One day I got up and thought I will just do it!” Those are the words of Kakkanang Gyte (nickname “Myo”) who runs her own online soap business from home in Bangkok. There could hardly be a greater contrast between that and her full-time occupation as a Political Officer at the European Union (EU) Delegation to Thailand. Employed there since 2014, Kakkanang’s main portfolio covers a wide range of demanding human rights issues in Thailand including civil and political rights.
Born in Surat Thani province, Kakkanang is married and has been operating “Smoothie” since May 2017. “I have never done any business in my life. I didn’t study business; had no idea how to do it. But then I feel I’m still young at 32, and if I’m going to fail, I can fail now and I will still have time to recover from the failure. I chose the name ‘Smoothie’ because of the idea of blending natural ingredients for smooth skin,” explained Kakkanang.
Once she took the step, she researched online and did a one day training course in how to make basic soap. She learned about the different properties of oils in making natural soaps and the techniques of how to blend the various oils to create a solid bar that will not soften or melt quickly after use.
“Then, I went crazy,” she said. “I was reading in my spare time every day, watching so many YouTube videos, practicing all day over the weekends, and when I got home from work using half of our kitchen for my ingredients and equipment.”
Producing handcrafted soap takes time. After making and cutting them, they need to be cured for at least four to six weeks, so they can be expensive. It was a struggle as Kakkanang explains.
“Being a new brand with no physical shop, it was hard for people to trust my products. People also usually like to smell soaps before buying, so selling online is quite hard. But all of my soaps are registered and approved by Food and Drug Administration. I gave away some of the soaps to people I know. Now, most of my clients are from word of mouth.” The target customers are people looking for alternative ways to pamper their skin and want soap made from natural ingredients rather than chemical or commercial soaps. The aim is to make soaps environmental friendly, look delicious, smell wonderful, and enhance the shower experience.
Kakkanang describes what makes her soaps popular, “You can instantly feel the difference after using them. I have seven different scents and styles which include pure honey, mint chocolate, apricot and creamy latte scrub. All are made from a blend of skin loving oil which is designed for those who have sensitive, dry or oily skin.”
The soap market is highly competitive with a number of companies focusing on cost cutting and cheaper ingredients for mass production. Using natural ingredients does not mean that it is organic.
Natural products are minimally processed and do not contain artificial ingredients; while organic means that it does use toxic herbicides or chemicals in the production. “Many people don’t understand that being natural doesn’t mean organic.” Kakkanang says. “It’s very difficult to break this perception. I can really say not all soaps are born equal.”
With such a young business Kakkanang is taking things slowly. She has a Facebook page and is planning to create a website. At the moment she is concentrating on ensuring that regular clients return by maintaining the consistent quality of each bar she produces.
What advice does she have for budding entrepreneurs? “Start small, find the right work and life balance. As long as you are learning, even if it fails, you are not at all a failure!”
Visit www.facebook.com/Soap.Smoothie to learn more about “Smoothie” soaps on offer