It is with a bit of sadness that I write this post, as I am closing my business… but this is where I am at today.
If you've been following me for a while, you may remember that in July 2013 I launched a new soap company, Soaps to Live By (you can read about it here). This company has been years in the making – it's actually one of the first ideas that I got when I thought about starting a business over 10 years ago, but for various reasons I decided to launch other companies instead. So when I had some “downtime” last summer, I decided that this was going to be the year that I launch my soap business.
It has been my most successful launch yet! It's the business that I am most excited about – I absolutely LOVE my branding, packaging, the product, my website and everything that the soaps stand for. And not to mention, this launch was so fun! I knew what I was doing because I had previously launched a product and it all felt amazing!
I launched with features in top magazines and by the time the holiday season rolled around, I was already sold out of my first batch of over 3,000 soaps, got another 3,000 soaps made, was featured on TV, got my soaps in almost 50 stores, worked with an awesome sales rep and had lots of raves from fans who fell in love with Soaps to Live By. Many said that these soaps had become their favorite soaps of all time and they couldn't get enough of them. So why am I closing it down?
My big plan for my soap business
When I started my soap business, here's what I had imagined my business would look like in a few years: I would buy a piece of land, buy a yurt and some goats to get milk and make goat milk soap, hire local soap makers to make the soaps, work out of the yurt every day and set up a shop on pedestrian-friendly Pearl St. in Boulder, CO where I live. I would attend major tradeshows like NY Now, Atlanta Gift Market, International Home & Housewares Show, ACRE Las Vegas, San Francisco International Gift Show, ISPA Show, and a few others. It would give me a chance to travel, meet people face to face and grow my brand. This sounded so exciting!
The warning signs
Before I started this business, I spoke with a few people in the industry who flat out told me that while they like the idea behind the soaps, a soap business alone wouldn't be viable as a major source of income. I would have to have other products. They also advised me to raise my prices from the $8 per bar that I calculated to at least $10 or $12 per bar if I wanted to see any real profits. I ignored their signs because, after using a cost calculator, $8 per bar would still give me a good profit if I sold the soaps on my website. And yes, I wouldn't have as high margins if I sold to retailers, but I would still be selling at a profit. So I went ahead and priced my soaps at $8. People bought them… lots of people!
I was so excited about the success that the business was having! And I was having so much fun with it.
So why am I closing my business?
As you may remember from a previous video, one of my goals was to sell to Whole Foods. I got invited to submit my products to them for consideration, but only if I could lower my price to less than $6 per bar. “Yes, of course!” was my reply. I called my manufacturer and told them the good news. I asked them what is the lowest price that they could give me if I ordered an additional 20,000 bars of soaps or more. They said that I was already at their lowest price level, so it couldn't go any lower. I researched other manufacturers and found that there would be no way to get my prices lowered unless I moved production to China, which I didn't want to do because one of my major selling points was that the soaps were handcrafted here in the USA.
I felt stuck and the only way to truly lower my costs was to bring production in-house, set up a facility and hire a few people. So I started looking for spaces, put out ads on Craigslist for soap makers and did more research into what it would take to set this up. After calculating the numbers, I realized that this would be a HUGE investment for me and my business model would have to change completely. I would have to go from my current situation where it was me working with a fulfillment house and a few freelancers, to being an employer, signing a five-year lease for space and buying tens of thousands of dollars of soap-making equipment and set up shop. My yurt idea was a bit premature because it would take a long time to find land (which is so scarce here in Boulder, get permits, set up a yurt, learn how to tend goats and everything else involved with that). So after months of seeing spaces and doing research, I realized that I don't want to be an employer – I am happy being an entrepreneur, working with freelancers and having a small office space.
So I let go of my dream to sell to Whole Foods and to major retailers and focused more on selling online and to independent retailers.
So why didn't that work?
After selling out of my soaps again and really sitting down with my numbers, I realize that profits on my soaps were almost non-existent because shipping charges were so high. Because my soaps are about 4 ounces each, it would cost a few dollars to ship each bar and people weren't willing to pay $2-3 additional per bar in shipping charges. So I had to take a loss on shipping charges, which increased to an even bigger loss once shipping rates went up a few months ago. Plus, I had to pay my fulfillment house to ship all of the soaps, which also cut into my profits. Yes, I could have shipped all of the soaps myself and saved some money, but I get excited about marketing and selling, not shipping. So I knew that it wasn't an option to ship the soaps myself.
So my only option, if I wanted to make this work, was to increase my prices to $12 per bar. However, that puts me in a totally different market with a brand new audience and I'm just not as excited about selling to this audience as I am selling to my current audience. And I have to be super excited about what I am doing – otherwise, why do it? Another option was to take out a loan and invest in launching other products – like mugs, journals, candles, magnets, etc., which have much higher margins than the soaps. In other words, the higher margins on these products would make up for the lower margins on my soaps and, in the end, it would all even out at a healthy profit margin.
After taking a few months to think about this, I decided that I didn't want to take out a big loan and launch more products. I'm just not in a place where I want to take on that added responsibility and work RIGHT NOW. So I had to make the tough decision to let this business go.
You might be wondering why not sell the business instead of closing it down, especially since I love the products that I have created. Well, to be honest, I've thought about it, but I love this brand so much that I'm not ready to let go of it yet.
So what's next?
Maybe when I'm at a different point in my life when my kids get older or when I have more time to travel, I might get that loan, launch more products and do all of the trade shows that I was so excited about. And I might even get that land and yurt that I dreamed about! But now is not the time for that for me. Yes, I can justify any decision that I want to make, whether it's a $50,000 loan or to close my business. This decision feels right for me right now and I'm definitely ok with that! I've been known to change my mind (a lot!), so who knows?
Ultimately, I think that being an entrepreneur takes a lot of courage, but so does creating a business that fits in with your lifestyle. And if something doesn't work for you, you have to change it. This is why I am closing down this business, even though I still get emails on a daily basis from stores that want to carry my soaps or from people who want to buy them.
Have you felt this way in your business? Or thought about either closing it down or going all out and expanding? I'd love to know about it. Leave a comment below and let me know!
Thanks for sharing. I’m in the middle of setting up a candle business and I’m so close to giving up on the idea. I’ve been number crunching and shipping and lack of affordable product packaging mean the idea may never see the light of day.
Look into using recycled containers from retail stores. You save them disposal costs.
Have you considered doing a kick starter campaign to raise the money?
You have a good product – do look into that route for financing. Best wishes
Sadhana, yes, definitely! I even had potential investors approach me saying that they want to invest. But it was not a direction that I want to go in right now. At a future time, maybe!
I reached the same conclusion you’ve come to…all the best to you.
andreea, thanks for sharing your story. While it is the end of a chapter it isn’t the end of the book! I love that you have thought things through and are keeping your options open for the future. You have so many talents that you have shared; this is perhaps the most valuable – how to adapt when things aren’t working. I read nothing of ‘failure’ in your story at all!
Hi Andreea! Before I started my own handbag line, I had a re-seller company…well I still have it. 🙂 Although I love it, I toy with the idea of closing it down or re-branding it into something different. There’s only 1 problem, I only get 24 hours in a day and its already jam packed! lol…
Thank you Andreea for your honesty and commitment to helping product based business owners.
Thanks for sharing your story Andreea, especially your thought process in having to make this hard decision. You really fulfilled this dream in so many ways. And you made a wise decision to retain everything by closing. One never knows what the future will hold. I’m glad that’ll you continue with your other businesses – you have so much to offer! (Hope you kept some inventory for you to enjoy!)
Hi, Andreea: I’ve often wondered how you can do it all – kids, Launch Grow Joy, your soaps! I gave up doing my art many years ago and went a different path and came back to it this year because my circumstances allow for it now. Hope you get your yurt and your goats when the time is right. In the meantime, I am assuming you will still be guiding us through Launch Grow Joy? ! Otherwise, many of us will be rudderless.
Doreen, YES! Launch Grow Joy will still be here.
I don’t know if that would be a good enough reason for me to close down my business. Just because Whole Foods doesn’t want to take you on on your terms, doesn’t mean there aren’t any others.
And how long would it take you to do all the shipping yourself, putting 1/2 day aside for only this would still give you about 32 hours a week to focus on selling and marketing.
Did you ever make the soap bars yourself or did you dive into getting someone to manufacture for you from the start? Perhaps you grew too fast to adjust to all this?
Anyhow, wishing you all the best for the future.
Warmest regards, Mel
Mel, thanks for your comments. Not sure if you know, but I don’t have 40 hours per week to work. I have three young kids and two businesses and I only had about 4-5 hours per week for the soap business since Launch Grow Joy is my main business. Not only do I not enjoy shipping, but the thought of spending hours per week doing it just doesn’t work for me. And I’m a huge fan of building a business that works for US. I don’t believe in doing everything yourself and being the ‘superhero.” I’ve been there and burnt out really fast and I don’t recommend that to anyone. So for me, having to make the soaps and to ship them would not have been enjoyable. I know for others, it is, which is why they do it. I think that as an entrepreneur, you need to get to a level in your business where you are doing the things you love the most and delegate the rest. You can’t build a successful company doing everything yourself…
I completely understand what you said, I did the same thing but it came to a point “shipping” was a major cost.
Funny how people may have the similar dreams.
I also wanted a yurt lol, but instead of real goats I want a real herbal store with my own products. I loved the contact with people I did good but any business require a huge commitment something I didn’t want to make and I got scared,I needed more time, more money for equipment and production. I stopped not quit as of yet.
But here is my opinion, if you like the marketing and sales why don’t you become a consultant for other soap makers that would like to grow or take the chance to become a full time entrepreneur?
So sorry to read about your decision, because it is the end of one of your dreams. It resonated with me, because I have some experience with businesses and dreams that have not worked out. Growing up, my father strived to own and operate small newspapers, only to be met with bankruptcy and huge family disruptions. As for me, I had my own business for 22 years, which had to close a couple of years ago.
Even with these reversals, we forge ahead, and we find a new path. Especially since you have children (as I do), we have to be choosy about the risks we take.
These decisions go to the core of who we are, and what we aspire to be. But we already know who you are: If I was asked to use two words to describe you, I would say: “she perseveres.”
I hope you stay in touch with us.
Yes, I would agree with those two words, Greg 🙂
I respect you so much and your thought process and the fact that you say it has to make viable sense from both a business perspective and for you and your family.
The China part also really saddened me. I spent $15,000 trying to produce my product here. I wanted to proudly say made in the USA but I couldn’t produce it cheaply enough. Now, I am producing it in China with wonderful partners but that wasn’t my dream. Reality and compromises, I guess.
I also love your brand and SO glad you are not giving it up!!! You never know!
Hello Sherry, do you currently sell your products anywhere I can buy them?
Thank you Andreea for your honest post. I have come up with similar business ideas, and when I crunched the numbers, it is really hard to compete against the Chinese labor market. You marketing advice is inspiring and motivating, and I’m sure you will succeed with your future ideas. We need more Made in America.
