Tummy Tuck Recovery Month 3

My doctor approved me saying goodbye to my compression garment, so for the last month I’ve hardly worn it. I will put my compression binder on extra tight for a couple days if I notice swelling. Yes, swelling still happens! If I’m too active, or if I’ve slacked off in my diet and haven’t drank enough water, I wake up swollen and lumpy. Luckily, a couple days with compression clears it right up.

I feel tension on my scar occasionaly, but applying scar cream every day has really helped with elasticity and healing. I’m basically back to normal life now. Since3 months post op today marks month three, I can start working out my core! I am already thrilled with the definition I’ve received from the surgery alone, but I am excited to take it a step further to increase my strength and overall health.

My scar is healing very nicely. I’ve healed well and have had zero issues with recovery. I do wish I was closer to my doctor. I would visit him just for the sake of going back to Mexico, but since it’s not in my budget, virtual communication will have to do. My doctor and his staff are so thrilled with my results and recovery, as am I! CER Clinic continues to show their professionalism and care for me although I am long gone.

There’s a lot of controversy and cruel opinions about people who choose to have plastic surgery. I am not one to judge. It’s your body, your life. While there are many who do it to enhance their bodies or to try to fix an insecurity, I chose plastic surgery to give me a better quality of life. I could pick apart my body as much as the next person. I am a mother of two amazing children. I nursed both of them, so of course my breasts are not as perky as they once were. My hips are wider, I have love handles, flabby arms from dramatic weight loss, flabby inner thighs for the same reason. I am covered in scars from a motorcycle accident and stretch marks from having children. I’m starting to show wrinkles in places I’m not excited to see them. There’s a plastic surgery solution for every little thing I could want to fix. However, I don’t feel the need to spend the money and recovery time trying to attain a picture perfect body.

My excess belly skin, while it may seem frivolous to remove it to others, caused me a great deal of discomfort. I would get frequent painful heat rashes underneath that caused a lot of pain. I chose plastic surgery for the one area that caused legitimate health issues in my life. Although the reasons for my choice to get a tummy tuck are understandable, I am still absolutely proud and thrilled to have a normal midsection again. Do I still have a substantial amount of stretch marks and flabby skin elsewhere? Sure, I do! I am not after the perfect body. What I do want is to feel comfortable in my own skin again (physically and mentally).  I have achieved that. Many have asked if I will get more work done because of how great my results were with my surgery. The idea is very tempting, I’ll admit. However, I have no plans to partake in anymore plastic surgery during my lifetime.

’til next time, Blue Skies! -K.

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Two months post Tummy Tuck update

Today marks two months since my Tummy Tuck with Muscle Reconstruction. I started using my scar balm a month ago and I’m already seeing a difference in appearance of my scar.  The product I use is by Artisan Soapery and created by me. I started this skin care company in 2011 and love what I do! I am in no way trying to sell you on anything. I encourage you to start using fadea scar balm or cream when your doctor has allowed it. You do not have to use the one I made. However, you should look for one that is as natural as possible, containing no parabens, sulfates, pthalates, or formaldehyde. You should understand that there is no scar fading product in the world that will fade your scars over night. The key with any product is consistency. Use your product every day. Twice a day, even. You will visibly see a big difference every month if you are using a decent product.

 

Here is the difference in just one month of using my balm. The redness and inflammation is reduced and I can already see my pregnancy stretch marks smoothing as well. I love this product! I swear, this balm is going to make me a million bucks one day haha.scar
I took photos this morning to send my surgeon in Mexico for my 2 month follow up. My 4 year old daughter took the photos for me (which explains the short angle lol). She wanted me to “show my muscles” for the photo, haha. In one more month I will actually be able to work on my newly stitched abs. By the way, my belly button? That’s not t2-months-post-op1he belly button I was born with! Crazy, right?!

At this point, I wear my compression garment 50% of the time. I don’t sleep with it on, but I wear it under my clothes during the day. Every week or so, I’ll not wear the garment during the day, but I wear tighter fitting gym pants like in the photo to the right. I notice that if I go without wearing my garment for more than a day, I start to swell and get a bit lumpy, so I still wear it during the day.

