The Beauty of Staying Small: Small Batches, Small Business

 

For years we’ve felt external and internal pressure to grow, but what if small is actually better? What if instead of going bigger, we go deeper, and more connected instead? There are so many ways to revel in being small. Here are a few that bring us joy.


Small Batch Means:

  • everything is made by hand in our “microfactory” in Sacramento.
  • we maintain close contact with the people, plants, animals and systems that go into making and selling our products.
  • we work with regenerative and organic farmers, and we don’t buy so much of any one ingredient that it causes stress on local resources.
  • we respect the carrying capacity of ecosystems, and only make as much as we know we can sell to minimize waste.

Small batch is also a mindset! When we get overwhelmed, we can think “I’m gonna just small batch this task right here”—it means that we’re human and need to operate on a human scale, respecting the needs of everyone around us, including ourselves.
“Choosing to stay small means that we can get better at what we do, rather than always being uncomfortable and chasing growth. We aren’t there yet, but we’ve mapped out the ideal size of our team and if we can make that happen we believe we can make a good workplace and provide good jobs.” —Tara Pelletier, Co-Founder of Meow Meow Tweet

 

Small Batch Looks Like:

  • making sure our actions are aligned with our values
  • creating things that don’t make money but are worth it for other reasons, like the Bulk Aisle (products in the Bulk Aisle give us a way to keep our packaging out of the waste stream indefinitely).
  • making room for creativity, like formulating multipurpose products (see Skin Cream and Repair Balm).
  • sourcing special ingredients (like the Hudson Valley grown hops flowers in our Rosemary Avocado Shampoo Bar), and formulating seasonal items (like our Limited Edition Violet Leaf Pinyon soap).

We didn’t always know that we wanted Meow Meow Tweet to stay “small batch.” We’ve tried selling in big box stores and have done things for the sake of growth. But we’ve learned that fulfilling orders for big box stores can come with big compromises.

By stepping back from those big accounts we’re able to focus on direct customer relationships and indie stores that are aligned with our values.


Small Batch Is Sustainable

“You have to get comfortable saying no when you’re small. Or another way to think about it is to say yes to things in a balanced way. Like specifically thinking about the long-term impact of what we’re doing beyond just sales.”—Tara Pelletier, Co-Founder of Meow Meow Tweet

Sustainability is about so much more than just carbon footprints:

  • it’s how an ingredient or project intersects with human, animal, and environmental justice.
  • it’s about checking our consumption (even the most eco-friendly ingredients can cause harm when they get scaled up or taken out of context—see our Legacy of Plants series on the exploitation and appropriation of plants).
  • it’s about recognizing and respecting Indigenous sustainability practices instead of turning them into trends for consumption
  • it’s about really knowing who made an ingredient, how a plant was harvested, and its connection to the broader ecosystem in which it was grown.


Our friend Laurel Schaffer of Laurel Skin said it best: “we can make our biggest impact in sustainability with our sourcing.”


Small Is Beautiful

We’re talking about smallness but we could just as well be saying “paying attention.” Giving something the attention it deserves, moving with heaps of intention, small-batching your day so you don’t feel like a hamster on a wheel—these are the things we want for our business. We’re people making things for other people. Sometimes it's easy to get lost in the fray, and to forget that. The nature of work is changing. We’re changing with it, and reconnecting with what counts—one batch at a time.
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