The First Chapter of the Green Soul Chronicles
A recent post to this blog discussed artisanal manufacturers, which, for the purposes of this blog, means manufacturers with less than 10 employees, usually including the owners. These very small firms — there were about 164,000 of them in the U.S. in 2011 — comprise about 55% of all American manufacturing facilities. Rather surprisingly, across the crunch years 1998 – 2011, these little guys fared considerably better than their larger counterparts. During that period, the number of American factories with less than 10 employees shrank by “only” 13.6%, while the number of factories employing 10 or more lost 26.2% of their number. 
Career dislocations during the Great Recession, “do what you love” lifestyle preferences, market access opportunities afforded by the internet and a number of other factors have combined to make going into business for one’s self particularly attractive. And artisanal manufacturing businesses are a significant part of that.
There is plenty of information available for those who decide to go into business for themselves. But most of that is, understandably, rather general in nature. Since I happen to have an emerging artisanal manufacturing firm in my family, perhaps a series of posts on that firm’s actions and experiences will provide a useful example for others taking the plunge. This post is the first of those — the first chapter of the Green Soul Chronicles.
Green Soul Botanicals, LLC
Robin is a trained herbalist. She also has substantial experience in many aspects of the Spa industry. While employed in the Spa industry, she formulated and produced the herbal crèmes and oils that Spa therapists use in massage. At the beginning of this year, she decided to make formulating, producing and marketing herbal Spa products her full time occupation. So, Green Soul Botanicals — and Green Soul’s Spa Herbalist range of Spa products — began transitioning from a part – time supplier with a single customer to a commercial entity anxious to take on the world — the Spa world, that is.
The Spa world is an interesting place. Spa and the lifestyle Spa represents is a rapidly growing part of today’s culture. That lifestyle is one of tranquility, relaxation, clean, pure and natural — in a word: Green. Make that a Zen, yet pampered shade of Green. 
Speaking of green — In 2012, American Spas welcomed 160 million guests, who spent $14 billion at 19,960 locations, up dramatically from the 90.7 million guests who spent $5 billion at 4,140 locations in 1999.  That’s pretty dramatic growth, never mind two recessions. And that’s just the U.S. — Spa is a global lifestyle phenomenon.
These few facts provide several insights for Green Soul:
- Spa is a lifestyle phenomenon that a rapidly growing number of people are choosing and are willing to pay for — so, there is a substantial and growing market for Spa products.
- Spa products need to complement the Spa lifestyle and what that represents to Spa guests.
- The rapid growth in number of locations suggests that it will be increasingly difficult for Spas to differentiate within their industry. This suggests a market for unique, niche products that can assist in distinguishing one Spa from the others.
These insights are reflected in Green Soul’s Mission Statement:
Green Soul Botanicals’ mission is to provide Spas, wellness professionals and fellow travelers on the Path with unique herbal products that are effective, luxurious and natural without artifice. In doing so, Green Soul Botanicals operates in an ethical and responsible manner, while providing right livelihood for those associated. 
As you can see, Green Soul’s mission statement suggests three target customer groups: Spas, wellness professionals and fellow travelers on the Path (individuals who value the Spa lifestyle). So, the bases for constructing a Business Model are in place.
Future chapters to the Green Soul Chronicles will trace Green Soul’s progress from Mission Statement to Business Model, then on to actual experiences in the marketplace as the business unfolds. What actually happens, when it happens, as an artisanal manufacturing business emerges may provide useful insights for others. Those future chapters will appear as posts to this blog from time to time.
Thoughtful comments and experience reports are always appreciated.
… Chuck Harrington (Chuck@JeraSustainableDevelopment.com)
P.S: Contact me when your organization is ready to pursue Sustainability … CH
This blog and associated website (www.JeraSustainableDevelopment.com) are intended as a resource for smaller manufacturers in the pursuit of Sustainability. While editorial focus is on smaller manufacturers, all interested readers are welcome. New blog posts are published on Wednesday evenings.
 For more on Artisanal Manufacturing, see this blog: http://blog.jerasustainabledevelopment.com/2014/03/12/artisanal-manufacturing/
 For more on herbs and the Spa lifestyle, Robin’s LiveSpa magazine article “Herbal Bliss: Bringing the Spa Home” is available as a .pdf file at: http://www.thespaherbalist.com/Herb_Articles___Links.html
 “Right livelihood” is a Buddhist precept. “To practice right livelihood, you have to find a way to earn your living without transgressing your ideals of love and compassion. The way you support yourself can be an expression of your deepest self” — Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, Parallax Press (1998), p. 104, cited on-line at: http://buddhism.about.com/od/theeightfoldpath/a/rightlivelihood.htm