Fresh off the Press

Price Increase

Price Increases 2021

With the recent changes in supply and demand, shipping costs and our unexpected relocation; we are making some modest price increases (12-20%) in order to stay in business.  Full disclaimer: we had calculated and announced price increases just before the pandemic, but decided to hold off until the raw material costs came back down.  It doesn’t look like that is happening, ever. In order to continue providing the same quality and size of soap (we polled our Instagram audience), we needed to recalculate the costs and the new prices are live on all channels.  We hope you understand, think the quality of our products are still worth your support, and will continue to shop with us and the retailers who stock our products. 

 

The price changes are as follows (former price noted): 

Super Simple soap $7 (7, no change)

Fountain of Youth $10 (8)

Blissed Out $10 (8)

Meditation Mixer $9 (8)

Luna Love $10 (8)

Morning Monster $9 (8)

Into The Woods $10 (8)

Bike Face $10 (8)

Full Moon Ride $10 (8)

Purifying Spa $10 (8)

Woodsy Warrior $9 (8)

Chocolate Thief $9 (8)

 

Other product categories will also have prices recalculated between now and the holidays – stock up!  

Sincerely,

Eryn Hughes, Owner and soapmaker

Relocating

Howdy folks!
Thanks for continuing to support my small business as we CONTINUE to navigate the pandemic and all its trickle-down impacts. In an effort towards self-care, I booked an artist’s retreat which will mean my shop is temporarily closed starting this Saturday, July 31st.  My shop will be in vacation mode and not accepting new orders again until Saturday, August 7th. I’ll continue accepting and shipping orders after that – but will remove local pickup options moving forward.

When I return, I’ll also start planning/packing for the Apothecary Muse studio relocation on September 1st, 2021. The new production studio will remain in Pittsburgh, yet continue to operate in a commercial facility. I will NOT be hosting local pickups to the public in the new location and I still haven’t decided if I will return to setting up a booth at public events, but I’m still leaning towards not, for now. Overhead costs have increased a bit over the last 16 months, so I’ll be recalculating prices before the holiday season. Full disclosure: prices were already calculated to increase just before the pandemic, but I decided to hold off considering the essential need for soap and even produced some smaller, affordable items to increase accessibility within the community.  A modest price increase (15-25%) will prevent long-term impacts from new business loans and/or reconfiguring our business model to be more mass-production-oriented and ultimately less community-oriented. This looks like the smallest change I can make to keep afloat, and I hope you’ll hang with me through it?

Get the Itch Out!
 
What is Adventure Skincare?
 

Virtually in-person…
 

It is apparent that many small businesses have been struggling and I remain dedicated to reinvesting my own living wage locally as much as possible. I am extremely grateful that my business speaks to you and we have established a mutually respectful relationship that has endured this roller coaster. It’s not over yet, either. I encourage you to do the same within your comfort level, and shop small whenever possible. Sharing, liking, and commenting on posts can make an easy significant impact on organic reach for social media.  And thoughtful reviews can give greater context to customers for those of us who do not have physical storefronts nor participate in large public gatherings.  Your words make a difference!

Endurance training has encouraged me to try to keep my mind and body fresh for the peak, ready for whatever comes next.  It’s scary sometimes, but we are out there!

See you on the trails, 
Eryn Hughes
Owner/Maker of Apothecary Muse

A mode

Floral Special on May 8 2021

floral special2

Coming up on May 8th, 2021,from 10 am to 2 pm, we will be hosting a preorder pickup party through our studio window.  We will be joined by The Bearded Iris Floral who is making special Mother’s Day floral arrangements and taking orders through their new website. You can pickup both orders on Saturday through our side window, shopping each website separately.

We have a generous gift bundle featuring florals, as well. When placing your order use the Local Pickup shipping option and leave a note for us with your order that you plan to pickup that Saturday.   We’ll also have native wildflower seed bombs on site available for free.

Alternately, you can proceed with making a weekday afternoon appointment (limited hours) and pickup your Apothecary Muse order then. The Bearded Iris Floral arrangements will be prepared for Saturday, May 8th pickup ONLY.

Apothecary Muse isn’t planning to resume participating in public, local events during the pandemic until herd immunity is achieved.  At that point, it may be more selective than before.  We appreciate your continued support!

