Entrepreneurship runs in the Hicks family, so it was no surprise when Dennis Hicks took up soap making.
“I've always been some sort of entrepreneur. It's pretty much a family trait. I grew up watching my grandmother make and sell cakes, pies, and catering events,” Hicks said. “As a kid, my mom encouraged my creativity and supported my entrepreneurial behavior by selling whatever I happened to be selling at the time to her friends and coworkers.”
Now, Hicks runs his own small business called Blaq Star Soaps.
“I'm an artist and I was selling artwork for a while but people don't really need that but it's nice to look at. So, I turned to another creative outlet that people would also need. Soap!” he said.
Hicks noticed that there weren’t many male Black soap makers or unique soap businesses, so he took it upon himself to make his business special.
“I chose Blaq Star Soaps as the name because I wanted to focus on Black stars in music and I have always been fascinated with the universe,” he said. “The reason I spell Black with a ‘Q’ is to signify my queerness.”
The names of Hicks’ products are inspired by Black musicians as well.
“I primarily sell cold-process soaps. Other items include body butter, body oils, sugar scrubs, beard balms, and beard oils,” he explained.
His favorite product so far is his “Wash This Way” unscented soap, which is a reference to Run-D.M.C.’s song, “Walk This Way.”
Hicks loves that he’s able to channel his creativity into a business that not only pays his bills, but also makes people happy.
“Just knowing that something that I've made is bringing someone some sort of happiness is really cool,” he said. “Making money is great but honestly, I really just love creating.”
Twenty-twenty put a damper on Hicks’ plans for his business, but he never lost hope.
“I started making soap in 2019 with the intent of selling in 2020. I started building up inventory in preparation. When the pandemic hit, I got email after email about how each of these selling opportunities was now canceled except for one,” he said.
Hicks took the selling opportunity and ran with it.
“I was a little unsure about participating in that farmer's market because of the COVID restrictions but I'm glad I did,” he said. “I learned a lot and was introduced to a new audience.”
The gay soap maker has big goals for 2021 and is already achieving them.
“This year my goal is to get products into local shops, gain new loyal customers, and increase sales by 20%. So far in 2021, I have gotten a small placement in a local florist shop!” he said.
You can support this LGBT-owned small business by visiting his website at blaqstarsoap.com or following him on Instagram @blaqstarsoaps.