I’m so excited to introduce you to Laura Nolan of Tularoo Soaps! Laura is a trained sculptor and professional designer, residing in Bend Oregon. Her products are not only beautiful to look at….she’s also committed to using all-natural, environmentally friendly ingredients, and sourcing locally whenever possible. Her soaps are amazing, but she also makes lip balms and body balms! AND..she does custom work! She’s made soaps that look like people’s pets, custom soaps for wedding parties and gifts, etc. Check out her Etsy shop and her website at www.tularoosoaps.com. I hope you find her answers to “the 5 questions for women of small business” as uplifting as I did..
1. Tell us about yourself and your business.
Tularoo is my small soap company based out of Bend Oregon. All of my soaps are hand-sculpted designs that I cast myself in a silicone rubber mold. Each color of soap in the design is mixed separately and poured into my homemade molds using an eye dropper (or pipette). (Check out this video of the process: www.tularoosoaps.com/tularoo-soap-method.html)
I work in small batches so that each individual soap is never like another one. The soap itself is all-natural, sulfate free, and artificial-fragrance free. I blend all of my essential oils to create a unique and healthy scent.
I studied sculpture at Maryland Institute of Fine Art. Tularoo Soaps was pioneered in my search to open up the confines of Fine Art and deliver conventional aesthetics in an unconventionally lighthearted way.
I believe that a smile can be extracted in many different ways. Sometimes the smallest sentiment does the trick. Adding beauty to our everyday lives helps to uplift us and remind us not to take life too seriously :). My mission is to make it special!
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2. Describe your workspace. What’s your favorite thing about it?
I am lucky enough to have a studio in the comfort of my own home. The studio is aptly named “The Tularoom” 🙂 There are a lot of great things about the space such as great morning light and a balcony with bird feeders.
Though, I suppose my favorite part about it is the fact that I can watch, or listen to whatever I want nearly all day. I love the fact that I am not stuck in a cubicle or a shared space fighting over a radio station or struggling to concentrate over atmospheric noise and other peoples conversations.
The podcasts are particularly great because I already feel so productive with the work that I do and it’s great to also be learning and enriching my mind at the same time. I am a total “Ted Radio Hour” nerd!
3. Where do you find motivation when you feel stuck?
Long car rides with my husband. I am such a busy-body whenever I am at home. I am always trying to make things or be productive. This is normally a great thing for me but I find that it is sometimes tricky to focus and be inspired when I am constantly futzing with one thing or another.
Since I get car sick if I am not looking straight ahead, car rides force my hands to “shut up” and allow my mind “take the wheel and steer”. It’s a great opportunity for me to step back from projects and do some good old problem solving.
It helps a lot that my husband is there so I can bounce ideas off of him. When we are in the car together, we both give each other our full attention. There is also something very inspiring about road trips in general. Especially considering the fact that I live in the Pacific Northwest. No matter where we drive to I always feel like Pocahantus singing “just around the river bend” (which I sometimes actually sing 😉
4. What did you think you’d be “when you grew up,” and how does it differ from the person you are today?
Honestly, I wanted to either be a prima ballerina or Cinderella. Unfortunately, I am neither graceful nor a disney princess. 🙂
That being said, I was a “crafter” ever since I was old enough to understand how a tape dispenser worked. Doing, making, and creating was not just a fun thing to do in my free time, but rather, my life blood. It always has been and always will be something necessary in my life. I suppose the irony is that I never thought that I would grow up to be an artist. I mean, I never imagined that it would ultimately become my job to create things.
I think that kids often aspire to be something fantastical and unreachable. Something that is so unlike the life that they live and so unlike the things that they do every day. They rarely just aspire to be themselves. I suppose that it just doesn’t sound as cool as being an astronaut.
5. What one piece of advice would you give to a women that want to be their own boss?
I think that the most practical wisdom that I could pass on to my fellow female entrepreneur is to make sure you are constantly building up your coffers. By that I mean, there are many different types of buffers you can build that can help you get through the rough times. Of course, the primary buffer is undoubtedly the financial one. It is always important to make sure you are squirreling away some money here and there for the “oops’s”.
However, it’s the secondary buffer that I want to put more of an emphasis on- the emotional buffer. Regardless of your endeavors, there is absolutely NO chance that it is going to be an easy ride all the way through. Things will be hard and discouraging. It is up to you (and only you) to make sure that you have built a positive support structure surrounding you and your business. You have to absorb every ounce of positivity and make sure you hold tight to those silly little things that make you feel good throughout each day. Self-sustainable support is just as important as support from your friends and family. It is your job to strategically insert positive people and positive energy in your future to help protect you from the inevitable emotional obstacles.
I am unfathomably grateful to have my husband, family, and friends that help as much as they do (and oh boy do they!!). I am so proud of my social support structure but at the end of the day, I know that I have to stand on my own two-feet. It would be unfair and unhealthy to fully lean on them every time I get knocked down. I know that I have to find the courage, motivation, drive, and willpower to just get up and do it. It really helps to file-away all of my glorious and satisfying memories to pull off the shelf when things get rough. Like the time I signed an excellent new wholesale account or the time someone told me how much my product touched their life. Those are my winter acorns!!
So in other words, be like a chipmunk- make sure to shove a bit of extra positivity in your cheeks when positivity is bountiful. You never know when and how long your winter may be. And- at the risk of sounding even more cliche- never forget that summer will always come!!