Friday, May 26, 2006

Tea for Me

Yesteray I missed the torrential rains in Tacoma. But it was so decadent to have an extra day this week to just catch up on some things that have been laying around waiting for a few free moments. Like planning ahead for the seasonal stuff for fall and winter. Researching and surfing the internet for ideas, packaging, pricing. It takes a whole lot more time than one would think. It's actually a pretty huge undertaking. And when random folks approach me to ask where I found a certain container or supplier or ribbon it's always a dilemma. My standard policy is not to reveal my sources, heh, like a secret spy. It's not that I want to be rude or uncharitable. It's just that this is a LOT of work, and one of my trademarks. And if I give away the store, so to speak, to anyone who comes along -- well, then I've lost my uniqueness and my trademark stuff. And they've gotten some really cool stuff for free, with no intention of contributing to the effort. But I digress.

Anyone used the new home fragrance reed diffusers? They caught my eye yesterday and I think they might be kind of cool. It's a bottle of fragrance oil (and some of the bottles, vases or glass containers are gorgeously striking) which holds 6 to 12 reed diffuser sticks. The concept is that the reeds wick up the fragrance and subtly disperse it in the air. So it's like a non-stop room fragrance or air-freshener -- but way cooler than some crappy plastic plug-in, and obviously nicer scents. Doesn't have the smoke or mess or cost of candles, which you can't burn when you're not there to watch them. Lasts for months on end, not like the sprays which last just a few hours or less. And it's just a very pretty thing to have sitting on a table. I'm going to experiment with a couple and see if they actually work. I had seen them at the retail show in January and sort of thought they were a gimmick, because I couldn't tell if they smelled at all. However, there were a bunch of them in one single booth, with candles and soaps and other things, so the whole placed smelled. I need to test one at home. Course I've got no nose, so I'm going to have to ask people if they can smell anything. Well, maybe my house isn't the best test anyway, it ALWAYS smells in here, duh. Hmm. Well, I can farm it out to my sister or something. Have to think about that.

And I rummaged around my arsenol of leftover essential and fragrance oils, searched out all the newly released stuff, and surfed around a bunch of trendy fragrance sites. I like to check perfume and cosmetic giants, boutique and upscale candles, other popular soap and bath lines, etc. just to catch up on the trends and see what's out there. And then do something else entirely, heh. I have a huge thing against copy catting -- I have to give it my own twist and tweak at the very least. Like if I've seen a super cool name I may riff on that, but put together my own fantasy fragrance to match it. Or if I find a scent I am in love with, I make up a little different riff and a totally new name. It just makes my blood boil when I see new soapmakers (or anybody else) start up a line of products with the exact same names and scents that I (or others) are already doing. Petty rant -- but yes, there are a few newer soapmakers which have watched my sales at shows and seen which specific bars sell the most, and then just copied it outright when they set up shop. I guess it's a good business plan. I mean they are guaranteed success if they can duplicate it. Even if it's not quite as good as mine, they still probably have a hit on their hands, rather than a dog -- and who wants to incur great risks, or hurt their brains coming up with something on their own, eh? Bleah. End of petty rant. And just to clarify -- yes, there are a finite number of scents out there to work with, especially in essential oils and some combinations are just universally loved. So there will be repetition. I do understand and appreciate that. I am not the only person on earth to put lavender and lemongrass together. It's just the ratios, the color and flower petals that I use -- when you put it all together, it just works for me.

Wow, I've gotten off track AGAIN, and I've gotten right back into the "artists that copy other artists" broken record. Which I had no idea was such an issue this morning. I really wanted to talk about this super cool new soap that I came up with yesterday that I am so very excited about. It's tea and mint together in a gorgeous olive green color. I had thought it was going to be green tea -- which it still can be -- a really pungent strong green tea like macha. But it's got a smokiness to it too, almost lapsang souchong in depth, and would be such an exotic black tea. Tea of any kind is popular right now. And I kind of like the idea of "black" tea because it's more unusual. And the rich, smoky, depth would make more sense. Plus the green bar with a brown ribbon would look uber cool too. But it will have to wait. It's still "cooking" at the moment. 24 hours in the hot box, and then at least a couple of weeks for the curing process to settle down and the fragrance to develop. Another month or more before it's cured enough to actually sell. So I'm not entirely sure what will come out the other end yet. I have a good idea though, and it's thrilling to see how it's going.

And I've got a really fun working list of new soap scents for fall, and the christmas holidays, that I can start to ramp up by next month or so. I have to work so far ahead on the seasons on these in order to get them all cured in time for the newsletter and release. So if the fall soaps need to be ready for September 1, I start making them in June already. And that's next week. I know, right? I've already got about 6 I want to try for this fall. And a couple I'll do next week. I'll only end up with 4 probably. A few are just solo batches that don't get advertised if they aren't top notch. But the process is already under way. The other stuff, bath items or other seasonal items, don't always need as much lead time. But sometimes they do. In fact, I'm already starting to work out the holiday stuff, because there is always so much more of it, and I like to at least get something in production now because it gets so crazy busy later. Like labels made up, supplies ordered or at least a list made up and put into the calendar for ordering in the next few months, so it's all planned out. Baby steps. I'm usually notoriously good at procrastinating, or notoriously bad at being ready on time, so today I'm feeling just a tad bit smug about actually remembering to think about it before mid summer. Of course, this will last about 2 weeks, until I realize I didn't actually do more than just THINK about it, and panic sets in, and I'll be behind again. Sigh.

So in closing this long and spazzy post -- a quote someone sent me yesterday that is too perfect not to share.

"If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams."
(Life of Pi, Yann Martel 2001)