$200 and a Perfectly Made Bar of Lemongrass Soap
Updated: Feb 8, 2019
Entrepreneur: Abigail Morrissey
Degree: BS in Agriculture from West Virginia University (West Virginia, USA)
One Word That Describes You: Unashamed (Love it)
How We Met: Good old Woodstown High School!
The Case Study: From the second grade, Abby dreamed of going to law school. Once she entered college, and life threw her a few curveballs, she decided against pursuing her law school dreams and switched to agriculture instead. Upon graduating from college in 2016, it became obvious that unless she could take over her family farm, or sell seeds, there weren’t many job opportunities for her agriculture degree.
Her step-father is a farmer, but since his operation was a two man job, and they didn’t need Abby as a third, she settled on a job at the Wawa Fuel Department doing permitting and compliance work for all of their fuel stations across six states. The position started as part time, but was eventually outsourced and converted into a full time job. Abby has been able to climb the ranks quickly in this position, even though the petroleum industry is a “good ole boys club”, with many of the employees being middle aged and older men. Not an easy environment to navigate as a young female. Abby still works this job full time, even though petroleum and compliance aren’t her passion, while she grows her own business.
In 2017, Abby started her business, Salt Lickers Supply Co, with $200 and a perfectly made bar of lemongrass scented soap. I absolutely love this simple yet impactful start! She had done her research on how to make natural soaps and discovered that goat’s milk was a common ingredient. After learning about the benefits of adding milk, she thought, “why not cow’s milk?” and since her father-in-law owned a dairy farm, it seemed like an obvious fit. After her first perfect lemongrass bar of soap that she created with her sister-in-law, Danielle, Abby replaced the water in her next batch with milk from her father-in-law’s cows. They all thought she was a little crazy, but customers loved it! Not only was she able to use local soybean oil to make her soaps, but she could also add local, high quality cow’s milk from just a mile up the road. This was Abby’s big “aha” moment where she knew she was onto something. She decided to put her agriculture degree to good use, turn her kitchen into a laboratory, dive into research, and start creating batches of natural products using locally sourced ingredients.
As demand kept growing, Abby decided to create more bath products using locally sourced ingredients and created her own Etsy store. Once she began building social media platforms for Salt Lickers Supply Co, her following quickly grew and she expanded her sales channels by hosting events at her home, selling at local markets, and eventually created her own online store to avoid the Etsy fees. Abby’s vision took off quickly, even faster than she imagined it would, and she realized that she needed to build up her brand. The first step was developing a logo.
Abby’s great-grandfather was a dairy farmer. Unfortunately, he died in an accident when her grandmother, Nana, was just a little girl. After the death of Nana’s father, all of his cows were sold, including Nana’s favorite cow, Bessie. Nana told Abby wonderful stories about growing up on the farm, with Bessie and the rest of her family, getting to bond with and feed all of the animals. Those stories stuck in Abby’s mind and when it was time to develop a logo, she spent $30 to create an ode to Bessie. Undoubtedly, Abby’s great-grandfather is smiling down from heaven on the legacy he left behind. For reference, many companies invest thousands of dollars into logos.
Abby first put Bessie on tank tops for her volunteers assisting with a Mother’s Day event. After just one picture of Bessie on a tank top, she took off. Everyone loved her! I love her too. Now, Bessie, the $30 logo inspired by Nana, can be spotted on t-shirts, sweatshirts, bags, stickers, and more.
In 2018, Abby took a huge step to expand Salt Lickers Supply Co. She had been following a company called STS Ranchwear, that created unique items out of cowhides such as purses and wallets, on social media, and applied to be a wholesaler even though she never thought they’d approve her small boutique. Without second guessing, STS approved Abby as a wholesaler and she entered a whole new side of business. With this new door open, Abby started adding more products to her online store, including clothing, boots, and home décor. She is now offering 145+ more products, on top of her locally sourced bath and beauty creations, and has made it her goal to introduce new products each week to her online store.
Nature vs. Nurture: The question is: what does it take to be a successful entrepreneur? Are some people born to be successful entrepreneurs or did they learn the skills necessary to make it?
