OPENING A SOAPMAKING RETAIL SHOP Part 4

Supplies, Displays, Signs and Advertising Your New Business

Owning a retail business!

Owning a retail business!

Welcome to the FINAL Part of the  series- Opening a Soapmaking Retail Shop Business.

Currently, I reside in a fairly small community of about 150,000 so I had to be very creative in my marketing and development of my company.  I found out pretty quick that my county WAS NOT a “big city” minded community and the things that worked for others in larger cities WAS NOT going to work for me.  I had to conduct a lot of market research in my community which meant that I had to be face to face with customers in order to get a bigger picture of what was going to work with them.  Since my husband is former Military I did not have the luxury of being a local and that still poses a challenge for me today.  But I was determined to succeed.  With the CLOSE help of my representative from the LOCAL SBA (small business admin) office. The SBA office helped me in many ways but main one; was the launch of my business outside my home office. Today we are discussing the details that help your business take OFF!  How do you get the word out without having to spend a lot of money? What about setting up your shop?

  1. LOW COST ADVERTISING- This is always a trial and error. Some areas work well for flyers and print mailings.  See if you can afford a small ad in your local magazine? This works well if it will be displayed for long periods of time.  You could invite your local news station/news reporter to sit in while you make soap for some FREE advertising.  Maybe they will print or air their visit with you?
  2. COMMUNITY RELATIONS- I occasionally offer demos to my local community, churches, schools, a demo on how I make soap. I keep it very simple so they can see the process—I really talk it up about all the natural ingredients, botanicals and explain why it’s better to use real soap.. yada yada yada.  Then I offer a coupon for them to visit me for 10% off and a FREE gift with purchase. Word of mouth works well, 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers.  Start a loyalty/referral program to help things move along.
  3. SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKING- Yes, now you can have the cool kid’s page that says you have a local business. Enter your local business on google and other search engines, add pictures, hours and a coupon. Don’t bother with promoting your Facebook posts but be sure to add lots of pictures of your shop, the process, products specials…etc.  Tweet it and Instagram it as well.  If you are handy with video, add one to YouTube, do a walk through—show your personality and people will connect with you. They will want to come in to see what all the fuss is about!
  4. INVENTORY- This could eat up a lot of profit unless you are making your own like us! Right?  Be prepared to stock items you can make on the fly.  Soap can still be planned out in advance but stock some bath bombs, bath teas, handmade perfumes, liquid soap, make some ready to buy gift baskets to keep those shelves full. Everything looks better if the shelves are full.
  5. DISPLAYS, SIGNS- These are all things that add to the expense in the beginning. Signs, Furniture, Displays… Depending on what your Landlord requires you could be spending upwards to $5000 for a light up sign. I got lucky the shopping center I started out at only required a small sign above my door- cost me only about $300 installed.  But I would have to leave it in place once I left the premises.  Budget for decorations this could eat up a lot of money.  Paint goes a long way, keep it minimal and shop local for second-hand bargains. I found my first table at goodwill for $30.00!
  6. OUTSOURCING: How much is your time worth?  At some point you will need to decide that “xzy” is really too time consuming and your attention could be applied more effectively in another area. Then you will need to look at outsourcing.  By finding out early in your business where your strengths are and where passion lies will help you manage your time more efficiently.  For example:  A website.  This is one area that is very time consuming if you do not have any knowledge of web building.  I would use my funds here to outsource a company create a PROFESSIONAL looking website to bring in new business.  If you are tech savvy you can save a lot of money but it’s still time consuming. How is your time worth?

If you want to own and run a retail shop but do not want to make your own products. Save your time and money buying supplies by outsourcing them from your suppliers. (wholesale our soap) You can always order from us- Visit our local studio in Perry Georgia.   Buy what you need instead of all the equipment needed to make them. Today you can purchase just about anything; lotions & creams, liquid soap to graphic design for your labels.

Links for you to view:

RETAIL DISPLAY SUPPLIES-

candyconceptsinc.com

luckyclovertrading.com

SIGNS/ADVERTISING-

Georgia Family Magazine

shortrunposters.com

OPENING A SOAPMAKING RETAIL SHOP Part 3

Questions to ask your self  BEFORE you get into the RETAIL business

Dreaming Big in the Retail Soapmaking Business

Dreaming Big in the Retail Soapmaking Business

Welcome to part 3 of the Opening a Retail Soapmaking Shop-

So this brings to me to the HARD QUESTIONS that YOU need to ask yourself BEFORE you get into the RETAIL business.

