Funky Chunks Soap Co. is changing the way people take care of their skin. Their handmade organic soaps are all the rage with a new generation of eco-hipsters living the island lifestyle here at the Jersey Shore and beyond. We had a chance to try out some of their most popular soaps such as Jersey Devil, Dirty Boy and Surf Wax. The result was an amazing combination of inspiring aromas and super soft skin that doesn’t dry or breakout.
Conscious Connection arranged this exclusive interview with Funky Chunks founder, Michele Rosta, where we talk about the benefits of organic soap and how to overcome the challenges facing many other eco-entrepreneurs.
Conscious Connection: It’s great to be with you Michele. What inspired you to start Funky Chunks Soap?
Michele Rosta: A lifelong soap addiction started the ball rolling. I loved soap; any kind of soap I could get my hands on. The creative spark came after I visited one of my favorite bath and body stores. I was disappointed with what was available to me. The prices were excessive for the quality of the product. The fragrances were cookie cutter boring and the selection just didn’t do it for me. What I truly wanted was a wholesome, high quality soap that smelled and looked amazing. I was searching for a great product that gave me an all-around feel good experience. Not just a bar of soap to get me clean. I knew that if I felt this way, then others did too. So I set out to make a soap that I could fall in love with and Funky Chunks was born.
Conscious Connection: What are the benefits of soap made from vegetable oils?
Michele Rosta: Soap made with vegetable oil is mild on the skin. Most vegetables oils will not clog the pores. A handmade soap retains all of the natural glycerin that is created during the soap making process. Most commercial soap bars have this glycerin removed. It is more profitable for some commercial soap manufacturers to remove that lovely glycerin and sell it off for use in other products such as toothpaste, lipstick, facial moisturizers, body wash and shampoos. Glycerin attracts and holds moisture to the skin. This is what makes handmade soaps so moisturizing. The vegetables oils that we use in our soap production are loaded with vitamin A and vitamin E. They also naturally have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties without the addition of harmful chemicals. The pH of handmade soap is very close to that of our skin. That means that vegetable oil soaps will not strip the skin of its natural oils so you get clean as well as moisturized.
Conscious Connection: Tell me about where you gather inspiration for some of your soaps.
Michele Rosta: We gather our inspiration from many places. We pull ideas from our childhood memories, the sights, smells and sounds of the places we have lived and the local communities and cultures of the Jersey Shore. Inspiration can strike at any time. I carry a notebook with me everywhere to be able to record the ideas as they come to me. For example, the inspiration for our very first Chunk, Green Tea Zen, came from a Matcha Bubble Tea and brightly colored pastry that I had while visiting an Asian Supermarket.
Our surf line of soaps all came about after talking with a group of local surfers describing the scents that remind them of the beach and the ocean. Our new Grandpa Shorty Chunk was developed after I was telling a story about my Great Grandfather and the memories of him taking me to baseball games when I was a little girl. Every soap Chunk we make has its own story. We also experiment with mixing scents together that you would never think could work…and they do beautifully. We love having conversations with our customers; they come up with brilliant ideas too. For us it is all about never being boring and having fun!
Conscious Connection: What was the biggest challenge you overcame associated with leaving a full time career to succeed as an eco-entrepreneur?
Michele Rosta: There have been several challenges along the way. At first it was difficult to give up the predictable comfort zone of a traditional job. You know those things we all take for granted; a steady paycheck, normal working hours and knowing what to expect from your job every day. As the business grew the challenges shifted to other areas. The biggest challenge was finding a work/life balance.
When you are dedicated to the success of your business the lines between life and work get a little blurry. You find yourself working 18 hours a day for way too many days straight. There was a time when I thought nothing of answering emails, packing orders, doing administrative tasks and making soap until late into the night. I would wake up at 5:00 am to start it all over again. You quickly realize that your health starts to suffer and your personal and business relationships become strained. I can’t stress enough the importance of taking care of you. Try to set structured business hours, take time out of every day for some quiet reflection and meditation, listen to some really great music and participate in the world around you. You and your business will both be much stronger because of it.
Conscious Connection: What is in store for the future of Funky Chunks?
Michele Rosta: We have the most amazing and loyal customers in our local area! They have been the inspiration and driving force for the success of Funky Chunks over the last five years. Now it is time for us to spread our wings. We have added two sales representatives to the Funky Chunks family and are currently looking to expand our production studio. While we always want to stay a small family business; we know it is time to bring the happiest soap on the planet to the rest of the country!
Conscious Connection: Your most impactful piece of advice for our readers looking to succeed as eco-entrepreneurs?
Michele Rosta: The most heartfelt advice that I can give is this. Do one thing and do that one thing exceptionally well. You cannot be all things to all people. For instance I make an amazing bar of soap. We constantly get requests to make other products. There was a time when I made ten to fifteen other products as well as soap. Do you know what happened? My creative energy was scattered and the quality of my core product suffered. I am passionate about soap; I’m exceptionally good at making soap so that is my ultimate focus. You have to be passionate about what you do; love everything about it. Follow your dreams, take risks and most of all have fun! When all of that is in place satisfaction and success will follow.