We are shutting down Muddy Mint... kind of. Here's the story:
Back in January 2023, Troy & I had lunch with our landlords. We met up to talk about the space adjacent to our current soap studio and the possibility of renting it to expand our space. This move would have given us additional room, which is something we desperately needed to grow. During that meeting, we asked if we could sign a one-year lease for the adjacent space. Our landlords wanted us to sign a two-year lease. But something didn't feel right, and we were hesitant.
To take a step back, our business grew five times in 2020. In 2021 we moved from a 350 sq ft backyard studio to a 1500 sq ft building in downtown Longmont. After less than two years in our new space, we were already starting to feel squeezed and at the beginning of 2023, Troy and I began to talk more about the direction of Muddy Mint. We knew we couldn't keep making all the soap. After all, we had a business to manage! We had our processes fine-tuned, so 2023 would be the year we could finally hire soap makers, meaning we would need more room, not only for extra people but for more drums and larger equipment. We had a grand plan, which brings us back to why we were meeting with our landlords.
After we left that meeting, we had a lot of thinking to do. Troy and I proceeded to talk for over an hour. The real question was: why were we so reluctant to sign a two-year lease, given our plans? At first, we were thinking: we'll probably outgrow this space in two years and need a larger warehouse. That thought personally made me cringe. A warehouse? Ugh. The longer we talked and the further we dug, we realized that neither one of us wanted to run a large business.
It's hard to stop a moving train. Scaling up, hiring more people, creating more efficient processes - these are all part of growing a business. It's what is expected. But what if growth feels like something you have to do, rather than something you want to do? What if you want to keep things small?
I'm nearly 50 and Troy just turned 58 and we're both at the stage in our lives where spending time with the people we love is at the forefront of our minds. This hit me especially hard after Troy lost his mom last year. As a result, we would like to spend time with my parents while they're healthy, enjoy quality time with our kids before they head off into adulthood, take more time to visit extended family, host dinners with friends, spend time in nature, focus on our own health and well-being, and generally be more present in our lives with the people we care about.
As exciting as it has been to build Muddy Mint and watch us grow (we're on track to reach one of our big revenue milestones this year!), the thought of running a big soap company doesn't bring us the same joy. That said, it feels like a shame to get this far and throw it all away. We are still growing like crazy and so many people love our soap! It doesn't feel right to sell the business either. We worked hard to build our audience and we love our brand. Plus, Troy quit his architecture job to grow this thing with me and here we are wanting to stop?
As we sat and talked, we had an idea: "What if we give the business back to the people that made us?" All of you! Rather than selling to a person or company, what if we share everything we've learned? Generally, we're thinking of this as a pivot from soapmaking to education. We get so many questions every day from all of you about how to make soap, scaling your business, whether you should sell on Etsy or on your own website, how to make palm free soap, where to buy essential oils, etc. We absolutely love talking about soap, business, and helping other small businesses.
You've seen glimpses of this shift already with our YouTube channel and our recipe downloads. We'll still be making soap, but not very often. We will sell what we make, but it won't be anywhere near the volume we're making now. We're moving back to that 350 sq ft studio and we're simplifying and allowing ourselves to see where things go. We're coming back full circle, but with nearly eight years of experience. We'll still be around, but in a totally new way.
We're not sure exactly what the future holds, but we do know this:
- We are shutting down our wholesale completely. The last day to order wholesale will be Friday December 1, 2023. This is a hard thing to say and will be even harder to do. We worked so hard to grow our wholesale business. We are in over 600 retail shops and have nearly 300 reviews, every single one of them five-stars. We love our retailers and we've been so fortunate to work with amazing shops. We wish we could visit every single one of you and give you a hug.
- We are canceling our quarterly subscription box. We will not be releasing a Holiday subscription box. We'll still make holiday scents, but you'll have to buy them like the old days. :) If you're currently a subscription box subscriber, your subscription will be canceled immediately.
- We are still making soap until mid-November, so the holiday season will be completely normal, and we have lots of soap for everyone (we hope!). If you want certain scents, make sure you get them because they might never come back!
- We are shutting down for two weeks over the holidays (Dec 21 - Jan 3). We'll be resting. We're not sure how much soap we'll have when we open back up, but we will keep you all posted on exactly what we have left and what is going on.
- We will re-open from Jan 4 until late February. We will likely not be making any more soap during this time, so there's a chance that we'll be completely out of stock of everything. We're not sure how it'll play out, but we're guessing there won't be much left. We may make some things in January, if it looks like we have excess supplies that we need to get rid of, but they might be random things. Mostly, we'll be selling what we have left and working on moving everything out of our current space.
- We will move everything into our home studio by the end of February. We are also leaving on vacation for five-weeks starting March 1, so we won't be back until mid-April or so.
- We are clearing out a LOT of stuff! Over the next few months, we will be selling a LOT of things. If you want anything, particularly if you're local, please email or DM us. This includes most of our equipment, in addition to our soapmaking supplies.
What does next year look like?
- Simi's Book is coming out in late May. We have a fun idea to do a "Soap-Along" via YouTube for every single recipe in the book after it comes out. We'll see if that happens, but we can't wait to share this book with you! It was a ton of work and we ended up putting a lot of things on the backburner that we wanted to do this year, but it'll be worth it. It's like a little piece of our heart going out to you. :)
- We'll keep making YouTube Videos and we'll hopefully have a lot more going up in 2024. Feel free to send us suggestions on videos you'd like to see!
- We may create a Soapmaking Course. This is something we've wanted to do for a very long time, but it may take a while... we want to do it right!
- We may do Quarterly Soap Releases. We'd love to keep all our retail customers supplied with Muddy Mint soap, if possible. Some of you are like old friends. There will be soap made as we work on these projects and we'll probably sell it, so if you're interested, sign up for our e-mail list to know when our soap drops happen!
- We are Open to the Possibilities of what 2024 brings. While we'll primarily be focusing on re-connecting with our friends and family, we also want to stay connected with you. Things may change as the year goes on, but we hope you'll hang around for the ride.
We've sat with this decision for nearly an entire year and have been through a gamut of emotions, but as the year comes to a close, we're really happy to have gone through the full year and we're also at peace with our decision. We let our employees know very early on, so they will be okay, and they support us. They've been such an amazing team, and we can't imagine finishing this year off without them.
So, that's the end of Muddy Mint, as we know it. But there's more in store. Just you wait.