PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Lani Lazzari was a cute, Pippy Longstocking-looking girl when she started her business at age 11. Today, she’s a young woman – a 17-year-old CEO working full-time to run her company.

“I started Simple Sugars when I was 11-years-old because I have really sensitive skin,” said Lazzari. “I can’t use a lot of commercially-produced products because of fragrances and things that most companies use in their products. So, I decided… to make products for my own really sensitive skin.”

She did a lot of research and experimenting and came up with her own recipe for a body scrub, starting with simple sugars, which became the name of her company.

“The first scrubs I made were mostly things I could find in my kitchen. My first two scents were vanilla and almond,” she said.

Lazzari gave the scrubs to friends and family for Christmas, and when they wanted to buy more, she realized she had a business.

She was also inspired by her mom, Gina, who was demoted while on maternity leave from her long-time job as a pharmaceutical sales representative.

“I kind of realized that I didn’t want that to be me,” Lazzari said. “I wanted to be able to make my own future and not have to rely on whoever was employing me to give me a promotion. I kind of wanted to do my own thing.”

Lazzari, herself, mixes the scrubs in her basement in Fox Chapel where there are still reminders that she’s a teenage girl with two younger brothers.

She now has 16 to 24 different scents of body scrubs depending on the season, plus facial scrubs, a foot scrub, a vegan line and a men’s line.

Lazzari still mixes scrubs at home, but her business has grown so much that she’s had to get an office for all the packaging and business-related work.”

She has one employee, plus interns and family helpers.

Her Wall of Fame shows some of the many publications she’s been featured in – from Self and Lucky magazines to the online Teen Vogue, resulting from meetings in New York.

Last year, Lazzari worked from 9 to 6:30 every day while still completing her required junior year classes at the private Ellis School.

“I did them remotely, Skyped into history classes so could hear the teacher and whole discussion from my office,” she said. “Then, I’d go in every two months to take a test.”

She just started her senior year but will soon take a six-week cross-country road trip, stopping at 26 cities to promote Simple Sugars.

“I’m trying to create huge social media buzz so by time I get to [Los Angeles], I will have earned myself a spot on the Ellen DeGeneres show,” she said.

Lazzari says she may sell the business when she goes to college, but this is just the beginning.

“I’ve probably in past couple months had four business ideas in my head and there’s one that I really, really like and think is going to be my next thing but have to keep it top secret for now,” Lazzari added.

Everything in the scrubs is all natural, which can be hard to find. An eight-ounce scrub costs about $15. You can buy them online and in Giant Eagle Market District stores.

Simple Sugars
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Kristine Sorensen