New Product Samples

Body lotion and beeswax products

This week has been all about finishing products I started last week for my sample testing event on Sunday. I set up a test group I call the “Harvesters” about a month ago – mostly with friends, but I opened it up to anyone living in the ACT.

My hope was not only that this group would give me important feedback prior to going to market with my ideas, but they would also act as future ambassadors for the new products as they had input into them coming alive.

The first six samples I’ll give them to try are our new body lotion with 6 different potential scents and 3 different consistency. Ideally, I would have tweaked the products at least once myself before getting feedback from third-parties, but I just received them on Friday from my soap maker, and so we didn’t have time to make any adjustments.



Of the six, there are three scents that I definitely like, but think the consistency of all of them needed some work.

I’ve also created some samples of a hand butter salve and lip balm for them to try that I made myself using Canberra beeswax. It sounds easy enough, but I made 14 different samples, and still am not completely happy with the texture. It feels like I’m baking a cake and just tweaking the recipe constantly to find that perfect fit.

Hand salve and lip balm test samples
Hand salve and lip balm test samples

It will be interesting to see what my test group says about these samples. I won’t tell them which ones I like as I don’t want to skew the results. Still, I am quietly cheering on my favourites.

Hotel Amenity Pilot is a Go

It’s a go for our non-plastic hotel amenity pilot! While I won’t make a dime from this 1 month pilot (and will likely lose some money), it’s worth it to test the solutions that we are considering right now.

There are so many little things to consider such as how easy it is to dent our aluminium tins. About half of the tins from one sample pack that came in via Amazon.com.au showed up with dents or scratches.

I’m also considering the labelling requirements. I want to print right on the packaging from the start, but it costs a lot more to do this with small volumes. However, using a compostable paper labels isn’t possible because it’s not waterproof – a “no no” in bathrooms where they might discard unused tins only because the wet label makes it look used.

Right now, I think I’m going to have to order two lots of tins. Some that are blank, and then I buy plastic labels to hand place on them. And others that have the printing on them from the start. This will allow us to test the printing capabilities during the pilot itself.

The buzz of winning work

It’s strange that when I used to win multi-million dollar contracts back in my IT days, it never gave me a buzz like it gave other sales people. I was more proud of the proposals I turned in that solved a customer’s problems, and therefore it didn’t mater it we won or lost to me even though I would only be rewarded if we won.

For this hotel amenity pilot, I’m excited even though it will likely cost me more than I make to do this. It’s the fact that a hotel is willing to take a chance on my crazy idea that can really reduce the amount of single-use plastic in hotels locally and nationally if I move fast enough. It’s the potential impact down the road that is giving me a buzz. How awesome would it be to literally change the hotel industry’s practices to benefit the environment!

Making plastic things

Becoming the maker

I’m not a natural maker. What I mean by this is that I’m not someone who has spent a lot of time making things with my hands. Instead I’ve been the one that typically brings together makers to make something or to achieve a goal.

I’ve been trying to make things from recycled plastic for close to a year now by outsourcing the manufacturing to other people. It drives me nuts that I still don’t have anything to sell because I am so dependent on others with much slower processes.

If I need anything digitally done, I can get it down in 1 to 3 days. Yet, when I’ve tried to get a physical sample of something, it’s taken months. Try to design something from scratch? Months again. Repurpose a private label product? In Australia, it’s going on 2 months of just trying to get the right info because everyone seems to take their time.

I’m starting to realise that I might have to become the maker. It just takes way too long, not to mention cost to get anyone to do anything here. Maybe it would be different elsewhere, but I just don’t understand why the manufacturing process has to be so slow for makers when China can build an entire hospital in a week.

It’s no wonder that we struggle to be competitive against them. So, as I look forward, I think that I’m going to have to be a maker and do more of this myself at least in the short to medium term if I want to see any progress.

How much do I need to raise for my first product?

From the beginning of this adventure, the most asked question has been, “What are you making? The second most asked question has been, “How much do I need to raise?” If I tried to answer the money question back in April when the ideas first came to me, my estimate would have been off by a mile.

The answer now that I have real info as of today? About $200k for Product #3!!

Yes, that’s a lot of money! The moulds will be made in China. If they were done in Australia, it would have been three times the price.

However, the manufacturing will be done here in Australia with Australian recycled plastic. We are currently trying to see if we can do it mostly out of milk jugs. Wouldn’t that be a great story where we can say that X number of milk jugs are used in every product?

Today, I just signed off on $7500 in prototype costs. That too is a lot of money out of my pocket personally. My manufacturer asked me if I wanted to sleep on it ,and I told him that I have been waiting to make this decision for 4 months.

It’s essentially all or nothing at this point. How much of the $200k do I need to raise? All of it.

If the crowdfunding is not successful, then I’ll need to look for a job and pursue this business as a side hustle. So, I might as well and go all in now.

Moving forward…