Sunday, January 27, 2013

Beating the Winter Blues

It's been cold in little old Rhode Island. Not that I don't expect it to be cold, mind you. It's winter in New England. It's supposed to get uncomfortably cold. That's what makes us appreciate the spring so much and believe it or not, we sometimes long for a frigid January breeze during those dog days of summer, as we try to control the sweat from soaking up our t-shirts. Last summer was particularly brutal.

I usually go into a bit of a funk around this time of year. Nothing horrible, just a mild malaise. This year is no exception. I'm in a low, somewhere between the holiday highs of November and December and the first signs of spring. I've decided that I'm going to use the passion I have for my business to help me lift myself out of it. My latest project is going to be creating a KILLER window display for the shop. So stay tuned for photos of a window transformed. And I'm off!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013 Soap Drive

Since 2008, I have been hosting a yearly soap drive for a local shelter. This year, I will be collecting soap and personal care items once again. In previous years, I supported Rosie's Place, a women's shelter in Boston, Massachusetts. I will continue to send ongoing donations there, but this year, I will be collecting the annual haul for a Rhode Island family shelter called Crossroads of Rhode Island. It is so sad to think that there are little children who aren't sure if they have a bed to sleep in at night. Crossroads of Rhode Island provides shelter, food, clothing and showers to families in need. I will have a donation box in the shop until Valentine's Day, which is my annual drop off date. If you would like to donate, please email me and I will send you the details ( No contribution is too big or small. Please make sure that your donations are wrapped and if you are sending body scrubs/moisturizers, they MUST be sealed.

Everyone is welcome to donate!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Baby Steps

I'm sure you have all been faced with situations in which the future was uncertain and you've had to take a leap of faith. This occurs almost daily in the life of an entrepreneur. I've been in business now for more than 5 years and there has never really been a moment when I thought, "Ah, I'm putting this thing on auto pilot now." Even when the business is enjoying a banner month, I am always thinking ahead to the next soap of the month, the next new event, re-conceptualizing existing product packaging or formulas, etc. You can't really shut it off, but when you are doing what you love, you don't really want to. That's when you know you've found your passion.

As my business continues to take twists and turns, I have many moments of uncertainty. Opening the shop has been the biggest undertaking I have experienced thus far, financially and otherwise. And this year is going to be a real test. We enjoyed a terrific holiday season and as things naturally slow down post-Christmas, my inner little girl is panicking. Of course, I have action plans in the works which include advertising campaigns in print and on the radio. My sales representative is taking our line to 4 big gift shows beginning this weekend, two of them being the NY Gift Show and the Boston Gift Show. I have a solid private label account that has bi-monthly scheduled deliveries and students are beginning to sign up for classes. My marketing plan is complete and it's the most concise one I've ever put together.

But still, I worry.

This year will be my greatest challenge in trusting the process. It will be my chance to be truly mature and patient. To observe my business objectively, not personally. This sounds so easy. It isn't. And those of you with entrepreneurial experience understand the unpredictability. There are always reasons to panic, to lose your optimism. Sometimes just one negative comment in a sea of praise can take the air out of your otherwise happy sails. In the end, I am thankful for the ups and the downs. It's an incredible journey. Success is great and failure isn't really bad. It just means you need to steer yourself in a different direction.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Home, New Year

So very much has happened since my last post. In October of 2012, I opened a brick & mortar shop for Stella Marie in Warren, Rhode Island! It is located in a quaint, little shopping district between Barrington and Bristol. I looked all over the greater Providence area last summer and when I saw this space, I knew it was perfect for our new home. It was emotional leaving my old studio in Pawtucket. I really miss seeing my old studio mate regularly. But it was time for a change, time for a new leg in our soapy journey. Warren has welcomed us with open arms. This is a very vibrant community of people who understand the value of shopping local and support small businesses with great enthusiasm.

In addition to being able to sell the entire Stella Marie line here, I've decided to have beautiful work from area artists. We stock a lovely assortment of ceramics, candles, wooden soap decks, jewelry, handmade bathrobes, eye pillows, sachets, magnets, coasters, coffee cup cosies, greeting cards, children's music and pillows.

In the back of the shop, I have a spacious workshop where I have already enjoyed teaching local students. There is a curing room in the way back and an office space, where I am  currently typing this post. Our fellow merchants are incredibly sweet and passionate about the town. It has been such a joy joining them.

I have so much planned for 2013, including regular events in the shop. Our trunk show calendar is already booked for the year and our first seminar has been scheduled. We are scheduled to launch our winter line and Valentine's offerings next week. So, please stay tuned!

One of our commitments is to get back to regular blog posting. Please enjoy a few photos of our little shop below.


Bulk Bath Salt Bar & Rhode Island Inspired Soaps

View of Shop from Entrance

Front Window Display & Handmade Bathrobes