Gift Shop Hub first discovered The Soap Story at the Spring Fair, the UK’s No.1 gift and home trade show for the retail industry. There are many factors to consider when choosing which new products to stock in your shop. Price of course comes into play but more than often you’re just looking for something different. Gifts that will make your shop stand out. The Soap Story’s wonderful soaps have that wow factor. The presentation is excellent with the cute animal and trifle soaps packaged in their own individual plastic cases. The soap slices not only smell divine but also are packaged individually too with great fun labels. Nice packaging adds to the value and makes the soaps an easy gift option. We expect the Frog and Duck soaps to be especially popular for birthdays and Thank You Teacher presents in our shop Wishes of Cudworth.
The Soap Story are already making waves on social media with smart promotional campaigns like “Name the Animal Soap” competitions. The company is also working with bloggers to expand their reach and to create a digital buzz. Gift Shop Hub was lucky to talk to this product manufacturer with 35 years of experience in the bath & body industry, specializing in fine fragrance and products with personality. Based in Northern Ireland, in the seaside town of Carrickfergus, they’re only 20 minutes north of Belfast City.
How did you start out?
We’ve been manufacturing since 1981 with different brands such as Nectar; which is highly successful for us with the global export market. Soap Story is part of our larger group called Desmo, We started manufacturing Soap Story in 2009 for the European export market and since then we have developed and nurtured the brand into the lovey-bubbliness it is today. The brand is still relatively new in the UK market, but there is a very bright future ahead.
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing small business at the moment?
We think remaining competitive against larger companies is a real challenge for small businesses, especially with currency fluctuations and the rising cost of wages, rates etc.
At Soap Story HQ we face some of the same issues such as high raw materials and rising energy costs.
What tips do you have for fellow small business owners?
We think it’s really important to stay fresh, with new, exciting, quality products to keep customers returning and to keep moving forward.
What makes you stand out from the crowd?
Our products, all handmade in the UK, are not only full of top notch ingredients and scent-sational fragrances, they’re also full of personality and fun! Our vibrant designs appeal to a more youthfully minded audience – we think that makes us stand out! A lot of our products are vegan friendly and multi-functional so many USP’s to choose from, where do we start??!
Soap Story is also retail ready, we offer shelf packaging, counter top and floor display stands etc, so there’s no faffing about either!
How important is social media in promoting your business?
We’re relatively new to social media, but it’s becoming a more and more important asset to us every day. It’s a fantastic tool not just for networking but helps us to stay in contact with our retailers, we support their pages and direct customers to them and in turn it helps us reach new audiences.
As a creator and manufacturer it’s great to be in contact directly with the end customer, hear their feedback, reactions and opinions too! That is priceless.
What has been your most successful promotion/marketing idea?
We’ve been running a couple of Facebook competitions recently and they really take off, it’s a fabulous way to spread the name fast. One of our faves was our ‘Animal Soap Naming Competition’, we got some hilarious entries!
We also find that slideshows /videos/moving content gets a good reaction on our social media platforms; particularly the release of our brand new jelly soaps!
What are your plans for the future?
We want to develop our retail network and build a loyal following of customers. We’ve lots of ‘new’ planned for the future, but that’s top secret for now!
What features/articles would you like to see on Gift Shop Hub?
‘How to’ articles are great, it’s never too late to learn something new! We love reading articles on creating compelling content and posts with personality.
Quick fire questions:
Favourite song: We love feel good music here at Soap Story HQ; we’ve always got playlists on!
Favourite film: The original Willy Wonka is an all-time fave. So much colour, fun and imagination!
Favourite animal: It’s really hard to choose, we’re BIG animal lovers. Ducks are full of personality!