Small Business Monday: ILUVMYSKIN

As I get older, I recognize the need to take care of myself and my skin better than I ever had.  I’m also learning the importance of natural and homeopathic remedies and products.  A few months ago, my man and I were out to dinner for my birthday in downtown Novi and spent some time afterward strolling around and window shopping.  We found a health market and spent some time dreaming over all the natural products we would want in our home and daily routine.  We ended up leaving there with a few bars of homemade soap because we fell in love with the tea tree oil scented ones.  He blew through those two bars quickly!  I started to love the smell of them in our bathroom daily and was wondering how I could keep up with that and not break the bank.

Flash forward a few months to the end of summer and I’m sitting at a table at the Woodshop in Clarkston with a great group of ladies who love Jesus and life and one girl that I didn’t know shows up with her basket of homemade soaps!  We sat next to each other and chatted all night about life, love, God, and business.  It was then that I decided she was my go-to soap girl and I am so thankful for her.  Her knowledge about natural living is immense and she’s one of the sweetest, funniest and most beautiful girls that I have ever met.  I am so happy to share her and her shop with you.  She is having an Open House this Friday, October 4th in Clarkston if anyone would like to go with me or have me place an order for you.  I am so excited to spend the evening with her and support her!

1.) Tell us a little about yourself.

{Danielle Whaley; owner and operator of ILUVMYSKIN}

Well, I’m a Capricorn who enjoys misty morning runs and large lattes. I believe in ghosts but I think unicorns are a stretch and I’m not quite sure any of this is real life. Like what if we are all just in the matrix and…I’m totally kidding. I’m actually a thirty-five year old stuck inside a eighteen year old’s body with the mentality of an eighty year old with the spirit of a seven year old. Add and subtract all those numbers together and you get my real age-twenty four. My age explanation can only point out the glaring fact that I am a different individual. And I think this is what drew my husband and I together and what makes him my best friend. We are celebrating one year of marriage this month and we have a beautiful, kind-hearted chocolate lab named Zoe, who is and will always be considered our first born child. I was raised here in Michigan to some of the best looking and most loving parents I have ever met. I have two younger brothers who are growing up to be awesome men right before my eyes. I consider myself a runner but I’m not the greatest and I love all things that are outdoorsy and nothing that is pink.

2.) When did you start your business?

I technically started my business in January of 2012 when I moved back home after a crushing attempt at living on my own in the Boston area near my alma mater. I was working in an office and I was already bored after two weeks of work and I started to wonder what are some other things I could pursue with my extra free time and extra cash now that I’m living at home (thanks mom and dad!) I started talking with my mom about the soap she used to make when I was growing up and the more I looked into it and researched the benefits, the more I knew I had a thing for soap. I began ordering supplies and making it at home, all with the help of my mom, and selling it to people at church and friends. I will say that finding the right combination in suds and lather along with hardness and a lasting bar only came from the brilliant mind of my mom. My mom actually started making this soap when I was about ten years old. She and I went to a soap making demonstration and she then tweaked the formula that she was given until she came up with what I use today. It sounds a lot easier than it really is. Because this soap is made from scratch, you have to have the perfect balance of oils and butters to have a nice firm bar while it still being moisturizing and sudsy. I’m not bragging but this is the best natural bar I’ve tried. And let me tell you, there has been a lot! I was all excited about my new venture and my ideas for marketing this already awesome product when, BOOM! I fell in love with this cutie (my husband, in case you got worried for a second) and he lived two hours north of me. Needless to say, I chose love and a DIY wedding over the soap passion for a bit. But around January of this year I actually got serious about the soap business and it’s been growing steadily ever since.

3.) What drives you to want to make homemade soaps?

I had terrible eczema when I was a kid and nothing helped it. It was all over my face and upper arms. It wasn’t until I used my mom’s soap that it went away. I also struggled with acne in high school. I gave into the temptation of these acne commercials for “clear skin”, but all I got was a super dry face with painful acne. It wasn’t until I put down the chemical filled face washes and stuck with my mom’s wondrous balance of cleanliness and moisture that I felt good in my own skin. My mom and I are also very sensitive to lotions and fragrance oils, since this soap doesn’t contain any of that, we fell head over heals for it’s natural essential oil smell. I personally make it to make a difference. I believe my homemade, natural soap is better for the environment, better for your health, and a more holistic way of thinking.

