Roberta Perry, at left with sister Michelle Stark, started making...

Roberta Perry, at left with sister Michelle Stark, started making body scrubs at home five years ago. Now she has her own shop. (April 1, 2011) Credit: John Dunn

Roberta Perry started her skin-care business out of pure necessity.

She never intended to be an entrepreneur, but that's what happened when her favorite body cleanser was discontinued and she couldn't find an adequate replacement.

Five years later, Perry, owner of Scrubz Body Scrub Inc., has taken the business from her dining room table in Plainview to more than 50 retail stores, including Whole Foods Market and Wild by Nature. She's also recently opened her own store on Stewart Avenue in Bethpage and hopes to expand.

"My goal this year is to have my products in 100 more stores," says Perry, who also sells her sugar-based body scrubs and skin-care products online. Not bad for someone who admittedly discovered body-care products late in life.

A mother of three who was freelancing as a graphic designer and working as marketing director for an adult learning center, she had little time to pamper herself, she said. "At that point, my skin was bad," says Perry, 49. "It was peeling and dry."

She was also feeling overweight and after attending a Weight Watchers meeting, finally got a wake-up call. The counselor asked, "Why do we take care of everyone else and not ourselves? I was 40, and it finally hit me," says Perry, who decided to lose weight and remedy her dry skin.

She went through 30 different brands before finding the right fit, only to then discover it was discontinued. She stumbled upon another brand but couldn't find it again.

Soon after, she attended a craft fair, where she met a woman selling essential oils. It sparked her interest, and she started reading all she could about them and botanicals.

Before long, she was mixing up batches at home and testing them on her sister, Michelle Stark. She eventually settled on a sugar-based scrub with eight botanical oils including coconut and jojoba oil. It originally had a ninth ingredient, a mineral oil, but it was removed to comply with Whole Foods' standards.

"She abided by our standards, and it made her line better," says Louise Keenan, who oversees purchasing and product mix of supplements and body-care products for Whole Foods' Lake Grove store. "Because of how clean it is, it works well in our stores."

Perry's products, which include facial and body scrubs, body butters, lip balms and massage and moisturizing oils, contain no alcohol, artificial preservatives or artificial colors. Her packaging is recyclable, and a portion of her sales goes to charities, mainly Susan G. Komen for the Cure, for which she's raised more than $25,000.

"I like that she donates so much," says Carol Corcoran, body care and supplements buyer for all four Long Island Wild by Nature stores.

Plus, the product is a good seller. "We do phenomenal sales when she comes in and does demos," says Corcoran, who also carries other brands of scrubs. "Body care is very competitive," notes Corcoran.

Scrubz Body Scrub Inc.

EMPLOYEES 4 part-time

OWNER Roberta Perry

WHERE Bethpage


BUSINESS Skin care products

TRIVIA Scrubz is a family affair. Perry's husband is her CPA and her mom, dad and sister help with production, sales, and even hauling the 12 to 15, 25-pound bags of sugar they buy monthly from Costco.

HONORS Perry was recently honored by Nassau County as one of six women manufacturers in Nassau as part of Women's History Month.

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