Dolphin Wood House

$10,000

Small Business Loan
Orangeburg County

LEAP Orangeburg Winner

The day Laura Hatt started making handmade soaps was the same day her
nightmares stopped. As a domestic violence survivor, not a day went by where Laura did not think about her past. Through the process of soap making, Laura has been able to cope with the trauma she experienced.

“Soap making became my therapy,” said Laura. “Once I realized how much it calmed me, I decided to start making some for everyone I knew. One of my friends suggested I started selling it and at first I wasn’t very confident about it.”

Eventually Laura’s friends and family convinced her to start a handmade soap business, Dolphin Wood House. She signed up for SCCLF’s Local Entrepreneur Acceleration Program (LEAP) to learn more about developing her business plan. The LEAP program aims to support diversity in small business ownership across South Carolina by providing minority and women entrepreneurs with business plan development support, technical skills, and the chance to compete for a $10,000 startup capital award. Laura took part in the inaugural LEAP cohort, which took place in Orangeburg, and won the pitch night competition.

“At first I was nervous and not sure if I should do it, but I did,” said Laura. “This was the first time I have ever really done anything like this for myself.”

She is using the awarded money to remodel a space inside her home to serve as an office for her business. “Me and my husband made a pact that we would buy something for my business each week with whatever money we had,” she said. “Sometimes that thing would just be a case of nails or a paint brush. Having this startup money is allowing us to build my dream office sooner than later.”

Since attending the program, Laura has expanded her business to offering more bath and body products like deodorants, scrubs, lotions, and more, with a goal of working full time on her business. “What’s been really great about this program is that it helped boost my confidence in myself and my business,” said Laura. “All of these people believed in me enough to give me an award, I should believe in myself just as much.”

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