Episode 33

 

Meet Lisa Devo and Shannon Burch. Founders of Soap & Paper. Listen as they share how their initial connection led to over fifteen years of thriving in chaos. Special thanks to the historic C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries for hosting WBMB™’s first-ever on location recordings.

 

Announcer

Welcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty, hosted by Jodi Katz, founder and creative director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.

Jodi Katz

Okay, here we are. Today is such a special day for Where Brains Meet Beauty. We are recording on location for the first time ever. We’re [inaudible 00:00:24] from a studio, or from a phone in my home office, or from wherever our guest was. But today, we are at the historic CO Bigelow in New York City’s West Village, and we’ve taken over a nice corner. Right? This is a cute corner.

Lisa Devo

Yeah, it’s very comfortable.

Shannon Burch

Yeah.

Jodi Katz

We’ve a little sunlight, natural lighting and this is a 200 year old shop. It’s really a pharmacy and apothecary and now a huge beauty destination. I want to say a special thanks to CO Bigelow CEO, in Ginsberg and the head of beauty, Emily for collaborating with us today.

We know that every good brand has a story, but Where at Brains Meet Beauty, we’re interested in the people behind the brands, so today, I’d like to welcome Lisa Devo and Shannon Burch founders of Soap and Paper.

Lisa Devo

Thank you.

Shannon Burch

Thanks for having us.

Jodi Katz

It’s so cool to be here with you sitting on our stools.

Shannon Burch

I love it, I’m super relaxed.

Jodi Katz

Right in front of your products.

Shannon Burch

I know, it’s a great spot.

Jodi Katz

How does it feel to look at all this beautiful product that’s yours?

Lisa Devo

It’s pretty amazing, it’s pretty amazing every time I come down and see it anywhere. Yeah. It always reminds me of where we started, and where we came from, and how far we’ve come and how far we have to go.

Jodi Katz

Well, let’s talk about that. Lisa, on LinkedIn, you list your title as Soaper, so that’s S-O-A-P-E-R.

Lisa Devo

Um-hum, a soaper. That’s me.

Jodi Katz

What does that mean to you?

Lisa Devo

Well, a soaper is just somebody who make soap. There’s a little subculture world of soap makers, and soap makers are, I think, some of the most interesting people, we’ve met many. Soap makers are really interesting people, actually. People who really get into the science behind making soap. It’s a labor of love. It’s not easy, it’s not like you just melt something down and then you make it. It’s a whole thing, but it’s super addictive. That’s what got us started, was this passion for soap making, so I think it’s once a soaper, always a soaper.

Jodi Katz

It’s a community. You feel as if you’re part of a community?

Lisa Devo

Yeah, I feel so, yeah, I feel that way. We have Susan, who through the years we’ve met so many people and we have a good friend, Susan and her daughter from this company called, [Se Pour 00:02:38], makes beautiful, beautiful soap and we used to buy our lye together, and we’re still in touch. Now, they’re crafters. It’s a crafty lady thing, men too, crafty people thing.

Jodi Katz

Shannon, how did you and Lisa meet?

Shannon Burch

I moved to Nyack after my third child was born and Lisa had her second daughter in the same pre-school. This kind of hippy, groovy preschool called, Blue Rock, and maybe there were six kids in the class, I think.

Lisa Devo

Blue Rock School, West Nyack. Yeah, it was great.

Shannon Burch

Yeah, it was great and it was a school with a lot of like-minded parents. We parented very similarly, we ate organically. It was great.

Lisa Devo

Yeah. There were some [lambs 00:03:25] running around and it was just very not ditto, as in that kind of thing, it was a very hands on school. The kids loved it.

Shannon Burch

Right, it was amazing.

Jodi Katz

Did you have to be teachers in the classroom as well as parents? Did you have to help out that way?

Lisa Devo

I did.

Shannon Burch

You were a teacher.

Lisa Devo

Yeah, I was a teacher. I did, but you didn’t have to, you could just kind of-

Shannon Burch

Right.

Jodi Katz

There are only six kids, which means six families?

Shannon Burch

In that class, yeah.

Jodi Katz

How did you connect? Do you remember the first moment that you connected where you’re like, hum-mm-hmm, I actually really like this person?

