What is your “Brand Story”?

May 19, 2016

The annual Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild’s conference officially started today.  It’s always a fun event.  This is my third conference now  (Raeligh, Tuscon, and Tampa).  The keynote speaker was Jerrod Sumner and he talked about Beyond the Label and Logo: Are Telling Your Best Story?

Normally “inspirational” type speeches aren’t my thing.  When we sat down I thought this would be another type speech.  It was, but it was much more than that too.  I walked away from the lecture pleased with what I’d taken away from it.

If you make or sell anything then you’ve probably heard the word “branding” come your way a time or two.  When I turned my hobby into a business I’d already been using the name “Jennifer’s Handmade Soap.”  I realized at the time that it wasn’t the most creative name, but when I suggested changing it everyone was like oh no! It’s fine.  This is how we know you! (The maybe 100 or so people I had following me at the time).  I didn’t fight it, or put up much of an argument for changing it.  1) I didn’t know what else to call my business.  2) I liked the name “Jennifer’s Handmade Soap.”  And I figured if I was ok with it, then I was going to go with it.  I had this idea for a logo at the time.  A very vague idea that I described to my best friend and said: “Hey could you create a cool logo for me.”

What she came up with was better than I could have even imagined.  I loved it.  I, to this day, love my logo.  It’s me.  People see my logo and the recognize me and my business.  I didn’t really think much beyond that when it came to branding, because I always felt I had done a decent job.  I knew there was more I could do, but overall I felt that branding wasn’t a priority at the top of my list.

Listing to the lecture today I took away so much more and realized that “branding” and your “logo” hold a hidden story. And that there’s a difference between your Brand Story and your Brand Identiy.

Branding is not a logo or your products.  Branding is a promise to your customers.  It’s a promise to deliver quality products, it’s a reputations, it’s a promise, it’s your story.

People buy products, but they join brands.

We were asked the following two questions:

  1. Why do you do what you do?
  2. What do you want to be known for?

Answering these two questions I realized wasn’t a simple one sentence answer.  And they’re actually questions I will explore in another post once I get home, because those two questions really are the heart of who I am as Jennifer’s Handmade Soap.

Make it matter to you before it matters to them.

We explored the idea of brand storytelling in the seminar.  It’s the first time I have ever heard that term, and I like it.  It’s really quite a cool way to think about who “you” are as a business.  Brand storytelling is what motivates me, and my customers that value my product  (and who tell everyone far and wide what they’re missing out on by not buying my soaps–thank you! You all are the best and put a smile on my face.).  It’s a relationship building tool, a look into who I am as a company, and the heart of who I am as a business.

Good stories give big voices to even the smallest brands.

We discussed many ways to tell your story.  Many which I do to some degree, but many more I can do or do more of.  My business has a voice.  It’s in my style of soaps.  My photos.  My blog/FB posts. My method of teaching.  How I interact with my customers.  It’s in all the little things and I hope that that voice shines through.  I want people to see how much I love what I do.  I want people to feel like they’re along for the ride on this crazy journey of mine.  And so, my challenge to myself this year is to strengthen my voice and the tell my branding story.  It was a good start the conference.  And I’m ready for more!


What type tutorials would you like to see?

January 14, 2016

Last year I wanted to do some tutorials…and then life got in the way.  This year I want to be better about it.  I have a few ideas for tutorials that I want to do, but what would you like to see?  Share with me!


2016: A Look Forward

January 11, 2016

Now that we’ve seen how 2015 went, it’s time for me to list my goals for 2016.

