Ingredient Spotlight: Manoi de Tahiti

A few years ago I introduced Tahiti Kiss Face Crème, a custom formulated crème for all skin types.  The initial reviews for it were brilliant, with everyone who tried it loving it.  As I played around with formulas for this crème, I thought about what sort of scent to add, because plain, unscented lotion really doesn’t smell that great.

Tahiti Kiss face creme
Tahiti Kiss, a luxuriously extraordinary face crème, will treat your skin to a taste of the South Pacific

Should it be floral?  Herbal?  Fruity?  Earthy?  Oceany?  None of these spoke to me, because each individual person has his or her preferred scents, and how horrible it’d be to have a gorgeous oceanic fragrance clashing all day with the classic aroma of Chanel No. 5!  This isn’t like soaps or lotions, which are designed to layer scent and be the primary for the day.  No, face crème should be alone, a silent participant in the wearer’s day, not getting in the way of whatever else she’d like to wear.

It was around this time that I discovered Manoi de Tahiti as I was shopping for the ingredients I would need for this extraordinary face crème.  Done correctly, Manoi de Tahiti is an infusion of the gorgeous tiare flower, a varietal of gardenia, in virgin coconut oil.

Tiare flower picture
Beautiful, milky white tiare flower

The native Tahitians infuse the flowers in the oil, then change out the flowers for fresh ones – up to twelve times!  The result is a lightly floral-fragrant oil that is truly a head-to-toe delight.  The Tahitian people use Manoi de Tahiti as a hair treatment, after-sun balm, and a treatment for many different skin conditions.  I also read that they use it as a sunscreen, too, which I do not recommend.  However one uses this glorious Tiare infusion, it promises to be a delightful skin treat.

As my formulation called for coconut oil already, I decided to exchange Manoi de Tahiti for the coconut oil, and that lends its beautiful fragrance in this crème.  There are other ingredients to this crème, both all natural and purely synthetic, all granting a specific and significant contribution to the whole.  They please me, as does the crème itself.  But the Manoi de Tahiti is the piece de resistance of this crème and what keeps me coming back to it every day as my facial moisturizer of choice.

 

Not Going to be All Things

It’s a brilliant reality for both business and life:  You’re not going to be all things to all people.  I’m not going to be all things to all people.  We can read that in two ways:  One is the simple reality that it’s not possible to be all things to all people, and a second is that I refuse to try to be.

I would like to get into a local shop, one in particular.  As I met with the store owner, some of her preferences emerged.  One, because this friend of hers makes soap without palm oil, then that’s apparently best.  (I’ll dig more into the palm oil issue in another blog post.)  Using lard or tallow was out, because some of her customers are vegans.  Alright…  Not my thing, but I can respect folks for whom it is.  In a follow-up email, she didn’t care for the exfoliant in one of the free, full-size samples I’d sent her.  So here it is – three strikes against my soaps.

I addressed the palm oil issue with her and how I handle that myself.  I began to think of ways to get around the palm oil while keeping it vegan (shortening works with the same properties) and even went so far as to reformulate the soap recipe in order to avoid the palm and owing to the fact that my stock is hydrogenated soybean oil-free at the moment.  I graciously suggested a way to use the scrubby remnants of the soap, based on a question I fielded at Spring Fest.

Then it hit me.  Where does it stop?  So I reformulate this one soap, changing up the oils and leaving out the exfoliant.  But then I’d have to change all my wholesale-offered soaps when I have dozens of them ready to go to appreciative customers now.  For fun, I did make the reformulated soap; check out the video of my swirling work!

