Buying, renovating, and moving to a new space is daunting for a small business. It's a huge investment in our future. When I first decided to make this move, I wanted to create a destination: not just a place to make skincare, but a site where you could visit us, see how we work, learn about honey bees, even take classes on honey bees, soap and lotion making, and more.
Alas, the pandemic hit. Just as we bought the old farm, things were shutting down, and with them, my dream of a destination. Oh, eventually we'll be able to gather safely again. But not this year.
Being a business requires being flexible. And a lot of luck. So when the pandemic hit and Kathi was home on leave for two months, we had mostly enough product to fulfill orders because we had anticipated growing and were stocking up. And our website? I had been prettying it up for the last year, hoping to improve online sales.
Yes, we put in the hard work, but the timing was pure luck.
I think about business a lot theses days, how it's done and how it could be done better. I can't imagine being a CEO who makes a gazillion dollars a year when my employees are paid minimum wage because...they are the essential workers. Oh sure, what I do matters. I coordinate, do outreach, write blog posts, pay bills, make stuff, research... But seriously? Without Kathi doing the hard work of 90% of our production, there wouldn't be a business. Because there isn't time to do it all.
I sometimes use honey bees as my model. Everyone in the hive counts. The queen holds things together with her pheromones (and yes, she is the mother of everyone in the colony), but she is utterly dependent on every worker bee. She literally can't survive alone.
This is why I'm a living wage employer. There really is no such thing as unskilled labor. Even our most routine job--say, boxing soaps--takes a bit of time to learn to do well and efficiently.
And because family is important to us (just like our honey bees!), I want everyone who works for me to have flexibility to have a life. For instance, I think everyone should have one weekday off for those things that can't be done on the weekend: doctor's appointments (which really multiply when you have kids), car repairs, take the dog to the vet, the farrier coming to shoe your horse... You get the idea. I routinely take off Thursdays and Saturdays as my break days and that means it's easier for me to schedule appointments. When they ask what day I'm free, I can say, "Thursdays are good for me."
So now I'm putting it out there: What would you like to see as part of business culture?