Wednesday, April 30, 2008

and then... depression set in

First off, I'm a big movie fan. So, when I say things like that title, I expect most of you who were born in the 1970's to know half of what I'm talking about.

Clip is NSFW.

It's been 4 hours, I'm at the half way point, for god sake, and I've had one customer. I've had two people walk in the shop.

What I was really trying to find was a clip of True Lies. Let me set the scene for you.

The nuclear bomb went off. Arnold and Jamie Lee Curtis are kissing, after making up. Harrier jets have landed, just in case of the EMP.

Tom Arnold is looking for Arnold. Jamie Lee knows her husband has work to do, so says "Go."

Arnold, just like a school kid goes "Ok, BYE!" and runs to the jets.

Well, my mom dropped me off at the shop this morning, helped me set up and then said "BYE!" just the same.

It's like the store is a leper colony.

Two women are in the store right now, going through the bargain sliced soaps. And they're complaining that they can't smell the soaps, because they are packaged in shrink-wrap.

Why isn't it possible to please everyone in retail?

You treat customers with respect. You say hello when they come into the store. When they leave, you say "Have a good day." And there are people who still think you're not only there to serve them, but do them favors (and not in the vein of customer service. It's like people have taken the idea of 'the customer is always right' and substituted that for manners, where their actions and speech count are unaccountable.)

note - this is not the first or last time I will discuss the manners of customers

It was one of my biggest problems walking into stores in NYC. It seems that the attitudes of the young people in the city have permeated the workforce. Where you once had semi-lazy people who were just tired or bored and didn't really want to be working at a grocery store or a music store, or any kind of retail store... now you get these kids who are either too busy texting someone (or calling them) to help, or they treat you with such disdain that if they help you, you feel like THEY'RE doing a favor for you.

It's such a joke, and I cannot even begin to tell you the difference in customer service outside of NYC. The people here in Florida (specifically Tampa) are friendly and helpful. They're also clean.

Anyway. More Buffy, more writing, more waiting for customers. Gonna turn the AC on, cause it's getting warm.

I'll also write later and let you know how my trip to the bathroom was. With details.

John Painz

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

counting the minutes. and the cards.

Two customers today.

One was interested in hosting a home party.

One, from Indiana, was interested in becoming a Soapier Spa Party Consultant.

Then there is this, that I learned today. Vegas, here I come.

Cheat Blackjack Win Money $$ - Funny bloopers are a click away

dead (surely part 1 of... god knows how many)

We had a meeting this morning, about what's what and what we're trying to accomplish and all that. This is the second of such meetings. Every tuesday morning, for breakfast.

I have been in the shop for four and a half hours. I've eaten two sandwiches, a granola bar, a bag of chips and a small cracker barrel cheese stick.

I have had two people come in the shop. I have had zero paying customers.

I had a pretty damn good day yesterday.

I'm about to slit my wrists.

On top of all this, I had an art deal I was putting through. I am selling a piece I don't want to sell, unless it's for a specific amount of money. Well, I got an offer yesterday that was very, very good. I accepted the offer. Today I get an email from some... god, I wish I could really curse on this blog.

I got an email from the man whose offer I accepted, his 'ASSociate." Telling me that there had been a mistake, and he was using his friend to make offers (shady, already) and he'd meant his friend to make an offer on a different piece, same character, same artist, different owner.

It's a piece of comic book art, btw.

Well, I went to look at the piece, and the offer he'd made me, for the piece he wants, is insulting. It's a cover grade ink drawing with paint, super detailed. So, what a whole joke this thing turned out to be. Now I'm stuck here, having made no money, either at the shop or personally, and I am in such a bad mood, I can't even begin to tell you.

I am so disappointed and mad, I can't even watch this terrible Buffy series. Or write. Or read.

My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.

Now, if you know what that's from, we can be friends.

No cheating.

Monday, April 28, 2008

tibit #1

"Oh god, smell this one." customer #1

"Christ, smells like grandma." customer #2

"Yeah, I can't believe it. And look, it's called Mix and Mingle. I wouldn't mingle with this on." customer #3

"You've mingled? I'm surprised you were able to leave the house, looking like a tent." me.*


"I don't see any." customer #1

"Yeah, no aloe vera lotion." customer #2

"We have some right here." me - showing customers the lotion.

"Oh, great. My daughter burned her skin in the sun today." customer #1

"Ok, well, how old is she, because we have some nice fun fragrances." me

"Thirteen." customer #1

"Ok, well, we have Berries and Cream," me.

