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Wow… this is why I love this forum!

I have been in the same situation as Cat…however, it is still in the hobby stage for me. I live making soap, like really love it! Without it being a business it is already an expensive hobby to have. I control costs and established a budget for myself from the very beginning for colors, fragrances etc. I also make small batches so I can make different soaps with the same base materials of a 5lb batch.

I am being hopeful, patient, but still having fun. Thank you to this forum for all the good information you have and give with no judgement.
 

TheGecko

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Perhaps find ways to do it inexpensively like @TheGecko suggested. One reason I have my own name in my “soap business“ is to avoid doing the DBA until it grows enough to justify it, same for an LLC. I discussed this with my CPA initially, and he just does a schedule (A or B?) to report my income and expenses from the different avenues I have. Personally, I find that providing a service (like photography or face painting) has usually been more profitable than making and selling a product, because I do not enjoy the latter probably, and there is a higher demand for the other.

Even though I am not publicly selling soap, I went ahead and secured my business name and domain name. The cost per year is less than what I used to spend on my Friday Medium Kicker at Dutch Bros.

Schedule C...Schedule A is for Itemized Deductions, Schedule B is for Interest & Dividends.

With regards to 'service' vs 'product'...not really. You're forgetting about labor costs. When I had my LPD business, I either charged a flat rate or an hourly rate. Those rates were based partly on expenses like...rent, electric, water, telephone, internet, printing, office supplies, depreciation of equipment (computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, fax machine) and software. Then there is the cost of labor; I had to treat MY labor the same as if I had an employee.

So while Face Painting may seem more 'profitable' because paint is cheap, how much is your time worth?
 
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@Cat&Oak 💞
Wow' thank you for sharing your heartfelt real emotions & your hard choices you've made in your soap making business. Not only does your post reflects the reality & struggles' of the business it allows others to share their soap journey on the business side of it. Big Hugs' though your soap may not be selling like " Hot Cakes! Flying Out The Door"! Your creative soap designs are beautiful 🧼🥰🤗🏆.

Personally i'm still struggling w/ failure to launch! across the board' 🤣😂🥳 I sale very little to friends' mainly give soap away as gifts throughout the year.
I do want to sale at our local Farmers Market, but not sure If I gotta get a city license & a Tax ID? UGH. In the US & globally times are uncertain in so many areas' I'm thinking maybe ppl would think twice about spending 6.00 for a bar of soap? just my thoughts I could be totally wrong?. So I set here in limbo enjoying my Soap Hobby. Thank you Dear & everyone for sharing your soap business journey's so informative & in sight full. 🧼🤗💞
 
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The kindness of this forum has me in tears 😭 I felt safe to share my struggles because of what sweet @Peachy Clean Soap said, people are non judgemental.

As business owners alot of times if we are struggling or failing we tend to keep it to ourselves. My Dad used to say "No one likes a loser" he was a successful business owner so the fact I couldn't do it just reinforces what my birth family thinks of me anyway. But I'm not letting that get to me I have to make smart decisions for myself.

@Professor Bernardo thank you for sharing your thoughts and I think you are spot on. Everyone no matter what side of the political spectrum you reside on is suffering from Covid fatigue. Costs and shortages are everywhere. Gas here is $4.25 a gallon!

So it makes sense that people are not indulging in buying right now.

I took down my YouTube channel as well because my shop is also down. I had a kind soul message me this morning because they couldn't find my videos.

I had my LLC and city licensing coming due which would have been another $800. My husband has funded my soap business as I am not working right now. We have been married 33 years and he is such a sweetheart he would gladly give that money but I can't ask that of him when I am spinning my wheels.

@cerelife and @glendam thank you so much for sharing what is happening with your businesses. I do think it was probably the worst time I could have started a business. Kenna is right I spent all day every day doing as much marketing as I was comfortable with.
Google and Facebook ads can be a black hole of debt if you aren't careful but had I used that avenue I may have gotten my first golden "stranger" sale.

Oh and for markets I don't have tents or tables or POS software so that was another expense I was pondering.

