Every so often, someone tells a story on Twitter that just needs to be captured and repeated. This is one of those. On March 2, Ellen Cagnassola, aka @SweetSoaps, suddenly started telling the story of her business.
Let me share her story with you, just the way she shared it on Twitter, 140 characters at a time. I’ve kind of split it into topics, but it’s still a collection of Ellen’s thoughts, shared spontaneously. [Remember that Twitter is a pretty informal place, so typos, abbreviations, and the occasional curse word are to be expected.]
A dream, creativity and never say die attitude.
My business was started with 0 dollars. A dream, creativity and never say die attitude.
Was started by me in my kitchen as a way 2 work from home to raise these 2 daughters http://yfrog.com/3588315899j
My oldest was 3 years old when SweetSoaps was born. I hoped that after my second child was in school my biz would b profitable.
Truth is I had no idea what I was doing when I started SweetSoaps. I used the Internet to learn everything while at home with my daughter.
Built a small web site selling one product that is no longer even made now.over time learned biz,got more creative ideas, grew slow
My hope was,be fearless,don’t listen 2 nay Sayers,create things no one else could dream up,slowly it grew
During the growth life happens,tradgedy. Death of BIL,FIL, [brother in law, father in law] then in 2002 my 59 year old mother passed away.had been taking care of her
2002 was so devestating to lose my mom, we were very close. Thought about quiting soap biz.couldn’t pull anymore rabbits out of hats
Then article in Womans Day mag came out. Had my products as great gift on shoestring budget. BOOM! Magic!!!!
Rabbits popping out of my magic hat.. Bunnies everywhere!
Thought someone is listening 2 me when I vocalized should I quit in 2002 after my moms death. Watching over my dad was also priority
So much multi tasking at times took a toll on me physically & mentally as I handmake all products myself! Not kidding very physical job
There were nights I was working til 3 AM then doing life all day 2 kids, grieving father, laundry etc
I stayed the course but everyday asking myself do I want to keep doing this? #normal
2003 sent a sample of my gold monogram soap to Neiman Marcus. 2 weeks later they call me #What! Yes!!!!
Timing is everything, creativity is everything, hard work is everything, #sacrifice!
I get my gold monogram soap in the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog 2004 plus Horchow cuz they own that too! Double slam dunk!
Am I prepared 4 Neiman Marcus answer no way! Intitial order was 75 pices/sets. Catalog mailed- first week 750 pieces holy sh*t!
First thing I do, not jump up & down, I cry. Think omg what and how am I gonna do this.I call my sister @inspirationsgal she fixes me
Ask can we divide po in half 2 dates so I can do this right she agrees as I’m sure this was huge surprise 2 her as well
So I work harder than I ever have in my life. Hire 2 part timers. Get product out door on time every order. I’m in all catalogs 4 NM/horchow
For a year orders flying in thousands $$$ every week. Very little sleep hard work.
Then small biz customers are finding me as well cuz I put my website on my labels
I grow more. My monogram soap is on gift tv segments with big names like Nike that holiday season, have video soon going on my site
Phone ringing off hook
Like all good things I part ways w/ Neimans as things change & sometimes u don’t know why- life goes on
I struggle to replace this loss of customer.so fantastic! Paid on time some of best most savvy buyers I’ve known.
I’ve been in sutions catalog, touchstone catalogs, many quality places. Urban Outfitters called me in 2007. Then credit crisis
My point 4 telling this very personal true story the good the bad the ugly. It’s life- business is like life u must carry on no matter what
U feel alone, u r not alone. 12 years later I still ask myself everyday Ellen how bad do u want this? It’s normal
Feb 2009 I use Twitter and blog for first time. Feb 2010 I have like 6000 new friends. If I need help I tweet= never alone
2009 bacon soap & candle are born as result of my goofy off handed remark on Twitter–overwhelming response. Huge sales holidays
June 2010 issue of cosmo mag u will see my bacon soap. I again ask myself do I continue this biz? U bet your sweet ASS I am!!!
Moral of the story work harder than u ever thought u could.be kind to others.focus.family.pray. U can do it!
Do I now sit back rest on accomishments? Never, it’s never enough.if u want to cut the edge Be ON IT always!
The magic of the Fleur de lis
2005 Katrina hits Nola I have one fleur de lis soap –2 weeks later getting tons of calls from Nola shop owners thinking weird?I then start adding more fleur de lis products– more phone calls & emails. I hear stories that break my heart of loss from Nola
2005- present have grown many new designs in fleur de lis, ppl in Nola think I’m from there but am jersey girl
Grow very close to my Nola customers.went to Nola in 2007, had wonderful time& feel like I have known this place 4 ever
2009 my logo becomes the fluer de lis& I am the #1 fleur de lis in Nola and other parts of Louisiana.
The role of social media
Social media is not a fad no matter what ppl say. This is an awesome way 2 connect and learn.have met so many wonderful ppl here
@gerirosman got me in an article at The Star Ledger about using Twitter for my biz.then Verizon Fios filmed me for thier channel in NJ
Also other media I was lucky to attract like @spfpatch did a very nice price on me which is on my website they r owned by AOL
My Santas coal soap literally sold thousands !!! At Christmas and in part due to being in Real Simple Mag @realsimple big thnx!
Now my Twitter pal @producergal in Tampa wants to put me on her show when I go to Florida in 3 weeks. Looking fwd 2 meeting u!
So I’m totally addicted to Twitter. In a good way as it enriches my life by friends,biz& just fun time. Find your voice here
If u have been following me u will also know I don’t market like this ” hey look at this soap now buy it” #fail
What and how u connect must be natural to u or does not work
I am rarely serious so I use humor in real life so it is natural to me. Humor has pulled me out of darkest of days
Know that in the future of your bizsocial media a must, video a must formulate your ideas, practice put yourself out there!Know that I am here I will help u as best I can. Know also I won’t yes u if it sucks I tell truth toughen your skin
Need help ideas I’m a tweet away. I ask nothing in return. I become more creative helping others that is my reward
Always pay it forward! #karma
You will succeed because every over night success takes 15 years! #truth
Thank you, Ellen, for sharing the story of Sweet Soaps.
- How has 2020 changed the challenges rural small towns face? Tell us here - October 20, 2020
- The Idea Friendly Method to surviving a business crisis - October 6, 2020
- Join me for the Rural Renewal Symposium online Oct 13 - September 26, 2020
- Cheap placemaking idea: instant murals - September 11, 2020
- Refilling the rural business pipeline - July 7, 2020
- Huge vacant buildings: grants to renovate? - June 9, 2020
- Economic self defense for small towns - June 7, 2020
- The best things you can do for local businesses in light of coronavirus - March 27, 2020
- How to get more parking downtown without adding any spaces - March 7, 2020
- Exact Yeti Blue mic volume and Windows settings to reduce background noise - February 17, 2020