This story is part of an ongoing series exploring local makers-turned-entrepreneurs in Kawartha Lakes to find out what motivates them.
The only things as colourful as Lisa and MaLisa Sousa’s personalities are their bath products.
Originally from Vancouver, the light-hearted mother-daughter duo has been running Captivating Bath and Body, making products out of their home for the past four years.
Coming from a past-career in elevator manufacturing, 26-year-old MaLisa says that she would have never imagined herself as an entrepreneur. However, after moving to Lindsay four years ago to start her family, MaLisa wanted a way to spend more time at home with her daughter rather than at work. Her mother, Lisa, is a self-declared ‘tomboy,’ who after suffering injuries from a car accident could not return to her job in construction.
During this time, MaLisa also faced a much smaller problem: the natural bath products that she had come to love in Vancouver, were now only available in stores over an hour away from Lindsay. What then began as a bath-bomb making experiment quickly developed into a career opportunity.
Since then, MaLisa has changed her perspective on entrepreneurship, “I’m more comfortable selling our [product] because I made it,” she said, comparing their family business to other multi-level sales companies that are popular with young moms. “It’s the passion,” adds Lisa.
It is this passion, combined with a healthy sense of humour that the duo say has kept their business going. “You have no idea how much time we’ve spent making products for them not to turn out,” MaLisa explains. These failures have also helped them to make bath bombs, scrubs and lotions that are the best that they can be, says Lisa.
“We have a hard time trying to push our products into local stores,” explains MaLisa, who says that the duo has been turned down because of competing sellers in markets and stores.
In 2016, the duo began their own local event, the ‘Crazy Christmas Craft and Gift Show,’ which hosts 65 other makers and aims to build relationships between businesses and the community.
What makes Captivating Bath and Body different from other cosmetics brands they say is the level of care that goes into each product, as well as their relationship with customers. “Apparently we’re very likable people,” Lisa exclaims.
“It’s hard to pick up a jar of scrub that you can’t smell or see inside and pay $15 for it,” says Lisa. This is why the duo began to bring a washing station to craft shows, and it has since become a conversation starter. “You see them hours later still walking around and rubbing their hands,” more often than not, she says, people who have tried one of their products will return to make a purchase.
The company, which has amassed over 1,300 Facebook likes and is registered under Health Canada’s Notification of Cosmetics system still operates out of the Sousas’ six-by-eight-foot dining room.
“We talk about business more than anything else in our house,” says MaLisa. The duo say that their small quarters have never been a problem, and that their family is always ready to offer their opinions or try out a new product.
MaLisa’s boyfriend, Michael Due has even garnered a reputation for handing out her business cards in drive-throughs and hardware store checkouts. “They want to retire,” laughs Lisa, who says their boyfriends have even bigger dreams for the company than they do.
When asked what advice they would give to themselves before starting this venture, MaLisa quickly responds “be prepared for late nights.” When starting a business from home, Lisa says “there’s no nine-to-five where you can shut down” at the end of the day.
Yet, MaLisa still says “I couldn’t imagine not doing what I’m doing now.” To which Lisa responds, “how would I ever have a bath?” before the two erupt into laughter.