  1. Increase my profit by 50%.  Last year’s goal of doubling my profit was a big one, and a big step up in my business. I did it.  This year if I can increase it by 50% it’ll  be a good year.  If it so happens I can increase it more I’ll take it! But an increase like that will mean I’ll  have to re-approach how I make things because there’s only one of me and only so many hours in the day to get stuff done!
  2. Grow my customer base. Yes, this is the same goal as last year and it will be a goal next year and the year after and the year after that…you get the point:).
  3. Introduce some new products.  On my list of new products: shower tabs, cream soap, liquid soap, foaming bath whip, and maybe a shampoo bar.  There are many other things I want to experiment with, but this is the list for this year.
  4. Grow my online sales.
  5. Grow my sales for custom wedding/shower (baby & bridal) showers.  I started that this year and I had so much fun making these custom favors. I hope to continue to grow this side of my business.
  6. Expand the number of classes I teach (and where I teach).
  7. Attend the 2016 Soap Conference in Tampa.
  8. Take (and pass) the Basic and Advance MP certification tests (at the soap conference). This shouldn’t be hard.  And while MP is just not my thing, I do teach and I think having these certifications is a must for me.
  9. Start working/prepping for the CP Master Exam.  My goal this year is to get my act together. That means learning how to make liquid and cream soap.  It means deciding on the topics I want to write/research for part 3 & 4 of the test.  It means starting to study the essay questions and know the answers backwards and forwards.  Because come 2017 I plan to register to TAKE the Master Exam!
  10. Save a percentage of every sale for a really BIG (potential) goal that is (potentially) years away. (Yes, this goal is back and will continue to come back until I reach said goal!)

I’m sure some other goals will pop up throughout the year, but these are the big ones I hope to achieve.  I’m excited to start working on them!  Bring it 2016! I’m ready for you!


A Year in Review: 2015

January 9, 2016

I surprised myself in 2015.  I worked my tail off, but I had a great year. I still can’t quite believe all I achieved.  I thought I’d go back to my post from January 2015 where I listed my goals for the year and review them.

Double my profit.  This might be asking too much, who knows, but I’d rather challenge myself than just be content to do what I did last year.

Do you know I achieved this!  I can’t thank my loyal customers enough for all their support!  And to all the new customers who found me this year. Your support means the world to me! Thank you.

Work on my “attraction appeal.”  I know that seems a bit big and vague.  What do I mean?  Work on pulling new customers.  Work on standing out.  Work on making some new products that will draw in new customers.  Goal #2 goes hand in hand goal #1.  I’ve already begun working on goal #2.

This will be a goal that I have every year, but I think I successfully did what I set out to do last year. I worked on my display (the appeal it has of pulling people in). I expanded my product line to reach more customers.  Even my labels saw some tweaks to make them more in line with who I am as a soap company.

Maybe (finally) finalize my display set up?

I think I’ve come as close to achieving this as I ever will.  I constantly tweak things, but overall this year I got a display set up I truly love.

Introduce a few new products.  I want to develop a body scrub/polish line, bubble bath, lip scrubs, shower tabs, and under eye butter.

Check!  Things I made this year, under eye balms, emulsified scrubs, bubble bath, lip scrubs…

Make some improvements to my webpage (most which will be behind the scenes changes).

Overall this did happen. There are still a few things I want to do, but they’re not urgent and I will get to them eventually, but overall I got most of the updates I wanted to make done!

Grow my online sales.

I did do this, but I need to work harder at it.

Grow my wholesale sales.

This one I’d say was a no.  I have a number of wholesale clients who I continued to work with this year, but it didn’t grow, but to be honest that was intentional on my part. I realized that I do a better job selling my product and that I (despite the time and effort) make more when I go out and sell it. I will continue to do wholesale, but it’s no longer a focus of mine.

Expand where I teach classes and the variety.  I started this last year, and want to continue on the path this year.

This has happened, but not as much as I wanted.  I didn’t start working on this till later in the year, which means I have more classes being offered this year in new places than I did last year. I’m excited though in that my classes and the number of ones I offer have grown.  I love teaching and hope to continue to grow that aspect.

Save a percentage of every sale for a really BIG (potential) goal that is (potentially) years away.

Ah, yes my vague goal from last year. I still have this goal😉.  I did do this. Not as much as I’d have liked, but still every little bit will help.

A few other things I’d like to add to this list of accomplishments from 2015.

  • I made a little over 5,300 bars of soap this year.
  • I did 69 events this year.
  • I taught 23 classes.
  • I made over 30 new soaps/designs.

