Nfld. & Labrador

How a Corner Brook baby's bum kickstarted a thriving business

From its beginnings with a single diaper stick, skin-care company Duckish Natural Skin Care now supplies stores across the country.

Halifax-based Duckish Natural Skin Care now supplies 70 stores across Canada

Carolyn Crewe and Josh Beitel are the duo behind Duckish, a Halifax-based skin-care company. (Submitted)

Carolyn Crewe's skin-care business literally started at the bottom.

"My sister had a baby, and I started looking at the ingredients in the diaper cream that she was using that I wasn't really excited about. That led to me researching, tinkering," Crewe recalled of the moment inspiration struck, while on a visit to her hometown of Corner Brook to cuddle her new nephew in 2013.

Crewe had never experimented with DIY skin care before, but the diaper cream dilemma spurred her on. She ended up creating her own diaper-cream stick, composed entirely of natural ingredients Crewe sourced and collected herself.

After testing and refining her recipe on her nephew's and a few other babies' bums, she knew she had her first skin-care hit on her hands.

Duckish Natural Skin Care now stocks products in 70 stores across the country. Crewe co-owns the company with her real-life partner Josh Beitel, and the duo just hired their first employee, five years after that first swipe of a diaper-cream stick.

​"it seems kind of insane to even think about it, but here we are," she said, adding she "absolutely" did not realize such success could have sprouted from one little bum.

Honouring her Newfoundland roots

Crewe and Beitel are based in Halifax but when they needed a name for their new company, Crewe's thoughts immediately turned to her home province.

"Newfoundland will always be home, no matter where I am in the world," she said, "and 'duckish' seemed to be a really good fit. It's a tip of the hat to my Newfie roots, which is fantastic."

Newfoundland will always be home, no matter where I am in the world.- Carolyn Crewe

Crewe said she doesn't mind having to frequently explain the Newfoundland term for twilight, and said the word complements the company's products.

"If you're going to use a bath bomb, bath salts or a nice really rich decadent cream, it's probably going to be that time of day. So we thought the word 'duckish' would be a really nice fit for what we were doing."

Crewe says one of the company's top sellers are these lotion sticks. (Submitted)

Expansion underway

Crewe and Beitel are now dealing with the sort of problem most businesses would like to have — demand is outpacing supply.

"Things are hectic," said Crewe, speaking from the company's current test kitchen, filled with the scents of her creations. That won't be the company's home for long, as she and Beitel get set to move into a bigger space.

The two make all the products themselves, but have realized that can't continue like that if they want to expand.

Duckish recieved a $25,000 grant from Nova Scotia Business, that province's business development agency, this summer to partner with two engineers from Dalhousie University. That expertise will help boost the Duckish production line beyond the handmade.

"It's to help us figure out what kind of equipment we need to get to keep making our products, but at a much larger scale," said Crewe, adding bath bombs are the first product they hope to be able to manufacture mechanically.

Somehow amid all the growth, Crewe and Beitel manage to balance their growing business with their growing toddler. Crewe may be punching a lot of overtime, but she said it often doesn't feel like work.

"This is kind of the only thing we've ever known, so it's busy, but it sort of seems normal for some reason. But then when I find myself in conversation with other people who just have 9-to-5 jobs, I think they think we're a little bit insane. And they may be right," she laughed.

"It's been a crazy couple of years, but I can't imagine doing anything else right now."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


Lindsay Bird

CBC News

Lindsay Bird is the producer and host of Atlantic Voice, a CBC Radio 1 show showcasing documentaries and storytelling from the east coast. She is based out of CBC Corner Brook.