It Took Over My Entire Life

In my last post, I revealed plans to move to primarily an online presence around mid-year, after the spring shows are done, and I talked about cutting back the product line I keep on hand. Neither of those were easy decisions to make. I have come to really enjoy getting out and meeting people at the shows, talking to them about my soaps, and being able to offer a wide product line. However, as my hope to make this a viable business started to wane, I began to resent certain aspects of running it. Between resentment and disappointment, the joy began to seep out of the entire process, and that’s where the depression started.

I am no stranger to depression; I’ve dealt with it off and on for a good portion of my life. And really, I think everyone deals with depression at some point in their lives, some of us becoming clinically depressed, and some of us dealing with just plain old depression. But regardless of how it’s classified, I almost always realize that I’m depressed when I lose interest in doing things. The one that usually gets my attention is when I have the desire to sew or quilt, but not the ability. I realized last week that I had a problem when I thought about making a quilt but then decided it was too much work to clean up the studio. It’s not really that bad to begin with; there are some things on the cutting table that I need to put away but it’s not like I’m walking hip deep in crap or anything. I thought at first that maybe I was tired, but it happened again. And again. And then yesterday, before I made the decisions about the business, I thought that sewing would be a great way to take my mind off of my troubles, but I realized that the business has sort of sucked the joy out of sewing, too. As I sat here thinking about it, I realized that what I really need to do is create boundaries with my business. Even a smaller scale operation will get out of hand if I let it – and I think that’s where my primary issue is in the first place. I try to do more than I can, and that stresses me out, which then begins to wear on me, and after a while I find myself where I am now – depressed and irritated and wishing I’d never started a business in the first place.

Chris and I were talking about this yesterday, and we agreed that it’s out of hand. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, my work space when I started this business was my office. My desk was in there, and I cut and stored the soap there, too. When I started with the embroidery business, I needed a place to store the blank products, so I installed three large plastic shelves (think garage storage) in our bedroom. Somewhere around September, I realized that there wasn’t really enough space in the office for everything, so I started to store some of my soap in the hallway between my studio and the garage, which leads to my studio. By the end of the year, I’d moved my “office” space to the studio, and started to turn the former office in to a storage room. But that wasn’t enough space, either, so now a good chunk of stuff is in my studio, and under the bar in our dining area, not to mention the wagon I have that holds my big pails of oil. Every time I turn around, I’m out of space, and the business has taken over half of the downstairs area, and moving up the stairs in to our bedroom. There is not a place anywhere in this house that I can get away from it, because everywhere I go, every place I look, there’s some bit of my business.

And because I require the use of a stove and sink (and sometimes the oven), my kitchen is always in use, either by my business, or to prepare meals. I don’t do both at the same time – one is done before the other begins – but it creates a LOT of dishes to be done, and sometimes I feel like I am NEVER done with cleaning the kitchen. There have been days when I have done dishes six times and still couldn’t keep up completely.

I want – I NEED – to claw back space that shouldn’t be used for business, and to create areas of my home where it’s just not acceptable to store business related items. I was so gung ho for a while there, I lost sight of the need to maintain a work-free zone for myself and my family. It’s going to take time to get to the point where I’ve “de-businessed” areas, because I’m not going to just throw that stuff away or donate it. But my current goal is to not add to the mess by buying more things I need to store. I will be doing some embroidery work on some t-shirts in the hopes that I can sell some of them at upcoming shows, in my Etsy shop and on my website, so keep your eyes open for them.

 

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It really isn’t possible …

For me to suck more at blog posting than I do, and for that, I apologize. It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly TWO MONTHS since my last post, but I guess it makes sense because I’ve been so freakin’ busy, I can’t even keep up with what’s going on lately. But that’s what I’m here for today – to get caught up, and hopefully, stay caught up, on blog posting. So, let’s get started. ūüėČ

First, on a personal note, I signed up for three accounting classes this semester. I just finished one up last week, and in the first eight weeks of the semester I learned something that’s vitally important. I do NOT want to be an accountant. The only enjoyment I get from any of these classes is the human interaction I get twice a week from going to my intermediate accounting class. Beyond that, I hate every single minute of the classes I’m taking. So I dropped the class that was scheduled to begin this week, and I will finish up the class I’m taking now, but after that I’m done with accounting classes. Maybe I wouldn’t hate it so much if I didn’t feel like it sucks valuable time away from my businesses, but I feel torn between doing school work and working on the businesses. I think “resentful” is a better word than “hate” though. I am very resentful of the time I spend doing school work when I feel it’s ¬†not going to be very helpful in the future.

