By Beau Brockett Jr. Niles Daily Star, Mich.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneur Haley Wilson describes her soap as "An amazing man-made product -- or, I should say, woman-made."
When Niles resident Haley Wilson gave birth to her daughter, Stella, in May, she discovered a discomforting and painful reality. Her body made too much breastmilk.
To alleviate its side effects, help others out and create some revenue, she used her condition to make her newest product line in conjunction with her growing online business, The Dash Between Designs.
Wilson now sells soap bars that contain her milk through her Stellar Soaps product line. She said breastmilk can help alleviate skin conditions and issues, and soap provides a great means to apply it topically.
"It's an amazing man-made product -- or, I should say, woman-made," she said.
Wilson, however, was skeptical of the soap at first. She found a need for breastmilk products on a parenting Facebook page. Some of its members said breastmilk soap could help treat a number of topical issues for infants, children and adults, such as rashes, eczema, diaper rash, bee stings, burns, ear infections and also serve as a disinfectant for cuts.
She tried it to treat her postpartum acne, and it worked.
So, she began melting a soap base and mixing her milk with essential oils, Vitamin E, soap colorant and fruit zest. She began putting the resulting products on her site in varieties such as confetti lemon cake, frankincense and sandalwood and breast milk and cookies. She found a client base, and the bars began flying off their metaphorical shelves.
"I think the excitement of seeing an order pop up on my phone on my website is what's kept me going all this time," she said. "I've seen online recently, someone said small business owners do a jig when they get an order, and that's definitely true."
If Wilson were to have done a jig each time she sold an item since 2014, she would have likely left an imprint where she danced. She has sold more than 10,000 items from her online store.
Despite Wilson's success, entrepreneurship was not her initial career goal. After graduating from Niles High School in 2011, she went to the University of Michigan for a pharmacological degree.
A tough organic chemistry class soon changed that mission, and Wilson instead graduated with a psychology degree. While pursuing her diploma, her then-boyfriend, now-husband, Zachary, enlisted in the Army. To keep her mind off their distance apart, Wilson began making bows with military themes, such as camouflage and branch designs.
Her friends loved them, and she soon began making bracelets and keychains. That expanded into an Etsy account and, eventually, an eCommerce site she uses today.
"I think I can make anything I put my mind to, basically," Wilson said.
In tandem with the winter holiday season, she creates personalized ornaments. After becoming a fan of artist and author Rae Dunn's iconic ceramics, playful font and positive wording, she began selling her own Dunn-inspired decals.
Then came Stella, her overproduction condition and her soap bar inspiration.
Stellar Soaps could have a definite ending when Wilson stops overproducing milk, but she is considering offering parents of newborns a chance to sell their own milk to her for her soaps.
Wilson said she would encourage other entrepreneurs to start online and build a social media presence, but Wilson hopes to open her own brick and mortar business one day.
She is not yet sure what her storefront would sell, but she does know that a children's resale shop would make for an affordable way to find clothing for ever-growing children. Wilson worked at Niles' Tiny Tot Reruns before it closed. Now, she said, the closest retail of the sort is in Mishawaka.
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