SAINT JOHN– The Saint John City Market’s newest vendor is bringing its natural and affordable bath and skincare products to the East Coast.
Bubbles and Balms officially opened in the market this week. The business is owned by wife and husband team Judith and Justin Sweeny and got its start a few years ago when they moved from New Brunswick to rural Alberta.
“I had a love for things that were all natural,” says Judith. “When we moved out to Alberta, I had a hard time finding any natural products. I decided to start making them and then when my husband came out a couple months later because he was finishing a contract in New Brunswick, he decided we should probably open a store because I had so much soap.”
“I just fell in love with making it and I couldn’t stop. We decided to do a soft launch of a location and it grew to a point where I could step back from my nursing job and pursue that full-time.”
Though the Sweeney’s loved Alberta and the lifestyle, they missed home. Bubbles and Balm’s location in Claresholm, Alberta was taken over by a friend’s of the Sweeney’s who turned it into a toy store, but the business still does wholesale to the shop.
“We missed home and we knew eventually we wanted to be back here,” says Judith. “When we had our daughter, we decided to make the move back home and start our Bubbles and Balms on the East Coast.”
The Sweeney’s now live in Hampton and considered setting up the shop there. However, they decided to open a stall in the Saint John City Market because they wanted to be integrated into the city’s business community.
“We really fell in love with the atmosphere of the City Market and felt like it was a really good way to promote our products and get the foot traffic through and get into the atmosphere of Saint John,” says Judith. “Once we saw the location we knew that we had to jump on it and give it a go.”
All Bubbles and Balms products are made by hand by Judith. Products are done in small batches to assure quality and freshness and are made with 100 per cent natural ingredients, and many of the products will now be made on site at the market. They also take pride in their products being “guilt-free.”
“Our definition of ‘guilt-free’ means you can come out and buy a soap, buy a bath bomb for yourself and not feel guilty that you’re spending too much because we keep our prices very reasonable,” says Judith.
Product lines include soaps, bath bombs, essential oils, beard care, dry shampoos, face masks and mists, natural deodorant, dry shampoo and more.
“Our soaps are really popular. It took me quite a few years to come up with the really awesome recipes that we have. The other top seller is our natural deodorant,” she says. “We’ve been known to have some of the best natural deodorants you will ever find … You don’t have to keep it in the fridge, you don’t have to mess around with jars like a lot of the natural deodorants. It’s easy to use and it works, which is really important.”
Since opening on Monday, Judith says the business has been well received so far.
“I’ve met so many vendors and they all seem very supportive and just very lovely,” she says. And a lot of the customers that we’ve had so far are really excited for us to be here. It just reiterates that we did the right move coming back home.”
Now with a new home base, the goal for Bubbles and Balms in the future is to grow the wholesale side of the business. Though they also sell their products online, Judith says also having them in a physical location is important.
“We love having the retail location just because I find that people need to be able to pick up your product. It’s such a tactile product, you need to be able to sniff it, you need to be able to see how it feels on your skin,” she says. “This going to be my full-time gig for the foreseeable future and we hope to continue to grow quite large in the Maritimes.”