The lamp shade cast an otherworldly glow throughout the living room - our lighting, casualty of a malaise of faulty wiring and ungodly coincidence, was but a distant memory, one of many mod cons we'd forsaken this greyest month of grey flecked Manchester. Kate and I sat, single minded and near feverish, wrapping, stamping and arranging soaps. The elegance and extravagance of our wares shaming the neglected Christmas tree - its baubles and tinsel ostentatiously garish, the rotting Scottish shrub bared its desiccated needles like teeth as we laboured on oblivious. As the fan heater battled against the temperature drop (-7 according to Google, our central heating long perished) I pondered out current predicament...
It is almost 7 days previous, as I laboured in Manchester Metropolitan Universities' labyrinth of bureaucracy and recycled air. I received an email from my sweeter half reading thus "Ok Mr Burt, your mission should you choose to accept is to sell at least one bar of soap legitimately by 12:00am Christmas Morning." I pondered this. There was no question of refusing - we'd been testing the soap; giving out samples, modifying and experimenting. We had a theme, a logo... dammit we had a brand! Continents had been conquered with less. It was time. Within the hour I located a suitable market stall at a craft fair on the 18th. The gauntlet had been thrown down and then picked up again with all the speed a broadband internet connection would accommodate.
Now, I find myself wrapping and considering pragmatic issues of book-keeping - it is the 17th and we are fast approaching the witching hour. However, with 7 brands of unique soap ready for sale, Kate and I succumb to our rapidly failing senses and sleep. We wake up at 6:15 knowing only two things; there has been 4 inches of Snowfall and the good people of Bradford deserve our soap
As people filter into the hall I find myself manning the stall as Kate mingles with the other stall holders. As people browse the stall I find myself slipping into an easy rapport - I want their money but I won't beg for it - I find myself discussing the science of soap making, the benefits of each constituent ingredient. Kate assures me that not everyone wants an in-depth discussion on saponification and the humectant benefits of honey - it gives me pause; so many people idly wipe this chemically formed block around their body and have not a clue as to how it works. Well, I'll save that discussion for another blog...
I have to say, there is a charming sense of community among the sellers here - as Kate gets names and information and swaps ideas with other sellers - some also come and peruse the store (our first sale, truly a moment of controlled euphoria, was to a jewellery seller) Kate also purchased a doll from this store... http://www.etsy.com/shop/KissPrudence. Basically, if you manage not to spend all your profits on idiosyncratic gadgets and adorable stuffed toys, it's a very pleasant way of spending a Saturday.
Well, in summation: it's with a sense of enormous satisfaction that we managed to create and package something that sold so well - not to speak out of turn but I'm thinking the average O2 worker doesn't feel this amount of joy after peddling an I-Phone (no offence intended O2 workers, do you need a bar of soap?). I'd say it's awakened a long dormant sense of mercurial capitalism (dear God...) Until next time Soap Lovers.