Saturday, May 31, 2008

New Soap Packaging Idea

I'm going through packaging woes right now. I was wrapping my soaps in craft gift wrapping paper. I was also labeling them with business card stock (which was totally a fluke and not something I wanted to continue). I was alright with that setup until a few problems presented themselves.

1) The soap sweats heavily in the paper. Sweating in the realm of soap means that the glycerin in the soap is coming out. This makes an ugly and very sticky bar of soap. Visually unappealing. The ideal is that I don't wrap the soap at all until it's ready to be sold. However I lack the space for that, unless I do some major reworking of closet space.

2) I can't keep using business card stock as labels. I need them for making business cards, so I need to use labels for labels. A person can get very creative with address labels, and other types of labels as well.

3) The visual appeal of my other products are taking a life of their own. My lotions and now my scrubs have a certain look to them, and the craft-wrapped soap doesn't jive with it. Not really. Here's my lotion and scrub:
And here's the new soap packaging. It's wrapped in tulle (that netty looking material):

I think it goes along with the other products better than the old one here:

The tulle is growing on me because it looks more gift ready and the tag sits better I think. It might attract more people to buy it wrapped in tulle than paper, because I don't think too many people really payed any attention to the paper wrap. The white gift looking soap might be more eye-catching. If your products aren't eye-catching then you need to rethink how it's being presented.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Workspace

Here are some pics of my workspace. It's really just my kitchen island. It's a kitchen island, a soap cooking station, and a pic studio all in one.

Usually I have my microwave, coffeemaker, and toaster on there. When I want to take a pic, I just move that stuff over, raise the blinds a bit to let the sun in then take a pic. Yep so this is it. Nothin big and nothin special either.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The New Soapaccino!!

This is the soap that I was cooking in the pic below. It's fuzzy because it's pretty much in the dark. It really is quite beautiful in person. It looks like the chocolate marble cake but doesn't smell like it, and the color isn't as uniform either which is done purposely. I got too lazy to do real streaks and swirls so this was the result. What I was really supposed to do was take a bit out of the pot and color it uniformly. Then add it back the rest of the soap and fold it into the mixture to get a streaked/swirled effect. I did nothing of the sort. I just put a tad bit of real cocoa powder and "folded" it very lazy of me!!

Here's another pic although I can't promise that it is much better than the first.
It smells awesome too. My whole house smells like what I'm gonna call it......Venti Mocha Soapaccino w/ shot of Vanilla Hazelnut.......

Too long? I don't know and don't really care cuz that's the name. Ode to my other obsession ..Starbucks Frappaccino's.

My Big Ole New Crockpot Baby!!♥

I am so happy about my new large crockpot. There's nothing worse than a soaper being literally confined to a very small pot to cook soap in. But here's my new baby working hard. As you can see it is rather large. I wish I had pics of the smaller one. Maybe I'll upload those another time so you can compare and see what I'm talkin about.

Anyway, I was cooking some soap in it at the time and was actually able to allow it to self turn and everything without having to constantly stir it down so that it doesn't creep right out of the pot.
Here's my little working cooking soap for mama!

That's the soap in the middle of the self-turn process. I actually got this one for $10 at a resale shop. They had other vintage models but they were more expensive and smaller. So I got this one. I couldn't ask for a better slow cooker. I'm so happy.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I Figured out the Direction of My Business!!!!

So it hit me one night while I was drifting off to sleep. I want to take my soap business in a direction I haven't seen to often on Etsy. I have a couple of skills and was thinking on how I could incorporate them to add depth to my shop. Well, this is where Earthtones Home comes in at. Yep, make things that correspond nicely with soap. Naturally when you think of soap you think of showers and baths, in turn you think of the bathroom, then visualize a bathroom either your own or the one you want to have. How about I make things that go in the bathroom aside from soap?

I have already started crocheting washcloths. I am going to sew those and hand towels, and even large body towels too! I would even go so far as to expand into bedding particularly sheets and pillowcases. I think that would be a fantastic idea, as it brings into play things I already know how to do such as sew and crochet. Just thought I'd share the excitement.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Customer's Patronage and the Power Struggle

So who wins the power tug-of-war that goes on between a buyer and a seller? Recently I have noticed on Etsy the growing trend of the buyers in a way using their possible patronage to almost run the shop of sellers. What in my opinion started as a well-needed way of communication between buyer and seller turned into a threat of sorts.

It started when sellers, including myself, started asking buyers what turns them off and on about a shop. This was a response to slow sales, and I believe a desire to have better customer service, and improve the viability of a shop all around. It started friendly enough, with buyers simply stating what common mistakes sellers make, that leave a bad impression, or other things that work against the seller. This was very good, as I looked forward eagerly to see just what buyers wanted and expected out of a shop. Then I could decide which of these things works best for me, and I could implement them in such a way as to be consistent with the vibe and appeal of my own shop space.

It started to take a bit of turn as time went on, when some buyers began making statements beginning with the words "I won't buy from you if......" These words are now infamous among some sellers on Etsy. Indeed I, being the person I am , just had to speak out about that. So I made a thread about it. Nothing big. It got a few responses and that was that.

Now obviously, you and I know that not all the buyers were guilty. Most people on Etsy are quite nice and helpful. Most are reasonable and very level-headed individuals. What I think happened was that people just got a bit carried away. We can do that sometimes. We get started on what we don't like, and then we start nitpicking about ALL the stuff we don't like. The buyer critique (so to speak) went from "I don't like it when sellers don't ship internationally" to things like "If I don't see my country listed I won't buy", never mind that the option of EVERYWHERE ELSE is sitting right there. One of those is a legitimate gripe, and one is a nitpick.

Here's the tug of war part. Sellers, including myself to a certain degree, began these massive shop overhauls. I did an overhaul on shipping which I think may have been long overdue anyway. I thought it was legitimate to make the shopping experience easier for people. I have no problem with that and don't believe many sellers do. Where does it end though for the sellers? How much do you take into consideration the opinions of potential customers? Do you draw a line? Where is that line anyway (rhetorical question)? Do you allow it to change your whole perspective or even your own vision for your creations, to please the customer? Or do you just make what you make, run your shop how you run it, and let the ships fall where they may?

I was stressing it before, but now I'm letting those chips fall and I ain't even watchin where they fall. I take the advice/suggestion/opinion I think makes sense to me and I apply it when and if I can. I'm starting to just concentrate on my craft and let that be that.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Just wondering

Just wondering in what direction I should take my shop. I'm a little bummed about not having a sale in about a week or so. I am really thinking hard about all the things I need to do to get myself more exposure. I think one of my problems is that my shop isn't as full as it could be. I have to concentrate on creating more than obsessing over when I'm gonna get a sale or whatnot.

At any rate, stocking a full regimen of products has become a priority at this point. Someone said it in an Etsy forum, and it made sense. I wouldn't necessarily want to do a whole lot of shopping in a store that had half empty shelves.

Still trying to figure out this online business and the best way to conduct it. Pleased to be doing it though nonetheless. I figure as long as I offer a great product, and keep pluggin away at it, it'll work out like I hope it will.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Finally...A Friggin Lotion!!!

Finally I can stop worrying constantly and just plain freaking out about not having lotion or any other kind of moisturizer in my product line. It's very incomplete not to have at the very least a basic type of lotion to offer your customers, ya know? I couldn't really make a gift set without it. Now I have an awesome lotion base that is as close to natural as a water-based product can be. It's already thick and rich so I don't have to do much to it to get it just how I want it to be.

I'm so happy about it. I know my customers are gonna be relieved about it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Are You Defeated on Gas Yet?

Well, are you? What ever happened to voting with your dollar? The gas prices here in Chicago and across the US have climbed well over $4.00 per gallon now. When is this going to end? Why are we being choked out of all the money in our collective pockets? And the even more pertinent question is why are we doing nothing about it?

I have been trying to raise concerns over gas prices (mainly) and secondarily food prices around my friends and colleagues, but no one wants to do anything more than complain verbally. I have brought up repeatedly that perhaps we should do a small-scale but effective partial boycott of gas stations. That has been knocked down I can't tell you how many times. Everyone keeps telling me that won't work, but I'll tell you what will work. What will work is that when we continue to purchase this gas at the asking price of these large companies, we are telling them we are pleased with it, even when everyone knows we aren't. This is why the gas has steadily risen over a relatively short amount of time. We started out paying close to $3 and people started complaining but again did nothing. Then they raised it to $3.29, $3.59, $3.69, $3.99, and finally in some places regular unleaded is now $4.09. The thinking of these companies, and rightly so might I add, is that if the majority of consumers will pay x amount, then they won't mind paying only $.20 more. This is what our inactivity has taught them. We will complain verbally but when push comes to shove, we will ultimately do nothing. We're gonna go over to that pump and pay that money no matter what.

What I have proposed was a partial boycott. It is obvious these companies couldn't care less about what you or I have to say about these prices. As long as we pay without any retaliation they will continue to make excuses as to why the gas prices must rise yet again. I would say to boycott the gas stations at least twice a week. I understand that a full boycott is not only unreasonable, but unfeasible as well because many people really need their cars. However, no one goes to the gas station every single day except maybe a cab driver (and it's called a day off guys ). So one or two days out of a week shouldn't hurt the consumer, but it would hurt the companies over time. If you've been reading the news reports you will have noticed that companies such as Chevron and Exxon have posted extraordinary profits over the last quarter. Why do you think that is? If this government who is hand in hand with these big corporations were really raising gas prices to cover the cost of crude oil, how could they post such large profit margins over only a single quarter or so? I'll let you ponder that one yourself. If in a single region in the US conducted a boycott of only two days out of a week for a couple months I bet we'd see a change for the better!

Let's face it that the only thing that matters to these various entities is money. Not the lives they are sending towards a downward financial spiral because everything is going up. Not the strain and stress they are causing in the lives of your average citizen. Only money. Money talks and bullshit walks as the old saying goes. So let's do that then. Let our money talk. If an entire region or (lest I should dream too much) the whole nation boycotted two days a week (preferably stagger the days where one region boycotts on Tuesday and Thursday, another on Mondays and Wednesdays you get it) they would be forced to lower prices.

I urge all who read this not to shoot that idea down. Roll it around in your heads, because if no action is taken, you had best believe you'll be paying $5 or more at the pump by this summer or next year. Get together with the people in your communities and plan something, anything. Never let the government fool you into thinking that the collective people have no power. We do have power. This government is not some invincible monster that has no weakness. Money is its lifeblood. If we take it away it will be forced to change like any other business we don't like. It's the same thing. If there was a large chain of stores that people stopped shopping at for some reason, they will be forced to either change or go out of business. We should approach this gas issue the same way.