Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Soapier update

Hey all.

Not sure where to begin. We did the shaving soap... and then things kind of went a little haywire here.

I had gone off to Jamaica for a vacation that was a long time coming, with my girlfriend Karen. Went to an all inclusive. I had had a semi-bad experience at an all-inclusive in the Dominican Republic a couple of years earlier. Not the company I was with, but the place we stayed. The food was bad, the room was only so-so, the drinks were watered down and sugary, and the fishing trip I went on was something called trolling, instead of actually fishing.

We get on the boat, start heading out, the seas were choppy, and 5 out of the 6 people on the boat got sick. I found out about twenty minutes in that what they were going to do was drop hooks and just go around and see if something caught on. Not stopping the boat, lowering hooks, and every man for him/herself.

What a waste. So, we got back, I kissed the ground, and vowed never to go to an all-inclusive again.

Then my present girlfriend says to me "If I don't go on vacation soon, I'm going to kill you in your sleep."

So, of course I said "Do it, I just don't care any more."

She spared my life, booked a vacation, and we headed down just before the huge Christmas rush. The idea was, I'd get back to NY after the trip, relax a bit, then head back down to Tampa to help make soap. We had the Secret Santa coming, and with almost 13,000 people signed up, we were expecting a bit of a rush during those 10 or so days.

Get down to Jamaica, first day it rains. I end up watching episodes of House (1st season, I'd never watched it before), she watches episodes of Firefly (she'd never seen it), Arrested Development (she'd never seen it) and Dexter (she'd never seen it).

Second day, sunshine. I play beach volleyball and scratch the hell out of my knees and limp off like a 70 year old. She catches too much sun and burns her back. I end up putting some aloe stuff on her back four times a day, and then hear her groan and cry all night. It was an awesome vacation.

That night we went to rent a movie from the hotel. They had Indiana Jones. I was psyched, because I love the series. Most of them.

Got the movie and found out it was the last installment, and I started crying. Because it's a piece of shit movie. Karen said she wanted to die. I wanted to order everything on the room service menu and time them, because I was so bored.

Third day, things are going well, we're looking forward to going ATVing on some sandy beach on the fourth day, when I get an email from my mom.

Subject: Hey Very Important

Body: Hey
Erica has to have open heart surgery tomorrow they found that she has a bacteria in her heart and she needs a valve replaced.

If you can call me.

I tell my girlfriend.

"So... no ATVing?"


Using my girlfriend's business phone, I call my mom. She tells me that the doctors are switching her to a heart hospital in Clearwater, one of the best. The doctors who found the bacteria and did a little video into the heart thingy said "Yeah, you're lucky to be alive, we have to do this tomorrow morning or YOU'RE GOING TO DIE!"

Well, that pretty much raised the hackles of everyone. I don't have any replacement sisters. I had to weigh the option of going ATVing or going back to Tampa, and we were having a really good time.

In the end, I flipped a coin.

So, the next morning, I called my mom and she said "she might have surgery on Sunday. Come back to Tampa."

So, it was best to three, on the coin flip.

Canceled the ATV outing, switched it to river tubing, just in case I didn't have to leave early. Doctor came back that same day and said "Surgery maybe Monday."


So we went tubing.

And it was awesome. I went under a waterfall and jumped into the river on a rope swing, we had a very nice dinner and relaxed and watched The Sum of All Fears, which is a very good movie.

I change my flight on Sunday, so instead of going back to NY, I head to Miami, then Tampa. Get to Tampa, I'm exhausted, head to the hospital after buying my sis a netbook, so she can watch movies and go online and all that. At this point, she was supposed to be in the hospital for weeks. Open heart surgery to fix a damaged valve isn't open and shut, unless you're working on a cadaver.

Get to the hospital, give her the netbook, find out that she's feeling better. The antibiotics are working. Awesome.

Next day, they do a culture to see if the bacteria is still there. Her white cell count is down. No bacteria. She's going home, surgery in six weeks.

"So... we can return the netbook?" I ask.

She goes home today. Has a stint being put in for intravenous injections of antibiotics and blood thinners. On disability, bed rest, nurses will be checking up on her.

While I was in Jamaica, with my mom freaking out, she says "Cancel the UK order."

Now... I almost drop the phone.

For those of you paying attention or not, we have a brand new UK distributor. She's very nice, she's very excited about selling Soapier products to the European Union, and we have been making soap, spreading the UK word, putting up ads... and then my sister gets pretty gravely ill. My mom's freaking out (understandably), and I'm trying to figure out how to keep the business afloat.

We lose the UK, we lose a significant amount of Secret Santa. There are more than 1,000 people in the EU signed up. Not to mention, all of the orders that the UK already received.

"We'll honor those and ship them out. J, I can't do this now, with your sister in the hospital."

Sigh. Of course not.

So, I get in touch with the UK and tell her what's going on, and say "I'll have more news on Monday."

She says "Take care of your family, first!"

