Erin Krug, owner and formulator for Krug’s Ecologic has been passionately pioneering in the natural soap industry for the last couple of years.
In this week’s video, we sit down with Erin and talk about her humble beginnings, and her rise to sudsy popularity.
Doubling her business every year, Erin is no stranger to success, all the while creating a sustainable product that contributes to the wellbeing of her customers.
Ever the Blue Spoke, Erin’s simple and organic business model allows Krugs Ecologic to grow at a sustainable pace and still meet the demands of her growing customer base.
Like many great ideas, Erin’s business was born from necessity, meeting the needs of her family. During the long cold Pennsylvania winters, her children’s hands became chapped and sore.
Erin attributes her success to “just doing it”. “You never know, until you’ve tried.” This philosophy has served Erin and her business to the point to where she is ready to bring on her first few employees and take her business to the next level! With a degree in biology, Erin put her skills to use and began formulating her own soaps using the highest quality natural and botanical ingredients available.
To find out more about Erin and her fantastic products, visit KrugsEcologic.com
You can watch the video interview here:
You can also read the conversation below:
-Hey how are you doing everybody? So, we are here with Erin Krug and she is coming all the way from Altoona, Pennsylvania. I am here in sunny San Diego, California. How are you doing, Erin?
– Good, how are you, Matt?
– I am great… So, why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and exactly what it is that you do, what your passion is?
– Well, I am the owner and formulator of Krug’s Eco Logic. We produce all natural soaps and skincare products. Everything is made from scratch and I sort of started my business as a way to help my children, for their sensitive skin issues and it just blossomed into a business from there.
– That is pretty amazing. I don’t think you told me how you got that start and that’s just an interesting building block to go from because without that issue you may not have even come onto this.
-No, no, in fact I remember the day that I decided I needed to do something. My son was three and he came out of the bathroom after washing his hands repeatedly with a regular bath soap and his hands were all cracked and started to bleed. He was crying and I knew that I had to do something for him and being a bit of a nerd and a biology degree holder I decided that I could do something in my own house, in my own kitchen to help him with his hands.
– Yeah, that’s awesome. So, you make all the soaps yourself?
– I do. I make everything from scratch, I’ve formulated all the recipes myself and each one is formulated with a specific purpose in mind and with very high quality natural ingredients.
– Yeah, I really like how you said they are vegan, right?
– Yeah, they are vegan which means that there is no animal by products. There is no lard, no honey, nothing that was derived from an animal. They are all plant based – even the scents are plant based, whether it be from the roots, or the bark, or flowers, or leaves. Even the scent comes from plants.
– That’s awesome. I know back on the east coast vegan isn’t really a big thing. But in California there are quite a few vegan people, restaurants, places to do that kind of stuff. Actually I stumbled upon a place in the mall yesterday Lush. Are you familiar with that place?
-Oh yes! Yes they have quite a following.
– Yeah, I didn’t actually go in, but it looked like a pretty interesting store from outside and I know it looks kind of like what you do.
– Right. There is a bit difference. Some of their products aren’t quite as natural but it is the same kind of concept, yes.
– So, who is your target market you guys go after. Is it specific for people who have allergies or is it more just anyone who wants to be all natural?
– I would say our main demographic is somewhere in between the ages of let’s say 25 and 45. We are gaining actually quite a male following, because of the men’s skincare products we offer. I made a pale ale beer soap and Yeungling lager with it, as well as shaving oil and aftershave. So, we are gaining quite a male following just from those three products alone.
– And just a side note – anyone not on east coast Yeungling beer that’s actually the oldest brewery in America… and it is in Pennsylvania.
– Yes. And so, I use that to be as local as possible with a nice popular beer.
– That’s awesome. I love how you kind of sourcing i local and keep everything true to where you got started.
– You sell more locally or more nation-based?
– I sell all over the country, all over the world actually but I’ve been doing some farmers’ markets here locally. Right now I am in farmers’ market four days of the week, but most of my business is done online and through the magic of facebook, I’ve gained quite a following on there and a lot of sales and business actually stem from facebook, from sales and giveaways we do online.