Lisa Devo

I do, I do, and I’m going to share it. We had … It was like a parent day, and Pearl had talked about Campbell a little bit at home, but I remember going and seeing Joe Burch, Shannon’s husband, who’s crazily handsome, and he was in his khakis, and he was on his phone in the back by Joan’s room doing business deals. Shannon was just happy as a clam, as you always will see, laughing, and she had her third child on her breast, and was just nursing her, and talking, and carrying on, and walking around-

Shannon Burch

I was standing and nursing-

Lisa Devo

Oh, yeah, walking, standing, having coffee, counting things at the bean table, always the same, and I was like, I’m going to know that girl, I’m going to know her. It was funny. I do remember that. Do you remember that?

Shannon Burch

I do, I do. That was amazing.

Lisa Devo

It’s so funny, right?

Jodi Katz

Now these kids are in their 20s?

Shannon Burch

They are, right.

Lisa Devo

They are.

Shannon Burch

Is that crazy?

Jodi Katz

This is a long friendship?

Lisa Devo

Humm, yeah. My longest partnership that I’ve survived.

Shannon Burch

Partnership, yeah.

Lisa Devo

That’s pretty amazing.

Jodi Katz

You know what’s interesting about it, I am a mom myself, my kids are younger, but during that stage where everyone’s little and there’s multiple littles, I didn’t really have a lot of bandwidth, right?

Lisa Devo

Right.

Jodi Katz

There was very little else I could do other than feed the kids, dress the kids, sometimes feed myself, sometimes dress myself properly-

Lisa Devo

Yeah, maybe take a nap.

Shannon Burch

Maybe a shower.

Lisa Devo

Right.

Jodi Katz

I’m not washing my hair, right. There was so much chaos in what felt … It felt chaotic because there’s a lot of needs to be met. It was hard for me to develop relationships at that time, because I just didn’t have the space in my brain to say, “Hey, let’s meet for coffee.” How did you work through that at that time to build a relationship?

Shannon Burch

That’s such an interesting question. I think that we thrive in chaos first of all, and just to put it in perspective, we would meet at Lisa’s house at 1:30 in the morning to make soap. We would feed our kids-

Lisa Devo

Oh, that’s true-

Shannon Burch

Bathe them, put them to bed, do everything we needed to do and then we’d call and say, “Are you still up, you up for it?” We would meet and we’d work until like 4:30 in the morning. Get the kids back off to school.

Lisa Devo

That’s true.

Shannon Burch

We did a lot of that.

Lisa Devo

It’s funny. Throughout the years we would always do … We had these beautiful beeswax candles for a short time, they were so beautiful, but the label was a very thin brown ribbon, and a little tag with two holes and you had to hand weave. We would meet at my house, I would make some food always a humongous bottle of Vodka and maybe a couple of cigarettes here and now and again, but we would all meet and-

Shannon Burch

We had our friends, too, yeah-

Lisa Devo

All of our friends would be here and always helped, so it became this social thing for many, many years-

Shannon Burch

For many, many people. A lot of our friends did this with us a lot

Lisa Devo

Yeah, and still do.

Jodi Katz

I’m wondering how many neighbors landed straight at this party low.

Lisa Devo

Yeah, right.

Jodi Katz

That’s a good challenge even in the light of day.

Lisa Devo

That’s a good question, but it made it fun.

Shannon Burch

It’s handmade.

Lisa Devo

That’s true.

Shannon Burch

It’s handmade.

Lisa Devo

Yeah, it did make it fun, and I do feel like that goes into your product, actually. I do think that little juju goes in. We have a little tagline on our product that says, “Made in the USA by Happy People,” because usually, when I’m not a terror, usually, we’re pretty happy. The people that we work with, our manufacturers we’ve worked with, we know all their kids-

Shannon Burch

We’ve employed all their kids.

Lisa Devo

We’ve been doing it for a long time and it’s, yeah, you have these relationships. It’s not just about making the money, it’s a lifestyle.

Jodi Katz

Well, for some people, it just about making the money, but for you it seems like it’s about more than that?

Lisa Devo

True.

Shannon Burch

Yeah, it’s different, it’s different. It’s nice to be able to [pair 00:07:37] employees, but more importantly, it’s really … Yeah, it’s become this kind of lifestyle.

Lisa Devo

I actually look forward to going to work every day. I do, I really do.

Jodi Katz

That’s so nice.

Shannon Burch

We vacation, we have a lot of common interests outside of work.

Lisa Devo

Yeah, our kids are still really good friends, and that’s so sweet.

Jodi Katz

Do you ever get a little burnt out on each other?

Shannon Burch

Yeah.