Customer smells it, puffs her mouth out like she's going to throw up, and makes a sick noise. I look at her. She looks back.

"That wasn't very nice of me, was it." customer #1

"No, it wasn't. Get out of my store before I make you eat this." me*.



* comments were not actually said, but thought. Everything else is pretty much verbatim, and that's just today.

I don't understand how, when people leave their respective homes, how their manners go right out the window. Ever been to a friend's house and there's that one person who decides that it's ok to not only be THE pain in the ass, but think that they're right for doing it?

Who teaches these people manners?

Anyway, I should point out that most customers, even the ones that just walk around and don't say hello back and what-not, they are still on good behavior.


muzaked to death

Where I work, the outdoor mall, there is oldies music on. They call it muzak, but it's actual songs, not just instrumentals.

You remember that commercial... I think it was a diaper commercial in the 80's, where these kids were dancing around to the Gentrys "I Keep On Dancing"?

Well, I've heard that two times today. And I've only been here two and a half hours.

I'm tired today. Yesterday wasn't an awful day, money wise, but slow.

I've had one customer thus far, and it was a trio of old ladies who wanted sugar scrub hand treatments.

Our hand treatments are thus:

We offer our sugar scrubs in a variety of different fragrances. Chocolate & Strawberry, Coconut, Oatmeal Milk & Honey, Beach Breezes, Pink Grapefruit, Kiwi, Chocolate, Cucumber & Melon, Berry, or Raspberry.

They choose what they'd like, we use a pitcher of water and get their hands wet, a large metal basin under them.

Then we spoon in a bit of the sugar scrub into their hands, whichever fragrance they'd like.

Then they rub their hands together and get to feel what the sugar scrub feels like. The whole process takes about a minute. Maybe two, if they really like the feel of the sugar scrub. Then we pour water over their hands and once they're clean, give them a towel to dry off with.

The sugar scrub demonstration is either a great seller, or a free thing for people to just do, who have no intention of purchasing anything.

It happens, you still do it because it's a draw (we have a sign outside our store)... and you never know.

So they bought some, which is cool. But that's it for customers today so far.

Over the weekend, after re-doing our html email, we got two orders, a potential 3rd order, a private label customer on our body lotions and body wash, and a potential LARGE customer for sliced soap, which would be awesome. We'll have to see, and I'll keep you posted.

I am watching the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series and I have some notes for those of you who might try to watch this series.

The first season is a joke. A huge joke. It's almost as if the writers decided that suspending the audiences disbelief was more important than accountability and responsibility in the characters and their surroundings.

The first episode. THE FIRST EPISODE. A teenager gets turned into a vampire and dies at the end (I'm not ruining anything here) and no police, no frightened mother, no FBI, nothing. And this happens all season. All season.

It's such a joke, I can't even stand it. Joss Whedon is a great writer and creator. But he should have had more control over that first season, and took the writing into his own hands. Some of it was downright awful.

I have season 2 in my dvd player, and I'm worried. Because A) it would be nice to get through the entire series, praying it gets better and B) because I need something to watch while it's slow.

So, here's to season 2 lighting my fire.

More later.

John Painz

Sunday, April 27, 2008

You need coolin'

Ah, Sunday morning at the shop. On Greek Easter.

Tarpon Springs is one of those communities where police officers dictate traffic for church.

For church.

So here I am, just opened, on the worst day of the week because my mom needed off. Yeah, I'm that good of a son.

And so I have Led Zeppelin playing, and I couldn't be happier. Well, of course I could be happier. You know what I mean.

What are we doing today. Today we're going to look into affiliate programs. Gonna try and get the Soapier brand out there through some other online stores that might want to carry our product.

Lots of different affiliate programs out there, and I have absolutely no idea how to find the right one, so it'll take some research. I'll get back to you all on the ins and outs of the affiliate world.

I also have to take some photos so you can see the first store and this store. What a difference.

Oh, and we're going to go with a 500 piece mailing, to start. To existing customers. It will only run about $300 for printing and postage, and a return of just two orders will get us our money back. That's not even a 1% return. It's a safe bet, when our financial reserves aren't where they should be, and will still (hope hope) generate some orders. We have a mailing list right now of only 111 customers off of

We originally used to send out our newsletter to the 700 some odd customers we had, through my outlook express. We had 50 emails in each group, and the emails were hid. When we got returned email, we deleted it from said group, and did this for quite a while. But it was a lot of work. And there were mistakes. Lots of them.

