How to Launch an Artisan Soap Business

Rena Maculans is a lover of arts & crafts, nature, medicine, science, and of course art.

She is also a nurse that was battling COVID on the front lines, mother of two, a successful businesswoman running an artisan soap enterprise, and a journalist for the World Art News. Our entire team is very proud of Rena. We support her entrepreneurial spirit and wish to share Rena’s success story with our readers.

As a child, art was one of her favorite things to do to relieve stress–from coloring to drawing. Her closet doors and walls of her bedroom were full of artwork.  She knew it would follow her into adulthood.

At 17 years old, she enrolled in a Graphic Design/Art program in a vocational school where she learned how to sketch, paint street banners, signs, and license plates. It was over 20 years ago.

She loves freehand art much more than digital art. Her excellent motor skills attracted her to the classics. She enjoys complex art, which is thoroughly demanding to create, such as painting, sketching, sculptures, woodworking, metal art, jewelry, and accessories.

The Birth of Sierra Soap Co by Rena

The beautiful and breathtaking Sierra Mountains in Central California are where Rena calls her home. Last year it caught fire, so she was stuck home between COVID and the fire for a few months. In August 2020, Sierra Soap Co by Rena was born out of the blaze and pandemic. Throughout all this chaos, she lost her job—as a Hospice Nurse.

Her favorite sayings are: when life throws you lemons, make lemonade. And never put all your eggs in one basket. Depending on one means of income turned on her. So she decided to do something to make money while stuck at home.

Her brother suggested making soaps because he knew Rena’s love for art. Plus, her experience with organic and biochemistry from working in labs in college–along with her training in nursing/pharmacology. Will power and determination went a long way, along with daring to risk her savings to start a business. That risk turned out to be a valuable source of income for the Christmas season, where it took off and helped with bills and other expenses.

Rena’s sensitive skin motivated her to stop using commercial soaps in recent years, having discovered they were the culprit for her dry, itching skin, including harsh detergents for clothes. She acquired local customers by finding people at her job who were experiencing similar skin issues. The cool thing is local customers get the luxury of smelling the soaps before buying them.

She attracted online customers by starting a Facebook business page and Instagram business page. Shortly after, she realized how much social media helped her business grow without having access to brick-and-mortar stores. Friends and family were supportive of her business on Facebook, which helped tremendously. However, Instagram and the use of those hashtags provided the ability to reach a broader, international audience. Dmitry Tamoikin is a big supporter of her business and was one of her first customers. He also delivered powerful tips on how to utilize social media to grow and develop her business.

Growing Pains as an Artist and Business Owner

Currently, the website is in the process of development. Many setbacks came up because a website requires inventory. She was working three different jobs to provide the initial startup capital for her soap business.  Anyone dealing with a product business knows how much work it takes, especially when you are only one person. She deals with every department–administration, management, design, packaging, marketing, selling, and distributing. 18-20 hour workdays were the norm. Time constraints became a huge problem. Then, Kyle R. Bell came into the picture, delivering valuable consulting knowledge, teaching her how to brand with limited resources.

In February, overworked with three jobs and a business, Rena’s health was slowly deteriorating. She started getting sick. So she let go of 2 jobs because her creative juices run dry when she is ill. Many artists experience precisely the same problem. Now she is a Case Manager for an Emergency Room with a lot more time to work on her soap business. It is more than a business to her because she finds being an artist healing and cathartic.

The last seven months were a struggle for Rena. She faced plenty of adversity to keep her soap business profitable.

Discover The Art of Soap Making

Rena makes cold-pressed Castille soap. Mastering the art of saponification, where the lye gels with oils to create a soapy base, is arduous work. Once the technical part is through, you can move onto the fun part: textures, colors, patterns, and other artistic designs.

She starts by moving from one color soap to mixing different colors. Each color is mixed in separate batches of soap before being combined. The block to swirl patterns creates a landscape of endless opportunities. She loves putting designs on top of the soap with herbs/flowers/colors mixed in coconut oil and painted on freestyle.

Essential Oils determine Rena’s soap color/design and branding. The coordination from soap color to topping and packaging is where she thrives. Since she makes Castile soap (Olive Oil Based), her process is longer because Castile Soaps are the softest, creamiest soaps, which takes the longest to cure or dry; approximately 3 – 4 weeks.

The curing part is time-consuming because a small batch takes a half-hour to an hour, according to what type of soap she is making.  Once the soap enters the mold, it can take 1-2 days to firm up enough to be popped out. Then each bar is cut into 1” bars weighing around 4oz. The cutting process is fun and creative, with one color and pattern on top of the soap.

The soaps are placed delicately on trays covered in wax paper when after being cut. Wax paper is turned and changed daily.  This process lasts a couple of days. Then Rena focuses on detailing, where she trims edges and cleans off any fat frosting. This white frosting look appears from the soap oils once it comes in contact with the air. Then the soap takes a few more days to dry and package immediately after detailing.

Soap needs to cure the rest of the time before usage because although the outside feels firm, the inside is soft and mushy, typical of Castille soap. Rena recommends soap savers to prevent the soap from melting onto the surface for optimal use.

Final Thoughts

Scent intensity varies on essential oils used and ingredients. Some essential oils have stronger scents, and others have milder scents. However, each specific ingredient and essential oil delivers powerful healing properties. Many customers tend to focus only on color and smell, but Rena’s philosophy of healing, art, and beauty is what customers continue coming back to experience.

She studies all the ingredient’s benefits to ensure her customers receive soaps they can use to feel and look their best. She enjoys taking her passion for art and healing and turning it into a profitable business helping others heal their skin problems.

Visit Rena’s business page on Instagram to learn more.

The World Art News (WAN) is not liable for the content of this publication. All statements and views expressed herein are only an opinion. Act at your own risk. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission. © The World Art News

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