I have always been a people-pleaser. People-pleasers hate to say no, hate to let others down, and hate to inconvenience others in any way. Even when I’m deathly ill and dehydrated, I’d rather lick the wallpaper for moisture rather than ask a neighbor to stop by McDonald’s on her way home and pick up an iced tea for me.
But lately I have started growing out of this personality trait. I am learning to say things like ‘No’, or ‘I’m sorry but that’s not okay with me’, or even ‘If you ask me that one more time I’m going to drop-kick you across the room’.
People-pleasers are terrified that if they speak up with an opinion that is different than everyone else’s, or if they don’t work hard enough to please everyone else, then others won’t like them. And being liked is extremely important for people-pleasers. I suppose it’s because we feel that if others don’t like us, then we must indeed be a pitiful, unlikable excuse for a human being . . . a fact we have long suspected somewhere in the backs of our minds.
I actually have quite a few friends for an introverted person but still . . . people-pleasers have a vague feeling that others are only tolerating them. People-pleasers feel that if others have to go out of their way one iota for them, then that might be the last straw and those other people will just suddenly decide they are too much trouble. Then others might hate them. Which is the opposite of liking them. And that’s a problem for a people-pleaser.
But as I grow older, the cranky, ‘Hey you kids, get off of my lawn!’ phase of life is starting to counteract the people-pleaser part of me. So, between the two, maybe in a few years I’ll even end up as normal.
After all, at a recent family gathering I was actually able to ask a family member ‘ Would you mind grabbing me a can of soda while you’re up?’ And, contrary to my stilted people-pleaser beliefs, the family member did not pull out a gun and shoot me on the spot, but did in fact, bring me the said can of soda. Next I plan work up the courage to try this dangerous self-improvement exercise on my friends.**Disclaimer: The above statements are only a figure of speech. After all, guns and other life-threatening situations are obviously not a part of our family gatherings – although there was the infamous under-cooked turkey incident of ’82 . . .
Being a recovering people-pleaser with a growing soap business is like herding cats; it’s impossible and you just end up flying off in a million different directions until it makes you crazy. Not that I’m complaining, mind you – I really do want to give my customers what they like best :-)
I have a fulltime day job and a lot of hobbies so I am busier now than I have ever been in my life. Soap-making is one of those hobbies that happened to turn into a side business. Although I am very limited on the time I can spend making and selling soap, it helps me to make ends meet and I really do enjoy the process and creativity of making, selling and using my own soap.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not a lot of hard work. It can be difficult and time-consuming and my kitchen is nearly always cluttered with soapmaking supplies. Then there is the somewhat stressful, all-important question of ‘I have requests for 12 different types of soap, but I only have time to make two batches today. Which two types of soap will it be?’
Why is that a stressful dilemma for me? Because everyone likes something different and I want to please everyone which, in this case, is my customers. And I love my customers! They are nice, they are funny and they share my love of handmade soap. Some of them have even become my friends.
And by purchasing my soap, my customers also help me pay my bills, put food on my table, gas in my car and to occasionally go out to lunch with coworkers. Coworkers who sometimes give in to my repeated whining for my favorite Thai restaurant.
Actually, it’s the only Thai restaurant in my town, but the Pad Thai and Thai Iced Tea are pretty darn good for a Thai restaurant in a fairly small Appalachian town on the banks of the Ohio River. Not to mention the waitress there always knows my order by heart and that makes me feel loved :-) There was a time when I would always have let my coworkers choose where to have lunch, which proves once again that I’m on the people-pleaser road to recovery.
So now you understand that I really want to please my customers (and that I have a weakness for Thai food). But I have gotten so many new customers over the last year that pleasing everyone is turning out to be impossible. Here are just some of the requests and comments I get (keep in mind I’m not complaining about these requests, I’m just showing how humorous and confusing it can all be):
- I want soap that is vegetarian
- I want soap that contains animal fats as I’ve heard that animal fats make the very best soap
- I want soap that contains goat milk
- I want soap that does not contain any animal product, not even goat milk
- I want all natural soap
- I want soap that contains fun colors
- I want soap that does not contain any coloring
- I want soap that is only colored naturally
- I want unscented soap
- I want soap that contains my favorite fragrance
- I want soap that is scented with only essential oils, not fragrance oils
- I want soap that has rose petals and other pretty things on top
- I want soap that doesn’t have all that fru-fru stuff on top
- My kids love the soaps that look like Peeps and the soaps that look like cupcakes!
- Why do you make soaps that looks like Peeps and soaps that looks like cupcakes? What if my kids eat it?
- I only want melt & pour soap
- I only want cold process soap
- I want soap that smells fruity
- I hate soap that smells fruity
- I don’t like it when soap smells too strong
- I don’t like it when soap doesn’t smell strong enough
- When are you going to make patchouli soap? Patchouli soap is very popular.
- Don’t bother making patchouli soap. Nobody likes patchouli soap.
As you can see, it would take a LOT of time to fulfill everyone’s requests. And as much as I love my customers, I occasionally have to eat, sleep and feed the cat.
I admire other soapmakers. Some of them find a niche and that is what they are known for. Some of them make only goatmilk soaps, or only natural soaps, or only melt and pour soaps, or only soaps that look like food, etc. They know what they like and they have made a firm decision about what kind of soap to specialize in. Unlike me who is wishy-washy and can’t decide on only one kind of soap when there are so many neat kinds out there. Unlike me who loves to switch it up and explore what’s over the horizon in the soapy world of . . . errr . . . soap. Of course, there are plenty of other soapmakers who, like me, can’t choose only one favorite type of soapmaking, so they too ‘play the field’. When I compare notes and share ideas with these soapmakers from all over the globe, it adds yet another nice element to this hobby.
Because I do love to try new things and to have fun with soap-making, I will continue to try to offer you a little of everything. But I have to make my soap on a rotating basis to be able to do this. So when your favorite soap comes around, I encourage you to buy enough of it to last you until I can get around to making that kind again. It also saves you money in shipping costs when you buy this way. For instance, as of today, a small priority mail flat rate box costs $5.80 and only holds 3 or 4 bars of soap. But a medium priority mail flat rate box costs $12.35 and holds about 60 bars!
So, my dear customers, although I can’t please everyone, I will still try to please as many of you as I can :-) And because I really do like you all, I will continue to consider your requests. Within reason, of course. If you request a blue and yellow striped soap that is scented with Clive Christian No. 1 Imperial Majesty Perfume and made with the milk of Spotted Yellow-Bellied Madagascar Goats who have been hand-massaged twice a day and eat a diet consisting only of wild Morrel mushrooms. . . well, I might have to draw the line there.
And yes, I totally made up the name of that goat.