By Kevin Bouffard The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneur Marilyn Lacey Amaral has created a line of hand sanitizers for her store. As a licensed manufacturer of cosmetics, she was able to add sanitizers to her product line. Amaral is also donating gallons weekly to frontline workers at high risk for infection.
Winter Haven entrepreneur Marilyn Lacey Amaral offers a testament to the adage that one can still do well by doing good.
When the owner of Home Remedy Winter Haven saw that hand sanitizers had disappeared from retail shelves, including her own, and that suppliers had also run dry, she seized the opportunity.
A licensed manufacturer of cosmetics, Amaral added self-made sanitizers to her product line. Every morning she makes at least 12 gallons of liquid sanitizer, which she dispenses in spray bottles of one to 16 ounces, Amaral said.
Amaral also makes another 12 gallons or so weekly that she donates to "front line workers" at risk of contracting COVID-19, from mail carriers to health care workers to Meals on Wheels volunteers delivering food to shut-ins, she said.
That's characteristic of Amaral's dedication to the community and customer service, said longtime customer Sharon Ashby of Winter Haven.
"She goes above and beyond trying to help the community," Ashby said. "Her customer service is what stands out to me. She really cares about her customer."
Amaral's generosity also impressed another frequent customer, Trudy Achterhof, of Hammond, Wisconsin, a part-time Winter Haven resident.
"When she told me the story, I was stunned. Here's a person who went out of her way to help front-line workers," Achterhof said. "There's so many people out there doing good things, and she's one of them."
Amaral characterized it as business as usual.
"Ever since I started a business, I've been contributing to the community," said Amaral, who opened up her first store, Lavender and Lilac, an natural bath and body products retailer, about four years ago. "I've always been a firm believer in giving back. I feel that, when I'm blessed, I need to bless others."
Amaral ran Lavender and Lilac out of a Winter Haven consignment store, and she opened Home Remedy in her own store at 21 Third St. NW in September soon after she added CBD products to her business. CBD products now account for about 60% of her sales, Amaral said.
Home Remedy also sells natural bath and body products that Amaral also makes herself, she said, and also has a small line of gift products, organic teas and herbs and candies.
Amaral acknowledged that her community service has been good for Home Remedy's business.
Since she began making and selling the sanitizers earlier this month, weekly sales revenue has quadrupled, said Amaral, who declined to discuss figures. Most people who come in to buy the sanitizer also buy something else.
The sanitizer bottles with the Home Remedy label have also turned out to be good advertising, she said.
"It gets my name out there," Amaral said. "Our customer base has grown exponentially through this. It's brought in a lot of people who didn't know we were here."
Amaral follows the official hand sanitizer recipe from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in manufacturing her store brand, she said. That includes at least 60% alcohol content (hers has 75%) and a hand softener, liquid aloe, Amaral said.
Finding those ingredients is not easy, particularly alcohol, which is in short supply because of the hand sanitizer demand, she said. Her husband, John Amaral, helps find suppliers.
"We've been all over and out of the state of Florida looking for supplies," Amaral said. "It's got to be reputable sellers. I can't buy from anywhere."
The Amarals found an automotive products supplier who sells alcohol in 55-gallon drums, she said.
Ashby and Achterhof told The Ledger they frequently buy Home Remedy's CBD products for various aches and pains. They noted Amaral is more than a CBD retailer but an educator on those products as well.
Amaral also told The Ledger education is important to her because there are so many bogus CBD products on the market. Like the sanitizer ingredients, Amaral doesn't buy from suppliers without first confirming the quality of their products.
"She knows her stuff," Achterhof said. "I've been buying CBD for a while, and she's the most knowledgeable."
Ashby said she was disappointed previously with the quality of other CBD products.
"Nothing worked like the products she has," Ashby said. "I tried CBD before, and I don't see spending the money on garbage."
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