The Bubble Bistro has changed the way folks in Memphis think about body care products. It makes and sells natural products from scratch using such raw ingredients as clays, herbs, fruits, nut butters and sea salts.
The salts are purchased in Europe, the Caribbean and the Dead Sea; the mango
butter, in Brazil; and the shea butter, in Ghana. A native of Memphis, Johnson is back to expand her business Stateside. They offer a range of products, with such best-sellers as shampoo bars and a detox body soak. The Bubble Bistro also makes mineral-based makeup, and full product lines for men, babies as well as pets.
Andrea Johnson launched the Bubble Bistro in 2009 in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. A native of Memphis, Johnson moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2007 coming back recently to expand her business Stateside.
“The timing was perfect for me, personally, to pursue my entrepreneurial ambitions and the combination of infinite natural ingredient resources and a predominantly vegan market within the Caribbean,” says Johnson, who used her own money to fund the startup. “Initially, I used one of my personal credit cards and savings. The Bubble Bistro has been self-sustaining since day one. The business paid for its own expansion. We are debt-free.”
Johnson has just opened a new location in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that just opened to the public on August 1. She has plans on further expansion to Birmingham, Dallas, Nashville and Houston. “Our long-term goal is franchising,” says Johnson. So far, they have been on-target with their goals. “We have far exceeded our sales and growth goals for this year with the new store opening in a new city and ahead of schedule. We do want to offer local delivery in our markets by the end of the year,” says Johnson.
While the Bubble Bistro has been successful, along the way Johnson has had a few hurdles to jump. The first was getting people to support a small business. “I started a ‘Buy Local’ movement offering a niche in retail shopping. Our store is so personalized and customer-powered. I charged them with the task of making sure their favorite place is here to stay,” explains Johnson. “On a local, small business level, word of mouth is gold.”
Another hurdle was getting the business to grow. “Growth is very risky and expensive. Finding the perfect balance in timing, staffing, financing, and delegating is so hard for small business owners. It’s almost like needing the stars to line up, but faith and patience give me the courage to push through,” she says.
The experience of being a small business owner has taught Johnson more than a few valuable lessons: “One is to be mentally prepared to stand alone. Friends, family, etc won’t always understand your passion and dedication. You will lose some who you thought were your biggest fans, but do not deter from seeing your vision through,” she shares. “You must be able to walk firmly in the same faith that you stepped out on. There will be peaks and lows, but you can’t fold,” she says. And one of the most important lessons, she says, is about the passion of entrepreneurship. “It’s not about the money. Do what you love and the money will come. Following your heart’s passions creates a mental sync of creativity that will push you into prosperity,” says Johnson, who balances being a single mother and business owner.
“This business was a perfect fit for not just me, but also my children. Its family oriented and everyone is able to be a part of,” she says.
Wondering what her favorite product is on her product list? “For me, personally, it would have to be the Bistro Body Butter. It makes you stop, slow down and love on yourself a bit,” she says.