recipe
Sep
08
2008

Meet My Friend Suz of Oregon Trail Soapers Supply!

I have been working to get this interview and introduction up for months now! But I think it was worth the wait! AND if you leave me a comment,  I will draw a name and at the end of the week and you will get a great surprise in your mailbox!!!

When I first began ordering soap supplies online for my former business Dahlem’s Soapworks, Suz was one of the first companies I ordered from and man does she set a high standard for all other suppliers!  Fast, friendly, accurate service!! Many have inquired about my former “life as a professional soapmaker”…some out of curiosity, some wanting to get into it themselves.  Let me just say, either way, if you are going to make soap, quality ingredients are a must…and Suz is the the go-to gal for that!!! You can click on the graphic to visit her shoppe! And be sure and drop her a line and tell her I sent you!

Could you introduce yourself to the readers of NotQuiteJuneCleaver?

My name is Susan Kennedy, aka; Suz, I’m married to a farmer and a great guy,
Rick, have two children, a boy, Rock and a girl Sandra, 5 grandchildren and
love them all to pieces. We live in *the boonies* and I wouldn’t trade it
for anything, I love it here. We have a small farm as well, chickens, etc.
The deer and their fawns visit all the time, and we have a lot of natures
creatures here, it’s fun to look out the window and see them.

What does your business do?

The business is located on our property which is why we purchased our home
as it has a built in shop.  The builder was going to repair heavy equipment
so since he decided to sell instead, we inherited a big roomy shop.  We
provide raw materials and packaging and some fun, decorative soap related
items as well to people who wish to soap or make any cosmetic product.  We
also provide help and advice when we can

I think  we would all like to know is how and when you started your
business.

I started as a soap maker back in November 1988 and materials were so hard
to come by that I began researching.  At that time, one had to purchase in
enormous quantities so we stayed in the soapmaking business for years until
my husbands accident in 1994.  Due to numerous surgeries, we could not
continue the business until 1998 so when we opened back up, the amazing
amount of raw materials available were a dream come true so the supply side
began and soaping took somewhat of a back seat except the hundreds of
testers, but I still love to soap, probably always will.  It’s very
satisfying.

What is the most difficult aspect of running this type of business?

Bookwork!!  That’s easy..*lol*, and another thing is when people have
developed incorrect habits or ideas about soapmaking, I feel a duty to do my
best to get them back on the right track and specifically the safety aspect
of it all.

What is your favorite part of your job?

When I hear success stories, I LOVE it.  I have been blessed to be part of
several including Bella Lucce, I adore her and I’m so proud of her.  And
many others who have made a name for themselves, knowing I was even a small
part is so wonderful.

Was there anyone that inspired you to follow your dreams?

My husband suggested soapmaking as he knew a person who did it already and
that began the quest for books, materials, etc., and we spent countless
hours studying and trying to perfect the art so yes, it was my other half
who is my inspiration.

Where would you like to see your business go?  Any thing you can share
with us about future plans for your business?

That one is difficult.  I love the size it is, I also know you have to stay
new and fresh to keep peoples interest so I will continue to try to find new
and interesting products.  For instance, we just found an amazingly bright,
true red that does not migrate.  So things like that, an awesome fragrance,
a new beautiful packaging item.  The small conquests add up to the bigger
ones.

In your opinion,  has the Internet affected opportunities for  crafters
who wish to start their own businesses?

Absolutely.  It has created both good and bad.  My feeling is that a person
should study, study and study more before offering a product to the public.
Some soapers do exactly that and my hat is off to them.  Others make a batch
or two, a friend does a website for them and they are in business.  It makes
me a bit concerned but hopefully they were fast learners.

If you had a chance to do it all over again (in business) is there
anything you would do differently?

Yes, I would have been better at bookkeeping in the beginning and revamped
my Business plan a lot sooner than I did.  A business plan is not forever, not
etched in stone, It’s fluid and needs to be gone over from time to time as goals are met or
not met and one needs To take stock of what needs to be changed.  I didn’t do that often enough.

Do you have any other great passions or hobbies.

Quilting is my love, as well as pretty much any type sewing.  I love machine
embroidery and believe you can’t have too many pillows, quilts and cushy
items around your home.  I want my home to reflect that comfortable
welcoming feeling. I have knit for years and still have probably 40-50
sweaters that I have kept for years.  My other love is Oil Painting, it’s definitely a
toss up between those two.  Any camping, fishing, outdoor activity renews my
spirit.  I guess it’s the farm girl in me.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced while seeing your company  to
where it is today?  How did you overcome or handle this challenge?

It’s likely what I have already said and that is not redoing my business
plan often enough.

Do you have any words of wisdom for women looking to opening their own
business?

I tended to take too many thing personally and in business, you have to have
a thick skin.  Do the very best you can and realize you can only please
people some of the time.  So provide the best possible customer service you
can and quality in your products and you should do well.  Not everyone likes
everything and it’s not personal, it’s just fact. The other thing would be
study, and study a lot, never quit.  See what other successful businesses
are doing and try to analyze their success.  It’s interesting to me to see
the myriad of personalities in these different businesses.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Deb

i am a farmgirl at heart, living in the city. i really enjoy reading blogs like yours….big hug, Deb

A wonderful article about a wonderful lady! If I ever get famous, I can definitely thank Suz for helping me get there! She does have the best fragrances around, and my customers depend on them. Well done!

Just wanted to say that I loved the interview!
Suz is one terriffic lady and I feel blessed to call her my friend. She goes above and beyond to help someone in need.
Plus she carries such an array of products from the wonderful FO’s to beautiful jewelery gifts for soapers.
Bonnie

What a great interview! I learned so much more about Suz than in all the time she and I have emailed and/or talked on the phone. I hope one day to meet my cyber friend and give her a real hug!

