The Entrepreneur Series: Sonia Chhinji, Co-Founder and CEO of Woodlot

As part of our Entrepreneur Series, we interviewed the co-founder of Woodlot on taking the leap to entrepreneurship, and her commitment to customer service.

What started out as a hobby for Sonia Chhinji quickly bloomed into a growing beauty and wellness business. 

The health-conscious Chhinji was shocked to discover that the candles she purchased from big-brand retailers contained harmful chemicals. Despite much research, there did not seem to be many natural-based candles in the market. 

Chhinji and her husband, Fouad Farraj, set out to make their own.

Woodlot co-founder Sonia Chhinji looking at the camera, standing behind co-founder Fouad Farraj, sitting in a chair facing the left
Photo Credit: Britney Gill

“Growing up, I would watch my mom make yogurt. She would make dough from scratch. There was just so much around making things from your own kitchen,” said the co-founder and CEO of Woodlot

Influenced by her mother, Chhinji developed a simple, ayurvedic approach to beauty and began creating her own concoctions at home. Farraj, on the other hand, had been making soap for fifteen years, a craft passed down from his family in Lebanon.

Now, they are sharing their traditions with others through an array of natural products to inspire a cleaner lifestyle.

Drawing from her own experience, Chhinji has some advice for others hoping to break into the industry.

“Start small,” she said. “Start with something you feel like is missing.”

Listen to the full interview below and subscribe to our podcast on most streaming platforms

Taking the Leap

Encouraged by the positive feedback from her friends, Chhinji started an Instagram account for Woodlot to share their behind-the-scenes process.

From there, they began to draw interest beyond their personal networks. Thanks to a referral from a friend, Chhinji received their first order of one hundred soaps from a local boutique. 

Woodlot was gaining momentum. However, it was her employers at the time that pushed her to take the leap.

“[My bosses] pulled me aside … and said, ‘Hey, you seem really excited about this new thing. We would love to invest in you to take this full time,'” said Chhinji.

At the time, it was a difficult decision because she loved her daytime job.

“A good friend of mine said, ‘Eventually the side project is going to grow  and you’ll have to give it more time and quit, or it dies,” she said. 

The duo could not imagine not taking their business further.

Chhinji is grateful for the support and hopes to one day do the same thing for her employees, as her employers had done for her.

rows of Woodlot soap bars in a tray, about to be packaged by hands holding paper packaging over the tray
Photo Credit: Woodlot

Customer Service is All Around Us

Pivoting from hospitality and tech start-ups, Woodlot is Chhinji’s foray into the trillion-dollar beauty and wellness industry.

What makes the brand stand out is her dedication to the overall product and customer experience, which was the common thread in her former roles.

“I can trace it back to working front desk at a hotel. When you think of the customer experience, it’s all around us,” Chhinji said.

She also pays special attention to the unboxing process, adding handwritten notes as a personal touch. 

“It’s like a gift to yourself in this busy digital world. You’re taking time for yourself when you buy [Woodlot], whether it’s for yourself or someone else, and I want that experience to be awesome.”

Listen to the full interview below and subscribe to our podcast on most streaming platforms:

Hear more from Sonia Chhinji at The Entrepreneur Series event:

Date: Monday, September 23, 2019

Time: 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Location: D6 Lounge (39 Smithe St, Vancouver, BC V6B 0R3 – 6th Floor, THE DOUGLAS)

Tickets: $30 (September 16-22) and $35 (on September 23 and at the door)

Sharing is caring

Woodlot is happy to share a special discount with Cold Tea Collective readers and invite them to experience first-hand the natural beauty and personal touches they pride themselves on.

Visit Woodlot and use the code “XOCTC” for 15% off your purchase until October 31, 2019. Discount only applied to online purchases and don’t forget to tag Cold Tea Collective in your social media posts when your package arrives!

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