I recently had a chance to sit down with Larry Baird and Ru Pudlewski, the owners of Making Scents. We had an amazing conversation about their start, Worldwide on H25 (which Larry started and runs every year), and some of the changes that have come about in Ogden. Read on for the scoop:
John Cline: For those readers that may not know, what is Making Scents all about?
Ru Pudlewski: Making Scents has come up with our own line of 60 personal bath and body products, all made in house. Some of the products are shower gels, bubble baths, lotions, and exfoliations, with the unique concept that people get to choose their own fragrance and we’ll custom mix it. We have over 500 fragrances, from a simple lavender or use mix and match to create a signature fragrance. We have both essential oils and fragrance, including designer types (similar to major brands like Victoria’s Secret). We also do wax melts and candles, which can have custom fragrances and be personalized, as well as bath bombs, shower cubes, and bath salts.
In addition, we have gift baskets. You can come in and buy some product, and whoever receives the basket can come back and get it customized with whatever fragrance they would like. We also can host private parties for all ages. We provide the location, bath salt and perfume spray for kids ($10/person), and older groups get all that and a jar of the exfoliation ($35/person). Guests can bring in their own food and beverages.
Larry Baird: We’re also proud to announce our newest venture, which is offering Republic of Tea. We’re the local Republic of Tea ambassadors. We have tea bags, loose leaf tea, and also the tea honey (author’s note: this honey is delicious!), and a wide assortment of flavors. We started offering it two weeks ago and it’s been selling really well.
JC: Where do you get your fragrances?
RP: Our fragrances come from all over the world. We have some suppliers we’ve been working with for 13 years, and with some of the essential oils, we get directly from Bulgaria (lavender), Australia (eucalyptus), and Somalia (sandalwood). We also have access to over 5000 fragrances (more than just the 500 in store).
JC: What are your most popular products?
LB: By far our most popular product is our soft touch exfoliation. You can’t find anything like it on the market. It’s our own recipe that took seven years to develop. It exfoliates and re-moisturizes in less than 30 seconds, and you can add your own fragrance to it.
RP: The other ones have all the oil on the top, and the salt sinks to the bottom. You have to stir it before you use it, you have to go with their fragrance, and yours hands feel like an oil slick afterwards, where ours doesn’t. Ours is also all natural. Our most popular fragrance changes on almost a daily basis.
LB: Every person has unique tastes in fragrance, and even different regions have different tastes. It all depends on the demographics and their background. Ogden will have different tastes than Idaho, or St. George. We tend to see a lot more purchases of lavender, because lavender is generally the most relaxing overall, but we don’t necessarily have a particular fragrance.
RP: One that we’ve blended together that goes well with all age ranges and our women-type fragrances, we call “Kiss My Naked Butt All Over.” It’s a blend of a “Kiss Me All Over” type fragrance and a “Naked Butt” type fragrance. We’re not entirely sure if it’s popular because of the fragrance or the name, but it goes over well with all age ranges. We have some other novelty fragrances as well, such as motor oil, bacon, pot roast, cheese-its, firewood, and even baby diaper.
JC: What’s the story behind the business? How did you guys get started?
Larry Baird: It started out as something to help me supplement my income. I was a single parent, and had to switch to part time when my kids were out of school so I could take care of them. Prior to that, I had my own massage office. I didn’t like the lotions and oils that we used with our clients, so I started developing my own. Our first product was a massage oil that was water soluble, so it didn’t stain your clothes or feel sticky after using it. I’m also spa certified, and people started getting more specific on what kind of fragrance they could get with a salt cleanse. I looked into it, and we began collecting our suppliers for some of these fragrances. Eventually we had 40 products and 400 fragrances.
Eventually we started taking it to farmer’s markets and boutique shows on the weekends. We grew a following, with people asking us where our store was or when we were showing next so they could get more product. We did this for 10 years before we moved into our current location on 25th Street three years ago. When we first started at the Farmer’s Market in Ogden, they placed us over by Kokomo’s. They later asked us to move closer to the park because the smell of our booth was taking too many people away!
RP: One of the unique draws of the Farmer’s Market was our bath salts. We had 22 different colors and fragrances, so if you put a few different ones in a bottle it created a really neat sand art. We had a few different type of bottles, so people could get artistic and create something to use as decoration but also use in the bath.
LB: I met Ru through working at Kinko’s. I had been coming in to make copies, and our friendship developed over time. After I closed my massage office, I got a job working at the same Kinko’s. I needed help setting up for the farmer’s markets, and managed to talk Ru into it.
RP: It started off me thinking he was crazy, and now it’s something that I eat, sleep, and breathe. This is a dream come to a reality, offering a high quality product.
