What an Entrepreneurial Family Looks Like

It started off with me owning my own business.  It’s not a unique business or completely new; people have been using soap for thousands of years.  I do, however, have my own special niche that is unique in the industry.  My daughters and husband are willing and (sometimes) enthusiastic helpers, because they know the advantages of my business being successful.

Then last summer, my older daughter began to run her own small mowing business.  The goal at the time was to earn money to go on mission trips, but then she discovered that she really likes having money of her own.  Her business grew a little this year with the incarceration of her primary competition.  Hey, gotta seize the opportunities as they come.

Then it happened.  After six months of “any day now” and corporate postponements, my husband got laid off as part of a corporate takeover and decided to launch his own business, a dream he’s harbored for at least twenty years.  His former boss told him that he’ll be working harder the first six months than he has ever before, and his chemical supplier said that after the first one hundred customers, it gets easier.  (He seems to be getting closer to that mark every day.)

Peter is doing what I call the “entrepreneur hustle.”  The day after receiving his last paycheck – this happened to be a Saturday – he was busting butt building up his customer base.  He’ll work for several hours taking care of his customers’ lawns, then come home and make phone calls and do computer work.  My daughter went out with estimate sheets as she was working on her customer base.  I go into shops and make contacts with people via email with whom I want to have a working relationship.  Being an entrepreneur is all about doing the hustle.  (Not to be confused with hustling customers, which is a bad practice.)

I’ve gotta insert a quote by Dave Ramsey here:

“If you work like no one else now, then later you can work like no one else.”

What does that mean?  Most people are happy getting by working a 9-5, Monday-Friday job.  They make enough to pay their bills, tend to their families, save a little for vacation, hopefully put away for retirement.  They are content biding their time, ticking off the minutes until retirement, complacently working as a cog in a larger wheel.  Then there are the entrepreneurs.  These are the ones who have a dream and a passion; they happily put in at least 60 hours a week to pursue their passion, and they reap the benefits from it.  That means that they can set aside even more for their retirement nest egg and retire early, enjoying life while others are down in the coal mines of corporate America.

One day not long ago, my daughter was heading over to a neighbor’s lawn to mow.  Peter was working in the office, and I was thinking a quick nap would be nice; after all, my work wasn’t going anywhere.  I discovered that it doesn’t work that way anymore.  Having this many entrepreneurs in the household has a peer pressure-type of motivation on each of us.  With all this hustle going on, we each know that we’re not the only person working.

We also help each other.  Peter has done a lot of legwork for my business.  He’s made initial contacts with potential customers, he’s picked up oils for me, and he’s helped with manufacturing.  Both of my daughters have helped wrap soaps and have helped make them.  They often accompany me on deliveries and customer visits.  My younger daughter and husband help the older daughter with her lawns when she needs a break.  And we’re all helping Peter with his new business venture.

I spent part of Sunday night hand-addressing envelopes. The curse of having the best penmanship in the family.
I spent part of Sunday night hand-addressing envelopes. The curse of having the best penmanship in the family.

This was how I spent Sunday night.  I had a stack of envelopes that I’d told Peter I’d address for him.  I sat in the living room at my parents’ house (we’d gone up for a funeral) while they watched a Chuck Norris series from the early 90s, and Dad and I ruthlessly critiqued the commercials, all aimed at the elderly and gullible.  I’d discovered that the handwritten note goes a long way towards making customers feel special.  Peter had over 60 letters in this stack alone, and no way were we handwriting that many letters!  This is time-sensitive, though we did personalize the mail merge, and one of my former soccer families got a personal greeting at the bottom of their letter.  Each was hand-signed, as well.

Whether or not they’re all working on the same business, the entrepreneurial family shares some characteristics.

