Build Deep Before Expanding Wide

This week I met with my cousin who retired from a major perfume company a few years ago to pick her brain about my soap line, Nyah. At the time her husband who is also retired (pharmaceutical sales), came home and he was briefed on what we were up to. I had mentioned about how I had started the natural beauty business but became burnt out because I had several products in several scents and had to take time away to re-access what I was doing. In the hallway he uttered “You Expanded Wide before Building Deep.”

I tell my students when they take my classes, you are learning how to make several different products. You are excited to get started making and selling your new product line. But I warn them to find a couple of things they really like and build them first and then expand. People will come to you wanting  you to make them something you don’t currently make and yes you can make it but don’t be drawn in just to gain a sale. It is not worth it. Build deep first!

Think about trees. If a tree’s roots grow deep it can weather the strongest of hurricanes and storms but when a tree’s roots are on the surface and are spread wide before growing deep the first strong wind will whisk it away. The same applies to your business. You will be able to weather the demands of your new business; production, marketing, accounting, sales, vending, labeling, wholesaling, packaging if you build deep before expanding your product offerings.

As you build your business or what ever you are working towards, remember this….Build Deep Before Expanding Wide. It will be hard at times because you will see a new recipe or a new soap technique you want to add to your product line. It’s okay to always learn and improve your current product line to make it the best it can be. That is the natural progression of a business. But talk to yourself and tell yourself I must Build Deep Before Expanding Wide.

It will save you time, money and most importantly STRESS.

Have you had to tell yourself, no…Building Deep Before Expanding Wide? Please share your experience and how it effected you and your business.


  1. I remember you talking about this at the very first class I took with you. And all the classes after that. I remember it everytime someone asks me why I don’t make this or that. I usually tell them that I do make it, for myself, but I don’t sell it….yet. To myself I remember that I am only one person, doing what I love, and I want to keep it that way. Thank you for the reminder!

  2. Well said Angela! You are ONE PERSON, doing what YOU love and YOU want to keep it that way. If you spread yourself too thin the passion and love for what you are doing will go away. Great point!

  3. This is one of the most salient points anyone can make to handcrafted business people. Creatives frequently fall into this trap which makes many of them not business people but instead hobbiests. Remember to look at all of the historically great companies out there: they usually started out by doing one thing great. Focus is essential for expanding your business, especially an artisanal one.

  4. Great point. I’ve recently been weeding out my product line. I started by making soaps that I like but with no focus. And suddenly my shop had so many products in it. How were people to choose? So, I’ve started focusing and getting rid of the clutter. I definitely went too wide and now I’m digging in deep.

  5. very good advice. i too am starting a soaping business and as you stated everyone has an “idea” of what i should sale. I have three products..soap, body butter and bath melts.. and i only provide 3 fragrances for the body butter and 10 soaps and bath melts are just naturally scented with the cocoa butter. i will not allow friends or greed to dictate my progression. your cousin’s husband hit the nail on the head!

    now, i do play around with other things but that’s just for me..and my guinea pig family members. :)

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