My Soap Making Journey: Part 1, Starting a Business with Dead Cats and Human Teeth

[I know what you're thinking.  I make soap out of dead cats and human teeth.  I would like to clarify, before we start, that this is not, nor will it ever be, true.  Just so we get that out of the way...]

I spent the majority of my life, at least the first 35 years, living in southern New Hampshire.  Some fun facts about New Hampshire:  It is the Granite State.  An image of "The Old Man in the Mountain" is on the license plate, even though he fell off the mountain a long time ago.  If you don't like the weather, people will tell you to wait five minutes and it will change.  That is often actually accurate.  The winters are ridiculously cold and snowy and the summers are extremely hot and humid.  You should definitely brake for moose because it could save your life.  Seriously.  The state slogan is "Live Free or Die."  (Really, I'm not actually kidding.) I grew up there, went to school there, went to college there.  I began a career, had a daughter, and raised her to adolescence by myself there.  

Four years ago, after a lot of consideration and discussion, I decided to move.  It merited much consideration and discussion because I had decided to move to southern California.  Three thousand, seventy six miles away.  The only belongings that I was taking had to fit in a four by eight foot trailer.  (That was what I could comfortable tow.  Actually, I had never towed anything before, but that is what the manual said I could tow.)  I made an outline on my dining room floor of the trailer footprint with painter's tape.  Then, I had to decide what to keep.

The furniture was easy.  I gave that away to friends and colleagues.  (Too big.)  My daughter's stuff was easy.   All that was coming with us.  (Totally necessary.)  And then there was everything else.  A house full of thirty five years of STUFF.  I rented a thirty cubic foot dumpster.  Whatever did not fit in the tape guidelines had to go.

At the end, I had two items that I did not know what to do with.  The ashes of my Maine Coon cat, Gustav (I couldn't bury them because he hated being dirty in life) and all the teeth my daughter had lost in a yellow tea pot.  (Yes I kept them, because I didn't really want to throw them out, and yes, that may mean I am a psycho).  In the end, they both got packed and they are prominently displayed on the bookshelf of my new home. I mean, if you decide to bring them, then you gotta own that.

So, what does this have to do with starting a soap making business, you might ask?  Moving to a new place, as difficult as it can be sometimes, offered me a unique opportunity.  I realized that I could be anyone I wanted to be.  I could leave behind the parts of myself that were no longer serving me and I could discover new parts of myself that I had been too afraid to look at before.  I could throw away the stuff I didn’t want any more in a thirty cubic foot dumpster and only bring the things that really had meaning to me.

I share this story on the brink of starting a new career:  small business ownership.  The decision to start my own business came after a lot of consideration and discussion.  It merited a lot of consideration and discussion because up until now I had worked in the education and social work fields.  And now I am about to do something completely different.  I decided to keep the parts of myself that loved and thrived on creating and give away the parts of myself that were too afraid to try.  I kept the parts of myself that yearn to learn everything there is to know about everything, and discard the part that feared failure and found comfort in what was known.

So I ask you, what are your dead cats and human teeth?  What do you keep and what do you discard?


1 comment

  • Hi Jess!
    I love your story lady! So happy for you and glad you are pursuing your dreams. We miss you and think of you often.

    Susan Beck-Dore

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