Adapting to Thrive

Once again at a turning point in my business. It's harder and harder to have raw ingredients ordered in and physical items sent out. With shipping fuel charges soaring it feels non sensical to rely on a physical product. I still love making soap and experimenting (currently in R&D phase of a conditioner bar). But I find myself warning others about starting a product-based business, so why am I pushing that business formula on myself?

With production on a small level, the profit margins have to cover not only raw ingredients but office supplies, ink for labels, business cards, paper bags, gas and vehicle expenses, rent on production space, AND pay a decent wage.

I started making soap with the desire for a product to barter. In The Netherlands I made soap with recycled frying oil I found at the bin out front of the grocery store. The soaps were eucalyptus with a hint of fries. A year later I traded soap at a barter market in Northern Spanish mountain village. It had started to set in the pot and was weirdly shaped with sides that had hardened bubbles and warped edges. I traded for corn for planting and a rusty hand -held coffee grinder.

I've traded for countless things over the years at various farmer's markets and festivals. I actually traded a lifetime supply of soap to a friend to format my last book UNPACKED: a memoir of checked baggage.

When I first started making soap in 2011, I was a tad more conspiracy minded and I worried about the end of the world in Dec 21st 2012. I figured that people will always want soap, even with a collapse of society. I didn't predict the need for soap during the pandemic.

I've felt the need more than ever to keep going with Barefoot Daughter but needing to adapt.

Now in our current climate I'm worried about supply chain issues. The soaring price of ingredients I ship in from all over the world. The coconut oil that comes from the Philippines, shea butter from Uganda, lye from China or Russia.

As a business and as a human I need to adapt in order to thrive. Start making my own lye from wood ash and rain water. Start trading soap with a pig farmer for lard or tallow. Harvest and grow the herbs to include in the soaps no matter if it's just seasonal. I'll continue to offer the original line as long as I can but I need to start introducing hyper local items in case there's a harsh disruption in it all.

I'm also inspired to create a digital and physical botanical body care recipe book (which I'm hoping to launch June 2023 or sooner). I want to share the knowledge of self sufficiency online and provide a physical book for in-person classes for my local community.

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