4.) What are the benefits or features of your homemade soaps?

Where to begin! Fragrance oil soap (any commercially made soap out there today) have carcinogens in them, THAT CAUSES CANCER. They have all these chemicals in them to keep the bar from breaking down when used so it has a longer shelf life. So if you are using something on your face that doesn’t have a normal life cycle and an expiration date, how good for you can it be? Not too mention the chemicals that are used in lotions to give you that “soft” feel. It’s basically just an additive to make your hands addicted to it so you will use it more so you will buy more. A smart move on the big soap business’s end but it’s not what I’m going for. Any soap out there today strips your skin of it’s own natural oils that help you defend against sickness and dryness. My soap puts that oil back into your skin. Now, I know all we ever hear is “oil-free” this and “oil-free” that. The oils I used are meant for your body to absorb so it won’t clog your pores like you’re thinking. It’s all plant based oils, so your body can easily absorb them and use them to stay moisturized. And don’t even get me started on the effect other soaps have on our planet. Those products are not made with plant material, they are made with chemicals, so they can’t coexist peacefully when they get washed down the drain. All of my ingredients are made of nature, so it’s great to wash down the drain!

5.) What is your process when making the soaps?

There are many different processes out there for making soap but it’s important to know what’s what. I couldn’t tell you how the heck commercially made soap is made. Frankly, I don’t know if I want to know. It’s kind of like McDonald’s chicken nuggets, they say it’s chicken but is it really? As far as natural soap goes, there is hot-process and cold-process. And true home-made soap is done through a process of saponification, which is a chemical reaction between and acid (oils i.e. oil oil, vegetable oil) and a base (sodium hydroxide). With hot-processed soap the “cook” can watch the reaction right in front of them, making sure it is fully reacted and safe for use before it is poured into it’s respected mold. Cold-processed soap is essentially all the same ingredients mixed together and put into a mold and then it “cures” for weeks at a time. I actually have no experience making cold-processed soap and therefore can’t even begin to know how it’s managed. I use hot-processed. It’s a hot and dangerous hour long process done on my stove with a double-boiler and a hand mixer. I have my secret formula that i melt down, add in the sodium hydroxide (or lye as some might know it as) and mix it, for an hour. Yep. Then I add my scent and any little add in for that given scent (i.e. lavender flowers in lavender, coffee grinds in my vanilla latte soap). I then pour it into a mold where I let it cool for at least 18 hours and then cut it into bar sizes.

6.) How did you come up with your name and adorable packaging?

I was brainstorming with my mom last year for a name for my new and upcoming soap company. We had some crazy and silly names, some that sounded a little racy too. But then it dawned on me, what does this soap do for me? It makes me love my skin! I love my skin! Yeah! My dear friend Kevin from Boston actually designed the logo for me (thanks Kev!) and the packaging is a combination of my mom’s original idea and my need for a bigger label surface to put my stamp or my logo. I’m big into burlap and if I could I would wrap it in that but simple brown paper will have to do for now.

7.) How should the soap be stored after use?

It’s best to let the soap dry in between uses on a slotted soap dish. Basically don’t let it sit in water. But you can let it sit out in your house until you use it. The essential oils are great aromatherapy.

8.) Where can we find your soaps?

Well, I live in the Clarkston area and I am having an open house on October 4th. It’s open to anyone and can be found on my Facebook page. It’s just a nice way to share my joy of soap making and for anyone to try out some samples and to dialog about this great product as well as some other things I make like face scrubs and masks:)

9.) Where can we find you online?

I can be reached through email at iluvmyskin.naturalsoap@gmail.com or you can find my shop on etsy.  I also sell my soaps in a store called Scandia Home in Birmingham and I’m looking for other stores to sell to as well. I also choose about one craft show every other month and I think the next one will be the Clarkston Craft Show this fall.

10.) Do you ship out of state?

I do ship out of state! All of those options are listed in my etsy store or by emailing me for prices.

11.) Do you have any advice for any other small business owners or those who want to make something/start a business?

