Person of interest: Lani Lazzari, teen entrepreneur
December 2, 2012 10:00 AM
Lani Lazzari -- Founded Simple Sugars line of all-natural face and body scrubs when she was 11.
By Sara Bauknecht Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Lani Lazzari is only 18, but her resume reads more like that of someone who is at least twice her age.
At age 11, the Fox Chapel resident started her own line of all-natural face and body scrubs called Simple Sugars as an alternative to store-bought products, which irritate her sensitive eczema-prone skin. She stuck with it, even studying independently during her junior year at The Ellis School so she could keep up with school and her budding business.
In just a few years, the beauty industry has taken notice. Teen Vogue, Seventeen and Allure have featured the scrubs on their websites, and Ms. Lazzari has enjoyed a healthy number of TV and radio spots. In high school, she rallied attention for Simple Sugars by embarking on a six-week cross-country promotional trip.
Ms. Lazzari graduated in June and deferred for a year a spot at George Washington University. Nowadays, she's keeping busy at the company's Sharpsburg office by rolling out scents for each season and marketing Smooth for Men, a new line of scrubs in man-friendly scents and colors.
Simple Sugars is available locally at So Me in Shaler, Maggie and Stella's in Oakland, and Schiller's Pharmacy and Cosmetique in Shadyside. It also is carried at Giant Eagle Market District stores in Robinson, Bethel, Wexford and Shadyside and recently was picked up at 10 more Giant Eagle locations. The collection also is for sale at www.simplesugarsscrub.com.
My proudest moment as president and CEO of Simple Sugars was ... when Simple Sugars was featured in Lucky Magazine in January 2010. It was the first time that a feature had been done that was just about how awesome the products are and not about how young I was. It really helped to give my line legitimacy, and it was so exciting to be featured alongside the big-name brands.
If I could collaborate with anyone in the beauty or fashion industry, it would be ... OPI! I am absolutely obsessed with their nail polish, and I would love to someday have a Simple Sugars Pink OPI nail polish color and/or collaborate with them on a hand scrub-nail polish collection and have scrubs to match their polish colors. For example, a strawberry scrub with OPI polish in strawberry margarita.
The greatest challenge of starting a company at such a young age was ... getting people to take me seriously. Since the beginning, it has always been important for me to do things on my own. While I had support from people, I never wanted someone else to be making decisions for me and dictating the direction of my company. ... If anything, I've learned to be resilient, which is definitely a benefit when it comes to growing a business.
If I could trade places with anyone, past or present, for a day it would be ... either President Obama or Howard Schultz. Obama because I think it would be so interesting to see what it's really like to run the country and Howard Schultz because I'm a little bit obsessed with Starbucks as an organizational role model (and equally obsessed with its caramel macchiatos).
My must-have food in the 'Burgh is ... either fish tacos with bacon from Kaya or afternoon tea at the Frick.
If I was stranded on an island with only two things, they would be ... this is a tough one because I never go anywhere without at least three pairs of shoes. But I would probably have to go with my iPod (I can't go a whole day without listening to music) and a jar of Nutella (because, seriously, Nutella makes everything better).
My ideal weekend is ... very relaxing. I don't get a chance to just relax very often, but I really love just having a weekend where I don't have anything to do. I would start my weekend by sleeping in (i.e., no alarms!). Then I would get a massage and spend the afternoon reading a good book and The New York Times. And I really like to cook, so I'd spend part of my weekend baking something delicious and making a really good dinner, complete with homemade fresh pasta.
If I had not founded Simple Sugars, I would have wanted to be ... a chef or restaurant owner and/or professional foodie. I have grown up learning to appreciate really good food, and I am Italian, so food has always been really important to my family.
The best advice I ever received was ... from my mom. She always tells me, "just do it." This advice is really important to me in two ways. First of all, I've had to make a lot of big decisions and do some pretty unconventional things to be able to fully pursue Simple Sugars. ... Secondly, especially as an entrepreneur, you can't sit around and wait for someone to push you to do something -- you have to get out there and "just do it."