As I say here, I will not be all things to all people, and I declared that on Friday.  My older daughter in all her teen wisdom said, “I thought it’d be a bad idea for you to do that.”  And so it goes.  I went down that road before, and I ended up stressed out, disheartened, and frustrated.  Lesson learned!  Here are my tips for avoiding the trap of trying to be all things to all people:

  1. Declare now that you’re happy with YOU, however this manifests itself.  Is it in who you are, what you have, where you live, what you make?  Whatever it is, find a way to be happy with it.
  2. Internalize that happiness to find peace with yourself.  It’s one thing to declare something is true, but it’s another thing to feel it.  Geraldine in The Very Fairy Princess declares, “I know I’m a fairy princess, because I feel it inside.”  Maybe you’re not feeling fairy princess-y, but feel who you are deep down.
  3. Be prepared to let opportunities go in exchange for your integrity.  I’m not vegan.  I don’t co-opt to the “organic” label.  I use both essential oils and fragrance oils.  If I co-opt my integrity to any of these trends or preferences just in order to attract customers, then I will no longer be selling me.  I would be inauthentic in my business, which in itself would suck my soul dry.
  4. Always be honest about your you-ness.  Yes, I’m willing to pass up opportunities in order to hold on to my integrity, but I also refuse to sink to dishonesty in order to grow my business.  We prefer to run a fully transparent business, holding secret only those things which are proprietary, like our fragrance blends.  I can say with pride, “This is who I am, and these are my products.  Let’s find the most perfect fit for you.”

Embrace you.  I bet you are pretty wonderful, though not everyone will appreciate your unique wonderfulness.  Be you, anyway.

Starting with the Finish in View

No secret…  I walk a few times a week.  I’ve walked in pretty-chilly temps and I’ve walked in weather where I begin pouring sweat as soon as I step out of the house – like walking through the sauna that is North Carolina in the summer.  I don’t walk because I like freezing my butt off or sweating out two pounds of liquid in under an hour.  In fact, if I could get the same benefits from not-walking, I would in a heartbeat, but the truth is, I can’t, and walking really does have a whole lot of benefits – psychological, holistically physical, emotional, and even spiritual.

When I start my walks, within the first quarter mile, I mentally plan my route and start thinking of the very end – that last quarter mile when I can start slowing it down, check my pulse, log in the time and calorie burn, and get more comfortable.  I think about which route I’ll follow.  It’s always the same four streets, but depending on how I walk them, it can be 2.5 miles or 2.8 miles.  It may seem silly to think about finishing my walk before I have barely begun, but envisioning the end helps motivate me through every step and prevents me from taking short-cuts – skipping that little bit of .2 mile or not going down that short street.

Similarly, thinking about the end of a business venture from the outset helps a business owner work towards that goal, that completion, that teleos.  As we celebrate 15 years of soapy business, I reflect back on those early days, and I did not have an end-game in sight.  It wasn’t until several – SEVERAL! – years down the road that I began to think about things like having a brick-and-mortar store and passing my business down to my children.  That particular route requires certain steps and a certain amount of time, just like when I opt for “route A” of my walking choices.  Going the B&M route means striving to build up the revenue to sustain such a venture, taking into account overhead, staffing needs, retail traffic ebbs and flows, and so forth.  Passing the business down to my daughters requires teaching them every aspect of the business, not just the technical aspects, but also the passion and the why.

Last year in the midst of the rebrand, the brick-and-mortar suddenly became less important to me, and the girls have no desire to run a soapmaking business, though they love making soap.  They love the creativity and the design aspects, and the chemistry of it fascinates them, but that’s as far as their enthusiasm goes.  So, it’s become time to work with another end-game in mind.

To be honest, I haven’t entirely worked that out, yet.  Part of the rebrand involved an increased focus on wholesale and private label, though retail is still a very strong part of my business.  At this point, though, I’d more love to have a separate work shop than a full-blown B&M.  I’d enjoy the space separate from the house to make, wrap, and store my products.  The completion of my business now would be having a strong business to sell off in – ideally – one huge chunk to someone who’d love and nurture it as I do.  Again, this route requires a certain path, a certain set of steps, a particular journey to traverse.

Without the finish in sight, I could just meander along, making this product or that product, selling whenever, pushing for sales when I felt like it and ignoring my business when I didn’t.  Similarly, when I walk for my health, having a defined time frame and route ensures I do at least as much as I need to, and it also restricts me from following whims that could take me on long treks – not that that would necessarily be a bad thing, but when the family is expecting me to be gone a certain amount of time, being gone for 2-3 times that would cause them to worry.

