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posted 2010 Oct by Kristin Crane

Friday Feature: Biggs & Featherbelle

Happy Friday, Everyone! This week's interview is with Kasey and Kelly Evick, the sister team behind Biggs & Featherbelle, the Maryland based company who make the popular handmade soap collection that we carry at Craftland. Keep reading and get some inspiration from this successful handmade business. Thanks ladies for giving us a peak into your business!

When did you two start your handmade business?
We officially started our business in 2003. The year before we were browsing through a Martha Stewart magazine looking for inspiration for Christmas gifts. An article on handmade soaps inspired us. We still have the article filed away in protective sleeves. We got all crafty and overly involved in our little Christmas project with the packaging and recipes. Friends and family got little baskets filled with soaps, lip balms and body butter bars that year. Our family and friends encouraged us to go further and keep creating and that we did! We got a little more serious about our soaps. We did tons of research and dove into the real world of soap making which involves the scary stuff called lye. But we wanted to make soap that was really good for your skin. We found a need on the shelves for a purposeful handmade soap that was also fun and creative. We developed a line of soaps and a few other things. We signed up for a local craft fair and then there was no turning back. Biggs & Featherbelle became our life and it still is today.

Describe your studio for us.
We are now in a 2800 sq ft rehabbed warehouse space located in an old textile mill from the early 1900's. We moved here in July 2008. Before that we were working out of a basement apartment in our parents house where my grandmother used to live. The first things people notice when they come into our space is the smell of essential oils and our love of organizing. But we have to be organized because we have hundreds of different raw materials and packaging to keep track of. We do everything in our warehouse space including office work, making all the products and shipping orders.

How do you think being a team effort helps your business?
It not only helps our business but it is what started it and what keeps it alive. We wouldn't be able to do it without each other. We started off doing everything together but over time have had to split up the work and we each have our areas of the business we are in charge of. Kelly lives in the kitchen and I live on the computer. We realized we wouldn't get anywhere if we both stood over the pot of soap together every time it was made. Other aspects of the business would get ingnored. But we still meet in the middle, make all our decisions together, create together and get through the stresses of the business together. Yes...we have many sister fights too. But we are able to be truly honest with each other and there is no tip toeing around on any matter.

Can you give us a little insight into the creative process behind some of your more unique soaps, like your popular Tequila Bar?
Tequila Bar is one of our new soaps that we have talked about doing for a few years. It isn't as serious as some of our original soaps but a fun and intoxicating addition to our line of soaps. We wanted to do a lime & sea salt soap based on our Dad's famous Margaritas....a family favorite. It is a fresh & cleansing soap. All our soaps are play on the word "bar". Each bar is a harmonious blend of purpose, ingredients, name, illustration and colors. For example, Handle Bar's purpose is to get a "handle" on acne. It is for clearing troubled skin. The illustration is of Featherbelle on a bike with Biggs in a basket. The ingredients lavender, tea tree, rosemary, beta carotene and other oil balancing base oils help clear problem skin.

What are some of your favorite tools for getting the word out about your business?
I would like to say we are good with tweeting, facebooking and sending out regular newsletters but there is plenty of room for improvement in that department. Since we started the business the best way we get the word out is at craft fairs. We also do store demos and pass out samples. Mostly it is word of mouth and time.

What advice would you offer to someone trying to take their work from hobby to business?
Make sure you love what you do. There is no manual for starting a business. If there was a manual following it would not guarantee success. You have to create a good product, go with your gut, follow your instincts, learn as you go and keep your eye on the prize whatever it is to you. All those cliche things you hear are true for the most part.

How did you first become involved in Craftland?
We were part of the Craftland Holiday shop in 2007 and have been involved since. Our crafting friend Heather Wells told us about it and we applied in 2007.

Guilty Pleasure?
M&M's! We call it our crack. No matter how healthy we are eating and what amount of work we have to do....when someone opens up a fresh bag of M&M's and we hear them filling up a bowl, we come running. It keeps us and all of our little elves (especially our Dad) working hard through the holiday season. Thank goodness the M&M's are extra fresh during the holidays! Our other guilty pleasure is shopping at all of the indie craft fairs we do. There is so much awesome stuff we can't resist!