Last week was Twinkle Apothecary's 6th year anniversary, and as is tradition, I am celebrating by completely changing up the way my business operates. Ha.
Sorry... but not really sorry of course!
Also, I'm not completely changing everything... of course...
but I am creating a new membership program through Patreon!
What is that you ask? I'll tell you!
But first, a little backstory.
With all of the (very) necessary changes I've made to my business in 2021 - discontinuing my subscription products like the beauty boxes and perfume junkie club, no longer offering personalized skincare advice, handing over my brick and mortar business, and no longer being in charge of my social media accounts (a very, VERY necessary change!) I've been feeling a little bit... disconnected... or maybe just a little bit off as far as what I'm doing here.
Maybe I just felt a little bit lacking in direction?
It doesn't help that my sales have slowed down quite a bit since May, which definitely has something to do with my unease... in fact, it's honestly pretty scary. A few of the thoughts that have been going through my mind lately include - have I lost the "magic"? Is it impossible to reach people because I'm just one of a million emails in their inboxes or distractions on social media? Am I too old to do this small business thing now because I have ZERO interest in bopping around on Tik Tok to attract teenagers? (By the way, I realize that sounds creepy. Capitalism kind of is creepy though, am I right?) Am I doomed because I don't have an advertising budget? Has Facebook's quest for world domination changed the game so much that I'm being squeezed out because I can't afford to compete for my customer's attention anymore? And why am I putting myself through this (struggling through the small business life) year after year and WHY isn't it getting any easier? Is it time to consider another path before I end up in financial ruin? Is it time to go to the mattresses? Who, or what, am I going up against exactly though? Amazon? Facebook? The newly remodeled beauty section at Target? Every celebrity who started a wellness brand over the past 6 years?
I've tried to tell myself that these are growing pains and I just need to power through. That probably every maker/creator feels this way as their business changes and they lose their direct connection with their supporters and community.
At the same time, I've been doing a lot of thinking, meditating, trying to envision a way to keep doing this thing that I love to do more than anything... and at some point recently, the word "membership" floated into my head.
At first I had no idea what that meant or how a membership model could work for my very product focused business, so I kept brushing it aside, but it kept coming up, and then a couple of days ago, it hit me like a ton of bricks. (As is usually the case with my best and most crazy ideas!)
Wait... I think there is a way to create a membership community around my business - what about this Patreon thing I keep hearing about?
*does a little bit of research*
I think it might actually work! Also, I think it might be really fun?!!
Once again, I feel that the answer here isn't to go bigger and become more and more detached. Not if there's a way to sustain myself while staying small and becoming even more connected to the supporters who are already keeping me in business. (Side note - does anyone else notice how staying small is always the conclusion I come to whenever I have a business conundrum?)
Also, since letting go of the Twinkle Apothecary Instagram a few weeks ago (MAJOR PROPS to Ashely, who is doing a fantastic job managing the account now!) I've realized that I don't actually hate creating content. I just don't like that Facebook expects me to do it for free, to pad their already fat with a monopoly that should be broken up by the FTC wallet. Excuse me, Meta's wallet. *eyeroll*
And it's not that I don't want to help people with their skincare, or don't want to connect to my customers, it's just that it's a lot of unpaid work and I simply can't afford to run myself ragged any longer. This sounds like a joke, but in all seriousness, I'm getting too old to work this hard and still be poor. I don't even mind the work. In fact, I love it. I just want a retirement savings too.
So for me, making a Patreon community is a way for me to be paid more fairly for everything I share with the world. Not just for the products that I make, but for the content that I create, the service I offer, and the knowledge and expertise that I've amassed over these past 6 years of eating, sleeping, and breathing skincare.
Plus - the teenage girl in me just thinks it'll be SUPER FUN. Like having a special secret club full of the coolest people I know!
Here's the link to the official Patreon sign up page where you will see everything I have planned. The program is live, so feel free to join ASAP!
Ok, so if you didn't click on that link, here's a rundown of how it'll work and what is changing.
(But PLEASE click on the link after you read this post because there are a TON of benefits I'm planning to offer my members that I don't want you to miss out on!)
My personal content:
All of my social media content (not the official twinkle apothecary account - it's not going anywhere - but my personal content as a maker and someone who uses my own products throughout my daily life) will now be posted on the Patreon app using the Lens feature, which will be shared exclusively with members of my Patreon community going forward. (Lens is like a pared down "instagram story" type product, that you can view on your phone or desktop, FYI.) This is great because a) the secret club thing, b) I'm pretty sure no one is going to pay to hate follow or troll me, and c) I'm finally freeing myself and my livelihood from Instagram/Facebook's hold and will only use it like a normal person, to check in with/post things for close friends and family very occasionally from now on! YAYAYAYAYAY!
All of my blog posts and DIY recipes will also be on my Patreon page going forward. I'll just post a snippet/preview here on the website, with a link to join my Patreon community to get the full article.
Joining the Twinkle Apothecary Patreon community at the lowest "Twinkle Lite" level ($5 per month) gets you full access to all of my personal social media content (again, just my personal posts - the official Twinkle Instagram/Facebook accounts are not going anywhere!) as well as full access to all of my future blog posts.
