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Catscankim

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so i go to a pool hall event today. I am like lets see.... I bring a box of soap with me. These are my friends, really just getting my supply down lol. Everybody is like omg how much? $8 i say. Sold 5 to one person, 5 to another, 1 to another. I walked down to the the smoke shop...they bought 3, and now want to have me supply them with soap to sell. How much? I sell them for $8 i said. they said 99.9% that they want to sell my soap.

I went to another "smoke shop" in the same plaza. this is all tonight. Gave them a patchouli bar. now THEY want to sign me up for soap too. He also asked me how much. I says $8. At this point, I was standing my ground on the 8 bucks. He says, Yeah, I can probably do something like that. I left them with a few bars. I am not sure what he meant by "do something like that". LOL If he calls me I guess I will find out.

I really thought i was letting my friends test my soap and it exploded. I did. I told them it was a practice run, but they all wanted to pay me.
 

dibbles

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Congrats on your sales! I know you have said before that you eventually want to sell, so this is encouraging for you. One thing, though - selling to friends is one thing. If you are selling to shops which will then be reselling to the general public, make sure you have all your ducks in a row as far as insurance, etc.
 

Catscankim

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Congrats on your sales! I know you have said before that you eventually want to sell, so this is encouraging for you. One thing, though - selling to friends is one thing. If you are selling to shops which will then be reselling to the general public, make sure you have all your ducks in a row as far as insurance, etc.
I texted this very thing to my sister last night.

A little background...I have been selling BnB products for an mlm company for about 4 years. When i walked in with my box of soap yesterday, they all naturally thought it was my regular product. When i clarified that it was MY soap, they got so excited lol. I have never had a problem selling soaps at $8/bar for the company...and mine are much prettier. The only exception i made on the price was to a kid (like 17 y/o), who wanted 3 bars for his mom who is on my pool team. He only had $20, on him so i gave him 3/$20.

A lesson i learned yesterday though....not everybody likes highly fragranced soap. What i thought was going to go first was my Holiday Sangria. Smells amazing. It was my first 6% fragrance bar. Most ppl went for the lighter smells. Nobody wanted pumpkin spice either, which surprised me. Most went for beachy-type soaps. But i guess, its Florida lol. The ones i had with me had little soap shell embellishments on top...they sold.

Lime Cilantro from Elements smells like Zest soap. I detest Zest lol. I was really disappointed with that fragrance. BUT it was a huge hit with the guys.

The smoke shop (aka head shop) really liked the patch and sandalwood ones.

Not bad for my debut lol. I learned some lessons. Now i gotta work on the biz side.

Oh, and i have a square reader, which i am glad i remembered to bring with me. It was good that i had a few options for payments. I did a few squares, some cash, two zelles, and a couple apple pays...
 

TheGecko

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Congratulations. Now take a deep breath and take a step back...you're not ready to sell to the public. Why?

1) You just made your first batch of soap in late May of this year, and you're still "testing" your soaps. You really do need a good year to know what your recipe is going to do. Does the scent fade? Do the colorants fade? What about DOS? Do the bars hold up to changing environmental changes? How much does your soap shrink at three months, six months, nine months, a year? Does your recipe change with time?

2) As noted in your graphics thread...you've got issues with your labels. Just from a 'true soap' standpoint, you need to have ounces/grams on the label...no "approximately" or "minimum". And if you're going to list your ingredients, you need to include Water (or whatever liquid you use) and Sodium Hydroxide. Marie Gale is considered to be the leading expert in the US on soap and cosmetic Labeling. And something I didn't mention in my response to that thread, you need to include your zip code. And you don't need to include your email or telephone number, that information will be on your website...where is where you want customers to go.

3) Retail vs Wholesale pricing and sales. The Retail price for a bar of my Regular Soap is $7.00/bar, the Wholesale price is $40.00/10-bar loaf; my Wholesale customer than turns around and sells my soap for $7.50/bar. Now it may seem that I am losing money with Wholesale, but I'm not because my actual costs per bar is around $2.00 for a 10-bar loaf versus $3.00 for Retail. When I Wholesale, all I do is cut the soap into bars, cure for two weeks, then wrap the loaf in bubble wrap, attached a hand-written label of the name of the soap and stuff in a box. The customer stamps the soap, finishes the cure, packages and labels. When I Retail...I plane, bevel and stamp a week after the cut, then it gets turned a couple of times until cured. Then it gets packaged, labels are printed and attached and it is put into inventory

You will also note that my Wholesale price is per 10-bar loaf. I do NOT wholesale individual bars of soap, I only sell loaves and I have a four loaf minimum requirement. And depending on the customer, they may have to pay in full at the time of order or make a minimum payment of 50%. I do NOT do consignment.

