Anne-Marie Faiola turned a soap-making hobby into a multimillion-dollar business called Bramble Berry. From shea butter to lavender essential oil to palm oil, Bramble Berry now sells raw materials to soap and toiletry artisans worldwide. She practices what she preaches. “A good business comes from finding something that works and capitalizing on it…Success doesn’t happen overnight…It’s about replicating small victories every day.”
In 1998 when Anne-Marie Faiola was 20 years old and still in college, she pursued entrepreneurship-- her soap making hobby-turned-into-business quickly bubbled beyond her living room. A driving force for Anne-Marie and the company is her sincere love of the craft coupled with a desire to help others. Her mission statement is to “provide creative empowerment with LOVE – changing Lives, creating Opportunities, delivering high Value, and encouraging creative Expression through the five senses.”
With over 2500 products, Bramble Berry enables artisans to create everything from soaps to lotions to lip balms to mineral-based makeup and candles. Expanding beyond Bramble Berry’s niche, Anne-Marie also operates Otion (lotion without the “L”) - a retail store where she also offers workshops to teach customers the soap making techniques, and ELF Industrial - a soap mold manufacturing company.
Harnessing social media has strengthened customer relationships leading to increased sales because “people buy from people they like.” Anne-Marie blogs on her website, SoapQueen.com; has launched a YouTube channel called Soap Queen TV to share free instructional videos; tweets for @BrambleBerry with small business advice and soapy musings; and has a Facebook site with over 4,600 fans and loyal customers.
An SBA 504 loan from People’s Bank and Northwest Business Development Association enabled Faiola to acquire her own 13,000 square foot office and warehouse building in Bellingham, and later to expand it by 3,500 square feet. Bramble Berry has been profitable for all 13 years of the company’s existence. The sustained financial performance is a testament to her business acumen. Dynamic, double-digit growth in sales from multiple income streams now generates annual revenue of about $3 million. Faiola has 32 employees, serves on numerous boards, and annually gives back about 8% of profits to charitable causes.
With her high-energy work style, integrity, desire to connect with the business community, and passion for the soap business, Anne-Marie Faiola is likely to clean up in the soap industry for years to come!