There are plenty of changes coming for our little business in 2020. Here, read about new staff, product changes and a few more things besides those in the press release sent out a few weeks ago. This is a long post, but please read on…
Since Hampshire Sheen started, it has grown at a busy, but just about manageable pace for me to keep up with. And that was generally fine until September 2019 when doing a record check, I discovered I’d made ten thousand pots that year! It was then I decided to think about the possibility of outsourcing the manufacture of the tinned products. Check out this video I made to celebrate the 10,000th pot:
From the video, you can see just how labour intensive it is to make large amounts of product in order to keep up with demand! By the end of 2019, 14,000 pots of Hampshire Sheen products had been made. Phew!
The Journey to Outsourcing
After the discovery of 10,000 pots record, I spoke at length to my Chief Labeler and Bottle-Filler Phil who, since joining the company has become a deeply trusted friend and colleague. He’s generally the second person to hear my latest ideas, offers a superb listening ear and comes up with possible objections and problems. You need someone like that in an organisation!
We went through the pros and cons and decided that outsourcing would be a good move if it was financially viable
Oddly enough, about this same time, I was approached by a specialist wax blending company here in the UK who expressed an interest in meeting and discussing my product range and how they could help.
I went to meet the company in November and was treated to a tour of their manufacturing facilities and their laboratory which was very impressive indeed. They were almost as keen as me to move things forward, but I needed to do a lot more thinking and working things out. I didn’t want to take a loan, credit card or overdraft to get going so managing the money side was important.
In making the decision, there were some important things I needed to ensure before taking the plunge:
- The outsourced products must be exactly the same as Hampshire Sheen customers are used to using;
- The cost needs to be roughly same so I can keep the prices the same for everyone in the supply line;
- A promise of absolute secrecy in safeguarding the recipe;
- The products must be made in the UK;
- The products must be in the same custom tins;
- Food Contact and Toy Safety compliance across the distribution network.
After more communication and reassurance from the potential manufacturer, I excitedly received the samples of the Original, High Gloss, MicroCrystalline and Gold products using the same quality waxes from the same supplier as I do.
In testing them out (including leaving the lid off for three days in the workshop), I was over the moon with the performance of the ‘new’ products. They apply in just the same way as those I made and produce the same quality finish. Excellent.
The decision was made.
Food Contact and Toy Safe
Not only do the ‘new’ versions of the perform in exactly the same way as I was making them, but they comply to food and toy safety regulations. This, for Hampshire Sheen is huge.
This is important as food and toy safety questions are some of the most common I get asked. Until now, my official answer has been ‘I don’t know as I don’t have the chemical or scientific background to declare it’.
Our new manufacturer has over three decades of experience of blending specialist waxes and employ qualified chemists and they have a much deeper knowledge of waxes then me. With all of this knowledge and know-how, they are more than happy to confirm compliance to those all-important regulations. In one wonderful email, I was informed that the Gloss, Original and MicroCrystalline products comply to the necessary regulations for food contact and toy safety in:
- The UK
- South Arica
The Gloss Finishing Wax is already in some stores, and the MicroCrystalline will be distributed from around 17th February. Check with your nearest distributor for the new stock.
Boldly Into 2020
Just before Christmas 2019, I took a leap of faith and placed the first order for the outsourced Gloss product. When it arrived, the first tins started quietly going out to retailers.
In January 2020, the order for the MicroCrystalline product and Gold was made in February. See below for info about the Embellishing Waxes.
Buying in months worth of stock in advance is very expensive as I’m sure you can imagine! And what do you do when you spend a lot of money? Well, on the one hand, you save some money somewhere and on the other, you bring in more staff!
Change is inevitable in a dynamic and forward moving company and I rarely stop thinking about the next move as the business grows.
Sales figures are, of course, a weighty deciding factor. Looking at the figures over the last two years, some interesting patterns appeared – or rather, didn’t! I thought long and hard about the changes detailed here, and they are being made from a business perspective (of course), but also from a customer perspective.
