There’s this moment right before I cut soap that I hold my breath. I can feel my body tense, and my heart begins to beat faster in anticipation of what’s hidden inside. It all comes down to that very moment…did the soap turn out like I planned, or was it another failure?
When you make cold-process soap as I do, you sorta create blindly. Everything is inside the mold and relies heavily on the pour and the trace or viscosity of the soap; it’s not like a painting where everything is laid out before you. Most of the time, you plan and hope for the best. You never really know what your “painting” is going to look like until you cut the soap. You pour and move your tools without being able to see what you’re painting. It’s a little by feel and a lot by chance. Or so it seems.
Cutting into my new batch of Beside The Blue Soap, my heart felt like it leaped out of my chest and back in again; of course, being hand poured each bar is different and unique, but I am pleased. I feel like as best as any soap could, I have once again captured the visual of what so many of you tell me your life is like as you stand Beside The Blue.
In talking about reviews yesterday, as I was looking through them and responding to new ones, I ran back across one from a fella who I’m assuming was trying to offend me. He didn’t offend me when he called my soap “Hillbilly Soaps”.
That’s what I am; I’m not ashamed of it. I live right in the heart of Appalachia; I can be on the Appalachian Trail within minutes. My people come from the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina. It’s beautiful here. I wouldn’t trade living in these mountains for anything. It’s home. And I am proud of it.
The mountains here are vast, rugged, and lush. You can get lost in them or you can lose yourself in them. The creeks and rivers run ice-cold and are full of crawdads and specked trout. Old split rail fences stretch like fingers locking together like the tight-knit communities back in the valleys, hollars, and hidden coves. It’s a place where children run free, looking for the best wooden rifle they can find, building forts, and making mudpies for supper. It’s where the banjo sings and the fiddle dances. It’s full of people who believe in God and Guns, and if you’re an outsider, you better approach cautiously. These mountains hold secrets and rich history. It’s the place where tall oak trees wave in the wind and katydids sing you to sleep.
These mountains are my home, this is my America, and I am proud to be a hillbilly in it. Whatever your America is, be proud of that. I can tell you being a part of my America is far greater than anything that fella is a part of.
I wanted this soap to be perfect. I wanted the love and support that I feel in my heart for the men and women of law enforcement to ooze out into my work today. It didn’t. Nothing turned out the way I planned. Nothing. Not in my mind, not on paper, and especially not in the creation process. Everything went haywire. I even had the thought to toss it all out and quit soapmaking altogether because nothing in soapmaking ever seems to go the way I think it should.
But then I thought about it.
Things in law enforcement aren’t going the way they should either. Everything has gone haywire. I hate it! I hate that there are good men and women out there that are doing their best to protect us and getting killed in return. Even though this soap didn’t turn out how I wanted it to, I still want you to know that there are many of us out here who wholeheartedly support you. I know you may want to quit. I’ve watched some of my friends walk away, and I can understand why, but please don’t. Please keep going. My job as a soapmaker isn’t important. Your job is and it’s appreciated. Please keep protecting us. Even though some of us may not look the part, we’re just work-at-home moms, we may be small and scrawny looking, but I promise you, we too “got your six”. Every single day.
Thank you. Thank you for all you do and give to keep law and order.
Here are the TOP 4 FREE TOOLS I use for my small business. Disclaimer- I am not being paid in any way for sharing these. I am sharing totally from my own experience and opinion. (And to help anyone who might find this helpful.)
Shipping is the place where I have to relinquish total control, the place where I have to hand over my products for someone else to take care of. And I hate it. You can’t get past it or do without it if you plan on getting your product out to customers. I will tell you no matter which carrier you choose you will always have issues. Not one of them is perfect all the time. However, my top choice is :
1 . USPS Let me explain before I move ahead. I do not use “stampsdotcom” through USPS to do my shipping. It comes with a monthly fee and the shipping rates in my experience are more expensive. What I do use is their free shipping supplies. If you ship through them, and I’ll explain in #2 how I do that but bypass paying a monthly fee, you can get certain shipping supplies free. Find those here: https://store.usps.com/…/free-shipping-supplies/_/N-alnx4j
2. Pirate Ship Pirate Ship is a free USPS and UPS shipping service/software. You can use it as a stand-alone or if you use Shopify or a few other e-commerce sites it will connect and work hand in hand with your store. It’s a breeze. They offer discount rates, which we all know no shipping discount is really a discount. It’s all expensive. And to be honest, I lose a lot in shipping. But as a small business, you have to weigh what works and what is best for your business. Taking a hit in shipping is often worth it to me. Shipping is extremely hard to navigate sometimes for a small business, especially in the beginning. You just have to try and do the best you can. You will not always get it right. Rates are constantly changing and it’s hard to change with it. It’s why you may see my products shipped in a box and then slipped into a padded envelope. It’s because I am working the system and trying to get us the best price. I will not price gouge shipping costs. https://www.pirateship.com/
3. Wave Accounting I love Wave Accounting for many reasons, but mainly because it’s free and easy to navigate. I know a lot of people use Quickbooks, I used to use them too, but I got sick of paying the monthly fee. All these monthly payments that help you run your small business smoothly especially if you are a one-woman show like me adds up and can drain your profits quickly. Wave offers the same type of accounting as Quickbooks, and I think even more reports and such for free. If I could hand you some advice if you are just starting your business it would be to start off strong with good accounting. https://www.waveapps.com/pricing
4. Canva Canva is a free design tool that will help you with so many things for your business! Photos, business cards, social media, graphics, websites, etc. Canva will help you with all digital or printed work. Although I prefer photoshop for a lot of work I do I know a lot of people find it hard to work with, but in a pinch and needing something quickly or to gain ideas Canva is a great alternative tool for a quick and simple almost done for you, easy to use graphic designer that you can get for free. As an example, the photo with this post was created with Canva just by using drag and drop. It’s very easy and even on the free account, you get thousands of free templates. https://www.canva.com/free/
I hope this was helpful!! If you have any questions about these or anything else I’m happy to try and get answers for you. If you want to know anything else about running a small business just ask. I am not a know it all but am happy to share what I have learned. Running your own small business is a journey. It will have ups and downs, victories and defeats, stick with it, as it can be such a rewarding act of faith!