Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson met an aspiring Thornton entrepreneur who is hoping to clean up with the launch of her handmade soap business.
The MP heard all about the newly launched Green Bubbles business from founder and Thornton mum-of-two Steph Leach
Steph is a primary school teacher in Liverpool, but is using her spare time to turn her soap-making hobby into a business.
She has now perfected her skills to create an array of elaborately decorated handmade soaps and gift sets.
Steph told Bill: "The business started as a hobby as I have always been a bit creative and made gifts for people. In October 2012 I was thinking of a new idea for family Christmas presents and came across the idea of making a Christmas-scented soap to give as stocking fillers.
"I, like many of my family and friends, had only ever used shower gel and liquid soap, so I thought it might be a bit of a novelty item but that my family and friends would appreciate that it was handmade.
"Once I had made it and tested it, I was instantly converted to solid soap and I was hooked on making it. I moved on to other fragrances and designs and soon had more than enough to give to my friends and family.
"After giving away as much I as I could I began doing small-scale crafts fairs and markets to see if it was something other people might be interested in. The response was brilliant and through talking to customers I was able to come up with new fragrance ideas, and new products.
"I made a website with the help of my mum's partner (www.green-bubbles.co.uk), and made a business page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/greenbubbles1) which have both been great avenues for marketing my products and for customers to contact me with specific requests. I also continue to do craft fairs and markets all over Merseyside (details can be found on Facebook and on the website)."
Steph told Bill how she juggles a busy career as a teacher with looking after a young family as well as starting up a business.
Steph said: "Because I love making these products, I spend time on the business after I have put the kids to bed. I get a lot of support from my family, who think this is a great idea and want the business to work.
"Because of the time I have put in on this, I have now developed my product range to include soap, soap cakes, soap cupcakes, bath bombs, massage bars, lip balms, sugar scrubs, wedding and party favours, gift sets and membership to my soap club, all of which can be bought through the website or by emailing me firstname.lastname@example.org or
PM through Facebook.
"A selection of my products are also stocked at Sweet Peas & Co., a small boutique in Crosby Village and the hope for the future is that more shops will stock my products.
"I would love to open my own shop but financial implications of two children and a mortgage means that I have to continue to work full-time at the moment, but maybe one day."
MP Bill Esterson said Steph was an inspiration.
Bill said: "It is great to see Steph turn her hobby into a business. She has spent time developing her products and researching her customer base and she is now rolling out the company.
"She is putting the necessary work in to establish the business and that work will hopefully pay off as the business flourishes.
"The health of the economy is dependent on the success of small businesses. It is crucial that new small businesses are given the encouragement, advice and assistance to succeed.
"That is why Steph and other entrepreneurs should be given all the support they need to succeed. Labour has announced a number of measures to help small business because we recognise the importance of small businesses to our local and national economy.
"Having spoken to Steph and heard about her business, she clearly has a head for business and she has the products to succeed. I bought my wife some of Green Bubbles' handmade soap, and she was delighted with it. I wish Steph every success.
"Green Bubbles will definitely be a site that I return to, particularly in the run up to Christmas."