Maria Antoinette Luttrell-Murphy was born in Des Moines, Iowa and grew up in the State of Iowa, majored in Business Management and Marketing in college at Jackson State University and moved back to Des Moines in 1986.
After working in the private sector in the clerical field for several years, she got a break and realized her dream to become an entrepreneur and business owner was at hand. And in 2005, she introduced the affordable line of skin care products produced with the highest standards into the marketplace.
Her mission was to provide a sophisticated spa-quality skin care and candle line without all of the harsh chemicals and heavy oils.
As the founder of SOY SPACASSO, she has been the creative force and chief developer of gentle, moisturizing, soothing and revitalizing soy based product line.
We interviewed Maria for this edition of women entrepreneurs and here are her answers on life and her business SOY SPACASSO!
Please list a quote or motto you live by and state why.
“Trust Me, Have Faith, I don’t want you to give up!” per God/Jesus
If you don’t trust God to lead you where He wants you go and what He wants you to do in life, nor have faith and let Him lead ALL of your life, and you give up on the path that is sometimes very hard and treacherous that He takes you on, you will NEVER reach or get what God wants for you!
Describe your business. List location, phone number, website. Are you or your business on Facebook? Twitter? Linked In? Please list.
SOY SPACASSO, a limited liability corporation based in Des Moines, Iowa, is the home of natural soy based skin care products and aromatic candle fragrances. The SOY SPACASSO brand debuted in 2005 introducing a scrumptious fragrance collection of botanical spa-quality UNISEX skincare system
SOY SPACASSO products are formulated from the antioxidant rich soybean. Soy skincare provides amino acids, nutrient lecithin, vitamins A, E, and F and isoflavones, which have estrogen-like properties that diminishes dryness, smooth skin texture, improves radiance and firming. The anti-aging, collagen renewing formulas aid in maintaining skin elasticity. Our skincare line consists of complimenting Shea oil, mica, essential oils and other natural ingredients that allow your skin to feel refreshed, rejuvenated and delicious smelling. SOY SPACASSO formulas are void of harmful skin substances like mineral and lanolin oils that clog pores and stifle the skins ability to breathe properly for optimum health. Presence of the compound called Genistein is in soy, which helps in lowering the creation of keratin. Keratin is a protein present in the skin and related to the problems such as Dermatitis, Eczema, and Psoriasis (a skin disorder marked by red scaly smears).
Several of our customers, purchase our skincare to help relieve the associated discomforts of problem skin conditions such as itching, redness and dryness as soy has natural healing properties.
2814 High Street
Des Moines, Iowa
Phone: (877) 493-6891 Fax: (877) 493-6891
What motivated you to open your own business?
It all started with some soy candles. I’ve always been a candle nut. I bought some soy candles from a woman and loved them.
Turns out that woman was looking for a partner, and I decided to make a leap of faith and join her, making a complementary line of body scrub. The two eventually parted ways and I decided to carry on with my own company, SOY SPACASSO, which was born in 2005. After three years of research and trial-and-error batches, limited distribution began in 2008.
My interest in skin care came naturally –I grew up with a mother whose mantra was moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. My mom was 72 when she died; she had no wrinkles and no gray hairs. Plus, I have always been environmentally conscious, so a line of all-natural body products appealed. My mission was to provide a sophisticated spa-quality skin care and candle line without all of the harsh chemicals and heavy oils. Most moisturizers have bad things in them – mineral oil, petroleum.
The SOY SPACASSO products – everything from candles to lip balm to hair care to moisturizers – all are made with 99.9 percent soy, with essential oils and shea butter.
The move from candle-lover to business owner has been quite a ride, A lot of things happened pretty fast for the fledgling business, and they didn’t always work out. But whenever things looked dicey, something would turn up and faith kept us going.
My first big break came when I met Laura Anne Pelliccio known as the Wizard of Spa on MySpace. I made a trip to New York to personally meet Laura and attend her Westchester Spa, Inc. party where I also unveiled the first soy-based parfum called Pelliccio’s Fire in dedication to Laura for giving me the first opportunity to expose SOY SPACASSO to New York. At the same time, Laura was in the process of opening the White Spa in RADU’s and agreed to carry SOY SPACASSO product in Southampton, N.Y.
