Via: North Texas Daily
What started as a small hobby has become a full-blown business and a full-time job for Kimberly Bien.
“That hobby left a gift-giving [reward] and demand for [products].” Bien said.
It was not until September of this year that her business, Salted Sanctuary Soap, expanded into a store in Denton after 10 long years of hard work and dedication. Bien began her hobby of soap-making when she started creating her own skincare products because of the skin sensitivities she experienced. She saw it as an opportunity to become more aware of the different ingredients that go into a product and to avoid unnatural ingredients.
From previously working in the cosmetic industry to growing up around her grandmother’s hair salon, Bien had a natural affinity for products and the process behind creating them. In 2012, what was once a hobby soon developed into an actual business when Bien began selling her soap products at the Denton Community Market.
“In the beginning it was a slow start,” Bien said. “It was a great way for me to develop my product line and build my customer base.”
However, not everything was easy for the Denton resident. Bien recalls the time it cost her $11 to rent a booth when she only made $9 worth of sales. Her $2 loss, for some, would mean giving up, but for Bien,
it only motivated her to continue growing and remain hopeful.
“Days like that happen but you stay with it because it’s [just] the beginning,” Bien said. “There is always something positive that comes from a slow day.”
Her optimism curated a successful business that only continued to grow and expand. While working full time as a purchasing card coordinator at UNT, Bien realized she was at a point in her life where she could only manage one of her two jobs. In 2016, shesaid her goodbyes to UNT and said hello to Salted Sanctuary Soap, which she would make her full-time job.
Before opening her own store, Bien continued to feature her work at various markets outside the Denton community. From Madewell shows to Bastille Day in Dallas, Bien began to expand her brand and find her customer base.
The business name, Salted Sanctuary Soap is a play on words created by Bien herself. “Salted” is derived from the saying, “being worth your salt,” a reference to being worth your money. “Sanctuary” is an allusion to a safe place.
“When I was coming up with a name, I wanted it to mean something,” Bien said. “’Salted Sanctuary Soap,’ to me, means worthy refuge for your skin.”
As a self-taught soap-maker, Bien has mastered a process to her soap-making skills. Utilizing the cold-process method, she only uses natural ingredients and vegetable oils to create her homemade soaps. Bien is also constantly working on research development of new products, improving products and continuing to learn about ingredients. A bar of soap at the store can be seen labeled and polished, but just six weeks prior, it was a chemical composition created by Bien.
But soaps are not just the only thing the shop has to offer. Body scrubs, bath salts and lip balms are among the other products Bien creates. Art, ceramics and jewelry from local artists are also featured at the store. Food is not left out either — coffee, tea and salsa from local vendors also make an appearance at the new shop.
For Bien, representing local artists in her store is important because it is a reminder of how her story began as a vendor at the Denton Community Market. Supporting local artists is her way of sayingthank you to the people who have supported her along her journey. The majority of artists featured in the store are people Bien has established a relationship with over the years as a maker herself.
“I have a nice network of friends that are makers,” Bien said. “[l] tend to build relationships with people that [I] have something in common with.”
Despite having her own store, she continues to be a vendor at the Denton Community Market, where it all started. Bien has a team of three part-time employees and the assistanceof her husband.
“Working for Salted Sanctuary Soap is truly a unique opportunity,” employee Addison Smith said. “Kimberly has managed to create a comfortable environment for both customers and employees, whether it be at the community market or her store.”
Her lavender products, bath bombs and lip balms are among the customer favorites at the community markets and in store. Bien said the imported Turkish towels have also become popular since the opening of the store.
“One of the things that I love so much about [the] Salted Sanctuary Soap store is how Kimberly supports and encourages artists who use sustainable methods,” local artist and UNT alumna Shelby Santoscoysaid. “[Kimberly] has done an amazing job curating a store not only with a variety of beautiful handmade products, but also from local artists who strive for sustainability.”