Antonia Mungai, Founder of The Cheshire Soap Company, The Cheshire Soap School and Be Blessed
Handcrafted natural soaps made with the finest oils, butters and botanicals for the ultimate bathing experience
I’m a logical person and I like maths and science, but I also desperately need to be creative. I qualified as a teacher, but deep down I wanted to run my own business.
I tried my hand at various things; started a family; and then eventually returned to supply and contract teaching. After having baby number three, I was desperate to not have to work beyond the point I thought it would negatively impact upon the children. Fortunately, by then the penny had finally dropped and I had a business plan in place…
After my second child, I’d made some soap for the very first time to gift at Christmas. The more research I did, the more soap-making drew me in. As a hobby, it ticked all my boxes – combining science and creativity. I saw it had the potential to become an exciting, scalable business.
Using funds from the National Enterprise Allowance – and with the financial support of family and friends – I perfected my own soap recipes. The project was greenlit by industry regulators and, officially, the business started in February 2016.
Frustratingly, childcare issues held me back in those early days from implementation. I had to learn to be patient in the process… the children were the reason I was doing it in the first place. No season lasts forever!
Completing a Business course through Manchester Metropolitan University in summer 2018 enthused me to pick up the reins again.
That December, my friend offered to loan me the money to move off the kitchen table into a commercial unit. I was hugely grateful and felt an enormous sense of responsibility to make it work, so I stepped up production. My Christian faith gave me the strength to keep going.
Twelve months on, I outgrew those premises. I moved into a creative hub, The Hive, in December 2019. It’s less restrictive and more communal. I’ve got space to develop customised products for retailers, businesses and event planners; to offer soap-making experiences and parties; and to develop Be Blessed: my new lifestyle brand for modern Christian women, featuring a line of soaps, melts and more.
Uncertainty is in the past – replaced by complete clarity of purpose.