Soaps With The Handmade Touch

Their are many benefits when it comes to products that are homemade. Beyond helping to support an entrepreneur, many of the products can have the benefit of no additives among other things.

Kristi Mott’s son had some skin problems as a baby and she found that her homemade soaps actually helped him when the store bought soaps couldn’t. Because her soaps are handmade they do not have the extra additives that other soaps tend to have. Started in December of 2007, her business is still just starting to take off.

I got the opportunity to do an interview with Kristi about her business, her Etsy store and being a mompreneur.

What is Soap Scent-sations?

Soap Scent-sations is hand-poured, handmade soap and bath products that I make in my home and sell from my home via etsy and private sales. The products are lightly scented and as natural as possible. My goal is to keep the products very lightly scented for people (like myself) who are sensitive to strong smells, and also gentle for sensitive skins.

What was your inspiration for your business?

I had been making soaps for a couple of years and giving it as gifts and using it in my own house, especially with my young son who had skin problems as an infant. After discovering they really helped him and that I liked them, I really started researching even more the qualities that make good soap for happy skin. Then a lot of people started asking to buy the soaps or encouraging me to put them up for sale. With those things combined I started Soap Scent-sations with sensitive skin and noses in mind.

What types of things did you need to do to get your business up and running?

1. Licenses and all the legal stuff
2. Quality ingredients from reliable suppliers
3. Fun and functional packaging
4. Soap making equipment
5. Lots of guts–running a business isn’t always easy–especially for someone who is so focused on the creative aspect of it.

What type of investment did you have to make?

Initial investments were very low. A few pieces of equipment, some packaging supplies, and the ingredients. I try to keep my supplies in small quanties so that when I ship out a product it is as fresh as possible.

Did you have any experience or education that you were able to apply once you got started?

I grew up in family business. You really learn work ethic and how to treat people when your meals depend on it. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education-Speech/Drama. I guess that is my creative side showing through. And I have six and a half years of parenting behind me that has taught me to be flexible and to have a sense of humor about the things that go wrong. Not every day is going to be perfect and you just have to know how to get through because tomorrow will be totally different.

Have you learned anything since you launched that you wish you’d known before?

How to prep taxes and more of the “business” side of things is sometimes a challenge. More research ahead of time would have kept me from stressing more than once.

What was the deciding factor in choosing Etsy as your store location?

I heard of Etsy through a friend and did some research. I really wanted to launch on-line, but the cost of operating your own site/domain/etc was going to be way out of my budget. Etsy allows me to sell my wares at a relatively low cost and offers security in payment. Related to that thought, I like that I can accept credit cards without having to have my bank account set up to accept them (another cost that is not in the budget in the early stages of this venture). It is such a great community of people. It sort of feels like home–other people out there making things with their hands and sharing them with the world. It is very “ME”. I am proud to put my products out there with all the other great stuff at Etsy.

Where you able to apply anything you have learned as a parent to running your business?

I think I touched on that earlier. With kids you can’t let the little things get to you and you have to have a sense of humor. I once sent an e-mail to my husband to pick up some supplies for me on his way home…but I sent it another person in my address book by the same name…it was really embarrassing, but it made us both laugh! I always double check my “to:” line now! I have also learned patience. There are days when I think, “Am I going to ever make a sale??” And I wait and then something good comes along…a single bar, a large custom order, a positive review from a customer. On those days I try to focus on development–new products, better packaging, overall look of everything, etc.

How do you manage your time between being a parent and your business?

I think the business is a great learning experience for the kids, they get to learn how to entertain themselves when mommy has to finish up an order and they get to see how I make decisions about where, when I sell and advertise. I try not to start anything that I know I can’t done before meal/nap time. I don’t start my work day until 9am and stop by 4:30pm. And if I have anything I really have to finish I wait til the kids are in bed. They are my first priority…if there comes a time when soap gets in the way of that first duty I will quit. There are days when I do just stop…this is not as important…let’s play, read, or go to the park.

Do you have any advice that you’d like to share with other moms who might be interested in starting their own business?

Do lots of research about licenses, bookkeeping, tax rules, etc. Know your stuff–your products. Don’t sell yourself short–make sure you price your stuff what it is worth, not what you think it will sell for. Have fun–the idea is to make money, but if it isn’t fun, it isn’t worth it to me.

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