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Jumping into business too soon

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funastrum

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I'm kind of shocked to see that one of the fans of my facebook page who admires my soaps has decided to make and sell soaps themselves. I recognized her name on a soap making facebook group and I saw her posting her first batch of cold process soap that she made 2 days ago. She now has started her own business page. That just seems crazy! I would not buy soap from someone who calls themselves a business after 2 days of even making soap, with not much research at all (she was asking what CP and HP meant only 3 days ago). She can't know how the soap will be 1, 2, 3, or 9 months down the road, how it spoils, safety, etc. Oy! She is local, and I am not really worried about her being competition, because I am pretty established in town and my branding is excellent. I am more concerned about the lack of experience someone has going into a business making handmade soap look bad, while I on the other hand spent a lot of time learning and getting better at my craft.
I read about this kind of stuff a lot, but then actually seeing it happen so close to home is a little unnerving! I just wanted to vent a little bit, lol!
 

KristaY

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O. M. G. I don't even know what to say. This is just sad. I can't imagine doing ANYTHING once then calling myself a professional. I just hope she doesn't hurt anyone. :thumbdown:
 

Relle

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Unfortunately, you only have to look in here, that it's been happening daily, for years. It's not hard to pick them out from all the questions they're asking that they're new and shouldn't even be going near the public. It's like beating your head against a brick wall if you say anything - a lot of them just don't get it.
 

Dorymae

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There really is nothing you can do, but know this, she will not be competition. If she doesn't know what she is doing, if her soap is lye heavy, if it just isn't pleasant, she will be out of business very shortly.

It is a common misconception with people that they can make soap, start a business, and make money when they have little or no money. They simply have no clue as to the expense of having a business. For the first 2 years you lose money, then you start to break even and then if your lucky you make a few bucks. It takes a while to build a good reputation and customer base, and I doubt she will last that long.
 

navigator9

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Unfortunately, you only have to look in here, that it's been happening daily, for years. It's not hard to pick them out from all the questions they're asking that they're new and shouldn't even be going near the public. It's like beating your head against a brick wall if you say anything - a lot of them just don't get it.
I agree. I've gotten to the point where I've decided for my own sanity, I can't reply to those posts. I just get too frustrated. You can't convince those people of the enormity of what they don't know. They're blinded by dollar signs flashing in front of their eyes, and they won't listen to reason. As KristaY says, hopefully, she won't hurt anyone.
 

Dorymae

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I doubt she'll hurt anyone with just soap. Even if her soap is lye heavy. Soap is forgiving only because we usually use it with lots of water. Of course accidents happen (like someone getting in their eye) but with the amount of people she'll be reaching - the chance is statistically small. This is not to say she should be selling soap, or that selling bad soap is ok, just that soap as a product is pretty forgiving.

Hopefully she doesn't conceive to try to sell other beauty products, like lotions or shampoos - there is the real danger.
 

Corinne

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I'm sorry if I'm one of the newbies that you all are talking about... I honestly don't mean any harm and speaking for other newbies I think it's only out of ignorance that we jump in over our heads often times :)

I personally think the girl in question jumped into business way to quickly... 3 days isn't even enough time to get it batched/popped outta the mold/cut/etc. But if I am being lumped into this newbie group I would like to say that it is out of humility that I declare myself a newbie, and out of respect that I have asked for the opinions of people who I feel are MUCH more experienced than I. I seriously find the advice given on this forum to be incredibly valuable as I slowly increase my soapmaking skills.

I just felt the need to clarify again that while I am "new" to cold process soaping, I have been researching soap and doing M&P etc. for the past 9+ months... and yet only now have I decided to really start a business. Mine has been "under wraps" and in the works for the past 9 months, as I made lip balms, salves, creams, etc. for myself because I suffer from contact dermatitis and multiple allergies. I have sold locally to friends during this time, mainly in the form of lip balm and M&P soap concoctions. But I felt so limited by M&P (and annoyed that I could not remove ingredients I wasn't so fond of) that when I discovered CP soaping I nearly died of happiness...

It is my current joy and passion to make soap that has--in my opinion--miraculously cleared up my excema and diminished razor bumps because I'm not allergic to it for once in my life! And the fact that my sister--who is vegetarian--said to me the other day that I make the best soap she has ever used... soaping seriously is an emotional thing for me now.

