2008 Indie Beauty Network Article

Elizabeth (Liz) Kingston is married with two grown children one of whom is pictured with her here at a recent show. She’s also grandma to a “beautiful” grandson. Liz owns Liz’s Soothing Solutions in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Here’s a bit about what inspires this 49-year old woman who says, “Look out! I’m about to turn 50 and I’m on fire!”

When did you start your business and what was the inspiration for it?

I began by making soaps for my family and friends. Before long, everyone was so pleased that they all encouraged me to start selling the products. At the time, I worked full-time for American Airlines and the company allowed me to have sales at the employee tram stop once a month. From there, I started selling my products at various craft shows and getting involved in fund raising events. I launched in 2000 and continued to work full-time at AA for three years. Liz’s Soothing Solutions is now my full-time career.

My business philosophy is providing the best customer service and the best product. I try to deliver it all the time, because it pays back with loyal customers and return business.

Do you make all of your products yourself?

Yes. I specialize in Hawaiian Oils and fragrances. I can customize products and have created many special favors for weddings, bridal and baby showers, birthdays, anniversaries and other special occassions. Because I do my own packaging and labeling, there is usually no additional cost to the customer for the service. Keeping my prices reasonable for quality products while giving excellent customer service is my goal.

What is your best selling product?

The Oatmeal soap was my first product and is still my number one seller. The oatmeal’s natural healing properties are great for maintaining a clear complexion and its texture in the soap is excellent for gentle exfoliating. You lather with the smooth side of the soap then exfoliate with the oatmeal side. It’s gentle enough to use daily and you can see a visible difference in a day or two.
The Hawaiian Rapture Body Cream (pictured) is another top seller. Its a Hawaiian Island flower garden in a jar. The fragrance is a combination of Hawaiian flowers including Plumeria, Pikake and Hawaiian Ginger, to name a few. It is very silky and moisturizing. Some of my customers even wear it as their perfume, as the scent is very long lasting. It also comes in Tahitian Dreams fragrance and I make soaps with Kukui Nut Oil and Shea Butter in matching fragrances.

What’s new at your business these days?

I recently went on a Support the Troops mission as a member of the “Beauty Brigade” in Guantanamo Bay Cuba. I was invited to help set up a makeshift spa on the base for the troops and their families. They have no spa services there and we made them available for two weeks, 12 hours a day. We offered facials, permanent makeup, massages and other basic spa services. My trip to Guantanamo Bay and meeting the fabulous troops, both men and women and their families in our Armed Forces ranks right up there with marriage and having my children. It was truly one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I developed an all-natural bug deterrent for the troops and that product has become very successful.

Another exciting thing is that I am now starting to place my products in salons, resorts and even a new Eco-Friendly pharmacy called The Remedy Pharm in Torrance, California.

How do you market your products?

My marketing has mostly been word of mouth – the best kind. I started my web site in 2002 which gets me on the internet of course. I am a member of the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce, The South Bay Women’s Group and my participation in fund raising activities gets the word out about my products as well. I try to help out my community as I progress along. I try to never miss an opportunity to network, talk about my product and I always have a car full of samples and products so people can try them – once they’ve try the samples, I always make sales.

What tips can you offer others who are thinking about starting a business?

My best advice for new business entrepreneurs is to never stop researching. This includes new trends, laws, finances including taxes, licenses etc. Also, include your friends and family as great sources of information, referrals and suggestions. They’re great for consulting with on new products, packaging ideas and overall support. They will usually be very honest with you. Also – network, network, network! I can’t say enough about this, I get 95% of my clients and vendors at my networking functions. You never know who knows someone that can help your business out.

What do you love about being Indie?

There are many things I love about being Indie but foremost I love my freedom of choice in all matters especially my schedule. I work a lot but “I” decide when those hours are. I can squeeze in lunches with my daughter and friend, a trip to the beach, or an afternoon swim. I also love making my own money by selling my creations. It’s very rewarding.

How did you find the Indie Business Network and what do you think of it so far?

