It has been a while since we’ve done a Soap Queen interview and this is one you don’t want to miss! It’s with the super sparky founder of You Smell Soap, Megan Cummins. Her packaging, design and soap concept is strong for but that’s second to her drive and desire to start up her soap business. Megan and her You Smell soaps were also featured on a popular and cut throat show, Shark Tank. Could you imagine the pressure? Check out Megan’s Shark Tank Episode on Hulu (for free). Megan has developed 3 signature fragrances for her website: Lemon Verbena, Sweet Seduction (bright, fruity with rich undertones of caramel and vanilla) and Divine (fresh and clean). Make sure to check out Megan’s website, You Smell, which just launched in the beginning of February. We’re also fans of her blog that is centered around unique design, Vintage Me Oh My. Enjoy the interview…you’re in for some inspiration!
Soap Queen: How did you get started making soap?
Megan Cummins: A few years ago when this started, I actually never had any intention of making soap. I’m a graphic designer by trade and love fragrant products. I created a line of soaps in college as a packaging project- just as something I personally loved and thought would be great as gifts for my girlfriends. Well, word got out and it was all over the web instantly and I was getting calls from shops around the world along with major international press. I was flooded with requests – but I had nothing to give them! So, as the saying goes, if dozens of shops around the world contact you professing their love for your product, you have a viable business.
You Smell is an extension of me. It’s so much more than “just a bar of soap” – it’s an experience. We have a “small shop” mentality and pride ourselves in being a brand girls can trust – having great natural ingredients, sexy packaging, and bang for your buck. Basically, this is and always will be a brand for my girlfriends – I just might not have met them all yet!
Soap Queen: What’s your favorite product to make?
Megan: The bar soap is really rewarding after it comes out of the mold, but I think the paper soap is by far the most fun. It was a major challenge since it doesn’t exist here in the US. The few offerings available overseas are pretty bad, so it was a lot of fun developing something entirely new and unheard of here in the States…not to mention, it’s just fun to use!
SQ: Tell us about Kick Starter. Would you recommend it to other soapers trying to start a business?
MC: YES! There are a few things I learned that I wished I knew before hand. First off, it’s not so easy to get accepted onto the site. They’re very wary of how you ask for funds. You can’t just be asking for money to fund your company. You need to be offering something to the community. Also, don’t be discouraged if they say no. I was turned away twice before I got on to the site. Listen to their advice and try again.
Secondly, they really pushed me to not exceed 30 days, and I regret that I listened. It took a while to start generating press and it wasn’t until a couple weeks into it that I started getting a steady stream of funds. If I had done the 60 days, I’m sure I would have met my goal. Also, I should have tried to launch with fewer products to get my goal amount down. If I had done only 5K, I would be overfunded now. The “catch” is that if you don’t reach your goal, all of the pledged money is refunded. It’s sad, but luckily there’s one last thing you should know:
Regardless of whether or not you reach your goal, you can get amazing exposure from being on Kickstarter. I’ve had several major blogs post about us (even the Sundance Channel!..bizarre for soap, but cool nonetheless), News stations asked to interview me, and best of all, I had a flood of design requests and investors contact me. So, although it appears I won’t reach my goal, I was over-funded in the end and things turned out far better than I ever could have imagined, just through the exposure I received from it. And it only took me a little bit of time to set up the account – so what do you have to lose?
SQ: Do you have a favorite Bramble Berry product?
MC: I recently discovered Bramble Berry and fell in love! The products are so creative and adorable. I think the soap foods like the cupcake bath bomb and soap tarts are so much fun. The tutorials on the Soap Queen blog are what keep me coming back. They’re incredibly easy to follow, and having all of the supplies you need on the BB site make it a stress-free endeavor. I’m getting the supplies to try my hand at the ribbon candy and caramel apple soaps. Though I honestly am worried I’ll forget they’re soap.
Soap Queen: Thanks for doing the interview with us, Megan. We wish you and You Smell Soap the best of luck in the future. Your drive and darling soaps are going to take you a long way!
