Streamlining things.

by Veronica on January 28, 2016

in Soapmaking

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The beauty of working for myself is when I find a better way to do things, I don’t have to mess around waiting for a superior to okay changes which make my life easier. Which frankly, is quite nice.

I’ve done a lot of markets in the last 12 months. I’ve learned a lot, tweaked my set up more than a few times, and created more things to sell.

But it’s too much. Too many types of soap, too much to keep up with, too many products.

So I’m streamlining things down.

Less choice at markets. Less scents. Less products.

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I was at Mona Market on Sunday, with a limited edition range of soaps. The fermentation theme of MoMa this year works perfectly with soap – it’s easy to add fermented products to soaps and make the soaps even more beautiful. Fresh Tasmanian goat’s milk I turned into yogurt. Beer. Whisky. Fancy soaps, with fancy ingredients, and fancy bubbles.

What I got out of MoMa is that sometimes, less choice is best. I took along 10 different types of soap, three hand creams, three bath salts, and a beard balm. It was the simplest set up I’ve ever done, and it worked. 30 minutes to set up. 10 minutes to pack down at the end of the day.

Streamlined perfection.

Of course it helps that we sold really well at MoMa, and went home with less than a third of the stock I took along, but still.

Sometimes less is more, and allowing the products to speak for themselves, while not being overwhelmed with choice, well that’s a beautiful thing.

Markets are hard work. Rewarding – very rewarding, but they’re work.

You have to leave home early, carry all your stock in, set up, sell things, pack down, carry all your stock out, then go home and unpack everything.

None of this is a problem if you’re taking along 10-15 utterly gorgeous types of soaps you love. But slowly, my market set up was getting unwieldy. Five huge boxes. Shelves. Little bits and pieces everywhere.

And then I’d sell soap and at the end of the day end up with four soaps here, three soaps there. Not quite enough left to create a perfect set up and keep it restocked, but too many (and too nice) to shuffle into the seconds bin, or cut down for samples.

Lonely soap, waiting for me to restock them, to recreate their perfection all over again.

Of course, I’m always going to have that problem. I’m always going to end up with 1-2 soaps left from a batch, while I wait for the next lot to cure.

But this is an easier problem if I’m not constantly trying to keep 80 types of Thing in stock.

Which is to say, we’re going smaller, not bigger.

And I’m good with that.

On the flip side, it means that the online shop becomes my smartest resource. What better way to sell soap than online, to you guys, who have been here since the beginning?

There’s beauty in having customers able to pick up a soap and smell it, to experience it, to love it.

There’s also beauty in online customers taking a chance on my descriptions. On buying with prettiness in mind. Of having to keep my photography skills on point to showcase just how good the soaps are. (They’re pretty good)

We’re in a state of flux right now, as I phase out some types of soap, and restock others.

But that’s okay.

Like I said – the benefit of being in business for myself, is that I get to do what works for me.

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Multiples of three

by Veronica on November 15, 2015

in Life

We’re heading into the craziest part of the year. Markets every weekend, soap orders here there and everywhere, wholesale accounts popping up (insert quiet cheering).

Annnnd my doctor rang me the other day. Apparently my thyroid levels are fine, but my iron is “quite low” and “please start an iron supplement immediately”.

Huh. That might explain some things here, you know. Like, everything.

It’s 8pm and it’s still light outside. Summer is coming and it’s lovely – long gorgeous days, lots of light – it also makes bedtime challenging, with children who don’t want to fall asleep when it’s daylight outside (despite hanging all the extra sheets up over their curtains).

Add that to exhaustion and insomnia in equal measure, and well. It was a recipe for getting sick, really. Which I did, quite spectacularly last week, with antibiotics required.

I cancelled my Friday night market, and while I know it was the right thing to do – I’ve pretty much spent all weekend recovering and collapsing in various measures – I still feel guilty. Even though I was sick, and Nathan was sick, and Mum (my driver and co-marketer) was sick – I still feel guilty, because I said I’d be there and at the last minute, I couldn’t be. I’d really hoped my antibiotics would work fast enough, but that’s the way it goes.

Exhaustion. Illness. Anaemia.

On the upside, I’ve stopped coughing my lungs up, I can buy iron supplements tomorrow, and I’m hoping this week will be full of Netflix and packaging, rather than running around in circles.

I also turned 27 last week, which was nice. Happy Birthday to me, I’m a multiple of three… etc.

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Baby goats

by Veronica on November 8, 2015

in Life

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Baby goats at The Brighton Show today.

These kids are drinking and getting fat on the same milk I use in my soaps. They were gorgeous, and I loved being able to meet the mother goats who supply my milk.

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Here is one of the milking does my Goat’s Milk comes from.

It was a long hot day, which is why I’m catatonic on the couch right now. Not sure the Brighton Show is my target demographic, but it was lovely weather and I got to stand and work barefoot on the grass. Very nice.

Now. zzzzzzz

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Phoning it in.

by Veronica on November 5, 2015

in Soapmaking

Sweet Pea and Goat's Milk Soap

Lemongrass and Goat's Milk Soap

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Catch up day, with wet soap photos

by Veronica on November 4, 2015

in Soapmaking

Today is a catch up day. My curing shelves are being steadily emptied and I haven’t had a chance to fill them back up yet. So I’m making soap, writing things, catching up on my freelance work, and probably making even more soap.

There’s something soothing about soap making. You follow a formula and voila, you get a usable product at the end.

But it’s the pouring, the swirling, the cutting – those are the things which do it for me. Cutting a beautiful soap for the first time. Seeing how smooth it is – provided of course you didn’t fill it with air bubbles accidentally (it happens, a lot).

You can feel if there are air bubbles. It’s a feeling in the cutter, a sound, a sensation. You know before you even look, how smooth that cut side of soap is going to be. A perfectly smooth side of soap is just so pleasurable to look at.

Not that air bubbles affect anything really, except how it looks before it’s used for the first time.

And that moment, between running the soap through the cutter and picking up the first bar to check the design. Is it going to be amazing? Have you messed it up? It’s Schrödinger’s soap and you won’t know until you take the plunge and actually look.

Then you wait. And wait. A good soap is cured for at least 4-5 weeks, but you can test the end pieces after a few days. How does it bubble? How does it smell? How does it make your skin feel? Do you just want to roll around in it for days? (Usually, yes)

I really love what I do.

Lemongrass soap, made with goat’s milk and scented with Lemongrass Essential Oil.

Lemongrass Soap

Sweet Pea Soap, with Goat’s Milk. Pretty pink swirls throughout.   Sweet Pea Soap

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