GERMAN VILLAGE, Ohio (WCMH) — A man who developed a shampoo to deal with his own 15-inches-long hair saw the business grow so fast he’s expanding into four new locations.
Tiki Botanicals on South 3rd Street in German Village began as the hobby of Candace and James Thieken. Four years ago they were experimenting with making candles, bath bombs, and the shampoo for James — all in their home.
Then James had a job change, and they transformed the Etsy-shop pastime into a brick-and-mortar venture. The ground-floor front room of their period house on busy South 3rd Street became a working store.
Candace’s piano got piled high with candles and bath bombs, and James’ guitars hang on the walls. Sliding open a pocket door reveals stainless-steel work surfaces, a double-sink production area, and a dining-room table — marks of a truly home-grown business.
Tiki Botanicals got one year of business under its belt, and then COVID-19 hit. But they were lucky, one of the few businesses to remain open.
“With COVID-19 we experienced a real downturn in foot traffic, in late March early April period of 2020,” says Thieken. “What we did find though is a really huge support from the local community: not just German Village but overall Columbus. We do sell soaps so we were able to stay open during the pandemic….
“The year prior we had just opened the business. We didn’t have great comparative results for how the business was going to operate or what we thought the potential would be. We were actually surprised by the amount of traffic online and into the shop. With that success, during COVID, we decided that we may want to look at expanding our endeavor.”
Now Tiki Botanicals will have four locations: Across the street from The Book Loft; shop number two opened in Polaris; signed leases for a third in downtown Powell; and store number four at The Shops on Lane, Upper Arlington.
“The brand was really catching hold, and the way we manufacture and make our products it strikes a chord with the community and ultimately with our customer,” said Thieken. This means every soap made by hand, essential oil fragrances, soy instead of paraben in the candles, and natural instead of synthetic ingredients wherever possible.
Rapidly growing a business has its challenges, too. “Some of the stumbling blocks to growing are capital, the money to open the stores and that ability to get ahold of the funds to open, sign leases, fixture them, inventory them.”
These are all ordinary problems. But one unique to COVID-19 is the lack of workers. “With a lot of the assistance and expanded unemployment, we’re actually finding it difficult to get employees that want to come in and work. We are having to pay wages higher than most…really getting those employees in here and getting the right employee that’s going to be right for our brand.”
And the story about his hair? “Shockingly enough, I had at one point 15-inches of hair and could not find a product I liked or was pleased with from a final-feel standpoint. I worked for 6 months to formulate a shampoo that I thought was the best it could be. Thus came the Ewe Shampoo…and the feedback I got was amazing.”