Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in skincare but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sarah and Jonathan Rockel, owners of High Tide Soaps, located in Cheverie, NS, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Allow us to introduce ourselves, we are Sarah and Jonathan Rockel, and our small family company is High Tide Soaps.
We’re located in Nova Scotia, Canada. We make bar soap by hand using the cold-process method of soap making. Unlike mass-produced factory soaps that are made with harsh detergents, our soaps are packed with ethically-sourced, skin-benefiting plant-based oils and ingredients to get you sparkling clean and keep your skin feeling soft and hydrated. In the near future, we hope to have a brick-and-mortar store and expand our product line to include many more luxury bath products such as bath bombs, shampoo and conditioner bars, bubble baths, etc.
Our customers are people looking for well-researched, carefully formulated bath and body products for themselves and their families that are high quality, sustainable, eco-conscious, and contain ingredients that really pamper skin. We use mineral-rich natural clays, cosmetic grade colourants, essential oils, paraben and phthalate-free fragrance oils, biodegradable glitter, and botanical extracts in our products which really set our soaps apart.
Tell us about yourself
We became interested in making our own bath and body products when our five-year-old daughter began having reactions to mass-produced bar soaps. After she'd had her bath or washed her hands, she would complain of tightness, itching, and dryness of her skin. Eventually, from frequent hand washing at school, her hands became so dry and painful that when we touched the skin, it felt like she was wearing a hard glove! The hardened skin would then split and crack, causing her a lot of pain and many tears. The damaged skin eventually peeled off in strips and pieces, leaving raw, painful skin behind. It was AWFUL. We tried different soap brands, but her skin still got irritated, hardened, and cracked.
We decided to delve deeper into what those soaps contained that could cause this type of reaction on her skin. We were shocked to find what mass-produced soap actually contained! Further research showed us that most soaps you see in stores are usually detergent, not actual soap. Instead, they're often labeled as 'beauty bars' or 'deodorant bars.' They can contain some terribly harsh ingredients that can have awful effects.
We needed to find something different for our family. We started looking for someone who made soap from scratch, using better-quality ingredients that would help skin instead of harming it. When I used the artisan soap on my daughter in the bath for the first time, she didn't complain of dryness or itching! Within a few days, her skin began to look healthy and clean after baths instead of dry. The hard skin on her hands began to clear up and finally went away. The whole family noticed a huge improvement in how their skin felt and looked. As a bonus, the handmade soaps lasted longer than regular soaps, contained luxurious ingredients to pamper and support skin health, and were beautiful in both scent and colour!
We liked the soap we bought from other small businesses but thought it could be even better. We decided to try our hand at formulating and making our own soap with even more beneficial ingredients and were immediately hooked. Sarah has a background as a professional fine artist and enjoys the endless creativity of soap making, the different ideas, colour theory, shapes, and scent combinations. Jonathan is more math and mechanics oriented and enjoys the physical process of making the soap and the chemistry involved in formulating recipes. We have a combined interest in creating high-quality, safe, skin-pampering soap that smells and looks as beautiful as it cleans. We started a small business to share our creations, and that's how High Tide Soaps was born.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Knowing that all our hard work has paid off and our handmade soaps are available to anyone who wishes to avoid harsh, mass-produced personal care products. Getting the word out to potential customers about our soaps has been challenging but is starting to pay off as sales increase. We love knowing that our products help people stay clean while keeping their skin feeling healthy and nourished.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Being responsible for everything that needs to be done: Formulating products, designing the products, manufacturing, designing the packaging, marketing, advertising, finding the most reliable and cheapest shipping, sourcing high-quality ingredients and materials that do not test on animals, communicating with customers, purchasing raw materials, web design and more.
It all has to be completed by you, especially when you first start out and can be low on funds or if you just like to be in control of every step to be sure it’s completed correctly (like us!) There’s a LOT of learning that comes with running your own business, and you need to be open to that.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make yourself aware of the rules and regulations of your particular industry. There are government regulations that need to be followed, forms that must be submitted, lots of legalities with business registration, etc. You need to be aware and do your research BEFORE you start anything else. It took us a year to be sure everything was set up properly before we started selling our first soaps.
- Put your first profits back into your business. It can be tempting to spend the first money you make, especially if you haven’t been making much as you get your business off the ground and running. But if at all possible, put your first profits into getting equipment or hiring help that will benefit your business.
- Advertising is critical. If people can’t find you or can’t contact you, they can’t buy your products no matter how wonderful they are! It’s worth investing money into advertising online, in local media, and even through paper flyers distributed locally. Anything to get your name out there.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Owning and operating your own business is so worth it in many ways, but it is HARD work. Be ready to put in time, energy, sweat, and tears before you see any return on your hours and hours of work.
Also, please be aware of the ingredients in your bath and body products and what they could be doing to your skin. Consider the environmental impact they have as well. We are more than happy to provide packaging-free products; all you have to do is ask!
Support small businesses whenever possible. It really makes a difference in the lives of the families who are working hard to provide you with exceptional quality products.
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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