When good stress goes bad...

We hear so much about the bad stress in our life, but can good things stress us out too? Well it can!

OK. Lets start with some stress terms:

Acute Stress: Demands and pressures of the resent past and of the near future.

Episodic Acute Stress: Type "A" people, living their lives with an excessive competition drive, harrying sense of urgency, and impatience. Also can cover "worry warts" who pessimistically see awful outcomes for every situation.

Chronic Stress: Grinding stress that comes from things like poverty, war, hunger, and traumatic experiences.

Episodic and Chronic stress tend to be distress, negative stress. Lifestyle and personality are so ingrained that we see nothing wrong with the way we conduct our lives. People get used to it, almost forget it's there, build up a tolerance, loose hope in finding a way to change things, and can even feel comfortable in a level of stress that would send others over the edge.

But acute stress can be both negative (distress) and positive (eustress).

Eustress can help us focus, help us improve performace and can even feel exciting.

Distress causes anxiety or concern, decreases performance, and feels unpleasant.

But the line between the two can change in in instant. Excited about the new custom order quickly can turn into sleepless nights worrying about making a tight deadline.

Does this tell me anything? Does it help make my stress disappear? A little, at least when it comes to acute stress.

Perception. Hold on to that eustress feeling. Try to remember why you got excited about something in the first place. Remind yourself that this is an acute stress, it shall pass. Just knowing the switch from eustress to distress may be on the way can make that switch to distress seem less painful and hard to deal with. Count your blessings, if you are not living in chronic stress, find gratefulness in every day.

Stress is not something to be proud of, to ear on our chest like a badge. He who dies with the most stress doesn't win, they just die. Go have some fun :)



I have always been one to let the business lead me where it goes. I don't really push it much more than a little each year. I feel like that way it will grow in a way that I can handle and that I can still have control over and enjoy the process of growth.

The last few years have been taking me in some new directions. I've been trying new shows, this year was the PA Farm Show and I have a list of others that I want to try and apply to a few per year. I've applied to two more larger new shows this year and I am still waiting to see if I get accepted or not.

I have also tried growing my wholesale. Last year I registered with Etsy Wholesale and started selling the things I felt were ready: lip balms, lotion bars, bath fizzys. I've gotten a few orders and a few reorders already so that is a good thing. This year I am working on new photos and plan on expanding and offering soaps and accessories (like dishes and washcloths) too.

One of the things that I want to work on this year are my Wool Washes. We've redesigned the labels, making them easier to read and understand, we've changed the bottle sizes to make the product more affordable and won't last as long so customers will reorder more often. I am expanding the number and types of scents offered as well. This is one thing that once I get it going I plan on taking on the road, handing out samples, and order forms at different stores in the area. I am trying my first fiber festival this year and want to try and get into a few more and see how that goes too.

I always have a list of new products that I want to try and offer. Sometimes these things fall into place relatively quickly, other times they take years and years for me to come up with exactly how I want to do do them. Air fresheners took years for me to find a person who could make the paper blanks in a way that I liked. Lip balms were made in a few different containers before I found the tube I use now, and the containers for the Bath Soaks were found just as I was making a decision to keep them as a product or not. Just changing packaging upped those sales enough to keep making them.

There are many days that I get anxious and I want to push push push and get things going bigger and better. Then I remember that I am in a great spot and I need to have faith and let it lead me where it wants to go. Just when I get crazy worried about finances or the future something pops up and I am reminded that I am right were I am supposed to be and that it will always work out in the end. If it hasn't worked out, its not the end.


Being Prepared

We just received a giant snowfall here in PA. We received almost 32" in one shot. All that said I will take the North East over living in some other locations in the US. Yes, we can get some wicked snow, and yes people can be killed and property destroyed, but we tend not to get other huge natural disasters.

It's really the tornado that scares me the most. You really can't predict them more than a few minutes out and even then you barely know how wicked they are until they are done and gone. Earthquakes tend to be in "zones" and if you live in an earthquake zone you know it and you prepare for the worst. Same seems to go for hurricanes and flooding. Yes they happen outside of specific areas but if you live in a zone you tend to know it and can prepare.

But being prepared when you have a small business is sometimes a difficult task, but technology is making it easier and easier.

Files: accounting, labels, etc... these I keep on both an external hard drive and on a cloud storage (like dropbox). If I need to leave quick I can grab the hard drive off my desk and go, but if I can't leave with it (like a fire) then I have backups I can access from any computer.

I also keep a list of all my major suppliers, what I get from them and how much it last cost when I bought it. Personally I have quite a few suppliers that I get just one thing from, and maybe only once every few years. Having a list makes sure if something goes wrong I could pick up where I left off much quicker than starting from scratch.

But what if something goes wrong with a supplier? I try and keep most things local, but that still doesn't mean they won't have a fire or something else happen to them. For this I keep a list that I update each year. Supply + 3 places to get it that are geographically different. For example the oils I use for my soaps I can get here in PA, but also from IL and NC. I also make sure I work this into the spreadsheet I use for calculating my costs and prices. I wouldn't make much profit if all of a sudden I needed to ship all my supplies in from another state, but I wouldn't be loosing money either. It would be a way to keep going without interruption until my current supplier gets back on their feet.

