Julie Whitehead of Fort Pierce, Florida discusses plans for her future in soaping.
SJ – I’m talking with Julie Whitehead, from Fort Pierce, FL. Julie, thank you so much for coming, and I just wanted to ask you first of all, are you in the soaping business? JW – No, I’m not currently. I’ve been playing with soap for about a year. Originally I went about a year or so ago to a farmer’s market and met a lady who was selling her wares. And loved, I love soap, I love it when I’m at any sort of market, and she had a sign that she offered classes if you wanted to learn how to do it. So, being the person who likes to know how to do everything, I took the class and I loved it! And I have been making soap for about a year. But I feel like I’ve kind of, I don’t like to say hit a wall, but I like to take classes and post them onto things online, books and whatnot. As far as selling…. SJ – So you’re just ready to take it to the next level. JW – Maybe, maybe. I’m a nurse, by trade, so to speak, and my friends know that I make soap because of social media, I post pictures of whatever I’m doing, making, knitting or crafting at any given day. And so, then I started giving it as gifts to friends. SJ – That’s what I was going to say, if you’re not selling it, you’ve got to have some way of moving it. JW – Yes, I started giving it as gifts and then they all started asking to buy it. So that happened, and of course I was already a customer of Essential Depot because that’s where I get all my supplies and so, when the idea for the conference, this retreat here came out, I said, you know what, I think I’d like to learn a little bit more about what’s involved in the business and the legal aspect of it and the chemical aspect of it before I make a decision about actually selling to other people, especially nurses. SJ – It’s a really good idea to prepare yourself in that way. Do feel like the topics that we’re presenting are helpful to you? JW – Oh, absolutely, I love that we’re getting down to the molecules and how soap is made, and I love how the next topic we’re switching up and discussing IRS and business aspects of it. So far it’s been such a well-rounded conference so to speak. SJ – Is there anything, I assume you’ve looked over the agenda for what we have coming up next; is there anything that you’d like to see included next time? JW – Well, you know, I think I’d like to maybe, probably, answer that question at the end. One of the questions that the girls and I were discussing is that, how Essential Depot and this retreat going to mix it up for repeat customers. What’s going to make me want to come back that next time. SJ – And that’s part of why I’m sitting down with you, because we definitely do want ideas from people who are at all levels, whether they’re hobbyists or whether they’re beginning their business or whether they’re very successful in their business and just want to learn more. We definitely want to hear from you on that, because we are poised to be able to offer that, and we definitely want to continue doing this. JW – And I think something that I am looking forward to is doing a lot more advanced techniques, which I have not done a whole lot with scents, blending with essential oils and things like that; or color, micas, clays, I haven’t ventured into any of those, so those would be the things that, whether it’s covered here or in more detail in the future, that I’d like to take that next step into learning those creative aspects of it. SJ – Yeah, I find that very fascinating too. I talked to you last night about how, I do it a little bit at home out of fascination for the process, but I often get called upon at work, to hurry go make this soap, try it out, but yes, I’d really love to get into those advanced techniques as well. JW – Yeah, I do see a lot, sometimes perusing Etsy or Pinterest when I get bored and I see other people’s creative ideas and I’m like, how on earth? SJ – Exactly, how do they do it? I’m floored when I see some of the amazing creations that are out there. JW – It intimidates me sometimes. How to take that little white rectangle that I’ve made at home and turn it into something that somebody would want to buy. SJ – And it’s such a work of art! If I bought some of those things, I would want to put a picture frame around them and hang them on the wall. I don’t know how people can bring themselves to get that wet and use it. It’s amazing what they can do. JW – Years ago, the décor in my bathroom was such that the back of the toilet had this huge basket of soaps I had bought around the country at craft fairs and other artistic things and I never wanted to use them because it was so amazing. I started forcing myself. SJ – Well, eventually they get dust on them, and they’re not as impressive as they were so then you can bring yourself to use them I guess. I just wanted to share with you our next dates for the retreats are January 23rd through 25th, 2015, and March 27th through 29th, 2015, so keep those in mind, we definitely want repeat customers, we want new people if there’s other people that you think would be interested in coming, definitely spread the word around. This is really a hoot for us as well. JW – Well, and I have some friends who have been quasi-interested in the idea, and I’m not averse to coming back. I love having this mini-vacation from my family and the area to come back and discuss the different things of soaping, but I think the one thing that I really want to see as a repeat customer, is what is going to be presented that is going to be different from the last retreat. But beyond that, so far I have loved everything. I don’t have one complaint over what we have come along so far, the accommodations have been amazing, the food, my favorite restaurants, and then the other people here have been so nice. SJ – It’s really fun to get together with people that have common interests and common goals. Okay great!