Drop, splash, fizz, ahhhhh. No, this isn’t the sound of your favorite breakfast cereal, this is the sound of a bath bomb. A delectable bath experience conveniently packaged in a colorful ball of joy and relaxing smells.
Bath bombs are taking the world by storm, and one student at the University of Reno, is bringing the craze to Reno by starting his own bath bomb business.
Brandon Rusk is a political science major at UNR who also minors in international affairs, Latin American studies and entrepreneurship. He is the owner of the new business called Virginia St. and Company, which specializes in homemade bath products.
Rusk is a busy student with his full-time school schedule, part-time job and his new company. He has help from his business partner and friend Jordan Van Brunt, who is a business management major and entrepreneurship minor.
The two met in the summer of 2016 through mutual friends and became close due to their mutual passion for business.
After taking a few entrepreneurship classes together, the two students ended up enrolling in a special Wintermester Entrepreneurship course, led by two local business owners and instructors at UNR, Matt Westfield and Rod Hosilyk. This two-week long entrepreneur crash-course gives groups of students the opportunity to brainstorm, plan and bring to life real businesses.
What started as an undeveloped idea in Rusk’s head became Virginia St. and Co., home of the biggest little bath bomb, with the help of fellow entrepreneurship students and expert guidance from Westfield and Hosilyk.
“If I hadn’t brought my idea up in the winter class, I don’t think it would have taken off the way it did,” Rusk said. “The entrepreneurship program has helped me more than any other course on campus.”
After working through competitive analysis, finance and other business strategies, Rusk did extensive amounts of research and experimenting to develop the perfect recipe for the bath bombs.
“Before I would have to worry and stress myself out if they were going to turn out right,” Rusk said. “But with the recipe I’ve started using now they’re perfect and I can sell them within the hour.”
As Wintermester came to a close and Spring semester began, Brandon officially launched Virginia St. and Co, listing a few different bath bombs online on Etsy.
The company’s introduction on their website reads, “Here at Virginia St. & Company, we strive to capture the essence of our breathtaking Sierra Nevada landscape. We use crisp mountain air, locally sourced ingredients, and the best combination of fragrances to bring our home into yours.”
Rusk also said that his bath bombs are made with organic and vegan ingredients, and they even use Tahoe water in the recipe.
Rusk started brainstorming specialty seasonal items that would attract customers in order to find a way to stand out among other bath products on the site.
“With Easter right around the corner, I was trying to think of the best thing and I thought, ‘Why not Easter eggs?’” Rusk said.
He did just that and listed the Easter egg bath bombs at three for $6. Over spring break his sales skyrocketed. Rusk described this with surprise, saying he had over 13 orders a day for multiple bath bombs.
“I was so excited. I didn’t expect that, and next thing you know my listing hit No. 5 on Etsy,” Rusk said.
Rusk said his biggest challenge is making the bath bombs. Right now, he is the only one that makes them, though he is trying to train some of his friends to help. Rusk said the accuracy and specificity of the process makes it difficult to replicate and teach.
“I think it takes a special touch,” Rusk said.
Rusk said he’s trying to get better at teaching people how to make them, especially as his sales grow. In fact, Rusk says he’s made and sold around 500 bath bombs in just the past three months.
The future is bright for Virginia Street and Co. as they continue to grow, and Rusk plans to eventually develop their own signature line of bath bombs once they gain more popularity. He is also working to increase campus awareness of his company and products. He eventually hopes to sell his products in the Wolf Shop.
Emily Fisher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.