Natural skin- and haircare company Scrubtious Inc. is remaining agile during the pandemic. Founder Shannon Clark has been producing natural skincare products since 2008, when she began blending moisture rich oils and soaps for her then 1-year-old nephew whom suffered from a severe case of eczema.
Clark’s Compton, CA-based apothecary has expanded from the original "Huggy's butter" body butter—named after her nephew—to a thriving range of facial serums, beard oils, hair/scalp products, pain salves, and more.
“My goal is to get natural products out to people, with ingredients you can pronounce,” says Clark, adding that every product she sells is edible (though not advisable), without questionable chemicals, parabens, or sulfates. Scrubtious touts some vegan products and some with hemp oil—all are cruelty-free.
What began as a side hobby for Clark, an occupational therapist for 13 years, grew into a full-time career. The company has temporarily pivoted away from brick-and-mortar to its longstanding e-commerce channels. “We did have a brick and mortar store in Long Beach prior to COVID-19 which we recently closed. Once we’re able to get back, we’ll have another storefront to sell the product… currently we’re busy with online sales in our Etsy shop and on our website.”
Whenever possible, Clark uses glass packaging, especially for oil-based products. “It’s non-porous so it makes products last a bit longer,” and offers a high-quality feel. “We also prefer glass because it’s recyclable and reusable. We have a promotion that if customers utilize at least 3 products and recycle their bottles with us, they can receive a product for free.” This is not only a valuable for sustainability but for brand loyalty, as well.
Scrubtious selected SKS Bottle & Packaging and Berlin Packaging glass bottles. “SKS Packaging is an eco-friendly company that offers paperboard-based packaging, glass, and BPA-free plastic. We switched from plastic to glass two years ago. It was a bit of a switch dealing with the extra weight in shipping, but it did make a major difference in the quality of the product. Things didn't expire as quickly and customers were happy to receive a glass bottle.”
Products come in a plethora of package configurations and sizes, including jars (in clear, black and amber), 2- and 3-oz amber glass bottles with eye droppers or sprayers, clear frosted bottles with pumps, and metal tins for pain salves.
The Scrubtious branding has remained the same, with labels mainly in black, gold, and silver. Says Clark, “We want people to feel they have a bit of luxury at a budget cost.”
Packaging liquids and oils for e-commerce comes with extra considerations. “We use a double-stick sticker after we’ve sealed everything and we heat-wrap all of our bottles with plastic. Once it’s in the shipping environment, the packages bounce around. Temperatures are high in summer. Things loosen up if you don’t put a seal on them, so we add a sticker seal on most products so they don’t leak.”
As an emerging brand, all of Scrubtious products have been produced in small batches and filled manually at the apothecary. “We’ve added an automated hand pump for pumping oils into jars, just to make it easier since we have larger inventory now. We used to be hand-poured for a lot of our oils, but once we got a little bit bigger, we chose a Sumeve manual filling machine.”
Sealing and heat shrink wrap are applied manually.
Changes due to COVID-19
Beyond the temporary switch to all e-commerce, Scrubtious made changes once the pandemic hit. “We were using an overseas label supplier prior to the COVID situation, so we switched to a U.S.-based company. Since we had this change, it did make us look at more domestic sourcing and distribution. We all try to find a cheaper way of getting products—sourcing from other countries—but now that this happened it’s kind of pushed us to shop locally.”
They updated their sanitization for disinfecting bottles and cleansing them prior to ship out. “We purchased an autoclave because I wanted to be sure products were disinfected,” notes Clark.
Prior to COVID-19, formulation and filling also took place at the brick and mortar location. “We’re pretty compact now that we’ve moved from brick and mortar into a smaller facility for inventory and operations for now. Hopefully once all this is clear, we can get back into a bigger facility.” Clark says there is a silver lining in the smaller location. “It’s helped us to be a bit more efficient with being in such a small space because we have to.”