It’s funny. During the first few weeks, I couldn’t stand my compression garment. I was looking forward to burning it, haha! However, now it’s become a bit of a security blanket and I don’t know when I’ll feel comfortable not wearing it every day.

Swelling depends on the day as well. Some days I look flat as a board. Other days I look so bloated my pants don’t fit well. I am hoping the swelling will be gone for good very soon.

I hope my surgeon is as pleased with the results as I am!

 

Tummy Tuck with Muscle Reconstruction – 1 Month Post Op

I was given the OK to remove my remaining drain on day 12 post op. I was worried it was being pulled too early. I was still draining 30-40cc’s in the bulb, and everything I’ve read had mostly suggested that a drain is removed when there’s 25 or less cc’s accumulated in a 24 hour period. However, I figured if my doctor says it’s okay to remove the drain, it must be okay. It didn’t hurt at all, it just felt strange.

For the next several days, the swelling was pretty severe. I think it was in part to me being more active than I should have been in the day. I kept my compression garment on extra tight as well as wore extra small yoga pants to help with compression.

Day 14 I was able to remove my belly button stitches. There are no more stitches to remove!

Day 22 post op was the first day the swelling was not an issue. I felt pretty great throughout the day and the swelling didn’t bother me. The swelling varies from day to day, but generally I am back to my old self again. I sleep normally and haven’t had to take any pain medication for a few days now. I feel great!

January 16th, 2017 – Today marks 4 weeks and 3 days post op. Pain has been very minimal for the last two weeks. It feels more like general soreness. I’ve survived the worst, haha! I still wear my compression garment every day 24 hours a day unless I’m washing it. My scar is healing tremendously well. I have had zero complications thus far. I was given the OK to start putting scar cream on as well, so I will take progress photos every month so you can see the difference.

My doctor’s staff has checked on me several times since I’ve been home. They’ve answered every question I’ve emailed them and have shown they care about my post op well being. I have nothing but amazing things to say about CER Clinic!

Many of you have asked what scar cream I’m using. I own a skin care business, so I formulated my own using healing herbs, essential oils, and botanical oils. It’s the best out there for fading scars, I promise you that! You will see in the next year to come 🙂 If you’d like to try some, I will happily send you details.

I promised you photos, so here is the before and first month difference. 🙂

I haven’t had definition in my abs since I was a teen! My doctor used a corset stitch during my muscle reconstruction to give me a curvy defined look. I am still incredibly happy with my results and can’t wait to be fully healed. Stay tuned for month 2’s update!

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How I chose my Plastic Surgeon and Recovery Destination in Mexico

I made the decision earlier this year to get a tummy tuck. I was done having kids, and two cesarean sections plus weight loss had not been kind to my midsection. I’m 30 years old, and although I feel beautiful IN clothes, out of them was a different story. I knew that any man who loved me would love me regardless of deflated breasts and a little extra tummy skin, but I made the decision to have skin removal surgery for ME – no one else. If you’re thinking about getting any sort of reconstructive surgery done, you should make sure that you’re getting it done for the same reasons. Yourself, nobody else.

Once I had decided to get a tummy tuck, I started the research of finding a plastic surgeon. I started with surgeon’s who had high rated reviews in my area (Fresno/Hanford/Visalia). However, I got quickly discouraged when I found out that the cheapest I could find was about $9,500. Oh my gosh. How could I afford that? I don’t have credit cards because I enjoy having no debt. There was no way this was happening for me. I felt discouraged and disappointed. Then, I’d heard of another option: out of the country surgery.

Some people go to Canada, some to Japan or Switzerland. Some go to Mexico. That’s where I decided to go. I did months of research on doctors and facilities in Tijuana before deciding on my doctor. So I contacted the hospital I chose. I was given my quote, which was $5,000 LESS than what I was quoted in America! Too good to be true, right? What’s the catch? Will I end up on Botched? Will I wake up in a dirty alley with my kidney’s missing? Of course, all of these fears were fears that others’ ignorance instilled in me, so I decided to do my own research.

Did you know that TJ has some of the most state of the art medical facilities for a number of procedures such as orthopedic, dental, bariatric, plastic surgery, geriatric, and cancer treatments? These facilities are able to charge a fraction of the price you would pay in America for simply being in a more affordable country. Sure, there are sketchy places that give the industry as a whole a bad name, but if you do your research, you can find reputable , US Board Certified doctors and clinics for any of your medical needs AFFORDABLY.

