HomePeopleInterviewsThe Ministry of Good Soap: We do our best to offer unquestionable...

The Ministry of Good Soap: We do our best to offer unquestionable quality

Two sisters, endless energy and heads full of ideas. We talk with Ania and Ula Bieluń
– founders of the Ministry of Good Soap

With no real business experience, you have created a thriving and recognizable brand. What’s your story?

We will tell you two stories. The first story will be one commonly presented to the media in such situations or which the media themselves create. And the other… you’ll see for yourselves.

1) Our story begins in a classic way – it is about dreams, persistence and passion, which means that despite the lack of education and money, two young girls managed to create something cool and important in their lives. The idea for Ministerstwo (The Ministry of Good Soap) grew out of Ania’s passion, out of her home-grown search for the perfect soap recipe, which at some point, thanks to an EU grant, turned into a small family business. We started with 200 zlotys in our pocket, bringing soap from a small town of Kamień Pomorski to markets in Warsaw by train, and word-of-mouth advertising helped us gain a group of loyal customers. After five years of hard, continuous work, we are now a dedicated team of thirty people working on a constantly expanding range of cosmetics, and our products can be found both in brick-and-mortar shops and via the Internet in many Polish (and soon also foreign) stores.

2) The idea of creating original, natural cosmetics originated in Ania’s head when she was a student and worked in one of Warsaw’s master control rooms, performing work that required hours of checking on the computer system. 10 or sometimes 12 hours during which it was necessary to act only once every half hour allowed her to devote herself entirely to learning – from the Internet and books – a new craft. The first bars of soap quickly found their way to the Grochowska Cooperative and the team partners supported Ania in the belief that making soap is what she should do in her life.

When a chance to participate in the EU grant competition appeared, Ania called Urszula. Living on her own in the capital at that time, with her less than two-year-old son, she did not have the slightest chance of opening a business in West Pomerania. “Not only Ula came to the rescue. A premises – the largest financial burden and critical point on the map of each business plan – was offered by our parents who had recently left their 60-meter apartment. We got down to work with the premises provided, being able to take our own photos of the products (even with a phone) and with experience in editing texts and cooperation with journalists. We started by bringing soap by train, but when the number of orders exceeded our expectations, we managed to convince our parents to lend us their company car from time to time. The first warehouse of finished products was the attic of their country house, where, without grumbling, they brought (and took out) boxes full of freshly prepared bars of soap”. Visual identification – the key to brand success was prepared by Łukasz Hendzel of the great Paris + Hendzel studio, persuaded by a few tears from Anka, who was lucky to share a bench with him at university.

Online sales accelerated with DHL’s start-up program, which selected our company as a promising partner and offered excellent prices for domestic shipments. This time our candidacy was supported by a friend from the high school bench, whom we embrace warmly for this. The accounting office he recommended set us on the path of safe development and the premises in Szczecin suggested by my uncle’s brother-in-law turned out to be the perfect place for our growing lab. We could write hundreds of pages of a diary that would testify to a story written by favourable circumstances and wonderful people encountered along the way.

Both stories are true. The charm of the first story lies in the fact that it makes the reader believe that two girls from nowhere, without cash and support, can do anything if they just dream about something enough. However, we like the wisdom of the latter much more as it shows that success is born of favourable circumstances and is always built by a whole host of kind people.

Źródło: www.ministerstwodobregomydla.pl

How important is to you that your cosmetics are natural?

Being natural is part of our company’s DNA; it is the core of our being, but we can make some compromises. From the beginning, we favoured the craft of perfumery, combining natural recipes with aromas created by professionals in this sector. We also include vitamins in our recipes – vitamin A was never natural, but it is awesome and we are convinced that we can make an exception for it (laughs).

Even before we use cosmetics from the Ministry of Good Soap, they are pleasing to the eyes. What is more important? Content or form?

You cannot have one without the other. However, we like to discuss the form. We take it for granted that there are differences in feelings about smells, colours and forms because there is no universal assessment here. What impresses some, may put off others and design is also an open topic. However, we do our best to offer unquestionable quality. It is an optimal combination of spirit and matter.

What is the biggest inspiration for you in creating cosmetics?

Everything. Customers’ needs, newly discovered fragrances, inspirations brought from trips, colours recommended by Pantone, Pinterest, blogs, newspapers, raw materials found at trade fairs for raw material abroad. We have notebooks full of ideas, we would like to stretch the day to implement them all.

Observing your brand, one can see great diligence, consistency and uncompromising attitude. These are the features that do not make life easier nowadays. What has been the most difficult situation you encountered in your business?

There were hundreds of such situations. The last one was giving up the recipe for of a shampoo cube just before submitting it for laboratory tests. Ordered raw materials, ready marketing – we stopped everything when we realized that it could be done better. Doing it better took us five months and it will take two more. It’s half a year of freezing money in ingredients, without selling or monetizing this work. A month earlier, we accepted 2,000 pieces of cream jars with the writing on the labels printed too high. We could have sold them to our customers hoping that they would not notice. We decided to take it on the chin and prepare a sale of the ugly batch – it is an expensive and refined product, we could not release it just hoping that nobody would know. Sometimes we get mad at ourselves, we could be in a completely different place in terms of finance. But we sleep well – and it is said that sleeping badly kills the joy of having money.

Źródło: www.ministerstwodobregomydla.pl

What aspect of your company are you most proud of?

It may sound silly but at the moment it is something you can’t see at first glance. We are proud of the fact that we have smoothly transitioned from sole proprietorship set up by Ula to a company. At the same time we computerized production and distribution, introduced Lean Manufacturing and the 5S system, and refined GMP (good manufacturing practice). So in the foreground we have colours and smells created by Ania, but in the background there is a large accounting and computer machine brilliantly run by Ula, who is just finishing the first year of economics (she quit architecture studies for soap five years ago).

If you were to choose one favourite cosmetic from your offer, what would it be?

Ula: Rosemary hydrolate. I always have a bottle at hand, even when I’m travelling.
Ania: Raspberry oil and I need another one, I must have it! A stick, no matter what kind, but a stick. I have one in each coat, in the car and by the bed. I can’t do without a stick, I don’t understand how to function without this product (laughs).

Interwieved by: Anna Nahajska

Other texts in this category

new posts