Au Naturale Eye Essentials Kit

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Some business updates for you....

As you most likely know, I closed my business for the month of March for medical reasons. I am about halfway through my break and have been doing so much soul searching and pondering.

I'd like to discuss this with you and let you know about some decisions I have come to and necessary changes that will occur when I reopen.

First off, I woud like to thank everyone for the kind emails and comments (and even notes in the regular mail) when I posted what was going on. I am so lucky to have your friendship and good thoughts even if many of us have never met.

Secondly, my hope is still to reopen April 1st. It may be a couple days earlier, or it may be a couple days later. It will all depend as we get closer to that time.

I am doing well. My medication took some getting used to and came along with some side effects which I am getting used to. I am not so exhausted and I am feeling better in general. This rest, though, has proven to me that nothing is more important to me than my family and in order to put their needs first, I must take care of my health first. I have actually been able to relax and it has been quite nice!

The Thought Process

While I have been resting and relaxed, I have been doing a great deal of thinking about the future of KZM Facial Care Boutique. I am so, so blessed by the success of my business, especially after the feature in Martha Stewart BODY + SOUL last October and the flurry of newspaper publicity locally since then. Business has grown very steadily each month. While this growth is wonderful, it has made things a bit difficult in terms of timing in my own personal life. I am, above all else, a full-time stay at home mom. That is what I love more than anything. With the pace of growth, I am also having space and time management issues to address. Add to that my recent medical concerns and having to slow down the pace -- some decisions need to be made in regards to my business.

I have been brainstorming. One option is to lease an off-site workshop or boutique. This was actually in my future plans, but not until 2011 when both boys would be in school full-time during the day. Ben will start kindergarten in 2010, but that is half day in our district. If I had a business off site, I would have lots of extra room for storage, production, etc. I would also be able to hire someone as a permanent employee. While this is logically the best business option, it is not ideal for two main reasons. First of all, my work is done at night when my children are sleeping, or when they are otherwise occupied. Having an off site facility would either take precious time away from the boys or make it so I would be out in a facility by myself into the wee hours of morning away from my husband and out of the house. This is not ideal.

Having someone working with here permanently is not really feasible as my hours are very sporadic, my husband works from home in his office...having an extra someone here since my workspace is already getting crowded would not be the best option, nor is is one I am considering.

The second real option would be for me to sell my business or either close permanently or until the boys are both in school.

What I have been trying to figure out is how to find a workable mix of options 1 and 2.

I think I have an answer to the problem:

I was outgrowing Etsy and that is why I left. As a shopper, I aodre Etsy. As a seller, once the magazine piece came out, I was constantly having to renew and relist items, deal with search engine issues, lack of communication/customer support, and large monthly fees from listing to commission in the end. Etsy is a phenomenal place, and you know I love shopping there, but it just wasn't fulfilling every need I had.

I launched with every intention of doing it all myself--the website maintenance, HTML stuff, managing the shopping cart (which I kept having issues with), and more. I spent several hours per week on the site alone. Between my online business and my local business, the website work itself has been tough. This is in addition to all the boring business details (ordering, spreadsheets, and the headaches of numbers in general) is a part of the business I really do not take into consideration when I think of the time I spend on work each week (I usually just count the 30-40 hours of production, packing, shipping).

This is OK. You see, a wonderful thing happened a couple weeks back when I started my interviews with sellers on 1000 Markets. This is truly a community setting unlike any other. The CEO has a clear and unique vision and I continue to be more drawn with each person I speak with. My plan is to reopen with a shop on 1000 Markets. I am very excited about this.

You also may remember me saying that custom orders will no longer be accepted. I hate to do this, but I have a very hard time saying "no" and end up with several custom orders unique to what is offered on my site to fill. I just cannot, timewise, do customs when I reopen. All bath and body products (except for deodorant and seasonal fragrances in limited amounts) will permanently be discontinued. This will free up time, as the body products take more time than most of my others.

I am working to get almost everything premade. This will shorten turnaround time. Since my cosmetics are launching, this will be particularly important to keep things running smoothly.

I made a promise to myself that I would always keep my business personal--that I would always write handwritten thank you notes to each customer and make them feel as if they are the one and only person on my mind while packing their goodies. The rush of the past few months has prevented that level of personal attention when it comes to writing notes to every single person, making my customers feel as though they're receiving a present rather than an order when it arrives. I don't want to get away from that. I am hoping that my plans will work so I can keep that level of extra personal attention from initial ordering through package opening.

Here is what will be avialable from my Makeup Studio when I reopen:

*Tinted Moisturizer
*Finishing Powder
*Blush in 2 shades (Rosy Cheeks and Peaches & Cream)
*Bronzing Powder
*Highlighting Powder
*Eye Liner (3 shades to start in pots)
*Lip Lovelies (highly pigmented lip color)

I am not going to be able to get the entire line finished while I am off (or I'd lose the relaxtion part I am supposed to be accomplishing), but eye color, powder foundation and more will be out by early summer.

Another change:

I am returning to PET plastic. This is a HARD decision. I chose glass in January because the thought of plastic ending up in our landfills bothers me. It bother me very much. I wanted to do the right thing and thought glass would be the right answer all the way around. 

As much as I wanted to do glass, it was very much a test run. I tested glass shipment beforehand (I have 8 people in all parts of the US who I test ship to to see if anything unusual occurs when shipping in different climates to the package or the product --such as melting, settling, container damage), but doing so at large volume has been another story. 

I wanted to do what I thought was the right thing for the environment and jumped head on into glass wth the best intentions of avoiding plastics. With this decision came some mistakes and learning from them. The cost of glass itself (about 50% more for me to buy containers), shipping (a large shipment of PET is normally $16 or so UPS to me; glass has been around $45 per order), and actual USPS shipping for me (I charge a flat rate $7 with glass; actual has averaged $9.50 and I absorb the difference) are all factors. When I transitioned to glass, there weren't 0.5 and 2 ounce jars I liked from my two popular suppliers after testing them, so I had to go to 1.7 for the face cream and up to 0.87 oz. for the eye cream. 

When I open again, the purple PET containers with smooth silver lids will return, and some really cool 6.6 oz. bottles for the goat's milk cleanser--a bigger size than my 4 ounce glass and due to spending much less on packaging, I will be able to lower a couple prices and increase some sizes (face cream will be 2 oz. like it used to be as opposed to 1.7 which is another week or 10 days of usage) while keeping the same price. 

I have also come to realize that nearly all of my customers are green. They want earth-friendly, healthy alternatives to mass produced products and I have faith in believing the bulk of my customers are savvy and will recycle.

Returning to plastic is something I really had to think about, but I believe that this is the best decision and I thank my customers for allowing me to try glass out.

One more note: when I reopen, the Bee Facial Bar made with my locally harvested buckwheat honey, royal jelly and more by the lovely Nancy from Aunt Nancy's Handmade Soaps will be available! This is free of essential oils and fragrance and is just a gentle, wonderful bar cleanser!

The Bottom Line:

I am committed to KZM Facial Care Boutique. My facial care debuted 2 years ago with my other shop and went out on their own in July 2007. I am so proud of my business and all of the wonderful feedback from customers and media features done on my line.

This time off has been wonderful so I can really step back and see what changes need to be made. It is very hard to balance motherhood and a business. I get stretched thin when it comes to adding in managing my health, household, the online and local business balance and the website stuff. I am hoping that by paring down and joining a wonderful juried Indie shopping community like 1000 Markets will allow me to strike a better balance.

I wanted to let you know more about my thought process when it comes to these changes and I thank you for taking the time to read this.