The snow is billowing outside, and I'm thankful that--after a massive push by Katy--we are almost caught up with orders, and there's no hurry to get to the mill today. There's a trail that meanders down the hill and through the woods behind our house, and one of my favorite parts of living here is taking the kids sledding there. I never went sledding in the woods before we moved to Rollinsford, and the slop is just gentle enough that you don't get enough speed for it to be dangerous and you don't slow down enough to stop. The trees hang over the trail covered in snow, and we glide through a winter wonderland.
Next year is also excitedly on my mind. Katy's been at the mill more, since she's mostly in charge of order fulfillment, and I've been working from home with the kids, answering emails and messages, making phone calls, ordering goat milk soap supplies, calling UPS to sort out why our soy candle jars haven't been delivered, and begin plotting out equipment purchases for next year. We have been slammed, and I'm thrilled to invest in equipment to help us get it all done.
Some of what I'm looking at:
Commercial Mixer for Shampoo Bars
We're using the old and faithful Bosch mixer from my childhood. We didn't want to buy a dedicated mixer for shampoo bars until they had some traction, and we can't believe how well they've been received.
I'm immensely proud of our shampoo bars. They're syndet bars, not soap (like so many shampoo bars are). They're gentle and have exceptional foam and pair fabulously with conditioner bars. I love their scent (peppermint and lavender), and I love the way my hair feels when I wash with them. So often, choosing a "plastic free" product means a compromise in quality or paying an extravagant sum, and I love that they last longer than liquid shampoo, have better ingredients (sulfate and paraben and silicone and synthetic fragrance free!), and are cheaper when you factor in how long they last. Most of all, after cleaning so much trash out of woods, I'm proud that everyone that ships means a couple less plastic bottles in the world.
Big Oil Pot for Lotion and Goat Milk Soap
Right now, I'm looking at a pot that holds 600 pounds of botanical oils, which would be a huge leap for us. Making stuff can be a lot of wear and tear physically, so I'm also trying to figure out if switching to drums of oil with a pump to fill it will lessen the physical strain.
Side Note: Getting our first drum of oil is like getting a pallet for the first time. I know it's small potatoes for big companies, but it blew my mind a little. Someday, I want to lash some of our drums together and make a raft for the kids.
Back to lotion! We're thinking of lessening our scents of our Shea Butter Lotions (we have eight right now!), but need to check the numbers first. Don't worry, Oatmeal, Milk & Honey, Lavender Lemongrass, Lilac, Original (Unscented), and Lavender are safe forever. We got lots of messages this year from customers with dry skin using our lotion, even as a facial lotion, and it's really cool to see a product that we formulated make a difference in people's lives.
Increasing Our Candle Batch Size
This is long overdue. We make soy candles in batches of seven *hand on face.* We've always been frugal with inventory so that we could invest in other places, but now soy candles are flying out the door and we're making batch after batch. Thankfully, with our new lotion pot, we'll be able to have a dedicated pot for soy candles and make batches of 100 without worrying about them sitting on the shelf for a while.
Our new wax is fabulous too. We loved our other one, but it was discontinued so we looked and looked until we found a coconut soy wax that's exceptional. It's creamy and white, adheres to the jar really well, has a smooth top, and works so well with our scents. I heard someone say once that candles are the finishing touch on any space, and, especially right now with the snow piling up outside, I wholeheartedly agree.
Thank you all for making our little business grow.
Until next time,
<3 Joel and Katy