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I learned long ago that my “standards” generally were leaps and bounds above most.  I got frustrated when I had to work on or with a team that didn’t live up to them.  Adequate was enough.  Just getting the job done was enough.  I would do twice as much work as colleagues, because only my best was enough.  To this day I still hold high standards for myself and others.  If you’re going to do a job–do it well.  Go beyond just what is expected.

When I was teaching I held my students to my standards.  And when they tried to reach them it was amazing what they accomplished.  I won’t make apologies for holding high standards.  I will always work to make everything I do the best I can.

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Last year I started the Soap Your Year 12 in 12.  Here’s a recap of the basic gist of it:

12 in 12 Soap Your Year

Years ago, back in 2006 or 2007 (it’s been awhile), then casting agent Chad Darnell started something called “12 of 12”.  On the 12th day of each month you had to take 12 pictures of your day.  Then post them in a blog posts (which we would then link/share back to Chad’s original post).  It was just something different and something fun.A bit of background: I knew Chad through a Crossing Jordan webpage I created.  He did casting for Alias and Crossing Jordan and eventually became a writer on Crossing Jordan.  He’s currently working on Mercy Street (for any of you that watch that show on PBS).

Anyway, about a month ago for whatever random reason this game popped into my head and I thought this would be fun to do with soap!  But, I figured it needed some altering, because I’m not necessarily doing soap on the 12th day of every month. I think I’ve figured out a way to morph the game just a tad! Here we go!

Rules:

  1. Each month document your soaping/bath product making in 12 pictures.
  2. One picture MUST be taken on the 12th of the month.  If you’re not making/working/doing something soap related that day it’s ok! Take a picture of your empty work space, or if you’re on vacation share a vaca photo.  You just have to have one photo taken on the 12th.
  3. Create a blog post of your 12 pictures (with a one or two sentence explanation)!
  4. Post the blog post on the last day of the month.

Feel free to link your post back to mine so others can see your posts.

Now, I didn’t quite follow all my rules ha, just I didn’t have a picture taken every month ON the 12th day of the month, but I’m going to try and be better about that.  Anyway, I had fun doing it and decided I’m going to do another snapshot of my year.   If you want to join in please do!

Without further ado here’s my January 12 in 12

January 1 2018:

My pot collection has grown.  I’ve gotten to the point where I KNOW I need to be making larger batches on any soap that I can.  Not all of my designs allow me to make batches that are bigger than 10 lbs, but thee are many that I can make in 15 or 20 lb batches.  One of this years goal!  I’ve added a larger pot so I can now melt more oils at once.

January 2nd 2018: 

This totally isn’t soap related, but I had to share.  Every year I set a goal to read 50 books.  Most of those books have to get read before October because the last three months of the year don’t really leave me any time to read.  I hit my goal this year.  75% of the books read happened in the first 6 months. Ha!

January 11th 2018: 

Lists, lists, and more lists!  There is SO much I have to accomplish during my down time.  And it’s fast disappearing before me. I’ve been working every day on one thing or another.  Hopefully I get all I need to accomplished this winter.

January 12th 2018: 

I had a few things I needed to restock after the craziness of show season.  Packaging soaps here, but overall I kept up with everything this winter and that makes me happy!

January 13th 2018: 

Look at that empty dry rack!  Always makes me a little sad to see. It’ll get filled up again, just give it a little time!

January 14th 2018: 

Out with the old, in with the new (next picture ha!)

January 15th 2018: 

Got new bath bomb molds and redid all my large sized ones.  Let me tell you making 90 (and then packaging) bath bombs at once is not one of my favorite things to do.  Too many at once!

January 17th 2018: 

Sugar scrubs!  This always looks so yummy to me ha!

January 18th 2018: 

Laundry Soap.  I needed to make more for the past few months now. I finally got around to it.  This is step one of the processes: making the coconut oil soap.

January 22nd 2018: 

I still can’t believe I’ve already submitted four applications for shows for 2018.  They’ll really start pouring in come February. Let me tell you trying to put my schedule together is always challenging.

