Wholesale time was CRAZY man!
Between shows, private parties, traveling to and throe to manage those events, manufacturing and packaging of Bittersweet Soap, not to mention marketing and simple day to day tasks required to operate a small business. WHEW! I hired sales representatives to sell Bittersweet so that I could stay home and wrap soap! Well, all that other business stuff too. Wholesale orders were flying in and out the front door. I even had my sales reps helping me wrap soap! They were gracious to help. They were also smart. They knew the more soap I sold, the more money in their pockets.
I needed to slow down. This fast pace production, suction was not enjoyable.
So I decided to turn back some pages... I retired the sales representatives, contacted my wholesale customers and informed them Bittersweet would no longer offer their handmade products wholesale.
Having said that, done that, I would not have been able to do this if not for the Internet.
The Internet was kicking in full speed ahead. Dial up was tossed aside kind of like 8 tracks and cassettes and fast speed quickly took their place.
I was witnessing a new business opportunity that was just as shiny and bright as my new company.
After hours and hours on the computer learning the ropes I built a store front on the web.
At last, Bittersweet began offering their artisan soaps on the Internet.
It was slow at first, but it soon picked up. I began learning different computer tech tricks like the importance of key words, meta tags, etc. All this helped more folks discover Bittersweet handmade.
It wasn't long after Bittersweet launched their web site that oodles of other folks began making soap. Did I say oodles? I meant to say OODLES! Tons of them as far as the eye can see. Bittersweet Soap Company was no longer the only soap maker this side of the Missouri.
It was obvious to me that even though I had a superior product it would be a hard sale to obtain new customers with all this competition. It seemed to me that everyone was marketing their handmade soap the same. Same testimonials, slogans, repeat, repeat. I saw a familiar pattern.
Then a thought...
I'll open a shop! I won't just make soap!
Bittersweet Boutique was open for business. I describe the new shop as a "fragrance boutique." Kind of a trendy description, but not too much, I thought.
Inside on the shelves handmade soaps of many colors. Chemical Free skin care products and a variety of artisan creations, over 100 one of a kind items. Crocheted hats, baby bibs, calico aprons, little boxes, lavender laundry soaps.
In addition to managing and manufacturing, keeping the shelves stocked, listing new merchandise so not to get stale, I also maintained the new web shop. WHEW!
My life became amazingly non-stop shop. No time to stop and smell the flowers. No time for anything other than shop life period. Not good. Not happy.
You know what I say to that...
If you're not happy, change it!
I had an idea. Knowing how passionate I was about handmade a few thoughts entered my mind.
One of those thoughts stood out.
Why don't you move your shop into your home!
Must check the city ordinance. I want to be in compliance. Did I tell you that I used to work for the city? I was pretty familiar with the ordinances. The city was keeping up with the times of home based business. Modifications had been added to the ordinance book in lieu of the numerous home based businesses that were popping up.
Let's see what year was it when I opened a shop in my home? That was 2007.
Five years later and I'm as happy as a toad with the way it worked out! Maybe happier than a toad. How about happy as a pie.
Not to say, there have been struggles along the way. That's normal for any business.
The down economy has changed the way we/I market our products. We/I, used to study, evaluate what works, what doesn't every 6 months to a year.. Now with the down economy it's changed to once a week!
Folks ask me if social media has helped my business.
It certainly has. Social media has had a positive impact on small business.
If you own a small business I would highly recommend a social media presence.
Over the years things have changed however one thing remains the same.
Trust in what you do. Always allow positive thoughts to top the negative ones. If something doesn't work, change it and find out what does. I know this advise sounds cliche and seems easier said then done, but it's true. If you focus on success, you will be successful. These feelings come from within and work their way out to fill you up.
No matter how far you go, don't forget where you started. Don't sweat the small stuff. Most of it is small if you're looking at the big picture, (your life.)
I know that I'm blessed to make a living by creating. Those blessings are never taken for granted. I have worked hard to get where I'm and the hard work continues. My family has always encouraged me and stood behind my endeavors. Without them, Bittersweet would not exist. They're the rock. The foundation in which Bittersweet was built upon. Stay true to yourself. Always.
Enjoy caring and sharing days.