bathintentions 4th anniversary chat with Dinah

hi bathintentions friends and family,

my name is Joey. it’s bathintentions 4th anniversary, this local company that I love, is based out of cornwall, ontario. amongst other things, they specialize in artisan shower steamers, bath bombs, soaps, and sugar scrubs, i had the honour of guest-writing on their blog and interviewing my friend Dinah, the woman behind it all.

i have been following bathintentions since i had the chance of meeting Dinah, the co-founder, and some of her team at an event a couple of years ago. what struck me immediately was the amazing story of this company. the things that Dinah has had to overcome speaks volumes to her character and her commitment to make good come out of tragedy. 

i felt an immediate connection to Dinah and her story. my fiancé and his family had just experienced the loss of his grandmother, who I was very close with, from cancer. despite everything she was dealing with, and having every right to have lost the love and passion for her business, dinah just seemed to radiate a healing, positive energy. 

the products i tried were absolutely incredible. i just love the fragrant, citrus-y shower steamers to help me wake up in the morning, and as a guy with oily skin…the “i am bold” charcoal soap bar is a god-send. 

the quality of the products speaks for itself, but what gives this “small business” its big heart? 

i got a chance to sit down (virtually) with my friend dinah on the 4th anniversary of bathintentions to find out. 

JOEY: so why bathintentions? why did you create this and tell us a little bit about it. 

DINAH: actually bathintentions was founded by my daughter Alaya and myself. when she was about 13… the business stemmed from the fact that she wanted to make some extra money, i could not keep up financially with her love of shopping and fashion sense. Usually at that age, she would have been babysitting or small jobs like that, but Alaya had many cancers because of her immune system those were kind of out of the question. 

i had been making soap for years, i had a soap-making website where i shared recipes, and so i said “well, i’ll make you some bath bombs, and you sell them.” so in 5 weeks she sold 250 of them!

Alaya was very much a people person, she loved meeting people and was great at selling products so a few months later we began the business. Alaya had money for makeup and clothes and the business also allowed me to make some extra income, because during her treatment, i had closed my consultation firm to be with her during treatment. we had fun working together and I didn’t need to worry about going to a 9 to 5 job, which would have been impossilbe. 

so bathintentions comes from there. we handcraft beautiful products that smell great and make people happy. there’s a lot of therapeutic value.

JOEY: you speak so much about love and self-care. how does this tie into your products?

 our products, the whole process really, started out as an aspect of self-care and balancing our family’s financial needs and situation. during Alaya’s treatment and challenges we’ve experience, i’ve noticed that as a woman, more often than not i’m busy watching over and trying to meet the needs of everybody else and mine kind of get pushed aside, its not important, i’ll sacrifice my time, as long as everybody else is happy and healthy. our products enable people to easily plan that “self” time for themselves. the intention of you’re worthy, you’re important, make the time. and so the more we take care of ourselves the better we are at helping others. so the products are really created for those benefits. our intentions are truly fused into them…like we say “i am wonderful”, and all this self-talk is so important. the world is rough enough, and how we speak to ourselves and the words we choose are very, very powerful. so I think that our products really creates that little moment, especially when we’re going through maybe some rough times. 

we can’t control what happens to us; i’ve learned to accept the uncertainty of life, there’s beauty in that and its also a little scary, but we can control how we view it and how we talk to ourselves and how we decide to live.

JOEY: i imagine such a strong woman must have a strong team behind her. tell us about them. 

DINAH: early enough in the business, i realized that our life in and out of hospitals required a succession plan for the business. we needed to make sure that the products were made, that they were sold, that they were shipped out, having a strong team was imperative to the sustainability of the business.we were blessed with women who came into our lives who actually supported us and made sure that if we needed to spend 2 weeks in the hospital, i didn’t need to worry about the business. 

Nancy and Sandra have been there by our side. they are really and truly part of the family, and speaking of family, the whole family has really contributed. my mother has packed many bath bombs and Mike, my husband, has lined every soap mold that I’ve ever made. that’s a lot of soap! i’ve been blessed to be able to work with my son Jayke and his girlfriend Célia. we are truly here because of all these people.

we were really lucky because as the business grew organically, we were able to attract the perfect people. whether it be through our sales agents from the u.s and from atlantic canada. we are blessed with an accountant who has been more than patient with me and definitely supported me in managing the business and keeping an eye on the bucks. we’ve been blessed with retail partners, the website designer, social media strategists who have helped us out – i’ve been mentored by business coaches – and some local support here also, from different organizations, so the team is getting bigger and stronger.

