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Starting up a Spore Business in the UK

I’ve been asked a few times now by other people “should I start up a spore business” and uhhh, yeah, probably go for it? Maybe? Depends how much you like working I guess! Here’s my take on it, in handy readable form.

Please bear in mind that by most sensible metrics I could be described as a ‘fucking idiot’ so don’t take this as the Ten Commandments of your Life Coach, alright? It’s just words about my experience so far.

The best life coach and psychedelic priest, Jeremy Usborne
“You’ve been thinking thoughts your whole life. Look where that got you”

I think there’s loads of room left in the UK market for people to start their own spore businesses, whether that’s magic mushroom spores or gourmet LC’s. There really aren’t any “big” companies hoovering everything up, most of the businesses seem to be one/two person operations, so everything is quite small-scale. It’s very easy to get a whole load of spores, some decent kit, start up a little business and scale it up month by month. Personally, if I did it again I would do it (mostly) the same way:

First, get your products sorted, and test them. With a microscope. If everything is looking shipshape, then setup a cheap website using Big Cartel. Like I said elsewhere, it’s probably the most cost-effective way of setting up a quick and decent-looking storefront. Customers absolutely love the security they get by using a credit card or PayPal, and this combined with a nice-looking theme will get you sales.

Second, and very important, choose Stripe instead of PayPal as your payment processor (or use both if you must, but be prepared to take your money out of PayPal daily, which also pretty much guarantees they will cotton on to what you are doing quicker). Both of them are gonna pull your accounts as soon as they realise you’re slinging spores, but Stripe will continue paying out what they owe you whereas PayPal will lock your funds for six months. You’ll probably have a couple of months before this happens, which is enough time to get some money coming in, and for customers to realise that you’re legit. You absolutely do not want whatever cash you’ve got to operate with locked up in PayPal jail at this point. I had to spend most of my rent money on my Royal Mail bill at one point due to PayPal and my missus was not very happy about this.

Angry girlfriend who is a monkey
“You’ve spent the rent money on fucking what?!

Third! Once your payment options on Big Cartel are locked out, you’re gonna have to switch to a different website, one that lets you take whatever payment options you want. So hopefully you’ve spent every spare hour doing this in the background in your first couple of months, and then you can instantly change over. This is the hard bit, I guess. Assuming you’re starting off with “zero money”, like me, you are going to have to learn quickly. Fiverr is great for getting people to do the trickier bits for small sums of money (the quality can vary hugely so make sure you spend some time checking the vendor out), but unless you’ve got deep pockets you are going to be doing a lot of it yourself.

Fourth! Now can you can muck around with your site to your heart’s desire. Feel free to try adding other card payment processors, but to be honest they’re all gonna lock your funds at some point so I think it’s a bit sketchy if you like “actually having functional cashflow”. You will probably have to bite the bullet, like the rest of us, and just take payment by bank transfer and cryptocurrency. On the plus side, crypto is taxed completely stupidly in the UK (it’s a capital gains thing) so even though you’ll have to declare it, you won’t be paying a lot of tax on it. On the downside it’s less hilarious when your little pot of moon money halves in value overnight. It’s like gambling I guess.

At this point, if you wanna go mad and start making grow kits, substrate, monotubs and whatever, fill your boots. I have no idea how other people find the time for this as I am the busiest motherfucker just selling Cubensis spores, but maybe you’re more efficient than me. There are loads of guides out there on how to do this sort of thing properly. Once again, make sure you test your products – the last thing you want is to have to give a shitload of refunds (and getting lots of bad reviews) a month down the line because you made a mistake in your processes.

A picture from one of the best films ever made: Demolition Man
My boggle is that actually I think Denis Leary’s guy was the bad guy in this film, he was a dick

The only major boggle here for me is that you will find is that if you didn’t sell Cubensis spores, you would be able to take card payments and have a Shopify website and all of that normal, non-grey-area stuff, so at the end of the day would you not be better just focusing on those bits instead? It’s a difficult question, and one that I see lots of vendors all taking completely different approaches to. I think if I were doing that I’d split the businesses into two separate entities, much like another cool space-based vendor – that was a really smart move.

Like I’ve said, I think there is plenty of space left in the UK for other people to start up mycology businesses (less so in America but that’s another story), so if anyone else wants to have a crack at it, and is happy to put in quite frankly insane amounts of work (do you like days off? Uhhhhh unlucky, chief), then it’s not a bad gamble.

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Wow it’s a blog by OTC about Psilocybe Cubensis stuff!

Check it out yeah boyee

My friend Matt drew me this, man has talents!

