When Your Best-Selling Items Aren't Soap...

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Cellador

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Hi all!

I know I haven't been around much lately, but things have been crazy since I started my business. Here's what I'm finding: my soap doesn't sell. I have a bunch of other products that I make and sell, and all of them seem to be more popular than my soap. Business is business, so I'm running with it.
But, I enjoy making soap- I like the creative aspect of it. Anyone else run into the same thing? Is there a way to get more soap out the door (reduce price, bundle with other products, etc)? Or, should I just scale down my soap for personal use?
 

Misschief

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I'm noticing a similar thing. My soap does sell but since I introduced other bath products (bubble scoops and shower steamers especially), they're selling more than my soap is. At my last market, I was asking people to sample a moisturizing cream that I make and I sold more of the cream than I did soap and I'm starting to wonder, too, if I should branch out further into the Bath & Body items and cut back on the soap. However, I did have several people come to my table telling me that they had been waiting for the market so they could get more of my soap. So, that's telling me that people are liking my soap but it isn't the only thing they're looking for. And that tells me not to stop making soap. I'm considering soap to be my anchor at this point and it will still take up most of my table real estate. While soap is my bread, the other products are the butter and I'll keep making them.

I am trying out something a little different this year, though. I've put together a couple of gift sets, a Bath Lovers and a Shower Lovers. I'm hoping those will be popular around Mother's Day. If they sell well, I may do more of those as they have a higher price point.
 

TheGecko

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Hi all!

I know I haven't been around much lately, but things have been crazy since I started my business. Here's what I'm finding: my soap doesn't sell. I have a bunch of other products that I make and sell, and all of them seem to be more popular than my soap. Business is business, so I'm running with it.
But, I enjoy making soap- I like the creative aspect of it. Anyone else run into the same thing? Is there a way to get more soap out the door (reduce price, bundle with other products, etc)? Or, should I just scale down my soap for personal use?
I have maybe a dozen ‘stock‘ soaps, the rest are 2lb batches (10 bars)...never know what I will make, so they tend to sell a little better.
 

Cellador

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My best selling items, so far, is room spray (which I make with a bought base). I honestly just thought it might be a way to use up some extra FOs, but man, these are selling like crazy! My other item is a Foaming Bath Butter product. But, I do make that from scratch & have modified the recipe to include some skin- loving extras that kind of set it apart from other FBB products.
I guess I will keep the soap but maybe make less & focus on my other products too.
 

Misschief

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It's funny, isn't it? We simply can't predict what will sell. I make a Foaming Bath Butter and I have one customer for it..... one. And she doesn't attend the market; she buys it directly from me, two tubs at a time. I cannot get anyone at the market to even try it!

I have maybe a dozen ‘stock‘ soaps, the rest are 2lb batches (10 bars)...never know what I will make, so they tend to sell a little better.
I used to make huge batches of soap, but I ended up sitting on a lot of them. What I have been experiencing success with is smaller, more artistic batches of limited edition scents. It creates a FOMO effect.
I started doing this last year. I have a couple of larger molds and I use those to make my "stock" soaps. Generally, I'll make one batch per season of those soaps (18 bars each). My other soaps are the "fancy" ones and may never be repeated.
 

Nanette

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I have noticed a similar trend....folks are as interested in everything else as they are soap...
 

atiz

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I feel like maybe the kind of venue would also have an effect on what people are interested in?

I found it almost crazy that the arts & crafts market in town (which is basically the winter version of our summer farmer's market) has 4 soap makers. The whole market is tiny, it's located in a basketball court. And 4 soap makers, 2 of them making only goatmilk soap, the other 2 some other bath products as well. I was really surprised, but they keep being there, so I assume they are making at least some profit on it.
 

TheGecko

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It's funny, isn't it? We simply can't predict what will sell. I make a Foaming Bath Butter and I have one customer for it..... one. And she doesn't attend the market; she buys it directly from me, two tubs at a time. I cannot get anyone at the market to even try it.
Bath Salts...I can't give them away.
 

Misschief

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I feel like maybe the kind of venue would also have an effect on what people are interested in?

