I didn't think I'd blog again, but I really do like writing. It's a good way to connect with my friends and customers (so many customers are my friends) so.... I'm going to blog when it strikes me. People have asked me a lot of questions and this is a chance to answer those. It's a chance to connect with folks who have gotten off of social media, and a way for me to let you know what's going on in the world of the soap lady. Not that you care, but maybe you care some, or like reading my writing, or fell in love with Bailey...and this is an outlet for us to connect.
Here are some answers to questions I've been asked over and over again... and then an update on life. If you don't like reading or receiving these, opt out of the email at the bottom. My feelings won't be hurt.
Why did I close? Simple- lack of sales. Soap making began as my hobby a couple decades ago, my mom made soap for as long as I can remember, so I grew up making soap. As a young adult friends and neighbors began buying soap from me...eventually it turned into a side job. For years I worked a real job and sold soap on the side. The point came where I had to choose one or the other, and I chose soap making.
It went great for years, until we moved several years ago. For whatever reason, my customers who did porch pick up and attended shows in my home didn't convert to ordering online. (We stayed in the same state but moved to a different city) I had a website and social media pages, trying to make it easy for people to order and have it arrive on their doorstep. But...they fell away leaving the business quite slow. The new town is quite difficult to tap into, we have no roots here, no base. For whatever reason, when we moved, my business stayed back home. After a few years of banging my head on the wall, trying everything I know to gain visibility in new surroundings, retain customers back home - having no luck at either, the writing was on the wall. A business can only take a loss for so long, I could no longer contribute to the household earnings with soap making. I knew it was time to close.
I knew for about a year before actually closing...I was hoping for an epic holiday season to float the rest of a slow year. Hoping for a miracle shoutout somewhere to bring major attention to Little Cabin Soaps. Praying for an amazingly busy shop to pick up the line. But that did not come.
Eventually sales didn't cover all the costs, even though I do not have a brick and mortar shop, I have operating costs (insurance, website, licenses, ingredient costs etc). As sales dwindled, my costs remained, and rose higher. Insurance is hundreds, website is hundreds, ingredients are more. To continue, I have to have lots of regular all year long sales. Holiday season sales are wonderful, but don't sustain the business for the rest of the year. I've pulled out all the tricks I know to gain viewers aka customers. I've lived on my phone trying social media. I've tried hashtags and approaching shops and sending samples and approaching breweries (I love making beer soap)...but nothing seemed to work. I don't know being approached by folks, I sure didn't enjoy being the approacher. But how else will they find out about me?
What's next? I have NO idea. I'll need to find something, it's been a process. I also shut down The Perfect Man Club. This has been a lot of shut down, loss and sadness. But I have no clue what is next in life. It will likely be an hourly job somewhere retail.
Secretly I hoped some big thing would happen, and get Little Cabin Soaps in the spotlight somehow. I don't know what that would be, but it never came. Yes I could continue to try and scrimp (is that a word?) by and pour money into it, rack up credit cards trying. But that's not a business, that's a loss.
I own the LLC permanently and have my business license for another year (I don't mind telling you everything). The website is paid until September. I don't know what kind of miracle could actually happen to re-open. Does Netflix want a special about a quirky soap maker? I doubt it. Does Dolly Parton or Snoop Dogg want to give me a shoutout? I doubt it. So I don't know "what" could happen to make the business take off enough to re-open. No brick and mortar location has magically plopped in my lap for zero cost. A few people have said "oh use a different business model" - I'd like to know, what exactly is that? Folks are quick to say oh don't stop, keep going, but they don't understand the costs of staying open. As for business models, I make and sell soap. I don't know another business model than make and sell.
Thus I go back to my humble beginnings. If you think you're going to perish without my soap, contact me, I'm still making it. I'll figure out a way to get it to you.
I literally don't know what to do with myself. I secretly still hope for some miracle to happen by September to re-open but I just can't figure out what that would be. When the website goes up in September, I won't spend to renew it. There isn't a point... but I still hold out hope. I don't know why. I have no idea why I'm making soap. I just am.
If you think you will perish without my soap, reach out. I'll get it to you. I can take Venmo, Zelle, cash or check and until September I can still send an invoice via email through Square. We will make soap happen for your household. I won't be taking any custom orders, the goal here is not to spend but to create soap with the ingredients I've got. I ran out of cocoa butter and coconut oil (two must-haves for my soap making recipes), so I bought one yes ONE yes 1 container of each. Total of two items, one bucket of oil and one nice sized cube of butter. $259. For TWO ITEMS. I almost died. I remember when a bucket of coconut oil was $53. How can folks continue to make quality things without either raising the price or cutting the quality? I don't want to raise soap to $15 a bar, people can't afford that! I can't sleep at night if that's my price! I also won't sell a thing at that price.
I like math, so I broke down the per pound cost on this. Work all those numbers into most current cost of ingredients to make a bar.... add any color and fragrance oil which has mostly doubled, some have tripled, and we have a mess. Combine that with the costs of the behind the scenes stuff required to operate.... What do I do? Raise prices so high I don't sell a thing? People have been so nice with suggestions, what they don't know is I've tried everything I know already. I've tried everything anyone has ever suggested, and done it for years. As things dwindle, I use smaller amounts of ingredients, buying smaller means paying more per pound which results in more expense going out the door. It's a cycle of frustration. This is all the stuff you really wanted to hear about right? But folks ask why, here is the raw real why.
I think this is a great example to reiterate to people - SHOP LOCAL. Don't go to your favorite cafe only on your anniversary. Go a few times a month. Be so regular they all know your name, that's support. An annual purchase isn't enough to keep a place going, and when they close you don't get to be sad or surprised. People at our favorite brewery know our dogs, our favorite shops know our names. That kind of thing - show up for the places you love so they can continue to show up for you. This isn't a preachy thing, but it's a great time for me to say it. Some folks didn't know I've closed, and that's okay. But they're surprised and sad, oh I made that purchase 4 years ago and ... and? That's how it was easy for me to close. Nuff said.
Will a miracle happen? Doubt it. I'll send out an email here through the website when it gets taken down in September. I'll keep making soap because I just will. After September payment choices will be much fewer but if you need soap, and want my email address or phone number to contact me directly, just ask. I'm not spooked to give that kind of thing out. I want you to have the soap you want to have. Until then, I'm making small amounts of what I know and love. Here are some pics of what's on the racks, what's coming for autumn and if you want to know what's available - click the Find Us page on the site. I'll put a button at the bottom actually. I keep an old school Word Doc on there with what's made. Questions? Ask. Concerns? Ask. Ideas? Tell. Snark? Keep it to yourself. But anything else I would love to hear. Anyhoo here's what I've been creating to keep my sanity. And some joy from
my heart is in each of these batches. I've had SUCH fun using my crinkle cutter again! Not worrying about my logo being stamped into each bar...just creating. Growing up, mom used her crinkle cutter a LOT and it always reminds me of her when I pull it out to cut a batch. If you know her (she comments a lot on my FB page) ask her about the time she thought she lost her crinkle cutter. I've never heard her so angry...I'll never forget it.
Meanwhile...shower on! Support local and show love to the places that are still open, there because they love what they do and they love YOU.
Thanks for listening to my rant. If you find me offensive, just unsubscribe. It won't hurt my feelings. If you like my ranting and writing, there will be more at least until September. It's odd not to talk about dogs, we've been overwhelmed in that department so there will likely be a blog coming about that. Until then, Happy Showering.