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How I turned a creative hobby into a business

Can a handmade business really become a career?

I launched The People's Soap Company on January 29, 2014. Since then, the company has grown steadily, and is now a wholesale production and distribution facility. I wanted to pause and reflect on my path.

How I got started

I started making soap from scratch over the fall of 2013. I discovered how beneficial handmade soap really is for skin and the planet, especially when we take the time to research and select the right ingredients. After spending many years mining health food stores for effective products, I saw a huge need for healthy skincare that really works. I designed a formula for my family's dry skin, and was stunned by the great results. So I got to work!

Where I sell

When I launched my business, I opened an e-commerce website and an Etsy shop, and started selling at the biggest local farmers markets I could reach, such as the Long Beach marina farmer's market which draws thousands of people every week. I gathered feedback, grew an email list, kept talking with my customers, and kept growing into larger festivals and fairs.

How has the company grown?

I sold over 3,000 bars of soap my first year, and doubled that in 2015. In mid-2015, I moved production into a dedicated production facility, and now produce and sell mostly to wholesale customers. In 2016, we're expanding product lines and aiming for grocery relationships.

Do I have help?

Yes! I have help with sales and in-house production, and I gather advice from my supportive partner Ryan, and my friends and family. My support team is an invaluable part of The People's Soap Company. I have an independent personality, so taking the leap to train and trust other people has been an incredible lesson that I feel grateful to have learned. 

How I promote my business

I haven't invested in a single paid ad. Almost all of my promotion, opportunities, and media coverage occur through word of mouth referrals. 

Thanks to these relationships, my products have been featured in the Los Angeles Times' curated editorial picks for its 2015 holiday gift guide and many other news and blogs outlets like Culture Magazine and Conscious by Chloe. These relationships often open doors I don't expect, like wholesale referrals and collaborations. 

I also use my skills in SEO, photography and writing for a strong web presence on sites like Etsy. Decent SEO probably helped my cheeky Valentine's Soap Samplers become a Etsy featured item for Valentine's Day.

Is social media a big part of it all? 

Yes! I post on social media every day (Instagram, Facebook and Twitter). Social media helps me keep in touch, create new relationships, and express myself creatively. I treat my social media connections as a feedback club and research space. I also send out email blasts to my list once or twice a month, often to promote seasonal sales, share big news, and new products.

What's my skin care routine? 

My scalp loves my shampoo bar - it's a must. I'll shampoo every other shower and follow with a conditioner or ACV rinse. I'm a fragrance experimenter, so I keep a rotation of soaps in my shower at all times. I moisturize with a face oil blend I'm developing or even my beard & face oil (made with non-comedogenic oils). And the deodorant - what a liberation. To go from reapplying several times a day in bold fragrances, to just using an unscented stick of my enzyme deodorant, has been new freedom.

Let's keep in touch!

Thank you for being part of my journey. Follow me on Instagram @PeoplesSoap or drop me a line anytime at Hello@PeoplesSoap.com!

-Rachel



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