Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lindsay Goodwin's Keys to Soapcess

We started a delightful and eye opening conversation with Lindsay Goodwin owner of Body Language Soaps (www.blsoaps.com). We are sure that this story will inspire you and help you in the right direction.

SCPR: What did you do before you started to make and sell soap?

Lindsay: I was only 26 when I got into making soap. Besides being a mom, I didn't really have a certain job or job field.

SCPR: What made you start making soap?

Lindsay: I've always had sensitive skin, but when I was pregnant with my youngest my skin got significantly worse. My OB/GYN kept telling me that my dry itchy skin was simply that, dry & itchy from being stretched, but that there wasn't any underlying causes for it. Since this was my 3rd pregnancy, I knew my skin and knew this wasn't normal. I was so itchy that I was rubbing myself raw. My OB/GYN just kept telling me to put on my lotion, but that made me worse. Eventually, I figured out that I I had become allergic to mineral oil, which back then was MUCH harder to avoid than it is now, especially in lotions. Which also made finding a mineral oil free lotion much harder to find. So I started doing lots of research online, and eventually stumbled onto making my own.

SCPR: Starting a business can be brutal.  What were some of your challenges and failures?

Lindsay: I've spread myself too thin, and that can HURT more than you can possibly imagine. The difference between having a successful business and being a workaholic can be a very fine line. I've had burnouts because I've pushed myself too hard. My husband has struggled because sometimes I get so busy that other areas of my personal life end up neglected. Finding what works for you and your family is very important to walking that very fine line. My husband now accepts that some days the laundry doesn't get done, and the dishes pile up in the sink.

SCPR: How have you fixed the problems or made corrections where needed?

Lindsay: What's helped us the most is having a schedule (and having my kids in school!). My husband works from 7am-3:30pm. He's usually home around 4pm. My kids are in school from 8am-3:30pm. As soon as they're out the door, I'm up in the workroom. When they get home, I get them set up with after school snacks, hear about their day, check papers, check homework, etc. Once my husband gets home, I head back upstairs and work for another hour or so. Once I hit 5:00 though, hubby starts getting antsy! If I'm not downstairs by 5:15, it's not uncommon to hear "It's after five, you're closed!" shouted up the stairs! I still struggle to get laundry done, and sometimes the dishes still pile up, but we've got a routine that works for us. We break it occasionally when things come up. For the last month I've worked past 5:00 on many nights, but we also know that this is the busiest time for us.

SCPR: Did you ever want to give up on making soap at any point? If so, what renewed your love for it?

Lindsay: I've definitely had some burnouts over the years. But I always knew that I'd always make stuff, even if it's just for me and family. My skin wouldn't let me consider anything else! LOL! My family has always been very supportive of me. They keep me motivated during my rough times, and help me celebrate the good times!

SCPR: Have you gotten to a point where you can make soap full-time?

Lindsay: We've had a unique set of challenges that have hindered our expansions, and enabling me to fully devote what I need to the business to help it take those next big steps. In the spring of 2007 my husband ruptured a disk in his spine. He was rushed into emergency surgery, but it didn't take. In September, they did a full discectomy (removing the disk and putting in a cage). He was out of work for over a year when all was said and done. During that time, I worked full-time as well as ran my business, took care of him, our kids, our home. He was finally able to return to work a few months ago. At that time we debated whether I'd keep working outside the home or devote myself full steam to the business. We decided to take a chance and I've put everything into the business. While I don't make enough to support us, I make enough to help out with bills!

SCPR: What advice do you have for others who want to quit their day jobs?

Lindsay: Don't rely on just one source of revenue. I sell on Etsy and my website (www.blsoaps.com). Selling wholesale has made a big difference in my income as well. But when you decide to take the jump to wholesale, make sure your prices can handle it.

Utilize the tools around you to help you either save time or money. And remember that time IS money! For me, one of my best time savers costs me money every month. I use Endicia for ALL my shipping, and I never go to the post office. I originally signed up with them at the end of 2008 so that I could print international postage from home. I loved the program so much that I switched to printing all my postage with them, even US orders. It's so nice to know exactly how much I'm spending per month on shipping costs. It makes my accounting much easier when all my paperwork is in one place. But once I have my labels printed, I simply schedule a pick up online with USPS, and my mailman comes to my door to pick up my packages. He's been absolutely amazing. He comes almost every day for pick ups now. He even brings me empty postal bins to swap out with my full ones! When you have a good carrier, treat them like gold!!!

Beyond that, just always believe in what you do, and build a good support system around you. There will always be unique challenges to running your own business. But I'm a firm believer that you will never be given more than you can handle. You may be surprised exactly what you can handle when pushed to your full potential!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Building Your Brand

Building a brand is one of the first and most important steps (next to writing a business plan) to take before you are ready to launch a new product. Why? This is how your customers or future consumers will identify your product and your company. Let the public know HOW your product is better or different.

