Fearless Friends: The Happy
Hands Behind Fable Soap Co. 

Jeriel Sydney and Bobbie Cunningham are friends who care deeply about empowering women, supporting small businesses, and soap. The dynamic duo is here to share what it takes to grow an artisan endeavor and encourage aspiring entrepreneurs. 

How did you two meet and what are your roles at Fable Soap Co.? 

B: We met 8 years ago as friends, then I started working with Fable in October ‘16. Our partners have known each other their entire lives. 

J: Bobbie has been a huge support through the whole building of my business. When I’ve gotten larger orders than I can handle, she was the person I would call. Bobbie has always been really into body care and wellness. It’s great for me to have somebody to give me honest feedback who understands how I work because when you do something for this long you get really emotionally attached to everything.  

It's a natural progression to bring her in with the hopes of turning it into us doing it together full-time and having an operation run by two women where we can support other women. We have the same vision. 

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs? 

B: That was something super important to both of us. We want Fable to be women owned, women run and go with that. That’s been one of the driving forces. 

J: I think our advice would be very different. Bobbie would say, ‘Keep track of everything.’ 

B: I come from manufacturing and finance with a retail online sales history. I’m organized. I track everything to the penny and that’s my mindset. That’s one of my main focuses here, to make sure we know where everything is going. 

J: Hire someone like Bobbie from the beginning! Find your Bobbie. When you’re looking at people who have already made their success its great for your mindset but it can also be really discouraging. Nobody tells you about the in-between spots when you really are all by yourself. Trying to get orders out. Trying to figure out what your brand is and who you are. Just don’t get discouraged. There are so many times where you want to give up because it's hard. 

B: And it doesn’t always feel like it's working. There are times it feels like that, but it's just about waiting for that next uptick and there’s a lull in-between. 

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs? 

J: So having a good community of other makers around you, investing in that immediately is really critical. In the beginning you’re mostly by yourself. If you could have somebody you meet with once a week, another maker, somebody who’s like ‘What are your goals for the week?’ because it’s easy to get lost in those lulls and not get yourself set up for the next high and that can really mess you up. So it’s having somebody who can say, ‘Hey did you get this done?’ or ‘Hey have you thought about the newsletter for next month?’ or ‘What are you doing?’. Having an accountability partner is the best thing. 

What keeps you encouraged? 

B: Each other and setting goals for what we want to do next. We always have a running tab of our next 6 months, what do we want to do? What are our problems right now and how can we fix them? So having a list at all times. When you have a moment to step away from the chaos - revisit that list. 

J: I also think having somebody you’re accountable to. So I’m lucky that I have Bobbie. Fortunately since she’s come on there has been almost no lull. 

What floats your boat about soap? 

J: Originally I started making soap because my husband and I were traveling through Italy and working on different farms and it was just one of the jobs on one of the farms. I really enjoy making a product with my hands. For me that process is cathartic and it makes me happy. So when we came back, I started making soap for my husband who has really sensitive skin and it started to grow into something bigger. It was never just about the soap, it was about our capacity to build a community and to impact change.

When I started Fable it was really important to do a Giveback Program. Soap gave me mobility to give back. It gave me a reason to do something that I loved. It could have been a lot of different things, but I enjoy the process of making soap. I like the chemistry. I like the product in the end. It gave me the opportunity to do more, and kind of get out of the rut I was in. I was in grad school and struggling with finding my purpose in that. Soap gave me a place to get grounded. It gave me new meaning and a creative outlet. Then I got into branding and photography and it just grew and grew and grew. For me it was the beginning of so much more. 

Talk to me about your Giveback Program.  

J: With our Giveback Program, for any bar that is purchased we give a bar to a local women’s shelter. It started when I was in Oakland, which was amazing because I could work with the Oakland Women’s Shelter and shelters in Berkeley and San Francisco. As we’ve grown bigger it’s been harder to maintain that. Now every month we connect with one of our wholesale accounts and put the donation bars in their order and they get to give it. So we’re not just giving to California shelters, but everywhere! It’s creating this amazing web of women giving back. 