With the price I was quoted, I knew this was the best route for me if I wanted this procedure done. I chose Dr. Luis Suarez at CER Clinic in TJ, Mexico. He’s one of the highest rated plastic surgeon in TJ and is also a US Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. He’s a perfectionist and sets his standards very high. From my very first email, I was greeted within a few hours from a friendly patient care coordinator, Diana. She walked me through my virtual consultation and Dr. Suarez had decided that I was the perfect candidate for a semi-circular tummy tuck with muscle repair. From then, Diana helped me with all of my travel plans. The price I was quoted was all-inclusive. It included a shuttle to/from San Diego airport, a 3 day stay (I arrived Thursday evening, surgery was on Friday, I was discharged Saturday), all meals are included, all medications for 10 days are included, anesthesia is included, room amenities, EVERYTHING WAS INCLUDED!

Diana gave me many choices for lodging accommodations. I could stay at a nice 4 star hotel for about $100 a night, but one place that stood out the most was Eureka Medical Recovery Guesthouse. It’s an all-inclusive stay with unbeatable accommodations. The business is ran by a lovely family: Linda & Luis, as well as their daughter Amanda. They specialize in caring for people specifically coming to TJ for medical procedures. They pick you up from the hospital, take you to/from all of your post op appointments, pick up any prescriptions you need, provide all meals for you, and check on you throughout the day. They cater to your needs and are a truly lovely family. I believe the extra cost is worth the exclusivity, privacy and personal care. Sure, I was expecting help during my recovery, but they provided so much more. We leave here having made new life-long friends. If you can afford the extra cost, I highly recommend staying at the Eureka Medical Recovery Guesthouse!

If you’re wondering, “Is $150/night really worth the extra when I can just stay at a 4 star hotel for a little less?” Here is something to put it into perspective. You get every amenity provided by a hotel, PLUS more when you stay at Eureka. All of the extras you get with Eureka would cost you more at a hotel.

                                                      Amenities and Accommodations
                                                 ✓ = included            $ = additional cost
What you get: Eureka Guesthouse 4 Star Hotel
King Bed or 2 Twins
Handicap Shower
Flat screen TV with Netflix
Housekeeping
Complimentary Wifi
Laundry Service Provided $
Unlimited Hot Coffee/Tea $
Home cooked meals all day $
Snacks when you are hungry $
Ocean View Room $
Sight seeing & Shopping $
Complimentary travel $
Private coastal access $
Transportation to doctor appointments $
Transportation to airport $
Ocean View Balcony $
Discretion and Respect N/A
Privacy away from the public N/A
Cozy home atmosphere N/A
Medical accommodations N/A
Prescription Pick ups N/A
Medical assistance (with bandages, drains, etc.) N/A
Hands on recovery care N/A
Great company N/A
Special pillows for your medical needs N/A
Company of two friendly dogs N/A
*Note: Some hotels may offer some of the additional N/A accommodations, however it will be at an extra cost

You simply cannot beat the accommodations for your dollar. And I promise you that you will love every day there!

 

My Mexican Tummy Tuck Journey – The First Week

After months of research, I’d decided to do my procedure at CER Clinic with Dr. Luis Suarez in Tijuana, Mexico. If you’d like more info on how I chose a doctor and recovery destination, visit my other journey blog here.

Watch my short video testimonial at CER Clinic here.

Subscribe to my blog to get monthly progress updates from 1 month to 12 months.

Day before surgery, December 15th, 2016.

Our flight left Fresno in the evening. We flew into San Diego airport. We were to be picked up from the airport by hospital staff to drive us over the border and to the hospital, but our first driver got stuck in a thorough inspection, so they sent a second driver, Ira. She was very nice, and her voice was uncannily similar to Mrs. Dolores “Mama Toad” from the classic film Thumbelina. I’m telling you. UNCANNY. Once she picked us up, we were at the hospital in 30 minutes.

We arrived at the hospital where we were greeted by staff. The first thing I noticed is how bright and sterile the place looked. It was so white and bright with neon backdrops of every sign, along with the prettiest pale periwinkle wall color. We were escorted to the top floor where I got admitted, paid my balance, and escorted into our suite where we would spend the night.

