A Year in the Life of a Small Business (#1)

I’m no stranger to the feeling of overwhelming passion for an idea or project.  I have had this feeling many times, and many times I have followed through with very little success.  What makes this time any different?  I’m not sure yet, but I will let you know.

The Idea

My advice to anyone starting a small business by yourself is to keep it secret, at least for a while.  Write your ideas down in notebooks, do research, etc, but try not to tell anyone.  I actually let this idea sink in for over a month before telling anyone.  In my experience, when you have an idea and you start telling people right away, their ideas and opinions tend to cloud your judgement and can make you overthink the whole thing.  If you NEED to tell someone and get some help, find someone who will be honest and who you can trust.

You can read the ‘About‘ section and my ‘Introduction‘ post to really dive deep into the idea behind Verbena Boutique.  

The Planning

When Verbena Boutique was just an idea I wanted to be as organized as possible.  I learned about the types of ingredients to use (phthalate free, soy vs paraffin wax, fragrance or essential oils, etc), what scents I wanted to try, and so on.  I knew that I wanted all of my products to be based on the idea of my happiest memories, so that made some of the planning easier.  I figured out the companies I wanted to use (at least to start) and I started putting together ‘Favorites’ lists on all of their sites.

Now, you don’t know me, but when I have ideas, I have BIG ideas.  This phase of all of my ventures is the hardest part; reeling it in.  I had to seriously consider cost vs quality and what things I would save until later (spoiler alert: There are many!).  I decided on starting with candles and going from there.  Probably one of the hardest decisions of my life.

The Test

After planning out all of my products and ingredients the next step was actually purchasing some supplies to see if I even enjoyed making the products I had come up with, so I bought a Candle Science ‘Candle Making Kit‘.  This came with the wax, wicks, four different fragrance oils, candle tins, a thermometer, warning labels, wick bars, and wick stickers.  I highly recommend purchasing this kit if you have the urge to test out candle making yourself.  It’s very fun.

The process was simple: pour, melt, fragrance, pour, set.  While I did run into some issues with things like temperature and mixing strength, I enjoyed myself thoroughly.  This was a great sign, so I went back to the inter-webs and made my first official materials purchase.

The Buying – Yikes

Before I realized that I wanted to limit my chemical usage, I bought a combination of fragrance oils and essential oils.  Don’t worry if you don’t know the difference, I will be making a post in the near future.  I knew I wanted to be ‘fancy’ and use words like ‘infused’…past me was high on ideas, cut her some slack.

My first set of purchases contained a variation of the following: oils, wax, wicks, bottles, storage boxes, various ‘hot item’ holders, a hot plate, stir stick, clothespins, etc.  I knew I didn’t want to think about things like packaging quite yet, so I put that on the back burner.  Once these items arrived, and I’d had many panic attacks due to the realization of what exactly I was doing (and how much money I would have to spend to do it), we were off!

The Mistakes

After getting the hang of the candle making process (with a few tweaks), I realized I had made a mistake in buying fragrance oils.  Don’t get me wrong, the oils I chose were phthalate free, but they were still full of chemicals.  This is where my journey down the non toxic rabbit hole began.  I started looking at all of the products I was using and asking “What can I do to make my whole process and set up less toxic, for both my customers and myself?”.

The fragrance oils were the first to go.  I used them up as quickly as possible so I could move on smoothly to 100% essential oils.  Side note: I AM (or was) selling these candles in my shop at launch, but they will be on super clearance so I can move them out.  Like I said, they are all phthalate free, and the soy wax is 100% natural, so they are very acceptable in terms of health and safety.  I just simply no longer wished to produce these types of products.  

I am going to be writing a post going more in depth about my mistakes, and how I handled them, in the near future.  Like I stated in my ‘About‘ section, I will be 100% transparent about everything.

The Buying… Again

As I write this post, I am anxiously awaiting many packages from various vendors around the country.  I have made bulk purchases of essential oils, wax, wicks, containers, and other products.  This is tough, because as it stands, I do not have enough equipment to continue making products until I receive ALL the shipments – yikes.  Yet another mistake for me to learn from.

The companies I purchased my materials from differ than those from the last run, with the exception of CandleScience.  I spent almost a whole month simply researching the different companies and the materials they supplied.  Even now, I’m not 100% sure I want to continue using the companies I’ve used.  This will be TBD and when I’m settled on long term companies I will totally let you know!

The Final Countdown: Set Up and Anxieties

At this moment we are less than 2 months from launch.  I am not prepared at all, mentally or physically.  I am terrible at thinking about hidden costs and I don’t even have the slightest of what type of shipping packaging I want to use.  A friend of mine suggested looking ‘small’ which is a great idea.  We shall see.  If you have any recommendations please contact me.

I am an anxious person in general, but starting something like this makes things kick into high gear.  The thoughts running through my mind right now are things like: “Will I fail miserably?”, “What am I really doing with my life?”, “Is all of this stuff ACTUALLY ‘hippy shit’ and I’m just wasting my time?”, etc.  Fun stuff. 

The Future

Hopefully, all my anxieties will pass and I will be successful…hopefully.  Since it is my goal to be totally open and honest with you, I will be doing various updates along the way to a big 1 year update post.  Starting a new business is not easy.  It takes a lot of time, money, and sleepless nights.  I have so many amazing and fun plans for the future of Verbena Boutique, so stick around and keep an eye out. 

Lots of love! 
Kayla & the VB team

2 thoughts on “A Year in the Life of a Small Business (#1)

  1. You’ve done such an amazing job of researching, assessing and sharing your thoughts about starting a business. The process has obviously been a real learning experience and will no doubt pave the way for an exciting and successful endeavor. Can’t wait to follow your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing this! Business ownership definitely has ups and down. I agree with your assessment of staying quiet for a little bit to get things together.

    Liked by 1 person

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