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Do What You Love in Abundance: How Kylee Lane’s Home-Based Business Went from Kitchen Counter to Cash Cow

It started with a sick little boy. Actually, he wasn’t sick so much as he was allergic to just about every soap, detergent, and ointment out there, creating a very itchy and painfully uncomfortable existence.

It continued with a concerned mother, creative genius, and brilliant businesswoman who stumbled across an idea that would one day pay for her dream home.

It sustains through passion, ingenuity, generosity, and overwhelming geekiness.

The Luxury Lane Soap success story has an unlikely beginning, a riveting middle, and an ending that will SHOCK you. Read on as Kylee Lane shares her most valuable resources, her critical advice for crafty folks who want to monetize their talents, and her projections for when her company will be a million-dollar one (hint: it’s not when you’d think!).

Working Up a Lather

 

You've gotta start somewhere...

You’ve gotta start somewhere…

Tell me about how you went from making soap for your son to making your first sale to a stranger.

It just really felt like a natural transition — I never planned on making soap to sell it, so I never thought about profits or price points. I’d give some as gifts to family and friends, and then got requests for more. Obviously, there was a need, and I fulfilled it. My business continues to evolve, and over the past seven years my company has been shaped by my customers’ (and my personal) needs.

Why “Luxury Lane Soap”?

I love this question. As my business developed, I went through many name changes. When I first started selling to the public, I had a very “alternative” looking, neon-colored website, and it just did not work for the market at that time. So I revamped and toned things down. It wasn’t until I finally stopped trying to be something I wasn’t that Luxury Lane Soap happened to pick up speed. Since that was the name I had when I got big, it is the name I kept.

What is your personal motto?

“Embrace change.”

What have been your most valuable resources?

My family. Aside from being the reason I dove into this in the first place, my husband Rory and our two children produce a plethora of ideas on a daily basis. I could literally design a new soap every single day and never run out of ideas.

Washing Away the Obstacles

 

Home made soapstache

Marketing to hipsters has never been easier!

What have been your biggest obstacles?

Space would be number 1. We don’t have nearly enough of it, and our growth has been inhibited. Luxury Lane Soap will be expanding eventually, but this last year has been a constant struggle.

How do you develop product ideas?

Product ideas usually start with “Wouldn’t that be cool if…” and then it gets written on the marker board, no matter how ludicrous. After a few weeks of kicking around the possibilities, we’ll settle on a design. By the time we’ve designed a product, built a model, and made the mold, we’ve put an incredible amount of time into it, but that’s why it needs to be something fun that I have personal interest in.

Your popular Fight Club soap was recently licensed through Hot Topic, and you were asked to stop making it. How did that unfold?

I was just a fan of the movie, making a product because a licensed one didn’t exist. With all the fan-made versions out there, it was pretty flattering to be singled out by 20th Century Fox. Obviously they were afraid with me making mine [that] their licensed product wouldn’t have a market.

Fight Club Soap

The first rule of Fight Club soap is don’t sell Fight Club soap without a license.

What other responses have you gotten from the companies who hold the trademarks for the creative sources of soap you make?

Since I don’t try to represent any product as anything more than a fan-made interpretation, most intellectual property lawyers leave me alone. Once they find out I make these products myself in my house, it usually gets dropped. Others just ask us nicely to “cease and desist.”

What does a “normal” day look like (if there is such a thing)?

I try to keep a schedule, but it really is hard. When you work at home, tiny things always pop up that distract you. Basically my day looks like this:

Start working at 7 AM. Lunch at noon. Work until dinner, at six. From 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM we all just sit and breathe and then it is back to work at 9pm until about midnight. It is like this 7 days a week, except on Saturday when I only work until noon, and then it is all of the deep cleaning house work.

That type of day sounds really scary, but it isn’t when you are doing something you love. The trick is to involve the kids as much as possible and it becomes a team effort. We have gotten so much closer since Luxury Lane has taken off. And when we have “Family Days” with no work, we REALLY enjoy the heck out of them.

Rinsing Away the Fakers

 

Home made whipped soap

Looks good enough to eat (but please don’t)

What do you know now about starting and running a business that you wish you had known when you started?

Pick a business name you are willing to have for the rest of your life. Really. Consider that the name you choose to represent your work will be the name you have forever. Do not lock yourself into a niche market, because times are always changing, and you need to be prepared to evolve your business with it.

What advice would you give to others who want to start home-based businesses?

Do what you love in abundance. Do not design a product solely to sell. Find something you do on a regular basis anyway, like knitting, and make a few pieces for the public. Never, EVER pick up a hobby just because you want to sell it. You will lack passion and people really do have a sense for that, as it shows in the end product

Your work has to speak for itself. If ten people make the exact same thing as you, you had better be the one making it the best. Look at what you make – remove the wrapper and the sales pitch and set whatever it is in front of you. What do you see? I hope that when people look at what I make, they see art. Not just a bar of soap, but an individual artistic creation. Art isn’t about paint or sculpting clay – it’s about the intention and the passion of the artist. Make whatever you’re selling art, and it will find a market and succeed.

My friends, extended family, and business advisers all tell me I have to slow down and stop working, but it isn’t “work” for me to do this. When I am going to take the weekend off, I get excited because now I can design more soap! I don’t make soap to sell it. I make soap, because I am literally obsessed with the medium. Every last detail, from designing a product to developing a fragrance to signing thank you notes, I love all of it.

The business part has got to be secondary to passion.

