Caroline and Isabel Bercaw were once obsessed with bath bombs. This was back in their middle school days, when their peers were equally obsessed with the bombs — powdery, fist-size balls that, when dropped in a tub, release an eruption of fragrance and color and fizz. And because the Bercaw sisters were student athletes, they’d spend a lot of time soaking after practice to soothe their sore muscles. Which meant even more time with bath bombs.
And that led to a giant mess.
“A lot of times the bath bombs would stain our tub, or even our skin, which was kind of scary for us,” says Caroline, now 17. So she and her older sister started experimenting at home, creating their own bath bomb recipes and adding a surprise in the center, like a small toy or piece of jewelry. They took a batch to a local art fair in Minneapolis to see if people would buy them. “We were definitely aggressive salespeople for 11- and 12-year-olds,” says Isabel, now 18. “We sold out that first day and went home to make more until 1 a.m.”
The girls spent the next year perfecting their recipe. They returned to the annual art fair the following year, this time armed with twice as much product. They sold out again. When a local salon owner asked if they did wholesale, the sisters started to see their bath bombs as much more than a hobby. “We realized it could become a real business,” Isabel says.
Boldfaced emphasis added by me.
I had never heard of a “bath bomb” until this article!
Their About page is a lesson in humility — that is, it shames all of us who are far older:
Since we created them in 2012 (when we were just 10 and 11 years old)
Boldfaced emphasis added by me.
So my current future is what I get for being a regular boy at that age and playing with Matchbox cars, G.I. Joe, reading comic books, and watching waaaaay too much TV (in monochrome!). Let that be a lesson to all of you!
Even so, the article and their About page leaves out something that puzzles me: How much did they know about chemistry? There had to be some of that involved. Or was it all just guess work? Like a kitchen recipe? And I just showed how old I am. Because this is the Day of the Internet, so of course there were probably some formulas online (like this one) that they could use as a starting point. No chemistry knowledge really required.
But give them credit for guts! You have to have some wits to use an existing product, be unsatisfied by it, and then think you can do better. Especially as pre-teens!
And the idea of putting a prize inside! Who doesn’t love that? Who didn’t suffer through a box of Cracker Jack just for the payoff of a prize? Who didn’t buy a cereal they couldn’t stand just because of the prize inside? (Both Cracker Jack and cereal were less expensive than today. And it seems neither include a prize inside which is why this is a fallen society.) And as a kid I spent many pennies down the slot of a gum machine to try to snag something on the other side of the glass.
Looking at the recipe for a bath bomb linked above, it seems like a pretty simple thing in some respects. We men, to our great detriment, tend to focus our attention on complex things. How many simple things are we overlooking that could bring in a torrent of money? I wonder!
Wikipedia: Bath bomb
And, of course, I have to end this post with this video of someone getting rich from something simple (yes, it’s fiction, but still!):