Debra Glaze on 'Meet Your Maker'

Debra Glaze, owner of business Birds of Valhalla, met with the YouTube creator and soap connoisseur, James Showers @scentadventure. Showers is the producer of the docuseries, Meet Your Maker, and invited Deb for an interview session. Showers started his channel intent on investigating the differences between soap companies. However, has also dabbled in reviewing other cosmetic products such as beard products.

Showers takes the initial curiosity expressed by soap enthusiasts, and goes a step further by interviewing the soap creators. He provides a space for these small business owners to share their experiences andwhat makes their business unique. Additionally, the audience is gets to ask their own questions! It's a great environment to educate about being a business owner in the soap world.

Total Eclipse of the Heart Lovespell Valentines Natural Soap, Birds of Valhalla, , Birds of Valhalla

Our North Sea Runestone Soap in Love Spell

To prepare for the interview, Debra was sent a list of questions to ponder. She has answered them here for the blog, but we highly recommend watching the embedded video below. Some things can't be conveyed as easily through text, and the emotions behind the answers are worth watching. 

The interview took place on March 15, 2024, and can be seen in its entirety here. The questions and answers are below. We hope you enjoy this inside look at Birds of Valhalla, and Debra herself! 



S: Who are you and what's your brand?

D: My name is Debra Glaze. I am a Chef, artist, and founder of Birds of Valhalla.


Debra Glaze, professional chef and owner of Birds of Valhalla, a New York-based small soap business


S: Have you been able to quit your job after starting this brand? And if not what kind of work do you do?

D: Before Birds of Valhalla, I had been employed as a chef for about a decade. I originally left that position due to incurable health issues, which led to a total of 13 surgeries. I was born with a weak immune system. By the time the doctors realized what was wrong, every organ system of my body was affected. 

For those who want to know, I have Common Variable Immune Deficiency. Many people may know as the “Boy in the bubble,” disease. My condition is a lesser variant of that same illness. People get colds, and I get deep infections in my sinuses, lungs, tonsils, and more that don’t respond well to normal antibiotics. I also have a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos which affects my joints. Not to mention, I also have a thyroid condition and other issues I struggle with daily. I was very much “Nerfed”, physically. Thankfully I was diagnosed around 35 years old, and have been prescribed life-saving medication, which has changed my life. 

I was not able to work for some time due to these issues, and then once I started to feel better, I had my son. He and I share some issues as well, being both ADHD and on the spectrum. I was a stay-at-home mom up until he was about eight years old. I supported his school work, taught him to read, got him outdoors every day. This also involved taking care of the house, the bills, and errands, while my husband worked in NYC as a software engineer. Though I love my son and my family, staying home and not working on something creative was hell for me. My brain just needs more stimulation. My brain and body need to be very active and I need to create, especially for other people. 

 Before the Raid - Natural Soap scented in Black Violet and Saffron Before the Raid - One of the Original Signature Soaps

S: Outside of body care do you have any collections/hobbies or interests?

D: Yes, so many. I play Ukulele, Guitar, and sing. I love video games, especially the ones with explorable worlds you can get lost in. I've always cycled through the art genre- my favorites being sculpture and drawing! I have all the supplies for proof! I also love to travel, garden, hike, and cook- most things in life that are creative or natural. 

Though I was diagnosed with ADHD as a teenager, I was never medicated. I was just free-balling through life until I found the magical combination of art and cooking that is soap. 

Now, I have to make soap or we can’t pay the mortgage. Thank goodness I love it! 


This guy knows that Deb's natural soap is the bee's knees

A very derpy drawing of Groucho, by Deb, the Mustached Parakeet wearing pants and sporting his handsome mustache and candy corn beak. 

S: Is there a story behind the brand name? 

D: Yes! Like many entrepreneurs, I started many brands that failed. This is actually my fourth soap brand! I was 3BirdsSoap, NewValhallaSoap, and AwareSkinCare. Birds of Valhalla was the merging between the two more successful brands, 3Birds, and NewValhalla, and was originally supposed to be more gender-neutral. Birds was more of the traditional florals and fruits were mostly attracting women, and Valhalla had more traditional masculine scents. I wanted Birds of Valhalla to be gender-neutral and be for anyone who wanted high-quality soap. 

Logo for '3 Birds Soap', one of Deb's early iterations of her small soap business

The original logo for 3BirdsSoap drawn by Deb in 2019.

S: What kind of process goes into creating and choosing scents for your products? 

