How Lovett Sundries is Finding Success with a New Storefront in Wilkinsburg
Jeff Lovett and Marit Aagaard moved their business selling handcrafted personal care and household products in November.
Jeff Lovett and Marit Aagaard, the husband-and-wife duo behind Lovett Sundries, a local business that sells various handcrafted personal care and household products, have embraced a naturalistic lifestyle since they attended graduate school together in Southeastern Ohio.
When they moved to Pittsburgh in 2011, they started using basic recipes to make soaps and lotions, which they gave to close friends. By 2015, they had started Lovett Sundries.
“We realized that so many of these small batch, handmade personal care products are really complex,” Lovett says. “They have a lot of fragrances in them or they use a lot of things that are not natural ingredients and we realized that maybe there was a place for us to try and start a little business doing this.”
In November 2021, just in time for the busy holiday season, the couple moved their business to a former print shop on Penn Avenue in Wilkinsburg located just blocks from their home. Lovett says opening the storefront felt like an ideal opportunity to contribute to their neighborhood.
“It’s been an incredible workspace for us. The first floor, where we have our shop, is 2,200 square feet, so it’s a really large open space with 12-foot ceilings,” he says. “There’s a lot of businesses in this neighborhood but there’s not a lot of walk-in stores. We feel really proud to have that in this neighborhood where we live.”
Previously, the couple used the first floor of their house as a workspace for making and manufacturing products, which Lovett describes as a process of trial and error, at least in the early days.
“It was a combination of research and experimentation. These kinds of things, especially early on, are much closer to cooking than to chemistry,” Lovett says. “We would start with traditional recipes and then slowly tweak as we went.”
While his favorite products change depending on what equipment the couple has available, Lovett says he enjoys making the cream pomade, a hair styling cream meant to slick back hair.
“It’s one of my favorites because it was really a difficult product to perfect. Things had to be just perfect,” he says. “As we’ve worked through all these iterations, we’ve come to a formula and a process that’s really repeatable and makes a really great product.”
Other popular items from Lovett Sundries include their rosewater face cream and a cast-iron conditioner. Lovett notes the rosewater face cream is his favorite to make because it’s so amusing.
“I really love making this our rosewater face cream because it makes the whole place smell so nice, but we also have a filler and so we can fill them really quickly, which just feels really fun; It feels like we’re in a factory for a minute,” he says.
Beyond chemistry, Lovett says one of the most fulfilling aspects of running a small, family-owned business is keeping the economy local, as well as building personal connections with customers and providing sustainable, naturalistic products to their community.
“Being a small family manufacturing business, we offer people that kind of connection to our products so that they can know how the thing was made and where it came from,” he says. “We’re real people making real things and when you use them, you know us.”