The story behind Canberra’s cleanest social enterprise

On this episode of the podcast, we chat with the co-founder of Base Soaps, Lianne Brink. Lianne and her life partner Mick started their company almost four years ago as a “passion project”, with the hope it would eventually generate some additional household income. The couple had no idea that in just a few years their small family business would evolve into one of Canberra’s most successful social enterprises. 

 

As Lianne highlights throughout the episode, the rapid success of Base Soaps is largely attributed to how well her business acumen complimented her partner’s product knowledge and people skills. Naturally, a great deal of this episode touches on what it is like starting and operating a company with your spouse, and the unique problems attached to such an arrangement. Additionally, Lianna discusses how she was able to get Base Soaps products into the hands of suppliers despite having an extremely limited budget and no industry connections. As the episode concludes, Lianne touches on the importance of social enterprises and how important the assistance of organisations such as Mill House Ventures was to the growth of her business.

What we talk about
  • How to break into the market, get your products into the hands of suppliers, and conduct market research
  • Running a business with your spouse
  • What it means to be a socially responsible company
Links from this episode
Transcript

Transcript 

Disclaimer: This transcript was generated automatically and as such, may contain various spelling and syntax errors

Germaine: [00:00:00] Hello, future tribe. Welcome to another episode on this one. We have Lianne from Base Soaps. Tell me a bit, a bit, a bit about what you guys do, uh, Lianne.
[00:00:59] Lianne: [00:00:59] Sure. Um, thank you very much for having me on the podcast. So in my, um, company, um, is called Base Soaps, which I, um, run together with my, uh, my life and business.
[00:01:12] and we produce and sell art sites, shampoo, bars, conditioned bars, and also liquid sites and, um, shaving sites and yeah. Base Soaps as a social enterprise, we started, we started this in early 2017, as they, as we felt. Very excited to, um, about the idea of starting a family business, um, kind of, uh, on the side business at the time and make heads been, um, had made so a few years earlier as, as a Christmas present for his brother.
[00:01:47] And so he had kind of had looked into it and knew how to do it. So, yeah, we decided that would be a good, a good idea for, for a small business and, and just started from there.
[00:01:57] Germaine: [00:01:57] Why soaps? Um, I, when I think about soaps, I think of, you know, it’s in sort of the fast moving consumer goods. Section of the market.
[00:02:06] And from what I understand about soaps, um, just like a lot of commodity products, you really need to be selling at mass to make any sort of actual money and have a business, um, around it. You know, um, Unilever for example, is a company that comes to mind when I think about soaps. Why, why did you guys think, you know, you want to get into, into that, that sort of game?
[00:02:29] Lianne: [00:02:29] Well, at the time we really were in a, like a, the, the big business mind space at all. We just wanted something that would enable us to start a business that would also enable us to start quiet on small scale, because we, we had a little baby and we had a mortgage, so we didn’t want the, we were risk adverse, I guess.
[00:02:48] And. Yeah, because, um, so it makes a chemist by trade. So he first started making, you don’t have to be, but it does come in handy, you know, with better how things react the way they doing things like that. So we felt like that was for us a good way to start and, and you’re right. I think it does. It you’d have to.
[00:03:07] Her. So it almost to make it like the big money, but you know, businesses come in all sizes and for us, this was just a good, a good way to start and yeah.
[00:03:17] Germaine: [00:03:17] Sort of get your foot in, even sort of start playing around with the idea of having your own business, I guess, in a way that, um, is not going to be too soon, but sort of starting off with something.
[00:03:29] So now I get what you mean. It’s I guess business doesn’t always have to be about making money or making huge. Huge profits. It can, it can be about, you know, making some decent money and having something that you can do on the side. Um, you mentioned when you got started in 2017, that this, it was more of a side hustle, is that fair to say?
[00:03:49] Lianne: [00:03:49] Yes, because it was so small and it takes. Um, a few years, you usually with a small business to make any profits, we were, we had other jobs and we would, um, yeah, as an extra thing with the stock.
[00:04:02] Germaine: [00:04:02] So were you sort of working for, were both of you working full-time and then doing this after hours to start off with, or?
[00:04:09] Lianne: [00:04:09] Um, so I was working part-time as well. I’m working part time. So yeah, it gives us a bit more space to do this as well.
[00:04:18] Germaine: [00:04:18] Yeah. Yeah, because I could imagine that there would have been a lot of experimentation at the start, let alone thinking about the whole marketing side of things, but you would have had to experiment with, um, compositions and, you know, flavors.
[00:04:31] So the lack of a better word, sort of the, the different options. How did you make those decisions initially? Did you just sort of go with one. Skew or did you have, did you just open up with a whole bunch of options for customers
[00:04:46] Lianne: [00:04:46] right. From the start I had in my mind that I wanted it to be a very kind of a simple and plain Brent, it not too many options.