  1. Entrepreneurial families help each other out.  People go into business to make money, and usually that money is to help the family in some way, which creates a common goal.  Helping each other is a way to ensure that everyone meets his/her goals.
  2. Entrepreneurial families encourage each other.  “Ohhh…  That soap is gorgeous!”  “Her lawn looks good!”  “You’ve got this!”  And one I texted today:  “Yea!  But this is getting so commonplace now :D,” upon learning that Peter had sold another account.  Frequent encouragement keeps each other energized and confident about the next step.
  3. Entrepreneurial families motivate each other.  “What do you mean you’re going to sleep for two hours this afternoon?  Get your butt up and get working!”  “Hey…  I need to use the desktop this afternoon.  Why don’t you go ahead and get your computer work done while I’m in the workshop?”  When you’ve been working all week on a new business and the weekend rolls around, the last thing you want to do is work more, no matter what the work load looks like.  Motivating each other helps keep the work flow going and ensures they meet each next small or large goal.

I never dreamed we’d have so many entrepreneurs in one family!  It’s an adjustment for sure, but we’re all feeling calmer, more confident, and way more excited about what lies ahead.


My First Cold Process!



I thought that I would change up my blog. I was thinking of one of my friends at the time I was writing this and decided that I would act as if I was talking to her and came up with questions she might ask. Hope this answers some of your questions!

Friend: What does the soap look like?

Me: The soap is pink with a fun amount of sparkles and a mango sorbet fragrance. With it being my first soap I would add a hint of blue to the pink color in the future. Mom says that I should start with one color, but I added sparkles to get close to the desired effect.

Friend: What good qualities does your soap have that will make people want it?

Me: It will be a small bar which will be easy for kids (and adults) to hold. Its fun fragrance will (ahem, should) make kids look forward to showering without bubblegum (take it from a young spurt, bubblegum can smell icky or get tiring). The soap has sparkles which gleam in the light some. It is very moisturizing, lather is a definite, and it is hard. I was rinsing off my cutting board after cutting it and I had a great lather. I love the soap (I kept a bar for myself).

Friend: If you were to sell it, what would you call it?

Me: Pink Paradise* or Pink Paradise Falls**. I’m leaning towards PPF, though if I do PP then I can do a series with Blue Paradise, Green, Orange, Purple, etc. I think that I’ll make another PP next year for sale, then every other month another color. I will be doing another soap (for sale) this year with the same recipe, and it will be Christmas-y. That will be sold online and at the Triangle area EPA show in November. I also do a show here called the Pender County Spring Fest.

Friend: How did you think the soap would turn out compared to how it turned out?

Me: I thought it would turn out sharper, more vivid, pinker. The top looks pretty and if the whole soap were that color, then the soap would look beautiful. The top is a powdery pink that, in my opinion, looks like pixie dust. The bottom is a sort of magenta, but not that dark, mixed with sparkles that add a welcoming touch. I really thought that the sparkles would come out more, that it would be darker or lighter.

Friend: What were some of your feelings as you made this soap?

Me, mixing up the lye.
Me, mixing up the lye.

Me: I was feeling exhilarated, happy, worried, slightly panicked, joyful, and free. I can make whatever I want (within reason) on any soap, swirl, etc. I was also very happy that Mom said I could. Truth be told, I don’t like Melt & Pour as much. They take up time freezing them and you have to monitor it.  You can make a CP and leave it alone.

Me stirring the lye mixture into the warm oils. Making magic happen!
Me stirring the lye mixture into the warm oils. Making magic happen!

Friend: Give us some brief how-to’s.

Me: First, gather your supplies. Since I’m doing small batches then everything can be done in a 4 Cup measuring cup. Bigger batches are done in buckets.

4 cup measuring cup (4 cupper)                                         Small container (yogurt container sort)

Spatula                                                                                    Wooden spoon

Big container (such as the containers you get when you order a quart of Chinese soup)

Oils, Lye, etc.

Stick blender

Goggles, Gloves, etc.

Soap rag (old baby diapers, washcloths)

Not all of your oils are going to be liquid. Put on your goggles, gloves, etc. and get the smaller container. Measure out your lye. In the big container, measure out your water (or ice). With the wooden spoon stir lye and water together but be sure to hold your breath; otherwise the fumes can hurt your throat. Once dissolved, set aside. You can take the protective gear off. Now measure out your solid oils. Mine were coconut, palm, and cocoa butter. Melt them in the microwave until liquid. Now you add your liquid oils. Mine were olive and avocado. Mix all your oils together and set them aside. Take another small container and scoop some of the oil mixture into it. Add your color to it and stir until smooth. Set your color aside. Measure out your fragrance and set aside.

