No longer cooking up skin care recipes in her White Bear Lake kitchen, Marie Smith has come a long way with her dermatologic product line.
The Press first did a story on the Medtronic engineer in 2016 when Smith was formulating natural remedies at home for her own chronic skin conditions. Extensive research, something she's used to as a quality engineer investigator, led to development of rash-calming creams containing ingredients like vitamin B3, caffeine and green tea.
Smith called her business Bullenbees. Today, she is shipping products all over the country. The manufacturing process no longer happens in her kitchen-turned-lab, but in Prescott, Wisconsin. She still provides all the ingredients from original suppliers, however, driving them to the manufacturer to ensure complete product control.
Her small company got a sales boost when Smith was invited to appear on the Home Shopping Network (HSN) recently. She applied for a slot during a promotion called The Big Find, competing with thousands of entrepreneurs for a chance to feature her skin products. Two personal care products were chosen and Smith had one of them — her hand and foot cream.
She's been on the show three times since March 31. "We are on for 10-minute segments. We interact with the host and explain features and benefits of our product. HSN supports small business, and they get interesting stories on the shows. Viewers really like it," Smith said.
When on the air, Smith sells several hundred tubes of the hand and foot cream called Ultimate. The HSN website (HSN.com) also carries the cream, which the Florida company inventories in two distribution centers.
Formerly called Chapped Hand and Foot Therapy, the cream is her best seller. She runs a 5,000-batch order through the manufacturer twice a year. Even before HSN, sales skyrocketed during COVID-19 due to people's penchant for frequent hand-washing. Smith explained that the plant oils used in her product have small molecules that sink down into the skin. "Plant oils also have vitamins, so it's not like putting junk on your skin. The cream helps prevent your skin from getting chapped in the first place and strengthens it from the inside out."
Sales have been good, but Smith admits she's not quitting her day job. "HSN says it can take a year to get traction with a veteran audience," she noted.
Her products are gaining momentum locally, too. Twin Cities Live had a short segment on Smith and her products May 26, spending time in her kitchen to talk about how she started the business.
She is waiting to hear when HSN schedules a follow-up date but doesn't think it will be long. "It's in their best interest to get me back on the show. They have a lot of my product, and they sell much more when I'm on."
To view her list of skin care products, go to www.bullenbees.com. Products are also sold locally at Kowalski's, retail locations like Mainstream Boutique and Frank Murphy, The Mane Tease, and some hospital pharmacies and local yarn shops for knitters looking for an effective moisturizer.