Lisa Devo

No, never.

Shannon Burch

It’s never happened.

Lisa Devo

No, yeah, are you kidding? Do you [steal 00:08:03]? Yeah, sometimes it’s rough.

Jodi Katz

What do you do when you need to get away from your friends, your families are friends. You’re in the business together, how do you step away from each other?

Lisa Devo

I do desk [sec 00:08:13], and I maybe come on to the city.

Shannon Burch

It doesn’t really happen for a long period of time. It could be a day. I need a day off, but mostly we just work through it.

Lisa Devo

I think that’s key. Working through it where I generally tend to be a person who’s just like uh, and then I’m out. Where Shannon is very much … Her personality is a problem … She’s a problem solver by nature, so it kind of … It’s taught me a lot, actually, in my most successful relationship, here.

Jodi Katz

Shannon, does that mean you actually talk about the problem and try to resolve it?

Shannon Burch

Yeah. I think throwing up your … To be frustrated is, you can be that for a few minutes, but then you’ve got to work through it. Okay, but what are we really going to do, and let’s figure it out. I think yeah that-

Lisa Devo

You’re very patient.

Shannon Burch

We do that.

Jodi Katz

Lisa, you want to just throw up your hands and-?

Lisa Devo

Oh yeah. I run hot. I run hot and high. I’m just like waaaw.

Jodi Katz

You’ll have what I would call an adult temper tantrum, is that sort of?

Lisa Devo

Maybe, but mostly in my head, just getting frustrated or overwhelmed. What I’ve learned over the years is … I’m really into systems right now. I’m into systems for everything.

Jodi Katz

Like process?

Shannon Burch

Yeah.

Lisa Devo

Yeah, for all of our departments in our little company that is growing, we’re really growing, and as you grow things shift and systems have to be … Maybe you didn’t need a system over here last year. Well, this year you’re doing this in sales, so, oh, let’s try it this way, so I’m super into that. That’s … Always thinking.

Shannon Burch

[crosstalk 00:10:00] systems, right, right.

Jodi Katz

That feels satisfying?

Lisa Devo

Oh yeah.

Jodi Katz

Great, it’s filling a void for you.

Lisa Devo

Learning. Yeah, I think it’s part of evolving, and I never want to stop evolving, right.

Shannon Burch

Right.

Lisa Devo

Personally or as a company.

Jodi Katz

In the 14 years you’ve had this business, when was the moment when you realized this is actually a viable business and not, I would say like a hobby, or testing it out. When did you realize you could actually-?

Lisa Devo

When was it for you?

Shannon Burch

Super viable, or kind of viable?

Jodi Katz

Well-

Shannon Burch

Super viable when we started taking paychecks, certainly. When we were able to-

Lisa Devo

That was so [bank 00:10:33].

Shannon Burch

Yeah, and when we first … We actually worked in Lisa’s basement for years, part-time, and then it was a very organic growth, right? When we got web orders, or we had a store that wanted some products or whatever, so we would meet three days a week or this afternoon, or something and then the biggest jump was when we had to rent space. Could we afford that every month-

Lisa Devo

I was terrified.

Shannon Burch

Right. Then the next bigger … There was definitely this, and then hiring employees, and then full time employees and benefits and paying ourselves. Certainly all of those, but yeah, I think when we finally were able to pay ourselves a nice salary, we went all right, it’s legit.

Lisa Devo

Even our first paycheck that was very little, it was-

Shannon Burch

Yeah-

Lisa Devo

It was amazing.

Jodi Katz

That sounds like that it was the last thing in process is paying the rent, paying the team, and then paying yourselves-?

Lisa Devo

Oh yeah, right.

Shannon Burch

That’s true.

Jodi Katz

That’s very common for entrepreneurs. How many years in was it until you started to pay yourselves?

Lisa Devo

Wow.

Shannon Burch

We’ve probably been paying … I don’t know what, seven years, we’ve been [inaudible 00:11:32], eight? Yeah, a good [crosstalk 00:11:35]

Lisa Devo

A lot of years without taking paychecks.

Jodi Katz

I’ve had my business for ten years, and really until recently did I start to organize this. I [cover 00:11:46] process payments now. I would wait until a quarter and did it, right. Oh, here’s some money, I’m going to take it.

Lisa Devo

Exactly.

Shannon Burch

Right.

