SCRATCH AND SNIFF
Triad artisan offers handmade soaps, salves and more
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The sense of smell is powerful. Certain scents can transport you to a memory – the wafting aromatics of your mother’s flower garden from your childhood home, the commanding smoky flavors of aged tobacco in your grandfather’s beard on a blustery night, the fresh-from-the-oven desserts you were welcomed with coming home from a first year at college.
Megan Thompson, a 23-year-old entrepreneur who calls Winston- Salem home, has taken the world of scents one step further by implementing them, the potential memories of days gone, into her successful Wild Rituals Soap Company.
“As a child, I would put egg yolks in my hair, or honey, so I guess I was sort of drawn to it since I was a kid,” Thompson said, laughing at her own childhood memories experimenting with concoctions of skin and hair care.
Thompson has lived in Winston-Salem since she was 10-years-old. Born and raised in Middleburg, Florida, she moved to North Carolina when her mother accepted a job promotion. She graduated from West Forsyth High School, and started out on her own.
“I was always interested in having my own company.
I’ve been on my own since I was 18, and college was just a really difficult thought because I had other things to worry about, like getting a job, paying rent and life.”
After a couple years of trying to figure out life, Thompson moved back home to live with her mother in Florida.
She explained that she felt lost – a depression of sorts – in not knowing what direction she was supposed to head in with her life.
“I needed a hobby, something to get me happy again.
I had to put my life into something,” she said. “My dad bought me a soap-making starter kit.”
Over the course of the next year, Thompson would spend hours upon hours learning the art and science behind creating custom soaps. She read books, watched videos, and learned to formulate her own recipes.
After she began to feel confident again, she came back to Winston-Salem and moved in with some friends. The arrangement was that as long as she built up her soap company, her friends would allow her to live rent-free.
“I basically went from one garage to another, and before long, I started online,” she recalled.
Once Thompson started her business, originally on the popular craftsman website Etsy.com, things really started to blow up. But it was when she moved over to Shopify. com, another website that allows small businesses to operate a web presence at a minimal cost, she says business just took off.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole life, and I knew what I wanted with a website and brand.”
Operating for just under two years, Thompson’s Wild Rituals Soap Company is the talk, err, the smell of the town. Aside from soaps, she concocts hand salves, bath bombs, and other products that all have punny, popculture titles and names.
When Design Archives opened in downtown Winston- Salem on Nov. 8, Thompson went straight down to figure out how to get her own booth space. She spoke with owner Kit Rodenbough, but realized that she might not be able to come up with the money for the booth rental.
“I left there and went to Jeffrey Adams for a glass of wine,” she said. It was there that a group of men sat down near her and began talking. Thompson said she overheard one of the men mention “Middleburg” as his hometown and she struck up a conversation with the gentleman. After divulging her endeavors as a small business owner, the gentleman bought two bars of soap from her for $200.
“He said, “don’t make a big deal out of it, it’s hard to get out of where we’re from, and I want to see you succeed,” Thompson remembers.
That money went straight to her first booth rental, and the rest is history. In the months she has been selling her soaps, hand salves, and body butters at Design Archives she has remained the top selling artisan, besting the former top seller of nearly four years. Christmas has all but wiped out her inventory, but that’s a problem every artisan and artist can hope for when starting out.
“I just keep trying to remind myself that it’s all a huge blessing,” she said. !
See Wild Rituals Soap Company at Design Archives in Winston- Salem located at 636 W. 4th Street right next to Foothills Brewing, open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.