Goals are essential, but goals without a defined end are just nebulous scratchings on a dry-erase board, the result of moments or hours of brainstorming.  As you set your goals, whether fitness, business, or lifestyle, determine to look at the end.  It’s likely not the end, but it is an end, often that of a chapter before the next beginning.

Six Tips for Showing Some Skin Love

Summer is rapidly approaching, and with warmer temperatures, we’re showing more skin.  Our skin is our largest organ, and like our other organs, it, too, has its care needs so that it can do its job.  I’ve come up with five not-terribly-original ways to care for your skin.

(1) Sweat it out.  When we sweat, our pores open up, allowing the sweat to flow out, taking with it dirt, oil, and other blemish-causing culprits.  Sweat also removes toxins from the body, making it an incredible, completely natural detox method.

English: Drops of sweat
English: Drops of sweat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(2) Water in, water out.  No news here – we’re approximately 70% water.  In order for sweat (and urine, for that matter) to do its best job removing toxins and impurities from our bodies, it has to have something to work with.  Drinking plenty of water (half your body weight in ounces is recommended, but at least shoot for 6-8 cups) each day gives your body what it needs to function, as well as providing the conduit for sweat to work.  Being well hydrated is like moisturizing your skin from the inside.

(3) Kiss the caffeine good-bye.  Do you live your life a cup of coffee or a can of soda at a time, just to get through your day?  While moderate amounts of caffeine can’t hurt – some studies suggest they’re quite beneficial – there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  Caffeine acts as a diuretic, and while your body might be eliminating water, if your entire drink consumption is primarily caffeinated drinks, there isn’t a grand amount of water going back in.  As a result, you’ll end up terribly dehydrated.  This results in dry skin that lacks elasticity.

(4) Bid those smokes a farewell while you’re at it.  It is often easy to determine the smokers in the crowd before you even smell them.  They have fine lines around their mouths and they look older than their years.  That cigarette smoke is chemical-laced dry heat in the face constantly.

(5) Slather on the sunscreen.  Oft-repeated, seldom followed, and I’m admitting now that I’m not the best about this, though I am getting better.  There is no undoing the damage from sun over-exposure or smoking without lots of medical intervention – maybe.  I always wear sunscreen at the beach with frequent reapplication, and I am doing better about remembering to put it on on soccer days.  I still, however, don’t put it on every time I go out, nor do I wear it when I’m taking walks or rides (usually later in the day when the UV index is low).

(6) Use soap and moisturizer.  Soap keeps the skin clean (obviously).  When we wash with soap, the soap bonds with the dirt and germs on our skin; then, when we rinse, all of it washes down the drain.  Our skin’s acid mantle restores itself in 2-3 hours, bringing balance back to its pH.  By washing, we get rid of germs that could enter even the most microscopic of cuts.  When we follow with moisturizer, we keep the skin soft and supple, which makes it heal faster and more easily.  I discovered when I was in graduate school that small sores such as paper cuts took much longer to heal during the dry winter months than they did in the moister summer months.  Applying lotion to my hands sped up the healing time.

I talked about this this morning in my branded Facebook group.  Are you a member?  We’d love to have you join us!  Just click that link (“branded Facebook group”) and submit your request to join.  And in the meantime, get some water into you and sweat some water out.  Your skin will thank you for it!

Saying Good-bye

Back in December, I vended my annual holiday event, Mom by my side.  As she looked at my greatly minimized display of wares, she asked, “Why aren’t you selling lotions anymore?”

I replied, “Because they just weren’t selling, and they aren’t shelf-stable from year to year.”  I went on to explain about the freedom I’d felt at no longer being slave to my products and how liberating it is to be able to cut products out of my line when they’re no longer performing as I’d like them to do.

When I rebranded to form Coastal Carolina Soap Co., I resolved to keep the product offerings limited.  Even taking a less-than-objective view towards my display and my site under Sara’s Soaps ‘n Such, I thought it looked cluttered, and from a buyer’s perspective, the plethora of choices was overwhelming; there were just too many soaps from which to choose.  So after ruthlessly purging my inventory, I vowed, “Never again would I have so many soaps!”  That means, when I add a soap, I would have to choose a soap to get rid of.

