A while back, Kenna chatted up the sisters behind Two Blooms Design Studio. Caron and Michelle gave us the low-down on what it's like to get into business, not just with a partner, but with a sibling.
(And if you've been around Modern Soapmaking long, you know we recommend caution when linking your biz up to a whole 'nuther person.)
When we opted to start up the Soapmaker Success Stories again, high on our list was checking back in with this dynamic duo to see if they were still defying the odds. And after my recent visit with these sassy sisters, I can answer that with a resounding, "Yes!"
So, let's see how these Two Blooms are growing their business. And if they have done any pruning!
Modern Soapmaking: Tell us about the new lines and how they came about. Did you have to nix anything to make room?
Caron and Michelle: We've expanded, and it feels great. Last year we started a candle line, Mauro & Co., named after our grandparents. All new branding allowed us to reach a new demographic. Sometimes people will see Two Blooms and say, "Oh, I know them." But this allowed us the freedom to branch out. We've streamlined our other products and soaps. We don't miss what we've cut. We are always creating something new.
In addition, we've returned to silversmithing. That has added a whole new dimension. So people who shop for jewelry see our candle line and buy from there. Diversifying has really broadened our horizons.
(MS- Note to all y'all who are a little younger business-wise than these two: your early game is all about simplifying consumer choice. Then you can move on to smart diversification.)
We'll always be evolving. It's like life; you can't stay stagnant.
Modern Soapmaking: I might be walking on eggshells, but how is the partnership going? Any new challenges?
Caron and Michelle: The partnership is going strong. We are always learning.
In business, there are always challenges and customer demands. But we learn as we go. Communicating even more with each other has been key.
We also make it a point to communicate with our clients and never assume anything. If an order is going to be later than expected, we contact the client immediately.
We offer solutions and go above and beyond for our clients. And, they appreciate being kept in the loop. Living on an island means shipping can be late and getting ingredients can be tricky, but always communicate.
Our biggest challenge is juggling three brands. So life balance is key!
Modern Soapmaking: What is the biggest change you've made to your brand from inception to where it stands today?
Caron and Michelle: We constantly evolve. Going palm free was a huge jump! But now it is second nature. We're more minimalistic now with our packaging and labeling. We aren't afraid to tweak a recipe or change packaging completely.
We've learned to become designers, graphic artists and photographers just to stay in the business this long. It's our sixteenth year! (MS- Woohoo! Congrats, ladies!)
Modern Soapmaking: What is your favorite part of being an entrepreneur?
Caron and Michelle: Our favorite part of being entrepreneurs is the freedom to create. Our silversmithing has been a wonderful accompaniment to our apothecary line. It's well received by our customers and has set us apart from the competition.
Modern Soapmaking: What is your soapmaking philosophy?
Caron and Michelle: Our soap has to be a triple threat. Not only should it clean beautifully, but it should look great and smell natural. When we can add organic components from our garden, all the better.
It has to be a soap that we would use ourselves. Even when trends dictate otherwise (unicorn poo soap anyone?), we tend to stick to essential oils and natural colors to produce a bar of soap that we're proud of.
Modern Soapmaking: Have there been any other makers in your family’s history?
Caron and Michelle: We discovered that we have a perfumer in our family history, a famous perfume house in Italy was established by our great, great, great, great relative. Also, our grandmother was an amazing artist, way before her time in her designs and creations. In addition, our grandfather was a musician and could repair any instrument in his workshop. Creating is definitely in our genes!
Modern Soapmaking: If you could make soap alongside any soapmaker in the world, who would it be?
Caron and Michelle: It would be great to soap alongside Patty Flynn in Australia. Seeing how someone from a different country and culture works through the process would be fascinating.
Modern Soapmaking: What was the biggest nightmare batch of soap you ever made?
Caron and Michelle: Our nightmare batch was early on, probably year two or three. We called it 'The Brain Soap'. It seized in the pot but we managed to get it into the mold. Then we patted it down and waited. It smelled beautiful but it looked like a brain. The color was a beautiful pale yellow, and it was a great scent. But it wasn't our design aesthetic.
Funny thing is, we wrapped it up, labeled it, and sold it like hotcakes at the outdoor farmers market we were at that year. People loved the story behind it. And it was a lovely soap, very sudsy. Consequently, everyone wanted to order more when we ran out! But we could never duplicate it. (MS- We're seeing a trend with these nightmare batches!)
Modern Soapmaking: What is your biggest motivator to continue to drive your brand to success?
Caron and Michelle: Our biggest motivator to keep going is the love of the game. Sure, there are times when we have been ready to pack it in. But there is always one of us who isn't and carries the other one along. We've never both given up together which has been our biggest strength!
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