[00:04:53] So we started with three and I remember that the one that we really wanted to start with the lemon Myrtle. And, uh, because I think a lot of people really liked that and it’s always been one of our most popular products. So that was fun. That was. Donald, we were, we were doing that one and the other two, I can’t quite remember, but I think we just played around and get some feedback.
[00:05:15] When we started, we had one store in our hometown that we knew was interested in selling it. So we would have got feedback from them and, you know, thought about what we wanted to make. And yeah, it just went from there and it very quickly though, already banded out through, I think. Six spots. Six different sense.
[00:05:36] So, because we were like, thinking, this is my spot too, and this is a nice one too. So we didn’t keep it as simple as I had in my mind. But you know, you want to cater for everyone. Yeah. And we started quickly using different types of exposure and dispel. We use like Walnut shell and marketing and Michelle and.
[00:05:54] So they’re all quite different times, so,
[00:05:57] Germaine: [00:05:57] yeah. Yeah. Well, so you mentioned that, uh, your hometowns Bungendore so still Canberra region, but is the business based out of Bungendore then?
[00:06:06] Lianne: [00:06:06] Um, so yeah, our business is still at, uh, at our home and that is in Bungendore. We do have, um, a lot to do in Queanbeyan as well.
[00:06:15] We have the storage there. And yeah, most of it is starting in Queanbeyan and Canberra.
[00:06:22] Germaine: [00:06:22] How’s that been? So you still produce it out of Bungendore you then take it in and you, you don’t have your own store. You just have a retailers who sell the product, correct? That’s
[00:06:33] Lianne: [00:06:33] right. Yeah. We have an online store only.
[00:06:35] And the rest it’s or, um, other stores and it used to be markets as well. Not so much these days.
[00:06:40] Germaine: [00:06:40] Yeah. Give us an idea of, um, so when you mentioned you, you guys started in 2017, um, how old were the both of you just to give us an idea of, you know, the stage of life you are in, if you don’t mind me asking.
[00:06:56] Lianne: [00:06:56] I was 32, Mick was 35. And we, so we had, um, uh, my oldest daughter, she was born in 2015. So we had a baby that was over one year. And that’s, I guess after that one year we kinda felt like we were. Starting to get back to normal again, getting out of that, that baby, um, came alive. Like we had a little bit more space, um, to start doing this.
[00:07:25] Germaine: [00:07:25] Yeah. I mentioned was a, is a chemist. So he, he brings. That skill. What did you feel like you brought in sort of initially or what, what, what did you handle? How did you, I guess what I’m trying to understand is how you can balance this out, sort of working with a partner. Um, you know, you mentioned you put it really nicely.
[00:07:44] He he’s your business and life partner, but. I’m sure that that adds a level of challenge because you’ve got to put up with each other and you know, you don’t want to bring, you don’t want to bring fights at home into work, but you don’t have the options, especially when you’re, when you’re working and operating the business out of your, out of your home or close to home.
[00:08:05] What did you bring into this? And, um, how do you handle that dynamic?
[00:08:09] Lianne: [00:08:09] So my background is a business. I’ve got a business degree, so that fit very well together. It was still a big learning curve. I’m originally from the Netherlands. So I think that’d be different, I suppose. But yeah, I did have the skills and, um, yeah, working together.
[00:08:26] I mean, it’s, I guess it has evolved over the years and we, we had to find out the best way to do this and your ride up in this is our home. So I guess really not any, any, um, separation there, um, which, which works for us. Like we can, like, we can separate it ourselves. Um, we don’t talk about business all the time, but we do it at, you know, sounds that maybe other people wouldn’t like at night or, you know, at other times of the day, but yeah, it’s, it just really works.
[00:08:56] Germaine: [00:08:56] Yeah. I mean, there’s no one size fits all rule. Right. Um, I guess that’s the beauty with business. You can, especially when you other, the founder or the founders, you can just make it what you want. You can decide if you want to go really big and go to multiple retailers of big retailers, you can decide if you want to talk about it at breakfast or only talk about it for four hours of the day that you want to work, or, you know, um, that that’s, I guess the, the beauty and the freedom sort of that that comes with business, do you think.
[00:09:26] That was one of the reasons you wanted to get into business. Was it sort of that taking or being able to take control and, uh, direct the life, uh, direct your life in the way that you wanted to?
[00:09:38] Lianne: [00:09:38] Yes. Yeah, it was, it was weird. Yeah. It’s just the thought of doing something that was totally new for us and exploring that together.
[00:09:47] And then from it, I think was what really drove us to start.
[00:09:51] Germaine: [00:09:51] What were some of the milestones, thinking back to your first sort of, how long do you think it took you to, um, really get traction and, and what, what did that sort of take? Um, not, not just in time, but in terms of effort, what did you have to do?
[00:10:09] Do you think to hit, uh, Point at which you felt like, okay, you know, we’re starting to get traction and people are starting to hear about us and we’re starting to, you know, starting to smoke.
