When Pokemon Go was set to launch in July 2016, Fort Oglethorpe transplants Desiree Hulsey and Randy Serpas hatched a plan to make and sell Pokemon-themed bath bombs via eBay.
The bath bombs' colors coordinated with the teams featured in the game — yellow, blue and red — and they had surprise figurines inside that would be revealed upon tossing the colorful orb into a bath.
"We literally didn't eat for a week and saved what little money we had and invested that into supplies," Hulsey said.
It paid off. Less than 24 hours after the app's launch, not only had they sold the 30 bath bombs they'd pre-made, they had over 300 more orders in the queue.
"I reinvested my money and kept going," said Hulsey, 26.
From the bath bombs, the pair expanded into soaps, lotions, bubble bath, glitter products, roll-on perfumes and "slime," a popular children's toy. The products are currently sold at Merchants on Main in downtown Chattanooga, on Etsy and at countless craft shows in the area.
A former pastry chef, Hulsey started branching out by making doughnut-shaped bath bombs — "I took my love for chemistry and my love for baking and just put it together." — but she couldn't shake the idea that the brand wasn't quite right. So, about a year ago, she changed her company's name from Confections to something a little more fun: Pampered Pegasus.
"I've always had a unique eye for certain things. I love the way pastries look, but I got bored with it because I love unicorn bright colors, the glitter," she said.
Now, Hulsey has over 15 characters, including llamas, the popular "poop" emoji, vampires, mermaid tails and unicorns, among others. Each "character mold" is custom 3-D printed, she said.
Hulsey said it took her about a year to perfect her bath bomb formula so that they float and fizzle. Each one contains Epsom salt to relax muscles, and dye that won't stain the tub.
"It's a lot of chemistry inside of each product," she said.
She tests each of her products on her two children. Her 7-year-old even helps make the slime products.
Sales of the slime help benefit Chattanooga chapter of national nonprofit Sleep in Heavenly Peace, which provides beds for underprivileged children. The mission hits close to home for Hulsey who, while growing up in Atlanta, had to sleep on a pool float due to her family's financial situation.
For every $150 she donates, the nonprofit is able to cover the price of a bed, Hulsey said. If she doesn't raise that much in a given amount of time, she donates what she can so the nonprofit can buy sheets or pillows.
"These kids don't get sleep. They're missing school. They're probably getting bullied. They're tired. And just this one thing could make a huge difference on these kids' lives," she said of the beds.
Hulsey said that everything she makes is something she would use, and she holds to the philosophy that each product should be safe and accessible for all. A lot of her customers have allergies, she said, so she creates a range of products that eliminate almond extract or coconut oils, for example. An animal-lover with six cats at home, she said she also keeps her products cruelty-free, vegan and biodegradable.
She and Serpas are again experimenting with the lineup. They recently sold over 200 jars of their new bath slime, a gooey substance that can be played with while in the tub, and they're currently working on a men's line called Radiant Dragon.
"A lot of men don't want to smell like flowers, so we're working on a buff version of Pampered Pegasus," Hulsey said.
Email Sabrina Bodon at firstname.lastname@example.org