Reppermund measures strawberry facial scrub at
Simple Sugars' new location in the RIDC Park in
O'Hara Township, Pa., on June 2, 2015.
— Lani Lazzari started her all-natural, handmade body
and face scrub line Simple Sugars at age 11 in the
basement of her family’s Fox Chapel home. She created
the concoction out of ingredients from the kitchen to
help ease her eczema — but even back then there were
signs that the scrubs could evolve into something more.
the beginning I knew," says Lazzari’s mom, Gina.
"I knew we had something that could be big."
mother’s intuition has panned out. This year marks the
10th anniversary for her daughter’s company, which now
includes nearly a couple dozen employees and has
products in about 700 retailers across the country (plus
two in Canada).
the past few years, Simple Sugars’ sales have surged
from $80,000 in 2012 to nearly $2 million in 2014, due
in part to a significant bump in business after the
brand was featured in March 2013 on the ABC reality TV
show "Shark Tank" and secured an investment
from Dallas Mavericks owner and fellow Pittsburgh native
Mark Cuban. To increase production efficiency and keep
up with demand, its headquarters relocated this year
from a 1,700 square-foot storefront to a 10,000
almost been doing this for half my life at this
point," says Lani Lazzari, Simple Sugars’ owner
and CEO, who’s now 21. "It was always my goal to
turn this into a business."
a teen, she grew the company slowly but steadily,
learning how to balance her studies with her sugar
scrubs. She studied independently her junior year so she
could devote more time to expanding the budding business’
retail reach. After high school she deferred a spot at
George Washington University to focus full time on
Simple Sugars — a decision that proved to be necessary
once her segment on "Shark Tank" aired.
did $600,000 in three days," Lazzari recalls.
days the business still enjoys the occasional
$20,000-$30,000 spike in sales when ABC or CNBC re-airs
a Simple Sugars episode, but Lazzari has had to come up
with ways to keep revenue flowing without relying on the
"Shark Tank" effect.
give customers an incentive to order and reorder scrubs
, Simple Sugars launched a customer loyalty program
called the Super Smooth Club.
was a big focus for us over the past year because our
repeat customers are extremely important to us,"
Lazzari says. "We did a lot of research and looked
at what other (companies) were doing, and also kept in
mind what our goals were."
three-tiered program (made up of the silver, gold and
pink levels) rewards returning customers with discounts
and special gifts such as a T-shirt or bath towel once
they’ve spent a certain amount of money on the site.
big initiative has been the website redesign, which is
expected to launch at the end of the month. Its new
layout will place more emphasis on the customer loyalty
program (giving members a portal where they can log in
and review their points and incentives), as well as
spotlight customer testimonials, video content and
Simple Sugars’ brother brand Smooth for Men.
August, Lazzari plans to roll out a new look for the
Smooth for Men line, which offers the same natural
formula but in more masculine packaging and fragrances.
men’s line is very exciting for us because that’s a
really quickly growing market," she says. "We’re
excited to get into that space because this product fits
really well with men’s routines" because it’s a
one-step scrub that can be used for cleansing, shaving
strives to keep the women’s line fresh by
complementing classic scents such as strawberry, vanilla
and coconut with seasonal ones (pumpkin for autumn,
sugar and spice during the holidays and lemonade in the
summer, to name a few) that are offered for a limited
time. The brand also recently released its new sun
scrub, which contains aloe and green tea extracts to
help soothe sunburned skin.
works closely with her mom, Simple Sugars’ vice
president, to develop the brand.
have completely complementary skill sets," her mom
says. "I’m the super enthusiastic, creative,
over-the-top one, and she’s the one who can rein it
back and stay focused."
partner Cuban, who holds a 33 percent stake in the
company, is always just an email away when Lazzari needs
very reachable ... and he’s there when we need
something, but at the same time he doesn’t come in and
try to run our business," Lani Lazzari says.
"His support has continued from the
Simple Sugars, success not only is measured in sales,
but also in the satisfaction that employees find in the
work that they do. Inside the headquarters, decor is
splashed with the brand’s vibrant color scheme —
lots of pink! — and painted on the walls are the
company’s core values: laugh a lot, own your mistakes,
positivity only, no complaining, work should be 98
percent fun, good enough is never good enough, etc.
think every company has its own core values, but I feel
like ours are different in a more fun way and more
relaxed, and we have a better relationship with each
other from top to bottom because of it," says
Caroline Keefer, Simple Sugars’ customer loyalty
"guru" and marketing assistant who joined the
business about two years ago.
ability to balance being personable with employees as
well as professional helps make her an effective leader,
just radiates this vibe about her that she knows what
she’s doing and she should be in charge, and I love
that about her. And she’s still a laid-back, normal
celebrations and in-office parties also help to foster
an upbeat work environment, says Trista Thiessen, whose
title is "queen" of customer care.
take pride in doing things differently," Gina
Lazzari says. "If you really pay attention and are
able to engage employees, you can accomplish amazing