Denton Main Street Association member, Salted Sanctuary Soap, is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this month. Help us celebrate Kimberly Bien and her entrepreneurial journey as a local maker in Downtown Denton, and her continued impact in our community.
Creating an Accidental Business
Tired of having allergic reactions due to mass-produced skincare products filled with preservatives and harmful chemicals, Kimberly Bien decided to take the reins and start making her own to care for her sensitive skin.
At first, making handmade soap was just a hobby. But Kimberly’s friends (and their friends) kept wanting to buy her creations….eventually turning this hobby into an accidental business.
So she named her soap making business Salted Sanctuary Soap — a combination of meaningful terms portraying safe products that are a worthy refuge for your skin: salt as in currency or wealth, and sanctuary as in a renewing place of refuge.
Salted Sanctuary Soap offers wonderfully handmade body sprays (including bug repellent), oils, lip balms, bath bombs, bath salts, and beautiful bars of soap.
As a passionate gardener, Kimberly uses all the herbs she can straight from her garden into her natural products. She also uses vegetable oils, natural essential oils, skin-friendly fragrance oils, natural colorants, cosmetic micas, and no animal products (except milk and honey).
Starting in 2012, Kimberly sold her soaps primarily at the Denton Community Market for several years.
She learned that it was important to never rely on one source of income as an entrepreneur, especially a local maker. So she branched out to wholesale in Downtown Denton businesses (such as UNT CoLab), private label, and pop-ups to find alternate forms of revenue to keep her going in the long run.
After going on a retreat in Arkansas with her daughter, they visited a nearby store called Bathhouse Soapery — a bath and body shop that featured a local soap maker. That was the inspiration she needed to open her own brick-and-mortar shop to sell her goods and support fellow local makers.
But when it came to finding a place to call her own, she hit the wall of real estate and it no longer seemed attainable — until she went driving around town and found a vacant spot on 525 S Elm Street.
As excited as she was to open her shop here in 2019, she quickly realized that it was a dead zone to consumers and not a right fit for her business at that time. So she ended her one-year lease and moved her products into Vintage Bleu right off the Denton Square for the next 6 months.
Then Came COVID-19
While most of her sales came in-person at markets and pop-ups, the pandemic forced everything to shift online, including her soap making business.
Originally, Salted Sanctuary Soap’s website was more of a landing page, but Kimberly had to quickly adapt to offering online sales and curbside pick ups. She even had to ramp up her social media presence, even though it didn’t come easy for her to maintain it on a consistent basis.
Although these were difficult and time consuming shifts to make at first, Kimberly recalls going online helped save her business during the pandemic and she’s grateful for the opportunity that pushed her to make those much needed changes.
Meeting new people, finding ways to stay connected with her customers, joining support groups, and participating in panels (such as TWU’s Center for Women Entrepreneurs) were other things that also helped her power through those unprecedented times and continue growing her business.
While the pandemic has brought many silver linings to her business, Kimberly has also seen how overly saturated markets have become.
It seems like everyone is doing one these days.
She loves some of the great markets that are curated for specific causes, like the Austin St. Artisan’s Market at East Side. But with a huge influx of vendors being duplicated during the pandemic (from artists to makers and everything in between), consumers are feeling overtaxed and the lack of sense of urgency has made markets not as special — meaning a decline in market attendance and less return for vendors.
That’s why Kimberly sought out, once again, to open her own brick-and-mortar location. She wanted to offer a more permanent spot for her vendors to sell consistently without depending on weather or someone else to manage the market.
Celebrating 10 Years
While Salted Sanctuary Soap officially hit its 10-year anniversary this spring, Kimberly has been quietly celebrating and preparing for the BIG celebration this June, when she will be reopening her brick-and-mortar shop at 525 S Elm Street!
Over the past year, this former dead-zone has welcomed more brick and mortar shops who bring in consistent foot traffic, creating a newly revived area that’s perfect for Salted Sanctuary Soap to replant its roots. Business such as Soma Massage, Lashes By Rae, and Osteria Il Muro Restaurant. Having new City offices and DISD in the former Cupboard building is a big plus.
The shop will have carefully hand-selected local art, vintage items, gifts, and bath and body products (including Salted Sanctuary Soap, of course).
As she looks to the future, Kimberly hopes to continue to grow and be a part of Denton’s community of like-minded makers and artists, and support them through their journey by providing a place that's easily accessible for them and their customer base.
She plans to continue growing Salted Sanctuary Soap by making new products…. and one day, having some of her products sold in a national health food chain. Kimberly is grateful for everyone that supports her along her handmade journey.
Salted Sanctuary Soap in the Community
Kimberly is currently an active member of the Denton Main Street Association and the Denton Evening Rotary.
She’s the Secretary Treasurer on the board of the Denton Main Street Association. She loves being a member of the DMSA because of all the opportunities the organization brings to member businesses — from small business education, to providing resources that help them through their entrepreneurial journey, and many fun ways to spend time in the community. It’s really a big family of small businesses and the level of support they give each other is immeasurable. Kimberly enjoys volunteering on Thursdays at Twilight Tunes and being a vendor coordinator at Arts & Autos.
Kimberly is also the Secretary on the board of the Denton Evening Rotary, and recently designed a pollinator garden that volunteers helped install at Serve Denton for their clients to enjoy. Denton Evening Rotary is a service organization that focuses on downtown Denton.
She also serves on the committee for Krugerville Farmer's Market.
Author: Courtney Stucky | Aspiro Agency