Expect the unexpected.
That’s the quote that Caroline and Isabel Bercaw turn to when the going gets tough. And it’s pretty fitting for them, considering they’re the masterminds behind the multi-million dollar business Da Bomb Bath Fizzers.
Oh, and they haven’t even graduated from high school yet.
Talk about unexpected.
It all started in 2013, when the sisters decided to make their own bath bombs. Caroline and Isabel, then 10 and 11, loved using bath bombs but felt there was room for improvement.
So, the girls decided to sign up for the local art fair in their hometown of Minneapolis. They borrowed some money from their mom for the ingredients and spent the entire summer leading up to the art fair making bath bombs in their basement.
The twist? Each of their fizzers came with a surprise inside.
Imagine their shock when they completely sold out on the fair’s first day. A summer’s worth of trial and error, and in one short day, 150 bath bombs were gone.
“It was a two-day fair, so that was really exciting for us, but we were also kind of panicked,” says Caroline, now 15.
The girls powered through this unexpected turn of events by enlisting the help of their parents to make as many bath bombs as they could for the next day. They sold out again.
After such a wild success, the girls had enough money to pay their mom back for the ingredients and art fair booth, and they even had some money left over. They felt they were on to something, and decided to keep this newfound hobby going.
From Basement to Booming Business
When the sisters re-entered the Uptown Art Fair the following year, a local salon owner approached them; he was interested in selling their bath bombs in his stores.
From there, Caroline and Isabel began reaching out to other businesses to expand their wholesale market.
“We began to go to stores and solicit them or send them emails,” said 17-year-old Isabel during our Facetime talk. “It was really unprofessional.”
But then the girls took the show on the road and attended their first gift show, AmericasMart Atlanta. There they secured the majority of their wholesale accounts.
Most of the business’s growth from that point on was organic, Isabel explains, with word of mouth about their handmade products contributing to their success.
In January 2016, their business hit a turning point. Representatives for Target stumbled upon their Amazeballs in the local Minnesota store, Patina. When asked if they could produce enough units to be placed throughout Target stores, the sisters had a decision to make. It was an easy one.
“We looked at each other, and while we probably weren’t equipped to do that many at the time, we were like ‘UH HUH!’” says Isabel. “That made us put a fire under it.”
To deal with the influx in demand, Da Bomb moved out of the basement into a leased warehouse. And business only grew from there.
Today, Da Bomb Bath Fizzers owns that 45,000-square-foot warehouse, employs over 150 people and produces around 500,000 bath bombs a month. It has more than 20 different types of bath bombs available. The products can be found in over 7,000 stores across the country, including major retailers such as Ulta Beauty, Target and Hot Topic.
All of their fizzers are made with just a few ingredients and only use cosmetic grade pigment — that means no bathtub or towel stains for you! The girls stress the importance of this for their products, seeing as how their dissatisfaction with available bath bombs was a big reason Da Bomb even began.
“Another reason we were unsatisfied is because you felt dirtier when you got out of the tub and had to take a shower after your bath, and what’s the point of that?” says Isabel.
On top of using high-quality ingredients, all of their bath bombs come with a surprise inside such as a small toy, charm or keychain, so the fun keeps on keeping on even after your bath is long gone.
And if the surprise inside doesn’t draw you in, the clever designs will.
Some examples include the Cherry Bomb (good luck getting that song out of your head), the Galaxy Bomb (which will turn your bath water a startling shade of black), and my personal favorite, the F-Bomb, which will dissolve your stress with its lavender scent and calming message inside.
While I may be partial to the F-Bomb, Caroline’s go-to is the Earth Bomb, a sea-breeze scented fizzer with a surprise sea creature inside. On top of smelling like a beach vacation, Caroline loves this one because partial proceeds go to charities dedicated to cleaning up our oceans.
And in true Penny Hoarder fashion, the “sisterpreneurs” make sure nothing goes to waste. Enter the Whoops Bomb. Any bath bombs that don’t come out perfect, such as a missing surprise or a crack down the middle, are sold at a discounted price.
Balancing Family, School and Business
Think back to your teenage days. Your daily check list probably consisted of finishing your homework in time to catch the new episode of “The Real World.”
But for Isabel and Caroline, school is just a fraction of their busy lives. They take a class called “On The Job,” which allows them to attend school for half of the day, then head to the warehouse to work.
Between going to school, traveling to gift shows across the country and serving as the faces of a multi-million dollar business, it can be hard to find some time for a day off.
Luckily, the sisters have a strong support system.
When Da Bomb Bath Fizzers first started to gain some traction, Caroline and Isabel recruited their parents for help. Now, their mother Kim serves as the company’s CEO and their father Ben is the CFO/COO.
“We are very fortunate that our whole family works really well together,” Caroline says. “We don’t let the business get in the way.”
And when she says the whole family, that includes little brother Harry, too. They credit Harry, 11, for their line of bath bombs geared towards boys, such as the Bug Bomb and the Ninja Bomb.
Full Steam Ahead
With revenue projected to grow 500% this year, you don’t need to use one of their Fortune Teller Bombs to know the Bercaws’ roller coaster ride is far from over.
They would like to expand internationally and grow their product line even further. They also have a book set to publish this summer.
Aside from the future of the company, both sisters agree that no matter where they go in life, this business has given them skills that are applicable to their future.
When the time comes to graduate and head to college, Caroline hopes to major in business, while her sister has an interest in the psychological aspect of buying and selling.
“We started this so young, we never knew what would come of it,” Caroline explains. “So I think we still want that experience of being away from home for a little bit, but that doesn’t mean we won’t bring the business with us.”
Isabel also adds that the cool thing about entrepreneurship is everything is customizable. So if you want to learn something, you learn it. She says this experience has opened up doors she might not have been interested in before.
When asked about the key to success, they say making calculated business decisions while still taking risks got them to where they are today. But they also think their age made everything easier.
“We were so young, we were just fearless in a sense,” says Isabel. “We were a little bit oblivious to how big of a deal this business was going to be, and that helped with taking on these risks.”
And on advice they have for other young entrepreneurs out there?
“Go for it,” says Caroline. “It’s going to be hard, and there’s going to be some obstacles along the way, but for us it really paid off and I think that as long as it’s something that you’re really passionate about then it will really pay off for you too.”
“You might have to make some sacrifices,” says Isabel. “Be logical and be intelligent in your decisions, but don’t let fear stop you.
Kaitlyn Blount is a junior staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. When she was 13, her biggest concerns were getting her braces off and catching the new episode of “The Real World: Key West.”
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
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