Interview with Steffanie Housman of Old Town Suds
my guest is ready, right? We're in for a really good, really fantastic treat. This'd Stephanie Housman. She's the founder of Old Town Suds. I'm talking about her for the last two days because she's amaze balls. I met Stephanie when she was in nonprofit management. She signed up for some group coaching with me, and at the time she was like, I want to be a speaker. I want to be a consultant And she started taking steps to build that up and get there. And in the midst of our sessions, she had to go to the hospital and found out she needed brain surgery on. As you could imagine, her whole world turned upside down and her priorities shifted and she started making her own laundry detergent so that she could have non toxic cleaning products in her house. And that turned into Old town suds. So she launched it as green cleaning products, and now it's really turned into I'm taking this from her website, decadent soaps and spot products made with ingredients you could eat. So Stephanie did. The s...
ide hustle is we like to call it for three years, and she had plans to quit her day job this year, but she got laid off last year. But Stephanie is going to show us that it pays to prep because she made more money in the weekend that she got laid off selling $8 bars of soap than she did in the entire month prior of her day job. So, Miss Stephanie, are you here? Thank you for joining us. I love those headphones. They're so cute. Thanks. I'm sitting in a conference center, so, uh, you're a great headphones were necessary. Your great. Yes, you're at a conference. Thank you for taking the time out. Teoh needed to be with us today. Okay, So can you talk a little bit about when you started old town suds And what? What? You're phase one look like, What were the things that you wanted to have set up so that you felt you had a successful start of the business? So Phase one for me looks completely different than where I met right now. Yeah. Good. I'm glad to think that Yeah, completely different. I started out with a very simple site and I was just happy to be online. I was happy to be tweeting. I was happy to have a Facebook audience, and I honestly was really happy when I sold $100 off laundry detergent at a market in that for me with success. Definitely not at that level today, thank God. Yeah, but I tried to strategically pick what I would invest in, similar to what you could have been talking about in the last few minutes where I should really put my money cause I knew it would get me through the next few years. So on a logo, trying to figure out what my main colors were and things like that and Phase one, I kind of took me a year to complete. I really wanted to take it slow again because I thought I'd have that full time job there to kind of help keep growing things until I felt comfortable. Uh, I love that you. So it's another positive of our day jobs. I think we often overlook that right. We see the day job is this evil thing, but when it comes to, you know, building a strong foundation for our dream businesses like let's milk that day job for all it's worth, you know. Let's take that security. Let's take that paycheck. Let's take that stability and use it for good. So I'm so glad you mentioned that. So it seems like you're phase one. It took you a year to get up your website, get a logo, have your products and start making sales. Exactly. And I had to wait until I was extremely t get to that sales part. I had a lot of hesitation. It was just getting comfortable with sounding things and that Oh, he talk about that a little bit What I want to say, Like, how did you get over that? Because I don't know if it's something that you really get over. But I think it's a really big roadblock for a lot of us where we were worried that we're gonna be these, like, smarmy sales people. Oh, yeah. And we don't want to talk about ourselves. Well, and I think part. I mean, I was really uncomfortable telling my story at first, but I have found getting comfortable with that and saying like, Yeah, my I've had brain surgery actually helps people buy more. I so you have that you need to use it I mean, it took me three years to really accept that. But once I did, I realized how profitable it was. It's just you got to get over. Yeah, in order to get so where I was really comfortable in that stage one, I applied to a farmers market that was in my neighborhood. And it turns out they were really lax on a lot of regulations, which is fantastic, cause I didn't know how to collect sales tax. I just had all of these did. It's no, these boxes that I kind of knew I needed to figure out what did know how. Uh, so I just went ahead and implied forced myself. Within 48 hours, I was accepted. And then that means I had to figure out how to get my product to the farmer's market that following Sunday. Wow, that's quick. And I found a table. I borrowed a like two foot by two foot card table. Went to target, bought a tablecloth. Yeah, and that was my market. Hey, phase one. Phase one market. Yes, seriously. No signs, no banners. I think I overnighted some new cards and that was it. I did one of the best things I ever did was I created a newsletter, sign up sheet and I had it there Day one and that his been a life. I'm so glad you mentioned that I redirected them to my been etc site and uh, kind of my static website that I had created. That's