With Ascension’s Reckoning mostly sorted I’ve been turning my attention back to NightBlooming–it was pretty much everything I could do to just hang on and get product made and orders out the door while working on The Iyarri Chronicles, but now I’ve had time to do a little thinking and I’m ready to talk about what I have planned, when, and why.
The change to my packing schedule… I love it and hate it. I love having weekends. Spending time with my husband, keeping up on housework, and occasionally even getting out and doing something is simply amazing. The tradeoff for this, though, is that I’m doing what I can to stuff all my NightBlooming work in during the week. Last week I worked 8-5 at my day job, came home, caught a nap and then either packed orders or made product from ~8pm until 2am every day but Friday night (she says, drafting this blog post at 3:09am on Friday night / Saturday morning). It makes the weeks really tough to get through, but I promise I’m doing my best to not only keep up with orders, but also to keep these new initiatives moving forward.
NightBlooming.com- Goal Jan 2022
but, no, I’m not leaving Etsy.
Last year I paid just over $29,000 in Etsy fees. That includes renewing listings, promoted listings (remember this article where I showed you how to dodge ads for me?), a subscription to Etsy Plus, various transaction fees and taxes, and of course the big one, shipping. You start to see why I get awfully salty about ~free shipping~.
I’ll never leave Etsy completely (yes, even in light of this Star Seller program nonsense) because it’s a great way for new customers to find my products, BUT migrating you lovelies over to my new site will save me a ton in fees. Part of this is because Etsy charges me a flat 10% on the entire cost of the transaction, which includes the cost of shipping.
For example, if you buy a $14 of Dragonsblood oil and shipping is $6, Etsy hits me for a 20¢ listing fee and then $2 for a total of $2.20 ( 10% of $20 + 20¢), rather than a 20¢ listing fee and then $1.40 for a total of $1.80 (10% of $14 + 20¢). That 40¢ might not seem like a lot, but as you can see, it adds up in a giant hurry.
The other thing I don’t like (she says, her Libra showing)… is that Etsy isn’t fair. I can’t treat all my customer fairly because of the inherent inequities that come with the fact that, on Etsy, I have to offer free shipping on domestic orders over $35. My international customers, who shoulder heavy shipping burdens and yet still support me anyway cannot take advantage of that. It sucks– one of my goals on NightBlooming.com is a way for people to all get to take advantage of rewards, discounts, and reduced shipping.
Shipping costs will be transparent, and you’ll have lots of ways to earn reward points. If you want to spend your reward points adding some samples to your cart, you can do that. If you’d prefer to knock a few dollars off shipping, that will also be an option, for everyone.
To make it worth the fuss and hassle of making a new account I’ve enlisted a little help to make this the best possible experience! Already in the works are:
- Account Creation Reward: When we’re live? You’ll get $10 off your first purchase over there.
- Loyalty rewards: A system where you’ll get points to spend towards flat dollar amounts off, free products, and discounted/free shipping. You’ll get points by doing the things you already do on Etsy: buy things and leave reviews, but now you’ll also be able to get more points by referring other customers to me.
- Tiers: You’ll get badges–the more you purchase and review, the higher your rank. This might translate into special offers (I’m still fleshing this bit out)
- Birthday bonus: You’ll get a special treat during the month of your birthday.
- A better shopping experience: On Etsy? Hinoki Hair Growth Blend is spread across several listings because Etsy doesn’t allow me to assign shipping weights to each variable product size (which is only critically important when it comes to keeping shipping costs accurate). Most people don’t even know that you can get Hinoki Hair Growth in 5 sizes, including as a mister or a dram of pure essential oils. As you can see up above, all those variations now live together in one place on NightBlooming.com.
- Clearer layout: Etsy crams a bunch of stuff at the top of the listing with the goal of converting as many people as possible to purchasing. While that’s seemingly a great idea, burying the actual product information works against me because now I’m spending more time answering questions and people are more likely to buy a product that they won’t ultimately be happy with. In addition, you’ll be able to hover over any of the ingredients on an item for a quick description of what that item actually is, and why it’s included in the product.
My goal is to have NightBlooming.com up and running before 2022 so that I can have a clean year-to-date comparison of my fees vs just selling on Etsy. It’s going to be an immense amount of work and testing (she says having broken most the pictures in her articles and having spent a good part of last week re-uploading them), but I think it’ll be a better site, where Etsy gets less of your money and you get more benefits for supporting me.
Selkie Detangling Solid Shampoo & Conditioner Bars- Early 2022
These things are so freaking COOL!
I feel pretty horrible about the fact that it’s been well over a year since I announced these–but the huge spike in pandemic sales because salons were closed sent me scrambling. Publishing deadlines closed in and when I looked at what logically made the most sense to do first… the new site won out. In the coming months, though, I’ll be making larger test batches to test economies of scale, get pricing down, design packaging, and inch these closer to launch as I can find time. I realize that I’m staring down the barrel at a book launch and then Christmas shopping will pick up right after, so these will have to wait for their big debut a little longer.
What I CAN say is I’ve been using them for over a year and love them so, so very much. I sincerely think I have something unique and special in these.
This weekend I did another test batch of both the shampoo and conditioner bars and I can say that the recipes for these are locked in. I’m very, very happy with their performance and so are my test users. There’s just a few aesthetic things to shore up.
You can see here the three sizes of Selkie Detangling Shampoo Bars: Sample, Regular Leaf, and Ultra Leaf (I have some months to come up with names that don’t suck, thank the skies.)
We’re mostly there. Some visible noodles yet and they’re not coming cleanly out of the molds yet. I got mostly there on this batch and I think I know what I need to do on the next one to get to the finish line.
