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Skincare in the “cloud”: why Stark is now online-only.

January 07, 2015

cloudsI mentioned in my New Year’s post that I had recently made a business decision that was difficult for me. In the last quarter of 2014 (because I’m an adult now and say stuff like that), I decided to stop selling Stark at wholesale to other shops and to be available exclusively on our own site. It was in some ways painful, because I had made some great business connections with women I had come to see as my friends. Maybe with a pen-pal kind of vibe with a whole lot of entrepreneurial talk, but I truly enjoyed these relationships. Not to mention, it was a sizeable chunk of my income and brand exposure.

But, wholesale never felt right to me. Right from the get-go in early 2012, I was always dragging my heals around it. It was something I felt that a company in this field “had” to do. I knew my heart just wasn’t into it though. I liked the chase, but then I felt very meh and unexcited, even if I truly adored the shop. I know I never acted whole-hearted about this side of my business, because if I had been, I would have really rocked some major gym socks right off. (Any time you do work your entire being is 136% dedicated to, you deliver mind-blowing results, and I don’t care who you are, your education or talents. This is fact.) And then there was also the question of how much additional work, coordination, time and physical space it took up. By the way, I need to give you a tour of my studio, because it’s shockingly TINY. This is why I don’t do my own shipping…I physical can’t sustain all the boxes and tape and labels and whatnot. I run a tiny, tight ship here that’s just big enough for my manufacturing and creative work, and the nitty gritty of handling bulk orders was a total pain.

So, why couldn’t I just figure out a way to make it less painful…just do what it takes to make it work? Because I clearly didn’t want to. I had so much resistance, even with dozens of ideas that would make it easier, that I knew my unwillingness was a clear sign that this was no-go for me. It drained me. My business depends completely on my creative juices, and anything that compromises that gets the heave-ho. So, of course I debated over this decision, literally, FOR YEARS. Because life. I was (and still am) a little scared about screwing up, and doing the opposite of what you feel every else is doing can be intimidating.

Then, in October 2014, a major, major, major retailer contacted me. It was like a make-or-break deal for Stark. I was scared out of my panties, and really excited/anxious. But, there were all these indications that something was truly amiss. Poor communication, convoluted documentation, flagrant disrespect and disregard for other people’s time, and zero to no organization (and that was just me…KIDDING! Mostly.) So, because everything was moving like coagulated  maple syrup, I had a lot of time to think. Why did I want this? Did I even want this? What ways would Stark have to change? Did I want that change? Would I want to do this for 1/4 the money it would bring in? What experience did other brands have with these guys? (I actually emailed some “colleagues” and got some great advice. Green beauty is the BEST industry to work in! Competition like you wouldn’t believe, but we’re all buddies. It’s amazing.) The clock kept ticking, I crunched numbers, dissected feelings, went on some long runs and realized…I didn’t want this. At all. Of course I want to grow my business, but was this my path? No. I walked away from potentially tens of thousands, you guys. *gulp* Maybe not much  money to big companies, but a very big deal for me.

And I know you’re like “WOMAN ARE YOU INSANE!?” and the answer is:  I am, of course,  a little insane BUT I know the choice is the right one. I was journalling one night, reflecting on some words I had read in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s  Self-Reliance when it became obvious that I have two strong values when it comes to how Stark is run. I value simplicity. I value my creativity. These are the two avenues I must focus on for my own happiness, and to focus best on how to serve you, customer. It might not make a lot of sense to an outsider, but all this does not fit in with growing the wholesale side of my business. Simplicity + creativity means keeping Stark small and nimble where I can use my time and energy on creation rather than managing. I don’t really want employees, a big factory and some big, bloated brand. I never set out to do that. I just want to do my thing and raise my family. I want to be able to do my own customer service and be helpful to every person who uses my products, I want to hand-blend every perfume and facial oil and write as much as I can to help others take amazing care of themselves. I’m a creative…not a classic CEO-type at all.

Since making the decision, my creativity is through the roof which is always an excellent sign that my business direction is align with my spirit…not to get all woo-woo on you. I am, as always it seems, updating and beautifying our site, and soon the blog too, to be just an amazing place to hang out and I have a few really neatl new projects, including the mini e-course I’m writing called 21 Days. Pretty major project that’s been in the works for over  a year now…yikes! By the way, I’m using my genius husband’s program to write it… if you ever need to write long documents that require a lot of organization, it’s pretty much the best thing ever. No bias, I promise. It’s called Gingko and it’s a life-saver if you’re more of an idea-generator than a paragraph-maker, if you know what I mean. AND there’s a very unique product launch coming in about four to five weeks weeks! That’s top-secret for now, but if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see lots of behind-the-scenes glimpses of what I’m making. My skin loves it, and I know yours will too..it’s so badass (in a soothing, dewy-skin kinda way). Not to mention Parfum 03 will be ready before spring. Its the PERFECT spring scent, big fluffy flowers and ripe, juicy fruitiness with this sumptuous, edible heart. AND some new lip treatment flavours are coming! EXCITING!

Stark’s third birthday is just around the corner, on February 8th (and if you’ve been with me for a while, you know that means something special!). Shit’s getting real over here, people. I hope you feel how palpable my optimism is and stick around to enjoy this ride.