– Yeah, that’s beautiful. The social media has super powerful reach and following. People really use Facebook as a resource and use it to find and talk about things they love, know and trust.
– Right. And, you know, we especially on facebook we try to keep it fresh and interesting and to talk about and discuss things that people win, and in that sort of demographic that people are interested in it. We like the back and forth conversation that facebook allows to. And it allows me to get to know my customers and what they are really after and in fact in some cases they help to formulate different products. I ask them what they would like to see in a soap, in skincare produc,t or a lip balm and I take the feedback from them and go from there.
– Yeah, that’s awesome. I know about myself – personally I love dealing with companies, who are just very conscious of what they do, how they make it and who is listening to the customer, to have a conversation. The old marking tactics of this megaphone yelling at you, what they want to sell you doesn’t really work the way it used to, so companies will listen to the customers and make what they want.
– Right. The philosophy and the meaning behind my company is that it began with filling a need, and at the beginning it was for my children and now it’s not only for my family but also my customers. So I like to be able to help them with their needs and facebook really allows me to do that.
– Awesome. So, tell me a little bit more about when you started, originally for yourself and a few friends and family, how did it really take off? Give me the quick story.
– Well, it didn’t really take off right away. It was gradual and you know, it’s still gradual as far as, you know, figures and numbers and everything in the business are still doubling every year, so that’s good.
– That’s awesome, yeah.
– Yeah but in the beginning the growth was slow because I didn’t put a large chunk of money down on the business. I started one product at a time. I bought the ingredients for one bar, one batch of soap, I made that batch of soap and you know, I just went from there. And again from customer feedback I took what some of my customers were looking for, formulated a product for that customer and just went from there.
– Awesome. So, you’ve been open for how many years now?
– This is the fourth year I’ve been selling, and about five and a half years that I’ve been making everything.
– So, you’ve got it down, you process pretty well.
– Oh yeah, I can turn out a batch of soap pretty quick.
– That’s good. So do you have people… you are one woman show or you have employees to work with you?
– Right now I have an employee who packages all of my orders wraps the soaps, does all the labels. Currently I am doing all the farmers’ markets although just today I spoke to a girl who I am pretty sure I am going to hire to go ahead and do that to allow me time to produce, because it’s growing right now pretty quickly. I need that time to be able to produce the products so I will to have a girl who is going to do all the farmers’ markets, I have somebody that’s packaging the orders and I will be just doing the production.
– That’s great. So I know you said that you’ve been doubling every year. I know you pretty big media attention. Tell me a little bit more about that and how that happened.
– Well, I was, whenever… let’s say maybe three years ago I started to sell on Abe’s market. I am not currently on there right now, I need to get back on there actually. I had a little bit a bump in the road last year so I took down some of my selling venues, so we’ll be getting back on Abe’s very shortly. I started selling on there and they’ve been fantastic with getting my business and other businesses out there.
Through Abe’s I was in Entrepreneur Magazine, Inked Magazine, The New York Times and I’ve been through another selling venue called Etsy, I got to have my pale ale beer soap on HGTV – it was a holiday special, and also CNN actually came to my home and followed me around for a while and watched me do what I do and videotaped and interviewed me, it was pretty crazy. You know, we got to see ourselves on national TVs, so it was pretty neat.
– Yeah, that’s pretty awesome when you can just tune in and say “hey watch CNN at like five thirty – I will be on there”.
– Right. Yeah, it was pretty neat I must say.
– So, any advice for like aspiring entrepreneurs out there? I know everyone thinks that A – B – success but really it is like a zig zag … and you finally get there. Any tips on your journey and how it’s really transformed you and what you can really give back to other people?
