We love nothing more than expanding our team and we are so excited to welcome Eliana as our new social media and design manager. She’ll be taking over Tia’s role as content creator for our social media platforms. We will miss Tia so much, but we know there are great things in store for her and we are so grateful for all the work she’s done to help build what Apple Valley Natural Soap is today…and we can’t wait to see where Eliana plans to take us in the future…which she’ll reveal a bit about in this blog!
How’d you come to join the AVNS Team?
“I had known the previous Social Media Manager, Tia, and she had reached out with a job opportunity to work with AVNS. She recommended I inquire and apply for the position and from there I was hired. I have loved it ever since!”
Eliana is a perfect fit for Apple Valley Natural Soap, “I love all things organic and natural and when I found out AVNS produces products that were all natural, cruelty free, and filled with ingredients that are not toxic, I immediately knew I wanted to work for them.” She also loves our huge variety of products and how we select our natural ingredients for their natural benefits!
What is your vision for the future of AVNS social media?
Eliana has two main focuses for the future of the Apple Valley Natural Soap social media platforms. The first goal is to make sure that all of our unique products are showcased so that people have options when searching for skin and hair care products. The second goal is to create an encouraging and uplifting space for followers and customers to build community, ask questions, and start conversations. Eliana has already started adding weekly inspirational quotes to our Insta and I am so here for it!
What skills have you learned or what classes did you take/or are taking that have prepared you for running the AVNS social media?
“I am currently a Senior at Evangel University and pursuing a double major in Marketing and Business Management. Through my various courses in marketing and management I learned many different technical skills needed to run social media platforms, create meaningful content, manage accounts, and much more. I also learned the importance of listening to what the consumer wants and finding ways to engage them in meaningful ways.”
When you aren’t posting and designing for AVNS, what do you do for fun?
Like all of us, Eliana has plenty of activities and hobbies outside of Apple Valley Natural Soap!
“When I am not posting and designing for AVNS you can usually find me laughing with my friends and spending time with my family. I love going on adventures and am always down for spontaneous trips including road trips, camping, and anything in between! One of my all-time favorite things to do is go for daily walks, especially with my dog. Last but not least, I absolutely love music and if I’m not on a walk you can find me at my piano or singing along on a car ride.”
If there was a soap called the Eliana Bar, what would the description and ingredient list look like?
“If there was a soap called the Eliana Bar it would smell life wildflowers in the mountains with a hint of warm vanilla. The bar would remind you of summertime and the adventure that comes with it!”
If supporting small family businesses that make quality, environmentally friendly, natural products is your thing then Apple Valley Natural Soap is definitely for you! I am always so inspired by the families behind every family business, probably because I’m a part of one and I know how much sacrifice and team effort goes into the operation. I also think it’s essential to acknowledge each role a family member plays in a family business, every person is needed. Which is why I’m so excited to be featuring one of Marianne’s lovely and talented “right-hand-daughters” for this feature: Amanda!
Who Takes All The Photos For AVNS?
If you haven’t already guessed, it’s Amanda! One of my favorite things about the AVNS website is the gorgeous visuals of every available product, but when, where and how do those pictures get taken? I asked Amanda to walk me through the process.
“I set up the equipment required for a shoot, pick out the products involved, take many different shots at many different angles, locations, etc. to make sure I have the perfect shot for editing. I transfer all my photos over to editing and select the shots I like the most and fit my vision, then edit the photos to flow seamlessly with the others on our website and social media. I then get them sent off to my mom where she uses the photos where she needs. When it comes to product specific photos I will either use a Lightbox or set up somewhere outside to get that natural aspect. I use Lightroom to edit my photos, adjusting the lighting, exposure, colors, saturation, angles, and healing any blemishes in the soaps themselves. I try not to use filters or any intense editing, as we want the beauty of the natural and raw soap to come through.”
Born Into The Business
Amanda is no stranger to AVNS products and some of her favorites include the body butters and sugar scrubs, but she explains that a lot more goes into a family business than just just testing fun new products and giving the daughter seal of approval, “The most challenging thing about being involved in my family business is having it take over a large part of our lives, conversations, and planning.” To Amanda, this sacrifice is worth it. “The most rewarding part is simply being able to see the fruits of our labor pay off and the experiences we get to have thanks to the business.” What does this look like? Amanda says that her favorite family pastimes are road trips and family adventures, “It can be a little bit crazy, but it’s always such a fun time.”
In the midst of taking care of her role in the family business, Amanda makes time to grow in other interest areas of her life, “I enjoy spending time with my amazing boyfriend, trying new restaurants and coffee shops with my friends, shopping, working out, and spending time outside.” She values the practice of a balanced lifestyle just like her mom, and this isn’t the only thing she’s learned from her hardworking boss and mother, “I have been able to see how difficult and rewarding owning a small business can be. Both my mom and I have entrepreneurial spirits and it is fun to see how she has taken this business and grown it into what it is today. I have seen the dedication, long hours, and sacrifice it takes to run a business of your own and I can say with certainty that after learning what I have from my mom and AVNS, I could start and run a business of my own someday.”