Jodi Katz

I was always putting the business first when I had this moment, wait a minute, I’m not a charity. This is so our family and I can pay our mortgage, go on vacation, have food, right. I started to look at it from a different perspective. I need to pay myself first, right. I need to put the gas mask on my family-

Lisa Devo

Right.

Shannon Burch

Yeah, yeah.

Jodi Katz

Then, whatever growth happens beyond that will be other things that we can do. It was really hard for me to get to the point where I realized, oh, I have to do this for my family. It’s not just for me and the Base Beauty. This is a real thing. I knew in my head, I knew it was real. I wasn’t treating it as something I deserved being paid almost.

Lisa Devo

I totally identify with that.

Shannon Burch

So do I, exactly that-

Lisa Devo

For years, and years, and years, I always felt that way.

Shannon Burch

Sometimes we still have a hard time valuing our hours-

Lisa Devo

Meaning we’ll be in on the weekends or whatever … We do whatever it takes to get stuff done. Sometimes if you were to talk to a business person, they would be wow, but your hours are more valuable than doing manual labor like stringing ribbon.

Shannon Burch

Right, but certainly we still run into that I think.

Lisa Devo

Yeah, you just have to do what you … You got to do what you got to do.

Jodi Katz

Right, right.

Lisa Devo

Because it’s important. It’s great stuff.

Jodi Katz

I almost stopped looking at my hours and my team actually challenges me. We have a time system, and we have clients we have to track, we have to track every client, and I’m not very good at it because in my head, it’s my time is almost not clocked because there’s so much of it, that what does it matter as long as my team is accounting for theirs, I sort of had this in my head, and I don’t think it’s a great process to eliminate understanding how much time I put into this. I should track it, even if I’m not [crosstalk 00:13:33].

Lisa Devo

Right, it’s putting value-

Shannon Burch

Yeah, that’s the problem, that comes back out.

Lisa Devo

If you’re valuing what you’re doing, you’re owning it.

Jodi Katz

Yeah, so maybe I’ll start trying tracker.

Lisa Devo

Track it girl.

Jodi Katz

Let’s go back in time to before 14 years ago, before pre-school. Lisa, what were you doing as a career before all this?

Lisa Devo

Well, over the years I’ve worn many hats, actually. Actually, I have backed at Zen bakeries, I’ve been a bike messenger, I was a flight attendant, waited tables and cocktail pretty much always, dog walking, toilet seats; I decorated toilet seats in Santa Fe-

Jodi Katz

What does that mean, what does that mean?

Lisa Devo

Creative crappers. I had a-

Jodi Katz

Is that really, really, really what it means?

Lisa Devo

I had a little toilet seat company and I sold them like you can’t imagine. Yeah, I would decorate them and then I would cover them, put them in plastic.

Jodi Katz

Like Modge Podge kind of stuff?

Lisa Devo

It was kind of more this puffer paint, and then I would start doing … Cut out the Virgin Mother of Guadalupe was real popular in Santa Fe. It was a big one, actually. Then I started doing photographs and Judge Reinhold’s mother had Corkies and he brought me some Corkie pictures and I made her, for Mother’s Day, a Corkie toilet seat. Yeah, it was pretty epic.

Jodi Katz

Why did you give it up?

Lisa Devo

I actually … I gave it up because I got pregnant, actually and got really sick so I just stopped. Then, we were in Santa Fe for a little bit and then we move to New York, my husband and I. Yeah, and that’s what brought me here. I was never on a career path or I always flew by the seat of my pants and made it happen. Yeah, that was my jam.

Jodi Katz

I think it’s so great for our listeners hear that you actually had no path, because I think there is so much pressure on everybody, and I even felt the pressure out of college. I need to be at cool image driven company, I need to be doing X, Y and Z because I need to balance … My friends are working at Goldman, or whatever it was. I felt I needed this, it was my identity. It was almost my whole identity. Right?

Lisa Devo

Yeah.

Jodi Katz

It’s so nice for people to hear that someone could find their way without any of that.

Lisa Devo

Yeah. It’s interesting, Shannon and I just have gone through the college process for the past whatever, four or five years, because Bella has been gone for what?

Shannon Burch

Three, four?

Lisa Devo

There is so much pressure on people. If you’re 18, okay, what are you going to do for the rest of your life- What are you going to do for the rest of your life, what school are you going to go to, you got to be on this tract, you got to do that and everyone needs to chill out for half a second. You can’t possibly know … Well, maybe there are some people that do, I certainly did not. I’m from a generation where you … I went to college, and just majored in liberal arts, and didn’t finish all the way, but I was always a hard worker, so yeah, that was my jam.

