Q&A with 17-year-old Natural Scrubs Expert, Lani Lazzari

Julia DiNardo

It’s amazing to imagine being 17 years old and running a successful beauty business, but then again, how about by age 17, you’ve already been at the helm of the business for six years? Such is the case for Lani Lazzari of Pittsburgh, PA, who founded Simple Sugars Scrubs with the help of her Mom in 2005, handmakes the scrubs, and has gone on to further develop her line of all-natural face, body, and foot scrubs in a plethora of yummy scents.

The about-to-be high school senior recently launched a men’s line (Never2Smooth) and is about to embark on a coast to coast tour entitled “The Smoothest Road Trip Ever Ellen or Bust!” in hopes of garnering the attention of The Ellen DeGeneres Show by the time she reaches LA. We were lucky to nab the busy Ms. Lazzari, who started the brand due to her eczema and sensitive skin, to find out more about her amazing scrubs and how she manages to do it all. She makes even the most multi-tasking amongst us feel lazy, and is definitely an inspiration to follow your true passion — at any age.

When you started Simple Sugars, you were 11. Why scrubs, and how did you know what to include to make a safe, natural, effective product?
I did months of pretty intensive research before I even made my first scrub. I decided to make scrubs because they are oil based, as opposed to lotions or creams which are water based, and therefore do not legally require an artificial preservative (water based products are a natural harbor for bacteria, so they have to have much stronger preservatives). Ultimately, I wanted to create the best all-natural product that smelled great, left your skin feeling super soft and smooth, and was also safe for sensitive skin.

Are you hand-making all the scrubs? Can you tell us a little bit about what that process is like, for instance, does it take a couple of days to make a batch of each kind?
All of my scrubs are still handmade by me. I can’t give away too much of what the process is like, but it takes me about a half hour to make a batch of 25, 8oz jars. I mix up big batches of scrub in my workshop, then transport it in large containers to our Oakmont facility where it is put into jars and then packed and shipped out to customers.

What are the brand’s best-selling items?
Our best sellers are the Happy Feet (Peppermint) Foot Scrub and Coffee Facial Scrub with Coffeeberry Extract. The most popular body scrubs are Strawberry, Vanilla, Coconut, and Pink Grapefruit in addition to whatever the seasonal scent is that is featured each month.

Lani Lazzari,  Simple Sugars Scrubs

What is a ‘day in the life of Lani Lazzari like? Do you have time to enjoy being a teen after managing the business, its operations and social media?
My days are totally crazy. This year, I am going back to being a full-time student for my senior year of high school, so in addition to going to school from 8-3:15 every day, doing homework, and college applications, I somehow have to fit in all my business stuff which can easily fill up an 8-10 hour day all by itself! On top of that, I am also a rower, so I have crew practice every day until 6:30. Sounds impossible, right? But somehow it all manages to work out. I guess I’m pretty good at managing my time and prioritizing. Just for the record, I do make a point to find time for fun and for hanging out with my friends as well.

What are you hoping to study in college, and how do you want to continue to run and grow Simple Sugars?
Ah, the big question! Everyone expects that I’d want to be a business major but honestly, I can’t see myself taking an “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” class or finding “Accounting 101” very interesting. I guess I kind of already have a business degree from the School of Hard Knocks (LOL!) So, although I definitely am planning on college, I’m not 100% sure what I’d like to study. Ideally I’d like to find a program that would allow me to create my own major. I would like to take some management classes, as well as some international marketing classes, and I love history, chemistry and Spanish. So, yeah, definitely not your typical “major”!

As far as the future of Simple Sugars goes, this past year during which I was completely focused on growing the business has been so exciting and fulfilling that it has really increased my desire to continue to grow this company… That being said, I see my role as CEO evolving as we grow. Instead of being directly involved in every aspect of the day-to-day operation of the business, like I am now, I can see myself being more of the company spokesperson providing the leadership and strategic direction for the company. This will allow me to have a more complete college experience as well.

140659 1314629877 Q&A with 17 year old Natural Scrubs Expert, Lani Lazzari

You were doing ‘natural’ products before it really took off and became popular; how do you differentiate Simple Sugars Scrub in this crowded marketplace?
Although the natural market is huge now, which is a seemingly good thing,sadly most products that claim to be all natural are still loaded with potentially harmful chemicals and have an ingredient list longer than my arm! One of the primary points of differentiation for my products, is the fact that they were formulated especially for sensitive skin. So even people with conditions like eczema or psoriasis can use them (I
can’t make any claims about the products, but I haven’t had an eczema breakout since I started Simple Sugars).

Additionally, they are really high quality products that stand up next to products that are not all natural. I think there is a stereotype that to switch to an all-natural product, you have to settle for a less effective product. This is definitely not true with Simple Sugars the chemical free aspect actually makes my scrubs much more effective. Also, each scrub has only seven or eight ingredients, all of which you could eat if you had to!

Tell me more about the tour you will be doing this fall: what is its main mission, and how are you balancing it with school?
On September 14th, I am setting out on The Smoothest Road Trip Ever Ellen or Bust! I am driving across the country, (in the 1999 Chevy Prism that I inherited from my great grandma, aka The Super Smooth Mobile) from Pittsburgh to LA and back. I am stopping in 26 different cities along the way. In each city, I’ll be talking to the media, holding events, and spreading the word about my story. My goal is to create a huge buzz via social and traditional media, so that by the time I reach LA, I’ll be able earn a spot on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

The real mission, however, is to tell my story to as many girls and women as possible in the hopes that I can help inspire them to pursue their passion! To achieve financial independence on your own terms while doing what you love that’s what empowerment means to me and I feel that the earlier you start the better off you are! As for balancing it with school, I’m really not. It is a five and a half week trip, so I’ll be on the road for the almost the entire fall of my senior year.I am going to school for the first 2 weeks before I leave for this trip on September 14th , and then I’ll be making up the work I missed when I return. That is definitely going to be a huge challenge, but obviously, I’m not shy about taking on challenges! This trip is going to be a remarkable educational
experience in its own right.

Simple Sugars scrubs prices start at $4.50 for the 2 oz container and can be purchased online, in all of the Pittsburgh Area Giant Eagle Market District stores, and in select spa and specialty stores nationwide. Gift subscriptions, gift certificates, and gift baskets are available at SimpleSugarsScrubs.com.

Meet Lani on her road trip by checking out the dates on her website and following her on Twitter or Facebook.