Of course, I always have to ask my favorite question:
If There was a bar of soap called the “Amanda Bar”, what would the ingredient list feature and how would you describe the finished product?
“If there was a bar of soap called the Amanda Bar, it would be a salt bar that targeted exfoliation with fine salt, anti-bacterial properties that heals skin blemishes like acne, but also adding moisturizing oils back into to the skin finished off with a fresh, muted, floral and warm scents with lavender and cardamom, sea salt, and vanilla.”
Who else wants to see this bar hit the shelves? I know I do!
Why do you buy what you buy? As much as I tend to read reviews before making a purchase, I have to admit that product design and packaging makes just as big of an impact on my decision. Fonts, colors, materials, and even size all play a huge role in selling a product. When the design of a product helps to accurately reflect what that product does, it subtly aids the consumer in making the right choice when looking for the right product. Before working with Apple Valley Natural Soap, I never gave too much thought to all the hard work that goes into designing labels for products. Thankfully, our social media guru Tia knows all when it comes to product design and this week is all about her and the work she’s done for AVNS!
Meet Tia: The Social Media Manager of AVNS
Tia runs all social media campaigns on Facebook and Instagram and she’s constantly working on finding ways to engage and interact with current customers. This could be as simple as asking customers what their favorite products are or sharing new information about the benefits of our products! She’s also always brainstorming new ways to reach people who need Apple Valley Natural Soap Products in their lives. This includes working on the development of an AVNS reels series, which you can find on our Instagram!
How did you become part of the AVNS team?
“My husband is great friends with the Buck family. When we were dating, he knew Marianne wanted to expand the business in marketing and he recommended me! Now I have been with AVNS for 2 years!”
Tia is also behind the coordination of the weekly newsletter (if you aren’t getting our weekly newsletter you want to be, trust me, it is full of deals and giveaways!). Tia creates a visual theme for every newsletter based on the topic of the week. Each feature soap gets a customized background that matches the theme. Why do we do this? We love making online shopping as fun and easy for our customers as possible. A focused, aesthetically pleasing newsletter is not only entertaining, but instantly lets you know what it is we have to offer!
Tia is a freelancer for AVNS, so while she might work another job during the week, she always dedicates time for anything that AVNS needs. Her Mondays and Tuesdays are typically her scheduled time for planning and preparing social media posts, but she also takes on long term projects as well!
New Skincare Products Coming Soon
Tia is excited to reveal that she and Marianne have recently been working hard on a new project, “I have been working on an upcoming skincare line which has been very exciting. The labels have a modern look with a delicate design. I can’t for everyone to see them!” While you’re waiting for these products to hit our website, check out our BRAND NEW liquid soap in the meantime!
What goes into designing a product label?
A label should always reflect the product. Why? Well, if you went to the store and bought a bottle of shampoo with roses and a silky, shimmery font on the front you’d probably be pretty surprised if you went home and found the bottle was filled with a gritty brown mixture that smelled like swamp and made your hair sticky…right? You’d be expecting a rose scent and a silky textured shampoo (which means you should check out our Bella Rose Shampoo Bar). If we wanted people to know that a product was made with ingredients known for their skin-soothing benefits, we’d want to choose a soothing color like blue. If we want to highlight the fresh aspect of a product, we might pick green.
If there was a bar called “The Tia Bar” What would the description and ingredient list look like?
“The Tia Bar is a dazzling ray of sunshine that will brighten your day up. The touch of grapefruit adds a sweetness that will tickle your toes!”
I’m so excited for this week’s blog because it will kick off the first post in our series of “Meet the Team.” There is an amazing team of incredible people behind AVNS who contribute so much towards the quality of our company and the fantastic products adored by so many people. Being a small business allows us to take the time to put a spotlight of appreciation on every person involved with AVNS which will happen right here every month in our blog. If you’re thankful for the AVNS team don’t hesitate to show the love by giving this post a like and follow our blog!
Marianne Buck: the owner of AVNS
Marianne is easily one of my greatest role models. Her dedication to her craft and business is an inspiration, but equally so is her evident dedication to her family life and most importantly her love and respect of the Lord. This being said, it shocks me every time I realize I’ve only met with her in person 3 times in the almost year and a half that I’ve blogged for AVNS.
Before my time with AVNS, if you’d asked me to imagine what a remote work relationship looked like, the first words that would come to my mind would be detached and professional. While what we do is certainly professional, there has never been a lack of genuine warmth and compassion that fills the void of our long-distance work space and this is because of Marianne! Today I hope you all will get the chance to know the amazing woman who runs your favorite soap company just a little bit better (warning, she’s pretty cool).