[00:10:19] Lianne: [00:10:19] Yeah. So, um, you know, first year we, like I said, we did a lot of, of, of markets, which we don’t really do anymore. Um, it was a good way to get us out there and.
[00:10:28] To meet people and to learn about our customers. And we, we still doing, um, camera handmade mock-up, which is a launch, um, marketing camera. Um, and. People are always coming back to that because they know where they are and they, they, every time the markets don’t make them, they come in to buy. So, so, so that’s one way.
[00:10:53] Um, we really got ourselves out there when things really started changing for us was when we also started to focus on wide label manufacturing. So making soap for other brands, and this is something we’re actually focusing on a lot more these days. And, um, yeah, so, and that that’s, that has really changed things around for us because those orders are quite a lot larger than kind of what, what our Base Soaps.
[00:11:22] Does, but, um, it’s still kind of half, half what we’re doing,
[00:11:26] Germaine: [00:11:26] is it, is it just the two of you still in the business or have you got other people involved?
[00:11:31] Lianne: [00:11:31] Yep. No, we have an employee now who does, um, make most of the soap making, um, activities during the day. And so to freeze from makeup to do other Tufts.
[00:11:41] So yeah. So Mick has always been the main soak maker. I’ve never made any soap in my life, so that’s always been a very clear divide there, but yeah, so, so it’s the. The recurring tasks of making all the stuff that had been taken out of his hands, which has been great because, um, really needed that to happen.
[00:11:59] And were also in the process of working with people to start doing the wrapping up the sides and stamping after they’ve been made, um, which is something we were still doing ourselves. And it’s something that we often do at night because it’s, you can easily do it. If you do it during the day, quickly takes away from all the other things that need to happen, but it’s kind of building up and, um, we needed to get other people in to do that.
[00:12:28] So I’m looking into doing that now as well.
[00:12:30] Germaine: [00:12:30] So it’s exciting when you, I think it’s almost like this brink way. Start to realize, hold on. I, we can’t grow. We don’t have we’ve run out of. Time, we need to get other people involved, but then this it’s this balance between, but it’s my baby. Like I don’t want other people involved.
[00:12:46] It’s it’s me. But you know, I definitely found that hiring that first person is almost like a. Like a release because then you realize, hold on, you can actually train someone else and they can do just as good a job, if not a better job than you. And that’s just crucial. Have you found, have you found that to be true?
[00:13:05] Lianne: [00:13:05] Yeah, definitely. Especially for, yeah, for the soap making. And I, I often think that with the re-upping and the stamping, we should’ve been doing that already, but I guess it’s the logistics around it. That actual more complicated thing than you would think, because we do it very rich stiffly. We wrap the subs and pack them where as, um, although most we would have the planet out of it, which is what we’re going to do now.
[00:13:32] But it’s, I think, um, a bit more complex than we thought, but that’s fine. And it’s definitely one of the tasks that we should be outsourcing because it frees us up to do, to do other things.
[00:13:42] Germaine: [00:13:42] Exactly and it doesn’t. Yeah. One could argue that the wrapping and stamping doesn’t necessarily change the dynamic of product.
[00:13:50] Fundamentally, it’s almost like a cosmetic layer that you’ve got to add on that, that, you know, whether you do it or someone else does it. It’s essentially the same thing. There’s no, there’s no X factor that goes into it. Um, correct me if I’m wrong. I don’t, you might, you might rap rap soaps better than anyone else, but I’m not sure.
[00:14:13] Lianne: [00:14:13] No, that’s true. That’s I mean, I can spend my time doing things that are more important for the business and.
[00:14:19] Germaine: [00:14:19] Well, especially with your business background, you can definitely do things that are more business driven, right. Making the right decisions, um, making marketing decisions or reaching out to the right partners.
[00:14:28] That’s talking about partners. How did you find the first few retailers or was it really sort of a. Word of mouth through the markets, et cetera, and then reaching out to people and saying, listen, did you have to prove to them that you have a good product? How did that work?
[00:14:44] Lianne: [00:14:44] So it’s kind of been a mix. We, um, has spent some, we spend some time, um, going around to stores that we thought might be interested.
[00:14:52] There is the type of store that sells a product. Um, I mean, there’s a few different ones, but one that really started the. The store that is very kind of environment, Maine and local product focused. So we, um, targeted though us and just, yeah, we just went around to talk to them and give them samples and, um, went from there.
[00:15:13] Um, and. We’ve been able to really keep a customer through the years. So distorted started selling a product, but always come back and have been happy with the product. So that’s been great. Um, we also have like social media sources or that, that people find us through and in the markets as well.
[00:15:33] Germaine: [00:15:33] He then mentioned that you also produce soaps for other.
[00:15:37] Brands for the lack of a better word or other people. How did that happen? How did those things sort of fall into place?
[00:15:44] Lianne: [00:15:44] Yeah, that was also very, um, very lucky, I guess, cause there’s one store that’s quite a larger store and we, um, basically make just the walk in there and talk to them and went from there and they were very good.