I’m introducing a lovely new soap called Green Hibiscus Peach, which is a delightfully sophisticated peach with floral notes.  I’m also excited to announce the return of Orange Blossom, a soap I’d planned to carry over to the Coastal Carolina Soap brand from the beginning.  These soaps will be ready early May, just in time for Spring Fest.

So, what’s going?  After assessing my database and past year’s sales, I decided to discontinue Magnolia in Bloom.  I have ten of these beauties left in stock, and they will only be around for another month or so.

Magnolia in Bloom soap
Magnolia in Bloom soap

While I’m selling those soaps, I’ll be showing off the two grand new soaps that are coming out across my social media channels, and I’ll be broadcasting my swirling magic in our Facebook group.  I hope you’ll join us!

It’s Here! And I’m so excited!

It happened yesterday, and this week is the big launch! I decided to do something new and different with my business, and doing something new, especially in business, is always a crazy combination of scary and exciting.  I started a community on Facebook that is geared especially to my customers and those who have been following my brand.

So how did I come to this decision?  Facebook’s algorithms severely limit how many of my page’s posts cross my customers’ newsfeeds (unless I pay a lot of advertising costs), which sort of makes it, What’s the point?  With this reduced page reach, I’ve been feeling like I’m talking to myself most of the time, and, frankly, I do plenty of that offline without doing it on social media.  At the same time, there’s no denying the power of video, and by and large, my posts that include pictures and videos get the most reach and the most engagement.

When I first started out in business, shows and markets were the sustaining backbone of my revenues.  While schlepping tables, canopy, and products around wasn’t fun, interacting and engaging with my customers was a joy!  Now that I’m largely private label and wholesale with but two events a year, I miss engaging with my customers.  This allows me to do so more, whether we live across town or across the country from each other.

This is going to be fun, I just feel it!  And I hope you’ll join in the fun and the conversation.  You can find our group at this link.

 

Pushing Through

I didn’t want to do it.  Despite knowing I must get some much-needed exercise today, it was a struggle getting out there.  My legs were still feeling remnants of the abuse from earlier in the week, it’s less-than-warm outside, and I have some business-related computer-based matters that need my attention in addition to planning tomorrow evening’s soccer practice.  Yeah, I put it off.  Even after my older daughter “helped” me out by grabbing my sneakers and workout clothes for me (without my asking her to), I still found another ten minutes’ worth of reasons not to strike out.

But finally, I could put it off no more.  Though the sun was out and the sky was a vibrant, cloudless blue, the wind stabbed through my top like knives and stung my cheeks.  The muscles in my legs were still a bit tight.  I was cold.  All I wanted was to be inside in my warm, fleecy bumwear in front of my computer with a mug of hot chocolate getting work done.  For about fifteen seconds, I gave serious consideration to turning around and going back home.  But sheer determination and nothing short of stubbornness kept me going.

I did it.  I did it for 47 minutes and almost 3 miles.  I did it despite the bitter wind and my desire to be warm inside.  I warmed up and kicked my heart rate up to my perfect target rate.  Best yet, I had that time for my brain to be free of distractions, which gave it room to plan my soccer practice, formulate a new direction in my business, and mentally draft this blog post.

Business requires us to push through sometimes, too.  I’m facing hours of website work this weekend, which is my absolute least favorite thing to do for my business.  It has to get done, though.  Other business owners may love that type of stuff but hate dealing with the public (my favorite).  Regardless of what your least favorite task is or how much you may not be feeling one of your more enjoyable ones, as business owners, we have to push through and get things done.

The past month has stymied my drive and creativity, and in the evolution of my business, especially over against changing technologies, I have to push through yet again with a new angle and a new way of connecting with my customers.  I love my customers, talking to them and hearing their stories, but that is one thing I really miss about not doing as many events – I just don’t get to connect with them like I used to.  Sure, blog posts and emails are great, but it all too often feels like a one-sided conversation.