So, we decided to join aweber, an automated email newsletter company. They charge about $20 a month.

Now, in this day and age of spam, when people go to our website and sign up for our newsletter, they get an email says "Ok, thanks for joining, please click the following link".

Well, we're having trouble with people clicking that link. And what I'm finding is that people don't read. Not only does it say "you'll be getting an email, please click the link to get our newsletter" (that's paraphrasing), but they also GET AN EMAIL... and they're not reading it.


So, from those 700 customers, after we sent out an email stating they had to re-sign up... we got 47 customers who signed up. It was such a joke, and so frustrating. I sent out another email. Two more sign ups.

The remaining balance, those are new customers. We have about 26 people who signed up but didn't click their email. So, that's 26 people who think we're ignoring them.

It's hard. You don't want to call them and make them feel stupid. But you don't want to pester them, either. So what I've done is started sending out emails to them from our newsletter email, directly. We usually send out HTML emails, like this.

My friend Al Rotches (who owns his own website and email design company Al Designs) explained I was doing a few things wrong.

First, there was no real call to action. Second, since it's just one big image (meaning, there is no text), most spam filters would pick it up and drop it right into the spam folder.

That was bad news. Now, on aweber they give you a spam indicator, and if you're under 5 (they're sliding scale), chances are you're ok. Well, ours were a 4.

So Al suggested I go to and download their free email marketing guide, and use one of their free HTML email templates.

So now, Friday, I sent out this. It had a spam rating of 2.3 and will hopefully get a better response than the ones in the past.

More visible links, call to action, real text... we were all happy with it here. We'll have to find a template that has some images on the side, so we can get some product shots in there.

I've been here twenty minutes, I feel like I'm in jail. Two years ago I bought my sister the entire Buffy the Vampire Slayer series on dvd. 40 discs. Feature that.

It's what I have to look forward to while I'm at the shop. The first season is a joke, but there's some decent writing and it'll suffice.

I love watching tv shows on dvd. My mom and I have a yearly tradition of watching Lost every Christmas when the new season comes out on dvd. I own Arrested Development, Alias, Firefly, Greatest American Hero, Simpsons... been going through them like water.

If some of you are alone on Sundays at your shop, let me know what you're doing about it, keeping the boredom at bay.

John Painz

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

to advertise or not to advertise

Consistently, I am amazed at how unoriginal some thoughts are. And some ideas.

Recently I saw a video of Mariah Carey on the Oprah Winfrey show (thanks to the superficial), explaining to people how easy it is to eat healthy.

Now, I'm not sure if you see the problem here.

First off, there isn't a person on this planet that doesn't know eating healthy is good for you.

Second, 1% of the entire population of the world (possibly less) can afford to have someone cook healthy food for us day in and out.

Third, Mariah Carey is here to entertain us. Not teach us things. This whole segment is an insult, in my opinion. Let Mariah come over to my place and cook me some healthy food without burning my apartment down, and then she can let me know all about healthy living.

And she can clean, too, while she's at it. Seriously, my place is a mess.

My point is that what she's talking about, these are not original thoughts. But she's coming across as she's discovered THE SECRET. It's so absurd.

At this stage in our business, Soapier and it's wholesale division First In Line Soap, we have so much we're trying to accomplish, it's very difficult to determine what direction to go in first.

So, we decided on wholesale. It's A) one of the easiest ways to get our brand out there and B) provides more repeat customers with more regularity.

So. We can advertise our wholesale site in a number of different ways. Google ad words is one. And we've been utilizing this great service, and it's gotten us quite a few new accounts, since last year. Quite a few.

I've gotten some phone calls from Yahoo about advertising with them, and I think we're going to give it a shot. I think that if we try it, with a $300 per month budget, we'll have a good barometer on whether it works or not.

I still find it hard to believe that there are people who are loyal only to one search engine, but so be it. You never know where that new customer is going to come from, and over the course of 1 month, for $300, if we get two new customers, that will pay for our advertising for the month, at least.

The second thing we're going to do, which has worked in the past, is direct mail.

The way direct mail really works is repetition. You cannot send out 1 postcard a year and expect your customers to stay in touch with you. Postcard direct mail programs need to be very consistent. This is a monthly process, and for a small company like ours, can be very costly.

First, you need to find a company with good mailing lists. We have a list of just about two thousand previous customers.