Put your protective gear back on. Dump lye mixture into the oils. Take the stick blender and bring the mixture to a trace. It will be mixed together but thick. If you’re making tomato soup and it’s just out of the can, that’s about how thick it should be. Add the fragrance. Now you have one of two options. The soap will be a creamy white. You can add the color mixture now and stir the fragrance and color in, OR, you can stir in fragrance then add color. If you do option #2 then you have the option of not stirring the color in all the way and getting a swirl. Either way, when you get done, put it in a silicone mould, scrape it out (this is where the spatula comes in), and cover it with a box lined with cling wrap. Insulate your soap by covering it with towels and let rest for at least 24 hours before unmoulding. Take the soap rag and wipe your equipment before rinsing under warm water. “Make” it in a soap program and it should tell you how many days it has to cure (you can use it after it cures, usually about a month).

My first CP soap freshly poured
My first CP soap freshly poured



What Was I Thinking?

Last week, I got this great idea to start doing squats.  As I really, truly hate squats with a passion, and it was the week I’d determined to do taxes, which is also not my idea of fun, apparently I was truly a glutton for punishment.  I thought about doing an abs challenge, and my abs could use more work, but crunches don’t faze me.  I started with twenty squats, which is bad enough.  Feeling all good and mighty, I googled “30 day squats challenge.”  Oh crap!  I was supposed to have started with FIFTY squats.  FIFTY!!!  5-0.  There’s that many Shades of Grey.  (There was masochism there, too.  Hmmm…)  Well, I was determined to do this, and it’d be dumb to give up before I even started because it might be hard.

I gamely did my fifty squats, and I felt great!  Great, that is, until I tried to walk down the stairsThe Big Bopper sang a song back in the 50s called “Chantilly Lace,” and one of the lyrics says, “A wiggling walk and a giggling talk make the world go round.” Pay attention around the :37 mark.

(I promise, I won’t tell if you start getting up and dancing around your office.  It’ll be our little secret!)

So the 30-day challenge starts with 50 squats.  No big.  Except for the fact I had that “wiggling walk” going on and could barely make it down the stairs safely.  Day two kicks it up a little to 55 squats.  I was almost working up a sweat with these, and in trying to figure out what to do with my arms, I thought, Hmmm…  I could add a curl to this and work my arms, too.  Right after, the probably more rational part of me said, “That’s crazy talk!”  I was good as long as I stretch my legs before walking, sitting down, standing up, or climbing stairs.  You can imagine how challenging going to the bathroom painlessly was.  That more rational side of my mind was beginning to convince me to give up.  Just quit.  Let my thighs quit hurting and get back to normal.  Then the crazy, business woman side of my brain kicked in.

“Quit!?  Are you kidding me!?  No!!!  We’re not going to quit just because things get a little hard.  Remember, pain is weakness leaving the body.  Now, quitchur bitchin’ and do today’s squats.”  I didn’t have time to knock out my 60 before church, but I was on them afterwards.  Before I went upstairs, I took a detour into the garage where I keep my work-out equipment and grabbed a hand weight.  (I couldn’t find the other one, but I did find my younger daughter’s missing soccer ball, so for today, I was BEST MOM EVER!!!)  I went up and changed out of my dress and heels and added arms to my squats.  Know what?  Today’s squats were easier.  I’ve still got a little bit of that wigglin’ walk going on, but I’m getting around OK.

Sometimes, business is hard, too.  That promising customer doesn’t reply back to my email.  That batch of soap suffers a grand mal soap seizure so that the beautiful swirl I envisioned looks more like a particularly nasty crime scent.  A wholesale stockist closes its doors.  One of my girls or I get sick right in the middle of putting together a huge (talking multiple hundreds) item order.

