Pompeii Street Soap Company

Nearly two thousand years ago, in a small quiet town of Pompeii, Italy, there was small soap shop producing and selling all natural soap. In the year of 79 AD, the famous and deadly Mount Vesuvius erupted suddenly, covering the city of Pompeii in ash; preserving the town until archaeologists discovered the remains two centuries ago. One of the intriguing finds was the soap shop; all soap molds and equipment used had been perfectly preserved.

After studying the ruins, archaeologists came to believe that Pompeii’s soap shop had been the oldest existing, organized soap shop. Upon reading about this discovery Jessica Grill’s interest was piqued. Opening her own soap production business in 2004, she chose the name Pompeii Street Soap Company to reflect the business’s ideals and goals to produce all natural soaps in an old fashioned way.

In 2005, Grill accepted employment at Bucknell University but soon found that it was too difficult to continue running her soap business while also working a full-time job. Pompeii Street was laid to rest in profitable standing much like the shop in Pompeii had been laid to rest after the eruption for two thousand years.

Fortunately, it did not take long for Grill to resurrect the Pompeii Street Soap Company with a new location and a partner in Christina Cervantes. The business partners organized the business into a limited liability company in 2007 and made plans to reopen its doors shortly after. 

Grill was familiar with the Bucknell University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) from attending seminars during the years when Pompeii Street Soap Company was originally open. She and her partner came to the SBDC with questions and a drafted business plan, hoping to wash away any problems in their plan and ease the process of getting back in business.

The main concern the partners brought was how to reopen the business in a legally competent manner. The SBDC was able to help by pointing the business partners to the proper authorities who could provide information on laws that would govern their reemergence. The partners also needed assistance with creating a formal business plan for company records and projecting finances for the first year to discover the feasibility of profit in succeeding years.

Grill and Cervantes re-opened Pompeii’s Soap Shop at their new location just a few days before Valentine’s Day, which helped to provide a profitable christening in their first week of sales. The partners are hoping to grow the business clientele and eventually focus on wholesale to larger distributors.