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About the Author

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Leslie

Leslie has been making soap since 2010.

Big News!

I have mixed feelings about the news I am about to share. My husband and I are moving out of Texarkana this fall. While I am super excited about the move itself, this brings a bit of change for LillaSyster Soap Co. in that I won’t be able to keep my Summerhill Square location open after the move.

But don’t fret, LillaSyster Soap Co. products are NOT going away. You will still be able to order from me online with discounted shipping to the Four States area.

If you prefer to shop in person, you can do that as well! Persnickety Too on Richmond Road will be the exclusive retailer in Texarkana. I’ve been working with Carrie, the owner of Persnickety, and she plans to expand the variety of LillaSyster products and scents that she currently has. She also has some really cool things planned for my products! More details to come!

I don’t have a move-out date yet, because we are finalizing some details. I had planned to wait but didn’t want the news to leak out and catch any of you unaware. As soon as I have a date I will update you all, but until then it’s business as usual!

P.S. If anyone is or knows of someone who’s looking for a retail space, mine is in an excellent location and will be available. I can put you in touch with the leasing agent!
***

That’s what I posted on facebook a few days ago. I am touched by the outpouring of love you’ve all shown me this week. I will miss all of my customers, but please know Carrie, from Persnickety, and I are working together to make this a smooth transition. She loves and uses my products herself and is very excited about being the sole Texarkana retailer for them. As a small business owner she understands the relationships I’ve built with my customers. I feel I am putting you all in good hands!

And as I said, until then, business as usual. In fact, I am working on a new product now. Salt Bars! I made a batch a few weeks ago and I am in love. I want to try a slightly different recipe, but I think you’re gonna love them!

If you have any questions or concerns about the transition, I will be happy to answer answer questions. You can stop by the store, or email me.

Does your soap cure….?

I am often asked if my products are good for eczema, acne, psoriasis, etc. If you read nothing else in this post, read this: I am not, nor is any other soap-maker, legally allowed to make any medical claims.* I’ve had customers rave over different products of mine and “swear” it’s the only thing that will help their (insert random condition here), but legally, I am not even allowed to share that. Personally, I just love the way my soap feels on my skin and would not use anything else.  I think once you try my soap, your skin will love you for it. 🙂

 

*Saying that my products do anything that causes any physical changes in the body is classifying it at a drug which is subject to the FDA drug testing and approval program. Below is from the FDA website and should help clarify whether a product is a drug or a cosmetic.

  • Products intended to cleanse or beautify are generally regulated as cosmetics.
  • Products intended to treat or prevent disease, or affect the structure or function of the body, are drugs.
  • Some products are both cosmetics and drugs. Examples include anti-dandruff shampoos and antiperspirant-deodorants, as well as makeup with SPF (sun protection factor) numbers. They must meet the requirements for both cosmetics and drugs, as applicable.

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Survey Results!

First of all, a huge thank you to all who left feedback! It confirmed a few things I already knew, and I discovered a few things I didn’t. I won’t bore you with all of the assorted numbers, but I did want to share how we are doing in different areas.

81 total responses received.

 

survey7

This was the most important to me. The scale was 1-5. The absolute highest marks we received were in Customer Service! Yay! I am so glad that we are doing that part right as customer service is my number one priority! I want every single customer to feel welcomed and appreciated. My goal is to create a shopping experience that not only gives you a great product but makes you want to come back just to say hi! Over the past few years I have come to think of many of my customers as friends and truly look forward to them coming in whether they buy anything or not.

Quality of products got high ratings as well. I personally love my products and this survey confirms that my customers do too!

The lowest marks came on location, which I had already suspected. When I made the move last year, I knew that it would be a drawback to be in our cozy corner in the back of Summerhill Sq. but the many benefits of the move, outweighed that.

The other lowest mark is on our pricing, which actually did surprise me. I would love more feedback about that, because I feel (and many customers have told me) that my pricing is very fair. The only way I could go lower is if I were able to get lower prices on my ingredients and packaging from the manufacturer.

The third lowest is my social media presence. Again, would love more feedback on that because it’s such an ambiguous question. Am I posting to much? Not enough? Not enough variety of platforms?

Below is the breakdown of the above graph for any numbers geeks like myself who are interested in the specifics!

survey7a

And finally, the last question was: “What are we doing right? What could we do better? Please share your thoughts on how we can make your next experience with us the best it can be.”

This part was the most helpful. It’s where YOU got to speak. I feel that because I made it anonymous, people were able to speak their true feelings. That was very helpful! Praise is great and I appreciate every positive comment, but the suggestions on what I could do to make it better is what can really help make LillaSyster the best it can be!

–I love your store and love the products. I actually have your soap in all my bathrooms now. I also love seeing your products at charity silent auctions- I actively try to shop at places that support the community events.

–I am not even sure exactly where your store is except that it is supposed to be in Summerhill Square…never actually seen it.

–I don’t think you could be any better than the open house morning that I came in a few wks back. Thank you — so appreciated the nice lady that carried my products to car.

–I have no input here! Keep doing what you’re doing!! This is my favorite store because of the attention you give to customers and the great products that you offer.

–Move back to Stateline! ?? other than that everything is great!

–Love all your products maybe staying open later???

–I love everything I’ve tried. The pricing is great and I think the location is pretty good. I wish there was more variety, and/or the packing was different for different items. For the longest I didn’t know about the shave soap because it looks almost just like the regular soap.

