By Jon VanZile
The Soap Guy has come a long ways since mixing up his first batch of handmade soap in the kitchen sink a decade ago. Today, The Soap Guy offers high quality, bulk handmade soaps to retail outlets in all 50 states, according to company owner and founder Jeff Dorrian. The Soap Guy makes it easy for flea market vendors and retail outlets to offer customized soaps through its private label program. “About 80 percent of our products are private labeled,” he says. The Soap Guy offers a variety of scents and formulas, including olive oil, goat’s milk, yogurt-based, and sea salt soaps.
According to Dorrian, soap is great business—if you manage it correctly. The Soap Guy’s products are sold as either loaves that can be cut to size, with custom printed wraps, or you can buy the individual bars pre-wrapped. Especially in resort and tourist areas, soap is an excellent product with very high margins and a great return rate, Dorrian says. “People will go out of their way to purchase and repurchase soap they like and that works for their skin,” Dorrian says. “It will engender relationships you cannot really get any other way. People will be back to your location in a week.”
As far as merchandising goes, Dorrian says the most successful retailers follow a few simple rules. First, they make sure to include their address and location on their soap wraps. Second, they commit to soap with a large display and lots of options. “Everybody merchandises differently, but you have to make a commitment,” he advises. “You cannot just put out a few bars and walk away. I think about 200 bars is a minimum to get people’s attention.” Aside from custom soap, The Soap Guy also distributes bath bombs, which have taken off in sales. Bath bombs are tennis-sized balls that you drop into a tub and “it fizzes up and releases fragrances and oils that soften the skin.”
Getting Started with The Soap Guy
To make it easy for new customers, The Soap Guy offers a start-up package for the initial order. The package costs $250 and includes 20 loaves of soap, 200 wrappers, and a loaf cutter. Each loaf can be cut into nine equal-sized bars, so the end result is 180 5 oz. bars of soap with a unit price of $1.38. The suggested retail is between $5 and $6. Bath bombs can be purchased in larger lots of 200 assorted bombs for a unit price of $1.50. They retail between $4 and $5 each. Wrappers are designed by The Soap Guy in conjunction with customers.
The Soap Guy