“Where one door closes, another one opens.” So funny to see that phrase in your newsletter, as I have been living by that for many years. I have no doubt there will be other successful ventures in your future. I too had to give up on my idea of launching a sugar-free dessert line, at least temporarily anyway. Thankfully, I ran the numbers to cost out my products even before looking for commercial kitchen space and they didn’t look good, hence I had to shelve the idea and look into a different direction. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what product you want to make (even if it is brilliant like your soaps). If the numbers don’t pan out it’s no longer a business, but an expensive and often time-consuming hobby.
oh yea! one more thing! I have one of your bars of soaps proudly displayed in my bathroom, in its beautiful packaging! I will now make VERY sure that my husband and kids do NOT touch it. EVER! (-:
Thank you for sharing with us your journey to success. This is just a fork in the road to something bigger and better. And who knows you might incorporate the soaps back in. The cool thing about this is that you are your own artists creating the world you want to live in. ENJOY the process. Looking forward to your next amazing idea.
I commend you on writing a great, honest article and in making this difficult decision. I can relate to your dilemma. I started out with big dreams. However; I have come to realize that growing into a large company is not what I really want. I enjoy making candles; that’s the reason I started the business in the first place, so I always want to be involved in production. when it comes to my business, I am a control freak. I am not comfortable with turning over an important area of responsibility to someone else. Like you, part of my niche is having a hand crafted product. I am expanding to add organic personal care products and gift baskets. But in the end, as long as I can earn at least 20% more from my business than my current full time salary, I will feel like I have it all!
Good luck on your continued success and hope you fulfill all your dreams.
Hi Andreea, I am so sorry that you are having to take this decision. However, I sincerely applaud you for having taken it. I am a firm believer of “Everything happens for a good reason” and I am sure this just means you are opening up your life for something bigger and better 🙂
As a fellow mom entrepreneur always trying to balance personal and professional, I also thank you for sharing this with us. You still have Launch Grow Joy to keep you excited and busy 🙂 Looking forward to keeping track with all your successes….
Andreea, thank you for sharing your story. I’m wondering if you had to do it over again, what would you do differently this time?
Wishing you much luck in your next adventure. Kind regards, Jo-Ann Daddio
That’s such a great question, Jo-Ann. I don’t think I would do anything differently, to be honest. This was an idea that I had for so long that I HAD to see get out there, so even though the warning signs were there from others that I would have to charge $12 bar soap, I don’t think I would have. Maybe one thing that I might have done differently was not to be so set on selling to Whole Foods, but my dream for this was to “Go Big,” and it’s a lot easier to do that if you have national distribution. I could have kept this going as a small side project and still made some profit, but that’s not the type of business that I was interested in with this particular one. With others, yes, just not with this one…
Dear Andrea, Wow, you did all that in less than a year? maybe give your self a little time to catch -up. Check -in with your Heart/ gut / soul/ &life. See what/ how the pieces fit/ or don’t . And what you really want. You are brave – girl ! Don’t be afraid to charge what you need. And give yourself room to grow Organically. I have a sister in Colorado who is and herbalist and has started her own line of products locally and on line . I offered to rep for her in Florida, but she said that she wants to keep “local” for now. I can respect that ‘ as she is very busy. Contact me if you would like to get in touch . I wish you the best ! Love, Frannie
Awesome post. Sharing your decision making process is so wonderful. I really appreciate it!
I know exactly how you feel. We moved back to the farm. More precisely Hubby’s parents old farm. He was born and raised in this little area. I was NOT. It made my doing business in this community very awkward at best. From the day we moved ‘back’ it was made plain that while I may have married on of ‘them’, I would never ever be one. And subsequently the stress was huge. One day I just said enough. Closed a business that I loved and worked for because I deserve more than to be treat like c**p by the locals. I have since been doing my baking from a small kitchen on the farm and do some amazing work with burlap. I do pretty well with online sales and have wholesale accounts in the bigger cities.
You know what? After all that.. I found out that I was NOT the first business ‘they’ had mad miserable. All the owners had being non-local in common.
So Now I am much happier. No stress and once again enjoying what I do!
Thanks! Love your advice and how candid you are
Thanks for sharing your story, Katy! I am so glad to hear that you discovered what’s working for you!
Wow, I am blown away by all your comments and support! I so appreciate it and I’ll be responding to as many of them as I can later today!
I view you as a very effective teacher Andreaa, and I think this is one more “teachable moment”. I’m nearing the end of my working career, and one of the things that I have found most difficult in all these years is to know when to end something and to move on. Most people agonize over that decision far too long, to ill effect. Fear of failure and fear of the unknown can immobilize us. Resilience is a life-saving trait, both for oneself and for one’s children. It means you recognize your limitations, accept change and look toward the future with anticipation. Thank you for your honesty, and good luck with your new endeavors.
Thanks so much for this thoughtful comment 🙂 I agree!
That is very brave of you, Andreea to share your story with us here. Sorry to hear that you’ll be closing up your business but I admire your decision to stop something that’s not working for you. Good luck with everything!
Thank you for this post. I completely understand your passion and then the reality behind the dream. I am in a similar situation with my patented Bibocks with Lapkins Company, however I would love to find a buyer to take it to it’s fullest expression quickly and easily. I have no idea where to find these buyers.
I will be utilizing other talents and education through a teaching venue. I will be conducting a symphony of healing energies offered. Through teaching a year long course in Abundant Love Miracles, offering Divine Signatures within personalized, guided healing meditations, and coaching for the parents, children, and families of highly spiritually aware and sensitive children.
It is not easy to start over. I offer blessings to you and yours and may we all find a way to serve that is for the highest good for all.
Blessings and peace,
Rev. Sheila Andreana Sewall MEd.
I love the transparency with which you write about your decision to close shop for right now. I can relate in so many ways and draw inspiration from reading this article. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks so much for your support, Deloris! Tough decision, for sure, but I had to make it!
Wow thanks for sharing most people won’t post that they are closing down their business cause they don’t want to look like a failure in other people’s eyes but until they are in your shoes they cant comment on what you are going through. I think many of us here have or are going through similar situation and have to find what works for you. When I found myself needed to find a new product line for my gift shop I looked into making what I offer now myself and just decided it would be too much work that I had no clue what I was doing and looking for a company that offered the best product and service that I needed and here I am 10yrs later so glad that I made that decision. No it hasn’t always been smooth sailing and I still get why don’t I make it myself and my answer is still the same its my decision to do what works best for my customers. Keep doing you girl and all is well. LadyJay
Wow! I totally commend you on having the wisdom and courage to make that decision. What you accomplished with your brand is nothing less than inspiring. Personally, I’d love to go all out and expand. What you described at the beginning of your post… that’s still my dream!
Thanks so much, Maia! Definitely make sure to go for your dreams!
First of all, just wow! I so rarely make time to read and comment on blogs, but when your post came through G+ and my Gmail, your marketing savvy paid off and I was compelled to read your post based on your awesome subject line 🙂
Anyway, I love this post so much for so many reasons…that it’s honest…that you share your thought processes and how they evolved…that you shared your vision and how you carefully weighed your choices against that vision…and that you made a decision about your business that suits your life, rather than sacrificing everything to grow like a weed, which had to be so very tempting…AND that you’re clear this choice is just for now and NOT forever!
I could go on and on, but what I’d love to do is have YOU go on and on and share your story (or bits of your wisdom) in the book that Erin Baebler and I are writing called Moms Mean Business: The Guide to Creating a Successful Company and a Happy Life as a Mom Entrepreneur. It’s being published by Career Press in October.
If you’re up for sharing a bit of yourself with our readers, please email me!
Until then and always, I’m a huge fan :).
Wow, Lara, I would be so honored. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment here and I’ll definitely reach out to you via email! And thank for being a fan. That means a lot!
You are brave. It must be so painful. I find myself facing a similar decision and am unable to allow that I had it wrong or figure out how to make it right, or tweak it, or walk away and live with it. Bon Courage!
Thanks, Marilyn. Definitely a bit sad, but when one door closes, another one opens!
Thank you for being so candid and sharing with all of us as you have taken this adventure into starting a new business. ALL of it from start to finish have been so helpful to see for we solo entrepreneurs. Wishing you the BEST on your next fun adventure! 🙂
Thanks so much, Phyllis! You know I’m a huge fan of all your work, too!
That was a very interesting, brave, behind-the-scenes post. I loved it. And there are so many things in your story that will resonate with so many. I like how you broke it down into the key decision components. So often we make a big decision (like shutting a business or moving abroad) and never actually get the chance to fully explain why. Lots of small issues can culminate into one huge, insurmountable problem. And in start-up world, there are no failures. Just experiences that we learn from, move on and improve. You are such a respected sales and marketing expert, that this story will only serve to increase your credibility. xx Emma
I couldn’t agree with you more, Emma! I like how you phrase that – no failures, just experiences we learn from. This was definitely one of those!
You’re so smart to quit before you drowned; too any people hang on way too long & they suffer serious financial problems. You are an example to all of us. I know you’ll make a great success of your next venture.
You have a good point, Holly… it’s about knowing what feels right and what doesn’t and taking action…
Honestly, it saddened me to read your story. All I can say is that you went for your dream. That puts you in the small minority of people who moved beyond talking and actually did something. I hope that thought makes you proud and carries you through the sad times you are in now. OK, good luck, Edward Smith.
Thanks for reading, Edward! Yes, I think when I started I was so passionate about this that nothing would stop me! But I am so proud to have seen my dream come true! I write this with both sadness and happiness, honestly!
Thank you for sharing this with us, Andreea! I can imagine what a tough decision it was to close down a business you’ve worked on for so long and truly loved. But I agree that you do have to go with your gut feel and if it feels right for you, then you’re doing the right thing. I wish you all the best for your future endeavors–I know you’ve got more up your sleeve!
Thanks so much, Monette! I do have more up my sleeve, lol…
Andreea, Thank you SO much for sharing this very honest story! I’ve been following your work for a while now and I’m so impressed by what you have accomplished so far! I’m a big fan of your (free) courses & business tips – You have helped me (& my business) in so many ways already! I can’t wait to follow you on your journey to what’s next!
Thanks so much, Susanne! So glad to hear that my content has helped. That’s always been my goal with Launch Grow Joy 🙂
That’s really very brave and practical. Lots to learn from you. You are amazing 🙂
my mom just sent me a quote today when I wasn’t feeling very well ” If whats ahead scares you and whats behind hurts you, just look above. He never fails to help you”
That just made my day.<3
Oh Andreea, I was really sad to hear about this, it must be hurting a lot to have to let go something you love. It’s funny, we always complain about how our businesses are so much trouble, but when it comes to thinking about closing them, it shows how much we love them after all. Just imagining giving up my passion would depress me to no end. However, they are still businesses and if they don’t fit into the dream and lifestyle we set out to get with them, there has to be some hard decision making. I applaud you for your brave step and for sharing it here in such honesty, it was a huge learning experience for me. Thank you.
Thanks for sharing this with us. It takes a lot of wisdom and strength to know when to walk away.
