Hopes for the new year

As we greet the new year our thoughts are filled with wonder and plans for a bright and hopeful 2015.  Part of the challenge and joy of a small business is to reflect on the past year, plan for the new one, and find great joy in all we are building.  Our hope when we began in 2010 was simple economic survival of two unemployed people who still had a mortgage, and bills…. minus the predictable paycheck.  As we start the 5th year of our business we can say that we have successfully grown by doubling sales and profits each year, and in 2014 we were able to actually say we tripled sales and volume over 2013.

I posted two pictures above, which might begin to visualize the changes and growth we are seeing.  On the left above was a snap shot of an art fair in 2011.  Our display was large oversize flower pots with perhaps 8-10 types of soap, and 2 types of sugar scrubs.  On the right was a photo from one of our art fairs this past year (Hessler Street, last May)…. we have a nice handcrafted wood rack, and vertical display…. much more to show for ourselves….

We have been growing in many ways – not just volume and display, but we have learned so much about the value of a number of things:

  • Networking – getting to know other artists that are following this path, Galleries that value handcrafted and want to do business with us, Customers, and promoters.
  • Education – we are constantly growing in our knowledge of the product, the processes, the production and gathering new tools for doing what we do well.
  • Customer base – we are building up repeat customers based on our product, availability and response to their requests.  Like all businesses there is a learning curve for finding who wants and likes our products, and giving opportunity for them to discover us.
  • Selecting Art Fairs – We are learning where our niche is and gearing toward that market, dropping those places and events that we were just not the best fit.
  • Marketing tools – We started out with just business cards – a way for others to contact us, but quickly realized we need to offer more….like a blog which we just converted to a web site, handouts, information.  Educating our customers is the best way to develop them.  The more you know about something the more you can make an educated decision.

So what are our hopes and goals for 2015?

  1. Always be true to our plan, and glorify God with our gifts
  2. Create amazing products that enhance and encourage other people and offer healthy solutions for needs in life – Vegan soaps that are luxurious and great for the skin, pleasing to the senses, and healthy.
  3. Create new markets for our products, and sustain the growth
  4. E-Commerce – Planning and working toward having this website as our online shop, and move away from etsy.com  This is still a learning curve to make sure that the e-commerce is secure and less likely to be hacked.  (If you are reading this and have those skills – can we talk???)
  5. To source out several new wholesale accounts that are stable monthly accounts with volume.
  6. by year-end employ at least 1 other person full-time at a fair wage.  Currently the business is Steve’s income, but the goal is to get paid help
  7. If financially possible we would like to lease a small studio space and move the business production outside of our home.

Much to think about, and gear toward.  Much to pray about.  But we are ready.  We are prepared, and all we can say for 2015 is