Special Feature: Susan at S~Design Jewelry and Skin Care
I enjoy seeing all the wonderful products that our customers make! I find every shop I visit to be inspirational in many ways. I want to share this inspiration with you by featuring a crafter just like you!Today, we are featuring an interview I have done with Susan at S~Design Jewelry and Skin Care . I hope you enjoy our conversation!
Andee: What first drew you into making soaps and other personal cosmetics?
Susan: I started out making lip balms. I was searching for a product that had tea tree and eucalyptus oils in it. My partner used to get terrible cold sores, fairly often. I have used essential oils and herbal supplements for a long time. I figured if I could formulate something with the essential oils I knew worked for me, maybe I could create something that would work well for him too. I still make that particular lip balm and it is one of my best sellers. I can’t remember the last time he had a cold sore either.
Andee: What is your favorite thing in the day-to-day operations of S~Design Jewelry and Skin Care?
Susan: Hands down, my favorite part of my business is production. Photographing, promoting, listing, selling, are all neccesary, but the creation is what keeps me going. I love to see an idea become reality. Much like an artist with paint and canvas, except I don’t paint, I don’t even draw very good stick figures. So this is my creative outlet, my art, so to speak.
Andee: What separates you and S~Design Jewelry and Skin Care from the competition?
Susan: I am curious. My mind never really rests. When I was a child my mother used to ask me, “Susan, can’t you just sit still?” The answer to this day is still “no”. I like to turn things over in my brain and see how I might make them different. I am a recycler. Not the hip, trendy, modern recycler. I am the old farmer, “don’t throw that away, I might need it someday” recycler. “It might work for such and such, or maybe I could turn it into this, that, or the other thing”. I am always trying to figure out how to make something work for purposes it was not intended for. This mind set comes with lots of failed ideas. But every once in a while, I come up with something that actually works. Soap lends itself well to this train of thought. It can be colored, shaped, molded, and manipulated into many different forms. It’s a lovely canvas. I get the same satisfation from taking a bunch of beads, baubles, and findings, and creating a unique piece of jewelry out of those little bits and pieces too.
Andee: What advice would you give someone just starting their own business?
Susan: Turn off your television. Seriously.
Andee: What one thing would you do with your business if you knew you could not fail?
Susan: I would buy and restore one of the historic hotels in town. This would allow for a brick and mortar store front for myself, and I would love to have an artists cooperative that filled the entire space with interesting and beautiful works.
Andee: What was the biggest challenge you have faced so far?
Susan: Learning to talk about myself. When customers buy from a small producer they are buying a little piece of you. Learning to be able to talk to people about how great a product I have, therefore how great I am, is still difficult. But being able to articulate to my client why I am doing what I am doing, and why they should buy anything from me, is terribly important. They want to know the story. Sometimes I don’t think my story is very interesting, and therefore, have a hard time telling it.
Andee: What was one of your most memorable experiences while making (testing) products?
Susan: I accidentally tipped over a bottle of lavender essential oil (expensive mistake) and it spilled off the counter and onto one of my padded mats. I picked up the mat to take it to the bathroom to wash it in the shower, and all the way down the hall I had little drips of black rubber from the mat. Who knew lavender would eat the mat? Fortunately I have all solid surface flooring, so I eventually got it cleaned up.
Andee: When you aren’t working on your products, what do you do in your spare time?
Susan: I have my own landscaping business as well. My summers are always VERY busy. I also watch my two granddaughters 2-3 days a week. Last year I started a rather large gardening project. It is a retaining wall/planter bed system made out of used tires. Phase two should be complete this spring. I also have two dozen chickens and enjoy tending them as well.
Andee: What do you see as the coming trends in the personal care industry and particularly with the soaps and that you make?
Susan: I think a lot of folks will want to jump into running their own business in the next couple of years. It will cause some disappointment for people who don’t end up where they expect. We have worked for ourselves for the last 15 years, so whatever business we tackle, we don’t enter blindly. There are a lot of hidden costs, especially taxes that are no longer paid by an employer. Consumables like soap seem like an easy sell. I think the competition will increase greatly in this category, be that on line or at local venues. I know there have been jewelry vendors in about 40% of the booths at some events I’ve done. I believe entrepreneurial folks will have to work very hard to set themselves apart from their competitors. It will be important to have the patience and stamina to ride the wave all the way in.
Thanks Susan! I had a great time “talking” with you and I find myself thinking about applying your advice myself!
Want to visit and support Susan and S~Design Jewelry and Skin Care?
Visit her Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/SDesignPersonalCare
I hope you find inspiration from Susan and S~Design Jewelry and Skin Care. I know I have created a wishlist of a few goodies found in Susan’s shop!