We had the good fortune of connecting with Amber Avery-Pierce and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amber, why did you pursue a creative career?
I am an artist at heart, and always have been. I was raised by two wildly talented artists, and luckily inherited some of that. I don’t think I pursued a creative career, so much as it just fell into place.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My name is Amber and my husband is Mark. We own and operate Bisbee Soap & Sundry in the heart of downtown Bisbee, Arizona. The first business decision we made, before we’d even created any product, was that our store would be warm and inviting, and it would fit in with the Bisbee ambiance. If you haven’t been to Bisbee, the experience is something like stepping back in time. Our little town is ripe with gorgeous architecture, art and music, and unique stores you won’t find anywhere else. There isn’t a major chain establishment downtown (with the exception of Circle K, but that doesn’t count), and we believe that’s most of what gives Bisbee its charm. Knowing that we created a store that feels like it could have been present in Bisbee’s heyday in the early 1900s. Our store feels like equal parts local apothecary and vintage corner store. We built all of our fixtures by hand in our backyard. We painted the interior ourselves. And of course, all of our products are made by us.
We started small, very small. It’s really a wonder we survived those first few months. It was just the two of us, making all the products and running the store. I was still working my “day job,” tending bar to make ends meet while the business got off the ground. We had very little product to sell, and we were selling out constantly. As soon as we put it on the shelves, it was gone. We very quickly realized we were onto something, and also that we needed to adjust our ways of production.
We’ve grown over time, slowly, steadily, and I think that’s the key to our lasting success. We’ve never taken on more than we can chew, and we’ve hired help when we needed it. Someone, somewhere (I wish I could credit the source because it really made an impact on me) wrote: “Stop spending time to save money.” That hit me like a ton of bricks when I thought of myself labeling hundreds of lip balms, cutting and stamping soap, stocking shelves, etc. My time could be much better spent doing the things I’m skilled in, such as packaging design and product photography. I still make all the soap, but now I have assistance with the simple-yet-tedious tasks involved. It’s been difficult to let go of control over every aspect of our business, but it’s been freeing in so many ways to have help. And we have some great employees, we’ve really hit the jackpot there.
We’ve learned so much in these last 7+ years. We dove in headfirst, without much of a plan but a beautiful vision, and somehow it’s worked. We’ve learned to follow our guts, rely on instinct, and accept help when we need it. Our business is like our child, and it’s a second home to us. It’s so difficult to give up control when we want everything to be just so. But, we’ve also learned that we can’t do it all. We’re only two people with only 4 hands, and there are only so many hours in the day.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
You can’t go wrong in Bisbee. You’d have to try pretty hard to have a bad time here. There’s live music and art in abundance. I’ve heard people describe a day in Bisbee as sensory overload, and I have to agree with that sentiment. To experience Bisbee you must start with coffee, and we highly recommend Kafka on Subway St. While you’re on Subway, stop in at Blacksheep Imports for gifts you won’t find anywhere else. Be sure to visit Sam Poe Gallery for a dose of stunning fine art and whimsical creations. Stroll downtown with your coffee, and explore. Get off the main stretch and visit the Gulch, where you’ll find more bars than you could possibly (safely) patronize in a day. Grab a bite to eat at Le Cornucopia Café–their meatloaf sandwich is killer. And when your feet feel like they could fall off, make one last stop at the Bisbee Grand for live music, food, and a full bar. But really, check out all Bisbee has to offer. It’s hard to pick favorites when everything is so spectacular.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Ultimately, our biggest supporters have always been our customers. We get emails, phone calls and messages all the time from customers just wanting to say “I love you guys and what you do!”, or something of that nature. And it never fails to make our day when we hear that. If not for that kind of feedback, our jobs and our business wouldn’t be nearly as rewarding as it is. It’s a lot of work to do what we do. We’ve made countless friends and connections along the way, and that’s what keeps us going.