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Friday, June 4, 2010

Creation|Collaboration features CarmenJean!


We're really delighted to be bringing you our seventh Feature Friday - today we're featuring Carmen Maidment who runs CarmenJean.


Hi Carmen, introduce us to yourself and your company!

Greeting all C|C readers! My name is Carmen Maidment, and I run the CarmenJean Group. I know – it sounds terribly grand, but really it’s a collection of three trading names, all doing something a little different. CarmenJean, Soap By The Slice, and Teeny Tiny Soap Co.

The main focus of all of them is all bath & body products. CarmenJean’s focus is on wholesale orders, Soap By The Slice focuses on retail sales and Teeny Tiny Soap Co focuses on favours and small soaps & products. Each one has their own personality and image, and is treated as stand alone units.

The group is run mainly by myself, with support from my wonderful, understanding and ever patient husband. And I am kept mad by my two very energetic children. Well, the madness helps the creativity to flow!

I make glycerine soaps, body butters and a whole host of products to help wake you up in the morning, and relax you after a stressful day. I’ve started to make some of my own packaging too – a truly therapeutic activity!

Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?

As a work at home mum, I have always been driven to run a business from my home. When I started to make soaps, it was with the intent to sell them on. I never dreamed that I’d become this obsessed with it all!

What do you love most about your business?

The colours, the fragrances, the ingredients, the end product, and the joy my customers experience when they use my products.

I also love the creation aspect – making something that is appealing to the eye. I love the cute packaging, the handing over a parcel to a customer, knowing that they, or a loved one is going to enjoy using those products.

There are so many things I love about it, that it’s really difficult to pick just one. So, I suppose the answer to the question ‘What do you love most about your business?’ is …. My business, and everything about it.

What would you like to change?

Hmm. That’s a tough one. I’d like to have more time. But since that’s not going to happen, I suppose I’d like to be able to work smarter. By that, I mean that I would like to be more efficient, more resourceful, more organised and more efficient. (Yes, I did mention ‘efficient’ twice!) It’s not easy for me. My husband called me a ‘Space Invader’ nine years ago, and it still holds true today! I seem to occupy far more space than necessary.

What is your aim for the next year?
Expansion! I have so many ideas that need to be actioned. It really is just a case of getting them done. I am working on more wholesale orders, and more craft fairs, and those two are my main points of focus for this year.

Where do you ultimately see yourself?

Successful and happy. Success makes me happy, but, success is not easily defined. To me, success is a healthy turnover in my business, and a happy home life. The balance is not an easy one, but certainly not impossible. I don’t want my products in supermarkets – I would be far more happy for them to be in boutiques, gift shops and galleries.

What are your Top 5 tips for new Business Women ?

Tip 1: SKILLS!! I can’t stress enough, how important it is to have the skills you need as a strong foundation to build on. Whether those skills are in papercrafts, or bookkeeping – you need to have them as a strong, rock solid foundation. And if you don’t have those skills, get them! Internet, courses, college, and friends are all places where you can find those skills. If you’re physically unable to get a skill (anything to do with numbers confuzzles me!), get someone who does have that skill. My husband wouldn’t dream of letting me loose on the accounts, and I cringe at the thought of him designing a business card.

Tip 2: Source good ingredients. It doesn’t matter whether your ingredients include shea butter, sterling wire or ceramic clay, make sure that your ingredients match the standard of your end item. There is no way you can use inferior ingredients, and hope to sell the end item for a premium price. If it means you have to buy less quantity according to your budget, then do so – there is no substitute for good quality ingredients.

Tip 3: Branding. Whatever you sell, make sure that your name is on it in some shape or form. If it’s a service, make sure that everyone, and I mean everyone, knows who you are and has a good image of you.

Labels on products should reflect your style and should proudly display your company name. There should be no doubt where the product has come from.

It’s not easy, and many well known brands still don’t get it right. But wait! Before you throw your hands up in despair and give up, remember, it’s far easier for small business owners to change and adapt than it is for large companies. Think of a small speedboat making a turn, as opposed to a supertanker making a turn.

Tip 4: Roll with the times. Make sure that you are adaptable and flexible. If someone makes a negative comment about your product or service, do not take it personally. Turn it around, and see how you can use that information to tweak your business and make it better.

Tip 5: Be true to yourself. Don’t let someone else (even a loved one) tell you which way your business should go. Sure, get ideas from others, bounce new ideas off someone else, but go with what you feel is right for you.

Don’t allow your image style to be shabby chique, if you’re more of a grunge type of person. And if gothic is your thing, don’t let someone else tell you that you have to be more traditional. It may mean delaying the launch of your business, but it will be well worth it. If your business is to be sustainable, it must be something that reflects a part of you. And if you change, allow your company to change too. You will put a great deal of time and energy into this, and if it’s not something that you enjoy, it may not be long lasting.
A few last words - How do we contact you Carmen?
There are several different ways.

Facebook: CarmenJean Bath – Body - Beauty http://www.facebook.com/carmenjean.b.b.b

Twitter: http://twitter.com/CJ_Soap, http://twitter.com/soapbytheslice and http://twitter.com/TeenyTinySoapCo

Website: http://www.carmenjean.co.uk/

E-Mail: info@carmenjean.co.uk

I am working on my website, and will be listing the fairs that I will be attending in the year. Hopefully I’ll be able to get it finished fairly soon … hopefully.

Thank you so much for reading all about me, and my business.

Thank you so much Carmen for talking us today, your products sound utterly fabulous and we love the idea that you've split your company into different sections to match the different markets you sell to. 

Next week, we'll be featuring Brenda Panter from Splash - make sure to check back next Friday!!!

9 comments:

  1. What a great, informative and inspiring interview! Your products are gorgeous.

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  2. Great article Carmen! Love your work, the photo soaps are incredible!

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  3. Such a lovely interview - and the products are amazing!!!

    MrsJKD
    http://jonkeithdiamonds.blogspot.com/

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  4. Congrats, Carmen! Great interview and photos ... your products are so lovely :)

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  5. Fantastic. I want the watermelon soap it looks delicious.

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  6. Great article! Good tips too. Well done.

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  7. Thank you so much ladies! I love making the photo soaps Celine - they're great fun!

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  8. Brilliant article, Carmen.

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  9. Loved your article. I can imagine some wonderful smells drifting from your home. Your products look great. x :o)

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