Liana Smith, The Grove Soap Co. - Bright's Grove, ON.
What is The Grove Soap Co.?
The Grove Soap Co is a local, small-batch, artisan, and all-natural soap business that I run out of my home in Brights Grove ON. Our products are vegan, made with premium natural ingredients like clays, herbs and essential oils. We also focus on reducing waste and our environmental impact by minimizing our packaging (we don’t use plastic packaging) and reusing/recycling/and buying our supplies in bulk. I manage the entire business myself from creating the recipes, ordering supplies, making the soaps, packing, delivering, and marketing. Our story started when I received a bar of soap that was made by my grandfather, and for fun I attempted to copy his original recipe that he made on his farm.
What made you turn your hobby into a soap business?
I was making so much soap that I was giving it away to friends to try, and people started to ask to buy it! I had no intention of starting a business but seeing how much people enjoyed the products really encouraged me. I eventually signed up for a pop-up sale and asked another friend to make a logo for me, and after that there was no turning back.
What is your favourite part of running your own business?
My favourite part of running a business is that I can be completely creative with everything I make. I choose everything that goes into the soaps, the scents, and how I do the marketing, when I work, and how much soap I make. I also love that I can work mostly from home, which is great with 3 young kids.
Do you have a favourite soap to make?
They are all my favourite! Seriously that’s how I ended up with so many kinds - I love them all. If I had to choose though, my favourite to make is probably Lavender Bergamot because it makes my house smell amazing.
When you aren’t making soap, what are you doing?
If I’m not making soap then I’m most likely doing something with my husband and kids. We love camping and hiking and try to get away as often as we can. I’m on maternity leave right now from my day job as a Mental Health Therapist so I’m home a lot! I also really enjoy gardening.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
This is such a hard question! People would probably be surprised to know that I really love and collect antiques (jars/glassware, furniture, household goods...even my VW van is technically an antique) and It’s my dream to live in and restore and old Victorian home someday.
What does Girl Gang mean to you?
It’s hard to put into words what Girl Gang means to me because it’s a very special thing. Being a part of girl gang has been one of the most supportive and empowering groups I’ve ever been a part of. For me, it has meant connecting with a group of women who I can turn to for support and encouragement. There’s no judgment and some of us talk every day and have become my best friends. Girl Gang has also been a way to rise up as a collective and to help lift others who have may have been struggling with an area of their business or personal life. In the past, I didn’t know where to turn for help if I got stuck or something challenged me about my business. Now, I have this great group of women who always have my back.
What are your goals for The Grove Soap in the next year?
For me, I’m a big believer in choosing to do one thing but do it really well. This is why my product line is mainly soap, with the exception of our facial oil. Over the next year I’d like to keep to that belief and work on a few new recipes, continue to develop my craft and I introduce more seasonal options. I’d also like to add to my retail options so there’s more of a selections available to my customers at local shops.
Who is a female role model to you and why?
Honestly my biggest role model is my mom. She worked full time when I was growing up and somehow managed to balance work/home life with a family in a way that I always felt like she had time for us. She also beat cancer when I was in elementary school, and today is the best grandma to my own kids. I’ve always looked up to her.
What is one thing you would tell anyone looking to start their own side hustle?
I think that for anyone starting out I would say to make sure that they really love what they’re making. I never had the intention of going into business when I started making soap, I just loved to make it and it grew from there. You’re going to spend hundreds of hours on your business so you want to be sure you’re doing something you won’t get sick of. I’ve made a lot of soap over the past few years and I still find the process enjoyable and relaxing (for the most part!)