Jammie Waldron, Founder of Harlem Soap
Get to know the business owner and founder of Harlem Soap, Jammie Waldron. Harlem Soap is an all natural cold process Goats milk soap company based in Harlem, New York. His soaps use essential oils, plant butters, oats and are handmade in batches of 180 bars to ensure quality. Using his product design studies learned from Parsons Jammie was able to turn his side hustle into his bread and butter. Read on as he shares advice on finding your niche and tips on marketing your business. Jammie is also the owner of Harlem Heirlooms, a home décor shop.
Location: Harlem, New York.
Year Founded: November 2014.
Education: Parsons drop out
Favorite quote: Where there is no struggle, there is no strength. – Oprah Winfrey
Social media handles: @harlemsoap (Facebook | Instagram | Twitter)
Everyday is challenging as there is always an email that has to be answered and a box of soap that needs to be sent. It’s really hard as a small business when you do every aspect of that business by yourself. When I launched, I didn’t sell a single bar for 30 days. I started to think I had made a mistake, but I knew what God had planned for me was different and just shy of a year we are in 7 stores which include 3 NYC West Elm stores and Whole Foods Market spring 2016. – Jammie Walron
Can you give a brief introduction to Harlem Soap? What decision led you to start your soap company?
Harlem Soap is an all natural bar soap brand based in Harlem, NY. I began making soap to help with my eczema. I started the company as a result of friends and family telling me it’d be a great business to do as side hustle. Fast forward to just shy of a year since launching and its become my main hustle.
Would you be willing to share how you started your company (IE: funding, branding, advertising and marketing)?
Sure! I was working a job that I hated, so I decided to quit and take my last paycheck and use every cent to invest into the launch of Harlem Soap. I’m a coupon/sale addict by nature so I knew I had to do this economically; so I designed my business cards and website myself. I found a logo designer to make the logo I designed for $6.00 on ETSY.com (yes 6 US dollars, no typo). I brought the domain name from GoDaddy with a coupon I found on Google for $2.99 for the first 2 years. Harlem Soap is mainly all social media driven, we launched on Instagram and gain most of our exposure via that platform, so we haven’t spent a cent in paid advertising.
What was your process of turning your hobby into a profitable business? Were there any inspirations that helped you get started?
I knew how to turn a product into a brand because I studied product design at Parsons before dropping out to work in what I thought was my dream job at the time (Merchandising working for Oscar De La Renta). I knew what I wanted to do would work because I wasn’t “reinventing the wheel” and I knew I had a great product I just needed to figure out who my customer was; I did. I honed in on that from the response I was getting from the newly natural curly girls. The naturally curly and yoga addicts immediately got it and I was able to bank on that.
What advice can you offer entrepreneurs about marketing their business?
Find out what your niche market is and hone in on that and exhaust every option you have to sell to them. This doesn’t have to cost you a dime either. Go to events and network – meet people that will speak highly of you and your brand to others is the best selling mechanism (it’s called word of mouth for a reason). The other thing is use social media to your advantage as it’s free and connect with influencers within that niche.
You have a great Instagram presence! How do you utilize social media to bring in more customers and generate buzz?
I talk to my customers! If you write under a picture you are going to get a response. It helps my business twofold as customers take note of our great customer service and get to connect with me. Potential customers get questions answered by asking them or reading my replies to people. I hate when companies have several comment under a photo or tweets and they say nothing, either you don’t want to get paid or you need to fire whomever is running your social media.
What’s your favorite bar and what healthy benefits does your soaps offer?
My favorite scent is the orange lemongrass. The soap all have fresh goats milk as goats milk has a natural pH similar to human skin. Thus, what we wash away in the shower the soap helps to balance and soften skin naturally.
In business there can be challenging moments or not so pretty phases that some wish not to highlight. Did you have any of those moments? If so, can you share how you pushed through?
Everyday is challenging as there is always an email that has to be answered and a box of soap that needs to be sent. It’s really hard as a small business when you do every aspect of that business by yourself. When I launched, I didn’t sell a single bar for 30 days. I started to think I had made a mistake, but I knew what God had planned for me was different and just shy of a year we are in 7 stores which include 3 NYC West Elm stores and Whole Foods Market spring 2016.
Are there any productivity tools you use to get work done?
I write everything down because I am very forgetful. An app I’ve been using that’s helped with sending signed documents like contacts, forms, orders, etc., called CudaSign available in the Apple app store for free (because if it’s for free, it’s for me, lol). It also converts everything to PDF format which is great security wise and eliminate reasons to print, sign and fax anything, so it’s eco-friendly.
What can we look forward to from Harlem Soap in the coming years?
Harlem Soap is still growing. We’ve made it to the one year mark and it’s been a very great year. Luckily, I have a goal of how many stores I’d like to see Harlem Soap in so that’s the goal for next year. I also have two new soaps coming out in the new year.
Be sure to check out Harlem Soap and follow their social media channels.