Collaborations are an absolute must if you want to grow your business. Each week we talk to creative entrepreneurs who embrace collaborations to share their stories, experiences and tips so we can all learn from them and trigger some inspiration and ideas. Today, we’re talking to Stacey Siddons from Bean & Boy . Stacey runs a specialist business making soaps using traditional methods and all-natural, vegan ingredients. Read on to find out how she makes her collaborations work, where she finds them and how she makes her business grow!
What collaboration have you been inspired by? Why was it impressive and what did you like about it?
I met an amazing woman who makes award-winning candles who came up with an inspired idea: she curates themed pamper boxes of unbranded handmade items. It sounds a bit mad, but what she is doing is highlighting how good the products are and how much love and passion go into each one. There’s no subscription, no repeats. I found it really inspiring that she was selling something based on how amazing the products are rather than how good the brand reputation was and how much marketing budget they had. It was all about quality over quantity, and it’s really inspired me in my own makes and collaborations. I look for talented people who have great ideas, and make it happen. She also included one of my soaps in a box which was such an honour! To see what I mean, have a look at the one-off unbranded boxes.
How important is collaboration in your marketing/ strategy and growth?
Collaboration is everything. No (wo)man is an island, and no small business stands alone. I always work with small businesses to source my ingredients and packaging and marketing materials – if I don’t know the name of the person who farmed/cut/printed my goods then it’s not for me. They help me source everything I need and always go the extra mile to help me achieve my vision. It’s the same with running my business too, I rely on a team of amazing helpers and makers to help me at every step of the way – sometimes to help administratively, to help wrap soap or even just to amend something on my website. I absolutely love collaborating with other small creative businesses too, they challenge me to think outside of the box and get creative with my medium. I’ve had loads of incredibly successful collaborations, include working with an amazing potter to make soap dishes, a seamstress to make recycled wash bags, a knitter to make a baby hamper and an aromatherapist to make a baby oil / baby soap box.
In what ways have you collaborated and what did you gain from them?
I collaborate in a lot of different ways with a lot of different businesses, I think that everybody has something to offer your growth and development, if you can think creatively. At the moment I’m working quite a lot with Beci Callow, a talented local potter. She’s helping me celebrate the star ingredients in our soaps – avocado oil – with a series of avocado shaped soap dishes and products! It’s amazing to work with someone to create something that so brilliantly complements your product. I’m also working with a knitter who is helping me to create a “hammam at home DIY kit” which is quite exciting, and an aromatherapist who is helping me to create new essential oil blends that are focussed on specific benefits. I’ve just met an amazing woman who is starting a zero waste shop in Leigh soon, and she’s making me some traditionally wood-turned soap dishes from reclaimed timber! I meet a lot of incredibly talented makers and therapists through networking and events like markets, and I’m always seeking for new ways to work together. It’s not just good for product development, it’s great for inspiring new ideas, forming beneficial partnerships and reaching a new client base (their followers/customers).
How did you go about finding collaborators/partners?
I go to a lot of handmade markets, both as a customer and as a stallholder, and attend networking events. I never close anyone off – you never know who someone might know! Someone who has nothing to do with your industry might be married to a buyer, and someone who never uses your product might want to buy it as a gift. I spent a lot of time talking to someone who runs a supper club about food, thinking that I had no idea how we would work together, and she later bought personalised soaps to have in the bathrooms at each event. If someone has the right energy and is passionate about their business, you need to draw on that enthusiasm and think super creatively about how your two businesses could work together in some way! If your personalities work together, make magic happen.
What advice would you give to others about collaborations?
Everyone is a potential collaborator, even “competitors”. I’ve worked with loads of other soap companies and have collaborated off the scenes too – I often get asked for help and guidance in the soaping world – and many of my workshop students go on to start soap businesses. I usually end up making soap for them under their brand. Nobody is a competitor until they become competitive with you, and that’s all down to personality. Sometimes it gets me down that people aren’t very nice, but on the whole I’m amazed and inspired by other makers and love working with other businesses. Embrace your story, own your identity, and work your local community to make amazing and meaningful collaborations. We are all here to work together and make stuff happen, and we can (and should!) lift each other up at every opportunity.
Stay connected with Stacey!