How we started, how it's going, and a look back at 2020
by Kelly Perkins
2020 Year-End Letter From Our Founder
Oh hi, friends!
It is an absolutely beautiful Colorado morning – there are a few inches of snow on the ground, and more forecast to come today. I love that we get to enjoy a white holiday season, and I can enjoy time at home with my super cute husband, and 2 of the best dogs, and the worst dogs, in the world (same dogs).
I have been feeling nostalgic lately – both personally and professionally. Nostalgic for simpler times, mostly, as I am sure we all are. It has been quite a year, to be sure. Spinster Sisters has been lucky, luckier than a lot of small businesses. My heart aches for all the other businesses out there that have not been able to weather this storm. For Spinster Sisters, it has been a pivotal year, and a year of growth and challenges and laughter and sadness and more than a little bit of insanity. More than once this year, I’ve caught our General Manager Ellen singing the circus song to herself while she hustles between production and shipping, putting out fires and keeping orders moving out the door.
This is how the company started. I could not control my soap making urges, and my peeps weren’t taking enough showers to use it all up.
I have been thinking a lot lately about all the changes we have gone through on this adventure. From making soap as a hobby, to my husband’s request to get rid of the giant pile of soaps that was amassing in our basement. This is how the company started. I could not control my soap making urges, and my peeps weren’t taking enough showers to use it all up. I remember being locked in the “soap room” in the basement, making soap as fast as I could, and packing it up for farmers’ markets and craft fairs every weekend so I could get rid of enough to make room for my next batch. I know that is strange – but soap making really is a fun, creative, and cool process.
How fun it was to hire my first Production Assistant, and how it must have been so strange for her to come into someone else’s house to work, with my dirty dishes, husband getting ready for work, and dogs running around – but we made it work. Jacquelyn is still on this adventure with me, and almost 7 years later, is now leading the charge on our marketing and design efforts. We grew and we grew, and expanded and expanded until probably ¾ of our house became Spinster Sisters HQ. We had 55 gallon drums of oils in our garage, holiday market supplies in the living room, shipping and receiving was in the kitchen – you get the picture. Then we moved to our first “warehouse”, which was really just an office space that we made work – and boy did we feel like we had hit the big time. 2,000 square feet to expand into. That held us for about 6 months, until we had to look for a bigger space.
We opened our first store in the front of our manufacturing space, which was a fun adventure in itself, having customers come in and go shopping every day. We are now in a “real” 7,800 sq ft production facility. The Microsoapery has certainly changed over the years. There has been so much learning involved in every move we have made thus far, but we are now distributed in over 2,000 doors around the country. Don’t think for a second this all went smoothly, I will just tell you first hand – mistakes were made. We made it though, and now have an amazing team of 18 folks making, branding, and selling our products to customers near and far. I own a fork-lift, and am looking for investors to help take us to the next level. Those are 2 things I never thought would come out of my mouth.
We want to continue to innovate and be authentic, and to make the products that resonate most with you.
We have been doing a lot of internal “soul-searching” in the business this year as well, to make sure we continue to meet your needs, by making safe, sustainable, clean and effective products – with no greenwashing. We want to continue to innovate and be authentic, and to make the products that resonate most with you. We sent out a survey recently, to make sure that we are doing just that – and I cannot thank you enough for the amazing response and feedback that we received. It really helped us clarify what we are doing right, and what areas we need to work on. For those of you that responded, it was truly invaluable – thank you for taking the time.
What started as a hobby, trying to make safer, natural soap for my loved ones, has turned into a business. The business of my dreams. Only 30 percent of small businesses survive their first 10 years and I think we are going to make it! That would not have happened without your loyalty. We could not be luckier than to have the amazing support system we have in our wonderful customers, family and friends. You all stepped up and spread the word about Spinster Sisters in your networks, you kept the orders coming in online, and for local pickup, that helped us weather this storm. I feel like we have been invited into so many homes this year, by people wanting to support entrepreneurs and local business. You have given with your hearts, maybe in times when you could not afford to give. You have given us the opportunity to live our dreams, and we could not be more grateful.
The highlight of my year was the day that a dear friend reached out just to say, “Do you know how proud your mom would have been of what you have accomplished?” You know who you are, and I will just tell you that meant more to me than you could ever have imagined. I might have cried for a couple days, but I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for that. I miss her every day.
I hope you all are able to enjoy some peace this holiday season. Health, love, and prosperity is my wish for you in 2021. (Can you believe I just said 2021?)