We probably will never have a sale on the above products.

Here's why: we have to stay in business.

It comes down to pricing.

Side note: I wrote an article about product pricing for Pyragraph and you might be interested in it if you're interested in our business.

Our production is 100% handmade

Going to the Tillamook factory was so wonderful, because it gave me a glimpse of how our process might be if we ever got big enough to automate some of the stuff.

As it is, right now, Russ is spending his lovely Saturday morning hand-carving bacon soap into rashers. Once it cures (for 30 days), we'll hand-carve little indents into it so it looks like it has slices. On every one.

Every swirl is hand-executed by Russ, every Unicorn Poop bow is tied by yours truly (usually while watching TV at night), and every package that you get is hand-stamped by me.

It is all extremely manual. Of course we try to automate as much as possible and make everything the most efficient, but we're making handmade soap. It's a lot of work.

Unlike huge companies like Lush, Bert's Bees, or Dr. Bronner's, we can't buy truckloads of oil.

Our ingredients are more expensive than theirs because we buy in smaller quantities. And in many cases, we use more expensive (high quality) oils like Avocado Oil.

See those little bottles on the wall behind Russ in the photo above? Those are all our fragrance oils (to give you an idea of cost, one of those white plastic containers costs about $450).

Here are the scents in the Lush factory:

Here's our fulfillment room:

Here's Lush's filling room:

And yet Lush charges $7.95 for a 3.5 oz bar. Our soaps are at least 4.5 oz (usually closer to 5.5 oz), and we charge $9.

This is not an Outlaw Soaps vs. Lush post. They make great soaps with fantastic ingredients. They have great stores. They have really cool designs and scents.

But they're about ten thousand times bigger than we are (that probably isn't even an exaggeration).

Burt's Bees and Dr. Bronner's? Same story.

It may be surprising, but $9/bar is the absolute minimum we can charge for our soaps.

In fact, we might have to raise our prices as we do things like focus on customer service, affiliate programs, and product development.

Take customer service, for example... One of our customers had a package stolen from their house. The post office claimed it was delivered, so we can't make an insurance claim on it. Many small businesses would tell the customer their responsibility is over when it leaves the origin (really, that's the attitude of almost all home-based businesses). We really value customer service, though, so we replaced the package.

It hurt to do it. It was a pretty big order. But we want to have good customer relationships. It's the reason nearly 60% of our orders are placed by people who have ordered before.

(I'm posting this information with the assumption that people will not suddenly start abusing this knowledge)

Take affiliate programs, for example... We have to grow our business. Since advertising money is not guaranteed to bring results, we have been investing in an affiliate program. The program costs us money regardless of if anyone makes a purchase through the affiliate link (and if they do, we have to cut into the profits of the soap to pay the affiliate commission).

It costs us money, which in turn, costs you money. (ahem, side note: if we didn't have to advertise and run affiliate programs, that wouldn't have to factor into the cost).

Take product development, for example... People love new and limited edition products, but whenever we release a product, we have to do research (like the new magic elixir... we went through about $100 in materials just making the prototype) and then we have to put products out there without being sure if they'll even sell.

And if they don't sell, well, we don't make money off them, and we have already sunk cost.

This is not meant to be a "woe is us" post. It's just how it is.

When you spend $9/bar on Outlaw Soaps, you're supporting a small business in our herculean efforts to, against all odds, stay in business.

I want you to know that.

And I want you to know that I appreciate your support with every single sale. Not a single one is left out in my appreciation.





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  4. Things I'm glad I didn't know when I started my business
  5. How to stop criticism from ruining your day

Danielle Vincent Danielle Vincent
After more than 10 years as a corporate Digital Product Manager for such sites as Oprah.com, ABC.com, and ABCFamily.com, Danielle quit her career and pulled up her rubber gloves to make a living making and selling handmade soap as Outlaw Soaps.