Jodi Katz

Shannon, where were you before all this?

Shannon Burch

I was a consultant. I developed computer systems in the city and in Europe.

Jodi Katz

What does that mean?

Shannon Burch

Developed processes. Large … At the time they were mainframe based systems, I met with a lot of clients to determine their needs and designed systems based on them. In Europe, we designed a telephone system. It was like a billing system, that’s as simple as it was.

Lisa Devo

Right out of college you did this, right?

Shannon Burch

Yeah, that was my career path. I studied it in college, I went right into it and I did it for whatever, 10, 12 years before I had my third child.

Jodi Katz

How did you know in college, that you wanted to do this?

Shannon Burch

I fell in love with computer programming, problem solving. I still love to solve problems and it just fit. I had a great professor. I had no idea, I think I changed my major five times, and yeah, I fell in love with it, and I loved it for ten years. It was a great job. I loved it, and now I love not doing it.

Jodi Katz

Why couldn’t you have that job when you had kids?

Shannon Burch

It’s just we had to travel a lot, and I also, in a strange way … Well, I had gone to part-time work and I couldn’t be as good as it as I was when I was a full-time employee, and that occurred to me. None of my bosses ever told me that. My company was still promoting me and stuff, but I realized I was catching up every time I went in. I would work two 12-hour days, and that was my job. I fell behind, it was so-

Lisa Devo

You’re so far off, you fell behind [crosstalk 00:18:11] and it’s fast moving, right?

Shannon Burch

Yeah. The commute, I was traveling and I just wanted to be home more, but I didn’t want to not have a career, which was great when I met Lisa and we were able to get together.

Jodi Katz

I think this is something that a lot of women go through, which is, I want to work-

Lisa Devo

Right.

Jodi Katz

I want to feel fulfilled by it, I love it, but the schedule is not right for me-

Shannon Burch

Right.

Jodi Katz

There’s not flexibility for me or there’s not, I think, an understanding of what it takes to do both at the same time. What advice would you give somebody who’s in a situation or maybe they have a two year old and they’re in this head space where they’re not old enough, it doesn’t really seem to be working, and there’s not flexibility in my company, what are my options?

Shannon Burch

Right, so I actually happen to have a very good company. They were super opened to it, so I worked two 12-hour days, that’s unusual. I was breastfeeding at the time, they were able to give me rooms to do it in. They were an incredible company. It was just me. I didn’t like the feeling of not … I like the to be the best. Lisa says I like to be the winner.

Lisa Devo

The most competitive person you will ever meet in your entire life is sitting right-

Jodi Katz

Is it competitive and is it perfectionism?

Shannon Burch

I don’t know about perfectionism, but I like to be really good at what I do, and that’s what I found was it … It wasn’t satisfying, so it was missing the boat on everything, except for I was able to get paid, but I wasn’t enjoying it-

Lisa Devo

You lost your passion for [crosstalk 00:19:38] because passion is-

Shannon Burch

Yeah, I lost my passion and I was leaving the kids every day to do it. It was not fulfilling any of those things and I think … I have an incredibly supportive husband. I have an incredibly supportive family, so for me to be able to say I want to switch gears and start to work with Lisa part-time-

Lisa Devo

Not get paid for a lot of years,

Shannon Burch

Yeah, not to pay … I was really lucky in that way. Yeah. It was definitely a decision, and it was definitely a supportive decision.

Jodi Katz

Did you feel like at the time you were choosing, I guess, either to go there two days a week or just leave the job completely? Did you have a moment where you realized that a lot of your identity is tied up with your career?

Shannon Burch

I did and I didn’t. Because I had also become a mom, so I think I was experiencing that new. I now had new friends, new playground, because I was home three days or five days a week-

Lisa Devo

Right.

Shannon Burch

In a way, it was a perfect world for a lot of people. I certainly missed … I did miss, at first, using that much of my brain two days a week. I didn’t realize that I would be, and those friends certainly, but yeah, I just embraced the new. It was new, it was a new challenge, and that’s how I got past that. We were doing something completely different. We were doing hands on. Physical, we were making soap. We were wrapping … It was a very different move for me to make.

Lisa Devo

It was so different.

Shannon Burch

Yeah, it was so different, it was so different and it has been great.

Lisa Devo

It has been great hasn’t it?