What promises can you make that your product is better than your competitor?
Can you promise your customers that they will receive a valuable product or experience each time that they make a purchase from you?

For example, think of the food industry. McDonald’s and Burger King are two of the most popular hamburger chains in the world. They sell hamburgers, basically the same products, and are  both successful.  The McDonald’s brand promises that you will experience the “I’m Loving It” feeling every time you eat their food. The Burger King brand promises  “You Can Have It Your Way.” This type of Branding produces two types of loyal consumers. Each consumer makes a conscious choice to attach himself to the companies based on what their mind perceives to be the better of the two promises. There are other things that are indelibly connected to these brands. Like the words clown, King or flame broiled. And everyone knows what words fit with each brand. Your Brand identity should be very clear   Design it to reach your target market and your loyal customers will follow it. Your goal should be to become an expert at what you do. If you are manufacturing your product yourself or having it manufactured make sure it is a quality product - set standards. Never ever sell a product that you would not be proud to be identified with.

Visual branding is EXTREMELY important as well. This drives the consumers to buy with their mind because it fits their taste. Logos are important. If you do not have a properly designed logo, that could  ruin your first impression. Your product is introducing itself for the first time. “Hello, look at me. Don’t I catch your eye? Buy me.” Logos MUST fit your company’s brand. If you knit and you have a bull for a logo opposed to a sheep. Someone is going to say that you have no clue as to what you are doing. Clean and simple but eye catching is best. Your logo can be wild and crazy without being tacky and overwhelming. Logo design is expensive you say? No says I. You can get a fabulous logo designed for around $79. I will recommend someone to you just for reading my blog.

Everlasting InvitesCustom logo design starting at $79.00. Other packages are available as well.

A. Mabe Designs
Their logo design starts at $100. They also have packages that includes business cards, banners for your website and more.

There are many more. You will just have to search and find a graphic artist whose flair fits your style.

In connection with a logo, colors also play an important role in brand identification. What do you think of when you read the following:
  • Red Soled Shoes
  • Peacock silhouette with colored feathers for a tai;
  • Blue Box
Christian Louboutin is a famous women’s shoe designer who sent the fashion world into a frenzy with his red soled shoes. NBC is synonymous for the peacock with the brightly colored tail. Last but not least, Tiffany’s. Need I say more? Build a packaging that your consumers will instantly identify with.

Your company will also need a theme or a clear direction. When you think of some of the products associated with a few widely known companies, their products or their company have a clear direction. In the bath and body world, Bath and Body Works have an un-mistakeable identity when it comes to their products. Philosophy bath and body did just that, made their consumers relate to their product by making each product relate to a philosophy or word and putting that right onto the product. Seriously, you couldn’t miss it even if you closed your eyes. Point Blank – packaging is extremely important.

Our last point of the day is creating a demand for your product or altering your product to fit into a current demand. This is one of the most vital pieces to this puzzle. If no one wants your product, what the heck are you wasting your time on? Sure, it brings you joy when one or two people (most likely family members and close friends) ooh and ah over your product. The problem with that is, they are not going to be brutally honest with you and tell you that something you think is wonderful, truly stinks. They will smile and nod and look down and say, “yeah I liked it” in a high pitched voice. Truth is, they could care less. Get out and find out what the public thinks about your product or what would they change. Be open to CONSTRUCTIVE and BRUTAL crtiticism. This might mean that you may have to give away some products for free to get feedback. But you will know in the end if you should continue, revamp or trash your current project.

Now that I’ve filled your brain to the brim, hopefully you will understand how important it is to build your brand before officially launching your products. Not taking this step can and will likely  result in failure. No one will want to purchase from you because clearly you have no clear direction on where you are going or what you are doing. They sense when you are serious and are a company that will have longevity. Make sure that you develop a company that consumers will identify with, be loyal to and refer to their friends or people they don’t even know.

Send in your questions or problems that you are encountering with launching your product or company and we will tackle it one topic at a time!


Let's Quit Our Day Jobs!

Welcome to our first post of helping you Quit Your Day Job! We are going to help so many people to help your dream come to a realization and have your own business. I suggest that you read our About US page for some helpful insight. This is not a get rich quick scheme or website because we are all about quality and logevity. Follow my blog and I will follow you.

Have a question about how to get started or just a general question? E-mail me at steelcitypr@gmail.com and we will discuss it on the blog.

Have a product and want the HONEST and BRUTAL (sorry) opinion of the masses, I’ll have a poll of what the readers think about your product. Send us product submissions and you might be featured as our Featured Product.

Talking about it helps to get your creative juices going and on the right path to being your own boss.