Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jackie Turbot, owner of Handcrafted by Jackie Turbot, located in Killen, AL, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I am a small-batch soapmaker specializing in shea butter soaps. My customers are men and women who suffer from dry skin or anybody who loves the scent. My main job is to educate customers, from teenagers to seniors, on how to take care of their biggest organ--their skin. I sell online to those customers and wholesale to gift shops, salons, etc. I recently retired from doing art and crafts shows to build a deeper wholesale network.

Tell us about yourself

I started playing with Soapmaking when I was 35. At first, it was just a hobby that I enjoyed. While my education is in finance and I found I loved being creative. I started experimenting with ingredients and scents, and it was so much fun. After I was confident in my products, I started giving them to family and friends, who then wanted gifts for their friends. I knew I had something when I saw my Mom's skin improve dramatically. She had psoriasis and had to tape and bandage her feet and hands. After a few months of using my shea butter soap and lotion, her skin was better--no more bandaids. I stay motivated by really loving what I do. It is true what they say; you won't work a day in your life if you enjoy what you do.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Having run a business for over 24 years has allowed me to be my own boss while providing for my family.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Time management. When I first started selling at art and craft shows, I was working 16-hour days. But I truly loved it. Over time you learn how to manage the workload. After the first couple of years, I was able to bring those hours down by focusing on the important things. I learned how to maintain a limited but deep product base. I quit making every product that interested me or was requested by a customer. I concentrated on soap, believing that if your soap was good, you didn't need to carry lotion.

As a small business, I do everything from finances to manufacturing to shipping. It is a lot of work. But I guess that can be a positive too; if I am burned out doing the books, I can design a new label or work on the website.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Spend time learning your craft. I could have run out to a craft show after the first batch of soap, but instead, I researched it for years, testing different oils, their percentages in my recipes, and finding out what works. By the time I did the first show, I had great products, and I was a pretty decent salesperson. Of course, I am a much better one-two decades later.
  2. Laser-focus on your business. It is so easy to get stretched in too many different directions. Family, business, and self-care are all important. I was in the time of my life when I could work on something for just me. I had a supportive husband who financed my start-up before I even knew it would become a business. Something will suffer if you spread yourself too thin.
  3. Surround yourself with like-minded people. I found Soapmaking mentors on Yahoo groups--before there was YouTube. I befriended other women crafters that traveled to shows to have people back me up. Our husbands didn't worry as much when we stayed in the same hotels and caravanned to shows together. Network with everybody you know to get your products out into the world.

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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