D: There are a few ways, but the main one is by fragrance. I love to start with high-quality essential oils and phthalate-free fragrances. The blends I choose inspire the colors and the idea. I make a lot of my products live, so my audience and followers are very involved and often help me with selecting the colors, the scents, and even the names of the products we make. The whole process makes BOV pretty unique in the soap world. 

We also similarly make customs- sometimes I make videos or see comments from my audience asking for specific blends and we respond and make them. Sometimes, I am inspired by things like a book, a season, a favorite food, or memory, or even a bird! 

natural soap, in natural shapes!

Some early creations inspired by nature

S: What kinds of hurdles and obstacles did you have to overcome when starting your brand? 

D: I had about $800 in the bank and no experience whatsoever in marketing and business. Being a chef and an artist, I had run teams and led before. I had made money on my creativity on Etsy before, but I really was a babe in the woods when I started making soap. I had NO IDEA what I was getting into. Running a business is endlessly complicated. It doesn’t take 100 hours a week for years, it takes thousands. It will take all you will give it- it will swallow all your time, money, and energy, and then it’ll ask for more! That’s the biggest challenge- not knowing how big of a job you are getting yourself into.

What they also don’t tell you about starting a business-  is that it doesn’t matter to marketing what you do in your business. Meaning; that you could be selling a product, a service, or reselling- but in the end, you must first and foremost, become a marketer to market yourself.  Viking Rune Gift Set. Birds of Valhalla sells more than just natural soap

The Runestone Gift Box offered since 2021

You must sell the product you have or you will fail. I was faced with that realization early and read some books on marketing, making content, and selling. These books absolutely changed my entire life and career path. Many people go to school for business and marketing, and here I was just winging it. The learning curve is huge! Then, you have to learn how to build a website and ship a product. Then there’s package design and processing. Organization and cleaning are endless… Then you need to make and learn ads and videos. Every day. Forever. You have to do all of this on top of making a product and then eventually running a team.


Angel, one of the original birds helping with the marketing! 


But one thing stands out as the most difficult thing for me personally- and I know people are going to think it’s ridiculous. It’s password management. You would not BELIEVE what happens when your business grows to a dozen people, and there are 12 devices with 140 apps with different sign-ins to keep track of. Not a day goes by when I am not impacted by password issues, despite using LastPass and keeping a careful record. Every day I receive a random 2-factor authorization from SOMEONE or SOMEWHERE, and I have no idea which staff it was. It’s maddening. 

Later in my career, my husband lost his job, not once, but twice since BOV started. He was the main income earner for almost all of the 18 years we have been together. Even when I was a chef I didn’t make much. But now, he’s been out of work for 6 months, and even though we have a staff of 9 people, and live in New York, we are still here. Though, like most soapmakers, I made literally nothing despite impressive sales and revenue for the first 3 years.

This past year, year 4- I was able to support 11 people, essentially via my products and videos, in one of the most expensive areas in the United States. And we pay decently! It’s been challenging trying to cover insurance, car payments, and all the costs of life; then taxes hit for the business and that in itself makes me consider quitting every year. The taxes are just so high and so complicated and bookkeeping is not my forté. I can come up with some pretty brilliant marketing, ads, products, and videos- but taxes? I don’t even know where to start. This is where my husband saves me. He is the math and science to my art and chaos. 


Debra and Jade Glaze of 3BirdsSoap, now called Birds of Valhalla


There’s no way to cover all the challenges because they are endless. Another one is consistency versus novelty. I try to offer both- a limited and a signature line that’s always available to my customers- which is important as 45% of our customers repeat. These customers also often want to try something new, so I keep coming up with new things. It’s hard to be really consistent and novel at the same time. 

It’s also really hard to find the right people to work with. I finally found the best team but at any moment, after years of work and training, I could lose one of them and it would be an absolute disaster. You also have to transition from being a creator by night that makes soap alone, to being a leader by day, and not everyone is cut out for that. 

For me, consistency is the hardest part. It’s one I really struggle with considering my ADHD… I am the opposite of consistent. But if I don’t make the videos and go live every day, my business and staff will suffer. The same with exercise and taking care of my health. If I am not extremely consistent, I slide back into not being able to support the business because I have neglected my health.


 Starry Skies- Lavender Lemonade Van Gogh Soap, Birds of Valhalla, Bar Soap, Birds of Valhalla

The Viral Soap, Starry Skies in Lavender Lemonade. This soap is enormous, glows in the dark and has embedded stars!

One thing that I wish people understood about getting into a content-based business, is how hard it is to make content. People make fun of TikTok creators as if they just set up their phones and do the bare minimum. In reality, a true creator works full-time for years to build a following. It’s their whole life and very much a job in itself that takes materials, supplies, and a lot of editing.

