Meet TJ, the owner of Homestead Soapery, located in Jimboomba, QLD.
Tell Us A Little Something About Yourself
My husband and I live on a small farm in Jimboomba with an array of pets! We both currently work full time in corporate roles, don't have any children (but lots of furbabies) and want to make a difference in our community. I ride horses, do olympic weightlifting (though with COVID I've paused it due to other health concerns), bake fresh bread and tinker with gluten free recipes. I also love watching good shows, reading, shooting and gaming.
What Inspired You To Start Your Own Business?
With COVID I realised I don't want to do the corporate gig anymore. I want to have more freedom and control of my life and my destiny.
Because I have always made things, food from scratch, growing veggies, having chooks and producing chicks, I just feel as if getting back to nature and back to basics is CRITICAL for mental health and wellbeing for me and my family.
COVID made me realise how much unnecessary noise is in my life and I want to take positive action to correct that.
What Does Your Business Offer, And What Makes It Unique?
We make handmade artisan soaps using traditional methods.
We aim to use ingredients that are from local producers where possible. We want to support other small or family run businesses and also make a clean, environment safe product.
All our soaps use minimal ingredients (we aim for no more than 5 in total), with all soaps safe for use in grey water and septic tank setups.
What Does Your Journey Look Like?
Every idea starts with a problem. And our problem was allergens.
One of our founders has all sorts of allergens. Food allergens, environmental allergens and medicinal allergens. Because of this, doing anything even remotely social, even something as simple as meeting friends for coffee or breakfast, requires lots of planning, menu analysis, and weather forecasting.
As such, we have been modifying, making and creating things that are suitable for our allergic founder for a long time.
We have created and developed lots of life hacks along the way to help make life simpler, less processed, and a lot more enjoyable. And one of them is soap.
It turns out that when we can control the entire process of soap making, we can add and remove ingredients in soap, specifically those that are unsafe, genetically modified and synthetic. We can add ingredients that are beneficial to the skin, ensuring we can remove impurities and develop immunities to fundamentally create a safe product for humans, fur babies, and our local environment. And all of this while supporting local producers where possible.
By circumventing commercial channels and methodologies, we have taken on designing, crafting, making, and producing artisan soaps right here in South East Queensland. We're able to provide a soap that is made the traditional way, using natural ingredients. We believe that artisan soap is a fundamental element of living life simply, being mindful and being connected to the environment around us. It means we release less toxins into our environment through commercially graded chemicals, and instead encourage ecological wellness by being considerate to our rainwater (and grey water!) tanks.
Living simply and being mindful doesn't need to be a big song and dance. And neither should living with allergies. So, let's make things easier. Let's go back to basics.
Did You Always Think You'd Be Doing This?
No. I never thought I would start a business. My parents had a business that failed when the GFC hit and I was terrified of ever embarking on the endeavour. COVID has made me re-evaluate that, because I want to work from home and have more control over my life. So, I still currently work my IRL job but have used the time since COVID started and I have been WFH to kick off my business, in the hope that in a couple years time, the business ideas I have planned will be enough to supplement my current wage and ensure I can live ANYWHERE and work from home.
In terms of the calling, the idea just came to mind for Homestead Soapery. I have been developing an ecosystem for my husband and I for about 18 months where we would move right out into the bush on 100+ acres, and so I had already developed a lot of business ideas and had done research on what I could do on that land. Because that property would be paid out in full from selling investment properties we have, I really wouldn't need to work as hard or as much as I do now, so the appeal to work from home kept growing.
The idea for the Soapery came into my head and if I try and to think of how it got there specifically I couldn't tell you. I just knew it was a way I could start and cement some of the other ideas linked to it and the ecosystem I have planned.
What Are The Most Rewarding And Challenging Parts Of Your Job And Owning Your Own Business?
Rewarding: having total creative control, thinking and brainstorming new ideas and concepts, planning something and doing it the way I want to, waking up and walking out of my house and right into my studio, and doing something completely different. The notion of being able to plan my own future is what keeps me going. I love making soap and I love the process involved.
Challenges: still needing to work my IRL job as this grows, and doing a lot of initial business development work unpaid and in my spare time, starting a business during covid where people are holding their money close and you're trying to convince them why your product is better than a commercial $2 detergent soap from the reject shop, managing all of the extras, like social media, content development etc.
Whats Your End Goal? The Moment You'll Know You've Achieved What You Want To?
When I can get two businesses to at least bring in my current level of wage because that means I can leave my corporate job and do this full time. (I have one launched and launching a second soon).
Thats the first goal. The second part comes in when I have a bit more flow established and can also plan fun soaps like making a special edition batch for special days (think St Patricks Day for example). Currently I'm just making my regular product line each week to ensure I have enough product to keep launching through each month. Also, when I get a wholesale contract or a regular contract where a consistent relationship is developed and ongoing.