Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ashlee Horiuchi, Owner of Soaps By Ashlee Rose, located in Kahului, HI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is called Soaps By Ashlee Rose. I’m an Asian gay woman running a business at home. I have shipped my products all over the US. Also, to some countries, including Australia! Every June for Pride Month, I do a pride collection of rainbow soaps and candles.
Along with flag color soaps, many of my customers are also in the LGBTQ+ community. Some of the proceeds go to my local LGBTQ organization. It feels nice to give back and celebrate who we are. My soaps, candles, and lip balms are for everyone. They’re all made with natural ingredients. I wanted to create soaps that would help others with sensitive skin.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Ashlee, and I’m 26. I was born and raised on the island of Maui in Hawai’i. I started having a lot of health problems at 21 out of nowhere. I knew I had to find a way to get some income but working a 9-5 job wasn’t doable. I was always creating things growing up and doing these little businesses. I started making soap at the end of 2015 as a fun little hobby and gave it away as Christmas gifts. My parent’s friends and my friends would tell me I should start a business and sell them. With my dad’s support, he helped me get it started. He bought a lot of the supplies I needed to make the soaps. It was hard at first; some people in my life didn’t support me and told me to find a real job. But I kept going even when I wasn’t getting orders for months. I had this feeling in me that one day it would work out. A couple of years ago, I added candles and lip balms to customers’ requests. I enjoy what I do too. I get to make my own schedule which is the best thing about my job. Having endometriosis, pain comes and goes randomly. So I’m able to work around that. I also love hearing people’s feedback about how their skin is really soft after using my soaps or that my candles burn well. My lip balm is the only one they can use cause it’s gluten-free. Making people happy with my products is one of the greatest feelings.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is registering my business in Hawaii and going away from Etsy alone. It was scary at first, but I knew it was time. I had been on Etsy for five years prior, and with their fees increasing, I was losing too much money. Thankfully my customers have followed along, and I feel blessed that I have been getting a lot of support.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The stress, lol. Sometimes it can be stressful, especially during the holidays when I’ll get back-to-back orders and some being very last minute. Dealing with chronic pain on top of that can be a lot. My dad used to help me, but for the past three years, it’s all me making everything. My parents help me drop off packages at the post office and buy some of my supplies, though, so that does help.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Never give up, even when it feels like you’re going nowhere. I had many times when I wanted to stop cause I wasn’t getting orders. But I’m glad I kept at it cause I wouldn’t be where I am now.
- Do not compare yourself to other businesses. It can be hard not to, but everyone has their journey. Not everyone will support you, and that’s okay; gotta shrug it aside, and as long as you’re happy with what you’re doing, that’s all that should matter.
- Having a strong support system around you helps a lot, especially when dealing with unsupportive people. Some of my closest friends, my dad, and grandma, have been there since the beginning. Without their constant encouragement, I wouldn’t have continued.
Where can people find you and your business?
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