Abby comes from a long line of hard workers, and undoubtedly that is a key natural trait of hers. Neither of Abby’s parents were entrepreneurs, but they showed her how to work hard. Her parents split when she was just 2 years old, so finances were always tight. Her mom is a math teacher and has worked multiple jobs since Abby was young. One of the best math teachers ever, for the record. Her dad, a milkman, typically had to work weekends, and Abby has fond memories of riding with him along his route when she was not in school. Both of her parents set a strong foundation of working hard to achieve your dreams which Abby attributes to much of her current success.
Nurture has also played a significant role in Abby’s entrepreneurial journey. She was an only child until the age of 9, so she spent a lot of time around adults and learned how to think about the big picture from a young age. She typically preferred being around the adults talking about the real and hard stuff, instead of playing with the other kids. In college, Abby went through a series of terrible circumstances which made her realize if you have love in your heart, and determination in the depths of your soul, you can do anything. She posted a blog about it, and while I won’t share that part of her story, take it from me that this girl is one tough cookie who can make it through anything. She thrives off people telling her she can’t do something, and knows that both nature and nurture created the entrepreneur she is now.
Adversities: Abby’s biggest adversity is confidence. In the beginning, she took the negative comments personally, and it took her a long time to understand that there were a lot of people supporting her, hoping she succeeded, and that the opinions of the “haters” were irrelevant to her goals.
“Most people probably look at me, and think I’m someone who loves myself, and I do now, but I didn’t always,” says Abby. When she first started Salt Lickers Supply Co, she actually hid her social media pages because she was afraid of what people might say once they saw her promoting herself and her company. When you see people through a social media lens, you probably don’t think they doubt themselves, but Abby shares she has struggled to gain confidence in herself and her business. Abby states that the main thing she learned this year was that the people talking down to her were often accomplishing less, and with over a hundred new products in her catalog and a loyal customer base, it’s obvious that Abby is on the right track. This is why it is crucial that we empower each other, so awesome entrepreneurs like Abby gain the confidence to create great things.
“90% of businesses fail, so if you want to be a part of that 10%, you better have grit,” advises Abby.
Aside from grit, Abby wants aspiring entrepreneurs to know there is no harm in knowing your weaknesses and outsourcing for more help. Paying someone else to do something, can often save you money and your company’s reputation in the long run. Abby recommends others pursue their dreams, but do it cautiously and know their limits both financially and mentally.
Long Term Goals: Abby’s long term goal is to promote the agricultural industry while supporting other small businesses. She dreams of creating a brick and mortar general store front, including a warehouse and a workshop, where people can purchase household items like soaps, lotions, and clothing, but also offer additional items such as locally raised meat, pasteurized milk, and ice cream. She wants to create an attractive local experience that can educate others on the importance of knowing what is in the products we purchase, how much trouble the agricultural industry is in, and to encourage customers to take a step away from things like Amazon, even though they’re easy. On her way to creating her brick and mortar dreams, Abby will be rolling out (literally) her new mobile boutique, an 18ft enclosed trailer that has been refurbished into a store, to take to events and markets in the surrounding area. Another big milestone for Salt Lickers Supply Co!
Gwenalysis: In my humble opinion, Abby’s clear vision and keen eye created a memorable and attractive brand. First of all, Abby has kept her full time job while building her business. Go Abby! This is such a smart move for aspiring entrepreneurs because while it is tempting to jump all in the moment you get a grand idea, you will quickly burn through cash if you aren’t careful. Second, Abby rapidly expanded her online store while keeping her overall brand cohesive. One of the hardest parts about having multiple product lines from various vendors is sticking to your own branding, and making sure that hundreds of pieces come together to accurately represent your company’s vision. Not only that, but she makes her products look so got-deng-good, they’re irresistible. Let’s take this candle product shot as an example.
Did I care about candles before I saw this shot? Not really. Do I care now? Heck yes! I want ten of those candles. Might as well add in the wood slabs and wheat. While we are at it, why can’t Abby just outfit me and decorate my entire house? All of that to say, she’s done a great job creating and sticking to cohesive, memorable branding for Salt Lickers Supply Co. Last, but definitely not least, Abby started this company with a $200 investment and spent just $30 on a logo inspired by her Nana’s favorite cow. A humble beginning which quickly grew off of a small budget because people wanted more of Abby’s products and small town magic. Every start up company’s goal is to have demand for their products and services, and the niche market Abby targets can’t get enough of her creations.
If you couldn’t tell, I love this story, and I hope you did too. Congratulations on a fantastic start, Abby!
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