Which brings me to business … We have been going like gang busters on the soap front. A new show every weekend, a lot of work going in to the business, but not the results we had hoped to see at this point. So last month, we sat down and took a long, hard look at what we’re doing and we realized that the biggest inhibitor to our success is the way I scheduled shows. I looked for allegedly big shows that would hopefully bring in a lot of sales volume, but we’ve found that the attendance numbers for the two biggest shows we signed up for were vastly overstated. Sadly, both of those shows were “traveling shows,” meaning that we traveled to them and stayed in motels. As such, we made NO profit off either of them. We’ve learned our lesson, though, and all of our future shows will be within distance to get home at night after the show is over. We’re really excited to be staying close to home over the next several weeks – most of our shows from now until Thanksgiving will be at the Cy-Fair Exhibit Center located at 11206 Telge Road. That’s the FFA complex at Telge and 290, if you’re familiar with the area, right across Telge from Cy-Fair High School. We will be out there this coming weekend, at the Cy-Woods FFA Booster Show, so be sure to look for us there!

One of the things I’ve come to realize with all the shows and the focus on soap is that I have not been able to get much done for the embroidery business, but I really want to focus on that. In fact, the concept is moving from straight embroidery to other fabric arts as well, but I haven’t had time to devote to any of it really. That’s one of the reasons why I’m so glad that we’ve decided to cut back on the road shows and stick close to home from now on – it should give me more time to work on the embroidery business and get it up and running. I mean, check out this adorable hoodie sample that I did last week.

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Now, maybe it’s just me, but I think this hoodie would make a great gift for any woman. It comes in sizes from XS to XXL, and it’s super comfy! Of course it can be customized with your initials (I guess people don’t want to run around with MY initials on their chest LOL). I’m working on the listing for my Etsy shop now and it should be active by the time this post is public. But if it isn’t, and you’re interested in ordering this hoodie, just send me a message and we can chat about it. Who knew setting up an Etsy listing could be so complex?!

Anyway, I guess that about brings you up to speed for now. There are other things in the works, but I’m not ready to share those just yet. So stay tuned and please don’t fault me for being out of touch the last couple of months. I know I always say this, but I’ll try to do better; I promise!

 

Blogging failure

Sooooooooooooo much a failure at blogging lately … Not that I need to tell YOU that – you can easily see that I haven’t had a blog post in over a month. Where does the time go?!?

Things are just crazy busy around here; I’m not sitting around enjoying a bunch of free time, that’s for sure! In the last month, we’ve had four shows, all of which were a roaring success, and one attempt at Traders Village, which didn’t go so well. Alright, honestly, it was horrible. But other than that one flop, every show has gone better than the one before. And response to the soaps has been amazing.

Last weekend, we were at the Hempstead Watermelon Festival, and the feedback we got from the people who stopped by the booth was really good. People loved the look and scents of our soaps, and we got some requests and suggestions for new soaps, which we’re working on. One of those is an Oatmeal, Milk & Honey bar.

Oatmeal milk & honey

You can see the little flecks of oatmeal right in the bar! The top layer is colored with cocoa powder. Response has already been very positive, just from the photo.

But the big hit at the Watermelon Festival was our Watermelon Bliss bar, and is there any wonder? Look at how beautiful this bar turned out to be!

Watermelon Bliss

Not only is it beautiful, but it smells like fresh cut watermelon. I have a few of these left, so if you want one, you better order now. Head on over to the website and claim your bar today.

While we were out at the Watermelon Festival, we handed out about 200 free soap samples, and talked to about 500 people about our soaps. Like I said, response was very positive, so we’re hoping to carry that momentum forward.

Our next show will be on September 3rd at the Bellville Market Day. We purposely left a six week window between these two shows for three reasons. One, it’s just too darn hot to be sitting outside for 12 hours a day. Two, I am taking a summer class during this time, and I have to focus a bit on that. And the biggest reason is that I wanted the time to prepare for our fall schedule.

In fact, our fall schedule is so busy, we’re looking at booking two shows on some weekends, and sending a second team to run one of them. For the¬†month of September, our schedule currently looks like this:

September 3rd – Bellville Market Day, Bellville, TX

September 10th – Wait listed for Cypress Women’s Group Shop Till You Drop (if I don’t hear from this one soon, I will be looking for something else to fill this slot)

September 14th – 18th – Applied for the Washington County Fair in Brenham, TX; hoping to hear back early next week

September 24-25th – Applied for the Texas Reds Steak & Grape Festival in Bryan, TX. Should get confirmation next week on this one.

So, if you need some soap, and you want the good stuff, come on out and visit us at any of these shows. Or, head on over to the website at http://www.oldfashionsoapco.com and place your order!