I’ve been vending at craft shows, farmer’s markets, and fairs for almost six months now. Those of you who’ve been following this blog know how far I’ve come, but let’s take a moment to reflect. In the beginning:
- I sold only 5 types of soap, and only soap.
- I was using a heavy, metal banquet table, borrowed from my Mom (THANKS MOM).
- I had no clue how to display my items. I just sort of set them on the table and hoped for the best.
- I guessed at what a reasonable price would be, without considering all of my material costs, transportation, market fees, or labor.
- My labels contained only the most basic information about ingredients, and not always in the proper order.
- I tried to please everyone.
- I went crazy shopping online for essential oils, without any clue what I would use them all for. I just wanted to smell them!
- I put most of the initial costs on my personal credit card (super No No).
- My products used conventional oils and some synthetic fragrance oils.
I did a lot of things wrong, in hindsight. SIGH! Still, I did the best I could and, for the most part, realized very quickly when something was not working. Let’s see how I’m doing now:
- I currently have 8 types of soap on the market, with several more in the testing phase.
- I have introduced 3 types of shampoo, with plans to introduce at least two more.
- I have introduced 8 types of lotion and have begun to transform those lotions into lip balms.
- I have introduced 5 types of sea salt scrubs and hope to expand into Bath Salts soon.
- I’ve got beautiful, light-weight bi-fold tables, two canopy tents, and plenty of pretty displays for the tables.
- I receive compliments on my table displays constantly, including one from the leader of an art conservatory who used my display as an example of “doing it right!”
- I’ve begun tracking (some might say hyper-tracking) my costs, sales, and prices, down to the most minute detail.
- My labels fit FDA guidelines and best-practices for soap-makers. Hooray!
- I’ve started to finally dip into my fabulous stash of essential oils and have begun thinking of fun new combinations, just in time for the holidays.
- I set up my DBA, business banking and credit accounts, and got all my insurance and licensing.
- I only use organic oils and essential oils (with one exception) in the products.
Hooray progress! All in all, I think I am finally getting into the swing of this business. I’ve got my production system in place (barring natural disasters, ahem!) and I can really focus on the little things now. There’s a million things I want to do with this business, but I know I need to take things in baby steps. With that in mind, here are my goals for the next six months:
- Take some gorgeous photographs of the products to put on Etsy and this site … sorry iPhone, you just don’t cut it anymore.
- Maximize my booth space by getting some nice vertical displays (shower caddies, anyone?)
- Create seasonal products, like gift baskets, in time for the holiday shopping season.
- Start making some bath textiles.
- Minimize spending and start to chip away at that start-up debt.
- Arrange to take the Basic Certification test through the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild (a formality, but one I’d like to do).
- Get my products into at least one retail location.
- Figure out this whole “twitter” thing.
- Have fun!
I’ve got some bold goals, I know. Here I go ……