What Kind of Artisan Are You?

Before I get into the topic of this post, I’d like to express the thoughts, prayers and well wishes of everyone at the Saponifier for those affected by Hurricane Sandy.  Please know that we are supporting you as you recover from this devastating storm.


And now, for our blog.


We can usually group ourselves into a type of artisan, at least where our work habits are concerned.  Some of you plan far ahead, writing an annual plan. On January 1st, you begin following the plan you drew up the previous year.  You have each month and week carefully planned, with each day outlined.  Little room is given for spontaneity or procrastination.  Others of you fly by the seat of your pants, however, making what you feel like making when you feel like making it and selling what you’ve got or playing catch up throughout the season until December 25th.  You often spend long hours while the urge strikes to create and produce.


Most of you, I suspect, find yourselves somewhere on the continuum between the ultra-organized and disciplined and the disorganized free spirits.  You may plan out an annual calendar with monthly goals and then at the beginning of each week, choose what you can accomplish that week.  Others of you simply work on your goals throughout the month, getting done what you can.  Or you might just respond to your inventory, making more when it reaches a certain level so that you don’t run out of any particular item.


No matter how you look at it, planning ahead is a sure-fire method for avoiding panic and distress.  The more we plan, the more we are likely to accomplish.  What could possibly be wrong with an outlook like this?  Sometimes, the ultra-planner is unable to see far enough ahead to deal with the reality that life brings and doesn’t respond well to customer demand or other market conditions.  She has difficulty dealing with anything that disrupts her plan and may find herself discouraged about her inability to fulfill the goals she’s set.


Not all of us are built that way however, and some find their creativity is stunted by having to plan and to work by that plan.  Believe it or not, I have observed that the “seat of our pants” kind of approach is often nearly as successful as the plan written on January first and followed as close to the letter as possible.  These free spirits accomplish a great deal while in the mood and what they churn out is their best work.  The downside of that is the example of the pretty cold process Christmas soap that they have the inclination to make on December 10th.  The soap won’t be ready in time, and even with shortcuts, won’t get properly promoted for those crucial and time-sensitive holiday sales.


What’s an artisan to do?  It’s important to look at yourself and decide where you fit on the continuum and how it has affected you.  If you find that you’ve missed opportunities by being inflexible, plan for 2013 to leave yourself a little leeway.  Promise yourself that you will review your goals and readjust your priorities when it makes sense.  On the other hand, if you realize that you’re not accomplishing your goals and instead running after this and that, you know that a planning session is in your future, including a plan for further planning on a regular basis.


Where are you and what can you do to make your “artisan life” better?  We’d love to hear your views.


*Note:  watch your mailbox.  It’s just hours before your copy of the Nov./Dec. issues arrives!  It includes our favorites and the annual Raves for Faves Survey!


Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.


Beth Byrne for the Saponifier


What are Your Goals, Decisions and Challenges for 2012?

Whew!  The holidays have passed and we’ve survived to tell the tales.  Welcome 2012!


If you’re like most of us, you’ve made resolutions or set goals for the year, and we hope the Jan./Feb. issue of the Saponifier is helping, at least where soap or candlemaking is concerned!  We probably can’t help you  lose twenty pounds, but we can give you some guidance in your hobby or business ventures.


I found Brandy Kayzakian-Rowe’s article, Looking Good in the New Year–Spotlight on Product Photography, to be fascinating and very informative.  Her advice as to where to take photos, what kind of lighting to use and other hints, even her advice about hiring a photographer, will be taken to heart by any of us.


In addition, many of us are scrutinizing our products and the ingredients we use in 2012.  We want the best for our businesses and our customers.  We may also be concerned the economy and with sustainability.  Whatever our goals are, we continually hone in on our target markets and the customer base we serve.  All of these factors cause us to make decisions, some of them very hard to make.  Marla Bosworth’s, Resolving to go Palm-Free in 2012:  Will You Join Me?  was at the same time, thought-provoking and compelling.  Reading it side-by-side with Erika Pence’s, Going Natural, which was also well-written and compelling, will certainly challenge us all in deciding whether to use palm and its derivatives or not.  As with most issues, good points are being made for either side and further thought and research are in order.


What about you?  What kinds of decisions have you wrestled with for the coming year?


Yours in bubbles & wax,