Wow, i would have never thought i would tell you this, but there are times when i wonder what the next step is, or what offers we should select to participate in. And there are other times when the choice is clear.
As a young buisness last year we went to everything we could, tried to participate in every show, fair and festival we could get to, could afford the fees for, and worked into our schedule. Having done this for some time it is now clear that was good experience, but not everything we did should be repeated. Some places were warm and charming and they loved everything about home made, support local, celebrate artists…. We love those place. We want to join in the celebration and not only sell our merchandise, but develop those friendships, customers, and sense of community. In those moments it felt much like small town pre-Walmart… when you went to the butcher, the baker and the candle stick maker. And they knew you, knew what you wanted, and were pleased to accommidate your requests.
Soap is a universally friendly product… almost everyone uses it. In our age people love the sensory experience of smelling soap, and having soap smell up the room. Soap sells itself. Chemical free, lots of luxurious oils, exquisite essential oils gathered from around the world, and lots of great for you natural ingredients. Yes, our soap sells itself… most of the time.
And we have done shows where it was clear that the “I can buy 5 bars for that price at Walmart” mentality was present, and such a wet blanket on the festivities. Its ok, when we hear that we know there are financial factors at work in your life…. and we fully appreciate how difficult these times are for so many. (Am i preaching to myself?)
Another interesting story we have encountered has been some of the older folks telling us how their parents made soap to stretch the budget… and it was the first thing they stopped using when they could afford store bought. (Hey, wait a minute… we are a store, and when you buy from us you are buying from a home based store!!!) Apparently homemade soap, minus any essential oil, and probably cooked down lard or animal fat is what they think of when they think of homemade soap. One person even told us how they were embarrased to say they did not know what a store bought bar looked like until they were in their 20s.
That is not our market… not at all. But it has been a good learning experience to encounter these discussions… to develop an apologetic that understands their mindset, and agrees to disagree. Apologetic does not mean i apologize for, but means i have firmly established in my thoughts why we do what we do… how we take great care to make the best products we can, treat it well, prepare it for market, and offer the best we can. With that firmly in mind, it is critical to research the demographic to determine the market that likes homemade soap, and steer clear of the rest.
That is true of all of our products… Hand dyed silk often does not have the same appeal in an outdoor market as it does at a little boutique, or specialty gallery. Knowing that market helps to sharpen the focus of where to go, and what to focus our attention on.
That said, we are evaluating our fall and making decisions on what to pursue. Stay tuned for the next update of our schedule. For now we are back to planning, praying and preparing.