APR 12 Cedar Rapids-based organic lip care manufacturer Eco Lips is acquiring Simply Soothing, a fellow Iowa-based personal care company responsible for bringing Bug Soother insect repellent to the market, Eco Lips announced in a news release. Founded in 2003, Simply Soothing started small, but after the introduction of their handcrafted, DEET-free Bug Soother in […]
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APR 12 Cedar Rapids-based organic lip care manufacturer Eco Lips is acquiring Simply Soothing, a fellow Iowa-based personal care company responsible for bringing Bug Soother insect repellent to the market, Eco Lips announced in a news release. Founded in 2003, Simply Soothing started small, but after the introduction of their handcrafted, DEET-free Bug Soother in 2008, sales accelerated rapidly after the Iowa floods that brought swarms of bugs in their wake. Similar to Eco Lips, Simply Soothing’s brand values are centered on using natural ingredients, company representatives said. “I know it’s a cliché to say, ‘the two companies complement each other well.’ But in this case, it really is incredibly true,” Eco Lips founder and CEO Steve Shriver said. “We’ve been soothing lips for years, especially in the fall and winter. Now we can soothe the whole body all year-round. Eco Lips is perfectly poised to service Simply Soothing’s existing customer base while, at the same time, adding distribution. I’ve always had so much respect for (Simply Soothing CEO) Freda (Sojka) and her products. The entire Eco Lips team is honored and excited to carry the Bug Soother brand forward.” The eighth largest bug repellent brand in the United States, the Bug Soother brand of natural products includes the specialty natural bug repellent in the green bottle, as well as a bite soother and outdoor candles. The company’s products are carried in 10,000 retail locations nationwide with growing distribution internationally, including the UK, Europe, Central America, Grand Cayman and Scandinavia. Eco Lips is known for creating the original organic lip balm in 2003, promoting the manufacture of high-quality, certified organic, fair trade and non-GMO lip care products. The company offers private label and contracting manufacturing services, with a range of products including lip balms, scrubs, tints, a vegan lip care line and body oil. NEWSMAKERS UPDATE Bug Soother operations move to Cedar Rapids After remaining in Columbus Junction during the 2021 production season, manufacturing of the Bug Soother line is now being transferred to Eco Lips’ new Cedar Rapids headquarters, Eco Lips co-founder and CEO Steve Shriver said. “Ever since we closed on the deal, we’ve been full steam ahead integrating their operation into our new facility,” Mr. Shriver said. Adding a full new product to Eco Lips’ operation “really challenged us, in a good way, to rethink our building layout,” he said. “We have never produced products that contain water, so we had to install a pretty large water filtration system. Their manufacturing process is unique, very different than the way Eco Lips is manufactured, so instilling the technology for the blending, mixing and filling was new for us.” Former Bug Soother employees helped smooth the transition, Mr. Shriver said, and Justin Scheef, the son of Bug Soother founders Freda and Jim Sojka, has remained with the company on the sales team. The new equipment will quadruple production capacity for the Bug Soother line, Mr. Shriver said. Online sales also doubled in the past year, he noted, adding $1 million to the company’s bottom line, mostly from outside Bug Soother’s existing 10-state footprint. Since the 2021 production season ended, Mr. Shriver said he’s been attending trade shows and seeking new Bug Soother markets. He also said he plans to introduce new Bug Soother products over the next two years, and noted that Eco Lips hit both the CBJ’s list of Fastest Growing companies and the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing U.S. companies in 2021, reporting 180% growth. “We’re on a great growth curve here,” he said.