As I perused Facebook this evening, Marla Bosworth’s article from our current issue (Nov./Dec. 13) rang in my ears. Yes, I was spending too much time there and I hadn’t accomplished all of my day’s goals. What about you? Did you find her piece to be eye-opening and a good reminder? Granted, Facebook is a wonderful medium and a great business tool for many of us, but too much of anything loses its wonderfulness (is that a word?) and simply becomes a distraction and a time-gobbler. Of course, Facebook isn’t alone, but it is the most widely used form of social media. So, how do you apportion your time? Share with us your tips for making best use of Facebook without getting lost in it.
Off the Facebook soapbox and on to the holidays. Did you not love Suzanne Finley’s poem, ”A Poem of Holiday Favorites?” I was amused and delighted. Any of us making product for sale or for gifts this time of year are sure to relate.
I hope you enjoyed the Castile soap article written by our newest columnist, Marina Tadiello. Castile’s place in history is as fascinating as is this one-oil soap, itself! I loved gazing at the photos supplied by Castile soapmakers. Do you like Castile soap? Do you make it?
Where would we be without the clever and knowledgeable Kevin Dunn, who educated us in a most fascinating way in his article, “Phun With Ph?” I’m wishing that my junior and senior high school teachers had been as fun (or phun) as Kevin is.
Deb Sturdevant’s sharing her life and memories of her favorite herbs was a respite from my day and a reminder to count my favorite herbal memories and where they have taken me over the years. Karen Mallinger’s monographs on bayberry and cloves were a fascinating read for anyone who enjoys herbs and would like to learn more. I really wanted to find bayberries and extract the wax. Perhaps someday, I will. For now though, I have lots of cloves to experiment with. What are your favorite herbs and why?
Of course, everyone’s favorite November/December issue article, “Raves for Faves” was eagerly anticipated. I love finding out what everyone else is doing, and apparently, so do you. How do you stack up among your fellow artisans?
I must mention that I always enjoy the writings of Melinda Coss, esoteric ramblings or not. Although she knows more than I ever will about soapmaking and the business thereof, she is so down-to-earth and easy to read that I look forward to seeing her name.
Looking for some new ideas for the holidays? Diane Pither-Patterson is your girl. Her article on creating candles by upcycling pieces you find was timely in that upcycling is a trend we shouldn’t ignore and during the holidays is a great time to introduce something like this.
What? You don’t subscribe, but you’re dying to read this issue? No problem. http://saponifier.com/current-issue/ will provide you with the information that you need. Join the family!
Please note the ads of our fantastic business partners and consider purchasing from them. They provide us with the best of everything.
Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax,
Beth Byrne for the Saponifier
Our personalities vary greatly from one of us to the other, and they extend themselves to our soap, body products and candles. Even so, it seems to me that we are one of two types: Producers or Processors.
Producers get their enjoyment out of producing their product. They do not feel the need to try each ingredient under the sun, nor every product that can be made. They find a formula and stick with it. If it’s good, it’s good enough. Their satisfaction comes in getting that large order out the door, and they don’t mind doing it over and over again.
Processors, on the other hand, get their joy and satisfaction from the R&D (research and development) part of the experience. They are constantly tweaking formulas and trying new things. If they hear about a new product, they want to try it, and only money and lack of space keep them from buying everything they see. They live for the experience of creating.
It’s not hard to see then, what challenges face each type of artisan. The Producer finds it easier to narrow down products and scents to a manageable number and disciplines herself to stick with the plan. The daily production tasks are an agreeable challenge that she takes great joy in. Nevertheless, the Producer may rush into manufacturing a product without thoroughly testing how it performs or knowing whether it is a product her customers will prefer.
Conversely, the Processor may take a long time to get a product to market or standardizing his formula, but once he does, it will be a fantastic, well thought-out product. The Processor is also likely to find time constraints a challenge, and he may get bored of producing the same products over and over until the entire business becomes more of a grind and less of a joy.
Does this mean that one or the other is not suited for business? Not at all. Where this insight helps us is in learning to cope with our shortcomings and in capitalizing on our strengths.
