Ever feel like it's hard to know if your business is "normal" or not? If other businesses experienced the year in a similar way to you? Or maybe you have a hard time zooming out to get a big picture perspective.
If that's you at all, then we've created The State of Making: An Online Summit just for you (and the thousands of others like you ;))! It's a multi-day event that will feature experts and other makers sharing their perspective on the year in making and what lies ahead for the holidays.
We are featuring the stories of maker and their years leading up to the summit. Today's post looks at the year for maker and #ahasmember Jae of Benjamin Soap. She's seen a lot of transformation in the two short years since she started. And she's doing her best to keep up with the rapidly growing business.
After reading, I would love to know about your year in making in the comments below!
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
A: Hi! I'm Jae, and I started Benjamin Soap Company in the fall of 2014. I started making soap in my laundry room as an escape and creative outlet. I soon upgraded my work space into our spare bedroom and before I knew it we had wholesale accounts and I was running a booth at our local farmers market.
I make everything from cold process soaps, to soy candles, using essential oils and plant based oils. I never imagined that in less than two years we would be where we are today. I'm so fortunate to be able to do what I love, be my own boss and help inspire others.
Q: Overall, what did the last year look like for you?
A: Last year was full of growing pains, we went from being in 2 stores to over 50 in less than 9 months. I had no idea what we were in for, and the amount of hard work and dedication to building our brand that was needed to move forward.
Q: What is the biggest lesson you learned?
A: Balancing work and having a life. Seems simple, but for me it was a constant struggle. I would find myself leaving sticky notes to remember to write my kids a note in their school lunches, or to send a friend a letter letting them know I was thinking about it.
I worked long hours, and endless nights and finding balance was crucial not only to my brand, but for my sanity. Being a wife, mother and business owner forces you to wear 3 different hands, sometimes at different times, but realistically all at once.
Q: How are you anticipating and making changes for holiday 2016?
A: Well, after almost 2 years working out of my home, we decided to take the plunge and get a studio of our own. We are moving in the coming weeks, and while I am ecstatic, the move is so close to our busiest time of year that I can only hope having more space, and increasing our production will keep us from selling out like we did last year, 2 weeks into the holiday season.
Q: What about your 2015 holiday? Or are the holidays not your “big” season?
A: 2015 was huge for us. We had new vendors relying on us to get product in, we worked long hours and met every deadline but we didn't anticipate that they would sell out in days... so when we thought we could come up for a breath of fresh air we were back to working late to fill orders.
Q: What was your proudest moment of the last year as a business owner?
A: When we landed an account with one of the top spas in the south. They had been on my radar, and when we got the call to pitch our products I was thrilled!
Q: What is one business tool or product that became invaluable to your business this last year?
A: Signing up for Xero, which is an online accounting system. Similar to Quickbooks, but with a more streamlined interface. It changed everything about our business.
We saved hundreds of hours because of a new inventory and invoicing system, and were able to keep up with accounts, reorders, and track all of our expenses and sales.
Q: What business tool or product did you decide, “Nah, actually I don’t need to deal with this”?
A: I honestly felt this way about twitter, until just this week! I realized even though it's not really "my thing" a lot of our vendors and customers use it and it's a great way to announce new products and get new accounts.