Ok. So, that might be a little dramatic but maybe not.
Current operations are in complete disarray. Well, organized chaos. There's stuff everywhere. I know where stuff is, for the most part, but I'm constantly moving things around and reorganizing to make space for incoming inventory, supplies and large manufacturing runs. But sometimes, when I'm really moving fast, it's a shit show. I don't know where a dayum thing is and I can walk in circles for 5-10 minutes at a time looking for something that's right in my face. I distinctly remember my previous employees constantly asking me where things were and that was before this increased demands, so I just don't feel like hiring someone right now would be the most productive move.
If you read my previous blog, you know that Black Friday Cyber Monday 2020 almost took me out. I don't think I fully recovered until like February 2021. Well. almost recovered. At the end of February 2021, I took on the mother load of all private label manufacturing contracts. A hemp farm. Based on our agreement, I would development CBD infused products for them to sell wholesale to start ups looking to get into the CBD industry. Some of product development was just me tweeking existing formulas. Others were custom formulas specifically designed for the company. I saved what I thought was going to be the easiest formula for last....bath bombs.
Now, I've never gotten into bath bombs because I'm a shower person. Quick and efficient. Even when I do soak in the tub, I still shower before or afterward. I've seen a lot of my apothecary colleagues host "Bath Bomb" making workshops. Everyone I've heard talking about bath bombs says "Bath bombs are easy." After spending 8 weeks formulating and scaling to manufacture bath bombs in bulk, I will say that bath bombs are the equivalent to that "Easy A" class you registered for in college and earned a B. Let me explain.....
The formula to bath bombs is simple. The procedure to manufacture is straight forward. No heat. No emulsifying. No immersion blenders. Just the powders and the liquids. But then there is the art of mixing and molding and drying. Very simple. But not easy. Not easy at all. It really is an art that takes time to perfect.
I bought a pneumatic bath bomb press in preparation for high volume bath bomb orders. To put things into perspective, the hemp farm has only done a soft launch private label manufacturing and I've already processed over 400 bath bombs. After spending 3 weeks trying to figure out what I was doing wrong with this bath bomb press, I realized that there was something wrong with the design. I wasn't doing anything wrong. But I had a pending order with a deadline quickly approaching. I did what I had to do. I hand pressed 100 bath bombs while dealing with second COVID vaccine symptoms. No small feat.
Whole time, I'm still running Fancy Free Hair and Skin as a solopreneur. My Fancy Friends are ordering, other private label manufacturing clients need their stuff and product development requests from other clients are rolling in. STRESSED!! Not complaining. I'm just saying. Also, I haven't figured out this bath bomb press but I know for SURE that I was not going to be hand pressing another 300 bath bombs. Stress starts to take it's toll on me, physically.Sabbath by Wayne Muller, and a light bulb went off. The passage essentially said that by being busy, pushing my limits, not getting enough sleep, I was choosing violence because there is no way I could be at peace living this way. Profound. I took a step back and did some self assessments. Not just my work life but also my personal life.
First, my daily "self-care" routine. I had to ask myself if this is really self-care. #MorningsAreForMoms is what I call it. Waking up at 5a, no matter what I time I went to bed, so that I could meditate and exercise. Only to have to rush to make morning snack, lunch, aftercare snack and prepare breakfast for my children and rush out the door to try to make it to the carpool line before 8:45a. Chaos. Violence. And for what? To say I run 5 out of 7 days per week? Then I had 2 separate fitness coaches explain that sometimes rest and sleeping will help more with my fitness goals than actual exercise. And since I had only been getting, on average, 4-5 hours of sleep for the past 3 months, the physical stress of exercise was counterproductive.
Then business, I have a thing where I will work and work until I get tired. I stop working when I start making mistakes. Why? I don't know why I do this. There's always more to do. There is no finish line. I had to tell myself to make sure focused work time is focused work time. No need to stay up all night to get something done, then be tired and unproductive the next day. That's where the bath bombs come in. Let's get back to that.
I had a great formula and I was ready to scale. I thought I was going to be using my big industrial 20 qt. mixer to mix everything in, pop it in the bath bomb press and BOOM! bath bombs galore. But that's not how it worked:
- I couldn't use the mixer
- Mixing powders without liquid is an asthma attack waiting to happen with all the dust that kicks up.
- The mixer whips do not break up the fine clumps you find in baking soda and you do not want clumps in your bath bomb mix.
- The bath bomb press took lots of practice to get it right.
- The mix has to stay damp enough to hold form but dry enough not to activate the fizzing.
- Bath bombs really are an artform.