great, that that's another. I'm so glad you mentioned that. I think that's another example that you don't need a website website right away. Your online presence could be as simple as an Etsy shop. I put that in quotes because I know it's not that simple to put up your Etsy shop, but you really don't need anything more than that to start. So I love that, and I think I had the same product list of 12 times. Really? Why is that? Well, just to make the store look full, but I didn't have enough product of like individual types, so I just kept relisting the same thing over and over that they think that was the other thing. It's like I felt like I had to have this diaper store right? And so I just made it look diverse. My posting thing and I said earlier like don't feel pressure to have like this variety of offers and products. If if you launch with one thing with two things with you three things but like you don't have to have more than that. I love that you could just go in and seeing just just listed just let it over and over again to bring Peoples I to it and Teoh whatever work with it at sea algorithms and blah, blah, blah. And I want to point out to how great I think it was that you're phase one consisted of going to a farmer's market. I think that especially for people who are selling products, it's great to sell stuff online. It's so great. But when you're starting out, there's something really important about being in front of people as they look at your stuff. And you could eavesdrop that they talk to each other about things or you could ask them point blank. Why are you buy? Why are you buying this product? And what other things are you looking for that are, you know, less toxic cleaning products that you can't find that you like to get in front of people and have that interaction that is priceless. Priceless, Actually. That's exactly how I transitioned from creating the laundry detergent into what my offerings are today, just from talking to people and realizing that they don't necessarily want to spend that amount of money on a laundry detergent. But I can talk them into an $8 borrow, so all right, that's amazing. So talk to us a little bit about the side hustle for three years. I know what that What's that like? You know what, What that's like, How did you do that without burning out in your full time job all that time? Uh, the honest answer is probably I was extremely disengaged with my full time job, and it was I loved that it was paying the rent. And now eventually, what was the mortgage? But it offered me teaching and taught me different skills that I wouldn't have been able to gain on my own. And so I really harnessed that. So I paid a transfer that into my business. I love this. I I mentioned this yesterday, but I don't think I've talked about it today yet. So So Stephanie transition her day job from nonprofit management to marketing. Could you talk a little bit about how you landed that marketing job? Because that was really such a great bridge job for you to give you the tools that you needed to apply directly to your business and make it less soul sucking? Well, part of the reason that I was attracted to the company was was closer to her house. The commute went down and all these things it would allow me to concentrate on what I really wanted. Teoh and I kind of harnessed some truth out of my resume. Teoh showcase what I had done, Teoh. Essentially, I put myself into a marketing position, and so it was really, strategically crafting my resume so that it highlighted the time I had spent a marketing all these different nonprofit programs. That's great. Did you mention Old Town suds? At that point, I did. It was definitely placed at the bottom, hung up a resume. I didn't want to highlight it too much because I was still looking for that full time job, but it allowed me to say, Hey, I'm doing these types of marketing like direct marketing to individuals, and I'm able to test things out. Unlike a 200 newsletter subscriber audience that Aiken did imply to our 50,000 right prescribers at the nonprofit, that's amazing. So I wanted to ask you that directly because I feel like a lot of the times when we're looking for those bricks jobs, we feel like we have to hide our businesses or passion projects. And we can't tell anyone about them because they're gonna think this thing. And I think a lot of companies are much more not only open to that, but they they want that they want that in an employee. They want an employee that has their own interests and are engaged in that way and have that sort of mindset. They know what's gonna transfer very well. So don't feel like you have to hide your Etsy shop for your blogger or anything else as it comes through. Definitely had some friends outside of by traditional circle that have used their entrepreneurial skills to showcase that they're not scared of doing things right, that they can harness that energy and really put it into their position to help that employer. That's great, that's great. And before, before I let you go. Uh, we need to talk a little bit about when that ex fell before you because you had planned to quit your day job this year. And you are obviously prepping for for three years and then circumstances beyond your control. You didn't You didn't get that option to make that choice. When were you laid off? And what was it like right afterwards, right before my birthday. Oh, no