Sold Out in 16 hours: The Inspiring story of a 15-year-old Las Vegas Soap-preneur

How does an ambitious 15-year-old, an excess of goats’ milk, and a supportive family turn into what could be Las Vegas’ hottest new business venture?

This is the story of Tommy Vanek, a Las Vegas freshman who has a goal most 15 year olds can relate to… but the way he’s pursuing that goal is anything but typical.

Tommy’s story starts last summer when the Vanek family found itself with an excess of goats’ milk. The Vaneks raise goats in their yard (more like an urban farm), in Northwest Las Vegas. Mom, Heather, started researching what to do with the excess.  In reading some blogs, she found, many use the extra milk to make soap.  Soap-making was supposed to just be a fun summer project for the family, not an entrepreneurial endeavor.

Never underestimate the willpower of a 15-year-old who wants his own set of wheels on his 16th birthday. Tommy Vanek started looking for a job to finance his first car, but found it difficult to get hired as a 15-year-old. He decided to turn that fun family soap-making project into cash.  On February 28th, Tommy opened the doors to his online store, Hangover Soap Co.

“I’m excited because it’s new and it’s fun, but I’m also kind of nervous because I don’t know where it’s gonna go.”

When you open a new business, you expect it to take a while to get some traction.  You do your best to hype things up before the launch, using social media, word of mouth, maybe even some paid advertising.

You don’t expect this: “I sold out of everything in 16 hours, which was really exciting because I didn’t think I would do that well.”

A heavy social media push and spectacular photography provided the initial push.  But the Las Vegas-themed product names (like Neon Lights, Area 51 & Blackjack) sealed the deal.

Hangover Soap is attracting the attention of high-end spas, and a supportive online audience that’s eagerly awaiting the store’s re-stock date of April 4th.

The business is truly a family affair.  Heather (owner of a successful photography studio) helps with images, the website & marketing.  Dad, Joe, a Las Vegas fire captain with a wicked sense of humor, helps Tommy craft the product descriptions, and sister, Ashley, has just been hired to head up the Bath Bombs division (launching this summer).

Tommy initially thought it would take him a year to earn the money for his first car.  At the rate he’s going now, it’s likely he’ll have it before summer ends.  He’s learning organizational skills and business skills… and enjoying the sense of accomplishment that comes from being a young entrepreneur: “I can look at it and say, ‘I made that, and that looks really cool.’”

The upcoming Mother’s Day promotion will feature 3 limited edition soaps.  You can get your Royal Flush, Hair O’ The Dog, Show Girl, Made Man & more at www.hangoversoap.com.

Find Nina on Twitter @NinaRVegas or get in touch at www.ninaradetich.com.

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  • Herbie Verschmels

    WOW! It makes me think back to what I was doing at 15…not working this hard. The soaps sound great. Good luck Tom!

    • @herbieverschmels:disqus – I most certainly wasn’t starting a business either! He’s a motivated, impressive young man. 🙂

  • Feedup2010

    At 15 the only thing I was selling was Girl Scout Cookies but I can see Organic Soap being a home run