Boll Weevil Soap Company

“Our goal is simple: Make the best possible body products but deliver them with an unprecedented retail experience,” said Chad Wester, who with his wife, Kendra, own Boll Weevil Soap Company on Main Street in downtown Enterprise, just a few doors down from the town’s landmark Boll Weevil Monument.

Chad and Kendra Wester are Alabama Retailers of the Year in the Annual Sales Less Than $1 Million category. Boll Weevil Soap Co. is among 11 businesses honored as the 2022 Retailers of the Year by the Alabama Retail Association. “We are truly humbled,” the Westers said when accepting the award.

Boll Weevil Soap, founded in 1997 by local nurse Rosemary Howell, celebrated its 25th year in business Aug. 10. The Wester family purchased the company in 2017. In the Westers’ five years of ownership, Boll Weevil Soap Co. has tripled its sales, especially since 2019 when the company moved to downtown Enterprise and bolstered its online presence.

Kendra Wester directs quality control and onsite production of the company’s “unbollweevible” handmade skincare products, while Chad Wester handles sales and customer experience. “The business is a family affair, with both their children supporting the business,” said their nominator, Cassidi Kendrick, former Enterprise Main Street director. The Westers’ daughter makes candles for the family business. Their son pursued other professional avenues but maintains his role as a “Boll Weevil Soap advocate.”

In a letter of recommendation, Erin Grantham, executive director of the Enterprise Chamber of Commerce, said, “Chad is affectionately known by his neighbors and fellow store owners as the ‘Mayor of Downtown.’ His passion for small business extends beyond his own storefront as he continuously champions for the success of his neighbors.”

Chad Wester is the founding chair of Enterprise Main Street, on the executive board of Downtown Enterprise Business Association and has served as a chamber director. During the height of the pandemic, he spearheaded a virtual community event, helped other downtown businesses improve their online presence and assisted owners in seeking state grants. Kendra Wester refers to him as a “volunteeraholic.”

The Westers are all in for Enterprise, sponsoring the Weevil Cam, a 24-hour live broadcast of activity near Enterprise’s Boll Weevil Monument, the world’s only statue honoring an insect. The boll weevil, which decimated area cotton crops in the early 1900s, was credited with forcing crop diversification and expansion of other businesses that returned Enterprise and Coffee County to prosperity. Regional news outlets routinely spotlight the Weevil Cam during their weather segments and a CBS Sunday Morning feature to air ​later this year focuses on it. 

The Retailer of the Year judges noted that the Westers touted the value of their handmade soaps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and other infectious diseases, rather than shifting production to hand sanitizer, which would have deviated from their natural-product brand. Boll Weevil Soap Co. “worked hard to increase awareness that the best way to fight the pandemic is a good old-fashioned hand washing just like the CDC and your grandmother have always recommended,” the Westers said. “We want to be the best soap company in the world, not the biggest.”

The Alabama Retailer of the Year awards, started in 1999, honor retailers who have demonstrated growth, innovation and a commitment to their respective communities. This year’s winners were selected from 42 entries submitted from a pool of 55 nominees.

“Chad and Kendra Wester are retailers of the year EVERY year to their customers, five employees and the Enterprise community,” said Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown. Boll Weevil Soap Co. has been a member of the association since 2018.

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