January 23rd 2018: 

One of my goals was to finally set up SoapMaker3 and move away from my old method of tracking inventory.  Let me tell you this process is SOOOOO tedious, especially when you decide to change how you track something seven years into a business and you have a crap load of supplies.  It took me days to go through and do an updated inventory (beginning of the year…time to do that), but for SM3 I have to get all the pricing.  I’ve four pages of supplies…slowly getting through all my invoices and marking pricing.  Figured if I was gonna do this, might as well do it right.

January 30th 2018: 

Soap classes!  I love teaching.  Like LOVE teaching.  Working on new classes for the spring and excited about the winter schedule.

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I *think* I’ve shared this one before, but it’s worth re-sharing. Especially as we head into a new year.  What you want is not (in 99.9% of cases) going to be handed to you.  Dreams come true because “we” work our tails off to make them reality. “Umph” is what sets us apart.  It’s what makes our dreams become reality.  Here’s to a year of lots of “umph”!!

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Now that we reviewed 2017, let’s look at what I hope to accomplish in 2018!

  1. Increase sales by 25%.  Yup, I’m dreaming big again!
  2. Increase online sales.  This is kind of a two part plan.  I’ve been working on growing my online sales, but in conjuncture with that I need to update my webpage.  I’ve been doing research on new site platforms and compiling a list of everything I want in my new webpage and I plan to start building that in January and hopefully launch the new site in February.  Change is good!
  3. Update/Change my current batch code system.  With moving and setting up a dedicated studio space I’m been trying to fully set up/update/comply with GMP standards and with that I’ve come up with a better/new way to do my batch code system.  My goal this year is to get it fully implemented.
  4. Continue teaching and expand on where I teach, classes I teach, and do more Library Presentations.  I’d also like to try and figure out how to really launch a kids soap making program.  This is very dependent on my time, which is going to be occupied by many things this year.
  5. Get our Local New England Chapter up and running.  This includes creating a mailing list so I can easily reach out to all our members.  Putting together and holding  a couple “get togethers” this year.  Proctoring a test session.  Three things to start and then I can build on that.
  6. Revamp my bath bomb sizes, labels, and packaging.  (To be fair I started this the end of 2017, but I need to fully implement it now).
  7. Work on my Master Exam.  This includes getting my Research Project Proposal approved.  Doing the research I need for Part 4 of the exam.  And working in the studio experimenting and learning to make the soaps I need to for Part 1.  I have a lot of work that must get done this winter.  I cannot put it off.
  8. New Products: I want to play around with bath bomb/bubble bath cupcakes. Whether they’d be introduced as a new product I don’t know, but it’s been on my list of items I want experiment with.
  9. If time permits work on growing sales of my custom favor soaps.
  10. Less is More: I have a pretty complex set up.  For big winter shows it’s worth it.  But for 2018, especially over the summer I want to streamline my set up to just a 6′ table.  I have created lovely set ups with just one table.  It needs to be my goal for summer markets.  I spend a lot of time on set up/take down and I want to reduce my set up time to under 45 minutes this year.  The time I’ll save if I can do that would be like a two week vacation!
  11. There are a couple items I want to market to a specific audience.  I need to put together a proposal and contact companies and really see if there’s an interest.  This is a *wish list* item.  I have a lot to accomplish this year with the work I need to do for the Master’s Exam on top of just keeping up with the regular business stuff.  If I get to this great. If I don’t there is always next year.  I just have to set my priorities for the year.

There are a lot of BIG items on this list.  I’ve prioritized my list so I know what’s most important.  I’ll try and do it all!  It’s gonna be interesting to look back at this list come January 2019!  Here’s to making 2018 an amazing year!


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A Year in Review: 2017

In January I posed my goals for 2017.  Well it’s come time to review those goals and see how well I did with them.  I was so surprised going through this list.  Life this year led me down a path I wasn’t expecting, and some goals I manage to exceed (never thinking it possible) and some goals never ever got addressed!  Such is life.  Overall, it was a great year.

