Sometimes opportunity knocks; other times it slips in the back door. When Faith and Scott Freeman, both 44, got the opportunity to exhibit their Primal Elements soaps at the New York International Gift Fair in 1996, they jumped at the chance. They wondered what kind of crowd they'd draw beyond their beach-side store in Long Beach, California's Belmont Shore neighborhood.
A vendor offered Scott a booth at the fair, letting the Freemans skip the fair's long waiting list. Back then, the husband-and-wife team made their soaps in the kitchen of Faith's mother's house. "We scraped everything together [for] this show," Faith says. The response? "It was phenomenal. We were backing people up in the aisles, just to stop and smell the soap."
With intoxicating scents like pikake and mango sold in sliceable logs, Primal Elements began receiving weekly calls for reorders. To deal with the sales growth from the trade show, the Freemans closed their shop and eventually moved manufacturing operations to a facility in Garden Grove, California, from which they wholesale to retailers.
To what does Faith attribute their nearly $18 million in sales for fiscal year 2001? "People are bathing," she says. Yes, and fans of Primal Elements are doing it in style.
- Primal Elements