Shannon Burch

Best move I’ve ever made, yeah, really.

Jodi Katz

You’re super competitive? You seem pretty laid back to me?

Shannon Burch

A little bit competitive.

Lisa Devo

I’m a little bit competitive.

Jodi Katz

Oh, you are?

Lisa Devo

Yeah. I go around the back door.

Shannon Burch

This much?

Lisa Devo

Yeah.

Shannon Burch

A lot.

Lisa Devo

I’m a little competitive. I think everybody has to be.

Jodi Katz

You’re sneaky competitive?

Lisa Devo

Yeah, I think everybody kind of … We have a trainer that comes to our studio three days a week; Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Everybody puts money in the pot. Somebody is very physically fit and she’s into it and Shannon is also one of the most consistent people you will ever meet. Me, not so much. She’s been doing it for seven years, so I know that I actually am competitive when she blows by me and I start to pick up my pace, but that’s pretty much.

Even, I would say in business, too, if I come into a store like this, and I say, um, they’re carrying a lot of that brand, huh, and I’ll go back up and type a [inaudible 00:22:11]. Yeah, I am a little competitive. Yeah, you kind of have to be, but nothing like that, no.

Jodi Katz

I get the say way. I don’t have product, but when I see an article, oh, whatever agency won whatever brand, I’m huh, yeah, right.

Lisa Devo

Then maybe you’ll find out about that brand, you’ll like, oh, it’s a relationship.

Jodi Katz

Right, and there just like a little thing inside of me that pokes out of stomach and is pushing out into my abs and makes me, I wouldn’t say upset, but I think there’s a jealousy. I think that’s the right word. Why them, why not me, and it makes me go into kind of a downward spiral, which I’m learning to try climb out of.

Shannon Burch

Come out of, yeah.

Lisa Devo

Crawl right out of that girl. Do not-

Jodi Katz

Intellectually, I believe there’s enough room for all of us, right?

Lisa Devo

That’s right.

Jodi Katz

There’s enough room for your brand, and that brand, and that brand.

Lisa Devo

That’s right all the brands.

Jodi Katz

Right. There are so many customers, there are so many stories, there are so many ways to connect with people, there are so many retailers, but in that moment it can’t, I can’t know. It’s just a gut reaction to these moments.

Lisa Devo

Right, but that’s what fuels us, so that’s the competitive stuff. That would make us want to go back to the studio and make something better, so they want to carry more of our stuff.

Shannon Burch

Yeah, I would say yeah, yeah.

Jodi Katz

CO Bigelow is such an interesting place, and seeing your product here it’s beautiful. It fits right into the story of the store and you support a lot of small independent businesses, right? You have your collections like this scattered-?

Shannon Burch

Oh yeah-

Jodi Katz

I’d say scattered is the right word, right? It’s not one big retailer where you’re shipping to their distribution center. You have a lot of lot stores to supply?

Lisa Devo

We have a lot of boutiques and a lot of boutiques actually we were … You know it’s funny this time of year is always that time, because we’re a fourth quarter business. We do a ton a business this time of year and oftentimes, we’ll have to go in the back and help with shipping, or whatever. We’re super hands on and when I look at some of the orders I get emotional. Oh my god, they’ve been ordering from us. Twelve years they’ve been with us. They’ve been with us when we were doing the beeswax candles, and they have stuck with us all these years and now they’re buying hand creams and [inaudible 00:24:14] people. I feel like a lot of our small businesses are just so super supportive and love what we do and love what we’re about. We’re also working with a lot more larger retailers now, too. We’re able to … We’re working with Paper Source and [Anthropologie 00:24:32] and [inaudible 00:24:34] and a whole bunch of other-

Jodi Katz

Right. It’s a small business that you have and you’re supporting other small businesses, right?

Lisa Devo

Um-(affirmative)

Jodi Katz

Through the process of selling in their stores. I would think that your network of small business relationships is quite extensive. Is there a way that you celebrate those relationships and celebrate those other peers in the small business realm?

Lisa Devo

Well, I would say as far as manufacturers go, we give them more business as we grow. We stick with them.

Shannon Burch

Yeah, I don’t know. Certainly in service. Lisa is the most incredible at giving customer service, and-

Lisa Devo

That’s very nice to say.

Shannon Burch

She will be on the phone with those stores that have bought for … They feel like we’re making stuff for them, and I do think that that is why they’ve been with us for so long. It’s still … If we get a call, Lisa will be like, who’s that? She’ll yell over to the orders’ department and they’ll say who it is and she’ll be like, let me talk to them, so I think that there is this incredible relationship that we have with them.