4) If you are selling soap, you NEED insurance.

5) More payments options aren't all they are cracked up to be. They MIGHT increase your sales, but now you have to track all those options. When I'm not working on my soaping business or knitting, I'm a Senior Staff Accountant for a CPA firm. We are getting ready to dump a client who has three merchant accounts (VISA/MC, Discover and American Express) which is 95% of his business (hotel). It's a freaking nightmare trying to balance out what the daily report says the deposits are, what the credit card says the deposits are and what the bank says the deposits because the merchants deducted their fees at the time of sale. What should take me an hour, takes me three hours and then I have to listen to the client whine about his bill.

I'm not trying to be a buzz kill, far from it. I went through something similar...six months after I started making soap I ended up with a table at a craft fair. I did fairly well considering I had no business selling yet. To start with, I had a huge variety of soap to sell, but no 'stock' soap on which to build a reputation. I had no real 'branding'...I had plain white labels with black and white stock printing (not professional at all). My business cards were pretty, but did not represent my company. My soap were different sizes and weights (I hadn't yet modified my cheese cutter). I did have cute shopping bags...it was the one thing I had carefully thought about ahead of time. And I didn't have a way to take debit/credit cards; not a huge deal for a local craft fair...a lot of customers expect to pay cash, but I might have been able to increase sales. And I didn't have a functioning website. Bottom line...my ducks were all over the place.

So I went back to my 5-year Business Plan and kind of started over by giving myself a year before I started selling soap. Of course, Covid-19 had other plans...we ended up closing our office, laid off everyone but the boss and I and started working 50-60 hour weeks. Great for my paycheck, not so great for starting a business. It's the 20th of September and I'm not even halfway to where I had planned to be (making Christmas soap). Too tired and too stressed to make soap, it took me until June to find "my soap". It was August before I found my "brand" and while I absolutely love my business cards, the company and I have a different idea of what a "sheet" of labels is. My garage did not get cleaned so no additional racks for curing and storing inventory. No website either. I do have a wholesale customer...a happy accident that had me scrambling because again...not ready.

Don't be forced into rushing. Crawling might be slower, but you'll get there faster than if you have to take two steps back for every step forward because you're not ready.
 

Catscankim

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Yeah, a buzz kill lol, but also a reality check, so I completely appreciate everything you said.

I went to the pool room last night because it is my regular league night. Everybody was buzzing about the soaps they got the night before and somebody (very good friends of mine for 13 years...husband and wife) started asking about my soap. At this point I really was rethinking the selling part at this time. But I let her smell a couple and she wanted to buy them. Ugghhh dilemma lol. I should have just told her that I didn't have any with me. I couldn't just give them to her because ppl that I SOLD to the night before were all standing there raving about the soaps. So I sold them. Don't get me wrong, I felt like this forum was standing in the pool room right next to me judging me on selling the soap LOL.

I went to the smoke shop to get smokes. I originally sold them two...personally to the ppl that work there, but I left the shop with a bunch, just to have and give me an opinion on whether or not they wanted to sell them in the future (so yeah, my soap on a shelf next to bongs would have been the plan lol). I was going to tell them yesterday to just keep the soap and in the future we will discuss the sales part with the labeling etc. The guy at the counter asked if I would consider $7 instead of $8, I said yeah, but.... Then he said good, cause I sold them for $7 and handed me a wad of cash. I mean....I wasn't going to say no to the money LOL. But I did leave telling them that I might not be ready with all the legalities, and we will discuss later.

But wait...there's more!! One girl on Saturday (who me and her do NOT have a nice history together), bought a bar and paid me via Square. Last night she approaches me and tells me that she "cut the crap out of her arm on the soap". I did not even bring any soap with me that had any scrubby in them because I had not used them myself yet. WHO CUTS THEMSELVES ON SOAP?? It was just regular soap...beveled on the edges even. A lot of curse words flew back and forth....couple threats of actual physical damage. I got my head together and I handed her $8 and told her to throw the soap away. Her husband steps in and says that she did not cut herself on the soap and said that she actually loved it and he tried to hand me back the money, which I didn't take.

