**Waffle Warning** I’ve just reread this post before pressing publish, and it’s rather text heavy and lacking in pretty pictures. While the turn of events is a little sad, it’s exciting stuff in terms of growing the business and so I just had to share.
When I decided to take The Soap Mine forward as a bona fide business, I knew it would be a slow burner. It was 2010, I had a small baby (I was still on maternity leave) and I had just discovered that it would cost me just shy of £1,000 a month if I went back to my full time job. Neither my husband nor I were happy with the prospect of putting our baby into full time childcare (I was a project manager in a Manchester ad agency – crazy long hours) and so I gave up paid work to become a Work At Home Mum and set to making a business out of selling soap.
I practiced and experimented for months and months, and finally applied for SAs (Safety Assessments – professionally certified documentation that proves that my recipes are safe), organised insurance and dealt with all the other legal admin that needs to be done in the UK before you can sell soap.
I spent a couple of years selling at markets and fairs in and around Manchester, and then we took the big decision to move back to my childhood home in Snowdonia, North Wales (well, not actually my childhood home, I don’t think my dear mum would have been too impressed at that, but the same village) This was the turning point for my business. I was able to slowly increase the number of wholesale customers that I deal with, start giving soapmaking demonstrations and talks, and supply local visitor accommodation with guest soaps.
Throughout most of this time I’ve also had a part-time job in the village pre-school. For the last 2.5 years I’ve been the Assistant to the Setting Leader – just the two of us and up to ten 2-4 year olds. Happy chaos!! To be perfectly honest it would never have been my first choice – working with children had never been a dream – but I was offered the job when my youngest turned 2, and I could take her to work with me. There aren’t many jobs out there where you can take your child to work so it didn’t take me long to accept.
BUT, as I got busier and busier on the soaping front, I had started thinking about giving up the pre-school role and running the soap business on a full time basis. My youngest started school full time this September, and so, with some trepidation I told my employers that I would be leaving at the end of the Christmas term. Then fate decided to move things on just a little bit more quickly. Last week, the Leader of the setting handed in her notice – 4 weeks notice. She has another job, and we can’t replace her. Not for want of trying, there’s just nobody out there with the appropriate qualification who wants the job, and so she is literally irreplaceable.
So, sadly, we have to close the pre-school. We’re shutting our doors for the last time a week today – next Thursday, and I’ll be officially out of work. Except I won’t be. I have more than enough to do with the business, but now I need to think seriously about growth, and increasing revenue. It’s extraordinarily exciting, but ridiculously daunting too. I have so many ideas and plans, and now I’ll have the opportunity to put them into action – wish me luck!!
Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!