October 2, 2012 by thesoapalchemist
Gotta love facebook and the way it allows us to reconnect with people. About a week ago, I posted a comment on my personal page about a large soap order, and a friend from high school who recently accepted my “friend” request, wrote back “What’s your business, Erin?” Since then, we’ve exchanged a few messages, and I’ve discovered that he’s an entrepreneur, too, although much further along in the process than I.
His products- construction vehicle-themed eating utensils for kids, are already in 2000 stores all around the world. They’ve won numerous accolades, and have been written about in major magazines, including Parents, Women’s Day, and Family Fun. I’ve got a long way to go to get where he is.
In one of his messages, he asked about trade shows that I participate in, how many wholesale accounts I have, and whether they’re local or in other states. I started feeling pretty small. But the question that really got me thinking was “What’s unique about your soaps compared to other soaps that are out there? What would be your pitch if you were to get in front of Whole Foods Buyers or a similar audience?”
That’s a hard one.
I mean, I make soap.
I didn’t invent anything. I can’t patent it. I can hardly even claim intellectual rights to my designs, or color combos. And thanks to Pinterest and Photoshop, people can easily lift my pictures, edit out my watermarks, and call them their own or copy my designs.
And then there’s the problem of “market saturation.” SO many people have recently started making soap. It seems like the latest, greatest crafting fad. So, what I’m doing isn’t even that unique.
Or, is it?
I can unequivocally state that my soap is awesome.
I have never used soap that rinses as cleanly, and leaves my skin feeling as wonderful as it does with my soap. No handmade bar, no fancy French milled bar, no expensive salon-bought bar comes close.
I can even share hundreds of testimonials from satisfied customers who would also say my soaps are awesome. But, I bet that many other soap makers would say the same of their products, and back it up with testimonials from their customers.
But, digging a little deeper, and thinking a little harder, I think I’ve come up with a decent response to his question, “What’s unique about your product?”
My soap is honestly natural. It’s made with natural oils, and is scented and colored naturally. I’m kind of intense about this. Everything in my soap comes from ingredients made with 100% NATURAL raw materials. Why? Because my company is The Natural Bar Soap Company. If it’s not natural, I won’t put our name on it.
Many companies claim to make “natural” soap, in spite of using synthetic colorants or artificial fragrances in their otherwise natural product. So, in the sea of soapers making “natural” soap, mine stands out as being ALL natural.
And while there are certainly other people making ALL natural soap, most limit themselves to using essential oils for fragrance, claiming that these are the ONLY natural scents available. They go to great lengths to explain how “all fragrances are synthetic,” or “we all know that cucumber essential oil doesn’t exist.” They also like to use bright blue and green oxides and colorful micas for color. What’s amusing here, is that while these minerals do occur naturally, most often the synthetic, lab created varieties (which they market as natural by saying “They’re chemically equivalent to those found in nature”) are what’s available for use in cosmetic products and soap.
They’d like you to believe that the scents you smell at Bath & Body Works and Yankee Candle aren’t possible in a bar of natural soap. But in many cases, that’s just not true. There are far more scent ingredients that can be used in soap, than simply essential oils. I’m fortunate to have a wonderful group of suppliers who work with me to provide the scents I want, in certified 100% natural-raw-material blends.
What makes me stand out in my market? My ability to produce a large spectrum of colors and scents in an all natural bar soap. But even beyond that, I stand out because of the dedication I put into finding my natural ingredients. Pouring through Google on a daily basis, and contacting chemists and others in the cosmetic and fragrance industries, I’m able to create soap recipes that don’t sacrifice beauty, scent or quality, while incorporating natural ingredients.