About 6 months later, I scored an invite from Nolcha (a New York-based “business platform for independent fashion designers”) to take her skin products to New York for its fashion week festivities in September 2007. There, I met a marketing professional S. Angelique Mingo of Sinala Noir Concepts located in New Jersey, who offered to redesign the SOY SPACASSO packaging.
Unfortunately, the White Spa closed and Laura and I lost contact. I had to make a decision about whether to continue with the company as it seemed that things were going backward. But then God just start and kept opening doors. Every time I get ready to quit, a door opens. Now I realize that patience, perseverance and faith are truly the keys. I know that this is what I am supposed to be doing!
Another door opened for SOY SPACASSO and the brand went into a local store in Des Moines, Iowa. And then another door opened and I began to work with Cassie Sampson, of the East Village Spa in Des Moines, whom I met on Twitter. Cassie asked me to create a custom unscented mani-pedi scrub for the spa.
It was the perfect solution, Sampson says. “I value small, local businesses owned by women. And it’s hard to find an unscented scrub; Maria was willing to customize her product for me.” East Village Spa now carries the SOY SPACASSO Lip Spa Balms and Soy Radiance Whips for their clientele’s ultimate pampering.
After the disconnection with Laura Anne Pelliccio, Laura contacted Maria again and sought SOY SPACASSO products for the Eclipse Hair Salon/Spa in Westchester, New York. After a couple months, Laura and I lost touch again as Laura was in transition to move back to the Hampton’s and became Salon Manager at Gurney’s Spa.
As another year of disconnection between Laura and I passed, another break came in March for SOY SPACASSO when Christine McNunn, owner of Fair World Gallery in Des Moines, Iowa’s Valley Junction and is a sales representative for several companies, added SOY SPACASSO to the stable of products she represents.
The SOY SPACASSO “manufacturing” facility remains humble – all the products are mixed, cooked up, packaged, labeled and shipped by a staff of two my husband and I, or three when D. Alexander is home from college) from our Des Moines kitchen and office. I have developed all of my own recipes over the last five years and keeps developing new products and scents.
Last year, I introduced her new Bambooza Luxe Line to the public. The line is made with natural bamboo shoots, which are loaded with antioxidants, amino acids and other skin-loving things.
In 2010, SOY SPACASSO ventured outside of the box to create a fun Bakery Line of lotion and lip balms for Sweet Binney’s Bakery in Des Moines, Iowa and the Body Whip and Lip Balm Sets called Moonlit Kiss for the Ambry Lane Company in California.
In November 2010, Laura has once again reconnected with me this November to provide SOY SPACASSO decadent, moisturizing and delicious skin/lip care products for Gurney’s Spa in Hamptons, New York.
And if things don’t seem intriguing enough, Jantina Wennerstrom and Linda Funk of The Soyfoods Council has also deemed the products to be special as they have partnered with the SOY SPACASSO Company to promote and help educate people about the benefits of soy foods and skincare.
Did you have any initial fears or concerns that you had to overcome when opening your business?
Actually I did not and still do not have any fears. Everyone who knows me, can vouch that I tell them this is God’s project and I am just doing the work. Most people are concerned about competition, money, what’s next – not me! I just say “God okay, if YOU want SOY SPACASSO to go then YOU will have to provide what is needed as I cannot. Every time I have started to become discouraged and said that to God, within 24 hours a door opens. Hey this is His project – so either open the doors or shut them and life goes in is how I row to keep on going without freaking out.
How did you develop your concept?
Through SOY SPACASSO, I was able to invite people into my world and provide them with an opportunity to experience this exciting development in botanical skin care system and aromatherapy candle product line.
My vision was not to create a complex system of products where you have to choose which products are right for you, but instead to introduce a complete interchangeable regime of products that restores and enhances the skin naturally and through SOY SPACASSO, and my vision was realized.
The brand is formulated to invigorate and tantalize your senses of feel, look and smell leaving nothing but healthy rejuvenated skin.
All hailing from the soy bean!
People always ask how did I come up with the name SOY SPACASSO. Well when trying to come up with a name I thought about my personality and how I viewed what I was trying to achieve with the skincare.
