Marla Bosworth is the founder and owner of Back Porch Soap Company. She teaches classes, corporate events and experiences including candle making, soap making, organic skincare and perfumery.

June 11, 2012

Student Spotlight: New York's Soap Cartel

The following is an interview with Dayana and Hernan of Soap Cartel. Both took our New York City classes:

Dayana and Hernan of Soap Cartel

1. Tell us a bit about your background. Where were you born and whatever else you'd like to share as to how you got to this point in your life?

Soap Cartel is comprised of two extremely passionate New Yorkers. I, Dayana, was born in New York City and Hernan was born in Medellin, Colombia during the 70s. We are both artists and as true Pisces that we are, both of us enjoy expressing ourselves be it through music, writing, dancing; you name it, we've tried it at one point or another. I dabbled in TV production after moving back to New York in 2005, studied Information Systems at the Florida State University and Hernan studied at Purchase College in the Acting Conservatory. He is currently an analyst and I work in marketing. We both longed for something we could create with our hands, share with others, and something we could enjoy doing together, that's when Soap Cartel was born.

2. How did you get interested in making bath and body products?

Hernan has Tinea-Versicolor. It's a skin condition that causes discoloration of the skin. Many doctors had told him that there is no actual cure for this; after doing our research we came to the realization that some essential oils such as tea tree and lavender have healing properties that fight against the condition. We began understanding the difference natural products have on your skin, your body, and most importantly your overall health. After our extensive life-changing research we decided to become involved in the process and took better control over what foods we consumed and also what type of products we indulged in, as well as giving more thought into who was making the products we chose to spend our money on. What better way to handle all of this than controlling the process from start to finish by making it yourself; and so that's what we had in mind when we started Soap Cartel. 

Egyptian Rose

3. When did you launch your company?
The thought of the Soapcartel came about three years ago in 2009. We became an official LLC in April of 2012, trademarked our name, and handled all those pesky little things that need to be done in order to be considered an active business. We launched our website May 1st!

4. What do you sell? What sets you apart from other bath and body companies?

We have a complete line of naturally scented cold-processed soaps, which range from a variety of scents and homeopathic preferences. We also carry effervescent bath tablets, shea butter balms,  massage candles and currently working on lip balms and soy candles which should be available on our site soon. I suppose the thing that sets us apart from the rest is that we do this because we truly love it. We chose this path and were fully aware of the hurdles and obstacles that you have to overcome and so we are trekking on, enjoying every minute of it and giving people the best of us, our creativity, love, passion and doing so fully confident in the quality of the products we are offering.

Gorgeous Soaps

5. What course(s) did you take with Marla and what did you learn?

What didn't we learn! We took the How to Run a Successful Bath & Body and Hernan also participated in the Blending Natural Perfumes with Charna Ethier. This was a packed course full of extremely important information and we didn't put our pen down not for one minute! I think one of the most important points for me was that Marla taught us how to properly price the items we are selling. We dedicate so much time to our craft yet we neglect the importance of pricing our items appropriately.

6. What is your favorite part of running a bath and body business?
The favorite part of running a bath and body business is the creating process. Being able to have an idea after having a conversation with a colleague or a friend and feeling inspired to create a particular scent or a bar of soap that derived from an interaction/experience. One of our personal favorite bars of soap is Limonata and it came from a fascination our friend Rose has with all things lemon scented. Smells wonderfully and she loved it too!

7. What is your least favorite part?

Our least favorite part will definitely have to be the accounting process. We are a small business and so we try handle all aspects of our business but that doesn't mean we enjoy it all.

Limonata Soap

8. What are your biggest challenges as a small business owner?
We would have to say that the biggest challenge as a small business owner is being able to manage time wisely and effectively. This was a challenge in the beginning of this process and continues to be a challenge now as we wear many hats and also work full-time during the day.

9. When you have free time how do you like to spend it? Hobbies, sports, travel, etc.?

When we have free time we are creating soap; it's therapeutic and fun for us. When not creating we are diligently working on new concepts that we envision and want to see come to life. We also enjoy outdoor activities with our dog Hankie, as well as camping, hiking; anything that takes us out of the routine of life and places us in a state of total relaxation which allows us to disconnect for a bit. Difficult to do in New York City.

10. Do you have any words of wisdom to share?

What we learned along the way is to be patient; that's the best pearl of wisdom. This cannot all be accomplished overnight! Building a business takes hard work, dedication, research, and most of all patience and belief in yourself and what you are trying to accomplish no matter what anyone says or what obstacles you may encounter along the way. Have a list of things you need to get done and make sure you get them done. Cross them out as you go along and when you look back you will see all that you have achieved throughout the process, pat yourself on the back and then keep going.

11. What are some of you greatest business accomplishments?

One of our greatest business accomplishments is seeing people enjoy the fruit of our hard work and dedication. Nothing is more gratifying than hearing back from our customers letting us know how much they've enjoyed our products. Best.feeling.ever

12. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thank you Marla for this opportunity, you are truly an inspiration and we can't thank you enough for all you have taught us as well as many others that take your classes and hear your words of encouragement and wisdom every day.
Ready to buy these fabulous products? Visit Dayana and Hernan at Soap Cartel, send them an email at or call 646.926.SHOP.
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