Starting a Soap Company

Interview with Cindy Tollen, Founder of Sudz N Bubbles, Ltd.

Meet Cindy Tollen, owner and chief soaper at Sudz N Bubbles, a novelty glycerine soap company.

Cindy started Sudz N Bubbles in her home in 2004 in El Paso, Texas.

Tell me about Sudz N Bubbles?

At Sudz N Bubbles, Ltd., I create custom and novelty glycerine soap products.

How did you come up with your business idea?

My business idea was not something that woke me up in the middle of the night as an epiphany. It began when my youngest son was diagnosed with moderate eczema, I was instructed to purchase a specialized soap for him. One trip to the local gift shop where I purchased a single bar for $8.00 was enough for me to learn to make it myself. Hence; Sudz N Bubbles was born. I'd like to say the rest is history, but it is not. It has taken years of hard work, beating the pavement and making huge mistakes along the way. I wake up everyday excited to go work and brainstorm about what I get to create next. If it were not for the passion I have for making soap I think I would have quit by now, I just keep going. I periodically refer to myself as the Energizer Bunny. I keep going not just because I feel my product is unique but because I have so much passion for what I am doing, I think it truly shows in my product and business attitude.

What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?

I was a real estate broker and owned a real estate appraisal firm.

What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?

I would highly recommend that anyone wanting to start a similar business or any business for that matter. Talk to your accountant and attorney first and foremost. My business began small so I didn't think I needed a lot of legalities, until I got 'the call.' The call was a large company wanting to purchase my products wholesale, and I didn't know what the heck I was up against.

Did you operate your business from your home? What were the challenges and benefits to this strategy?

I began my business in the kitchen, which then began spilling into my dining room. I outgrew the house and built a 'soap shop' in the back yard which has provided me my own space. I think there are challenges and benefits to operating a business from your home. Being at home has enabled me to be there for my kids when they get home from school, or when they are sick. The biggest challenge has been with employees. They seem to not take the business seriously, almost slack more because it is a home and not a traditional office or warehouse.

With the current economy in a slump, what cost saving tips would you have for a new entrepreneur?

If you can trade or barter services with anyone, that has proved to be a huge savings for me. College students are a great source for press release writing too.

Have you outsourced any portion of your business? Has that worked for your business?

At this time I have yet to outsource any of my business, in my line of work - handcrafted is just that. I feel that if I outsource I might be compromising quality.

Social marketing is consistently being written about in the small business space. Has it worked generating business for you?

I feel like I got on the 'social marketing' band wagon a bit late. Once I got the hang of it, I have noticed a surge in orders and hits to my website. Social marketing is not going away so I feel this is huge in not only starting but maintaining your company presence.

Temporary labor can be a great asset to an entrepreneur. Have you ever hired temps or contractors? Would you suggest this as a strategy for new business owners?

I have always treated employees as independent contractors to save money. I know that this is not something I will be able to do forever however for the time being it works.

Thank you for your good, clean advice, Cindy!

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