I thought I’d give you a bit of an insight into what a ‘soap maker’ actually does. But first, for anyone new to this site, a bit of an introduction.
I’m Sue, the owner and creator of The Maldon Soap Company. I started my business 10 years ago on 18th July 2013 from my kitchen worktop whilst managing the Maeldune Heritage Centre in Maldon.
In 2014 I left the security of the Heritage Centre and rented a little retail unit at White Elm Garden Centre and created my ‘Soap Shack’. I started making soap full time there. It was huge a struggle at first with no safety net or support but I persevered.
I soon outgrew the soap shack so in 2017 I moved to a brand new studio on a local farm. My studio is 3 times the size of the soap shack and is a wonderfully spacious, purpose made studio and I love it there. It’s not very warm in winter but we get by.
For 8 years of running the business I worked alone but in 2021 my daughter in law Lauren started working 2 mornings a week for me, sending out all my web orders and now she’s learning to make the products and doing an excellent job.
She also wraps all the soaps for me, which I used to spend every evening doing. So now I have my evenings back – to do admin instead!
So what do I actually do?
I come up with the original concept and design and fragrance of every product, I make test batches which I test on myself and willing volunteers.
I then get each product tested and safety assessed.
Then the products get made by me.
I design and print all the product labels and source & design wrapping for my soaps.
My other ‘jobs’:
* Researching suppliers to ensure their cruelty free status and animal testing policies.
* Sourcing and buying organic, fairly traded, local, cruelty free ingredients.
* Purchasing jars, tins, paper, labels and everything else associated with the business.
* Stock control.
* Making each soap in small batches of 80 to ensure they are highest quality. * I hand pour each batch. When they have set, I hand cut and stamp them.
* Lots of washing up!
* I make every face cream, cleanser, hand cream, body lotion, shampoo, conditioner and all other products by hand.
* I then fill the jars and tins and label each one by hand.
When I’m not making products my other jobs are:
* Website creation and maintenance.
* Product promotion.
* Sourcing outlets to sell the products in.
* Stocking, restocking and maintaining my outlets.
* Social media marketing.
* Creating original posts and images/memes to promote the business.
* Scheduling posts, writing blogs, writing the newsletter.
* Accounts, budgeting, targets, invoicing.
* Wages, book keeping, tax returns.
* Data analysys & market research.
* Customer service, answering emails & enquiries, doing skincare consultations to ensure customers get the right products.
Not bad for a “hobby”
What have I’ve learned in 10 years?
Running your own business alone, especially one making soap is bloody hard work!
They say that starting your own business means working 80 hours a week for half the wages so you don’t have to work 40 hours for someone else to line their pockets.
If I had to do it all over again now I probably wouldn’t! I think I’d prefer the security and safety of working for someone else. But that’s the menopausal 55 year old me 10 years down the line.
When I first started my business I was all fired up and keen to break new ground and discover new territory. Now I’d do anything for a quiet life!
But I’ve never been a quitter. Just because times are tough and you fall out of love with your business sometimes, it’s no reason to throw in the towel. Tough times never last but tough people do!
Change is on the way for me tho with the training I’m doing in wellness, nutrition, resilience and mindfulness and I’m looking forward to switching things up and doing something a bit different.
Lots of love