One of the great things about small business owners is their willingness to support one another. Some start a business specifically to help a cause while others use their business to help causes as they occur. Suzi Chen, founder of Mighty Impression, is one of the former, having started Mighty Impression in 2013 as a fun project to support local community events.
Image by Aussie Books for Zim’s CEO & Founder Dr Alfred Chidembo.
“Instead of asking for donations, we were looking for a fun way to make supporting causes more tangible and sustainable. And making natural skincare and artisan soaps was a fun way of doing it” Suzi explains, noting “activities like making soaps for community-organised art exhibitions and markets have proved very popular”.
So it was a no brainer for Suzi to expand Mighty Impression into a social impact project in 2016 when her boutique strategy consultancy was looking for a tangible way to contribute to communities.
In 2020, Suzi decided to transition Mighty Impression from a project into an ‘ethical business’ and build it up to support more causes.
Suzi strongly believes that solely relying on a charitable model is not a sustainable way of making a difference, noting “we started Mighty Impression because we wanted to demonstrate to causes that social good and business profitability can and should go hand in hand.” Suzi hopes by offering tangle products like artisan soaps and natural skincare products Mighty Impression can help fund life-changing projects instead of them relying solely on donations and grants.
Based in Melbourne, Suzi describes herself as “a medical scientist turned soap maker!” Having completed her doctoral degree in 2006 Suzi began her medical research career in Vascular Medicine. “Working in medical research has given me a chance to look at life a bit differently.” Suzi reflected, explaining “I had my real-life lesson at the age of 23, really appreciating the meaning of ‘life is short’, after watching one of my patients dealing with cancer”.
Moving on from her medical research, Suzi moved into the public service, working in the emergency services sector for nearly 5 years, primarily building the State Government’s capability to provide critical information to the public in times of crisis. In 2016 Suzi decided it was time to start her own strategy company, Notonos Global, focusing on change management and helping others prepare for the future, “Because I’m a true believer that everyone has a role to play in shaping a better future, I spend a lot of time supporting the non-profit sector and in 2019 alone, I offered pro-bono services in excess of $26,000 through Notonos Global”.
Despite the pride and joy that comes with starting her own business and some outstanding achievements, including her 2018 appointment by Junior Chamber International to chair an international conference on gender equality at the United Nations in New York City, Suzi’s proudest moment often involves the joy her products brought to her customers – sometimes very young ones.
One recent heart-warming moment involves a customer’s 5 year old daughter asking her mother where her own “special soap” was. Suzi recalls, “It was very special to me because we try very hard to make sure people not only come to Mighty Impression for its great impact, but also for its great products. If little ones love our products, we must be doing something right”.
When asked what the most challenging moment in her business was, Suzi summed up what I believe a lot of small business owners struggle with, “Having the self-belief to represent Mighty Impression probably was the hardest challenge I had to face. I have never really mastered the art of self-promotion. But I’ve learnt that, just because you have a good idea or product, it doesn’t mean people will come. If I don’t proactively make connections and promote Mighty Impression, we would be just another well-kept secret”.
As you can probably already tell, Suzi and Mighty Impression have been involved in many community projects and initiatives, after all that was the idea behind the business’s formation. “Our customers are our partners and through us, their everyday purchase can really make a difference”. One amazing Australian charity that Mighty Impression has been supporting for 21 months now is Aussie Books for Zim, a charity that builds libraries and literacy programs in rural Zimbabwe using books rescued from Australian landfills. This charity has just celebrated its 5th anniversary and in that time has set up 9 libraries (building 1 from scratch) and rescued and sent over 90,000 books to Zimbabwe.
Images by Aussie Books for Zim’s CEO & Founder Dr Alfred Chidembo.
So, what does the future have in store for Mighty Impression? “Since our transition from a project to a business in June 2020, we are working hard to find ways to better position ourselves in a very competitive niche. One of our exciting ideas is the ‘design your own soap’ concept. We are taking the fun to the next level and now customers can personalise their own soap using a simple 4-step process. Our artisan soap maker will then make something unique – seriously, no two batches of soap will be the same!!!”
Suzi is very positive about the future, “we know times are tough with COVID-19. But don’t underestimate our collective resilience and desire to do better. I know we will come out of this stronger and if Mighty Impression can help facilitate this transformation, we would be very honoured to do so.”
Interested in trying one of Mighty Impression’s products and supporting an amazing cause? Suzi recommends giving her Almost Edible artisan soaps a try. As the name suggests, Almost Edible artisan soaps are so natural (99.98% natural and in some cases, 100% natural) you could almost eat them! The artisan soaps are handmade in Melbourne and are absolutely gorgeous for your skin! In the words of Suzi, “In light of COVID-19, if we must wash our hands multiple times a day, why not use a bar of soap that is gentle to the skin? Let’s make hand-washing a luxurious and fun experience!”