I have been working to get this interview and introduction up for months now! But I think it was worth the wait! AND if you leave me a comment, I will draw a name and at the end of the week and you will get a great surprise in your mailbox!!!
When I first began ordering soap supplies online for my former business Dahlem’s Soapworks, Suz was one of the first companies I ordered from and man does she set a high standard for all other suppliers! Fast, friendly, accurate service!! Many have inquired about my former “life as a professional soapmaker”…some out of curiosity, some wanting to get into it themselves. Let me just say, either way, if you are going to make soap, quality ingredients are a must…and Suz is the the go-to gal for that!!! You can click on the graphic to visit her shoppe! And be sure and drop her a line and tell her I sent you!
Could you introduce yourself to the readers of NotQuiteJuneCleaver?
My name is Susan Kennedy, aka; Suz, I’m married to a farmer and a great guy,
Rick, have two children, a boy, Rock and a girl Sandra, 5 grandchildren and
love them all to pieces. We live in *the boonies* and I wouldn’t trade it
for anything, I love it here. We have a small farm as well, chickens, etc.
The deer and their fawns visit all the time, and we have a lot of natures
creatures here, it’s fun to look out the window and see them.
What does your business do?
The business is located on our property which is why we purchased our home
as it has a built in shop. The builder was going to repair heavy equipment
so since he decided to sell instead, we inherited a big roomy shop. We
provide raw materials and packaging and some fun, decorative soap related
items as well to people who wish to soap or make any cosmetic product. We
also provide help and advice when we can
I think we would all like to know is how and when you started your
I started as a soap maker back in November 1988 and materials were so hard
to come by that I began researching. At that time, one had to purchase in
enormous quantities so we stayed in the soapmaking business for years until
my husbands accident in 1994. Due to numerous surgeries, we could not
continue the business until 1998 so when we opened back up, the amazing
amount of raw materials available were a dream come true so the supply side
began and soaping took somewhat of a back seat except the hundreds of
testers, but I still love to soap, probably always will. It’s very
What is the most difficult aspect of running this type of business?
Bookwork!! That’s easy..*lol*, and another thing is when people have
developed incorrect habits or ideas about soapmaking, I feel a duty to do my
best to get them back on the right track and specifically the safety aspect
of it all.
What is your favorite part of your job?
When I hear success stories, I LOVE it. I have been blessed to be part of
several including Bella Lucce, I adore her and I’m so proud of her. And
many others who have made a name for themselves, knowing I was even a small
part is so wonderful.
Was there anyone that inspired you to follow your dreams?
My husband suggested soapmaking as he knew a person who did it already and
that began the quest for books, materials, etc., and we spent countless
hours studying and trying to perfect the art so yes, it was my other half
who is my inspiration.
Where would you like to see your business go? Any thing you can share
with us about future plans for your business?
That one is difficult. I love the size it is, I also know you have to stay
new and fresh to keep peoples interest so I will continue to try to find new
and interesting products. For instance, we just found an amazingly bright,
true red that does not migrate. So things like that, an awesome fragrance,
a new beautiful packaging item. The small conquests add up to the bigger
In your opinion, has the Internet affected opportunities for crafters
who wish to start their own businesses?
Absolutely. It has created both good and bad. My feeling is that a person
should study, study and study more before offering a product to the public.
Some soapers do exactly that and my hat is off to them. Others make a batch
or two, a friend does a website for them and they are in business. It makes
me a bit concerned but hopefully they were fast learners.
If you had a chance to do it all over again (in business) is there
anything you would do differently?
Yes, I would have been better at bookkeeping in the beginning and revamped
my Business plan a lot sooner than I did. A business plan is not forever, not
etched in stone, It’s fluid and needs to be gone over from time to time as goals are met or
not met and one needs To take stock of what needs to be changed. I didn’t do that often enough.
Do you have any other great passions or hobbies.
Quilting is my love, as well as pretty much any type sewing. I love machine
embroidery and believe you can’t have too many pillows, quilts and cushy
items around your home. I want my home to reflect that comfortable
welcoming feeling. I have knit for years and still have probably 40-50
sweaters that I have kept for years. My other love is Oil Painting, it’s definitely a
toss up between those two. Any camping, fishing, outdoor activity renews my
spirit. I guess it’s the farm girl in me.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced while seeing your company to
where it is today? How did you overcome or handle this challenge?
It’s likely what I have already said and that is not redoing my business
plan often enough.
Do you have any words of wisdom for women looking to opening their own
I tended to take too many thing personally and in business, you have to have
a thick skin. Do the very best you can and realize you can only please
people some of the time. So provide the best possible customer service you
can and quality in your products and you should do well. Not everyone likes
everything and it’s not personal, it’s just fact. The other thing would be
study, and study a lot, never quit. See what other successful businesses
are doing and try to analyze their success. It’s interesting to me to see
the myriad of personalities in these different businesses.
Read Full Post »