[00:15:58] In interested in the white label, whenever I, um, kind of, particularly in the products they want to sell. And because we’re so small, we can be very flexible with that. And also because canvas background, he enjoys kind of exploring new, new, new ways of doing things, a new product. So we’ve been working really well with them.
[00:16:17] And, um, we have a lot of products that. Yeah. We make comments with them that are very new, that we don’t even, we could start selling for ourselves as well. For example, we have started making a dish block for them, so very new thing. Um, so yeah, we just been exploring that and yeah, it’s been great.
[00:16:36] Germaine: [00:16:36] Yeah. I mean, partnerships like that have the potential, like, like you, you were mentioning to allow you to experiment and going to, and try things that you may not have, but because this partner has this need or is willing to almost back things a little bit, you’re not sort of going out on limb otherwise and sort of deciding for yourself, we’re going to experiment with this.
[00:16:56] You can work in a bit of a partnership. It’s always. I think interesting when you talk to a business, because some of them just don’t don’t really want to share information with anyone or don’t want to share anything with anyone else where there’s, there’s a lot of others who want to collaborate. And have you found that, that collaboration, um, to sort of change how you think about even your business as a, as a result of talking to your other partners and people who, who you white label for?
[00:17:24] Lianne: [00:17:24] Um, yes, definitely. Yeah, because of products. Like I just mentioned that the show and, um, we also, I think when we started making shampoo bars and conditioner Bassey was for them first as well. And, um, because they know better what their customers want because they’re in contact with them every day. Um, and then they can put that through to us.
[00:17:46] And then we can find out what we can do, which is actually works really well.
[00:17:50] Germaine: [00:17:50] Yeah. Yeah. It’s a nice sort of symbiotic relationship where they rely on you for the product and you rely on them for their customer insights and, um, what, what customers are looking for in product ideas. Yeah. Now, are you guys the two of you now full-time in the business or did the, when did that any sort of transitions happen with, with where you’re spending your time and what you’re working on?
[00:18:14] Lianne: [00:18:14] We are both now, I’m only focusing on the tennis, um, three days a week and I make the basically time for make it wind down very gradually. Um, he was working part-time and that kind of. But less than, than the business got more. And then that somehow changed that for me, it doing a bit more abrupt. And in March of this year, um, when I was still working for a boss, but, um, because of COVID that ended, and it was actually.
[00:18:42] Really good timing, because I guess I had, we started thinking about both of us focusing on the business, but to make that jump from, you know, having an extra income to just focusing on the business fully, it’s quite scary. And I hadn’t really dead to make that yet, but this kind of pushed us to do it. And yeah, it’s actually been been Greg for us because it worked out really well, which is not.
[00:19:10] Yes. The story you must be here about this.
[00:19:13] Germaine: [00:19:13] Yeah. Given COVID, but you touched on something that, um, I found out myself as well, sometimes, you know, it takes external pressures to push you in the right direction, whether that’s losing a job or, you know, feeling. Just like you don’t belong in the role that you’re, you’re serving.
[00:19:32] Um, how did you, I found when I, when I made that leap from sort of side hustle or part-time to full-time, I also found that for whatever reason more opportunities just made themselves, made themselves available, if that sort of makes sense. Like, I felt like the first month after I quit my job and went.
[00:19:54] Full time into the business. I felt like all these people who I already knew suddenly he reached out to me and said, actually, germane, I need help with marketing. I need help with the website. And all I could think was these guys could have done the same thing, you know, a month before when I was working full time.
[00:20:08] But they didn’t, it all, it almost felt like making that jump, just unlock these opportunities. Did you have a similar experience?
[00:20:14] Lianne: [00:20:14] I did. Yes, mostly also, because we are at the point where it was going really well. And. We knew that we could do a lot to, to grow and to change, but we just had to put the work in and with me having another job, make running around, keeping up with the day-to-day business that just wasn’t happening.
[00:20:36] And then when I did start working. Would it be business. We did have that space and we could think about, you know, what we want in the future to have them, like, you could just make better plants and, and, and, um, know better what was going on and all of that kind of thing. So that really did make a big difference.
[00:20:56] I also, I mentioned before that we’re a social enterprise and I so. I might just go back to tell you the story about that real quick. So we, when we started the business, we, um, kind of knew we wanted to give it an extra dimension and to, and I was very excited about the profit or purpose model, um, where, um, uh, begging the business, redirects that profits to social costs.
[00:21:23] And we had decided to do this, and we basically were a social entrepreneur. We didn’t know that we were until we heard about house ventures. Um, which you know about, because you had Cindy Mitchell in your podcast last year. And so we learned about them from someone and that’s when we decided that what we were doing was being social enterprise.
