Roberta Perry

Co-Founder of ScrubzBody Skin Care Products

After years of being selfless and taking care of everyone else, Roberta noticed that her skin had become dry, itchy, and irritated. So much so that she was in a business meeting one day and literally stared at a droplet of blood on her paper because she had itched her elbow so hard. Ouch!

She had forgotten to take care of herself and her skin. When Roberta discovered exfoliating products, she realized there were many different types, so she tried about 15-20 brands.

But just like Goldilocks, the girl that tried all the chairs, beds, and porridge, none were completely satisfying her needs and wants. She decided to make it myself, researching botanical oils and various exfoliants.

Roberta mixed up different combinations and test batches until she came up with a winner. Her late sister, Michelle, joined her and in 2006 they started ScrubzBody Skin Care Products.

While it’s true they sell skincare, made by hand with skin-loving ingredients, what they really offer their customers is permission to pamper themselves.

ScrubzBody grew from her kitchen to a converted garage to a large storefront/production space at 245 Main St. in Farmingdale, NY. ScrubzBody has incredible retail customers, fabulous private-label clients, and a few select wholesale customers.

They host Make Your Own Scrub parties for kids and adults at the store. ScrubzBody was thrilled to have been on television, being the highlighted business on the Season One finale of Sell it Like Serhant on Bravo TV.

When she needed exposure for her business, but money was super tight, Roberta turned to Help a Reporter Out (HARO) and started pitching to writers and reporters. Since 2010, she has been published and quoted in over 100 skincare and business articles, blogs, and beauty magazines. Her book, “The Power of Free Publicity, Using HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to Build Relationships and Get Press Without a PR Firm.” was published in August 2016.

Roberta was a natural remedy segment guest of the Dr. Oz show, which aired on 10/24/14, and a food-related segment guest which aired on 2/29/16.

She is a proud member of the Indie Business Network and the Farmingdale Chamber of Commerce.

Where did the idea for ScrubzBody come from?

The idea for ScrubzBody was born from my own laziness and lack of taking care of myself. That led to embarrassing myself in a business meeting when I scratched my elbow and it started to bleed onto my work papers. Ugh! My skin was that dry.

That was late 2005.

I left the meeting and headed to a skincare store. The manager hooked me up with a scrub, but it was pretty greasy and was made with salt, not sugar. I tried it on my body and recognized the benefit of a product like this, but after getting some into my cut, my eyes started to tear up and I realized that it could never be a salt scrub for me.

I was then on a quest for the perfect scrub. I had about 10 in my shower. I joke that if the scrub I got from Marshalls was ever found again, I many never have started the company.

My late sister, Michelle, had some retail background, so including her in the startup idea made it easier for me to figure things out. We stood for many hours at craft and holiday fairs before getting into local retailers and growing our online business.

We went from working in my kitchen to the dining room, to a converted garage space. Then we moved to our first small production space which quickly became a store. We grew out of that one and into another in the same town, adding “Make Your Own Scrubz” parties to the mix.

We finally found our home in Farmingdale, NY, in a comfortable and beautiful space that is production, sales, and parties in one.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Each day is a combination of different and much of the same. Because I have systems in place, it usually runs rather smoothly.

I like to answer “Help a Reporter Out” queries (HARO) daily, and because my answers have been picked up so many times I wrote a book on the subject called The Power of Free Publicity: Using HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to Build Relationships and Get Free Press. I believe free publicity is one of the best and most organic ways to grow a business and grow trust.

I serve my walk-in customers. I create invoices for our private label business. I fill online orders. I craft emails as our marketing tool. I post on social media. I work on the website. I create a blog post. I listen to some really great music.

Rinse and Repeat. 🙂

How do you bring ideas to life?

So many product ideas have come from our customers asking for something in particular.

For example, our Facez Face Scrub, Oilz+ lotion, Lipz Service Lip Scrub, and Scrubblez Soapy Scrub are 4 products in particular that were created to serve one customer’s needs when they asked for something more customized.

We of course liked the products we had created so much that we added them to our line.

Our Scrubz scent of the month was started because I like to create different scent experiences based on items I have tasted or smells I encountered while out shopping or in nature. This gives me a monthly excuse to tinker and play with different aromas! And then sell them! 🙂

Other ideas, like beginning our private/white label business, were born out of necessity.

