Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in soap making but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Libby Amato, Owner of Abbondanza Soap Co., located in Milwaukee, WI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Abbondanza (Italian for abundance) Soap Co. was named to honor my hard-working Sicilian ancestors who lived full and joyous lives in quiet and understated ways. They made simplicity beautiful. I strive to do the same.
My soap is olive oil based and made in small batches in Milwaukee, WI. I use only natural ingredients, and fragrances come from essential oils (no fragrance oils). I use organic and/or local ingredients whenever possible, and all products are vegetarian or vegan. Also, no palm oil goes into ANY of my products. And finally, all packaging is recyclable or biodegradable.
My customers are people who want to take care of themselves and the planet. Also, people who like good smells. This stuff smells really good.
Tell us about yourself
I’ve lived in Milwaukee for 15 years and in Wisconsin my whole life, and I've been making soap for over 20 years. But it wasn't until 2018 that I finally took the leap and started my business. I get to create something with my own hands and set my own rules. And I'll never have to create a product that I don't personally enjoy. When I’m not making soap, I work professionally in the vibrant Milwaukee theatre scene - once theatre is in your blood, you never escape. I’m an avid reader, traveler (when I can afford it), runner, and feline enthusiast.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I still get a little thrill every time an order comes in on my website. When I hit 500 orders, that was a pretty exciting day. But my greatest accomplishment was when I was able to use my business earnings to qualify for financing for a new house. If I hadn't taken the big scary leap, I wouldn't have been able to afford my home.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I think most small business owners have the secret fear that it will all just go away tomorrow, that you'll never get another order. It drives me to keep trying new things and to balance caution with taking some risks.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make sure you really love what you're doing. Sometimes it will start to feel tedious - I'd definitely rather experiment with new soap varieties than make 500 of the same bar. But I'd still rather make those 500 bars than do just about anything else.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help and opinions. And listen to the opinions you get. Mostly.
- Be patient and persistent. Keep putting yourself out there. Try new avenues. Let yourself feel discouraged, but don't get defeated.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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