New Steamboat start-up is ‘the bomb’ when it comes to natural bath products
December 12, 2017
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A Steamboat Springs family's do-it-yourself summer project has turned into a tidy little start-up business, but not before a few "bombs" went off in their kitchen.
"It was like a science fair that blew up all over our kitchen," laughed Colleen McGovern from the townhome where she and her stepchildren began experimenting with bath bombs this spring.
"She used a fragrance oil that reacted more vigorously than expected. Live and learn," said husband, Joe Cashen.
While McGovern may have directed the experiments, teenagers Eileen and Jack Cashen went all in on the idea, baking and perfecting recipes for a company they ended up calling "Kitt's Bath Company," whose logo is a fox.
They started creating their bath products in April and were able to sell their bath bombs at the Steamboat Farmers Market. They were very profitable there and now hope to expand.
"We use all natural everything," said Eileen, a seventh-grader at Steamboat Middle School. "When I went to stores like Justice and Bath and Bodyworks, I looked at their ingredients. They had this one really bad ingredient."
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Joe said they technically can't advertise "all natural" because they have to use baking soda in the recipe.
"We use essential oil, not fragrance oils like a lot of bath bombs," Eileen pointed out. "Two key ingredients are Epsom salt, which is good for muscles, and coconut oil which makes your skin soft."
"Actually, the FDA packaging took months off my life," said Joe. "There's a 35-page 'do and don't list' from the FDA. Things we had to learn, things we could say in person, but not on the package."
The family succeeded in streamlining the manufacturing of the bath bombs and focused on developing another product, shower fizzies.
"We discovered shower bombs," said 15-year-old Jack. "Instead of putting them in the bath, you can put them in the shower. It's like aromatherapy."
The kids and parents started giving out bath bombs and shower fizzies to friends, family and co-workers, getting feedback on their products. At one point, they even used cupcake pans to make the bombs, which caused a little mix-up.
"A co-worker's kid tried to eat one of the bath bombs," said Joe, a little sheepishly as his children and wife started laughing about the botched batch of bath bombs.
A local business plan contest with a whopping $10,000 prize spurred the family into focusing on a serious business plan. While Kitt's Bath Company didn't win, the judges called their plan and product "compelling."
In fact, the product caught the eye of Joe's bosses at Mountain Resorts, who'll be putting the luxury bath bombs in their hospitality packages for clients.
What the Cashen-McGovern family won't dwell on is one of the big reasons they put so much effort into the family's new business — it was a chance for the kids and step-mom Colleen to keep their mind on something fun while Colleen deals with a serious disease that keeps her in and out of doctors' offices and even surgery at times.
"I have three of the best nurses you can ask for," said Colleen.
In fact, the Cashen-McGovern household seems to run the perfect family business with lots of laughter, compromise and serious work.
"We learned so much more than working on bath bombs," said Colleen, a Subaru brand specialist at her regular job.
The kids agree.
"Economic skills and learning how to market a business," said young Jack.
"Just learning how to work," agreed Eileen, who says they can put out 600 bath bombs in one day if needed.
As the Cashen-McGovern family continues to market their product to retailers and other resort areas, they're offering a Christmas special on their website, kittsbath.com. Use the discount code local20 when ordering for a 20 percent Christmas discount.
And not ones for waste, Colleen, an admitted beauty and cosmetics addict, even managed to turn the byproduct of their essential oils into a facial mist.
"We take the infused water left over from cooking the essential oils and make a high altitude facial mist," said Colleen. "We're always testing and creating."