Business Link’s Client Feature blogs allow us to highlight some of the many incredible Alberta entrepreneurs we work with, like Margit Orban and her business Alberta Luxury Soaps. Margit is a young entrepreneur from Alberta who, after launching Alberta Luxury Soaps, is already setting her sights on her next venture. Margit’s story just goes to show how age is nothing but a number; it’s never too early or too late to bring your vision to life.
We connected with Margit and asked her a few questions about her business & her entrepreneurial journey.
“Knowing that Alberta appreciates businesses like mine and that no business is too small for your advisors to care about makes me feel I am part of a community.”
Q. Tell us about yourself and what motivated you to start your own business.
A. I live in a rural area close to Waterton National Park where we have cats, work around the horses, and in the yard, thus we use a lot of soap. My mom and I developed a cold processed soap recipe that makes soap a pleasure to use. Our premise was to create a soap with just a few high quality 100% natural ingredients. We are very health conscious and we wanted the soap to naturally moisturize our hands while cleaning them thoroughly. Working on the perfect recipe we were browsing the Internet for soap molds. Last May, on my 11th birthday my parents surprised me with a collection of beautiful, classy soap molds – and that’s how my business started.
With a great recipe and a nice soap mold collection, a company name, a logo my brother created for me, and a set of beautiful boxes my mom had custom ordered I was ready to present my soap collections to the three gift stores I had in mind. Three months into the venture, my mom helped me make appointments with the store managers at the Remington Carriage Museum in Cardston, the Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton, and as September came around with the Spruce Meadows gift and tack shop. We make the trip to Calgary every year for the Spruce Meadows Masters. Everyone loved the soaps – their look, their scent, and how they were presented. I left a lot of samples with the store managers. I also made soaps for my friends and teachers, for the school’s Christmas raffle, sponsored soap prizes for the Rodeo I compete in, and donated soap and lotion bar packages to the nurses and hospital staff in our communities. From the enthusiastic feedback I get, I know everyone loves them because they feel luxurious and they don’t dry out your hands. My all-natural lotion bars seem to be everyone’s favorites.
Q. What has been your biggest success?
A. One of my most memorable successes was when a woman asked to take some boxes of my ‘Alberta Classics’ collection with her on a family visit to the UK last summer, as a souvenir from Alberta. I had already done some research on Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter. Princess Alberta’s husband was appointed governor-general to Canada and gave our Province her name in 1882. I included a small flyer in the gift box – it had a picture of the princess and a brief summary of her relevance to Canada and to our Province.
Q. Did you face any challenges this year as the tourist season was much slower compared to last year?
A. I was very excited to receive a big order from the Prince of Wales Hotel in January. As it turned out that parks opened very late in the season with much fewer tourists arriving in the park this year, I offered to reduce the delivery to a third of the original order and to make more soap donations to our local clinics instead.
Q. How has Business Link helped you? Why did you come to us?
A. To be able to call up a phone number where a real person is willing to listen and to encourage me that I am on the right track with my business is great. We have received encouragement and very valuable information on product liability insurance from Business Link. April’s turn-around time and follow-up was amazing. Knowing that Alberta appreciates businesses like mine and that no business is too small for your advisors to care about makes me feel I am part of a community.
Q. What advice would you like to share with others who want to start or grow their own business?
A. My advice to any entrepreneur is to envision a product you would want to use yourself – you have to be your own customer and love your product. Then, you have to be generous – share your product widely. Make a nice brochure people can browse through and allow your customers to create their own custom-ordered portfolios. And finally, give people high-quality products at a reasonable price.
Q. What’s coming up next for you?
A. My next big achievement will be to build out my company’s website and to launch a subscription service so my customers can choose to receive their own pampering gift-boxes regularly. That will make it more predictable for me to produce exactly what’s needed and will allow me to find additional ways to connect with my customers. The vintage western buckle soap mold collection I made is a great start and I will experiment with additional themes for new soap collections this winter. Other than that, I also have started writing a children’s book about time-traveling cats with my own illustrations. I also have a horse and I hope to be back with my horse Woodrow at the local rodeos by next spring.