Member Spotlight – Jim Gregory, Grandma Gee’s Soap

Jim started making soap his sophomore year in college shortly after his great grandmother fell ill. Up to then, Jim was looking to start a small business. Interested in alternative energy to make a positive impact on the world, Jim’s motto is to leave this planet in a little better shape than when entered.

Investigating bio-diesel, Jim discovered soap. With memories of his great-grandmother making soap in her kitchen, she gave him an article about an unhappy architect who decided to launch a soap business in her kitchen going from a small capital investment to a six figure business in three years.

Motivating for Jim, his influential grandparents provided him inspirational articles about college students creating amazing businesses, graduating, and taking it to full-time. After Jim was accepted into the accelerated business program of Hanover College where he is currently a Junior Anthropology Major, he knew he had the right tools – access to a kitchen.

Starting with a couple friends in their basement, an LLP was established but with no clear management structure it fell apart. Devastated, Jim did not give up. A month later, summer 2008, Jim was chosen to for an inaugural program studying Entrepreneurship in Chicago, IL. Learning the business end along the way, Jim started making soap in his small studio apartment giving out soap to friends. With their support Esoteria Body LLC was launched.

In 2009, returning to Indiana to continue college, dreaming big, Jim opened up production in a business development center which housed steam jacketed cookers. Seeing the potential, suddenly the project caught the attention of his peers who helped grow the project.

After the ribbon cutting for Esoteria Body LLC, Jim was contacted by Developmental Services Inc. who offered production services for people living with boundaries.

Grandma Gee’s Soap formed in March 2008. A fan of Terra Cycle, Inc.’s stance on eco-capitalism, Jim felt his soap should do more than just clean your body, it should clean your world too! The idea of using potato chip bags hit after attending a few sustainability conferences. Jim tried it, AMAZED by the look bounced off friends. They Loved it! The packaging concept is currently being further developed and refined by his team of designers and market researchers.

The past few months have been light speed for Jim. His time has come. His soap company will support a triple bottom line – environmental, social and economic. Grandma Gee’s Soap is wrapped in low-impact wax paper by Sandstone Industries, a non-profit organization focusing on human development of those living with barriers such as downs-syndrome and autism. Jim says, “By supporting those who need it most, we do more than just make soap, we make a movement to a happier planet.  The real magic behind the packaging is truly Sandstone Industries’ angels.  We simply could not be doing what we are doing and growing at the pace we are, without them.”

The festivals of S. Indiana brought people into the local venues, expanding into Louisville, KY and Nashville, TN by the end of the month and by the end of the summer to Chicago, IL & Philadelphia, PA.

As a group of committed young entrepreneurs, Jim’s team goal is to demonstrate a 21st century business and outside the box thinking with products. According to Jim, soap that cleans your body and your world isn’t just clever, it fits the mold for what products are being asked to do in the 21st century.

Jim’s favorite quote, “When you follow your bliss… doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else” -Joseph Campbell

Jim made it to the HSMG 2009 Conference in Palm Springs, partially funded by his Business Development Center.

Jim E. Gregory
CEO Esoteria Body LLC
www.grandmagees.com

Maria Gelnett – P&S Chair

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One Comment

  1. It was so inspiring to meet Jim at the conference in Palm Springs last May. He has so many great ideas I know he will go far. Nice to have you as part of the HSMG Jim! (p.s. Perhaps one day you’ll want to come to my studio and teach a business class!)

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