With a blend of holistic products and humor, two local sisters are building a business that is growing far beyond their expectations.
Debby and Julie Klarkowski of Green Bay started making natural soaps, and after receiving rave reviews from users, made a few hundred bars to sell. In setting up a business, they needed a name and packaging. That led them back to their childhood and the threat that bad language meant soap in the mouth.
“We were laughing about how when we were younger, soap was used as a discipline, and that’s how we got our name,” Debby Klarkowski recalled.
Potty Mouth Sisters, LLC, (www.pottymouthsisters.com) was the result, and humor has been a hallmark of the business.
Having been raised in the Catholic faith and gone to Catholic school, they borrowed from the past and decided on an eye-catching graphic that features the two of them clad in nun habits. Although they considered that this might be offensive, they have found it to be the opposite.
“We are in a day and age where everyone is so politically correct that others are afraid to say anything," Klarkowski said. "But when we put it out there, people are engaged, and to be honest, people are drawn in by our humor.”
With products like “lip sh*t,” there are plenty of laughs that seem to be appreciated by everyone. Two nuns stopped by their booth at a recent show and laughed as they made a purchase.
“We’re conditioned to think we’re going to offend someone, but we’ve yet to have someone say, ‘How dare you?’ However, we have had hundreds of people laughing,” Klarkowski said.
But beyond the humor are some serious products that keep customers buying and ordering. The product line includes homemade soaps, shampoo bars, hand and body lotions, perfumes, and probably the most talked about products — those made from hemp plants and containing CBD, a type of cannabinoid.
CBD is a chemical that occurs naturally in cannabis plants, not a psychoactive chemical, and is legal in Wisconsin.
“My sister and I had been using CBD for years, and had no intention of selling it," Klarkowski said. "We were using it for different reasons, but both of us had remarkable success. I went off high blood pressure pills and my sister is off her medication. My family members and I couldn’t say enough about it.”
When they decided to add it to their product line, they found a grower in Colorado who provides organic CBD. They receive the product in unmarked bottles, and it is third-party tested to insure the quality and percentage of CBD. It is packaged in a safe kitchen.
In addition to providing the CBD, their grower has been a business mentor.
“We’ve also done a great deal of research ourselves, and since we were already organic growers, we knew a lot going in,” Klarkowski said. “We sit down every four or five months, and at the beginning of the year, set a goal for sales and profits. What kind of profit margin do we need to make it work? What should our marketing strategy be?”
They also try to balance full-time jobs with working about 25 shows a year; something they want to double next year with the help of family members. The CBD products have been so successful that they now account for 50 percent of their business.
As publicity surrounding the benefits increases, they must also deal with increased competition, and try to emphasize the quality of their products. Many of the products sold at discounted prices have not been tested and have a smaller amount of CBD.
“We have had people say that they bought it cheaper on Amazon, but they’ll say their pain came back,” she said.
The sisters now work to meet demand and build their business. There has been interest in wholesaling, and their goal is to triple their sales in 2019. They are looking at getting assistance from SCORE, and applying for the Green Bay Packers Mentor/ Protégé program. But, their No. 1 goal is to help others.
“It can be exhausting doing all of these shows, but we believe in what we’re selling,” Klarkowski said. “Knowing we helped people is such a good feeling. It’s almost like we get a high from it.”
Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and past district director for SCORE, Wisconsin.