Buffalo Girl Soaps
Isn’t life strange? Sometimes no matter how hard you try to change your scenery, some things just keep coming back around begging for a second look. This is so true for me anyway. I was born the youngest of eight children and the only one of the bunch born in Florida. Now, after living from coast to coast and to my great amazement, I find myself back in Florida not more than 40 miles from my birth place.
There is no question my southern roots are strong and deep. Long, hot summers spent working next to my grandparents in their garden taught me a reverence for the earth that nourishes us all. My adventurous side was charmed by the call of the wild spaces in the Florida scrub and Appalachian mountains. However, adventure and creativity seemed to be in the DNA of the women in my family. My grandmother’s quilts, crocheted bed spreads made meticously from the thinnest of cotton thread, and the most delicious cakes and pies you ever could wish to put in your mouth were all things of local legend. There was always a waiting list to purchase “Ms. Ellen’s” goodies. My mother too, was a shopkeeper and a business woman on a more “professional” level opening her own hair salon/boutique. Does is really get more southern than that?
And so there is a circular rhythm to my life. When my girls were young I opened a small bath and body shop in the mountains of North Carolina. I took my chemistry degree and put it to work in a way that seemed to fit my love of the natural world and family. As it does sometimes, life happened. I moved and got a “real” job doing research. The years passed and though I was still involved in the sciences, I missed the creative process of making natural products that felt so very indulgent yet were wonderfully healing. I started making soaps for the local farmer’s market.
This is where the story gets weird! (Remember the theme is the circuitous nature of my life) It was about the third month that I had gone to this particular market and I was trying to seal the deal with a customer. She was just gushing about another soapmaker’s products she had purchased long ago and sadly had never found any since that could compare. As you might imagine I was loosing patience, until she mentioned enough detail about the soap that I realized she was talking ABOUT ME! We both starred at one another in disbelief. How could two complete strangers have been reunited so many years later over a bar of soap? It’s got to be a sign right? My soap dream are saying, “we are still here, take another look”.
My Kiva story will begin where it started many years ago when I open my new store. And we get better with experience. After 15 years of perfecting my recipes, my products are even better and my customers are begging for a store and not just a weekly booth at the farmer’s market. I’ve always maintained a web presence for the past 14 years, but like Amazon, I too think it’s time for a real brick and mortar store.
Buffalo Girl Soaps is a truly natural bath and body shop specializing in affordably priced handcrafted toiletries using only essential oils, clays, botanicals, and sustainable or organic fixed oils. In addition to our famous 100% goat’s milk soaps, we also handcraft a natural line of men’s grooming products including: shaving cream, mustache wax, beard oil, and face balm.
Buffalo Girl soaps has been selling online, at local farmer’s markets, and art fairs for the past 5 years. We are very fortunate to have a loyal customer base of both women and men who take their health and the health of the planet seriously. Although, we have two websites, our customers want more. We are looking to expand into a brick and mortar store front.
Obviously, the greatest concern is having working capital on hand to cover operating overhead for at least a six month startup period.
Buffalo Girl Soaps has been in online ecommerce for over 5 years. We also sell at farmer’s markets and regional art shows, but our loyal customers want more. We are seeking to expand into a brick and mortar store front and will use this money to:
$1000 shop remodel
$850 register/inventory hardware/accounting software
$550 signage and printing
$2400 working capital
We have done relatively well with online sales considering the difficult challenge of SEO and continually changing algorithms. However, national online sales were only about 7% of the total retail sales in 2015. Therefore, it would be very difficult to estimate offline sales potential for us, but a low estimate would be 7X increase in gross revenue. This would change the course of our small business.