Tara Brown is the owner of My Shai’ Bath and Body Treats in Philadelphia. She has been making products since 2006 but her magical moment of a Soap Business started as a result of making products for her children for their skincare needs in 2015. Tara embraces her gift of product making to believe in herself and be patient with herself. When she finds herself frustrated she will research, find resources and keep trying. Listen in to learn how Tara builds her business, overcomes challenges and what keeps her motivated to keep going in her handmade business.
- As a creative you are always excited to create your own art
- Top of the line ingredients can give you a sense of confidence
- Look for the joy in what you do and believe in yourself
- The bathroom can be an incredible oasis and escape, Tara’s products helps with self care in their moment of Get away
- Have a budget and keep your product line manageable
Find Tara online at:
Welcome to another episode of a Soap makers Tale. I'm your host Zakia Ringold of LiveSoapSchool.com and this podcast is for makers and would be makers alike.
Listen in and get inspired with lessons learned.
Building a handmade business.
Hi Zakia. I want to first say thank you for having me. It's truly an honor. My name is Tara Brown and my company name is My Shai Bath and Body Treats. And my favorite product to make is soaps. I would say soaps bath bombs and bubble truss. But more importantly, so as the title.
Of the podcast implies, this is all about a maker's tale and every maker has a getting started story. So could you tell us how did you get started with your hand made business?
Well, yes, my tale is actually in layers. I started many years back, probably around 2006 when I was in massage school, dipping and dabbing and making products actually for hair and then some skin for massage. But then it became more official and hobby in 2014 when I had to make products for my daughter and her adolescent acne problems and different things. And I had previously made soap and the whole regimen for myself. So then it spilled over to my daughter and also my son with their skin issues. So it was officially 2015 in that area and then I progressed into soap making. And how I found my craft, like I said, was looking up, researching and doing things to make to help heal my children's eyes. And then of course, YouTube University. And then I got up the courage to actually make a call process because I was afraid of it at first.
When you think back to that moment of it went from hobby to business or you already knew that it was going to be a business, how did you know that you were ready to start a business?
Well, I kind of didn't know. Everything happened backwards, actually. Like you said, it was a hobby at first and it fell into a business by I was kind of addicted. Like every little extra money I got, I was like, oh, I could buy this, I could buy this and I can make this and make that. And then it became from me, from doing here my clients. I was giving them what I made to try, but then I had to replenish my supplies. So then I would go door to door to sell it. And so I was forced into that selling market and then from near that's when I realized that it was time to develop into a business.
So we all kind of face some challenges. I know for me my biggest thing was packaging. So what were some of the challenges.
You faced when you first got started.
As a business owner? Was it pricing? Was it selling the product? What was it for you that was just had you scratching your head?
So yeah, for me there were many challenges. One of the first ones was confidence. Getting myself to a place of confidence to be able to stand, especially with the competitors or whatever like that. And mostly pricing, figuring out how to price it. Because from a customer standpoint and a maker standpoint, I know I like bargains and different things like that. So I always thought of it as why would they buy my product at $8 a bar or whatever, different prices at different times, as opposed to getting twelve bars for 399 or $5 at the store in the commercial level? Then I had to break down and understand the quality of my product and just getting to that confidence and knowing how to price it. And then the other biggest one is the technology behind building everything through the website. I really struggled with building a website, and you helped me in a lot of ways in shipping, trying to figure out those numbers for the proper shipping so that you wouldn't lose some packaging, but more so pricing and tech items.
I think you just mentioned three of the areas that most business owners, doesn't matter if they're new or seasoned, experience, confidence, pricing and technology. I think we all go back and forth with the confidence conversation, especially if you're trying to make a new product or introduce a new way of doing things. There's always that confidence. So I'm glad that you were able to overcome that. And then the technology, there's always something new. So I think getting a foundation with what it is that we want to use and then only adding those things that are necessary to the mix sometimes. There's always, well, me, I can't say for everyone else, but for me, that shiny object syndrome, there's always a learning curve with it. But I'm glad you stuck it out and I'm glad I was able to help with some of the technology stuff as well as that shipping. The Internet makes it really possible to ship beyond our borders internationally. And you mentioned something there in terms of not losing money because your flat rate shipping or your regional shipping doesn't necessarily apply when you are shipping your products overseas. And I learned that when I was shipping products to Canada.
They have to pay customs and duties and all of that. And that needs to be really loud and clear for your customers. And you also need to take into account how much it costs when you are presenting them with that checkout screen. So I'm really glad you mentioned those three areas, and those are pretty broad areas. What would you say were some of the things that you did to overcome those challenges?
