I've never told you the whole story of Cloud Nine Soap Co. which officially opened for business in the Spring of 2010. It's a love story, with a happy ending.
Soap making was my creative outlet for years. In 2010, during a transitional time in my life, I took a leap of faith and officially started up Cloud Nine Soap Co., LLC. In the several years prior, I had left my job as an R.N. and opened up a gift shop in town - Cloud Nine Gift Boutique. So I didn't jump blindly into small business ownership, I knew how much work it would be.
Now, here's the back story ...
I separated from my husband, and later divorced, in June 2007 and I moved out of our house with our 8 year old son.
I had to close my gift shop in October 2008. I also met my love, Rick, that same month.
In January of 2009, my son's father moved to another state and this was devastating. With no family in the area, I found myself suddenly alone raising a 10 year old boy. I think that what all parents hope is for a happy and safe childhood for their kids and that's what motivated me then, and still does, now, to try to create the best life I could for my child. I knew in my bones that being home with my son after school, on weekends, Holidays and during the summer months needed to be my top priority. So I made the decision to not return to work as an R.N. because I knew full well the long and crazy hours returning to that job was going to demand of me.
So in 2010, I took a (very) meager paying job as the Market Manager of our local non-profit Farmers Market. I did all the paperwork required of a non-profit, I recruited and managed the vendors, and I did all of the marketing and social media. Truth be told, I hated this job. So much drama managing those vendors! But this job allowed me to work from home Monday-Friday, and bring my son to work with me on weekends. For three seasons from April-October, we were at the Market every Saturday from 6:00am - 1:00pm. And it was here, at the Farmers Market on Saturdays that I decided I might as well try selling my soaps for extra cash. I took on two more Farmers Markets and then for three summers, we sold soap at those three Markets every week. During this time I also opened up a website and took on wholesale clients so that I was gradually able to shift sales channels and stop going to Farmers Markets.
I credit those Farmers Market days and nights to growing my business and my reputation to what it is today. I have customers, still today, who met me at a Farmers Market and still buy soap from me online.
Johnny has been a working member of my company since the very beginning. At age 10, he'd help me set up at the Farmers Market and then would sleep in the back of the van, while I sold soap. He graduated to selling soap with me at the Markets, to selling soap on his own at Markets and Fairs once he could drive a car. He (and Rick) played their guitars for the people at the Market and donated their tip money to the Humane Society. Johnny has been packaging soap and shipping boxes for years. He learned how to make soap a couple of years ago and does most of the oil and lye prep work now. He also does a lot of the shipping of orders. And he takes product photos!
Johnny is the reason Cloud Nine Soap Co. exists.
In 16 days my sweet son is moving to Madison where he will be a be a freshman at UW-Madison in the Fall. I am SO proud of him that I feel like my heart is going to explode. Johnny is smart as a whip and happy as a clam. He will be majoring in Biochemistry and has big, big plans for his life that do not include "soap maker". LOL.
This summer, it's become obvious to me that I cannot run C9SC alone at its present rate of production, packaging, shipping, and stocking of stores. I'd have to hire a person to replace Johnny, and I don't want to do this. I do not want to work with anyone else. Instead, I am working on how I can scale production, and simplify packaging and shipping.
I make soap born up out of my passion for healthy living. What I make is a reflection of how I live and what I love. I want to share more of that with you going forward. I started this business as a newly divorced, single mom, scared shitless but dermined to create the life I want and deserve. And now, I will continue this business as a new empty nest mom-person, scared shitless, but determined to continue to create the life I want.
Cloud Nine Soap Co. started up during a transitional time in my life and I am facing yet another such time. Change is upon me, ready or not. I am being called upon to take a chance, take another leap of faith. It's actually easier to do during times of uncertainty, mostly because it's abundantly clear to me that I have no choice; change is staring me right in the face and daring me to come along for the ride. Time to drive it, or park it.