[00:21:44] And so we did, we did a program with them, with them. Uh, I might. Yeah. So the Miller center is an organization supporting business growth and impact in social enterprise. So basically we had mentors with them throughout the years. And I just wanted to tell you about that, going back to this, because when I started working fully for Base Soaps, we kind of increased our contact with them again and mentoring through them and found all the mental stir them, which also, um, really, um, accelerated.
[00:22:18] Germaine: [00:22:18] Yeah. So what’s your, what, what is the social purpose or what’s that extra dimension to the business? What, what, what do you guys try and do?
[00:22:25] Lianne: [00:22:25] So we, our aim is for our profits to be redirected to health and hygiene programs for Australian communities. Which means that in our case, we are looking at an organization called Malta and they have a young doctors program, um, where they, um, teach young people to become healthy to that PAs, that communities.
[00:22:47] So curiculum based program that they do. So, yeah, we we’ve been looking at them through the years and promoting that course as well. And, you know, and to be redirected to them and prom and other organizations in the future as well when we grow.
[00:23:03] Germaine: [00:23:03] Yeah. Yeah. Like social enterprises are definitely on the up aren’t they?
[00:23:09] And, um, especially, um, I feel like, you know, social enterprises, enterprises that are trying to do things more correctly, um, trying to do things, um, that are. Good for the environment, rather than trying to, you know, just take things out of the earth as much as they can are definitely on the uptick. And, um, you guys definitely definitely fit that bill.
[00:24:16] Do you feel like is your unique selling point versus all the other soaps out there? Um, you know, I think you’d agree when you go to a supermarket, there are a lot of soap options. It’s, it’s almost like. Paralyzing. I, I do this thing where I go to the shops and buy 10 bars of soap. And then that lasts me for a long time, because I didn’t have to make that decision again for a long time.
[00:24:39] But there’s everything from, you know, antibiotics, soaps to moisturizing, soaps, to soaps that smell good to serves that have goat’s milk. How do you, how do you position yourself in this market and how do you see yourself in this market?
[00:24:53] Lianne: [00:24:53] Um, we know that a lot of our customers, um, like a product because, um, and this person, because for my spasms, but because there’s no plastic involved and because soap is, it is a daily, a product that people use everyday for their personal routine.
[00:25:11] It’s actually makes a big difference if you change that habit and just use Faso. Um, also we’re very proud of, um, the fact that we. Aim to get our ingredients and local as possible. And if local it’s not possible as ethical as possible, but though, so that they come from places and that’s something that our customers really value.
[00:25:34] Um, and the fact that we are a social enterprise is something that, um, adds to that because we feel that empowering the customer to do something good with them on a as well as giving them the daily necessities is. It’s something that a lot of people are starting to, to think about these days. Um, and yeah, as you can see with, like you said, social enterprise are getting a lot bigger.
[00:25:59] There are massive players on those fields now, such as the thank you brand and. And the, um, keeps you grab toilet paper and things like that. So I think that really tells us that that’s the focus is shifting in that respect.
[00:26:12] Germaine: [00:26:12] Yeah, definitely. And you make a good point about it’s, you know, it’s something that everyone uses every day, um, or should be using every day, especially with COVID you should be using soap all the time.
[00:26:25] Um, it it’s one of those things that, you know, you make a small difference. In every single day and over a year, that’s, that’s a lot of soap used that, um, we could have gone, you know, to using unethically sourced or poorly sourced ingredients, more plastics, more waste. Um, I think, I hadn’t even thought about the fact that, you know, it, it is a small thing.
[00:26:49] But it’s, it’s a thing that plus, you know, it’s a commodity item that everyone needs, right. Everyone, everyone needs to use. So you do have that potential to almost make small change that just compounds to such a huge change and moving forward, which is, um, very exciting. We’ve talked about all the. Cool things that you guys are doing, I’m sure there’ve been missteps along the way.
[00:27:13] Do you do any misstep sort of come to mind that the Makey guy, uh, you know, cringe a little bit or go, why did we make that decision?
[00:27:21] Lianne: [00:27:21] I guess everybody that relative business ha ha has some kind of learning curve and we definitely did. Um, yeah, let’s, like I said, at the start, it was very much an after hours thing and I was doing.
[00:27:33] Mostly like the administration side of things. And because I was doing it up there after my day dropping off to take out my children, that was a very limited time for that. So I, I wasn’t as aware as I should’ve been about everything that was coming in and going out and like being a manufacturing business as a lot of things like, um, raw materials and.
[00:27:55] And they would post and things like that. And we probably weren’t as aware as they should have been about what it actually costs to meet that bar. So, and also what we were actually selling as well. So since I started fully focusing on the business from the start of the year, I have. Um, a little more space for that and be able to, to track that.
[00:28:14] But I also realized the importance of that now a little better. I think it’s a, well-known saying that it’ll say small businesses survive. If their owners know exactly what’s going on. Yeah, I think that’s very important to remember
[00:28:29] Germaine: [00:28:29] yeah. Keeping an eye on. Yeah, that, I mean, even, even from more, I guess, simpler point of view, I’ve heard of many, many small businesses falling apart simply because they didn’t even give an eye on the money coming in and out, you know, and they’ve had like a bad accountant or a bad bookkeeper skimming money off the top, let alone getting into things like raw materials.