Thank you for being so brave to tell us the truth, for not trying to hide it, for being so sincere and straightforward, I admire you even more now.
And this is why we look up to you! You are so brave and candid and a savvy business woman. At least now you won’t look back and say, “I wish I would have started that soap business I always wanted.” You did it, it was great and successful, but it wasn’t everything you needed it to be. Now is the opportunity for new dreams.
I thoroughly enjoyed your story and can relate to it completely.
In 2008, we decided to shut down our gourmet food business. After traveling 4-5 hours (north or south), to access a commercial kitchen to process our foods, we decided it was too much for us. During this time, the economy tanked, my health declined, and, honestly, we weren’t getting any younger!! It is our hope to help set up a closer kitchen at some point where we can look into reviving our gourmet food line selling to a wider audience.
Anyway, I said all that to congratulate you on making an important decision and sharing the road to getting to that decision. Too many producers get into business not checking out the variables that you did and wonder why they are failing — on one front or another.
So good luck to you. If you soap company is meant to be, the universe will open up an opportunity for you.
‘Gift Rep Sandy’
Sandy, there are excellent choices for mobile commercial kitchens that you might consider. Or talk to a larger church that may have a commercial kitchen already in place that you can use during the week when they are not using it. Or a restaurant that only serves dinner. Just a thought…
I was thinking the same thing as another, many church kitchens are outfitted well and have to pass commercial standards – and often underutilized. Of course maybe you know this already! Not so sure about soap, because of frangrances.
I relate to almost every aspect of your story. I have a soap company and make my products from scratch. It’s a careful balance to make everything, test it, find packaging, market it, deliver/ship, run my website, farmer’s markets, wholesale accounts, etc. I at a point where in order to grow my business I have to take a leap and buy some bigger equipment, etc. Numbers don’t always make sense to me…but it is my passion and even though the profit is not stellar, I feel like it is my calling. I thank you for your honest look at the business – it is what I’m experiencing too. Thank you too for your marketing wisdom, I have learned a lot from your materials with Launch Grow Joy – I can definitely tell that is indeed your passion.
I have made soap for my personal use and don’t understand why it woulooks costs $8-$12 to make a profit? unless somehow you are wanting to make 6 figures on your business just making small basic batches costs me less than a dollar per bar to make and I am using good oils so idk I am sure your soaps are way more fancy than mine but a basic batch of soap which makes min 20 bars is well under $20 total costs. again I am not making anything fancy and doing it all from home with basic lye fats and essential oils. maybe it’s the oilsame that add up? not sure but I couldn’t even imagine selling mine for $6 as I would feel like I am ripping people off
It’s called buisness cost overhead. Add it all up and you have a $12 bar of soap
Totally agree! I didn’t want to be in the $12 bar of soap market 🙂
Well here is the dividing line in today’s Markets. The $12 & up range is called Luxury Soaps and I have seen them selling for $30 a bar. These your not going to find in Walmart or the Flee Markets.
You will find them in Spa’s & Such. And yes any soap making buisness cost $$$ But people for some reason think you should still sell your healthy natural made soap for a $1. Huuum
I love that you shared this story. How wonderful you got to birth this business that you dreamed up years ago and got a chance to see how loved your product is.
I think it smart to admit the cracks in your business and courageous to let it go for now. Best wishes for your new adventures!
Andrea that is refreshing! So many entrepreneurs, creative and otherwise fail to recognize that if the numbers are not aligned in your pursuits, then leaving it alone until perhaps another time when it is more feasible, is the wisest action. Congratulations on your courage and the lesson you are passing on to all of your readers.
Learning is not “a failure” at all! Thanks so much for sharing your story. I agree with Adrian. It isn’t failure when you make a conscious decision to NOT ignore the reality of numbers and quality of life, and to make the change that is right for you. Good luck on your new adventures!
I love the design and packaging of your soaps. It was a great idea. I admire you for what you have done and the decisions you have made. I know something great is the works.
I’ve had my jewelry making business for a long time and am struggling. Also considering doing a website to destash, which for me would be a diversion. I’m wondering if I’ll be looking at closing my Etsy jewelry store if I become successful at selling jewelry making supplies. So this was really good timing to read this story as I think about trend changes. The handmade soap business is near as competitive as the handmade jewelry business these days.
You are awesome Andreea! Thank you for your vulnerability in writing & posting this. I continue to be inspired by you 🙂
As one of your “older in age” readers and followers, I can tell you that you probably made the right decision. Timing is everything! Best wishes on the future pod cast!
You are amazing, Andreaa. Thanks so much for sharing the highs and lows of your soap business. The decision you made matches what you need now for your family. I just bought Ariana Huffington’s latest, “Thive.” I’m guessing she’d give you a huge attagirl for listening to what’s most important to you now — and for letting that drive your way forward.
Thank you for sharing your story, Andreea. I know it must have been a difficult decision. I have to admit I was relieved to find out you weren’t closing your LAUNCH GROW JOY business because I have told so many entrepreneurs about how you’ve helped our us grow our business. I draw strength and wisdom from all that you’ve taught – including this cycle of business. I really feel like I’ve gone through this with you and I admire your courage “to do what feels right”. I look forward to continue learning through you! 🙂
Congratulations for making the decision that was right for you and for this time in your life, and for the things you are most passionate about. No doubt, making and selling consumer products is not for everyone. It’s great that you cut to the chase quickly, assessed your options, and decided what was best for you, and then did it. A lot of people draw out the decision making process and end up stuck. Kudos to you for following your gut (and your numbers) and moving forward with you other ventures and your life in general.
Thank you for sharing your story with us- I wish you the best-
Much respect to you, Andreea, for your decision- and thank you for sharing. It’s a great reminder to follow your heart! 🙂
Sounds like you are satisfied with this decision, but sorry it didn’t work out. I haven’t ever felt like I needed to close our business, but I have gone through some very frustrating periods with our business not consistently delivering the kind of income I am satisfied with.
I fixed this problem by adding other revenue streams to our business that I’m less interested in personally. I think a lot of creative people get into running a business because they’re passionate about the product or process. I like those things, but I’m much more passionate about not working for other people and making a lot of money, so I can live with doing products I do not personally find interesting if they are lucrative.
Good luck with whatever you do next, I’m sure you’ll find something else that might be a better fit for you.
I just made the same decision on my own soap making business last month. Shipping costs are too high, endless competition was driving down prices, too many parcels were getting lost or damaged in the mail. I was working harder and harder for less and less money. I feel for you having to make the same decision, but I hope it can only lead you onto better things for the future.
I have had the exact same feelings and thoughts that you just expressed in this blog. I have intentionally kept my business small and targeted toward a unique niche market. I charge more than most other soap makers for my soaps because when I first started soaping I looked forward and calculated what the cost, time and future would bring. I don’t make a living at this yet but I do make a profit. I have friends getting soaps into Chain Drug Stores and wholesale pricing at $2 a bar with packaging, labeling and a huge upfront investment. I cannot, nor do I want to sell my soaps for $2 wholesale and make 25 cents a bar – maybe. For me this business is fun and I want to keep it fun. It needs to remain fun or no amount of money is worth the work.
I honestly think you should just take a step back, keep your clientele and find the fun again. Your concept is great. Take a break and find the fun that you had in the beginning. You don’t need Whole Foods. Just my thoughts. Good luck to you in whatever venture you choose to do.
I wish I was as brave as you…I wish it so much. I’ve been designing and making my wee mice for over 30 years now. They were so popular in the late 80’s and 90’s. Then craft fairs shut down. One after the other. Or they became “gallery oriented” and I no longer fit it. These little creatures mean so much to me… I can no longer find an audience…and yet I still can’t give them up.
Andreea – I rarely comment on blogs but I just have to let you know that this honest transparent blog really blew me away! I have followed you and your different ventures/adventures for quite a while now and want to let you know you have been a true inspiration to me.
I have been struggling with closing/selling my business for months now and have not been able to move in either direction yet. Perhaps your most recent actions will motivate me to finally take action!
I can’t wait to see where you are headed next. I do know it will be exciting, inspiring, and fulfilling!
Here’s to the future, and
All the best to you!
Wow Andreea what a decision to make. I can image how hard this must of been. It’s your baby! But you did what you felt right (for the time). I am excited to hear about your new venture. The life of an entrepreneur. I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately and your t-shirt business. I’m toying with the idea of making t-shirt specifically for teens with a specific message. Any suggestions on where I should start?
Thank you for sharing Andreea! I’ve never been in your situation. I admire you a lot in everything you do. I’ve had 1 business and that is my jewelry and I hope I’ll never have to let it go because this is it!
You are truly amazing! So much insight in how to run a business and what it really takes. Thank you for the eye opening experience.
You are so strong and I love that you can totally honour yourself with this.
Andreea, I get a lot of emails from entrepreneurs who sell their expertise, but yours are the only ones I open. You are honest, sincere and I love your speaking voice so full of credibility. I now look forward to being part of your journey.
I wish you all the best…..
Thanks so much, Coco!
I know closing your biz was a very difficult decision, bit so happy that you made the right decision for you! The beauty is that you are a creator and you already have your next thing lined up! I can not wait for your Launch Grow Joy show!!!
When I listened to your tele-summit I had the feeling your thing was online marketing, and the soaps business did not seem to fit really well your energy. I think you have a great future as an online teacher for businesses.
A girl after my oen heart…I stumbled upon my business by chance and the encouragemen of my then co-workers now friends/customers. I was only 23 at the time, i decided to invest the last $20 i had left from my retail job one week and made some hairclips, i sold them at my work, and doubled my money in a few days…one style turned into two then eventually a sales rep. Then life happened i became pregnant with my oldest son now 10, i kept working on my business, then a major car accident slowed business down, then another baby…then divorce…as my life continued to happen i had to make the hard choice to pause on and off for many years, i still struggle between doing what i love and trying to be successful at it, and raising a family. It’s hard to decide when to shut down and when to burn the midnight oil. Kuddos to you for knowing when to throw in the towel.
So interesting. I have to be honest…. when you launched and I saw the price of your soaps, I was really wondering if I had done something wrong in my pricing… how was I having to sell my soaps for $10-12 in order to make the numbers work.
I’m looking forward to your next chapter!
PS – I’m also laughing because one of my lines is that I’m NOT willing to toss my Loubouton’s and move into a yurt!
What a post! I have to thank you, again, for yet another life lesson in being a female/Mom entrepreneur! You have lead a wonderful example for me- being 4 yrs into my dream & ready to close shop in January-until an unexpected population of customers found another use for our yoga bags- Sales have been almost out of control- what a feeling!! Love the attitude of not settling & only wanting your products produced only in the USA. Says a lot about you! Your focus is clear & your gut has told you better…walking forward feels right for now. Can always pick it up later in life–that’s the beautiful thing about being a Mom entrepreneur…Enjoy Life & Love your kids!!
