In my ongoing quest to bring inspiration to your day; Sparklefly Candle Company has reached out to some other amazing entrepreneurs to share their stories and products. As always, I encourage you to explore these small business owners with me and remember to shop small this holiday season and all year round.
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”
― Helen Keller
This week I deliver to you, Kendra Cote of Modern Soapmaking. I was so excited to have the opportunity to interview Kendra, who is one of the most well respected mentors in the business. She's been there, done that and she shares it all. Her outspoken and fearless personality makes her a load of fun and her amazing talent makes her a go to expert as you can see by her beautiful photos. Check out her story!
Q: Tell me about Modern Soapmaking and how you got started?
Modern Soapmaking is my online proverbial playground for handcrafted soapmakers and skincare formulators who are looking to capitalize on their talents. I help soapmakers make the best damn soap they can and then build a successful business selling it. You'll find everything from free soapmaking tutorials and recipes to business advice, courses, and coaching programs.
Surprisingly, soapmaking hasn't always been my life. I made my first batch of soap in 2004, and soapmaking fell into place with other creative hobbies. It took six more years of on again, off again soapmaking before it completely consumed my life.
In 2010, I decided to quit my full-time job and launch my first handmade soap company. I wasn't new to entrepreneurship as I had peppered my adult life with other ventures: freelance brand design, web development, graphic & print work, as well as coaching small biz owners selling on Etsy (can we say full circle?!).
Amathia Soapworks officially launched in 2011, and over the course of the next three years, my excitement in my soap company waxed and waned. I desperately tried to ignite that fire again by trying different things on for size. In 2012, I started an annual conference for soapmakers, where I realized I loved to teach and inspire. In 2013, I started another soap company, Gratitude Soapery, that fulfilled my need to help those less fortunate than myself. I also took over as the Production Manager at another successful handmade soap company which allowed me to focus more on the craft. By the end of 2013, I found the true reason why none of these ventures kept me occupied for very long: I didn't belong behind a soap company, I belonged next to one.
Modern Soapmaking launched in February of 2014, and quickly became my one and only - which is incredibly liberating for a girl who has had her hands in multiple (read: too many) businesses for the last five years.
Q: What is your favorite aspect about being a small business owner?
Entrepreneurship has always been where I feel most at home because it gives me freedom. I am free to plan my life as I choose, change my job to suit my lifestyle, and see a world of possibilities before me.
I always had difficulties holding a traditional job due to difficulties managing my bipolar + general anxiety disorders. Being a small business owner allows me to take time for me when I need to, without being afraid of losing a job. I've been able to maintain a healthier life with mental illness, which wasn't possible when I was working for someone else. Nowadays, I'm also married and a mother to three kidlets (all girls - ages 2, 4, and 5), so I have the freedom to home-school my daughters and enjoy their childhood alongside them.
This year, we've decided to sell all of our belongings, convert a school bus into a tiny house on wheels, and travel the country as a family (No, we're not crazy, I promise.) Again, my business gives me that freedom, and I couldn't be more grateful for that!
Q: What should we expect from the Modern Soapmaking experience?
I take an extreme amount of pride in each and every member of my tribe, whether they lurk on the blog without ever commenting, take an online workshop, or chat with me one-on-one in a mentoring session. I want every single soapmaker that touches Modern Soapmaking to continue on their journey in this craft feeling empowered, encouraged, inspired, and motivated, no matter if they are a hobbyist learning the ropes, a pre-launch soap company owner trying to define their vision for success, or an experienced soapmaker in biz chasing their dreams. I have been all of those places, which allows soapmakers to have what I always wanted: someone who has been right where they are, cheering them on, however they allow me to do so.
Q: What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing an independent business owner?
There are so many challenges to being a business owner, otherwise, everyone would be doing it, right?! When it comes down to it, I think that we are each our own biggest challenge. From setting boundaries, to being your own boss, to wearing so many different hats in business, to listening to your gut, to staying sane, passionate, and motivated. We can be our own biggest critics, but we each must be our own biggest fans, too.
Q: Who or what has been the biggest inspiration for you?
I've been asked this question so many times, and I struggle to find the answer. It's so cliche to say, but I find inspiration in everything... nature, music, people, colors, artwork, moments, scents, and so many other things. I have always been a very expressive person, who loves to create - whether that's through writing, photography, graphic design, or soapmaking. In my work now, I get to create through all of those means while drawing inspiration from everything around me, including all of the fabulous soapmakers I have the privilege to work with. I think that creates a never-ending circle of inspiration: inspiration > creation > share > rinse & repeat.
Q: Do you have any special events or news coming up that you would like to share?
Oh, there are so many fabulous things coming to Modern Soapmaking in 2015! From very amazing additions to the website that are so hushity-hush (and in development) right now, to re-opening my mentoring programs to new clients for the first time since November, to launching brand spankin' new online workshops, to getting on the road and hosting mini-events around the country, there's too much to dish on!
My email newsletter is always the first way to be in the know, though! Plus, the very first thing I send out to new subscribers is a free 18 page ebook packed full of my best soapmaking tips and tricks, so there's no reason not to hop on board if you haven't already. ;) (www.modernsoapmaking.com/pure-gold)