If you are a Producer, realize that you will get things done, but may need to force yourself to curb your enthusiasm to finish and sit down and analyze your formulas, encourage your own creativity and make a plan to test out products.
If you are a Processor, be sure to plan your schedule and business goals with checkpoints so that you don’t get lost in your work. Give yourself some leeway for creating something different so that you don’t become bored. Even varying your production schedule may help keep you satisfied.
If you get help, choose someone who has skills and a temperament contrary to yours. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it will keep you on your toes. How much help you need depends upon each person and the situation; however, being honest with yourself about our needs will lead to greater success and satisfaction.
Can you identify yourself in these descriptions? How do you cope and use your personality to best advantage?
Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.
Beth Byrne for the Saponifier
Hanukkah is over and Christmas is almost here! By now, if you celebrate, you’re probably checking your lists and making last-minute purchases or creations, decorating your home or attending the season’s festivities. In all your doing, don’t forget something very important to your business. You may be thinking, “I know. I need to get my tax receipts ready,” or, ”I need to notify my customers that I am taking a vacation,” or even, “I just have a few orders to fill.” They’re all important, for sure, but not what I’m talking about today.
The most important activity you will undertake for your business is a review of 2012 and planning for 2013. Start with reviewing your business plan. Does it need revision, or do you simply need to review it so as not to lose sight of your goals? Next, take a look at your activities for this past year. What worked and what didn’t? What propelled you toward your goals and what made you stray? Did you find that you fulfilled your plans or did you fail to make them?
If, for instance, you find that the small craft shows you did were a financial loss, ask yourself why. It may be that this is not the venue for you or that your customers are not there–at least not at the ones you were at. It may be that your booth needs an overhaul or that you need to work on your sales skills.
Perhaps you’ve been wanting to secure wholesale accounts, but have been afraid to take that step. Now is the time to research the subject so that when you approach a business owner, you will do it with the knowledge and confidence of a seasoned professional, thus providing an attractive product that makes it hard to refuse.
You may want to get serious about business by developing a website, a Facebook presence and joining a professional organization. You’ll need to research, plan and work, which will take time and resources, so good planning is critical.
Have you missed the boat once again on holiday products because you didn’t start them early enough? This is where planning comes in! Think about how much time you’ll need to get a product ready to roll out and write in on a calender.
Of course, planning is essential even to hobby soapers/chandlers. Doing so will increase your productivity and decrease your last-minute stress, and who doesn’t value that?
Don’t be afraid to ask for opinions and advice, but be careful whom you ask. The help of professionals such as accountants and lawyers will be invaluable, as will your customers’ and even others in your field or other small business owners. Be careful of naysayers, however, who will dissuade you without having the basis to do so or those who haven’t the background to advise you in crucial matters. Gather up your research, opinions and advice and make your informed decisions.
Seriously considering all of these factors will serve you well as you embark on the new year. Granted, it’s actually a little late if you haven’t begun already, but better a little late than not at all!
What does 2013 look like to you?
Wishing happy holidays to all,
Beth Byrne for the Saponifier
Have you been reading the new issue of the Saponifier?
I’m sure you’ll agree that our writers have outdone themselves this issue, especially if you own a business.
Niche? Target audience? What do these terms mean to you and your business success? Read Marla Bosworth’s, Identifying Your Niche and Target Audience,” to find out! If you don’t have one, you need to get one. Marla warns us that instead of trying to be everything to everyone, we need to find a niche market to concentrate on. But don’t forget to peruse the article, or you’ll miss out on some very helpful information.
If you want to keep it local, read Cindy Noble’s informative article, Backyard Marketing. Find out how to put together a business prospectus, how to find the right demographics for your product, and how to get ready to market your business. Additionally, get ideas on where and how to find good advertising sources so that your market can find you. Cindy tells us that although the focus these days is on globalization and international markets, we can still find a foundation at home.
Did you attend the HSMG Conference in May? If you did, read Beth Byrne’s review, Miami Bubbles with Soapmakers, to relive the excitement and energy. If you didn’t attend, read it anyway to see what you missed! Read who came to speak, who came to learn, vendor-sponsors who support us, and much more. You might even find yourself in a photo!