LB: I can’t believe it. I look back and can’t believe we’ve done this well for so long. I had no intention of doing this for a living, or even starting a store, and fate falls into your lap sometimes.
JC: There’s been a lot of turnover in businesses on 25th Street. How have you managed to be so successful here?
LB: I think that is because we are unique. Just in the one block we’re on, there’s four vintage clothing stores, and a couple bars, and they’re all competing with each other. We’ve got our own niche, so we’re not competing as much.
RP: One reason we chose 25th Street over some other locations we looked at was that we wanted to be part of the old “Main Street” feel because of the new, modern sophistication of it. The shops are unique here, there’s some similar, but everyone complements each other.
LB: We complement many of the other stores on 25th Street well without having to directly compete with them.
JC: How did the idea for Worldwide on H25 get started?
LB: I created Worldwide on H25 to help bring some more festivals and events to the 100 block of 25th Street. When we first opened the store, there were a lot of events happening on the 200 block, and we wanted to help bring something down the street. At the time, I was the president of the International Organization of Folk Art (IOV) for the United States, and I had the ability to bring the folk dancers to Ogden to do a one-day street dance event. The day I brought it to the Historic 25th Street Association was also the same day they announced the Archery World Cup was coming to Ogden, so I asked the event coordinator for the World Cup to get involved in the opening ceremonies. They had originally planned to give all the participants food vouchers for the Weber State cafeteria. I suggested we do a taste of town with the restaurants on the street, and after some talking we decided to merge the two events together, and that’s how the Worldwide on H25 got started. Now we’ve done it for three years. It costs about $20,000 to put on, with some help from the RAMP grant. The first event was planned in six weeks and had 10,000 people come, last year had 15,000. This year wasn’t as popular, partly due to the hot weather but also due to the Tour of Utah making parking difficult to find.
The Bountiful Davis Art Center also has their Summerfest International, which is what the dancers mostly come for, along with two other festivals in Springville and West Jordan. I also happened to start the Bountiful festival 25 years ago. The dancers come in Sunday, have an event on Monday, nothing on Tuesday, and then have events from Wednesday night through the weekend. Since they didn’t have anything to do on Tuesday, I offered to take care of them for a day and have the dancers participate in the Worldwide on H25. Before they come to the Worldwide event the night, we pick the dancers up in the morning and take them to Fort Buenaventura. We host a barbecue with the help of the Chamber of Commerce, and we have water balloon fights, a tug of war, volleyball, relay races, and all sorts of activities. It’s the only time while they’re in Utah that they can intermingle, socialize, and just have fun with each other. We also give them an ice cream social and take them to the three museums in Ogden.
JC: What’s in the future for Making Scents?
LB: Our big push right now is franchising.
RP: We’ve talked about it for several years, even before we opened the store.
LB: We’ve had several inquiries about opening franchises. We wanted to have three good years at the store before we started looking at franchising, and this month will be our third birthday. We’ve had a few serious inquiries for Fort Collins, CO; Scottsdale, AZ; and Laguna Beach, CA, but we’re still figuring out exactly how we want to franchise and all the legalities around it.
We’re also entered into the Grow America contest. Grow America is currently a Utah focused organization that hosts contests with the primary goal of creating new jobs. They have three categories: idea, startup, and growth, and we’ve made it through the second round of the growth category. There were initially 4000 entries, and now it’s down to the top 100.
RP: There’s four different rounds, and we’re waiting to hear if we make it to the third round. Even if we don’t win, it has been a very worthwhile experience. We had to put together a business plan, have gotten to know our products much better, researched how to market our product better, and how to develop our business.
JC: Lastly, what’s your favorite thing about Ogden?
LB: I’m not originally from Ogden, but I think the city has changed so much that most people don’t realize it. It used to seem very closed, but now Ogden seems very open and very excited to bring in new ideas and ventures. Especially working with the downtown area, I’ve seen a big change. Ogden isn’t close-minded. It isn’t the stereotypical Ogden that everyone thinks it is. I think it’s fun to be down here. They’re willing to let you try new things here.
RP: My favorite thing is the rebirth of Ogden. When I was a kid, we were given the perception that Ogden was a bad place. Even into my 20s, I would always say the only reason Ogden exists is because people still live here. Back then, you could not get me to live in Ogden or even come up here. There was kind of a sense of gross about the town. When we started doing the Farmer’s Market, and seeing the changes, that there was a commitment to the community from the city and different merchants here, and seeing how Ogden was starting to reinvigorate itself, I then moved up here seven years ago from Layton. Now I don’t want to live anywhere else! I’m close to everything I need now, wanting to be involved as much as I can supporting all that Ogden does. It’s all here in Ogden.
Be sure to stop by their store at 151 Historic 25th St and say hello. They’re open Monday – Saturday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.