Leaping Headfirst by Mission Small Business Hopeful Grantee Emma Mann
Ever met someone you thought deserved a medal, if only you had one to give? Meet Emma Mann, a woman who has overcome incredible life challenges to shine in the dual careers of mothering and promoting natural, organic products. Imagine these milestones Emma has soldiered through – serving in Dessert Storm as a Naval Reserve Officer, acting as a single mother to one tiny surviving twin, then struggling through losing her father and sister. Yet, despite tragic turns in life, Emma earned her MBA, and applied her brand building skills at companies like Traditional Medicinals, Avalon, and EO. Today she is raising her high school-aged daughter while trying her hand at starting her own natural products company.
Want to support this tenacious spirit? Read on to learn about her budding soap business, and her potential to win a “Mission Small Business Grant.” You’ll surely be inspired to offer your vote of support, if not a gold star.
Leaping Headfirst, by Emma Mann
Starting a business feels Herculean and yet it pales in comparison to bringing a human being to fruition. There is an awe in watching a new life unfurl its small limbs as they become the person they were meant to be. For me being a mother gave me so much more business savvy than any undergraduate or MBA program, you are after all dealing with the needs of the toughest customer you will ever have. It also taught me to be fearless as so much is moment by moment decisions. So it was the right precursor to starting a business.
Something big from very little to start with. I’ve done this before. My daughter says it’s my gift. In some ways immersing oneself into a brand is second nature. Jumping headfirst into a new product offering that needs organization and a plan for someone else allows one to stay at a safe distance yet still be a part of the magic. I always start with the data. It tells me everything, when to move as well as how and where to strike. It allows me to analyze a market and turn sales around. I love the challenge.
Until now I’ve always thought it was enough. Until last year soap-making was a hobby, something that my daughter and I did together on a bit of a large scale. It’s what we made as gifts to family and friends. And somehow, like the reliable tamale lady, I had customers every Christmas who wanted us to sell them our handmade soaps for them to gift as well.
My daughter, a lifelong Waldorf baby opened my mind to new possibilities. At a lecture at her school I heard that Rudolph Steiner believed that 7 year cycles were critical. That milestones were reached or missed based on life experiences each 7 years. So last year was my sixth 7th.
It was a difficult year, my sister had been killed that year in her home. She was a mere 16 months my senior. My sister, Marlo Yniguez Gallagher, died under questionable circumstances. And just like that, she had no more time, no time to dream her dreams or to try and make them come true. It was this catalyst that pushed me forward. What good was it to be safe if things in life were left undone. I knew that if I didn’t act on my secret passion to start my own brand then I wouldn’t take the leap at all. And ultimately what would be scarier, taking action or realizing you never took that step forward at all.
So life hit me head on. My father who had died unexpectedly 10 years prior was simply not here to speak for her and there was no one else. I knew it was my responsibility alone. My sister deserved justice and my father and I would both want that for her. This would be the one last thing I could do for her now. With this action I could be worthy of being her sister. So my goals were three-fold in this my sixth 7th.
- 1. Support my daughter who was just transitioning into high school.
- 2. Start a business in this extremely powerful year in the midst of a recession.
- 3. Investigate my sister’s death by asking all those questions that needed asking. In this way at the very least those guilty in her death would not walk away without scrutiny or accountability.
Fast forward to now. Nearly a year later, the business took longer to start than expected, but that has been a plus. Moving at a slower deliberate pace, I’ve been able to make truly thoughtful choices that have been well received. Only two months after the start of opening Soap Cauldron, we have solid customers and we are now in two stores, so we are doing well.
My daughter has sailed her way through her freshmen year, despite some initial frustration. And my sister has some semblance of peace and a modicum of justice. Leaping is so much easier when you are universally pulled and pushed by the universe. And you realize that the water wasn’t that cold or deep and you are actually doing just fine treading water.
What are the challenges on the horizon? Growing the business and leveraging sales with expansion. One initiative we are hoping to secure is the Chase Mission Small Business program. We know it’s a long shot but as much of this has been a gamble and we feel it’s worth a try.
Help Emma and Soap Cauldron Win a Grant!
Chase is awarding a dozen grants to qualifying small businesses. Entrants need 250 votes to be considered at all. To support Soap Cauldron, those with Facebook accounts can click the link https://www.missionsmallbusiness.com/, and go to Log In & Support and then connect with their FB profile. No other personal information is required and voting is free. Simply enter our company’s name, SOAP CAULDRON, in Santa Rosa, CA and click VOTE. Anyone can vote for more than one company. So if they have already voted they can vote for Soap Cauldron as well. The grant contest ends June 30th and Soap Cauldron needs another 100 votes so spread the word.