1. Increase my profit by 25%.  To do this I have to bring in more sales, which means I HAVE to have help…i.e. I have to have an employee.  I can make the product, but I need to sell more, to do so I need to do more events, which means double booking, which means I have to have someone to cover those events.

I accomplished this! If I’m being honest I didn’t think it would be possible (though I did take steps to make it possible, I still didn’t think it would actually happen!)

2. Higher a part-time employee. <– This looks calmly typed and doesn’t portray the excitement/fear/anxiousness/giddiness of how I really feel ha!

Accomplished!  It was a learning experience for both of us, but overall this was a great addition to my team.  We definitely learned what shows NOT to do, but then I’m learning that every year when I do my own shows.  It was sometimes a challenge to have two set ups stocked, but I got it figured out and was able to keep up with having stock for both of us.

3. Each year I’ve introduced new products (and removed those that weren’t selling). At this point I’ve about got my set up set.  I know what fits in my display, what I can travel well with from event to event, what holds up in the heat…you get the picture.  I really don’t have anything I want to introduce or anything that I feel is a good time to introduce with where I am.  So, I don’t have plans to have new products this year.

I didn’t introduce any new products, but I did create/introduce a number of new gift sets over the holidays.  They went over well and I’ll continue them next year.

4. However, on to point four, I do have plans to experiment with new products. Shaving soap, liquid soap, foaming bath whip, and cream soap.  Most of these are all things I need to know for the Master Exam and to further my soapy knowledge (for my own personal satisfaction).

Yeah…that didn’t happen. *SIGH*  In my defense I was so busy when just making and selling products…then I moved in June…and yeah.  You know what I’ll be doing this winter. No excuses!

5. Grow my online sales. This has been a long slow tedious process that I will continue to work on year after year!

This is probably where I made the biggest change this year.  I’m going to keep working on this. I have plans for this (hear more about it in my 2018 goals)!

6. Grow my sales for custom wedding/shower (baby & bridal) showers.  I did do more favors this year than last year, but I need to find ways to get them out there in front of the target customer. Part of that involves me getting out there and partnering up with local florists and caterers and seeing if they’ll be willing to work together with me.  Definitely a plan I need to spell out and set clear goals for myself.

This is one thing that got pushed to the back burner.  I did continue to do custom favors, I just didn’t do anything to help grow this side of my business.

7. Continue to grow my teaching classes.

I taught 20 classes, a couple private classes, did 5 library presentations.  This is basically a little less than what I did last year with intensive classes, but a big jump in presentations where I can reach more people and so we’ll call it a draw.  I love teaching. That is one thing I know!

8. Start forming the Local New England Soap Guild Chapter. As secretary, much of this will fall on my shoulders for getting it started and initiating everything.  It’ll be a challenge and I’ll have to make sure I schedule time for it, but I’m excited about it.

Let’s call this a draw.  There was some work done, but not nearly what I hoped to accomplish.  Again, busy busy year.  I simply ran out of time.  It’s at the top of my list though to really pull things together and get some ideas implemented.

9. Take (and pass) the Advance MP certification test…since I didn’t get it done last year.

Done. Thank goodness. I never have to look at another MP test now.  I’m done at advanced.  MP soap I can appreciate it, but it’s so not my thing.

10. Submit a class proposal for the 2018 Soap Conference. Nope, I’m not telling what the topic is yet. Ha!  And yes this is a different idea/class than the one I submitted two years ago, which wasn’t accepted.

I did! It wasn’t accepted, but that’s ok.  I put together a proposal I was really proud of and submitted it.

11. Sign up for the Master CP Soap Exam. And start really PREPPING and studying and learning all that I need to pass said exam.

I signed up in April. I’ve since accomplished nothing. Okay, not nothing, but close to nothing.  I will be buckling down this winter.  It will be the focus of everything I do this winter.