What a great interview.
Suz is such a sweetheart and I feel blessed to call her my friend. She goes above and beyond to help someone in need.
She carries excellent FO’s, that she tests so we know before hand how they work in CP soap. Not many suppliers do this which makes you keep coming back to Suz for the best. Plus she sells beautiful soapers jewelery!
Bonnie

Liz

Great Blog Susan!
And what a wonderful person to interview! Suz has been my “soapy” inspiration and teacher (and of course, supplier!) since I began soaping nearly 10 years ago. And she is still always there when I need her :) The Oregon Trails stock of fragrances is still BY FAR the best smelling, best acting and best value available on the net!

Judy Hogan

What a great profile of a woman so many of us admire! I’m so glad to have discovered a little more about Suz – she’s always so helpful and willing to share her experience and knowledge. We’re really lucky to have someone like her to learn from and depend on! Thank You So Much!

Judy Pittenger

What a great interview! Suz is a wonderful buddy, and the best supplier you could ever deal with. She is constantly coming up with great new products, and she listens to what her customers are looking for…sometimes it’s there before you ever think of it!
The quality is unbelieveable. If OT carries it, you know that it is the best. If a customer wants a fragrance that OT doesn’t carry, I will try to steer them to one from OT, just to get the quality. Customers that insist on
If you ever have a question or problem with soaping or lotions, she’s right there to answer, and if she can’t figure it out, she will find out.
No one could ever ask for anything better.
So glad we have Suz…talented, gifted, sharing, and one of the most wonderful people you will ever run into.
Thanks, Suz!!!

Marisa

loved the interview!

LeAnn B

You have to love, Suz. She has quality products and fantastic customer service. I tend to send all newbie soapers to her because I know she’ll treat them right.

If that isn’t enough, she has Juan’s newsletter. He’s YUMMY! :)

Lianne

I’ve been procuring supplies from Suz for years but now I know so much more about her from this interview. Thank you!

Jacquelyn Witte

Thanks for the interview with Suz. It brought out the simple reasons why she has been so successful in supplying the soapmaking crowd…she cares about quality, tests her fragrances, shares knowledge and goes out of her way to find answers if she does not have them. She is responsive to her customers always. It was nice to know a bit more about her personal history.

Janeen

Wow, what a post today, lots of eye candy! Your son and cat are adorable! Your interview with Susan was candid and fun to read. I was bummed when it was over already …. you were probably on the phone for an hour but in written form, it’s a quick read (sigh). Thank you so much for sharing and have a great day! Keep safe!

What a great interview! I have done business with Suz for years and I LOVE her products. Years ago I had the opportunity to pick up product at her shop while I was in OR and it was great to meet her. I hope to be able to see her again with all the OR soapmakers at one of their yearly meetings.

Kathie

Beautiful interview. I have been soapin for 5 years, with a couple hiatus’s, but I ALWAYS come home to Suz. I found her forum first, and learned SOOOO much from her. So nice to know the background. PS. The pumkins are SWEET lookin.

I have been a customer of Suz’s for many years now; in fact, spoke with her yesterday. Her products are among the finest I’ve found, and my products that contain her fragrances are among my top sellers.

Hats off to both Susans……..excellent job!

Leslie Enzbrenner

Thanks for this! It is so great when a “name” becomes a real person! I have bought from Suz before, and have been a member of her forum for a couple of years, but really did not know much about her and her business — just the quality of the products. I think when you feel a personal “connection” to someone, it is so much more fun to do business with them!

Lori

wonderful interview ! thanks so much…

Awesome interview! Keep safe with Ike!

Suz’ Oregon Trail Soap Supply was the first fragrance and essential oil supplier I found when I started soaping years ago. I recommend her company to anyone interested in acquiring the finest high-quality, well-researched fragrances and related products available. Its a bonus for me to do business with another Oregon company, too. Besides Suz’ own expertise, she draws other experts (like Juan and his fragrance blends) around her and generously shares their ideas, insight and information with her customers. This brings such added value to her website. That’s customer service!

Cindi

What a joy to read about the wonderful lady behind the business! I like the questions and enjoyed reading the answers. There is nothing like handmade soap and body
products. They smell delicious and make you feel great!
Thanks, Cindi

Kay

Suz is the best!!! She is the first supplier I ever ordered from and when I can’t get something locally is the first place I go for supplies. Her fragrance oils are top of the line!! I’ve never gotten one that I’ve even had a problem with!! Thanks for a great interview.

Suz is fantastic! Her products are always top notch. The fragrances are to die for along with her fragrance guru. Great job Suz.

I am with her. The Boonies IS the place to live. Sounds like they have a wonderful business and family.

Nancy

I really enjoyed being introduced to this creative lady. I thought it was sweet that her business seems like a joint effort with her husband. I am still fairly new to these blogs and am amazed at the inspiration I get from all these crafty people!

It’s always fascinating to read about things and people like this. I really enjoyed this article Susan. What a fascinating lady, much like yourself!

Christine

I love hearing how her business is at her home! That is an inspiration to me. Thanks!

Melanie

What a loverly interview.

What a great interview and I’m going to check out Suz right now. Thanks for sharing this with us. xxoo

[...] all the hullabaloo surrounding Hurricane Ike, I forgot about the drawing pertaining to Suz’s interview. Please forgive me and know that I will draw THIS Monday morning, so you still have time to [...]

[...] life in general. So you still have time to leave a comment and enter to win over at the “Meet My Friend Suz” post.  I don’t think I have ever been so disorganized for everyday tasks and getting [...]