We are very different as a soap brand in part, due to the fact we have built such a large social media following and involve our audience in the behind-the-scenes of the soap studio. I have to come up with content that people will stop and watch EVERY DAY for years on end, and it is extremely challenging. I've made over 8000 videos for TikTok and have 6 accounts. I know TikTok like the back of my hand, and every year they threaten to ban it and put my and my staff’s livelihoods at stake. Thank goodness we are also on every other social media platform. 















The two main TikTok accounts around Birds of Valhalla 

Our Tiktok account about our birds!


S: What started your body care/soap-making journey? 

D: As we talked about earlier, I have a million interests and hobbies, especially of the creative variety. I'm also very ADHD, so I love to try something out and see if I find it satisfying. If I do, it might be something I do for a few weeks, months, or years. 

It wasn’t actually MY idea to make soap. Honestly, my sister knew I was a chef and artist, and she had made a few batches herself. She knew immediately that I would love the process and suggested I try it. I watched a YouTube video and made my first batch on the porch of my Manhattan apartment. Then, I bought a book- and made half the recipes in it. 

A soapy experiment in a layering technique in 2021

S: If you started over what would you do differently? 

D: I 100% would have done everything differently. For one, I would not make so many different things. I make over 600 products and it’s insane. I wish I had focused and really developed just a couple products and made them as close to perfect as I possibly could. Instead, I struggle to keep the variety down as I am a people pleaser, and people ask for new fun things every day. It’s so tempting! I think I would have made a more basic soap line that is less expensive, and easier to make for our signatures. The signatures are relatively easy to make, but the extras and the large size keep the price higher than some like.  

An upcoming product for 2024, the BoV safety razor!

Soap is also not a profitable venture, at least not if you are making it. If you are dropshipping it, or buying it made and packaged like some do for $2 a bar, you can absolutely make a decent profit.  You can mark that $2 up to $8, and you only have to think about paying yourself. But if you make the product yourself, that’s not going to happen. It’s going to take all your time just to make, develop, and clean that product. That means you are going to need help.

Once you have staff, you NEED to work harder to make consistent money to pay that staff. This means you need to either up your prices or add other items like deodorant, colognes, razors, shave cream, soap dishes, beard oils, or other items that are easier to make. This is why bundles are so popular with sellers- also, buyers love the feeling of a deal and convenience. At Birds of Valhalla, we also design in-house cool merch- like shower curtains, towels, hoodies, and gaming pads, that are printed by a trusted third-party printer. 

 Parrots and Ravens LED Gaming Mouse Pad, Birds of Valhalla, Home Decor, Printify

Parrots and ravens led gaming pad, now available in several sizes! 

S: What kinds of milestones or moments of success have you had that stick out to you?

D: I was honestly in shock that anyone wanted to buy my products at all, especially in the beginning- so that’s the first moment that sticks out to me. I was very much taught by my conservative upbringing that artists and weirdos don’t really get far in life and that I should marry rich. I've always also had expensive tastes. ADHD definitely helps me create and be able to wear many hats, but it also is very challenging in a business and leadership sense. I also find meetings unbearable!

Hiring my staff and supporting my family is my greatest achievement yet. In New York, of all places! Online! With a scent-based product! Not to mention all the collaborations and friendships I’ve made throughout the years. 

S: Was there a learning curve or skills you needed to learn to start running your business and launching your brand? 

D: I’d say so. When running a business, you have 100 things you needed to do yesterday, from taxes to marketing, to hiring, to repairs. Then you have more marketing, website maintenance, handling customer service, and, oh yeah, more marketing. If you have never run a production-based business before, you have no idea how deep this goes.

I had a baby once and that was intense- this is much more intense. It’s like having 7 babies all at once that never really get past the age of three so they NEED you, and they are LOUD and out of control. You have to be on the ball 24/7. But somehow every day we manage to get a little better, and keep our heads above water PLUS make some really cool things! 

 Hidden Stone Raven Hand Soap, Birds of Valhalla, Shaped Soap, Birds of Valhalla

Hidden Stone Raven Hand Soap - Always With a Fun Surprise Inside

S: What kind of process do you use to create/add/ test your products before you release them? 

D: My background as a chef and artist tremendously helped with the whole learning curve. Nowadays, we have a tester group that’s invitation only via email and Discord. We also have a small group of superfans that buy nearly everything new we make and they let us know how they like the products and we adjust accordingly! 

