In our brand spotlight, we feature Abound brands who are ready for retail. This week we sat down with Daniel Summers, CEO of Les Creme (pronounced La Creme). Les Creme sells coconut milk based soaps, coconut wax candles and lotion, is based in San Diego, California, and has been in business for four years. Shop coconut products here.
Abound: Why did you decide to start this business? Why this business and not a different one?
Daniel: I created this business (a bit by chance) after meeting my now-husband, Tyler. At the time, he suffered terribly with acne. As anyone with acne can attest, it took a daily physical and emotional toll. I wanted to and believed I could help him, so we set about experimenting with home remedies, new doctors, and holistic treatments.
After countless failed attempts, my mother gifted us a hand-crafted soap bar. Funny enough, we’d never tried one! We loved that the ingredients were so much more simple than other beauty bars we’d tested, but didn’t love one of its primary ingredients: lard. Yes, pig fat. This was our aha moment. We finally realized that if we wanted the perfect product, we were going to have to make it ourselves.
I spent months learning, researching, and experimenting with different combinations. I focused on gentle plant oil and vegan ingredients whenever possible. My first finished formula was amazingly, and shockingly, a success! Tyler’s acne began to clear, and my own skin was smoothing and softening. It didn’t take long for people to notice Tyler’s skin and confidence improvements, and that’s when they began asking for details! That is also when Les Creme was born.
In the years that have followed, we’ve added more soaps and scents, skincare options, luxe lotions and clean candles. I am proud to say that we remain dedicated to handcrafting products that contain no animal fats, are cruelty free and are formulated with the highest quality botanical ingredients.
Abound: How did you make your first prototype? What changes have you made to your product since then?
Daniel: My first product and formula I made was our coconut milk soaps. I made it in our kitchen with supplies I bought from Amazon. Since then, we have added different additives and scents to the soaps. The formula has basically stayed the same.
Abound: How do you make your product? Yourself? A manufacturer? What’s your process like?
Daniel: We currently make all of our products ourselves. We have an amazing team here in San Diego that helps us. The process is creative, messy but very fun. We enjoy making and creating products that people use and love everyday.
Abound: What’s your day to day like? Do you have any favorite and least favorite parts?
Daniel: My day to day is a few meetings and phone calls throughout the day. I schedule and plan for sales and production. I love to still help out with the production of products day to day. I also order supplies and raw ingredients for the business.
Abound: What was your initial investment? How did you get the money?
Daniel: My husband and I invested our own money. We were working full time jobs in the beginning of our start-up. We also worked local farmers’ markets on our days off which helped fund the business a little bit. I would say we invested about $7,000 of our own money in the first year. We have also had to reinvest money into the business every year to grow and level up which has all been worth it. My husband and I were able to leave our full time jobs over a year ago.
Abound: Where was the first place you started selling your product?
Daniel: We started to sell to our friends and family members the first month we made the first batch of soaps. We then got into the La Jolla Open Air market and started selling there every Sunday.
Abound: Where do you sell your product now?
Daniel: We now sell our products online on our website. We also use a few wholesale website channels for business sales. We work with multiple talented sales reps throughout the U.S. that help sell our products to retail stores.
Abound: Where would you love to sell your products in the future?
Daniel: We would love to maybe get into some major retail stores in the near future. We have sales reps working on that.
Abound: Do you have a favorite product? If so, which one?
Daniel: Yes, of course I have a favorite product! The soaps are my babies!
Abound: What’s your marketing like? Is social media an important part of your business? If so, how?
Daniel: Social media is super important to us. We use Instagram and Facebook to showcase our products and new products coming out. We also love emailing our customers with promotions and exciting news.
Abound: What are some of the most frustrating challenges and/or moments you’ve had with your business?
Daniel: Creating a really good team is very hard and has been an ongoing challenge. A team is huge in every business, but not always easy.
Abound: What are some of your greatest achievements and victories you’ve had with your business?
Daniel: One of our biggest achievements would definitely be making the business profitable enough for us to be able to leave full time jobs to work on growing Les Creme. We also have been featured in a few magazines. We recently became leaping bunny certified, which is huge for us and means a lot!
Abound: What advice do you have for people who want to sell a product?
Daniel: My advice would be to make a decision on what they’d like to do and go all in! It doesn’t matter how long it takes, as long as you enjoy the process, it will be worth it. Plus, read some books or do a training in your spare time, learning about business is key.
Abound: Is there any business advice or quotes you’ve heard that you think about often?
Daniel: Feel good now. When times get hard or you want to throw in the towel, always remember the reason why you started. That always makes me feel good and what to push even further.
Abound: What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
Daniel: My favorite part about being a business owner would be the freedom! I love being able to make my own schedule and hours. Plus it’s more fun to work for yourself.