Boynton Beach bath-soap maker provides jobs to women in crisis
Boynton Beach-based UR Bath & Body Co. does more than make bath bombs, scrubs and beauty products. The small business helps remake lives by hiring women who are transitioning out of crises.
UR Bath founder Tracy Gunn has struggled herself, losing her job and seeing her home destroyed in a tornado, so she made hiring those in need part of her company’s mission.
One of the success stories is Jasmine West, 19, who was in a transitional home but now has her own apartment after becoming employed as UR Bath’s shipping manager.
“I love it. It’s the best job,” said West, wearing a big smile as well as glitter from handling the company’s handcrafted soaps. “I feel like I’m at home. We’re a family here.”
West came to UR Bath through Place of Hope, a West Palm Beach center that provides transitional housing for children and young adults. She has been working for UR Bath for more than a year.
“She’s really headed in a great direction now,” said Gunn, who regularly reaches out to homeless shelters, domestic abuse programs and police departments for help hiring. She currently employs 14 and has sought guidance from local experts on mental health and drug addiction issues that may go along with homelessness.
“We give them an opportunity,” Gunn said. “For some of them, the hardest part is showing up.”
Todd Clancy, a Delray Beach police officer, said he has connected about a half-dozen women at local shelters with UR Bath.
“It would be a lot easier to get any employee, but [Gunn] cares about helping women who are in need. She has a good heart,” he said.
Gunn, 47, started the company seven years ago after losing her job in pharmaceutical sales. She began making soaps in her kitchen — something her grandmother used to do. Then in 2015, a tornado destroyed the family’s Oklahoma home. Despite the wet inventory in her garage, she headed to New York City to sell at holiday markets and find help building her business.
While in New York, she was introduced to Susan’s Place, a women’s homeless center in the Bronx. Gunn said she was inspired by the director who routinely encouraged the women with sayings like “You are amazing” and “You’re going to do great today.”
She eventually moved UR Bath to Boynton Beach in search of more affordable manufacturing space. The business has taken off, doubling in sales in the past two years. UR Bath products now are available at more than 1,000 boutiques across the country.
Gunn said her products stand out for their natural ingredients, moisturizing qualities and fragrance.
“There’s a lot of bath bombs in the market. But they fizz and color the water, and then they go away. Ours leaves a really creamy bubble bath,” she said.
The products evolved from a lot of experimenting at home: “My bathtub looks like a bath bomb wasteland,” Gunn said.
The most popular soaps are bath bombs that carry names relating to how someone may be feeling, such as “UR Brave,” “UR Calm” and “UR Free.”
In South Florida, shops including Prep Obsessed in Palm Beach Gardens, Jezebel in Fort Lauderdale and Simple Pleasures in Stuart carry her products. The products also can be purchased on the company’s website, urbathco.com.
“[Gunn’s] product is amazing,” said Trina Lange-Stidd, owner of the Simple Pleasures boutique. “She uses quality ingredients. She makes them oversized. They fizz more. And she doesn’t overcharge for them.”
Stidd sells the bath bombs for $7.95 each, and they fly off the shelves.
However, there’s another reason she carries Gunn’s products: “I like her mantra, especially in this day and age. It’s women supporting women, and giving back,” she said.
Gunn has gotten help from her son, Logan Hinton, 20, who deferred college plans to help his mother take the business to the next level. Hinton says building the business has been an education in itself.
“He could have gone to a lot of different places for college, and he chose to stay here,” Gunn said with pride.
UR Bath products are marketed through sales representatives around the country, and that’s helping to introduce the company to bigger retailers. “This is truly where we go to work and keep building our image and brand,” she said.
Gunn said she also has hired professional talent including graphic designer, Rose Dorval, 29, who created a colorful product display that’s proving effective at gift markets held in Atlanta, Las Vegas, New York and Dallas. Boutique owners and department stores attend the trade shows to find new products for their stores.
“Rose did such an amazing job of putting it all together,” Gunn said. “The people around me do their jobs so much better than me. I’m not a graphic designer … I can’t make a bath bomb near as fast as these women do.
“They’re phenomenal,” Gunn said, praising her workers, much like the shelter director who inspired her company’s mission.