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Business smelling sweet with new bath bombs

Cosmetics Specialty Labs is as busy as Santa's workshop thanks to a couple of new projects that are expanding the company's workforce and product line.

The private-label cosmetics manufacturer, incorporated by Edna Hennessee in 1972, also has re-entered the retail business again with the opening of a new factory outlet.

Key to the flurry of activity is a contract for 180,000 bath bombs  spheres of chemicals that fizz when dropped into water and release fragrance. Jennifer Ellis, chief executive officer and chief chemist for the company and Hennessee's granddaughter, said meeting that contract has prompted hiring of 19 new employees.

The company began its production run last week and plans to have the first shipment  96,000 items for use as Valentine's Day gift packs  out the door by the end of the year, she said. 

CSL began to pursuing the contract  with an unnamed cosmetics retailer with more than 3,500 stores  at the suggestion of one of CSL's vendors, Ellis said. It was late in the process  and it was an entirely new product for CSL  but she decided to make a bid.

"I'd made them at home, but I hadn't made this many," Ellis said. "I said 'yes' and figured out how to do it."

"We kind of got put in at the end of the whole process," she said. "We made lots and lots of samples in the lab," she said, but the retailer accepted the first samples that CSL submitted.

It's a labor-intensive process, with most of the steps done by hand  including mixing the materials and packing them into spherical molds. There are some machines available, Ellis said, but they wouldn't be cost-effective in her operation or speed up production.

The goal is for the workers to turn out 3,500 bath bombs a day to fulfill the first contract, and Ellis said they're showing good progress in speeding up production.

Ellis hopes to be able to supply other products to the retailer that's ordered the bath bombs.

"This is kind of our foot-in-the-door project," she said.

CSL has had an order to make and package 50,000 tubes of pain relief cream, which has meant four other new jobs for the company. That's made possible partly by the company's purchase last year of a second tube-filling machine. The Comanche County Industrial Authority, at the request of the Lawton Fort Sill Economic Development Corporation, approved a $282,00 loan to CSL to purchase the machine; CSL will pay back the loan by creating and maintaining jobs.

The Lawton Constitution

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