Nico Gamede says
We are a biotech company , very interested in a paper soap product.Do you produce for external companies with their branded soap logo…Do you have a branch in South Africa.
really want to watch the episode of shark tank but the link says it doesn’t work, been watching a few episodes to see if i coudl find hers, but I haven’t yet–any chance ya’ll can share what season/show she was on????
Becky with Bramble Berry says
Sometimes Hulu pulls the episodes off the air, but you can check her out on week three of season three, I hope that helps! 🙂
-Becky with Bramble Berry
I love Shark Tank, it’s a great reasource for entrepreneurs! I’ve had a few business ideas myself but am never sure if they’re good enough to “make” it. I recently read a book titled “HOT or NOT: How to Know if Your Business Idea Will Fly or Fail”, and it helped me pin point the areas of weakness in my idea so I could work on them before trying to find investors. If any of you other aspiring entrepreneurs out there would like some help, I’d definitely recommend checking this book out! http://www.amazon.ca/Hot-Prof-Sean-Evan-Wise/dp/1468024493/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330874015&sr=8-1
Thank you for letting me know about the book – I’ll check it out!
Just the IDEA of being Shark Tank makes me break out into a cold sweat =)
Robyn McMullin says
Just wanted to say, I took her advice as far as signing up for kickstart. I did that 2 hrs ago and they just accepted me! I’m excited, only asked for $5,000.00, and hope I make the goal. My soap is made by ME, along with bath salts, salt/sugar scrubs. lotion and fizzy bath powders. I also do what no other online website does..allow the customer to choose up to 3 fragrances to make their own unique soap or bath product!! wish me luck!!
That’s amazing! Wishing you the best of luck with kick starter! Send us the link to your page. I would love to check it out =)
-Courtney from Bramble Berry
I am impressed by her design and packaging (and gumption!), but am confused that she’s gotten so much attention and she doesn’t even make her soap.
Makes you wonder… why is it that it’s all about packaging and not the product.
I had the privilege of emailing back and forth with Megan and she was a absolute doll to work with. In her emails she did mention that she formulated her own recipes and fragrance blends. She spent months on just the lather itself. I got the impression that she’s really passionate about soapmaking (and she happens to be a whiz at graphic design). When the demand for your product grows so fast I think outsourcing is a great option.
Courtney from Bramble Berry
I copy the ingredient list from her website:
Sodium Palmate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Aqua (Water), Shea Butter Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Parfum (Fragrance), Glycerin, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Hydrosulfite, Tetrasodium Edta, CI 19140 (Color), CI 15985 (Color), General State of Happiness, Compliments.
It seems like a generic commercial bar of soap made with cheap ingredients and a dash of olive oil and shea butter for label appeal.
General state of happiness and compliments? Yeah,right!
In previous interviews and on the article that was published via WSP on her episode on Shark Tank it was stated that she did not make the soap, the ingredient list just confirms this. Great packaging but not handmade. Maybe she’s just learning how to make soap as a hobby?
Joan's Garden says
Wow…I loved the “Shark Tank” video. It takes a lot of will power & nerve to put yourself on the line for your business like you did…I wish you all the best in the soaping world!! Joan
Agreed – I can’t imagine how nerve wracking that would be! Eeeeps!
You brought me some fond memories. My mom use to carry the paper soaps around when I was a kid my great grandma would make them for the family or her close friends. I work with children and hand washing is a must I was thinking of making something like this but it would be a lot to make. I was thinking of making bead sizes. I wish I had your talent. Love your packaging you have such brilliant ideas. You inspire me more to get into soap making.
My Mom had them too – they must have been more popular back in the day!
I agree – the packaging is fantastic.
And, we’d love to have you get more into soapmaking! We’re here for you. =)
The paper soaps aren’t really new. I have been carrying them in my purse for years. I usually just pick them up in gift shops. Hopefully I will find Megan’s along the way.
I just bought a sampler kit and I can’t wait to try them =)
Debbie Chialtas says
Great interview! Her packaging is gorgeous, and her clean, bright photos. No wonder buyers were banging down her door! Can’t wait to see how her business evolves!
The packaging is incredible, isn’t it? Bright, fresh and happy for sure.