The two (‘new’) flagship products have new label designs, keeping the smart style you’re used to seeing but with the addition of ‘Food & Toy Safe’ incorporated into the front branding
The High Gloss wax has had a minor name change to simply ‘Gloss Finishing Wax’ From seeing social media posts being referred to in different ways, I hope this small change will see the product referred to as Hampshire Sheen Gloss or HS Gloss in social posts.
Bye Bye Original
It is a shame to be waving goodbye to the very first product recipe Hampshire Sheen released. Financially, it is no longer viable with the High Gloss outselling it roughly three to one. Sorry. The product make-up is too similar to the Gloss to warrant spending out on 9 months stock in advance.
All is not lost though! You can achieve the same quality of finish as Original with the Gloss if you don’t use so much.
Embellishing Wax Changes
The full size tins of Embellishing Waxes don’t sell very quickly, and I put that entirely down to their cost. At nearly £14 per 130g tin, the price is very high. So, over the course of the year, one at a time, the size of the embellishing waxes will drop down to 60g and feature a new tin and label design (left). The price will be less than a pot of gilt cream and have more product in it. The price will be announced when the products become available.
As this drop in size (and therefore, price) is considerable, the Sample Packs of the wax are being discontinued. When the stock has gone from the retailers, that will be the end of them.
As stock of one embellishing wax runs out, there may be a few weeks before the new size becomes available.
Intrinsic Colour Collection
There are no major changes happening to the Intrinsic Colour Collection. However . . . the 150ml box set is changing to a seasonal product and available between November and December only.
I’m excited about these changes. The range will be streamlined, concise and still bring you a complete finishing system and new turners taking up Hampshire Sheen as their finish of choice.
New media will be available to download and pick-up in stores to help new and existing turners discover and expand their knowledge of the range. This will help support that already available.
And, the Two Minute Tutorial videos that are out there at the moment are, all of a sudden out of date! So they need to be remade to demonstrate the latest recommended methods of application. These new videos will replace those already on the YouTube channel and Facebook page and will be shot over the next few months.
Yes! There are likely to be one or two new products coming this year. Some are in testing here at the workshop at the moment, and I’m having a few conversations on the side. I can’t go into them too much as I’m sure you can understand!
My wife Natalja had been thinking about leaving her workplace for somewhere new for a few months toward the end of 2019, so I suggested she come and work part time at Hampshire Sheen. She jumped at the chance of coming to work with hubby to find out how I run the business on a day to day basis.
Being the first to hear all my ideas and ramblings about work at home, by joining the company, she is now hearing them day in day out (poor girl!) as she takes responsibility for shipping whilst liaising with Phil about what needs to be filled, labelled and restocked.
Getting Back to Turning
I seem to remember a video a while ago on my own YouTube channel with that title, or was it a blog post on my own website? Can’t remember. But! With the changes taking place, and two team-mates helping with the everyday running of the business, there is (or rather soon will be) more time for me to get back to producing interesting, entertaining and inspirational content for the woodturning community to enjoy.
Not that I want to get bogged down by schedules and completely timetabling my life, but I do need to fit this content production time around my busy demonstration, teaching and show schedule. It needs fairly careful planning though. Each video takes a few hours to produce, and longer in most cases to edit. I love it though. Being busy is awesome. I get tetchy if I don’t do something creative or worthwhile every day!
The communication of ideas, techniques and my passion for turning is an important part of my life. With the extra time I have so far claimed back, I have already written two articles for the March issue of The Woodworker magazine, with an agreement to write another 11 more monthly articles. With the project articles I’ll be writing for them, there will also be a supporting videos on my own YouTube channel.
And that is just about that for now. That is pretty much all there is going on here at Hampshire Sheen as 2020 gathers pace.
Thank you for reading this rather long post. I greatly appreciate your support, encouragement and the messages I receive….I’ll look forward to seeing you again soon in another video.