Here are the conditioner bars: Sample, Regular Leaf, and Super Lembas Leaf. (I’ll admit it’s going to take a SUPREME EFFORT not to call the biggest conditioner bar Super Lembas Leaf sized). The detail on the molds here is great, they smell fantastic, but I’ve one tiny issue to overcome.
See those burgundy flecks? That’s the Description Ulmus rubra is a species of elm that has a mucilaginous inner bark, and it is this that gives natural slip and hydration to Selkie. It also naturally softens hair, provide natural plant protein, adds shine, and soothes an itchy or dry scalp More. It doesn’t like to stay suspended as I’m pouring the bars, even with frequent mixing, so I get some bars with more flecks, some with fewer, and in all cases they like to settle. I think the settling is fine as I recommend using the side of the bar anyway (this makes it last longer before it breaks), in which case you’re getting the same amount of Description Ulmus rubra is a species of elm that has a mucilaginous inner bark, and it is this that gives natural slip and hydration to Selkie. It also naturally softens hair, provide natural plant protein, adds shine, and soothes an itchy or dry scalp More per scrub), but the consistency of the flecks across the bars needs to be more consistent. Once I overcome that particular challenge, we’ll be golden on these.
The 2-in-1 Experimental Bar
This batch I did an experiment with a light pour of conditioner and then topping off the rest of the mold with shampoo bar. I’ve tasked my brothers with experimenting with them and have one myself. I’m not sure how these will go (if the conditioner will just break off the shampoo part or what), but my brothers asked me for one, so I thought I’d try while I had everything out.
More Supplies Ordered
While I was working this weekend on these I realized I need more molds. Sadly, these molds are expensive (compared to the pressed hockey pucks you see for most shampoo bars) so picking up more of those was about $500. Ultimately, though, it’s necessary to make these efficient to make. I lost a lot of time waiting for one batch of bars to set up enough to remove them from the molds before I could move onto the next.
I’ll also be reserving a few molds just for the unscented versions so I’m not cross-contaminating them with essential oil residue for people who are sensitive.
Over the next few weeks I’ll also be looking at final packaging for these, creating labels, etc.
These will also debut only on my nightblooming.com store. They’ll come to Etsy, eventually, but production on these might be slower to start and I want to make sure the people supporting me by making the jump to my store get first dibs.
One Salve to Rule Them All
I cannot underscore the shift in my heart about the salves in the last week. It went from despair that I had to make a hard choice, to elation that people were excited about the new course, to excitement as I really get to start building this from the ground up.
This weekend I tested (and utterly botched) the herbal infusion. Normally these use cut and sifted leaf, but I didn’t have that for Sedr or for nettle so I thought I’d try the powdered leaves I had on hand instead.
I made mud.
So, properly cut and sifted leaf ordered, I’ll take another crack at the herbal infusion soon. If THAT works, then I’ll try making it into a conditioner base, and if THAT works, well, the rest is cake (as the remainder of the salve ingredients and processes are the same as the old one).
For essential oils I’m really leaning towards Ullassa: Jasmine grandiflorum is prized for its reputed powerful anti-depressant characteristics, for severe depression and soothing the nerves, producing a feeling of confidence, optimism and euphoria, while revitalizing and restoring energy. More, Ylang Ylang, Petitgrain, Vetiver and Vanilla Burbon C02 Extract
Aroma: Soothing and warm, like a vanilla and herb spa bath.
It smells divine on its own and pairs well with Selkie.
Of course I am still going to make an unscented salve so you can mix it with your favorite essential oil blends!
There are a lot of finishing touches here, too: new labels have to be designed for the glass jars, testing, etc. but one exciting thing is I did the math, and with the amount I’m saving making my own conditioner base I don’t have to increase the prices! so the more expensive essential oil cost for this and the glass jars come out in the wash!
There’s no firm timeline for these, a lot of it will just be determined if I can get the infusion or conditioner base or finished salve perfected in 1 try or 5. But I’m super-excited at what I’ve chosen for my ingredients.
I have a whole lot of other ideas for other products in my bullet journal. What order I tackle these on will probably be a combination of demand and profitability. (And for that matter I’ll have to be evaluating what products I keep making in general. If there’s some that don’t sell well and I don’t make much on, it’s probably wiser to let those go to the wayside so I can spend my limited time on the more in-demand products).
For example, I love the idea of doing a blue butterfly pea flower rinse, but my Sunlit Meadow and Forest Glade rinses are far cries from my bestsellers, so I’m not sure if that one is either practical or worthwhile to chase.
One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn is there’s a lot of things I CAN make (and DO make for myself!) but not everything should be in the store.
- 1/32 oz oil samples of ALL my oils: I stopped doing this on Etsy because these items are fussy and I make next to nothing on them, but I might be willing to do it for my customers willing to move to my stand alone site
- Brown & Black hair colors: these I do as custom orders, and for awhile they might stay that way. Both because my return on them is less than on the reds (but people have been trained to expect all hair colors to cost the same), and because I like being able to make sure people know what they’re going into with indigo. A custom order gives me an in to have that conversation.
- Henna gloss bar- I like this IDEA but I’m not sure if there’s demand enough for it.
- Nympheas Facial Toner
- Mermaid Facial Mask
- The awesome face lotion / salve I make for myself
- Solid perfumes
- Blue pea flower based rinse
- Hinoki Hair Growth / Tenderhead Tranquility solid shampoo and conditioner bars
If you have any thoughts about the new site, rewards, or even future products let me know! I love hearing from you lovelies in the comments!