Alright, so when we left off in the previous blog post, I was talking about my entry into self-employment. For this post, we’ll discuss the path that led me to soapmaking. First off, welcome back & thanks for continuing to read my story. Your presence is my present!
I began cutting hair in 1996 and had a great start to my career. Then in 1998, I went to back to school to become a barber instructor. I taught - and eventually ran - a barber college briefly until 2001. As much as I enjoyed teaching, I did not enjoy being held responsible for what other adults were doing with their time. Also I’m very VERY disorganized, and that doesn’t blend well with being in a supervisory position. Can you say stress?
Intro to Product Making
In 2009, the majority of my hair clients wore dreadlocks. I had a new customer and she wanted to bring a specific product to use when we tightened her hair. Except for products containing mineral oil or petroleum products, I always allowed customers to bring the products they liked the most to their hair appointments. When I started using the product that the lady brought with her, I was amazed! The product worked beautifully and only contained very few ingredients. I had grown frustrated with the amount of hair products that claimed to be made for natural hair, but were filled with unnecessary amounts of chemicals.
I began purchasing the product from the salon in DC that made the product, but they didn’t ship it. This meant that I had to pay for the product, shipping, and a fee for the person who lived in DC who was buying and shipping it for me. Needless to say, the expenses piled up pretty quickly after just a couple of orders. I loved the product, but couldn’t justify spending all that money. I decided to start researching how to make my own hair butters and eventually got in contact with a good friend of mine from barber college. He has businesses centered around holistic living and well-being, and unbeknownst to me, was already making the product I was researching.
From Buyer to Manufacturer
In the beginning of the business, I paid my friend to make the product for me, and I just put my labels on the containers. I actually enjoyed this arrangement, but also wanted to learn to make the product myself. This was before everything could be found online with video tutorials... He eventually showed me the process, and I was ecstatic to learn a new skill.
I began using the products on my customers and over time we realized that the product was good for skin as well. I never intended to start selling the product, but my customers loved it and wanted to purchase it, so I decided to give it a try. In 2014, one of my hair customers - who was already an experienced soaper - introduced me to the world of handmade soaps and other personal care products. She opened up a whole new world that I didn't even know existed. You can make your own lotion at home??? Mind = Blown
Science has always been one of my favorite subjects, so it literally feels like I'm doing science experiments everyday, which is alright with me!
If you're still with me, thank you again for reading the entirety of my story. The remaining blog posts most likely won't be as lengthy, but I wanted to share the story with you all. Make today great! 💚