It’s been a challenging couple of years following the lockdown and subsequent measures the World Government designed to stifle small businesses like our own. Fortunately for us, we had a presence online, so when the world found themselves glued to their screens, we were there. That, plus the fact that we process many of our orders through WhatsApp, meant we were able to continue supplying customers throughout the “plandemic”. Once we adjusted to the new conditions we were able to get out of 2020 better off than we went into it.
Notwithstanding our ability to weather 2020’s storms, 2021 welcomed us with new challenges. The cost of shipping skyrocketed, demand on one of our key ingredients (coconut oil) shot through the roof, fuel jumped 42%, the Ghana Cedis dropped by 7%, and “they” added a 1% covid tax. Irrespective of our immunity to their initial ploys, this past year we found ourselves spiraling from the effects of all their manipulations.
Generally we change prices once a year, in January, so last March, when we realized our cost of production had gone up significantly we were reluctant to hit our customers with another price increment so soon. Instead we sourced local bottles to replace our imported soap bottles, expecting shipping prices to eventually correct themselves sooner than later. But here we are, in the last quarter of 2021 and freight costs are simply off the charts, 500% higher than they were at the beginning of 2020.
Furthermore, China, the world’s largest consumer of commodities, now sources its coconut oil from Ghana, creating a spike in its price. Coconut oil is our not-so-secret ingredient in our liquid black soap and our shea butter balm. We considered replacing the coconut oil with palm oil and sunflower oil, but we drew the line. A compromise on packaging is one thing, but the integrity of our products is not something we’re willing to negotiate, not even to stay afloat. Instead we bit the bullet and endured smaller margins, which meant we had to borrow to pay salaries more times than we care to report.
We hate increasing prices! We argue with our accountant over the differences every year, eventually agreeing to necessary increments, but never agreeing to the amounts suggested. This year’s pricing meeting was epic, everyone had a calculator in hand and a point to make, but no one could dispute our accountant’s demand to increase prices more than usual, but we were able to keep the increases from happening before January 2022.
We’re sensitive to the effects of increased prices on our customers’ purses, but we also know that you expect more from us and are willing to pay for the value we deliver, thus I trust you will appreciate our commitment to excellence and stick with us as we navigate these turbulent waters, resiliently growing our brand.