Our learning curve has oddly felt like that first hill of a roller coaster so tall you can’t see the top of the hill until you are already slightly lifted out of your seat as the car plunges downward so fast it leaves you feeling exhilarated and scared out of your skin at the same time. And just when you think you have the ride figured out, there’s an unexpected inversion that totally skews your perspective. Yep. That just about sums up our learning curve this first year as we transformed our hobby and simple urban homesteading values into a full-fledged business. It’s been a white knuckle, exhilarating, scream-at-the-top-of-our-lungs-and-get-on-the-ride-again kind of year and we wouldn’t have wanted anything less!
We’ve learned so much in just one year when we nervously awaited to see if anyone would show up at our very first “soapen house” and actually pay for a bar of our handmade soap. While most of our “customers” during that weekend launch of Kumbha Moon Soap Company were family and friends, we were so lifted by their nice comments and support that we just kept going (and we really hoped like heck that they weren’t just telling us what they thought we wanted to hear!). We experimented with new original recipes and formulations and gradually understood that in order to keep up with the growing demand that we were experiencing we would need to scale up our production. Soap making is a long process that can’t be hurried so we had to learn how to make bigger batches in bigger handmade molds (thanks to friend Dan Brown for craftsmanship!) all the while making every batch from scratch, hand cutting each and every bar, and never sacrificing our values or high-quality plant-based ingredients. We knew we were in this whacky business model thing when we started to use words like “production schedule” and “pallet pricing” and “market development plan” instead of “Hey, I think I’ll run to the store to pick up a bottle of olive oil so that we can whip up a batch of soap this afternoon because one of our friends would like a few bars to give as a gift to someone.”
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But we kept making soap in our small house little kitchen, running up and down the rickety cellar stairs to retrieve heavy boxes full of olive oil, coconut oil, essential oils, and dried herbs and spices that we had to store in the dungeon since our kitchen barely has room to move. Making every batch was a workout and an exercise in patience as we tried to use our kitchen for both soap production and food production and exercise caution not to confuse lye for salt or splash our walls and dishes with soap batter (disclaimer: we can almost guarantee that anyone who ate at our house during this time did not consume lye in place of salt). So we converted our small single car garage, that was so full of junk, kayaks, bikes, stuff, and more stuff that we never could park a car in it, into a soap making/creative space studio. After months of construction, dust, and continued cramped space soap making, we finally moved into our new studio in late fall and have been going full steam ever since. Oh, did I forget to mention that each of us also has a full-time career that fill our day and sometimes evening hours?
Kimberly & Kellie