S: What are some products, scents, or decisions you made that you'd consider failures and what did you learn from those? 

D: My main issue is personal- I have that ADHD squirrel mindset combined with a tremendous amount of creativity and energy. In other words, I want to create EVERYTHING. I want to try literally every method and ingredient. I love the process of creation, experimentation, and learning. Sometimes my energy and ideas get so scattered and unorganized that I create a train wreck of work for myself and others.

I might suddenly make 11 new scents in a mini soap one night that takes my staff up to two weeks to create labels, photographs, lists, package, and so forth. Then, I have no time to advertise the new 11 soaps because I’ve made 700 other products already. I don't have time to advertise. There are just so many great ideas and fun things to make! It’s endless and so is my curiosity. 


A Selection of Birds of Valhalla Goodies!

I would have been far more successful focusing on maybe a dozen products or scents, or just customs alone. I'm trying to basically run several small soap businesses simultaneously at Birds of Valhalla. I have a customs business, I run a signature line of soaps that we try and keep always available that now share scents across so many products like candles, wax melts, solid cologne and more.

We have a parrot safe wax melt line and that’s a whole store in itself with 50 some odd scents. Then we also sell specimens, crystals and oddities every week, it’s a big part of our revenue. Then, we also do the sample box and live. On top of that we run signatures, seasonals and limited products with no set schedule. It’s chaos. I wish I knew how to hone in a bit, but every time I am feeling creative, out pops 3 more products! For this reason, we are going to keep our signature soaps on hand and do a release based schedule for the seasonal and limiteds. That will be the second Friday of every month. 


 Deb holding a loaf of Midgard's Serpent before it's cut

S: What are some goals or ambitions that you have set for the brand? 

D: I want our brand to continue to grow and attract creative and brilliant people from our customers to our collaborators. I want to be able to transition the brand away from my face and be able to advertise and support our team and business without making thousands of videos and lives. While I love doing the lives and videos, I just want to have more balance in my life to do other things like art, spend more time with my family, and travel. I want to do completely un-soap-related things like write a book or two and meet my most loyal followers.

Eventually, I would like to sell the brand when I can’t keep up anymore so I can move on to the next adventure. I believe I will always be an entrepreneur. Most people believe that the end goal for someone like me is to retire, relax and enjoy their later years, but that’s a lie. What really happens for people like us is that you get massively bored. I don’t think I’ll stop being a creative, chaotic powerhouse until my body and brain give out for good. I already have a whole line of projects I plan on doing for some years ahead.


Deb Holding a Huge Loaf of Anarchy Shampoo

S: What kind of advice do you have for others looking to start or are starting a brand? 

D: There’s a ton I could say but the most important thing I think is to ask yourself is “Why?”. What you are about to do is like entering a race with no end that will take all your time, energy, and money. It will steal from your health, and your family if you aren’t careful. It could dissolve your marriage, and ruin you financially. Starting a business is not for the faint of heart and it comes with serious risks and rewards. 

Would you gamble on yourself? 

Do you have the consistency and conditions to do it without pay for years on end? 

Do you need to focus on family or health first? 

When I talk to other people who want to be successful in a new business, I always ask them,  “Why?” They usually say it because they love to do what they are trying to sell. But they forget there is a business component that they may have no experience with. In the end, if you go into production and you become successful, you will have to make a difficult choice. You can stay small and sell out, become a manager of a factory, or start selling products that are made in offshore factories like some soap brands do.  

A fun soapy design!

Another question I would ask people wanting to start a brand is, “Fame or money? Why do you want to start a business?” This is THE most important question to ask yourself because it can determine your goals and your path to get there. If it’s money, your whole approach changes to making money and financial freedom. You can do it in secret and hidden. It’s about your time, and numbers. You could even become a wholesaler, for example- or a drop shipper.  If it’s fame you're after, it’s about leaving a legacy, creating community, creating connection, and creating a LOT of content. Your face will be your brand and therefore, worthless when you are done and want to sell it. So, choose your end game very carefully, and plan your path around it. 


The Original Astrology Line, Some of Which We Still Have

S: For someone who hasn't tried your products, what would you say makes them special or unique?

D: My products are extra. We want to have it all: the best colors and swirls, the most variety, and the most thought and consideration towards the environment. We want to please as many people as possible, adapt to allergies, and make people’s scent dreams come true with our custom options. I specifically offer several variety packs to allow people a tour of the studio and what we offer consistently. It occurred to me that across all the soap maker stores, their best seller was always some sort of variety pack and it was always sold out with a popular brand. I wanted to change that with our variety pack.

