We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicole Vannelli and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nicole, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
When I first started Underground Soap Lady, it was selling just my stain remover stick to earn money to pay for my dog’s leg amputation surgery. People purchased to help my dog, but then kept coming back for more and wanted to purchase other products as well. Happy customers would give me shoutouts on social media and it helped spread the word of this new natural product from this unknown person. With people continuing to purchase my stain sticks, all the social media attention, and many telling me to make this a business, I decided to make it happen! I joked about becoming the underground soap dealer for any bar soap and stain stick needs, and that’s how I got my name and became Underground Soap Lady.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My business is Underground Soap Lady. All my bar soaps, stain sticks, and colloidal oatmeal are vegan and made personally by me from scratch. I use organic, virgin, raw, unrefined, cold-pressed, and ethically sourced natural oils and butters. My stain remover sticks are what set me apart from other soap businesses. They’ve really taken the community by storm. They are amazing stain removers and people keep coming back for more. I’m thankful for social media and mom groups on Facebook that give me opportunities to promote my business and spread the word. A lot of my business is word of mouth and recommendation, so I am thankful for all the videos and photos people post of the various stains the stain stick has tackled. The biggest challenge I have is that I am also a 5th grade teacher. I work all day, then come home to my 2 year old and hubby, so I don’t get to work on my business until nighttime. Although my schedule is hectic, I wouldn’t change that for the world because I love my soap business and spreading joy. I also love teaching and making a difference in the lives of my students. Especially right now, when they need my support more than ever.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
In Ventura County, things are a bit complicated with COVID, but if they have children I’d recommend Underwood Farms, the beach, the Moorpark Teaching Zoo, a hike, and a picnic at a local park. No kids, I’d recommend Stonehaus for wine tasting, the Botanical Gardens in Thousand Oaks, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, a round of golf, and a hike.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to give my husband, Mike Vannelli (Envy Creative) a shoutout for helping me with my branding, logo, website, and everything in between. I want to give Jessica Bishop a shoutout because she is the one who encouraged me to make my stain sticks into a full blown soap business and she helped me get on Amazon. I want to give my mom, Cleo Mora, a shoutout because she helps run boutique events, package products, and watch my toddler while I’m teaching during the day. I couldn’t do all I do without her.