. It is a task I need to outsource, but I have been unable to find one I like. And I've gotten better at logging supply inventory into SM3, but I need to work at it. Also need to get better at using SM3 to log my batches. For now I print everything out and put it in a binder.

I use Shopify for my website and am constantly amazed at how easy it is to use. I do need a complete website overhaul, but I really don't have time to sit and redo it for hours and hours. However, a soap maker in San Diego has a fantastic website that I want to try to emulate. 90% of my business comes from my website, so it really is something I need to dedicate more of an effort.

I really do not want to do markets. And I'm sure that there are plenty of soap makers who set up shop already. I am planning to host a "sip and shop" at my house in November. I'm even considering see if any friends want to host one. The host would receive a percentage of my sales from the event (and free soap!). I may poll a few friends and see if anyone has an interest in that sort of thing. Also, I like meeting new people so I'd feed my social animal, get to spend time with friends, and meet new people.

I enjoy thinking about the business side of things. This has been a good exercise for me.
 
A

amd

I'd love to see a photo of your excel spreadsheets.
Putting a reminder on my phone for when I get home!

Gosh, 2022? I'm still planning for the second half of this year.
That works for some (maybe most?) people! For me it didn't because of the way I make soap - I only make soap Sept through May (although if I can get by with not making soap in Sept and May I try to), so I needed to start planning my next year in July, so that I know what I'm making for the next year. I've been trying to make new soaps first, that way I have roughly 4 months of sales before I determine how much or if I need to restock the new soaps. My "new year" essentially starts in October or November (depending when the new soaps get released). But really... any kind of business planning is welcome in this thread! I enjoy hearing what other people are doing, and hearing the successes too. It also helps me as a sounding board for big ideas.

I'm still really sucky at book keeping.
Me too. I used to throw it all in a box and then my sister and I would spend 2 weeks at the end of the year trying to sort it all out. After doing that nonsense three years in a row, she told me "get your act together and start doing it once a month". Well, I've always had a bit of a rebellious nature, so I told myself "she said once a month so I'll show her and do it every week". All of last year I did my bookkeeping faithfully once a week as a standing appointment with my desk on Saturday morning. This year I decided I could do every two weeks... and that gradually turned to once a month... and now I haven't done any bookkeeping since May. Last week I did dig in a bit and at least caught up on email receipts. I've kept up to date on sales, just not expenditures. So I'm back to doing it every week 'cuz I've proven to myself that I suck at it if I don't be consistent.

I use Shopify for my website and am constantly amazed at how easy it is to use.
Thanks for this! Honestly, I think the hardest part is just convincing myself I can do it. The other part will be deciding if it's worth it financially. Or maybe the website has to happen first and the rest will follow.

I am planning to host a "sip and shop" at my house in November.
I've wanted to do this for several years - since we moved into our new house, because it's a gorgeous old house and I'm proud to show it off. Last year didn't happen but maybe this year...? I dunno. I'm still a bit nervous about the pandemic and once kids go back to school we'll see more increases again. If you do it, will you start a thread? I'd love to see the process of planning it (or maybe I'm too detailed? lol).
 

Juggsy

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@The_Phoenix and @amd tell me more about sip and shop. I had a quick Google but was wondering how would you work this.

Would you do a sample kit with say several varieties of soap, and products and have people order. Or have the stock on hand. If stock on hand, how much would you be aiming for. I like this idea so much. My lounge is set up with an alcove (separate area) with two tub chairs, a ladder shelf and some products on display. I actually put my soaps on it after first two weeks of cure since the wine fridge issue hasn't been sorted and there's no other place I can think of that's dark but has airflow. I miss the fridge (aka wanna strangle my son and his bloody cheese🤣🤣).
Anyway, my area is where I shove my mates when they come to buy stuff. It's like my little waiting area.

So, I've done things like open house up between certain time for people to buy stuff. Was doing this every week back in 2012. Open house between 12 - 5pm. But the problem I have with doing that again is more to do with having random people over. From my insurance I know that I can conduct classes and protected at markets etc. Don't think there's any issue with something like shop & sip but I would like more information if possible stuff I'm finding online seems to relate to things like Amway (r they still around), Avon and doTerra - so basically all the cults - 🤣 so if either of you know any resources that would help please let me know. Could I just buy a few bottles of vino and put some stock out? If so, how much stock?
Mind racing with a million questions. I'm sitting in the park while typing this. Been waiting for sodium hydroxide to arrive for ages, so decided I'd go to hardware and grab some. Eek won't make that mistake again. 10 bucks for 500grams Fme. But, at least the park is pretty 🥰😍🥰
IMG_20210707_125906.jpg
 
A

amd

tell me more about sip and shop. I had a quick Google but was wondering how would you work this.
Good question! In my mind it's a fancy name for an open house. Sip and Shop makes it sound very boutiquey, which tends to bring in higher quality customers - kwim? Open house (in my mind) is what you do for graduation parties, not so much a shopping experience. I think that's become a huge part of generating customers, is really making it an experience for them and not just a "hey give me your money and I'll give you some stuff".

