Making the Change, pt. 2

In the first part of this account, I shared my thought processes behind rebranding my business and went over the “why” and the “how.”  Not just a few business people have expressed interest in what was behind all this and how I did it.

The What – There were two necessary tools I used the most in all my plotting and planning, and I carried these tools with me everywhere!  They went to my parents’ house, my in-laws’ house, church, the orthopedist, my best friend’s home, and sometimes even to bed.  What was so important that I couldn’t leave them behind?  A legal pad and a pen.  So cheap, so simple, so necessary.  If I go through the muscle exercise of writing something down, I’m going to engage with it more.  Plus, computers crash; I’ve stuck with hand-written notes (think HOURS of research in Div school) even when most people are keeping their notes on their tablets or in their computers.

The first thing I had to do was decide on a new brand name.  Since we live at the coast and want to stay at the coast, it had to be something to do with the coast.  But what part of the coast?  We live in the Cape Fear Region, but we want to live in the Crystal Coast.  Given that, the brand couldn’t be specific to either area, because then I’d have to rebrand yet again, perhaps before I’d be ready to, business-wise.  Christmas night, I was in bed at my parents’ house thinking about a new name and Googling my ideas on my phone to see if they were already in use.  Luckily, Coastal Carolina Soap Company was free, so I claimed it.

(I’m outlining the big steps, but in the background, I was reading articles, listening to recordings of industry success calls, watching webinars, etc.  And always – always – making notes on my trusty lavender legal pad.  So while I’m not going into great detail about my accessing those resources, that was a huge part of the process.)

Next came determining my niche, and this process took a few months, to be honest.  OK…  Coastal…  Beachy…  Salt bars?  Pain to try to swirl and temperamental to make.  Make soaps with sea water?  Hmmm…  Winter.  Beach and ocean are COLD!  Knee wasn’t quite recuperated enough to be traipsing on loose sand down to the ocean.  Extra labor time sterilizing the water leads to higher product costs…  Nothing was quite clicking, so I pushed that to the back burner, trusting that the answer would fall out of the ether eventually.

Business was continuing to go on for Sara’s Soaps ‘n Such – restocking ingredients, making products, filling orders.  For all anyone knew, it was still business as usual.  I wanted an image to go with this snazzy new business name, so that was the next step for me.  I’d conceived of a logo and my older daughter sketched it out.

Drawing of logo design
The first conception of my logo. I’m thinking about framing this for my office.

I found a graphic designer.  I answered his 15-or-so-question design questionnaire (after writing the answers long-hand in my pad).  I sent him the file for this image.  Let’s just say that he didn’t quite grasp the vision, and after a couple of weeks of frustration, it was time to move on.  A fellow Indie recommended Natalie Dalton of Natalie Dalton Designs, and within the agreed-upon time period, magic happened.  The logo she’d created based on my daughter’s drawing and my affinity for Art Deco literally took my breath away.  I remember being at my parents’ house when I opened the file and getting to share this beautiful design with the three females to whom I’m closest – Mom and my daughters.  Even my older one who’d drawn the design agreed that Natalie’s design was fantastic.  And she’s a bit embarrassed at the idea of my wanting to hang her drawing up, but she’ll get over it.

Natalie's logo design
Natalie’s logo design.  Soooo pretty!!!

Next came what was probably the most arduous part of this whole process, and that was, setting up my property on the World Wide Web.  I’m no novice when it comes to websites, but website design is far from my forte.  I purchased my domain and rolled up my sleeves over our Spring Break, ready to get started.  Only…  <eeerrrrk!> Screeching halt as I was unable to get into my new store’s admin (the back room of the site where a lot of the work takes place) and my web host was far from helpful.  My launch date was tentatively set for 1 June, the beginning of my business’s anniversary month, and my web developer Donal and I had 10 weeks to get this site built, developed, tested, and live.

Weeks went by in which I was still getting no practical help from my host.  Donal, in the meantime, was having health and family issues, so neither of us could get anything done.  I wasn’t sweating it; he’s good at what he does, and we had a plan in place.  After way too many weeks of wasting time with my host, I shopped for and signed on with a new web hosting company.  I installed the shopping cart I wanted to use, and Donal and I spent a few afternoons a week for a couple of weeks fine-tuning the vision while the girls were vacationing with the Grands.  We were looking good for the launch date.

Backing up a bit…  Being slowed down and in the company of my beloved daughters day-in and day-out for a few months had begun to wear on my mind and soul.  Don’t get me wrong; my daughters are fantastic – smart, creative, compassionate, loving, innovative, and beautiful – but they are sisters to each other and sometimes drama ensues.  (And I think I need to take Drama Appreciation again, because apparently it didn’t take effect the first time.)  So after church one Sunday, I zipped down to the beach for a few hours, just to sit, meditate, and pray.  My prayers consisted of “thank you”; I couldn’t think of a single supplication to make beyond the on-going prayers for sick loved ones.  In the midst of this time, it came.  The focus.  The niche.  I breathed the air and felt the sensation of being at the beach, and suddenly I figured out what sorts of soaps to make.

That’s long enough for today, don’t you think?  Stay tuned for the next part, coming up soon.  Be sure to subscribe to receive articles delivered right into your inbox.


Making the Change, pt. 1

The idea had been germinating for a while.  Do I change the name of my business, or keep it?  My business was over thirteen years old, steadily growing, increasingly successful.  Would I be shooting myself in the foot by rebranding at this point?

As you know, if you have followed me from my Sara’s Soaps ‘n Such days, I spent the month of December sitting around delegating like a boss (haha!) with my right leg up, my knee in a brace following a patellar sublimation right before Thanksgiving.  Idle hands lead to active mind, and I had nothing to do but sit around and think.  Sometimes I dreamed up mischief, sometimes grand ideas, with the grand ideas quickly dominating my thoughts.  It was in this time period that I decided to rebrand my business.

Why?  My original business, Sara’s Soaps ‘n Such, spun off of a hobby.  My name is Sara, I made soaps, I made other stuff (the “‘n Such”), and it seemed like a good name at the time.  Over the years, though, it became so cumbersome!  It’s long, it’s ridiculously easy to mistype, and it didn’t really reflect what my business had become.  I went from a hobbyist-turned-business owner to a full-time business owner with large order accounts.  My business had grown up, so it was time for the name to grow up.

How?  Starting in 2014, I had developed strategies for growing my business in different directions, shifting my focus from primarily retail to primarily wholesale and private label, and along with this, I set annual goals for how I would accomplish this, and I wanted these strategies to manifest themselves this year (2016), which they have.  Sitting around on my duff for 6 weeks afforded me many opportunities to catch up on educational opportunities related to my business and taking it where I wanted it to go.  These educational moments highlighted for me the mistakes I’d made previously, but you know what was so cool about this process?  It was like getting a second chance to start a new business, but in addition to the great new resources I had, I also had 13+ years of mistakes and experiences from which to draw.

Stay tuned…  Part 2 will come up soon!