Artisan Spotlight: Mariann Smith - Just Bubbly

An artist and a seasoned crafts person with 24 years of wholesale and retail selling experience, Mariann Smith was an entrepreneur at an early age, opening her own dance studio at the age of 13. She always had a natural and artistic ability at every type crafting. Already established in the wholesale marketplace, soaping got under her skin when she added rubber duck-themed soaps as a consumable complement to her line of high-end baby gifts, goods, and furnishings. It wasn’t long until she jumped in with both feet, in 1994, when sales of the soaps overtook her other line. She had already developed her B to B network, and knew the ins and outs of the trade show circuit, so was already positioned for success as Just Bubbly was born.

8 Tips for Managing Your Time

Perhaps the most important asset of a business is your time, especially if you are a sole proprietor. How efficiently and effectively you use each workday will determine your success.

Here are some tips for making the most of your working hours. Many are obvious, but may require a conscious effort to make them a permanent part of your daily routine.

1. Review your “as is” condition – Take a look at the way you are currently doing things such as buying supplies, keeping the books, making products, and shipping to customers. This is your baseline of how you are using your time. Then ask yourself how you can improve the processes. For example, would a $25 financial software package reduce your accounting time by 50%? Can you save money by having your shipments picked up rather than delivering them to the shipper? While the cost of the shipper may go up, that may be more than offset by the time saved and applied to more productive tasks.

Artisan Spotlight: Kara Knox - Moka Chic

“Formulating recipes and mixing different butters and oils takes me to my uber happy place”, posts Kara Knox, of Moka Chic.

Keeping up a presence on Facebook is an important aspect of her business plan. “You have to update, but not inundate”, she says, about the need to stay in touch with her customers and fans. “It’s great to see when people share your link, or bookmark to your site. You know when you are doing something right.”

Doing it right is very important to Kara, who engaged in a lot of research and spent a lot of time in forums—talking to other Soapers—while developing her recipes and creating new products for her ever-expanding line. When she first began, she was surprised to learn that many of the ingredients contained in commercial products that consumers were buying to improve their skin could actually be detrimental. So, she set out to take control of the situation – starting with the products her own family used. She admits to staying up all night, mixing and testing—to get her formulations just right—and enlisting countless friends and family as testers. It was a recipe for success.

Candle Making Enthusiasts

Congratulations if you are a candle making enthusiast who has turned your favorite hobby into a successful business, but how much do you know about making candles? Do you know the history of your craft? Are you using only your natural talents in your business? Have you written articles or a book about it that you can offer to consumers at craft shows, through your mail order business, or via the Internet?

Brief History

The earliest known candles (221–206 B.C.) were made from whale fat by the Chinese. Candle making remained unknown until the early Middle Ages and became a guild craft in England and France by the 13th century. With their popularity, tallow (fat from cows or sheep) became the standard material used in European candles. During the colonial era, women used tallow, beeswax, and/or bayberry wax. The growth of the whaling industry in the late 18th century produced oil from sperm whales, desired because it was harder than tallow or beeswax and would not soften or bend in summer heat. Per historians, the first "standard candles" were made from spermaceti wax.