I made the first one in 2019 and it has gone through major improvements over the last four years to what it is today. It originally came in a pretty sad paper box, and I had simply written the scents on the box lid. Then, we used a tin from Amazon that was far too narrow, so the soaps were cut like slivers. Then, I had a custom-made box with our sticker. This year, we leveled up and hired an artist from Norway to help design a beautiful, laser-printed, embossed tin box. We put in 10 samples from our signature soap line, as well as one of our lip balm and our solid cologne. The idea is for customers to try the variety pack, pick their favorite soap, then sign up for a soapscription (there's a discount) and get it automatically delivered.

Even better, we don't use palm oil and are going to be eliminating coconut oil to accommodate a larger number of people with allergies. Our recipe is designed to give you a longer-lasting bar of soap. This means that though our prices are higher at first glance, the longevity of the soap can actually make it cheaper than bars costing half as much. 

 Custom Items, Birds of Valhalla, , Birds of Valhalla

Come See Our Custom Offers!

S: Are there any discounts for new customers or a promo you'd like to offer on the stream? 

D: We do have many ways to save set up on the website. Use Code UNDERDOG will get you 15% off the variety packs! 

The Variety Pack with 10 signature samples, a lip balm, and solid cologne!

S: Is there anything we didn't touch base on about you, your brand, or products that you'd like to mention? 

D: I just wanted to say thank you for this opportunity and for those of you who spent your time tonight watching and commenting. I also want to address the haters. I want them to slow it down a bit. The videos they comment under in an attempt to stir up drama are creating a rise in demand that we weren’t prepared for!

No, seriously, what’s up with the soap groups and the drama? It’s pretty interesting to me that people get so fired up over soap that often aren’t making it themselves. I will say that most of the soap makers I have met have become close friends and acquaintances. It takes a special type of person, a crazy person, to do what we do. People who make soap almost always have a dark past and carry a deep struggle. We create a way to sort of drop into our own world and then share it with others. People who make soap, similar to people who work in the culinary world, are givers. I personally have not found one actual soap maker I don't like. We are all similar and we work very hard. 

Some Custom Creations! We make customs in many products on Thursdays at 9pm EST on our LIVES! 

We are giving our creations to the world, always at great cost to ourselves and sometimes to our families as well. Most of us are undercharging for their work, and make nothing. But it’s the love of the craft that carries us. However, that’s a serious problem because it is not sustainable, nor should it be expected of us. A small maker simply cannot compete with Chinese mass production falsely marketed as small batch, USA made and natural. That cost fallacy is what makes so many soap makers stop, go under, or quit. It stems from being compared to 100 years of cheap products made as simply as possible, including detergent bars and watered down body washes. We have been conditioned to believe soap costs $5 or less, so anything more is crazy, even if it’s costing 20x more to make when we do it ourselves. Each business and production has different costs and it’s not interchangeable, just as soap recipes vary greatly from maker to maker. Natural soap varies greatly in ingredients, size, longevity, colorant, quantity of materials like fragrance or essential oils, potency and craftsmanship. We have made a $6 bar of soap and a $35 bar of soap. They are simply different. 

Premium Black Cherry & Bulgarian Rose Essential Oil Soap, Birds of Valhalla, Bar Soap, Birds of Valhalla

Our Brand New Premium Black Cherry & Bulgarian Rose Essential Oil Soap

Here at Birds of Valhalla, we focus on the highest quality fragrance and essential oil, ethical mica powder, big bar size, and offer a crazy amount of variety and customization- in fact, I don't believe any soap company has more. We have only begun and are still very much a baby business. I hope to eventually buy other soapmakers' soap to add to our collection as we have reached a point where we simply cannot store or make any more things in the space we have. We hope to move locations- again, in 2024-25, but it’s not likely. We may need other soap makers that don’t want to go through the tedious marketing process and just make good soap, to create a symbiotic relationship that gets people paid and gets good soap to good people. 


Thank you again for this opportunity!


Debra Glaze 

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Now I know why I’m drawn to you. We have similar lives. My son is Autistic, and I have ADHD so I’ve crafted in just about every craft there is. It is fun now that I’m getting older to watch younger people do the things I have always enjoyed.


Love your story, your product, and your choice in names!

Billie Moore

How cool to learn even more about my fave soap maker. Such an interesting story!


You have beautiful products and an awesome variety to choose from. I’m excited to order. Very cool becoming familiar with your creators and staff as well.


I’m a big fan of the blog now! I like the insight into your work and the creation of soap. I look forward to my first order soon!

Theresa Benedict

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