Today, most of the "soap" you find at the grocery store doesn't even meet the legal definition of soap. From synthetic detergents and fragrances that irritate the skin to potentially dangerous chemicals, most body cleansers are actually just considered cosmetic products. That's why the demand for real soap, made from saponified oils and natural organic ingredients, is on the rise. Whether you've made handmade soap for years or you don't have the first clue about what goes into making soap, keep reading to learn how to start a soap business.
Soapmaking Business: The Building Blocks
Before you can have a thriving soap business, you have to build it from the ground up and learn how to sell soap. Businesses are not built overnight, but here are some quick tips to help you get started.
Consider Laws and Restrictions
While selling soap online does not require a specific certificate or license, there are still steps you need to take before selling soap online. These steps further prove your soap selling business is both safe and legitimate.
Before you begin selling soap, you will want to check with your local and national laws. For some states, business owners require a permit to sell goods or services. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your state’s laws in order to avoid any penalties. Especially in the case of a soap selling business, you will want to read up on the rules concerning the sale of cosmetics and personal care products. Take note of your verbiage use online and how you describe the product and its features. If you need any language about frequently asked questions, feel free to take them directly from the Botanie Soap website.
Consider Start-Up Costs
It's important to have a good idea of how much money you need to get your business started. Luckily, soap businesses do not have the same overhead costs as many other businesses — they can often be started for under $1,000. The start-up costs for a soap business include obtaining the proper molds, equipment, and ingredients (or, finding a manufacturer); creating thoughtful packaging, branding, and marketing; and securing a space to sell your products.
Consider Your Target Audience
When you are designing and creating soaps and building your brand, it's important to consider who you're trying to reach with your product. Just because you personally love bubblegum-scented soap doesn't mean it's going to be a bestseller! Before you launch a line of your favorite scents, you should do some market research into what your target audience prefers. Learning what other soap makers have had success with can inspire your own scents and help you find a way to stand out from the crowd.
Build Your Brand
With savvy marketing, you could sell your soap in nondescript packaging at your local craft fair and still turn a profit, but building an individual brand will help your business thrive. To do this, you’ll want to create unique and memorable packaging and scent offerings.Your brand doesn't have to be anything elaborate; a catchy name and simple logo can do wonders for brand recognition. Once you've built a brand people know they love, they'll keep coming back to the only place they can get it.
You can find more on soap marketing in our extensive guide.
Soapmaking is a lengthy and laborious process, with several factors that affect the quality of the final product. Outsourcing manufacturing means you don't have to spend hours carefully blending and pouring soap. It also helps to ensure quality from one batch to the next. Whether you want to supplement your personal production or replace it entirely, outsourcing manufacturing can also save you a lot of money when starting your soap business because you don't have to worry about choosing and buying all of the individual ingredients.
In addition to making a profit, most people who choose to sell soap do it because they love making soap as a hobby. However, you can learn how to sell soap without knowing how to make it. All you need is an entrepreneurial spirit and a reliable manufacturer. Besides, selling soap is just plain fun. You get to be your own boss, set your own schedule, and meet all kinds of new people.
What Kind of Ingredients Should I Use?
The simplest answer to this question is that you should use high-quality ingredients. To appeal to the largest audience, you should use natural and organic fragrances, oils, and additives and stay away from known irritants and allergens. Some oils that are commonly used in soapmaking include:
- Argan oil
- Sunflower oil
- Avocado oil
- Jojoba oil
- Castor oil
- Coconut oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Hemp Seed oil
- Olive oil
The specific ingredients you choose will depend on what properties you want your soap to have. You can find the ingredients used at Botanie Soap here.
Bar or Liquid?
During this time you’ll want to consider whether or not you’re going to sell bar soap or liquid soap. Bar soaps tend to last longer since the user has a good grasp on how much of the product they are using, unlike liquid soap. It is also easy to package and simple to ship, as 4 ounce Botanie bar soaps are rectangular in shape. One common concern you might hear from customers is that bar soaps are more drying. You can easily dispel this notion, because our bar soaps carefully balance the fatty acids to maximize the bar’s hardness, lather quality, and moisturizing ability. Another way to give your customers confidence is to familiarize yourself with the ingredient lists for each product in your line.
As mentioned, people can overuse liquid soap more often than bar soap. Its consistency makes it easy to overpour which means the customer will typically finish a liquid soap before a bar soap. You’ll need to determine the best packaging option for your liquid soap, while bar soaps, on the other hand, are often packaged in recycled paper boxes. However, liquid soap can be more attractive for some customers. There are benefits and different perceptions to each type of soap, and it is smart to weigh your options.
Deciding on Scents and Volume
You can not select products for your shop without trying and testing each one yourself. Our Botanie Soap sample sets allow you to easily test out different products and scents so you can pick the best for your brand and your customers.
Once you’ve received your sample set, you can select which scents you would like to purchase and include them in your soap shop. Before purchasing a large quantity of your selected soap, it’s a good idea to consider the following:
- Who are your ideal customers? Different people might prefer different scents and colors.
- Do you sell other items as well? For example, if you also sell flip flops and beachwear, you might choose to sell soaps with floral, summer-like scents.
- Is your brand represented by specific colors? If your brand is all neutral colors, you might want to sell products that stick to that scheme (or not – there’s a huge variety of options here!).
You may also want to consider the quantity of your inventory by asking yourself the following:
- Do you have existing customers? If so, you might be able to sell soap more quickly.
- How much room do you have in your home or office to store soap? Running a business from your home can limit the amount of inventory you have.
- How much do you want to invest in your business? Deciding how much money you want to spend to start your business will have an impact on how much soap you buy.
How to Package and Label Soap
Part of learning how to sell soap is learning how to package it in a practical and convenient yet captivating way. The packaging doesn't have to be flashy, but it should be able to grab potential customers' attention and stand out from other soaps. You don't want your customers to struggle to open the soap, so keep it simple. As you’re researching how to package soap, you’ll often find that an organic, biodegradable cardboard box is easier to label and open than plastic shrinkwrap. As an added bonus, it is better for the environment, too!
Where to Sell Soap
Check our extensive guide on how to sell soap.
In the modern world, there are many avenues you can go down to sell your handmade soaps. Some of the most common places to sell soap include craft fairs, farmers' markets, street fairs, conventions, and local businesses (in wholesale form). There are also dozens of websites where you can sell soap, including:
- Amazon Handmade
- Your personal business website
Now that you know how to start a soap business, partner with Botanie Soap for high-quality, organic pre-made bar and liquid soap. We have everything you need to jumpstart your soap business, including custom manufacturing to help you stand out from the crowd.