What it's like to be an American-made business

One of the things we hear pretty often is what a neato little company we are. We appreciate that an awful lot. It's just me (Danielle), Russ, Elysia, and Marci holding down the entire fort over here.

People sometimes ask if it's hard to do business in California, what with all the taxes and regulations and high minimum wage and whatnot.

So, I'm going to be honest with you: it's rough to keep up with the taxes. It's expensive and frustrating to file. As a primarily online business, we don't currently have to pay sales tax in other states (but that might be changing, thanks to some new laws). But just paying taxes in California is a pretty huge burden. This year was the first year I literally didn't cry while filing the sales tax. The website is so complicated and we have to divide everything into the appropriate counties... and at the end of all of that, you know how much we owed? About $1,100. It was totally a reasonable amount. But we spent about three solid hours on that form.

But we had it relatively easy. One of my friends has to file quarterly and pay a lot because most of her business is in California. It's expensive.

Wild Life Western Soap Gift SetAnd yeah, it is hard to keep up with all the regulations. One of the reasons we moved to Grass Valley from Colfax is because even though the land that our business was on was zoned industrial, the building was zoned retail. What the hell is that bullpoo? Rather than fight with Colfax about it, we decided to move to a closer and more production-appropriate location in Grass Valley.

Which turned out to be the right thing to do anyways, since that old Colfax space, charming as it was, would have been too small for our growing production needs.

And yes, it's a higher minimum wage than the rest of the country. California is an expensive state to live in, so people need to make more money in order to qualify as a "living wage." In fact, we don't feel like the minimum wage is high enough, so we pay above the going rate. Which is something Henry Ford did too, I might add. He felt like the best way to ensure you kept the best workers was to pay them above the going rate... that way, no one could steal 'em from you.

But here's the thing: we believe in all these things.

whiskey soapWe believe that sales tax contributes meaningfully to our beautiful state, that zoning regulations keep cities as designed, and that minimum wages are essential to a productive and prosperous society.

I got back from a trip to India in February, and they have none of these things. Regulations? Psha. So it's impossible to know how safe a product is. We trust the FDA to regulate our fragrances to make sure they're safe for everyone, for our uses.

As for minimum wage, people in India were living in abject poverty. You don't see that kind of poverty here, and it's not because of everyone living off of welfare. It's because we have rules around how much people are paid. No one should starve in one of the most prosperous countries on earth.

We put up with all these hurdles to business because we believe in them. Yeah, they're hurdles, but without the hurdles, many businesses would engage in a race-to-the-bottom mentality. It would be about who could make the cheapest product the fastest, while cutting the most corners.

We believe that our products are worth more because we manufacture them with consciousness and care, and we also believe that you, our customers, want to support us in pursuit of these causes. Yeah, it means that Outlaw Soaps costs more than your run-of-the-mill drugstore stuff, but we think you don't want to be run-of-the-mill.

We make extraordinary products for extraordinary people... in an extraordinary country. Thanks for your support in this endeavor.

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