Years ago Roberta Perry was making scrubs and skincare products for herself, when her sister suggested she start selling them. Fast forward a decade and Perry has expanded her business ScrubzBody Skin Care Products from her kitchen table, to her garage, to a storefront, to an even bigger store she designed from the ground up with an architect in the center of Farmingdale, New York. Perry’s time growing her business has not been without its struggles and heartaches however; in 2017 her sister Michelle, who had encouraged her to start this venture, passed away. Today, Perry pays homage to her legacy by continuing to craft scrubs, lotions and candles that are made with love and natural ingredients. Her store has become not only a ‘pampering oasis’ but also a local venue for parties and events – a real fixture in her community.
Perry’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
What was your reason for starting your business?
I actually created these scrubs for myself. It was my late sister, Michelle Tucker, who suggested I start selling it. She had some retail background and I thought it would be fun to work with her. I never dreamed it would grow from my kitchen to a fabulous storefront and production facility in the heart of one of the most thriving towns on Long Island, Farmingdale.
I literally use the quote “Permission to Pamper” when I sell our skincare products, namely the sugar scrub, because it does exactly that. Instead of the same old shower experience, our ScrubzBody Sugar Scrub will clean, soften, and most importantly, pamper you and your body. Women in particular forget to take care of themselves. These products remind them that they are worth it. Holiday time is our busiest time for just that reason. I can’t begin to tell you how much cellophane we go through.
How do you define success?
Having a business where my morals, values and love of a good product merge. I adore pampering my customers and making them feel special. I love helping other businesses grow and thrive with our wholesale private label business. The relationships I have built are my greatest success, and I have found that the money comes anyway when the foundation of trust between you and your customers grows. It just takes time.
Tell us about your biggest success to date
Well, my customers, really. They are so loyal and so incredible. They get first nod. But I am super proud of my shop. It is like a “pampering oasis”, according to many customers. I moved from my kitchen table to 75 square feet in my renovated garage. Five years later we moved to an 800 square foot shop in Bethpage, that started as a production place and warehouse, but quickly changed into a retail shop. We then moved to a slightly larger space, but in a better part of the same town. The larger space allowed us to add parties to our offerings and we made so many new customers and friends this way. When we had the chance to build a brand new store, we took it and moved to Farmingdale. It has changed everything! Our walk-ins, parties and total traffic increased. It gave us a higher-end credibility that the other store could not offer. Because we designed it with Jennifer Wojcieski, a truly gifted architect, we streamlined our production space so it made production faster and better than ever.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
It’s a constant quest to remain relevant. I do it both with direct emails to my customers as well as specific social media posts. My key way to get customers is through word of mouth, however, so it just takes a little more time.
In terms of long term goals, I want to keep doing what I am doing. I love how we are growing exponentially, but very much organically. I have no plans for new product development, but we are always creating new fragrances and love having a “scent of the month” to always play with.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
My sister, who was the VP of ScrubzBody and my retail and gift creative inspiration, passed away in February of 2017. It not only changed my life forever personally, but it changed the trajectory and location of my business. Besides getting the chance to build out a store, her passing was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to move out of the former one. I needed a fresh start. Thankfully Wendy, my dearest friend since ’77, stepped up and helped me pivot to the future.
Who is your most important role model?
I have many, but the one that comes to mind is my business mentor, Donna Maria Johnson of Indie Business Network. I have gained an inordinate amount of knowledge and encouragement from her and the tribe she calls Indies.