So what I did, and still do, I have my moment, of course, and have had my moment, but I pushed through by again trying to continue to believe in myself and believe in what the gift has been placed in my hand. And so therefore I would research I ask questions, I ask SOAPERS, other people who are experienced like yourself. And first of all, being patient with yourself and being patient with the process. So I would patiently, no matter how slow it was, like, again, using the website as an example, it took me six months to build that. I had to pay for a website that I wasn't actively using for six months. But I had to do it. Like I said, research, read, ask questions, and just keep trying, keep doing it. Even if I fail at times they got frustrating. I just pick up and keep going. And that is even the case now. Like, there's so many things behind the scenes that are frustrating but got to keep going or find resources that can help. And that's what I've done. And continue to try to utilize.
I think a lot of people can appreciate that. And it's that keep trying part. They say you fail 99 times, but then as long as you get up 100, it's not a failure. And so that keep trying and reaching out for resources or looking up things really helps you to keep going and get over those challenges. And then it's like I can finally breathe because, hey, it wasn't so bad once I've gotten over that particular challenge or roadblock that I was experiencing. So you've had those challenges. Now. What would you say is something that keeps you motivated in your business?
I'm excited and motivated to keep going even when things don't go as planned. Because for one, I'm excited to see the end result of the product. The end result is usually pretty to see what it comes out to be, even sometimes when you don't know it's a mystery or whatever. As a creative, you're always excited to create something beautiful. So a lot of it is the art of it. The other part of it is the benefits. The benefits and the ingredients that I use. I picked the top of the line ingredients that are most beneficial to people skin. The whole idea of my goal is to create an inhome spa experience so you get that experience along with beneficial ingredients to your skin to help heal a problem. The fact that I can help with that, that brings me joy, being able to help. I think self care is very important. I know for me, I found myself a lot of times when my children were small and different, just life issues in different situations. I find myself my quick escape was the bathroom. Especially if you have a house full of people, the bathroom is usually my escape.
And talking to people and knowing different people, women, that's the same for them. So just having an oasis, me able to provide tools and whether it's bath bombs or soaps or whatever, those tools to help with people's self care and their moment of getaway sort of like cowgone take me away is my shy. Take me away. So knowing that I can help with that. The excitement of making helping somebody feel good in their self care journey and get through that moment, those tough moments. And then I know that I wasn't imparted this gift for nothing because I would have never have guessed in a million years. Sounds cliche, but I would have never guessed that I would be making soap. I didn't even realize you could make soap. I thought it was all machine based or whatever. So I was a Cosmetologist. I started as an artist drawing, but I would never have saw this coming. So I don't think it was given to me for nothing. So I kind of feel obligated to keep going at least a little longer, you know. So that's what motivates me most importantly. The art of it, the joy of it is fun.
Sometimes I'm just in my element, creating and the end result of helping people.
I know all about that bathroom escape and I know a lot of women and mamas in particular can relate to that in particular. So you creating those products for them to kind of have that Zen moment while they are in the bathroom. And even though the kids may still come knocking, you think you have your moments of privacy, but they find you. But you creating like an in home spa experience is really exciting. So even though we're talking about those challenges and some of those experiences, what would you say is something that you look forward to when you wake up in the morning or something about running your business as a business owner, whether that just be you personally or even interacting with your customers.
So the best experience for me is first having the flexibility and ability to call my own shops to do things when I choose to. Even though you're still not really you're still on a schedule, but it's still for you. My hard work is for me and my family and my, you know, for the future of my family, building towards my own future. The next thing is interacting with the customers, going to it when I do go to pop ups and events and getting out there and talking to other people, meeting new people, whether it's fellow SOAPERS or exploring being exposed to different creative opportunities and just seeing other things. And as I stated before, the beauty of the art of this whole, the type of business that I am in. But most customers, the flexibility and then the reviews, getting the positive, not all are, but for me, gratefully. Most have been positive feedback and knowing that the goal that I have set out to do. As far as helping people, I have in many ways and I've even learned ways that like certain soaps or products have helped people in different ways that I didn't even think of it just because of the ingredients in the product they worked out.
Like for one. Just give an example. Somebody said, my black soap help. They no longer got blackheads on their back. So I didn't even think about that. The customers and meeting new people and seeing different avenues or whatever, and the flexibility and working hard at your pace on your time, even if that means all day every day. But you're working hard for yourself and for your family in the future, of your family in the next generation.
