steve duross - craftsman. artisan. entrepreneur. musings on running and growing a small business

entering a post workshop world

as most D+L shoppers have come to learn, our natural products are made by hand. for this we have always taken great pride. from the very beginning, we batched soap in the basement of the house and mixed lotions and potions until we became first class wizards. as the years have gone by and we've gotten busier, it's become impossible to make everything in house, especially when the base ingredients for the soap are now made in 2500 to 5000 increments. this is a good thing. then it became time for the bottles products (shower gels, shampoos, moisture creams, etc) to move into production at our family run laboratory. then perfumes, essential oils, candles... now the last of the lot, balms, butters and salves, are heading to another local production facility. as of august, our in-house facility is transforming into a test kitchen where we can still make prototypes and test batches for our own use. what works will then go off-site to be produced. for better or worse, this is how it must be.   for every product that we send off to be produced (still made by hand), another person gets a job. that is after all what we strive for as a quintessential american business, no? our goal to building our own local production facility has begun to occur, and in order to continue to grow while offering you the kind of quality and customer service we hope you enjoy, something has to bridge the divide. growing a small business is not always as easy as one might imagine, especially when the FDA and Insurance Companies are involved. it takes a series of very deep breaths indeed to send off a labor of love as one's daily life transforms into something new. making money and making money are not the same thing. going into copious amounts of debt is not necessarily something we embrace. taking care of our team is priority. and seriously, if you are going to grow, the gravy gets sopped up with the dry biscuit of expansion. there are always investors who make offers from time to time, but if we go that route, it cannot be on anyone's time schedule but our own. remember Haddonfield?   currently we are working on two projects with Drexel's LeBow School of Business. it helps to have many minds working toward the same goals. James Langel is stepping back into a greater role within the company now that things are becoming really interesting. well, interesting in a way that only an MBA with a background in retail and finance like James could enjoy. funny how things come full circle. life is change. embrace it or wither and die.   for the record, most of what i have written about off-site production has been in place in some form or another for years. we tend to see how it goes before we share the specifics, just in case we have to tweak. there have been a couple minor bumps in the road but always the feedback has been helpful to perfecting.   now i am CEO. a title. a post. a place where i enter a post workshop world.