Meals will be provided for you only. However, food is a delicious and ridiculously inexpensive commodity here. There are multiple places right outside of the hospital doors for your loved ones to grab a bite to eat. However, I must warn you, outside food cannot be brought back to your suite. Your loved ones can eat their food in the lobby, but they are not allowed to bring it to your room.

Day of surgery, December 16th, 2016.

The next morning, we were greeted by Dr. Suarez and nurses, where they took final blood work, placed my IV, marked my stomach, and went over surgical plans and expectations. Dr. Suarez was very courteous, respectful and made me feel comfortable. Well, as comfortable as I could be standing in the buff of someone I just met in person 3 minutes prior. Surgery was scheduled for 10am. I was wheeled down to the surgical floor where they got me all prepped for the procedure. They removed just over FOUR POUNDS of excess skin! I couldn’t believe it!

Surgery lasted about 2 hours, but I wasn’t brought back to my suite for almost 5 hours. If you’re bringing a companion with you, please prepare them for that. It may take longer than usual to be taken back up to your suite, but that doesn’t mean something’s wrong. Let your companion know to be prepared so they don’t worry.

I woke up from surgery with zero pain. My legs were not mobile yet because of the epidural. I didn’t start feeling discomfort until many hours later. The nursing staff showed up every four hours on the dot, even throughout the night while I slept, for my next pain med dose. Not all of the nursing staff spoke English, but between hand signals and my Google Translate app, we managed communication just fine. I recommend you download it for your trip. I also slept much better propped up using my travel neck pillow vs hospital pillows, so I highly recommend bringing one.

Day 1 post op, December 17th, 2016.

I slept well and was clear for discharge. Diana called my caretakers at Eureka Medical Recovery Guesthouse to come pick us up. Nurses helped me shower, get into my compression garment and get dressed. I was given post op instructions and 10 days worth of meds. Amanda arrived to pick me up and we were off to the beach house. The ride was bumpy, but bearable. Drivers are insane here, I’ll just leave it at that, hehe.

I spoke too soon, I suppose. I started to feel more and more pain as the day went on, but it wasn’t until about 35 hours post op. When we arrived to the guesthouse, I was greeted by Linda, a sweet Canadian-born lady and owner of Eureka. She was already prepping food for dinner. Linda and Amanda helped us get our room all set up and gave us the tour.

When we were settled and made our way to the main living area, we were greeted with great conversation and fresh Arnica tea while Linda cooked dinner. She was making carrot and ginger soup to help with swelling and circulation. She had many stories to share about her love of cooking and history in Tijuana. By that time, the pain had started kicking in and I needed to lie down. They brought me dinner in bed and made sure I had everything I needed. I didn’t have much energy to enjoy their company more, so I turned in pretty early.

Day 2 post op, December 18th, 2016.

I woke up to pee twice during the night. The pain was pretty strong. My bulbs are still draining plenty of fluid, and I made the mistake of sneezing. Well, it was more like a sneeze that was instantly interrupted with a loud, “Oh, crappppp, OW!” – I won’t be doing that again any time soon. I got to take a closer look at my new stomach and I am already very pleased with the results despite the swelling.

Linda had some wonderful and strong Mexican coffee and a fresh fruit waiting for us when we woke up, then she made us croissants and a veggie omelet followed by more Arnica tea. I enjoyed tea on the balcony overlooking the ocean in my cozy robe while Linda and Michael took her dogs on a hike to explore the neighborhood and beach access. Despite the pain, I was feeling wonderful.

Our caretakers are pretty awesome. Linda’s husband, Luis, is a wealth of information. It’s like listening to a story teller about history and the meaning behind certain tequilas, Mexican empires, fact origins, and music. Any reservations I had about staying in someone else’s home to recover are completely gone. It’s not awkward or strange. It feels like we’re staying with friends and making great memories.

Day 3 post op, December 19th, 2016.