Problem with previous customers is A) they either didn't sell our product as well as they thought (a subgroup of that is, they did not properly display our product, I'll get to that later) or B) they are no longer in business or C) they are no longer selling soap.

These things happen, quite often. I did some cold calling a month ago to 30 different old customers, just from last year. I got 1 order. I got three hang ups. One rude guy. And the rest explained that they just don't sell decorative gift soap anymore.

Now, if I were to call up all of our old customers, once a month, I'd go batshit. Seriously. It's not going to happen. Between 3 people, we cannot be a call center, too. It just wouldn't work.

So, finding a reputable list, in the demographic you want to mail to, can be difficult, and a gamble. Keep in mind that most places have a minimum. We've found two with them. 3,000 and 5,000 names.

I think that getting new customers is more important than keeping in touch with old ones. Old ones meaning, those who haven't ordered in three years or more. I'm certainly not talking about customers we already supply. They are the life's blood of the company. You HAVE to stay in touch with them. And while making and keeping personal relationships with them might be out of the question (again, we're only three people), you still have to contact them every once in a while via phone and ask how things are going. This we do.

But in regards to people who've dropped off the face of the Earth...? Well, since we own our own retail store, we know what sells and what doesn't. Things that sell, we're not likely to forget who we purchased the items from. And if these customers, out of touch three years, liked our product and it sold, well, they'd be customers still.

I recognize a certain amount of babysitting is needed, but still. I can't go chasing them and grooming them for a $100 sale every year. It's not worth it.

So. My opinion. A 5,000 piece mailing. Large postcard, with a deal to start. Free shipping on orders of $100 or more. And believe me, $100 an order is almost ZERO presence in a shop. That's 3 loafs. It's nothing. In a future email I will explain the worth of presence in regards to selling a product (another non-original idea).

5,000 postcards, the list, the postage, we're talking about an investment of $2500. Easy.

Now, keeping in mind that the economy is messed up, I'm gonna throw some more figures at you.

1% of that mailing should lead to new customers. That's 50 customers. At a minimum of $100 per order...

See what I mean? This should really be a no brainer. But I don't know about you, but shelling out $2500 during the slow season, and committing to doing this every single month is scary shit.

Does it HAVE to work? Of course not.

Should it work? Yes, it should. If A) the list is good and B) these companies, while feeling the pinch, dig our product.

Advertising this way isn't original. You'll find advice up and down the internet on how to do this right. Doesn't mean they're not right. My comparison to this is that Mariah isn't doing any of the work. So who needs her advice?

So many other questions. But I'll keep you posted on what we do do (eyeroll) and what we don't. Should make for an interesting summer.

You can donate plasma once a week for $50.

Did you know that?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

the days are long

Let me describe the place to you. It's an outdoor mall. Large coverings, boats on the ground interspersed between walking paths and shops. Blue and white motif. A water spitting dolphin that hardly works.

But, the place is kept in pretty decent shape. And it's been around for a while.

We got the place we're at... well, read the previous entry. But it's been good to us thus far and the guy who owns the place isn't bad. Nice guy, good personality.

The mall hours are 10-6 every day, all year. The season... well, that really depends on who you talk to. Could be the season starts in November and goes to end of April. Or January to May. The summer months are dead.

Or they aren't.

I can't really get a solid answer from anyone around here, but the one thing I do know is that we need to make $125 a day to break even. And that's not a lot of money.

Retail is a strange universe. The customer is king. Always. Smiles on the faces of employees. No attitude. So important. These are simple things, but depending on the temperment of your customers, can be sometimes difficult, something trying.

I spend 4 days a week working for my family's business, at the retail shop. I am there alone, with only my trusty laptop and the occasional movie or television show on DVD. And they are the most boring days of my week, bar none.

Truth be told, I don't really have non-boring days. I don't drive (not yet, anyway) and if I did, I wouldn't be able to afford gas. But I do need to get a license. For a number of reasons.

So while I wait my life out in 8 hour increments at the store, my weekends are filled in my apartment, day after day, trapped. It sucks, but for now it's life and I'm trying to make the best of it. The grocery store is in walking distance, as is the local movie theater. Good thing, too.

Let's get back to the store.

I'd like to describe a few things we do here. First, we make, or finalize, most every product we sell. All the soaps are ours. The bath gels and the body lotions, we mix all of those. By hand.

The sugar scrubs, we're provided the base. We now do all the coloring and fragrancing ourselves.

Same with the body butter. We have a facility making our mud masks and a brand new body wash for us.