– I would probably say, you know, you are right with the fact that getting from A to B isn’t so direct. You have to sort of try a little bit of everything and see what direction works for you. I would definitely say that if you are not passionate about whatever it is that you are doing, you are not going to be successful. You have to have that passion to drive you. I think that is first and for most. I also think that you should take whatever you are good at whatever is likeable about you to other people and just put it out there and use whatever venues you can in whatever manner you can to get your product or your service out there. And for me – I think I have a lot of Italian in my genes, so I am a bit of a talker and so the facebook fan page really works for me because I can converse with my customers and my demographic and I go to farmers’ markets, I just like to talk to people and I think because I am passionate about what I do that really comes out in our conversation.
I think, as a business owner, a small business owner, when customer is buying your service or product they are not just buying that product but they are buying you, your passion. So, I think it’s really important to really be passionate about whatever that is that you are providing.
– Yeah I totally agree. If you are like people who think “Oh, I can’t compete with them and their product” but everyone is so unique, everyone has their own life experience and perspective and the way they make their product, so it cant possibly be exactly the same product.
– And that’s how it is, you know, the markets or the events that I go to, there could be three or four other people that are selling a similar product, but mine in some way is way different than theirs. I have my own unique products and way of formulating them. Everyone is different and everyone can be successful.
– Yeah, I think that is a huge thing that people just don’t really grasp right away. They don’t really have to straight-up compete with a lot of people, that they really are in their own competition, because there is no one that does exactly what you do regardless of the product you put out.
– So, I head you say the word passion about three or four times and that’s really great. I want you to convey what your passion is and what your ‘why’ is. Why you do what you do, what makes you do it?
– I think I just like to help people and I really like that I can make something from scratch that I created on my own, that can help them whether they have a skin issue or they just haven’t found the right product for them or to help their face to help their dry spots, to help cleanse their face, to keep their hands from cracking. I know that my products can help them and I love to be able to help them with those sorts of issues.
– Yeah, that’s great. I love your passion. I can tell just talking you and and your passion really comes out when you speak about this and when you obviously put in in your products and people can feel it when they buy it.
– Thank you.
– Is there anything else you’d like to share with everyone else?
You know if you are interested in opening a business or starting a business I would say “ just go ahead and give it a shot, because if not you’ll always wonder why, or what if, or what could I have done”.
– Yeah I agree. The regret of not doing something is way worse than failure. I think a lot of people think that failure is such a bad thing, but everybody fails, every good entrepreneur has failures. And it’s not about failures, it’s about what you’ve learned from the failures, it’s about getting back up and really going forward and so, thinking it’s A to B is A to fail… back to A… to fail and eventually you get to B.
– I think that’s so important for people that have a passion, have a dream, whatever it looks like, and really help them get started. First step is always the hardest.
– I used to be runner, and we would always say the first mile is always the hardest.
– Oh, yes.
– I know you are a runner as well.
– And for me, I don’t know if for you, but the first mile is crazy – I am like “why am I running” and after a mile it is getting better, I feel my body getting used to it.
– Right. And for me it’s getting out of the door.
– Yeah, so I really appreciate your time and I know you are a busy person with lots of interviews yesterday. We had to reschedule because you had an interview with a TV show, or I am sorry not a TV sow, but a newspaper.
– It looks like you are obviously getting recognized for the great things you are doing, so thank you for taking your time to be here and share your story with us, because I feel like you’ve got a lot to share.
– Thank you. Thanks for having me.
– Thank you to everyone out there listening. If you want to get in contact with Erin, what’s the best way, Erin?
– The best way is – you can go to my website www.KrugsEcoLogics.com and there is a little “contact us” link, just go ahead and click on that and that comes right to us.
– Great. I will put a link in the bottom and in the comment section so people can check out your website and really check out your products, because obviously it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can order your products and enjoy irritation free skin. I may do the same. I’ve actually never tried your products. I am really disappointed that I’ve never done that but, for a man I feel like I don’t have skin problems, so it’s not a high priority for me but I feel like I should take a better care of my skin.
– Oh, I will just have to send you some.
– I appreciate that, thank you.
– Bye everyone, thank you for watching and we will catch-up with you next time, thank you.