Most 7-year-olds prefer “iCarly” and “SpongeBob Squarepants” when they get the remote control. But Frederick’s Julia Schillaci favors the business-related “Shark Tank” on ABC.
It was her love of the show that prompted her to create her own company — SoapPrizes, which sells soaps in fun shapes, such as watermelon slices and building blocks, as well as soaps with toys embedded inside, like erasers and rubber ducks.
Julia and her mom, Beth started the company last year, and really got rolling in October, Beth said. Currently, the soaps are available at Frederick’s Dancing Bear Toys and Gifts, but the company is looking to expand a further into the wholesale market in the near future, Beth said.
She said she buys the soap in unscented form in 24 pound bricks, and melts it down to create their bars of soap. Some, like the cupcakes, get coloring and scent; others stay unscented. The soaps range in price from $2 for small party favors to $8 for larger bars.
For Julia, the notion that she could have her own company seemed a little farfetched to some of her second-grade classmates. But they changed their tune when they saw her products.
Beth asked that Julia’s school not be disclosed.
“At first they didn’t believe me,” Julia said, adding she brought in soaps at Christmas. “For the boys that I heard from, they loved their LEGO soaps. They all said ‘These are so cool!’”
The boys in her class aren’t the only ones who’ve taken notice. Julia received the Youth Entrepreneur Award from the Entrepreneur Council of Frederick County on June 7, and was recognized by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) after the Pinterest Business Pitch Competition.
But not everything they make sells well. At Christmas, the pair decided to package black soap in bags like lumps of coal. Although it didn’t sell as well as they’d hoped, the “coal” was repurposed into seeds for their watermelon soap, which sells much better.
“One of the nice things about soap is you can re-melt and reuse it,” Beth said.
Julia said her favorite part of the soap creation is seeing finished soaps come out of the molds. The watermelon soap is layered in an opaque mold about the size of a loaf pan, so they weren’t able to see how it turned out until it had hardened and was ready for slicing into bar sizes.
“We can’t see it through [the mold] but when we do get to see it, it’s like ‘Wow, this is so cool!’” she said. “It’s like a science experiment. You don’t know how it’s going to turn out.”
The soap’s primary seller also is a big fan of the product.
Tom England, the owner of Dancing Bear Toys, 12 N. Market St., Frederick, said he and his wife, Marlene, were instantly in love with the soaps when they saw them.
“It is an awesome idea,” he said. “When we saw it, I was like ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. What a great concept.’”
England said the soaps have been a big hit in the store, with regular sales.
“It has really kicked in for teacher gifts,” England said. “It sells on a very consistent basis. One of her two most popular for us are the duck soaps, and the other is the watermelon soap.”