Why I'm No Longer Discounting My Work (Or Myself)
Hey, it's me, Stefanie!
I am the one-woman show behind Twinkle Apothecary.
EVERYTHING you see on this website (including the website) was invented, produced, bottled, designed, photographed, written, listed, marketed, and shipped by me.
it is crazy, but I absolutely love it!
I always knew that I wanted to have my own business someday, but I never dreamed that I would end up selling things that I invented and created with my own two hands.
Honestly, I never thought I had any talent when it came to crafting or making things!
In fact, I know it's hard to believe looking at this brand that I've built over the past year and a half, but until a couple of years ago, I never considered myself to be creative person whatsoever.
It's kind of tragic, because I actually dreamed of being an artist growing up. I studied the performing arts - ballet, music, and theater as a kid. I minored in art history in college. I've even been a professional actor! But for some reason, I never really thought I had "it." I just didn't think I had what it took to create something really special and unique.
Then, about two years ago, something changed. I honestly don't know how to describe it, because I'm not sure it's something that there are appropriate words for - at least maybe not in English. I guess the closest thing would be to describe it as "a calling."
Um... yeah... I was called to make deodorant, of all things.
Could there be anything more embarrassing???
Yet, in one of the better decisions I've made in my (at the time) 32 years, I followed my intuition. Actually, the pull to start this business was so strong that I couldn't not do it, even though I didn't fully understand what I was doing, why I was so compelled to do it, and had no clue about the incredible impact it would have on me and my personal development. I'm only just now beginning to understand what it all means.
So, almost two years ago exactly, I quit my job in fashion production. I told my boss that I was moving home to Oklahoma to start a business, and when she asked what kind of a business, I said, "Um... I don't really know yet." (EVEN THOUGH I DID TOTALLY KNOW.)
I was just afraid to admit out loud that I was doing something so crazy with no experience, no budget, no recipes... just... a feeling?
Like, have you ever seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind? I wasn't making mountains out of mashed potatoes (or, coconut oil,) necessarily, but that's about how ridiculous I felt at the time!
I didn't know if it would work or not. I didn't know if I had any talent for this. I didn't know if I could pull enough money out of thin air (because I was seriously broke af) to keep a business running. I didn't know if anyone else would like my ideas. I just knew that I had to do it, which at times made me feel like I was absolutely losing my marbles.
The ideas kept coming, and I kept going with that "feeling," and almost two years, hundreds of products created, produced, and sold, I can finally say that I've definitely got "IT." I am an artist, even. Or at least an artisan...
But IT didn't come easily. I threw my entire self - mind, body, and soul (plus a little extra that I have no idea where I pulled it from) into my work. Even though I was following my intuition, I didn't trust it. AT ALL! I think I had been struggling for so long that I was just desperate to not fail at something for once. So I pushed myself waaaaay past the breaking point of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Forget hustle. I was in survival mode.
Push, push, push! You don't deserve rest, you have a child to support! Who so you think you are, trying to make a living selling perfume when you have responsibilities and bills to pay? Your ideas aren't all that special. They're not so great. Why are people buying this? No one needs perfume or fancy deodorant! Why do they even bother posting good reviews when you clearly have no idea what you're doing? Better come up with another promotion or else no one will buy anything and you'll end up a MAJOR FAILURE... AGAIN!!!
And it goes on and on and on...
I don't know where all of this negative self talk came from... and I didn't even realize that my internal monologue was so yucky until a couple of weeks ago! I'm sharing it with you because I think it's something that everyone struggles with on some level. Let's just say that after taking some time to slow down and rest a bit this summer, I'm aware that it's a problem, and I'm ready to change.
Because in all of this pushing, struggling, and not giving myself enough credit or, you know, sleep, I feel like I've allowed myself to be taken advantage of too many times. Not because of anything anyone else did done wrong, but because I didn't set myself up to feel taken care of from the beginning. I don't think I felt I really deserved it, deep down. I've been putting everyone else's needs (my customers, my personal relationships) before my own, which doesn't feel great. In fact, I noticed I was beginning to feel bitter and angry... even though I'm actually over the moon about the fact that I get to play with plants and flowers and crystals every day and share my ideas with people all over the world!
So, with this newfound awareness, I figure I can either continue to discount myself, bend over backwards to please people, chase every single sale SO HARD, and not feel 100% great about my life; OR, I can set some simple boundaries and run my business in a way that works better for me and my long term goals.
In the spirit of giving myself enough credit, I'll say that I've worked in retail and customer service my entire adult life, and there are two things that I've come to understand:
1) We've all been brainwashed by the "customer is always right" mentality,
2) The current standard retail model isn't really working for anyone.
Don't get me wrong. I want to make my customers happy. Without happy customers, I don't have a business, and the playing with essential oils and plants and fun yummy stuff and creating everyday disappears, which is a very scary thought because I really, REALLY love this work.
I also LOVE my customers, and I love sharing my products with you all! I wish I could give everything away for free, because I know it would bring so much joy into your life and nothing makes me happier than the thought of something I made putting a smile on someone else's face, or gosh, when people tell me that their skin has never looked better - that's seriously the best feeling in the whole world!
But, I started this business to make money. My relationship with my customers has to be mutually beneficial or there's no point! This isn't a hobby or a side hustle for me. This is my career. This is my life, my passion, MY CALLING!!! And despite what that little negative voice in my head likes to say, my ideas are really fantastic and completely unique and special. And my products are effective and lovely and I stand behind the quality.