Are you using the “DREAM” of owning a retail shop to cloud your judgment? You know we’ve all been here before— that’s why we got into business in the first place.  We were all dreaming of owning a cool bath and body business like “XZY” down the street and dreamed of how happy you would be once you had it.  But don’t get sold on the “IDEA” of having business do you research and find out what the day-to-day operations will be like.  It is HARD work and involves a lot of time.

Can you afford it? Do you have enough income to cover overhead just in case?   I had a backup plan that included sales from difference resources just in case I didn’t have any sales for that month. You will need enough to include everything from your rent/lease/utilities/maintenance expenses. These days money is scarce and it’s tough for anybody getting business credit.  I started my business off my personal funds:  Credit cards to help me getting started with the start-up costs involved with opening a retail shop. All Cash coming in from my established business got rolled back into the business. A portion of it continues to get rolled back into the business today.

A few tips In the beginning you don’t need a landline phone, you really don’t need the internet yet either or to pay for regularly scheduled picks from UPS and FEDEX.  Save those for later on when your business is established and making money.  You can still use your square for all your credit card transactions and your business cell phone as your regular line.

Do you have unlimited time to invest in your retail shop? You need post hours and you REALLY need to be present/open during those times.

Competition  This will be included in your feasibility studies but it will give you a good opportunity to scout out the competition.  I would inquire discreetly how well they are doing. You could learn from them and adjust your ideas before you get started. You could also ask your small business rep to see if they know them maybe they could give you in insight as to what to expect.

I suggest to conduct your own feasibility studies to see if your idea will be supported in your community. Basically a feasibility study evaluates your project’s potential for success as it examines the marketability of your product.  Your SBA office should be able to help you gather the data to support it. But you need to find out if your “DREAM” idea will bring in the money or drain your own pockets into financial ruin.

Links for you to check out!

What Is Product Marketability?

31 Days to Build a Creative Business

JOIN  Kendra Cote of Modern Soapmaking with us during the Weekend of Sept 6-7 for a Branding/Marketing Business Building Weekend!

OPENING A SOAPMAKING RETAIL SHOP Part 2

  Choosing a location for success

Choose the right location for your business.

Choose the right location for your business.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION- The location you chose is very important to your success. You’ve heard this before? Partly true. If you are looking to bring people in from the street then you need to open up shop on a busy street. But these places are also expensive. It’s pretty hard starting out and if you do not have a steady business income before you open your doors you could be struggling in your first 6months. Remember as your business grows so will you, you may not stay in this location forever. In fact most businesses move from their original location to larger one or better location in their first two years. Remember the first car or house you bought? If you are like most folks that didn’t last too longer either.

Before entering into your first lease ask for any move-in specials.  I got one month free if I signed a 6month lease.

You may need to find a happy medium between busy and no so expensive.  After my first year in business I needed to get my operation out of my home so I looked into opening a working studio in a small shopping center in a residential area with a month to month all utilities included lease. That way if I could afford to pay for it if the money was not coming in and I had a way out without losing my shirt! If you have a thriving business before you open a retail shop, it will help you stay above water until you recover your costs from opening your doors.  I did not get many walk-ins but it provided me with a place to do business that offered me credibility to my business.  With a business address I was able to make it “REAL” to everyone else.

Links to help you FIND the perfect location:

Loop Net.com

Articles:

Choosing The Right Location For Your Business

NOLO On FINDING the RIGHT LOCATION

The Effect on business location for business success

 

Take Our NEXT Class on opening your own SOAPMAKING BUSINESS.

 

 

 

OPENING A SOAPMAKING RETAIL SHOP Part 1

OPENING A RETAIL SHOP  ON A SHOESTRING BUDGET

thedream

Day DREAMING about a BUSINESS? START HERE ——>

Most businesses run out of money the first year, you can prevent this from happening. I am sharing some easy to implement ideas to saving money during your first years in business. Get the word out without paying a dime, learn about unconventional ideas that lead to more sales and customers.  Over the next few weeks I will be sharing my blueprint for success on a shoestring budget!

Businesses are as different from each other as they are to the personalities of their owners.  The are… after all… our babies.  From the business idea, conception, growth, to established and finally the exit.  You can view your business like growing child into adulthood and then the exit out of business– (infant, toddler, teenager, adult hood, maturity and finally the exit).