Last night, I was able to sleep on my side! I couldn’t believe it. Surely it’s too soon, but I am so uncomfortable sleeping on my back. We had fresh coffee and a delicious hot breakfast again. I woke up in much less pain than yesterday, and my drainage is significantly lower than yesterdays. Usually, my bulb is full of fluid (nearly 100cc’s) after 12 hours, but today I barely had 25cc’s in my left and only 11 cc’s in my right bulb. That’s a huge difference. I am feeling much better today, so we’re going to try get out of the house to explore and shop (I’ll be in a wheelchair, of course).

Amanda (Luis and Linda’s daughter) took us to TJ to do some shopping. The sidewalks were so bumpy, but I handled it the best I could. I bought a beautiful turquoise bracelet for myself, a handmade pink leather purse for my daughter, and a green pottery skull container for my son. Most of the stores offered a “Welcome to Mexico” complimentary shot of Tequila. Michael enjoyed that, haha. It was fun playing tourist for a while. Amanda really helped in negotiating prices for me in Spanish, I was so thankful she was there with us! After shopping, she took us to this awesome eatery in Playas called Taco Nazo. I had a pork tostada. HOLY DELICIOUSNESS! I could have eaten ten of them.

We’re back at the guesthouse now, and although I was in a wheelchair during all of our time out of the house, I’m pretty exhausted. Time to lie down with a good book and rest up. After all, it is only day 3!

Day 4 post op, December 20th, 2016.

I slept pretty well last night. I was actually able to sleep on both of my sides last night, which felt amazing. I realized last night before bed the reason my left drain hardly had any fluid in it. There was a clot stuck in the drain tube. It’s fairly easy to unclog, and as soon as I did, fluid began to drain again. I don’t feel very swollen today, and I can’t believe how great my new mid section looks already. The pain gets more tolerable each day, though I’m  noticing a pattern: my pain is very minimal in the mornings and early afternoons, but gets worse as the day goes on. By dinner time, I’m aching to take my pain pill early. Since my meds are limited to just a ten day supply, I can’t take extras as needed. However, I will be going to my primary doctor when I get home to get a supply of pain management just in case I still need them when I get home. I recommend doing that before you head out here so they’re waiting for you when you get home!

Tonight was incredible. Patient Coordinators, Diana and Cassandra from CER Hospital, came to check on me and have dinner with us at Eureka. Linda really outdid herself! We had a snack platter in the shape of a Christmas tree, a fresh Christmas salad, stuffed pork loin with blackberry wine sauce, and mashed potatoes. Luis put on some Christmas music and poured champagne for the ladies, while entertaining us with more tales of the meaning behind every song we heard. We shared life stories, lots of laughs, happy tears, and created memories that I’ll take with me forever.

I was in a lot more pain and visibly more swollen when I went to bed. I’m positive it was due to all of the laughs shared at the dinner table this evening. I know I overdid it, but the experience and memories were worth it. I’ll take it extra easy tomorrow. I came here for plastic surgery and private recovery care, expecting to receive just that. I had no idea I would leave here with so many wonderful memories, great experiences, and new friends who have become more like family. This entire trip was so much more than I bargained for.

Day 5 post op, December 21st, 2016.

This is our last night in TJ. As promised, I took it extra easy today and rested in bed most of the day. It rained on and off all day, so we watched movies while listening to a soothing combination of crashing ocean waves and trickling rain drops. Linda worked, so Amanda took care of me today. She did laundry for me and made us amazing home made enchiladas for lunch. As much as I’ve enjoyed my time here, I am so ready to go home and wrap my arms around my babies. Chances are I won’t see Linda in the morning since she leaves for work very early, so I hugged her before bed and thanked her so much for not only taking such great care of me while I recovered, but for sending me off with beautiful memories to take with me. We both teared up a bit! We’ve been welcomed back for any future stay that may take us back to Mexico, and I can’t wait to see everyone again.

Day 6 post op, December 22nd, 2016.

After breakfast we sat at the dining table answering emails and working a bit. The time seemed to be going by very slow because the only thing on my mind was holding my babies tonight! We left for TJ to my post op appointment. TJ was completely flooded. A drive that should have taken us twenty minutes took us an hour and a half! The streets were so flooded in some areas that it was boiling out of the sewer drains and was halfway up the doors on the Ford Explorer some of the time. Thank goodness we were in an SUV, I don’t know how cars made it through that nightmare.