I simply wanted to clarify that soap is not the ONLY thing I am planning to sell and it is not the only reason I've decided to form a business... this truly is my passion and my life, and I hope that no one looks down on me because of my youth and apparent inexperience.

I promise you that I check everything I do three times over to ensure that my products are safe and of the highest quality possible. If they aren't, I rebatch them and/or use them on myself.

I hope that this clears up some things if there have been any suspicions about me... and that it possibly provides another side to us newbies. You can't read a book by its cover, and I just don't think every newbie should be stereotyped like the 3-day girl.

On a similar note, I took piano for 10 years when I was younger--performed at numerous recitals and the yearly guild, even submitted a composition for judging--yet, when I handed out hundreds of flyers to people after deciding to offer piano lessons, not a single person called me. I was 19 at the time and couldn't understand it. I had all of the qualifications, but all people saw was my age, and all they thought was: inexperienced. Since then I have learned to let no one look down on me because of how they see me, but rather to prove myself to them by my work and actions.
 

funastrum

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I knew you guys would understand!
It took me longer than 2 days to get my federal, state, and local licenses/accounts/ID's. etc.! She's definitely not doing things by the books. It is frustrating knowing that she does not have this stuff, and I took time getting everything together, so there is a lot of pride I have in the process. Luckily I have not lost money so far in my journey, but my bank account is definitely not increasing. All the money I make goes back into materials and expanding my business at this point.
My highest profit items are shampoos and conditioner bars anyways, and I am established in a few salons that are keeping me pretty busy. I doubt she would be able to jump into that, since those ingredients require a huge investment.
Patience is essential for being successful! I wonder how many people jump into it and then ditch the "business" for the next crafty kick they get where they see dollar signs... I guess I will just have to watch from a distance, and try not to let it get to me.
 

Corinne

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Patience is essential for being successful! I wonder how many people jump into it and then ditch the "business" for the next crafty kick they get where they see dollar signs... I guess I will just have to watch from a distance, and try not to let it get to me.
On that note, I can definitely agree with you. I now have obtained my business license for the local city, after getting my FEIN, CA Sellers Permit, FBN, etc... it is a lot of work and so far the only $$ I see is the $$ going down the drain... :( But this is something I am investing my life into, so my $11/hr job as an SI at the local college is supporting me as I go.
 

funastrum

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You seem like a very intelligent person, and I don't think you are the type that goes into a group with her. Within the past week she has also posted her first melt and pour soap, so she is pretty much going into a soap business with less than a week total experience in any kind of body care crafting.
Looking at her facebook page she already has 153 likes and has her first hot process soap from yesterday packaged. "Ingredients: Olive Oil, Shea butter, icing colorant" No weight listed, no address, totally improper!
 

godschild

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I have been soaping only since February but I made a facebook page because I have family members who live far away that want to try out my soaps. It is a good way for them to see my progress and what I have made so far. I have family members who WANT to buy my soap so if they want to buy it and it's good soap, who am I to not allow them to? I would never give away or sell soap that didn't turn out worthy of them. I have soaps that have turned out marvelously great and I have some that haven't. I keep the ones that are ugly or I just feel are a recipe that could be better. Some of my ugly soap is still great, just ugly. I do feel that in time, I can be a master soaper. Having said that, I have bought soap from people that have been soaping for 10+ years and their soap isn't as good as mine as far as being bubbly with a nice silky lather, conditioning, long lasting, creamy, and just the right amount of cleansing and still pretty in my eyes. I have put a lot of effort and maybe more time into my soaping than some people get to because of lack of time or having kids or jobs that take up most of their time. I am a disabled woman with nothing but time on my hands and have watched/read all I can on soaping. Do I still have questions and need to learn more? Definitely. But do I feel like I can sell soap that is better than many that I have tried and bought before whether it be handmade or come from a store? You bet. Don't count all of us out or put us all in the same boat just because we haven't been at this as long as some have. I sleep on average about 3 hours total a night and sometimes I don't sleep due to having insomnia. My child is grown. I don't spend much time away from home because I choose not to. I don't have friends to spend time with much because they have all moved away when they got married. I pretty much don't do anything anymore but soap or learn about soaping and how I can do things better. I am definitely one of the people that were spoken of recently when somebody mentioned the same folks are on here when they are lol. Yall know I'm always asking something on here or commenting/posting something. Please don't discount someone like me because I just may surprise you. I have gotten my licenses, ins etc so I am legal in that respect. I am ahead of several soapers that are in my town and surrounding ones too that have been soaping for a long time. Many don't care what quality soap they put out as long as they make a dime, whether they are legal, nor do they care to improve themselves or their soap. I do however. Excuse the long post but you just can't put us all in one basket.
 

