If you ask owner Hayley Rose of Harborside Bath & Body in Rogers City what she and her store contribute to the “Sunrise Side” of Michigan, more than likely you’ll first get an enthusiastic response about the natural and manmade wonders in the area, such as Ocqueoc Falls or the world’s largest limestone quarry. Or Hayley, a recent Lake Huron cohort member of the Michigan SBDC’s Uplift Michigan program, will rave about the excellence of the bath and body products she carries at Harborside, produced by women-owned Michigan-based suppliers who are known for being true artisans at their craft. This is evidenced by reading her website: “Just like beautiful northern Michigan, these products are fresh, unpolluted, all natural, and truly clean beauty.”
Hayley is the biggest cheerleader for her town and northeast Michigan, and to use a metaphor appropriate to the town with its lovely marina, she clearly believes that a rising tide lifts all boats!
Hayley is an enterprising business owner who returned to her hometown of Rogers City, after retiring from a corporate position. Her hometown is a place where she relates that the “Lake Huron shoreline, northern pines, and fresh air always seem to calm and restore my soul”. Her love for the area and for her business is evident in everything she does, from promoting and partnering with similar businesses in the region, to working with Michigan-based female suppliers, to supporting local youth and school initiatives. The store even sponsors a local little league team for girls!
After a pop-up store was piloted for six weeks in late 2020, the Harborside Bath and Body store as it is now opened in 2021. While running the pop-up, Hayley surveyed local citizens and found that they wanted a local option for gift buying, without having to travel to another town. Combining that knowledge with her love of quality beauty products, she began curating organic and high-quality bath, body, hair, nail and skincare products that are made in Michigan. She supplements these with other lines such as robes and pajamas, apparel, clean-burning soy candles and jewelry made by Michigan designers. Her choices obviously resonate with her customers, as testimonials prove. One customer commented, “Made it back to my hometown and was excited to check out this new little shop – so many great products and many wonderful smells. I love that these are all products from our great state!!! Will be back for more pampering supplies!!”
On top of offering a wide product range in store and online, including from companies such as Eve Organics, Elina Organics and Dirty Girl Farms, Harborside Bath and Body employs specialists, who are knowledgeable about the products, and most importantly the ingredients, in each line. Hayley mentions that everyone has a different skin type, so it is important to understand which products are appropriate for each one, such as mature or combination skin, or skin with conditions such as rosacea. Her main customer base ranges from teenagers to those in their 70’s, and the store carries products for men too. And beyond simply providing natural products for a healthy lifestyle, she and her specialists also create thoughtful videos and blog posts that educate on good skin care, hair care, makeup and self-care.
Hayley was selected to receive free small business training offered by the Michigan SBDC’s Uplift Michigan program for the Lake Huron region. The program serves underrepresented small business owners who are located in geographically disadvantaged areas, rural regions, or are income constrained. It included eight weeks of one-on-one business coaching, a weekly live Mastermind group training session, on-demand webinars and continued access to post-program business coaching.
Hayley discovered the program was a great fit for her, after having been in business for a few years. It helped her refocus her priorities and circle back to her business plan, which needed updating as Harborside has evolved.
Hayley worked with her Michigan SBDC Uplift Michigan business coach, Kristin Gapske, on revising her business plan and found the one-on-one business coaching excellent. Those conversations helped her establish additional creative marketing methods for her business and helped her define her multiple target markets and how to reach them: local shoppers, visiting tourists, and online customers. She also added, “I wasn’t aware of all the funding opportunities available to my business, and the networking in the program was amazing – I’m already collaborating with some of the other cohort members!”
As for words of advice for small business owners, she recommends connecting and cultivating relationships with suppliers, something she has done to her customers’ advantage. Hayley knows that when customers have specific needs and questions, she can call her suppliers and get targeted support. This benefited a particular client with severe acne and rosacea. Through collaboration with the supplier, they were able to offer her a skin care regime which greatly helped her balance her skin. And her words of advice for business owners starting up in northeast Michigan? “Connect with the SBDC, and get into an Uplift Michigan program if you can – I wish I knew about the program before I opened my store!”
Uplift Michigan™ is the MI-SBDC’s strategic movement designed to ensure equitable access for all diverse entrepreneurs across.
To learn more about the Michigan SBDC’s Uplift Michigan™ program, visit michigansbdc.org/get-started/upliftmichigan.
Photos by: Heather Mertz Photography