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Black Mermaid Bath and Body

Denise Zannu, Black Mermaid Bath and BodyThis is a story of creativity from name to business model to product. In Greek mythology, Sirens lured sailors to the rocks in the ocean, and ultimately to their demise. However, the black-tailed mermaids, would take pity on the sailors.  They rescued the sailors and healed them with the elements of the earth. Enamored with this story, Denise Zannu, owner of Black Mermaid Bath and Body, is the mermaid who heals people with the earth. 

Black Mermaid Bath and Body is a small manufacturing company, which produces all-natural, non-toxic, spa- quality, skin care products.  The products are designed around all-natural oils and ingredients, with the mission of healing the skin from the inside out. To ensure that they are using the freshest possible ingredients, 75% of the ingredients used in Black Mermaid Bath and Body products are locally sourced from Georgia. Denise believes in using the “best of the best” ingredients, whether locally sourced ingredients or internationally sourced; such as shea butter or essential oils from Africa, India, and other Asian countries.

Prior to starting Black Mermaid, Denise was a special education teacher. In her science class, she would teach the students about chemical change by teaching them how to make soap.  She and the students would then give the soaps away as gifts for the holidays. At home, Denise would create soaps for family members with skin issues. She wanted to introduce them to ways to heal the skin without chemicals, but needed to do it in a creative way so that they would be more likely to use the products. She lured them in with the concepts of soap, as well as the pleasing fragrances of the product.

Black Mermaid Bath and Body

Almost five years ago, Denise decided to turn her hobby into a business and created Black Mermaid Bath and Body. However, Denise is not a retailer.  She is a manufacturer, focusing on business-to-business sales. Black Mermaid’s goal is to reach more consumers by using business-to-business distribution. This means that Black Mermaid Bath and Body sells products to other businesses, who in turn, sell the products to consumers. 

Black Mermaid also offers private label (also known as white label), which allows other companies to personalize skin care products to suit their needs and put their own labels on them. The benefits of this are that the company gets a highly customizable, high quality product that they don’t have to manufacture themselves, as well as the added ability to self-brand.  The benefit for Black Mermaid is expansion.  Denise said, “I don’t care whose name is on it if it’s good stuff and it does what it needs to do to help people.” What Denise loves most about what she does is that she gets to help people. 

Denise’s inspiration for Black Mermaid Bath and Body products comes from the purpose of the product. Black Mermaid is customer oriented and believes in listening to the needs of the customer, both from a business-to business-perspective, but also based on the needs of the end user (the retail customer). According to Denise, soap making requires a lot of creativity, but it also requires a lot of research so that the maker can be informed about what types of ingredients to use, the purpose of each ingredient, and how to balance each ingredient.

Since she doesn’t have a retail location, Denise promotes Black Mermaid at various industry trade shows, such as the Face and Body Expo, NASN Pro, and ICES Miami. The challenge for Black Mermaid Bath and Body is that they have large, powerful, and financially stable competitors. However, Black Mermaid currently has the capacity to manufacture over 1,000 bars of soap and 1,000 jars of product per week. Denise commented, “We’re small, but we’re mighty. There’s nothing wrong with being a small business. I’d rather be small and do extremely well than to be large and generic.” Through the challenges, calls from the customers keep her going. It’s the small things like someone simply saying “thank you”. 

Black Mermaid Bath and Body

Black Mermaid Bath and Body is currently working on expanding further into the spa industry. They have been invited to partner with Live Love Spa, coming to Atlanta in July. As part of their spa line expansion, they are working on increasing presence along the entire East coast.  Denise stated, “We want Black Mermaid Bath and Body to be everywhere.”  If Black Mermaid had $100,000 to spend today, it would expand internationally, into Central America and the Caribbean Islands.  Denise also wants to create a training program for estheticians and spa industry professionals.

It’s clear that Denise loves what she does, so what are her personal favorite products? Denise’s favorite ingredients are mango butter, shea butter, gold tip oil, and meadowfoam oil (a high-end, long-lasting softening oil that is absorbed into the skin like the skin’s own oils).  According to Denise, if she could only take three Black Mermaid products in her luggage, she would take a facial soap, a moisturizing body whip, and a mud mask. She explained that the facial soap cleans very well; the moisturizing body whip creates the right balance of moisture, lasts all day, and smells great; and the mud mask creates an opportunity for pampering no matter where you are.

For others interested in making their own skincare products, Denise advises:

  1. Know your niche. Know who your customers are going to be.
  2. Know your products. Thoroughly research the ingredients you plan to use.

Denise’s favorite mantra is, “Embrace the opportunity, learn from the experience, but enjoy the journey.” She applies this mantra to both the good and bad experiences in life.

To learn more about Black Mermaid Bath and Body, visit

Kina DeWitt, Atlanta Institute of Aesthetics Graduate and Guest Blogger 

Kina DeWitt graduated from the Atlanta Institute of Aesthetics in October 2016. A Hampton, Virginia native, she has resided in Atlanta, Georgia for 3 years, after having left her mark in Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD along the way. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie, movie buff, fashion lover, and water baby. A country girl with a love for urban life, she enjoys exploring the city for festivals, shows, concerts, and exhibits. Kina also loves to read; hike; spend time on the water; make natural body products; and, of course, write. One of her great passions is skincare and she enjoys “transforming faces” at her Atlanta salon, FACES by Kina. You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

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