Thank you for all of your inspiration & support Andreea! ~Kelly~ : )
Thank you so much for sharing this! After a year long struggle with myself about keeping my business or letting it go, I finally made a decision and closed the manufacturing side of my business. It was hard to do and I feel like I get more emails now about my products than I did when I was selling them, but I feel so much lighter and I am once again HAPPY! Am I willing to let it all go? No. I may come back to it one day, but for now, it was the right decision and I’m sticking to it!
I’m so sorry to hear that Andreea!!! You do have amazing products and branding. What you have accomplished is nothing short of incredible! But, nobody knows your business better than you do, and you are following your gut instinct on this one. Maybe this is a sign that something better will come along shortly.
I tend to be very optimistic, even when everyone around me is not so much. I’ve been in very much a similar situation lately where I just haven’t made the money yet, though my company is barely a year old. For me, I’m just too passionate and want to see it through that I’ve re-branded, built a new website which will launch in a month and looked in to things that I can do better. My problem was over-saturation of brands in the same category. I’m now moving in to a scarier, high end category soon since there is much less competition (I’ve looked at the pros and cons to this). I’m not sure what to expect but I’m going to give it my all. Your post has definitely reminded me when it will be time to pull the plug if/when I need to, even with as much as I’ve invested.
You have inspired SO many people and made them 10x more successful with your help! You are extremely creative and smart and I really wish the best for you! I just know that we will hear of another fantastic venture of yours in the future 🙂
Thanks so much, Bianca! That means a lot to me!
I’m sad that you had to make this decision and that you’re dream soaps are not to be (for now).
But, I’m so relieved that you’re keeping Launch, Grow, Joy – where I think your calling is now for those of us who need your continued guidance and mentorship.
Jewelry is also very competitive, as you know, and at times I flirt with selling off my beads and wire, but I wouldn’t be happy with that decision in the long run. Besides, I haven’t worked PMB to the full extent I’d like to yet.
Keep your chin up and another window will open.
Thank you for sharing your story ! It sounds like a very tough decision but you have to do what is right financially and what is right for your family. Like you said, the door isn’t totally closed ! Maybe at a different time you could reevaluate and relaunch with a few more products – liquid soaps with your awesome packaging and other organic bath and beauty items or like you side the mugs and things that have the motivational words ! Good luck on your next venture !!!
I can SO relate to that story. Being a product entrepreneur I think one of the hardest things to do in your business is the pricing. You want to sell as much as possible, but then you have the decision to make about growing your company really big. If that’s the case you have to really want to be an employer.
I have a happy medium for you. Why not just get distributors? Then you don’t really have to deal with things like hiring or taking out loans. You’ll make a smaller amount, but have fewer headaches. And you’ll still have your business… without the goats…for now.
I’m so glad you’re not selling the business and that maybe you’ll come back to it in the future…cause that’s smart, leaving your option open.
Yes, you never know!
Andreea, forgive me for using my business profile. I don’t want my comments to be seen by my friends. This is Hanna. I’m in a similar situation. I started my new business, Soulful Ceramics, and this is my real passion and love. It will be launched this summer. I have another b2b (wholesale) business that I started in 2012. I have two brands, one is coming from Korea and another one is coming from China. I get consistent orders from my reps. I was even offered to get into 100 stores immediately a few days ago. But the condition was to get a shipper (floor display). My products are bottom margin products – cleaning items – and my current pricing doesn’t include that shipper cost. Besides, I have to order in bulk (min 2000 shippers). My inventory is running low. I will have to place in bulk again. Inventory purchase in bulk + 2000 shippers cost me $$,$$$ and I don’t see ROI but the loss with this opportunity. I have a few other issues with this business as well. Chinese suppliers are extremely unreliable (they change words every minute and lie), hard to communicate and require mass production all the time. I hate chasing single store buyers to collect unpaid invoices. Fulfilling orders is a big hassle, just as you mentioned. I have no heart in this business. I am waiting for the right timing to inform all my rep partners of discontinuing one of my brands. I guess I will continue with the brand that is manufactured in Korea. I will definitely discontinue with the second brand soon. It is hard to focus on both businesses. I once started with excitement but the time comes to an end. I will focus all my energy and soul into Soulful Ceramics. Andreea, thanks for sharing your story with all of us. I believe you made the best decision. With Love
Hannah, I definitely understand your situation. It sounds like you have made your decision and it must feel great to trust yourself and your intuition. Big congrats to you 🙂
I love that you have been “transparent” with your process! That helps us, your readers and friends, to be able to trust your process and advice. I have a successful custom drapery company, but I’m also in the process of trying to figure out how to monetize an additional business too. We’re all learning from each other!
I am sad that you had to make that decision, I love your soaps and know you have put a lot of time into it. But I also know that you have made the right decision for you, your family and your other businesses.
I am coming upon a similar cross roads as I launch a new business that I feel has the possibility of taking the main role in my life. I’m not ready to make that decision yet (and luckily do not need to yet) but feel in the next 6 months or so I will need to make a big change to move forward.
I know you are going to be amazing at whatever you do and can’t wait to watch your journey!
Thanks for sharing entrepreneurial life lessons for us all. If anyone can reinvent a business, surely it’s you. You’ve been inspiring and informative in my quest to launch SerantoniDesigns.etsy.com, my Fine Art Photography & Designs business. I thought shipping prices on paper products were absurd till I read your story.
You have tons of ideas and options. Thank you for your tenacity in sharing your knowledge. Wishing you abundant success in all things. Follow your passion, dream big and remain thankful. You are blessed!
TFS. I can totally relate to this. Pricing is one of the things I am struggling with at the moment. It is hard to find that balance between charging too much or they will not buy or charging too little and you will not have enough profit. I do not want to be an employer as of yet. I eventually do, because this country needs people to employ other people. I realize that takes an entrepreneur on a different level then being in business for yourself, but for me it is the difference between making a difference for yourself and for others.
That’s so true, Patricia!
Andrews, thanks so much for sharing this story. I look forward to hearing about your next adventure. I can empathize with you about trying to wrangle a business that is outgrowing its initial concept. I launched a new lifestyle brand in 2013 with plans for the business to be a vanity project when I retire. Needless to say it’s gotten too big too fast and now I have some tough choices to make also.
Marlene, I am sure you will make the right choice for you!
I really understand where your coming from. I had to do the same thing with my business in January. I drew the line cause I started my business to be able do what I need to do for my children while bringing in an income. If I did expand it was going to take away family time, up front money, and relocating. I figure a break from being a business person was needed before I start something new. Its been super hard but it brought me back to why I needed to close and later restart something else that will work out in the end I hope. I just have to look at my family and know I didn’t fail. I am very glad that you had the guts to post and share with us. Now I know I am not alone and my new adventure when it takes off will be great. Enjoy your children and your other businesses you have running! Maybe I will run into you one day in Boulder as I live there too!
Thanks, Melissa! I hope to run into you in Boulder as well 🙂
Thank you for doing what’s best for you! We need more entrepreneurs that make this type of decision because it gives us courage to remain entrepreneurs and not rush to be an employer. You have a creative mind. On to the next adventure!
Andreaa, I am sorry. Your honesty in this post makes it so valuable and inspirational. I am a big fan of yours. Xoxoxo
Thanks so much, Vanina!
Thanks for sharing. What really resonated was when you were faced with raising prices. I’m in the handmade jewelry business & also was an accountant, so I know that the numbers tell me to stop or raise prices, but I don’t even know how to relate to that “wealthy 1%”, let alone market to them. I also can’t quite swing a low enough wholesale number for stores to buy. I’m still hoping for an uptick in the economy, so I’m giving it another two years. Good luck with your new adventure!
Thanks, Lisa. I do think that most entrepreneurs need to raise their prices – but if it’s not a market that you can relate to, then it might be tough to connect with them…
Thank you for being so honest. You are very brave. You are amazing at your other business – hope you will keep doing that? Gianna
I’ll still keep Launch Grow Joy going!!!
Hi Andrea, I am sure you made right decision, it takes lot of courage to let go of thinks that we a passionate about. You are a very creative business women and I know you are going to be successful in any project. I know exactly how you feel, I am faced with similar situation when it comes to pricing my products , like you I want to keep quality of the ingredients that I use but it is hard to do that and keep price down, it ends up you working for nothing. Thank you for sharing your story, I know I need to make some changes in my business also. Wishing you all the best and keep us posted..
I am at the same fork in the road with my business. It is extremely difficult to let go of something that has meant so much to you personally and to the people you serve. Success means different things to different people, and not all definitions are the same. I think cost vs. pricing is one of the most difficult things for creative people to come to terms with, this too, is my difficult decision. But, putting everything down on paper and looking at the numbers objectively tells the facts of your business without the heartstrings playing their tunes. I have been reading and following you for quite some time, your advice is solid and you have tremendous business sense, you will prosper in anything you set your mind to. Wishing you all the best in whatever you choose to do. Thank You.
I couldn’t agree with you more. As entrepreneurs, it’s extremely important to define what SUCCESS means to us individually. Some of us love to spend time making products, some love to ship, some love marketing… and success is different for everyone. Having said that, I do agree that most entrepreneurs need to raise their prices, including me for my soaps. But that would mean that I am serving a totally different market, which was just not as exciting for me.
Great post Andrea!
Have you read Seth Godin’s “The Dip”? Excellent book about ‘quitting’, how awesome it can be, and how really smart people do it all the time. I ran a skin-care business for a few years before really admitting that my heart wasn’t in it and ultimately selling it. This little book helped me rally myself forward when I felt like I was giving up – but really I was making the best decision ever. I’ve given it to many friends & clients since then as well
I’ll have to check it out, Stacelynn. Thanks for sharing!