Customers have no idea how much goes into that bar of soap we sell. Like all of you I love making soap 🥰 but I'm not sure I love it enough to do markets for 5-10 years to start making a profit and that's okay.
 

glendam

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@TheGecko Well, the paints are not necessarily cheap but they do have a large yield. I tend to buy too many, but now I am trying to be more practical, since I have not really done much of that business since covid.
However, the way I saw it after I did my second show in 2019 with soap, was that in 2 hours of face painting, I could have made the money I made in that show.
I sold a little over $200 for a 9-3 show, for which traffic stopped after lunch. It was not a very good show money wise, but there was something about people wanting to give me money for these bars that I usually give away to friends and family that was encouraging. Thankfully this third show I did recently was more successful, almost got to my goal.
With face painting there is the cost of driving, gas, vehicle depreciation, the prep work before, getting ready and painting myself to look the part, and the cleaning of brushes and sponges once I am home, etc. So I know I am not comparing apples to apples, but it "feels" easier. Perhaps because I get calls asking for face painting quotes more often, without having to go out there and set up a display. Anyway, I see your point. If all the shows I did were successful perhaps I would not feel this way. Congrats on getting the business name and domain name secured!
 
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I feel for you as I have been in the same situation, but a less expensive route. Mine was a needlework shop in a corner of my house waaaay back when that was very popular. What i found was similar to others, I no longer had the time to work on my own projects, which was the fun part of the business and the very reason that I started the business. I have a few of my projects hanging on my walls now as proof that it happened.

Fast forward into the 80's, I took up quilting with the same comments from others...start a business. But I held off simply because I enjoy cutting up big pieces of fabric into small ones, and then putting them back together into a big quilt. For some of us, for some reason, turning your hobby into a business is a joy breaker. I can't say at any point when that happens or why it happens, but the joy goes right out the window.

I am now getting a little bit of it with my soaps...but I think my friends (and know my family) feel I am too old to start another business! So they just tell me how great they like my soaps and wish all hand made soaps were like mine. I let them throw a little money at me from time to time to help defray the cost...or buy me a plant, or something nice.

I know I didn't stick with the business as long as some of you have...mine was more like three years or so...but I thin I was smart to listen to my inner self to keep my hobbies just the way they are, full of joy and satisfaction. I'll let others become the quilt artists, or soap artists and I'll keep making quilts and soaps with joy in my heart.
 

glendam

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@Cat&Oak the Square website that @Professor Bernardo mentioned is the same one I use. They are the ones who can give you a free online store, not as fancy as a paid one, but it does for me for now (for the stamps, pull screens, etc.). They also have a POS system (it is just their app) that I used to do my credit card transactions in that show with my phone. However, I just learned they also have the option to record cash purchases, they do not collect fees on those, but it will allow you to checkout a cash sale and record it. Anyway, I will be trying that out as my POS next year, should be faster than handwriting all those receipts!
 
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I'll keep making quilts and soaps with joy in my heart.

Hey I like to make quilts too! One year I did a quilt for every family member for Christmas. It was fun! And come to think of it soapmaking hasn't been fun for a while. What will sell well? What will get the most views?
@glendam thanks for that I think I went with the most expensive everything thinking I would have a better chance at sales 😂
 

Candybee

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I started my soap biz in 2005 so I have been at it for a number of years now. I can tell you that several times over these years I would get into a rut or burn out period that would last for weeks or months. It happens and its normal so don't beat yourself up about it. One of two things can happen during your time out. You may decide to quit altogether and do something else. It may be that after all this time you find it really wasn't your dream. Or, you may do what I do and find inspiration in changing things up.

This last time out period for me I used to revamp my soap biz. I was board and felt I wanted out but for me what I really needed was a change. So I started a list of the things I really wanted and wanted to do with my soap biz. I realized what I really wanted to do and what I was actually doing were not the same. I had to sit down and write it on paper.

Once I had it in writing and knew what I wanted, things just fell right into place. I was now recharged and incredibly excited about revamping my biz. I renamed it, got a new logo and branding along with new biz colors and decor. I had a new theme that I always wanted to do and I couldn't stop the avalanche of ideas for my new company.

