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Guava and Cucumber, Butterscotch and Snickerdoodle, Wasabi and Sweet Pea. Your mouth may be watering, but it's your skin and nose that get to indulge this time! While these combinations may soon make it onto an award-winning chef's latest menu, VocationVacations mentor, Anne-Marie Faiola, is tapping into their deliciousness by way of an entirely different art form: soap making! These are just a few of the tempting limited edition fragrance oils currently offered through Bramble Berry, the soap making supply company Anne-Marie founded when she was only twenty years old, and its retail affiliate, Otion. If you are dreaming of changing careers or starting your own business, Anne-Marie and her team are the mentors for you. Come spend a few days in gorgeous Bellingham, Washington (half way between Seattle and Vancouver, BC) and learn the ins and outs of the soap making and retail business!
Ten years after taking the leap, Anne-Marie's business is not only thriving but two additional businesses have evolved from it as well. Vocationers will be lucky enough to learn "hands on" about this industry at Otion, Anne Marie's shop that provides soap making classes, soap making parties, and more. Using all Bramble Berry soap making products, of course, everyone from hobbyist to professional is encouraged to learn and/or enhance their soap making skills within the company of expert, passionate soaping artists. In addition to Bramble Berry and Otion, Anne-Marie has also started her own line of organic skin care products that can be found at www.organic-fusion.com.
So what is Anne-Marie's background? She was originally Pre-Med because she thought she wanted to be a doctor like her Dad (either that or an FBI agent!). But Anne-Marie ended up pursuing an undergraduate degree in Psychology with a specialization in Criminal Justice. She found it fascinating and pictured herself in the role of a counselor or social worker. Not very long after, however, she realized she was miserable in her chosen profession of corrections, and was working her way into a clinical depression hole. "I figured, I had nothing to lose", she recalls about her decision to start her own business, "without a thought or a plan, I quit my job and started selling soap!"
The transition was not as obscure as it may sound. Anne-Marie has always been crafty. "I knit. I stamp. I make cards. I love making handmade paper. I enjoy decoupage and mosaics", she explains.
"Soap is another crafty thing, yet it is multi-faceted. It has colors, scents, and molds that make it both art and science and a beautiful outlet for creativity all at once. I adore soap! I spend countless hours obsessing about soap. Thank goodness, ten years later, I still love my job!", she joyfully admits.
Anne-Marie actually started making and selling soap around the age of fifteen, mostly to friends of her mother. Her entrepreneurial spirit would eventually bring her back to where she belonged. Anne-Marie’s love for learning enabled her to fast-track it through school and she ended up graduating college early. As if changing careers and starting her own business weren't enough to keep her busy, she continued to expand her knowledge by getting her MBA from Heriot-Watt University and also completed a three-year summer program at MIT for entrepreneurs.
While there are many challenges to overcome when running one’s own businesses, Anne-Marie loves being in control of her destiny and is driven by the opportunity to be fulfilled at her job while giving back to the community. She is environmentally conscious with all her products and is a huge supporter of other women in small business. Her favorite part of her job is teaching and interacting with her clientele. Her close second favorite part of her job is creating new recipes! "Once you have the science part down, you can really enjoy the art form", she expresses.
So what is her personal favorite flavor of soap? It's called Energy and she describes it as "a fresh orange with grape and pineapple notes and a hint of lime". It's an original creation and her current #2 best seller, right on the tail of the #1 best seller, Oatmeal-Milk & Honey.
Vocationer activities will include some or all of the following:
Available: All year based on mentors availability