Rebecca Bennett, Director, and owner of The Solid Bar Company tells us about their vegan and biodegradable products.
First of all, how are you and your family doing?
Rebecca Bennett: All good here, thank you.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded The Solid Bar Company.
Rebecca Bennett: I started off in banking in the city, specializing in arbitrage trading and analysis for corporate clients. I then studied horticulture, moved to the countryside, and had a landscaping and design business before selling up and buying a boat (my husband’s idea), crossing the Atlantic, and living on it in the West Indies for almost three years (I am writing a novel). It wasn’t easy or quite what I’d planned, but it was probably good for our young family, and it did end up giving me the inspiration for solid, waterless products that are easy to use and travel well!
How does The Solid Bar Company market its product/services online?
Rebecca Bennett: We have spent quite a bit on SEO, we use social media like everyone else, we enter awards, we get products reviewed, that sort of thing, we don’t have a big budget for it, and so we try and spend what we can well.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how did you get through it?
Rebecca Bennett: It did and didn’t affect us. Everyone needs to wash, right; even if it was probably less in lockdown, I think it also gave people a chance to try our salon haircare bars, for example, at home or detox and switch to our natural deodorant. Things slowed down, but part of that was positive. I still grew a lot of herbs and flowers for the soaps and balms, and being able to spend time doing that outside was calming and therapeutic and remains so.
Certainly, website traffic has come down across the sector, and probably overall, individual sales are smaller. Retailers don’t want to take so much risk. It’s certainly challenging – but we have pushed, and our products are adaptable to different types of customers; we have pet bars too. So we were able to look at different sectors in customer types. We are going into 800 salons this summer, for example, and are in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s global catalog. We sell more dog shampoo than we used to, so opportunities have come up from some unexpected places.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Rebecca Bennett: My business partner looks at a lot of analytical data, looks at where we would get exposure and how; we don’t use particularly special tools. It comes down to hard work and analysis, not being afraid to reach out to potential customers repeatedly, and probably a bit of luck too.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Rebecca Bennett: There are, of course, a zillion other personal care product companies out there, but it is one of those industries where bigger companies own the majority of small companies and where the small company image is kept in place, so it’s something you have to bear in mind.
Our products are a little different, being solid, and it has been a lot of work to formulate them to be hard enough, foamy enough, and do their job as well as be palm oil-free, vegan and biodegradable. We are also going for a B Corp certification which will truly show our sustainability.
We are passionate about it, though, and have been very dedicated to it. I’ve always believed these types of products have to be competitively priced and as good as traditional care products for consumers to truly make the switch permanently.
Who wants bad hair – even in lockdown or working from home? If the products don’t work, people will just switch back to liquids, so that has been my mission, and we have found some of the best ingredients on the planet and put them together to maximize what they can do. The products don’t spill or leak as they are solid. A lot of companies don’t have those things or come across as ‘green,’ but underneath, when you dig down, they aren’t.
Your final thoughts?
Rebecca Bennett: I’m really glad I can help people in a little way with my products.
Mental health is so important, and by using naturally scented oils, they are also adding therapeutic benefits as well as having natural antibacterial properties. We have a good commodity in these trying times, and we will always need soap and shampoo in some form, so making them is no bad thing. Also, staying strong mentally is key, surrounding yourself with people with similar values and staying in contact with other business owners is good.
None of us really know what is coming next.
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