Lisa Nissanoff started ME! Bath while living the San Francisco Bay area. “My husband and I had worked in the dot.com
industry and then everything went bust,” Lisa explains. “I was going to Stanford business school but also looking for a business opportunity that was interesting and new. On a ski trip in Canada, there was a store that sold bath products, with a line out the door! I started to think that we should get into this field. There was potential for a line of bath unique products, but also extremely high quality and doesn’t take itself so seriously. I wanted to reach all age groups but not compromise on quality. I decided to fill that gap in the marketplace.”
Rub a dub, dub! There’s ice cream in the tub!
“I started making things out of our bathtub,” Lisa recalls. “It was really pretty organic. It’s surprising how much information is on the internet and how many mom and pop places make their own lotions and portions. It took a lot of research and development for us to figure out how to do it. When I finally found the product and created something I really enjoyed and liked. I took it to the Bay area to farmer’s markets to get feedback in the marketplace and a seven year old coined the term for bath ice cream. She kept saying that they look like ice cream and we thought, that’s it! That’s how we got our name.”
“All of our products are made in the US,” Lisa continues. “They are all essential oils and minerals. All natural and all go through a three-day, hand-made process. I wanted to take our time in introducing the product. We started making it at home, but that didn’t last very long.”
Getting the sherbet from the shower to the shelves
“One day, we approached the spa director at the Ritz Carlton, thinking our product might be a good fit for their retail boutique,” Lisa says. “They said they would do a small $200 order and we kind of scrambled to get it together. Then, after two days they’d sold out of everything. They called us and said, ‘You just hit a gold mine.’ So, we started trying to make more product but we couldn’t keep up. I had to call my dad in from the east coast to help us. ME! Bath is now sold in about 90% of the Ritz Carltons in the country. I originally began by selling our product wholesale. I only went to selling directly to consumers in the last few years. Now, we have a line of high-end treatments, like the ice cream manicures, body scrubs and other services we offer at resorts.
“When we started, I didn’t know how to go about selling our products, but it kind of led itself,” Lisa explains. “Sometimes in business you have a business plan, and goals and how much you want to sell, but it doesn’t always work out as planned and it kind of created itself in a way. We had to grow very fast and sometimes you have to make sure you have the manpower so that you can handle everything. It was a challenge to get enough employees in place. At first we didn’t even have a factory. A Mailbox Etc. was a new business and they let us use their space for packaging! I wanted to take on the business, but I needed to make sure we were equipped to take on that business.”
The Sweet, Clean Taste of Success
“It’s worked out well. We were able to create our product without too huge of an investment because we were doing our own marketing and we didn’t have many employees at first. It started from our apartment; then we rented a small office. We received a return on our investment from the beginning. From time to time, I get offers from people asking to invest in the company. Of course, I explore every opportunity, but at the moment, we remain 100% owned by ourselves. Right now, we are able to manage everything on our own, so until we feel ready to do a huge boom, we’d rather stick with what we have and keep growing the way we are growing. We have about 12 employees right now and a lot of outside sales representatives that are independent contractors. We are motivated because there isn’t really any other product like ours and we incorporate ingredients from around the world.”
We all scream for ice cream…in the bath, online, and on TV
ME! Bath has been featured on several television shows, including Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and The Doctors. Lots of different shows feature us from time to time,” Lisa says. “We don’t even know about it. We hear about it afterwards. We are active on Facebook, we have over 20,000 Facebook friends. We do a lot of marketing through social networks and our website is designed to be user friendly.”
Her Favorite Flavor
“I was obsessed with the lavender lullaby scrub for a while,” Lisa says. “Right now I am in love with the Love Me Bath ice cream. It leaves a little shimmer on your skin and it’s my new favorite. I kind of like all of them and I just go through phases. I love having something that is mine and I can believe in. I love being able to can manage my family. I have three small children and it’s really cute how they get involved. It is harder than working somewhere else because you can’t close the door when you leave, it’s never-ending, but at the same time you get the flexibility and your family can be involved and it’s something fun, and I believe in the line. We got an email from a cancer patient who loves our line and said they look forward to using the product every day – that makes us feel good. Obviously we aren’t saving lives, but it makes us feel good. New moms write us and pregnant moms do, too. My advice to women entrepreneurs is to always have a balance in your life. Try not to let it overpower you. It shouldn’t be everything, always have time to take a step back to see things more clearly. Starting out, don’t always expect things to go as planned. You will have challenges that you don’t always expect, but out of those challenges usually achieve greater success.”
Written by: Sherry Liantonio