Friday, November 21

The Soap Factory

It's been a while since I updated. A million things have happened, most of which I probably should have written about. But instead of boring cyberspace with a long list of the recent events in my life, I'll just stick with today.

I have mixed feelings about this post, since it's about my business. I think I've mentioned my business only a few times before, and even though I'm fine with other people writing about businesses on their blogs, I shy away from that kind of thing on mine. But there are a couple of people who read this who wil probably care, so I'm writing it. ;)

I just opened a retail store in Provo.

Ironically (given the context of same-sex attraction and gay stereotypes), it's a make-your-own bath & beauty store.

My company (Nature's Fusions) needed a new location, and we've been scouting out places to rent for almost a year. Our first lease ended when a torrential rainfall poured through the ceiling, then through the floor, and we found endless wallboards completely packed with mold. Not really the place where you could make all-natural stuff with organic ingredients and no artificial preservatives. Yikes.

Thankfully the landlord let us out of the lease and a few months later we found a new spot that's more conducive to our needs.

Simultaneously, I had the desire to open my own business (yet again), but this time to teach people and enable them to create something useful and beautiful. Hence the vision for The Soap Factory. We provide the bases and raw ingredients, silicone molds, mix-ins, essential oils, and natural pigments to make soap, lotion, scrubs, and more. Everything is 5 cents/gram, with a lab fee that covers mix-ins and essential oils.

I was terrified that no one would come. I put my entire bank account into buying supplies for the store, choosing decor, and prepping for customers. We opened a little over a week ago.

And people came. Not a ton of people, but enough to make me feel like it was going to work out. Older couples who were out on a date. Young singles out with friends who made presents for Christmas. Families with little kids. A woman who simply bought unscented hand-made lotion and soap without mix-ins because that was what she needed.

We had some news coverage as well - I sent out press releases to a couple of locations (as did my brother) and two places have done stories thus far -

On CBS KUTV 2 News This Morning (TV):

At the Daily Herald (print):

We're having our grand opening this week, through Saturday the 22nd. Everyone who makes a purchase gets a free 15ml bottle of peppermint essential oil (retail $15), and half-off lab fees (usually $5/person).

As far as how this is affecting my life... Life is amazing. There are still huge issues to resolve, like how I can be a friend when I'm managing a store. How to better manage my time so I'm not a workaholic (as runs in my family). How to get enough people inside the store to break even and then (hopefully) make enough money to support myself and others. Or whether to introduce custom lip balms or lotion bars as our next product ;)

But seriously, it's made me smile a whole lot more. I didn't realize how much I missed helping and teaching people. Watching their eyes light up as they unmold a particularly beautiful soap. Helping customers choose a scent that their grandmother would like, or watching them laugh as they talk an hour or two away. And watching my brothers and best friend/employee have a blast helping people as well.

Hopefully The Soap Factory will be hugely successful, and I can open up more locations for people to make their own custom creations, or franchise, or whatever. For now though, I'm glad I had the courage to try, and the preparation from God to make it work. Having an MBA makes sense now when it didn't in the past... and I can make business decisions that actually help people have a better experience and a better life.


Now if only the rest of life were as simple.

*other info*

Nature's Fusions & The Soap Factory
1394 N Freedom Blvd, Provo, UT 84604
Open Mon-Sat 12-10


Instagram: @soapfactoryprovo

Twitter: @make_soap


Sunday, November 2

Being a Better Friend

It's been a long time since I've blogged here, yet again. But Daylight Saving Time just gave me a free hour. So I have some time to think and write.

The last few months have, at least in comparison, been awesome. I no longer get bipolar mood swings, ever, and I can eat carbs again. That's a miracle. My business is doing well... and we're growing popular enough that we have to make a few decisions as to the ultimate direction we want to go. I think I know the answer to at least some of the questions. Not the answer I really wanted, but it's a solution that makes a lot more sense.

I'm also beginning another business to coincide with the launch of our retail store... and just invested my entire life savings into getting it going.

But today, while I have a bunch of business issues I'm facing, stress in my church calling, and fear about my own personal direction... I'm fasting to be a better friend.

You see, the last few months, or maybe years, have done more than just rid me of bipolar. Somehow along the way I started making friends. When I was younger - and even in college - my friendships didn't really last long. If I had someone to confide in, it was for a few months at most before circumstance pulled us apart. And, most of the time, I felt like I had no one that I could really have as a friend.

Part of my problem was expectation. I think I wanted one friend who would meet all my needs... and I didn't fully appreciate the people who were part of my life. At the time, I didn't know what to do. But I probably broke more friendships by trying too hard, and giving the unspoken message that I expected too much, than by any other method.

Fast forward to today. And I have a growing list of people now... that I've... I don't know. Not found time for? More like hurt. People who I've hurt. Including my best friend, who gives me a huge amount of time and effort. And this is worse than I ever felt when I was alone. For the first time ever, there are people in the world who want to talk with me. Spend time with me. Be my friend. And I am just as clueless as I was when I tried to make people want me in their lives.

I've realized that the desire to only have  one friend wasn't right for me... because I'm still too needy for one person to handle. I remember a teacher in college talking about that. He said that it's absurd to assume that we will find a friend who can meet all of our social needs. Even in the case of marriage, if you can find someone who meets 80% of your needs, that's awesome - you'll just need to ensure the other 20% are met through outside support. Over decades, you can develop the ability to be closer to 100%, but at least at the beginning it's not going to happen.

So my definition of "friend" has changed and broadened - from someone who could meet all or most of my needs, to someone who is actively involved in my life.

And with that change in definition, I have the sudden realization that I'm a awful friend.

The issue is that I am so awful at being a friend that I break all the rules without even knowing them... and I don't know how to pick up the pieces. People email me, and it takes me weeks to reply. Others leave voicemails and it takes just as long. Sometimes I don't respond to text messages. And even when I feel like I should call someone, I don't.


I can't make life any worse than it was, or make any worse mistakes than I already am. I'll probably end up hurting people I care about... but I do that already. My best friend and I find ourselves arguing constantly, and I feel like I'm the reason it happens - both because I don't know how to communicate well, and because I've broken pieces of our relationship I don't yet know how to fix.

So today I'm fasting with the hope that I can learn to be a better friend... and be guided to do the right things for me and for other people. My free time is going to be chopped into pieces when I open my retail store in 10 days, so I know I'll need the divine help even more.

Is learning to be a friend this hard for everyone? Or am I just doing it much later in life? If this is the social chaos that hits people in middle school and high school... I can understand why the teenage years are usually incredibly stressful times of life. It just took me an extra 16 years to get here.

... Life. I get the feeling that my life is so not normal. But, then again, life is unique for all of us. That's something I'm (still) pretty sure of.