Oh Andreea, I was right there with, almost painfully, throughout every word of your story. If you remember, it’s been over 20 yrs since I invented Cold Sores Begone Stick™ and Canker Sores Begone Stick™ and the world of manufacturing and marketing has changed so much and often over these years that I’ve had to re-invent by business more than once. Even though my 2 remedies are the most effective products, including prescription drugs, or anything available, and I say this not to be self-serving but objectively, it’s been tough. I was in Whole Foods Markets for most of those years but what happened? An ingredient they once acceptable became a dirty word, a ‘paraben’, and discontinued my line. Financially, it was a huge hit. I went to work to re-formulate both remedies with all natural, organic ingredients. I thought it would take no more than 2 mos, but it took 1.5 yrs and without the income, wiped me out financially. But I had this fantastic better-than-ever 2-product line, unparalled by anything that were major problemsolvers for over half the population that suffered from either of the conditions. I went back to Whole Foods Market and said, ok, I’m back and you’re going to like it! They said, get in line, resubmit your products, there’s no advantage that we used to carry your line for almost 15 yrs and that it was a great seller, and oh, BTW, it’s now required for newly approved lines to give us one CASE of each item at no charge. Keep in mind, the chain had grown a lot, I also crunched the numbers backwards and forwards. It would have cost me in the area of $50,000 when I could least afford it. So, I’m no longer in Whole Foods and don’t plan to be unless there’s an unanticipated opportunity that makes it possible. I’ve heard individual store buyers can make the decision to approve it for their store only, but haven’t found one yet that would. I’m still making sales but not close to the income I earned from earlier years, even my website sales have increased significantly and I’m now in Sprouts Farmers Market. That’s why 8 mos ago, I looked into creating other streams of income which threw me into the world of online network marketing, something I wouldn’t have even considered before because I had a picture in mind of ‘schemes’, ‘MLM’, being tricked into meetings (Amway). If it was that way before, it’s not now any more than mainstream business. Online/networking businesses are now scrutinized by government entities for legal compliance and the majority of people involved are those who have lost their jobs or other source income. Andreea, think how much money your soap business has cost you. It’s too painful for me to think about how much I’ve spent on my herbal remedy business and still do. The product liability insurance alone per year is $2000, postage meter rental per yr/ $450, cost of inventory, anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000/yr. What about postage/shipping, distributor chargebacks and commissions. It goes on and on and on. Depending on which online business opportunity you choose, you can start an online business (aka networking marketing) for a one-time out of pocket expense of $1.75, or $25, or $50. Other opportunities have a monthly fee which can range from $10 to $100/mo or so. There’s no hotel room meetings anymore, you don’t even have to sell anything directly or talk to prospects. The programming for these businesses are now so sophisticated, the whole thing can be pretty easy, even for newbies or those with very limited computer skills. If I had available to me 20 yrs what’s available now to earn an income, even a very lucrative one, I would have never have chosen my herbal remedy business. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made some mistakes getting into certain online opportunities that didn’t earn the income I was hoping for but I didn’t loose any more than $30 or $5, and I’m always involved in more than one for leverage. I’ve gone into all this to bring this reality to you and your readers just to let you now there are excellent alternatives today. I’m so sorry for what I know you must have poured into your soap business but who knows, you may still be able to go back to it if it just does something for your soul. I’ve always loved everything about your Launch-Grow-Joy business, even the artwork and colors you use are so pleasing to my eye, I’ve told you all this more than once over the years. Glad you’re still here in this niche. Best, Robin
Hi Robin, Sorry to hear that! You and I go way back, lol! Yes, there is a lot that goes on in terms of a product based business and so much to think about that you often don’t know about until you’re actually faced with that situation. Thanks for sharing this here!
Reading your post was sad, especially because inventors and creators like yourself are exactly why we are in business doing what we do. When we imagined our perfect customer, they said exactly what you mentioned in your post:
“…but I get excited about marketing and selling, not shipping.”
We get excited about shipping, and packaging, and sales tax compliance, and accounting, and cross platform listings. We’re not so good at inventing or marketing, but we rock at the boring back-office stuff.
And, through economy of scale, we’re able to do all of the above for less than it would cost you to do it yourself. And we’re not talking about soft costs, we’re talking about actual money you would spend.
I can’t tell you what a blast it is to help creative types go out and create more, all while using our talents to do what we do best. I’m sorry we didn’t meet soon enough to make a difference in your product launch, because I’m sure we could have helped you grow without losing your joy!
Todd, thanks for reading and sharing your opinion here. I hope you get to help lots of entrepreneurs!
Andrea, This, indeed, is a great loss to many of us who have relied on your timely advice, shared
seminars, and e-mailed you for suggestions on handling business issues. That said, I admire your decision to have more quality time with your family. I will miss you, Andrea. I wish you the very best in life and all future endeavors. Thank you for your past support.
I’ll still be here, Elizabeth. Launch Grow Joy isn’t going anywhere! In fact, it’s only going to get better 🙂
When all else fails. Try Try Try Again. But, never quit…..
Good Luck In The Future
Girlfriend, you are incredible thank you for sharing your story! I’m both sad and happy for you – good for you for following your gut!
Mine has been the opposite, going verrry slow as I still have that bridge job. So to not make myself crazy I’ve also decided not to sell to retailers because of lower profit margins. I never imagined how tough it is to be a biz, especially one where you make all the products yourself – I’m sure that will change as I slowly expand, we’ll see 🙂
All the best xo
Kathleen, thanks for sharing that. Keep me posted and it sounds like you made the right decision for YOU!
Hi Andreea, in 2003 I found myself in the same situation. I had launched a natural body, skin, and hair line and it was doing very well. Too well actually. I couldn’t keep up with production and like you it was really difficult to get the numbers to jive to make expansion make sense. I was so sad, especially because at the time there was another product out on the market that people were comparing my products to (in a good way). That product is now in Sephora. I think about it often, but I know it was just not my time. Wishing you all the best with what you do next and looking forward to the podcast. All the best!
Thanks for sharing your story, Rashida! I can definitely relate…
Andreea, thanks so much for sharing with your tribe of admirers. I wish you all the best and I have no doubt you will soon move in a very successful direction~
Thanks for sharing your story!
In the beggining of this year I was inspired by your videos and I’m sad to know that you’re shutting down but it is pretty wise to close before worse things can happen.
I hope you can come up with something new or re-elaborate your beloved brand.
Thanks for reading!
What a beautifully candid glimpse in the life if a Successful Woman! I particularly live the way you identified options and then gave them time to percolate so you could find your way through each one – like the fact that you don’t care for shipping the soaps yourself! So glad you didn’t compromise where you found the ‘joy’!
I think you could take this story on the road as a Motivational speaker!
Motivational speaker? I hadn’t even thought of that 🙂 Thanks for the suggestion…
What courage & strength it took to come to this decision, and to share it with all of us. I consider myself so fortunate, and eternally grateful to have found you! After completing PMB I realized just how difficult it is to launch, and successfully grow and run, a product-based business. I learned so much from PMB to where I ultimately decided that my organic t-shirt idea just wasn’t feasible to invest in either. I can empathize so much with your situation. But ultimately we need to decide what’s truly important to us and what really defines success for us. I too refuse to go into further debt with the hope it will pay off eventually. And the idea of courting investors completely turns me off. I know that no matter what you decided to do next, it will be successful in every way possible! You are an amazing entrepreneur and are an incredible mentor!
I will be a friend and fan for life! 🙂 Best to you always!
I couldn’t agree with you more! And I can’t wait to see what’s next for you as well!
Andreea, this was such a moving and inspiring post. Thank you for sharing your journey in a way that was so honest.
Thanks, Victoria, for reading!
Thank you so much for sharing the details of your personal story. I learned SO much from it and from the comments others have left. My take away is that you just never know when the variables will change, such as in the case with Robin Barr and her having to suddenly change her product’s formula to exclude paraben. My unhappy variable is this: I just had three giftware companies sell knock offs of my stuff this past Xmas. Now I have two brand new product lines that I have decided not to put up in my etsy shop because I know the ideas will also be stolen and I will end up seeing the knock offs in the mall next Xmas. Both products are very unique so I know they will get stolen. It is heartbreaking because design is my life. I haven’t even designed new things for the product lines already in my shop since Feb. Just need time to heal, I guess. So I can understand the pain of having to make the decisions you’ve made with your soap business. But, I know your next business adventure will be coming soon and I look forward to hearing about it! xoxo
Sorry to hear about this, Rhonda! It’s unfortunate that this happens so often…
I understand completely with what you are going through. Not that my business is at the same level as yours, but I had to close one of my websites and have scaled back on another just because of the time it takes and the work you put into it for little to no gain. An online business takes a huge amount of time and promoting and it takes up so much of your time that it doesn’t leave much time for making your items like I do. I also had to step back and look at things before I closed the one business and I realized most of my sales and profits come from the local market and I decided I like the local market much better that online so I closed one of my websites and have slowed down on the other. It actually feels good to have some time to get more creative than always hurrying to get your “computer” work done. 🙁
Good luck to you in the future in whatever you may do…keep us posted. 🙂
Hi Andreea, thank you for sharing your story. There is nothing better in this world than doing ‘what’s best for you’. Launch! Grow! Joy!
I’m sure that was such a hard decision. Thanks for sharing your story.
Yes, for sure. I considered ALL of my options before making it and I definitely feel that it was the right one.
I completely understand Andrea, I closed my bridal biz down last year after 9 years. I had helped 100’s of brides featured in bridal magazines. Like you materials went up and the cost of me producing was getting far too high so I made the decision last year to close the doors. I had the dream to set up my designer jewellery biz (as you know) and I took the plunge to focus on that. It’s not been easy and been hard sales wise but I am starting to see changes, new clients appearing on social media, fashion photographers now wanting to work with me…fingers crossed my decision will pay off! I understand where you are coming from, it a tough decision but you have to do what is right for you and your family.
Totally agree with you, Clare!
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can totally relate to what you are going through and price resistance and wanting to keep production here in the USA. I am having some of that problem with my Olive Gratitude Bracelets and I had that with my pillows. I had to give up making my pillows because of cost and production here in the USA. I do not want to give up my bracelet production especially since I am employing women in NH to make the bracelets. I am doing everything to coordinate, sell, promote, manage website, wholesale accounts,shipping, etc..I love what I do and am in the crossroads of figuring it all out so I love following you. You are beautiful and wise. Thank you so much for sharing from your heart! With Gratitude, Beth
Thanks so much! That means a lot 🙂
I just discovered your Launch Grow Joy site last month, so I can only say that I look forward to what’s in store for you next. I did see your soaps in Savor Spa in NYC and they brought me instant… well, joy! That same essence will be in anything that you create, whether it’s a podcast series or a new life for your soaps because it comes from your personality and imagination.
From what you shared with us, you made the decision to put your well-being first and give yourself time to regroup. That’s genius! If you ever do decide to go back to it, you’ll have all of that perspective and experience to guide you. Plus, the soaps are so fresh and fun that you will have the customers as well. If they can bring back the polaroid instant camera in the digital age, there’s space for your lovely soaps!
Thank you for being so candid and letting us learn from your experiences. I’ve learned more from this single post than a day-long biz seminar. I’ve gotten some local buzz for my business and was frozen with fear that I wouldn’t be able to scale it larger. This post gave me some vital logistical issues to think through carefully.
Can’t wait for the podcast!
Thanks so much for your feedback!!!! And I definitely agree – if I go back to this, I’ll have a totally different perspective.
