Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's been awhile

It's been awhile since my last post, I do apologize, it was not my intention to be away for so long.
I know there have been some concerns expressed as far as what is going on, did I jump ship, have I abandoned my shops, etc, so I wanted to take a moment to address those concerns to the best of my ability.

First let me say, that this last month or so has been very surreal to me. It has been hard to sit back and watch a company and brand that I worked so hard in the beginning to bring to fruition crash and burn. In many cases the negatives that I have received on Etsy could have been prevented had I done a better job (heck, had I even attempted to) communicate with my customers. I can't justify my lack of communication, and I am not saying it is OK by any means. On my end, I just shut down, completly. I shared my story last month about my battles with depression, at the time of my last posting I thought I was coming through the worst of it, but I was wrong. I'm not going to go into details, but let's just say I am not proud and it was not pretty lol.

My days consisted of me staying in my pajamas, sitting in the same spot on the couch all day, house a mess, food pantry empty, because all I could bring myself to do was play freaking bejewled on my phone (all day looong) or peruse facebook, or whatever other mind numbing task that did not require a whole lot of thought on my part. I knew I had emails to respond to, and if they happened to come in at the right moment then I would, but usually I would read them, sigh really big, and tell myself I would get to it shortly (only to keep putting it off). I know it sounds stupid, but the task, the simple task of responding to a simple email just seemed so daunting to me, at times it would make me feel phyically ill, like I wanted to throw up (even though most of the emails were not that bad or time intensive). It was just a mental thing on my end.

I knew I should be working on the last few remaining orders I had or working on new stock. Part of me really wanted to be working on these things, but then I would walk down to my studio stare around me at my supplies, suddenly I felt like a foriegner in a strange land. For the first time in a very long time, I had absolutly no desire to create, in fact the thought of pouring a candle or making a batch of soap physically repulsed me. So again, I would sigh, walk back upstairs and tell myself maybe tomorrow.

For almost a month this has been what my life has looked like. Don't get me wrong I would have some random good moments thrown in, heck maybe even a full day, but when they came I did not immediatly jump into email or the studio, because frankly it felt so good that I was afraid of suddenly losing that feeling (that sounds awful I know).

This entire experience has been frustrating for me, my husband, my family and friends and even more so my customers (who for the most part can't see me or talk to me and probably have no idea what is going on). All they know is what they percieve, and that is that I checked out, flew the coop and may never be back.

Yes my phone number (which is also my cell number) was changed, this was not malicious, simply the fact that we got new cell phones for Christmas and they required our service being switched to AT&T. Yes my website is currently down (I had it on auto bill with my hosting provider and simply forgot to change my credit card number to my new number last month). And yes I have rightly received negative feedback on Etsy - in 99% of the cases refunds have been issued or will be issued shortly.

And at some point I just stopped caring and instead decided to focus on my health. That may sound wrong to you, but for me it was what had to be done.

I am back now. Southern Alchemy may never be back at full scale like it once was, but I am back. I am aware I have several issues that need to be addressed and those will be first and foremost. I will continue to honor my committments to my wholesale accounts and existing orders (however at this time I will not be accepting new wholesale accounts) , I plan to participate in the markets this Spring/Summer when they start back up as my schedule permits . We may still offer products available online , however it may be a limited selection compared to what we once offered and may be only available at certain times.

What I have found is that while I usually love making candles & soaps, I enjoy it more so when I am able to do it at my own pace on more of a hobbyist level, so I will be scaling back to allow this.

It has been a strange, long and confusing path, but I feel like I am finally emerging with a better understanding of who I am , and what I am (and am not) capable of.

As always you extreme patience and understanding that you have shown to me is extremly appreciated.

In the interim (until my site is back up) the best way to reach me, should you need to do so, is:
or via Yahoo messenger : shopalchemy


Monday, January 4, 2010

I'm going to warn you in advance, for some people this post will make you uncomfortable, some will understand and others will walk away shaking their head thinking what's the big deal, just snap out of it.

I, myself, am not completly comfortable sharing this aspect of my life, but seeing at it has affected my business as well I feel it is only fair to share my story with you. I know sharing on this personal of a level is somewhat dangerous, I expect that some may ridicule what I have to say and for those that don't understand or have never experienced it they will feel I am just making excuses. It's ok, I understand, in fact if I myself had not had experience with this I wouldn't understand it either.

What I am talking about is something that effects millions of people, yet is still considered taboo to talk to about. Depression.

Depression is something that comes in many different forms, levels and the degree of severity can be different for each person. It is something that I have struggled with since my teens.

I can go weeks, months , sometimes even years without it rearing it's ugly head. Sometimes it is triggered by an event, but usually in my case it is not one big event but usually a set of small events - events that normally I could just shake off.

I did not see it coming this time. Around mid-December I started feeling extremly tired, yet I couldn't sleep at night, the holidays were nearing, yet I had no excitement (actually I felt dread), the slightest tasks seemed insurmountable, my body physcially hurt every day (just thought I was getting sick), my concentration was shot (thought it was because I had so much on my plate). I chalked it up to stress (business, finances, holidays) and told myself to suck it up. And I just wanted to cry constantly for no known reason.

The holidays came and went. I took off a few days from my shop to get re-energized. Only the exact opposite happened. I crashed on the couch for days at a time - literally staying in my pj's all day. I had no desire to do anything - didn't want to clean house, cook meals, play with my kids, work in my studio, nothing. My husband would ask me what my plans were for the day and I would burst into tears for no reason. Some days I would manage to get up and accomplish some small task (respond to an email, cook a meal, wash my hair) and for a while I would feel better. And then the veil would fall over me and I was back in that dark place again.

I tried to pretend like I was ok. That I was just tired and stressed, because no-one wants to feel like their old demons have come back to haunt them. I usually am a control freak - but with depression I have not control over it and it leaves me feeling useless and helpless- two feelings that I absolutley hate.

Physically I was hurting, emotionally I was hurting. And everything around me seemed to be falling apart. It got to the point where I just felt like I couldn't deal with anything- I am sad to say that not only did I neglect myself and my family - but also my business. My customer service (that I normally pride myself on) went down the tubes, simple request and inquiries fell to the way side or were met with extremely delayed lack-luster responses. My new line I was working on fell to the wayside. And I got to a point where I just gave up, I felt doomed and like I had ruined everything around me. Somewhere around Christmas the depression peaked and I just shut down.

I am not proud of this, I am not trying to make excuses, and as I said in the beginning I know it will be hard for some to understand this. All I can offer is an apology and an explanation to anyone this may have effected.

I wish I could say I am 100% back to normal as of this posting, but sadly that is not how depression works. I can say that I am on a treatment path and slowly starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

For those that have wondered where I am , what's going on with the shop, will I be back etc. The answer is yes, I will be back and so will the shop. Creating things is therapeutic for me and something I truly enjoy doing. I have been working the last few days on reorganizing my house and studio. The last couple of days I have been getting up early and actually working on tasks around the house (making myself get up and do something helps).

I have a few order errors from last month left to fix, a few lost or delayed packages still being tracked (or working on replacing) and a handful of emails to respond to. I need to make sure I get these things fixed first and then I will begin working on the new product line. I'm not going to give an exact date for reopening because at this point I am just going day by day.

I thank everyone for the support that was shown to me & my shop in 2009. I appreciate every customer and order we received. I hope that 2010 is a great year for all of us and hopefully we can renew your faith in us this new year.

I encourage anyone that has experienced similar symptons or knows someone suffering from depression to seek help. It can be a scary experience but one that usually can be treated when given the proper diagnosis.

XOXO- Marcee