Cydney Carpenter a junior at Ohio University, worked for years to help find a safe, sustainable acne solution after her sister had no luck with brand name products. Carpenter began researching skin-care ingredients and realized that many of the most common additives can yield an undesired result, and all-natural ingredients come at a high price.
Carpenter spent months conducting extensive research. Over winter break, she developed recipes in her kitchen. “I was experimenting with it more seriously than just making stuff in a bowl for myself in my kitchen,” she says. “I was kind of keeping it a secret, thinking about turning it into a business.”
Instead of settling for a cheap alternative, or breaking the bank, Carpenter decided to take matters into her own hands. Keeping her values and goals in mind, she experimented with different organic ingredients until she perfected what would become Sugaree Scrubs, her organic and sustainable bodycare business.
Carpenter’s colorful products typically feature coconut oil, raw shea butter and aloe juice. After a year of crafting mixtures, she began selling her products in early 2019. She makes face masks, sugar and salt scrubs, face creams, body butter and much more, all catered to the individual. Though she has a standard way of making products, she can always change ingredients to aid a variety of skin types.
“If one person comes to me and they have really oily skin and another person comes and they have really dry skin, I’m not going to sell them the same product,” she says. “It’s not going to work; it’s not going to have the same effect.”
In addition to being customizable, Carpenter’s products are completely organic. She says consumers should be able to find all of her ingredients in their kitchen cupboard.
“My idea is that anything that is in my jar, you should be able to eat,” she says. “That doesn’t mean it’s going to taste good, but you should be able to.” Carpenter pledged to use all-organic products after realizing that common skin-care ingredients like food coloring may contain traces of gasoline, or that common skin-care oils can have adverse effects. Instead, she prefers using ingredients like aloe vera, Vitamin E and coconut oil, which doesn’t clog pores the way that other oils can, she says.
Noting how many small plastic bottles are thrown away each year, Carpenter sought out ingredients, packaging and other items, like bamboo spoons, that are sustainable. Her products are packaged in glass jars, so consumers can reuse the jars for refills.
Carpenter purchases her materials in bulk and finds other uses for empty containers. Additionally, she mails her products anywhere within the U.S. using all-paper or recycled shipping materials. Carpenter plans to implement an incentive for consumers who save the shipping boxes and send them back for refills. For Carpenter, the positive effects her skin-care products had on her sister inspired her to help as many people as possible.
She continued to research drugstore labels. “I started learning more about tricks that big businesses would use, and I became more aware of what’s actually in my skin-care,” Carpenter recalls. “I was like, ‘Wait a second, half of these things that are told to be used for moisturizers have ingredients that are known to dry out your skin.”
Originally, she didn’t plan to sell her products, but she was motivated by encouraging friends and family and a passion for teaching people about skin-care. When starting her business, Carpenter aimed to offer affordable products for college students like herself. Carpenter admits to having trouble balancing her business with a full course load and an on-campus job but made the changes she deemed necessary, including quitting her job, to dedicate enough time to Sugaree Scrubs.
“If I put in as much as I can, that’s what I’m going to get out of it,” Carpenter says. “You’ve got to work for what you want, so I just had to crack down.”
Friends, family and students have been a strong support system for Sugaree Scrubs, Carpenter says. When the work is overbearing, her relatives help relieve some stress. Her mom dedicated a spare room in their house for the business, and her dad offered to learn how to make products to help when her workload is heavy.
“It doesn’t feel real, I don’t feel deserving of it,” she says. “I feel like I’m too young or something, but I’ve had so many people just rave about it and it just warms my heart.” Carpenter hopes to use her ambition to send a message to young women that age and circumstance should not factor into an aspiring business or idea.
“If you have an idea, run with it. Don’t let people tell you that you should wait until the time is right; the time is never going to be right,” Carpenter says. “We love to see small businesses, we love to see young girls in these girl boss modes. We want to see it. If you have these aspirations just go for it because you’ve got one life, just do it.”