Today we’d like to introduce you to Priscilla Watson.
Priscilla, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Hi, hi! My sisters and I were born in Tokyo, and I, the oldest, grew up in the city for eight years. My American Father traveled for work in the music industry so we all moved to Los Angeles when I was about eight. I visit Japan whenever I can, and it breaks my heart every time I have to leave.
I went to UCLA and got a degree in Theatre. My trajectory took me to television, where I work in the art department currently.
My mom has been making soap in our kitchen for over a decade. My dad used to use Irish Spring (yuck)! We all had pretty sensitive skin so she brilliantly came up with a gentle, botanical solution. She started making them for wedding favors and showers, then our family and friends started asking for more. She received such amazing feedback from people and we knew we wanted to share WATO with the world. My sisters and I brainstormed and set up the website, Instagram and all the systems needed to start selling, and we launched the brand in May 2018.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has been an inspirational and tumultuous 8 months for WATO. Everything that was happening around the business was so beautiful to witness—the amazing feedback, the gorgeous products—yet I was so exhausted most of the time.
This is my side hustle, and I work 50+ hours a week at my other job, so time management is a huge element for me. After a 10, 12 hour day, it’s hard to motivate yourself to get back on the computer and write copy for your next Instagram post or update inventory. I cram most of my work into my Saturdays. You learn to appreciate the little moments you have to yourself.
We pride ourselves in running the business consciously, but that comes with its challenges. We try to use vendors run by POC (super hard to find), and most of our packaging is 10o% biodegradable. The envelopes we use to ship our soaps are made with post-consumer material and is completely biodegradable, but it costs 33 cents more than a bubble mailer. Those 33 cents really add up for a business that’s getting off the ground, but it’s worth it if it means we can keep that one mailer out of the dump or ocean. The Earth is our #1 priority.
I enjoy flying by the seat of my pants thanks to my Production background. I’ve had my share of producing an entire, top-to-bottom project with little to no money, so I will tackle anything that is thrown at me. I can’t really use the excuse of “I don’t know how to do it”, mostly because of these experiences and honestly, everything is on the Internet. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. We’re all here to help each other. If someone makes you feel stupid for asking a question, they’re an a-hole. Don’t listen to them.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into WATO story. Tell us more about the business.
WATO makes small batch soaps and bath products that feature colors made from plants. We create our own colors at home, from scratch, starting with the flower petals, seeds, and roots. We believe that there has to be some benefit from putting plant-derived color on our bodies—whether it be clothing, soaps or cosmetics.
We take inspiration from the ancient Japanese traditions of plant-derived colors. Samurai used to don Indigo-dyed clothing which had antibacterial properties that healed their wounds faster. Geishas and other Japanese Women of society washed their face with rice bran for their high moisture content. There is so much goodness in plants, and we love to explore in this realm.
Most soapmakers use colored powders (naturally-derived or not), colorants and fragrances purchased from the soap supply shop. I don’t see very many people crushing their own Gardenia seeds and creating their own colors from scratch. It’s time-consuming, back-breaking and it’s difficult to get consistent results, but it’s worth it if we can keep chemicals from going down the drain. It’s hard work, and I’m incredibly proud of us for sticking to our motto: “What goes down the drain goes back into the Earth”.
Do you have any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general? What has worked well for you?
I’ve been very lucky in this process where a lot of people came to me directly to offer support for the business. Whether it was friends or family or random Instagram strangers, they just instantly responded to the product and was eager to help us in any way. Of those people that are helping me with the business, I check in often with a simple email and thank them for their help. They’re busy, too, so a little patience goes a long way.
What I love about this recent “Maker’s Movement” is the support system that’s built into it. Everyone that I’ve come across on Instagram and at the popups and markets has been incredibly welcoming. We’re all out here hustling and making stuff that we love, and I feed off of this incredible energy. There are people everywhere making gorgeous products—if one strikes your fancy, don’t be afraid to ask them questions and what inspires them, because they’ll probably want to talk about it!
- Website: www.watosoap.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/watosoap/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/watosoap