Rachel Winard; founder of Soapwalla
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a classical violinist, and I was for many years. I still perform around NYC every once in awhile. Music is still a huge part of my life. There was a moment when I also wanted to be President of the United States *and* Supreme Court Justice *and* hairstylist, all at the same time. I was an ambitious 7 year old.
What was your path to owning your own business?
Totally serendipitous. I started making skincare products for myself in 2002 out of sheer necessity. I have systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune illness that can manifest itself in a number of ways. Like others who suffer from lupus, I get terrible skin rashes, hives, and irritated skin patches. When it was at its worst, I could barely use water on my skin without irritation. I tried everything on the market I could find, without luck, and finally decided to start making my own products that were as healthy and wholesome as possible. The product line grew from there. After much gentle encouragement from friends and family to offer my products to the public, I premiered Soapwalla in November of 2009.
Do you like your job?
LOVE. I have to pinch myself on a daily basis that I get to do what I do. I cannot put into words how thankful I am.
What are the hardest parts?
Self-doubt. Solo ownership of a business means complete freedom, but with that freedom comes complete responsibility for outcomes. I’ve learned to listen to my gut above all else, and to take something away from each decision. Some of my most successful decisions have come out of complete, fall-on-my-face failures.
What are the most rewarding aspects?
Customer feedback. When I hear from a customer that for the first time since she can remember, she feels comfortable in her skin, or that he has gone off harsh prescriptions because he no longer needs them, it carries me for days.
If you could be anything else, what would it be?
A candy-maker. I have a serious sweet tooth.