Monday, August 2, 2010

From Bust to Boom ! by Colleen Lowe

‘They’ say that life goes in 7 year cycles … oh please don’t let that be true because I don’t ever want to go back to where I was 7 years ago. It is a great place to be from, I’ve learned an enormous amount, I’ve fought the odds and won, my self-esteem has grown, my self-love along with it (doesn’t mean I’m conceited), and my happiness and it’s ok to be alone and lonely. All of these things help you grow. I grew a new body, replaced every darn cell, stretched some to their max and shrank some of them back again. Might have blown a few brain cells along the way but I’ll get over that too ! As of this date of writing I have an organic soap business. Enfleurage Organics. I could say it’s also an organic body care business but folks would then be looking for the shea butter, the eyelift creams, etc. and at this point in time, I don’t do that, just soap … I make organic soaps for the new and not so new - soap for your face, your hair, your body, your hairy face, pits, legs etc. so you can shave and a soap for your hairy or not so hairy dog because they are like us … what goes on goes in. My business is not yet certified but I’m working on it. Finally escaped from Regulatory purgatory because they weren’t quite sure how to certify soap. It’s not a cosmetic, it’s not food or hey, maybe it is food and then of course we have that organic free trade agreement with the USA and … oh my, what do they do with me and my wonderful soaps? I’ve recently had an appointment with Whole Foods (knees were shaking) to present my soaps to them as they have this ‘support local producers’ initiative in full swing and well, seen as I worked there for 3 years I think it’s all their fault I go so darn hooked on organic living, they at least had to look at me, make suggestions and one day put my products on their shelves. The meeting was brief but I left with the words ringing in my ears, “We have shelf space for you !! We just have to get all the paperwork completed.” I market through farmers markets and the Guelph Organic Conference, as well as the COG Conference. I have a few wholesale accounts and some regular customers who praise my soaps even on my website … I’m so grateful to them. So how does this all tie in to 7 years ago and from Bust to Boom. Well, 7 years ago I was laying about with about as much energy as zip as I was recovering from cancer surgery and one of those nasty infections that you can pick up in the hospital. Well, I thought that’s where the infection came from. I learned just last year it was because my surgeon left a gap in my colon so there was u-know-what leaking out and yes, I almost didn’t make it. I was renting a townhouse that had been a drug lords hideaway I think. Door frames were in pieces that were kind of glued to the walls with a few extra layers of paint. You see, my other landlord had his real estate agent call me mid-January and ask me how soon could I move as the house was on the market and they wanted vacant possession as soon as possible. What??!! Two weeks later when I saw my dr. and my test results prescribed “Surgery”, she asked “What’s going on in your life?” I told her about the house. “ooops, you have two weeks to get moved because you could be in the hospital any day after that”. This dump was close, reasonable and was I in my right mind to be looking for a new home? Moved the coldest day of that winter … bless those guys who pitched in to help… friends of friends who didn’t even know me. The surgery didn’t happen ‘til early June and then I was a lay about for a few months. You do a lot of thinking when you can’t go anywhere. I was in my mid-50’s, I was supposed to be off work maybe 6 weeks max. Oooops ! No savings, the part-job was paying for the wheels and insurance. My last business venture didn’t exactly fatten my bank account and I was still paying that off so what’s a gal to do? Yep, I investigated and talked to a counselor and I declared bankruptcy. The shame of it all. I was feeling pretty low as it was and then on top of all of this I had to pull the plug. The gentleman I worked with was totally awesome. Made me feel as if I was a wonderful woman just in the wrong place at the wrong time due to no fault of my own and there was no shame in what I was doing, as a matter of fact I was taking responsibility for my life, reducing my stress which would help me overcome my illness and I wasn’t to think another negative thought about the whole process !! I became even more into the Power of Positive Thinking. The whole gang of The Secret became my mentors. I created my vision, my vision board and I planned it out. I was going to become an entrepreneur again, live in a town, get involved in what was going on in that town, be an inspiration to other women in business or thinking of getting into business and I was never going to look back with regret. Things started to happen. I found a wonderful place to live in Oakville. My neighbours are into Reiki, Aromatherapy, Poetry, green living, etc. How could I be so lucky? Ahhh, the Universe was unfolding my vision. I soon became involved in the brand new organic farmers market. People were buying my new creations … boy were they rough back then but it was organic soap and they loved it !! Then a girlfriend said, “Hey, you are going to be in the Guelph Organic Conference Market aren’t you?!!” I didn’t have a clue as to what she was talking about but a few short months later there we were selling soaps that were looking a whole lot more like bars of soap you would be proud to display in your bathroom and sell we did ! WOW ! Then people started approaching me wanting my soaps in their business establishments. Pinch me ! People were coming to me wanting to sell my soaps. WOW ! One day as I drove to work … oh yes, I still work a 40 hour a week job in Toronto as well as run my soaping business basically alone, do 3 markets a week with the help of two great young ladies and fill wholesale and retail orders as well. It’s a lot of work, I’m not rich but I sure do feel like all this hard work has my business and life BOOMing. Never ever give up ! When the chips are down, pick yourself up and move it ! Put your vision out there and watch it grow ! Be grateful for everything … the sun, the rain, the little kid who wants to sniff every soap on the table… take it all in and embrace it with JOY ! Oh, as I was saying, one day as I was driving to work I realized something. It hit me hard and I smiled the widest smile imaginable. I was living in a town – just a little larger than I’d imagine as I did my visioning. I was involved in that town – heck I had joined a political party, campaigned in the last Federal election and belong to some other organizations around town. I’ve launched a website and I know a lot of people visit it every day and I get comments on the things they’ve learned by being on my website. Now I’m talking to you about being in your own business. Never give up. Maybe you have to put it on the shelf for a while but don’t lose sight of that dream. Reword the dream if you have to. Think outside your realm. When Enfleurage Organics finally gets to be USDA Certified Organic through EcoCert Canada, I will own one of the first certified organic soap businesses in Canada !! I did it myself but not alone. Many very special people helped me in so many different ways and I truly appreciate each and every one of you, even the ones that I don’t know but you were there saying a good word about my product or whatever it was you were doing to help me move ahead. I’m still a small business but not forever ! ~ Colleen Lowe ~ The Soap Lady Oakville, ON We’ve Got You Covered … hair, face, body…even dog soap !


  1. Ahh healing, a process in this capitolist society that is very discouraged especially if it is gentle, kind and natural. Thank you for opening the vault on that incredible period of time.
    HEY wait I think we have met, do you sell a lovely aquarius soap? That's patcholi? At the farmers market? I pratially eat that stuff! LOL

  2. This is so inspiring! Thanks for sharing part of your story. =D