radio. So there I'm in the D C area, and we have a big craft show at the end of September called Crafty Bastards. And it had been my goal to get into that show in 2014. I really didn't expect it. I had been weightless multiple times. It was kind of like the pie in the sky. She s So it was this coming weekend. I had taken Friday off to prepare. And because the show was Saturday and Sunday and then Thursday it like, 11 a.m. I'm on the phone with my husband walking him through a little project, you know, trying to get back to work, and my manager comes in and I'm like, Oh, dear God, I know what's happening and I cried on the 30 minute drive home, huh? Like what is going on at the mortgage? Uh huh. And I let myself get myself a little bit of a pity party, huh? Friday, I got to crack disasters Saturday and you talk about not feeling like you belong. You know, you have all these negative thoughts. It goes through my mind every single crash I like. You wouldn't be here if they didn't like you. Sorry. And I'm like, giving myself this talk. And before I know it, it's 10 deep waiting to get and purchase soap from me. Wow. The first, like, three hours I had broken by one day total record. And it was an eight hour show. And then it just love it. But by the end of Sunday, I was just trying happen. It was a different kind of crying. It's a different type of cry, and I I just couldn't believe it. I was like, I knew it's gonna I know it's gonna be OK after that part. How does it feel now? How far out are you from? The layoff was in September. Okay, So how does it feel now? Like now you really had your footing. As as a woman of the world. I like to call it a full time entrepreneur. Like how? How are things different? And how do you feel now? Things were going pretty well. I mean, it's a little harder January until about now, huh? As it's not the high selling season. But I did do a wholesale show like I Was just I had really set myself up for six success in 2015. So it was just It was a good time, But yet things were going and it's really good and it's been nerves. It's not been easy, but it's been worth it. I love it. We're gonna end there were gonna end there. Can I have something to add before I let Stephanie? Oh, well, just a quick question to reiterate in how maney months was it that you do this yet months, 10 months. But three years before that, it would have been a very different experience. And not to say that you wouldn't be resourceful, and you would have either found another Briggs job or figured out a way to make more money. If you were just at the start of your business. But the fact that you've set yourself up in this way eyes just section section testament to planning things out and how successful you could be when you plan stuff out right. And I have to stay, too. I love what you said about being disengaged at work. I feel like I'm gonna get in trouble for this even though I don't I'm there's no one to yell. It may, but I had I had a similar mindset when I was at my job. I think I don't want a gender stereotype, but I think this is very true for women. We want to be everything to everybody, and we want to do the best job that we can. And it was very hard for me to disconnect from the work that I was doing, even though I took that job knowing I was leaving and what I was there for. I still wanted to raise my hand for everything, and I wanted to get really involved, and my husband said to me, Michelle, just just This is how you should go about your your work day as long as there are three other people in your department that would get fired before you. That that's where you want to be. You want to be the fourth person fired like that's it. So you don't You want to do your work, but you want to be forth from from the top of the list of people to fire. And that helped me so much to just kind of go into the often say, You know what? I'm gonna I'm gonna do my work. But I'm just gonna do my work and that's it. And it doesn't need to be anything more than that. I don't need to be everyone's frickin mother. I don't need to go above and beyond. I'm just gonna go and do my work on. And I think that that's a really keep perspective Toe. Have to keep your sanity while you're working your bridge job. It is. It's very important. And it helps you sleep a lot easier at night. Big time. Thank you so much. 70. I appreciate you being here. Have fun at your conference. Thank you so much. Look, everyone. Thank you. Go. There's it's definite old town suds dot com to even just look at her products. If you when you hear her story and you think like that site started with laundry detergent listed 12 times on etc. And to see the variety of her products. Now it's soap. It's lip balm. It's shampoo, It's lotion. I think there's still laundry detergent and other cleaning products there, but she she has. She's created an empire she's also offering. This is really, really a great diverse wayto diversify your income and make more money. She offers soap making classes in her home. She built this whole studio in the basement of her home, and so every so often you'll see on her website or her shop. I have a class on this Saturday for five hours and 10 people could come in and make their own soap for $50 or whatever. So just a really interesting way that she has, like, a service in a class in addition to the products that she has there. So I hope you guys got a lot out of that