Corinne

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Looking at her facebook page she already has 153 likes and has her first hot process soap from yesterday packaged. "Ingredients: Olive Oil, Shea butter, icing colorant" No weight listed, no address, totally improper!
HOLY COW! I have been making lip balms and such for 9+ months like I said, and when I got my business-in-the-works page up I invited friends (I have around 400+) and barely have 50 likes so far... maybe it's because I'm not a very pushy person :( I've listed every ingredient from the start though... I didn't want to be in the wrong if I decided to start up a business for real... I'm sure some things are technicalities that she just isn't aware of. For example: I had no idea there was an address requirement on soaps until someone mentioned it on another thread. I had gotten all of the INCI ingredients down, the weight (I understate to be safe), etc., but obviously I am still learning about these darned little technicalities.

But overall I don't think I'm at all the same type of person. I hope she tests it all on herself beforehand.

Excuse the long post but you just can't put us all in one basket.
Preach it! :D
 
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godschild

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Lol Corinne! I just couldn't help it. I have read so much lately about people worrying about others selling too early. It's not my business if someone wants to sell immediately. I would rather focus that time on my own soapy self. If a person wants to ruin their name or potential future sales by selling crap then that's their own problem. I and my loved ones have been the test monkeys for my soaps etc so I know they are safe and good or else they get rebatched for my own handwashing soap. I have tossed one batch out of a couple thousand dollars worth of soap I have made so far and that was from bad lye and I just didn't trust it. Not my fault the lye. I don't have many likes on my own fb page and I don't care if I ever get any more nor do I care if I ever do sell another bar. I enjoy what I'm doing and that's what matters to me. I will never run out of soap probably for the rest of my life and I'll always smell good. The state and government made money off me and I have probably paid a few of the supply companies' light bills from all the money I have spent on my supplies so that is also a plus. Win Win. You wouldn't believe the positive reviews I've had and what those same people have said about soap they've bought at farmers markets, flea markets, and boutiques being inferior to mine. That makes me feel good about myself and we all need that once in a while. Here I have went again. Goodnight yall. I'm not perfect by any means but neither is anyone else on here. That's what quality checking and control and paying for insurance is for right?

I should've said I do agree that people shouldn't just jump into business. I did take a step back and slow my own self down on that note because I do want everything to be just right. I'll still be paying taxes and for insurance as I learn even more just in case some idiot is given a bar of my soap as a present or something and thinks they can make a fast buck with a lawsuit. As far as the soaps I've made so far that people know are good though, why should they just sit being unused when they could be enjoyed by my family and close friends?
 

Corinne

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I think this became kind of a slam to both sides, so I just want to say that if anyone is worried by us newbies entering the marketplace, don't be. If you think we will hurt people, the worst we can do is probably make someone peel (because honestly if we're handling the soap bare-handed three days in like all newbies do, we'll suffer the consequences of our own actions) and file a lawsuit and then we're done for. If you think we will take your business, I don't know why. If you have a good product and loyal customers, how could we steal them? And if we do steal them, doesn't that just mean maybe you need to improve your products? The way I see it is that if people prefer other soapers' products to mine, the problem doesn't lie with those soapers, but rather with myself :) I have tried the soaps at the local farmers markets and I know that one soaper uses all M&P and the other uses too much coconut oil or something because it dried me to death. (If they see this post I hope they take that into account, because I mean no harm--just stating a fact as a previous customer.) Neither of them labeled anything, to my knowledge. And being allergic to a lot of things, I thought to myself two years ago "something needs to change". I hope that I am filling the need for an honest, legal, caring soaper in my community... and if worse comes to worse maybe I will spur the other soapers to improve their soaps and business practices! :) If I fail at my own business, at least hopefully it will be because they step up their game and provide a product that I have faith in.

