TRADE HEROES: Wild Prairie Soap Company

Published On
May 31, 2024

The “Trade Heroes” series highlights Edmonton region companies who have ‘exportitude’ — the mindset and commitment to think globally when it comes to their business. 

Tanya Zurock founded Wild Prairie Soap Company  24 years ago when she started making natural soap to resolve her children’s dry skin. Today, the company’s ever-growing array of products are available in retail stores across Canada, South Korea and Japan. And Zurock has no plans to stop there.

“We’ve got some new product launches coming domestically, maybe for export as well,” Zurock said. “We’re looking forward to some really great upswing in the next few years.”

Part of that upswing could come from further expansion in Asia, where the company has seen success in recent years. Wild Prairie Soap first entered the Japanese market in 2019, and was available in more than 200 stores, but with nationwide store closures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the launch of her brand hit a major roadblock. Finishing her 3 year partnership with her original partners, Tanya has been working on a new strategic partnership following a successful trade show in Tokyo in February.

“It’s an excellent market to enter because the national cosmetic standards are among the strictest in the world,” Zurock said. “If you can clear the hurdles of importing cosmetics into Japan then you know you’ll find success clearing the standards of other international markets.”

Wild Prairie Soap Company has also found a customer base in South Korea, especially with Korean Airlines, where its products are available in the in-flight Sky Shop magazine. Shortly after entering the market in 2021, Zurock said sales from South Korea made up about 20% of the company’s revenue. “It was a really important piece of growth for us,” Zurock said.

The company has encountered its share of challenges in exporting, in particular with making volume pricing attractive to importers, due to rising raw material costs and world currency fluctuations. Finding the right partners in each market is another challenge but one that Zurock finds energizing.

Her advice for aspiring exporters is to do your research and leverage all the in-market experts you can find. “You have to see them as your partners and your champions, because without them, it’s much more difficult to do meaningful business and make the right connections,” Zurock said.

One of the experts that Wild Prairie Soap leveraged at home was the Trade Accelerator Program. Zurock participated in TAP’s first cohort in 2018 and found the experience very helpful. “It really got me focused on the right priorities,” she said. “It helped me put together a solid strategy and connected me with experts who could guide me through the planning process.”

Travelling to the markets you’re looking to enter is also key, Zurock said. “If you want to be successful in a new country, you’ve got to go and experience your sector’s environment and be prepared to make changes to your strategy as you learn more about the market firsthand,” she said.

Zurock said her company is continually learning about exporting and is excited to see where it will go next, hinting that China could be a future market.

“I’ve been selling in the Canadian marketplace for almost 25 years, and it’s still our key market, but it’s also exciting to see your products hit shelves in the major cities of the world,” Zurock said.

“We’re really proud to be from Edmonton and be promoting products from our region and to be a part of that entrepreneurial Edmonton spirit,” she said.

Learn more or suggest a Trade Hero feature 

If you’re looking to go global, TAP is your key to exploring new markets. To apply for the next cohort, please visit this link. Don’t miss this opportunity to accelerate your business to new heights!    

Additionally, if you’d like to suggest a business to be featured in Trade Heros, please use this form 

Christobelle Boily