General Question

pleiades's avatar

How do I start my own soap company?

Asked by pleiades (6617points) September 11th, 2014

I feel like starting up an intimate soap boutique business. I have the smells I want to use, I have the logos and branding down. However, I don’t have the product :(

Where do I go about obtaining soap to sell?

My natural guess is, find some local soap making company and then from their ask if they can create a certain smell/foam?

Again, this is just for a small intimate boutique shop with my own branding to it. Thanks!

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20 Answers

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SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Are you sure that you want to sell someone else’s product, or would you consider creating your own soaps?

If the latter, you need to choose a fat base and find a supplier. Olive oil and almond oil are gentle and fabulous. But, please no tallow (beef fat, a slaughterhouse byproduct) or, as @SecondHandStoke recommends, human fat!

ibstubro's avatar

There is a super-nice local woman that makes soap from her mother’s recipe. She quit her nursing job and opened a “vintage” mall, with her primary product being hand made soap. All was well until the other local ‘vintage’ shops moved or closed. I’ll PM you the soap maker’s info. I think you might do business.
(I want a cut!)

dappled_leaves's avatar

There is a jelly on Fluther who has a soap business. I’ll send her your question.

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gorillapaws's avatar

I’d start by writing up a business plan. It doesn’t have to be formal or complicated, but you should think-through your business beforehand. How big is your market (How much is spent on intimate soap within x miles of your shop location)? What are your costs? How much product do you need to sell at what price to break even? How much would you have to sell at that price to make enough to survive? What is your competition? What are your competitive advantages? What are your marketing strategies? Will you have employees? etc.

I second the idea of producing your own soap instead of rebranding other products. When you’re rebranding stuff you’re not really adding any value or have any advantages in the marketplace. I’d research some 100+ year-old soap recipes to use as a starting place. Organic/All-Natural and even appeals to antiquity can all be powerful marketing strategies in the current marketplace. You could do some cute marketing: “You want me to put [some scary sounding chemical in modern soap] on my what?”

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Just to add to your idea, I don’t use bar soaps anymore but I do like candles. If you’re going to use specific fragrances, you could look at making matching candles to go with the soaps. Just don’t go crazy with the fragrance. Less is more.

filmfann's avatar

Have you read Fight Club? There is a lot of information there regarding the manufacture and selling of soap.

note to mods: that is true.

dina_didi's avatar

You could cooperate with shops from the Mediterranean for their olive oil soaps, their natural essential oils, honey, milk and their fruits. Bringing international soaps to your shop will make it more exotic and could help you become well known for it. Good luck!

canidmajor's avatar

Local natural foods stores will often carry soaps produced by small local soap makers. Whole Foods does as well. I would recommend talking to the local soap crafters about your ideas.

jca's avatar

I am very into natural soaps, unusually scented soaps and scents in general. Keep in mind that something like the items you are going to be selling are considered luxury items, and the business will rise and fall with the economy. When times are hard, people have less or no income for items like what you will sell.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I was just at a fair last weekend – there must have been 40 different vendors selling their own soaps. (Yellow Daisy Festival in Atlanta).

I’m sure that there is some publication or web site for soap craftsmen – I don’t know what it is, but it can’t be hard to find. if there are such a huge number of artisans doing this, finding out about and getting into it can’t be too difficult.

dina_didi's avatar

If you are thinking about creating some of your soaps in the future this is something really easy you could try!

Haleth's avatar

Are you doing it as a fun hobby, or as a major source of income?

First, either find a source for your soap, or learn how to make your own. My sister and I ran a soap business as a hobby when we were in high school, and learned how to make it ourselves. It’s actually really fun if you’re the crafty type! We used these two vendors for supplies. All the stuff was high quality, but I can’t vouch for pricing because it was like ten years ago.

Anyway, if you decide to make your own soap there are two ways you can go. Glycerin soap (the clear one that melts away really fast) is very easy to make. Basically you buy a giant block of clear, unscented glycerin. Then melt it down, add color and fragrance, pour it into a mold and wait for it to set.

Cold process soap lasts a little longer and has a richer texture. These are the ones you often see at craft fairs and fancy boutiques. Making them is kind of involved, because you are mixing lye with oils to create your own chemical reaction. Lye is caustic as fuck. Remember that scene in Fight Club, when the narrator gets a nasty chemical burn on his hand? That was lye.

Anyway, the end result is those pretty soap bars with the swirls or the oatmeal in them or whatever. Once you’ve either found a source for your soap, or learned how to make it, the next thing to do is calculate all your costs. For that I’d include time (your salary to yourself), supplies, packaging, marketing, shipping, storage, etc. Everything you can think of. Figure out your cost per each item, and use that to set your price.

If you end up selling at craft fairs, you will pay a fee to set up a table- also something to consider. If you sell to stores, they might want a wholesale discount if they purchase large quantities.

A great way to start is make a bunch for birthday/ holiday gifts. It’s really fun, and it’s great to use something that you’ve made yourself. Good luck!

Here2_4's avatar

My one piece of advice would be to use the word scent, rather than smell. One sounds pleasing, the other does not. Some vendors you choose to ask about working together might be very offended by the word choice.

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