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What To Expect When Your Home Based Handmade Business, Moves House

After a complete freak out about how difficult our once-loved family home was to maintain, we stumbled upon our actual dream home and put in an offer. It was accepted!

brookwater residential dream home sailormouthsoaps

Our current home is lovely; I don't mean to sound dramatic or ungrateful. It's just A LOT of work because it's giant and with a small child, it felt like we were constantly battling uncontained mess. Don't even get me started on the yard. The yard I absolutely fell in love with initially, morphed into a job so big we didn't know where to start, thanks to the 25+ palm trees and near acre of land. 

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It wasn't until all of the hard work was done, mainly internal painting and landscaping, and it was ready for sale that we began to remember why we had loved the yard (and the spacious house) so much in the first place.

One of the most difficult things I had to do and admittedly put off until the very last minute, was pack up my soap room. 

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When I began soap making again, I worked in a variety of places throughout the house. The first was in the kitchen, with storage in our walk-in-wardrobe. That then morphed to taking over entire cupboards in the kitchen, the entire walk-in robe and a permanent set up in the kitchen - making meal preparation nightmarish because I'd claimed most of the space with my business.

Eventually, I moved the operation into our cluttered but unused dining room (yes, yes, it was a very big house) because it could be safely contained away from the kiddo and adjoined my study.

More space is great, right? Sort of, maybe, no?

The trouble with that was; I rapidly expanded the operation to fill the space. And not in a clever way mind you. I was using a mixture of old furniture, foldable tables, storage racks and new stainless steel benches with stuff spread out all over. Even stuff I barely used was stored alongside my essentials.

Rather than having a mindful, space-efficient workspace, it was a bit of a disaster. Especially the shipping area. I often worked at night but if I got too tired or the kiddo needed me, I'd just lock up and leave*facepalm* meaning I rarely ever made the time to reset the space to its optimum set up. 

The joy of having a dedicated workspace of my own was quickly replaced with:

Where was that hanger tool?

Where was my double-handed knife?

Where is my teaspoon measure?

What did I do with my dropper?

Where's that essential oil?


Where is my packing tape?

Grrr, why is my tissue paper so crumpled?

Oops, I've run out of XYZ label, I'll print more.

Oh, crap! I had two sets already printed out over here!


Why the bloody hell did it take me 20 minutes to pack one single order?

Great, now my soap has set up too much to even add the correct colourant.

I'd love to unmold this soap but I have no freaking bench space!

Upon reflection, many of these problems could have been avoided simply by taking more time and planning when I set up the room.

Here is what I'd imagined

well organised craft space soapmaker essential oils storage insposoap cutting wire cutter studio workshop cpshare soapmaker cold process

And here is what it really looked like:

soap studio workshop youtuber set up ring light how to handmade crafter cold process

aliya hutchison sailor mouth soaps sailormouthsoap safety gear cp cold process

soap photography product set up how to photograph cold process cp

You'll notice there are a mere three photos and only one really shows (part) of the soap room. The last isn't even in my soap room. That's the kitchen bench! Haha. That's how much I hated it. I wasn't proud of the space and I found myself reluctant to share behind the scenes pictures or videos, even on Instagram Stories that disappear within 24 hours because the backdrop was always messy or unappealing. 

Crafters will always have a workspace set-up budget. Whether it's a hundred dollars or a thousand, I now realise it's more about the time invested in planning than the money you spend on furniture. 

What I'd do differently next time

  • Create a floor plan on paper, complete with measurements so you know where to put your tables, shelves etc rather than mindlessly moving it again and again 
  • Prioritise your space. Keep your everyday tools and equipment within easy reach and neatly pack away your less used materials in carefully labelled storage containers. Keep them offsite if you can to maintain a cluttered free workspace
  • Invest more time each week organising my workspace so it didn't get cluttered and confusing. If I hadn't packed away entirely the night before, ensure that task happens before any further work begins the next day or it'll spiral out of control
  • Have less! More "stuff" like moulds, fragrances, colourants, tools etc tend to add to analysis paralysis, rather than aid in creativity. Resell or donate tools/materials/equipment as your style and brand evolve over time

What to expect when YOU move your home handmade business

  • That you'll put it off. You will. Especially so if you continue to take orders 
  • You'll underestimate how long it'll take 
  • You'll find a lot of things that defy category or are so awkwardly shaped, they're a massive pain to pack (ask me about my double-handled soap knife and A4 paper cutter being packed in with my yoga equipment)
  • Your eyes will be opened to how you've accidentally overbought due to having a cluttered, disorganised space (yup, I had four packets of sellotape) 
  • It'll be even slower going thanks to nostalgia 

How you can make it a bit easier

  • Really think about what you need to get you through until you're set up in your new space and keep that accessible (I've yet again taken over the kitchen cupboards and this time, an entire hallway cupboard)
  • Pack a box of shipping essentials so you can still ensure each order is sent out to your brand standards
  • Cull, clean and pack up over time, not in one hit when you're time-pressed

And one final piece of advice - even if you're as embarrassed about your space as I was...take some pictures!

Now that we're leaving this house, never to return, I'm blubberingly nostalgic about what was. One day I'll want to see those memories in detail and I can't because I only have a handful of photos. I won't be able to share where I came from and how it all started because I can't show you a memory held only within me. 

Take the damn pictures. 

Stay tuned for another blog post after we move and I get settled into the new space. I'm sure I'll have some observations to share with you about how that all went! Fingers crossed.

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1 comment

  • Ken

    Great article. Don’t know how you found the time to create it!

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