Lots of you are wondering why DigitalSoaps closed in what seemed an unexpected move.
Instead of going for carefully crafted words, I am writing my thoughts on the closure of my long-time business directly into this blog. The reason is because this is sad for me, too, and was overwhelming, and is still overwhelming with all my business supplies stored in a garage space.
The short answer for the closure is that the market is saturated with geeky goods. We could no longer compete.
When I started DigitalSoaps, the geeky soap genre didn't exist. Now there's an abundance of geek products, and not just soap. The geek consumer culture has exploded. So I am competing with copycats, other licensed products, and stores full of geeky merchandise.
My soaps no longer stood out.
So, when I got licensed and sold my soaps wholesale to larger retailers, the sales were poor. So poor that I could not get reorders. Larger-still retailers wouldn't even reply to our inquiries, no matter how hard we tried. I can't live off single sales.
We had a large retailer who was getting good sales, but they stopped being able to pay our wholesale prices and we lost money on our two subsequent sales with them. It was devastating to the business.
When it came to retail sales, licensing made my business take an initial dive as I rebuilt my catalog. It was indescribably expensive, something I may not recover financially from. I lost my Google rankings. The catalog was more limited. And when I decided to bring back the parody products rather than close shop, the market was saturated with copycats and the excitement was no longer there. It could be the economy, too, I am not sure.
I miss the old exciting days when my soaps were a novelty that no one had heard of, and word was just getting around, and magazines like PlayStation UK and GamePro wanted interviews. I don't miss the stress about caring about copycats. I don't miss the trial and error. But I enjoyed paving the way for the market to be what it is today.
DigitalSoaps lasted from 2009-2018. I'd say that is a pretty amazing run. I poured all my time into it, sacrificed relationships, thrived off the excitement from customers and friends, and enjoyed the inventing process and the marketing and the learning of new skills.
Now, I need to find a way to utilize these same skills.
It's tacky to ask for money from you, in exchange for no product, but my personal email address is ContraBubbles@gmail.com in case you want to contribute to me getting back on my feet/filing bankruptcy/etc. See, when I closed my business, I was already losing money for months. I got behind on rent, borrowed money from nearly everyone I know. I wanted desperately for the business to work. It was hard to face the facts that the business just isn't viable. I am moving from this rented house into a tiny bedroom in an apartment. I am working part time at the post office.
If anyone has a marketing job open in Western Washington near Bellingham, or a remote position open, I've got a lot of skills that can be transferred over to help other businesses.
Enough about that, though. I didn't write this to ask for charity.
I want you all to know that you kept me going. All of our interactions are meaningful. The likes, the loves, the comments, the purchases, the ideas. The help from friends! Thank you for being with me so long.
I still remember the first thing I sold. A blue cocoa butter soap shaped like a remote controller. It didn't look so great, and it was wrapped in plastic wrap instead of shrink wrap, but someone was excited and trusted me as a new seller on Etsy.
Then you all helped spread the word, and my business took off, and I left my reporting job and pursued the unknown.
I want to thank my friends, too, for all of their charitable time helping me pack orders during the unexpected busy times, fill wholesale orders, maintain the warehouse, and helping me move out of that very warehouse I'd been in for 5 years to put my life into a garage.
Well, that's about it.
I love you all.