Don’t Fear the Parabens!

I was cruising along, doing that daily life thing, and I saw yet another label on yet another cosmetic product boasting “Paraben Free.”  It wasn’t an empty or deceiving claim:  The product’s manufacturer used a preservative system that doesn’t contain parabens.

I see this same fear of parabens pop up in “crunchy living” Facebook groups and the occasional post, and I know where it originated.  A 2004 study in Great Britain found parabens in breast tumors.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) grabbed the study and ran with it, using their agenda to push the federal government to ban parabens as dangerous, cancer-causing ingredients.  The study was flawed, though.  The group left out a very valuable component of solid scientific research:  The control group.  The British scientists failed to test healthy breast tissue to determine the amount of parabens present in non-cancerous tissue.

In the thirteen years since that study came out, other scientists have conducted other studies, including those the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) employs.*  The findings have been revealing.  Parabens occur naturally in plants and in humans.  In fact, a normal, healthy woman’s body can naturally have 10,000 times the amount of parabens as are found in a paraben-preserved product.

Let’s look at another factor here.  Parabens are naturally occurring.  They show up in the body and in plants.  (Japanese honeysuckle is sometimes used as a natural preservative in products, such as shampoo.)  This is not something I’m going to freak out about.  Why?  I’m not putting it in my body.  As I’ve said before, the skin is marvelous at keeping things out of the body; that’s one of its primary functions.  The primary way that manufactured parabens could be hazardous is if we drank large quantities of them.  Ew!  How disgusting would that be?!

Water and salt
This image shows 20 ounces of water in the jar and 5 grams of salt in the bowl. The 5 grams represents how much preservative goes into 20 ounces (approx. 560 grams) of lotion. That fills 5 4-ounce tottles.

When you’re trying to determine if something is worth panicking about, consider the source.  I personally like the broad-spectrum protection that paraben-based preservatives give my products.  There are, however, some non-paraben preservatives that are very close to equally as good that I’ve been using lately.  I’ll tell you, “Hey, don’t worry about parabens,” and it’s not because I have some vested interest in the companies that manufacture these preservative systems or the labs that conduct the tests.  I’ve done the research that not many people have any interest in doing and am simply passing those findings on to you, because my informing customers allows you to make informed buying decisions.

At the same time, I could say, “Go ahead and avoid parabens.”  Again, this isn’t because I have an agenda or a vested interest in the organizations or companies that support a ban on parabens.  Interestingly enough, the companies that manufacture the paraben-based preservative systems also manufacture the paraben-free preservatives.  If paraben use makes you feel uncomfortable for whatever reason, that’s fine, and it’s OK to use products that don’t contain parabens.  If, on the other hand, you don’t care as long as nasty stuff isn’t growing in your body products and makeup, that’s fine, too.  Regardless of how I feel about an ingredient or a product, I respect people’s right to use it or avoid it as they choose.

For more information about why it’s important to preserve cosmetics, check out this article I wrote a few years ago.

 

 

*Caveat:  I’m not saying that the FDA is some infallible government agency that never messes up and never has an agenda impact it.  However, in this case, I can’t see any agenda that would influence their research findings, as chemical manufacturers tend to make a variety of preservative systems.

What Are You Selling?

You’ve heard me say before that we’re an entrepreneurial family, with my husband, our older daughter, and I all having our own businesses.  Our daughter’s mowing business has all but died this year, with many people taking care of their own lawns, a customer moving, and so forth – despite her serious hustle to drive new business.  That’s meant she’s had to find other ways to earn money.

My husband’s business continues to grow with requests for some light landscaping and organic fertilization treatments.  The girls go out to work with him on those days and take care of those jobs so he can focus on applying the inorganic chemicals.  They get to engage with the customers and get paid for the work they do.

Suddenly this summer, mermaid soaps have taken off like crazy!  The older daughter is the “Mermaid Diva,” crafting gorgeous mermaid soaps, each one beautifully unique.  I pay her for each one.  Between making soaps and working with her dad, my daughter has made up about half of her usual summer income.  She’s driven, because she is earning the money she needs to complete her soccer referee’s certification course; this will enable her to make even more money over the next year.  She’s saving up for next summer’s mission trip, next year’s sports (soccer, dance, or both), and next year’s awesome Language Arts class, should she decide to take it.

Mermaid soap
Sparkly mermaid soaps in Crystal Coast Morning. They are beautiful!