Although I understand why you are shutting it down, I have to admit that I am a little upset at your decision. Not the fact that you will no longer be producing soaps, but more the fact that you didn’t make them. You outsourced your product so someone else would make them. You were the middle man. There are countless women in business who work hard every day to make their own products with their own hands that would give their right arm to have had the success you had. Myself included. My products are very different than yours. I make /design /market my own furniture line. 4 years strong now – and I am just now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I now have an employee, my own wood-shop (I started in a basement), no business loans (I rolled everything back into the business on tools materials etc – after my personal expenses were paid), I am a nominee for a “Handmade” design award. So in thinking about your decision – i realized that you were in it for the money and the profit – not the joy of it. Breaking even (when all costs are covered – including personal expenses) is a good thing in any business. Even if you had made a $.50 profit per bar, that would have yielded you $10,000 for that Whole Foods order. Was that not enough? Was that not enough to buy some machinery? You don’t have to rent space for 5 years – check with a good CRE (Commercial Real Estate agent) on some flex space and haggle a deal with an open end opt out after a term (6 mos is good to start). Retail is always expensive, Industrial is always the cheapest – lots of business parks have flex space (Wharehouse/office) in one unit and they should never be over $.90 sq/ft – and I am in the Los Angeles area. It may not be in the best area or the most posh – but it gets the job done. By hiring a few people you are helping out the local economy etc. I am not a whiz at business by any means, and I still make lots of bad mistakes and decisions. But one thing I have learned and what I go for – the customers reaction to what I have made. That is the best payment ever! The smile, the look of appreciation, the verbal and sometimes actual pat on the back, the referrals, the nomination for an award!, the stories about how they found out about me, the fact that they are thrilled that they can afford custom made furniture, that everything is handmade just for them. This is what keeps me going. I know i need to raise my prices and I know that a year or two more and then I will be able to save for a rainy day. I am ok with that. I am ok with the hours of hard work, determination, learning new things, being tired and stressed out at times and meeting deadlines (which honestly I have a hard time with). My customers like reading my blog on my business because I am brutally honest about things. Customers love that. You have received a ton of feedback telling you just this – your honesty has inspired them. There is a huge handmade movement throughout the country. You have a successful product and business and you are shutting it down? I don’t get it.
Cree, thanks so much for your message and for sharing your opinion. There are many ways to set up a business and believe me, I have considered all of my options. You can be an entrepreneur and not make your products yourself or you can choose to make them, like in your case. For me, I debated this decision before I started and because I already have a business and three small children and I am only able to work about 20-25 hours per week, making my own soaps was not an option. However, my products are still handmade – just not by me, and that was my choice when I first started this business.
There are many reasons why I am in business – to have a flexible schedule, to do what I love, to make things happen, to connect with others, to inspire, to make people happy, to provide a good quality product and yes, to make money as well. I don’t agree that breaking even is good enough. I strive to thrive in my business, financially and otherwise, and I would not continue my business if it was just breaking even, although I do know it takes some time to break even depending on your business. I also think everyone has a different definition of success – mine is different from yours and for me, with the Whole Foods order I would not have made $10,000. It would have been a lot less because I would have had to first borrow the money to make all of that inventory (and paid interest on it), pay for shipping from my manufacturer to me, hire someone to put labels on 10,000 soaps, which would probably take at least two weeks, if not more, ship the products to Whole Foods and give them lots of free samples, which they requested. It would have been about 3 months of work when it was all said and done and I would probably have made just a few thousand dollars. To me, that was not worth it, honestly. So, in the end, the Whole Foods decision was entirely financial.
I think that there’s a huge problem going on in the entrepreneurial world (and maybe I’ll leave that for another blog post), but too many people are willing to stop at “breaking even” – to me, that’s not valuing your time and skills. And yes, I could have made this business work if I raised my prices, but, as I mentioned in my post, I am not as excited about serving the market that would spend $12 for a bar of soap, so in the end, it just didn’t work for ME. I’m all in for trying something new, but, if it doesn’t work, I am ok with saying goodbye. And this is exactly what happened here.
Sorry to read about your decision. I have enjoyed reading your news and updates. My business is internet marketing plus I have skin care line, formulated by a doctor friend, and understand the challenges you have faced.
When I decided on PMB it was because of you. You remind me of myself and I wanted to 1) be inspired by someone I felt a kinship with and 2) who has been profitable and successful. So I joined PMB and learned the hard way that I am not up to the process of marketing at present and decided to close my company for several reasons profit included & not the least. I LOVE that you shared so openly the drastic measures you were willing to go to in order to see it through. Being of a creative mindset myself I have had some amazing ideas and really cool product possibilities, but as you say everything has to WORK. It does all have to synergize and be able to stand on it’s own, profit included. Feeling that inspirational vision, and go the distance is such a strong desire. Without that inspiration it’s nothing, but time to call it quits when it is JUST NOT WORKING out. Stay with that inspired feeling in whatever you do. ALWAYS. That is EVERYTHING, is what shines and MORE THAN LIKELY that beautiful vision/dream will be reborn in an even more brilliant and beautiful way. many blessings.
I personally have followed your blog for a long time. Sad to see you had to come to this decision. It was a joy to see your emails and read blog posts about the progression of this business.
You are inspirational and your insight is very open, honest, and uplifting. I know you will continue to be a success in everything you do and wishing you continued success.
I am one of your biggest fans! You have inspired me in so many ways since I joined the MBT program.
What is happening now with your soap company is not the end but a beginning of something bigger that is waiting for you, and the universe is gently guiding you towards your new and brighter path.
I personally faced so many challenges in my life ( Escaped the civil war in my country, arrived in Canada with 100$ barely speaking English, being laid off of my dream job while being the sole caregiver of my paraplegic mother)
After being laid off , I decided to follow my dream and start my business and selling a very precious cosmetic oil that comes from my culture called Moroccan Argan oil . I had no capital but my little retirement savings! but yet I trusted my guts and made the big jump ( when people were advising me to grab a stable job)
After a little bit that one year , I have been selected among 4000 thousands companies across Canada to pitch my business in Dragons’ Den show ( the Canadian version of Shark tank) which the outcome was beyond what I ever dreamed of ! Once the show will be aired ( in a few months) I hope a lot of people will be inspired by my story that I shared in the Den.
To make long a story short is all about turning negative into positive, and trusting your guts, intuition and wisdom when it comes to business decision.
I am sure that very soon you will announce a brand new and inspiring business idea that you will turn into “big” as usual.
Keep inspiring us Andrea and take care,
Thanks so much! I wish you best of luck on Dragon’s Den – I watch it all the time and will be rooting for you!!!!
Thank you for sharing this. The advice that you give in your blog is so helpful, even if it’s about stopping a business. I am glad that you told us about the warning signs, because it really showed me that it is tough out there. I am glad you’re still doing Launch Grow Joy though, I’d be sad if you went away!
Thank you for sharing your story. The life of an entrepreneur is all about finding your passion… and following your gut. Your dream of living life in a Yurt really spoke to me as my current dream is to convert a bus into a mobile studio/home. I also love to travel, and find so much inspiration when I do.
While the soaps might not have worked out for you now, I have no doubt that when the time is right, you’ll know just what to do with the company. Timing is absolutely key.
Thank you again for sharing your story. Seeing these glimpses into anothers journey can hopefully help the rest of us make have an easier ride. (We hope!)
Thank you for sharing your story. Honest, I am sad to see you closing down your business. Have you tried to increase the shipping cost? There are many soap sellers in Etsy that provide high shipping cost (which is the actual cost since the soaps are heavy). But many of them still make good sells.
I really do hope you will figure out some ways to solve the issue and stay in business. You did a supper great job on launching this shop and it’s sad to see it go. Good luck and with you all the best.
Yin (LoveGem Studio – Eco Jewelry)
I live in Ireland and am in my 30th year in the Holistic health business. YOU are NOT a failure, as long as you learn from the mistakes this business has taught you. You ARE a business-woman, who thank God had the good sense to get out while you are ahead, rather than flinging money at it when it is not viable at this time.
I have added several prongs to my business, so when one is less lucrative, another is working.
Best of luck in the future and I feel sure I will hear about you again in an even more successful business. May God go with you.
Oh Andreea, my heart broke a little when I read the Subject line of the email. One of the things I love about you is how honest and transparent you are! Good for you for making a very difficult decision that’s best for YOU.
Congratulations on your outstanding decision! It was once my dream to own a jewelry store — until I realized that dream and faced some of the same issues you faced (long story, of course). It is every bit as important to know what you DON’T WANT TO DO as it is to know what you DO WANT TO DO. Successful people are the ones who don’t wander into the realm of what they don’t want to be when they, in fact, know what they DO want to be. Sounds like you stayed true to your business plan. Well played, Andreea!
Thank you so much for this honest post, fellow B-Schooler!
I’m currently building a business with no clue how-to, but since everyhting is figureoutable, I’m even more excited about developing it and teaching myself all the stuff I need.
Your insights are very helpful!
Thank you so much for sharing this. I recently started reading your blogs and I love your posts. It is so refreshing and inspiring to see someone share all aspects of the entrepreneur journey. As a mom to 3 young children, I totally understand how difficult it is to find the proper amount of time to start/run a business while taking care of a family! Congratulations on moving onto the next chapter. I’m sure you’ll find something that makes sense for you and that you’re happy with. All the best!
you will succeed,
so sad we must compete with china prices,
we sell to a distributor and wonder why because the profit margin is so low, but retail on our web page is great at heritageslategallery.com and shipping is painful and takes lots of time.
Thank you so much for sharing this post. I have big dreams, and want to do many things, but this was heartfelt. I feel your passion for your craft. I am beginning to understand that in order to survive one cannot do it alone on just one business, and has to have many venues to pull in funds.
Good luck with your other ventures. I am sure that many other doors will open for you. Thanks again for your genuine thoughts.
I have been struggling w/ a product and going “supernova” w/ it. The creation phase was very fun, but as i got more and more orders, the “logistics” were very overwhelming. I really didn’t want to become an “employer”, so I decided to “licence” the idea (while retaining proprietary ownership) and found this to be the solution. I set “performance parameters” which the licensee needs to meet (or the contract is voided), and thus far, it’s been nice to just receive a part of something ($) than to be crushed under the work involved with going into the big time.
Thank you, Andreea, for sharing your experience with us. I know exactly what you mean and the process it takes to make the best decision at this time of your life. While, I am back at home ready to order some more of your soaps, I get your decision to simplify your life until you are ready to do it again. Thank you for your insights!
I admire your posting for the honesty. While it took courage to make such a decision to close your business, it lets others know that it is OK to make such a decision and that it does not mean failure. It is still your success, you chose a different path at this time and that’s wonderful. Thank you!!!
Hi Andreea. I’m sorry you’re closing out the soaps for now, I’ve been following you for most of the year and I know how much the soaps meant to you and your difficult decision around getting them into Whole Foods. Sometimes you enter into something that turns out to be way bigger than you currently have the capacity to pursue. It takes a lot of courage to do what you’ve done. I’ve learned a lot from you this year as I’m working to create my own small venture.
Your honesty is great and actually inspiring to hear as an entrepreneur. Saying NO and doing what is best for you as the business owner isn’t always easy. It takes courage to say no and focus on what you want to do. Best of luck in your next endeavor.
I know I’m late to reading this, but I want to thank you so much for sharing your experience. I can totally relate to your situation and greatly admire your tough decision to let the soaps go for now (btw, I loved your branding on those too!). As a mom and an entrepreneur, I feel very fortunate to have discovered your website and podcasts – you are so inspiring and motivating.
Thanks so much, Janet! Glad you enjoyed reading it. And thanks for listening to the podcast, too 🙂 I love your chalkboard paper – so cool!
Just when I needed it most, I found your web site! Finally someone who gets it, and is honest in sharing their joys and struggles in business. Thank you so much for encouraging me, and so many others!!! I enjoy listening to your Podcasts, and I’m learning a lot.
I make all natural, GMO free, Praline gourmet nuts, based on my Victorian Grandmother’s recipe. My ancestors once had a candy factory so I grew up making confections, baking, and cooking as a kid.
