Hope Strikes Back is the recent launch from Giving Beyond the Box. Founder Professor Sandra Enos’s goal was to feature some of the greatest, small, minority-owned businesses around in her newest release, and we wish to continue in her ripple effect. We are headlining these amazing companies who collaborated on the box to assert just how incredible they are.
Soulita Soap is your go-to spot for item essential to replicate a serene, spa-like experience. Soaps, lotions, fragrances and more. Plus, you’ll be more than impressed with the owner, Lexus Fernandez’s, relentless will to overcome and succeed. Take a seat and prepare to be blown away.
How did your business concept come to be? Was it a lifelong goal or a newer passion?
I started my business because I was creating solution products for myself that was safe and effective enough to share to the world. The lifelong goal was to be successful doing some thing that I love and Soulita fulfills those goals. May 2018, I had a ruptured brain aneurysm at 20 years old. The same medicine that save me also made my skin super sensitive. Without being able to go to school and back to work or leaving the house during my Rehabilitation, it was my goal to create a solution for my own skin.
Were your loved ones supportive of your endeavor?
My family has always been super supportive for my business. Whether it’s putting the boxes together or putting an order together when I’m not home, they always make sure I’m good and not stressing myself out.
What were some of your challenges in your first few months of business? What do you wish you knew when you started?
I had no funds to create Soulita. I couldn’t go to work or school because I was still rehabilitating myself from a ruptured brain aneurysm. When I first create the website, I used my credit card and it decreased my credit score. Weighing risks is super important. I wish that I knew more about finances/ taxes before so I could start prepared early.
What were some major accomplishments your business has achieved?
One of my favorite accomplishments is giving away the Bloom Where Your Planted Scholarship to a senior student in Rhode Island. Creating a scholarship was my goal 2 years ago. Another accomplishment that I’m proud of is being featured in October’s 2020 issue of RI Monthly. RI Monthly is the largest publisher magazine in RI. It’s nice to see what our city is seeing what we are doing and supporting. I went from being on a hospital bed normalizing death, to now having a business in 5 stores/restaurants. This opportunity wouldn’t have been done, or would’ve taken a lot longer to get recognized if it wasn’t for Evan Delpeche, my partner and Co-CEO of Soulita.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my business is creating and planning new products that are creating a relief to a new type of person. For instance, we have created organic lines for bearded men and pregnant women. I’ve always loved studying and learning new things. To see the product all set with a nice label and bottle makes me so proud.
What is so important about supporting smaller, local, minority-owned businesses?
You must support and fight for the people that look like you and people from the same area as you. I give back to my city before giving out to the world because in a way, I’m a product of my surroundings. They have molded me into the person I am today. Good and bad memories only made me stronger. Supporting small is supporting someone’s dreams and everything no matter how big it is now, it always started small. I’m rooting for anyone in my city trying to create generational wealth because most of us are making business from SCRATCH. No money, no prior education, no connections.
Can you recall an impactful story that shaped your business, the way you operate, your leadership style, etc.?
Being an independent mixed woman it is very hard to delegate. It seems like only we can create because we know the order of everything. There’s a point of success that you need to create a team because just one person with two hands can’t do it by themselves. A friend turned into my partner because he taught me so much with delegating once we started working on Soulita together, and now he is Co-CEO of my business. Learning that I can’t do it all by myself is the point where I open doors for other people in my community to join my team.
What advice would you give future entrepreneurs?
Start. You can plan for years but nothing will be created unless you just start. Many people get discouraged and shy away because they feel like they can’t do it. if you don’t put energy into your own idea then it’s just an idea and it can be taken away from you. I’m here to tell them that you don’t need all the tools to make a masterpiece.
The one other thing that I would also say is just because they don’t have the money to go to school to learn about business doesn’t mean they can’t be successful. There are many organizations in the Rhode Island area that will educate you for free/ less than $10. You can go to a workshop, get a mentor, attend a webinar all for free. A couple organizations that can help are Center for Women and Enterprise and Score.org.