Tricia Boor remembers Dec. 23, 2015, like it was it yesterday.
That was the day that Boor, owner of Richmond store Apothec, received an email from national retailer Urban Outfitters, which was interested in her line of handmade body and aromatherapy products.
“I was sitting here, checking some emails and doing a little bit of research, when an email popped up,” Boor said while whisking through her Libbie Avenue space that serves as part shop, part lab. “I couldn’t believe it. I think I’m still in a bit of shock.”
It appeared word traveled fast about her business that specializes in a number of handcrafted, natural products for the body, including lotions, house sprays, body washes and scrubs, and candles made of soy, shea butter and coconut oil.
Boor is still puzzled about how the large-scale retailer discovered her, but she didn’t waste any time responding to the email.
“I sent them some [Apothec] Bug Spray, they said they loved it, and we were a go,” Boor said.
With the help of friends, Boor was able to fill Urban Outfitters’ first order – 600 bottles of the bug spray, made from natural bug-repellent ingredients such as lemongrass and red thyme – from the basement of her business at 412 Libbie Ave.
“We did everything here: bottling, the labeling…everything,” Boor said.
“I come up with the blends and I make them here,” she said. “To think something I created, something I made here in this space is now national…it’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment.”
Bottles were shipped to Urban Outfitters locations in Dallas and Austin, Texas; New York City; Los Angeles; Chicago; Miami and San Francisco.
Locally, the spray is also carried in a number of locations, including Whole Foods, Ellwood Thompson’s, Stella’s Market, Roaring Pines, Little House Green Grocery, Sacred Waters and Scents of Serenity Organic Spa, as well as Boor’s Libbie Avenue shop.
When not blending new organic mixes of candles, lotions and body scrubs, Boor, an aesthetician and massage therapist by trade, owns and operates Me By Design Studio in the same Libbie Avenue retail center.
“I often joke that I rub and scrub by day to support my Apothec habit,” Boor said with a laugh.
Boor serves as the executive of her small-but-growing business. There is no direct sales force or large employee base at Apothec – just her and close friend and fellow aesthetician Andrea Post, who helps out on occasion at the shop.
“I want to grow, but I don’t want to grow too fast,” Boor said. “Keeping it small, and having the products speak for themselves, has been a key strategy for our business, and I want it to stay that way.”
It’s Boor’s low-cost, word-of-mouth business model that appears to be her winning ticket to a national audience.
During the 2016 USA Taekwondo Nationals Championships in Richmond, Boor fielded a call from a New York store owner who was in town for the tournament and said she was interested in Boor’s products after receiving rave reviews from a colleague. Boor invited her to Apothec, where the store owner loaded up on bug spray, body washes and scrubs, lotions, and body and air sprays.
“She cleaned me out,” Boor said. “It was a big order, and we had to come in and restock our product again.”
Following up on her Urban Outfitters exposure, Boor will soon ship her to Texas-based Bunkhouse Group – a chain of boutique hotels with locations in San Antonio and Austin. New York-based retailer Bespokepost.com will also be carrying Apothec Bug Spray on its site.
Boor said she is planning to launch more product lines, as well – including a new facial line for men and women and a bath product line.
“Good things are coming,” Boor said.