For many entrepreneurs and small businesses, social media can be an absolute game-changer! All it takes is one viral post and a business can suddenly take off.
At Like A Voss Social Media, we’re highlighting local businesses and entrepreneurs who are killing the online game. This week’s spotlight is on Valerie Lamirande, Owner of RavenSong Soap + Candle!
RavenSong Soap + Candle is a West Coast inspired company with Indigenous roots. I create natural body care products for you to practice self-care or treat a loved one.
RavenSong is an award-winning soap company with the most recent being “Best in Show” at the International Soap Making Conference in Las Vegas and has caught the attention of Kevin Harrington of Shark Tank and As Seen on TV.
At RavenSong we are proud of our award-winning handcrafted soap, luxury bath bombs, natural soy wax candles and First Nations merchandise and gift ware.
Our CEO Mandi interviewed Valerie about her secret to success in business and in life. We also got some awesome insights into what they think makes social media such an effective tool in business.
A Little Bit About Being an Entrepreneur
1: How long have you been in business?
I started making soap as a hobby in 2003. In 2013 I retired from the corporate world to pursue soap making full time. I moved into my first little studio in Campbellton in 2015 and then upscaled to a larger space on Shoppers Row in 2018. At the beginning of July, RavenSong opened my dream space in Willow Point.
2: What made you decide to start RavenSong Soap + Candle?
RavenSong was an evolution more than a decision. I worked full time in a corporate job as an executive assistant and events coordinator. It was a full time job and I dabbled in soap making as a hobby. As I learned more about soap making my passion grew and I spent every spare moment making soap, studying aromatherapy and teaching myself all I could about the craft. I started making more soap than I could use myself and I started to share it with friends and family. It was not long before others discovered my soap and started asking if they could buy it. I was selling soap out of my house and started to do local markets. As my reputation grew I was invited to juried shows like the Filberg Festival, Out of Hand (Victoria), Kris Kringle and more. It got to a point where I could not keep up to demand. In 2013 my husband and I had a talk and we both agreed it was time to retire from my corporate job and pursue soap making full time.
3: What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
I love having the creative licence to do what I want. I have control over every aspect of my business and I let my creativity and personality guide me.
4: What is the hardest thing you have had to overcome as an entrepreneur?
To have my business taken seriously. RavenSong, for the longest time, was mostly viewed as a “craft” and not really considered a business. And being a mature woman in a “craft” was a little difficult to overcome. I do still find that some businesses still want to give me the “pat-on-the-head” and not take me seriously. However, once they look at my social media and what I have accomplished, most sit up and take notice. It is kind of interesting seeing the transformation.
5: What is one thing about working in the artisan soap industry that people would be surprised to learn?
A lot of people are always surprised at the community that is built behind the soap industry. We are all connected, support each other and share our successes and failures. We connect through many social media platforms and learn and grow from each other. We have National and International conferences and when I go to those I feel like I am meeting with old friends, even though we had never met face to face. I can connect with a soapmaker in almost every country or city I visit and feel like I am meeting a friend. When I am travelling I often meet with one of my fellow soap makers that I have met online and we could talk all day. It is an amazing community.
And Now Onto The Social Media Questions!
6: Do you have a favorite social media platform? Why?
Currently Instagram is my favourite platform. It is a platform where I share my product in real time. I am honest and open about my creative process, success, failures, growth and everything that is going on behind the scenes. I am able to be myself and my audience is very organic. Because I am a creative person and my photography and storytelling comes fairly natural to me this is a natural outlet for me.
7: What made you decide to start using social media as a way to promote your company?
My following on Instagram grew organically. It was not my goal to have 30,000+ followers. I just enjoyed sharing and it started to grow. Of course my audience always asked the question “Where can I buy your products”. At the time I only sold at markets or out of my little studio in Campbellton and I realized that I needed to build a website to direct people to. It was a lot of work creating RavenSongSoap.com and connecting it to social media. It has been a steep learning curve and I am still working on building that part of my business. I guess the decision to promote RavenSong on social media was more a demand from my Instagram/Facebook audience.
8: How has social media impacted your business? Would you say that it’s an effective marketing tool?
Social media has taken RavenSong from an obscure little soap studio in Campbellton to a recognized brand. I would not have been able to build RavenSong to the business it is without social media. I have to gauge my social media presence sometimes if I am unable to keep up to demand. I notice a huge difference in visits to my site and to my store when I am active on social media. A case in point: I just spent 3 months renovating my new space and when it was time to move I had to shut down production. I was still doing my social media posts and noticed that I would get a surge in interest and visits to my site after I had been active on my platforms and product started to run low. I had to make the difficult decision to stay off social media for a while while we got back up and running. So yes, social media drives my business.
9: What advice would you give to other businesses and entrepreneurs who want to use social media as a way to connect with customers?
Just do it. I was so unsure about how and where to start. I thought my photography and captions had to be perfect and one day I just started. Be authentic, be real, show the success and the failures. Understand it is a two-way conversation. Acknowledge when people like or comment and don’t shy away from those who question you.
Find the platform(s) that works for you and focus on those. Not every platform is for everyone. Get comfortable using those platforms before you expand. I predominantly focus on Instagram and Facebook as well as managing my website (WooCommerce). I am fairly comfortable with these platforms and am now thinking of expanding to other platforms.
I have also learned to outsource when I can.
A Little More About Valerie
Valerie, the founder/CEO of RavenSong Soap, was born and raised on Haida Gwaii and is proud of her Haida heritage. She was always looking for an artistic outlet, dabbling in countless arts and crafts but none were an obvious match for her creative spirit.
In 2003 a friend gifted her a bar of handmade soap and a passion was born. Every free moment was spent taking courses, attending conferences, studying aromatherapy and making soap. In 2013 Valerie retired from the corporate world to pursue soapmaking full time.
Valerie now runs a successful soap & candle shop as well as an online shop out of Campbell River and is constantly adding to her luxury line of bath and beauty products. RavenSong Soap + Candle products can also be found in Galleries and Gift Shops up and down the lower mainland.
Connect with Raven Song Soap
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