Around every September, I think about quitting.  Just selling off all my remaining inventory, getting rid of most of my ingredients and supplies, and enjoying life without curing racks and with plenty of space to work on some sewing projects I have queued up, and it’s usually because of one particular account.  Then, ego kicks in, and I don’t have any desire to give up my customers and accounts to anyone else.  They’re mine, darnit, and I worked very hard for them!  So I muscle through, and you know what?  As I’m plowing through the work once again, I discover that a whole bunch of my colleagues and friends also think about quitting once a year, so I’m not alone in this.

I will beat on.  I’ll grit my teeth and gut through 26 more days of this 30-day squats challenge.  I’ll keep pushing my business, knowing that huge growth often follows those thoughts of quitting.  And I’ll be stronger and better for it.

The Value of Relaxation

English: A young girl taking a break in a swim...
English: A young girl taking a break in a swimming pool, grabbing on to a rainbow-coloured styrofoam flotation device. Français : Jeune fille s’offrant une pause dans une piscine, s’accrochant à une planche de polystirène expansé aux couleurs de l’arc en ciel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m a busy woman.  I’m not bragging about that at all.  I don’t use my busyness to get out of things if I can help it.  I don’t take pride in my busyness.  If anything, I feel ashamed of it sometimes, because I think, “Maybe I can manage my time better.”  But, the fact remains that, between running my business, teaching my girls, chauffeuring them from Point A to Point B, managing the household and coaching soccer, I am very busy.  But not for long.  Those running around days are coming to a close.  The soccer season won’t last forever.  And our Summer Break starts at the end of May.  There will soon be time to breathe.

Given all this busyness, all these responsibilities, all the minutiae of things that need my attention, it is very hard for me to stop to chill.  I have two children who demand that I stop to play with them every so often.  Last week after their swimming lessons, they asked if we could do free swim some.  I said, “Sure.”  OK, in my mind, I was saying, “But I’ve got to type that blog post and take those pictures and get through our academic lessons…”  The “Yes” won out, and we enjoyed an hour-and-a-half or so in the pool together, swimming and playing…  and laughing.  By the time we got home, I was feeling very mellow and relaxed, which set me up for a very productive afternoon.

Last Wednesday, I blew off a small group study on raising better kids to enjoy coffee and smoothies with an acquaintance-turned-friend.  I was looking forward to it with a little trepidation.  Would April and I have enough to discuss to fill the hour-long break we had from motherhood?  Oh yes, plus some!  When the time was coming to a close, neither of us was ready to get back to the demands of motherhood, having enjoyed getting to know one another better and discovering all we have in common.

Last weekend, I took time to liberate myself of all responsibilities.  My best friend and I had planned for me to come for a visit after our soccer games were over.  My heart blossomed as I spent time with his daughter, and he said a few times, “She opened up to you more than she had the whole time she was here!”  We shopped; spent time with his mom, who’s one of my dear friends; went out to a great dinner; attended church (can I get an AMEN for rich spiritual nourishment!); then chilled with Netflix for a while.  We talked and laughed and cut up, and I left feeling completely recharged.  Not once did I check my business email or worry for a second about the batches of soap awaiting production.

Then came yesterday.  So much to do, and only one car between hubby and me (his died last week, so he’s been using mine for work).  Swimming lessons and hair appointments and necessary Easter shoe shopping for the girls and…  A rain day.  That meant he didn’t have to work, so I had the car to get things done.  Unfortunately, the timing never worked out with the girls’ swim teacher, but Hubby worked with the girls on their techniques, our youngest, especially.  I was going to sit and watch, using my phone to catch up on emails, blog posts, and so forth, but at the almost last minute, I grabbed my suit and towel and decided to swim myself.  How wonderful it was taking this opportunity to exercise and play in the pool!  We also managed to get everything else done.

I needed these breaks.  I needed the mental breaks with my girls, new friend, and bestie to play and laugh.  I needed soccer and yesterday’s swimming time to exercise.  I needed to fall asleep on the sofa last night to refresh and rejuvenate my mind and body.  I needed to stop for a while, because it was only in allowing myself to stop that I could once more go full speed ahead with fresh ideas, goals, motivation, and agendas.

What do you do to stop yourself in order to get a fresh start?


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