13 Questions for Kim Gray of Virginia’s Soap-Deli
1. In business since 1984, when Jochen & Virginia cooked up their first creations on a wood stove – Almost Edible and Absolutely Fabulous Soaps. Don & I bought the company in 2010.
2. What exactly do you do? We make really good soap and bath products, including custom products, and are happy to research & experiment until we get “top notch” products for people who have unique needs. “We Take Requests!”
We use real ingredients to create a soap that is good, does good and makes you feel good. We want to make bathing an experience, so we ensure every beautiful bar of soap has that “wow” factor. We research all our ingredients, purchase from reliable suppliers and build long term relationships with both our suppliers and our customers. And we have lots of fun doing what we do!
3. Who will we meet when we visit your business? Usually, we come to you – meet us at craft sales and farmers markets, check out our website to see where we’ll be. You’ll most likely meet me, on occasion Don & I will do shows together. Come to our home to pick up your order, and you’ll meet our 6 year old son Adam, who is happy to answer the door for you and ask you to come back anytime.
4. You started this because it was meant to be! I have always loved Virginia’s Soaps, my Mom would put them in the cabins as a little extra treat for guests at their resort in the Whiteshell Provincial Park, and luckily some bits of soap would fall into our stockings at Christmas. Virginia & I met at a market garden the summer of 2010, I say it is serendipity. Don & I are having a ball and haven’t looked back. The long version of this story is on our website under Humans.
5. Your motto/vision statement: Fresh, Natural, Virginia’s. It’s our tagline but at the root it means everything. It is the basis for all other ideas; it is the questions we answer about each product. What makes it fresh? Is it as natural as we can be? Is it Virginia’s, would I put my name on this? And if the answer that comes back is we can do better – then let’s do better. But let’s be proud of what we make, what we do and where we stand.
6. Most gratifying moment: The first time I realized that I am really good at what I do. You know that saying that goes something like “When who you are and what you do come together, then you know you have the right livelihood.” That is how I feel.
7. Biggest inspiration or influence: The 4 lovely men in my life – Don, Eduard, Erin & Adam, they do keep me grounded or drive me crazy depending on the day. All along the way I have had some wonderful friends & family members be my guides and my mentors.
8. Any celebrity customers? All of our customers are celebrities in our book. We are grateful for everyone who has said “love what you do, keep on doing it”.
9. What causes / charities / local events do you support? In the past we have done up baskets for Cancer Care Manitoba, L’Arche Winnipeg, Winnipeg Humane Society, some of the local churches, anything with kids or animals always pulls at our heartstrings.
10. What business related story do you tell at dinner parties? Dinner party? Like sharing a hot dog with a 3 year old? Like grabbing a tea and heading to The Forks so you can ride up and down the elevator to the observation deck 20 times? Yeah, it’s been awhile… most likely I’d be really interested in what others were up to and I’d have to ply them with questions.
11. If you could tell your customers one thing about your business that they don’t know, what would it be? How much energy we get from them – we are fortunate to have amazing people who are as passionate about our soaps as we are and tell us so. And that great energy we get from positive relationships is truly a blessing. That energy keeps us going, reminds us we are on the right track; it makes us smile inside and out.
12. What do you hope your customers experience when they walk in the door?
It is our hope to make a difference with our products. We would hope our research and our ingredients/products make our clients feel secure in the services and bath products we provide.
I love watching people smell our soaps or even just the look in their eyes when they see the display. You can tell when it has made a connection with them. One young man looked at our soaps and said, “These aren’t soap. These are works of art.” (In my eyes that young man is a celebrity)
13. Plans for the future? Always, always, always! This Fall (2015) we moved our family business to Vancouver Island (Oceanside area), BC. While we are getting our new shop up and running, the temporary shop is ready and we have lots of soap in stock. In 2013 we added soap making supplies for purchase and we thought it would be helpful to offer some recipes and tips to get started on our blog. Lately we have had great success supplying larger soap/gift stores and salons with custom made scents and we’d love to see this trend continue. Soap of the month club anyone?