[00:28:48] Production process. I’m trying to understand where your suppliers source their things from, because sometimes it’s not possible even just go and look at the facilities. Some, some of these suppliers I’m sure in any business, including yours would, would shy away from it. If, if they, if you sort of turned around and said, can I, can I see your factory?
[00:29:07] They might say actually, yeah. Uh, not, not really. So it makes it difficult for you because. You’ve got to do a bit of a detective work to try and find the true source of news. Yeah,
[00:29:17] Lianne: [00:29:17] that’s right. Yeah. That’s right. It’s production process as well. Um, which I realize. Lovely to see you too, with thinking about, you know, like more sales.
[00:29:26] And then we were thinking, hang on, what’s actually accessed in our current space, like we were making as we were selling, but we didn’t know what we could do. So I suppose, but small and we are, we are looking, um, hopefully sometime next year to move out to a bigger facility. But before we were doing that, I was like, well, let’s find out what we can actually do here and what the maximum capacity is.
[00:29:49] So when we started looking at that, I realized that there was a lot of things that I actually didn’t realize. So, yeah, it’s good. So we get those things,
[00:29:57] Germaine: [00:29:57] look at, look at, I guess what you’re talking about is looking at, um, almost every stage of the production process and what it takes to understand what you can optimize, what you can change, how cause yeah.
[00:30:07] Space is a resource just like time is so it’s good to be able to use that to its maximum potential. Um, And, and sort of, and, you know, having the time to do that, because when you were working at part time, I’m sure it was a case of, we’ve just got to get these orders packed in out there, you know, looking into everything else is just, um, it’s just time that, that you couldn’t spare.
[00:30:30] Um, what’s the. What’s the production process like, and how long does it take to make a bar of soap? I don’t even know where to start. So it’s more of a inquisitive question from me, but tell me a little bit about that.
[00:30:43] Lianne: [00:30:43] Um, so the bar soaps, the, um, manner of, of mixing the ingredients. There’s no there’s no heating or anything involved.
[00:30:50] So, um, it’s a very quick process to make the unmade just, um, mixed into a liquid liquid gets bought into the mold and after a day, It’s firm enough, they get out of them all and then we cut it off and then it has to cure for at least a four a month, four to be the box of thinking actually sell because before that month it’s still very, um, yeah, very soft and yeah, it was too dry for a while.
[00:31:16] Germaine: [00:31:16] Yeah, right. So that would have, especially when you’re starting off added a level of complexity when you’ve have to almost be ready a month before demand, don’t you?
[00:31:27] Lianne: [00:31:27] Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. Just so we can, you know, deliver new bikes next week. It takes a bit longer than that. Yeah.
[00:31:35] Germaine: [00:31:35] How did you counsel that?
[00:31:36] Lianne: [00:31:36] Um, I guess trial and error, we, we always can because we have a standard drain and range and that, that enables us to make beforehand. And then we have always have enough that we can sell to our wholesalers with white label. It’s a little bit different because that’s just part of the process and our white label customers understand that that’s the way it is.
[00:31:58] So, yeah, that’s just taken into account when they’re ordering.
[00:32:02] Germaine: [00:32:02] I mean, with white label, I guess, um, it’s almost on them to decide how much they owe, how much they need to order in advance. Um, because you know, they will turn around to you and say, we need this many, you know, bars of soap at this point, rather than you making that decision where, um, it’s really more on your end where you’ve got to sort of, um, balance it out.
[00:32:22] But I guess, you know, after the first few years you would have enough data for you to. To be able to look at it and sort of say, okay, we know that this time of the year we sell quite well this time of the year, it’s a little bit quieter and you can sort of balance things out that way as well.
[00:32:37] Lianne: [00:32:37] Yeah. We know that a bit better now and now it’s leading up to Christmas.
[00:32:41] We know that’s going to be a few easy months, so we are busy manufacturing all the boss, but that the liquids are a bit easier because we can do that. This doesn’t need to cure anything. We can make big containers of liquid and then change them into the different sense that I needed. So that’s a bit easier, but yeah, it definitely can find it a little better now.
[00:33:02] Germaine: [00:33:02] Yeah. Yeah. It’s um, I’ve never, I’ve always wanted to be in a, or B a business that produces things, but, but I’ve never been, never, always been sort of service-based I guess, but it’s, it’s an interesting challenge that you guys have, you can sell almost, you know, while you’re asleep and sort of make money while you’re asleep, but you’ve got to really put in that work.
[00:33:23] In advance. I mean, for you guys, it’s, it’s at least a month in advance. Um, because if it’s, if it’s, um, any less, you you’ll have soaps that, I guess I’m more like a BlueTech or like gooey than the actual hub. So before, before we, um, talked about what you hope to do in moving forward, tell me a little bit about your sort of process in terms of how you guys handle orders.