Lisa Devo

I think that would be the celebration. I was thinking about manufacturers for some reason. Yeah, with the stores. Yeah, with the stores. Oh, god. The stores are … Going back to when you were saying when things get kind of touch between the two of us, or whatever, it’s funny, because my kind of … The beginning of the year we’re doing our show circuit, so I’m gone. I do all the trade shows, so it’s this kind of ebb and flow where … Then I’m home for a couple of months, and then I’m back out in the summer, late summer, July through September, for shows. I’m only in the office a little bit, and it does give a break.

It’s funny, I was thinking about in doing those shows so many of our stores come in and we just know everybody’s first name, we know what they order, and we probably have, what, over a thousand boutiques?

Shannon Burch

Oh yeah, I would guess.

Jodi Katz

That’s an incredible amount of partners to support.

Shannon Burch

It’s true-

Jodi Katz

To manage, and to just make sure that you didn’t miss an email or an updated order or a request or a questions. It’s a lot to [crosstalk 00:26:47].

Lisa Devo

Right, right. That’s a good point. It is a lot, but I have to say, we also, besides having incredible manufacturers, and incredible stores, we have an amazing team at Soap and Paper Factory.

Shannon Burch

Yeah, we do.

Lisa Devo

Karen has been with us my god, since day one.

Shannon Burch

She’s been stringing ribbon since the beginning, yeah.

Lisa Devo

Literally, she’s kind of my bestee. Our daughters met before I moved to Nyack, I had met Karen, and she’s just one of the greatest people, and if you call the studio right now, she would answer and she’d be like hey, girl.

Shannon Burch

She’s just great.

Lisa Devo

The best. We have-

Shannon Burch

Yeah, we’re a very small team for as much stuff as we pump out.

Jodi Katz

How many are you?

Shannon Burch

Are we seven or eight full time [inaudible 00:27:27].

Lisa Devo

Yeah.

Shannon Burch

Seven or eight on a daily basis, right?

Lisa Devo

Yeah, including us so that’s purchasing, orders, customer service, shipping, inventory, sales, web, we do all of our own web, so it’s crazy. Right now it’s always kind of a hairy time of year because we’re working a lot of overtime. I get crazy.

Jodi Katz

What does that mean you get crazy?

Lisa Devo

It’s a lot of incoming information. You’ve got stores wondering where their stuff is. If it got lost in the mail, and you know that thing, that personality thing of keeping every … It’s like having a lifelong dinner party and making sure that you have this incredible … I think that’s really important to us.

Shannon Burch

Yeah, yeah.

Lisa Devo

Having part of a store … If you were a store and part of you buying our hand creams is we come with it.

Shannon Burch

Right.

Lisa Devo

We’re going to know you, we’re going to know your kids, and we always want to do better. We’ll come and visit your store and be like oh, hey, what if we try this, or do you need a little bit of this? It’s a relationship, so this time of year is stressful because-

Shannon Burch

We just want everybody to be happy and have what they want. I think that’s where it gets tough this time of year. We want it out that day.

Jodi Katz

The last topic I’d like to talk about is this idea of the entreprenural experience. For me, it’s felt like a roller coaster ride that I can’t give off of because I don’t want to. What else is out there for me? I don’t want to get off the ride, but I feel like a lot of the times I’m hanging upside down on a loop, when I really just want to be on the part where you’re going really fast, and more straight instead of twisty and the wind is blowing through your hair, and you’re giggling because it’s so fun. I don’t hear that sort of stress, this upside down loop from you. You seem so at ease with the entreprenural experience. Is just the benefit of time? Why aren’t you sort of, even though you’re saying you get crazy, you seem very relaxed?

Lisa Devo

I am kind of relaxed. I’m just a super Type A personality. I go from zero to sixty quickly and I heat up.

Jodi Katz

What about you Shannon, you seem pretty chilled?

Shannon Burch

Yeah.

Lisa Devo

Shannon’s very chilled. Another reason why this partnership is so … It’s in sync, I’m knocking wood. It’s in sync. Do you think you’re … You don’t get hared, do you?

Shannon Burch

Not so much. Maybe in my head a little bit, but really at the end of the day, we do everything we can do to get everybody what they want when they want it, including our employees, including our [inaudible 00:29:59]. At the end of the day, we try really hard and we work really hard to make people happy and I think that, knowing that maybe, is what helps.