JOEY: who are your customers? 

DINAH: our customers are the best people in the world! our customers are women, men and women who buy for men. *chuckles*. most of our customers are stressed, tired, and need a little bit more time for themselves and need an easy way to make time for themselves, that’s where our products help them. i love meeting our customers at events, talking online, and sharing on social media. our customers are very encouraging and supportive towards what we do and how we grow. 

we value and appreciate customer feedback. when we develop new products. we actually have customers who will test products for us, they offer their opinion and then we’ll tweak, change, or decide not to put forward a product. so they’re very important and we continue to grow that customer base.

especially with our shower steamers, we find we have a lot of customers who aren’t necessarily bath people, so the shower steamers really enable them to elevate that “i have to wash” into a self-care ritual. so you pop in a shower steamer, it smells nice and clears the sinuses. we have a lot of men who like them, especially for man-colds. 

JOEY: before i started using your products, i was using these self-affirmation videos in the morning, as a daily routine to help motivate me, and now…while i may not necessarily make more time for myself, i’ve started incorporating your “i am” affirmation shower steamers into my morning routine with the self-affirmation videos and it feels just like a spa…it’s like the perfect storm of self-care.

DINAH: you know, it’s funny…we’ve tagged our shower steamers as spa-ifying your shower, and that really comes from listening to our customers. when we went to events, customers would say “omg, it smells like when i go to the thermal spa steam room”so it’s a way to have a spa in the comfort of your home, whenever you feel like it. 

JOEY: what have your three biggest challenges been in the last 4 years?

DINAH: i did not know if i would recover from Alaya’s passing in september 2018, it’s like i did not even know how i was still breathing and how i would learn to live without her… as an entrepreneur, your personal life…its not cut and dry, so of course that influences the ability to work. so we did need to take some time off and then decided to pursue what we set out to do.

a major business challenges i would say that i’ve had is access to capital. it’s hard to scale up a business when there’s not a lot of money available. so that’s been definitely a challenge.

another one for me as a business woman is trying to do everything at the same time, and please everyone. so some days i’m wearing a social media hat, some days i need to do some bookkeeping, i also work production with the team and need to find the mind space and guts to make some tough decisions like “ok, we are going to invest a big chunk of money on the packaging for the shower steamers” and then you kinda of cross your fingers and hope that this is the right decision. so definitely many roles and many skills i need to acquire, but i look forward to the business continuing to grow and hopefully there will be a day when i can delegate those to somebody else”. *chuckles*

JOEY: talk to us about some of the big successes. what moments stand out to you? what are you the most proud of?

DINAH: something that i’m especially proud of is when i was able to get my first bank loan. it was like “wow, ok…somebody actually trusts me with this money; we’ve passed the hobby stage and it’s time to actually start treating this like a business.”

we also participated in a local contest called “win the space” and we needed to write our business plan. it took me 3 weeks, it really did kick me in the butt but I was super proud of having a document that explains, who we are, what we do, that we can do it and where we’re going.

some behind the scene successes for me are when i look at the team and they take on something new, when they feel successful. i was blessed, i was able to work with both my children, so that’s something as a mom is truly marvelous too. i remember we had sent a sampler pack to a social media influencer, which went very well, but then 2 months later she ordered our shower steamers for her husband, as a birthday gift! i’m saying to myself like “wow, that’s really cool, this woman gets so many sponsored bath products and she chose ours to gift her husband” so that was a really nice win for us. 

there’s been a lot of successes. some days i think that the fact that we are still here considering all the challenges is the truest success.we’ve demonstrated that bathintentions is really about love, resilience and community. if it hadn’t been for our team and our community, there’s no way we’d still be standing, so that’s the gratitude….we’ve had a lot of blessings. 

we’re also very proud of our hugs and kisses program. we’re still a young business, starting out with not a lot of dollars, but enough dollars to be generous, and enough dollars to make a difference in somebody’s week, in somebody’s journey for just a small moment. 

JOEY: i know we hadn’t planned it, but tell us a little bit about that.