If you have dreamed of having a retail bath and body retail shop this is for you. So today, I am going to try and help you decipher the why, what and how.  But mostly how I got started.

My early career started in direct sales with a well known company who sold bath and body products through retail mall store fronts.  They had a separate “At Home” division in which I brought their products to the living rooms of a few of my closest friends and family.  I fell right into their branding, followed their program to the “T” and I was successful.

I did pretty good all the way up till the time they closed their “At Home” division.  Then, I was left with a  customer base needing a product and hoping my idea of handmade soap would transfer into sales with them. Starting off in direct sales gave me a firm foundation to launch my new business.

I began making several batches of soap with my husband learning how to make it, brand and build a new company selling it.  It took me a while before I felt comfortable with my product manufacturing while learning the ups and downs of wholesale and consignments but I continued to persevere.

After my first year in business I needed to get my operation out of my home so I started looking into opening a studio.  I found a location in a small shopping center within a residential area that offered a month to month lease that included all utilities. That way if I could afford to pay for it if the money was not coming in . Without losing my shirt!

soapmaking classes

Mossy Creek Soap Studio in Warner Robins Georigia 2010-2012

This was my first studio. Rent was cheap, it was month-month and it included all utilities. But was NOT in a busy area.

I had high hopes of all my former customers and folks coming to purchase my products— Just didn’t happened they way I expected it to. Through the school of hard knocks and the blinding cricket noise I heard everyday my business was opened I figured out that I was going to need to have more than one revenue stream to keep my business doors open because my in house sales would not be paying the bills every month.

When I began including different revenue streams and it was then I noticed a difference. Which included maintaining a website, an ETSY shop and adding more wholesale accounts along with in house classes. It was then my business began to financial stand on it’s own without any contributions from my personal funds. Then things finally started coming together.

My methods of getting and staying in business are unconventional; so although these things worked for me;  you will STILL  have to do the foot work to find out what works for you;  in your own backyard.

 

STAY TUNED for next installment of this series for TIP #1

 

Here are some links to help you get started!

Retail.About.Com

Small Business Admin

And if you want to start your SOAPMAKING BUSINESS our next class is Sept 20-21!  SOAPMAKING BUSINESS WORKSHOP

BEER and WINE SOAPMAKING CLASS JULY 26TH

Texas Beer Soap Co

Join Theresa Mendez of the Texas Beer Soap co, in a BEER SOAP CLASS JULY 26th

Beer and Wine Soapmaking 211–Learn how to make Beer soap–Sign up today to save your spot!
Theresa Mendez is coming in to teach all the way from TEXAS!! She is the entrepreneur behind, Ava Bayba Soaps and Texas Beer Soap Co. as seen in Draft Magazine, and presently works with 6 breweries, as well as, providing quality essential oils via her FB Group: Theresa’s Essential Oils.

Time: 10a-1pm 3 hours                                                Price $125.00

Teacher: Theresa Mendez, Ava Bayba Soaps and Texas Beer Soap Co

Looking for more excitement and uniqueness for your soapy needs? Come learn how to use alternative liquids to reignite the passion in your soap creations. Learn how to source locally to establish “farm to market” prestige and the “keep it local” loyalty. Be entertained and challenged with BEER/WINE soapmaking.

  • Step by step directions with hands on learning
  • Find out how to source your ingredients from local breweries in Georgia
  • Discover the marketing potential by adding Beer/Wine Soap to your lineup for the Holidays
  • Learn what essential oils/fragrances compliment your Beer/Wine soap and how to incorporate them

Small class sizes to give you one on one attention.  You will go home with a soapmaking handout and recipes to help you make soap at home.

SIGN UP HERE! BEER SOAP CLASS

Theresa Mendez is the entrepreneur behind, Ava Bayba Soaps and Texas Beer Soap Co. as seen in Draft Magazine, and presently works with 6 breweries, as well as, providing quality essential oils via her FB Group: Theresa’s Essential Oils.  An Occupational Therapist turned bath & body creator, so the idea of functionality is a must in the art of blending. It just can’t be “Pretty”  She loves the creative art of blending essential oils to not only smell good but to make you feel good. She is soon to be enrolled in Aromatherapy classes.