Local Shopping

UPDATE (7/29/2021) Local pickups have been discontinued until further notice. You can visit one of the retailers who choose to stock a selection of our products, or call ahead to see if they have something specific in stock, OR place your order with our website directly to have it shipped to you for a minimal cost.  

 

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Note: shipping is calculated by weight, size and distance and we have custom, eco-friendly mailers and boxes made to be sustainable for our products, the environment and overall economic impact.

 

Why economic nexus is a diversity issue + Etsy Goes To Washington Recap

This is probably a good time to sit down with a cup of coffee, tea or beer.  There are changes coming at an increasing rate that will probably affect you.  While recent policy changes I’m learning about most greatly impact micro-businesses (fewer than 10 employees), it affects other businesses and consumers in the long run.  I am not a tax expert, but have been told by enough people that I have helped them find the resources to further their own research, so I’m sharing what I have compiled here with the help of Etsy. It is by no means comprehensive and any questions should go to a professional tax preparer.  TLDR: We live in a New Economy.  Retail has shifted to a greater percentage of online purchases and States are trying to recover sales tax that is not collected outside of the seller’s storefront.  Changes are happening fast, mostly uncoordinated with each other.

 

There are presently 9,998 sales tax jurisdictions in the United States of America.

Taxpayers were reluctant to report Use tax on their income tax forms with their state, even when estimates can be calculated.  IMO: Probably because it is super confusing?

in 2018, South Dakota (a state with historically low # residents, businesses) went to court against Wayfair to demand sales tax collection by online marketplaces with a threshold disclaimer.  They won, set the precedent for all online marketplaces with multiple shops (like ebay, amazon, wayfair and Etsy) to collect and remit sales tax to each state where the consumer had their purchase shipped.

Without a federal solution regarding sales tax collection, states have independently passed “economic nexus laws” and “marketplace provider laws” with varying thresholds (#quantity or $ amount of sales in state per year), that require sellers to calculate, collect and remit sales tax to each state.  Right now, there are 34 different policies.

Example: Since Pennsylvania (PA) is where my production studio is and operates from, I have had to apply for a sales tax permit for in person and online sales, download tax tables for calculating the tax rate for online purchases in each zip code, collect sales tax per transaction, and then remit it quarterly.  I’ve been consistent about this. I requested to reduce the frequency of administrative work created by reporting to twice a year, but it was denied, possibly because my business’ sales are relatively low as compared to corporations.  Nonetheless I persisted and just when I thought I had it figured out, I learned that marketplace facilitators, like Etsy, were going to calculate, collect and report sales tax for online sales to PA AND now Washington State (WA) in my Etsy shop.  My fellow PA Etsy shop owners freaked out, needless to say.  There were no clear answers for what we should do since we were already filing in the state, and would continue to have transactions for in-person sales and on our own websites.  I’ve concluded to temporarily categorize all Etsy transactions as non-taxable in order to continue reporting the gross sales, and calculate as taxable all non-Etsy sales from in-person sales or on my own website going to PA residents.

Yeah, it works, for now. But does your brain hurt yet?  Mine does.  What if I was just starting out?  What if I sell beyond a threshold in another state(s)?  Where am I going to find time for 9,998 tax tables?  Filling out their forms?  Filing potentially quarterly sales tax returns to ALL THOSE PLACES?

I am eternally grateful for the labor that Etsy provides (which come at the expense of fees), but it doesn’t apply on other platforms, including independent websites. But, if Etsy is worried that the current system isn’t manageable with their staff of 800 people, I am pulling out my hair being a staff of 1.05 (a friend helps 3 hours a week).  While I’m over here juggling tasks from selling wholesale to 40 stores around the country, attending trade shows, local pop-up markets, fulfilling orders on my own website – in addition to my Etsy shop, I can barely keep up with PA sales tax.  It appears as though this policy change favors states sales tax collection at the time of transaction – and whatever whim that jurisdiction has – at the expense of micro-businesses.

