By Harry Funk
If at first, you don’t succeed …
Lindsey Bricker almost quit.
She’d launched somewhat of a business making her own skincare products, and a friend from out of town decided to place an order.
“I sent her one,” the Cecil Township resident recalls, “and it leaked. I almost said, that’s too much work, figuring that out. But very quickly, I was able to do some research and learn how to do seals on my product lids.”
Today, Sugar Sugar Scrub LLC ships worldwide as customers choose from among Lindsey’s listing of 200-plus products on Etsy.
The e-commerce site for handmade and vintage items still was in its formative stages in 2009, when Lindsey decided to craft a special gift for her mother based on a magazine’s do-it-yourself recipe for a body scrub.
“It basically said, salt and oils. That’s all it said,” Lindsey reports. “And in fact, I never even used salt. I decided to use sugar, because salt can burn if you have any kind of skin irritation. People do make salt scrubs, but I only make sugar because of that reason.”
Whatever the ingredients, Darlene Shaffer of Milton, Northumberland County, enjoyed her daughter’s present.
“It actually turned out so well that I took it to my book club, and some girls wanted to purchase it,” Lindsey says.
“And then I thought, well, should I figure out how to sell these, as a business?”
At the time, she had a full-time job as vice president of marketing for Caseworks International Inc. Her focus turned toward producing body scrubs and promoting a company that specializes in sports memorabilia cases.
“I had the thought when I was doing both that maybe someday, I could just do my business, when I have children,” she recalls. “That was kind of the goal in my mind, to eventually be able to afford to stay at home with my family.”
She took the plunge five years ago, giving her more time with her son Andrew, now 9, and husband Matthew. And in 2018, the Brickers welcomed a new addition, Sophie.
In the meantime, Lindsey had expanded her business from its initially modest production of handmade items. She established a presence in the community and vendor shows and through activities such as hosting “make and take” events, during which participants mix ingredients for their own customized scrubs, and adapting that concept for birthday parties.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I lost a ton of business in 2020, from events being canceled,” Lindsey says, also including scheduled Sugar Sugar Scrub fundraisers for schools and other groups. But of course, she’s persevering.
“I’ve adapted by taking my birthday party idea and selling ‘Birthday Party in a Box.’ The items are custom for the birthday girl,” Lindsey explains. “The birthday girl chooses labels for the products. She chooses the scents that are included.”
Because many such gatherings are taking place via Zoom or similar platforms, items for participants can be dropped off at their homes.
Lindsey has also partnered with some fellow business owners during the past several months, including Debra Bracco and her Fired Up Pottery Studio in Peters Township for a Mother’s Day “Shop Local” gift box that included Sugar Sugar Scrub items.
Another opportunity arose with Lindsey’s products represented during the holiday season in Sara Fergus’ L3 Design Co. Store and Workshop at Washington Crown Center.
“I have lost a lot of business, but I’ve gained a lot from the incredible Pittsburgh ‘shop local’ movement,” Lindsey explains. “There’s been a ton of support for handmade and local people, more than I’ve ever had.”
No matter where Sugar Sugar Scrub customers live, they can expect a consistent degree of quality.
“I make everything fresh to order in small batches. If you order from me on Etsy, I make it fresh within seven days,” Lindsey says. “The only time I have things available that are already made is if I just had a show. Everything else, if you place an order on Etsy, it was made that week.”
While Lindsey’s priority in starting the business was family-related, she notes some other aspects she enjoys.
“It fulfills my need for creativeness and fun, because I feel like what I do is very fun, especially when I can get back to being with little girls at the birthday parties and talking to people at a show,” she explains.
She also likes being creative in naming for her products, which in addition to her classic sugar scrub include whipped sugar scrub, eye shadow, frosting lotion, bubble bath dough, bath bomb “pop rox,” whipped soap, lip balm, lip scrub and perfume.
A quick look at the list of Sugar Sugar Scrub selections shows names such as Love Potion, Unicorn Kisses, Farmhouse Cider and Buttered Beer.
Plus there are some products especially for men called Suit and Tie.
Lindsey’s husband always is up for offering suggestions.
“Matt was so excited because I actually used one of his names,” she says. “I ask him for ideas and never use any of those ideas, and I didn’t know I didn’t use his ideas until this past summer.”
She was looking for something to call a scent that’s reminiscent of sun and sand.
“He came up with ‘Sandcastle,’ and I thought, that’s perfect!” she recalls. “And he was so excited.”
After nearly a dozen years in business, Lindsey tends to get excited, too.
“Even now, I get an Etsy order and I’m still like, wow! They want to buy that from me. That’s so cool. They actually want my products,” she says.
“It’s still very satisfying to hear that someone likes my artistic and creative items I physically made for them.”