In our Nifty 50 spotlight, we feature Abound brands who are ready for retail. This week we sat down with Natasha Byrd-Gaylon and Jennifer Peets, owners of Naked Bar Soap Co. Naked Bar Soap Co. sells bath and body products, is based in Orlando, Florida, and has been in business for seven years.
Robin: Why did you decide to start Naked Bar Soap Co.?
Natasha and Jennifer: Natasha gave birth to her first child in 2006. Her son was born with a skin condition commonly known as cradle cap, or seborrheic dermatitis. Her pediatrician recommended using an over the counter medicated dandruff shampoo in order to treat it.
As she carefully rubbed her tiny newborn’s head with the chemical laden shampoo, she couldn’t help but feel apprehensive. It was nerve wracking to say the least. To her dismay, the cradle cap did not go away after the treatment. Highly reluctant to use the medicated shampoo again, she began researching natural ways to treat cradle cap.
She learned that using simple, natural ingredients found in the pantry were better skincare remedies than the over-the-counter medicinal quick fix. Extra virgin olive oil did the trick and the cradle cap was gone in an instant! This discovery led her into the world of natural skin care and green beauty.
R: What are the pros and cons of having a business partner? Do you have any advice for people thinking about starting a business with someone else?
N + J: The pros of having a business partner – it is not all on you. The cons of having a business partner – it is not all about you. Before you start a business with someone, clearly and specifically write your prenuptial agreement so in the event of a divorce you both can walk away with respect and integrity.
R: How did you make your first prototype? What changes have you made to your product since then?
N + J: The first products we made were in Natasha’s kitchen. For the first four years everything was made in that kitchen. It was very time consuming because we had to clean the kitchen before we started to make sure we had no sort of cross-over contamination. We had separate utensils and supplies for soap making that had to be used and labeled as not to mix with any of the household items.
Finally after all was done, we had to thoroughly clean and disinfect the kitchen to make sure everything was clear of lye, essential oils, and any other bath and body making product. Those were long production days. Now it is easier with having space in our brick and mortar shop because everything is in one place and everything used is just for our product needs.
R: How do you make your product? Yourself? A manufacturer? What’s your process like?
N + J: With the exception of the African Black Soap, we make everything ourselves. Jennifer preps all the batches of soap and other products. This means she prepares the bases for whatever Natasha is going to make. Natasha finishes making the products and does the design aspects of what is needed.
R: What’s your day to day like? Do you have any favorite and least favorite parts?
N + J: Our day starts pretty early because one of us (Jennifer) sends off texts at 4 in the morning of ideas, plans, etc. It ends pretty late because the other one of us (Natasha) does the same but at night.
Monday is our main production day. We get a bulk of our products done on this day because our shop is not open. Tuesday morning we plan out our week and usually buy supplies if needed. We open our shop from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Natasha creates while Jennifer administrates and tends the shop. This is ongoing Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Saturday we alternate who works the shop. We close at 3 p.m.
We speak on the phone about how the week went and plan for the week ahead. Sunday we are fully clothed, so no Naked business. And Monday we do it all again. We truly love what we do so honestly the least favorite part is washing dishes.
R: Where was the first place you sold your product?
N + J: The first place we started was at a local farmers’ market in Orlando, Florida.
R: Where do you sell your product now?
N + J: We currently sell online, at our shop, four shops in Orlando, two in Longwood, and one in Altamonte Springs. All cities and towns are located in Central Florida.
R: Where would you love to sell your products in the future?
N + J: Target, Ulta, Sephora, and Macy’s to name a few.
R: What’s your marketing like? Is social media an important part of your business? If so, how?
N + J: Yes, social media is important, but we are working on improving our marketing with other formats such as email marketing and text messages, as well as more grassroots efforts like flyers and pamphlets in local businesses.
Social media has become more pay to play and that is understandable – you are in business to make money – but we have to think of strategies to put into place that can work for us if social media was taken away.
R: What are some of the most frustrating challenges and/or moments you’ve had with your business?
N + J: Lack of funds. It can really stunt your growth in scaling your business.
R: What are some of your greatest achievements and victories you’ve had with your business?
N + J: At this moment the fact that we are still in our shop is a great achievement. The first year we opened our store hours were less than 20 a week. We didn’t know if we were going to make it or how. Achievements and victories have been the support of our local community who has spread the word beyond our area.
A great feeling is when out-of-state orders are placed online and the note says they were referred by a local. Or when people from social media come to our shop and tell us they have been following our journey and they made a point to visit us before they go to Disney.
R: What advice do you have for people who want to sell a product?
N + J: Piss or get off the pot.
R: Do you have any favorite business advice or quotes?
N + J: Make fear a tailwind not a headwind. -Jimmy Lovine
Another quote is: No one will stop me. Not even me.
R: What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
N + J: The good, the great, and the pretty.