So if you think back again to when you first got started or just your lessons learned, what is one piece of advice you have for newbies? Like if you had a crystal ball and it gave you the opportunity to say, if I only knew then what I know now, this is what I would have done differently, or what I would have done more of. What is that advice that you would have for a newbie thinking of starting their own handmade business.
So what I would advise newbies to do is to first believe in yourself, believe in what you're doing. Be patient with yourself, trust the process. Don't try to start so big with so many products all at once. At first, we all try to get overwhelmed or whatever, but pace yourself, start small, don't go crazy with different ingredients and even with packaging, don't exceed your budget and go crazy first, have a budget because as you heard earlier, I started backwards. So I would say get more organized, plan out everything and have your budget in place. And if you can get all the knowledge that you can do resources, asking questions or whatever like that, don't be afraid to make mistakes, don't be afraid to fail. I'm still not exactly where I would like to be, so I'm still work in progress. So I say all that to say, don't be afraid to take advice or get to a place where you can't take advice. So be patient with yourself and practice, practice, practice. Again, given an example, bath bombs. They are very, extremely testy. I have tried and failed so many times with them. In the beginning, like even in one night, I have thrown out three to five batches trying to make one.
But I was determined, I was determined that I wanted to get this and that I was going to get it. So I kept throwing it away and starting over. Throwing it away and starting over. So I say, all I have to say is don't be afraid to make those mistakes. And if you're passionate about it, yes, keep going, start over, rest if you must a moment, but keep going and you'll get it. But most importantly, have a plan. I didn't quite have a plan and so I'm not exactly where I should I say should be because everything is perfect timing, but where I could be. So yeah, and best of luck.
The good old plan. Yeah, a lot of us fall into it by accident. But I think once you realize it's going to be a business, take a moment to pause and really plan out what is that budget, what are those products? And really keeping it small and keeping it simple should be two things that most new people start to consider because it can be really exciting to do all the things and have all the sense in all of the different products. But if you are running it as a business, all of those things have to pay for themselves in order for it to be sustainable. So there's that starting capital, but that ongoing capital becomes very important. So I'm glad you reminded us to plan. And even if we fall into it by accident, once we know, hey, this is going to be a business, pause, reflect and plan.
Well, that's pretty much it for the interview, but I always like to leave room for anything that I may not have asked. So is there anything that you would want to share with would be makers or current makers in terms of starting or growing their handmade business?
So yes, I would also like to share with the newbies. Don't be afraid or feel away that the business is saturated. Yes, you have many people doing the same thing, but don't feel like you can't succeed or get to a level you wish to get to because somebody else is doing it. We all have our own uniqueness about what we do, so keep that in mind and don't get discouraged because it's going to be moments that would discourage you. But don't let don't be defeated by that. Just keep pressing through. And as I said before, stay confident in yourself, trust the process and just keep going. What they say, slow and steady wins the race. So it's not going to be an overnight success. Some have been lucky, but for the most part it is not overnight. And know that then just keep going and striving and you'll get there.
Thanks Tara. Slow and steady wins the race. There is no such thing as an overnight success and there's no elevator. You have to take the stairs to where you want to be. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this podcast interview and to share your own experiences as well as your words of wisdom. Now how can people find you?
What's your website?
Do you hang out on social media? Please let us know.
My pleasure and thanks again for having me. This was a really good interview. I can be reached. My website is actually myshai Shai bathandbodytreats.com. Again. That's myshaibathandbodytreats.com. And on Instagram tik tok and Facebook it's at myshaibathandbodytreats. Again. The website is I know yall its long, but that's another story. But I wish everyone luck in their journey business journey, whether it's a newbie or you're scaling up. And thanks again everyone.
Well, that's it for this week's episode of A maker's tale. A special thank you goes out to Tara of my Shai Bath and Body treats. Her website and links to her social media will all be listed on the show notes of the podcast. And I hope that you are able to take away some really pivotal things. Some things I heard was the importance of research. But most importantly. Your confidence and belief in yourself as you're starting out and as you're continuing in your business. There's always going to be a roadblock or a challenge. But if you have that mindset of embracing it as a gift. This is a gift that you have been given and it's something that you're really passionate about and something that you want to do. As Tara shared that constant belief in herself and continuing to keep going, even though it felt a little difficult at times, that may just be the spark that you need to give it one more try and keep going. I'm your host, Zakia Ringgold of Livesoapschool.com. Thank you so much for listening and, as always, go out and create something amazing.