Business, Features, Strictly Business

Finding Hope In A Soap

Image: Joseph’s growing collection of soaps. [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]

IN the dictionary, the definition of the word “ingenuity” is “the quality of being clever, original, and inventive, often in the process of applying ideas to solve problems or meet challenges”. It is a word that has influenced pioneers throughout history, leading them to invent things that have made our lives more comfortable and livable.

However, Elton Joseph of Mabouya Valley, Dennery took ingenuity to another level when his fatherly instincts quickened him to find a solution to his newborn daughter Christina’s skin condition three years ago.

“When she was born, her skin was very sensitive and we could not use regular soaps to bathe her. So I had to develop my own. Right now, her skin is beautiful and flawless,” Joseph explained.

Image of Owner of BeeZern, Elton Joseph. [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]
Owner of BeeZern, Elton Joseph. [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]
Joseph, who is also a member of the St. Lucian Association of Beekeepers (SLAB) Ltd, said it was painstakingly difficult trying to source the right soaps that would work well on his daughter’s skin at the time.

Fortuitously, around the time Christina was born, he joined a soap making workshop in Belmont, Dennery organized by the beekeeping association. As time went by, participants dropped out of the workshop. However, Joseph had more than one special reason to remain.

“I saw the workshop as a way of gaining a skill that I could use to create employment for myself,” Joseph said. “I also knew that I had to find a way to treat my daughter’s skin.”

Inspired by the positive effects the new soap he created afterwards had on his daughter’s skin, Joseph went full force into soap making and his collection now numbers 18 different varieties made from a wide array of ingredients, including cassia alata, glory cedar, neem, coffee, cocoa, ginger, lemon, coconut oil, virgin coconut oil, cinnamon, beeswax, soybean oil, banana, arrowroot, eucalyptus, lavender and aloe.

Joseph’s indefatigable entrepreneurial spirit has also led him to produce cocoa butter, castor oil, coconut oil, virgin coconut oil, skin creams, body butters and shower gels. He has plans to turn his small business into a lucrative empire.

“I usually earn my living as a baker. However, I really want to concentrate on my soap business full-time. I want to tap into the supermarkets, hotels and spas,” he said.

Joseph’s business, BeeZern, was among the 65 Saint Lucian companies that participated in the Saint Lucia-Taiwan Partnership Trade Exhibition last week. Despite being a first-time participant, he said the feedback from customers has been positive.

“It’s been good so far. Sales have been favourable. However, I came to the exhibition for the primary reason of introducing people to my products,” the businessman said.

Joseph is also keen on expanding his business and is inviting anyone with an interest in either investing in the business or learning the soap making craft from him. Being a small businessman, he recognizes that it will take some time and patience to realize the next step of his dream.

“It’s been a challenge so far, but you never give up if you really want to succeed. I’m into the first year of actually putting my soaps out there in a big way but I’ve been in business since 2013. So I remain hopeful,” Joseph explained.

For anyone second-guessing their entry into business, Joseph offers the simplest advice that often leads to the greatest rewards: “Never give up on anything that you’re trying to accomplish because it’s never easy. Just keep at it and you will get there someday.”

Image: Joseph’s growing collection of soaps. [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]
Joseph’s growing collection of soaps. [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]
Joseph’s story ends right back where it all started – with Christina. She might be too young to understand it now but her father is already making plans to immortalize her in the best ways he knows how: through his dedicated love for her and an unwavering passion for business.

“I’m currently working on a special soap which I intend to name after my daughter,” the teary-eyed father said. “She’s the last of my five children and the only girl. She’s also my biggest inspiration.”

For more information on Joseph’s products, contact him at 713 4339 or eltonjoseph51@gmail.com.

Stan Bishop began his career in journalism in March 2008 writing freelance for The VOICE newspaper for six weeks before being hired as a part-time journalist there when one of the company’s journalists was overseas on assignment.

Although he was initially told that the job would last only two weeks, he was able to demonstrate such high quality work that the company offered him a permanent job before that fortnight was over. Read full bio...

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