The only advice I can give at this stage of my humble little business is start today. I kept putting it off and putting it off. I know the timing will all work out in the end but procrastination is not a good habit to get into when you want to start your own business. That and plan on making sacrifices to make your dream happen. There will be late nights, messy kitchens, frustration, but if you really believe in your product and yourself then it’s worth it.

Fresh Lavender Essential Oil Vegan Moisturizing Bar Soap

 

Advertisements

Small Business Monday’s: milk & hannah

Welcome to the start of a new week and a new section called “Small Business Monday’s”

While some are walking into the new week feeling the descent off of a wonderful weekend spent with family and friends, on the beach or at music festivals, I want to look up at the good things to come.

And that’s why I’m starting this section. Because:

1.) I’d rather not have the Monday blues myself

2.) I love small businesses and desire to support them

3.) I love my friends and family and all of their talents

Our first Small Business introduction is a very special one to me and thus my choice for our first feature: my sister-in-law, Hannah Spencer.  She is the owner, creator, shopper extraordinaire {and more} of ‘milk & hannah’.  When the idea to showcase small local businesses on my blog wouldn’t leave my thoughts I just knew that I had a great starting point right here in my own family.

Hannah is wife to my younger brother, mother of my niece and nephew, big sister of 5, friend of many, possessor of many talents including music, crafts, business ideas, social media campaigns, thrifting goddess and more.  After a few years of thrifting together, I’ve seen firsthand the time and care she takes in choosing items.  I’ve witnessed the shock and awe she possesses when she finds a unique and vintage item.  I’ve seen the cute exclusive packaging and personal detail she adds to each item sent.  She’s a joy to work with because there is no one with Hannah’s quirks and charm and your experience with her will be unlike any other customer’s experience with her.

Here is a little interview I did with her about her and her business:

1.) Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m Hannah, helllo hot stuff.

I’m the owner of ‘milk & hannah’, a vintage Etsy space full of charm and age that can’t be duplicated. The rust is real, the cracks are real, and the price tags came off 20, 40, 60 years ago.

Me? I’m really tall. I love good coffee & Michigan Autumns, and I don’t feel passionate about anything like I do thrifting. I have 2 babes, Porter Claire and Cade Xander– they drove me to seek at home options for supplementing my man’s income. I think it’s very important to be a nurturer of your passions, and ‘milk & hannah’ is my ho. We are lifers, me and that shop.

2.) When did you start your business?

I opened in May of this year.

3.) What made you want to do what you do?

I love the look of vintage items in my home but I ran out of space. I found sooooo many things while at thrift stores, flea markets, yard sales, and estate sales that were ‘my style’ but that just weren’t something I could utilize anywhere in our space.

When our kitchen table started filling itself, magically duh, I knew it was time to either start a shop or stop shopping. I fell in love with the Etsy concept, the true and genuine passion for equipping small business owners with the tools and framework to achieve their business goals, and I started listing.

4.) How do you prepare/execute your shop?

I wish I was better at business plans. BAHAHA. Honestly, at this point, I have a list of items that I know customers are intrigued by and request. I keep my eyes out for those things everyday, but as someone who is looking for a very small percentage of items that were produced sometimes a century ago? I have a more free-spirited concept.

I hunt, I gather, I list. That’s the plan.

5.) What kind of advice do you have for new small business owners?

Passion is the root of all profit. If you love it and you work for it, you’ll get there.

6.) Do you ship out of state?

Sure as heck do, Chip. (That’s a Talladega Nights reference, Ricky Bobby style.)

7.) How can we contact you?

You can see my shop by going to www.milkandhannah.etsy.com

The Twit: @milkandhannah Insta: @milkandhannah FB: www.facebook.com/milkandhannah E-Mail: milkandhannah@gmail.com

I’m everywhere, like air.

And, my friends, that is not all.  In honor of this post {and in celebration of her 23rd birthday yesterday} she is offering an EXCLUSIVE discount code to my readers!  See an item you can’t live without on her Etsy shop?  Make sure you enter code “happyfreaking23” at checkout for 23% off that item….good today through Sunday, September 1st, 2013.

Thank you, Hannah!  Love you!