Joella Hogan - Yukon

Yukon soap maker among those featured on Cando’s Women In Business panel

 Joella Hogan

Joella Hogan, a member of Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation, owns The Yukon Soaps Company.

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Contributor

Joella Hogan felt it was just too good an opportunity to pass up.

Even though she was already happily employed as the manager of heritage and culture for her Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation in Mayo, Yukon, Hogan decided in 2012 to buy an established soap company.

“I guess I had been wanting some sort of private business for a while,” Hogan said. “And it was important for me to be something that matched my lifestyle and values.”

Hogan said it only made sense that she would buy the company, previously called The Essential Soap Bar.

“This opportunity came up,” she said. “It was a family friend that owned it before. It was a natural for me. I already knew the product.”

Now eight years later, Hogan continues to oversee the business, which continues to thrive.

There is one major difference, however. The name of the business. Hogan switched the name to The Yukon Soaps Company in 2015.

“I debated whether to change the name,” she said. “More importantly though, I just wanted to give the business a different feel and look.”

The following year, in 2016, Hogan was on the Women In Business panel at the Cando Conference. She didn’t have to leave her territory to attend that event since it was held in the Yukon capital of Whitehorse.

Hogan has once again been asked to be on the Women In Business panel at this year’s Cando Conference.

Because of the pandemic, this entire conference will be a virtual one. Dates for this year’s event are Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 27-28.

Those on the Women In Business panel will be making their presentations about their companies on Oct. 21.

“It’s a pretty amazing event,” Hogan said of the Cando Conference, adding she revels in the fact so many Indigenous people from across the country are interested in seeing and hearing what their Indigenous peers are up to.

The Yukon Soaps Company makes products including hand-crafted soaps, shampoo bars and essential oil blends.

The soaps include wild rose petals and juniper berries from her community. She even employs local youth and elders to help gather some of the wild botanicals.

Before the pandemic hit earlier this year, the majority of Hogan’s sales were to fellow Yukoners.

“Pre-COVID I really prided myself on having soaps Yukoners use,” she said. “It was a household name.”

And the majority of her sales were within her own territory.

“My products were in a lot of tourism shops,” she said. “But with the pandemic, things have definitely changed. Most of those retailers were forced to close.”

Hogan, however, has managed to successfully pivot her business, to the point now where the majority of her sales are online. This switch in operations has vastly expanded her target markets.

“Now with the pandemic, sales are around the world,” she said.