Yesterday evening, my husband told me about his former employer – now independent – offering customers a discount on their first treatment if they sign up.  It’s similar to what a major corporate competitor does, though on a larger scale.  Thanks to what I’ve learned throughout the time of my business and the years I’ve been a part of IBN and under the mentorship of Donna Maria, I was able to help him reframe how he thinks about driving his business.  The conversation went something like this:

Me:  “Big box stores have gotten customers trained to think they must always get a discount.  Big Company XYZ (the corporate competitor) probably averages about $50 per lawn, accounting for both postage stamp-size and high-end neighborhoods.  The local office may get $10-$20 of that for their operating costs and to pay their employees.  Where does the rest go?  It keeps the CEO in boats and vacation homes.  The techs are like worker drones.  That’s it.”

Him:  “No company I’ve ever worked for has ever given customers a discount for signing up.”

Me:  “OK.  And for good reason.  Why do you think that is?”

Him:  “They didn’t need to.  They were selling quality.”

Me:  “Exactly.  How closely do you pay attention to car commercials?”

Him:  “I really don’t.”

Me:  “Think about Chevy, Ford, and Honda commercials.  What do they focus on?”

Him:  “Their features.”

Me:  “No.  Their affordability.  Every single one sells their cars on ‘4000 off MSRP or ‘Just 249 per month.’  They’re selling on price.  Now, think about Mercedes or BMW.  You know the Lincoln commercials with Matthew McConaughey?  What are they selling?”

Him:  “Luxury.  Handling.  Performance.”

Me:  “Right.  And how often do you ever see prices on commercials for high-end vehicles?”

Him:  “You don’t.”

Me:  “Because those car manufacturers are selling quality vehicles, and their customers don’t care about the price when they’re getting quality.  What are you selling to your customers?”

Him:  “My brand.”

Me (smiling):  “Wrong.  Try again.”

He looked at me with a smile, not quite sure what I was looking for.  I smiled back and said, “Let me know when you’ve figured it out.”

As indie business owners, we have to be aware of our motivation and even more aware of what we’re selling.  We’re not selling a product or a service; we’re selling ourselves.  I’ve often privately thought that being a business owner is like legalized prostitution without the sex.  We’re selling bits of ourselves to our customers, hoping fervently that they’ll come back for more.  Packed in with every soap or every lawn treatment, we’re selling ourselves, our back stories, our experience, and our knowledge.  

We’re selling to build our hopes and dreams, to leave a legacy for the next generation, whether that’s the next generation in our families or in the larger entrepreneurial community.

Why do you do what you do?  What are you selling to people?

 

Healthy Every Day

This is a special shout-out to all you parents of children who are or who have been in not-home school (public or private).  Y’all, I am totally out of practice.

It’s no secret that part of our brand’s philosophy involves a healthy lifestyle, because that helps us enjoy our long, active, coastal life, and it’s something we practice at home on a daily basis.  This week, Wee Princess is enjoying a marine biology camp at a local university and having a blast!  Each day, she is supposed to start with a healthy breakfast and have with her a healthy lunch and a healthy snack.  Since my husband rolls out the door with her between 7:15 and 7:30 each morning, I spend a little time each evening putting her breakfast together and preparing her lunch.  Then, in the morning, all he has to do is grab the perishables from the fridge and put them in her lunch bag.

I made the mistake last week of leaving the girls unattended with my laptop and a Pinterest search for “Bento box lunches for kids” while I showered and dressed.  When I came back down, the Wee Princess had a chart listing each day’s breakfast, lunch, and snack.  And we’re talking good, balanced, nutritious options here!  I was surprised, because when I ask her what she wants for lunch, the majority of the time it’s “cinnamon toast” or “quesadilla.”  Most of this week, her breakfast choice is a smoothie of some sort – low added sugar, lots of fiber, tons of calcium and protein – perfect for exploring marshes and beaches!

Blueberry smoothie
Its so purple! Love blueberry smoothies!

I’ve home educated since Little Princess was in second grade (she’s not so little now, as she’s starting high school studies next week!), so having to do the daily lunch and breakfast prep is outside my realm of daily experience.  I had forgotten how much extra work it is, just that little something extra to think about.  It’s not like it’s actual work, but when I’m exhausted and ready for sleep and can finally get into the kitchen, it’s not something I’m dying to do.  And now that so many children are at least sensitive, at worst, severely allergic to peanuts, it’s not as easy as slapping some peanut butter and homemade jam between two pieces of bread.

So, hats off to you parents who do this on a daily basis or used to when your children were little.  Great job keeping it real, keeping it fresh, and keeping it healthy!

How do you do it?  How do you make magic for your kids each day?  Share in the comments below.

I’ll Take My Chemicals On, Thank You Very Much

This picture shows the list of active ingredients for one of my sunscreens of choice – a generic brand of SPF30 Sport, proven by years of use not to sting my eyes when I sweat or play in the water.  (Not pictured is my favorite and considerably more expensive Hawaiian Tropic SPF30 Sport, purchased and used because I LOVE the scent, and because I’m delighted that Hawaiian Tropic has finally made a sunscreen with an SPF higher than 8.)

