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Lovely Body Products: Quality soaps and lotions handmade in Thunder Bay

What started as a hobby for Sarah Johnston, has evolved over the years into a successful small business. Lovely Body Products makes handmade self-care items in small batches, right in their shop in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Whether you’re shopping in person, or at, you can find high quality soaps, lotions, body scrubs, bath bombs and more.

“I started in 2012, making my own soap, one bar at a time,” said Sarah. “I wanted to dip my toes into e-commerce, so I started an Etsy shop, as a bit of an experiment…I was surprised when I became the number one Canada Bath and Beauty seller and in the top 100 worldwide!”

Sugar scrub, bath bomb, soap and lotion from Lovely Body’s blood orange and goji collection. 

With growing success, in 2014 Sarah decided to pursue Lovely Body full-time, and in 2016 opened up her first brick and mortar location. Still taking an experimental approach to the business, she chose a small, 200 square foot location. “I was taking it month by month. It went really well – we expanded to a larger shop a year later, which was about 6 times the size and allowed us to have an on-site workshop”.

What makes Lovely Body products unique?

Lovely Body sets themselves apart with their dedication to sustainability and quality.

“I try to be sincere with everything that I make,” said Sarah. “In the era of ‘miracle products’ and fast online sales, I wanted to create a brand that people can trust. So you wouldn’t see a store full of reviews that say ‘I ordered a month ago and didn’t receive anything!’; they’re comments from customers that just received their product in the mail and they love it.”

While the price point for certain products may be a bit higher, Sarah never wants to sacrifice quality or ingredients. “I could get cheaper ingredients – they’re easier to find – but sustainable, ethically-harvested ingredients that are fair trade are what’s important to me.”

How Lovely Body products are developed

All products are invented and created in the store workshop. While bestsellers like shampoo bars are a Lovely Body staple, Sarah is constantly coming up with new ideas.

“We try to stay on top of market trends, and pay attention to what customers are asking for. When I get a new product idea, it takes about a year to get to market. We do extensive research and experiments – it’s quite a fun process. And not everything is a winner. Once we have the bones of a product, it’s easier to come up with scents, names, etc.”

How Lovely Body products are developed

Building a business through a well-rounded online presence

“I came up with the business name, Lovely Body, pretty quickly and it just kind of stuck. I got the domain soon after starting the shop on Etsy. I didn’t love the idea of Etsy being my entire business identity, and I wanted to put my own domain on business cards.”

Etsy can be a great starting-off point for people who are exploring the idea of selling a product and wanting to gain an understanding of how ecommerce works. But, as Sarah mentioned, if your business is successful, you tend to grow beyond the platform. She has closed her Etsy store, and now sells her products on her own website using Shopify.

Sarah takes the time to capture great product photos and detailed descriptions for each product. “In our store, customers can see, smell and feel products…but when shopping online, photos and descriptions help set customers expectations.”

For getting customers interested in visiting the site and buying products, Lovely Body does very little paid advertising. Instead, they have built a strong following on social networks with frequent updates, and since their products are high quality, people tend to recommend it to others. “I typically post how we’re making soap or if something fun happened in the shop.”

“People love watching the videos of the soap-making process. I’ve had new moms tell me that they were awake at 2 a.m. with baby, scrolling through Instagram and caught themselves watching the videos on loop.”

Why go with a .CA domain?

“I love the idea that without telling anyone, they know we are a Canadian business. Even though my business ships products worldwide, I’m going to keep the .CA,” said Sarah.

You can follow Lovely Body on Facebook and Instagram.

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