Mama Bath + Body closes Avondale store, going out of businessEmilie Sennebogen Bryant opened Mama Bath + Body in Decatur in 2009. The store, now in Avondale, sells body products, teas and herbs, and some plants and gardening accessories. Photo submitted by Emilie Sennebogen Bryant.
Avondale Estates, GA — Mama Bath + Body has closed in Avondale Estates and is going out of business.
The retail store closed on June 26, but the website is open and orders can be placed through mid-July. Mama Bath and Body’s last day in business will be Friday, July 22.
Everything the store has available is on the Mama Bath + Body website, and maximum order quantities have been removed. Orders will be prioritized on a first come, first served basis. All sales are final.
“If we get more orders than we can fill, we will notify you as soon as we can and give you a full refund on those items. If we get overloaded on orders, we may have to stop taking them,” a FAQ on the website states.
The staff is not making gift sets or wrapped soaps. Loose-leaf tea is being sold in 4-ounce bags at a 40% discount.
“If you’ve followed us on social media, I’ve shared how much of a struggle these past 2+ years have been,” owner Emilie Sennebogen Bryant wrote in a statement on the website. “Running a small business is hard even when it’s going well. With all of the additional challenges the pandemic created (unending staffing issues, ongoing supply chain delays, increased costs in literally every category, and these are just a handful of the challenges) it has become unsustainable.”
Bryant had dreamed of opening more locations, and things were heading that way until March 2020. Mama Bath + Body closed the store at Krog Street Market in 2020 and negotiations for a third store halted.
“After that, we lost a lot of momentum and given the many continuing challenges of a post-covid retail business, it became clear that opening more stores was not an option for the foreseeable future,” Bryant said. “We probably would have closed in 2020 if not for a fortuitous event that allowed us to stay financially afloat without taking on debt while we swam upstream for two years and waited to see how things settled out. During this time, it became clear that the only real option to survive was to rebuild our business and grow as an exclusively online business, which meant a big change in my role and running a very different company.”
Bryant eventually came to the conclusion that this wasn’t the right move for the business.
Health reasons also played a role in her decision.
“I contracted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever last year, which ultimately revealed a chronic Lyme disease diagnosis in August of 2021,” Bryant said. “I struggled greatly through the initial months of treatment while continuing to work and eventually got back on my feet, but some symptoms persist and I haven’t felt truly well in many months. The deep stress of running a business with so much struggle has taken its toll on me physically as well as mentally; I have come to understand what true burnout feels like, and I’m extremely determined to get my health back on track, which I don’t feel I can do in these present circumstances.”
Bryant added, she has been exploring the possibility of closing Mama Bath + Body, although hoped that wouldn’t happen.
“This decision has truly been one of the most excruciatingly painful decisions of my life, and I have been dreading the coming months as I dismantle the pieces of this entity that has been my purpose and my passion for as long as I can remember. But now that the decision is made, I have found some peace, for the first time in a good while, knowing that I truly gave this business everything I had,” Bryant said.
She has been a small business owner for 20 years.
“That is a really long time to keep a small business alive and thriving (thriving until 2020, that is) and I’m really proud of this company and of all of these wonderful products that we put into the world for so many years. And now I’m ready for my next chapter,” Bryant said.
As for what’s next for Bryant, she will work on launching a new website this summer and caring for her two gardens. She has grown plants from seeds that were intended to expand Mama Bath + Body’s product line in a herbal direction.
“I would really like to see both of these projects through, so I’m going to try it with a much smaller product line on a much smaller scale and without all of the financial overhead and pressure to grow the business,” Bryant said. “I’m hoping this will free me up to do work that feels more meaningful to me, which means spending more time tending the earth and working with plants and less time sitting at a computer and making a million decisions.”
She plans to continue making hydrosols and create herbal and therapeutic salves and serums. She will also continue to make herbal bug spray.
“There is still a lot to figure out and right now, my focus is on closing out our current operations, so I will communicate more about all of this as it comes into focus,” Bryant said. “I know these offerings will appeal to a much smaller segment of our customers and honestly, that works for where I am right now. But the good news is, you will still be able to buy our hydrosols and bug spray after July 22nd.”
In some ways, she added, Bryant feels like she’s leaving untapped potential with the store, and in other ways, feels the company reached further than she could have imagined.
“But the one thing I know for sure is creating these products and cultivating such an incredible group of customers has truly been such a joy for me over these past 20 years, and it’s what kept me going through the many ups and downs of running a small business,” Bryant said. “I will dearly miss serving you and seeing your smiling faces and reading your sweet notes on your orders and everything else about this wonderful community.”
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