You Can Take It Back Home With You

Do you ever go to the beach and wish you could bring something back home with you?  Other than the tons of sand in towels, beach toys, and shells, that is?

When I was growing up, we had really hard well water.  After a while, of course, the minerals from the water would build up on our hair.  Every time we went to the beach, Mom would luxuriate in how the soft beach water made her hair feel – soft, light, and conditioned.  When my parents built their house some 20ish years ago, one of their top priorities was a water softening system, because Mom wanted her hair always to feel soft and not weighted down.

Also when I was growing up, my grandparents had the best water.  They lived 20 minutes from us (so nowhere near the beach), and that water made the most amazing coffee!  It was so good and turned this one-cup-a-day drinker to a 3-cup drinker while I was at Grandma and Grandpa’s.  When I was in high school, my grandparents got a place at the beach so Grandpa would have someplace to stay when he was fishing.  Welcome beach water!  It had the same sweet flavor of my grandparents’ water, but even better!

Fast forward several years to my meeting Peter and spending time at his parents’ beach house.  I was living in a place with awful municipal water; I had to add lemon juice to make it palatable to me.  But the beach house…  One sniff and I knew the water would be as incredible as at my grandparents’ home.  I tasted it and was sent back to their house while I was growing up.  Cup after cup of the smoothest coffee went down while I sat or stood on the dock, savoring the delicious flavor dancing on my tongue.

Fast forward a few more years, and since we couldn’t bring enough water back to keep me satisfied, we went to where the water is.  We moved to the beach, and the water is almost as smooth and soft as what my Grandparents had.  (And I certainly drink enough of it!)  A little farther east, and we discovered the water at Kure Beach is reminiscent of that which was at the beach house.  I can bring a little of that back with me, and I do every time we’re there.

Moving to the beach isn’t an option for many people.  Some can’t afford it, some prefer living elsewhere, and still others love the idea all the way up to hurricane season, when the idea doesn’t seem quite as winning.  When you can’t turn your vacation into something more permanent, you can bring the beach back home with you (no vacuuming required).

Wherever your vacation takes you along our glorious North Carolina coast, we have a soap for you so you can savor those vacation memories just a little bit longer.  Starting on the northern part of the coast takes you to world-class surfing, wind-swept dunes, and wildly primitive beaches.  Outer Banks Storm captures this area with its rustic cedar-shingled homes and the sharp tang as a storm blows in from the sea.

Outer Banks soap
Outer Banks Storm


Go south just a little bit and the southern Outer Banks takes you to Crystal Coast Morning.  You know those mornings at my in-laws’ beach house I mentioned?  I captured them in this scent – sans coffee.  Zippy and fresh, this scent is like waking up on a late autumn morning to an empty beach in the off-season when the air is pure and crisp and all that tickles your ears are the sounds of waves kissing the sand.

CCM soap
Crystal Coast Morning

Keep going a little further south and you arrive at our gorgeous Cape Fear beaches.  The Cape Fear River meanders its way from mid-state to the ocean and lends its name to this region.  Surf City, Topsail, Wrightsville, Carolina, Kure Beaches… Each wonderful in its own right, depending on what you’re looking for.  We generally go to Kure Beach.  It’s a quiet beach with a fishing pier and lifeguards, as well as a public bath house and free parking.  And I mentioned the water, right?  Kure Beach Afternoon is pure ocean with a slight tangy zip underscored by a whisper of sunscreen.  It’s hanging out at the beach with a bunch of other local home educating families on a beautiful late summer day as clouds scuttle overhead.

Kure Beach soap
Kure Beach Afternoon

And finally, we come to Ocean Isle Beach, easily one of the jewels of our Brunswick County Beaches.  This island is paradise just after the season ends when it’s still warm enough to enjoy the beach but the isle isn’t thronged with tourists.  My teen and I enjoy weekends away each year to a resort on the island.  Wide, powdery, sandy beaches; calm waters; and the rustle of palm fronds overhead as we sit on our balcony or float in the pool.  It’s a beach vacation made for chillin’ and sipping something cold and fruity while all the stress melts away.  That moment became Ocean Isle Beach.  A crisp ocean scent mingles with sweet fruits as you remember what it was like to watch your cares blow away on a warm breeze.

Ocean Isle – Weekend in Paradise

Which one of these jewels of the beach would you want to bring back with you?  What memories will you love to capture in your shower?

Making the Change, pt. 3

You can read the first part of this saga here, and the second part here.

