I'm currently working on my Indiegogo Campaign pitch. One of the prompts it suggests you talk about is, "Point out your successful track record with projects like this (if you have one)." I do have one as it were. Since I'm already more long winded in my pitch than I should probably be, I think I'll go ahead and just put this here.
The Year was 1994
Remember “creepy crawlers”? It came with a few metal molds that were various bug shapes. You put “plasti-goop”, which was a brightly colored, oily, viscous… goop, into the molds and then put them into an Easy Bake Oven kind of oven (light bulb and all) and baked them till they solidified into a rubbery critter you could, I dunno, play with? I just really liked making them; I didn’t care what happened to them afterwards. I think I pretty much just gave them all to my brother. I also remember them being everywhere in the house. It’s been over 20 years, but I bet you money my parents still have one or two in their junk drawer.
I had so much fun with it. I made dozens of those bugs. Eventually though, I would run out of goop. My parents bought me the occasional bottle, but it did start to get a bit expensive. In order to feed my creative outlet, I needed money to buy my own goop. As a 9 year old, how was I to get money? I never had an allowance and I couldn’t get a job or mow lawns yet. The best my adolescent brain came up with was, “Sell the thing you like to make so you can make more!” Things haven’t changed much, have they?
I can’t remember the cost of the goop, but I did set a price that made sense to me at the time. I figured out how many solid, single color bugs I could roughly make per bottle and then with how much the bottle costs and then set a price per bug. I didn’t have a concept of overhead, but I did have a small concept of labor. I would charge a bit more for more intricate bugs that used more than one color.
And it worked! I made a whole bunch of single color bugs and sold them for $0.05-$0.10 a piece (depending on size). I’d bag them up 10 for $1.00 and everything. I even started taking custom orders for $0.25 a bug. They'd order something like a blue bug with red eyes or a black spider with green legs, and I'd make it. It was awesome. I was able to buy my goop and make my bugs. Everyone was a winner. I was even able to buy some glow in the dark goop for “specialty” bugs.
But, it was not to be. My mom got a call home from my teacher who wanted her to tell me that it wasn’t “appropriate” to be selling things at school and that all the bugs were becoming a “distraction”. My whole creepy crawler empire was shut down with one phone call from big education.
It surprises no one in my family that I’ve taken to starting a business that has me selling things I enjoy making. They are honestly more surprised that I have kids. I wasn’t exactly the “mommy” type while growing up. Case in point, I preferred much more to make rubber bugs than I did to play house or with dolls. So, even though some things haven’t changed, it’s good to know I’ve grown up some. Well, mostly. I also have no shame in admitting that if I had access to goop and a creepy crawler oven I’d be making them right now.
Julie Hammer is the owner of Hammer Soaps Bath & Body.