I found it almost crazy that the arts & crafts market in town (which is basically the winter version of our summer farmer's market) has 4 soap makers. The whole market is tiny, it's located in a basketball court. And 4 soap makers, 2 of them making only goatmilk soap, the other 2 some other bath products as well. I was really surprised, but they keep being there, so I assume they are making at least some profit on it.
I feel very lucky with my market; I was told almost from the first that I would be their primary soap maker. There have been bath bomb vendors and a M&P maker but no other CP soap makers. This market has an average of about 40 vendors. There are usually 5 or 6 jewelry makers, though. Now, that is a tough business.
 

cmzaha

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Craft Fairs and Farmer Markets are tough markets. I have cut back to the point of 1 weekly where my crochet hats are my biggest seller so that is what I focus on there, although all my soaps and lotions go with me. My once a month Art Walk venue is where I sell rubber duckies, soaps, and lotions and very few hats, then I have a twice-yearly large craft venue where a few hats sell but I sell large amounts of soaps and lotions. Making money is the name of the game when it comes to vending so you take what sells in your markets. I do not take much else by way of B&B products other than deodorants because they just no longer sell. I can hardly give away scrubs, there are too many DIY sites now that are hurting our sales of these products. Lip balms will sell but I hate making them, for so little profit.
 

soapmaker

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I made the mistake of buying a whole 16 oz. of F.O.s that people on here recommended highly and for me they don't sell. For one cmzaha's Dragon Blood. Another, Cracklin' Birch. Perhaps it's the colours I chose instead of the scent, who knows? I was so excited to get them and they fell flat.
 

dibbles

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@soapmaker FWIW I don’t care much for Cracklin Birch either, even though it is among a lot of people’s favorites. It does stick well, though, and I found I liked it better after it had cured 6-8 months.
 

cmzaha

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I made the mistake of buying a whole 16 oz. of F.O.s that people on here recommended highly and for me they don't sell. For one cmzaha's Dragon Blood. Another, Cracklin' Birch. Perhaps it's the colours I chose instead of the scent, who knows? I was so excited to get them and they fell flat.
Are you from Ontario, Canada or California? I do not remember shipping my DB to Canada? Cracklin' Birch does not sell well for me either. Unfortunately, I am sure most of us have purchased fo's that do not sell well for us that others have mentioned. Try mixing DB with Peppermint. I really do not remember you purchasing my DB.
 
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Lin19687

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Cracklin Birch is a crazy seller for me, but then again if it didn't I LOVE IT anyway. DB doesn't sell either for me but then again it sold well 2 years ago.
Change the name and see if it sells better. I have had luck with that in the past. But then again I change ALL the names of the FO's I buy as many have blends in there anyway.
Sometimes it depends on where you are located. Here in NE, Woods scents sell, funny Rose does not though.
Plus you have to know that you get different people each year too.
Lipbalms sell ok but I don't have flavors. All other stuff will not sell as places like WallyWorld sell BB for $1 so why bother.
 

amd

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my soap doesn't sell. I have a bunch of other products that I make and sell, and all of them seem to be more popular than my soap. Business is business, so I'm running with it.
But, I enjoy making soap- I like the creative aspect of it. Anyone else run into the same thing? Is there a way to get more soap out the door (reduce price, bundle with other products, etc)? Or, should I just scale down my soap for personal use?
Sometimes it takes patience and finding the right markets to sell. If I had quit selling based on my first two or three shows, I would be missing out on the business I have now. I started with soap and soap only, so I expanded into lip balms and bubble scoops/bars, and still slowly growing into my bath products (and I'm creeping up on 5 years in business). I do like having both types of products because people who won't try my soap will usually try (and come back for) sugar scrubs or lip balms. I do quite a bit of custom orders on soaps as well. I would not reduce your price if it is a fair market price. I haven't had success with bundling or gift baskets. I am working on scaling down how much soap I have - I currently have 4 lines of soap: CM, OMH, Yogurt & Honey, and Aloe, and my original plan was 6-8 scents of each, plus my specialty lineup (castile, pine tar and a scrubby rebatch soap) which is just too many honestly. I'm scaling back to 3 scents in the scented soaps, which should give me a well rounded line to hit all of the scent groups at least. That's probably the first thing I would look at, are your fragrances only hitting one group of scents or is it well rounded?

What I have been experiencing success with is smaller, more artistic batches of limited edition scents. It creates a FOMO effect.
I have less success with these types of soaps, and if my customers can't find the same soap again they tend not to come back. That said, I did put myself in to be juried for a big arts festival this year, so the soaps I make for that will need to be more artistic or unique than the average bar of soap - but that is what folks at that festival are looking for - uniqueness. @Cellador I think you need to find out why customers are not buying soap. What are they looking for? Or... gosh, do the people who buy bar soap even know you exist? The last 6 months have been really eye opening for me as to the number of people who don't know I exist, and now that they do know how much business I get from them.

