By Victoria Lusk
American News, Aberdeen, S.D.
Simple. Honest. As natural as possible.
That’s how entrepreneur Sarah Simmons describes her business, Pip’s Squeaky Clean Soaps, which will host its annual holiday open house from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. There is one small change, though — the location.
Simmons has leased space in the downtown Aberdeen’s Citizen’s Building, 202 S. Main St., mostly for production purposes.
Business has been growing steadily, so much so that “I had to get it out of my kitchen,” she said.
Simmons began crafting her business in 2011.
“I wanted something with less ingredients that was more natural for my kids,” she said.
Her two boys not only inspired the products, but they are also the boys behind the face and name of the business.
“My husband convinced one of our boys that he had two middle names. Pipsqueak was one of them,” she said.
And the image on Pip’s logo is a rendering of both of her children’s faces combined, she said.
Even before she started Pip’s, Simmons had years of experience, first making her own lip balms and lotions.
During the past month, she has been busy moving her materials and product. With success, Simmons remains humble.
“I’ve always tried to do the right thing. I always try to be honest,” she said.
Pip’s products include lip balm, lotion bars, perfume, body butter, sugar scrub, bath bombs and, of course, soaps. Her best-selling products are her lip balms and soaps.
“A lot of people use it because it’s different from soap in a store,” Simmons said.
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All of Pip’s Squeaky Clean Soaps’ products are available locally at Centsable Fashions, 715 Sixth Ave. S.E. Natural Abundance, 112 N. Main St., carries Pip’s essential oil and unscented products. Webster residents and visitors will find Pip’s at Perfect Pickins, 700 Main St. Simmons also is also at Aberdeen’s downtown farmer’s market from June through October, Winterfest (except for this year due to a scheduling conflict), Arts in the Park and few vendor fairs.
While Simmons’ kitchen has more room than ever now, another Aberdeen woman’s kitchen is about to get busier.
Hnzhuu Native Bath and Body is a wholesale manufacturer of its homemade products.
“Our whole intent now is to not be the retailer, but have retailers carry our product,” said Brenna Chee, the Aberdeen entrepreneur behind the business.
When Hnzhuu started in 2012, Chee was acting as creator and retailer. It wasn’t until after she hired a local accountant/consultant that her mentality switched from retail to wholesale.
“It was the best thing he could’ve told us,” she said.
Since then, the majority of business has been on hold for restructuring and reorganizing. Chee is preparing to relaunch the business in early 2016.
From home care to wholesale
“My intent was never to start a business,” Chee said. “I just wanted to help my son.”
Chee’s son had severe psoriasis? that was affecting him badly. His doctor recommended a prescription.
“Being the mother, I read all of the fine print and I said no,” Chee said.
She specifically remembers her grandma using a dandelion to sooth her finger after being stung by red ants.
Her grandma told her, in Apache, “We just use nature to care for ourself.”
Now, Chee’s family — her three sons and their father — friends and former co-workers all assist her with meeting the demands when she needs it.
“Whenever I get into a bind, they come over,” she said. “I put my heart into everything. … I do many things, but this is my focus.”
Chee moved to South Dakota from New Mexico.
“I moved up here for the cold weather,” she said, not joking. “I love it.”
After moving, she joined the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce. She began to meet other entrepreneurs, some who even have more than one business, which surprised her.
“I have felt the most amazing support towards small businesses,” Chee said. “I love the camaraderie. I feel nourished.”
The future of Hnzhuu
Fourteen hotels in New Mexico, Chee’s native state, are interested in supplying their rooms with Hnzhuu products, she said. Hnzhuu Native Bath and Body products are available locally at Natural Abundance.