Wednesday, July 17, 2019

this lip balm thing

Monday morning I made the decision to start making and selling lip balm again. I thought I was done with lip balm because I don’t much like making it and never felt I was very good at it. It sold well, had somewhat of a following, I enjoyed using it, it had an excellent profit margin. Still, I stopped making it.

The classic Pea Pickle Farm lip balm photo.

The process of making lip balm begins, for me, with purchasing those tubes one must pour the lip balm into. There are hundreds of choices online looking all pretty much the same, and you would think they all would be pretty much the same, and it could be they are, except for prices, and then one gets into reading reviews. We read about leaky tubes, dirty tubes, tubes with missing caps and caps that fall off. Tubes that are made here (wave a flag) and tubes that are made there (wave … a cautionary flag?). We feel like heading for the hills reading a dire admonition not to buy these particular tubes (exclamation point!), but, strangely, also like a cock-eyed optimist believing proclamations that these same tubes work great (exclamation point!). We wade through sagas of lip-balm making for profit and for pleasure and learn how the tubes, these particular tubes, made it a boon or a bust. Finally, with eyes spinning, we make a random, semi-educated decision and buy some tubes. We contemplate shipping charges. A year or so later, we repeat.

At the end of the lip-balm-making process we meet the lip balm tube labels, also painstakingly bought online or designed at home and printed at one of those now-defunct or merged office supply stores. These labels look good at first, but give them a day or two. The edges curl up, peel back, slowly, always a day or two or ten after being affixed, always when I am not looking.

Although the tins could be just as troublesome to shop for, they were easier
to fill and the labels never curled up, peeled off. That their lids would either
refuse to come off or fell off all by themselves, whenever they wanted, well.

Most importantly, though, is the fact that for some reason the last batch of lip balm I made before I quit making it just threw me—it was as if I had never made it before. First, I could not find the recipe. Second, I could not remember the recipe. Third, I screwed up the recipe. And the recipe is all of four ingredients and I had followed it so many times to make hundreds of tubes and tins of lip balm—how could I not remember the recipe? How could I lose the recipe? Eventually, of course, I found the recipe, turned out I had several copies stashed here and there in logical places (I’m sure), but the decision to quit had been made. I made copies of the recipe to give to customers—You like it so much? Make it yourself!—because I was giving up and sometimes indeed I do get peckish.

So never mind that many people really liked this lip balm and routinely stopped at my booth at the farmers market to buy it. And never mind that people would contact me via email to get this lip balm, had me shipping it all over the world, the last eight or so tubes going to a customer traveling in China. Believe me, after I sent those tubes, I breathed a sigh of relief. That was that and that was last year, in June.

But I suppose there is this thing, this so-called tipping point, and maybe that is what occurred then, and now, as that last customer traveling through China is back from China, and Saturday she stopped by my farmers market booth. I had not been thinking about lip balm at all, at least not consciously, but then there she was identifying herself as the last lip balm customer, and I repeated the thing I’d been saying about the demise of the lip balm, about how I am so bad with recipes and blah blah blah, and suddenly I heard how lame it was.

So Monday morning I spent about an hour wading through an array of lip balm tubes offered online, considered prices, read reviews (hairs in the tubes! leaking out the bottom! works great!), and eventually I made a random, semi-educated decision. Once the tubes arrive—and I can only hope with well-fitting, snappy caps—I will gather all the ingredients (two of which, the honey and the beeswax, are always on hand) and set aside time to make lip balm. I'm sure the recipe is somewhere. I’ll worry about labels later.

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