We had the good fortune of connecting with Hillary Caceres and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hillary, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
The idea behind Sweet & Sudsy Soap came from a need as a parent. My business partner, Debbie, and I collectively have four girls. We shared the same bath time/shower struggles of our girls either not wanting to take a bath or pumping an enormous amount of soap on the shower floor while “flexing” their independence. We were shocked when we could not easily find super cute bars of soaps for kids on the market. We quickly realized this was something we could jump into and enjoy at the same time. During the inception process we discovered the joy of visualizing a design, developing it and ultimately watching it be sold! Our original theory that supports each of our our designs is that if a soap bar looks cute, is easier to hold compared to large bars and smelled amazing then children would be more inclined to use them. Some of our fan favorites are our ice-cream pops, donuts, mermaid tails, footballs, fruit slices and unicorn bars. Beyond our soap designs, we knew the value of helping our community and environment. As a part of our mission, we partnered with a non-prophet organization called The Birthday Party Project, which organizes birthday parties for children living in homeless shelters in the United States. Sweet & Sudsy Soap donates a cupcake soap for every sale over $50. We are also working to help change the way people view bottles of soap products verse bars as a way to dramatically improve the environment. With more than 480 billion plastic bottles being sold world-wide – less than half of those bottles are collected for recycling and around 7% of those collected were turned into new bottles. Instead most plastic bottles produced end up in landfill or in the ocean. With such devastation to our environment, our drive to produce more products with less packaging increased tremendously. All though we have already learned so much over the past year we still consider ourselves to be in the very early stages. We have launched a collection of soap and shampoo designs that help “entice” children into bath time but there are so many new, amazing products in the works that we are eager to launch. We are excited to share clean, fun, love for everyone!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I choose “Other!” I am a working, stay at home, married mother of three children. Yes – that doesn’t make any sense but neither does the modern role for so many mothers. My career began young and was driven by opportunity. I have never been able to follow a strait line such as becoming a lawyer or accountant but I have always fallen back on hard work and exposure. At the age of 40, I have worked for four different startup companies (not including my own) that ranged from pharmaceuticals to alternative energy. I dabbled in real estate, pyramid selling and had a wonderful time at a non-profit organization as the Marketing Director. What has been my greatest challenge yet my most incredible achievement has been the birth of my three girls (and one in heaven.) Work life balance for mothers is no joke! Now add a world-wide pandemic and you have a potential recipe for disaster. As a mother – these times have proven to be hard. I have had to adapt to becoming a teacher, a nurse, a child’s new (& only) best friend and a zoom expert all while balancing my own career and needs. And let us not forget house choirs and husbands. COVID-19 has set a new standard and there aren’t any self help nor guide books to read. So – back to my career, I take pride in knowing that I jumped into many new opportunities and stepped up to hard challenges. After working many years helping others pursue their dreams and goals at various startups, Sweet & Sudsy Soap is now a chance to build my own. Regardless of the outcome – I have learned that my mental health and happiness along the way must come first. Seeing CEO & mommy burnout is scary. Making one poor decision can create a huge domino effect. I plan to work hard but breath and smile along the way and hope that others can learn to do the same.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Houston is a really neat city. I have lived here for almost 4 years and have seriously grown to love its’ food, people and ease of life. Whenever a friend wants to visit I recommend coming during the Rodeo! Growing up in the NYC area, I never experienced anything like it. But regardless, it is by far the most amazing Houston event for everyone – kids, parents, singles and grandparents to enjoy. Here is what a weekend during Rodeo season could like: Tuesday – Fly into Bush and head over to the Montrose area. If you like antiques, do some shopping and then dine at one of my favorite Houston restaurants – Hugo’s. Be sure to try their Perfect Margarita. It has a steep price tag but one should do the trick! If with the kiddos – see if the Magic Unicorn Dessert Bar is open, which is just down the street. They will suffer from a sugar rush but will never forget the adorable ambiance and unique desserts. Wednesday – When in Houston – one must see the Space Center. Take the day to walk around the museum and facilities. No need to pack a lunch as their cafe offers amazing food with a wide selection. Stay local for dinner. We live near Bellaire and often go to the 401 Cafe. Their children’s play room is currently closed due to COVID but usually offers a children’s movie and iPads for children to play with while parents can enjoy their dinner. Thursday – Embrace all the Rodeo daytime activities with or without the kiddos (weekdays are best as they are generally less crowded.) Enjoy carnival rides, amazing food and see live animals up close or maybe even a baby pig be born! You could even stay for dinner and enjoy live music at the outdoor wine garden. Friday – See the evening rodeo show! I love the Friday night concerts. Try any meal and drink at the stadium. You will not be disappointed. Saturday – Have brunch at Backstreet Cafe – known for its’ lovely ambience and chef prepared meals. Even the complimentary buns will leave your mouth salivating. Then go to Hermann Park to soak up the beautiful gardens, take a railroad ride and perhaps go to the Houston Zoo. Order in any Texmex meal as you can’t leave Houston before trying at least one! Sunday – Fly home feeling full and in love!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am blessed to be surrounded by a very supportive and encouraging family. As a child – I was exposed to an entrepreneurial mindset. My mother was a self-made, successful business owner and father consistently promoted owning my own business. I jumped into the working world very early at my mother’s bridal boutiques and saw first hand the importance of hard work, customers relations and professionalism. It is no surprise to me that I married a man who always supports and encourages all of my endeavors. Over the years I exposed myself by working at numerous startup companies and ultimately as the Marketing Director for a very successful female CEO in NYC. Watching how she ran the organization enhanced my business acumen by transferring my entrepreneurial, startup mentality into a current day corporate organization. So – yes, I have a drive to be independent and successful but I honestly believe that it was my childhood upbringing that planted the seed. It allowed me to envision success and find courage to follow a dream – something I plan to encourage my three girls to do the same!
Facebook: Sweet and Sudsy Soap
Nancy Aidee Photography