That's all that really matters to me.
 

godschild

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You said what I wanted to say and how I should've said it Corinne. Thank you for your eloquence.
 

Aline

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It is annoying to see people start selling without having done the ground work but I think it is wise advice to focus on one's own magnificence instead of what other people are doing :wink: I get bent out of shape seeing other B & B sellers lie about their ingredients. Honestly, I can't bear it. But I have concluded that the best way to deal with it is to take a deep breath and re-focus on what I am doing (doesn't always work but I try) :crazy:

P.S: having re-read this thread I realize that much of the concern is about safety and I would not be able to keep my mouth shut if I thought someone was selling an unsafe product....
 
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pamielynn

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I don't think most experienced soapers are worried about competition from newbies, we're worried about giving the industry a bad name. I have people come to my table frequently telling me how they "don't like handmade soap because its drying". Now, if that's from personal experience or just an old myth that's still going around, IDK. But, some people will even tell me "I got soap from So&So and I didn't like it". Of course, not everyone is going to like MY soap either, but the fact that so many people tell me these things, makes me wonder.

I liken the soap-newbie-selling-too-soon issue to the cupcake phenomenon. I couldn't even count how many people were selling cupcakes last holiday season. But, it's popular right now. Doesn't matter if you're making them from a box or illegally using trademarked images (hello, Cookie Monster), some folks see the success of others and jump on the bandwagon. I've spoken with some of them and you can tell that baking isn't even their passion :( And sometimes it feels as though there are soapers out there just like that.

And nobody is saying your soap isn't good enough, but believe me - in 5 years you'll look back and say "What was I thinking?", because with experience comes real knowledge and skill.
 

godschild

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Well those poor folks that I've bought from that have already that said they "have been soaping for 10+ years" won't be ready for another 10 as far as I care because their soap sucked, I know they lied about what was on their labels, etc. It's not just newbies that give soaping a bad name. All the hate on folks on not just this forum but other public venues has given soapers a bad name as well. Some are afraid to even ask questions on here for fear of ridicule and some have even quit coming onto this forum. I personally don't care though if I get ridiculed because if someone doesn't like me, they don't. I will stay because I know that no matter how long someone has been doing things, they still have things to learn and can improve on their soaping. People shouldn't be driven away though. I won't say any more on the matter.
 

funastrum

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I think we are straying from the subject. I'm not talking about soap makers that have been at it for months, I am talking about someone that has less than a week of soap making experience. Her first hot process soap was packaged within 24 hours of making it, so I doubt she had given out many bars if any at all to see what people think of them. If she tested them in the shower with a white washcloth she would probably learn that her soap dyed with red cake icing would stain a washcloth. Or maybe she doesn't care? I can understand defending newbies, but I am not attacking every newbie. I just see someone that hardly understands soap making and then calling themselves a professional, I just find it careless and rushed into for money instead of passion and a want to learn proper technique, business ethics, etc.
 

Dorymae

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I believe there is a difference between someone who loves soaping and does research, tests their batches, sells to friends and family, and then starts a business. Even if this process only took 6 months, if they spent 6 hours a day "living" soap, then they have the knowledge at least. (perhaps not the experience but that will always take time.)

This type of person would not bother me if they decided to sell. I wouldn't feel threatened because I know that the soaps I put up for sale will be my tried and true and the ones they put up for sale they will probably have wasted several batches to get IF they are comparable to mine.

The thing that does bother me is the person who makes soap, has no idea of the oils or their properties, doesn't know how to formulate their own recipe, spends maybe an hour after work looking at soap forums for basic information and is already making labels and making plans to sell right away.

The lack of knowledge is the key I think. Some of this will come with experience and no doubt it is the best teacher. However as long as a person is willing to know that they will have more problems than most, doesn't plan to sell each and every batch regardless of problems, then I think it is okay. Common sense definitely comes into play here. Unfortunately common sense isn't so common anymore.
 
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