My husband found the Indie Business Network on the internet when I was looking for new products liability insurance. Being a member has helped me keep track of what is going on in the political arena in our business. I also find it inspiring to see what Donna Maria and so many other amazing women have created. Regarding, the insurance, I think Indie needs an updated renewal system that will notify the insured well in advance of the policy renewal date. I brought this to Donna Maria’s attention and she handled it all in a very professional manner. She even called me personally to make sure that everything was in good order and showed true concern for her customer. She proved that she holds to a good customer service ethic, which is important to me.

What’s your typical day like?

My typical day starts with a couple cups of coffee and whatever research material I am reading at the time, I also check my emails. I then run around cleaning up any messes in the house, because a messy house is not conducive to working out of your home – trust me, it’s a distraction. After that I will hop on any product making or labeling project that needs to get done, fleshing out my inventory for upcoming sales or orders. 11am-3pm is reserved for sales calls and for sales visits. I cram my shopping in while driving around to save gas – my routes are all pre-planned! I am back home late afternoon to avoid traffic and my evening time is usually spent back at home making product and labeling again.

Juggling life around my business can be tricky sometimes especially during the winter holiday season where I average 4-7 shows a week. I start making Holiday product in June and I have product in production stage 24/7 until October, no joking! Since I work from home, I do have the flexibly to make time for my family where needed. Organization is extremely important and prioritizing. This is never ending challenge.

What are the biggest challenges you face as an Indie and how do you overcome them?

My biggest challenge is “Cold Calling” to get into retail. I’ve been reading a lot of books and taking notes. The best way to overcome the fear is to just dive in. I believe in my product, I’ve done my research and always try to keep a good mental attitude. I approach people even when I’m on vacation. I also give myself the down time if I need it.

Who helps your business be successful?

My husband David Kingston and my daughter Toni Thompson (pictured here with Liz hiking in Hawaii) are the two people that have helped me a lot along the way. My husband is my webmaster, graphics designer and overall assistant. He has a web design business called RPV Web Services where he hosts web sites at very affordable rates and does a lot of web work for my fellow craft show vendors as well. Toni helps me every year with many of my larger shows and fund raising events. She’s an excellent salesperson because she knows how great the products really are and has a bubbly personality! It has created a wonderful and unique mother/daughter bonding experience for us.

What is a good book you have enjoyed that has helped you build your business?

The most recent book that I read and utilized is Cold Calling Techniques by Stephan Schiffman. It helped my lay out a strategy for calling on new businesses. It showed me the importance of pre-planning, scripting and overall preparedness for telephone calls. The techniques really work and it is a simple read.

When you’re not working, what can we find you doing?

When I’m not working (when is that?) I love traveling and I love to go deep sea fishing with my husband and friends. I also like to play the piano and spend as much time as possible with my daughter, son-in-law and my grandson.

What are your annual revenues?

My sales increased this past year by approximately 45% and I project about a 60-80% this year now that I am getting into retail outlets.

What do you think of the FDA Globalization Act of 2008?

I’m nervous. I am trying to move ahead, but I will not know what I am going to do until something gets decided.

This is Indie Candy, so if you were a brand of candy, what would it be and why?

Hot Tamale because I’m getting ready to turn 50 and I feel like I’m having the time of my life! I’m on FIRE!!

If you enjoyed this issue, please feel free to share the link with others! See you next week. In the meantime

Enjoy your life, build your business and have your way!

Donna Maria
Editor, The Indie Experience
The Indie Business Network | www.indiebeauty.com

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About the Author

The Beauty Battalion is organized by Elizabeth Kingston. From 2008-2012 she took teams of Beauty and Spa professionals to Guantanamo Bay Naval Station to set up a Retail and Spa center. During that time she also brought letters to the troops from civilians as well as thousands of dollars of donated goods from various Southern California businesses. In the years after the GTMO trips she worked to gather donated dresses and gowns for MCAS Miramar's Marine Ball in San Diego every year and was a regular attendee on the flight line at the fabulous Miramar Airshow. Having moved to Coeur d'Alene Idaho in 2019, she is now looking for similar opportunities to support the troops in Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington.