Musings on Anniversary Eve

You may or may not know that April 1st, 2013 is what I consider to be Hemlock Springs Soaps birthday. I left my previous job on April 1, 2013, and I went into the office to collect my personal belongings and last check. I’d been making and selling soap at fairs and online since 1999, but this was a huge step to living out my dreams.

As a young professional, I devoured magazines that had sections devoted to these special women who left their glitzy corporate gigs to move to the country and turned flea market finds into big business, or raising honey bees and selling honey, or perfecting jam recipes from their great grandmothers into a great little business.

I wanted to be that woman. And never believed I could do it.

I’d bought into the rat race…flashy car, motorcycles, lots of money to spend on gardens, etc. and I thought I could NEVER afford myself.

Well, in 2013 I knew I’d never have the chance to do try it, and I haven’t looked back.

And for the most part, I have NOT looked back one second. On occasion I miss having a steady paycheck. I would LOVE to have air-conditioning throughout the house and barn and not have to endure the heat under the market tents.

If you’re actually reading this drivel, and you have dreams you’re afraid to take to the next step, just do it. I do recommend having some sort of business plan. I drained a retirement account to pay off a home equity loan and had some cash to invest in supplies and have as a tiny little back-up for bills, but just. do. it.  The stresses I have today are nowhere near the stress levels of yesterday, and charting one’s own course is the most rewarding aspect of success.

But I am so happy doing what I love. So stay tuned. April 2018 is my 5th Anniversary of making it, and I’ll be dropping some special offerings along the way to help celebrate. And thank  you to all who have trusted me to make soaps and skincare for you, your families, and friends. Here’s to April!

~ Karen

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Confessions of a Soapmaker (Business Edition)

So. I embrace all the hats of being a solo entrepreneur. Mostly.  Sort of.

What am I trying to say? Here goes the Confessions part of my blog. But focusing on aspects of business.

Parts of me adore making product. I hate the mess. I love packaging. Until I have 500+ soaps that need a sweet little wrapper , label and packing. I adore getting lost in numbers, but hate the time vortex I get caught up in doing accounting and paperwork. I love doing fairs and markets and festivals until I’m on the couch after a long day, too tired to do much more than drool and watch TV that has no value beyond primitive entertainment. If that.

Why do I sound whiny? Cuz. Every year at this time I have a desire to be better at keeping track of my inventory. I have a laptop and software. I have the desire. It’s marrying the two I struggle with. I fear I have to wipe out all the previous years’ information and wipe the slate clean, take a complete inventory, and try to carve out time to record purchases AND sales to have a much better handle on what is coming in and going out of my biz. Last year, you might have seen me do an inventory before and after shows to help me track it. Yeah, that lasted a whopping 2 months.

So here’s my confession: I need help! I want to be able to do it all, but I don’t have the time or energy as the business grows. And this is such a good thing to recognize. My challenge is bringing someone on board is terrifying to me! Truthfully,  I need a Girl Friday. Someone who knows what I need, has the determination to learn the software (I taught myself and fear I don’t know enough to teach someone the right way) and someone to organize the business end of things. That would allow me to do more of the development and selling of my products.

The scary part is…while I know this would help my biz grow, it’s hard to come up with the funds to pay someone to do this. Who else has been in this crazy catch-22? Do you know someone else who has been in this situation? How did they handle it? How do you choose the right person to be able to do this?

I’m determined to make this business as big and profitable as possible – someday my goal is to sell it (altho the thought of selling my baby is scary!) These are all signs of growing pains of a healthy business. If you have advice or resources to share, I’m open to suggestions!

Thanks for letting my pour my heart out and share what’s up behind the scenes.

~Karen