UPDATE + An Etsy Explanation

UPDATE + AN ETSY EXPLANATION
Original photo, featuring our Coconut & Himalayan Pink Sea Salt Hair Mist

Hello, everyone! What an interesting last few months this has been –

For starters, Darien and I have moved into my Father’s home to help keep it showroom-tidy and to help show it to potential buyers. Due to this sudden move, we no longer have wifi internet access at home. Isn’t that a cherry on a blogger’s sundae? It’s actually turning out to be a wonderful detox (I also rented 15 books from the library, so you can guess what I will be doing in between posts).

The house selling is dire to being able to take the next step: moving to Sitka, Alaska. You may be thinking,

But isn’t this a blog about their move to Tonga?”

Yes, yes it is. But in order to do this without horribly failing, we are choosing to move to Alaska to gain off-grid skill by learning from a true outdoorsman (my dad). Not only this, but also the fact that my father has spoken about returning to Alaska pretty much nonstop since my early childhood – we’re talking many books, maps, photos, and bookmarked websites for YEARS.

Thinking more into it, it’s a shame that he hasn’t gone sooner. Within the last 21 years, there have been many opportunities in between two marriages and employment fluctuations – I’m sure of it, but the idea hasn’t been taken seriously by ANYONE ELSE (I’d hear things like ‘why would you want to move somewhere cold like that?’ and ‘you couldn’t PAY me to visit there’ – very reassuring). Insert photo of Sitka –

That is, until last summer.

He surprised everyone but making a short-notice trip to Sitka – and came back with a cooler full of beautiful, clean fish (and many, many stories of the kind locals, beautiful scenery, the cleanest water in the world, and more). After that visit, it was certain that Sitka is where my father needed to live.

It actually took a bit of convincing for Darien and I to consider the idea of moving to Alaska before Tonga. Once we broke it down and talked about each aspect, it began to become clear. Fishing with my dad will bring in more than enough money for us to add to our Tonga fund, marijuana is 100% legal to those 21 and up (Darien just made it to 21 on the 31st of March yay!), and there are farmers markets and festivals to sell my handmade skincare products!

Those are just three pro’s, and trust me, the list is almost limitless. Think of it like this: the southern islands of Alaska are a lot like Vava’u, except North! Sitka has the same beautiful waterways and islands, but boasts a massive volcano and humongous national forest (Tongas National Forest, to be exact).

What better place to prepare for a life in the island bush?!

Of course, most modern conveniences are still offered in Sitka – this is one of the few differences that Vava’u and Southern Alaska have, but none are overly significant in the ultimate decision.

As stated above, none of this can be accomplished without first, someone buying our property in Bedford, IN. And as of a week ago, we have officially accepted an offer on the house! The closing on the house is on the 29th, and then we will be hosting an auction to basically get rid of 90% of the things we own. After that, we will be on our way to Alaska!

Now to address our next topic of discussion: the Etsy Shop.

SHOP

I started this rather suddenly, and without explanation. Blogging has such a heavy mental weight to it, with having to pre-plan not only the topic, but design multiple graphics, research and save sources, write the entire post, re-write the post, edit, start over, then post and promote! Phew.

I had to take a ‘creative break’, which really translates to, ‘I’m really tired of spending 12 hours on something that generates minimal buzz’.

While going over one of my previous blog posts (15 Ways to Start Living Off the Grid), an idea came over me. What if I create products to sell on Etsy that would also serve as a useful skill while living off the grid?! Two words: natural skincare.

Guestimated figure by yours truly:

Around 90% of homesteaders have to make their own soaps/skin care products. 

Again, I just guessed. But! Due to the nature of homesteading/living off the grid, stores are usually not accessible or not preferred. This leads to the creations of a lot of homemade items, including soaps, creams, sprays, cleaners, spices, etc. You name it, they probably have it made and ready to go.

This figure allowed me to open my mind to the possibilities of promoting this blog + selling a 100% handmade product that could potentially raise the funds needed for our move! The lightbulb came on, and hasn’t burnt out since.

As suddenly as the idea came, I began ordering organic supplies online. Within a week, I was making products and listing them on Etsy. But I quickly ran into a problem: no one is buying my stuff. So I immediately ran to Facebook to post – surely, someone would be inclined to buy SOMETHING. As I scroll down my timeline, I am haunted by Lush repost after repost.

Barely resisting the urge to rip my hair out by the roots, I sat down and tried to re-evaluate my plan of attack.

  1. Take better quality photos of the products being sold.
  2. Post on Facebook often, as well as Instagram, containing photos and information about products.
  3. Offer a variety of different products.
  4. Create a skincare regime pack (cleanser, toner, mask, scrub, butter, and moisturizer) and sell for higher profit gain possibility.
  5.  Using Facebook and Instagram ads when funds start rolling.

Those are my 5 points of attack at this time. If you have any advice, please feel free to comment on this post below!

Also, I want to say a very special THANK YOU to my first two customers! I will keep them anonymous, but I want to personally let them know that they ROCK and that their support is really appreciated. Thanks, Brit, for a photo of your goodies!

Brit's Product Photo
LEFT: Green Tea + Lemon Face Mist | RIGHT: Natural Peppermint Deodorant

My second customer graciously sent me this message after using The Ultimate Moisturizer and the Cucumber Sugar Scrub:

“So I got my hair done today and the lady was like OMG your skin is perfect what do you use, and I was like welllllll and told them about your stuff.”

It’s the little things, folks!

In the midst of the many negative thoughts that my brain comes up with to combat my seemingly-useless obsession with natural skincare, it’s messages like these that keep me inspired and on top of my shop.

Keeping up with Lush and other major ‘natural’ skincare brands is tough, especially when friends completely ignore my marketing pleas, then share a video about Shower Jellies. Sigh.

But, I have come up with something to combat this: soap rocks!

 

SOAP ROCKS
LEFT: Peppermint + Charcoal Soap Rocks| RIGHT: Activated Charcoal Soap Rocks

How cool are these!? They were completely made by accident. I was attempting to cut a few soaps into sample pieces, and accidentally made a jagged cut. Inspiration hit, and I chiseled away until I saw the spitting image of a rock!

These are on our Etsy shop right now, listed at 3 good-sized rocks for $7.75!

Reminder: I made this soap completely from scratch, having to handle lye (dangerous until diluted with water/mixed with oils – lye is in all soap), then a 24 hour drying period and a 3 day curing period, decoration, hand chiseling, photos, and listing. I will be posting a few videos about the shop in general and the soap making process to give you guys a better idea of what all it takes to produce these beauties!

CONCLUSION

This is a HUGE time for us: Our house has sold, we are currently having to clean out 10+ years of paperwork, clothes, and miscellaneous junk, we are planning a road trip to Southeast Alaska, and searching for land/homes in Sitka/Prince of Wales Island.

In midst of all the chaos, I am still taking the time to create new things for the shop and try to market without getting deleted. Yay! Thank you for your support, everyone – this blog has come a long way since its start.

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