|Today, we are featuring an interview I have done with Ana at AnaBanana’s Bath & Body Treats. I hope you enjoy our conversation!
Andee: What first drew you into making soaps and other personal cosmetics
Ana: I’ve always loved to find out how things are put together. Clocks, carburetors, cookies… Whatever. If someone put it together, I wanted to know how to do it too. I particularly wanted to make my own soaps because I felt that I could do it better than the commercial products I was buying at the store. I had tried some that a friend made, loved it, and loved the idea that she made it herself, and so I wanted very much to try my hand at it too. I had no idea it could become such an obsession!! LOL! I noticed right away there was a big difference in what I made from the so-called soaps I had been buying before. I didn’t know they were synthetic detergents, didn’t know much about them at all, just that that’s what was available and that my skin was dry and itchy all the time. I just thought that was just the way my skin was. When I started using real soap, my skin got a lot less dry and itchy. In fact, I don’t have that problem at all anymore.
Andee: What is your favorite thing in the day-to-day operations of Ana Banana’s Bath & Body Treats?
Ana: Research. I love finding out about new-to-me oils and techniques and artistic styles. I spend a lot of time figuring out how to make a bar of soap look the way I’d like it to and to have the qualities that I really need for myself. I figure, if I like it, a lot of other people will too, because I’m a real person and so are they.
Andee: What separates you and Ana Banana’s Bath & Body Treats from the competition?
Ana: Well, in a word…me. I put myself into my soaps and cosmetic goods. They are a product of my imagination and I hope to impart some portion of my creative joy into my products.
Andee: What advice would you give someone just starting their own business?
Ana: Find your groove, find what thrills you and trust your instincts. Also patience. Yup, a lot of patience. Sometimes things aren’t going to go the way you planned, so be prepared to find the beauty in something unexpected. Soaps are like that. You decide what you want them to look like, and then they decide if they’ll cooperate or not. LOL! Be flexible that way.
Andee: What one thing would you do with your business if you knew you could not fail?
Ana: I’d go from an on-line to brick-and-mortar presence. I would love to be able to make my goods in the same location that I sell them and talk to people. I do get some contact with my customers through email and sometimes on the phone, but really talking to people in person is something I’d enjoy very much on a daily basis. And people really like smelling the roses, so to speak, before they buy. I always include a small sample of something different in each order, just so they can do that too, but if I had a physical store, they could smell twenty different soaps instead!
Andee: What was the biggest challenge you have faced so far?
Ana: Marketing has always been my nemesis. To be a really successful salesperson, you have to be able to be unapologetically self-promoting, and my natural tendency is to be very modest. Even writing the answers to your questions here is difficult in that I don’t want to brag, but really I should brag a whole lot! LOL! I love what I’m doing, and I know that if I can get people to try my goods, they will love them too! So… What holds me back in boasting about it all? Just that natural desire for people to appreciate my work without necessarily involving ME in there too.
Andee: What was one of your most memorable experiences while testing products?
Ana: Ohmygoodness. Hands down it was during a swap the Sage had a couple of years ago. I was making a soap with a new-to-me fragrance (one of my most favorites now, by the way), and it has a lot of lime in it, which makes soap want to do its thing much faster than I was expecting. The soap is called “Naked Man” and is made with The Sage’s Spicy Lime fragrance oil. I also include some ground luffa for scrubbiness and some color to bring out the green in the lime fragrance. When I was making the batch that I shared, everything was sort of “off” that day. It was late in the day, kids were clamoring for food (feed us NOW!!”), so I was hurrying and getting a little scatter-brained. I love this fragrance and so to me, the most important thing was to get that fragrance in my raw soap right away, except that I forgot to include the luffa and the color before I poured in the fragrance. I hadn’t realized I’d forgotten half my additives until I poured the soap, but by then, it was already starting to set up, so I was trying like mad to get it back into the pot before it seized. Being a superbly stubborn person, I was gonna make it happen! Or not! The soap turned solid on me about halfway through incorporating the extra ingredients, and I had what looked like something I’d rather not clean up after a baby-type “incident.” It looked awful! It looked awful AND was a huge blob on the end of my soaping spoon halfway between the bucket and the mold, at which point I froze up! What do I do?? Oh no! Luckily for me, just a week or so later, the Sage announced a swap appropriately named “Toiletry Tragedies.” I was in! We told our stories for the recipe books (I’m sure you remember this one, lol!) and my new hideous soap with that wonderful fragrance had a home and was also a hit! It was the ugliest soap ever shared, but it smelled sooooo good!
Andee: What inspired the creation of the Zombie Zoapz line?
Ana: Zombie Zoaps are an extension of my weird sense of humor. It’s out there for everyone to see. It’s sort of an alter-personality for me to try to be proper and rein in my quirkiness, but this is an outlet for my inner snarkiness. Zombies are so wildly popular, but I can’t take them seriously! I grew up terrified of “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead” but I’m more of a “Shawn of the Dead” type of person. My sister-in-law is an writer, Pauline Baird Jones, and in one of her stories she had included some zombies that were freaking hilarious. They were in her steampunk romantic adventure “Steamrolled.” I loved them and was inspired by her humor to create something fun too. It’s also a way for me to have some fun with the ingredients list. Does anyone really read those? If they do, then I’ve included some fun stuff for them to find!
Andee: When you aren’t working on your products, what do you do in your spare time?
Ana: I spend most of my spare time reading. I love adventure/romance/paranormal/fun/you-name-it literature! If I’m not reading, I’m drawing or trying my hand at watercolor or learning how to use PhotoShop. I read this question and seriously had to ask myself… Spare time? What is that?? LOL! If I’m not doing any of those things, I’m probably comatose on the couch or in my comfy chair (with a book!).
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Soap – Limited Edition
Chocolate Sandalwood Soap
Chocolate Mint Lip Treats
Ana’s memorable Naked Man soap!
Zombie Zoapz – One Bad Apple Zoap
Zombie Zoapz – Puzhin’ Up Daiziez Zoap