So there you have it!  Not a bad year. I’m excited to see what 2016 brings!


2015 Fall Soaps

August 26, 2015

I picked out my fall soaps (most of them) back in February this year.  For all that time I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do design wise.  About a week before I was set to start making them (in the end of July) everything just came together and I figured out what I wanted to do.  Not sure why I was so uninspired this year, but ultimately the inspiration kicked in and I think I have a cool batch of fall soaps this year!  Here’s what I went with! Pictures will follow over the next couple weeks of each soap!

1. Turkish Mocha

It starts with creamy top notes of milk, cardamom, cocoa and a touch of nutmeg. The alluring, complex blend winds down to heady scents of vanilla and honey run, and of course, Turkish Coffee.

2. Almond Biscotti

A mixture of toasted almonds, sweet cake flour, and drizzled chocolate.

3. Pinot Grigio

The main notes to make up this fruity wine scent are sparkling bergamot, peach nectar, apple, Italian white grape, black plum, violet rounding out with supporting notes of warm clove bud.

4. Nag Champa

Renowned for its earthy scent, it contains Juniper, Patchouli and Vanilla, Rose Geranium and Jasmine.

5. Pumpkin Spice

Dark, creamy, and rich pumpkin with notes of Cinnamon, Cardamom and Nutmeg.

6. Pumpkin Lager

A warm blend of Pumpkin Puree, Fresh Ginger, Crushed Nutmeg, Warm Cinnamon, Vanilla Sugar and Sparkling Rum.

7. Spiced Amber Ale

 The fragrance starts with a fresh citrus top note and has a warm, exotic finish.  The base is a wonderful synergy of pine, clove, honey and vanilla.

8. Patchouli Cinnamon

I can’t stand Patchouli, but so many have asked for it! I’ve gotten a large number of requests for different blends. Ultimately I decided to go with Cinnamon. The two scents work together!

9. Oakmoss

Wet and earthy oakmoss with green vetiver, vanilla and nutmeg.

 


Summer Soaps: Part 1

July 14, 2015

Summer soaps are now here and available.  I like the range I have this year.

The pictures aren’t the best this summer, but time got away from me and I did the best I could with the time I had.

Coconut Shavings:

coconutshavings

 

Cool Water:

coolwatermen

Grapefruit Bellini: (I love this scent out of the bottle.  Made myself scrubs in it.  It morphs a bit in the soap.  Not my favorite, but then others who’ve smelled it loved it…)

butterfly_grapefruitbellini


Masters Certification

July 2, 2015

I hate taking tests, but I love to test my knowledge, and the best way to do that is take tests.  (I know there’s something wrong with me here!).  I love learning.  I always want to know more, to expand my knowledge–even more so when it comes to soap.  It’s my business, and it’s my responsibility to be as knowledgeable as I can about it.

In 2013 and 2014 at the soap conference I took and pasted my Basic and Advanced Certification in CP/HP Soap.  I plan to do the Basic and Advanced in MP soap just to have. Even though I am not a fan of making MP soap I do teach it and I believe it’s important that I have a sound knowledge base on it.

When I passed the Advanced CP exam my first thought was: “Well, there’s still the Master Certification left.”  I knew that one day I’d do it.  I just didn’t think that one day would come quite so soon.  In May I downloaded all the requirements for the tests and read them over and made a plan of action.

There was a lot I still needed to learn before I could even contemplate taking the exam.  So, I made a three year plan. (Have I mentioned I’m a master planner😉.)  I would take this year to learn how to make/do the requirements I didn’t yet know.  I would spend my time answering all the essay questions so I knew them backward and forward and then I’d start thinking about what I wanted to do for my two research projects.  Then the next year I’d register for the exam and the next two years would be spent completing all four parts.

Granted, life has a way of messing with the best laid plans, but this is a good start.  And it’s flexible.  If I need more time before I start it, that’s ok. This isn’t a race for me.  It’s about learning and expanding my knowledge of soap making.  I think it’s going to be a fun journey!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 267 other followers