Monday comes around, and Erica (sister) is doing well. We have a ton of soap made for the UK, and after careful consideration, we start making the rest of the soap order. Not to mention the order that Reddit (the company) placed, and the two wholesale orders we had to get out, and all of the stock we have to make for Secret Santa. We're a week behind.

So, I'm here, in Tampa, waiting to help chauffeur my sister home. Making soap. Sleeping on an air mattress, with dog hair all over it. Eating ok food, burning tv shows on my laptop, and generally not getting enough sleep.

Things went from batshit insane to manageable. My sister is feeling better, the soap is flowing out the door, and I head home Friday to have post Thanksgiving dinner with Karen.

Odds are I'll be back on the 6th of December, to help with the mad rush.

That's the update. We're back on track, ready for the holiday rush, and we'll have all of your orders out in a timely fashion!

UK Customers: Fear not! We're getting out a ton of soap for the UK, and she'll be able to get your orders out straight away.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Shaving soap and a new Reddit Alien!

Since the holidays of 2009, we've received quite a few requests for shaving soap.

It took us a little while, but we finally got around to it!

Introducing our awesome shaving soap:

We're selling it three different ways.

First, the bars are 2" round, at 1.5oz a bar. They are made with Shea butter and kaolin clay.

We're selling them 3 in a pack, in one of the following fragrances. Doublemint, Pink Sugar, or unscented.

So, you can get them 3 in a pack for $6, or you can get them with a fancy brush for $9.95 or... well, that's what we have right now. But by December 1 we will have a soap, mug, and brush set for the holidays!


We have a brand new Alien soap. It's called Reddit's Winter Wonderland, and it's pretty awesome. We have been experimenting with water soluble paper, and we found that we could make the Reddit Alien have some really cool backgrounds.

So, the first thing we're offering is a Reddit Winter Wonderland:

It's fragranced with Candy Cane, and will be a huge hit for the Redditor in your life this holiday season! These are $9.95.

We hope you like the new products!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Our gift baskets

So, the holidays are coming up and I figured I'd show you all what one of our gift baskets look like, when they're all completed.

Here is our Pillow Talk gift basket:

Nice, huh? One of our customers made a really good observation and, admittedly, it's not why we did it, but we're adopting it as a good reason...

He said (and I'm paraphrasing): Good for you for not using paper products to wrap your gift baskets!

It was a very nice comment, and we're taking it to heart with future baskets and product wrapping.

This looks pretty cool, right? The pink, the bow, the gift tag... we thought so, too.

I'll have more photos up as we take them! Keep in mind, we're only making 16 of each basket. Get them while you can!

Also, we have some more big news we'll be announcing in the next few days. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Soapier, discount coupons, and Reddit's Secret Santa

Hi everyone,

A couple of things.

First off, we have a 20% off coupon for your holiday shopping!

Use HOLIDAY20 at checkout to receive your discount*.

Second, if you're a member of Reddit, then surely you've heard of the Secret Santa program they have. If you don't know about it, check it out. It's awesome.

For Secret Santa participants, we're offering a 25% off coupon*: SECRETSANTA. This coupon will work on both the US and UK sites.

Both coupons expire December 6th.

I'd like to show you a quick video, if I can, that summarizes the first leg of my trip to DC, holding the 95lb bag of soap.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Road to the Rally, part 3

So, check it out. I just took a video recording of my trip, and it ended up being 25 minutes long.

I'm not going to let anyone suffer through that. That's crazy. So, here's part 3.


I headed over to One Lounge and found myself among a ton of fantastic people. Redditors.

They were dressed, in some form or another, with Reddit garb, or a costume, they had signs... in a crowd of a 1,000, they would have been easy to find. In a crowd of 215,000, not so much.

But here they were.

I'd like to stop for a moment and give you an idea of what the majority of my encounters were, when I handed out soap.

"Hey, mind if I sit down?"

"Sure, go ahead."

"Thanks. Ah... that's better." Rummage through bag. "Here."

They take the sample bar and look at it. "What the hell is this?"

Yeah. That's basically what I got from more than half the people I gave samples to. Once they knew what it was, and who I was, the mood changed, and they were quite happy to find out I was the Soapier guy.

Other encounters went like this.

"Oh my god. OH MY GOD! I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS. Do you know who this IS?! This is the Soapier guy. OH MY GOD!"

I had about ten people do that. And that was awesome.

I found out that the VIP area for the party was upstairs, so I made my way and found HueyPriest up there. Erik and I had met once before at a NY Meet-up for Redditors. I met his sister and some other guys up there, but most of the rest of the admins and Reddit heavies were cleaning up the National Mall. So I took that time to relax.

I handed out more samples.

"OMG! You're the Soapier guy?"

"I'm the Soapier guy."

"Awesome! Didn't you close?"

"No, I am taking over the business."

"That's great! Hey, Chuck, check it out, it's the soap guy!"

"The what guy?"

