Levi Baron: If you want to do something for yourself, do it
By Andrea Louis
Levi Baron, the owner of Bumpiing Natural Soaps, delved into entrepreneurship to stay close to his mom and promote Dominica's natural herbs through soaps.
Baron, a tour guide for several years prior, had to pivot when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, bringing a virtual standstill to the tourism industry. In this moment of uncertainty, he had to decide to put family first while finding another source of income.
"COVID was very contagious, and I could not go out there and risk bringing it back home to my elderly mother who lives with me. And, because I already knew how to make soaps, I decided to explore that since it could keep me home full time to look after my mother. So when I made my first batch, everyone was surprised."
Having three years of experience thus far, the soap maker admits the entrepreneurial journey has ups and downs.
"Soap is unlike bread, where people buy it daily, so the sales are inconsistent. Also, it is costly, especially because we use all-natural ingredients," he said.
Baron emphasized that his company uses no artificial substances to add colour or fragrance to the soap. However, he disclosed that some products like olive oil, cocoa butter, and other natural butter are on the higher end of the price scale.
Among the variety of soaps produced by Bumpiing Natural Soaps are: aloe, neem, moringa, hemp, guava, oatmeal and honey, to name a few.
Levi enjoys being a soap producer, considering it a 'free up'. In addition, it allows him to spend quality time with his mother.
"The reason I started was to be with my mother; she also helps me the best she can, especially by reminding me of things I need to do," he said.
Another rewarding aspect of the job is feedback and positive reviews from Dominicans who use the product and attest to its effectiveness.
"People would just meet me on the street and tell me about the product and how it works for them. One day a young lady approached me and said, 'Look at my face! Look at my face!' I said, 'What happened to your face?' she replied, 'It's clear because I used your charcoal turmeric soap!'"
Baron also credits his son, Kohath, who used social media to market the product without his knowledge. As a result, sales grew from Bumpiing Natural Soaps' presence on social media platforms.
Levi commends local support of his product and encourages Dominicans to keep supporting locals to improve the entrepreneurial industry in Dominica.
"Some people have been purchasing from me from day one and never stopped. And in some stores, the sales are going good, which is surprising because new things take time to be picked up by the public," Baron said.
On that note, with such a positive reaction to his soaps, Baron plans to see how he can expand his reach and have the soap available for a broader market.
"We are going to get bigger because while making soaps is expensive and the profit is not that much, we want to get the soap where everyone in Dominica can get it because it is not your regular soap," he said. "We are also seeking to export the soap; some people in Antigua are requesting it, and people from Martinique have also asked about it."\
Many view entrepreneurship as a 'young people thing' though, to be fair, anyone at any age can decide to go into business for himself or herself. Baron, who has passed the age of what is considered young, is encouraging those who want to start their enterprise to go ahead and do so.
"This is the way for young people; if you want to do something for yourself, do it. Don't let people discourage you. Take advice, but if you know what you're about and want to do it, there is no better feeling," he said.