Often in life, we try way too hard, go out of our ways and to any lengths to make our ventures and businesses reach the heights we want. Aggressive marketing, out-of-the-box creative ideas and advertising left, right and center. We’ve done it all.
What we forget are the most fundamental things. Treating customers well, having a positive approach to life, accepting failure, being grateful for the successes and simply being compassionate.
Meet Kim from Dirty Diva Soaps for our next conversation with a successful small business, who believes in putting herself in the customer’s shoes and keeping up with their expectations. Read on to know more.
That’s a huge number of sales you got! Commendable! Please tell us, how did you come up with your shop idea?
The name was strictly my mom’s idea, she thought a catchy name would be good and easier for people to remember. I was making soap long before Etsy for my family. I am a nurse by trade and we have several in our family including myself with skin sensitivities. Most of our products are created with my family in mind. They are my testers and greatest critics . We had neighbors and friends wanting to buy our soaps. After making it for a while for ourselves, we finally decided to offer it in retail.
How were your first 5 sales? A cakewalk or a sticky wicket?
Not a cakewalk. We started on Etsy with 4 loaves of soap made, so essentially 4 listings. Our first sale was within a month of opening, then sporadic sales after that. We added more soaps and products throughout the first year. Maybe 25 listings total, it takes a while to build a customer base, for us 1-2 years. As sales grew, we were able to add more products. We’ve had a steady growth, it’s definitely taken some time.
Tell us about the faces behind Dirty Diva Soaps. Let’s talk about your team.
So we have several people behind the scenes that make up our fantastic team.
There’s myself, I still have my hands in all areas of the shop from packaging and creating labels to compounding recipes, blending scents, shipping, answering convos etc.
Jim B is the significant other. He compounds all of our soap and shampoo bars. He’s a master shrink wrapper, he also helps with order fulfillment and shipping.
Janetta H is here several days a week working on order fulfillment and shipping. She is a master at organization.
Rachel B helps with compounding recipes, she is a master at anything candle and is very up-to-date with trends.
Tonya G also has a shop on Etsy, she helps with order fulfillment and shipping. Master lip balm compounder and comes up with some of our flavor combinations.
Bonnie is my mom, helps with packaging in a pinch or anything else I need help with. She’s the best!
Ron is my Stepdad – master woodworker, he turns all of our shaving brush handles for us and creates soap dishes
There might be days when the sales are slow. How do you push yourself through them?
Those days are creating days. I usually have an ongoing list in my head of things I may want to try to make or add, slow days give me the chance to do it. Our summers can be slow but this is when christmas soaps are being made in the shop. I’m always thinking ahead. Our soaps and shampoo bars have a 4-6 week cure time before we package them for retail and you see them on Etsy, so we are always pouring and thinking of the next season.
I update and rearrange the shop on slow days too, I look at listings that may not be selling or getting views and might retake a pic or update the listing or take it out of the shop altogether.
Don’t start a business unless you are doing something you really love and are good at. Don’t wait to get started, you’re going to always be learning and improving along the way!
Like every other successful person, what are the success habits you follow?
I’m a list person, so a to-do list is always being created usually Sunday night for the week.
I set goals for myself, nothing unattainable.
Surround yourself with positive people!
Take the time to listen to your customers, employees, and peers. There is always something to be learned by listening. There is always room for improvement.
I don’t ask anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t or couldn’t do myself. So yes, I still do soap dishes from time to time.
I do a lot of research. I’m always trying to expand knowledge, there’s always more to learn.
If you had the chance to pick another career right now, what would it be?
Well, I’m a registered nurse by day, soapmaker by night and I’m happy with both. I love to help people and I have a creative side. Both the things keep me pretty busy.
What are some key lessons that you think other entrepreneurs should try to learn on how to make a customer happy?
Make sure you’re making a product that you love, use high-quality materials – ship as quickly as you can.
Exceed expectations! We don’t skimp on oils, ingredients or scents for our products, I use fair trade oils and butter, roundtable sustainable palm oil and organic when I can get it. Know your customers and what they expect. We use green packaging – biodegradable shrink wrap, along with greenware recycled and compostable packaging.
Pay attention to details, I basically refuse to cut any corners when it comes to ingredients or manufacturing. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes, would you as a customer be pleased receiving this?
How do you organize your time and what keeps you on schedule?
We have dedicated work times or times when I’m in the shop, we ship on set days and everything runs on a schedule. It’s a flexible schedule but still a schedule. We try to aim for a quick turnaround time. Sundays are my planning days for the week.
Take the time to listen to your customers ,employees and peers. There is always something to be learned by listening. There is always room for improvement.
If you could switch lives with someone, anyone, who would it be and why?
I’ve had trials and tribulations just like anyone else. They’ve shaped me into the person I am today. So, no trading. Now, if you asked me about superpowers I can think of several!
Lastly, one advice that you’d like to give to our readers. What would it be?
Two things. Don’t start a business unless you are doing something you really love and are good at. Don’t wait to get started, you’re going to always be learning and improving along the way!
Loved the post? Check out our previous conversation with another successful Etsy seller here. Let us know what you think about this shop in the comments below! We’d love to know your opinions.