- Annette Dawm
Creating a Community with Kayla Roelans
Kayla Roelans is the owner of Juliet & Co Soap Boutique. As the only staff member, Kayla has “created an entire skin-care line for the ‘everyday’ person”. Her products can be found online and at various markets in and around London, ON. Her soap bars come in a wide variety of shapes and colours. They also range from non-scented to very strong scents. “Whether you like a little bit of scrub or if you need a little more moisture in your skin, or if you need a facial soap… we have something for everybody!” Kayla explained.
“It’s what you put into the soap that makes it special.” She continued. The soaps are made from high quality butters, essential oils and fragrance oils that are “good for your skin!” Through “dedicated research and trial and error”, Kayla seeks out ingredients that are not only safe, but they won’t leave a film behind. “That first year was basically almost all trial and error. Only the bars that were the best bars made it to the business—to the online shop.” This practice is still followed today. Currently, “Disco” is Kayla’s favourite soap:
“I feel like this one is a perfect representation of me. It is so colourful and I try to come up with new collections every month. Last month, with it being December and not my favourite month… a lot of the soaps were darker colours and blues. People were like, ‘You okay, girl?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m doing fine.’” She laughed. “But this month, I just went for it! I had so much fun with the colours! It’s mostly an interpretation of how I’m feeling that month….”
Juliet & Co and Kayla’s daughter, Juliet are now both two years old. They came into the world during the pandemic, when many others were also making soap for the first time. Rather than viewing them as competition, Roelans said, “I’m really excited that people have started making their own soap because what else am I going to talk to people about? I don’t talk about anything else!” She added that one day, she hopes Juliet would like to continue on with the company that shares her name.
“Not for awhile though!” Kayla laughed. “…Lye and caustic acid around kids is slightly dangerous and should never, ever, ever be done!”
Prior to the pandemic, Kayla struggled with anxiety and leaving the house. However, since Juliet & Co relies on more than just online sales, she was motivated to get out and meet new people.
“When I get nervous, it’s like my brain doesn’t work anymore and I say really stupid things. Or I’ll miss saying a word, but I’ll still be out there! They might not understand me, or have any clue what I’m saying, but I’m still out there! I want to make money and that’s the only way I am able to make money. I know it’s cliché saying this, but the more you do it, the more you will be able to do it. I understand now, with the pandemic, we have no idea what’s coming next.”
In 2022, Kayla and her friend, Cody decided to take over a market in Ridgetown, ON which they named, Discover CK Market. Each month, they hosted many vendors, food trucks and live bands. Unfortunately, the experience was short-lived and only lasted for the summer:
“Actually, every time that somebody brings it up, I’m like, ‘Nope! We failed!’ We failed and I’m so glad, because I think we failed in the most graceful way that we possibly could. We learned the most that we possibly could. At the first event, Cody’s dad grabbed our hands and took a step back to say, ‘Look what you did! Look at all of this!’”
“It was such a fully-functioning market, but it was just wrong place, wrong time. That’s not anyone’s fault. I mean, we were just coming out of a pandemic! That’s why our slogan was, ‘Party like it’s 2019!’ ….People just weren’t ready for that and every single time we tried to host it, we had torrential rain and winds. So that was enough to put a damper on things…. You know, not every community is going to support you in the way that you want them to…. It was just kind of eye-opening with things like insurance, the food vendors and the forms! We worked for 12 hours a day, for weeks and weeks! This was supposed to be a monthly thing! So we never stopped working on top of working. It was extremely stressful and then we had the physical work on the actual day…. It was a huge learning lesson and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. I’m so glad that it happened.”
Roelans took this experience and applied it to her new role as the Hostess/Director of The Mom Market’s London division (which is not just for moms). She hopes to help expand it into Middlesex County as well as more rural areas outside of London.
As a vendor, Kayla discovered that events like The Mom Market and The Punk Rock Flea Market have a pretty lengthy application process. That being said, the friendly environment each market provides makes it all worth it. She described The Punk Rock Flea Market as “phenomenal”. Since there are so many vendors that apply each year, only “the best of the best” are chosen. As Juliet & Co Soap Boutique becomes more recognized, Kayla is now being invited to events rather than having to apply as often.
“It’s been a really nice blessing. I tell small businesses, ‘Just keep going! Keep going! That next no is going to lead to your next yes! ....No is not a word in my vocabulary! I don’t think it ever has been! It’s always, ‘Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!’ Just go for it! Just do it and give it all your gumption! You’re going to empty out your bank account multiple times, but you’re going to do so, so good! It is so worth it for people that you’re going to meet! ….Sometimes you get those really good friends and support systems that are going to hang on for dear life, and then there are others that are just going to fall down and lose their way. Either way, it’s going to be a learning experience and either you’re not going to make it, or you’re going to make it. There’s no in between.”
The community support that Juliet & Co Soap Boutique has received means “everything” to Kayla. She wished she would have had a similar support system as a kid. Growing up, Roelans described herself as “the floater friend”. She saw herself as someone who got along with everyone. At the same time, she also felt like she never built secure friendships with anyone since she always “floated” from group to group:
“…There were all of these little cliques.” She continued. “Now, the whole small business community is not a clique, per se, but it is a pretty cool clique! Everybody’s just so, so supportive….It’s nice to be authentically yourself. My videos and reels have the same goofy Kayla that you’re going to see at markets….”
Finally, Kayla Roelans exclaimed that she “can hardly sleep at night” because she is looking forward to everything! “I’m mostly excited about being able to prove to myself that I’m able to hold down this really incredible opportunity that I’ve worked really, really hard for. It’s real now!”
For more information, please visit: www.soapbyjulietco.ca .
Photo courtesy of Kayla Roelans.
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