The shop smells wonderful. So many great fragrances mingled together. Occasionally we get the one or two customers who say the smell is too strong and they can't stand it. And leave.

So be it.

The other day... yesterday in fact. Hell, it's why I didn't write about it yesterday. It's one of those many situations I've had here where I wish that there was a reality tv show crew following me around.

This old woman came in (old meaning late 50's, early 60's), eating ice cream, comes into the shop with her daughter and son in law. And she's looking for something. I hate those customers that look like they're looking for something and don't ask. I'm here to help you. Ask me.

So she says "They don't have it. Wait, they do have it!"

I ask what are you looking for?

She says "Soap with stuff in it. Like palm trees or something." She's lifting a bar of our new Jasmine and Shea Butter soap. I say "Oh, ok, yeah we have lots of different soaps to choose from."

Our soaps come in loafs that we cut into slices for our customers.

So her daughter grabs one of our Pinky Bird slices and she goes "Mom, check this out, isn't this great?"

"Oh my god, that's so ugly."

And that's when I lost my... holy cow. I had to walk out of the store.

It is impossible to not take this personally. I'm not selling Irish Spring. Or Lever 2000. My family makes that soap. And we sell a shitload of it.

Ok, well, kind of a shit load. Not, you know, where we can retire.

But I had to leave the store. I was so ready to say something. And this isn't the first time this has happened. People think that they're at home, smelling samples that some woman is trying to sell out of her briefcase (we do this too, btw) and can try and strike up a personal accord with them, and tell their likes and dislikes in the comfort of their home.

And they can be rude, because it's their home. I know, some people are assholes.

But this, to me, was crossing the line. Don't insult me, my family, my shop, because you don't like something. Keep your opinions to yourself. Or share them when you leave. But don't insult me. Or my product.

I have a great time with customers too. Don't get me wrong. For every customer like this one, I get the other old woman, with two broken wrists, who messes with me and says she'd like a free hand spa treatment.

We advertise free hand spa treatments outside our store.

She comes in with two casts and says "Give me a hand spa treatment!"

It was too funny. She said she was messing with me. I laughed. Her husband laughed.

Of course, they didn't buy anything.

Which brings me to my second point today. Today alone I had a 80% turnaway rate. 10 people came into the store. 2 bought. They were decent sales, above $30, so that's always nice. But... you know, I have no idea if anyone's reading this yet, but I'll have to provide you with some photos so you can see the place. It's nice. We have some more work to do (This week in fact) but it looks nice.

I don't know. Those turnaways are annoying. People who peak their head in. People who walk around and TOUCH EVERYTHING, and SAMPLE EVERYTHING and leave.

I know, it's why the samples are there. And looking never hurts. But all day, every day, and those people who get their free hand spa treatment who go "Oh my god, my hands have never felt this soft before... bye!" and they leave.

WTF? I would never, ever do that. I'd never have someone spend that much time to help me and then leave at the quickest convenience, especially if I liked the product, which they alllllllll do.


Time to leave.

Drop me a line, let me know you're out there reading.


Monday, April 21, 2008

The beginning part 2

Ok, it's been 2 hours since my last post and I will now update all of you with the quick history of our new shop.

Put your goddamn time machine hats on again.

February. I moved down here from Brooklyn, my home for a long time. Since college. That's... jesus. That's sixteen years. Throw in a year or two in Jersey, there you go.

So I moved down here with the idea that A) I'd be working as the designer and web guy and all that and B) that I'd be making a salary of $400 a week, take home.

I'd like to put something into perspective for you, so you can see the dramatic change in not only my lifestyle, but also my determination to get not only the store running right, but also get myself back to a lifestyle I enjoy.

When I was last working a full time job, I was making $300 a day. This was as a graphic designer, and that was a medium salary for the amount of work I was doing.

I move down here, and our original shop was not making any money. Tarpon Springs is, what I would call (and others in town would call) a ghost town. The local government officials work extra hard to make promoting shops in town as difficult as possible. They make laws, ban outdoor advertising, tear up roads where shops parking had been (remind me to tell you what happened two christmas's ago, you won't even believe it.)

This all takes place in Tarpon Springs proper. The historical district. That's where our shop was (it's now strictly a manufacturing facility), and if we got a customer a week, it was a lot. In hindsight, we didn't do enough research, and the thought of having a combination store/production facility sharing the rent was too good to pass up. 1200 square feet for $802 a month. Couldn't beat it. At least, we thought so at the time.

