Thursday, May 21, 2015

Small Business Chronicles: What's to Love?

Let me just say that having a small business is serious fun. This is in no way mitigated, as far as I'm concerned, by one's relative inexperience or non-full-time status. It's a hell of a learning curve and work, work, work, but if you're one of those people who never sits still, you might as well do something challenging. There is NO shortage of brain gymnastics when it comes to this activity, particularly when the lever is one's own hand-made product.

There are some boring parts on the business scene, so naturally I'll gloss over those. (Yes, they involve spreadsheets.) This post is about the aspects which are most fun. If one's business is a metaphor for oneself (and I'm not saying it is), I'm a serious extrovert. (Actually, I am a serious extrovert.)

My extroversion has facilitated things tremendously. In the broadest sense, I love introducing people to terrific things that I've discovered. I have always loved doing this. I mean, I started a freakin' blog so I could get the word out to people I didn't even know - and I'm still doing it 8 years later (though happily now I do know many of you). With this biz, I'm simply introducing people to things I've made. Things I can vouch for. Now I can align my quest for quality and value with my creative spirit. And peeps, it's a TRIP.

I've always wanted to work in a shop (strange, I realize). Not a bland shop, of course, but the kind with treasures. I'm that lady (browsing) who somehow ends up selling you yarn at the yarn store and lingerie at the lingerie store, the one who tells you that you can do better in those blue pants that don't taper quite so much at the ankle. Having a shop - even a virtual one - is an opportunity to enrich the consumer experience, and that activity is utterly enjoyable.

Another thing I love, though I never would have imagined this, is the imperfection of it all. I'm a newbie and - in the way I never judge a novice for his or her relative inexperience - I'm giving myself the benefit of the doubt. I've decided to undertake this as if it were a craft, an extension of myself. I'm ok with evolution. Don't get me wrong - I strive for perfection in everything (even though the experts say it's a bad idea. What can I say? I'm a St. Clement's girl.) But perfection is unattainable. On the flip side, evolution is inevitable. My goal is simply to learn and improve - and to provide excellent product that appeals to purchasers, of course. Theoretically, there's no end to this project, just betterment through experience. (Note to everyone: Krissie of 15 years ago would never have had this perspective. So let's give a shout out to age. It's living those 15 years that's shown me what I can achieve in 15 years!)

My third fave element of the business process is refinement (dare I say, curation) of the collection. It's really creative and the grain of every new idea is entirely spontaneous. For example, when I started CURIO, Serum A was the keystone. I sensed I had a winner and it is my most popular item, so far. Having said this, I would never in a zillion years have imagined that Deodorant A was going to give the serum a run for its money. Deo A was developed organically (no pun intended!), almost accidentally, in discussions with my mother. And man, am I glad I went on that conversational journey.

Over the course of the last 3 months I've had a number of people (aka guys) ask me about creating a Deodorant with "manly scent". In truth, I feel that Deodorant A is unisex - I used lavender and frankincense for a reason, after all. However, apparently guys feel that "manly scent" is something like the woods. Full stop. And really, who doesn't love the woods? So, you know what? I'm going to start making Deodorant B (the one with cedar - and some other goodies to, maybe, remind one of pines and lakes - but in the most delightful and original way). It'll be a special edition product - made specifically for the askers - unless it takes off. Let's give it a go and see what happens...

On the topic of Serum A, the one you know from the shop is not actually Serum A, the first. It's Serum A, the second. The first was made specifically for my mega-oily skin (an outlier perhaps, or maybe not) with organic jojoba, not rice bran oil. I also used a different ratio of oils and different essential oils. Short story: While the rice bran version is exceedingly moisturizing and awesome for dry/mature skin, it's not best for me - at least not in summer. You'd be amazed by how efficiently the jojoba version absorbs into oily skin. It's pretty illuminating. Natch, this has compelled me to reconsider that the reason most lines sell a range for oily skin and another for dry skin is cuz these skin types have very different needs. I mean, I know this. As such, it's just sensible to offer Serum B (really, it came first, but let's not confuse things) for the oily-skinned like me. This one will be a continuity product because I want the option to wear both and maybe you (or your daughter or your mother or your brother) will too.

At any rate, I know I've veered a bit into the weeds, but the point is that there are always opportunities to consider how to make things better or to make new things or to package them in new ways to best suit the client. Cuz in the end, it's really only about the client.

A business is like a puzzle, a machine with moving pieces. Extroversion is the lubricant. Refinement is the maintenance. And being receptive to whatever comes, allows for lessons-learned and inevitable improvement.

But man, those spreadsheets are a bitch.

6 comments:

  1. So glad you're having fun!

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  2. I hear you about spreadsheets. Loathsome things. If entirely necessary.
    Oils and fragrance are much more fun!

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    1. I'm not even scared of numbers - it's just so binary.

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  3. I'm so glad this is giving you a happy outlet for your extroverted creativity. And I'm not sure if I would like the spread sheets either.
    Success to you!
    (This oily-skinned almost-50 would definitely be interested in Serum B. I have your Etsy shop open on my browser; I'll be watching for it arrival(?!?) )

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    1. OK, Sox - great to hear! (And nice to know I'm not alone :-)) I'm aiming to put it up this weekend. Just need to create a new label and take some pics...

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