Spores are ace to look at and stuff

So, uh, hello. You’ve probably seen my writing in such places as “my Facebook page“, “my Instagram page” or “this website“. I like writing ridiculous words about things, and so I thought I might as well fire some of that into some blog posts. Probably one a week or something, who knows, likely some behind-the-scenes stuff? I expect I’m just going to write a load of old nonsense bollocks but who knows, some of it might be Solid Fucking Gold so you’ll have to look at all of it on the off chance you miss anything life-changing, eh?

Just to get this out there nice and early – I like psychedelics, and I like the ol’ magic mushrooms (whatever variety you can find, I am a fan). They are rad. I think they’re a great mental health tool when used correctly, and also they’re fun. However, and this is very fuckin’ important, I absolutely do not and can not condone or help or be okay with anyone trying to grow any of those from the spores I sell. My personal views are my own, but I run my business according to what the law is, not what I wish it was. So basically don’t go taking any of this as an invitation to message me daft incriminating stuff because even if you’re my mum I’m gonna block you, you filthy criminal – and once more, for those right at the back, my products ain’t for growing.

Anyway!

Running a magic mushroom spore business in the UK is really weird. It’s basically in this mad grey area, where you can sell magic mushroom spores, and they’re very popular and 100% legal, as long as you don’t grow the fuckers, but also lots of people and organisations get kinda weird about it. Due to these spores being illegal in like three states in America (California, Georgia, and Idaho if you’re interested), the major banks that underwrite all the payment processors just say “nah bruv” as it’s easier for them to not have to navigate that complexity for the small amount of money involved (on their scale, obvs). This makes it a real twat-ache, especially when you’re starting off and you haven’t got a lot of “social proof”. People get a bit twitchy around bank transfers sometimes, and much prefer the safety of PayPal or a charge-backable credit card, especially if you haven’t got loads of reviews, which can make it hard to get going. I’ve now got tonnes of really good reviews both here and on Reddit which is great, people seem to like what I’m doing and that makes me happy.

Oh monkeyman, how did you begin your quest?

I started off on Reddit, where I’d previously bought a load of spores myself. It was a little bit easier back then, as there were some very big subreddits that you could advertise on – they were mainly US-based, but that just meant that there were hardly any other UK vendors on there, so it wasn’t too hard to get a few sales. Some cool dudes that I’d met online started up r/EuSporeHub as a way to try to have a little base on Reddit that was more focused on this end of the world, so I signed up to that first and then American subreddits and started firing out spores. I realised quite quickly that if I was having to chat to every single customer to make a sale, I wouldn’t be able to cope and it would become quickly unmanageable.

Reddit has since gotten a bit harder to advertise on, as most subreddits now won’t let you even mention active spores at all, not even for microscopy. Reddit moderators have now gotten a bit sketched-out by it all. It’s fair enough really. I don’t give much of a fuck about platforms banning things, on one hand it’s not exactly fair, but on the other it’s their platform and they can decide what they want on there or not.

Picture of a baby orangutan that doesn't do magic mushrooms
My baby did not look this because I am not an actual Orangutan it is merely a theme I am running with

I had a look around for a cheap website solution – we’d just had a baby here at Orangutan Manor so money was a huge issue, and we were probably a couple of weeks off needing to visit a foodbank. Every quid I put into the business was a gamble with a potentially huge downside. I had to build up a piece at a time, starting off as cheaply as possible. I checked out Big Cartel (it’s like a tenner a month and it’s great), used a simple theme, bought a domain, and away I went. The only problem (I would probably still be using Big Cartel otherwise) was that they lock your payment options to Stripe or PayPal, and I already knew they would suspend my accounts and hold my money as soon as they knew I was slinging spores (that fun ol’ grey area shit again).

And inevitably that happened! Stripe were pretty good about it (not like PayPal), and just said “you can have your money but we won’t take any more payments for you” and actually told me that they had no moral judgement on my business, but also that their banks wouldn’t allow it, so it was a no-go. However, I had been a crafty old Orangutan, and like I say, I knew that getting my payment options stopped was inevitable. I’d been working every single night and most weekends, and had taught myself how to do a bit of website magic, and built this site as my “SHIT HAS HIT THE FAN” resort. I had it waiting all along, and as soon as my Big Cartel site wasn’t able to take payments, I just switched over to this one. I figured if I did it that way, I wouldn’t have weeks of downtime while I tried to learn how to make the fuckin’ CSS do what I needed it to. It was pretty knackering to be fair but here we are, it worked out alright in the end.

That’s about it for now, if anyone’s got any ideas of things you wanna see me write, feel free to message me on Insta which is definitely the best way of getting hold of me at the moment.

Cheers now! OTC