Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Christine A. Bansie, owner of CB Soap & Candle Co., located in Plainfield, NJ, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
CB Soap & Candle Co. is a minority, woman-owned small business that sells handcrafted, spa-quality home and skin care products that everyone can enjoy. Our products are made with the finest ingredients and in small batches to ensure every item produced has stellar quality control.
Our customers are anyone who appreciates natural, good-smelling, and aesthetically pleasing spa products with a luxe feeling for their homes and bodies.
Our product line features self-care items such as scrubs, soaps, body mists, and even beard oils, as well as home items such as candles, multi-purpose cleaners, car perfumes, and diffusers.
Tell us about yourself
I am the daughter of Guyanese (South America) 1st generation immigrants that sacrificed everything for their children to come to the USA in search of an American dream. CB Soap & Candle Co. is my way of giving back to my parents and, most importantly, to my community. That said, I've always had a creative, fun, and experimental side, which has long been dying to come out.
When the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020, I saw that there were major breaks in the supply chains for everyday goods such as soaps, hand sanitizers, body washes, and more. I told myself that this was a sign for me to try to make a difference in my community, even in the smallest of ways.
I did research for over 8 months, and then I made my first covid soap (that's what I called it. lol) in 2021. I shared it with my friends, family, and community and eagerly waited for their feedback. It was a hit! (and I promise you; I would know if it sucked. My friends and family are not afraid to voice their Caribbean opinion!) I’m amazed at how far I've come from that first bar of soap. After that, I slowly started making and perfecting products to get them to market. Even today, if I don't like how a product presents itself, I do not revisit it.
I tell my customers all the time: if it's not good enough for me, I will never make it for you. My friends and family know I have high standards, and I demand my products to meet the same quality. Who doesn't? So in March 2022, I did my first Pop-Up Show at the Hilton Hotel in New Brunswick, NJ, and I haven't stopped since.
I hope as we grow and new customers give CB Soap & Candle Co. an opportunity to be a part of their lifestyle, I can scale the business exponentially. I think this stands true with every business owner: the key to success is motivation, drive, hard work, and hustle. Even on the trying days, I tell myself CB Soap & Candle Co. cannot fail. I have to prove to myself that I can grow a brand on a shoestring budget. I’m also determined to make CB Soap & Candle Co. the next quality household brand for the Brown and Black community, even if it takes me the rest of my life.
CB Soap & Candle Co.’s mantra is everyone deserves a good home and skincare products at any income bracket.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think my biggest accomplishment as a business owner is creating products from scratch that customers love and keep reordering. I feel pure joy when someone says or writes a review telling me they are a transplant patient and our products have healed their skin, or they are a breast cancer survivor that replenishes their skin daily with our body butters, or their diabetic dad's feet have healed from your bath & body soaks, or CB Soap has helped my child’s eczema with your soap, or your candles and diffusers just transform my home and office to another level of elegance.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest challenges I’ve encountered as a business owner is, in today’s fast-paced social media society, I’m always trying to come up with new content to post daily, as well as trying to scale the business and getting COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) down. It's a numbers game, after all, and everything we make goes back into the business. It’s a vicious cycle! And because we are a company that does not lower our standards on the quality of the ingredients we buy, produce and sell to our customers, it's always a struggle.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I would tell anyone that, before jumping in and investing time and money that they may never recoup, they should first:
- Research, research, research everything about the product(s) and the market you are trying to penetrate.
- Do extensive testing of your product(s) before putting your reputation on the line.
- Prove your product(s) can solve a problem, generate sales, and be scaled.
- Live, Work, Breathe your business. You will be the only one to make moves happen, especially when you are just starting.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Barbra Corcoran from The Shark Tank said, "do something you love doing, and you will never work a day in your life. The money will just follow" As for Kevin O’Leary, “Mr. Wonderful,” he said, "show me the money.”
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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