“Rather than live with the ‘what ifs’, it’s better to pull your socks up and get going”
In a world where business ventures often follow predictable paths, Samantha Jameson decided to take a different route – one that led her from the tempting world of chocolate to the intoxicating universe of luxury bath and body products. Her story is anything but ordinary, filled with twists and fragrant turns.
Samantha, the mastermind behind Soapsmith, defied the odds and carved her own niche in the market. Established in 2010, Soapsmith is not your run-of-the-mill brand; it’s a captivating journey into the realm of scent and indulgence. With seven signature scents, each meticulously crafted to capture the spirit of London’s iconic areas, Soapsmith elevates bath time to a pampering experience like no other.
In this exclusive interview-style article, we get to unravel Samantha’s unique story – from her chocolatey beginnings to her aromatic triumphs, and how she manages to keep her products natural, vegan and planet-friendly. Join us as we delve into the intriguing world of Soapsmith and the entrepreneurial genius behind it all.
We ask Samantha to share the inspiration behind transitioning from sweet treats to crafting bath time indulgence with Soapsmith
I decided to focus on building a passion project, one that I would never tire of and nearly 12 years later I am just as excited about Soapsmith as I was years ago. I was heavily involved in the chocolate industry specifically Chocolate Fountains and I was debating opening up a cupcake business back in 2010 but instead decided to create a bath and body company because my love of scents dated back many more years than my chocolate experience. Having enjoyed creating scented products from childhood I knew it would be safer for me to produce something I couldn’t eat! With Chocolate I had to taste the goods right? Boy did I taste them! So yep, Bath and Body it was.
I still enjoy a sweet treat but it is on occasion rather than most days now! I sold the chocolate fountain side to Thorntons over 14 years ago.
How do Soapsmith bath and body products maintain their natural and vegan qualities while also being planet-friendly?
It comes down to choices. When I started Soapsmith, it would have been far more cost effective to produce the products using the cheapest ingredients, the inclusion of honey and other cosmetics raw ingredients which contain non vegan qualities would have been an easier and far cheaper option, but really it is far better to spend more, have a natural product, be inclusive than it is to be cheaper. I really enjoy sleeping easy in my bed knowing that the best ingredients go into our products.
The concept of handcrafting each scent to reflect the character of different London areas is fascinating. We ask Samantha about the creative process behind capturing the essence of these areas in her signature scents
I start off with a blank canvas and plenty of research and imagination.
I really just imagine what the location would smell like, what is the inspiration behind calling for example Lavender Hill, Lavender Hill? The roots of Lavender Hill actually date back to the industrial era where that part of London was a hive of activity and production for producing Lavender Essential Oils. Hence the other streets nearby being termed Lavender Sweep and Lavender Gardens. It is those nuggets of history I find interesting. When developing a scent for an area such as Hackney, I have to delve deeper and draw on memories of my childhood, I spent many months just hanging around waiting for my brothers to finish playing their 5 a sides, all in the name of my parents wanting us all to stay together so they knew where exactly we were! Well, I started just making the most of it and just playing in the grass and reading. It was such a grassy earthy scent, so when I remember my time in Hackney, grassy, herbally notes sprung to mind. Hackney is our best seller, it contains Sandalwood, Rosemary, Gernium and Bergamot. It’s a unisex classic for a reason.
I filter out in my brain any common association people may have with a place and just capture the great essence of the location and distil it into a library of scents which all blend into one.
When I launched Soapsmith, bringing to market a scent called Brick Lane was risky to get right. Brick Lane is such a beautiful vibrant community, filled with industries that all provide enjoyment, tech and creativity. So, I used scent notes in a nod to spices with black pepper, the richness of Sandalwood and the headiness of Amber and the grounding touch of cedarwood. It is unlike anything most people have smelt before, it is a scent with a large following because it is different and yet comforting.
Hosting a party for Ozzy Osbourne at Home House must have been a memorable experience. We ask Samantha to share some highlights from that event and how it relates to her journey with Soapsmith
What can I say?! It was a few years back and it is one of those, just go for it type of moments. I was approached to create a chocolate fountain display for a client’s 21ST Birthday party. Normally they just book online or phone, but this client wanted to meet me and ensure my team understood their needs. So I had to go to Baker Street, meet the client who turned out to be a wonderful lady, and it was for her granddaughter who also happened to be best friends with Kelly Osbourne. Long story short, we did the fountain which led on to us doing a chocolate fountain for Sharon and Ozzy’s wedding anniversary. They were truly delightful, and the event was in Home House. I had also worked on an event there a few months back, so it was a piece of cake. In terms of highlights, I cannot disclose what I saw, it was a typical party.Home House is a stunning venue, the food was tasty, the drinks flowed (Of course, I only had a few sips…)
As an entrepreneur, what were the most significant challenges Samantha faced when establishing Soapsmith, and how did she overcome them to achieve the level of success the brand enjoys today?
Money and all the tentacles that arise from you. You can have all the money in the world but if you spend it like a drunken sailor, then what? Saving money. Thinking about working with suppliers for the long term, not just the here and now. When I started Soapsmith, I wanted to and ended up working with the most prestigious fragrance houses in the world, the best packaging companies in the UK and now the finest designers in the UK. We produce RCT Soaps and Hand Creams for the Royal Palaces now, which if you asked me if I would be doing so, I would have laughed my head off and thought you were on drugs! It is all thanks to an amazing team I have assembled. It is like a family business, not by blood – you cannot choose those but you can choose your team.
We ask Samantha for her advice to entrepreneurs
The best advice I can give from my heart is, if you TRULY believe in your idea and you have external people that agree with you, DO NOT give up! The external people are key, they would not be family and friends or former work colleagues who also like you, it should be unbiased people that care not a bit if you launch your company or not. There will be hurdles and the only time hurdles would not exist is with tons of capital to throw at it, even with tons of capital hurdles springing up. Also another one is not being afraid to say no to something, an offer, an investment or what seems like a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you have assessed it and it doesn’t match up to where you need to be, just say no thank you, explain why if needed but don’t feel like you have to accept every offer that comes your way, some are just not right for you, or not balanced so everyone wins, some are just offered at the wrong time. Saying yes to all or any opportunities stretches your brain width, your man power and capital. It is not worth doing everything ok, best to do what you do well and focus on that.
We ask Samantha about her time at Home Grown so far and what she likes about the club
It has been amazing! Just before I became a member I attended an event for Female Founders, (hosted by Nnnenna and Red Tree Consulting), listening to attendees remark on the décor of the venue and how delicious the canapes were, well I knew it would be a nice place to lay down some roots!
What about a quote she lives by?
Just do it! Ok, it is Nike’s quote originally but the purpose behind it still applies. Rather than live with the ‘if onlys’, ‘what ifs’ it’s better to pull your socks up and get going. The sooner you try the sooner you will know. I rarely regret trying something, but often think about missed opportunities, wrong time, wrong place. So now, if something can be safely tested and there is an appetite for it, then go for it.
It’s evident that Samantha’s journey from chocolate connoisseur to the aromatic architect of Soapsmith is a story written in unconventional ink. Samantha’s leap of faith into the world of luxury bath and body care has not only delighted our senses but also inspired our entrepreneurial spirits. At Home Grown, we’re committed to bringing you the most inspiring tales of our talented members, each a unique beacon of entrepreneurial brilliance. Join us as we shine the spotlight on yet another member whose story promises to ignite your entrepreneurial spirit next week.
If you’re interested in enriching your entrepreneurial experience and finding a strong community of entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders then contact our membership team at Home Grown.