Mayra Cortes, the founder of Amahu, a handcrafted, natural apothecary that offers cold press soaps*, lotions, and serums, started making soap for fun, giving away her home remedies to friends and family. She soon realized she could turn her passion for natural skin care alternatives into a successful venture.
Mayra Cortes, founder of Amahu Handcrafted Soap and Natural Skincare
One Step at a Time
A record number of people started micro businesses after the onset of the pandemic. Starting a business can be an exciting and daunting task at the same time, especially if you are not familiar with the process. Like many creative entrepreneurs, Mayra encountered various challenges as she was getting started, including navigating the business registration process, launching a website, finding reliable and high-quality suppliers, and keeping inventory up to date. Mayra's determination helped her to overcome these hurdles. As a solo entrepreneur, Mayra manages all aspects of the business and is solely responsible for ensuring the business runs smoothly, which can be stressful at times. "I take it one step at a time," she says. "I've learned that there's nothing that cannot be figured out."
Post at Your Own Pace
From one day to the next, Mayra is coming up with new ideas, posting on social media, preparing for a market, or handling her website sales. It's a lot for one person. "There's this constant pressure to create social media content; sometimes I just don't have the time." With all she has to handle, she realized it was up to her when and what to post. "You know what? It is my page, and I do with my page as I please. So if I don't upload something every day, who cares? It's not the end of the world." She now creates videos or posts when she has something to show people about her work or how she does specific things. She enjoys educating people about the soap-making process, and without the false pressure of external expectations, she thinks her posts offer more value now.
Mayra also feels the relentless pressure to be constantly on top of the current promotional season. "The holidays were super crazy busy for me. I was just recovering from that, and the stores already had Valentine's stuff out, like on January 1st!" As with her social media approach, she takes it all in stride, one step at a time. "I didn't do anything specific for Valentine's Day this year, and that was okay. You know, nothing bad happened."
You'll Never Know if You Don't Try
Trying new things can be intimidating, but it's essential to learning and growth. When Mayra decided to make candles for her store, she had to start with a lot of "trial and error." Initially, she hesitated because she didn't know the process. Eventually, she realized that her mistakes and failures gave her the information she needed to ask the right questions. She wouldn't have known what questions to ask if she hadn't tried making candles in the first place. She has learned that the worst that can happen is not as bad as she once thought, and she has gained the confidence to take risks and try new things.
It is a crucial part of succeeding in business: Don't be afraid to fail. As Wayne Gretzky, a wise NHL player and coach, once said, "you'll miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
Reaping the Rewards
The rewards of being her own boss far outweigh the struggle. Mayra enjoys the freedom to make decisions and be in charge of her business strategy. She loves that she can attend markets and ship orders at her convenience and has complete control over her work schedule. Her favorite perk? She can take time off whenever she wants, whether for a quick weekend getaway or a month-long vacation.
Mayra's business is a vital part of her local community. Every first and third Thursday after 4:00pm, you can find her at Mae's Market and Boutique as part of the Market Nights in the historic Old Town Murrieta. This market is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, and it provides an excellent opportunity for Mayra to connect with customers and showcase her products.
Mayra feels strongly connected to her town. She loves to frequent Public House, a gastropub in downtown Murrieta, feeding hungry people hungry and providing a gathering space for the community. She says this is her go-to spot to catch up with friends and enjoy a delicious meal.
In conclusion, running a business takes work, but the rewards are worth the effort. Mayra has found the freedom and flexibility of running her own business and has become an essential part of her local community. She has learned to overcome challenges and take risks. Look for Amahu products in our Gift Shop and as a beautiful addition to one of our curated gift boxes.
*What is The Cold Process?
The cold process of soap making is a method of making soap without external heat. Instead, the process relies on the natural heat generated by the chemical reaction between the oils or fats and the lye solution. The process starts by mixing lye and water to create a lye solution. Then, oils or fats are melted and mixed together. The lye solution is slowly added to the oils or fats while stirring until it reaches a trace, which is the point where the mixture thickens and becomes creamy. This can take 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the recipe and the oils or fats used.
Once the mixture has reached a trace, it is poured into molds and left to cure for four to six weeks. During this time, the soap hardens, and the remaining lye solution reacts with the oils or fats to create soap. After the curing period, the soap can be cut into bars and used. The cold process of soap-making allows for greater control over the ingredients and produces a soap that is gentle on the skin, as it retains the natural glycerin created during the process. However, it requires more time and planning than other soap-making methods.