There are numerous benefits that come with success in entrepreneurship: independence, creative freedom, and flexibility to name a few. If you’re ready to start your own business, but feel daunted at the task because you have little to no prior experience, today’s MoneyMak(her) guest will help you conquer that fear! Meghan Wright, founder of Foraged Soap Co., started her own business from scratch and has grown her company into a Northern California staple with her products sold in West Elm stores. She shares how she taught herself how to run a business and the number one piece of advice she’d give to newbie business owners.
1. How did you get started in your industry? What led to your passion for your career?
Twenty years ago (imagine the dawn of the internet), I taught myself to make soap from a book. I was teaching preschool at the time and going to school for my degree in education. Fast forward 10 years, and after getting my teaching credentials, I set out into the public school landscape. I loved teaching but found it wasn’t particularly kind to highly sensitive people such as myself. I adored the kids and being in the classroom truly was a joy; however, the unsupportive and demanding environment set by the administration was too much for me. (You are in the wrong profession if you come home each night crying because you feel helpless and broken-hearted.) So after a couple of years, I transitioned into part-time substitute teaching and launched my soap business in 2013. Although I was no longer able to use my creativity full-time in the classroom, I had finally found something I could sink my ideas into. I wake up most days grateful to have found something I love as much as teaching.
2. What were some of the bigger challenges you experienced in getting started?
My biggest challenges came from not knowing a single thing about owning and operating a business. I had to learn how to set up my own website (because I refused to use Etsy), use social media, do my own marketing, take photographs, figure out where to sell my goods, and design my own unique packaging. And let me tell you–that part was a mess from the get go! Trying to design something in Word and then print it out was utterly ridiculous. Packaging, design, and photography have always been the bane of my existence, so as soon as I was able to outsource, I went for it.
3. How has your life changed now that you’re pursuing your passion and living your dream?
The biggest change for me came in the form of letting go. Being able to confidently tell my family and friends that I wasn’t going to use my degree was a big deal. It took several years before my mother fully supported me. (A former teacher herself, she still thinks I should go back to teaching every now and again.) That was a huge adjustment. But I certainly don’t dread waking up each morning as I used to. Don’t get me wrong, owning your own business is stressful too, but there’s far more relief than angst now.
4. What’s your favorite part about owning your own business/your career?
Other than working from home in yoga pants everyday? I kid, but really I do love being able to do things during the day that most people can’t. I also like that I create my own timelines and work at a pace that feels comfortable. If I’m having a bad day, I don't have to go to work. I can curl up and take all the time I need.
5. What does supporting women-owned businesses look like to you?
Supporting other women has always been of great importance to me. Much of my demographic actually includes other small business owners. I couldn't do what I do without their help. Not to mention, some of my best friends came into my life because I was doing a market and met someone else selling there. Or we may have randomly started a conversation through Instagram complaining about this or that. Those bonds are surprisingly strong since we can all relate to one another. My biggest network is made up of other strong women and the businesses they have created. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
6. How has your brand/packaging/website changed or improved your business?
Everything in the beginning is rough. Just trying to find your niche and then brand around it can be a slog. Making everything fit perfectly into this idea we imagine, is quite a feat! I didn’t feel like I was making any headway for at least the first year or so. It wasn’t until I reached out to a friend from high school who did design professionally, that I felt like I was finally going somewhere. And now that’s one of the biggest pieces of advice I give newbie business owners: Hire a professional! If you can’t afford it, barter with your product or service. Because once you get that off your plate, a world of possibilities opens up. In all honesty I don't think I would’ve gotten as much traction, including an offer to sell in West Elm stores all over California, if I hadn’t spent the time and resources in the design arena. It truly does make all the difference in the world.
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