What a whirlwind year it's been! The last time I was here blogging was 10 months ago. I was here to telling you all how I just couldn't continue to make soap and keep up with Maine Micro Artisans. MMA was such a great experience. It taught me so much about myself, my family, my community and what I want out of my life. Teaching my first soap class in that space is something I'll never forget. It was life-changing.
I'm proud to have provided a path for other artisans. Myself, Michael, my kids, my mother and many others worked very hard to make Maine Micro Artisans a success. In our first year we sold over $200,000 in handmade goods from all over Maine. However, my family just wasn't thriving alongside the shop. If you know me, you know that I am a special needs parent. Being a parent is tough, being a parent with a child with special needs brings all kinds of additional challenges. My kids are all teenagers now. They need guidance. They need presence. They need me to be plugged into them. This is where it can all go really wrong.
I was already struggling with the work balance when a doctor visit for my husband sealed my decision. My husband is facing some serious health challenges and we need to make some changes. We're in the early stages and not panicking, but I need to be here with my family. It was a heart-wrenching decision to gift Maine Micro Artisans forward. Some may not understand the decision, but it was the right thing to do. What I founded, all the good that was created, lives on. The opportunity lives on and another deserving person gets to throw her hat in the small business ring.
Since making the decision the new owner, Caity has flourished. I love seeing her take the ball and run with it. I can see that she will take MMA to the next level. I could not be more proud of her. This past weekend she opened up the new 4,500 square foot location. She's a dynamo! Follow her and shop Maine Made.
After taking a deep breath, a long bath and a few weeks to hold my family close I am excited to return to soap. That's an understatement. It's hard to contain my excitement to be creating again. Soap is my happy place. I love creating something functional and beautiful. I love challenging myself. I love connecting. Here in the soap world I get to do all of those things.
When I am deep into making the problems of everyday life are far away. What's for dinner? Did I pay the car payment? Is there a field trip tomorrow? Those are far from my mind. I am myself and in my own space. That's an amazing feeling. I dig deep to challenge myself. I want those who buy my soaps and other goods to know that they received every bit of energy, love and focus that I can put into my work.
I have made friends along this soap journey who I will have the rest of my life. When you gather around a table to create and share you bond in a very special way. I have loved teaching so much locally. I am looking forward to taking that to the digital world. We are lucky to live in a day and age where we have such available connection. Let's use it for more than memes. Let's connect and make together. Join me on Patreon or even better schedule 1:1 lessons here in the shop with me or virtually.
Unlike previously I won't be creating a ton of custom work. I have a high demand for my products and that means I have to make some tough choices. To allow myself the creative freedom that I want but balance with smart business choices, I'll be creating my core line of goods - those items you can always count on being in stock, or back in stock shortly - balanced with a line of fun, whimsical, intense designs that challenge me.
This doesn't mean custom work isn't an option! It just means you'll have to be patient and order well ahead of time and the answer won't always be yes. Weddings, Anniversaries, Small Business Openings, Baby Showers and other occasions are perfect times to include soap. Since the pandemic there is a renewed dedication to cleanliness and especially hand-washing. People LOVE to be gifted soap. Teachers, Co-workers, Clients and others who you need that personal but not overly personal gift for are perfect candidates for soap. My soaps take that gift-giving notion to the next level.
I love connecting with other soap artisans. As in other arts, soapers vary in their styles, materials and the presentation of their craft. There are so many fats that can be turned into soap and countless additives to try. One makers soap can be completely different from another's. What you can create, how different the finished product can be is amazing.
When I hung up my apron from making soap I was making and shipping about 600 bars/jars/envelopes per week. It got really intense and orders were slow and sometimes I dropped balls. You don't deserve that! With this relaunch we've sunk some serious dollars into creating a better way forward. I have a dedicated studio! If you've followed me previously, you'll know that I've made in my home studio for years. This is fine and a great way to get started, but scaling up the business is almost impossible. That's where so many of those shipping issues arose. That won't happen again. I have a sweet shipping station and plenty of supplies on hand. Orders now ship the next business day.
You'll find my studio located at 8 Main Street in Gorham, Maine. I have a wonderful space for making and teaching. There's a LOT of misinformation out there regarding soap and I hope folks will enjoy my no-nonsense, science-based, real talk about soaps and body care. You'll find me on YouTube and across a plethora of social media platforms. Come find me where you hang out online.
Deep breath... I know that's a lot. It's been an intense few years. I'm so glad to be back in my happy space. Lessons learned, foundations strengthened and forward into the future we go. Thanks for being here with me!