Texas Indie Embodies The Indie Revolution
If you want to describe someone who is all talk and no substance, you might say "big hat, little cattle." I guess if you describe someone as "big hat, big cattle," they are really walking their talk. But if you are "little hat (or lots of hats), big cattle," you might be Indie. And if you're in Texas, you might be a particular Indie I know named Maggie Hanus, a member of the Indie Beauty Network almost since it started and the proud owner of A Wild Soap Bar.
Maggie's Indie husband is a landscaper, and the couple raised their sons Jory and Cael to be Indies as well. In fact, along with Maggie, Jory is featured in the video. What Maggie has done with her business is truly amazing. She told me that they added 40 new wholesale accounts just in the past two months. All of their products are made in the small shed Maggie built behind their home. Little hat, big cattle indeed.
To enjoy my interview with Maggie about her business and how this wonderful video was produced, and enter to win some of her soaps, keep reading.
dM: What was the impetus for the video?
Local media personality Cile Spelce with Electro Fish Media called me to see if I would help her and her film maker husband, Chris Elley, pitch their video services to a national health food grocery chain. They wanted to show that they could produce a video showing how locally harvested and manufactured products are produced.
They found me on the store shelves, saw that I was local and asked me if I would help out. Because I believe in the importance of buying locally, after thinking it over for about a zillionth of a nonosecond, I eagerly jumped on the opportunity. Cile felt we had an interesting story because our unique natural products are enriched with local native plants and lovingly handmade by family members who care.
dM: How long did it take to film the footage for the video?
It took almost 5 hours to make this 1.5 minute video. We halted soap production for a half day to get it done, but other than that, it cost me nothing.
dM: How are you using the video to promote your business?
We don't do many trade shows anymore, but if we did, it would be a great addition to our booth. I include the YouTube link in my email signature line. We've gotten a tremendous response from customers who've seen it. Any time you put friendly faces and a unique story behind a product, you automatically increase sales.
dM: What cool and new stuff do you have for the holidays?
Our decorative soap wreaths and mini-loafs for the holidays will be up at the site soon. In the meantime, we've got a new 2 Bar Gift Box with our newest soaps: Mustang Grape Soap (with grape skin, organic oats, sea salt and essential oils) and Gulf Sea Scrub Soap (with sea salt, sea clay and essential oils).
dM: Who makes your business successful?
It's a family affair here. One of my sons already works here and I recently hired my older son's girlfriend. Even my 8-year old grand daughter (pictured) wraps soap and helps out around the shop when she comes over to visit.
We will soon break ground on a new shop addition that will triple our production capacity. Business is exploding and I have never worked so hard in all my life. But I love what I do. I always tell other Indies who are just starting out to be careful what you wish and work for … it just might become a reality!
Maggie's story shows us that:
- Showing up can change your life. Maggie has been working for nearly 12 years to be where she is today and part of the reason for her success is that she simply shows up. When her soaps "showed up" on the shelves of a local store, they caught the eye of a local media personality. If the store likes the video, Maggie and her company could be featured in hundreds of stores around the nation. When you show up, you get the word out. And when that happens, the sky's the limit.
- Indie families rock. Maggie's business is proof that the family that grinds together binds together. One son and the girlfriend of another are employees, and a grand daughter is an entrepreneur in training. Speaking from experience, there's nothing better than working as a family to generate income and share the common goals of saving for the future and creating familial wealth on your own terms.
- Indie stories need to be told. Maggie knows that part of the success of her business is due to the story behind it. The fact that real people are working together toward common goals and producing useful products in the process is a story in and of itself. Every Indie has a story and if you're not telling yours, you're losing sales you don't even know about.
You can read more about Maggie and A Wild Soap Bar in the January 20, 2003 issue of the Indie Experience Newsletter. To subscribe to the newsletter, use the form in the upper right corner of the blog or click here.
To enter to win your own 2 Bar Set of Mustang Grape Soap and Gulf Sea Scrub Soap with a wooden soap deck holder, let me know how Maggie's story has inspired you by leaving a comment below by midnight on Friday, November 16. I'll have a drawing after that and will post the name of the winner!
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