My company is called That Nutty Redhead. People told me I was crazy/nutty to steam cook nuts, instead of roasting them, (a form of deep frying) so the name fit! I stand by my product, the nuts are softer, fresher, and also easier on our teeth. 🙂
Thanks for letting me share, best to you!
So glad you found me and I just checked out your site – great idea! I love the WHY behind your company name, too 🙂 Thanks so much for reading!!!!
This is a great story for me…as an entrepreneur, the decisions we must make based on our comfort level is all we have to go by. I just recently gave up direct selling after one year and a half of successful selling due to finding more work as a single (newly divorced) parent.Tough decisions. But, we must re-structure and approach things with a fresh eye and clear head. I make lotions, soaps, salts, butters, oils, and candles and love each of them. But, I’m only one person and this is a cash based business in a limited economy.
All the best to you dear and remember if you see it happening, then it must be true!
I actually stumbled over your website while doing research for a soap manufacturer. The least of my experience has to do with beauty & cosmetics; yet I do research for different operations. First! Sorry that you have decided to close down your business. Vision, ideas and numbers may not always be best friends (I am an analyst) I happened to came across a small manufacturer of soap, lotions and other products. The owner has been doing that for 12 years and supplies her organic product to two retailers. Yet, she is not a marketing person ; seems to have a great product but is struggling to conquer the market. I am a person that adds 1 + 1 and figure out what can be done with that. That’s why I must have stumbled right on your page. My email is on the post and it would be great to get some of your feedback. Not looking for free advice. Thanks, Frank Kruemmel, Austin, Texas
One of the things I like the most about you Andreea and a reason that I follow you is that you are always refreshingly honest and up-front about things. Even though this event happened over a year ago, it is still relevant for us to read. I like that you have the courage to make a decision to close a business that was your dream. Your flexibility and ability to change with the market makes you successful!
I can relay with your story. I have been on the soap industry for many years. My first job was back in 1993 was at a very profitable soap business located in Florida. I love it, and I learn a lot from it. Something I learn is that you need to sale more than just soap. Making your own soap is also more cheaper so purchasing your ingredients from a wholesaler distributer. Purchasing your soap bars, by a manufacturing could be very expensive, and would let you with a very small room for profits. Currently competition are $7, big stores like bath and body works sale their bars for $10 and above. Creating a good quality soap while keeping the manufacturing cost low, could help you a lot. But this will required you to work full time.
Also considering, to sale more than just soaps. Gift baskets are a good example. Selling the items at streets fairs rather than having a physical store is also a great move, specially on the holidays. Amazon, offer great ways to sale the items including “prime” for free shipments which can be shipped directly from amazon to their prime members.
However, I do understand your note, it is not an easy business specially within this economy where presentation is everything.
Very good insights. Thanks for sharing your story and business model. I’m wondering if the only winners are those small businesses that aspire to working with the “Whole Foods” and other empires as the only way to grow and turn a profit. I got into soapmaking as a hobby in my semi-retired employment status. I enjoy the creativity in making the soaps and like my product line, as it develops. I’m wondering if online sales ever really take off at some point or do you really only get visibility through ads and selling in markets?
Sorry to hear that but really admire ur courage to know when to say no! I’m trying to start a similar business and have no idea where to start for website, packaging, labels, logo etc… So I feel like cutting it all loose!
Hi Andreea – TY for sharing your amazing story with us. I’m confused about the fulfillment center. Does that mean they made your soap bars/packaged/shipped them? From start to finish. I make candles, soaps, and body products, and that never occurred to me. I think that is such an amazing idea. I have been wondering how I would grow, and the only option is to hire employees in order to do so, or so I thought. I
Hi Tiffany, The fulfillment house stored and shipped and packaged my soaps, but they did not make it.
I had a similar experience as you did. In 2007 I started Ecologie Bags, a reusable shopping bag company. This was before any grocery store sold reusable bags. I received orders from some smaller grocery chains and even flew to Bentonvile, AR and met with WalMart! To make a very long story short, online sales were decent and I had several medium-sized orders but I was early in this niche and then couldn’t figure out how or where to get the funds to scale up once the bags started showing up in my grocery store. I ended up selling all of my “leftover” bags to an online retailer and closing the business. I still miss the marketing and selling and hope to start another business sometime in the future. Unlike you, I don’t have a concept that I’m passionate about so still considering my options.
I hope you can start your business back up at some point.
You are one smart cookie
I found this blog by accident because I am preparing to start up a soap business and this came up on my search. What i thought was kind of strange is that you did not actually make the soap yourself. That is the part I enjoy the most! I have experimented with batch after batch to perfect each recipe, researching oils and herbs and plants. It is very therapeutic. I made my own molds out of wood and perfected my cutting technique. All my friends and co-workers are my guinea pigs to test a new recipe on and they LOVE it. I know exactly the cost of making a 7 to 8 oz bar of all natural vegan handmade soap made with essential oils and it is nowhere near what they where charging you. I am not planning to do this as a “business plan” but rather to improve the quality of my own life while helping to bring joy and pleasure and better health into the world for others. Like you said…do what you love.
Susan, thanks so much for sharing this! I would have loved to make the soap myself – but with three little kids and another business to run, and having to learn how to actually make it and buy all of the equipment, it proved to be nearly impossible 🙂
When dealing with a brand new business, I believe opening up one is the easiest part. But keeping it up would be the hardest. As being a small business owner, I found it harder to deal with customer satisfaction and keep your business growing everyday is my number 1 challenge. A business growing or not is not base fully on your skills, but also is by your luck. It is also depend on your business location.
Thanks for this valuable advice. I just got into making soap and the growing piles of soap in my home make the thought of going into business attractive from the point of view of recovering my costs but the costs of taking it to the next level are huge. I’d have to give up a lot in my life that is good in order to pursue it. Instead, I’ve decided to teach some soap making classes periodically and trade soaps with other soapers and give the rest away.
This is one of the most honest blog posts I’ve read about the realities of running a small business. The hidden costs of selling are large, and most people don’t see that side of selling. Instead, buyers they want to know why your product is so expensive.
I totally agree! Thanks so much for reading this!
hahaha so true – I used to get that all the time even though my product is not expensive. I now have a standard comeback ‘because I don’t work for chinese wages’. It generally works.
Thank you for sharing your journey !! i can completely relate i have started a few different businesses with huge potential. I hit the ground running i was very determined to build a brand that my children would enjoy being a part of.However – I failed to do the one thing that would set a business up for success from the beginning and that was to write a business plan. Wow!!!!!!!! Fast forward several years later I know why it’s so important to put a your plans and thoughts in writing.I plan on launching a soap line soon this time with a business plan. I’m a single mom of 7, so this business will have several helping hands and interesting input. Thank you for sharing your posting it gave me hope !! I’m launching my blog and you tube channel Charisma+plus7.
I do apologise if I appear to take advantage of your current situation as I wish to ask for your help with soap making. I am sorry you had to close your soap business at the moment with the hope of starting it again in the future but be proud of what you achieved and be assured that you will be good at what you do when you decide to start again. I wish to start a small cottage industry making soap please are you able to take me under your wings as I am a complete novice and not knowing where to start. I just want something on a small scale and have no intention to be big.
Joy, thanks so much for your comment. There is a lot of great info on the blog here that can help you with your business 🙂
Hello, please reply! I need some feedback!! I feel the entrepeneur bug in me, and Ive been thinking a LOT about what business should I launch, I´ve never made a batch of soap before, but I love the whole idea of it, Id love doing it, and I would be happy to start a soap making business, and while doing some reaserch I stumbled upon this post, and you got me thinking, because, here where I live (Mexico) the economical crisis is at a very high point, there´s not a lot of people who would pay $8 or $10 bucks for a bar of soap when you can barely afford to have food and pay rent, and I wanna be able to live off of this business, but I feel like you, I dont wanna sell it only to the rich people who could afford it, and I cant really lower the price too much because everything here is more expensive and difficult to find (Havent been able to find a lye supplier in my area so even for that Id have to pay shipping) Im very worried that it can´t be viable and that I invest too much money in supplies and equipment, Im actually feeling a little discouraged right now with this whole idea of losing it all, when it s gonna be so hard and expensive to get there 🙁 What would you reccomend me doing? How did you find a business that is actually profitable and love doing? Thanks a lot for your sincere words. Love. Mary.
Maybe I missed it, what is your cost of goods for a 4 oz bar? $1?
Hi, I have been making soap for 17 years. I am curious why you couldn’t find a wholesaler who could get the price down for you? I have been able to keep my wholesale prices fairly low …. Well under $4.00 for my .4.5 ounce bars. I do have access to suppliers of many of my oils in my hometown so I dont have to pay shipping. I have absolutely loved soap making and my business has been my passion! I really enjoyed your article and hated to see that such fervor was drowned for lack of a supplier:( Have a wonderful day!
I made cold process soap and sold it at farmer’s markets, fairs and Etsy for about 3 years. The fairs and farmer’s markets were a lot of work and even though I had a great product and people did buy it and returned to buy it, the profit was not there for all the effort. Etsy or any online selling was not that successful either, because of the shipping and the fact that there are a lot of people selling bath products online.
My favorite part was making the soap. I would go to sleep and think about what to make next and wake up thinking about it constantly. If you ever want to go back to selling soap, please let me know. I would be willing to make the soap for you and I think we could get those costs to work. My dream was to get into Whole Foods or another big name store too!
I know I’m really late in reading your post but I just wanted to say I can relate 100%. I closed my soy candle company in 2014. My reasons were very similar to yours.
I have been selling my Pesto Sauces to a large organic grocer for 8 years.
The orders are getting smaller and the profit margin even smaller.
I hate to let them go and just do farmers markets where I make a much better profit.
Too much work for the organic grocer for the return.
what to do ?
I hope I don’t offend you, but when I look at your goals as compared to your business model, they just don’t seem to line up. You seem to want a hands on, do-it-for-the-love-of-soap-making business, but also to scale it to the size of a large, commercial business. This is jut setting yourself up for failure imho. It seems if you want the yurt, goats, land, and the creativity and freedom to create your own handmade soaps from scratch then you will need to market locally, particularly by word of mouth – no office space, no employees, no super fancy packaging, and keep non essential needs to a minimum. You won’t get rich doing it, but I bet you’ll do pretty darn good. The most important part is that you’ll be living the kind of lifestyle you want to lead. Its a great lie that we’ve been fed that money is more important than anything else. If you are doing what you love, what you are good at, are able to spend more time with your family, the freedom to set your own schedule, and you make decent money, this is what truly being rich is. Who could ask for more? There are tons of people out there that miss out on their kids lives, are never home, never have any fun, that have tons in their banks. What is the point in that?
If you are going to sell online then I suggest selling in bulk. If you could fit 24 bars in a USPS flat rate envelope (best deal), bubble wrap it, and ship it for only $5.10 then your shipping per bar is only about $.22 each. It’s good for you, it’s good for the buyer. Perhaps you could let the buyer pick and choose an assortment instead of just one kind. Frankly, I’m extremely surprised that you have buyers that are willing to pay $12 per bar! I would only be willing to pay a max of $4, $5 if it were a huge bar, but that’s just me.
