A junior from Westchester, NY currently majoring in communication and minoring in digital media art at Manhattan College, Gina DiMauro is both a student and businesswoman. DiMauro owns her own company called SUDS, which sells homemade organic soaps, and also has her own jewelry line called Gems by Gina.
It all started when DiMauro’s doctor told her she was allergic to coconut oil. Unfortunately, a lot of soaps use coconut oil as a main ingredient, so she had to come up with a solution. She figured she would give creating her own soaps a shot, and with the help of the Internet, she learned what that process entailed.
“It’s a lot of organic and natural things that go into it. A lot of essential oils, and then argan oil, depending on what kind of soap it is. I take all the ingredients, and I melt it down, make sure it’s really boiling hot, and then let it cool for 10 seconds. Then I put in the essential oils, sometimes walnut particles if I’m making an exfoliator, then I let it cool for 10 more seconds, and then pour it in the molds and go from there,” DiMauro said. “It’s a learning process.”
To make her own soap, DiMauro goes home, which is cleaner and provides more space than a dorm room.
Along with making the soap, DiMauro also designs the packaging. She explained that coming up with the design was originally for a school project, but decided to continue to use it for SUDS. As a digital media art minor, she loves working with layouts and experimenting with how things look.
“It’s not the actual making of the products that’s the hardest, it’s the marketing and the advertising and producing a package that is appealing to my audience and figuring out what works and doesn’t work,” DiMauro said.
However, it is another story when it comes to how DiMauro started creating her own jewelry.
“My junior year of high school, I was inspired by Tumblr, and this was before the choker trend, and I saw these cool chokers, but no stores had them yet, so I thought, why don’t I make them myself? And that’s when Gems by Gina came, and when I started to make jewelry,” DiMauro said. “I did that for a year, and then once I finally got accepted into college, it kind of died down, until summer of 2017.”
DiMauro has been making jewelry since, and continues to come up with her own creations that include long pendant necklaces and bracelets. She goes into the city, near the old garment district and buys her materials at bead stores. She prefers to make bracelets because the beads are cheaper, but finds the overall process very therapeutic and relaxing.
DiMauro sells her jewelry at a shop in her town that supports local designers and businesses. She first made the connection with the owner just by talking to her and initiating conversation.
“I just started talking about how I make my own jewelry. She was a new store owner and we just started talking, and she said how she liked to support local artists. She complimented me on my necklace, and I was like, oh I make these. From there, we just started networking, and talking. What I’ve realized from pitching is that you have to really build a relationship with with who you’re selling your stuff to and your clients” DiMauro said.
DiMauro does business at MC as well.
“I try to sell products at Manhattan, and I don’t push people to, but people needed gifts before Christmas and I did pretty well. A lot of people bought a lot of jewelry and some soaps, and I actually made body scrubs for the Christmas season and people liked them too,” she said.
“People are really supportive here. I was a little bit surprised, I didn’t know how people were going to react, but people were very supportive. I’ve gotten no negative reactions so far, knock on wood,” she said.
DiMauro manages the other components of having her own business.
“I do most of the money. My business is doing very well, but it’s also not big enough where I need to bring in another person to do the financial things. I understand the basic math behind it, like how to make a profit and stuff, and hearing other people’s advice is helpful too. It’s a lot of work, but if you break it up into time and space, it’s okay,” she said.
In addition to getting a positive reaction from around campus, DiMauro also experienced the highest form of flattery from peers.
“I guess it’s an inspiration to other people on campus to start their own businesses. My own friend started her own hair and eyelash extension company, and she saw that I could do it, so she thought she could do it too. That was one of the best compliments that I’ve ever had in my life,” DiMauro said.
When it comes to the future, DiMauro is not sure where her business will take her.
“I’ll see where this goes. School come first for me, this is kind of just a side thing when I have free time, I’m not really sure. Hopefully I’ll continue it for a while. I’d love to see that to happen,” DiMauro said.
Examples of DiMauro’s products can be found on Instagram @soaps.suds.skin