Southern Creatives Spotlight – Cari Phelps
In this series on The Southern C, I am thrilled to introduce our readers to some of the interesting and creative Southern entrepreneurs we meet online through our social network and also in “real life” at The Southern C Summits. These individuals are the CEO’s, founders, creative directors, artists, designers, makers and doers that are shaping our landscape with their vision and ingenuity. Take a peek into their day to day life and find out what they are working on, discover the path that led them to this moment and gain insight into what motivates and inspires their work and lives.
The subjects and their niche may vary but many share the paradoxical traits of creative individuals – they daydream, observe, ask big questions, people watch, seek new experiences, view life as an opportunity for self-expression, take risks and bounce back all while following their true passions. We hope you will be inspired as we spotlight the creativity that abounds in our region. According to Einstein, “Creativity is contagious” and this is one thing we are happy to spread.
This week, I would like to introduce Cari Clark Phelps, the founder of Salacia Salts. Combining her passion for marketing and branding, along with a strong entrepreneurial gene running throughout her family tree, she created this popular hand-mixed bath and body care line. Based out of Savannah, she looked to her environs to inspire her venture. Made with natural ingredients and regional botanicals, Salacia Salts pays homage to our beloved South, as evidenced by scents such as Sugah, Citrus & Sunrays, Shoreline, Magnolia, Seersucker and Midnight Garden. Sounds like a Southern creative to me!
Cari Clark Phelps of Salacia Salts
Describe your brand and how it got started:
Three years ago, I had a dream that I was designing a package of bath salts for a client using old medicinal bottles uncovered from around historic Savannah. When I woke up, I started researching and found so many ties between Tybee Island, Savannah and salt. I discovered Tybee (an island off of our coast), is the American Indian word for salt. It was like fate! I couldn’t help but make my dream a reality.
Salacia–named after the Roman Goddess of Salt Water–is a body care and home fragrance line inspired by the South and sea using natural ingredients and regional botanicals. It is my goal to provide high quality, affordable products made of the best ingredients to our customers. We wish to raise awareness of the coastal South, to educate people about natural body care, and provide them with products they love, made by hand, by real people.
Describe a typical day in the life of Cari:
My week is split between my design studio–where I develop our new packaging, do research for products and manage our sales and marketing–and our production facility. I spend about 25% of my day on sales and product development and the balance running the day to day.
What did you want to be when you grew up and how has your background influenced your work?
I come from a long line of entrepreneurs – and my parents had several businesses when I was growing up. I never specifically desired a body care line but rather the need to create something special from hand, much like they did as artists. They made fiber sculptures and we traveled and exhibited at juried art festivals in the 80s. My sister and I learned to make money selling our own wares like drawings and bracelets – and made really decent money doing so!
I started a graphic design firm in 2004 (Clark Creative Communications) after attending art school at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design), focused on branding and packaging. With all the marketing and business experience behind me, I launched this concept in 2012. I have helped several businesses launch their product and get it to market, so diving into the industry and selling our own products seemed like the right next step. We just launched our Signature Candle Collection and have designed a one-of-a-kind box to house the candle. I am not sure that would have been possible without the team I have in place.
Any “a-ha” moment that made you take the leap?
I created the body care line with just salt soaks and scrubs – primarily for the Savannah tourism market. Visitors want to take a bit of their vacation home with them – or to share with someone who watched over their house while they were away, for example, and there are only a few quality options out there. I sold our products in 1 store on Broughton Street and after 6 months of amazing sales and inquiries from other retailers, I took the leap. I knew this was something bigger than just a Savannah product.
Favorite biz tool, app or resource or business books?
Oddly enough, my favorite business tool is Instagram. This platform allows me to share a sneak peak into the behind the scenes of our brand, a bit of our process, what makes us tick, why we are unique, and share what we are passionate about. This is a visual qualifier that helps us align with other businesses who have the same values as ours. We generate a great amount of our sales from this platform on both the e-commerce retail side as well as connect with prospective wholesale accounts and strategic partners.
Where do you find inspiration? Any blogs, magazines or person?
I am most inspired by nature. Our line evolves based on the information and history I learn about the coast and South. This influences fragrances and ingredients we use in our products. A cookbook or chef, a farmer, a coastal island I visit, country roads I travel down, a designer or shop in a town I am not familiar with are all avenues of inspiration.
The rare day off – what do you do to unwind?
I am fortunate to live in the historic district of downtown Savannah and in an old Victorian with my husband. We are surrounded by beauty of architecture, parks and gardens. I enjoy walks with my Italian Greyhound Hercules and lounging on one of our porches when I am in the mood to do ‘nothing’ (though I am really never disconnected more than 15 minutes).
To truly unwind, my husband and I just bought a teardrop camper. We plan to visit state parks in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida and embrace the outdoors and beauty of our area. I love a little bit of adventure in my life that is unplanned!
Best business advice you ever received?
Surround yourself with people who have different skill sets than yourself. And always choose to work with someone who is genuinely nice. You can’t teach nice. It’s an inherent characteristic.
Whitney Wise Long, co-founder of The Southern C and The Southern C Summit, loves to connect with Southern entrepreneurs and learn more about their creative endeavors.
This series – “In the Studio With” – offers her the perfect opportunity to do so! For more of Whitney’s Southern Creatives Q&A’s click the names below:
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