It’s hard for me to remember Marianne didn’t always own Apple Valley Natural Soap, in fact, she started out as just another customer with a love for natural skin products. Inspired by AVNS, Marianne began making her own soaps and with the encouragement of friends who had willingly tried her products with satisfying results, she and her husband opened a shop on Etsy. Within the course of two years Marianne was offered the chance to buy AVNS twice, the first time she felt it wasn’t the right time, but two years later after quite a bit of prayer Marianne felt as though the Lord was moving her in a direction she could not refuse. AVNS has continued to grow steadily since, staying focused on finding a balance between making products customers know and love while also staying true to the production of natural eco-friendly products and packaging. Read the full story in her own words here!
Running a Creative Business
I’d argue that the craft of soap-making is a three-fold artform made up of scent, visual presentation, and sensory experience. Mastering all three of these elements is no easy task, so adding the business aspect on top of everything else is enough to keep anyone busy, including Marianne who, by taking on AVNS, has taken on quite the juggling act, “I love being creative, so I have to make sure I don’t lose that part of me. I am also still learning to balance my time wisely between my family and the business. I learned very quickly running a business can swallow you up!”
So what does Marianne’s work day look like? While it’s fun to imagine her in a white lab coat with a fridge full of fresh ingredients blending, mixing and concocting away…Marianne says otherwise, “I don’t really have a typical work day, but if I’m not running around somewhere with my son getting him to classes and other commitments, you’ll find me at my desk in an office. I like to start my work day between 8-9 am, answering emails, connecting with companies who work with us behind the scenes, and checking orders and questions on our site. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I’ll be getting orders ready to process and preparing the paperwork for one of our employees to package and ship them out.” At AVNS teamwork makes the dream work, and Marianne never hesitates to throw herself into every aspect of her company, “ I also fill in where needed, so occasionally you’ll find me cutting soap, organizing things in the curing room, experimenting with new ingredients or a new product or product line, researching recipes and new ways to improve AVNS. It really can be a never ending list of things to do, but I’m learning to prioritize and adjust my time as needed.”
A Family Effort
Behind every small family business is a hardworking family and Marianne’s is no exception. Most members of the Buck family already have jobs or activities that keep them plenty busy, but they’ll all contributed to AVNS at one time or another and are always willing to pitch in when needed, “when we started with AVNS every member of our family was involved…Currently Amanda does photography for us and is also helping in a few other areas where needed…Natasha used to package almost 100% of orders and so has since declared ‘I’m all soaped out for a while’…Ethan continues to do data and timesheet entry for us and occasionally wrapping soap, and Darin helps wherever is needed. This mostly means that when we need to move soap around in the curing room, he’s the muscle!” With such a busy schedule, I was curious to know what Marianne does with any spare time, to which she replied that there currently isn’t much of! “I do love a good book, to go out with my husband, spend time with each of my children (although this doesn’t happen as much as I’d like as they all have busy lives.) To visit with a friend, plus, I love to be creative when I have the time. Being creative can be anything from experimenting with a new product recipe to baking.”
The Future of AVNS
The greatest reward of running AVNS for Marianne is hearing, “the testimonials from customers who love the products…hearing how the products have helped them heal, or that they simply feel better using natural products…I’m reminded how much AVNS is not just a business, but a ministry.” Marianne’s dream is to help more people discover the joy of using natural products while also contributing to the community, “I would love AVNS to continue to grow where we can expand into either our own physical brick and mortar store, or to be in stores across the country. I don’t envision AVNS in big box stores, but smaller boutique type stores where we can support other small businesses.” In terms of products, “the future of AVNS is still going to revolve around our soaps as they are what we are known for and what customers love about AVNS. But we will continue to introduce new eco-friendly, natural products to our customers. I always want to be transparent with AVNS and have gone the extra mile in research and fulfillment to make sure what we use is something I can stand behind with integrity.”
Who ‘Nose’ Where That Smell Is Coming From???
Because AVNS has no official storefront yet, the Buck household is the central hub for everything and anything AVNS, which comes with an unexpected side effect. “Because all finished products end up with us before being shipped out to customers, our home has a wide variety of scents which are always present. So much so that the essential oils have been absorbed into every nook and cranny within our home, but we don’t notice the scent anymore, but when we are out and about, it’s not uncommon for comments and conversations around us to start like this “do you smell peppermint? I wonder where it’s coming from, it smells good. Seriously, do you smell it?”
If there was a bar called “The Marianne Bar” What would the description and ingredient list look like?
“Oooo, it’s totally theLavender Silk Shampoo Bar. I created that bar with me in mind as I love the scent of fresh lavender, and I wanted a bar which would moisturize and strengthen my hair without weighing it down. An interesting thing about this particular bar is that I’ve had customers with hard water who have success using it as a shampoo. I’m sure it’s not a hard water success for everyone, but I heard about it years ago and it always stuck with me.”
Thanks For Reading!
Thanks for taking the time to get to know us! We’ll be back next month with another team member feature.