 

It was an honor to join 20 Etsy sellers and staff from around the country in lobbying to create a simple, clear federal solution that is fair for all.  We split up into 3 groups and our North Eastern group visited with the Office of Representative Nydia Velasquez (D-NY),  Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD),  Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator John Thune (R-SD), Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA), Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Christina Sevilla, Deputy Assistant to the United States Trade Representative. Years ago, I’d met directly with the PA representatives before, on behalf of the rights of people who ride bikes on and off the road and I found it interesting to be received entirely by staffers this time around.  They were mostly receptive and understanding of our position as constituents, while there were a couple folks that refused to discuss the tax issue or spent the conversation tuning out by looking at their phone, which I took as an indication of a biased agenda.  Hearing other sellers’ stories, it was more pronounced how health care, student debt and living low income have additional impacts on one’s ability to sustain a business, let alone make a trip to Washington.  For many, not having the foresight and language to ask the right questions presents an unfair business advantage in favor of large corporations. I am unaware of notices being sent out to micro-businesses regarding these policy changes, risks and penalties.  Clearly, this was important to us and we didn’t want to be silenced.

Nonetheless, I have been trying to figure out why they felt it was not important to their office.  With the stats Etsy provided:$2.3 trillion is online retail (25% increase from 2016), 2.1 million Etsy Sellers worldwide, 87% of which were women and more than half ship internationally.  On the smaller scale, micro-businesses have fewer than 10 employees, work more than 40 hours a week and frequently invest their savings in their business in order to fill a need for creative innovation that is not already supported by large corporations. Surely, those numbers and altruistic goals make us significant – but could they also make us an easy target because of the implicit diversity comprising small business owners?  Is it possible that those who oppose a simplified federal sales tax solution WANT to make it even more difficult for the over-worked demographic to share success without a penalty across state lines?  The idea of that makes me angry.  And that’s why I won’t let micro-businesses become obsolete.

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

In addition to trying to make sense of it all, you can build awareness in your community, write to your representatives in Congress (use the links above), talk with your local legislators so that they understand how this affects the future of business in their territory and fill out this form: https://action.etsy.com/USzxeDP*

 

*Please note that this form does not presently include Mx. (non-binary prefix in place of gender), but requires selection from limited prefixes in order for the petition company handling the data to send your contact information to the corresponding office.  I am also advocating to remove this qualification on petitions in order to maximize vocal representation.  Prefixes are universally required on petitions, so this means a huge portion of constituents are not able to sign petitions on issues that directly affect them. In an era where votes and input is claimed to be equal, gender should not be relevant.  Let’s commit to this and repeal gender classification on petitions!

Planting your soap labels!

Spring is a good time to plant the Apothecary Muse soap wrappers you’ve been saving. You might have noticed the note: “WRAPPED IN PLANTABLE PAPER” shown on the side of your favorite bars of soap. Hopefully, you saved the wrappers so you might plant them and get a second round of sensory enjoyment! The labels are printed with eco-friendly, wax-based ink (think: crayons), on paper embedded with a blend of North American wildflower seeds. Upon flowering, your wildflowers may help attract pollinators like butterflies which also help our local farms to have a sustainable crop. I store trimmings from the holiday show season and either germinate them in a bag during colder months or put the paper in some damp soil and then covering it with a piece of lexan glass like a winter cold frame. But that’s mostly what works for my space and region. Read on to learn more ideas that might work for you:

Germination may begin as quickly as one week or may take up to six weeks depending on your regional growing zone and planting depth. We recommend just 1/4 inch of soil coverage. The full Step by Step journey: How do we ensure a successful planting? It can be tough to nurse the live seeds through germination into fully grown plants and because of these common challenges, we do not offer a guarantee that every customer will be successful in this process. There are too many factors that come into play and too much that can go wrong for us to take the responsibility of elements that we cannot control, like soil temperature and acidity, watering, sunlight and planting depth. We have very rigid testing and handling protocol to ensure that every batch of paper made here contains enough viable seeds for each item that we sell to have the potential for growth. For your own piece of mind we recommend that you do the following; take a small piece (quarter size or bigger) of our made in the USA paper (larger is recommended for made in Nepal stock), place it into an airtight zip lock plastic sandwich bag, place a table spoon of water (or enough to fully saturate the paper) in the bag and then seal the bag and trap a bit of air inside it so it forms a bubble to keep both sides of the bag from touching. If you do this in a room that is has an ambient temperature of at least 72 degrees and allow the bag to be touched by sunlight for a few hours each day. You will see evidence of the seeds growth within 10 days time. Once you see the sprouts roots searching for soil, transfer the paper from the bag into a pot (or garden) with a light covering of soil and continue nursing the seedlings along by daily watering.

Thanks to Of The Earth for their Step by Step instructions!

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