Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Week in Review


Coupeville was lousy this year. It's never a big show for me anyway, but it's such a pleasant town, and I have regulars on the island. I've skipped a couple years in the last four years there - just to save expenses. It's an overnight stay, plus ferry, plus gas and meals. And being just the weekend after Anacortes, I figure most people have already just seen me in that little neck of the woods. But Anacortes and Coupeville switched weekends this year, so I thought I'd give it another whirl and see how things went. Why not?

Turned out to be my worst show there ever. My profit was next to nothing. Again. Worst summer ever. I'm in a bit of shock, frankly. To be just about at the end of my summer show blitz, and have so little money after all that work is hard to take in.

This coming weekend is Anacortes, and it's always my biggest show of the entire season, so I'm going to try to end it with a bang. Fingers crossed. And toes. And eyes.

Another little issue. In all this heat wave, I've had a few batches of soap start to turn bad. I've never had soap go bad in the past. Even after a couple of years of sitting around. These are ones that I made in the early spring, or even later. It's a big surprise and I'm not sure what is causing it. The new recipe of shea butter and hemp oil? That seems the obvious first choice, but I've used this recipe for a year and a half now, and they've not done this yet. It would take a lot more time of experimenting to pin that down - and waiting around for another six months to see what works and what doesn't. Obviously the heat and sunlight don't help, and we are at the end of that now with the fall just around the corner.

What this means is . . . well I don't know. I have to make some changes to the process, the recipe, the way I store them, what I keep on hand and for how long. All of it. I'm starting to adjust the recipe a little this month and will watch to see how it all goes, but I won't have answers until next spring. I am also temporarily not making a few scents of soap that don't sell as well, but that I keep on hand for a small loyal following. That's the Sacred Smoke soap and the Anise soap. I've got to have a new batch of Anise for Puyallup in September, but after that, I won't make more batches for a bit until I've figured it all out. The Smoke soap is done for now. The batch I had in inventory, which I made in the spring is starting to ooze little brown goo, which means that one of the oils has gone bad. I have to toss the whole thing.

While I'm in this business slump, I can't afford to have money tied up in inventory that doesn't move, and ends up going to waste. I can only keep going on the most popular scents. As I plan the new fall scents, I have to be ruthless with what I'm going to spend supply money on. If I end up disappointing a few people by not having something in stock, I truly apologize. This is temporary, I hope.

I just don't know any answers at the moment. I'm sort of reeling and overwhelmed by all of it. I'm not sure what to do. I'm still going to do all my fall and winter shows, and both the fall and winter newsletters with full seasonal products. The next four months is when I do probably half of my sales for the year and I have to make a go of it.

That's the ugly truth from here. I can't vouch for any other artist, any other soap seller, or the world at large. Maybe it's just me, but I suspect that most other people are having a tough time too overall, even if sales are up or down at specific shows. Gosh, I'd hate to lose this whole thing now - after 13 years. I don't have a Plan B.