Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Johanna Black, Founder of Cottonwood Handmade Soap, located in Emporia, KS, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I sell specialty bars of handmade soap. My products are made for everyone and anyone! But, most of my customers are looking for a natural soap that avoids unnecessary chemicals. My customers are also people who appreciate art. I take special care to create unique scents and designs. I think of every soap as a little piece of art, and my customers enjoy the overall look of my soaps just as much as the quality.
Tell us about yourself
I first started making soap while living in Uganda. We taught this skill as a way to provide local refugees with jobs. But soon after returning to the United States, I was diagnosed with cancer. Because of my diagnosis, I became much more sensitive to the type of products I was consuming, so I started making soap for my personal use. But soon, I had more soap than I knew what to do with, and I couldn't come up with any more reasons not to share my soaps with others! I am driven to give people a product they can enjoy artistically while feeling comfortable with the ingredients!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment has just been starting! Sometimes the hardest part is getting up the courage to begin, and I'm very proud of myself for taking the plunge!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest part of being a business owner has to wear all the hats that run a business. Not only do you have to be a professional in your craft, but you also have to be your marketer, bookkeeper, website developer, etc. It can be challenging to juggle everything, but it's a great opportunity to grow your skills and knowledge!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Believe in your product or idea. If you believe in it, you'll help others to believe in it too.
- Don't go it alone. Network with other business owners and pick their brains. Find people who believe in your product or idea and lean into those relationships.
- Be consistent. There will be a lot of ups and downs in your business, and it's hard not to sway with them. But be consistent and just keep showing up to put in the work, and that's half the battle won.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Starting a business is one of the hardest but most rewarding things I've done. The endless potential for growth and opportunity continually gives me life! Find the intersection of your skills and passions, and you'll never be bored.
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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