Monday, June 17, 2013

Heartstrings: The Interview

Jeannie Bayless is the sole proprietor of the quaint small town shop known as Heartstrings.  The store is home to all natural home made soaps, bath products and fragrances.  The idea for Heartstrings was born out of an experience Jeannie had with her youngest daughter who out of nowhere had a very bad skin allergy to the everyday soaps on the market.  After changing laundry detergent and other house hold products, Jeannie discovered there was nothing really hypoallergenic and naturally skin friendly out on the market. This was what sparked the idea for Jeannie to study ingredients and begin to create her own homemade line of soap products. 

Jeannie started on a research frenzy to find a combination of natural healthy ingredients to help bring her daughter's skin back to health.  When her daughter's skin started to clear from her reaction by using a product Jeannie developed, she began giving her product away as gifts.  With the extraordinary response from friends and family she soon realized it was inevitable that she should also begin to manufacture soaps that could fill the void in the already vacant industry. Jeannie then began the creative journey of developing multiple bath products and the venture of opening her soap shop to house the loving craft that is her product line.

Early on Jeannie sought out the best suppliers in natural skin care for her products.  She made a promise and through the fifteen years she has been in business even with escalating prices of materials, Jeannie has stuck with that promise to only use the highest quality ingredients available.  She never skimps or cuts corners to make her products work.  These are some of the most lush bath products on the market, yet the price range is more than affordable.  Beyond even the price point these are not just skin care products that smell and feel good to the skin they are remarkable skin care treatments in themselves.  Very early on in her business Jeannie added a new line of lip balms with the incredibly cleaver name Gecko Grease which is well known throughout the country.  Not only is it super rich for the lips containing multiple lip butters, it has the added skin care protection of an SPF 15.  A must need for this summer if you have not had the pleasure of already using it.  "The uniqueness of my products is there is nothing in them that shouldn't be.  I use the highest quality of ingredients and am so proud to put these products on display for people to enjoy and I know they are getting a phenomenal product.  There is no better feeling.  I just released a guy friendly version of Gecko Grease called Bad Dog Lip Balm that I am so excited to offer!"

"Developing a product is such a creative process all the way around," says Jeannie.  "Sometimes I start with an idea of the packaging, other times it is a fragrance.  I never really know exactly where each product will start but I just get an idea and go with it." 

"When I first opened my doors fifteen years ago, I sent out 60 postcards to my closest family and friends.  Then my business evolved very rapidly through word of mouth and really grew from that perspective. About three years into my business back in about 2001, I was asked to do an interview in one of our local newpapers.  That was a real turning point for me.  My business really took off from there. My shop grew from one room to three rooms by 2005.  I've been asked by larger companies to mainstream my products commercially but I want to be able to continue to have creative control in knowing that each product is always made with the best of ingredients and the best of love.  One of the coolest stories I've heard from a customer is they were on vacation in California and saw a woman pull out Gecko Grease from her purse!  I'll never forget that story because that was when I realized that my product was reaching far beyond my small little town and surrounding cities.  That was huge for me and so much fun.  I hear those stories more and more everyday which is so amazing to me.  It just makes everything I do so worthwhile to know that my products are used and loved because they are made with so much love."

"Currently customers can go to my website and purchase my products.  I can ship them anywhere.  I do have my product in stores in Florida, South Carolina, Indiana, Texas, California and Hawaii but primarily my products are here in my shop.  I don't want to take away the at home feel that my shop has to offer to those who can travel to me.  In my case my shop is a destination location so I want everyone who walks through my doors or places long distance orders to know how special they are to me.  In purchasing my products they are taking a piece of my heart and love with them.  It never gets old seeing how much people enjoy my products.  My customers are like family to me. Today people work harder than ever for their money and they want and deserve to get something very special for it.  I know that when people purchase my product they are getting something so incredibly special that will bring joy to their life in however they need it to."

As far as the future for Heartstrings, Jeannie says she always has something in the mix that she is working on.  She is excited about the release of a new product that she is keeping as a surprise until the product launch.  "I take January to March of each year to do research for new products and ideas.  This is the time where I really start to see what is needed in the market and what I can add to my product lines that will continue to evolve my soap line.  I change my shop over twice a year in Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter.  I have an open house every holiday season.  This year it will be November 7th, 8th, and 9th.  This is always such a fun time of the year for me.  This year I have something very special planned so I hope everyone will join us either on the web or in the shop if they are in the area."

How would you describe the heart of Heartstrings?
"I think literally what makes Heartstrings what it is today and always has been is I truly am passionate about what it is that I am doing.  I felt I could really make a difference in people's lives with my products.  I saw it take care of my own daughter's skin condition and I knew I had something very special to offer just from that perspective.  Heartstrings provides people relaxation, enjoyment and happiness because of the products that I have developed.  The heart of it is that I truly love what I do everyday and I feel so rewarded when people tell me how much they love my products.  I just adore my customers and the friendships I have been able to make and maintain throughout the years."

What advice would you give to someone who is wanting to open their own business for the very first time?
"I think first and foremost to be very passionate about what you do.  Have a really good business plan and research the need for what you are wanting to do and make sure that the market is needing whatever it is you are wanting to sell.  Retail isn't always as glamorous as people think.  The economy has its ups and downs, gas prices and supply prices are always on the rise.  There are so many obstacles you have to be prepared for.  That is why you have to truly love what you do and have faith in yourself that you can do it because it is in those hard times your love and passion will be tested.  Stick with it and if you have a good business plan everything works out in the end."

Visit Jeannie at to experience the home made all natural skin care products that have been changing people's lives and the way they look at skin care for fifteen years.  Thank you so much Jeannie for sharing your Spirit Launcher story!  You and your products are beyond inspirational!

As always with love,


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