B: These shops are so excited when they get to go take the donation. They didn’t have to put any effort into it, but they get to be the face that goes and delivers it. 

J: I think it builds a really cool community. It’s not just about commerce anymore. I’ve done it randomly with shops before in D.C. and in Philadelphia and two in Georgia. After you do that donation with the shop, it's not just a business relationship - it’s personal. And that makes it more fun for us. It feels better for them to get behind your shop and it’s easy for you to get behind them because you have the same ethos. We’re all doing the same thing. 

What kind of partnerships do you look for? You mentioned Farmgirl Flowers. What do you like about working with them? 

B: There are certain people that you meet and you instantly know if they have a ton of hustle. You can spot that in people almost immediately whether they’re just running a shop because it fell in their lap, or they’re running a shop because they breathe it every single day. So those are the kind of people we like to team up with. 

J: Our priorities are creating a product of integrity and giving back. By being really honest about our identity from the beginning and being as transparent as possible, when people reach out to us they know what they’re getting into. So it’s easier for us to form a connection. 

Is it fair to say those are your core values? 

J: We’ve got a lot of core values! For us it's about people who are authentic and who are creating a good brand and a good product. We’ve been lucky that almost every single person we’ve worked with feels exactly the same way. They care about where the product is coming from, how you’re making it, how you’re distributing it, how you’re giving back. We’ve had a lot of great loyalty. We’ve been lucky to work with almost all female run businesses, and almost all of them have a Giveback program. 

Let’s talk about the integrity of your ingredients. 

J: The first product we made was soap and I was really lucky to work with David Jablones and Tamara Hicks at the Tomales Farmside Creamery. Their product integrity inspired my product integrity. Everything they do on their dairy is top of the line. Their animals are so happy. Their facility is gorgeous. 

B: I see all these pictures of baby goats, and it’s like ‘Yeah, I wanna be there’. 

J: Whenever we have the opportunity to buy artisanal brands (like the Slovenian salt), we do. Small businesses are our jam. 

B: Also at the end of the day we both have really sensitive skin so making sure that the ingredients are natural and non-harsh and are good for your skin is really important. The R&D on our products is one of the most fun things we do. I look at ingredients on skin care too much! We bounce ideas off of each other and come up with different formulations and we try it. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Sometimes you try it and does work, like the conditioner (for Granada Hotel) that turned out amazing. It’s the first formulation we did together. 

What are you most looking forward to this year? 

J: We love the conditioner. It has coconut oil and avocado oil and all of these ingredients you don’t normally get to have in your conditioner. I wanted all of this organic matter. How do we formulate that? Bobbie’s like ‘Hey we gotta put some beautiful keratin in’ and I was like ‘Yeah, I don’t know how to use that but I wanna use that. Let’s do research!’. I’m lucky my cousin is a chemist so I can ask her, ‘Would you combine these? Would this work?’. 

J: Getting to align ourselves with people at Granada Hotel and Farmgirl Flowers, that’s opened up a whole new window for us. The growth is what I’m most looking forward to and having a partner to do it with. The goals can be so much bigger. 

Meet Christy

Contact

Kind Words

Portfolio

Services

About

Home

NAVIGATE

Originally published in Coyote + Oak Magazine. 

WORDS BY CHRISTY WOLFF
PHOTOS BY SARAH KATHLEEN

Meet Christy

BACK TO TOP ↑

@CHRISTYcopywriting

WEB DESIGN + PHOTOGRAPHY: Kendra Aronson Creative Studio

Fable Soap Co. can be found online at www.fablesoapco.com, and on Instagram at @fablesoapco. 

BACK TO TOP ↑

WEB DESIGN + PHOTOGRAPHY: Kendra Aronson Creative Studio

Contact

Kind Words

Services

Portfolio

About

Home

NAVIGATE

Meet Christy

© 2018 Copyright Christy Copywriting, LLC. All rights reserved.