Having a rough time of things
I just need to rant.
So, I just got done trying to sell soaps at another open house event at the local jewelry gallery. I did pretty well at the last open house and not many people came, and most that did only came for the free food.
This time around, though, I didn't do as well. I only had 5 different people buy stuff, and only one of them was someone I don't know. The rest were friends and family. Quite a few people showed up this time, and some asked me questions about my stuff only to leave without taking so much as a business card. Last time I was able to hand out about 50 cards. This time, I only managed to hand out one.
I feel like no one is really that interested in natural skin care, especially if it's $4.00 for a bar of soap. It's just so hard to say "it's better for you" in a way that's going to mean something to them. I mean, why buy a hand-milled goat's milk soap for $4 when you can buy 2 bars of mass-produced soap for $1.60 at Walmart in town?
I have another show coming up that's from December 4th thru the 28th, but I'm feeling really discouraged. I try to tell my fiance Joe how I feel but he says that it takes years to establish any sort of reliable incoming business. I've been trying for two years now since I was still living in PA and not much has come of it. I feel like I'm running out of ways to try to get people interested in natural skin care. I've tried giveaways several times, I try to do coupon sales in my shop but it just isn't working the way I want it to, even at local events.
I know people who make jewelry in town, and what they make isn't even that nice-looking or well made, but since they're a jewelry maker, they don't need to explain what goes into what they make and people just buy it right up. People can buy a $15 necklace that's going to fall apart after they wear it once, but they can't bring themselves to buy a $10 basket of skincare that's going to give them the best skin they've ever had. Uff da.
TLDR version: I feel like no one's interested in what I make and I'm out of ways of trying to get them interested.
Maybe you should try focusing more on your target audience. Meaning stop trying to appeal to people who don't care about what goes on or in their body and focus on people who are concerned with avoiding parabens, sulfates, and all the other icky stuff in mass produced soaps.
Is there a local mercantile store in your town? Maybe they would consider carrying your soaps, they may even have a supplier "fair" where you could generate interest. Is there a whole foods/vitamin cottage near town? They most likely have a bulletin board with community events that would be good to look into. I would check out yoga studios, hippie stores, farmers markets, ect..I would think you would have the most luck trying to sell smaller bars that are less expensive in locally owned stores that would be willing to carry your product. Definitely play up the natural, organic, local=smaller carbon footprint factor and maybe even write an intro explaining why this is so important.
Good luck! I hope these ramblings help.
The health food stores in each town I stay in already carry "handmade" soap. I've written a small pamphlet explaining to people why natural soaps are better than mass-produced soaps but people don't really care.
My peppermint coffee soap always sells well, as do the men's soaps and acne treatment soaps, but I haven't had many return customers in person other than my friends and family.
I am going to mix up the way I advertise myself at craft shows. I have a few things in mind that will draw more attention than before. I just think that a lot of people where I'm from are kindof ignorant about what they put on their skin.
Don't feel down Monika- you have a life-long customer in me! I've fallen in love with your soaps. I had my first break out in months since using your soaps this month and already I'm seeing the redness and inflamation go down.
Some people are freaked out by bar soap (I know I always was) and home made soaps I always assumed were simply for keeping in your underwear drawer to make your panties smell nice but you've converted me into a true believer in handmade soap vs. store bought and I don't plan on ever going back.
I have been selling jewellery for over 3 years now and I also struggle. Even though my stuff is sometimes less than 10% of the price in stores, I still don't have that much interest from people other than my friends, so you're not alone. I've never done well at craft markets, etc because people don't bother to even look at my stall.
All I can say is don't give up. Keep experimenting with different advertising methods, advertise your facebook page in your facebook status, on your personal sites, deviant art, any site where you are a member.
I know I would definitely buy your soaps if I could, but the combination of shipping fees and import tax would probably be at least half of my month's pay (it sucks being in South Africa! So far away from all the shops I want to order from!)
I hope it gets better for you. Stay positive about your business =]
Thanks, girls. This makes me feel a lot better. My sister in law said I should advertise my soaps as "artisan" and not just handmade. That was kindof an ego-boost, lol.
I'm going to make a banner for my table at the Art Center show that says "artisan-crafted natural skincare" with my logo on each end of it and see how that works. I hope it will get a lot more attention than any other booth since I'm going to be the only vendor of the 16 invited that makes soap and the like.
I'm really hoping that I can sell enough to buy a new computer and get some supplies to make Christmas presents for my family.
Maybe try making a website and sell from there as well.
Well, to sell on a website other than something like Etsy and Artfire, you need to have a merchant ID and all sorts of special tax information--you have to be a business already to sell on your own website, otherwise you can get slammed for tax evasion, etc.
Turns out I'm going to be the featured artist in this upcoming weekend's paper in town, so that should get me a good bit of publicity.
The problem we have at the moment is we are being told different things: 1. Buy local and handmade. support your local people. 2. Save money. re-use items, shop for bargains.
A motto that some people have is "don't buy something if you can make it yourself" which is tricky for some people. I don't usually do this unless it is something simple like a fabric case for my phone, or food when i have the time to make it from scratch. I'll stick my hand up and admit I tend to stick for the same items from the supermarket, because it is cheap, my mother will just buy any soap that is on offer, but she only shops from one supermarket and will not buy online unless she has to. I think you need to get people to break the habit of supermarkets and be adventurous. soaps for children that have a toy in the middle which they have to use the soap to get the toy out?
Have you tried putting leaflets through peoples doors with catching slogans like allergic to X? try this soap from here and enter this code to get % off your first order!!!!
people tend to graduate to words like all-natural, vegan, vegetarian, not tested on animals (i know you don't test your soaps on animals)
can you do liquid soaps or things in containers for showers?
in england the HMRevenue people say that if you make more money from selling an item then the raw materials cost you have to register doing this as a job and pay tax (obviously doesn't count one-off sales of things you want to get rid of). basically if you make any profit you are supposed to tell the tax people.
Well, in the states, you don't have to claim taxes if you make less than a few hundred dollars a year. When I graduated high school, I had a job for about a month (seasonal for Christmas) only made about $400 and even though I got my W-2 statements, the tax advisor said I didn't make enough to file my taxes. I don't make that much online selling soaps.
My sale at the Art Center is going well, but they handle all the tax stuff since they take a cut of the profits.
And I do run a lot of coupon codes--free shipping, 20% off, 23% off when you leave Facebook feedback, etc. I also always make sure to tag my soaps as natural, organic, and so on.
It's just harder on Etsy I think because people can't stop by to pick up a bar, smell it, and see if they like it enough to buy it, so they just look at it and go away, or add it to their favorites and forget about it.
Selling soaps online is much harder than selling in person. I made $100 the first day at the Art Center sale and there are still 3 weeks to go. I think all year, I've made less than $200 online.
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