In 2014, I turned my full attention to Modern Soapmaking and placed my soap company, Gratitude Soapery, in the hands of Preston and Tyler, the winners of the first Give Gratitude campaign. After operating and growing Gratitude Soapery for three years, the guys have decided to follow new and exciting paths in their lives. That meant Gratitude Soapery needed a fresh new owner at the helm to steer it towards a bright future, and y’all really turned out in applying to snag the spot!
When I opened Give Gratitude this time around, I felt bigger butterflies than the first time – who knew?! The Modern Soapmaking community has grown so much since 2014, that I didn’t know what was in store for us this time around! On Instagram, I decided to see what questions y’all had about owning & operating Gratitude Soapery:
Over the last 3 years, these two lovelies have been steering @gratitudesoapery to success. Now, they’re on to new opportunities in their lives and we’re looking for a new rockstar to take over the soapy brand I started so long ago. If you could ask them anything about their time running Gratitude Soapery, what would it be?! . . . . . Think you have the chops to take over the company? Apply @ the link in my bio!
I loved seeing Preston & Tyler evolve over the last three years, watching them grow so tremendously while I mentored them in steering Gratitude Soapery forward. I can’t wait to share that growth with you through this Q&A, so here we go:
(Feel free to skip down to the announcement of the finalists, if you’d like!)
@madalmysoap asked: Hello! I would like to know what your biggest challenges were and what you felt was the most successful aspect while running the business?
Preston & Tyler: The biggest challenge we faced with respect to running the business was scaling up production; thankfully, with the help of Kenna and her resources (see: her e-book about scaling & masterbatching!), we were able to rise to the challenge and keep up with our orders.
The most successful aspect of the business would have been when we delivered the donation soaps to the featured organizations and nonprofits we worked with. That is to say, once our customers were satisfied, we had the opportunity to enrich our community by providing basic necessities for those who went without.
@kuhdoo asked: I’d love to know what the biggest blessing they didn’t see coming was while running Gratitude Soapery and executing the mission to change the world!
Preston & Tyler: The biggest blessing that came about while operating the business was most certainly the connections we made with the organizations we donated soap to and, most importantly, getting to know the people that received our soaps.
We worked primarily with homeless individuals, displaced LGBT youth and labor trafficking survivors; watching their faces light up after getting some of our handmade soap was a nice reaffirmation of our work and why it is so important to the community.
Showering is an intimate and important part of our lives, and it made us happy to know that we were helping our shelter-goers shower with better soap than what most of the rich people in our city used.
@homeathearth asked: I’m interested to know what they loved doing most-specifically 😃
Preston & Tyler: Tyler, being the soapmaker, loved crafting large slabs of soaps and breaking them down into beautiful bars as well as boxing them for the customers. Preston, being the business guy, had the most fun providing unparalleled service for our customers, keeping stockists satisfied and being enmeshed our community through charitable giving.
@spacecitysoaps asked: Did they run their own soap co alongside gratitude? If so, what was that like?
Preston & Tyler: When we inherited Gratitude Soapery, we were already knee-deep in the bath & body biz with our company Sudz By Studz. Admittedly, owning two businesses with totally different branding and customers can be quite the challenge.
Our best advice to the winner who may already have a soap company is to genuinely consider their business goals and how they plan to achieve them; you have to be goal driven, highly focused and able to honestly prioritize what is important to you.
@bekindbodyproducts asked: Do they feel like they liked lived up to it? What would be their best advice for the next person to take it on?
Preston & Tyler: The ultimate endgame of Gratitude Soapery, simply put, is to deliver soap to people in need. Given that we donated thousands of soaps to several different organizations within our community, we can confidently say that we lived up to the standards of the brand.
Our best advice to the next person is to create solid relationships with the organizations you choose to work with and learn how you can best satisfy the needs of their constituents.
Most importantly, from mixing your oils on down to delivering orders to your stockists, make sure you proceed with humility and gratitude. There is no better way to infuse yourself with this brand than to start a gratitude journal, so begin there if you need some inspiration.
@leneamartel asked: What type of person do they think would be a good fit for taking over the hem of Gratitude Soapery?
Preston & Tyler: The person who takes over Gratitude Soapery should be in tune with the concept of gratitude as well as devoted to charitable giving. In addition, they will need to be a diligent soapmaker, steadfast entrepreneur and have an unmatched work ethic aimed at serving both their consumers and their community.
@lvgts asked: What advice would they give others looking to build a “give back” brand?
Preston & Tyler: The best way to effectively operate a brand predicated on giving back is to believe in, and be passionate about, the causes in which you support. If you genuinely love the missions of the organizations you work with, doing good and giving back becomes reflexive in a way; at the end of the day, this will become the primary source of motivation which will fuel the success of the business – both emotionally and financially.
Ready for the second Give Gratitude finalists announcement?
All of the applications shared such personal stories, that it made it so difficult to eliminate each and every application that did not make it as a finalist. I cannot explain how much I agonized over the applications this go around, but I can tell you that it took me a whole week rather than the two days it took me last time!
In the end, I was only able to choose five finalists. These five finalists resonated with me, they each have a passionate but truly laid out plan on what they feel Gratitude should accomplish.
Congratulations to the final five:
- Kaysha Mangum from Texas
- Kristin Jo Blomquist from New Jersey
- Michelle Birnie from California
- Diana Benavides from Nevada
- M’Liss Bordelon from Montana
Each one of these amazing applicants have snagged one hundred dollars in Modern Soapmaking credit to help them tackle their dreams, regardless of whether they end up doing it with Gratitude Soapery in their pocket.
Now, it’s up to the Preston and Tyler (the previous owners) as well as Stephanie (our Community Coordinator) to help drill the final five down to a single rockstar to take over Gratitude Soapery! Each of these lovelies received a copy of the finalists’ applications, and they are already fervently reviewing their choices. On August 1st, Gratitude Soapery will have it’s new owner, and I can’t wait to find out who that will be!
In 2014, when I hosted the first round of Give Gratitude, I was offered the opportunity to share with the Oh! My Handmade Goodness community, so if you missed that, definitely check out how I came to the conclusion to give away Gratitude Soapery the first time and what questions I ask myself to self-edit.
I also hosted a free webinar for the Modern Soapmaking community to help implement social business models into bath + body companies, and it’s been secretly hanging out unlisted on YouTube. If you want a little vintage Modern Soapmaking action (cringe!) and get some info about how to evolve your business to incorporate social good, hit that up here.