DINAH: the hugs and kisses delivery program was really put forth by Alaya. she loved people, and she loved to give gifts. when we were looking at “well, what can we do as a business?” 

we decided to put forth the hugs and kisses program. its really quite straight-forward. our customers, our fans nominate someone in their life, who might be going through a rough patch, a difficult situation, or someone who is always there for everybody else but doesn’t make time for themselves. and then we’re able to select and gift these beautiful baskets, and we try to tailor them to the recipient. and we deliver those locally to those who need a little extra love.

JOEY: amazing. tell us, what have you most enjoyed about the journey so far?

DINAH: it’s all about the relationships. as a business owner, as an entrepreneur, when people say “oh, work for yourself, you set your own hours”…no, actually. you will work more hours than you ever worked for anyone else. but the relationships that we’ve built with our customers, our team, partners that we work with, are extraordinary. that’s where i guess we’ve created this culture of community that i don’t know if other manufacturers necessarily have, but we do. so for me that’s been amazing.

JOEY: if you could go back in time, what’s one piece of advice you would give yourself 4 years ago?

DINAH: watch the money! keep your eye on the money, all the time. you know a hobby is very different from creating a sustainable business. when you start off, you need to watch every penny. and I think that even as we grow, I have to be even more mindful that we’re producing the best quality product at a fair price, and be able to continue to do that, so money is important, whether you like it or not. bathintentions has served as such a creative outlet for me. but at the same time, if i want to continue to create jobs for people, have a revenue and make the business sustainable, then i definitely need to keep an eye on the money. 

throughout the last few years, i’ve really noticed that money management is part of self-care. it doesn’t mean not taking risks, i’ve been flying from the seat of my pants but it does mean being comfortable with the risk you take. 

JOEY: what is something, or some things, about Dinah that no one knows?

DINAH: there’s not many things that i hide and my team especially would tell you how candid i am about myself, but there’s a few secrets that I do not divulge easily.

i know all the words to “the gambler” from Kenny Rogers. i was raised with vinyl…and my parents had just so many records and i wasn’t old enough to purchase my own records, and i even watched the sunday night movie…

also, my middle name is Lyn, l-y-n, and my mom hasn’t called me Dinah Lyn in many, many years. actually, the kids were teenagers before they even found out that i had a middle name. 

something else is that i wear hearing aids. i was 42 when the specialist felt that it was probably because i had mumps when i was 10 or 12. but they work great, they don’t stop me from doing anything.

JOEY: what are your hopes for the company in the next 5 years? 

DINAH: as we move ahead, what we’ve put into play and where we hope to be is actually exporting our shower steamers to the u.s. we’ve been working with Sue and Jerry from GMC consulting and its l very promising. larger retailers would enable us to manufacture larger quantities, but still in an artisan fashion. i want to make sure that everything is handcrafted. we’re mainstreaming handcrafted products, and we want to manufacture differently. as part of manufacturing differently, something that we’d like to include is a return to work program for women and a work integration program for youth, who might have some challenges with the workforce, because its helped us so much discover our creative sources. because we are truly a team of strong women, i think that we can support other women who want to go back to work and balance out whatever challenges they’ve had or balance out with their family life, which is really important. those would be really meaningful. those are the 5 year goals, the primary ones at least…its time to make our mark!

JOEY: you already do so much to show your love and support for the community and the fact that it sounds like there’s another program in the works here for women and to support returning to work, i think is just amazing.

DINAH: we’re looking forward to the next steps, and of course this leads to other things, a new location…scaling up! 

JOEY: but keeping it still handcrafted, those artisan products, i think is so important and so special.

DINAH: thank you. creating jobs, helping women and families right? women who need jobs, making great products to help people. i mean, its wonderful in itself, right? so.

JOEY: absolutely. i can think of no one more wonderful than you to do it. i just want to thank you so much for your time and for all you’re doing for people, women and the community and even guys like me *chuckles* in the morning with those shower steamers…again…thank you so much.

DINAH: well, thank you! its been a pleasure.

joey bell is an ottawa-based social media strategist/blog writer/sometimes-entrepreneur who considers himself very witty and would like to make it known that he is very uncomfortable with the lack of capitalization in this blog. (lol) he considers himself fortunate to call Dinah a friend, and is a big fan of bathintentions. you can find him on instagram, dreaming about his next vacation or cruise @belljoey .