The world is filled with terrible disasters, some man made and some not. Don't live in fear, but try and be ready so your business can go on and you can survive through whatever comes at you. 


Farm Show Recap

It was my first year exhibiting at the PA Farm Show and i was very nervous beforehand. I actually get so freaked at new events that I think I may even exhibit some traits of impostor syndrome.

Impostor syndrome is a term coined in 1978. Women often work hard in order to prevent people from discovering that they are "impostors." This hard work often leads to more praise and success, which perpetuates the impostor feelings and fears of being "found out." The "impostor" women may feel they need to work two or three times as hard, so over-prepare, tinker and obsess over details. This can lead to burn-out and sleep deprivation.

Yeah, that isn't me at all *smirk*

But seriously. I overdid it a bit. I needed to be sure I had everything perfect. Probably why I had nightmares before set up and had only taken 6 days off since the beginning of November. (If you must know I still haven't taken time...maybe Friday??)

But after all that prep how did it go... a big solid OK. I learned a TON. I learned about the show's demographics and what products were most popular. I learned where it was best to park, that I need a different hotel next year, and what hours are busiest during the day. I learned my space location wasn't the best, but I also figured out where I want to be next year and how to go about asking for the space. I learned that electric is a necessity but carpeting in my space is not.

The show is long (more hours than Kutztown but less than Musikfest) and the place can get packed with people depending on the day. Customers and other exhibitors are super friendly. I expected it to be cold and it wasn't. Load in and out were a pain (out was so much worse than in).

Sales volume was very good, average sale size was below average, but most customers were new so just wanted to try what I have to offer, not jump into a 10 bar purchase. All in all I think I have a  very solid foundation on which to build a great event.

Now to get caught up (whose great idea was it to post a sale right after I got back? Oh yeah.. mine, oops) and take a few days off to rest and plan whats next.

This is going to be an exciting year full of new things (I hope!)!


So nervous at new shows

I get so nervous when it comes to doing a new show, and the bigger the new show the more nervous I become. This year is my first year at PA Farm show and I haven't slept right in a week, have had countless nightmares, and generally feel like I want to vomit most of the day.

The nighmares are like the ones whee you have shown up for a text but haven't studied. I can't find my booth, I have been put across from the humongous booth of another soaper, I don't have my credit card machine, I lost my voice, I didn't pack clothes, you name it and I an have a nightmare about it.

This show is weird for me too because I am staying there. I usually come home each night and can get inventory, and anything I have forgotten, but this show is just a little bit farther away than usual, and the long hours and unknown weather mean I stay the week in a hotel. The good thing is that it isn't too far. C is coming out Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and then will be back again Wednesday or Thursday with any inventory I need for the last weekend. He can always go back and forth if he needs to for me. But I only want that to happen if I have been having a really good show, I don't want him to have to drive back home for something I have forgotten or messed up on.

So I have lots of lists. Lists of inventory, of paperwork, of food to pack, clothes, displays; everything I have been able to think I may need is written down somewhere. Because on top of having to remember all my inventory and displays, having to guess how much inventory I need for the first half of the event, I need to pack food and clothes. I have to pack food because I am severely gluten intolerant and pretty much can't eat anything at the event. I can't take the chance of getting sick during a 12 hour day that I may be alone much of, the pottys aren't that close to my booth.

But I also have to pack things to do if the show is slow. I can't just stand there idle for 96 hours either. So I am bringing things to label and things to knit. I need 190 face scrubbers for 2016, I should be able to finish one an hour even if things are busy, so I brought enough yarn for 96 of them. If things are slow, C may need to bring out more yarn the second weekend. But if it is that slow, I will just be crying myself to sleep at night and won't be in the mood to knit the second weekend.

It always worries me when I get accepted to something big where there isn't another soapmaker. Why isn't there. Has someone tried it and it sucked? Is it just a huge long show in the middle of winter and I am the only one crazy enough to do it? Long shows like this and Musikfest do take a "special kind of stupid" to do. You need to be ready for them and you need to be mentally prepared, as well as have inventory, and have a great safety net of family and friends to get you through.

Ok enough! I need to stop stewing and just go pack. I go and set up tomorrow and today is the day to load it all in the cars and be sure that I have everything. OMG I can't believe I am really doing this.

Just breathe...10 more days and it will be over and home and put away. 10 more days and I'll get a good night's sleep.


Happy New Year Everyone!

Happy 2016!

It's been a while since I have been on here and blogged but I am making a commitment to blog more this year.

I want to make a commitment to do a bunch of thing this year. I want to read more, I want to exercise more, I want to blog more, take more pictures, learn more, and above all work smarter, not harder.

This smarter not harder thing means  hope to blog more often but of shorter duration. So on that note...

See me here again on Thursday and Happy New Year!!