I was sitting at the beach, and I’d lucked out on a bench swing overlooking the ocean.  The air was nippy (it was April), the water was a beautiful greenish blue, the sky was a crystal clear gradient blue, and the wind whispered through the sea oats on the dunes.  I closed my eyes and allowed my other senses to study my environment.  My mind went back to countless beach days – warm beach, friendly kids for the girls to play with, sand in the bathing suit (hey, it happens), sunscreen.  And there it was.  I would make soaps that capture by scent my memories and associations of various North Carolina beaches, and this would be my niche.

I already had been making one soap, Crystal Coast Morning, that was inspired by wonderful memories of waking up at Emerald Isle in the late autumn (think early December) when the air is clean and brisk and the beach is silent but for the waves and breezes.  Kure Beach is kissed with a bit of sunscreen and a little sand.  Outer Banks is wild and primitive – sudden storms, cedar-sided houses, the ghosts of pirates.  And Ocean Isle has a hint of fruity drink (with an umbrella, of course) served ocean-side.

These four soaps form the heart of my new niche.  A surprise gift of 5 pounds of Bolivian pink sand were the inspiration behind a new type of salt scrub, also in these fabulous scents (though, being a “man scent,” Outer Banks isn’t yet available in salt scrub).  You know how your skin feels after you’ve been at the beach?  That fine layer of sand exfoliates your skin as you wash it off.  Then you wash off all the sunscreen and salt, slathering on the lotion afterwards, and you feel sun-kissed, moisturized, and completely luxurious.  That’s what Bolivian Pink Sea Salt Scrub does for your skin.

From my niche came my conception of my ideal customer.  It was the oddest thing.  I was transferring soaps from table to rack late one night before bed, and I started talking to her in my mind.  In a flash, my ideal customer came to me, and I knew everything about her.  Experts put out worksheets to help businesses identify their ideal customer, but I kept getting stuck when I’d do them.  Apparently, though, at 11:00 while I’m doing mindless tasks, I can come up with lots.

Anyway, moving on…  (I just get really excited about my new products, if you couldn’t tell!)  We’re moving forward on this rebrand, right?  I had the blessing of 1 1/2 weeks without the girls to make products, take pictures, talk to my web developer.  Things were looking good!  I would take a few pictures a day as soaps cured and were close to being ready for sale.  My web developer and I worked hard, troubleshooting and setting things in place.  The launch date was 1 June, and I was trusting him to be working his coding magic behind the scenes while I dealt with the front-end and administrative tasks.

Then another one of those screeching halts came at the end of May.  My husband and I both lost two people close to us – his mentor/friend and my grandmother.  My work time was then pushed into traveling, and I pushed the launch for the following Monday, giving us the weekend for final tweaks and adjustments.  I wasn’t hearing anything much from my developer, so I took deep breaths and trusted that all was going fine on his end.  Then Monday comes.  And Monday goes.  No website, and nothing at all from my developer.  It’s like he’d dropped off the face of the earth.  Panic ensued.  If this site was going to be ready for the grand new business launch, I was (a) going to have to build it myself, or (b) pay someone big bucks to build it for me.  I knew I couldn’t afford option B, so A it was.

I started with my shopping cart, a trusted one that I’d used for years with my old site.  I was familiar with the admin, was pretty comfortable navigating the cpanel, and I was ready to roll.  The first problem hits.  No big.  I go to the support forums, find the solution, fix the problem, roll on.  The next problem crops up.  Same thing.  By the third problem, I had figured out I was in over my head and started exploring other shopping carts.  Getting started and through the first three problems took me…  probably about 20 hours to deal with, and I hadn’t gotten very far at all.  I found a new shopping cart, scrapped those twenty hours’ worth of work, installed the new cart, and after about another six hours’ work, had a rough but working website.  Score one for the not-developer!

Several more hours, messages between the shop’s developer and me, even more hours, and the site was done and ready to launch a little over a week later.  Given that website development really isn’t my forte’ at all, I really have to be proud of the fact that the launch was only delayed by two weeks, and for the most part, I built my site by myself (though again, with valuable help from the template developer’s team and my own friend Bobby).  My web developer is still MIA.

Even while all that was going on, I ordered note cards, postcards, and business cards.  I invested time in sending personal notes to some of my customers.  I set up email addresses…  And to my surprise, last Monday, one of my customers who received one of those notes talked about it in her own blog.  You can read about that here.

So, that was pretty much my rebrand, start to present.  There’s so much minutiae to doing this – opening new accounts, changing account information on websites, making it official with the state – but that’s boring stuff.  However, if you’re rebranding or launching your first new brand (the steps are quite similar), be sure to include these tedious but necessary tasks on your task list so you don’t forget them.

If you have questions about rebranding I didn’t address, please leave them in the comments below.