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Life & Work with Richelle Johnson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Richelle Johnson.

Hi Richelle, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Hi everyone, my name is Richelle Johnson, a native Baltimorian and owner of Queen’s Temple Handmade Artisan Soaps, LLC which is a locally owned personal care business based in Howard County Columbia, MD. All products are handmade in small batches and shipped online at www.thamdsoapqueen.com. We also retail products at various locations such as www.nourishing-journey.com and have been featured at Sapphire Esthique Spa located in Ellicott City, MD as well as Bus Boys and Poets Merriweather District in Columbia, MD.

So I guess I’ll go back to 2011 when I ditched all of the bad food we had in our cabinets and started shopping at Whole Foods Market located in Mount Washington, Baltimore.  We had never shopped there before, so my daughter and I browsed around the store and soon discovered the Whole Body Section where there were numerous body care products as well as wonderfully smelling handmade soaps. We smelled everything from soaps to sugar scrubs and I think I smelled them all. My favorite was Oatmeal Milk & Honey, which I bought and couldn’t wait to get home to try.

I fell in love with the whole concept and soon wanted to learn how to make my own soaps! Over the course of weeks and months, I learned about soap-making and decided on glycerin bars which required less work than working with lye and oils. I didn’t have any soap molds which are required to make melt and pour glycerin soaps, so I searched Google which eventually became my best friend for finding information. I used Pringle potato chip cans and empty milk cartons for molds to start and read books and watched numerous Youtube videos to help with the basics.

Friends and family used my homemade creations and were happy with them wanting more! I was surprised yet enthusiastic about my new soaps. Eventually, I saved money and purchased my first molds, and made more. The demand was so overwhelming that a friend suggested that I sell my new soaps at a local market. I searched Google again and found The Patapsco Market in Baltimore, MD.

I rented my first table for $25 for the entire day and walked away with a pocket full of cash and a customer base of 20 people!!! Yaaaay! This was so promising that wash, rinse, repeat was inevitable!

I was very delighted to see many other vendors there at the market as well as other products that interested me like Raw Shea Butter. I learned to melt shea butter down and formulate it in such a way that I created my version which is “Velvet Whipped Shea Butter”.  In my opinion, it’s the best whipped raw shea butter in the DMV!

I had no idea where this creativity was going but was encouraged by a couple of friends to get incorporated.  I thought carefully about the business name and decided to call it Queen’s Temple Handmade Artisan Soaps which was established in 2013!

Consistency, time and determination, helped me to master my craft of creating this wonderful personal care line which now consists of soaps, scrubs, shea butter, hair conditioner, hair growth serum, soy candles, beeswax massage candles, and aromatherapy car diffusers.

My products have been featured in mini boutiques, wellness spas, and also featured at our first retail location, Bus Boys and Poets located in the Merriweather District of Columbia, MD.

Growth has also forced me to Trademark my business names, Queen’s Temple Handmade Artisan Soaps and Aromaticmoods which is my candle brand, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. We are also an LLC and a Founding Member of The3rd which is a Woman of Color Non-Profit located in Columbia, MD.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Oh no, it has not been smooth at all because I had no business knowledge, didn’t know how to make anything like this before, and had no money to even start.

 I think working capital even to this day is the biggest struggle. There was so, much I did not know about this business but was determined to learn along the way. Unknown challenges still arise, so I just handle them with grace and rely on my new family of business owners to help fill the voids with confidence and wise advice.

 Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
So I’m a creator of personal care products and I love making glycerin soaps mainly because the glycerin component attracts moisture to the skin which enables skin to stay moisturized and more youthful looking. I also create luscious sugar scrubs, creamy shea butter, deep conditioner for all hair types which contain no silicones, and aromatherapy candles and car fresheners.  I just love seeing raw ingredients come together to form new products that customers love.

In a nutshell, I think what sets me apart from others is my consistency to learn, listen to my customers, and not cut corners when it comes to creating an awesome product!  I find that slowly is the best way to accomplish great things.

What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
What I like best about Baltimore is that there are so many hidden gems that just need a place to be creative!

The artists are plentiful, but what I like least about it is that there are not enough places to showcase the skilled artists and artisans who live there.

Pricing:

  • Velvet Whipped Shea Butter $20 7 oz.
  • Exfoliating Sugar Scrubs are on sale for $9 while we undergo our rebrand
  • Soaps start at $5.50-$12
  • Candles from $12-$60

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Bus Boys and Poets Merriweather District, Queen’s Temple, Handmade Artisan Soaps, Aromatic Moods, and Luxury Soy Candles

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