Are they perfect? Never, no such thing! Are they fairly priced? Absolutely!
So, I'm not going to be putting them on sale anymore.
Is this crazy? Perhaps! A big, scary leap of faith? You better believe it!
You know that last job I had in fashion production? They had too many sales and their brand lost its value and now everyone I worked with has been laid off.
That situation will not be happening here.
I put my entire life and heart plus a lot of extra sparkle and magic into this work and these products, so if I discount them, I'm basically discounting myself, and I deserve better.
I deserve my entire profit margin. Of course I do! How could I not?! I invented all of this and I've worked so hard to bring it to life!
Now, don't freak out!
I still have my rewards program (although I have tweaked it to make it less insanely generous,) you'll still get 10% off for recurring subscription orders, (which can be canceled or paused anytime) and I will be occasionally offering discount codes when I partner with affiliates and sponsor promotional events with goodie bags like this and this.
But seasonal sales? Why?
Clearance? LOL, NOT NECESSARY.
The oh, snap, everyone else is having a sale this July 4th weekend, and I want people to buy from me too!!!!! STOPPPPP. Breathe...
Oh, and while I used to basically have a no-questions-asked refund policy, it's now a firm ALL SALES FINAL. Obviously I can't take back used skincare and perfume because I can't resell it, and besides that, I offer inexpensive samples of everything with free shipping, so if you didn't buy a sample of the full size perfume you ordered, and you don't like it... girl... that's on you.
Of course if your item arrives damaged or isn't up to my quality standards don't hesitate to contact me so I can correct the problem! I really do want you to be happy with your purchase!
OH, and while I absolutely love hearing from you guys and I can chat for hours about skincare and I find your feedback to be absolutely invaluable, when you message me after normal business hours, you'll be getting an out of office auto reply. If it's about work, I'll deal with it when I get back to my desk in the morning. (I think most of my urgent customer queries are about how to use discount codes anyway, so I'm hoping to save myself a bit of trouble on both fronts there!) I plan to be spending my evenings at for least the rest of this summer doing yoga or meditating or reading or taking a bath or going to bed early.
That being said, please feel free to message me whenever 'cause I know you're busy too, but I've got to put an end to the late night convos for my sanity. I'll talk to ya in the morning!
In our culture today we (especially us millennials, out of necessity,) glorify work and hustle and dreams and the struggle to make it big, and all of that is great I guess - but you know what? I didn't go into business for myself to make myself crazy, and I definitely didn't go into business for myself to do things the same way as everyone else!
I mean, how silly is it to have a business based on self care if you have to run yourself into the ground to make it happen? That makes no sense! My goal is to inspire my customers to take control of your wellness and live more thoughtfully via the products that you put on your body - so if you're struggling with taking time for yourself, standing up for yourself, or knowing that you're worthy of a job that makes you happy and pays all of your bills, I hope that my actions as an entrepreneur can also serve as a good example.
And if you think that you can only buy things if they're on sale, I ask you to challenge that notion. If you're buying something really great and good for you that you know will make you happy, it's worth it, is it not?! You're worth it!
Yes, a $16 stick of deodorant is A LOT compared to a $4 tube of Secret or whatever. But it comes out to about $2/week. Or about $.27 per day. 27 cents of health. 27 cents of biodegradable, eco-friendly, yummy smelling goodness that will put a smile on your face every day and make you feel super special and fancy. 27 cents of supporting a real person with values and a heart instead of a huge corporation that still tests on animals and only cares about making their shareholders even more wealthy. Every time you give money to me instead of them, you're making the world a better place. Don't even tell me you can't afford that!
(Okay, I know some people really can't because I've totally been there, which is why I'm planning to share even more DIY recipes and such with you on this blog in the future... stay tuned!)
I chose to follow my intuition when I started this business, and now I'm finally choosing to trust myself and my ideas.
I also trust that my customers are amazing people who see the value and the magic in my handcrafted products. I'm choosing to believe that you guys actually like me and want to see me successful and happy and able to support my child and move out of my parents house... maybe even (gasp!) back to California so I can live and work by the beach and send my son to amazing schools with vegan food on the cafeteria menu!!
I truly believe that there is so much magic in buying handmade. In each of my product listings it says, "Handmade with love by Twinkle Apothecary owner & creator, Stefanie" and I mean it. It's not just something I'm saying to be cute. There really is love in my products! Love for the ingredients, love for animals, love for the earth, love for my child, love for myself, (I mean it's about time, right?) and love for you. I think often about the value of buying handmade - people always ask me when I'm going to hire someone else to do all of this work for me, or, why don't I just outsource it to a lab?
But, I don't know... would it be as special?
Perhaps it just wouldn't be as special to me. That's a topic I'm sure I'll be exploring more as my business grows. Right now I'm loving doing everything all by myself, but don't know if it will be sustainable much longer. The good news is that I was able to slow down and rest a bit in June and I had my best month yet - so I think maybe I'm onto something!
The gratitude that I feel when I sit down in my little studio to work everyday is overwhelming, and I wish I could find the words to describe how much your support means to me.
Every order matters - so don't think that that $8 dry shampoo or $10 sample pack goes unnoticed. I'm over here doing a little happy dance every time I get to send something that I made out into the world!
So, thank you thank you thank you!
I'm so glad that you're here with me on this (totally unexpected yet wonderful) journey. I look forward to sharing more of my ideas and good stuff with you, and I truly hope that you enjoy my little creations.