13 Mar “Starting is the hardest part…” – Oluwaseun Olarewaju. Founder, SoapBoxNG
31-year old Oluwaseun Olarewaju is the founder of SoapBoxNG, a private label organic skin care company. A graduate of Accounting, a wife, mother and an entrepreneur, Seun shares the story of how she ventured into soapmaking and turned her passion into profit.
Startup Story of the week
At SoapBoxNG, we manufacture organic soaps, body oils, body soufflés and other skincare brands for small and medium sized businesses. Our target market is the professional working class people who desire an additional income channel and also intend to build personal skincare brands but without the financial means to do so. We manufacture these soaps for them and package it in their own brand names.
We understand that the skin is the largest organ in the body and whatever is kept on it goes straight into the blood. Thus, our goal is to encourage Nigerians to make use of organic skincare products. We are trying to discourage the use of chemical based products and get people to shift their attention towards natural products. To achieve this, we set up SoapBoxNG.
The major natural soap ingredient that we make use of is Shea Butter, and it is sourced from Saaki in Oyo State. We made the place our primary location to assist the women in the community to make a decent living. The brand is currently located in Surulere, Lagos and has impacted the lives of several women, who have gone further to testify to its use.
The initial motivation to start the brand was my love for soapmaking. I could have gone into other forms of retailing, but I had a desire to make an extra source of income and to help other women have another as well and to encourage people to make use of organic products. I knew that how hard I worked determined how much extra income I get. My pastor, Pst. Wale Adenuga has often motivated me to work harder. He is so inspirational and is always looking for ways to enable his members to become self-sufficient and fruitful. Another source of motivation is Pst Biodun Fatoyinbo of Coza. His preaching inspires me to make a difference in my business and not only focus on making cash.
I have made use of social media as a great marketing channel. After making the soaps, I usually post the pictures on all our social media platforms. I respond to people’s inquiries through the channel as well. Although I haven’t done any promotion so far, I have done a service swap strategy with some social media users to help market my products.
One challenge I have often faced is Forex issues. Most of the packaging materials are imported, so the initial banning of the use of Nigerian cards for the international transaction was a huge problem. However, I have never thought of giving up. I love soapmaking, and I don’t think I would ever give up on it no matter the challenge.
My aspiration for the brand is to expand and be found in every household in Nigeria. We already have various private label companies in Abuja, Lagos, and Calabar carrying our soaps in their brand names.We would hope that people from other states will key into this business and launch their organic soap company.
To the startup enthusiast out there, just start. Starting is the hardest part; It gets easier after you start. It is always important that you give back to your community no matter how small your profit is. Work hard on improving your craft and developing your skills. Never stop learning. Also, bookkeeping is very important, always record your expenses and your income.