–More economy choices; different sizes, varieties, and prices of grab bags, out of date products etc…

–You make customers feel welcome and you’re very friendly.

–PLEASE DON’T CHANGE A THING!!!!!!!!!!! I love everything just the way it is and just the way they are!

–Every time I come to your store I’m greeted as soon as I walk in and I LOVE that! I would have to say you’re doing everything right.

–Store front need to be larger. You have a large store but feel like the shopping area is small

–I think you’re fantastic. Your shop is adorable! You’re all so personable. Your products are AMAZING!!! I think it’s a home run. Wouldn’t change a thing

–Love all the new and old scents! I also love all of the products. I haven’t tried anything I don’t like. The location makes it a little hard for me to get by when I need too. But I still love EVERYTHING!!!

–Expand hours maybe? Otherwise, keep being awesome.

–I always enjoy coming to the store. The owner is so helpful. I wish the product displays did not go all the way to the floor. I’ve gotten on my hands and knees more than once to view products. I wouldn’t mind seeing some basic scents like honey suckle, magnolia, cantaloupe or mango. I mainly purchase soap for myself and spa boxes as gifts as I try to support locally owned businesses. The overall feel and merchandising of the store is great. I feel like I can touch everything with out tearing up anything. You did a great job on your store front and you make amazing quality products. I recommend you often.

Once again, thank you for your feedback, it’s given me much to think about and some changes to implement. One has already been done, our hours are now extended. Woo! Tues-Fri 10-6 and Sat 10-2.

What? You have a blog?

Many of you probably didn’t know there was a LillaSyster Soap Co. blog, am I right? I had removed the posts that were here because I was embarrassed about how long it had been since I had updated. But I have so much more to say than is really the proper length for a Facebook post. So, the blog is now reborn!

Of course I must have the obligatory, “How it all began” post which is recycled and updated from the previous blog.

Originally written in 2013:

I’m often asked, “How did you get into the soap making business?”

Well…it started with a big bang! 🙂 Actually, it started with a bomb. A bath bomb* that is. But I suppose I should go back further than that. I’d never really been a fan of bath products until I found Lush while living in Sweden. But anyone who’s been in there, knows that their products are quite expensive, and back then we had very little money so my once a month treat was a bath bomb, a soap or a bubble bar. Around the same time I discovered The Body Shop and fell in love with their body butter, but at 20 bucks a jar that was a more rare treat.

I eventually moved back to the States and was ecstatic when I found both a Lush and Body Shop 3 hours away in Dallas. All that and a basket of Naan*…this girl was in heaven! Trips to Dallas became much too frequent and I never left without full shopping bags from both places and an empty wallet. We won’t even go into what happened when I discovered Sephora in the same mall! Eek!

Did I ever think of making this stuff on my own? I didn’t even know it was possible. Sure, I’d heard of people making soap, but that stuff was made with lard and ashes or something and smelled like ammonia. Did I know that for a fact? No, but Laura Ingalls Wilder fueled my imagination. Homemade bath bombs, I’d heard of, but they could never be as yummy as Lush, right? And body butter? No one could possibly make that homemade. You needed a lab and a factory and tons of oompa loompas for that.

One day I found an article online about how to make bath bombs and thought, “Hey, I wanna do that!” And as it often happens on the internet, I started at one site then got sucked into the worm hole and ended up in a whole other dimension. I soon found out Laura Ingalls Wilder lied to me about homemade soap. Okay, well in her defense, soap was a whole different animal back then and did they ever really mention soap in the Little House books? I am not actually sure. I do apologize to you Mrs. Wilder for falsely accusing you. Please don’t haunt me. But if you do, please appear as a young snaggletooth Laura, as portrayed by the adorably cute Melissa Sue Gilbert. 🙂

Back to the story….So soon, I had ordered supplies to make homemade soap. And an obsession was born. The funny thing is, it was months later when I tried my first bath bomb, and have found they are not unlike a hormonal teenager. Some days they’re perfect and shiny and other days they are a raving ball of prickly fizz. I also found out that you actually can make body butter, lotions AND lip balm at home. Who knew!

So that is how I got started making stuff, but how did I end up with a business? Well to support my expensive habit (yes, it’s very expensive!) I knew I would eventually have to start selling my products. It was going to be a someday thing, but when I was invited to a small craft fair in the summer of 2011 it became a “now” thing. I got my sales tax permit, and insurance and eventually a dba and a bank acct and several festivals later I had a devout following.

Flashback to my very first tiny festival at a retirement community.big pic

It was not even in my wildest dreams at that time to have a soap shop, but eventually I got tired of meeting people in parking lots to exchange soap for cash. 🙂 And I think my family got tired of seeing my soap supplies in almost every room of the house!

I had my first studio in downtown Texarkana, but didn’t have a storefront. When the opportunity came, in 2012, to share space with someone else with the ability to be open to the public, I moved to Arkansas Blvd. At that time I was only open on Saturdays. In the summer of 2013 I decided to go big or go home and opened my first “real” store on Stateline. My nomadic ways brought me to Summerhill Sq. in September of 2014 and here have I been since!

In the past 5 years I have learned so much, and met so many wonderful people. I can happily report that I am now able to walk past both a Lush and a Body Shop without even crossing the threshold. Who knows where the future will take me and LillaSyster Soap Co., but I’m enjoying the ride!

*I now call mine Bath Fizzies, but there are many names for them. 

**My love for Indian food may, in fact, equal my love for bath and body products!