Getting Started in the Soap Biz
I am just getting started in the biz myself so I am, by no means, and expert on the subject. I am approaching this as someone who has just experienced the process of getting started.
"Soaping" seems like it would be intimidating and something that will need practice to perfect. What I have found is that it's really not that difficult. I'm talking about cold-processed soap. The most important thing is to remember that you are working with an extremely strong chemical. When I say extremely, I mean it's really strong. Just for a comparison. I am a chemistry teacher and in my lab at school, we work with NaOH at a strength of 2.0 molar most times. This is strong enough that it will burn your skin on contact. The strength of the NaOH during soap making is 12.5 molar. That is way stronger than in school labs. That is dangerously high. So wear gloves, long sleeves, safety goggles, and a plastic lab apron when making soap. Don't be afraid, just be careful and respect the dangerousness of the chemical.
There are 7 things that I suggest you research and consider when thinking about starting a soap business. They are:
When thinking about your name and logo, keep it simple. Think about something that people will remember. Most business name that are easy to remember are one word. For example, Royalty Soap, Quench Soap, Brambleberry Soap, Heavenly Soap, Monarch Soap, and Welspring Soap. Also, since your logo is going on your products, keep that simple as well. My logo is a simple branch with five leaves. Why? Because I use all plant-based oils and my soap contains 5 plant oils - coconut, shea, hemp-seed, castor and either sweet almond, or olive oil.
2) Get an LLC
If you are going to grow your business, and why not, you will want to invest in a limited liability company (LLC). This will protect you personal assets and keep your personal wealth separate from your business wealth. It will probably never happen but if someone wants to sue you, they can't come after your home and your assets, just your business. Its like insurance. Hope you never need it but when you do, you're thankful you had it. You can get an LLC established through a personal attorney or online companies.
What products are you going to start off making and selling. There are a lot of different products to choose from. Just do your research and don't start off with too many. I would recommend just two or three. After you get good at those, then expand your product line.
Keep this simple as well. Don't start off with too many. Through my research, it was suggested to start with a floral, fruity, food, men's and lavender or fresh scent. See what sells and what does not, rotate out slow sellers and try something else. You may also want to rotate in seasonal scents like summer fruits, pumpkins, peppermints or other holiday scents. Remember, you can always build. This is supposed to be fun not stressful.
You can definitely spend a ton of money on supplies and equipment so establish a budget and stick to it. You can start making soap with as little as a couple of hundred dollars. Start with what you can spend and build from there. If you can't afford to have 5 scents, start with just two. Get some sales going and then put that money back into expanding your line. As far as soap molds go, you can pour some into almost any container that you can line with parchment paper. I saw some suggestions on getting wooden boxes from Hobby Lobby on sale for $5 or so. You don't have to start with the fancy wooden soap molds that cost upwards of $40 - $50. You can also cut the soap with a knife instead of a fancy soap cutter. Start where you can and build.
6) Buy local
For sure, if you can find a place near you to get your materials, do. Shipping costs on supplies is a budget killer. If you can find a place in your city that sells lab or food grade chemicals (NaOH), then place your order with them and pick it up while you are out running errands or grocery shopping. You will have to order some supplies so watch for sales and free shipping offers.
You really don't have to start with a website. You can just concentrate on selling you product at craft shows, farmer's markets, and pop up events. But, when you are considering a website, do your research, watch YouTube and read reviews. There are a lot of pros and cons to each type of online market. Make sure you also read the fine print on the website building offers, I was almost lured into going with one company that made it appear as if their monthly fee was a lot lower than the competition. When I started reading more, I found it that the "good price" was just for the first month. The rest of the months were way more expensive than the competitors.
There are just a few points/things to think about when deciding on starting a soap/bath products business. I you have any question, just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks and see you next week.