Guest article by Sally Dhillon of Career Mums
The early risers at last week’s Balsall Business Club were in for a treat as Emma Heathcote-James, founder of Little Soap Company, told her spellbinding story of shifting from completing her philosophy doctorate at Birmingham University, then building her media career to start producing organic, home-made soap in her Cotwold cottage kitchen.
Inspired by the non-drying, natural soap that her Grandma used, she started making soap from a children’s crafting kit, and after unsuccessful trial and error, bought some soap recipes from a local producer.
Within 6 weeks, she achieved her ambition of selling her bars to her local Waitrose store – amazing given that this was a hobby business for Emma. She has subsequently gone on to grow the business and her organic soap ranges are available through many national chains including Tescos, Sainsburys and Boots.
Emma’s inspirational talk took us through many snapshot moments in which she made significant decisions that have lead to creating today’s hugely successful business. Many of these snapshots were critical times when the business could have easily folded or turned in quite different directions. Emma seeps tenacity, go-getting ambition and courage built on by overcoming each of these milestones. She now employs a small team in her Broadway-based factory, office and shop and she has won many awards for her product range and enterprising skills. This base also houses The Little Soap School which is teaching people how to produce ethical and organic soap products and is having a global reach.
The most striking messages from Emma were:
The importance and influence of her family in creating her business
How she has learned and grown the most when the stakes have been against her.
Along with my business partner, Nishi Mehta, our business has equally been strongly influenced by our family situations – just like Emma’s. I am continually curious as to how and why people get into the professions and jobs that they find themselves in – so it was lovely to hear her story.
As a partner in Career-Mums, we are a local business that helps parents to return to work after a career break and supports employers to make the most of this amazing pool of talent. We run inspirational and confidence-boosting workshops and/or individual sessions for people who want to relaunch their career – perhaps starting their own business, securing a job that fits around family life or retraining for a new career.
If you have a desire to turn a hobby into a business, need the motivation and nudge to try something new or want to explore potential work avenues, we’re here to help you. www.career-mums.co.uk/returners/
The next Balsall Business Club meeting is on Friday 18 November. Find out more and sign up on their website.