One of the best ways to be inspired to pursue your passion in business is to learn from others who have dones so. That’s why we love to spotlight our members here at the blog. Today, you’ll meet Michelle Gilbert, founder of Sarva Soap Co. in Cleveland, Ohio.
At Sarva Soap Co., Michelle makes handmade soaps and sells them through her website. Michelle has been a member of the Indie Business Network since December 2013, so she is one of our newer members. I asked her to share a bit about her life and Sarva Soap Co.
Q1 TELL US ABOUT SARVA SOAP CO.
Through Sarva Soap Co., founded in 2005, I offer artful soaps that are lovingly handcrafted with 100% natural ingredients: custom essential oil blends, beautiful botanical colors, and pure plant oils and butters. Our soaps are vegan and/or vegetarian friendly, palm oil free, contain organic ingredients, and are packaged in eco-vintage style biodegradable and postconsumer materials.
Sarva Soap Co. is an embodiment of my life philosophy and an extension of my work as a healing arts practitioner. I wanted to take the idea of a healthy, handmade natural skin care product one step further to benefit us as whole beings–body, mind, and spirit. While I am proud of my silky, luxurious palm-free soap formulas, I really emphasize the aromatherapeutic nature of soap as something that can affect how we feel beyond the physical.
Sarva is a Sanskrit word meaning “whole” or “all.” Bringing wholeness and positive flow to our lives starts with the simple, the basic. Every day we have the opportunity to choose wisely for ourselves, to surround ourselves with things that promote wholeness. Taking care of our skin by using a beautiful, all-natural essential oil soap can lay the groundwork for an increased sense of well-being at all levels. I want my customers to have beautiful soap that nurtures their skin, lifts their spirits, connects them to the gifts of nature, and makes them feel good inside and out.
Sarva takes its vintage branding from the historic house I live and work in, a 1921 Craftsman-style cottage once inhabited by Cleveland, Ohio's first radio singing star. My studio is in what was originally the home's “club room” (the original bar is still intact and houses my photography setup).
Q2 WHAT IS YOUR BEST SELLING PRODUCT?
Soap Truffles were incredibly popular this past holiday season! They were featured at Prevention Magazine Online and word spread from there. Each box of Soap Truffles contains six miniature soaps from the Sarva product line. They're perfect when you want to give “a little special something” to a special someone and a great way to sample what Sarva Soap Co. has to offer.
Q3 WHAT BUSINESS SUCCESS TIP CAN YOU SHARE THAT YOU WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD YOU BEFORE YOU STARTED SARVA SOAP CO.?
Schedule everything to free yourself to experience more success in business.
I stick to a schedule whenever possible, with designated days for all of my business tasks: social media, blogging, newsletter, manufacturing, packaging, inventory, website maintenance, and everything else – it's all on a calendar and task list. I even have time set aside for planning and daydreaming. I'm a bit of a free spirit and I own two businesses, so if I don't keep myself in check this way, I end up feeling quite fragmented and stuck, with no idea how to move forward on any given day. Waking up to a pre-set schedule is actually far more relaxing and freeing than having a whole unplanned day in front of you!
Choose a niche that makes you completely unique, and is true to who you are and what really matters to you!
Michelle Gilbert, Sarva Soap Co.
Q4 WHAT SORTS OF THINGS DO YOU LIKE TO DO WHEN YOU'RE NOT WORKING?
When I'm not working, I'm expanding my internal world so I can more fully share it with the external world. I'm an avid meditator, and I spend a lot of time practicing yoga and other spiritual pursuits. I'm completing my certification in aromatherapy, so I'm having a great time doing case studies. Soon, I'll begin my research paper. I also offer energy work (Reiki and other modalities) to local clients, including individuals with traumatic brain injury.
Q5 WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE PIECE OF BUSINESS ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS STARTING OUT TODAY?
Do plenty of market research and self-inquiry. Do you make a product that a lot of other people make? If so, what sets you apart, and how can you best communicate and maximize that? What special need are you meeting in the marketplace, or how do you do it differently? Be sure that you serve a very, very specific niche that not only makes you completely unique, but also is true to who you are and what really matters to you, because you're going to be spending a lot of time immersed in your work.
Q6 WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO KEEP YOUR BUSINESS GOING WHEN THE MOST CHALLENGING TIMES COME YOUR WAY?
When I have those moments, I look for just ONE specific thing to feel proud about – a customer testimonial, a favorite product I created, a media appearance. Knowing that I accomplished that one thing all by myself, and truly letting that feeling sink in, is often enough to get me through the dip. I also turn to the Indie Business Network member private Facebook group for uplift and inspiration. Sometimes just knowing I'm not alone is the biggest help of all, and the support there is tremendous.
Q7 WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT BEING A MEMBER OF THE INDIE BUSINESS NETWORK?
Being a member of the Indie Business Network has helped me to feel empowered, supported, informed, and motivated to succeed. There are too many wonderful resources to even begin to list here, but some of my favorites are the private Facebook group (which really feels like a friendly roundtable/panel of experts), the Success Calls which feature so many industry leaders and experts, and the incredible archive of information that I'm still exploring on the website!
I'd encourage anyone to join, no matter what stage you're at in your business.
LEARN MORE ABOUT SARVA SOAP CO.