Our wholesale business has a few consistent customers and new ones hit the site every day. Google ad words. Holy cow, it's helped our business 100%.

But it wasn't enough to pay all three of our salaries.

One day, some time in January, I believe, a man who owns an outdoor mall in the TOURIST section of Tarpon Springs (think Lake George or Gatlinberg) came to our shop after a friend... god, so convoluted. Let's just say that we were invited to open a shop in this mall, where there were no soap shops.

Now, there are 30 different shops in this mall called The Sponge Exchange. And it gets a lot of traffic.

It's in an area called The Sponge Docks, touristy, very very greek... and there are four soap shops on the main drag. But none that sell what we're selling. Or making. Our soaps are glycerin soaps in fun, funky and cool designs. There's are olive oil soaps. I won't say they're boring but...

Ok, they're boring.

Oh, and the shop is all the way in the back corner. Near the free parking lot.

After going over some numbers, and getting some advice from some of the other shop owners, we found that we would be able to get in for March 1, and at the PEAK of the tourist season. It would mean cash, but it would also mean that we'd all have to work the shop, which would take away from our other responsibilities.

But it would bring us cash.

I haven't worked retail in a long time. Twelve years, at least. I didn't know any better at the time, so retail wasn't awful, I was young and knew I had better things ahead of me.

I can tell you now, sitting here in the shop, that retail is the worst goddamn thing in the world.

But, it's my shop. Mine and my families. And for better or worse, we have to make the best of it because...

In the first month we opened we took in over $5,000. It would take us an entire year to make $5,000 at the other shop. And while $5,000 might not seem like a lot to some other people, people with higher ticket items, things that don't bob and weave on the line of need/gift... it was a huge deal for us, and not only allowed us to support our salaries, but also both rents for both shops.

This isn't even on top of the wholesale orders we'd received over that month. So, suffice it to say, March was a KILLER month for us. Had to be our best yet, and for good reason.

We sell awesome stuff.

It's April. and it's not as busy in the store. Where we were having $350 days, we have $150 days. And what I can only describe as the slow hell of boredom... I'm here 4 days a week, alone, with this laptop.

And I will be bringing you the day by day, blow by blow of said boredom.

What do I hope to get out of this? Good question. A few things.

One is, entertainment. I say some serious gems around here when what my family have dubbed 'looky-loos' come in and leave the store. I have to write them down.

Second is, you never know where your next big idea will come from. Possibly from you, dear reader. With that, you never know who your next customer will be.

Yes, I'm looking at you.

Third, this is a community. Let's share our pain.

Ok, ok, and we'll share the good stuff too. Sheesh.

The beginning

Put on your time machine thinking caps and transport yourself back almost two months, to March 1, 2008.

I know it's a stretch, but give it a shot. Make sure your antenna is pointed in the right direction. I don't know enough about the curvature of time and space to really get technical, but that's why we have those companies that make cereal toy time machines.

I recently moved down to Florida, in February of 2008, from my home of Brooklyn, NY.

I have no accent. Let's get that out of the way right now.

My mom, my sister and I have been working steadily since 1999 at my mom's soap business, First In Line Soap (link). She's been selling wholesale for a long time and ending a marriage, she moved to Tampa, which is about as far away from Pennsylvania (and still on the East Coast) as she could move.

My sister had moved down here first, to be near friends, and for the warm weather. My mom followed.

It was shortly after, that they opened Soapier (link, a retail store in the tourist attraction that is Tarpon Springs, Florida. Look it up.

Decent space, small town, we had our own parking lot... some pretty good ingredients to not only have a store, but also a production facility to make our products. My sister and I invested money into the company and did our jobs. My sister works production (makes soap) and I do the graphics for brochures, flyers, websites, etc.

Well, in March of 2007, the graphic design market in NY took a sharp turn downward. Possibly just for me, but I doubt it. And I didn't work for close to a year. Not work steadily, anyway. And freelance sucks.

So, the planets, god, a palm reader or two, the aurora borealis and anything else that affects the destinies of us all, they put it pretty clearly in my mind that I was supposed to move down to Florida, to help out with the family business.

And they all owe me apologies.

I'm in Florida, away from my friends, from my girl, from everything I enjoy, since February. And I'm trying to make it work.

So... that's the beginning. In my next journal entry, I will detail all of the things that made us open a second store, go on anti-depressants, watch the country eat itself, and try and stay afloat.

The second entry should be fun.