Soap maker wants to raise the bar

By Alejandro Dominguez Herald Writer

SNOHOMISH — When Cindy Todd and her husband lost their jobs in 2009, the family of six decided to leave Florida and seek better opportunities.

They ended up in Snohomish County after Todd, who has a masters degree in economics, figured it matched criteria she thought were needed to start a small business.

Todd got an idea: Make homemade soap and sell it.

“People get creative when they get pressed,” Todd, 50, said.

So in February 2010, Todd founded the Snohomish Soap Company.

They decided her business needed to be run from home. The flexible schedule fit in with her other job, raising her four children.

One is now an adult and in the Navy, but Todd still takes care of three teenagers at home.

Todd spends a couple of hours two or three days a week to make the soap, about 150 to 225 bars each week. She packages them at a manufacturing space she rents in Everett.

She focuses her efforts on six different scents, such as lavendar-peppermint and lemongrass. She also makes beeswax lotions.

Todd got help from a local nonprofit, GROW Washington, to develop her business plan and get seed money from a bank and a private individual.

Todd started selling her products at the Snohomish farmer’s market and at the town’s Christmas bazaar. In her first year, she made $170 on her best days.

Since then, sales have doubled, but she hasn’t made a profit since everything Todd makes goes back to the business. Todd believes she’s invested about $10,000 in two years. Her goal is to expand her business in the next year.

Todd has managed to get her soaps on the shelves of nine PCC Natural Markets in the Seattle area. She said they also will be sold at 28 Haggen stores starting in mid-October,

Todd hopes to sell her soaps at the Whole Foods in Lynnwood by the end of the year, and is in talks with Walmart to sell it online by next spring.

To fill the projected demand, Todd said she needs to increase the supply. That means hiring staff. She wants to hire five women like her who need a source of income, but cannot spend too much time outside of their homes.

She’s already hired one Lake Stevens woman and she is in talks with others from Seattle and Kent.

She’s also trying to raise $35,000 through the website www.indiegogo.com to buy a “soap mobile,” a vehicle to deliver the product which she would also use to drive to the women’s homes to provide training in soap-making.

Customers want products that are made locally, she said.

“This is something they can do a home,” Todd said. “Because that’s how it is for me.”

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.