DIANE DILEMANI, 58, of Franklintown, is founder of Beautiart Soaps, an all-natural, handcrafted-soaps boutique company she just launched online. Dilemani is a former makeup artist and retail beauty specialist with more than 20 years' experience in the beauty and skin-care industry.
Q: How'd you come up with the idea for Beautiart?
A: It started as a hobby and I would give soap as gifts. Then people started purchasing the soap as gifts for themselves or others. I thought, you know, maybe I could make some money on this. I started the business in November 2014 and sold soap through word-of-mouth and on Facebook.
Q: The startup money?
A: Very minimal, a few hundred dollars, and any sales I've reinvested in the company. My son helped me out with the e-commerce site.
Q: What's Beautiart do?
A: I make the soap at home and it's really made-to-order. It's very gentle to the skin and I want it to be that way. I design the soaps, colors and molds I use. I've made charitable donations of my soaps. I'd also like to donate some of my earnings to the Alzheimer's Foundation when the business gets bigger.
Q: What's special about your soap?
A: It's a natural soap, no preservatives. The scent is essential oils, no synthetic perfume oils. It's glycerine, a humectant drawing moisture from the air onto the skin's surface and making your skin soft. No sulfates, which make a lot of lather and strip your skin of its natural oils.
Q: The competition?
A: I don't compete with organic because it's different from natural in that it has to be organically certified, a rigorous process. If I have competition it would be the natural soaps sold at Whole Foods or other shops.
Q: What's popular and what does the soap cost?
A: I've probably sold 150 to 175 bars since November. I have a three-bar set called Love, Hope and Faith, which is tricolor and scented with lavender. I have something called Copper Brocade, which is also lavender. I also have a Loofah Love soap, a tangerine-and-lemongrass scent, which is rare. The soaps cost $5.95 for 4 ounces and $6.50 for 5 ounces. Sets of three are $16.50 each.
Q: Who are your customers? What's the feedback?
A: Women between 30 and 60 years old. I design and make soaps that I think people like, and I try to stay current. Customers love how the soap smells, and when they come out of the shower they don't feel they need to put lotion on.
Q: What's next?
A: In a perfect world, online and word-of-mouth sales would take off. I'm open to wholesale, selling to bed-and-breakfast inns, but my preference is retail. I could make 300 bars a week.