To that end, I am going to be launching a brand new Facebook group just for Coastal Carolina Soap Company’s customers, whether you have bought from us or you just love our brand story and want to stay connected.  The link will be going out very soon, so be on the lookout for that.  Maybe my blog posts come right to your inbox, or perhaps you see them on Facebook, Twitter, or some other social media outlet.  You can find out about this incredible new group by subscribing to this blog or also by signing up to receive our emails (one of which handily contains links to each blog post for the month).

We hope you will join us, and we look forward to connecting with you in new and exciting ways beginning next week!

Getting Right Back On

I went out last Friday for a wonderful trike ride.  The weather was in the 70s – shorts and t-shirt warm – and being out pushing it felt awesome!  I was tearing through the neighborhood, coasting through the large puddle in the cul de sac behind our house, enjoying the day and saying “hi” to neighbors.  Friday was my day to push it, to nip that third mile.  I was in the far cul de sac, and it happened.  That cul de sac isn’t a constant-radius turn, and I lost control and began to tip.  In fighting to stay upright and regain control of my trike, the pedals beat the devil out of the backs of my legs.

pic of bruises
“Ouch ouch ouch! Shit shit shit!” Exactly what I was saying as this was happening.
Bruised leg
And the left leg. It only hurts when anything touches it.

My trike survived with nary a scratch or ding, and except for that cut (which looks worse than it is) and my legs’ 50 shades of purple, I fared well enough.  But now I had a choice.  I could walk my trike home, where my older daughter was waiting to ride it, or I could ride it home.  Walking was safe enough, though painful as all get-out as bruised and swollen as my legs were.

A little back-story…  I never learned how to ride a bike.  I tried, but I fell too many times, and one time, I got the wind knocked out of me.  That experience scared me as I heard my fourth grade teacher’s voice in my head talking about broken ribs and punctured lungs.  That was it for me.

So here I was a vast number of years later facing a choice – walk or ride; it was going to hurt either way.  After walking around twenty feet or so, I hopped on my trike and rode home, and not straight home; while I didn’t do the route I had planned, I did add a bit extra to the ride before reaching home and getting cozy with two ibuprofen and an ice pack.

Like many entrepreneurs, I’ve fallen in business, too.  I’ve been banged up and bruised, even shed a little O-positive.  There have been some failures that made me ultra-sensitive, not wanting anything to touch the disappointment, frustration, discouragement, and/or anger boiling inside me.  I wanted to give up, just walk the business back to its settled position, liquidate everything, and find something else to do.  The thing is, I visited with that idea.  I pulled it out, entertained it, and debated it.  I dug deep underneath why I was thinking about quitting, and the answer always came back to frustration or something going on outside of my business.

Regardless of how banged up I was or how bad the business bruises were, I hopped right back in the fray.  I didn’t quit nor did I give up.  I did give myself permission to whimper and whine, to grab the figurative ice pack and pain killer (usually my favorite cozy pajamas and dark chocolate).  After my little pout session – little being the operative word here – I reformed my plan and attacked my business from a different perspective.  Without the moments of failure, I would have maintained the status quo, keeping on doing business the same exact way.  Sometimes, in fact, those moments of failure are exactly what we need to keep us from taking our progress for granted and to shake us out of old mindsets.  Often after a major failure, I reframe my thinking in huge ways and my business experiences significant growth.

Saturday, my family and I went to the beach (you can check out that video on my Facebook page), and my youngest and I took a 2 1/2 mile walk on the beach, banged up legs and everything.  Today I was back on the trike for a glorious half-hour ride.  There are three cul de sacs in our neighborhood, two of them not having constant-radius curves.  I didn’t avoid them; I just slowed down and created a constant-radius response with my trike.  I learned how to do it different, just as I do in business.

In business, as in life, there are failures and falls.  The important thing is, “Never give up.  Never, ever give up” (Winston Churchill).

Rollin’ Along

In the business seminar my husband and I attended a couple of weeks ago, the presenter said that exercise is key to developing the right mindset for business success.  However, when you’re juggling home life, family life, and running a growing business, how in the world are you supposed to find time to exercise?  Are you one of those who joined a gym in January?  How many times have you made it?  Driving to the gym, working out, showering, then driving on to work or home equals a huge time commitment each day; and it’s so easy to subtract that from your busy schedule.