She has taught Essential Oils classes during Amanda Griffin’s Bootcamp in Austin and The Lone Star Soap & Toiletries Conference. She does private blending and offers blending classes in her home studio. Theresa also serves on the board of the Lovin Soap Project and occasionally writes for the Soap Collaborative.  She is the wife of George, Mother to Juliet, Cameron & Tyler; and Mimi to Ava.  She grew up in Tifton, Ga and presently lives in the DFW area of Texas.

Pink Grapefruit Body Sugar Cubes

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Recently, we hosted  a girls night out for a bunch of women at the studio.  We had a blast!!

They brought in some wine, a cake and gifts to say farewell to one of their own.  I can honestly say that these ladies were a hoot to hang out with.  I taught them how to make their own sugar scrubs and lip balms.  After class I had some sugar scrub left over so I thought I would try my hands at making solid sugar cubes. I love a good scrub but I was missing the soapy part.  This recipe includes the soap and sugar all in one!  ENJOY!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2.5oz Natural Goats Milk White Soap Base
  • 2oz. Cocoa Butter
  • 2oz Shea Butter
  • 16oz. White Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Avocado Oil
  • ¼ tsp Pink Grapefruit Essential Oil
  • ¼ tsp White Grapefruit Essential Oil
  • ½ tsp of Blue Poppy Seed
  • Pinch of pink mica

EQUIPMENT:

  • (2) Microwave safe glass measuring cups
  • Mixing/measuring spoons
  • Small Silicone Tray Mold
  • Scale
  • Knife

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Weigh and then chop goats milk soap base into 1 inch cubes, place in microwave safe container cover with plastic wrap.
  2. In separate container, melt cocoa butter and then add shea butter, let cocoa butter melt shea butter. Add Avocado Oil with a pinch of mica and essential oils mix well.
  3. Microwave soap base until melted 1 min, stir and continue in short increments until completely melted.
  4. Add melted soap into oils mixture, quickly stir in sugar.
  5. Pack into silicone tray mold then place in the refrigerator until solidified.
  6. After solidified, pop out of mold, Cut into Cubes— enjoy!

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Using Directional Lighting in Soap Photography

For those of you that know me or at least follow me know I love photography.  After spending countless hours in search of good lightening I finally spent the money on a good lighting kit from B&H Photo.  I thought I would share with you what I think! So below are the two lighting kits I purchased.

Impact Two-Light Shooting Tent Kit – 18 x 18″ and a Impact Mini-Boom One-Light Floodlight Kit

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First I want to say how well packed it was when it arrived.  The bulbs were in their containers and then wrapped in bubble wrap. I love bhphotovideo.com.  Class act for sure.  This particular light kit was very easy to put together.  Basically screwing the ceramic housing on the stands and attaching the reflectors.

After trying to take the photos with all the lights on at the same time and noticing that my photos were a little washed out. I tried the directional lighting technique, turned off  all the lights except for one.  What amazes me most is that I took this same shot by a window (painstaking I might add and limited to the time of day) and now I can simulate daylight.  So now I don’t have to worried about what time I need to photograph my soaps or whether it’s cloudy outside or not.

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Stay tuned to the next post when I try out the photo tent for white background photography to use in your online store.

New Happenings in the Studio!

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We welcomed in 2014 with a new kitchen in our studio. We are so excited for the possiblities in 2014 and all the new classes we will be offering.  We are blessed to have so many fans, students and customers who have supported our business, that we have finished our remodel ahead of the 3year plan! THANK YOU!  The new pictures will be coming soon– if you want to like our facebook page to be the first to find out about the addition and new classes you can so here:  https://www.facebook.com/soapmaking.classes

In December we extended our arms around Perry Middle School with Soapmaking Classes– a full day 7th and 8th grade students were able to learn how soap is made! See more in this link to our local paper: http://hhjonline.com/soap-means-science-lesson-for-perry-middle-school-kids-p3868-117.htm

Thank you once again for all your support and feeling blessed in the New Year already!

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Crowd Fund your business today!

Crowd Fund your business today!

CROWD FUND A NEW BUSINESS OR ONE YOU ALREADY OWN! Send this link to your family and friends– Tag them so they know what you want for christmas *** A NEW BUSINESS ***

You can gift your special someone with a new business! Why not purchase a gift certificate for that special someone who is interested in starting their own business but cannot find the all the funds to do so? Help them out! You can get family members involved– start up your own crowd funding!

http://www.mossycreeksoap.com/index.php?p=gift_certificate