I've always had a vision for my brand involving telling and adding to the stories of inspirational women that has taken some time to see come to fruition, but it finally has--at least it has just begun. Since the inception of Second Spring Naturals, I have imagined a place where women could buy products that made them feel better, but I also wanted to employ women who were in the midst of some type of life change when they needed it most. These are the strong, brave women who inspire me. Additionally, I wanted to be able to partner with an organization that has a mission of helping women and their kids start over in life with dignity and resources to make changes sustainable. I also want to tell the stories of these inspirational women so that others are inspired to take part in this new project ....and to keep inspiring others to be brave for themselves and for their children.
40 lessons learned in 40 years - By helping Others We Help Ourselves
These days, I am seeing how true it is that by helping others we help ourselves. I am able now to donate soaps to women through several organizations, namely through Wings for Success, that help women get back on their feet after they have escaped situations that most of us are fortunate enough to never have experienced. I am empowered when I hear their stories, and it lets me know how blessed I truly am. I can't imagine having to make a terrifying decision to save myself and my children, to start over with nothing, to seek something better despite enormous challenges.
While I have only been able to give some soaps and creams in the past to help with self care during difficult journeys in the past, we are now doing an annual campaign that has already kicked off (with $, Gift Cards, Clothing and Soaps) that will only grow with time and generosity and benefit the women of Wings for Success. What's more, a second goal has become reality: I can now add that Second Spring Naturals is able to offer employment to brave women, too and share their stories here with you.
What I've learned through this experience is that when you give you receive, and it that doesn't mean monetarily. I am talking about your heart being full, about knowing you are doing what we all are here to do -- and that is to love one another. It feels good. It feels right...and I for one am on board with this.
So, I asked Laura, my soap-making friend and helper, to answer some tough questions for me to share with you so that you can hear her story, too and feel empowered to pay it forward to other women. Women like Laura teach us that we can overcome almost anything and that strength manifests itself just when we need it most. She has taught me, too, that the creative process is something our minds and hearts need, and sometimes it even saves us from ourselves. She has had a second chance at life and is doing her very best to leave a positive imprint.
Laura is in the state of South Carolina while I am in Pennsylvania and she answered a call for 'soap help' when I put it out in a facebook group one day. I heard her story and we got to know each other a little bit. Before we knew it, we had a wonderful working relationship that has brought us both a lot of joy. Here is her story.
Tell us about your life right now, what it looks like, what you love about it (Laura is now in her second - and happy - marriage).
Right now my life is in overdrive. After 12 long years we finally won custody of our youngest daughter. So there have been a lot of changes to our household, our life in general, and to my shop. There has also been a lot of traveling between states. Sometimes travel plans were made while we would be driving, others we were able to make the plans a couple of days ahead of time. In the last month I have been on the road more than I have in the last 5 months, so although the event was something we have dreamed about, it was still very tiring and stressful. While gaining a daughter we also gained a grandson. So we now have 1 granddaughter and 2 grandsons. During this time our middle daughter started going to college 4 hours away. We were empty nesters for about 2 weeks lol. The shop is doing great and growing which I love and we are getting ready for Halloween and Christmas. It will be full steam ahead from now till the end of the year.
Was it always this way? Tell us about your path that got you here.
Years ago when I was a child I was physically abused, then as I grew up I got into physically and mentally abusive relationships. I went through things that should not even exist in this world and I could not break free. The last bad relationship I was in was for a few years and then one day he hit me in front of my daughter. The look on her face gave me the strength to plan my getaway and stay away this time. Then one night on Oct 11th I wrapped my baby girl up in a blanket and we walked out the door. With the help of friends and strangers we never had to look back. Over the years I have been able to stay safe, a lot of the times still being watchful but some traumas you can never leave behind.
How has life, and business, changed for you?
Even with how busy life and the shop is right now it is still slower than when I had the shop and a full time job. Last year I left my full time job of 12 years to concentrate solely on my dream, my shop. It has been an uphill battle, but with the support of my family (including a wonderful husband), it has been worth it. I am looking forward to seeing where I can take this business.
What were your biggest struggles to overcome in terms of business?
Not having a paycheck deposited into my account twice a month with a known figure anymore has to be the biggest struggle. Getting out of the feeling that I am late for work because I worked so many hours everyday was also hard to overcome. You do the same thing year after year it becomes a habit your body knows and deals with.
How do you feel like your past has made you stronger?
My past made me who I am today. I would not wish my past on my worst enemy but still, I am who I am because of all the bad things that happened to me. My past allows me to see people in a different light, to treat people differently, to be aware of things, to have lots of empathy, and to think of others in everything I do.
What made you answer my post looking for help with soap making, and how do you feel now that we are a few months in?
I like to stay behind the scenes, because of my past trauma I have a lot of PTSD (and also a brain injury that requires me to spend more time planning projects than others do) so being able to stay at home in my safe space helps me cope. My ultimate goal and dream is to make soap for other soapmakers and retail businesses. When I saw your post I was so excited and scared at the same time. I have made products for retail businesses but had not gotten my foot in the door with a soapmaker. I looked at your post several times and even typed a message out to you before deleting it and starting again. My wonderful hubby is the one who got me to take a chance and to try to not worry about rejection. I love working with you! I feel like we have a lot in common and the same outlook on many things. I love watching your videos, even when I do not comment on them. I feel like I have a friend even though we have never met. I look so forward to working with you more and helping you to grow your business
How do you envision your future?
I would like to work with more soapmakers and businesses and hope to see my dreams grow while helping others grow their dreams.
Do you think your story will help other women in some way?
Yes, I do. I know it has helped others already and I hope to help more along the way. It is not a question of when, but how I can help.
I plan to help Laura grow her business and find other soap makers to work with however I can do that. I also love working with her and am so grateful that she answered my job post.
I hope she has inspired you to reach out and make connections, to support other women and see that in giving we all receive so much more.
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