We finally made it to the hospital, where they removed my right drain and kept my left drain in. It was not painful to remove the drain, but it did feel strange. The doctor removed my medical tape and I was finally able to see my scar. I waited until the tape was fully removed to look, and I was half expecting to look like Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas. The doctor peeled the tape halfway off and said, “I love your scar! Beautiful.” I still refrained from looking down until the tape was completely off.

Okay, time to look.

What the? Where is it? Where’s the scar?! It’s hardly even noticeable! “Oh my gosh!” I squealed as I started to tear up and cry. This is incredible! My doctor used internal stitches and stitched it up so beautifully that the scar is hardly visible. THANK YOU, DR. SUAREZ! THANK YOU!

I am so beyond thrilled with my results I can’t even express it. Now, time to go to the airport so I can see my babies!

Our ride was a really sweet young lady. We had a medical fast pass to get us through the border faster, but we were still expecting traffic because of the holidays. Surprisingly, it didn’t take as long as we expected. We were at the airport in plenty of time, so we watched Tim Allen’s “Santa Clause” movie and waited for departure. The ride home was a bit bumpy, but we finally landed in Fresno ten minutes earlier than scheduled. My best friend Maria and her husband Del were there to pick us up. It’s so good to be home!

Day 7 post op, December 23rd, 2016.

It was great waking up in my own bed today. I slept pretty well. I woke up to an email from Diana checking in on me to see how I’m doing since being home. I know many of you are wondering about post op appointments when you get a procedure done in Mexico. Here’s how it works: Post op appointments are welcomed and encouraged. It never costs any extra money and it’s good for you to go back and see your doctor if you’re able to. However, it is not required. If you’re unable to travel back to Mexico for any post op appointments, you will keep in touch virtually. I don’t know that I’ll be able to take the time off or afford to go back for a post op appointment, so I will be emailing my Doctor every few days with my drain fluid amounts so he can let me know when it’s okay to remove my last drain. Then every month or so I’ll be sending him progress pictures to review and provide feedback.

So, let’s review.

YES, I chose Tijuana, Mexico for my skin removal surgery. NO, I didn’t wake up in a dirty alley with my kidneys missing. YES, I survived. NO, it wasn’t scary like media and biased shows like Botched try to make you believe. YES, I am 1000% thrilled with my results. YES, my doctor spoke fluent English, as did most of his staff. YES, it was an impressive and sterile clinic. And finally…YES, I would do it all over again in a heart beat.

If your family or friends decide to give you the “You’re bonker balls crazy,” look when you mention you’re looking into cosmetic surgery in Mexico, let them know they can keep their ignorant, closed minded comments to themselves. Trust me, if you do your research, you will be able to shove their comments in their faces later when you come home looking fabulous 😉

Viva La Mexico!

 

Rustic Country line by Artisan Soapery

oven-method-for-rendering-tallowAbout a month ago I met a wonderful lady in my Morro Bay store named Lisa.  We realized we lived in the same area of central valley and got to talking!  She owns her own small scale farm minutes from my house with goats, turkeys, chickens, cows and alpacas.  She hand milks her goats every day, and the love she has for her farm is right out of a story book.  She was generous enough to share her amazing dairy with my new venture in rustic soaps.

I was also gifted about 30lbs of beef trimmings from her own cattle that I can render myself into fresh tallow.  Tallow is rendered beef fat, whereas lard is rendered pig fat.  Now, before you grimace in disgust at the thought of animal fats in soap or *gasp* on your skin, let’s take a short walk down history lane…

During medieval civilization, the main source of fat for soap was animally sourced.  It was plentiful, easy to acquire since meat was always being consumed, and easy to render.  Sure, olive oil was around as well as other plant oils, but they were very labor intensive to produce back then, and thus very expensive.  If you’re making soap for yourself, it’s a nice treat to include some fancy plant oils.  However, if you’re a medieval soap maker supporting your family, the best way to make soap more affordable for yourself is to use what is readily available.  And it made an awesome bar of soap!

One hundred percent animal fat soaps were creamy, super cleansing with a dense bubbly lather.  To add fragrance and more healthy skin benefits, fresh dried herbs were added such as rose, lavender, pine, juniper, peppermint, etc.  On rare occasion (usually only for royals and the wealthy), essential oils were added to the soap.

