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Name: Shelly Holbrook-Ebeling

Business: The Seattle Soap Shop

Industry: Health & Beauty 

Location: Seattle, Washington, U.S.

Reason for starting: I have always been a creative person with a sassy sense of humor. Right before my 30th birthday, I found out I had a staph infection in my bone marrow and needed some pretty serious medical help. Eighteen months and six surgries later, I decided to take my creativity and all the recovery time and put it to good use. I had already been making skincare products as a hobby, but when I started researching available options of good-for-you products (no phthalates, parabens, detergents, etc.) I found they were boring. Nothing sassy to match my personality or anything I wanted to use. 

I quickly realized that if there was something out there that was good for you, it was very basic. If it was exciting and interesting, it was full of harmful chemicals. I decided to marry the two worlds together and make something that people like me might like to use. Cool, hip, good for you soaps and skincare products. 

Instead of Lemongrass Soap, I make Champagne or Lavender Martini Soap. I have a ‘Man Cave’ section filled with Oatmeal Stout Beer Soap and Bacon Soap. My On-the-Go Remedy Stick is a customer favorite and I even make an Olive Oil and Jojoba Sugar Wash that won’t leave you slipping and sliding in the tub after you use it. Making skincare products that are useful, good for you, and also capture my sense of humor is my passion! 

Related: Read about another Health & Beauty entrepreneur here. 

How do you define success? To me, success is having the ability to create something that comes from a place of passion, hard work, dedication, sometimes a little humor and then hearing it helped others in some way. From something as important as making a skin issue feel better with our On-the-Go Remedy Stick to something as light as helping someone smile when they receive our Dirt Soap as a gift; it doesn’t matter how big or small, helping someone else in any way is success to me. If I happen to be able to make a living at it as well, that’s great!

Biggest Success My biggest success? That’s pretty hard to define. If we were talking strictly business (not my personal definition of success) I would say that receiving some of the media exposure I have for my On-the-Go Remedy Stick and my various beer and wine soaps have felt pretty successful. We have been in Seattle Magazine, Teen Vogue, Draft Magazine, Seattle Metropolitan Bride and Groom, Brew Your Own Magazine, WineMaker Magazine and many more. Being a mom in a small suburb of Seattle and making something that garners attention from national magazines feels like a pretty big success to me!

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? My top challenge right now is finding time. There simply are not enough hours in the day to spend time with my teenager, run after my toddler, hang out with my husband, clean the house, cook a meal, and oh yeah…run a company! Not only do I need to run a company (marketing, bookkeeping, etc.) but I also need to be in a place where I can be creative. Finding time to dot my i’s and cross my t’s is difficult, but finding the time to relax enough to let my creative juices flow is even harder. Lately, I have been trying to ask for more help from my family, forgiving myself for not always accomplishing every single thing on my list, and then hiring out help here and there. Someone else can clean while I create, right?

Related: A Time Saving Tip for Entrepreneurs 

Who is your most important role model? I’m not sure I have a ‘most important’ role model. There are certainly people that inspire me. Celebrities who really use their celebrity status to help others (Angelina Jolie is a huge one!) inspires me. My husband inspires me every day with his strong work ethic and dedication to our family. My teenage son inspires me with his strong will for success with everything he undertakes and his natural leadership skills. Organizations like Seattle Children’s Hospital inspire me to do more so I can donate more. I don’t have one role model, I guess I have many.

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Edited by The Story Exchange