I hope @The_Phoenix shares ideas too... but this is what I'm thinking. Last year I did a high design (for me) winter style soap (see here) so I'm thinking I will do that every year because it was fun to make and people liked it a lot, as well as last year I did some special B&B scents for scrubs and lotions that aren't in my usual lineup, so I think to make these all exclusive to the Sip and Shop (S&S) - like first come first serve, when they're gone they're gone. I'm not sure how well this works in reality... my customer base doesn't seem to respond to it, lol. Then I would also have my regular products setup, and maybe a quick and easy make-and-take soap class at a scheduled time to guarantee people would be there.

For the make and take, I think to just use MB oils and lye, no fancy ingredients, the customers could just mix and add their colors and fragrance. The soap would setup while they shop. I did a test this spring when I was thinking of doing a similar thing for a 2-day market (and I wish I had, the 2nd day was so DEAD), and the baseball card boxes that I store my finished soap in hold a 2lb batch very nicely. I lined it with a layer of plastic wrap, and then freezer paper, reinforced the corners a bit with packing tape, and it worked brilliantly. So that would make it a good mold for transporting (because the box closes), plus I can make a sticker for the box to remind people when to cut their soap and how to cure it. That's just my thoughts anyways.

Aside from product, I have a friend who has a charcuterie business, so likely I would ask her to come and pay her for the charcuterie, she could also take orders, and we could put out punch or flavored waters (a non-alcoholic option), mimosas, wine, and maybe a small craft beer selection (my friend and I have husbands who brew). Maybe a few sweet treat options, like gourmet cupcakes (that was my previous hobby before soap lol soap has a lot less calories).

I get stuck a bit on the advertising - I mean it would obviously go out to my FB group and newsletter, and if Lisa were doing the charcuterie to her business page as well, but how much do I open it up to the public? Ad in the paper? Post to other FB groups? I'm an introvert (as is my hubs) so the idea of having strangers in my house is a bit overwhelming. Maybe Lisa and I rent a room at the coffee shop and do an offsite S&S first? Ugh, I hate to put a bunch of money into something that fails big time (been there done that). At least my house is kind of sort of paid for lol. Anyways, this is all just musing, because I won't be doing it this year, but it's a good start for planning next year? Am I thinking too big?
 

Juggsy

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@amd exclusive scents just for S&S or M&T is a great idea. LOVE the soap. It's lovely.

I made a blend of essential oils that I call my Fyah blend. "Fyah" because I made the blend up for my two leo/fire/dragon sisters. Have two very close friends (one now lives interstate as I moved back home) that I seem to sync with. If I'm not doing well, I know how they are doing. One is same age but not a leo (has leo rising in her sign, whatever that means) but we are born same year, and both dragons. Other is a leo, but a couple of years older (gosh, I'm terrible - background info not needed really, brevity, girl, brevity) but because of our close connections we were all struggling so I blended scents specifically for us (motivate, courage, find our fire again etc). I made it into solid perfume, soap, lotion, bath bombs, scrubs and few other things and gifted these to both of them. But, I have been reluctant to share it, but at a M&T or S&S - I might be willing (sorry, I know, I diverge, I wish I didn't)

RE: Advertising - could you be more exclusive than a social media post? I assume you'd have a few regulars? Or friends and family you could rope in? So say give a certain amount of invites and tell them they could bring a friend? I was thinking maybe best to invite some reliable clients and ask them to bring a friend.
As for doing it at home, do check your insurance, I'm not sure if I'd be willing to do CP or HP classes. I've done classes with children - but have been bath bombs, m&p, lip balm, lotion etc. I did think of using another space - we have a local community space for yoga, chanting, meditation etc, it's really very cheap. $30 for a couple of hours. Not sure if they have had to rise prices since covid (our kirtan meditation moved to another suburb - I have no idea why but was thinking it was price related), as they would have had to close (they only opened the space in Jan 2020) and before first round hit last year - I helped do a children's meditation class there) and know the space is really lovely. If you don't like idea of opening your house (I get it, it does feel invasive) maybe see if there are cheap venues like our healing hub. Maybe even like scout halls?

