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Rising Stars: Meet Kay Brown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kay Brown.

Hi Kay, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
When my son and I set up our first table at the Gallatin Farmers’ Market in 2013, we were excited, nervous, and very aware that we had no idea of what we were doing.

We’d only recently even named ourselves, thinking up Scent of the Sun in the runup to our first market day.

We certainly had no idea that our first showing would lead to a nine-year process of creating a mother-and-son business. But we can’t help but reflect on what a wonderful journey it has been.

We began our first market with a handful of soap tubs, a tablecloth, and a few handmade labels. But over the course of the season, we made countless friends with our fellow vendors and customers alike. We learned lessons from other local artisans and farmers in Gallatin. And we learned to work together, too, as Rick returned from graduate school and began to learn the craft of soapmaking from me.

We’ve also learned from our customers, who taught us how to make better soap, craft richer displays, and try countless new ideas. With their support, we’ve gradually expanded from our home market in Gallatin to showing at the Murfreesboro Saturday Market, and even to stores at Gallatin’s Artisan Hatchery, Goodlettsville’s Rare Bird Antique Mall, Murfreesboro’s The Painted Tree, and Knoxville’s The Painted Tree.

It’s a growth we could never have imagined when we stacked our first tubs of soap on the concrete floor of the Gallatin Farmers’ Market in the warmth of a mid-summer day.

With those experiences, our knowledge, our customers, and what would become our livelihood grew, even allowing me to retire from my job to take on Scent of the Sun full-time. Nine years later, farmers’ markets and their patrons have made our mother-and-son business possible.

And nine years later, we’re still deeply grateful for each day we get to spend with the people of our farmers’ markets and stores. We’re still learning constantly, and sometimes it feels like we still don’t fully know what we’re doing. But we do know that our wonderful customers have made our story possible.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It hasn’t always been a smooth road–it’s taken much trial and error to figure out how to grow our business, and especially at first before I was able to take my business on full-time, it could be all-consuming to balance my day job with our growing side business.

It’s been the same way with our soap, too–our very first batches prior to actually going to farmers’ markets were terrible! But over time, we got better and better, and we’ve learned from every step or misstep along the way.

We never thought we’d have gotten to the point of being able to expand to Knoxville.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
My son, daughter-in-law, and I make vegan soaps, lotions, bath bombs, and other creations.

We’re animal lovers and soap lovers, and we combine the two in our soapmaking, which is based entirely on ethically sourced, cruelty-free ingredients. We’re very proud of our soaps not just because of that, but also because of their visual design.

We love working with color and creating soaps that are as beautiful as they are functional, and we make all of our products by hand. These two qualities make our soaps and other creations distinctive, and it’s incredibly rewarding for us when people enjoy using the products of our work.

Are there any books, apps, podcasts, or blogs that help you do your best?
We got started with many resources!

Allan Dib’s One-Page Marketing Plan really helped us get started with small business marketing, as did countless podcasts. Shopify was also instrumental in helping us expand online and to have an easy point-of-sale for our work. Thrifting also helps!

Creating beautiful and cost-effective displays often starts with exploring old or repurposed furniture and antique store goods.

Pricing:

  • Bar Soaps: $7.00
  • Facial Soaps: $5.00
  • Bath Bombs: $4.00
  • Shampoo Bars: $10.00
  • Body Fragrances: $10.00

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Rick and Kay Brown

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