[00:33:48] They come to you directly through your website.
[00:33:50] Lianne: [00:33:50] Um, yeah, so I, website orders is something that we do ourselves and it’s the same way. We, we have the storage space in premium bar soap store. And usually we go with that about three times a week. So when we have orders in that we know needs to be sent off, we’ll take those box home, wrap them, pack them in and send them off.
[00:34:14] So it’s very, um, yeah, it’s very reactionary. And, um, I knew I saw at the moment, if it would increase, it would be a bigger workload, but it’s, um, it’s still a smaller part of, of, um, uh, sales. So you can, most of it, the still wholesalers. Um, but it’s, it’s good. It’s a good way for us to directly engage with our customers.
[00:34:37] Germaine: [00:34:37] Definitely. And it’s a good way for you guys to keep your finger on the policy as well at the very least to sort of know what customers like, what customers don’t like and what sort of what’s happening in the soaps market, because otherwise you just be directed by a wholesalers which takes a little bit of that control out of your hands to an extent, doesn’t it.
[00:34:56] Lianne: [00:34:56] I mentioned before the one market. Still doing his Hamra handmade market and they’ve this year gone virtual, we’ve got a virtual mock-up usually once a month, which is great as well because we, we just get web orders through them, um, straight to us. And it’s been really good at actually it’s a, it’s a busy weekend, even though we don’t have to.
[00:35:16] Go anywhere and do anything special.
[00:35:20] Germaine: [00:35:20] Yeah. But it’s all home-based and you guys still continue to, um, be able to produce things and deliver things to customers. There’s just exciting. Um, what do you, what do you guys hope to do moving forward? Do you have any you’ve you’ve mentioned look at a bigger facility.
[00:35:35] Um, you know, are you planning to add new products? What what’s what’s things looking like over the next six, 12 months, or even longer?
[00:35:42] Lianne: [00:35:42] Yeah. So, yeah, like you said, there, in the next 12 months, we have to move out to a bigger facility. I also aim to, to put more of an emphasis on the social, um, social purpose that we have.
[00:35:54] It’s, it’s always been there, but it’s sometimes been a big, common background. So I try to push that out to the world more and kind of talk about that a lot more. And, um, yeah, hopefully we get that. Uh, difficult, not difficult, but challenging period in our business where we want to move out to a facility and get more.
[00:36:15] Um, older customers and kind of getting that balance right, is I think going to be an interesting challenge for the next year. Um, and also the wide label pod of obviousness is something we are going to expand as well.
[00:36:33] Germaine: [00:36:33] Yeah. Yeah. It’s a bit of a chicken or the egg. Yes. And that when you’re looking to expand, because you want to expand your resources, whether it’s space or staffing to a point, which is big enough that it, that it matters, but then you need to work.
[00:36:49] Got you. No, do you get the orders first then get, get a location, but. You know, both of those processes can take six months and still get, get nowhere. So it’s very chicken or the egg.
[00:37:00] Lianne: [00:37:00] Yeah. It’s very difficult. And so we started thinking about it and ran into it. We was thinking like, how do other people do that?
[00:37:07] But I think it’s just a balancing act. And, um, um, we just have to sit there and make sure we do it the right way, but, um, yeah, we’ll get there.
[00:37:17] Germaine: [00:37:17] Yeah, no, you definitely will. I think, um, that’s something that we, we continue to sort of battle with him and even, um, at future the area, trying to work out, you know, we want to go to an office that’s twice as big, but do we hire the people and then squish them into our current office?
[00:37:32] Um, and then, you know, say, okay guys, like give us the next 12 months, we’ll find a location so that you guys don’t have to sit on each other’s laps.
[00:37:42] Lianne: [00:37:42] Yeah. It’s tricky.
[00:37:43] Germaine: [00:37:43] It is very tricky. It’s a balancing act, but business is tricky businesses and supposed to be easy. It’d business takes a lot of work and thinking and talking.
[00:37:52] So, um, where can people find out more about, uh, Base Soaps and what you guys do?
[00:37:58] Lianne: [00:37:58] Yeah. On our website, www.basesoaps.com.au. So it’s up to you and our social media as well.
[00:38:05] Germaine: [00:38:05] That’s fantastic. Um, are you ready for the top 12? Okay. Let’s get into it top three books or podcasts that you recommend.
[00:38:14] Lianne: [00:38:14] Yeah. So I wrote down one book that I will say straight away that I haven’t finished it yet, but I’ve already found it very interesting.
[00:38:22] It’s called the infinite game. By Simon Sinek. And it’s, it’s kind of about how, how business is an infinite game. It just always keeps going, but a lot of people think about it as a finite game, so it’s a very different mindset. So I find it very interesting to read about and the other two, I read download podcasts.