There you have it! Okay, so maybe we didn’t quite get to the part about when she’ll have a million-dollar company. But that’s all the reason to tune in for part two this afternoon!

Until next time, keep expanding your brand!



Jana Quinn

An old ‘G’ that’s been working for QLP since it was in Bret’s basement – Jana has been writing since she made up a story about a Jana-Tiger that liked rocky road ice cream and got straight A’s. She enjoys writing about marketing and pop culture, posting a ‘Die Hard’ article as often as she’s allowed. She is inspired by the articles at Cracked and frequently wears a Snuggie in the office. You can also connect with Jana on Google+.

Comments

  1. Kelly

    Can’t wait to read part 2 Jana!

  2. Jill Tooley

    I’m FLOORED right now. “Do what you love in abundance”? Yes, please! What amazing advice. That’s a big problem some entrepreneurs make – choosing something to sell just because they think it’ll make them a lot of money. Kylee is so right; if you don’t have a passion for what you’re doing, then you shouldn’t be doing it. That lack of passion will ultimately show through in the work and it could put a serious damper on success!

    I’ve probably read thousands of articles in my day (many of them specifically about entrepreneurship) and few of them come close to the advice packed into this interview. Sure, people will tell aspiring entrepreneurs to be smart with money and choose something that’s interesting, but they seem to have lost touch with the real point behind it: passion. There’s a HUGE difference between interests and passions. I know I couldn’t work 12+ hour days at a job if I wasn’t totally committed to it!

    Looking forward to the second part! Wonderful interview! :)

  3. Joseph Giorgi

    “The business part has got to be secondary to passion.”

    Strong advice. I’m no businessman, but it doesn’t take one to understand how true this is. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you won’t get tired of doing it — simple as that. If you enjoy it enough to become one of the best at it, then success will follow.

    Fantastic stuff so far, Jana! Can’t wait to find out when Luxury Lane will be worth that cool million. ;)

  4. Mandy Kilinskis

    I love Kylee’s advice to “not lock yourself into a niche market, because times are always changing, and you need to be prepared to evolve your business with it.” It seems that experts (and many of our blogs) promote finding your niche market and your place within it. But Kylee’s absolutely right, things can change! If you’re so deeply entrenched that you can’t transition, you’re doomed!

    Excellent interview. I’m looking forward to part two!

  5. JPorretto

    My, my, my. There’s so many takeaways there I don’t even know where to start. GREAT stuff. Looking forward to part 2!

  6. Kyle

    GREAT post!

    Stories like this are always so inspiring. I just started an entrepreneurship class so this ties in perfectly with that.

    It’s amazing to see how the hobby of making soap as gifts for family/friends can turn into a full-fledged business. I’m not an artist by any means and I’m sure I don’t possess near the amount of talent needed to produce such quality work, but this looks like a lot of fun!

    Props for spreading the Fight Club love (AWESOME book/movie). It’s a bummer that 20th Century Fox had an issue with that, but I agree that it must have been quite flattering to be singled out like that.

    Awesome stuff! =)

  7. amy

    Great post Jana! I love Kylee’s personal motto: “embrace change”, isn’t that something we could all remember from time to time? I know I could use a few more days when I embrace change instead of trying to put everything back the way I’d like it. LOL

  8. Amanda

    Great post Jana! Luxury Lane Soap is awesome stuff! =) And I can see from this blog why–there is tons of passion that goes into each and every bar. I am so glad she is doing so well with her business and that you found her soap! Let’s put together another order sometime soon!

  9. Rebecca hardisty

    Dear Janna, i love soap and beauty scrubs.i like jewelry but don’t buy it. I love soap and scrubs. It’s a inexpensive luxury just for me. I was a art major before i became a nurse, so i see design in everything.its difficult to explain. I am always open to new ideas. I started dappling in soap and body treats this christmas. I plan on doing a purely natural line and a creative treats line. I live in Colorado. I believe in logo’s and design. I respect your opinion, so be honest. I have looked into names. I am thinking of “Colorado” hand made goat milk soaps and scrubs. To long? I am no longer working as a nurse as i am now a dialysis patient. I have so much spare time and am constantly thinking of new designs and scents. I probably will not do a baby line. I am experimenting on a line directed towards men .

    • Jana Quinn

      Hi, Rebecca!

      Thanks for checking out Kylee’s interview. Inspiring, isn’t it?

      I think the name Colorado Hand Made Goat Milk Soaps and Scrubs seems like a bit of a mouthful, to be honest. Maybe you could come up with a short name (Rocky Mountain Scrubs?), and the tagline can include the information about everything being handmade from goat milk.

      Let us know how everything turns out; I think your idea of directing a line at men – especially if you’re going the rugged mountain angle – is a brilliant idea!

      Best wishes,
      Jana

  10. antonio

    “Do not lock yourself into a niche market, because times are always changing, and you need to be prepared to evolve your business with it.”

    Thats why you want to do the proper research before hand. Try to get in an evergreen niche (health/wellness, relationships or money). There is always money flowing in these niches.

    You also want it to be a niche that has back end opportunities. If you help someone to quit smoking then there isn’t much else you can help them with.

    On the other hand, if you can help a shy guy to learn how to talk to women there are a TON of other things you could sell to him. (How to look good by working out, how to be an alpha male, how to tell compelling stories that will get the ladies to notice you, etc.)

    Also, make sure there is plenty of competition in the paid ad space on the net. If no one is paying for ads that is a bad sign.

    Antonio

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