I told our story about twenty times. I lost my voice at around 8pm, and battled through it until it was coarse, raspy and, ultimately, an indistinguishable voice from my own nasal and pinched voice.

Ok, my voice isn't nasal and pinched. Passport?

Moving on.

Admins started filling up the place. Redditors were told the place was full. I made rounds and handed out more soap.

Now, I'd like to talk about my first official introduction to Alexis (kn0thing). It went something like this.

"Hey, how are you?" I said.

"Oh, hey, you made it! Great." And back to his conversation.

I looked at him for a second, turned away and thought "He has no idea who I am, does he..." I thought that was so funny.

So I sat down for a bit. My bag was getting noticeably lighter, thank god, but my legs and feet were staging a mutiny.

I met... spez, Jedberg, KeyserSosa, Paradox, raldi, karmanaut, ketralnis, MrGrim (Alan, creator of Imgur), aaaxe (sauce guy), and the guy. They were all very cool, very nice to talk to, and simply awesome in their knowledge of Soapier.

I ran into Raldi (who I think I took a joke too far with, sorry Raldi!) and sitting next to him was Lia, who I've been corresponding with about Reddit/Soapier ads.

Lia has been nothing but instrumental in helping us get some ad time on Reddit for the holiday season, and I cannot thank her enough. She's awesome. Her boyfriend is awesome, and we had a great time talking.

I see Alexis again, and I make my move. I grab a Reddit Alien and I hand it to him. He looks at me a second and says "We've never actually met, have we?"


"It's a real pleasure!"

We went on to have a great conversation.

Man, let me tell you. The first Soapier post is something I'll never forget. It was in August of 2007, and...

No, wait. It was in June of... was it July?

Anyway, that first post was really something I'll never forget. The movement to save Soapier was compounded by the help of Alexis and the people of Reddit. We corresponded a few times, we worked out a licensing agreement, he promoted the shit out of us for the holiday season... it was unreal. Our success was half due to Redditors, and the other half was because of Alexis and his belief in our company.

So, it was great talking to Alexis. I was able to hand off a full bar of the Soapert soap, and I told him about my wish to get them into the hands of Colbert and his people. My goal is to have them given out to Colbert's audience members. I also wanted to get some of the Reddit soaps into the hands of Colbert's writers. Alexis is going to see if we can make that possible. It's very exciting!

I was close to the end of my samples at this point. I finally had a drink, sat down, relaxed for a while, and started getting very sleepy.

It was roughly 8 at this point. I went back to the bookstore cafe, had dinner, said goodbye to Anne/Jen and Annie, went back to the party, only to find it had dissipated, and people had moved on to another venue or two.

It was time for me to leave.

I ran into Lia again, said my goodbyes, gave the last Reddit Alien soap to an unsuspecting new Redditor who said "It's bacon fragranced? In the shape of the Reddit Alien? Who ARE you?"

Said my goodbyes to a few others, and handed out my last sample to this guy. He knew who I was, too, and it was a high note ending for the party.

I grabbed a subway sandwich for the road, and went all the way back to Union Station.

The walk from Union Station wasn't that bad. My back was killing me. My head was spinning. My load was lighter, thankfully, but the wear on my body was evident. My throat was very upset with me. It felt like my body had let down whatever defenses it had, and anything foreign was going to have an easy time with me.

At the station, it was 11:00pm, and I found out I missed the early bus home by an hour.

I had two hours to kill.

Thankfully, I had downloaded Season 3 of Dexter, and watched the first two episodes on the way down to DC. Starting episode 3, I settled in.

I got hungry around midnight and found myself among a couple of college age redditors who were cool, and who knew who I was. We got to talking a bit. They had mentioned something about going to the after party, but not feeling welcome. They said that a bunch of the older people weren't taking them seriously, which, if true, is a shame. I don't know how they conducted themselves at the party. I mean to say, I was not there. I was sorry to hear that.

I also didn't have any more samples to give out. Which was also a shame.

We talked for a bit. I excused myself after a while to relax before we got on the bus, which was not for another hour.

Once on the bus, I was sitting next to one of two seats that were empty. I was able to stretch out a bit and sleep the first half. Got to the service area and the lights came on. What a bitch.

After we left the service area, the driver turned the heat on too high, and made the place uncomfortably warm. I slept what I thought was another hour but turned out to be 8 minutes.

Nodded on and off... got back to the city. It was 6am.

Got to the train, got right on a train, made it downtown, made the 10 block walk back to the apartment, and checked Reddit.

Hi, my name's John and I'm a Reddit addict.

I finally got to bed around 7:30, and was woken up at 1pm, much to my dismay. My girlfriend and my cats decided I'd had enough sleep. I wanted them all dead.

And... for Halloween, I saw Saw 3D. And it was as campy and as fun as all the others.

I'd like to share the following thank-you video to everyone I met.

That was supposed to be Colbert, not Colbiert... sorry!

Thanks everyone for reading, for supporting Soapier, and for being you. We really appreciate it.

John @ Soapier