Recently First Selectman Ellen Scalettar visited two home-based businesses, Susan Lettelleir’s Beautycounter and Sweet Seidners. The First Selectman has been visiting local businesses to highlight them as part of the “Shop Woodbridge, Dine Woodbridge, Try Woodbridge” campaign.
“In Woodbridge we are lucky to have so many entrepreneurs with home-based businesses,” said Scalettar. “It is always my hope that home-based businesses, like the two I recently visited, are able to flourish and outgrow their home office.”
Sweet Seidner’s is a Woodbridge-based online business that bakes and ships made-to-order cookies and treats anywhere in the United States from a certified kosher (dairy) kitchen. Jodi Seidner has been baking since she was young and always dreamed of having her own bakery. About six years ago when her niece went away to college, Seidner sent her two dozen cookies every month for a year. “She was a shy girl and I wanted to help her make friends at school. What college student would say no when asked, ‘Would you like a cookie?’” Seidner said. It became her go-to graduation gift for students heading off to college. “The feedback was so positive that I realized there is a business opportunity here.”
Seidner bakes Mondays through Thursday and tries to ship her cookies the same day they are made because she does not use preservatives. She ships via USPS Priority Mail, and the cookies arrive within two business days. On any given day Seidner can bake as many as 120 dozen cookies. Because Seidner has been baking since she was a child, her recipes are well developed. She has been baking one cookie bar in particular, the Jack’ed Chocolate Chip bar, named after her husband, for over 20 years. Seidner offers 14 varieties of cookies, four cookie bars, and specialty treats including some traditional Jewish favorites like hamantaschen, macaroons and rugelach. She promises that chocolate babka will be available soon.
Seidner’s background is in engineering and she has an MBA in marketing and finance. She uses those skills in her business today. Engineering, she says, helps with critical thinking and understanding the chemistry of baking; marketing helps build the brand and spread the word about her growing business. Her five year plan is to find a commercial space in Woodbridge.
In addition to traditional home-baked cookies for delivery, Seidner also makes decorated cookies for wedding favors, bridal shower favors and other special events.
Although her business is focused on mail-order sales Woodbridge residents can also find her cookies for sale at The Write Approach on 245 Amity Road in Woodbridge and the farmers’ market. For more information or to place an order, visit SweetSeidners.com.
Susan Lettelleir was always conscientious of what she ate, especially once she was pregnant. While pregnant she was shopping for sunscreen and “I realized that what I put on my body is as important as what I put in my body.”
After her son was born she met another young mother at the Woodbridge Town Library. As they got to know each other, they shared personal health information – Lettelleir is a breast cancer survivor – and the other mother introduced Lettelleir to Beautycounter products. “I liked the products so much that she encouraged me to sell them,” said Lettelleir. The other mother had been selling Beautycounter products at the Library’s farmers’ market (she has since moved away). Lettelleir is considering doing the same this summer.
Beautycounter is a skincare line focused on getting safer products into the hands of everyone. The company lobbies Congress to “clean up” cosmetics. Congress hasn’t passed a major law over the cosmetic industry since 1938; in contrast the European Union has banned or restricted almost 1,400 chemicals from cosmetics. Beutycounter has a list of 1,500 chemicals that it will never use in its products.
The products cost “no more than what I was spending at Clinique or Sephora and they last such a long time because they’re more concentrated and you don’t need to use much,” she says.
Products include cleansers, masks, makeup, sunscreen, moisturizers and more. Despite her passion for the product, selling beauty products is not Lettelleir’s full-time job – she works for a major marketing company and she’s a mother to a toddler. Instead, she sells the products through small gatherings. A host will invite between five and 20 guests to a party at which Lettelleir will explain the company’s mission and invite guests to test the products. Her goal is to eventually sell the product full-time so that she can spend more time at home with her son. For more information or to order the product, visit www.beautycounter.com/susanlettelleir.