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.
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.