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Balance Takes Effort




As we move into November, we are, of course, thinking about the holidays. Our holiday line-up of products will be fully released this weekend. However, we must look ahead to the upcoming year and plan our monthly specials. With six weeks of curing time, we don’t have the luxury of last-minute decisions. We will create one or two soaps each month that will be available for a limited time and in a limited quantity.


This time of year, the topic of monthly specials is always a time of conflict between myself and my bib overall wearing wonder buns. I view this time as an opportunity to try something new. Whether it is new scents, new recipes, new add-ins, or new techniques, I like to “play.” The Bibbed Wonder believes we should go with what is tried, true, and popular. He doesn’t want to experiment or wander from the familiar path. Not only do we disagree about products, but we also disagree with how many products we roll out.


Working with my spouse is enjoyable…most of the time. As to be expected, we don’t see eye to eye on everything. I could view this as a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong, locking horns with my favorite sparring partner is frustrating. I have met my match when it comes to stubbornness and hard-headedness. However, I view these conflicts as something that keeps our relationship fresh and interesting. Working together, running a business, and creating products force us to compromise and practice being respectful. We have developed a loose form of professionalism that we try to implement when we disagree. I say loose, and I mean very relaxed. There is a lot of sarcasm and smart-ass comments made, but we try not to point fingers and always be moderately respectful to each other.


Yes, he thinks I’m an annoying, flighty, whimsical, illogical pain in the ass. It’s true; I think he s a conservative, anal-retentive, rigid butthead. However, we are forced to come to an agreement that is good for not only us and our company but for our soap family as well. Sometimes, these sparring matches get heated, and we must walk away from each other and the subject for a bit. No matter how frustrated we get with each other, and no matter how strong our convictions are that our way is the correct way, we have to compromise.


Now I admit my creativity and ideas can be labor-intensive and difficult to execute. I also acknowledge that I tend to lose interest if my ideas don’t go as planned. For example, the magnolia soap we made a few years ago. I had illustrious visions of fluffy, decorative, piped soap icing tops filled with beautiful flowers and sparkles. The reality was the soap icing never got completely hard. It stayed soft and somewhat sticky. This made for a shipping and transporting nightmare. I had three loaves of soap left to decorate. Rather than make a new batch of icing to complete the three loaves, they sat undecorated for months. Finally, after several months, I cut the unadorned soaps and gave them away to friends and family. Sigh, I admit I have shortcomings.


My bib overall wearing pessimist likes to use this example Every. Single. Time. I have a new idea. Every. Time. Nobody likes to be reminded of their mistakes, so I often get defensive and irritated. If I’m being truthful, I know he’s correct, and that’s even more irritating. Take, for example, our Grinch-themed soap. I wanted to paint the eyes with fluorescent yellow mica and spray the tops with magical green glitter. He shut me down on both, pointing out the magnolia soap top fiasco and claiming I would lose interest and “wander off,” leaving him to do my “dirty work.” Sigh, he’s not wrong.


My argument is we have to keep things fresh and interesting. People get bored with the same old thing. I, for example, love to try new things and look forward to new products. The Bibbed Wonder, on the other hand, likes consistency, dependability, and routine. He doesn’t tire of wearing the same outfit every day. He loves the daily routine he sets for himself. He has ordered the same meal at our favorite restaurant for the past twenty years. He thinks the same way about our products and soap family. My argument to him is pretty sells, and people love new, fresh ideas.


These arguments can last for days, but we eventually come to a contentious truce. Usually, I give in to his logic about shipping, man hours, and logistics. He usually concedes to at least a few of my ideas and makes minor adjustments. Ultimately, we figured it out together and came to a compromise. It’s not easy working so closely with one’s spouse. In the early days of our business partnership, our battles over soap would carry over into our personal life. That wasn’t a lot of fun. However, we are now four years into working closely together, and we have learned to leave the arguments over soap in the soap studio…mostly. Every now and again, one of us takes a jab at the other and makes it personal. For the most part, we keep it separate and compartmentalized. It’s a balance that takes work and effort.


Most days, I am happy and content to do what we do. I enjoy the people I work with and appreciate what they bring to the table and my world. I could not be more proud of Eric and what he does for our business and our family. He takes my ideas and makes them feasible. He helps me to realize my visions, and he appreciates my creativity. At the end of the day, we strike a good balance. He tones down my “dreaminess” and overly complex visions. I believe I force him to leave his comfort zone and be a little more impulsive. It isn’t always pleasant, but it works for us.


I hope you have enjoyed this peek into the inner workings of our family business. On this foggy November day, stay safe, be smart, put effort into striking a balance, and keep washing your hands.

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