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“We have lost our beautiful home, our new cars, and in some respect, our dignity, but … “ an inspirational story of two Michigan mom entrepreneurs

August 17th, 2009 · No Comments

Today I have a special treat for everyone.

Jessica Clark is the co-founder of Suds Homemade Soap. I first learned about Suds when Jessica visited this blog and commented on Go Scooter Girls! – An inspiring entrepreneurial story of starting of starting a business during the current financial crisis.

Jessica wrote:

“We are two moms working hard to make certain that our families do not continue to suffer because of this catastrophic economy. We live in Michigan and there are so many families now suffering extreme financial hardship.

We come from a family of builders. Due to job loss in the residential construction industry, our husbands have gone back to school. We never imagined that we would be in this situation. After 17 years as successful builders, they are now starting at square one on a completely new career path as registered nurses.

Our families have suffered extreme financial losses. We have lost more than we ever imagined, but we know that those are all just things. We focus on what matters most, and that is our families. We are using what we know, making beautiful, fresh & natural soap, to see our families through these incredibly difficult times.

I was so curious about Jessica’s comments that I immediately emailed Jessica after reading her comments. Jessica has generously shared her story via an email interview.

I was so touched by Jessica’s writing that I’ve decided to publish the entire email interview. Due to the length of the interview, I’ll publish it in two installments. Today is the first installment.

Get ready to be inspired.

GeekMBA360: Can you please tell us a little bit about you and your family?

Jessica: My name is Jessica Clark. I was born and raised in southeastern Michigan. My husband and I have been married for 15 years and we have 4 children ages 14, 12, 8 and 10 months. I have been a stay at home mom since our first child was born, back in 1995.

GeekMBA360: What made you decide to start this business?

Jessica: My husband was a residential builder for nearly 17 years. We were comfortable and living the good life. We saved for 3 years to buy the 8 acres that we built our dream home on back in 1999. My husband built the house for me himself.

With the devastating downturn of the Michigan economy, my husband found himself struggling to find work. With the skyrocketing number of job losses, the building industry has taken a serious hit. The news covers the auto workers, but there are also hundreds of thousands of carpenters, builders, and other skilled tradesmen that have lost their careers. These people receive no buyouts and no severance packages for their years of dedication and hard work. But you don’t really hear anything about that. There is simply no consumer base for new construction these days. Those that are working, are finding themselves traveling to other states for temporary employment. There is no security.

Things became more and more desperate. The housing market continued to plummet and we came to the conclusion that his being out of work, was more than just temporary. It became pretty clear to us that we would lose our beautiful home, if we couldn’t sell it. It also became clear that I was pregnant with our 4th child.

We had put our house up for sale and desperately continued to drop the price, in hopes of at least breaking even. We actually had a buyer, at one point, but 12 hours before we were to sign, he lost his job and the deal fell through. We never even had another looker after that.

As those in the medical field seem to be the only stable careers left in our area, my husband tested and applied for the nursing program. Only 80 out of 800 applicants get accepted, and the Lord blessed us, because my husband received an acceptance letter about a month later. At the age of 35, my builder husband is now about to start his second year of school on the road to his brand new career. We are starting at square one. In May of 2010, he will graduate as a registered nurse, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.

We have lost our beautiful home, our new cars, and in some respect, our dignity. But, we have gained a stronger trust in the Lord and our family has survived a test that many others have not passed. We are closer than we have ever been before. We’re half way there now, and we will overcome this, but I need to do all I can to support my husband’s goal. That is what sealed my decision to make SUDS happen.

GeekMBA360: What is SUDS Handmade soap?

Jessica: SUDS Handmade Soap is more than just handmade soap. It is also more than just fresh and natural. Our soap is made from scratch, in small, meticulous batches, using the cold process method. It is poured fresh with premium butters and oils and then cured for a full 4 weeks to ensure the mildest and longest lasting bars possible.

But, what really makes our soap unique, is our philosophy. We believe that "fresh and natural" soap does not have to be boring. Our soap bars are made very much like a work of art. My business partner, Samantha, and I are young women who enjoy color, style and design. It is important to us that we incorporate those things into each and every batch that we pour.

GeekMBA360: How do you come up with the idea for SUDS Handmade soap?

Jessica: As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of all invention. I have played with soaping and candle making for years. I have heard other entrepreneurs say things like "use what you know" and "find something that you love". Well, I know and I love making soap!

The idea popped into my head one day and I envisioned it all quite clearly. I knew immediately that it was what I had to do. I called my creative cousin, Samantha, who’s husband is also a carpenter now back in school. She immediately jumped on board. SUDS was born!

Coming up tomorrow for the second installment of this interview:

  • After you came up with the business idea, how did get started?
  • You take care four kids full-time. How is your day like to joggle kids and starting a business
  • What’s going to happen next for SUDS Handmade Soap? Where can we buy it?
  • A lot of folks are struggling in this economy. Some of them are thinking about starting their own businesses. What advice do you have for them?

Related posts:

Excellent resources:

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Tags: Build a Company · Start-up Success

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