One of the Babes: Jae Benjamin
Meet Jae Benjamin, first-generation soap-maker and the brilliant mind behind Benjamin Soap Co. Recently celebrating the one-year anniversary of her company, Jae now sells her products in 25 stores across four different states. Read what inspires this babe to keep pursuing her passion below.
Q: What inspired you to start your business? Did you have any role models or learn from someone, in particular?
A: Last fall I had this crazy idea and $500, so I decided to take the plunge and start my own business. I'm a soap-maker, and I make all-natural, fragrance-free bath, body and home products. My daughter Sophia was actually my inspiration. I wanted to create an all-natural high-quality product without breaking the bank—and make it affordable for everyone. I am a first-generation soap-maker and didn't really learn from anyone. I read books, did my own research and started making my first batches in my laundry room.
Q: Do you have any tidbits of advice for people with passions, in general?
A: You have to take risks, and learn to say no. I have been a business over for one year—we just celebrated our anniversary—and with hard work and determination I have gone from selling at local farmers' markets, to being in over 25 stores in four states. I have never worked harder in my life, but I LOVE—and I mean, LOVE—what I do. I wake up everyday excited to be in my studio and feeling so fortunate that I can do something that I take pride in. You have to find what makes you happy and just go for it.
Q: What have been your favorite moments of creativity?
A: For me, it's being a mom. I find inspiration in the smallest things and in my children. My daughter Sophie, for example, wanted bubblegum unicorn soap, so after a little chat and having to explain that unfortunately there are no essential oils that beam of rainbows, sugar and fairytale creatures we made a compromise and came up with her own blend "Sophie's Bar." I find inspiration in everything from food that I eat, to new places I explore.
Q: What have been your most challenging moments in your career, thus far?
A: Growing so fast, which for me has been a good thing, but I had a moment about tw weeks ago. I was slammed with orders, my husband was working side by side with me in the studio, emails were piling up, we had eaten take-out for the third night in a row, and I realized that I had to make more time for my family and find balance. That alone has been the biggest struggle for me. I am a workaholic. I never knew it until I started my company. Balance is definitely my biggest struggle.
Q: What's your day job?
A: This is my full-time gig, when I'm not chasing after two kiddos and a chocolate lab.
Q: When you're discouraged, what do you run to or away from?
A: I really try not to get discouraged. The beauty/cosmetic industry has its own challenges to begin with, and I find myself going back to the drawing board so that my ideas and products are always fresh and new when I find myself getting discouraged.
Your favorite band at the moment: Adele's "25." It's on repeat in my studio right now. I can't seem to get enough of it.
Your favorite book at the moment: "Fortune Cookie Principle" by Bernadette Jiwa (a MUST-read for any business owner)
Your local Austin gem: Stouthaus Coffee downtown, Round Rock Honey and my absolute favorite... a BLT from Greenhouse Craft Food in Round Rock.
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