During peak holiday season, sisters Isabel, who just turned 20, and Caroline Bercaw, 18, oversee the creative production of four million bath bombs. They are manufactured in their hometown of Edina, Minnesota with the assistance of about 200 employees this time of year.
“That’s going on right now so things are a little crazy. With the pandemic it's a little bit different, but we're still making over a million bath bombs per month,” Caroline, who is home from college for the long winter break, told Inside Edition Digital.
“We're really grateful because our business really hasn't suffered much because of COVID, which is great. I feel like a bath bomb is a perfect thing to do at home,” said Isabel. “I'm happy people can get a moment of relaxation in this crazy world from just taking a bath.”
Caroline and Isabel are the chief creative officers of Da Bomb Bath Fizzers, a household bath product that might come in handy more frequently these days as more people are home due to the pandemic. They describe their bath bombs as spherical in shape and it fizzes when submerged in water. What makes their product different is there is a surprise inside each one like a toy, message or even a piece of costume jewelry.
See what a day in their life is like in the video above
The idea for their product started about eight years ago with a $150 investment from their parents for a craft fair table. It’s now a multi-million dollar brand featuring two books and partnerships with Disney and Mattel.
“We kept going with it and it ended up turning into a full business for the whole family,” Caroline said.
In the Beginning
When Isabel and Caroline were 10 and 11, they both were competitive figure skaters and took baths to soothe their muscles. But the bath bombs they used kept staining the bathtub. So the girls decided to make their own that was a better formula that what they found at the mall. Isabel and Caroline spent a lot of time researching recipes online and in books. It turns out that their bath bombs, made with few ingredients, were gentler on their skin, especially for Isabel who has eczema and sensitivities to various beauty products.
They realized their bath bombs were a hit when they sold out on the first day of the craft fair. “That was the first time they really ever thought this could be more than a hobby. This could be an actual business,” their mom, Kim Bercaw, recalled to Inside Edition Digital. So they transformed their entire basement into a factory for making bath bombs and could make about six to eight an hour using a mixing bowl.
Soon, they gave up their passion for figure skating.
“We saw the potential in what we were doing and we decided to make that sacrifice,” said Isabel. “It sounds a little dramatic, but that's really what you have to do when you're trying to start a business and make your startup successful, is you just have to give it your all.”
Building a Business
Da Bombs Bath Bombs officially became an LLC on April 1, 2015. An official website launched that weekend and Isabel had high expectations.
“We thought it was going to be like Kylie Jenner's website launching...everything just sells out right away,” recalled Isabel. “We thought that was going to happen to us even though nobody knew about our business.”
They didn’t sell out, but one of the first online sales came from their grandma, which Isabel thought was “really cool.”
Exactly one year later, on April 1, 2016, as business picked up immensely, they opened up an office space and attached warehouse facility. Da Bomb Bath Bombs can be found in Target, CVS, Ulta, Kohl’s and about 3,000 small brick and mortar stories as well. One of their biggest challenges according to dad has been managing their growth. According to Forbes, they’ve made close to $20 million every year since 2018.
“Some people just see the numbers,” Isabel said. Caroline continued, "And think that's how much we make." But proceeds from one of their bath bombs, called the Earth Bomb, help different organizations that help build clean water systems in Kenya, they said.
“I'm a [multi] millionaire? No,” declared Isabel. “We have expenses to pay. We offer 401K benefits and health insurance to our employees, which I'm really proud of.”
A Family Affair
In 2019, Isabel and Caroline were listed in Forbes’ prestigious 30 under 30 list. Their success, in part, is due to their parents help and support.
“There’s no question that they're a huge part of this business,” expressed Isabel. “Sometimes people want to hear like, ‘Oh, we did everything ourselves,’ but that's a really important lesson. they taught us to be curious. So instead of just telling us the answers to everything, they would teach us how to find the answers, and then that helped us really learn how to run a business firsthand from experience.”
“And we also couldn't drive, so they did help us with that aspect as well,” added Caroline.
It really is a family affair. Kim is the CEO and dad Ben Bercaw is COO/CFO. Their 14-year-old brother Harry is an important creative muscle, having masterminded the name of the Ninja Bomb. He also has his own half-pipe skate boarding room at the office he uses for brainstorming.
Sisters and Partners
The sisters, on 16 months apart in age, consider themselves more like twins and they sometimes do butt heads. But they’ve certainly gotten closer over the years as they have to work together every day.
“The reasons Caroline and I work so well together is sometimes I think out loud, so she's always there for me to think to, if that makes sense. And then Caroline processes a lot inside, so sometimes I push her a little bit to get her feelings out and to get her opinions out. She's very methodical. I'm a little bit more like, ‘Let's get it done as fast as we can.’ So then we end up evening each other out in that aspect.”
“Sisters fight. It's no different with us, but I think we've gotten a lot better as we've grown older and that's just something we've had to learn with the business too. We need to be professional and we can't think like siblings,” said Caroline.
When they’re seen together in their community, they’re often referred to as the “bath bomb” girls. “I don't think of myself as only a bath bomb girl, I think of myself as like a sister,” started Isabel.
“And an entrepreneur,” Caroline chimed in.
“And an entrepreneur, you're right,” continued Isabel. “But if people say, ‘are you a bath bomb girl?’ It's endearing to me because it's just flattering that people know our story. I just hope that we can inspire people with how our business got started. It's really cool to be able to have that influence.”
Balancing School and a Business
Even though both sisters are in college, they are still very much a part of the day-to-day of their business, especially Caroline. She’s a freshman at an out-of-state school, while Isabel is a sophomore at the University of St. Thomas. At first, Isabel tried to solely focus on school and the college experience. But after two weeks she couldn’t stay away from the business even though her parents have instilled a sense of normalcy for the teens.
“We tried to create opportunities for them to be able to go to school, to be with friends, to participate in extracurricular activities, to support them in their college choices, to give them what we would consider to be a normal childhood and upbringing in addition to these extraordinary opportunities,” Kim explained.
Back when they both were in high school, “it was hard,” they said of managing schoolwork and Da Bomb. “Finding a balance was definitely one of the most difficult things,” Carline said.
“We call those times ‘the dark ages’ -- when our business wasn't big enough for people to understand, but we still had to give 150% of our effort to it, and that's really when we learned like how to work hard, I would say,” added Isabel. They were able to take their real-world working skills and turn them into elective credits.
“I admire the way they've been able to move in and out of those two very different worlds and I think they've done it really gracefully,” Kim said.
Isabel and Carolina have also successfully navigated important sales meetings with business executives but sometimes they feel overlooked.
“Sometimes when we go to the trade shows, people will be asking my dad questions even though I'm giving them all the answers,” said Isabel. “I feel like that's a little bit frustrating. Then eventually you slowly start to see the person who's looking at my dad start to shift towards Caroline and me who are answering the questions. Then you feel awesome representing women in business in that sense.”
“I also love the challenge of walking into a room with a bunch of people giving our pitch and telling our story and slowly seeing them realize, ‘Oh, this is their company and they do actually work.’” added Caroline.
It’s a sense of determination that pushed them to the next level. Their advice to others is to put in the time and work.
“It's not going to be easy, but find something that you're truly passionate about and you know that it can make a difference in the world, and then go with it and just keep pushing,” Caroline said.
The next push is to expand internationally. Da Bomb is currently sold in Bermuda and Canada, but Isabel and Caroline would like to see their bath bombs sold in every part of the world.
Additionally for Isabel, she’d like a makeup collaboration. “If anybody's watching this video, shameless plug,” she quipped.