[00:38:41] So I really like. Kind of inspirational stories from people and one that really enjoys the lady start-up stories. Um, that’s a podcast from mama Mia and the other one I really like is the big magic podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert. Um, I think a lot of people know by Elizabeth Gilbert. And her book, big magic, but I was particularly excited about the podcast that came with the book because it talks about New York people specifically in day, their creative journey.
[00:39:10] I really enjoyed that.
[00:39:12] Germaine: [00:39:12] Awesome. Um, there’s some recommendations that we haven’t had before, which is nice. Um, top three software tools that you can’t live without.
[00:39:21] Lianne: [00:39:21] Yeah. So, um, the first one is trailer. I don’t know if that needs any motion, the nation. I feel like a lot of people are using it these days, but yeah, it’s basically my brain dump from my screen, which I love.
[00:39:33] And, um, you feel very free because of it. I guess the other one is, um, it’s a manufacturing resource software, which is basically the reason that I now know what’s going on in my business. I think there’s a lot of different ones out there. And for us, it was just the, um, The challenge to find the right one, like the small ones for really small businesses that I bought at T businesses.
[00:39:57] And then there’s massive ones. So I felt it was kind of a task to find the right one. Cause we kind of in the middle of that. And so do you want to follow us, go to MRP easy and yeah, we just put everything in that, all the recipes, all the raw materials, all our sales and made all the difference.
[00:40:14] Germaine: [00:40:14] Wow. Wow.
[00:40:16] Is there a third one?
[00:40:17] Lianne: [00:40:17] Yes, there is third one. Um, I had to love when I read it down, it’s an a zero extension go. Hubdocs. Which they added, um, at the start of the year, which for some reason I find it very hard to keep track of all my receipts. I don’t know why it should not be that difficult, but somehow I wasn’t, it was just very hard and, and hope dog says, um, you can just scan and, you know, it matches up.
[00:40:44] And then it just takes that, that task away, which is great. I actually have a fourth one as well. That’s all right. Yeah, of
[00:40:53] Germaine: [00:40:53] course.
[00:40:55] Lianne: [00:40:55] Well, my personal, um, finance called pocket book, which I love keeps track of all your
[00:41:03] Germaine: [00:41:03] expenses. Yeah. It’s um, I guess this is this software question really goes to show that it’s, it’s very important to keep track of things and keep an account for everything, whether it’s your, your raw materials, whether it’s your business processes or your receipts, um, or even your personal finance.
[00:41:21] Love it. Um, top three mantras are try and live by.
[00:41:25] Lianne: [00:41:25] Yeah. So I, um, but they’re not really meant for us, but I rather than three sentences really resonate with me. And that I have to remember all the time, because I tend to forget about these things, which the first one is the thing about the long-term game.
[00:41:39] You know, when you’re doing small little recurring tasks that are just boring, you think you need to remember why you’re doing it. The second one is to review and evaluate what you’ve done, especially in our business journey. It’s sometimes easy to forget how far we’ve gone in this last few years. And then the last one is to trust yourself and to know that when something feels right, it’s usually right.
[00:42:02] So.
[00:42:05] Germaine: [00:42:05] Fantastic. And the last one, top three people you follow or study.
[00:42:10] Lianne: [00:42:10] Yes. So again, I kind of answered that question a bit differently because I couldn’t really think about three specific people, but I just thought I wanted to point out some. Uh, businesses. So I guess the people behind the businesses would be the ones that I really admire.
[00:42:26] So I really inspired by businesses that are changing the landscape and doing things differently at the moment on my radar. I kind of, it’s a bit of a different direction, but. The businesses that make alcohol free drinks and make alcohol free drinking a lot more mainstream. And this is something that I think has made a huge leap in the last maybe two years.
[00:42:50] So the three that are married are at the moment as a vehicle sober. S O B H that’s a lot. There’s an, a camera on cook, huge normal, which I love that business name by the way. And then there’s all Tina, where they sell alcohol free drinks. And they were actually at the mail house mentoring program at the same year as we were.
[00:43:12] So I think that’s, that’s a great, yeah, there are, I guess, social enterprises in no way, um, by contributing positively to the community. And then the second one and I. I think the big social enterprises that I’ve already mentioned before, that kind of paved the way for all of us. Like thank you. And he gives you grab, and then there’s also a hat business go whale and bath.
[00:43:35] And they’re also search enterprise and yeah. All of those businesses. Yep.
[00:43:40] Germaine: [00:43:40] Fantastic. The, the, the point of this question is to try and identify, you know, accounts that can be followed for example. So that very much answers that because I’m sure all of these organizations and businesses have, um, Presences out there that you can follow and learn from and see what they’re doing.
[00:43:57] And, um, so yeah, you know, it didn’t matter whether it’s people or businesses, there’s ultimately people buying these businesses anyways. So, yeah. That’s fantastic. Thanks for this. Thanks for coming on this episode. Um, it’s been awesome to talk to you.

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