Creating a Product Line
Once you've decided you want to sell, you need to find out if your products will sell. Do some market research and trend-spotting and adapt your products to the wants of the market. You can sell one thing that you really love, but you can sell more if you expand, even a little, to include more items for varied tastes.
Now that you've varied your line to allow for tastes and needs other than yours, it is time to create a “line.” To get an idea of what that means, look to some of the giants in the cosmetics industry. A line can be defined as a group of different products that relate to each other around a theme. For example, many skin-care lines have a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer at the root of their treatment sales philosophy — three products that are meant to be used together.
A common thread among handmade soapmakers is the “all natural” theme. If you're going to go this route, clearly define for yourself what “all natural” means and create your company philosophy around this idea. If your focus is cultural, such as a company called Irish Hearth owned by Lori Kimble, research the culture, get a clear picture of what you're going to offer, and stick with the niche.
Categorize by Threes
Having a standard three-faceted fragrance palette can create a strong selling base. Perhaps you'll go with the traditional “floral, herbal, and food” divisions. Good florals are the traditional rose, gardenia, and freesia. Herbal scents like lavender, chamomile, and mint are always strong sellers. In the food category, you have everything from the perennially favored oatmeal to more recently popular fruits like peach and raspberry. You can also create a menu of “all natural,” “mostly natural,” and “fancy creations,” for example, for a three-pronged approach to categorizing your lines. You can offer an unscented soap, along with color-free lavender for the all-natural part of your line. You can add naturally colored essential oil and fragrance oil blends for the “nearly natural,” and go all-out with fantasy florals and bright colors for the “fancy creations.”
Of course, you don't have to think in threes. You can have a categorizing system that you devise on your own. It is, however, good to have one main focus, and then have two to four divisions within that focus.