Sunscreen ingredients
The active ingredients in one of my sunscreens of choice

Why am I sharing this?  Because I want to show you that chemicals are not our enemies and that going “all natural” when drugs do a better job is not the smartest choice long-run.

Chemicals are all around us:  Air, water, food, soap – things we put on and in our bodies – are all chemicals.  Try living a life free of chemicals and see how long that lasts.  Short answer:  Three minutes.  That’s how long we can go without air before we die.  Chemicals are in drugs that we may use on a daily or occasional basis – multi-vitamins, blood pressure meds, and ibuprofen are all safe chemicals that help our bodies.  Although it doesn’t seem like it, sunscreen, too, is classified as a drug, because it changes the makeup of our skin to prevent the damage caused by UV rays.

I’ve heard the concerns.  “The chemicals will get into our skin and poison us.”  “These chemicals aren’t safe.”  “Those chemicals killed laboratory rats.”  Let’s look at each one of those.

  1.  “The chemicals will get into our skin and poison us.”  Our skin is an incredible organ!  It releases toxins through sweat, it protects our muscles and internal organs, and it helps insulate our bodies.  As it protects, it forms a pretty impenetrable barrier against harmful – or not-so-harmful – things that want to get into our bodies.  We come into contact with millions of bacteria a day that never get inside us, because they die on the skin.  We take showers or go swimming, and as small as a water molecule is, we don’t bloat up with all this water getting inside of us, because the skin prevents it from happening.  If our skin can keep something as small as a water molecule out, how in the world could a larger, more complicated nanoparticle of a chemical get past the skin barrier?  It can’t, plain and simple.  So, since these chemicals cannot get into our bodies through our skin, then they can’t poison us.  In fact, the only way these would be harmful is if we were to drink gallons of sunscreen.  Ew.  Just… ew.

So you decide to avoid these chemicals and either take your chances with homemade, untested sunscreen or go without altogether – because you want to avoid chemicals.  Or worse, you’re applying these products to your children, leaving them no choice in how their skin is protected.  It’s ten or twenty or thirty years down the road, and you or they have skin cancer, a particularly nasty melanoma that has also started affecting your internal organs.  You have a decent chance of survival – with chemotherapy.  So now your oncologist is going to inject a stew of chemicals into your body to counteract the consequences of not applying chemicals topically when you were younger.  That’s a pretty sucky trade-off, especially since applying sunscreen generally doesn’t make you exhausted, sick, or bald.

2.  “These chemicals aren’t safe.”  Properly prepared sunscreens are tested rigorously by the FDA, tests which are incredibly expensive to have conducted.  I’m not so naïve that I believe the FDA never approves anything which is unsafe, but in the matter of sunscreens, I have yet to see any evidence, anecdotal or empirical, of harm coming to people who use sunscreens responsibly (e.g., not drinking it) or regularly.  Bottom line, using sunscreen with all its “chemicals” is far safer than not using it or using untested sunscreen.

3.  “Those chemicals killed laboratory rats.”  Do you remember saccharine?  It was the artificial sweetener of the 70s and 80s.  And on each pink packet, there was the warning, “This product has been known to cause cancer in laboratory animals.”  Great scare tactic!  When people started digging deeper into this, they discovered that the labs were basically overdosing rats on the stuff, injecting them with far greater amounts than even the most ardent Tab drinker was likely to consume.  (As an aside, I found it interesting that, when I was pregnant in the early 2000s, saccharine was the only artificial sweetener universally considered “safe” for fetuses.)  The individual chemicals in sunscreens are tested similarly, though finished sunscreen is tested only on voluntary human subjects.

So, if commercially manufactured, FDA tested sunscreens are generally recognized as safe, why do makers willingly put people at risk by marketing handcrafted, all natural sunscreens?  They’re banking on fear and ignorance.  I’ve seen makers do this, though the ones I know personally aren’t doing it out of malice.  They’re just passionate about their products and their all-natural niche, and they want to offer an alternative to their customers.  Unfortunately, this is a terribly dangerous practice that is spreading, despite the FDA firing off warning after warning to small, independent manufacturers for selling untested drugs and making drug claims.

If you haven’t seen it, yet, I posted a link to a video this morning to my page that examines the dangers of handmade sunscreen pretty thoroughly.  It’s several minutes long and easy to understand, even if, like me, Biochemistry isn’t your second language.

Given a choice, do you prefer having your drugs on your body, or in your body?

 

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.