My thought is that this $5/month membership is a totally affordable amount for most of my customers that gets you "in my club" and provides you with tons of information, entertainment, product knowledge, and a peek into my personal routine and creative process. Maybe this is the tier for you if you can't buy something every month, but can manage $5 to stay in the loop. Then, you'll be even more informed and prepared when you are ready to make a purchase.
I also have plans to post a lot of my DIY recipes on Patreon, so basically you won't have to wait for my book to come out to learn all of my secrets! For the low price of $5/month, you'll have full access and the ability to make your own products!
If you don't love the idea of having to pay to get my content or don't actually love reading my blogs - no worries. Feel free to follow the Twinkle Apothecary Instagram and Facebook accounts and consume all of the free content that I'm paying someone to post there per usual. Just please also buy things so I can continue to afford to pay someone to create this "free" content. lol
Personally I'm most excited about these two changes especially - I have so many ideas to blog about and share with you, but I often put it off because I feel like I have to spend my time do something that directly pays the bills. With this new membership model, I'll be getting paid upfront to create the content that I want to create, so I'll actually have an excuse to sit down and write and share things with you! No more writing things and then not posting them because I'm thinking... I dunno... is it even worth it? Is anyone interested in this? Does anyone read blogs anymore?? You paying $5 a month TELLS ME that my content is actually valuable to you! What a concept!
Twinkle Talk Space:
I'm also making a hangout space just for us using Discord where we can chat about the products, our skincare routines, fragrance layering combinations, or just whatever. There's tons of potential here for video hangs, virtual parties, book clubs, perfume swaps... anything! I've only just set it up, but it seems pretty user friendly so far, and it can be whatever we decide to make it. Members at the $5/month Twinkle Lite level will only be able to read the messages and convos happening there, but members at the higher levels will be able to join in the conversations, post questions, offer tips and advice, and make new Twinkle friends!
Retired, made-to-order, and any future limited edition products (excluding holiday items) are now member only:
Going forward, only Patreon members at the Star Shine ($20/month) level or above will be able to order retired fragrances, or any made to order item listed on the website - you'll notice that these items are marked as "Patreon Exclusives" and are out of stock so they can't be purchased outright.
Why? Well, because stopping my workflow to make just one little made to order item is expensive and time consuming for me, and it prevents me from being able to do other things, like restocking items that are more popular and sell out quickly. I don't want to stop offering these one-off products completely, but I do want to make sure that they're going to an engaged customer who values my time, creativity, and all of the physical labor I put into my work. (I mean, have you ever wondered how many beakers and dishes and measuring spoons I wash and sanitize in a day? It is A LOT.)
I also have TONS of ideas (seriously, they're coming at me all the time!) for limited edition products that I want to make, but it can be difficult to gauge the level of interest to find out if it's an idea worth pursuing. Keeping it small, and only offering it to a very targeted group of engaged community members makes so much more sense to me than churning out a bunch of items that my more casual customers may or may not even notice as they only check in occasionally. To them, it'll be business as usual with the toning mist and facewhip. For Star Shine members, it'll be a whirlwind of new twinkle delights all the time - or, I mean like every other month or so probably... haha!
Think about it this way - were you a member of my Perfume Junkie Club back in the day? This is the same level of financial commitment, only you won't end up with more perfume than you can possibly wear in a year. You'll only have to buy what you really want or need, while still majorly supporting my business and getting tons of content and benefits in return. There are a few other fun, simple "custom" items you can purchase at this level, so be sure to check out my Patreon page for all of the details!
Skincare consultations and one-on-one advice:
Now, this one is huge. For my Shooting Star, $50 per month members, I will offer unlimited one on one advice and support via email or Patreon messages. (Or Discord chats, whatever you prefer!) I will basically be your dedicated skincare coach - help you design your routine, decipher ingredient labels, offer my professional opinion on other products - whatever you need!
But that's not all. You'll also have the option to design two custom products with me per year!
I get so many requests for customs, but it's not like I can just drop what I'm doing and come up with something magical for anyone who asks... however, $50 per month would totally cover my design fee, you know?
By the way, I came up with this $50 per month amount when I considered that many of my customers were paying at least this much monthly for my perfume junkie + beauty box subscriptions last year. I'm simply replacing all of those little product samples that you probably already have the full size of anyway with content, information, service, and the option to design your very own signature fragrance or facial oil! (Or whatever you want, provided it's something I have the ingredients and equipment and skills to make!)
And that's it! I think it makes a whole lot of sense, don't you?
To sum it up:
- Three different membership tiers, all totally optional, but totally worth it in their own way. $5, $20, or $50 per month gets you oodles and oodles of exclusive benefits.
- The opportunity to take my power back from social media and create the kind of content that actually sparks me, as opposed to merely feeding an algorithm more of the same. Yes please!
- Being able to dive into the community I've built here over the past 6 years instead of growing apart from it - PRICELESS.
Like I said, I'm so super excited about this - I can't wait for you all to sign up so I can start sharing with you!
If you have questions about how it works, feel free to ask, but please check out my Patreon page first, (btw it's pronounced pay-tree-on, incase you're curious!) because all of the information is there. You'll also receive a welcome email (which may or may not contain a sizable coupon code *wink wink*) when you sign up giving you more details about how to redeem your benefits.
And with that, we have come to the end of my last ever free blog post.
See ya on the flip side, friends!
- Stefanie -