Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘We love our community, get involved in the local chamber and other events, and we’ve donated proceeds to various local organizations.’

Roberta Perry, Plainview

“So much of what I do now is because of my late sister. I started making sugar scrub because my own skin was so bad, and I hadn’t found anything I loved. I was just trying different combinations out on my own dry skin. My sister, Michelle, said, ‘Let’s go sell some.’ I had no intention of making it into a business — that I credit to her.

“In the beginning, I had my whole family involved. I was working side by side with Michelle. My kids were helping out; my parents, too. My mom’s 86 years old now, and she will still come in to put stickers on bags and jars. The fact that I got to work with Michelle and continue to work with my best friend, Wendy, is everything.

“I started selling ScrubzBody products at local craft fairs, expos, and any sort of holiday boutique we could afford and travel to easily. Business took off and, eventually, we were selling in stores like Whole Foods and online on our website. The amount of time I spent driving around to do demos in different stores, some in different states, to try and sell my products was exhausting. I was drained. I realized that I would rather put my energy into people. I wanted that relationship that small business owners have with their customers. We pivoted to retail.

“The timing of this all happening was so weirdly serendipitous and everything fell into place. We opened a storefront in Bethpage and then moved to where we are now, in Farmingdale. We love our community, get involved in the local chamber and other events, and we’ve donated proceeds to various local organizations.

“I am all about pampering and self-love. We use natural ingredients in our products, so I always say that Mother Nature made my recipe, but I made it easy for you to use and give yourself self-care.

“My sister had retail experience, and I had graphic design and business experience. I formerly worked in sales, and it made me realize how easily I could talk to people and how much I enjoyed it. Every piece of what I had done before led to this business – connecting with my customers and community members. There aren’t many places where people walk in and leave feeling better about themselves, and I’m happy my customers experience that at my shop.”

The parties are such a tribute to Michelle. She was always bouncy and so full of life.

“This place isn’t making me rich, but it makes me happy, and that’s worth everything. I get to own a shop that I started with my sister. I get to work with my best friend. I get to make people feel good about themselves. I get to work in this really cool town. How lucky am I?

“Before Michelle passed away, she would always push for hosting skin-care parties. I wasn’t as enthusiastic about them as she was, but I love them now. We host ‘Make Your Own Scrubz’ parties for people of all ages. Women come in with their friends or family, and we’ll pamper them with hand scrubs and lotions. Who doesn’t love a ladies night out? Even kids have parties here all the time. They love making their own signature scent of the Scrubz. We also love catering food from the Farmingdale area. One of Wendy’s great ideas was the phone box, where we tell parents that we’d like to take the kids’ phones away during their parties. It makes such a difference. They are so much more connected. I love seeing them talk and joke with each other rather than be glued to their phones.

“The parties are such a tribute to Michelle. She was always bouncy and so full of life. She radiated a beautiful energy, almost childlike. Every time we host a party here, I can hear her jokingly say, ‘I told you so.’

“After she passed, it was incredibly difficult. Her son lived with me for four years, so we got very close, and her daughter is truly like another daughter to me. I was fortunate to have a wonderful support system in my husband and family, and an amazing friend, Wendy, who stepped up tremendously with the business. Wendy has always shown up for me and for ScrubzBody, and I am so thankful. This business is a collaboration of everyone who ever supported it.

“Michelle was my biggest cheerleader. There’s not a shred of doubt of how much she loved me and how much I loved her. She would be so proud. She is so proud.”

Interviewed by Melanie Gulbas