It has been a whirlwind of travel in the past few weeks, finally landing me in Los Angeles for LA Mart, a West Coast gift show.
Back in 2013, we started Outlaw Soaps in a warehouse in Los Angeles (where we were living with six of our friends). Russ and I had been looking for a way to move out to the country and maybe have a goat or two, have some gravel under our boots, and drink steaming coffee on our deck in the cool morning air, just like in the stock photos and Instagrams.
At the time, our lives resembled the exact opposite of that. Our loft didn't even have a window, let alone windows large enough to be sliding doors. But it was a dream, and we were pretty dang clear about it.
Over the years, we moved ourselves and the business North (to Oakland), then East (to Antioch), then Northeast... where we landed ourselves in Colfax, California. There wasn't anything in particular about Colfax, except that I knew of it from a few times when I had stopped there on the way to and from Burning Man.
We settled into the old train depot, which was built in the late 1800s. It was absolutely perfect for our business, and all came together as if by magic.
And here I am back in the mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles
I worked here for years, sitting in a desk, with concerns so completely different than the concerns of today.
Today, my concerns are entirely about the business... how many boxes do we have to order, whether the labels will arrive in time for me to photograph them to put them on the site before we leave on our next trip, how sales are going from month to month, and whether we'll have enough product to last through the end of the year.
Side note on that: Russ and I did the calculations on how much soap we'll need by the end of the year, and it's around 45k bars. That's a lot of soap. We had to order 5 more barrels of coconut oil (420 lbs each). Back when we started, we would buy oil a gallon (7 lbs) at a time. The change in scale is huge.
But even with that volume, we're still a relatively tiny company. Our fry are very small.
Back then, I was worried about office politics, about whether our project was going to ship in time, according to spec, and whether we were still bound by that big contract that wasn't really working out for us (we were. it was shitty). I struggled for more responsibility. I worried that people were taking over projects that I really loved working on.
And now, of course, if I add up the totals of those worries, and look at how every project isn't just bits on a screen - they're literally shipping, our contracts are bigger (to us), and I have more responsibility than I could have fathomed. And no one -- no one -- is taking over projects that I love working on.
It feels very far away. I miss the stability. But so much has happened between then and now.
But you'll notice that in both photos, I'm hunched over a computer. Typing is my life. It's 90% of how I spend my time.
It's neat to see the progression over time, and yet to come back to my parents' place. I still fit here as the visiting daughter.
Tomorrow, I'll be waking up at the insane-o-clock and going downtown to a gift show to see if we'd want to get a booth next time around. The really nice thing about this trip is that I'm just going to see if it's a good fit. No worries if it isn't, and total magic if it is.