making money making soap

Is is possible to be making money making soap? Well, yes you can, but there are a lot of variables. When I started making soap, there was almost no one else doing this. I live in a small town of about 20,000 population, which can be a good number for a small business, as there are numerous successful small businesses in my town. In my infinite wisdom in this area, such as it is, I will now give you priceless information. I’ve told other soap makers the same over the years, and they didn’t believe me till they had to see for themselves. So I’ll save you a bunch of time right now.

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Like I mentioned, you can be making money making soap, depending how you go about it. When I started selling soap about 15 years ago and had my store, there was no soap makers anywhere to compete with. When we went to events, we would be the only soap makers there. Now soap makers are everywhere! Basically, the bigger the city you live in will offer you way more places to sell your soap, be it at markets and events or wholesaling to other stores. So here is a list of my observations:

PRO’s to a home based soap business:

  • keeps costs down
  • no store space to rent – very expensive
  • can work at your own schedule

CON’s to a home based soap business:

  • more difficult for customers to access your soap for buying
  • you need a special space just for soap making and supplies
  • you need a sink/utility sink, makes it way easier

PRO’s to having a brick and mortar soap store:

  • way easier to customers to find you
  • lots of room to work in
  • can add other artists to share space and costs
  • I had a massage therapist in a spare room
  • also sold art works and consignment

CON’s to having a brick and mortar soap store:

  • the daily commitment
  • the rent, we paid $425 for this little space the first year
  • then took over the store next door the 2nd year – rent and utilities doubled
  • shoplifters – they seemed to think that because testers were free to use, they were free, period
  • every event or charity in town wanted free stuff – a compliment at first
  • the land line cost twice as much as a home land line – for no special reason!
  • retail supplies, ie shelves, sales bags

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WHERE to sell your soap, whether you have a store or not:

  • music festivals (from $200 to $400 a booth)
  • farmers markets (from $10 to $20 a space)
  • definitely Christmas craft shows (from around $40 to $50)
  • any event with over 20,000 in foot traffic, especially if leaving town for this
  • locally, any event expecting 4,000 foot traffic
  • wholesale to other stores
  • when I was still a home based business, I sold my soap at the local health food store
  • when I opened the store, I wholesaled only to out of town businesses and other health food stores

If you are considering traveling with your soap, consider….:

  • overnight accommodation costs
  • or sleep in your vehicle, or stay with friends
  • some products get damaged over night due to moisture
  • gas expenses, food expenses

Other random things to consider for making money making soap – very important, lol:

  • selling outdoors, try not to have your products in the direct sun, new soap will get soft, lotion bottles will try to expand and leak
  • I’ve almost left events because they said “yes, I can have a booth not facing south”, then I have a booth facing south! Then they say they don’t really know which direction is which (omg, people, then don’t say yes!)
  • find out the foot traffic, it’s a lot of gas and table fees, just to sell 4 bars of soap
  • find out how many soap makers! big deal now-a-days
  • I sold $2,000 at my last music fest, there was one other soap person, but she sold other stuff too, and was facing south
  • sell those damaged bars and soap ends, people love bargains
  • at that music fest, I had a bug repellent soap, that even after 6 months, you could poke your finger through the center (outer edges were solid), sold them for 50 cents each and they sold out!
  • people putting on these events want to fill it up, their focus is having a full looking, successful looking event, they don’t care if you don’t sell anything
  • if in an arena setting, the outside circle is the most popular walking path, and corners have more traffic too, but cost more
  • resorts that I wholesaled to liked to have their own special label, easy to do
  • find out what is included, ie table, table clothes, canopy, electricity
  • make your table or booth presentable, I would get compliments that the cloths in the bins or baskets would match the soap theme

Some of the special soaps we make for special places:

  • Egyptian Musk and Eucalyptus soaps for a museum during a King Tut exhibit
  • a health spa/resort that made their own Rose Hip oil, we made a Rose Hip superfatted soap for them
  • for the city folk that visited our rural cattle and fishing area, our Redneck soap made with beer sold well, lol
  • a fishing resort would buy our Anise soap for the human scent masking abilities of Anise for the fishermen
  • we made a gold (mica) covered bar for a touristy gold rush ghost town
  • and sometimes we didn’t, as some customers would ask if we could make a couple special bars for them, and were annoyed when we told them our minimum special order was 20 bars

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Here’s my page on calculating costs for your soap. The rule of thumb seems to be that if you create it from ingredients yourself, then you should quadruple the cost to come up with your selling price.

This soap person mentions similar things to what I said about making money making soap, maybe not the nitty-gritty. He does mention online sales, yet we discovered that unless you have a dedicated customer base already, random people do not order your stuff online without smelling it first. Smelling the soap is the biggest selling feature, obviously.

Here are a couple of my images, the first one on the left is from the store, The Winding Path Soap Company. Our labels would change a little of the years, including our baskets signs. The image to the right is from my home based soap business, the Indigo Earth Soap Company, which technically I still operate. This photo was taking when I was sharing a vendor booth with a friend at a local festival.

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