Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Weekly Featured Etsy Seller--College Soap Company!

So my weekly features are back from a 2 week hiatus!  Thanks Rhiannon for being such a wonderful feature!

This week's featured Artisan and Etsy seller is a mother and 2 sister team, Christine, Shay, and Sydney of College Soap Company.  These 3 lovely ladies started their Etsy shop selling soap and other bath and body products to help fund Shay and Sydney's college educations.  Isn't that awesome?  I love to see 2 young women so dedicated to their futures!

Orange Ginger Sugar Scrub

Orange Ginger Sugar Scrub

I have yet to try their soaps and lotions, but I have heard they are amazing! These ladies are so talented in what they do they can offer a huge variety of products, from the traditional soap bar to sugar scrubs to facial clay to laundry soap.  And their photos make their products look so yummy!  Honestly I feel none of my words can do their shop justice, so I'm going to let them and their photos speak for themselves!

Erika with a K:  Before I begin my interview I would love to commend you on your beautiful shop!  And this brings me to my first burning question:  Who does your photography?  It is gorgeous!

Christine- I take all of the pictures of our products for the Etsy site. It has been such a learning curve for me. I looked at lots of other shops and their pictures, played around a lot, took hundreds of bad pictures and then finally I rounded some sort of corner and started taking better pictures. I downloaded a photo editing app called Aviary and that helped tremendously.
The College Soap Company Gift Card and Soap Sampler
Gift Card and Soap Sampler

Erika with a K:  So when and how did you begin to make soap?   Was it before or after the girls needed to make money for college?

Christine- We are a family of 4 kids so basically we needed to start college savings when each of them was But we actually started this particular college savings when the girls were 10 and 12 quite a few years ago.

Erika with a K:  How does a typical order go for you?  Is the soap made ahead of time or are they done to order? 

Sugared Pink Grapefruit Scrub
Sugared Pink Grapefruit Scrub
Shay- A typical order for us can either be a breeze or a nightmare. Sometimes we are like a little perfect shop and have everything we need and are able to ship the package that day. There are other times however when it seems like everything is working against us. If we don't have a certain product it's not really that awful because we can always make another rather quickly, if the product we are out of is soap, that's when we start to panic. We panic because our soap takes about 2 to 3 weeks to neutralize or cure. However we always get the order out, and hopefully our customers love the product as much as we do.

Erika with a K:  How do you come up with new scents and products?

Sydney- We create new scents and products by following trends and what the big corporations are doing. However we do like to go our own way too. Shay and I are a great team together because I really like testing out new scent combinations and Shay is always thinking of new product ideas. We mesh so well, like I could bring her a scent combination I was working on and she would smell it and say how perfect it would work in a scrub or something else she was working on. We also try and keep in mind holidays and seasons too.

Erika with a K:  Can each of you tell us a little more about yourselves?  

Super Fizzy Bath Bombs
Super Fizzy Bath Bombs
Christine- I am the mother of four kids, two girls and two younger boys. I am also a registered nurse and work full time as the clinical coordinator of the obstetrical unit of our local hospital. I have always felt this need to be creative and found a great outlet for that in our soap business.

Shay- I am a high school student, and a full time employee of the College Soap Company. I am an Internet shopaholic so I have a summer job in addition to the CSC to satisfy my shopping needs.

Sydney- I am a middle school student( soon to be a freshman). Right now I like to spend time with my friends and have as much fun as possible before all the high school homework keeps me home.

Erika with a K:  Where do each of you plan on going for college, and what do you want to study?

Shay- I love to read so I would love to go to a college with a great liberal arts program. I haven't picked out a certain school yet but I am still looking. I hope to get a job in the publishing industry so I can write the college soap story. LOL

UnderCarriage Soap for Men
UnderCarriage Soap for Men
Sydney- To be honest I don't really have a clear cut plan on what I want to d when I grow up or where I want to go to school. I do plan on continuing to help the College Soap Company grow and develop.

Erika with a K:  What goals are you trying to reach with your shop? 

Christine- One of our ongoing goals is to produce the best natural products we can. A short term goal is to generate a sale every day. We have strings of days where that happens but followed by a lull of a few days. A long term goal is to open a small retail space. We are also working on our goal of putting together a small scholarship for a local high school student who demonstrates an entrepreneurial spirit.

Erika with a K:  Do you sell anywhere else besides Etsy?

Christine- We do most of our sales locally through word of mouth, we also sell on Ebay and do occasional craft fairs. This year we started doing in home soap parties, modeled after pampered chef. Those are our favorite as we do a whole fun presentation that gets people to start really looking into the ingredients in the products they buy and we help to sort out safe from potentially dangerous ingredients. People always leave the party having learned a great deal and toting some of our products as well.

Erika with a K:  What advice can you give us about the business end of selling on Etsy  and other hand made venues? 

Soothing Milk Bath Tea
Soothing Milk Bath Tea
Christine- I mainly run the Internet side of the girls business and I have learned quite a bit. When we first opened our Etsy site, I sat back, checked it every day and couldn't understand why nothing was happening. I learned that for Etsy and other similar sites to work you need to work them. So I joined teams, promoted other shops, made treasuries etc. I also learned that the pictures are your most important front line. The customer can't pick up your product, feel it, smell it so your picture needs to convey more than just an image. Of course you need good solid products behind the picture as well. We all have also learned about the importance of community. People really are so generous and want to see us do well, people like yourself have offered us so many opportunities to promote and sell our products. So in the end our three point advice would be take great photos, promote till you can't promote anymore and be an important part of your community, whether its an online community or your hometown community or both!

Christine, Shay, Sydney- We would just like to thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity!

Thank you Christine, Shay, and Sydney!   I wish you the best of luck!  

And remember, all photos are copyrighted to Christine at the College Soap Company.   Please do not use them without her permission! 

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