Monday, 28 November 2011

No longer a (craft show) virgin

I had signed up for the MakeItVancouver show not knowing anything about it except that it still had space and I hadn't missed the deadline to apply. It was also appealing because on the application form, it said that the products had to be designed and made by you and in Canada.

After many weeks of madly soaping, being dazed and confused, having hubby kick my butt figuratively but help me out literally, D-day arrived. Or I guess maybe it should be called c-day for craft?). It was a mad rush right up to the end. Loading the car was a bear, but thankfully we had dad's CR-V to use rather than trying to fit everything into our Mini.

The event is a four day event, starting on Thursday and ending on Sunday. Needless to say, Thursday was a long day, what with setup and then having to work the floor. Friday was a big success, many visitors came and bought. Saturday was equally good and by then we'd also found our groove. One of the best sales I had was a little girl, probably about 3 years old who wanted a mini chocolate frogs. Her father came back later to buy another soap and he told us this is the only time he's ever seen her hold onto anything that tight and not let go.

Another wonderful customer was a little boy about 7 years old who knew exactly what he wanted. He told his mom he was fine with her going to look at other booths and he was going to pick out what he wanted. With the help of hubby, he put together a box with the LEGO blocks and LEGO men.

Our fellow artisans were also major contributors to a very positive experience. Their upbeat and friendly attitudes made the time fly by. I also have, fingers crossed, two potential wholesale clients. So all in all, it was a very successful show. I've learned so much from this show and now I can't wait for the next one.

Diana and Lianne of Little Dreambug and Ainsley of Flirty Fortunes

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A sale, a real sale

My friends have been very supportive of me so far in my endeavours to make this business run, but today I got what I consider a "real" sale.

The very sweet and talented Carrie Garvin of Under the Willow ordered a couple of soaps for her grand girlies. (Ssshhh, don't tell them, it's going to be a surprise). This is the first order I actually have to mail out, so I'm very excited. Carrie is kindly letting me get ready for my craft fairs before I send out her order. What more could I ask for; a sale and the freedom to send it out at my convenience. Thanks again Carrie!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street

With directions like take a left at the blue house then go down the road until you see the post. I don't have a GPS so I have to use the old fashioned way of finding my destination. I need to go back to Sesame Street to learn my alphabets again.

When I package the alphabet soaps, I put them in backwards so that they show up properly in the bags. It should be an easy task, however, it doesn't always seem to be that way for me. Can you find where the error is here?

That's right, the Q is backwards. It's easy to spot when it's facing the right way, but harder to spot when placing them backwards.

Today's episode of Bubbles in my head is brought to you by the letters J and Q, two letters I can't seem to figure out are facing the wrong way when I put them in backwards.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Customer Service

In reading up on how to be a successful business owner, it is always emphasized that you must treat your customers with respect, and respond in a timely manner. As I mentioned previously, I had trouble getting any sort of response from the local companies when I requested packaging estimates.

Today, after much searching, we found a company that can supply us with some of the packaging material we need. ULINE is based out of the States and when they say they'll respond as quickly as possible to any questions, they mean it. I sent them an email asking about some adhesives and 15 minutes later, I got an email back with an answer. I ordered the supplies I needed on-line, and they will ship on Monday to arrive by Tuesday. Amazing! This is what I really like about the States is their customer service; they are friendly and helpful. Oh and I came just short of the minimum order to receive a free Hall & Oates CD, darnitall.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Turkey Run

Thanksgiving in Canada is in October, which means we have leftover turkey a month earlier than our friends to the south. For me, this means we've had almost a month to get over that turkey bloat. So, as a way to get ready for Christmas time, I decided to make turkey pot pie. To paraphrase Mrs. Tweedy, "chickens go in, pies come out."

Since the oven was on, I decided to make an apple pie as well. Or maybe it was the fact I bought a huge box of apples that needed to be made into pies that made me make the turkey pie. I used a Bon Appetit recipe, five spice apple pie. I had my doubts of whether hubby would like it or not since he's not normally a five spice kinda guy, but apple pie a la mode is delicious, regardless of the spices.

Friday, 4 November 2011

It's all in the details

You know that saying about "success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration? I have a variation on that: Detailing is 15% inspiration, 80% cleaning up the bits of soap that don't belong and 5% cursing and muttering under my breath. It's so rewarding when it does come together as it should though, I love to see the colours pop and make the soaps come to life.

Today I actually had a bit of revelation while colouring the dots and fins on the fish - if I keep the soap heated up to the proper temperature, it makes it alot easier to work with and less likely to harden up in they syringe. I know, it's almost a duh statement, but getting it to that point of the right consistency is much harder than it sounds, at least for a newbie. Like everything else, it takes practice to get it right, but when I figure out the magic formula of timing, heating and perfect amount of soap to use, I'm sure I'll send much less time cursing and cleaning.

In the meanwhile, these are three examples of the soaps that require detailing that I'm working on for the upcoming shows. Apologies for the not great picture.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Lessons I've learned

It's been almost six months since I started this business, and usually this is the time when an employee has a job evaluation. Since I'm not only the owner of the company, but also the only employee, I won't be firing myself any time soon. So instead, I'll review what I managed to learn over the last six months.

  1. Write down everything! Treat each soap making process like a science experiment and note each step. I'm not a computer and don't remember everything. In fact, a soap I made early on, I have no idea to date what colour I used to make it like this. I know the general group of colour, but how did I get there? No idea.
  2. Focus. Do one thing at a time, but if there are several soaps that are using the same colour for detailing, do them all at once to save time.
  3. Keep the bottle of rubbing alcohol handy at all times. It breaks up the bubbles and it helps the soap fill the mold a lot easier when filling in specific areas. This is why an apron with pockets is good, so I can have the bottle in my pocket. On my worktable, I leave everything out, so my bottle of alcohol sometimes gets hidden behind other things.
  4. Label the leftover soap. Put down the type of soap, colour, scent and what mold it was used in so that it can be used towards the same soap the next time.
  5. Remember that Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will this business.