Artist Spotlight: Essential Journeys Soap

Artist Spotlight: Essential Journeys Soap

Kimberly Masters, Asheville, NC

At Essential Journeys®, founder and creative designer Kimberly Masters has discovered a way to combine her passions – bicycling, traveling, and creating – by handcrafting soaps and body care products inspired by scouring the planet, mostly on the seat of a bicycle.

Certainly, a woman who lived in the Alaskan wilderness for five summers with no water or electricity understands the importance of a fine slice of soap. During the Alaskan winters, Kimberly, would travel to Asia and Central America as well as pedal her bike thousands of miles across the United States. In 1999, Kimberly moved from Alaska to Asheville. Now she makes her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, the place where she learned the art of soap making and began another chapter in her journey. Memories of the crisp air of Alaska, the rich textures of Thailand, and the Blue Ridge Mountains of her home inspire the innovative designs and luxurious scents you will discover in Essential Journeys® handcrafted soap and body care products.

Describe YourWork  
Essential Journeys® is an Asheville, North Carolina Company that designs and creates small batch soaps and body care products. When Kimberly started Essential Journeys® in 1999 it was to create handmade soaps for sensitive skin. By 2004 Essential Journeys® pushed the limits of soap making from being merely a chemistry project into “Soap as Art Sculptures” inspired by journeys around the world. Today Essential Journeys® offers a comprehensive line of body care products including bath soaks, body lotions, candles, butters, salves and lip balms. Created by the synergy of design, form, and function, Essential Journeys® products are safe and natural. They combine scientific research, tried and true ingredients with cutting edge concepts, homeopathy, aromatherapy, and natural botanicals. By shopping at Essential Journeys® you are supporting an independent business venture. We do not test on animals, however our dog soap has been tested on humans.

How did you get started in the crafts business?
As a child, Kimberly’s parents grew their own vegetables, her father kept bees and her mother, an accomplished painter, also sewed most of her clothes. Kimberly enjoyed the process of designing outfits, spending afternoons at the fabric store looking for just the right buttons. Finding herself both lost and found in painting, pottery, batik, and book binding classes, she discovered Inspiration is everywhere. The more you know the more there is to know. For Kimberly, Essential Journeys® is a journey of discovery.

How long have you been wholesaling?
I started making soap in 1999 and began wholesaling my work in 2004. After wholesaling fleece hats and headbands in the 90's I decided wholesale was my focus. I enjoy working with stores.

What are your top 3 marketing methods for reaching new buyers?
1. Advertising with IndieMe 2. From 2004 - 2015 I participated in many trade shows including AmericasMart in Atlanta and ACRE. This really helped build a client base. 3. Regional Sales Reps

What percentage of your business is Wholesale? Retail? Commission, etc.?
85% Wholesale, 15% Retail (a majority of my retail customers have spent a week on a bicycle tour somewhere in the world with Kimberly as their guide.

How has IndieMe helped your business?
IndieMe has helped me reach new customers, I have enjoyed participating in Wholesale Shows and connecting with other artists.

What advice do you have for new craft artists?
You are an expert at what you are creating. The key is to balance your time and come up with a BLUEPRINT for your business. It is important to set yearly, monthly, and daily goals. Then make an action plan on the steps you need to do to accomplish those goals. I like to brainstorm and reassess them throughout the year. My second piece of advice is you don’t have to do or be good at everything. It is OK to outsource things that make you crazy. If reconciling your books once a month is a headache hire a bookkeeper to come once a month. I find the more organized I am the more time I have to be creative.

What advice do you have for new craft galleries?
Always try a few new things, re-merchandise your shop, it really is amazing how changing a display and moving things around can really help to move work that you think is stagnant.

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