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Natural Handmade Soap India: Interview

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Manisha is the Founder and product artisan for Cape of Good Soap. Her brand offers natural, handmade and customizable bath and body care products. She is a mother of two very loving kids and a proud Army wife.

I asked Manisha why she had started Cape of Good Soap.

It came from the realization that there are things for which we just rush to the aisles of the mart and pick them up without pondering that the healthier safer version can be made by our own hands.

Most of us never think about it & usually, it’s the effort and time that pushes us to go for the easier option.

Then, the observation that everyone appreciates a personal touch when buying something. We like a product even more and feel special if it is made keeping us in mind.

Merging the two, I came up with the idea of creating customized handmade soaps and body care products. I started this business while juggling with my day job around 3 years back.

How do you get the raw materials? What are the challenges you faced in the soap making business?

When I started, procuring raw material was a challenge in itself. The most challenging part was to arrange for lye (Caustic Soda- Sodium Hydroxide- the key ingredient in soap making) in substantial quantity, Now, with a stable business we have fixed vendors in place.

Striking a balance between crafting soaps in quantities large enough to fuel growth, while trying to do something different and unique with every product we make is the challenge we grapple with day in and day out.

The market today is flooded nowadays with organic soaps. There are multiple options available, many being the upcoming cottage industries output. Good news is, people are becoming more aware of the products they buy.

As everyone’s becoming environment conscious, buying pro-nature, ethical and eco-friendly products are a natural step forward. Then, consumers are also now very quality mindful and feel that the gift reflects their social status.

So more and more people are getting inclined towards personalized gift options and if they are specially, hand crafted, that’s even better.

How do you make time to make the products? So you make them yourself?

With the support of a very able team,  I only create the master design or set the product formula   which the team replicates. Yes, but for a long time, I have made every single piece myself.

How did you learn how to brand your products? Packaging etc? Is there a course or institute we can learn this at?

I come from advertising background, where I have worked for brands like Mondelez ( Cadbury India ), Asian Paints, Marico etc. I acquired my knowledge from my career stint in media. My specialisation in Mass Communication earlier helped lay the right foundation.

How did you learn marketing?

While I learned a great deal from my media and advertising days, the real test of it is happening now when I am applying the knowledge on my business. And I would say I am learning on the job now more than what i did earlier. Every step is a learning lesson when it comes to your own venture.

Do you have a daily schedule? Do you have someone to help you?

Yes, we take our work as a very professional job, so we set schedule and try to stick by it. We are a team of 9 currently.

How many hours per day do you spend on your business?

I spend about 10-12 hours everyday. It’s my full time job now.

What motivates you to keep working on it? Do you feel like giving up? How do you push through?

My work defines me. Positive sentiment towards the brand has kept me motivated all the way long. The moments when I ever feel like giving up ( very seldom it happens) my husband puts some sense back into me and I get going.

Tell me about your babies.  How do you balance Motherhood and Business?

My daughter Angelina is a great support too. She is only 8 and is very special to me. She has taken to my creative side, loves to experiment, learn new things, tries her hands on all possible crafts, My son Zorawar is just two, and keeps me on my toes with his neverending demands.

I take my venture as my 3rd baby, so try to give it equal attention, love to see it grow and nurture it as I do to my babies. It’s the act of tightrope walking for me as I need to balance all the three fronts.

Do you work?

I had a full day job at a leading agency till 6 months back. I was a media professional and headed the creative department at one of the top media agencies in our country for the last one and a half decade before moving on to focus my energies on my own ideas and ventures – this happened a year back. When my business started taking shape and gave me confidence to plunge full time into it, I immediately did.

How do you price your products? 

Pricing of products is calculated basis cost of the product, making charges, time spent on it, artisan working on it and various other factors.

Do you have any advice for people who want to start a soapmaking business?

All this will automatically start shaping up if one is really passionate and dedicated to the art of soap making. This clubbed with a bit of innovation, creativity and is willing to put in a lot of hard work. Don’t wait for the “right” moment. You have to go, seize the moment. And make it “right” for you.

If you were to start again what would you do different?

I would start sooner, documentation and licenses required would be processed during the inception days itself than later. I have learned that business is team work and you can’t go solo for long. I would implement getting a team at the initial stage itself,

About Capeofgoodsoap

We work on the principle of “If you can think it, we can create it.”

The innovative concept of COGS revolves around being one of its kind; made-to-order, customized & hand crafted products, designed around the shopper and her requirements in mind.

They can be personality oriented, around a theme or the skin benefits that the shopper desires.

No two individuals are alike & nature is bountiful with so many different herbs & elements to offer. So, we keep trying to constantly expand our existing range of products, introducing new elements be it in design or ingredient to meet everyone’s requirement palette.

The brand provides a holistic beauty and lifestyle experience to the shopper- An inspirational brand that has universal appeal amongst urban, up market shoppers. Conceptualizing, creating and launching of brand new creations from time-to-time adds tremendous value, creating synergies between ‘Cape of Good Soap’ and the shopper.

In the clutter of branded beauty and bath products and luxury spas, Cape of Good Soap stands out as a multi-offerings brand that stocks something for everyone and is easily accessible.

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