emory-wire

Cleaning Up

One student's fledgling soap business is taking off with the help of Luda's mom and Keri Hilson's non-profit.

By Raquel Solla 19C

Keri Hilson 03Ox 05C poses with Sally Kim 18Ox 20C, founder of Klezzo.

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Genesis

Sally Kim with her boyfriend

Sally Kim 18Ox 20C with her boyfriend Justin Hyun 13Ox 15C who has supported her since the beginning.

When Sally Kim 18Ox 20C left her home in Austria and arrived on Emory’s campus in the fall of 2016, she developed severe skin allergies. Kim took frequent allergy shots and tried a variety of different skin products, but still her rashes got worse and worse. Finally, Kim decided to take the problem into her own hands in the hopes that homemade natural products would remedy her reactions to Georgia's climate.

Her first attempt to create her own product was a lavender rose soap for her boyfriend Justin Hyun 13Ox 15C. When that turned out well, Kim worked on soaps for herself. In the beginning she kept her fledgling business a secret from everyone but her boyfriend. Eventually, as she became more confident, Kim got the courage to share her business with her friends and family.

“My boyfriend would always tell me ‘You got this, people will actually buy it’,” says Kim. “He’s been my biggest supporter from the start.” And he was right. Her products sold.

Thus, Klezzo was born, with a name chosen for both the sound and the way the double z’s looked in the logo design.

Mentors

A passion for non-profit work has always been part of Kim’s driving force. Through her volunteer work in Atlanta for various causes, Kim met Roberta Shields, mother of Christopher Bridges, also known as Ludacris, the award-winning rapper and actor based in Atlanta, and Keri Hilson 03Ox 05C, the singer/songwriter and philanthropist. Ms. Shields and Ms. Hilson played a vital role in Klezzo’s business development.

During the summer of 2018, when Kim was not in classes, she was volunteering. While her friends were working internships, Kim was working on the logistical side of the launch event for The Keri Hilson Foundation. During a team brainstorm about gift bag content, Kim saw an opportunity. By the time the meeting was over, Kim was tasked with providing 200 bars of her homemade soap—a tall order considering thus far she’d only made her soaps in small batches. But, 200 soaps later, Kim had achieved what she dubbed “master soap making” status.

Following the successful Keri Hilson Foundation event, Ms. Shields offered a significant opportunity pivotal to Kim's business with a connection to the Ludacris Foundation, the non-profit her son launched in 2001. Shortly thereafter, Klezzo landed a spot with ‘LudaDay,’ 24 hours dedicated to raising money for the foundation and providing activities for the local community.

Kim made her first profit there, and it’s a crowded field. Search “handmade soap” on Etsy and almost 53,000 vendors will pop up. The Handmade Soap Guild, a professional association, counts more than 3,600 member in the US and around the world.

 

Klezzo Soaps

Assorted Klezzo products

The Product

Klezzo soaps are handmade, organic, and shaped to encourage acupressure therapy, to massage and circulate—and marketed as gender neutral. “Self-care is segmented by gender,” says Kim. “I think this kind of service is for everyone. It doesn’t have to be specifically geared towards women.”

Klezzo is not just homemade bars of soap. Recently Kim has expanded Klezzo’s offering with the introduction of paper soap.

Kim’s product is simple: a strip of paper to tuck into your pocket or backpack. When it’s time to clean up, run some water over the paper, then rub your hands together. Watch as it dissolves into biodegradable and eco-friendly suds. And Kim has more ideas for expanding the offerings of Klezzo. “I have a million ideas but I know I have to focus on one at a time,” she says. “That’s really my biggest problem.”

Klezzo.com is not just about soap sales. In the same web-space, Kim also hosts a blog called “Beauty Booth: Inner and Outer Beauty,” focusing on traditional beauty tips. And, along with the expected nuggets of advice, she also devotes space to inner-beauty by highlighting female entrepreneurs and their ideas of where they find beauty in the world.

"If just one person can be inspired, it’s worth it,” says Kim, whose underlying motivation is to elevate women to feel beautiful both inside and out, “That’s my goal.”

Future as a Female Entrepreneur

Kim is an entrepreneur, fueled by innovative ideas.

“I want to meet the trends of the world we live in, whether by combining technology into beauty, or technology into wellness,” Kim says.

She considers herself a creative and loves the process of transforming her ideas into real products. As for what the future holds, the only certain thing is that entrepreneurship is the path for her. “I really like doing my own thing,” Kim says. “I know that making my own imagination into reality works best when I’m working for myself.”

Editor's Note: Join Emory Entrepreneur Network to meet more of Emory's innovators.