Why we became "Outlaw Trading Co" instead of "Outlaw Soaps," and other fun stories
Posted on January 23 2015
Over here in the badlands (um, in Oakland), big changes are afoot for Russ and me (Danielle).
Outlaw Trading Co.
As many of you know (based on our customer satisfaction survey), we don't just sell soaps anymore, we sell lotions and lip balms, too. Soon, we'll be selling shower gels (by popular request) and maybe even putting some of our friends' stuff on the site if it's thematically appropriate.
So... it's weird to be Outlaw Soaps when we're really so much more than just soap.
But still, at our core, we're really strongly identified with Outlaw Soaps. Our products will still be from Outlaw Soaps, no matter whether they're soaps or t-shirts. Why? Because fricken' OUTLAW SOAPS, man!
The Fully Funded, Fully Loaded Loan
You may have missed it, but we put up a request for a $5,000 through Kiva Zip and were funded immediately. We seriously just about had a heart attack... I don't know where the money came from (um... pockets... lots of 'em), but I do know that we ended up with $5,000 in our bank account -- CHA CHING.
What are we doing with that windfall? Buying more soap supplies, of course! Thanks to the generosity and faith of the people who loaned us money, we have been buying soap supplies in HUGE QUANTITIES and taking advantage of massive discounts.
For example, last year, we decided to switch from shrink biofilm to 100% recycled boxes. We ordered a trial run of 500 just to see how we liked it... cost? $850 ($1.70/box). Now that we're ready for bulk buying (since we figured out that yes, we do like the boxes), we just ordered 2,000 boxes from Guided Products for $958 ($0.48/box). I SAID WHAT?!??
Last year, we had been buying our lye for $0.91/lb for 50 lb bags. Since we got the loan, we were able to buy $500 of lye for only $0.51/lb... almost HALF off.
Last year, the same fragrance oils we bought for $24/lb are now $17/lb... and not only that, we don't have to pay rush shipping since we have so much on hand! BAM!
That, my friends, is using $5,000 as a force multiplier. THANK YOU so much for helping us out and getting us into the kind of volume the pros enjoy... or at least the small pros.
Even with this influx of supplies, we discontinued some of our soaps. Why? Because of mediocre sales performance, plain and simple. It didn't make sense to keep taking the time and resources to make those soaps when we are constantly out of the hit parade:
Hair of the Dog Whiskey Soap
Fire in the Hole Campfire Soap
Blazing Saddles Sexiest Soap Ever
As long as we're sold out of those five (as we have been for more than a month), making soaps that don't sell takes us away from making soaps that do sell... and that people get positively angry if we don't have.
Not only that, putting time and supplies into underperforming soaps means we can't experiment with things like...
Whacky Experimental Things
In our Clean Getaway Club subscription box, we included two new experimental products:
- Pumice Soap - People have been asking us to make pumice soap forever, but it's kind of tricky and, you know, we're still trying to make the hit parade. Still, we've heard about (and seen) your filthy cries for pumice, so we're doing it. We have so far included two bars of pumice soap in the Clean Getaway Club subscription box, and both times, people ask where they can buy it... well SOON, you can buy it here on the site
- Quick-Draw Pocket Freshener - This was a top secret experimental project, but I heard enough positive feedback that we'll be doing a limited public release. This little bottle of awesome can be sprayed on anything for quick freshening... old stinky shirt armpits? yep. your bed? yep. the sweater you wore to the bar? yep. yourself? oh heck yep. It's handy for camping, too, since it basically turns into a shower in your pocket... but with less water.
And by popular demand, we have started a limited run of shower gel. Keep an eye out for it in a couple weeks, since I'm pretty sure it'll sell out right away.
Other Fun Stuff
Remember our "Excuse me while I whip this out" flask from just before Christmas? The one that sold out faster than you could say "can I order an 'excuse me while I whip this out' flask"?
Well, thanks to Sweet Digs in Yucca Valley, California, we're ordering more.
Yep, she put an order in and I read the order aloud to Russ, and said, "Think we should get more?" And he said, "yup." And that's pretty much how that all went down.
The Customer Satisfaction Survey Results
Last year, our customer satisfaction survey blew your fucking mind! This year, it's less mind-blowing and basically more of the same, except that you want us to make pumice soap and shower gel (which, as you know, we're doing). Oh, and you wanted our website to actually work (surprise! It does!).
If I have time, I will put together a presentation with the results, since that was a minor viral sensation (and not in the ointment-needed kind of way) and, well, you know I used to be a desk jockey... I love me some PowerPoint.
Outlaws on the Move
Probably the biggest personal thing happening for us is that we're moving away from the facility that has housed Outlaw for the past two years. We had hoped to be able to tell you about this amazing place across the Sierras, but that's going to have to wait a year... this year, we're moving to the 'burbs.
No joke, we are totally moving to the suburbs. (um, fingers crossed... we sign the lease tomorrow)
I wish I could say that I'm sad to leave Oakland -- and certainly there are many wonderful parts of this town -- but it seems like the drive-by shootings are getting more frequent, and it stresses us out.
But really, that probably won't affect you, except that it'll mean fewer packages stolen from our mail.
I think we can all agree that's a very happy ending.