Sunday, November 30, 2014

getting back to beeswax

Over the past few weeks I’ve enjoyed orders from three of my regular wholesale customers back in Michigan. First was the Marquette Food Co-op. My relationship with them started in the spring of 2010. I stopped by the store with a few of the beeswax candles I was making and they gave them a try. The second was The Eyrie, a store in Ypsilanti, Michigan, that found me through Etsy early in 2013. And the third was Dr. Ben-Ami, a psychiatrist with a practice in Southfield. I met her at a farmers market in Marquette in 2012. She bought some lip balm, placed an order for more, and each year now she orders four dozen or more tubes to sell at her practice.

Hearing from all these folks in Michigan, I got a bit nostalgic. And it made me think about my strong customer base there some 2,000 miles away. And how it made such a difference getting started in this business with that direct feedback from folks at the co-op, at the farmers market. It helped me to focus and to grow.

This past week I joined an online collective of handmade shops. The process of picking a few photos to represent my product and coming up with some new text to describe what I do also, in the end, brought me to focus. Of course I put photos and text on Etsy all the time, but this was different. Artizan Made is run by Rachel Biel, a woman I know from our days as co-workers back in the 1990s. I had to send my photos and text to Rachel to put on the site, and at one point I had got together most of what she needed but lacked the description of what I do. She told me: Don’t overthink it. Which was exactly what I was doing. Not to mention overwriting. You would not believe the piece I had going, was honing to within an inch of its life. It was all about writing and beeswax and this fantastic similarity between the two. Did you know that me pulling words from my brain is exactly like a honeybee pulling pieces of beeswax from her gut?


Have you not heard about waxing poetic?

Found the right words yet, Mabel?

And they say that living alone in the woods is what makes one nutty.

One day long ago when I washed and dried old hive frames.

OK. What is it that I do? I make beeswax candles. Plus, a few ornaments, a little lip balm ...

While I was busy fussing with words,
Rachel created this banner image for me for the Artizan Made site.

Rachel and I continued to email through the week. It wasn’t all business, but a lot was, and she ended up taking me back to a time when I did a lot more stuff with beeswax, like making collages and hand-molding snowmen with autumn leaves and giving them names like “The Fall Guy.” Not all these experiments sold so well (I still have the Michael Jackson snowman), but they were fun. And the blog I kept back then was fun. And informative. It stayed focused on the beeswax.

Not a bad idea.

The upshot is there are going to be some changes to this Web site.

I’m taking it back to the beeswax.

I’m giving it back to the candles and ornaments and lip balm and collages and funky yellow snowmen.

Michael "Beeswax" Jackson.

It may take a while, this process, so bear with me if you’re stumbling across this space unawares and it seems in disarray or a little kooky. The changes will not be made all at once, but as I get to it, making a tuck here, letting out a little there, and there will be no Big Reveal, rather, a slow transformation.

Back to the beeswax.

If you are here because you enjoy reading my weekly journal posts, thank you. Perhaps I’ll continue writing about all that other stuff in some new space, somewhere else.

You see, both these bees and me,
we're creating a home ...