On a more scientific spectrum, our DNA and cells are biologically structured more similar to that of a mammal than with plants.  Simply put, it’s nature! Do we have chlorophyll flowing through our veins?  Do we live in dirt and grow roots to absorb nutrients that keep us healthy?  No. Do we have a heartbeat and blood flowing through our veins like most animals?  Yes.  So, biologically speaking, our body is as accepting of animal fats if not better than plant based oils.  Now, this is in no way trying to take away anything from the great benefits of plant fats like olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, avocado oil, etc. because those oils are absolutely incredible for your skin.  My point is, so are animal fats!

iStock_000009890634XSmall

In my new Rustic Country soaps, I will be using a back to basics wholesome recipe that’s nourishing and healthy for your skin with a rustic flair.  I’ll be using FRESH daily goat’s milk and local beef tallow that I’ve personally rendered myself.  No colorants, no artificial ingredients, just organic herbs and essential oils.  I am confident my customers will love this line as much as my signature!

Second Chance

Some of you have asked what’s going on. Here’s the story. I’ll start from the beginning.

The first red flag I noticed was when I first moved to Hanford.

Before I had decided to move to California, FBP (Former Business Partner) and I had discussed and agreed upon our partnership; we would own a store together so we have someone to split the bills with and share the responsibility of running a store, but we were separate (my artisan soapery business was mine and her interior design/textiles company was hers). We were to help each other grow to our full potential all while having someone to split the overhead with. However, AFTER I had already moved my family to Hanford, those plans did a complete 180.

FBP refused to go into business with me unless we were 50/50 partners. I explained to her my concerns; I can’t give you half of my hard earned profit from the products I hand make. I told her my worries of resenting her if I was giving her all my profits with no return on her end and stressed my belief that we need to own Lather to Lace mutually, but operate our separate businesses alone. Again, she refused.

Recent actions now prove she was using me this entire time. She knew I moved here to make a living for my family and that I needed to begin working as soon as possible in order to make that money by the time our savings ran out. She knew the quality of my products from being my distributor over the last year, saw the potential for growth, and wanted a bigger piece of it (she said this many times). I simply wanted to run my business and share the overhead, but she wouldn’t go into business with me unless I gave her half of my business. I felt backed into a corner with little options since I needed to start work quickly.

She reeled me in with promises of “BIG” interior design jobs that would lead to “thousands,” so giving her 50% of my business shouldn’t be a big deal if she’s willing to give me 50% of her profits too, right? Who was I to assume her side of our business wouldn’t be as lucrative as mine if I don’t at least give it a chance? Only, in the last nine months we were in business together, Lather to Lace NEVER SAW A SINGLE PENNY of profit from her interior design business. It all went back into her own personal design account that I didn’t have access to. She was able to separate her profits from our business, but I wasn’t. That’s only the beginning of why our relationship went sour.

Let me break it down for you. This is our sales from the day we started Lather to Lace to the day we closed.

Sales

In other words, in the last 9 months, My products have made $44,009.36 and FBP’s side has brought in $8,730.86.

Here’s the kicker. After all of my hard work, I haven’t been able to take home a single penny because it was all going to her side of the business since she wasn’t pulling her weight in sales. Not only that, I invested $18,000 in Lather to Lace while she invested $6000, yet she still believed our partnership was fair when all of my hard work went into her pocket instead of my family’s.

Who’s beginning to understand why I grew so resentful?

I tried to surface my concerns several times, repeatedly telling her, “I got into this business to make money WITH you, not make money FOR you. We need to start focusing on your interior design business to even out our sales and help us with our growing debt. I can’t continue to make all the money for our business.” Her response was minimal and went in one ear and out the other. She said her time is better spent doing the administration part of running our business. Unfortunately, that doesn’t increase our sales. I could hire an accountant to do all of that. At least then I probably would have been able to take a salary home.
Due to the growing increase in my sales, I also had to increase production. She offered to come over several times (and did come by to help me about 4 times in the last 9 months), but I didn’t want to be in business with another soap maker.  That’s not what I signed up for, and it was becoming increasingly clear she had no interest in getting her side of our business up and running. Instead of focusing on her business, she shoved herself into mine. It was disconcerting, and now I realize why she was so pushy.
With my growing anger and resentment towards her, I began lashing out at other people, including my family. I said a lot of things I can’t take back, and my tongue lashing started a lot of wildfires. It took a few weeks before I realized the problem was within myself. I’ve owned up to those discretions and have been forgiven. This is not who I am. I was not this person a year ago and this is not who I want to be. These recent blow ups are what lead to our decision to dissolve our partnership.

