Budding entrepreneur Jim Gregory is cleaning up as his newest creation – beer soap – is proving to be an instant hit with Chicago consumers and has caught the eye of major Chicago media. Both the Chicago Sun-Times and the city’s Fox News affiliate, WFLD-TV, have run stories about Gregory’s suds-filled soap, which is sold by the Half Acre Beer Company at its brewery store on Chicago’s North Side.
“The deal was struck while I was at ACM,” said Gregory, who participated in ACM’s Business, Entrepreneurship, & Society (BES) program in Chicago last year. “I don’t think any of this would have been possible if I hadn’t experienced the program.”
Gregory is producing and marketing the beer soap through his company, Grandma Gee’s, which he started early in his college career. While he was on the BES program, Gregory worked to build his company, writing a detailed business plan for Grandma Gee’s and taking an internship at a store to learn about marketing his handmade soaps to retailers. The big break came with a contact Gregory made during the program’s entrepreneurship seminar taught by Robyne Hart, Director of BES.
“Gabriel Magliaro, one of the owners of Half Acre, met with the students and networked,” said Hart. “Any time we would meet with some kind of entrepreneur, Jim would have a bar of soap to give them with his business card. Gabe was intrigued and said, ‘This is interesting. I wonder if you can make beer soap.’”
When Jim finished the program and returned to Hanover College in Indiana, he stayed in contact with Magliaro and worked on prototypes of the soap. “The packaging is just fantastic,” said Hart. “Jim is private labeling it for Half Acre. Gabe wanted something special.”
The soap has been a popular item from the moment it hit the store’s shelves. It wasn’t long before the Sun-Times printed an article and WFLD ran a segment about the soap in a newscast following a World Series game.
What does Gregory think of the response to his beer soap?
“I am floored,” he said on the day the Sun-Times story appeared. “Yesterday was a week and a day since I dropped the soap off. I was expecting maybe six bars sold.”
After receiving a call from a reporter, Gregory contacted Magliaro to find out how the soap was selling. Gregory said, “He said it’s almost gone and the Chicago Sun-Times will be releasing an article in tomorrow’s edition. We want to order some more!”