When I began this soap-making journey, I was pretty much a one-woman show. I sat for weeks, even months, and researched the soap-making process. I researched and took notes on all the different oils available. I categorized essential oils for their skin benefits and their scent. I spent hours of trial and error on soap recipes. I logged hours of research into the small, woman, or family-owned suppliers. I was able to do this because my favorite little bean was in school, and Eric worked away throughout the week. My passion for soap grew as I learned more and more about the process.
In the beginning, I had the attitude that nobody could do anything but me. I took ownership of this very seriously and put my all into it. I was stingy about sharing my knowledge, even with The Bibbed Wonder. As I took small steps toward turning my passion into a business, I was reluctant to give up control of any aspect. I decided upon the scents, the recipe, the process, the packaging, and the details. I felt like I was not just making soap; I was putting part of myself out there for scrutiny, which is intimidating.
Eric supported my endeavor one hundred percent. I believe initially; he felt it was good for me to have a focus and a passion. However, he soon saw real potential for a business opportunity. He worked so many hours that he had little time to devote to my “side hustle.” He made the time to help me problem solve, build a website, and build gadgets to make my soap making more manageable and efficient. However, he never wanted to step on my toes and allowed me to do this alone. If I’m being honest, I liked it that way.
I admit I dropped the ball in the areas of business I don’t enjoy, like social media, record keeping, and manufacturing precision. I enjoyed making beautiful soap; all my focus was on learning swirl techniques, blending scents, and color schemes. I was/am horrible at keeping receipts. I still struggle with record keeping, and if it weren’t for my anal retentive husband, I would reinvent the wheel every time I make soap. We balance each other. At the time, I never imagined I would partner with my husband to do this full-time. The fact that we balance each other so well was foreshadowing what was to be our future.
Fast forward to 2019. Our family suffered an unimaginable blow, and to add insult to injury, Eric’s company closed his department. We were reeling from all aspects of our lives. We had some tough choices to make. Through a lot of thought, seeking guidance, and prayer, we decided as a family to try to make this soap thing work for us full time. I liken the first years of working together to the first years of marriage. I struggled with relinquishing control of almost everything to do with soap. We locked horns, battled, and raged over minor things. Correction, I battled and raged over the smallest details. The Bibbed Wonder remained annoyingly calm and steadfastly patient.
I slowly learned that I could not do everything myself. If I’m candid, some aspects of what I was doing weren’t working for our small company. Eric is a certified math teacher and a genius with numbers. We agreed he would take over the record keeping and the finances. He’s a witty, albeit smartass, but his wit works well on social media. He, too, took over the social media posts. Most accurately, he actually began posting on social media. I almost always wholly ignore this medium because I am not comfortable with it. I maintain creative freedom within reason. I blend and decide upon scents, colors, and design. I take the lead in packaging, write the blog, check for grammatical errors in posts, and head new product development. We are now making one hundred twenty bars at a time. I no longer make soap solely on my own. Eric follows the recipes and my designs but handles the making and the heavy lifting. I get to create the swirls and design the tops. We balanced each other, and it worked for us for a while until it didn’t.
As our soap business slowly grows, so does our herd of Nubian dairy goats. With a growing herd comes increasing work, care, and responsibility. My bib overall wearing wonder buns soon felt spread too thin and burnt out. It is a lot to manage, and finally, he admitted he could not do it all. Relinquishing control does not come easy to either one of us. However, we have finally built a small family of capable, trustworthy, and reliable soap family members. Learning to recognize when to pass the torch is a hard lesson to learn. With the soap family we have built, passing the proverbial torch is not so scary.
Jenna continues to be an active part of our family. Although she had to join the real world and utilize her impressive education, she continues to be our sounding board for ideas, helps out Eric with all things animal related, and goes to market when I don’t feel well. Jenna is invaluable for more reasons than I can list. I tell her frequently; that she will be running this alongside Jordan someday. Of course, providing that is what they both want. Jenna is family, and it only makes sense for us to pass the torch to family.
Morgan has taken over the social media aspect, and I am impressed with this young woman’s natural abilities. I am confident she has found her calling in marketing. Not only does she take professional quality pictures, but she also has an eye for design, is witty and creative, and the cherry on top is that she is great with people. Morgan has begun to attend in-person shows with me, and this young woman has impressed me to no end. I can confidently say that I foresee Morgan doing in-person events for us soon. Sales came naturally to her. From an introvert’s perspective, this is an awe-worthy gift. Again, if Morgan chooses this path, I foresee a significant role for her in our little company. She, too, has become family.
We are also fortunate to have Abby, our future Broadway Star, grace us with her presence during college breaks. Although soap is not Abby’s passion, she is willing to share her stage talents with us to create TikTok videos and online commercials. I admire anyone who wholeheartedly puts themselves in the spotlight. I am more comfortable behind the scenes, and to watch Abby boldly and bravely perform in front of a camera simply floors me. Eric and I appreciate all the great things these inspiring young women bring into our world and our little business.
I would never have seen myself relinquishing control over any aspects of our soap. However, as time and need necessitate, we slowly accept that we cannot possibly do everything and do it well. Doing it well is what we feel we owe you, our extended soap family. People come into our lives for a reason. I think it is no mistake these three young women are here with us, at this stage, in this time. I trust them to represent us, our passion, and our gratitude. That is no small thing. I hope Jenna, Morgan, and Abby understand how much we appreciate and value them, their gifts, and their input.
As a reforming type-A, anal retentive, control freak, passing the proverbial torch on to capable hands is not as painful as I once viewed it. I hope you can also find peace and balance in your world. Relinquishing control over something you love is difficult, but in the end, it can be so beneficial. As always, stay safe, be smart, it’s okay to relinquish control, and keep washing your hands.