FBP was going to buy me out and continue Lather to Lace. I was no longer going to be an owner, just a distributor. The final buyout cost was $30,000. She had me believe she was going to do right by me after all I’ve done for L2L and do whatever it took to get the capital to buy me out and continue to grow our baby. In return, I would be the exclusive distributor for L2L and make L2L my top priority. Week after week went buy while she dodged my inquiries about the buyout. I didn’t realize until I caught her in a lie, that she acquired the money for the buyout, but was keeping it to herself until I got so destitute (our savings was nearly gone at this point) that I had no choice but to walk away. She then would use that money to keep the Hanford store and invest in a new start up. Once she fessed up, she said she’d be reopening the Hanford store as her interior design/textiles studio. However, I recently found out that was another lie. She’s decided to take the knowledge I stupidly gave her and open her own soap shop. I now realize the meaning behind all of her deceitful secrecy.

Once we decided we were dissolving our partnership, I believed this to be fair:
I keep all Artisan Soapery products, soap making supplies, Morro Bay store, and anything I personally owned.
FBP keeps all textiles/home décor/pantry items/jewelry, industrial sewing machine, Hanford store, and anything she personally owned.
Everything we’ve invested in/purchased together with our joint account, we split 50/50 and call it a day.

I was in a hurry to dissolve. Our savings was nearly gone and I needed to get a jump start on converting my business so I can start making money. Again, she knew the deadline I was on and refused to dissolve our partnership unless I gave her EVERYTHING. I tried to fight her on that for a couple weeks, insisting that splitting everything 50/50 was the fair thing to do (despite the fact that I’ve invested more than twice the money she has, and made nearly six times more money). Finally, I gave in. I needed to move on with my life, and if giving her everything (that we ever purchased for together) will get it done, so be it. She also stole the $2000 website we paid for and will be using it for her new business.

I asked her recently if she was going to have the decency to tell my customers where to find my products when they come in asking for them. Her response was as expected, “No way in hell am I ever going to promote your business again. I’ll simply say we aren’t affiliated anymore.” Little did I know, it was because she had planned on poaching my customers when she opened her own soap shop.

We were supposed to sign the dissolution Monday, and I had planned on moving out that weekend. However, my help on Saturday couldn’t make it, and the only day I had available to move was Tuesday; the day AFTER our paperwork would have been signed if she hadn’t pulled another delay tactic. I moved what was listed in our dissolution contract as my assets. No more, no less. And this weekend I’m gathering everything from her asset list for her to pick up. And now she’s throwing a fit because I didn’t move out on her time. *Update* She’s now telling people I “robbed her blind” when I went into our store and moved out the things that were listed as MY ASSETS in our dissolution. How can you rob someone of things that don’t belong to them? She just keeps increasing her victim-meter.

I also removed her as an admin from our L2L facebook page and turned it into Artisan Soapery. That page is the only way to reach out to my customers to let them know where I’ve moved on to. Since she is hell bent on taking that from me, I did what I needed to in order to communicate with my customers. It’s a social media page, not a bank account.

She can have everything we’ve purchased together. She can have it all. I’ll bounce back. I’ll thrive. It’s clear she’s so insecure in her ability to come up with her own ideas that she feels the need to copy others. She can steal my recipes, I’ll create new and better ones. She’s shown her true colors by also having her friends harass me and body shame me on facebook. I may have made some poor decisions along this journey, but unlike her, I am not trying to steal her livelihood by copying her work in attempt to sabotage her success. It’s tacky and classless. She’s made these choices all on her own and she will have to deal with that Karma when it comes for her.

I am looking forward to moving on with my life. I appreciate the support you all have given me during this bumpy road. I can’t wait to focus all of my energy on expanding my business. I am excited to work for just my family again 🙂 Everything happens for a reason, and I believe this lesson is leading me to a better future, even if I can’t see it yet.