Lisa Devo

I think time too. I think, also, we are … Something we have in in incredible common, is optimism.

Shannon Burch

That’s true. That goes a long way.

Lisa Devo

It’s optimism and it really, really does go a long way. When you’re doing the trade shows and your pallet doesn’t show up, we have literally been through the ringer, and it’s just there are some things that are just out of your control and you just have to know that … I think that we know that we are supposed to be where we are right now. I think there’s a lot more coming down the pike for us.

Shannon Burch

We have tough days, don’t get me wrong. If a manufacturer doesn’t deliver what they say they’re going to … We have many days like that, but I think we always, back to the optimism, we always go this must be laying the groundwork for something big to come. Right. We couldn’t be going through this at this point in our careers if it wasn’t for something great coming down. I think if you have that attitude, you are just going to figure out how to get through that and move forward, because you know … I think that … People ask us often what were some mistakes you made? Well, we make mistakes all the time, but we never get down. It’s always going forward and it’s always … I think at the end of the day, we’re super happy with what we’ve done. I think that we … I don’t know, we’re always moving forward, and we’re always laughing and smiling. Lisa keeps us laughing all day long. We have such a great time at the office.

Lisa Devo

Well, that’s very sweet to say. We work in a studio that smells absolutely incredible. We have the full aromatherapy. You know it’s funny you’re talking about, like when we spoke a little bit before we were talking about the entrepreneurial spirit and I will say from my experience, just because we started … We didn’t start together with a business plan and a chunk of money and have a plan, and then all these expectations. We have never had expectations. We just roll. I was selling stuff at the Farmer’s Market. Shannon’s husband came down, he really liked it. He would always bring her gifts, we ended up partnering up. It’s always been this organic thing where it was never nice and tight in a suitcase, and then you’re disappointed because it didn’t turn out the way you thought it would. We still have no idea how it’s going to turn out. We’re just rolling, but it doesn’t really matter because we can walk out that door and get struck by lightening or a bus. It actually sound so corny, but it is the journey that really matters.

Shannon Burch

Yeah, it is.

Lisa Devo

I just want to say one other thing, and that is about entrepreneurialship, because when we started I didn’t understand what we were getting into, and after all these years, we had this circuit of friends at the trade shows, we have this group of other companies that are actually, technically, our competition. Hot Alice from [Kala 00:33:06] Soaps, [Suji 00:33:06] from Skeem, Jessica from Paddywax Candle. We’re all kind of pals, and there’s this incredible support. If I’ve got a question … We met Jessica out at [Terrain 00:33:23] for its shipping advice. It’s not like we’re closed off and oh, we don’t want them to know the recipe for this or they better not copy us, it’s not like that. You just have to chuck your marbles at the wall and share. I feel that for me is the ultimate entrepreneurial experience. When Shannon from Rosie Rings calls and she’s, hey, we’re having a sample sale, do you guys want to come down to Atlanta and do it? Yeah. We’ve just created such a nice little life. It’s really, I’m impressed.

Jodi Katz

Every name you just named was a female, by the way.

Lisa Devo

That’s interesting. Power to the ladies.

Jodi Katz

I think the Universe put us together today for a reason for me at least because I really needed to hear about the journey. I want to love the journey, I really do-

Lisa Devo

Right.

Jodi Katz

I really … It’s very cool, right.

Lisa Devo

Would you please come up to the studio? Come up and do handy for a day. You should it’s so fun.

Jodi Katz

I want to embrace the Studio … I want to embrace my journey, I want to feel like I really accept the fact that I don’t know what the end is, and I don’t need to know. This is just the fun of the everyday and the unknown. I’m in this place where, I guess a few weeks ago I wasn’t willing to accept it, and I’m moving closer to acceptance. This has been really helpful for me. Thank you. I’m sharing.

Lisa Devo

I’m so glad. You did a great job.

Jodi Katz

Well, thank you.

Lisa Devo

We were super scared to come down here. Thanks for having us.

Jodi Katz

Well, it’s so wonderful to have you here and thanks again to CO Bigelow and Lisa and Shannon. Please subscribe to our series on iTunes and for updates about the show, please follow us on Instagram at Base Beauty Creative Agency.

Announcer

Thanks for listening to Where Brains Meet Beauty with Jodi Katz. Tune in again for more authentic conversations with beauty leaders.

 

 

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