Summer Festival

Summer Fest Booth

Well, the weekend came and went and the Summer Festival I spent so much time preparing for is now over.

I had planed to take the week off from work before the event in order to mix up some final product, organize and get everything ready.  Well, we know what happens to plans.  There was a snag with one of my engineering jobs that had to be taken care of without delay.  It took some time to get it all settled.  It’s really inconvenient when my real life gets in the way of my fun time.  Anyway, as a result of that fiasco, I wasn’t able to finish everything I wanted and ended up unorganized with product unlabeled.

This was my first event as a vender and I was a bit obsessive about how everything should look.  I futzed around with my display for a large part of the first day until I got nearly everything labeled and looking just how I wanted it.  My cousin, Kathy, who came up with her spinning, knitting, jewelry and other assorted crafty stuff, silently laughed and shook her head.  Though, after a while, the laughter wasn’t so silent.  No doubt the story will amuse her family, too, in the telling.

Once I felt the table was looking how I wanted it, I got out the unscented cream soap samples I had set aside for kids to scent and color for themselves.  It was a success and a disaster at the same time.  I had a gaggle of girls in no time, all wanting to do it all at the same time in the same tiny space I had set aside for the activity.  Fragrance oils were spilled and color scattered all over.  I found that monitoring the kids, cleaning up the mess and trying to sell soap at the same time was just not going to happen.  I cleaned up the final mess, with more than a little help from Kathy, and put the whole thing away.  Lesson Learned:  Do not try to sell your product and have a kid’s activity at the same time.  It. Does. Not. Work.

I did have a hand washing station for people to try out my creme soaps.  I was very popular with little girls and parents of young children.  That I will do again.  It wasn’t a big deal and I earned a lot of good will.

Saturday went much better and the table was set up and arranged to my satisfaction fairly quickly.  A few people came by before the parade and I was anxiously awaiting the post parade rush.  We waited, and waited and waited.  It got a little busy for a short stretch, but the day really started to drag on.

The crowds I expected never materialized.  I was heartened somewhat to hear others say it was a slow show – I least I knew it wasn’t me.   Another lesson learned:  The corner booth was great, but being next to the Merry-Go-Round was torture.  Everything was caked in dust by the end of the show, including us.  Despite the slow sales and perpetual dust storm from the Merry-Go-round, Kathy and I had fun.  I plan to set up again next summer and hope for both a better spot and better turn out.  I hope Kathy decides to join me again.

Addendum:  Many thanks to my husband, Andy for being our pack mule both days, and to Samantha, too, for running various errands and occasional help.

AND a big Thank You to all who stopped by and purchased my hand made soaps.  It was greatly appreciated.

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An Otion of Support!

In a previous post, I thanked all those who have provided support, encouragement and feedback during this soap odyssey I’ve embarked on, but there are three more people I need to give special thanks to.

Alicia, Karly and Ginny at Otion.  (I hope I spelled everyone’s name right.)  These women have been super supportive and have provided hours of time and their expertise answering my infinite questions over these past months as well as offering suggestions when I’ve encountered a problem or setback.  They’ve also laughed with me when faced with some of my more interesting failures.

When I say I couldn’t have done it without them, it’s not a platitude.  It’s the literal truth.

Thank you all at Otion – for everything.

Soap Lake: The Tale of the Epic Mess

Oh woe is me.  My kitchen runneth over with a greasy, oily mess.

Today, I wish to warn you of the disasters that await when you leave a crock pot full of soap unattended.

So – this is what happened.  I had a batch of soap I was not happy with, due to a mis-measurement of the fragrance oil.  I’d halved the recipe, but failed to halve the fragrance.  This mistake rendered the soap softer than desired and looking not so great (Dare I call one of my glorious soaps ugly?).  The double fragrance wasn’t that great either.  How to fix it?

The light-bulb blazed!  I know – I’ll melt the unfortunate soap mistake in the crockpot with enough oil for another batch, melt it all together then add the necessary lye for the additional oils.  Sounded reasonable to me.  I’ve found that melting/rebatching soap can take ages and it frequently turns out lumpy.  I thought with the additional oil, the soap would melt easier and be much smoother.  I would blend it all together into a soupy mass then add the lye.  Sounded reasonable to me.

I typically use the ‘Low’ setting to melt soap, so reasonably thought (or so I thought) melting this on the warm setting over night would be just the ticket.   In my mind’s eye, I envisioned a warm soap soup ready for blending in the additional lye in the morning.  What I got was this:

Soap Volcano

Andy did one of those Spock/Vulcan eyebrow lifts at me with the quip, “Mt. Baker Blend?”  A relatively calm husband with a wicked sense of humor is a true blessing at times.  My reaction was, “Ah, Crap!  What a mess.”  His response was essentially, “Yup.”  Subtext – “Have fun with that.”  Yeah, he’s a funny guy alright.

Yes, it volcanoed – all over the kitchen counter and onto the floor.  While I wait for the greasy, oily, soapy, lumpy mess to cool, I decided to caution everyone on the dangers of overnight crock pot soap.  Do Not Try This at Home comes to mind, but more accurate would be Do Not Try This – EVER.

What’s in a name?

When starting a business, coming up with a name can be a difficult endeavor, but a very important one.

You want your name to reflect you and your product and be cool.  I tend to not want to name my businesses after myself because if it grows and you take on partners or eventually sell it, the business isn’t stuck with your name.  I experienced working for a firm named after the founding members and when those people retired and new partners took their place, there was more than a little petty bickering about it.

The process for me was bandying about ideas with my husband, daughter and friends.  There were so many, I can’t recall them all.  This went on for a couple of weeks or more when one day Greymalkin just popped into my head.  I still have no clue why, but it did and it just felt right.  My husband liked it, the kid liked it, my sister liked it and so did many others.

How does it reflect me?

Me – I’m the crazy cat lady.  I’ve had cats as long as I can remember, and often more than one.  Currently we have 4 who call our house home and 3 feral cats who live in and around our back yard and have meals on our deck.  All neutered, I should add.  I participate in Trap-Neuter-Return and have rescued a number of strays over the past several years.  Cats are one of the constants in my life.

How does it reflect my vision of my product?

My soap – I love the multiple variations and artistry in soap – from the chemistry of the ingredients used to the visual impact of the swirls and other designs.  Soap can be utilitarian, whimsical, comic and/or intricately artistic.  The options are as limitless as one’s imagination.  The Artistry of Chemistry becomes Soapistry.

Once I settled on the name, the logo was next.  I spent hours on it and it went through many iterations before settling on the final design, then there was the time spent tweaking it, getting it just right.  I’m very pleased with the end result and I hope you like it, too.  Greymalkin