The Bootstrap Businesses column showcases home business entrepreneurs: selling glycerin soap with an embedded luffa, starting a home typesetting business and a home health food bakery.
Home business entrepreneurs enter into new businesses, including glycerin luffa soap, a home typesetting business and a home health food bakery.
If you now operate, or have ever operated, a successful home business that was inspired by an article you read in MOTHER, tell us about it in around 500 words (write to THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS Hendersonville, North Carolina): Be sure to mention when and where you started your venture and with how much "seed money"; what you make (net), and anything else that might be of assistance to other entrepreneurs. If your story is used in this column, you'll receive  the satisfaction of knowing that you may help someone else start a business and  a free two-year new or renewal subscription to THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS®.
For the past five years, after starting with an initial investment of $1,650, my family and I have been manufacturing a product called Lufa-Nutra, consisting of a 3-1/2-ounce bar of unscented glycerin soap with a luffa sponge embedded right in the top. The combination quickly proved popular with such folks as backpackers and long-range bicycle travelers.
Unfortunately, as sales increased, we found we couldn't raise enough luffas to keep up . . . and we couldn't find enough other growers, either, until "For Luffa or Money!" (MOTHER EARTH NEWS issue 68, page 126) made my dream business a practical reality. As it happened, you see, I was placing ads in newspapers trying to locate luffa growers when that piece appeared, and MOM's article inspired enough people to bring me plenty of responses. Soon I had all the lufa suppliers I could possibly use, and the profits from our business really started rolling in. The net gain for this past year, in fact, was $20,000 . . . and we're moving the business from an acre plot to a 110-acre farm.
In case anyone would like to try our product, the current price for a bar of LufaNutra is $2.50, postpaid, and we'll ship anywhere in the U.S. Readers ordering more than one bar can have them for $2.00 apiece plus UPS shipping charges. To obtain further information—or to get a wholesale price list—send along a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
For a long time I'd wanted some extra income . . . but I knew that second jobs usually demand too many hours for too little pay. Besides, I needed something I could schedule as I pleased, not some form of third-shift drudgery. I'm a carpenter, and pretty handy in lots of ways, but taking on such side work as home remodeling jobs requires equipment, insurance, employees, and hassles. I was at a loss until I started reading the Bootstrap Businesses column in MOM. At that point I got smart and began to think small.
About that time my brother, who's a real estate agent, mentioned to me that one of his company's vacant houses had been broken into. The vandals had kicked in a door, and there was now no way to lock the house. Well, I volunteered to go over that day and mend the door. It took three hours to repair the portal.
At my brother's suggestion, I sent a bill to the man who owned the agency, and soon received reimbursement for the cost of the materials, plus $45 for labor. Better yet, his secretary invited me to do similar work for the company on a regular basis. I got all the repair jobs not only on his agency's listings, but also on repossessed homes that he bought for improvement and resale.
Well, with all of that going on, I soon had more side work than I could handle . . . at $15 an hour. And the only investment I'd made was putting $250 in a separate checking account to buy materials. That was soon earned back, of course, and my business is bringing in the extra cash I need plus the flexibility in hours that's necessary to make my new enterprise a pleasure.
Thanks, MOM, for starting me thinking "small".
After reading—in the Bootstrap Businesses column in MOTHER NO. 49—the letters from two folks who had started their own typesetting businesses, my husband and I agreed to establish a similar enterprise of our own . . . at home. I'd had several years of experience typesetting for newspapers, and knew that this sort of job could be a moneymaker, so we signed the purchase papers for an IBM composer and nervously anticipated the arrival of that $10,000 machine.
However, I then received a call from a local printer who had typesetting equipment but no typesetter, and he wondered if I'd be interested in bidding on a major job.
Well, that arrangement proved so satisfactory that I canceled our equipment order and now set type on a freelance basis. With absolutely no investment, overhead, or long-term commitment, I can earn anywhere from $6.00 to $18.00 per hour . . . charging by the job.
Furthermore, my schedule is very flexible . . . a fact that makes the business ideal for a working mother. And since I'm self-employed, I can set up the same business almost anywhere we might decide to move. It's been the perfect way to bring in a second income, and I hope another MOTHER-reading mother can use the idea.
Down here in Mexico, bringing in money is a continuous problem for most people. However, many of the local folks really know how to make do with less: Barter and bootstrapping are alive and well south of the border. And—between my neighbors and MOM—some of that ingenuity has rubbed off on me.
While my husband was attending medical school in Mexico City, our budget was stretched to the breaking point. However, when my grandmother passed her well-read collection of THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS® along to me and I happened upon "How to Start a Home Bakery of Your Own" (MOTHER EARTH NEWS issue 37, page 46) . . . I headed straight for the kitchen! Since I'd already had rave reviews on my granola and whole wheat loaves, I knew it was time to try to cash in on my cooking.
There's a great demand for American-style health food in Mexico City, but not a very good supply of such edibles, so I had an excellent market with little competition. And my initial investment was only $12.40 . . . which went to purchase the makings of five kilos of granola and three loaves of bread.
Well, within my first 24 hours in my home health food bakery business, I'd sold the whole batch, and it soon became obvious that word of mouth was the only advertising I needed to get all the orders I could handle.
To add variety to my line of offerings, though, I bartered with a friend who sold Mennonite cheese. We traded granola and cheese, kilo for kilo. And since my cereal cost me only $2.00 per kilo to make, that was my cost for the cheese as well.
After that, my weekly sales averaged about 15 kilos of granola at $4.30 a kilo (net profit $34.50), 8 loaves of bread at $1.50 each (net $5.60), and 4 kilos of cheese at $4.30 apiece (net $9.20) . . . for a net total of $49.30 a week. And with the oven on so much, we also kept our otherwise heatless apartment cozy (and smelling delicious), while that same warmth more than paid for itself.
Muchas gracias, MAMITA!
Connie S. Penrod de Sias
Oginaga, Chihuahua, Mexico
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