So excited for our very first #girlcrush feature! Say hello to Elizabeth Sawchak of Lotus Soap Shop. It was so fun interviewing her and I can't wait to share her story with you all! Before we getting started, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone reading this, everyone who is a part of our Facebook group and everyone who is following this journey.
Boss Babe Co: Hi Elizabeth! I am so excited for our little chat today and to have you as our first feature on Boss Babe Collective! Let's get started, first tell us a little about yourself, where are you from??
Elizabeth: I'm excited too!! Sure! I am from a town outside of Pittsburgh and have lived here for almost 20 years now. I currently am a full time Kindergarten teacher and started my natural soap business, Lotus Soap Shop a little less than a year ago.
BBCO: How fun and how exciting for your business! What was it like growing up near Pittsburgh??
ES: I've loved growing up here; I have a lot of great memories from childhood through now; my family is huge on Pittsburgh sports, especially the Penguins, so I have such a special place in my heart for Pittsburgh hockey. It's a great city to have nearby.
BBCO: Aww that is so awesome to have those memories. What is it like having a small business in that area, are there a lot of small business owners?
ES: There is a local farmers market that happens in the warmer months where we see small businesses participate; there are also arts and crafts fairs locally and in the city, so it's definitely a great area to be in for those of us with small businesses. I'm really looking forward to getting into some of those larger craft fairs and the farmer's markets in the spring/summer to get my brand out there. There also seems to be some smaller shops and salons that are willing to carry products of small business owners around here, too that is always exciting to see. People in and around the city are also super supportive of local/small businesses.
BBCO: That is so exciting, I hope you get your products into shops, that would be such a nice achievement for you! Tell us more about Lotus, how did you come up with the brand name and what made you start this business?
ES: Thank you! I'm really hoping to start getting my foot in the door at some places...I may have to pick your brain about that some time. I've always loved lotus flowers. I saw numerous quotes about them, and one in particular really hit home to me...so the quote I saw was actually from Goldie Hawn and says: "The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud --- the obstacles of life and its suffering. ... The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. ... Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one." That quote really inspired me to get a lotus flower tattoo on my arm -- something I've wanted for quite a long time. Back in December of 2016 I really wanted to make gifts for my coworkers, friends and family. I tried making soy candles but didn't have a lot of luck with it initially, so I decided to give soap a try. Something really clicked there and I made several batches and started handing them out as gifts that year. I've loved using essential oils at home and when I started making soaps I really wanted to go the all natural route and incorporate essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances or perfumes. People started to ask me about my soaps and wanted to buy them from me. Once I had enough people ask me about the soaps, I realized I could have my own business. I knew right away I wanted the brand name to incorporate the lotus flower somehow, so Lotus Soap Shop was born!
BBCO: That is such a cute background story, I love it. So in the last year that you have been working on this, building your website and everything, what are some of the biggest challenges you have come across and how did you overcome those?
ES: Thanks girl! Seriously where do I start lol. It's all been a challenge, but a much welcomed challenge. The challenges I face with starting and growing a business are challenges I actually enjoy, no matter how stressful. But I think two of the biggest challenges for me have been figuring out pricing for my products and trying to grow my market and my audience on social media. Determining a price can be challenging because of course you have to make a profit, but you also don't want to charge too much and have no one want to buy your product. I found that some scrubs actually cost me a decent amount of money to make, so I really struggled with how much to sell them for. Luckily I have a boyfriend who is great with excel and great with numbers, so he was a huge help in that department. He set me up with a spreadsheet to enter all of my costs and then helped me calculate an appropriate price. It's something I still struggle with when coming up with new products, like I am now, but I'm starting to get the hang of it on my own. Growing a market and growing an audience I think is tough for anyone and everyone. I personally love working on social media to grow my brand, but it can definitely be frustrating at times when you are seeing slow growth on your social media and not enough traffic on your website. That will come with time, and that's something I need to remind myself of constantly. Reaching out to influencers that align with your brand, or who could potentially be interested in your brand, is a great place to start I think. You might have to shell out some free product, but if your sales, website traffic, and social media follows go up, then it's totally worth it!
BBCO: That's such a good answer! So touching on social media subject, has it helped you at all growing/starting your business? How do you feel about social media from a business perspective?
ES: Oh definitely; I love social media for connecting with new people in general and feel like it can and will be super beneficial in driving sales and growing my brand in general. I'm still in the very early stages of having my social media accounts for my business, but so far I've had a surprising number of bloggers reach out to me wanting to review and feature my brand so that has been really exciting and I'm hopeful that that leads to growth on all ends. I did not expect to make so many great connections already. With social media I think it's important to just START. You don't necessarily have to have your aesthetic or market all figured out right away. Just start and figure it out as you go and you might be surprised by what comes from that.
BBCO: Such good feedback!! Okay so for an entrepreneur wanting to start their own business, what would be your biggest tip of advice for them?
ES: If it's something you are truly passionate about; that you enjoy doing; that you don't mind staying up late or waking up early for...just go for it. Like I said about the social media...you don't need to have it all figured out. You're going to learn along the way. Even when you start figuring things out, there will always be something new to learn or something to improve. But if it's even crossing your mind to start your own business involving something you love and care deeply about you just have to go for it.
BBCO: Such good advice, I love this! Are there any last things you want to share with all of our readers?
ES: Awesome!! Thank you so much! Adding to that piece for starting your own business...social media I think is a great place to start getting the word out about your new business, as is word of mouth. Even if you don't have a working website just yet, order business cards because people will ask for them. I can't stress this enough! I can't tell you how many times I was asked for business cards and didn't have any made yet. I was scribbling my info down on pieces of paper that probably ended up lost or in the garbage. Get your business cards ASAP! When you have a website and new social media, order new cards and hand them out to anyone and everyone you talk to about your business. Give multiple cards to friends and family and ask them to hand them out for you. You can hustle your ass on social media, but you can't forget about in person market either!