I’m always on the prowl to feature soapmakers who are making their way in the big ole world of small business. This week, I wanted to feature a soapmaker I came across on Instagram and have followed ever since. I asked Maria of Seagrape Bath and Body if she would be interested in chatting it up for a little interview for y’all, and she said, yes! Hurray!
Maria not only creates beautiful bath and body products, but a beautifully curated Instagram feed, too! (It is so hard not to ohhhh and awwwww over it!) Let’s dive in:
MS: How were you introduced to handcrafted soap making?
Maria: A sweetheart in college came over one night with a bag full of essential oils. The idea was to make our own Christmas presents, but being more motivated to follow through with an idea I took it upon myself to research and test out some batches of soap. Here we are, six years later!
MS: What was the biggest nightmare batch you ever made?
Maria: About a year into producing soap, I started to feel pretty confident with the process. One night, I completely left out about 2 lbs. of oil from my recipe. I didn’t realize until it was time to unmold my soap and it was just a complete mess!
MS: What is your soapmaking philosophy?
Maria: Make it pure, simple and luxurious.
MS: Are you a by the book soaper or do you wing it?
Maria: I start creating a new batch intuitively. I usually know what colors/herbs I want to use. I start with that, then develop an essential oil blend to suit. Once I have that down, I come up with a by-the-book recipe. I don’t ever want a repeat of a caustic batch of soap.
MS: Do you make soap for a specific niche?
Maria: I love blending essential oils with aphrodisiac qualities. I make perfumes, sprays and massage oils with the same luxurious, sexy feel in mind. My Indulge soap is my go-to in the shower, it’s sweet and a little mysterious.
MS: What is the biggest change you’ve made to your brand from inception to where it stands today?
Maria: I’ve rebranded the company several times. I used to really resist making the same thing twice, so all of my batches were one of a kind until I realized people needed to be able to rely on me for a consistent product. Now I make seasonal soaps, but always have my staples in stock.
MS: What is your favorite part of being an entrepreneur?
Maria: How fun it is! I get to make whatever I want, set my own schedule and talk to people about something I love all day, everyday!
MS: How fierce is the competition in your area? How do you compete?
Maria: I’m in Portland, Oregon, so there are a lot of bath and body makers here. I approach this with this philosophy: community, not competition. I learn and grow as a maker from my community. And if they are making something better then me, then I’m happy to support another local entrepreneur on their journey.
MS: If you could offer one piece of advice to a soapmaker starting their business, what would it be?
Maria: Price your ingredients, labor and packaging out right away.
MS: What is your biggest motivator to continue to drive your brand to success?
Maria: My customers. Every year, I’m wowed by folks who have somehow been touched by something I’ve hand-produced. Some of my customers have seen my company through all six years of its existence.
MS: How do you use social media to market your business? Do you have any tips?
Maria: I take a lot of pictures of my process and inspiration. I think it helps people understand how a product is made and that a real person has lovingly labored over the bar of soap you’re enjoying.