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  • Writer's pictureJenifer Brown

#28 The Adventure to Great Soap & How to Find It: Life led me to soap.

If soap has taught me anything, it's that nothing in life is a coincidence.


Sitting quietly one day, I began to think of all the jobs I have had in my life. I have had less than most, but I learned great things from each. Each job taught me things that have brought me to where I am. In life, what we are handed & what we choose to do with it are vital.


In 1999, I got my first job as a bagger in a grocery store. As a kid, earning $8.25 an hour was a big deal, and I enjoyed the job. It gave me a great opportunity to interact with people, learn to quickly connect with someone, solve problems, and more. It also helped me get used to the demands of working life. After a couple of years, I wanted something different that could challenge me, so I moved to the bakery department, where I got my first taste of what a career looked like. I worked with people who had been working in bakeries for decades, and in some cases, it was the only job they had ever done. Bakery work taught me one thing - the person on the bottom rung always gets the dirty work. Bakery work wasn't overly hard, but it was physically demanding and hot. The hours were much longer, and the work was thankless most of the time. It came with a small pay raise, so I was okay with being the low man. Bakery work demanded time before and after school on some days. During my bakery years, I learned about cake decorating, inventory management, sales goals, deadlines, and more. It was a dead end for me as they couldn't work with my busy schedule due to my involvement in Marine Corps ROTC and high school activities. I stayed until high school graduation.


After leaving the bakery, I needed a job to earn money to pay for my car and insurance. I quickly took the first job opportunity that came my way, which was a cleaning lady position at a small hotel. Soon after, I rushed to find an apartment. (Life was taking off!) This job pushed me further into the world of adulting, but unless it's a high-end establishment, I wouldn't necessarily recommend working as a maid. I won't go into detail, but working at a hotel can be unpleasant. However, the tips were great, and earning both an hourly wage and additional tips made me ecstatic. I learned hospitality and soon realized that hospitality is the core of so many things in the working world.


Working in an assisted living facility was what got me into the world of being a pharmacy technician. Being a med-tech and passing meds to 100+ people 3 times a day is a daunting task, It takes special people to work for years with the elderly. When I was hired, I didn't know Tylenol from Advil. (It felt so unsafe to pass meds with no prior experience, but it's all about learning not to be rushed, but remaining efficient) . Each day was a lesson in empathy, kindness & patience. This was the first job that made me feel important, and that I was making a difference in people's lives. This job made me feel like I was smart enough to reach for the stars. After a couple of years, I began to look into pharmacy jobs. The world of healthcare intrigued me.


2006 opened the door to the world of Pharmacy for me. I was hired on the spot in a pharmacy located in a grocery store, with only my Med Tech knowledge. (They no longer allow people to get pharmacy jobs this way. It requires schooling now)


The years to follow I always call my "Money Chasing Years". I worked so hard to become licensed & recognized as a pharmacy technician. Not only in the state of Florida but also nationally recognized. This was the time I began to learn about business.

My bosses disliked doing some of their duties and they got passed to me. I liked managing the drug inventories, ordering drugs, and solving insurance issues. Pharmacy opened up a whole world of lessons when it comes to being a business owner & the responsibilities of taking care of your work including the people you're serving.


My pharmacy bosses taught me the basics of compounding drugs. This means mixing drugs to make another drug. Or, starting with raw drug materials and turning them into a drug. (I found this fascinating & enjoyed it!) Little did I know that this was one of the things that would later give me great success in making soap!


Still in the throes of the "Money Chasing Years," I decided to apply for a corporate job, leaving my previous position at a retail pharmacy. However, I was scared and unsure if I was capable of handling the demands of a corporate job. I questioned my intelligence and ability to succeed. Once I started in 2014, I found myself working alongside people who had been in their positions for decades. It felt like being in the big leagues. For years it was everything I had hoped for. I felt like I was appreciated, I felt smart, I felt like I was a contributing healthcare provider. My boss & team always seemed happy to have me.


While in this position in 2018, the soap bug began to find me. Years previous, while eating lunch, my boss asked my coworker and I "Where do you want to be in 5 years?" I asked to be skipped because at the time I was happy and hadn't thought much about it. Once the question circled back to me, I went on explaining that in 5 years I wanted to be working for myself, living in the country. It most definitely was a pie-in-the-sky dream, but I always found myself going back to wanting to run something myself, that was all mine. (Go find the blog post named " Man, that hurt" Entry #12) It tells of this conversation.


Through all of the jobs I have held, I found my passion for soap making. Some of these jobs taught me important lessons, like how not to be a boss, or how persistence pays off. Others showed me that I am capable of anything I set my mind to. Every job has helped me learn how to connect with people, and how the quality of my work can impact my future. I have come to understand that people want to feel valued and appreciated. Even though I own my own business, I am responsible for its growth and success. In a way, the business is my boss, and I am its loyal employee.


There is a saying "Remember the days you are now living; they were once days you dreamed of and prayed for."


My days of chasing money are over. Now, I just want to be happy and content. I am looking to save enough money to sustain myself in my old age, while also having enough to enjoy life in the present. When I left my job as a pharmacy tech, I prayed sincerely for the ability to be happy with less. I asked that running my own business full-time would bring me joy, growth, hard work, and valuable lessons. I asked that my years of learning would contribute to the success of my small business.


When I look at what my life is now, and what it used to be, I feel like all the struggles prepared me for the task of business ownership. Being behind the wheel of a real business isn't for the weak. Some days it drags me behind it, but It's so much fun. I love the challenges it presents; I adore the people it has brought into my life. I love that my life with soap can be anything I want it to be.


On bad weather days at markets when the rain is filling my shoes I always say, "This still beats a day behind a desk!" I mean that & I am so thankful for it.


I challenge you to take a look at your past, did life & its lessons lead you to where you are today?


Shoutouts:

My Dad: Thanks for always believing in me and seeing past what others thought of me academically. I love that you made learning fun in so many ways.

My Grandmothers: Thank you for sacrificing hours of your retired lives so that I could have a great education, medical care, and a mom to look up to.

Mike: You are not only my best friend, but the one who has always belived in my ideas. Your support in my adult life has been instrumental. I love you!

Pharmacy bosses: Thank you for being my business teachers, Thank you for believing in this girl with a high school education. (And to one of you- thank you for hurting my feelings & stepping on my lofty dreams. It made me push harder to get to where I am today!)









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