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Conversations with Jill McDowell Lincoln

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jill McDowell Lincoln.

Hi Jill, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
My passion for scent and soap making began after I received a holiday package of soap that my aunt Vivian crafted and shared with me some twenty- four years ago! After unwrapping the tissue and revealing the silky smooth aromatic bars, it was love at first sniff! Within a couple of months, I quit my job and began making soap. It was hard finding any books about soap making back in 1997. The Internet was pretty much nonexistent at the time, but I was determined and passionate about learning this Kraft.

I started with one-hundred dollars and named my business Bittersweet Soap. A name that my mother named before she passed of leukemia. Little did I know at that time that the name would hold new meaning later.

I began offering my soap and a few other handmade items to stores as I sold Bittersweet wholesale. I purchased a suitcase with wheels so that I could easily display my hand-crafted items to share with stores within the four state area. I spent a lot of time traveling and selling Bittersweets feeling that this was the way to get my product noticed. I soon realized that my time would be spent fulfilling orders and making soap! So I hired sales representatives to showcase Bittersweet. The orders were flying in, and it was everything that I could do to keep up.

You see, it takes four to six weeks for Bittersweet Soap to cure. This means that I must always be ahead of manufacturing.

After several years of selling to other stores, I had the idea of owning my own shop.

I searched for a building that would be a good fit for my artisan business, and low and behold, I found one on my first day of searching.

I’ve always loved the quaintness and small-town feeling of Liberty. I also wished to have my shop close to my home.

So I magically found an old home that I thought was a good fit for Bittersweet.

That was in 2001 when I opened Bittersweet Soap + Apothecary. I’ve relocated a few times. Once to the Liberty Square, and then back to my original location that I absolutely love.

A lot has changed since 1997, but one thing has remained the same. My passion and love for what I do seem to grow each year.

Soap making is in my blood!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I believe there will always be struggles of some sort when you own your own business. How you react to them is the key.

Your passion and determination must always stand at the top, that will allow you to overcome any obstacles.

In other words, you never give up!

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I often have customers say, you must have a great team! They never imagine that there’s only one person behind the operation of my company. I’m a small company with big goals and dreams!

It’s important that since I make most of the items that occupy our store shelves that I’m available to answer questions about those products.

The marketing, shipping, managing the store, manufacturing the products, and packaging fall under one person.

Creating new packaging is my thing!

You know that saying, if it doesn’t look good it’s not going to sell?

I’ve always felt that packaging design must stand out from the crowd.

So, Bittersweet believes that it should be pretty inside and pretty outside!

What are your plans for the future?
Each year Bittersweet expands our line of products and it’s a thrill to continue to grow and branch out. We like to believe that our big changes will come in small packages.

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Jill McDowell Lincoln

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1 Comment

  1. Clarice

    May 25, 2021 at 5:37 pm

    A beautiful store with amazing handmade products. I am always inspired and uplifted every time I visit.

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