How two mums turned homemade soaps into a six-figure business

How two Wollongong mums turned homemade soaps into a six-figure business

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Shanah Baxter and Alysha Hack in the Peggy Sue Soaps showroom. Photo: Sylvia Liber

Shanah Baxter and Alysha Hack in the Peggy Sue Soaps showroom. Photo: Sylvia Liber

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When Peggy Sue Soaps decided to open a shopfront it didn't plan on a global pandemic.

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When two Wollongong entrepreneurs opened a shop for their soap business a fortnight ago, it was not in response to COVID-19.

The new shopfront in the northern suburb of Woonona immediately caught the attention of passers-by.

But co-owner Shanah Baxter is quick to point out she is not in the antibacterial sanitiser business and did not open the store because of the coronavirus.

Peggy Sue Soaps started in 2016 when Mrs Baxter began making soap in her garage as a Christmas gift for friends.

Peggy Sue Soaps is marketed as "a unique brand of clean + simple self care products."

Peggy Sue Soaps is marketed as "a unique brand of clean + simple self care products."

From these humble beginnings, Peggy Sue Soaps has used Instagram to turn her hobby into a six-figure business.

"It has come a long way since I started three-and-a-half-years ago," Mrs Baxter said.

"I had a six-month-old baby, it was approaching Christmas and I wanted to do some DIY gifts. I noticed everyone was making candles so I looked into soaps."

Mrs Baxter found the ingredients, made her first batch and posted a photo on Instagram.

When she was repeatedly asked if she would consider selling her soap, she decided to create a page called Peggy Sue Soaps.

Partners in business: Alysha Hack and Shanah Baxter.

Partners in business: Alysha Hack and Shanah Baxter.

"People just kept buying them and I ended up selling 1000 in the lead up to Christmas," she said.

Realising she was on to something, the 28-year-old started making other products and sales grew to 30,000 in 2017.

"It has just been organically growing," she said, with business doubling since late last year.

After US retailer Anthropologie found her on Instagram and placed a huge order, she realised she couldn't do it all on her own.

Enter 26-year-old Alysha Hack. The two mums struck up a friendship at SALT Church after Mrs Hack, a former nurse, moved from Sydney to Wollongong with her young family.

Mrs Hack was invited to buy into the business and has helped put more systems in place to help manage the growing demand.

By combining their skills, the pair has expanded Peggy Sue's range of organic, sustainable and ethical skin care.

"Working together we came up with more ideas," Mrs Hack said.

No longer is everything done from Mrs Baxter's garage.

The Peggy Sue range has expanded to include creams and lotions.

The Peggy Sue range has expanded to include creams and lotions.

A factory and warehouse is located behind the new shopfront. From there, Peggy Sue Soaps fills orders for Anthropologie and 30 boutiques and beauty stores across Australia.

The plan is to keep growing the business globally online and eventually open more Peggy Sue outlets.

"By opening a shopfront it lets people come in and try the product. One day it would be nice to have multiple stores across Australia," Mrs Baxter said.

The business is growing so fast the two women expect to start employing staff in 2020.

"We really look forward to having a team to work with and call them the Peggy Sue Crew," Mrs Hack said.

The story How two mums turned homemade soaps into a six-figure business first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.

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