So I woke up this morning and read @TheGecko post, and I panicked, given last nights drama over the apparent sharp soap LOL. By the way, she didn't have any "cuts" on her arm. But it did prompt me to look up insurance, which I decided is not an investment that I wanted to make right now. I have a couple quotes sitting in my inbox, but I don't think I am ready for that monthly bill. Plus one of them wanted way more info than I was prepared to give them. And I need an ein. I scoured Marie Gales website and I don't think there is TOO much I need to do to get me on track, but I still don't have all my ducks in a row.

So thank you Gecko, and Jenny :mad: for my reality check lol.

Edit: the :mad: is mean soley for Jenny, not Gecko...wanted to make sure that was clear
 
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shunt2011

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You really should heed Gecko's words. You've not been making soap long enough, you have not idea how your soap will in the long run. And you absolutely need to be insured. People hate hearing the truth, but it's the truth. You are putting yourself at risk.
 

cmzaha

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I also totally agree with Gecko and Shunt, you do not at this point even know a good from a not so good soap. It takes time to have enough knowledge of your product to be ready to sell. This is just not a make it and go sell it type product and doing so can cost you many potential customers. Most will not tell you they do not like your soap they simply do not repurchase your soap, which also results in hurting other soap sellers in the long run by giving handmade soap a bad reputation. Many new soapmakers come and go with few remaining for years in this hard market. Us long time sellers put in our time and hard work to get where we are today and believe me it was NOT overnight satisfaction, more like a few years.
 

Catscankim

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Definitely heeding Gecko's warning, and shunts, and cmzaha. I'm not going to sell right now. I learned my lesson on a few levels there. I got caught up in the moment and accepted money for them.

But... not trying to be argumentative on any point, I have only used homemade soap for about 25 years. Formerly Kathy Miller back in the 90's. Then mostly fairs and shows. Not to mention that my grandmother made homemade soap out of bacon fat that I used as a kid. I do not know or remember the quality of the soap, but that is part of how I grew up. Old Polish woman with a big coffee can of bacon grease at her stoves all the time (stoves, she had two kitchens). I gave making soap a go back in 2007, minus the bacon fat lol (I remember exactly when because that was the year I moved to FL), and made a bunch that only me and a friend and her husband used. My turnoff back then was waiting so long to be able to use it. I had a book, but now I have you guys as a resource, which I appreciate and am taking your advice.

Another friend of mine makes homemade soap for her family. I went over for one of her soaping sessions to learn from her, but she did crazy stuff like make lye out of wood ash and collected rainwater. I left it at that with her because that was waaay more complicated than I wanted to get (plus in my county it is actually illegal to collect rainwater LOL). The last four years I have been selling handcrafted soap for a company. A name brand/store bought soap has not touched my skin literally in 25 years, well except liquid hand soap in bathrooms and work.

I got greedy and accepted the money (twice). And almost got into a physical fight with Jenny :mad:. That was a personal issue lol. But I know it was all good soap. I only brought my best/nicest feeling and prettiest bars that have been curing for at least two months. I am not saying I was right for selling. But I do know what soap should be with a little bit of experience in using and selling (for the company) homemade soap.

I SELL, it's in my blood LOL. I have sold for Avon, Pampered Chef, etc. It was a prospect, I took it, ran with it, and literally felt like you guys were watching me in disappointment. I am not trying to disrespect the soaping community, that's why I felt so bad. One person, then two, then the smoke shop were all handing me money. So I promise not to do it again until you all say I can LOL.

Anybody want me to sell your soap for you? LOL. I am good at it LOL.
 

TheGecko

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Again, totally get where you are coming from (hey craft fair and her name of Glenda). Mind you, I'm never sold soap to Glenda and I never would, but after six years of abuse from her in Junior and Senior high, I ran into her in my early thirties on what turned out to be a bad night...for her.

I used to sell Tupperware and was really good at. I'd go into new neighborhoods with a box of my best goodies and small catalogs and after giving them a goodies, I would absolutely insist that I did NOT want them to book a party...just give me a call whenever they wanted to order something, no matter how small. I would then take all the odd orders and create a 'party' out of it and reap the hostess gift for myself. I was also sneaky at parties...I'd put red Kool-Aid in pictures and then accidently knock it off the table. And I would bring toys...and let the kids play with them. hehehe

And the insurance...you don't need to be making large monthly payments. Check out Insurance Information
 

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