In the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship, the fear of change often holds us back from reaching our full potential. I'm no exception, having grappled with the same hesitations and uncertainties. But today, I want to share my personal entrepreneurial journey as a testament to a simple yet powerful truth: Here Is Your Sign to PIVOT. It’s OK to change and/or rebrand your business. Embracing transformation and adaptability is not just normal; it's essential for growth and success. So, let's dive into my story and explore how embracing change can lead to incredible opportunities in the ever-evolving landscape of business.
My journey in the world of soap-making began with an unexpected twist, sparked by my husband's passion for homebrewing. Back in 2011, he and his friends were avid homebrewers, leaving me with an abundance of beer on my hands. Always having had a knack for crafting, I sought a creative way to utilize this surplus beer.
It was during this exploration that I stumbled upon an article detailing the process of making soap with beer, and that fateful discovery set my entrepreneurial spirit in motion. I crafted my very first batch of beer soap and shared it with my husband and his friends, who quickly fell in love with the unique creation. Their enthusiasm didn't stop at mere appreciation; they encouraged me to sell my soaps at the local Oktoberfest, an opportunity I eagerly embraced. The response was overwhelming, as I not only sold out of soap that day but also received preorders for soap I had yet to create. And just like that, Handbrewed Soaps was born.
For the next five years, Handbrewed Soaps became a prominent presence in the soap market. We established a strong local presence, ventured into online sales, participated in trade shows, and found our products on the shelves of over 150 stores across the United States. It was during this time that I made the life-changing decision to leave my "day job" and pursue soap-making full-time.
However, life took an unexpected turn in 2018 when my husband and I realized that alcohol wasn’t the best for our family. Seeking help through therapy, rehabilitation centers, and support from programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, we embarked on a journey to sobriety. This transformative process gave rise to Sober Soaps, a product line that not only offered high-quality soap but also dedicated 50% of its profits to supporting those in recovery. I channeled my contributions into local rehabilitation programs in Oakland, and a wonderful community rallied around this initiative.
Transitioning from one chapter of my entrepreneurial journey to the next has been an interesting experience. I found myself at a crossroads, torn between two brands that no longer felt in alignment with my values and personal growth. On one hand, Handbrewed Soaps, rooted in the beer world, had run its course, while Sober Soaps, a project close to my heart supporting the recovery community, was both private and meaningful. The struggle to balance both endeavors was evident, despite attempts to integrate them under a clever slogan like "Brew Your Best Life." It was clear that change was necessary, and in 2022, I made the decision to bid farewell to Handbrewed Soaps.
The decision to shift focus exclusively to Sober Soaps was influenced not only by personal convictions but also by external factors, including the pandemic and the evolving economic landscape. I realized that being "just a soap company" no longer aligned with my vision. I had always prioritized living my brand and business, and although supporting sobriety and being a source of encouragement for others was rewarding, I sensed that my business had greater potential. Gradually, I withdrew from the online scene, and my involvement in the business waned.
With two successful pivots in my soap business, both Handbrewed Soaps and Sober Soaps still thriving (available in my Etsy shop), I continued to feel a persistent urge to explore something more significant, even though I didn't know exactly what that might be. As I faded away from social media, I decided to embark on a journey of self-discovery through soul-searching. However, before delving into my current path, it's essential to revisit 2021, the year my number one fan, my mother, passed away.
They say that having someone who believes in you, even when you doubt yourself, can move mountains. My mom was that person for me, my unwavering cheerleader. She supported me by helping care for my children during trade shows and markets, providing much-needed breaks, excelling on the gossiper front, and mixing the best margaritas. She was not only my mom but my best friend. Tragically, in May of 2021, she was diagnosed with cancer, and within three weeks, she was gone. I had been fortunate to have avoided such profound grief until then, and now, having experienced it, I can only describe it as a physical, heart-wrenching sensation.
I was profoundly shaken to my core, and this, coupled with other personal reasons, led to my disengagement from my business. However, I was still showing up in another way, in front of my journal. Daily, I penned letters to my mom, updating her on life's events. This practice, intended as a connection to her, gradually evolved into a process of self-exploration, unearthing buried beliefs and hidden truths. Journaling soon expanded into art and mixed media, becoming an integral part of my healing journey as I navigated grief.
Fast forward to my present soul-searching journey, driven by a need for something more fulfilling than soap-making. Through three months of introspection, I discovered:
- Making and crafting hold a sacred, self-revealing power.
- Journaling facilitates self-discovery and reveals truths you've always known but needed help to uncover.
- Entrepreneurship is a gift that allows you to move at your own pace.
- Creativity is inherent in everyone, and taking just five minutes a day to create can reduce stress (I made this statistic up, but I FEEL it's true!)
This self-discovery has led me to where I am today: a maker who aims to help others unleash their creativity in an increasingly noisy world. I'm passionate about spreading the healing power of creativity and supporting those who aspire to turn their creative endeavors into small businesses.
Amid this transition, I'm not without fears. I'm anxious about announcing yet another pivot, worried about what others may think, and concerned about the perception of starting over. But I’m doing it anyway because…
I am happy and feel 100 percent that this is where I am supposed to be. I have energy that I haven’t had in 3 years. I am helping people create their websites, helping creators with accountability to get projects done. Most importantly, when someone says, “thanks for hosting an art class-I feel like myself again,” I know that I am on the right track. And I know that I can share this with the world now.
So what does this mean for you? It means I see you. I understand the challenges of staying in an inauthentic brand simply because it's successful. I'm here to remind you that IT'S OK TO CHANGE.
We are meant to change, evolve, and adapt. So, embrace change. Stop worrying about what others might think, as they are more focused on themselves. If something isn't working, change it, fix it, or even abandon it if necessary. Change is a natural part of life, and that includes your business. As the wise Dory from the movie Finding Nemo says, "You can't always stay the same, or nothing would ever happen."
As I make this entrepreneurial pivot, I will make mistakes, and be “cringy.” But I also will have fun, and be my dorky self. I hope I inspire you to follow your passions, change if you need to, and do it in a non apologetic way.
So, let’s make a vow, let’s start doing more of what we love, and less of the other stuff! Are you in?