First, I wanted to market the skincare to people who loved to pamper themselves like they do when going to a spa.
2nd I view myself of as a creative person, I love to paint, whip up recipes, make things and just an all-around artist. I love going outside the box in thinking and coming up with a different and more exciting way of doing things.
I found that these qualities were also possessed by the famous artist Picasso. With thinking the body would be my canvas and I could treat the body with healthy, beautifully colored and beautiful smelling products.
So I put these views together and – I came up with SPACASSO – Hence (Spa – Pamper people and Casso – with healthy, beautifully colored and beautiful smelling products.
Why Soy? After meeting the lady that introduced me to soy skincare and after doing extensive research – I found that I loved the great qualities and healthy benefits in soy for skin care and wanted to continue to expand with the great soybean.
How much capital did you need to get started? Did you use any creative funding sources?
We knew that getting a loan was a NOT an option, as we are paying for our son’s college through loans and out of pocket. So, we MUST pay as we go and SOY SPACASSO has been blessed to get accounts such as Gurney’s Spa in the Hamptons to keep the business moving. Sometimes, we must dip into our personal money, but not for any large amount.
How do you market your business? Do you use any creative marketing strategies?
I reach out to people through networking Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Email, doing shows, and the SOY SPACASSO Newsletter. I offer giveaways, have a few Product Ambassadors (which I am seeking more around the U.S.) and extensively explain the benefits of soy skincare any opportunity I can get.
In our partnership, The Soyfoods Council and SOY SPACASSO are combining efforts to create a show called the “The House of Soy”. It is a show that leans more like the Rachel Ray Show. So stay tuned to hear more about that.
How do you manage employees if any?
As of now we do not have any employees.
I am the Creator, Manufacturer, and CEO of SOY SPACASSO.
My husband Matthew brings his extensive years of experience of managing a successful eBay business to the SOY SPACASSO team. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, Matthew manages the accounting operations for services and products.
My son D. Alexander assists in the legal, financial and marketing aspects of the SOY SPACASSO company when he returns to Des Moines, Iowa from attending college at the University of Kansas. His Study Abroad experience positions him to oversee the international management and marketing of the SOY SPACASSO product lines.
What are some of your day to day struggles as a business owner?
Just being patient, keeping the faith and moving on with the opportunities I am presented with without fear of not having enough money to continue.
What brings you the most joy from your work?
Being able to work with my husband and son and seeing what all has been is being accomplished with all the opportunities coming to SOY SPACASSO located here in Des Moines, Iowa. People are amazed that SOY SPACASSO has gone as far as it has and I get the opportunities like going on the American Dream Show in New York – they ask HOW? I point to the sky and say “It’s ALL God” as I don’t have the money or means to beat the streets to make any of this happen – truly it’s ALL God, trusting Him and NOT giving up! That is JOY!
How do you balance work life and family? Do your work demands affect your relationships?
My husband and I take most weekends off to enjoy football, basketball and going out to eat at our favorite restaurant Carlos O’Kellys – Love that Mexican Food!!! We have season tickets to our Arena Football League that starts in March so, we keep the Football going pretty much all year long. Imagine this – I am a Redskin fan, my husband is a Dolphins fan, the son is a Steelers fan – oh boy if we have to play each other – the loser is feeling the pain for a whole week!!hahahhaha
Since D. Alexander is off to college SOY SPACASSO schedule doesn’t really affect him. And since my husband is the CFO and works on his successful eBay business to help fund SOY SPACASSO we are on the same evening work schedule, so no conflict. During the day, I am now working full time on SOY SPACASSO and my husband is a programmer at EMC Insurance.
Any advice you’d like to offer to anyone interested in your line of work?
The only advice that I would give everyone in any line of work is to listen to what your heart is telling you to do in your life. Be patient – that is the hardest and most important piece to the whole thing. You must have faith which is what keeps you going – do NOT give up on your dream NO MATTER what hurdles are thrown in your way! Keep going as the obstacles will be removed and bad will turn out to be a blessing!
© 2015, Shalena D.I.V.A. – Author| Speaker| Life And Business Coach. All rights reserved.