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January

Welcome to the section of my blog that I am calling, “A day in the life…”  When I was first contemplating this business I looked high and low for others who were doing the same thing to garner some sage advice or to simply understand what I was getting myself into!  There wasn’t a whole lot of information out there.  So I thought it would be helpful for those of you considering this path to get a feel for the things I do to keep my dream moving forward.

 

I live and work in an area (Great Smoky Mountains) where much of life is determined by seasons.  Yes the normal seasons we all know like winter, spring, summer and fall.  But around this neck of the woods tourist season is king.  It will make or break you.   This season generally runs from Mid-May to the end of October.  The remainder of the year is peppered with special events and holidays.  I sell my soaps at farmers markets, galleries, craft shops, and festivals and during the height of the season I regularly put in sixteen hour days.  It sounds crazy but you get used to it.  So used to it in fact that when January hits and all the festivities have past, all the shows are in the bucket, all the orders have been shipped, and the gardens are sleeping for the winter, I sit and wonder, “What the heck do I do now?”  A lot. The nitty gritty.  The stuff you haven’t had time to do all year.

 

Last year, 2016, was the first year I went all in on my business.  Previously I had worked full-time, or more commonly around here, two part-time jobs while also selling at markets and craft shows.  But for whatever reason on January 1, 2016 I promised myself I would do nothing but make and sell soap.  Let me tell you.  It was tough.  I was ready mentally and emotionally but not financially.  However the lessons I learned last year are invaluable.  The biggest lesson was that there is a natural rhythm to this craziness and it all begins in January.

 

What a mess!!

January is the perfect time to sort through all your essential oils, herbs, additives, bottles, jars, bags…everything that got pushed to the back of the cabinets and bins during the frenzy of production and marketing,  It’s amazing what you find!  Like the bottle of Orange Mandarin essential oil I just knew I bought but couldn’t find so I bought another.  Or the containers I knew I had but suddenly went missing when it was production time!  This is the time to gather everything together and take inventory.  Not only will it help you decide which supplies need to be replenished but you’re also going to need that information for taxes.

 

January is also the perfect time for planning.  Just like you tend to think about what you want to accomplish this year in your personal life, this is the time to plan your business for the year.  Are you going to focus more on direct sales or wholesale?  What worked well last year and what didn’t?  Which varieties are winners and which aren’t?  Are there additional products I should think about?  What are my goals this year and how can I achieve them?  Make those goals concrete and measurable so next year you will know if you attained them.

January is also the time to focus on self-care.  Yes the weather is frightful…not my favorite season.  I am very susceptible to the lack of light so on sunny days I take extra walks with Baxter.  I try to eat real food since I have extra time and it’s always nice to fill the house with the aroma of fresh baked bread or a pot of soup on those cold nasty days.  Do some extra journaling.  Get all the stuff running around in your head out on the page.  Clear your mind.  Stretch your body.  It’s time to rebuild your stamina because February is coming and that marks the beginning of “garden time”.  Until then…stay warm!!

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