Carrie of Mountain Mama Chic has lived in La Porte, Indiana for the past two years and loves it. She says, “We moved here from West Virginia by way of Texas because of my husband, Jim’s work. If you would’ve told me a few years ago the Great Lakes’ beaches are just like the ocean, I wouldn’t have believed you. Now I know better. :) We’re 10 minutes from the beach and love it here. ” Carrie and Jim have three kids, Bailee, Nolan and Fletcher, 9, 7, and 3 respectively, and a dog, Callie, half Cocker Spaniel, half mutt.
Carrie describes herself as outgoing, a realistic optimist, and the best mother and wife she can be. She loves “laughing so hard my belly hurts and tears start to overflow, my family, dancing with my munchkins to really good music, putting on makeup and dressing up to go out with my husband, passionately loving, playing, and living life.”
How long have you been making soap and why did you start?
I’ve been making soap for 10 months. I visited my girlfriend in Colorado and one morning we went to her local farmers market. I couldn’t believe the amount of vendors selling handcrafted body products and organic goodies. We both made purchases and couldn’t wait to get back to try everything. I loved how my skin felt when I used the natural products. I also loved the entrepreneurial spirit that my purchases embodied. I looked at my friend Laura and said, “I just had an epiphany; I can do this.” I came home and turned my kitchen into a science lab of sorts for the next 2 months.
Are all the ingredients organic?
I try to use organic as much as possible.
Where do you get your materials?
I order from dozens of online shops and also shop at my local organic store.
Can you tell me a little of your process?
Most soap makers use the cold process method of soap making, but I fell in love with the hot process method. With the hot process method, I use my crock pot and cook the ingredients until they saponify and turn into soap! It takes me 2-3 hours to make 1 batch (8 bars) of soap from start to finish.
Do you have a dedicated work area/room?
I have turned my dining room into my office and use 3 large closets for shipping, bulk goods and inventory. However, my kitchen is still the place where the magic happens.
Is this your full time job? Hobby? Fun?
In my past I have been a sales manager, customer service manager, retail body products manager and worked in a marketing department. How perfect for me to start my own business doing something I’m so passionate about!
Where do you get your ideas for new scents?
I love using my imagination. Sometimes, I’ll just close my eyes and name a new soap fragrance, what I think of when I first smell it. Several of my soaps are named for those closest to me; Sweet Vanilla Dawn (my mother), James Musk (my husband), Bailee Berry (my daughter), Darcy Lynn Lavender and January Jasmine (my sisters), Mawmaw’s Pumpkin Pie (my Mawmaw of course!).
Do you have a best seller?
I have tried and tried to figure this out and I have yet to come up with a sure winner. It seems it changes with the seasons. Everyone loves warm, spicy scents in the fall and winter while floral and fresh scents come alive in the spring and summer.
What is your favorite?
Ooh, I have lots of favorites and they’re always changing depending on the day. My newest favorites are my Patchouli and Sweetgrass Artisan Soap, Oatmeal Milk and Honey Goats Milk Soap, Blueberry Cobbler Body Milkshake and my Herbal Facial Scrub.
Do you do other kinds of crafts?
Besides making yummy body products I love to knit and enjoy making jewelry.
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
Hopefully I’ll be living closer to my family in West Virginia and continually growing my little business.
Have any advice for people trying to start their own handcrafted business?
First of all, you have to be absolutely passionate about your craft. Secondly, I’d say to research, research, research. Find out what makes your competitors successful, formulate the best possible designs, recipes, etc. Keep trying until you have a product you are proud of. The most important key to success is customer service. Treat each customer as if they are gold. I have had an online business for a short 8 months and already had over 650 sales on Etsy. With each purchase I always include a handwritten note and a sample. Customers appreciate the extra effort and will return again and again when given excellent customer service and a quality product.