One of our employees* was working across from the Twin Towers when the airplanes hit. Every year, she takes this day as a day of reflection on her life. What does she really want? What is she living for? What does it mean? Because it can all be gone in...
Ah yes, that weird feeling of driving off a cliff. I remember it from last year.
At some point, the Christmas orders slow down as people realize it's probably too late to shop for Christmas presents online. Last year, we set that date at 12/21 and updated the web notification (that bar across the top) to say we were out of town through the end of the year, and then we left.
We drove off our own cliff. At least, until the new year...
This week has been one of the most intense of my career.
I'm in Orlando right now, waiting to get on the airplane that will take me to LA for Renegade Craft Fair.
I've been at a conference for Mozilla employees, contractors, and contributors. In addition to having this here fancy soap business with my husband, I also manage social media for the Mozilla Developer Network and the View Source Conference.
Meanwhile, our business absolutely BLEW UP from the minute Russ dropped me off at the airport. Seriously, it was insane. That Yahoo article propelled us into a great month of sales.
Mozilla, the makers of Firefox web browser among other things, is one of the early stage funders of Outlaw Soaps.
I don't mean that they are buying shares in the company or anything, but the last several months (some of them quite lean) have been subsidized by my freelance job with Mozilla Developer Network.
It's really fun work and the company is absolutely fantastic. I'm beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to work for such a great organization and also receive compensation for that. I used to work in tech and really miss the sense of humor and purpose-driven big thinking that are the hallmarks of that industry. (that's me giving a talk on customer-driven innovation for the View Source conference in Portland last month)
Yep, it's that delightful season when we're working on the holidays months before other people even think about 'em. What does that mean to us? It means we put together a little press guide in hopes we'll be featured in some news outlets. (that would probably work a lot better if I actually pursued any press outlets) It means we have started looking at forecasts for our regular customers like The Gift Oasis, ThinkGeek and UncommonGoods, and even pitching new ideas. It means that I've been courting potential new customers like Dot & Bo and The Grommet to see if they'd be interested in picking up our line. It means that we've been looking at Amazon sales in Q4 of last year and figuring out how early we can send stock without assessing long-term storage fees. It means that we've been scrutinizing our own website sales and trying to eyeball how many of...
After spending a couple days moping around about not knowing what I didn't know, and reflecting that maybe I wouldn't have started my business had I known... I realized this: I probably wouldn't have startedmy business if I knew that it would take 3 years to achieve profitability. I knew that 50% of businesses never made it to their third year and 80% never made it to their fifth, but I thought I was a special snowflake. Certainly, my marketing and enthusiasm and sheer gumption would overcome any statistical odds. I bought into that old "the universe will catch you if you jump" mantra that new agey people constantly spout. I didn't think about the fact that 100% of small business owners take a jump, and the universe doesn't catch 80% of them. My ignorance brought me to this place, here, where we have finally begun to achieve profitability. Even though by...
Whenever I talk to entrepreneurs, most of them say something like "Oh believe me, if there was a mistake to be made, I have made it."
In the past two weeks, I learned that I had made what I consider to be a pretty serious business forecasting error based on a simple lack of knowledge when I started the business.
I had my costs covered and got my pricing right, but I didn't know something really fundamentally important: my break even point.
That's the number of units we need to sell in order to cover our expenses.
THANK GOD FOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND ENTHUSIASTIC CUSTOMERS (and especially specifically thank you, friends, family, and enthusiastic customers)
Without y'all, we wouldn't be here, period. And the reason is because you (be you customer, friend, family, or all three) are so passionate about helping us... whether that's going to your local stores and asking for our products or reposting your favorite products to your friends.
One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, "Hey! Can I come by and help you, you know, cut soap and fill orders and stuff?"
Another very frequently asked question is, "When are you going to hire someone?"
As I said in a previous post, I came back from the Renegade Craft Fair full of spit and vinegar, determined to get our fulfillment room and office in order.
In addition to clearing off the shelves and making piles of stuff to get rid of, I've reorganized all our inventory. Anyone who knows anything about organization knows the #1 most important tool is an...
If you doubt me, you clearly have never used an electronic labeler...
When we got back from Renegade LA, something clicked in my head that made me go on a frenzied organizational push. I walked into my fulfillment room and knew everything had to be re-arranged. Since the dawn of the business, I have been collecting little odds and ends for subscription...