Bubbles, bath bombs, and business in New West
New West's Loot Toy Co. is making bath time fun for all, one bath fizzie at a time
Monika Chauhan, left, is the production manager for Loot Toy Co.; owner Bryan Krafchik, right, took the company from a hobby to a business supplying to more than 900 vendors in places like Canada and the US/Ria Renouf
When you hear the word “toy,” you're likely not thinking of the word “eczema.”
For Bryan Krafchik, his New West-based business—Loot Toy Co.—inadvertently found its roots in the inflammatory skin condition. His young son's sensitive skin just couldn't take it—and Krafchik was desperate to find a skin-friendly solution.
"My son, who is now almost 15, when he was born, he was really eczemic. And as he got to two or three [years of age], he had real problems in the creases of his arms," Krafchik explains to New West Anchor.
Krafchik's mother would bring bath products from his native South Africa to try and help with the youngster's skin condition, and when the products seemed to work, inspiration hit.
“We noticed that not only was it fun, but that it really, really helped with the eczema. And so, I thought, ‘This is amazing. There must be a way to do something like that,’ and I was literally squirrelled away in my basement of my house, trying to come up with formulas.”
That curiosity and passion to make bath time fun for everyone has today blossomed into a company that ships to about 900 retailers, mainly across Canada. Close to 100% of the company's ingredients are natural, using vegan and certified non-GMO ingredients. The magic happens out of two units along 12th Street—and this reporter can confirm both spaces smell pretty darn incredible.
Walking into the first stop, aromas of orange, passion fruit, and raspberry fill the air as a group of five presses the bath bombs together, then sits each individual one onto small cartons—they look very much like egg cartons. In the back, a space to experiment and turn new ideas into reality, with an assortment of powders in big cans ready to be pressed into the next set of bath fizzies.
These bath fizzies are all pressed by hand at a studio in New Westminster/Ria Renouf
A few doors down, it's a colourful room filled with little foam toys: the bath squiggler fizzy bombs go into the water, and out pops the little foam toy. On this particular trip, I spot crocodiles and ducks. The fizzies can be purchased individually or as a gift pack of seven. Krafchik also points out Moon Bombs—foaming, hypoallergenic bath bombs that, like their scented counterparts, have toys inside. Aquamarine and raspberry coloured bubble whoosh—the company's bubble bath—are lined up in sachets behind the packaged spheres.
And if you're up for something perfectly imperfect, the company also sells what it calls Ooglies—a pack of 30 goes for $38.
So how did Krafchik's store end up in New West?
“2017, 2018 was probably the year that we started the business, and we were looking for premises. It was a real struggle. Just by chance, I think I went on to Craigslist and there was a retail store that was closing down,” he says, adding that he decided to take a chance and call the landlord. From there, things moved into place fairly quickly.
"I went to speak with the city quickly to see if they'd give us a licence, and they were actually so easy to deal with that I just thought, ‘You know? I'm not looking anywhere else.’”
The business officially moved in around August of 2019, finding itself off to a great start—but not too long after, COVID came along. That's when Krafchik thought it was game over.
“I thought, ‘Well, this is the end of a nice trip,’ but something happened. The order quantities, instead of diminishing, they increased.”
At the time, Krafchik's business had just three employees. Fast forward to today, and he employs 12. "In two-and-a-half years, we've quadrupled, and it's just amazing how people have found the product, [they're] contacting us and our retailers grew and grew and grew."
The company was eventually picked up by a small sales agency and has also made its way to trade shows in places like Seattle and Las Vegas.
While Krafchik says what he does is pretty fun, he especially loves hearing from customers who tell him their kids are no longer having issues with their skin—or hearing that bath time is far more interesting than it was before.
"We provide a product for kids that's good for them, and it breaks that tension at the end of the day when parents are stressed and kids are tired. It creates something that allows them to bond and produce a very positive experience together ... the bath bombs, [the kids] are holding it, they're putting them in at bath time, and they rub it all over themselves. Same with the bubble bath. They're in charge."
As for how he feels about having a business in New Westminster? He says he's grateful for the sense of community.
"I [see it in] people who come into the shop, or when I just walk around Uptown or Downtown. I don't know if I'm imagining it or whether it's real, but it feels that way, right? It's a very nice feeling, a very supportive kind of environment."
So, what's next for the little New West shop that could? More bubbles for kids—and kids at heart.
"We're bringing out one or two more fragrances [for our bubble bath] and then we're looking at bringing out a range of products for moms and dads to pamper themselves in the bath ... we'll continue with the same skin benefits that we do with the kids' stuff, and just run more sort-of adult based products—bigger bath bombs—more stuff for them. I'm hoping we'll do that this year."
If you'd like to learn more about Loot Toy Co., you can visit the website, or stop by the shop at 712 12th St., Unit A.