“[B]ut for the first time since I’ve known him, Tyler had some real play money. Tyler was making real bucks. Nordstrom’s called and let and order for two hundred bars of Tyler’s brown sugar facial soap before Christmas. At twenty bucks a bar, suggested retail price, we had money to go out on Saturday night. Money to fix the leak in the gas line. Go dancing. Without money to worry about, maybe I could quit my job.”
- Narrator – Fight Club
His profit margins were awesome.
Tyler Durden’s case of making soap and selling it to retailers was relatively novel back in 1996. Today there are probably thousands of part time entrepreneurs making soap and selling it directly to consumers on their e-commerce soaps. Given the entire plot of the story, it’s difficult to tell whether Tyler Durden was making soap as a side hustle or for something that’s closer to his main source of income.
Twenty dollars a bar doesn’t sound like much, but inflation would make each bar of soap retail for $30.25 in today’s dollars, and by retail standards, the cost of goods is something along the lines of half the retail, $15.12 a bar. Assuming he got orders anywhere between 200 – 500 bars a month, he’d gross between $3,024 – $7,560.
Yeah, he’d have to pay taxes, but that type of earned income is very good for someone who’s adversely possessing a house without any normal people costs aside from thrift clothes, and money to hangout with.
Tyler’s case is interesting because though the ingredients can be relatively expensive: oils, fats, lye, he sourced almost all of the raw fat from a liposuction clinic by breaking into the facility and dumpster diving. So, he was able to net most of his gross. Suffice it to say, his profit margins probably can’t be replicated if you tried doing this today, even with the dumpster diving.
Solo or small fry soap making has exploded, in part because of the marketplace that allows folks to get into the game, and because the information (the internet) to do stuff like this is simply out there. The competition is has come up with it. Amazon even has an entire department dedicated to soap making.
If Fight Club was set in 2015, there’s a greater likelihood that Tyler Durden would stay off of Etsy (because Nordstrom would now be buying from the big guy who recently bought out the mid-sized speciality brand, or ripped them off), than run a series of sites, buying and selling clicks and likes, coding, while also tending his multi-million subscriber YouTube channel (think of a rated-R CaseyNeistat). Following his initial model, he’d go where sourcing and distribution was nominal, attempting to create something from almost nothing.
By the way, if you haven’t seen or read Fight Club, I highly recommend it.