It's been almost a year now as I relaunched my "new" soap biz this year. My products were updated and everything was coordinated with my new theme, colors, logo and branding right down to every last little detail. I am still excited about it and now I feel like a kid again. I turned my work into playtime because I am in love with it.

For me, that's what it is all about, finding my joy and love again. I did it through digging deep and self discovery.

One of these days I may decide to move on and do something entirely new. But each time I went through a slump what pulled me out was change.
 
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@Cat&Oak 💞
I do want to sale at our local Farmers Market, but not sure If I gotta get a city license & a Tax ID? UGH. In the US & globally times are uncertain in so many areas' I'm thinking maybe ppl would think twice about spending 6.00 for a bar of soap? just my thoughts I could be totally wrong?. So I set here in limbo enjoying my Soap Hobby. Thank you Dear & everyone for sharing your soap business journey's so informative & in sight full. 🧼🤗💞
In So Cal, some cities require city permits to sell at farmer markets and some do not, you have to check with each city you are going to sell in. The market managers will know if you need a city permit or not. I sold my soaps for $7 each and was going to raise to $8 right before covid hit and I retired. I had absolutely no issues selling min 5 oz bars for $7 ea. I holiday market return customers who purchased large amounts received a better deal. Every return customer received a goodie as did most new customers before leaving my booth. I still miss attending markets and socializing with customers and my vendor friends.
 
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It was very brave of you to try, and sounds like a good decision to step back. I wrestled with possibly selling soap myself, but I think I just want to make soap how and when I feel like it.

Don't listen to naysayers. My most satisfying accomplishments have all been doing things I was advised not to, for whatever reason. How boring life would be if you never tried anything risky. I bet your naysayers are afraid to try anything themselves!
 

Johnez

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Cat&Oak, you've far more courage than me. I spent 7 years collecting tools, ideas, and knowledge to start my own business. I built furniture, and my location would have been a goldmine for the type of stuff I created. I did not proceed, and I'll leave it there-this ain't about me. Don't beat yourself up, it's better to have tried. I have quite a few regrets, failure has never been one of them-not trying ranks number one. It sounds to me like shifting gears will give you some breathing room to assess your next move. Very smart. I wish you success in whatever path you take.
 
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Hey I like to make quilts too! One year I did a quilt for every family member for Christmas. It was fun! And come to think of it soapmaking hasn't been fun for a while.
OMG you are a better person than me! Although every one in my family has gotten something hand made from me at one point or another. That comes with living a long life though! LOL

I do hope that with all the different pieces of advice that you are getting here, that you can make a decision that is best for you and your family. Everyone's situation is different, one size does not fit all! Best of luck with whatever you decide.
 
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OMG you are a better person than me! Although every one in my family has gotten something hand made from me at one point or another. That comes with living a long life though! LOL

I do hope that with all the different pieces of advice that you are getting here, that you can make a decision that is best for you and your family. Everyone's situation is different, one size does not fit all! Best of luck with whatever you decide.
Thank you so much! The quilts I made were a very simple pattern but my husband's family cherishes them ❤
 

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Kiti Williams

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Thank you so much! The quilts I made were a very simple pattern but my husband's family cherishes them ❤

Lovely! I am a fiber artist, so quilting is one of my ways of staying sane! I have a small business doing custom free motion quilting, but both my State and the Feds bill it as a hobby.
 
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Lovely! I am a fiber artist, so quilting is one of my ways of staying sane! I have a small business doing custom free motion quilting, but both my State and the Feds bill it as a hobby.
For sure, quilting kept my sanity in Alaska. Twenty one of those years we lived without commercial electricity or running water, did almost all of my quilting on a treadle machine with a dog mushers' headlamp for extra light. We sort of consider the early years our "wilderness experience". As we aged we no longer played in the snow as much, so winters really got to us.

There are things I miss about Alaska but winter is not one of them. I can hardly tolerate the winters in Idaho, so know we made the right decision with moving.

I also do free motion quilting but only for my own projects, gifts or charity works. Just getting back in the groove after not having my sewing room available for 10 months. It's pure joy again!
 

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