Lately I’ve had to ask a few tough questions about the future of Olive Leaf & Honey. Starting a business from scratch is never going to be easy in whatever area. It takes a lot of time, effort, research and money. Lots and lots of money and upfront too. So after a year if things aren’t as productive as you had hoped they would be then yes, a few tough questions have to be asked. Like does OLH have a feasible future in it’s current form?
I’ve recently acquired a place where I can solely make my soaps. So no more using the family kitchen! I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time as it has been a struggle juggling family life with soap making and having different premises to make soap in makes it a lot easier to organise the business and make soap.
But just as I got this opportunity I’ve had to really look at the way OLH has been performing and although I love making soap, the bottom line is that a business needs to keep itself afloat. Because at one point you have to ask if it is even feasible as a business or would it be better regulated to a hobby.
Well the latter is something I want to avoid. I’ve worked too damn hard to create OLH as a brand and coming from zero experience of business it has been a struggle. From researching EU cosmetic regulations, toxicology assessments, choosing the best ingredients (and researching their benefits), designing the soap, designing the packaging, learning GMP, learning the self employed accounts system (urghhhhh!) to finally setting up shop online with all the social media to go with it. I can’t let it go so easily if one path isn’t working as well as I had hoped.
Therefore I’ve decided to take OLH in another direction. I’ll be changing the packaging design and names slightly of the soaps although the recipes will stay, for the most part, the same. The packaging will probably be boxes in order to speed up this process as it can be very time consuming. I will be discontinuing those recipes that haven’t performed well for me and have already begun this process a while back. And although I have much more storage space now with the new premises, I will be making smaller batches but more frequently. I’ve decided this because OLH solely uses natural plant essential oils to scent it’s product and unlike fragrance oils, the longevity isn’t there. Essential oils contain volatile compounds which dissipate over time. This means that over time the top layer of essential oil scented soap will lose it’s scent and this fading away process is what I want to avoid by making smaller batches more frequently.
I intend to open up a brand spanking new website too although this will take some time and probably won’t be ready until sometime next year. It’s quite a lot of work but I’ve decided that Etsy just doesn’t generate enough business for me and having more visibility as a stand alone site will hopefully improve OLH’s sales.
One of the changes once OLH has it’s own site will be in pricing. I know this isn’t what any consumer wants to hear but I will be increasing the prices of my soaps up on the new site. I have tried to keep my prices stable since opening but the price of my ingredients have slowly been creeping up these past two years. The price of organic extra virgin olive oil has increased by 50% from my supplier which was a huge blow to me last year and one I took on the chin and continued to keep my prices the same. But with the costs of some essential oils like geranium and patchouli (the two I use the most of) gradually increasing, the price of raw organic honey increasing due to poor harvests and the costs of running a website then I find myself in the unenviable position of raising prices. On the plus side, I hope to incorporate free shipping for orders over a certain amount so there will be a saving there for the consumer. I’m also planning on bringing out new products so that there will be a selection of items to choose from.
I will keep the prices the same on the Etsy shop while it is open and although there will probably be a transition period when the Etsy shop and website exist simultaneously, the Etsy shop will eventually close with full focus given to the website. The timeline I’m looking at for the website is early next year, aiming for the end of February 2018. I’m hopeful and excited about the future of OLH. It’s a slightly tempered hope though – nothing like the feeling I had when initially opening OLH. We’ll describe it as a more mature hope.