“Why not Evansville?” says the girl from Cincinnati. Mary Allen, owner of Sixth Street Soapery and Evansville Pedicab, was introduced to Evansville in 1993 when she enrolled at the University of Southern Indiana as a Freshman. Financial pressures diverted her in the direction of a military career, but she found herself back in Evansville after her service commitment.
She chose to stay. She chose to raise a family here.
“Evansville is the perfect size. You can do what you want to do, test out the market, take risks and explore options,” says Mary. “It’s the kind of town where you can make a difference.”
She got into soap making while working on a science project with her home-schooled daughter. She took a keen interest in soap making and ran a business with a partner for six years. She decided to go it alone and opened the 6th Street Soapery in December 2015. She honed her craft earning a certification in Soap Making through the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetics Guild and continues her learning in pursuing an advanced certification through the guild.
In addition to the storefront at 6th and Washington in Haynie’s Corner, she rents shelf space at River City Mercantile on Main Street. She also sells wholesale to The Refinery, the Boutique at French Lick Resort and to Elbert’s Natural Foods. At this point her web sales are growing and are equal to her storefront sales.
Mary’s soaps have an artistic look with down to earth packaging and a brand that puts an amusing spin on a practical product.
So how did the start of the pedicab business come about on her soap making adventure, you may ask. It was a trip to Savanah, Georgia where Mary experienced her first pedicab ride. The ride was a practical, yet fun way to get around the City and mode of transportation she chose the entire trip. She then asked herself, “Why not Evansville?”
In March of 2017, Mary decided to give the pedicab business a try and launched Evansville Pedicab; providing transportation to and from Tropicana Evansville, Haynie’s Corner and Main Street. Meeting a very diverse clientele reminds Allen of how on point the “e is for Everyone” campaign truly is. She is a brand champion for the regional branding campaign which focuses on celebrating diversity and inclusion in the region.
Her advice for aspiring or early stage entrepreneurs is to “Just go ahead and do it, but don’t think you have to do it alone. Find people that can help.” One helping hand Allen reached out to in the early stage of her career was the Kauffman FastTrac® Growth Ventures course offered through the Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville. The curriculum and mentoring changed the trajectory of the next stage in growing her business. She was encouraged to rethink what she should hire out and what she should do herself. Another worthy tip and takeaway from the course was to take time to “work on your business”, rather than “in your business.”
As competition increases with the growth of Amazon (for the soap business) or Uber coming to town (for the pedicab business) Allen finds that the personalized service she offers makes the difference.
For anyone asking themselves, why Evansville? Perhaps you should take advice from Mary Allen and instead ask, “Why not Evansville?”
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