This is part of a year-long ‘Love for Local’ series called NB365: portraits of New Brunswick entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations. Huddle is a media partner with Love for Local. Today, we hear from Justin and Judith Sweeney of Bubbles And Balms, in Lower Norton.
In 2014, we moved to southern Alberta from New Brunswick. Our skin was sensitive and we had lost our local source for natural body products with the move. The arid climate of southern Alberta dried our skin. Bathing, a favourite hobby of Judith, had become unenjoyable with the resulting dryness.
Unable to find local products with the ingredients our skin craved in our new location, we learned about and started to make oil-based personal care products on our own.
We created recipes for soaps and body butter to tend to the daily care of our own skin. The relief we experienced ignited a passion. We started to explore ingredients, aromatherapy, and product formulation. We shared the products with friends, family and neighbours, but our supply and passion outgrew their cupboards so we tried a local farmer’s market.
Putting ourselves out there was hard, as we both have challenging mental health histories. But the process of focusing on our new products and engaging with the community challenged how we looked at ourselves, and we started to build confidence.
About six weeks after the first market, we rolled our last bit of savings into the setup of a small storefront and went into business.
In the beginning, we carried a lot of complementary products from other local makers to fill the location. In 2018, we moved back to NB and opened what we hoped would be the first of a small chain of boutiques. With the arrival of Covid-19 in 2020, we quickly closed our boutique and pivoted to our current e-commerce model, with the addition of our first wholesale and distribution partners just this fall.
Throughout the process, a steady commitment to better each day for ourselves and the business has helped us grow and adapt. The support from our local community has built us up and given us the feedback needed to become stronger at what we do.
In our business, we look to local suppliers and move outwards from there, trying to keep as much of our spending as close to home as possible. We know these dollars touch local families. We also know that these families support us in what we do. We want to see all boats rise, and a vibrant local economy supports that.