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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Let the crazy begin!

When you live in California, and do Farmers Markets for a living, you are blessed enough to have several year-round Markets, you go rain or shine and the customers are so cool, they support the Market rain or shine too, it's not just for "show" it's how they really LIVE! I can't tell you how much we appreciate the support either. Support Local really is a good thing!  So anyhow, I have 3 year-round Markets that I do all year and then two Seasonal ones that I do May-November-ish. The point here is that just one more Market can make a HUGE difference! It's that way for all of us. I have made 220# of soap this week, above is what 90# looks like! A normal week is about 100# just to maintain what I normally go through. So life has already begun to get busier! Here's where to find us these days if you happen to be in the area:
Sunday: Martinez, Main Street 10-2 Look for the Purple Tent as always!
Tuesday Concord - Todos Santos Plaza 10-2 (although we're usually there by 8)
Thursday Antioch Kaiser the first Thursday of the month
Friday Vallejo Kasier 10-2
Saturday - Pleasanton 9-1
So yes, busier, but I wouldn't change a thing! I look forward to seeing all of you that I've been missing!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Care and Feeding of Your Soap

Most people realize that your soap will last longer if you keep it dry between uses, don't let it sit in a puddle where it will desolve away.
But did you realize that your soap actually gets better as it ages? What happens is (and this is why we use the "cigar band" style of wrap) as long as your soap is able to get some air, the moisture will continue to evaporate out, making your bar much harder. Of course you can put your bars in a closet or drawers to make them smell nice too while you're waiting to use them. You may notice your bar has gotten a tiny bit smaller, but really it's just compacting itself, so it will last you lonbger when you do use it, and you will notice the lather is even creamier!
 I have one customer who always keeps a good supply on hand, and she'll write the date on the labels, so she knows she's using one that's been aged to her specificatons!
 So the worst thing you can do is put your soap in a plastic bag. Let it breathe and it will reward you wil a fragrant nurturing bathing experience! Enjoy!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Manic Monday

Every 4-6 weeks or so, I make the Trek to Oakland and Berkeley for supplies, then come home and separate everything into batch sized increments, this take a couple of hours usually. After that I'll have two shifts of soap to make, 80# in the first shift and 60# in the second shift. There are shifts because UPS is delievering a few things I need and they get here anywhere between 4 and 9 pm. At least by doing them in shifts I wont be in the Studio til midnight! 
My Seasonal Market is about to begin on Sunday (Martinez) and so there's a lot of extra preparation for me this week. It's a good thing, I have been missing my customers, the ones who we do all of this for! 
So I know at the end of the day I will be exhausted, but happy! Wishing all of you a happy Monday!  

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Tidbit

If you are able to give your customers a little something to remember you by, it's a good thing! With us, we like to give a little sample to our customers. It's good for brand new customers, risk free way to try the soap, and with our existing customers it a fun way to try something new.
We use end pieces in little glassine bags and have our contact information on the bag, that way they'll hopefully remember which one they tried and our website is there too in case they want more information or don't want to wait til the next Market to get a full sized bar!
For us the other nice thing is that there's just no waste at all, so everyone's happy. The main thing to take away from this is that you want to leave your customers with something good to think about! Find a way of doing that, make it fun and creative!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Getting the word out

When you have a product the important this is the "distribution channel" which is HOW the public gets to be made aware of you, it's how they get your product. Face it, you could have the best product in the world, but if there's no way for people to get it on a regular basis, there's no point!
As artisans we have so many choices, brick and mortar shop, selling wholesale to those shops that belong to others, events and fairs, Farmers Markets (my own fave). Oh and don't forget online, there are all kinds of venues for that, Etsy, Artfire, the list goes on and on. Each has something special to offer, do chek it out if you haven't yet.
Once you have all of that in place, the fun begins, how to let people know where you are and how to reach you! Here's one way. more to follow next time!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Farmers Markets

I met alot of you through the Markets. When I started doing them back in 2000 I never dreamed of all the wonderful things that would become reality through working the Farmers Market. I think it's has been a really valuable tool for a new business, you get immediate (and very honest!) feedback about your products, your choice of packaging and everything else that goes with it! I have seen a lot of folks come and go in that time, and a lot of very successful businesses take off from that place as well. I have made a lot of friends through the years, customers and vendors alike. I have been working at many of them for years, so it's always fun to go, you get to hang out with your favorite people all day. We've all shared parts of our lives, buying houses, having grand kids (not me!), watching our kids grow up, just a slice of life. So on my Market days, I really look forward to going. It's cool that I get to make a living this way too, although there can be slow days or busy days. A friend of mine once said "it's either chicken or feathers" and that's right. We'll be doing 4 Farmers Markets this summer: Concord on Tuesdays, Kaiser Vallejo Fridays, Pleasanton on Saturday and Martinez on Sundays. Martinez is only seasonal so it's always fun the first few, I get to catch up with folks I haven't seen in a while! I am so grateful to have found the Markets and meet so many of you.
Off to Concord, hope to see you!

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's us again!

I havent done any blogging for a while, I sort of miss it! I wont do updates every day, who has that kind of time? Anyhow, we will keep you up to date with what we're working on , or thinking about.

I just finished doing some of our annual Glycerine Soap Bunnies, they'll be available at our Concord Farmers Market tomorrow, (4/19/11)  I've been doing them for years! They're much cuter than they look in the picture, you all remember I can't take good pictures! Hope everyone has a Happy Easter!