How To Start A Soap Business [Startup Academy Featuring Jerika Zimmerman]
Welcome to Startup Academy by OnlineLabels. We're talking to industry professionals to get the inside scoop on starting home-based businesses.
We recently reached out to the founder of Quench, Jerika Zimmerman, to get her tips for starting an online soap business. Check out the transcript below.
Hello, friends! I'm Jerika, the owner and creator of Quench. In today's video, I'm going to be partnering with OnlineLabels and their Startup Academy to show you the steps you need to take in order to start a soap business from your home.
Do Your Research
The first thing you want to do is your research and figure out how to make an awesome bar of soap. There are so many resources online that provide recipes, show you which ingredients to use, and walk you through the entire process. I figured out how to make soap by watching Soap Queen's YouTube channel. She provides awesome recipes, shows you which ingredients to use, and walks you through which equipment you'll need. The whole process of making soap is so intimidating and there's a lot of chemistry behind it so it's always great to do your research and watch a seasoned soap maker do their thing before you decide you want to do it yourself.
Test, Test, Test
Because our products are going on people's skin, you really want to know them inside and out. The only way to really know them is through testing. You really want to put your products through the ringer so you know exactly how they will react in most scenarios. There are a lot of questions that will come up when you're selling your soap and you want to be prepared with answers when they come. Is your product safe to use? Is it shelf stable? How does your product perform in different types of environments? How long does your product last? These are all questions you'll be able to answer once you've done all of your testing.
Make it Legal
The next step is to figure out what permits, licenses, or registrations you'll need in order to conduct your business legally. This information can vary from state-to-state and country-to-country. It's always best to go to the source directly to get the most accurate information. This can be your city, state, municipality, etc.
Craft Your Brand
I find so many soap makers put in so much time and effort creating beautiful bars of soap — but they don't spend that same amount of time crafting their brand. If you don't have the right brand or the right company name, you might find that sales are going to be really tough. When creating your brand, you really want to think about your target customer and understand their desires and what they want in a company. Understand what you want your company to represent. This way when you talk to your customers about your brand, you can come off as passionate about what you're selling. At the same time, you'll want to pay attention to current trends and what appeals to your target market.
Decide on Your Packaging
You want it to be eye-catching, beautiful, clean, and representative of the brand you're trying to convey. For our company, we really wanted to target people that love clean and simple lines. And that's why I love OnlineLabels so much. They offer such a huge selection of soap labels that can fit all types of budgets. There's no way you're going to walk away without finding what you need for your company! We love using the 2" x 2" clear glossy labels for our soaps. They provide such professional-looking products that our customers love. How beautifully your product is packaged will translate on your website, on social media, and will definitely lead to more sales.
Once you have your company name and your brand figured out, you want to go into Instagram and Facebook to set up a page. This step can be hard starting out because you'll be posting and people may not be liking it. It may seem like you're screaming into a void. It could take a while to build a following but you shouldn't let that frustrate you. If you stick with it, you'll find that engagement and likes will increase over time. One tip when it comes to social media — don't always try and sell your product. Talk about your process. Talk about exciting things your company is doing behind the scenes. This type of content resonates with followers. You'll find that if you focus more on your company and providing value instead of selling, engagements and likes will start rolling in.
Where to Sell Your Products
There are so many different avenues to sell your products. As a company, we like to be everywhere. We do farmer's markets, we do events, and we also sell online — on Etsy, on Shopify, and on our own website. If you aren't in a farmer's market, I 100% recommend attending them and seeing what other vendors have to offer. If you find that you're a good fit, that farmer's market is likely to have a website where you can contact the market manager and speak to them about joining as a vendor. Once you start going to markets, you'll start speaking with other vendors and learn about local events that you can attend. Attending markets put our brand out there and made us known to the town. Being known in the community is awesome for getting sales because people love supporting local businesses.
If you're finding it difficult to find a place to sell online, Etsy is a great start. The fees are low. Unlike Shopify, which charges a monthly fee, Etsy only charges when you make a sale in addition to a listing fee. I do recommend selling on both because I find that I get sales on both platforms. You don't want to put all of your eggs in one basket with Etsy because they are constantly changing their algorithm. Ultimately, you don't control the platform, so it's always best to have your own website where you have the most control.
Ship Your Products
When it comes to shipping, you have to choose your carrier and figure out your materials. When it comes to shipping materials, we currently use Staples for all of our boxes, tape, crinkle fill, and bubble wrap. They are our one-stop shop for everything shipping.
If you're looking for high-quality shipping labels, you can browse our collection of sizes compatible with different platforms.
The longer you're in business, the more you'll see what's working and what's not. You need to be okay with letting go of what's not working and doubling down on what is. The soap industry is going through changes all of the time so it's important to make adjustments so you can continue to grow and evolve.
Those are my steps that you'll need to take in order to start a soap business from home. I hope you find these tips helpful. If you want to learn more about anything that I talked about, you can head over to my channel. I'm Jerika Zimmerman on YouTube and I talk all about the behind the scenes magic on how I run my soap business.