This is the second instalment of my sidehustle log series, wherein I document my fledgling attempts at setting up a small business. You can find the rest of the series here:
Wow, I can’t believe it’s the first week of December already! I know it’s a trope, but time really has just flied past me these last couple of months. It feels as if it was summer just a short while ago!
Anyway, surprise surprise, we have got a sidehustle log update already! Honestly, I hadn’t planned on doing much except to let my soap finish curing before 2018. But what can you do when opportunity suddenly knocks on your door? You throw yourself around and try to make it work, of course.
It was late November, and a group of friends had banded together for a crafter’s weekend. The idea is to rent a cabin for a weekend, bring some crafts to play with, and Saturday some of us live in the kitchen to make a feast. It is low key, snuggly, good conversations abound, and a hug, cuddle or backrub is never far away. It is amazing, I truly love my friends.
So it was in this setting that we were talking, and a friend had just gotten a booth at a local Christmas market. Another person had suddenly cancelled, and she was next in line on the waiting list. Said friend had not actually expected to get in. She feared she didn’t have enough things to fill the table out. As a silversmith, her gorgeous jewellery don’t really take up that much space. I had, of course, brought a small handmade soap to keep our hands clean in the kitchen and one thing led to another.
Were they ready? How much did I have? Could we make it work and how?
I find that a lot of opportunities require a certain ability to throw yourself around and make it work. As I mentioned, this was not something I had planned for, at all. there were no labels, no price list, no plan, just an idealist dream of zero-waste (or at the very least, plastic-free and biodegradable) wrapping and organic soap, encouraging producers and customers to demand a slightly more sustainable world. Every little bit counts and all that.
To make matters even more interesting, of course there were also papers to write at work, reports to read, deadlines to manage and exams to prepare for, and for once there were no less than two social engagements the week between the news and the market. Oh, well!
Well, the amazing M. came to my rescue, yet again. On Tuesday I brought all my soaps over to her house and we spent the evening writing labels with all the ingredients (soaps count as cosmetics, after all, and the law requires it) and wrapping them up all nicely in brown paper and leftover yarn scraps. Not zero-waste, but very sustainable. We didn’t manage to package them all, so M. being amazing, insisted I leave them with her and she would finish them off before the weekend. I don’t deserve friends like these.
The market took place within a large museum with ample outdoor space for traditional buildings. We were unlucky with the weather and got rain rather than snow, which is rather sad on a very traditional and cosy-looking Christmas market, but what can you do?
There were so many people! Although we were hidden away in a corner of the museum, there were still people. Anytime I took a break to just go for a stroll on the grounds, I was flabbergasted by how many people had braved the weather and came in spite of the clouds. The throng of people was pretty intimidating, as an introvert, I’ll be honest.
I’m not the best of sales people, and it shows (we netted only 595 NOK in soap sales, or about $65). That is, in part, why my initial plan was to try to sell products online or through an eco/zero-waste retailer. That way I have time to write thoughtful product listings and respond to questions in a timely manner.
We didn’t sell an awful much at the market, even though there were a lot of people. A lot of the people who came were families with several children and they were obviously much more interested in the food stalls and the Christmas workshops. People in general didn’t seem too interested in spending money on things (a sentiment I support at the best of times).
There was also another person selling handmade soap and knitted goods. I don’t know how she fared, but I imagine she did better than us. She had been allowed a spot inside one of the traditional buildings where her sample soaps didn’t get slick with rain and moisture.
Her soaps also had proper labels, which I keep going back and forth on. Customer expectations, or less waste? I always lean towards less waste, but I know I am an outlier. Still, it is something to think about for the sidehustle, moving forwards.
All in all, I would still say this was a good experience. If nothing else, at least it is a reminder of how much we can get done in a short amount of time, if we just set our minds to it.
Did you have a time when opportunity came knocking and you were pretty much standing there in a bathrobe and slippers? How did you deal with it? How did it turn out? Inquiring minds wants to know!