If you’re wanting to scale the business to an enormous size where your soap is available in every Whole Foods, then to be able to compete you need to be prepared to be more hands off and give in on some things you may not want to – like outsource to China. It sucks that things are this way, but it’s the truth.
P.S. If you wanted to save on costs plus add in an additional source of income, you could use your land to grow your own/ process your own essential oils. It’s a hot market by itself. Just saying – if you could have your own goats and have your own oils, your costs would shrink considerably. Just a thought.
Yes I have felt this way about my home business that I have. I make handcrafted candles and it’s very difficult for me to try and sell at craft shows when the organizers around my local area allow direct sales people in the show. :O( I can’t compete with their mass productions that they make. I really do enjoy making my candles
Here is your problem….YOU have to make the soap yourself…we have 2 stores now and working on the third …we sell a 4.5 oz bar of natural soap for 4.00 each…I know several people selling in the millions in just soap…yes it can be done but you have to make it! You can’t buy from someone let them mark it up then you get it and mark it up and expect to make money…..as far as the comments on here about candles…DON’T DO IT….they are a dime a dozen out there.
Old comment but I completely agree. I see so many people failing at business because they try to go too big. Bigger scale isn’t better. Bigger scale doesn’t equal more money. There are a lot of people living entirely off of their small business and very happy because they didn’t lose control. This article lost me at the “I called my manufacturer”…yes well then there is no way you can lower your costs.
Amazing courage! It is never an easy decision to close a business. I come from a (to date) successful business family – and it is never, ever easy. It is also not a romantic – so sadly unless you plan to sell yurts and goats…… the best piece of advice my dad ever gave me for running a small business, well there lots of it, but the first thing is to always find an excellent accountant BEFORE you sign anything and get their advice on your business plan. I’ve currently just launched a small soap business in the French Alps – it is a tough market here, since French people… whilst they love hand made stuff – they won’t pay for it! Like most places I suppose. So I had to re-arrange my business plan because there was no way I could sell my luxury bar of soap with 28% sustainable shea butter, 6 other butters/oils and EOs for 5 euro a bar and pay the enormous taxes in France. My entire business philosophy is built on this mega recipe I created that is like washing with moisturiser. Where to go? So I swallowed my pride, and created a basic soap recipe – the three wise oils plus Almond oil and used skin friendly fragrance oils. It has worked. I also branched out into making hand poured candles and body butters/body scrubs. The candles sell super well for me because I found a niche market. Admittedly I only do them in bulk for Christmas, Easter, Mother Day etc. And keep a small stock in the shop year round. I still only wanna do soap, but it adds interest. Selling on the Internet always looks appealling, but having spent 15 years in IT – it’s not easy to spin traffic and sales. It costs ALOT of money to get marketing and at the end, like all marketing no one ever knows if it will turn out or not.
Thanks so much for sharing.
I Live in Arvada, CO, and I would really LOVE to have my own soap store and produce my soap for sale. I just never believe, there is enough market for it. I wish I could make my dream true, but I do not have enough courage for it. I do not mean to go big, just earn my living with the soap making and working in the store. Maybe doing soap making classes from time to time. Still I guess it is unrealistic…
I live in The Netherlands and we have Markets with home made product. We call it “swan Market” At this way you can have a little investment, lots of fun and experience in selling your products. Are there markets like that in Arvada?
If there is you can work up to the courage of having an little soapstore with customers who al ready now your product. Greetings, Miranda
Hi I’m wondering if you can tel me whay the candle making industry is like in the US? Im in Australia and the market here is flooded with candlemakers. Every person here has at least one friend who makes candles and getting into a weekend market fair is very competitive in this field.
Hi. I started selling soaps to a vision center, a customer at work, a church lady for her corporate gifts, a private customer on fb, and I did not expect to even do it I just like making the soaps. I started late August 2017, and I am in a stand still. I want to create a website and business cards. I have the same concern the shipping and handling prices. I have not brought in bulks just in regular stores the olive oils and coconut oils. I have so much to learn and I feel alone my husband followers me but does not have any knowedge only but what I teach him. My dream is make the soaps sell them but the shipping is expensive. I do not know what to do. Should I buy soaps from manufacture and sell on line. Making soaps is a lot of work but fun. I do it right in my basement. Please if anyone has suggestion about bulk buying, assistance in website making, anything please reply to me. I want to do a business but so confused. Thank you.
Hi just read your article. I’m in the process of closing my beloved soap store. I am in a tourist area and have great foot traffic and sell a lot of soap!!! A dream come true, right? Wrong! The over head costs are killing me. Insurances, taxes, electric, WiFi, rent, cam fees, advertisement and the list goes on and on! So many things you just don’t think of. I was doing so well selling from home, doing craft fairs on line sales and holiday events, I loved what I was doing. Now, not so much! Everytime I turn around any profit is going out the door! So as of right now I will be liquidating and selling off everything over the next 2
months. I feel like I don’t want to make another batch of soap for a long, long time if ever!
I hope I didn’t dash anyone’s dreams but you seriously need to think hard and have a lot of cash on hand to start and run a business of this type.
Thank you for sharing your story.I have been a maker of all natural soaps and other bath and body products for 9 years. I’ve built my small Soap company from the ground up and do business online, farmers market and some wholesale. I’ve also been a nurse for 28 years and plan to retire from that job when it’s time. My dilemma is that my Soap business has overtaken my life, I need to take time for myself and family again! We love to bike, kayak and my husband and I just purchased an rv. As much as I’d like to be able to do both careers I’ve mentioned until the end of time, I am making the choice to close my business as well. Why, because I’ve got to focus on doing for me again. Take long weekends to enjoy life, sleep in a little bit on Saturday mornings, go on that epic trip without worrying about getting orders out.
I completely agree it’s all about timing and it’s ok to turn down a different road as your life changes. I’m in my 50’s now and am so excited to switch gears!
Hello I found your article very informal. I’m new to soap making and want to produce my products online can you give me tips so it’s successful
I am chief cook & bottle washer for my soap business. I make all my displays and restock on my “soap route.” I do get tired but this is my retirement. I make 2500 bars a week (can do twice that.) I made almost all my wooden molds. I also do Flea Markets, Festivals and shows. I have no plans to quit. I am expanding our product line and adding candles & lotions. Plan your work & work your plan. Thanks for sharing!
That was inspiring. It would be nice to know how things turned out for her. Glad things are going well for you!
Hi I just read your blog. I am a soap producer and sell my soap at local fetes and craft shows. I think your problem was the size of your bussiness. I find soap is very personal to the customer . I find selling soap on the small scale is working best for my bussiness. I do have eBay shop and I find I do not sell my soaps.if you could replicate this with sale agent trading under your name then you could have large bussiness . Also it puts the fun back into the bussiness as you are sell to customer rather to retailer .
I just found your site and your blog. I found this a wonderful and honest read. As a mother and possibly a future business owner/entrepreneur this really hit home for me.
I wish you the best, perhaps when you’re ready to let go of your soap company it will be for the right person(s) to give it the love and receive the joy that’s been apparent for you.
I too am looking at starting a similar business, but it’s based on a socially conscious concept for my local area.
thank you for putting this out there, I hope that you continue to make strides in your entrepreneurship ventures.
Since 2016 I have tried to launch several jewelry brands (not beaded jewelry but metalsmithing), without success, in the end I decided to change the type of article, although I am a fashion designer and my jewels had a discrete success but few sales, I think that for jewelry there is no more space online and offile, give up it’s not surrender, but an opportunity to accept new challenges
I hope that one day the jewelery market will become less crowded
Thanks for sharing your story Andreea, especially your thought process in having to make this hard decision.
I realized that this would be a HUGE investment for me and my business model would have to change completely.
Thank you for sharing. I had my business for 8 years selling soap and other bath and beauty products. I worked a full time job the entire time and built my business up to $40,000 in sales the last year. That was two years ago now. I could not work all the time anymore and I have a great day job but I found that the soaps which I loved making the most, was also the most competitive. My profits were not high enough to ever be able to quit my day job. So after putting all I could give into it, I finally pulled all products from the stores and offline. I am having on to my business license for now, because I also can’t quite give up the dream for now.
are you selling any of your supplies?
No, I don’t have any supplies to sell since I had someone manufacture my soaps.
Don’t give up. Sell to those who want your business at the cost you intend to sell it for. Stick with the people that want to do business with you. Don’t let larger industries diminish you from what you love to do best. I love that you want to stick to $8 and not increase to $12.
Thank you for sharing your story. It’s really sad to close a complete chapter of life after investing 10 years in it. I too am looking at starting a similar business, but it’s based on a socially conscious concept for my local area, Your thoughts would help a lot to beginners.
I have a soap business but really don’t love it but created a business to prove to myself I could and I did that. The passion for it just is not their even though I’ve had some good feedback. I have product that I brought from a natural soap maker and sell as my own. I do love the soap and it make’s my skin feel lovely.
Don’t know what to do but still pondering
I’ve been thinking of soap making as a side gig for retirement. $1000 a month profit would be great. I really enjoy making Castile soap, I make about 5 different scents.
Do you think a side gig like this is possible, or should I just continue to give my bars away to grateful friends?
I think that as a side gig this can be great, but keep in mind that you will have to spend some time getting the word about about your soaps, whether it’s via social media, PR, ads, etc.
Like many people who have been in the soaping business it's a dog eat dog world with all the expenses. I got into making soaps because I suffer from skin issues. I knew I couldn't be the only one who can't use store soaps. I designed my soaps for people with eczema psoriasis and other skin conditions. I only opened up my business a little over a year ago. I've been making soap for a while for family friends and so on. I started getting into other products not just to make money but to really service the public who suffer from skin issues. It's very slow going on getting my brand out without spending a lot of money and going in debt. I make between 3.5 oz bars to 6 oz bars. I do charge my customers half of the shipping cost. By the time I ship with the cost of my box all the fillers to keep everything safe I only make a third of my profit instead of full. I agree the shipping industry really stinks. I decided to do more of my local stores small mom and pop places and boutiques. I do handle everything myself from the beginning right to the end. I found craft fairs can be a hit or miss you just got to know which are the right ones to be at. some craft fairs have made an insane amount of money and others were just total flops. It's like they say go big or go home. With the economy the way it is who really wants to go big? Not me. I'm not getting rich but it does help pay for the little things in between that I really like to buy. If we could all be Dr squatch soaps life would be easier but I'm sure they don't have it easy either. Definitely you have to expand to other products then just soap if you're going to make it in this dog eat dog world. I make sugar scrubs, soap sugar scrubs, shower steamers, lip oils, lip balms, and so much other products just to keep up to have sales. I am also an herbalist and I make herbal salves to help heal people. Most of my product I grow myself and process myself. All my products are vegan and organic. I wish you're the best on your future decisions. I don't see our economy recovering too quick. God bless