Love the idea of getting other businesses involved. Most of my friends are yogis, practitioners of reiki, zen thai, watsu and mindfulness, musos, artists, greenies, hippies, gardeners, bakers, general weirdos, a few psychologists and social workers too for good measure (seriously, my friendship group is eclectic, to say the least) - so some of them could help? My friend tried a mini festival for her birthday, but it didn't go as she wanted - she (we) set up sections with things like henna, flower headdresses, things like that and had a few bands come and play music. But because she just let everyone choose to self guide activities - no one other than the kids went to the stations to do activities. Most people just gathered around the music and fire. It was a beautiful and awesome set up, and cost her so much money, it was disheartening to see it didn't work as it was planned. But something like that - not markets per say - but a mini workshops - yarn, bake, soap, that sort of thing would be awesome to try. Specific times for specific workshops - you would want to advertise it though - maybe through local cafes and shop windows, notice boards and social media. Have people book and pay first. No bartering - like we do now - I pay for my physio by swapping salt scrub and lotion. Maybe like even pamper workshops?

I know I lack brevity, I apologise for my rambling.
 
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We originally started a business to raise money for children with DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma), a brain stem tumour with a death sentence. My 5 year old was diagnosed with it - she's the longest survivor in Australia, 21 months. most die within 6 months), so she was making craft items, hair accessories, art and we were giving all the profit to DIPG research. So, I kinda disappeared when she died. I did a few markets after, but my heart wasn't in it. I really struggle with daily pain from FMS the grief made it so much worse. At 44, I already have arthritis in my joints, my neck, back (spine), so I'm sure that doesn't help the FMS. What I struggle with most is my inability to not over do it. I'm not good at regulating my activity. I know if I'm on my feet all day, I will swell up and won't be able to walk etc. But, doesn't that stop me. :rolleyes:😂 I can totally relate to just wanting to chill. Between trying to complete modules, and my family, finding time is a bit difficult.

I like the idea of collecting data, I do bujo, so everything is noted. But, what sort of data are you collecting? I know I'm currently trying to take notice of popular scents. I will go through old receipt books to find what sold the most other than salt scrub. I know I was averaging 50 kgs of Himalayan salt each month (one of the only suppliers that I didn't lose my account through inactivity or because I cancelled by ABN).

I did have 5 types of soap - I have already made the decision to stick with 2 or 3 but scents. It does my head in. I did the herb, citrus, clean, woody, musk, and floral but within those 6 - I had 3 different blends. Which is way too much choice, I was thinking instead of having so much choice to do "limited edition" ones? I don't know. I need to research more. As you said, collect data. 🙃😉🙂

There's also wix, I don't know much about them but I read a comparison between the two. Think wix was slightly cheaper. I know in Australia, the shopify just for facebook is 29.95 a month. I thought it was only $15 but maybe on in US? I know I need to investigate it all. It's all changed in last 7 years.

I agree that online sales can be hit or miss but markets can be too (just depends). I have a friend who is extremely successful online because she does subscription boxes. Standard shipping as product doesn't change so she can get a good deal on shipping. It seems shopify is the most popular among the mummy bloggers and businesses. They have a package that's 2 grand per month - must be for bigger businesses? I can't imagine many small businesses doing that. ☺
Thank you for sharing. I wish you awesome success in all of your endeavers. Amazing people like you touch others.
 
A

amd

I know I lack brevity, I apologise for my rambling.
I'm always amazed at the different spin - the thing that makes their business unique - that everyone comes up with! Love it! Don't apologize for "rambling" - you're not at all - I'm enjoying your thought process. And why I make this thread every year.

I still have it on my to do list to show some snips of my spreadsheet... right now my to do list has 6 things to do and 26 overdue, so bear with me!

I don't think I mentioned it above at all... but this summer I'm working on growing my email list. Like making big pushes - not just to get people signed up, but also to get myself to work that angle. I have a lot of work to do there, as I've had email lists for years (maybe 5?) but I don't use it to my advantage.
So first, I created a coupon code for people when they first sign up to use, to encourage them to get signed up and get instant gratification.
Second, this month is my biz 6 year anniversary, so I'm running an exclusive sale for email peeps this week, and next week I will only have select items on sale for the general public.
Third, to keep people signed up, I've decided that I when new products are released - whether it's a whole new product or a new scent - they will be exclusive to the email peeps for a week (5 days, whatever) before launching to everyone else.

With this idea, I've really been on the fence about staying with Square or switching to Shopify. I know both have marketing platforms, I have not looked into price comparisons and figured out how much I would need to sell to make it worth the cost. That's also on the Overdue To Do List. I'm a bit hesitant about switching from Square to Shopify for tracking sales at markets, accepting cc, etc. I think that's really a big hangup (in addition to the price diff between the two) for me. Not sure how I'll move past that.

I start vacation next week - I have a one week staycation of sorts, and then the next week we are taking a family vacation - so I'm hoping to have the time to sit down and evaluate what I have for FO, and create the soap lineup for 2022 - which will start production in Sept/Oct. So once I get my soaps designed I will be sharing more, and hopefully others will contribute more as they start their 2022 plans as well. I'm just waaaaay ahead because of how I make my soaps.
 
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