12. Continue to save a percentage of every sale for future plans.

I did this, just not to the extent I wanted.  Moving can really throw your plans out of wack!

A look at the Highlights of the Year:

  • I participated in 106 markets (Sarah did 16, parents 3, other friends covered 2, the rest were all me).  Last year I did 77 events.
  • Taught 20 classes and did 5 Library presentations.
  • Made my 5000th bar on September 19 (Last year I made just under 5000 for the year).
  • Made my 6000th bar on October 11
  • In total I made 6,723 bars of soap (if I count every bar/half bar/cupcake by # made and not what equates to the weight of a full bar then I made 7,273!)
  • Bought a house and moved in June!
  • The first item I made in my new studio was a batch of Spearmint & Eucalyptus Bath Bombs.
  • Started 12 in 12 on my blog.
  • Attended the Annual Soap Conference in Las Vegas
  • Increased online sales!
  • Started an Instagram Account (which I need to figure out how to get followers on it now).
  • Started the year off well with keeping up with my newsletter and then failed to keep up with it.  I plan to readdress how I do my newsletter in 2018.  Things have to change with that.
  • In total I made over 16,000 product this year.  If we do the math that roughly works out to me make 43 products every day of the year :D.
  • Participated in The Corner Spot where I got a trial run at a “store front”.  I learned a lot!
  • I failed at creating any new soap tutorials on my blog.

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A Year in Review: 2017

In January I posed my goals for 2017.  Well it’s come time to review those goals and see how well I did with them.  I was so surprised going through this list.  Life this year led me down a path I wasn’t expecting, and some goals I manage to exceed (never thinking it possible) and some goals never ever got addressed!  Such is life.  Overall, it was a great year.


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Well we’ve reached the final month!  It’s been fun to look back over the past twelve months and see a review of the year!  December was a great month. Insanely busy up through Christmas, but then I got to take some time off to spend with family and it was lovely!

December 1, 2017: Christmas Time

I got to put a tree up for the first time in five years. Finally being in my own place with a separate work space has been lovely.  I love my tree and all the decorations I was able to put up this year!

December 3, 1017: Craft Fairs

This was my craziest weekend of the year.  In three days I had 8 shows. 4 which I did and 4 of which I had three other people working for me do.  By the time I got home Sunday I was a zombie :D.

December 5, 2017: Lip Scrubs

After I made it through the weekend I was back at it restocking.  I did pretty good with keeping up with everything this year.  The lip scrubs were really popular this winter season.

December 14, 2017: Test Prep

It’s time to get serious and get my butt in gear with this Master Exam.  I’m a list maker. It helps get me motivated.  When I can cross things off I feel like I’m accomplishing something and it makes me want to do more!  So I started my list of supplied I’d need and what I needed to do to get started on it.

December 15, 2017: Custom Orders

I’ve had a couple of custom soap orders I needed to get caught up on.  So I spent the day working on making those.  One was a custom order for a four color swirl to match a tile patter in someone’s home. I think I did a good job with that! I was pleased with how they came out.

December 17, 2017: Last Show (Part 1)

The last event of the season, a small winter farmers market.  When it was over I did a little happy dance.  I love shows, but they’re exhausting and by the time I get to the end of December I’m exhausted!

December 17, 2017: Old Sturbridge Village (Part 2)

I’m always so busy this time of year I never do anything fun.  One of my favorite places is OSV (a historical village in MA).  They do a program called Christmas by Candlelight and I was like I’m going this year! So, I bought tickets for me and my parents and we had a lovely evening.

December 22, 2017: Test Prep

I went out and bought the binders I needed and printed out all the test requirements and put them all together and I’m ready to start.  There’s a lot of work ahead of me, but it’s all organized and it’s time to start the work!

December 25, 2017: Christmas!

MY entire family was together for Christmas. It was lovely!  This is my and my adorable nephew.  He just melts my heart!

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This still remains one of my favorite quotes. There’s strength and power within each of us.  And we can do anything we set our minds to!


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Opportunities are what you make of them. So make the most!


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