During the pandemic time, we had to close our store. White/Private Label had been a kernel of an idea earlier on, but when people were home with nothing to do, nor a job to go to, they ordered scrub and lotion in bulk and started their own line. We were happy to oblige.

Many who ordered then left the business, and quite a few stayed. It was a great pivot, growth, and learning experience.

What’s one trend that excites you?

People still like to shop in small towns and have a Main Street type of experience. This makes me very happy. Online shopping is wonderful, convenient, and opens shopping up to the world, however, there is something about being in a small boutique-type store and encountering the smells and the sights and the touch of shopping in person.

Another trend I see is that customer service seems to have been lost with the big box businesses, but it is reigning supreme with the small indie ones.

I love that more people are starting small businesses of their own to empower their future.

These things excite me.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I have gotten good at mapping out my weekly email ideas for a year. This way, when I sit down to write them, the idea is already waiting for me to flesh it out. It has saved me countless times of “I don’t know what to write about” moments throughout the year.

As I mentioned earlier, I am also really good at skimming through the HARO (Help a Reporter Out) emails daily. Any query that shows promise is put to the side. So in a few minutes, I can then decide which queries to answer fully and which I can trash.

It has become a very streamlined process.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Try, try again.
Succeed a little.
Fail a little.
Try some more.
Like yourself as much as you love yourself.
Be nice.
Invest. Even if it’s only $10 a week.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

That most of us are capable of more things than we ever think about ourselves. For example, a hike up to Mt. Kilimanjaro.

It’s just lots and lots of “one step in front of the other”. Most people I mention it to say they could never do it. Having done it with my brother and late sister (he trained, she didn’t, I was more on the didn’t side) I disagree.\

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I treat my customers like family. I go out of my way to make them feel seen and welcome and deserving of pampering.

Also, never be a pushy salesperson but instead encourage a solution to the issue that brought them to you in the first place.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

My entire business is based on two things: Really awesome ingredients, that I happened to put in a jar and bottle, and customer service.

Friends bring friends and family and so on. People gift our products all the time. That is how we grow…one soft-skinned body at a time.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

When I first went into wholesale, I thought I needed a sales broker. I was recommended to a particular person who had all the “credentials”, but none of the vibe we hoped for. We still went with him on the recommendation we had gotten and it turned out to be an expensive disaster.

Thankfully my contract with him ended after 6 months! It was a big money loss, but I learned my lesson. I also managed to get placement in many of the same stores by myself.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Sharing a retail storefront. 3-4 different but similar businesses would share the burden of rent/insurance/employees, etc. I know it’s been done before, but rarely, and I would love to see it more. Less rent means more businesses would be able to have their own shop.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The best $100+ I spent recently was the fee for my hobby drum lessons. I have been going for 19 years already and I am their longest-running client. I don’t ever plan on being in a band or playing on a stage or playing for anyone else. I go for my sanity. I go as a mental break. I go for sheer fun and kid-like joy. Plus, I get to listen to cool music and bang things.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Dropbox is the greatest. I can access my files and pictures between home and store and phone seamlessly. I will create something at work and then leave it on dropbox for access as need be for a social media post, etc. It’s definitely my favorite web-based software for sure.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I love The Middle Finger Project by Ash Ambirge! I have been a fan of Ash for 10 years already. Her brash, no BS attitude is amazing. She also gives you the tools to do it. She offers so much insight into imposter syndrome and why we should all dump it!

I also adored Professional Trouble Maker by Luvvie Ajayi Jones. She wants you to look life in the eye and go for it. She says, “But in order to do the things that will truly, meaningfully change our lives, we have to become profession troublemakers: people who are committed to not letting fear talk them out of the things they need to do or say“

What is your favorite quote?

“Life is a theater, so invite your audience carefully. Not everyone can or should have a front-row seat. And you get to decide who will sit there.”

Key Learnings:

  • Treat customers with the knowledge that they can take their business and their money elsewhere.
  • Don’t be afraid to pivot and shift in your business as it necessitates.
  • Take time off. Really off. Let others run things for you when you are gone and see how wonderful they perform. This means that you did something very right in training them.
  • Enjoy the ride. The actual building of your business is the part that really meshes you and your brand.