I guess I will keep the soap but maybe make less & focus on my other products too.
Balance is a good thing :D I'm still figuring this one out myself. I think I finally have a good handle on my markets and what sells so I can go properly prepared. I have one in April that is the same venue and organizer as one I did in September. Shampoo bars and scrubs sold well there, so I'll have to be stocked well in those.

Lip balms will sell but I hate making them, for so little profit.
I have roughly 10x cost in my lip balms and they always sell, so I have no problems making those. Especially now that I "discovered" (ha! hit myself over the head for not thinking of it sooner) a way to MB my lip balm base. Last time I made balms I did six flavors, made labels, printed labels, labeled and shrink wrapped in the time that it used to take me to make one batch all the way through.

For one cmzaha's Dragon Blood. Another, Cracklin' Birch. Perhaps it's the colours I chose instead of the scent, who knows? I was so excited to get them and they fell flat.
Unfortunately, I am sure most of us have purchased fo's that do not sell well for us that others have mentioned.
DB doesn't sell either for me but then again it sold well 2 years ago.
Carolyn's DB I can't keep in stock. I just made a batch of CB, so I'll see how it does. Sometimes I think it depends on the area. I've been told NG's Werewolf is a good seller, but I can't give that one away. Oddly I put it in a brewery soap and they sold out like crazy - but I think that was because of the following that particular beer has rather than the scent itself. Color very rarely has anything to do with my sales. It's mostly scent, and for regular customers it's which line sometimes - there's a few who will buy anything as long as it's a CM soap. I've also had fragrances that seemed to only be a trend. Three years ago I couldn't keep Wild Peach Poppy (BBW dupe) in stock, the last batch took me 16 months to sell 18 bars. Watch trends and pay attention to when they go out.

All other stuff will not sell as places like WallyWorld sell BB for $1 so why bother.
I get asked all the time to make bath bombs (I won't), and with being able to buy a huge bag at WM for less than $10 it will never be worth it for me to make them. I've also clearanced out my bubble bars/scoops for the very last time. I'm done making them, you can quite honestly buy just as good of quality at the stores for much less than I can make them. So decide where to invest your money - for me the sugar scrubs I make are way better than the store, so customers don't have a problem buying them. Same for my soap and lip balm. As long as it's unique - which in my area includes shampoo bars - people don't mind paying for it.
 

soapmaker

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Are you from Ontario, Canada or California? I do not remember shipping my DB to Canada? Cracklin' Birch does not sell well for me either. Unfortunately, I am sure most of us have purchased fo's that do not sell well for us that others have mentioned. Try mixing DB with Peppermint. I really do not remember you purchasing my DB.
Yes I'm from Ontario but had your DB sent to a NY address that I visit so picked it up from there. I have heard of combining DB with CB but still have so much of each one I haven't done it. Peppermint sounds nice. Mint often sells good here both plain and mixed with other scents.

Sorry, Ontario, Canada
 

cmzaha

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Yes I'm from Ontario but had your DB sent to a NY address that I visit so picked it up from there. I have heard of combining DB with CB but still have so much of each one I haven't done it. Peppermint sounds nice. Mint often sells good here both plain and mixed with other scents.

Sorry, Ontario, Canada
Okay, I thought your screen name look familiar but knew I never sent it to Canada. I might know of someone in Canada that may want it. My customer base for DB is 90% men, with the other 10% being women. I feel bad it did not work out for you. Another popular mix for me, that another forum member told me about is Nag Champa with DB 50/50. But again it is a man's choice most of the time.
 

soapmaker

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Okay, I thought your screen name look familiar but knew I never sent it to Canada. I might know of someone in Canada that may want it. My customer base for DB is 90% men, with the other 10% being women. I feel bad it did not work out for you. Another popular mix for me, that another forum member told me about is Nag Champa with DB 50/50. But again it is a man's choice most of the time.
When people smell DB they say it smells like Nag Champa. Don't feel bad, not your fault at all.
 

cmzaha

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The best Nag I have found is from WSP and the Nag our forum member uses that mentioned the mix to me uses my DB and WSP Nag. They really do not smell the same. I have straight Nag Champa bars and DB bars at my booth and no one has ever mentioned they smell the same, so that is interesting, but might be the brand of Nag they are smelling.
 
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