What if, though, you found an exercise that takes less time but still has good benefits?  The presenter shared that he runs a mile almost every day.  It takes him about 10-15 minutes, but then he’s done.  (He also shared that, when he was in the Corps, he could run three miles in 18 minutes.)  Slow is okay; it’s far better to be slow than not to exercise at all, and the slow mover is still making more progress than the couch potato.

I spend 30-60 minutes a morning, five days a week, doing stretches, resistance work, and toning; there’s absolutely no shortcut to that.  Then I spent another 45 minutes 4 days a week walking almost three miles.  That was before last Thursday.  My trike showed up, all sleek bright yellow, 24″ wheels, six speeds, and a seat perfectly suited to my tushy.

Me on my new trike. The reflectors aren’t the only thing making this visible! It’s bright! Those jeans are getting baggy on me!

Now I can bike those three miles in 20 minutes (I’m still building up speed), getting the heart rate up there, pushing the legs to firm up and get stronger.  The calorie burn is roughly the same as walking, but it takes half the time.  Pretty sweet, huh?  On top of that, my knees have been feeling much more amazing, and on the weekends, I have time to add a walk onto that bike ride.  Another benefit is, I feel exhilarated for a substantial period afterwards, but then I start feeling really draggy around 9:00, which means I crash into sleep quickly and sleep soundly through the night.

This week’s business take-away is, get out and exercise, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day.  It’ll help renew and recharge your mind and body, making it easier to give focus to your business life.  That time also allows ideas to fall out of the ether, which can spark some amazingly outside-the-box creative processes!  Make it happen!

 

 

Keeping the Right Business Mindset: QIQO

Last Thursday, my husband and I attended a business seminar for small business owners on the “Mindsets, Habits, and Actions of Successful Business Owners.”  There were a bunch of delicious nuggets I took out of the seminar – I had five pages full of notes! – and I’ll be sharing some of them with you in the weeks ahead.  These aren’t in any particular order.

The first thing that comes to mind as I reflect on this seminar is the idea of “quality in, quality out.”  If you’re a bit older, you might remember in the early days of computer programming the acronym GIGO – garbage in, garbage out.  Both concepts are similar – you will put out what you take in.  The seminar leader said he never listens to nor watches the news; he gets daily papers and can pick and choose what he reads.  He replaces the constant news flow with listening to podcasts about business.

This is something I have to think about every day with intention.  I don’t listen to the news nor do I watch it.  There is no news that will be important to my life in six months, so how much less important is it now.  There are other temptations on our time, though, aren’t there?  Social media is a big one!  That time on Facebook catching up with friends and trends is time that’s not going to my business.  On top of that, it can easily suck the joy out of a morning before my day has even had a chance to start.

So with what do I replace this time and brain drain?  I check email, which helps me begin to put together my agenda for the next day.  I cruise through a set of problems at brilliant.org and exercise my math and physics skills.  Also, I read business blogs and articles.  If I want to be successful in business, then I must make it a point to read what successful people do and emulate those disciplines for myself.

When I put quality input into my brain, then my day gets off to a jazzed up, high quality start.  Solving math problems gives me a sense of achievement to begin my day (especially considering math is far from my strongest subject), and reading business blogs inspires me, giving me food for thought as I take care of that day’s tasks.  By contrast, scrolling through Facebook first thing often leaves me feeling disgusted or inundated by negative energy – just too much fearmongering, intolerance, and hate.  It’s like having the choice between a filling, healthy breakfast or a doughnut.  The calorie count might be the same, but only one of those will leave me feeling good about what I took in and nourish my body well.

What’s it going to be for you today?  With what will you fill your mind as your day begins, as you get ready to roll up your sleeves and tackle the little-and-growing empire that is all yours?  Will you fill it with high quality things so that your output will reflect quality, or are you going for the junk?  Choose wisely, for we only get one “today.”