What’s the Vision?

October 15, 2012

It’s Launch Day. Charlie and I worked over the weekend to get ready. We still have quite a bit that needs to be done to meet our October 15 deadline. Regardless, our Etsy site will go live by midnight tonight.

I want to share the dream with you today. My hope for what the future is. My dream is that this business will grow to the place where it is driving Fair Trade job creation both in the developing world and here in Menlo Park/East Palo Alto. We’ll be making soap here in my kitchen until we can’t keep up with the work load. At some point, we’ll need to get help. Our business license won’t allow us to have employees here at home. My hope and dream is that once we outgrow our home, we’ll be able to employ people living in the margins. I’m inspired by the models at the Women’s Bean Project out of Denver and Open Arms out of Austin.  The Women’s Bean Project provides jobs for women who come from a background of generational poverty.  Open Arms provides jobs to refugees who are living in poverty.  I’m hoping to riff off of them once we’re ready to grow outside our home. I’m not sure about any of the specifics. But, this is my heart for the future.

For today, we’re going to launch and learn. We have a lot to figure out. But, we can’t figure any of this out without going ahead and getting going. Here are some of the things we still need to figure out:

  • There’s a difference between what people say they like and what they actually buy.  What do people like enough to buy?
  • Which soaps need to go?
  • Do people really like botanicals floating on top of their soap?  It comes off in bits.  Do people like that or not?
  • Would my customers rather have soap from a custom mold, or do they like the earthy look of the soap cut from loaves?
  • What packaging is going to work best?
  • Is the business model financially sustainable?  If not, how do we need to change it?
  • How do we get the feedback we need to improve?  What’s the best incentive?
  • What questions are we not asking about how to delight our customers?  Start asking those questions.

Now, off to work.

Thanks for reading!

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5 Responses to “What’s the Vision?”

  1. Carolyn Says:

    Best of luck to you!

  2. Ginna Says:

    Is your etsy site “FrustratedFarmgirl”? Congratulations on opening day!!

    Love this photo! Love the brilliant colors and the marbled look!

    I love small molded soaps, because they make such cute gifts! And if the person ends up not liking the smell, no big deal — it was just a small bar. Small soaps also allow me to try out more ‘flavors’.

    Also — embarrassing — sometimes the packaging is a bigger selling point for me than the soap, especially if I’m purchasing gifts. If it looks super cute, I’m going to want to buy it and will figure out a way to get it into my budget.

    • Robin Johnson Simpson Says:

      Thanks so much, Ginna! You’re not by yourself with the packaging being important. Truly, the packaging is very important for most people. Environmentally, I love the idea of having no packaging. But, if we did that, we wouldn’t sell enough soap to stay in business. We found some wonderful Fair Trade packaging which is made from a fabric woven from banana leaf fibers. It’s both beautiful and sustainable. We’ll be putting a picture of the soap with packaging on the Etsy site in the next day or so. We’re chewing on the idea of doing smaller sizes. Thanks so much for the comments- we’ll take them to heart!


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