Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Deborah Sibley, Owner of Capistrano Soap Company, located in San Antonio, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My passion (some say obsession) for clean, all-natural body care products was instilled in me by my grandfather, who began soapmaking in 1929. I began Capistrano Soap Company in 2010 to create modern products that respect that heritage while offering a healthier approach to body care. Every soap, body wash, lotion, and scrub is created by nature and handcrafted by our artisans. The customers of our brick-and-mortar store in downtown San Antonio come from across the globe due to our presence in the historic arts village of La Villita along the famed San Antonio River Walk. These leisure tourists and convention attendees experience our skin-loving products while visiting and continue to shop with us online once they return home.
Tell us about yourself
I left a biomedical technology marketing career in 2010 to develop a nutritional powerhouse for skin. I wanted to create products brimming with nutrients that could tackle many of my own skin issues, including rosacea. After two years of research and development, our formulas were ready to introduce to the public. While we don't claim to resolve skin problems, we do hear from customers across the nation who have benefitted from our plant-powered body care. It's a privilege to live out my calling in a way that brings joy to others.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
The act of creation is incredibly fulfilling, but the ultimate gratification is to have others acknowledge and appreciate how your work makes a positive impact on their life. I'm incredibly humbled by what we have accomplished. Yet, there is much more to do to introduce our essentials for happy, healthy skin to a broader audience.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Being a business owner is much like climbing the sheer face of a mountain cliff. It's exhilarating, precarious, takes far more of your time than anticipated, and is rewarding. Often, you have no control of the factors that can negatively impact your business - much like the weather that can derail a rock climb, only it might be a pandemic instead. When people ask about owning a business, I often reply, "that the business owns me." You have to be truly passionate about your calling to be successful.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
First and foremost, understand and commit this piece of advice to memory. "Hope is not a business plan!"
- Write up a business plan. You cannot hope to reach your goals. You'll need a map to get to where you want to be. Consider your strengths and weaknesses and address how you will navigate through the first five years.
- Plan your budget. You cannot hope sales will meet and/or exceed your expectations. You will initially make less money than you think. Most likely, it will take much more money than you anticipate to get started. Plan accordingly.
- You do not own the business; it owns you. Far more time will be invested in the business than you think. If you are looking for a work-life balance, self-employment is not the answer. You will be wearing multiple hats, and your time commitment will be significant.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I personally make sure everything we do, say, and produce is authentic. Be honest with your customers. Create long-term relationships by adding value to their lives. The cash will follow. Entrepreneurs are not afraid of failure. Every endeavor is a teaching moment. Sometimes you have to try several times before your understanding equals success. Be brave. Be true. Persevere.
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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