'Business is down 75 percent': Local soap making company ready for virus to rinse away

Posted at 2:58 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 18:17:59-04

NORFOLK, Va. - With "stay at home" orders in effect, brick and mortar businesses are slow or even closed, but local companies that rely on festivals and farmers markets are also taking a huge hit.

"We were promoting, 'Get out there and wash your hands,' but I think people were more interested in having food and finding toilet paper then buying soap," said Juliette Doyle.

Juliette and her husband, Steve, run NOFO Soaps, a craft soap making business in Norfolk.

"We make very unique soaps, and we spare no expense," said Doyle.

The carefully crafted cleaners are infused with essential oils, fresh lavender, hops, charcoal and even coffee grounds, but since the coronavirus, business is down 75%.

"People want to sniff what they are buying you," explained Doyle. "You don't sniff meat, fish, eggs, or veggies, but you have to sniff and touch soap."

The revenue for NOFO Soaps comes from foot traffic at festivals, which have been canceled, and farmers markets that are now more restricted.

"We also have our products in a few stores and they are closed too, so we don't get any income there, either," Doyle explained.

Related: Local business owner says coronavirus causing them to adapt to survive while they rebound

Cash the couple relies on to help with their basic necessities.

"We don't have a big retirement fund, so this supplements our income. This is our food money, if you will," said Doyle.

As they scour for sales, they have learned a few fresh lessons for the future.

"We have really had to ramp up social media, shipping from home and learning the new world of online sales and commerce, so it's a silver lining," said Doyle.

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