Updated: Oct 24
Something is cooking in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and it’s not food… it’s beauty products! Irina Dovganetskiy is the owner and founder of withSimplicity, a clean beauty brand based in Harrisonburg, that is manufacturing makeup, skincare, and other beauty products in their storefront kitchen. She started making her own beauty products over seven years ago out of her home kitchen, “When I had my third child, I began detoxifying everything in my house. I realized how many harmful chemicals and ingredients were in my skincare and makeup. I didn’t want to expose my kids to that.” Her inspiration to create her own products came, in part, from her mom’s love for cooking, “My mother was a professional chef, and she and I loved cooking. Making beauty products is not that different.” At first, Irina made products only for herself, then for her family and friends, until - eventually - she produced enough to sell them on Etsy or at local markets and popups.
What started as a hobby has flourished into a national clean beauty brand, soon to be international! Customers purchase online orders as far west as California, and some even drive cross country to visit the store.
“We had one customer who drove eight hours to come shop at the store in person. She had been a long-time virtual customer but came in to treat herself for her 51st birthday. We did a mini makeover for her and got her all new products. She said she came to Harrisonburg just to visit us, she didn’t even have time to stop for dinner before she drove home!”
Within the next year, withSimplicity will be expanding to Canada, a big jump from Harrisonburg! And even locally, they recently moved into a new, permanent storefront location in downtown Harrisonburg. When we visited the brand new store to talk to Irina, we wondered If customers are coming far and wide to buy clean beauty products, why settle down in the Shenandoah Valley?
“It’s a different customer base here than somewhere like New York City. They care more about what’s in the product than the name on the label,” said Irina, ”Besides, I’ve made my home here and I want to put Harrisonburg on the map! It’s such a great place to live and own a business in! I hope we can attract more people and business owners to the region.”
The majority of withSimplicity’s products are made in-house, with a few exceptions. “Yes I’m a manufacturer and yes I’m a female entrepreneur, but what I really want to be known for are amazing products,” she explained.
In the future, Irina expects to outsource manufacturing more as production demands increase. She filled us in on the realities of small-scale manufacturing in the Valley:
“The infrastructure for small-scale beauty manufacturing in the Valley is scarce, both in opportunities for local outsourcing as well as trained employees. I’ve been resourceful by recruiting some employees with a pharmaceutical background whose training overlaps with the training and skill set we need but there’s room for improvement. I believe that - if more small businesses create demand - we could build a thriving infrastructure for small-scale manufacturing right here in the Valley. As for me, I’ll never give it up 100%, I just love the creative element so much.” Before leaving the store (and stocking up on products for ourselves), we asked Irina what advice she would give to the next generation of entrepreneurs, “Stop thinking about what other people think of you. Nobody else's opinion matters. Once I started saying ‘I’m just going to do me,’ that’s when I began to see real growth.” Wise advice if you ask us!