VOL. 125 | NO. 148 | Monday, August 2, 2010
Memphis Small Business Spotlight
Bubble Bistro Serves Up All-Natural Skin Care
AISLING MAKI | Special to The Daily News
Andrea Haynes has relocated her business, Bubble Bistro, from the Virgin Islands to Memphis. The store, located at 425 N. Watkins St., will feature hand-made natural soaps, and a variety of other bath products. Photo: Lance Murphey
Andrea Johnson Haynes wants her fellow Memphians to know that living a greener, healthier lifestyle isn’t just about the foods they eat.
Consumers, she said, should put more thought into the products they apply to their skin.
“Starting to go green starts with what you put on your skin. If you know better, you do better, and I want you to be better informed as a consumer,” said the proprietor of The Bubble Bistro, which makes fresh, natural products from scratch using raw ingredients including clays, herbs, fruits, nut butters and sea salts.
“The Earth is made up of everything you need to live comfortably and naturally.”
The Bubble Bistro, whose products are currently available through its website, bubblebistro.com, is scheduled to open its Memphis store in a 1,700 square foot retail space at 425 N. Watkins any day now.
But the business itself isn’t brand-new.
After several years of concocting skincare products as a home hobby, Haynes opened her first store on the island of St. Croix in early 2009.
The Memphis native first moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2007 when her husband, an engineer in the gas and oil industry, accepted a job there.
Haynes also shipped her products to customers around the world through her online store.
But as her business expanded, she decided Memphis, an international shipping hub, would be a preferable home base.
“There are more people in one ZIP code here than there are in all of St. Croix,” said the mother of three, who returned with her family to Memphis late last year. “Logistically for the business, there’s no better place to be. Most of my customers are in the U.S. Basing the business in Memphis saves me time and money on shipping and receiving.”
Haynes said she plans to soon close the original St. Croix store.
“I don’t want to be an absentee owner,” she said.
Adamant about the quality and authenticity of her product ingredients, Haynes buys salts from Europe, the Caribbean and the Dead Sea, mango butter from Brazil and shea butter from Ghana.
“I buy the best quality ingredients in their most natural form, unprocessed and unpasteurized,” she said.
And she’s always on the lookout for quality local ingredients. She previously partnered with a brewery on St. Croix to produce beer bar soaps, and she’s hoping to do the same in Memphis.
“The hops and barley are great for the hair and skin and come out in the end product,” she said.
Haynes said the freshness of her products sets The Bubble Bistro apart from its larger competitors.
“It’s an experience all the way around. These products aren’t made by a robot with a 50-gallon drum. They don’t sit on a shelf for who knows how long. You get to meet the person who makes the stuff. The product doesn’t get any fresher: It just came out right this minute,” she said.
Client Nyteria Parrish said she’s been very pleased with The Bubble Bistro’s products.
“They’re all-natural and don’t contain chemicals. I also love the awesome aromas,” she said, adding that people should pay closer attention to the ingredient labels on their skincare products.
“If we use shampoo made of petrochemicals and other chemical preservatives, we absorb that. If we use natural shampoo made of natural oils and herbs, we absorb those botanical ingredients instead. Which would you rather have in your body?”
The Bubble Bistro’s best-sellers include shampoo bars and a detox body soak.
Haynes also makes mineral-based makeup, as well as full product lines for men, babies and pets – all reasonably priced, she said.
“I’m in charge of the overhead. There’s no need for a body scrub to cost $50. I set out to prove it can be done without all the fluff. It’s about the product.”
Haynes, 30, said her intent was always to start a business.
“I just didn’t know what it would be.”
After graduating from Wooddale High School in 1998, she went on to study business administration and entrepreneurship at LeMoyne-Owen College.
“LeMoyne-Owen has a phenomenal business department. It really doesn’t get the credit it should,” she said.
In addition to a work background in financial advisory, Haynes has taken courses in essential oils, herbology, chemistry and cosmetic science, educating herself on labeling procedures and ingredient safety levels.
“Anyone can learn to make soap in 15 minutes, but if you add too much of an essential oil, you can burn your skin,” she said.
Haynes said it’s a great time to be an entrepreneur in Memphis because “people are really going back to shopping at small businesses.”
She said the Memphis Regional Chamber has played a significant role in introducing her to the local business community.
Kelvin Kolheim, existing business consultant with the chamber, said mom-and-pop businesses such as The Bubble Bistro are the “jewels of our community.”
“We want to see boutique stores thrive just as well as FedEx. We do all we can to help,” he said. “We introduce businesses of all sizes to resources they might not know are available. We point them in the right direction.”
For Haynes, the right direction includes giving back to the community.
The Bubble Bistro recently donated 150 bars of handmade soap to programs that help the homeless – something she plans to do regularly when the Midtown store opens.
“I stand for what my business is. And I’m thankful and grateful there are people who appreciate what I do.”