Robyn Green has a passion about soap.
How did you come to be making soap?
Around seven years ago my skin was dry and itchy, it was driving me crazy … I couldn’t even wear stockings. I was on Ebay one evening and found a soap that was advertised as being good for dry, itchy skin. I purchased a bar but it came from England and was $7 a bar landed in Australia. On using it I realised it was a beautiful soap and my skin was starting to improve.
After purchasing quite a number of soaps from them over a two month period it crossed my mind one morning during my shower that maybe I could make soap myself. I quickly got out of the shower, found the soap label to check out the ingredient list and realised that all the ingredients listed could be purchased from the local supermarket. I then went to the Internet and devoured every article I could find on soapmaking and soapmaking recipes.
A number of soapmaking books were then purchased and read thoroughly and after about three months I felt I had enough knowledge of soapmaking to make my first batch. That was in October 2004. I had to wait four weeks for the soap to cure and when I tried it in November I was amazed at how good the soap was on our skin … it was the best soap my husband and I had ever used. My skin problems disappeared over a couple of days and has been in excellent condition ever since.
After making my first batch and finding it so beautiful to use, I made another batch and gave it out for Christmas presents to family and friends. The following month I made another batch and soon realised I was becoming a soapaholic! I registered the business name “Robyn’s Soap House” in January 2005 and have been making soap ever since.
Did you have background/s that helped? (ie: what were your backgrounds)
My background was running a secretarial service from home for 15 years, then computer training for another 15 years. I have written a book on running a successful secretarial service from home, and have also written many computer training manuals. I enjoy public speaking and sharing my experiences as a self-employed person working from home.
I guess my past experience helped me in the disciplines required for running a soap business – organizational skills, people skills, marketing, book-keeping, taxation matters, etc.
Where do you sell your soap?
We sell our soap at 12 Farmer’s Markets a month, two Internet sites, local and some interstate shops.
What types of soap do you make?
We make 90 different types of solid soap bars, including goatsmilk, goatsmilk and manuka honey, goatsmilk and oatmeal, shampoo bars, pet soaps, charcoal soap, dead sea mud soap, lemon myrtle, lemon grass, chocolate and peppermint, spearmint, lavender, lavender with flowers, lavender with poppy seed, lavender with oatmeal, manuka honey, Lemon with saffron and green clay swirled through, rose geranium, rose, aniseed myrtle, Australian bush, Australian balm bush mint, etc. etc.
We also make liquid soap made from Victorian grown and produced olive oil, and this soap is beautiful on the skin.
We make face, hand and body cream from locally grown olive oil and all natural ingredients and we make a wonderful lip balm with four beautiful oils, bees wax and vitamin E.
You make Goat's Milk Soap too?
Yes, it is a very mild soap and very popular with people suffering from Eczema.
The 100% Olive oil soap is very popular with people suffering from psoriasis.
What are some of the challenges associated with making soap?
Having enough hours in the day can be a challenge. Hot, humid days are not good for soapmaking so we have the air conditioner on or we avoid making soap on those days.
And the good things about your work?
The great thing about our work is that soap is a beautiful product to make. We get great satisfaction that we are making a product that is so good for people’s skin. We love the comments that come from our customer’s at the Farmer’s Markets where people are so appreciative of our products. We love the fact that people have a choice of product on their skin, that they are not forced to buy inferior products from the supermarket.
We love the fact that we choose what we do for the day and when we start and finish work and that there is plenty to do. We are making soap one day, trimming soap and labelling another day, making creams and lip balms on another day. Sometimes we spend a day travelling to olive groves in central Victoria picking up thousands of litres of olive oil. We love the markets and talking to people on weekends. It is a great lifestyle.
Your business is not just about making and selling soap…….you also run courses?
We love teaching others how to make soap. Penry and I have teaching backgrounds and are happy to impart our knowledge. The students watch us make soap then they make their own batch and take home what they have made. They are given quality course notes and are able to follow the notes when they go home to make a batch on their own.
Any advice for people who would like to do something similar?
•Be warned … soapmaking is addictive!
•Be prepared to keep ploughing money back into the business for a number of years before you make any money out of it.
•Be prepared to work long hours.
•Listen to your customers and sell directly to them whenever possible.
Do you do mail orders?
We sell from two Internet sites: www.robynsoaphouse.com and www.robynsoaphouse.net
or click here
We also do mail and telephone orders.
Will you ever retire?
We plan to work as long as we keep enjoying it and as long as we are physically able.
What is your concept of ‘retirement’?
My concept of retirement is being able to survive on your savings or pension and having to fill in time doing your favourite hobbies, travelling or volunteering to help the elderly such as delivering meals on wheels. Many people of our age don’t have enough superannuation to support expensive hobbies or travel and the pension certainly wouldn’t support us in the lifestyle we would like to have.
Phone: (03) 9872 5599
Mobile: 0411 133 554
Fax: (03) 9874 2400
Robyn and her husband, Penry, have appeared on the t.v. program A Current Affair watch here