I’m feeling pretty negative lately. There’s a lot going on and we’re working our asses off but there doesn’t seem to be much payoff at the end of it all. So welcome to a small lesson in futility. Case in point…
On Friday night, after both Aaron and I had received our COVID-19 booster shots, we received an email from the Newnan market that we’ve been trying to get in for MONTHS, saying there was a last minute cancellation and asked if we could make it. Luckily we’d both been making things constantly in the past few weeks to prep for our upcoming holiday shows so we had the inventory and said yes. Aaron packed up everything and left the house at 6:45 a.m. the next morning to go and be our brand ambassador for the day. That left me with a 6 year old, a 4 year old and a really bad case of dealing with a little bit of Covid in my system (which, hey, I’ll take over being hospitalized with Covid seeing as I work at a company where vaccines aren’t mandated and most people don’t wear masks in the office). I’d promised the kids we’d put up their Christmas tree (they have one on the landing outside of their rooms) and so, feeling like hell, I fulfilled that promise to them (which was completely worth it just to see how proud they were of their decorations).
Meanwhile, at the market…
Aaron was making the most we’ve made outside of the Jonquil festival a few weeks ago, amazed at how this small town came out to support everyone, even on an absolutely freezing day. We made just under $270 that day (yes, you read that right. $270 and it was still one of our best days) and promoted our business as much as we could to passersby. But here’s where reality sets in:
- 40% goes to taxes so minus $108 from that $270
- It cost us $40 to be a part of that market so we’re now down to $122
- It probably cost us $122 to get all of the raw materials (ingredients, packaging, labeling) we needed into making that finished product
So it was a wash. And this is where I get frustrated. We work our ASSES off. We test all of our products extensively. We come up with different products all the time to see if THAT will be the product that starts selling online and we’re trying to be in as many places as we possibly can while I hold down a full time job and we raise two (very small) children. Let me just say this again:
40% of our earnings go to paying taxes
We can’t get out of this, even though we have yet to break even and our overall sales for the year probably won’t crack $10,000. There’s no introductory period for small businesses like, “you can pay taxes when you sell over $10,000 worth of product” or “your taxes are only 15% of your overall sales until you crack $25,000 worth of sales” or some other stepped solution. They don’t care what you’re making overall, they just take a HUGE lump sum. So, we can never get ahead and the whole thing feels incredibly futile.
Well, you really cheered us up there
I’m aware this is a bit depressing but we always said we’d be truthful with you. Sure, social media is filled with stories like, “I made a million dollars in my first year of business” or dumbasses dancing for 10 seconds to show you their new warehouse filled with product ready to ship, but this isn’t reality for 95% of small businesses. We’re being taken out at the knees, Nancy Kerrigan-style, not able to get a leg up because all of our profit is disappearing as quickly as we can make it.
And yet, there’s hope
Hobbits defeated Sauron. An orphan with a lightning bolt on his head defeated Voldemort. Darth Vader was eventually eradicated. Because if you don’t have hope invested you may as well give up. And we’re not going to. We BELIEVE in The Ghost Generation, our little Ghostie and the products we bring to the table. We see that we’re resonating with a select few, repeat customers who keep coming back and buying our things, presumably because our products bring some joy into their lives. And so, we’ll keep at it. We’ll keep coming up with new ideas, we’ll stand behind our existing products, we’ll keep attending markets, we’ll keep fighting for this thing we believe in with everything we are because we know that it is needed in these dark times. And we hope beyond hope that you join us. – Laura