For those who follow èrlithe on Facebook, you would have discovered that I no longer have an online shop for my perfume Why is this so? you may ask. Well here’s the longish answer.
I began selling my perfume online in 2013 when my family and I lived in Tasmania. From there I also had a few stockists and sold at markets. In 2015, our family relocated back to Newcastle. The move back to Newcastle has seem some considerable changes to our lives. Particularly around employment.
My husband has a PhD and worked as an academic for 15 years. During that 15 years he never once was able to properly take annual leave. I know that sounds unbelievable but it’s true. The time he was supposed to take his leave (over the January summer holiday), coincided with grant application cut off dates. If we ever managed to get away as a family, the laptop came with him so that he could do his work. To keep his job, he not only had to prepare and deliver lectures and tutorials, mark student work, attend meetings and keep up to date with never ending administrative tasks and paper work, he had to publish a certain amount of papers every year, present at conferences and win competitive grants – every year. The research and writing of papers and grant applications had to take place out of work hours. The work load was essentially ridiculous. He was able to do a fair amount of work from home and so to the outside observer he had everything sweet. People were also envious of the amount of travel he had to do – but it was never for leisure. He would be busy working on his computer at airports, on the plane, to then step off the plane and present and participate at a conference. This often was not taken into workload calculations and so when he got back home he was behind on work and having to deal with student complaints. He was also expected to supervise PhD students which was also not taken into account from his teaching workload. For 15 years I have watched my husband work from first thing in the morning to around 11pm every night, 7 days a week. When he finally cracked and had to take sick leave (with a medical certificate provided), you would not believe that his manager harassed him continually via phone, demanding that he organise a replacement for himself. When he was answering around the 5th call from his manager in the one day, it took me taking the phone out of his hands and in a not so polite way telling the manager that it was their responsibility to find a replacement for him as he was sick, that they kind of stopped bothering him.
So he quit. He has been without a traditional job for a year now. He has started a company and like all starting businesses, it takes a little time to get things flowing. This coincided with me trying to sell my perfume at The Emporium. Unfortunately, the centre of Newcastle is not frequented in large numbers and so it was proving not to be a wise economic decision for me to be standing there for 4 days when I could have been earning money as a nurse to feed the family. So with an uncertain income from my husband, children to care for and unable to be in two places at once, I left the Emporium to work. Working full time leaves me little time to focus on the perfume and the moment you are not working social media etc, numbers dwindle to your online store. So, the online store became yet another expense that had to go.
A lot of my perfume supplies come from America and the current exchange rate has meant my supplies are costing me way more than before. It’s amazing how everything just chips away at any profit. Website costs, email costs, transaction fee costs charged by not only Paypal but the e-commerce platform as well. Postage costs have risen, supply costs have risen, insurance costs – phew, the list goes in. Bottom line, my monthly expenses have been exceeding my monthly perfume income for … well … basically most of the time I’ve been selling the perfume. So, I’ve had to pull the pin. Which is really quite sad. I feel incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved, even if it was not economically viable. It’s been a huge learning curve. It would be great if the learning could of been confined to just making perfume because that’s the part I love, but it’s no use having a lovely product if you lack the skills in promoting the product, and that’s where everything kind of goes pear shaped for me. I don’t like promoting myself or my work.
Another snag is physical space. My home is very very small. It makes it incredibly tricky for me to make my perfume in any sort of efficient manner. It takes forever, to find a space, clear it and set up my supplies. When you are busy working and then on days off trying to make time to set up a space to make perfume, it becomes a little frustrating.
Another frustration is the internet in Australia. It’s a joke. Speeds are painfully slow and I’ve had my internet dropping in and out and then completely out for days at a time. After fixing apparently many broken wires in my connection, it now seems to be working ok, but there have been times over the past few years when it makes you want to tear your hair out.
So, where am I up to now. I have deactivated my website. After the sadness of doing that and announcing on Facebook that I will no longer be operating as a business, I was able to think a tiny bit clearer on how perhaps I could still maintain some sort of profile, so that perhaps if circumstances change in the future I would be able to continue on with my perfume. What I am in the process of doing is transferring my domain to another registrar. Once the transfer takes place, I will have the domains http://www.erlithe.com and http://www.erlithe.com.au both point to this blog. At the top of this blog is a menu with Shop. Under that page is a description of my current fragrances and how to contact me if you are interested in purchasing any of the fragrances. From there, you let me know what you are interested in and the address you would like the perfume sent to. If I have the perfume in stock, I then send a money request for what you want via paypal and as soon as I receive payment I post the perfume to you. Quite simple really and it cuts down on a few overhead costs.
Strangely, since deactivating my website, I have had more orders placed this way this month than my usual monthly orders via my website.
I am also hoping to soon have time to discuss with a gorgeous friend the possibility of having my female perfumes available for sale in her shop plus for the mens fragrances to be available from a local barber. At some stage I might also look at doing markets but because I don’t have a car – there’s going to have to be some problem solving around how I get my stuff to a market.
My Rose Tea solid perfume has turned out to be very popular. People have smelt it on others and then contacted me via the above mentioned method to purchase. Currently I have sold out and you wouldn’t believe it, but the rooibus tea absolute that went into it is no longer available. This week I am hoping to finalise a reformulation of it and get another batch made up.
So that’s where I am up to at the moment. I had all but given up with the whole perfume thing when I sat down and had a smell of some of my materials and my heart was filled with joy. I knew then that I could not give up completely and I am doing my best to try and hang in there as best I can.
Kerry Che x