I've blogged before about the wonderful fragrance and soap supplies I get from Bramble Berry for my cupcake bath fizzies. And this past September I was able to participate Bramble Berry's very 1st S.O.A.P. panel to test out eight new fragrances.
Anne-Marie, the Soap Queen, and owner of Bramble Berry, has been such a wonderful and supportive Internet business friend. I wanted to feature her on "THE WASH, crafty girls come clean" so you can also discover the fabulousness of this self-employed business woman.
BUY: www.BrambleBerry.com • soapmolds.com
LOCATION: Bellingham, WA
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Anne-Marie started Bramble Berry soap making supplies 13 years ago with the goal of providing the highest quality soap making ingredients and best customer support possible to soap makers around the country.
"I was always a crazy super crafty girl growing up (knitting, decopauge, rubber stamping, paper making – you name it, I tried it and ruined my Mom’s kitchen) and when I came across soapmaking, I was hooked. I had gone through the crafts every 5 months or so (you know, trying one and then onto the next one after I was ‘done’ with the previous craft?) and with soapmaking, it was different. It was so challenging, so fun and absolutely beguiling. I never felt like I ever could master it. And, 17 years later, I still feel the same way – there’s always something new to learn!"
Anne-Marie made personalized soaps to set of friends and family. Years later, after pursuing a career as a correctional officer and about to apply to the FBI, Anne-Marie realized that her true passion was business and decided to become an entrepreneur. Anne-Marie left the criminal justice system and founded Bramble Berry Inc. She went back to school and received her MBA in 2007 while running her rapidly growing company.
From humble beginnings in Anne-Marie's s living room, Bramble Berry has grown into a multi-million dollar enterprise. She now serves thousands of customers from coast to coast from a 16,000 square foot warehouse. There is also Otion, Anne-Marie's retail store location.
For those looking to expand their skill sets, Anne-Marie launched www.SoapQueen.tv in 2009, a free DIY soapmaking series on YouTube where amateur and seasoned crafters alike can learn all the basics including picking your fragrances, mixing your colors and pouring your soap, all the way to more advanced techniques like swirling, embedding and layering. You can now find the Soap Queen TV webisodes and tutorials on the Soap Queen blog.
"I’m in this business for the love of the craft and to help small businesses. By giving away free tutorials, I’m able to do what I love: help small businesses be successful and help to educate new and experienced soapers. It’s such a joy to have an outlet to do that."
And what does Anne-Marie do with all of that soap she makes from the Soap Queen TV tutorials?
"I don’t sell any of the soaps I make though there recently was a suggestion that I sell the project soaps on Etsy so people can see the actual soap that the project makes. I thought that was a great idea – especially since I end up with pounds and pounds and pounds of soap that I don’t sell."
On the Soap Queen blog you also get an inspirational book list from Anne-Marie's personal readings. She reads on average three books a week and has 38 magazine subscriptions! Anne-Marie also gives business tips like setting goals for yourself.
"Reading a lot allows me to try and surf the macro trends and try to add products to the Bramble Berry line that capitalize on those trends."
Anne-Marie doesn't do it all by herself. Her brother runs SoapMolds.com and OtionSoap.com. In addition, she has team that helps get the Bramble Berry orders out, come up with cool products and utilize their expertise to really make the blog shine.
"We have the most fun planning meetings where we come up with crazy, insane ideas for the blog and then I have to somehow figure out how to make them work (Generally, you can find me saying something along these lines once a month: “Why did we think making green CP beer soap with realistic foam for St. Patrick’s Day was a good idea?”) as I try really hard to make our ideas become a reality.
I can go crazy in the 1500 square foot Bramble Berry lab."
Anne-Marie isn't all work and no play. She and her husband is expecting a baby boy in April! The Mister is an entrepreneur too so they schedule date night for once a week.
"I schedule time with friends and time for workouts and I never, ever break an appointment, dinner or lunch date. It doesn’t happen. If it gets on my calendar, it gets done. By planning my week and my month and forcing myself to carve out some friend time, some me time, some husband time, I prescribe some semblance of balance."
Anne-Marie loves to workout, hiking allows her to find time to think and find inspiration outdoors.
"The time to think while hiking is invaluable to me.
Keeping ahead of the curve and swimming in creativity is a self-perpetuating motion machine; it’s so inspiring to create a new fragrance or design a really fun new soap project for SoapQueen.com."
Anne-Marie also likes to travel so she can scuba dive (she's been an avid diver since the age of 16).
"Traveling is one of my favorite things to do."
With business, family and friends, and staying inspired for new creations Anne-Marie has a hard tile keeping organized.
"I have one hour of office clean up time scheduled for Thursday afternoons every week – and I’ve got this as a goal for my Accountability Group to keep me focused and accountable on."
Anne-Marie's advice for us who have big dreams of owning their very own multi-million dollar enterprise is:
"Surround yourself with successful people who have gone through where you are and have gotten successfully to the other side.
Reading the latest business books and magazines is always a good way to keep inspired, keep knowledgeable and challenge yourself.
Finally, don’t be shy about charging the appropriate amount for your work. Garnering a fair and reasonable wage and profit for your creative work is something every artist should strive for to ensure the longevity of their business."
Anne-Marie's future plans is the raise her new family while looking into expanding into the craft industries.
TO READ MORE ARTICLES LIKE ANN-MARIE'S