Starting a whole new career at age 57 was a huge leap of faith for Lynda, but with the help of The Phoenix Programme in association with Richmond Borough Council she was able to create a successful and meaningful business at no cost to her.
I have spent the last 25 years in early years education. In Dec 2020 I had the opportunity to leave teaching and work on developing my soap business. My name is Lynda Jones and in 2018 I fell in love with the art of Soap Making. I have continued the love affair with joy and a passion ever since. This hobby has now developed into a successful business, The Vegan Soap Company, London where I have recently stocked my Gardeners Fine Exfoliating Lemon citrus soaps at The Garden Museum, Lambeth.
In December 2021 I was awarded by Phoenix Business Enterprise Programme Entrepreneur of the Year Award – Highly Commended via the business programme with Richmond Borough Council and CPG Executive Consulting.
Before I began my business, I wanted to create a product that would be both practical and be made from plant-based ingredients. My vision is to create and sell beautiful handcrafted, plant-based, vegan friendly soaps. Soaps that will nourish the whole person, leaving your skin feeling moisturised and clean. All my bars are handmade, using a traditional cold process method and made with only the best natural ingredients. Each bar contains a blend of four different oils to create a great moisturising formula.
Having embraced a Vegan lifestyle of living some 34 years ago, I have an insider’s view of Vegan products. I saw just how much single use plastic bottles we were using with buying liquid soaps, I investigated the ingredients used in liquid soaps and learnt about the harm they do to our body and the environment. I felt we all needed a change and the opportunity to choose what we put on our skin and ultimately in our body. We also needed to accept our part in the pollution of our amazing planet, we now had an opportunity to put that right… one soap bar at a time.
I delight in experimenting with all natural plants, fruits and seeds. I use re-structured water that I filter and energise with crystals. The whole experience is magical. Cold process soap is made by the mixing of oils and an alkali. This process is called Saponification, resulting in a new product – Soap! I am fascinated by the natural world and all the plants that heal, nurture, and sustain us. My bars of soap are long lasting, smell divine and create a feeling of joy when used. My aim is to provide my customers with an experience as well as a product.
The soaps are packaged in rather unique way too – I up-cycle and give a new lease of life to the things people no longer have a need for, namely dictionaries and road maps, I use these to wrap around my soaps, giving them a rather rustic and nostalgic look.
When I first began my business, I looked around for support in my local area. I discovered Hounslow Business Programme – Innovate and Grow and did not hesitate in signing up to the start-up programme. The more knowledge I could get the better prepared I thought I would be for this new chapter in my life, starting a whole new career at age 57 was a huge leap of faith! I was introduced to My Growth Pod by this initiative. I had 1:1 business advice from Helen as part of the programme and also attended a start-up business course at my local adult college RHACC.
Having access to low cost or free resources that are highly effective, as a start-up business has been extremely important, I have been using savings and had no regular income when I began. The courses were designed to support new as well as already established businesses in the local area. Helping you develop new strategies to steer your business into profitability.
Choosing My Growth Pod has been a lifeline. I doubt I would have got this far without their advice, recommendation encouragement and networking opportunities they put my way. It has been a privilege to have been part of the programme. Helen and Ray from CPG have so much knowledge and experience in supporting business, their passion for you to succeed is infectious. They can help in transforming your outlook to think outside of the box, with their expertise you can see yourself and your business implementing changes and see real growth. The networking is also very useful to meet with likeminded individuals and share experiences. It is such a great community to be part of.
There was no risk financially to myself, just my investment of time.
I did not have any reservations about signing up for the webinars, even though I had done very little online training, this was a new approach for me. I knew I needed professional advice and took away from the sessions what resonated for me and suited my product, experience and unique business.
The most measurable benefits for me have been through connecting with other businesses and expanding my market presence. I am now fully booked for the year with locally community markets every fortnight and have been invited back to attend regular events and provide demonstrations and workshops. With this training I have been increasing my sales and creating opportunities to promote my products.
Since winning the award, I’m focusing on building upon my workshops and demonstrations, and have recently introduced retreat weekends and bridal workshops.
I am also the founder of a trust called Saved by Soap. The aim being to support and uplift women who have been through the prison system, experienced homelessness or domestic violence, to help nourish, build confidence, self-esteem and enhance their skill base. This will be through a series of retreats and workshops. We can support participants to form their own co-operatives should they wish to do so. This Trust is in its very early stages, but the hope is that as the Soap business grows and gains a larger customer base, funding with come for the Trust. I am also involved with a global charity called Days for Girls supplying soaps for feminine kits.
To find out more please visit The Vegan Soap Company.