Our soapy journey in life has lead us through a myriad of paths, all good, all fun! Some of the paths have been challenging, with much learning and wisdom absorbed along the way (with more to come, no doubt). Some of the paths have more closely resembled a roller coaster track with ups, downs, and even loops that have tried to throw us off. The passion for handcrafting soap has stuck like good glue, never leaving our side.
My personal interest in soap is a life-long one, shared via a September 2009 blog post, how my interest in soap began.
8 years ago we began our hands-on handcrafted soap experience.
We started with an idea for a soap mold, and a simple soap recipe, that included 3 main ingredients, palm, coconut and olive oils, evenly fractioned into thirds. Distilled water was our liquid (no goat milk at that point).
There we stood, in our newly created soap-making space in our formerly empty basement, concocting our first batch of soap. I was nervous, he admittedly was not.
The next day we had soap! Our glorious soap stuck to the mold badly and it was “ashy” around the corners. Onwards we went, experimenting and seeking results.
We went through many soap mold designs, my husband created each one on his own, and we dived into several changes to our basic soap recipe, to eventually include shea butter, before we presented our soap to customers for resale.
Through the 8 year journey we began raising goats, and eventually dairy goats, with the reality finally hitting us that we should include our own milk in our soap. It was a major turning point! By the way, farming is not easy. It can be a dirty job, one that is completed 7 days a week, on a set schedule, 365 days a year. Our love for animals has kept us stead-fast in that arena.
What have we learned through our soapy journey?
- Nothing is constant, expect change.
- A good idea can be a great one, but there is always room for change. Always know when to let go, and always know when (and what) to pick up.
- Good soap does not occur without challenges. I remember the day I called several suppliers to “ask the expert” about sloppy soaping results that we were experiencing. The answer ended up being a simple one. But, guess what? We were 7 years into our journey and still needed to ask! We always will, at some point or another!
- I am careful with the soap advise that I dispense. Why? the learning curve makes your own product unique. When you dig for ideas when creating your own special product for 8 months (or a year…), and then experience the end result, it is yours, and yours alone! You’ve paid well for it, with your own time, while learning as you go. It is worth the effort!
- Select mentors, more than one. Follow. Watch. Listen. Listen well!
- Do not make numerous business or product changes that will lead to an inventory that you may be stuck with. Creative is one thing – but it needs to be kept under a seat belt. Baby steps, one product at a time, leads to success.
- Never say never. If a well-versed business leader in your industry says, “This is what works…this is what does not work,” do not write their advice off. What they say may not exactly fit into your business scheme, but I will guarantee you it will eventually fit in, even at a small level.
- Follow your own path. Write your own words. If you are not creative today, it will come later when you are feeling passionate about your work. I remember thinking our soaps were ugly, plain, and not so colorful. So! There is our brand, farm-fresh, simple, yet one luxurious item in the bath!
We like it.