Choices, Choices

Tilted heart made of lots of jigsaw puzzle piecesI was recently advised—quietly, and, I think, with helpful intentions—that I make a lot of different kinds of soap, and my customers might have a hard time choosing—perhaps it might be a good idea to pare down my offerings to some hardy best sellers?

I have no doubt that the person who gave me this advice means well, even though I’m not sure the evidence he provided (reference to an unnamed e-book written by a successful, and also unnamed, soaper) is necessarily a good source.

The advice, I should add also, was completely unsolicited.

It bothered me. I worried about it for a while. Then I came to the conclusion that I don’t have any idea what my customers will like. I haven’t been selling long enough to observe trends like that really, with the exception that I did note they will buy practically any of my soaps at Christmas.

I thought about it and thought about it, and finally I decided that what bothered me about the advice was that it failed to take into account that soap is art. Sure, it is a practical art you can use. No one would dare tell an artist that she makes too many different kinds of paintings or sculptures, or a musician that he makes too many different kinds of songs and he should limit himself to 10 or 20 that sort of sound alike. Though some consumers do like that kind of art, I would argue that it’s not good for any artist to stagnate and put limits on his or her imagination.

I could not articulate these thoughts to the person who offered me the advice, and to be fair, he did not push it further. And no one else has suggested to me that I need to pare it down. Most family, friends, and other supporters have been nothing but encouraging.

Will my soaps sell? Time will tell. I have a lot to learn about that aspect of soap making. But I also think I make high quality soaps that are good for your skin, and I believe there is a market out there for the kind of variety I offer, even if it causes a little bit of decision paralysis.

4 thoughts on “Choices, Choices

  1. I am not a soap selling expert, but I am a soap consumer. I have also sold things before. Lots of things. People like choices. It is all about how you present your products. Over time you will be able to track and identify slow sellers and pare out the ones that aren’t selling. In the meantime, have fun with it!
    Melissa recently posted..Soap Challenge 2013: Making & Cutting a Mica Swirl Top SoapMy Profile

  2. Sometimes people just like to share their own personal opinions (or advice) without really meaning anything by it negatively. It is easy to fall into the trap of second guessing yourself. But you have to try not to do it. What works for you is the right thing to do. If they are all selling and you are not bothered by making a big variety (it stresses some people out), then there is no problem. If it bothered you, you may have taken it personally. Just smile and say “maybe you’re right” or “never thought about that” and let it roll right off you. Be happy doing things the way that works for you and try not to fret about what others share as ‘advice’. This won’t be the last person that gives their opinion about how to run your business or your life, so try to ignore things that aren’t helping. 🙂
    Erica recently posted..Lattice Topped Soap in Greens and Yellows in Himalayan BambooMy Profile

    1. Oh, you are right! I have just tried to do what I think I want to do and not worry too much, and it seems to be working itself out.

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