Photos by Caitlin Abrams
Industrial-sized sacks of citric acid are piled up where the sofa used to be. A thin veil of powder coats the hardwood floors. The kitchen counter is covered with trays of freshly molded bath bombs. Finished jars of the dissolvable soaps spill onto the floor and block the living room fireplace. What started as a hobby for crafty teenage sisters Isabel and Caroline Bercaw is starting to look like a real business, and it’s taking over their family’s Edina home.
While their friends went to camp over the summer, Isabel, 14, and Caroline, 13, were busy making bath bombs in their basement. Their brand, da Bomb Fizzers, is now available at more than 50 stores in six states, and online. This fall, da Bomb Fizzers plans to open a kiosk at Southdale Center. Of course, the girls won’t actually be able to work at it—they’re too young.
It all started two years ago, when Isabel and Caroline entered the youth exhibition at the Uptown Art Fair with their homemade bath bombs. The sisters have always loved making things. Bath bombs were of particular interest to these competitive ice skaters, who enjoy a good soak after a long practice. “It’s been a journey with our recipe,” Isabel says. “A whole lot of experimenting.” They use seven ingredients to make their fragrant bath bombs, which they’ve given zingy names like the Cherry Bomb and the lavender-scented “F” Bomb—a top seller, much to their parents’ uneasy amusement. But the girls really felt like they were on to something special when they came up with the idea of putting a surprise inside each bath bomb. “It’s sad when it runs out,” Isabel says. “So we thought, put a toy inside, and you’ll be happy.”
They sold out the first day of the Uptown Art Fair—more than 125 bath bombs at $6.99 each. One of their first customers was Spalon Montage owner Mitchell Wherley. “I hadn’t seen a product like that—my kids love them,” he says. “The product brought me in, and I fell in love with these two young girls—their passion and knowledge.”
Wherley invited the sisters—who are in the process of trademarking the term “sisterpreneurs”—to do a trunk show at the salon. Momentum built gradually, with the girls selling their bath bombs at a handful of events and stores, including Uptown Minnesota at the airport. “We love telling the story of our artists as well as having a superior local product, and these girls have both,” says artist curator Suzie Marty.
Fueled by positive feedback, and impressed by the girls’ commitment, their parents, Kim and Ben Bercaw, took a more active role in the business over the summer, building an e-commerce website and hiring a designer to elevate the branding. It helps that Kim’s background is in advertising and Ben is a management consultant. The family hired a sales rep, and that’s when the hobby began to take over the house. The girls are producing as many as 1,000 bath bombs a week. Mom, Dad, and younger brother Harry help out—along with two recently hired helpers.
Right now, the money coming in is going back into the business. “The bigger our business gets, the bigger the expenses,” Isabel says. The goal, adds Caroline, is to turn a profit by holiday. The girls donate a portion of every sale of Earth Bomb, another popular variety, to groups that work toward saving the oceans.
“It’s a great real-world learning experience for them,” their father, Ben, says. “We do our best to let them call the shots, but we definitely weigh in if we see an opportunity for them to make a better decision.”
Adds Kim, “I just don’t want them to be stressed.” French lessons and algebra still have to take priority over bath bombs, even with the holidays approaching, and orders mounting.
The family conducts a nightly meeting to discuss the business. “It’s amazing to see how much more confident they’ve become,” Kim says. “They can sit in a room full of adults and run a business meeting.”
No doubt, there’s much more still to bubble up from these young entrepreneurs. dabombfizzers.com