THUNDER BAY - Sarah Johnston, founder and owner of Lovely Body had never intended to become an entrepreneur.
She was working as a registered nurse and intending to become a nurse practitioner, then go to medical school to become a physician. She was making soaps as a hobby, and in May 2012 she started selling her products on Etsy because they were popular with family and friends. To her surprise, she became the number one Canadian bath and beauty seller. “Kind of not what I expected!” She laughs.
From soaps, she expanded into lotions, body scrubs and bath bombs, and now makes a wide range of products, including shaving cream (not in a can) and shampoo and conditioner bars. The latter are currently her best selling products, and she estimates that over the last two years they’ve saved over 17000 plastic bottles from the going to the landfill.
In June 2016, Johnston opened her first local store on St. Paul street; a little “hole in the wall” intended as a temporary pop-up shop. “I didn’t think I’d be there for very long. I thought I would have it until I was broke, and that would be it,” she recalls.
But her products resonated with people conscientious about environmental impact and careful about what they put on their skins. In August 2018, she moved to her current location on Red River Road, which has a production and storage area in the back. She employs three staff, and her husband also helps out.
Lovely Body makes 600 bath bombs and 500 bars of soap a week, and in a day they can make up to 80lb of lotion. On Etsy she has shipped to “every continent but Antarctica” but now, her products are mostly sold locally.
“All of my ingredients are ethically sourced and responsibly harvested so I make sure that they’re not clearcutting rainforests for a bar of soap,” she says.
She has had requests from customers for dry shampoo, and is doing some research for a future product launch. She always puts in a lot of research and development, to make sure her products are the right pH for your skin and/or hair, and so that there are no cheap fillers.
“This is not what I ever ever thought I’d do,” admits Johnston.”But no regrets!”