Entrepreneur Spotlight: Robert “Bert” Massie’s Ope Unlimited

5 mins read

Fun Fact!
Massie has nearly a decade of experience, as he’s been making skincare products since 2013!

Did You Know?
The name Ope Unlimited stems from the Midwest expression “Ope” so that if Massie ever leaves the Midwest, his company will always have ties to the area.

Robert ” Bert” Massie, Owner/Creator – OPE Unlimited

Ope Unlimited offers a soap and skincare line with a mission. Robert “Bert” Massie set out on a mission to create homemade bath and body products that aim to keep extra chemicals out by using the fewest (and healthiest) ingredients possible. While he may be the creator and owner of Ope Unlimited, he’s also much more than that, as he handles social media, sales, shipping and much more.

1. What was your journey like for you to get to the position you’re at today?

My skincare journey started back in 2013. I traveled for about 10 years with a live entertainment company, touring North and South America. Being in a different city every week with different water sources began to irritate my skin. One week, I purchased some Melt-n-Pour soap, took it back to my hotel with some essential oils and made soap in the microwave. My skin was no longer irritated!

When I got off the road in 2015, I decided to launch my first soap business in Wisconsin. I primarily did farmers’ markets in the summer and a few craft shows throughout the year. When I moved to North Dakota for my job in 2018, I sold almost all my soap-making supplies. I was moving to a new area and working a lot, so I didn’t think I had time to keep that business going as well. I was wrong! Being a small business owner and working a full-time job, there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. But if you are up for a challenge, the journey is worth it. I would say the journey is far from over!

2. What does Ope Unlimited do differently?

We try to source the best ingredients with the fewest chemicals possible to create a more natural product, while keeping the extra chemicals off our bodies and out of our homes. We specialize in Hot-Process soap, or “the rustic bars” as people say. Other products include water-based facial serums, flaxseed gel, sugar scrubs, coffee-based skin products, shower steamers and bath bombs. However, we’re constantly adding products. Everybody’s skin is different, and not everything works for everyone. My face does not like to absorb oil, and most facial serums are oil-based, so I created my own water-based products.

3. Which parts of taking this risk will stick with you forever?

Part of the risk is getting yourself out there. I’m a naturally introverted person, so doing in-person sales and online social media was a major hurdle to overcome. Getting out of your comfort zone is so important. Now, I am much more open and extroverted than I was many years ago.

4. What steps were the hardest when taking the leap to start Ope Unlimited?

I would say putting yourself out there is the hardest step when starting your own business. Researching what you want to make, perfecting your recipes, getting insurance and setting up your business legally are the easy steps. Becoming the face of the products that you’re selling is the hard part. If you aren’t confident in your products, it will show. The other challenge is when you move to a new city, as it is like being in any personal care occupation where you have to start over and rebuild your clientele.

Ope Unlimited was formed in October of 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, yet managed to find success within a short period of time!

5. What was a typical day in your life like when you were beginning Ope Unlimited, compared to today?

My typical day in the life of starting my business is still the same today. I work my full-time job Monday through Friday. I’m the Food Service Director at the State Capitol, creating menus, cooking, catering and more. When I’m finished with work I come home and start on Ope Unlimited tasks, whether it is making soap, serums, social media posts or getting orders together. My days are never boring between my work, business, board meetings and family life.

Saturdays are reserved for BisMarket, which I am Co-President of and run during the summer at Kiwanis Park, so I am there early to help other vendors and keep that sense of community going. On Sundays, I try to relax. What’s a better way to relax than using my own products like the Cup o’ Dirt mask and scrub for some self-care time?

6. What would you have done differently if you could go back and start again, knowing what you know now?

I wouldn’t have closed my business when I moved to North Dakota, as I missed out on so much fulfillment in doing so. I also would have started my social media presence sooner and would have started booking more shows, as you can’t sell products if you’re not out there putting in the work.

7. What advice do you have for readers considering taking this leap?

My biggest advice for starting your own business is to keep track of all the money you put into it. Starting a business will take time to be successful and profitable. Once you have yourself paid back, your personal finances should then be kept completely separate from your company. Get separate bank accounts for business and personal.

Do your research! Find what is going to work for you. Not all suppliers of raw materials are the same. Not all business insurance is the same. Do what works best for you and your business, not what someone else is doing.

Shop local, support small businesses and buy from your local companies when you can, as they’re going to be the ones who support you in return.”

– Bert Massie

Lastly, probably the biggest advice I have for someone, especially in the skincare business, is to perfect your recipe and write it down! When you make a product and someone doesn’t like it, they will tell everyone. If they like it, they want it the same every time they buy it, and hopefully, tell others how amazing it is.

8. What made you decide that the BisMan area would be a great place to start a business?

The Bis-Man area has a strong sense of community, supporting others and shopping local. Bismarck may be the Capitol of North Dakota, but it has a very small-town vibe. Between the cute little shops and community events, this was the perfect place to start my business again. From being a Pride of Dakota member, selling at BisMarket and having products on the shelves of the Bis-Man Community Food Co-op, it feels like being a part of a family. The businesses and customers support each other and there really is nothing else you could ask for in a town than support.

9. What do most people not know about Ope Unlimited?

Ope Unlimited not only makes products for our business, but we do private label products for other businesses around the state. Creating special formulations for other small businesses to help them succeed drives us as much as creating our own products.

10. Are you looking to expand?

I’d like to see Ope Unlimited have its own storefront one day, where we can showcase other small businesses, help them succeed and be a one-stop shop for a variety of local products.

11. Who would you credit as some of your biggest business inspirations?

I’d like to add that if it weren’t for Jaz and Ty Gensrich from Handled Healing, I don’t know how much I would have made it on this business venture. Without them, my business may have never started back up again in North Dakota and I’m beyond grateful for them encouraging me to do so!

Currently, you can find Ope Unlimited products online, as well as at The Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Center, The Ukrainian Cultural Institute in Dickinson and The Crafty Ladies Vendor shop.

Get In Touch

Email: [email protected]
Facebook: @opeunlimited
Instagram: @opeunlimited
Twitter: @opeunlimited