New Location Gives Maison de Savon Room to Grow
HERMITAGE, Pa. – Four years ago, Gillian Hart O’Brien hosted a spa party with homemade bath and body products for all of her friends. It sparked the then 12-year-old’s entrepreneurial spirit, leading to a business that just took another big step forward.
On Thursday, O’Brien and her mother, Gia Hart-Kokor, opened the doors to the newest location for Maison de Savon at 1526 E. State St. The co-owners say the move provides more exposure for the company they began in their kitchen in Howland.
“For us, it’s exposure. It’s being able to see our displays through the window,” O’Brien said. “It’s a great location and we’re excited to work with the other businesses in this plaza to work as a team to promote our businesses.”
After operating a shop at 2021 E. State St., business increased for Maison de Savon — or House of Soap — and O’Brien and Kokor decided they needed to be around other businesses to keep their company growing while adding to the small business environment.
“We felt like moving here would give our business an advantage and that we could help other businesses feed each other customers,” O’Brien said.
The former seamstress shop required only some cosmetic changes, which is a reason why O’Brien and her mother like the location.
“There wasn’t too much to change, but we also had room to work, make it our own and put our unique, individual touch on the place,” O’Brien said. “We provide a specialty product, we’re a family business and we’re trying to work with our community and be a part of our community as a business, as a team, as a family.”
Since opening Maison de Savon, the company has expanded its product range to more than 300 items, up from the three or four they started with while working out of their kitchen, she said. To meet the increased need, the company opened Savon Studios at 21 Vine Ave., where they make all of their products as well as items for other businesses.
“We don’t only make products for ourselves but we do private label for other businesses as well,” Kokor said. “If you come down to Vine Avenue, you’ll see us making our products.”
With the new location, O’Brien and Kokor hope to double their sales and hire two more employees. Currently, two contracted employees are working alongside them.
One of Maison de Savon’s popular items is a blend of essential oils with bath bomb and bubble bath mix, Kokor said. It’s a nice soap for anyone who is not feeling well because it soothes the sinuses, she said.
Shampoo bars, handmade lotions and cosmetics are other items customers are grabbing off the shelves, O’Brien added.
Other companies selling products through Maison de Savon include the Soap Sergeant, Melisssa Ann Cosmetics and Kush Bath. Kokor thinks the Shenango Valley is a great area to have a business and she is happy she and her daughter made the move.
“We would like to see our business grow,” she said. “We’re looking into franchising within the next couple years. We will be opening another store over in the Warren, Youngstown area, and we just hope that we keep getting better and better as we go.”
Pictured above: Attending the ribbon cutting were Frank Zelinsky, veterans employment representative for Mercer and Lawrence Counties; Gia Hart-Kokor, co-owner; Gillian Hart O’Brien, co-owner; Bernie Harry, treasurer for the city of Hermitage’ Bill Moder, Hermitage commissioner; and other community members.
Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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