A wave of floral and citrus scents pours onto the sidewalk in historic downtown Fredericksburg, hitting your nose before you can even reach the store. Stepping into the chic bath and body boutique, you’re invited into a sea of handcrafted soaps, balms and oils. Welcome to Ladyburg!
The warm greeting comes from UMW junior Morgan Wellman, who transferred to Mary Washington in her second year of college to be closer to home due to health issues. Turning circumstance into opportunity, Wellman embraced the change, launching into a business major and complementing her education with hands-on experience – joining her mother as co-owner of Ladyburg.
“We call me the ‘people person,’” said Wellman, who became the store’s official co-owner this past August. “I have a more hands-on role. I’m in charge of all things on-site, from customers to employee relations.”
Selling everything from bath bombs to beard products, Ladyburg opened in 2012 after Wellman and her mother took a soap-making class. Most recently, the business moved into a new space on Caroline Street with room for a production kitchen, where they make most of their products by hand.
“It’s so hard to know what really goes into products you buy these days,” said Crystal Wellman, who was an aesthetician before opening the store with the help of her daughter. “I wanted to ensure my clients were using safe, healthy and non-damaging products on their skin, so we started a business where we make everything ourselves.”
Rated the number one shopping experience in Fredericksburg on the travel website Trip Advisor, Ladyburg’s back-to-the-basics approach to producing quality soap from natural ingredients is creating a bubble of excitement in the local community.
“We have a very loyal customer base,” said Wellman. “I love getting to know everyone who comes into my store and watching them grow throughout the years.”
More than providing a career, though, becoming a business owner and entrepreneur has given her education true purpose.
“My accounting class has been the most helpful,” said Wellman, who will graduate in 2018. “My mom manages the bookkeeping, so now I actually understand what she is talking about.”
Owning a business isn’t always a walk in the park, though. Wellman often spends more than 35 hours a week in the store – when she isn’t in one of her four UMW courses – and doesn’t get holidays or weekends off. Even the occasional vacation is rare for her.
“Being an entrepreneur is hard because you can’t turn it off at 5 p.m.,” said Wellman. “Most nights my mom and I are spitballing ideas or working until we go to bed. I’m always replying to texts, emails and Facebook messages.”
Would she do it again? Yes – but she has some advice for future Eagle entrepreneurs about the reality of what it means to start your own business.
“Owning a company is really hard work,” said Wellman. “There are times when you question if it’s worth it, but don’t give up. It’s the most rewarding experience, and if you can make it through those hard moments then nothing will phase you.”