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Independent Retailer Month: The English Soap Company

To celebrate Independent Retailer Month, with the help of our partners SumUp we’re spending July highlighting some incredible independent retail entrepreneurs.

SumUp helps small businesses to get paid, whether they’re starting up or leveling up, supporting entrepreneurs to make their business ‘oOOooficial’.

Business name: The English Soap Company (Christina May Ltd)
Founded by: Bob & Juliet Butts
Launched in: 2000
You can find them: Online at theenglishsoapcompany.com

The English Soap Company is a trading name of Christina May Ltd, a family-run manufacturer that produces sustainable soap bars made in the heart of the Sussex countryside, made by expert perfumers. It not only produces plastic-free packaged soap bars, but offers a range of luxury gifts, hand creams, hand sanitisers, shower gels, eau de toilettes, soy wax candles and more.

When did you switch the business from a hobby or side hustle into an oOOoofficial business?

The English Soap Company story began in 2000, when founders Bob & Juliet discovered a number of vintage soap moulds lying disused in a machinery workshop farm in Kent. They spent many years perfecting the art of soap making and perfumery to make the perfect soap.

As the business grew Bob & Juliet moved their soap operation out of their kitchen and on to a local farm in the Sussex countryside. In 2012, the couple’s son, Oliver, took over as managing director, along with his wife Ailsa as Operations Manager in 2016.

What are your hopes for the business post-Covid?

Our team’s hard work and perseverance and innovation from the product development and design teams kept us moving, and we are very humbled and grateful for our customers who supported us through these difficult times. Our focus for 2021 onwards is to keep making and developing high-quality products and deliver great customer service. By keeping true to our values and traditions and doing business in the right way, we will continue to grow.

This year, big changes are going to happen. We have as a priority, to expand production with an additional soap-making line and increasing capacity in our vital packing and liquid manufacturing departments.

What’s the best thing about being an independent retailer?

The best thing is the freedom to create new and exciting products, adapting to customer’s needs, introducing new fragrances and building on innovative ideas.

We have an in-house creative and product development team that enables us to produce striking and elegant designed products. We have brand new collections launching later this year and continue to expand into new concepts and products for the years to come.

Being a small business, how have you benefitted from digital transformation?

We are delighted with our new website that launched June 2020, and how it corresponds with the values of our family business. We really enjoy positive feedback from customers and watching our online customer base grow. The website is a perfect showcase of the values that we have, and the story we want to tell, products we want to show people. To have that direct communication with the end customer has been really great experience.

We continue to engage all of our wonderful wholesale and retail customers on social media and share all of our beautiful imagery that we produce in-house.