Beauty truck

When thinking of what embodies beauty, trailers aren’t a typical first thought. Strewn with lights and covered in flowers, this trailer is entirely transformed. Inside, sweet scented soaps line the decorated shelves. It’s easy to forget that this shop is on wheels.

The idea for the shop came around three years ago when owner and crafter Irina Dovganetskiy chose to quit her job and become a stay-at-home mom with her third child.

“I really like cooking so I tried playing around making chapsticks,” Dovganetskiy said. “I made them for Christmas and as gifts and people liked it.”

Each individual chapstick is handmade and hand poured into a twist-up tube. However, Dovganetskiy didn’t limit herself to making chapstick. Soon enough, she was giving out body scrubs and creams, too. It was then that she realized she could turn her hobby into a business. 

“People kept on asking so I was like, ‘Maybe I should start charging,’” Dovganetskiy said.

The business began with an online presence on Etsy. Her instant success proved the need for something more.

“What really boosted my ego and inspired me to move forward was I got an order from a spa in Ohio, and I’m like, ‘Oh, my products are good enough to sell there, maybe I could sell them,’” Dovganetskiy said.

Once the shop was envisioned, the next step was finding the proper location. 

“I live in Harrisonburg, so it was a no-brainer,” Dovganetskiy said. “Plus, Harrisonburg has grown so quickly and downtown is so cute. I definitely wanted foot traffic and to kind of stay small and stay local.” 

There weren’t many spots for her storefront downtown, so she did what she does best: got creative. 

“I did get offers from the mall, but we wanted to stay in the downtown area,” Dovganetskiy  said. “We couldn’t find something that was available at the time, so this was our plan B: to create a space since we couldn’t find one.”

After acquiring a spot in a downtown parking lot with the help of Angeliki Floros, co-owner of Dream Cones and Jess’ Lunch Downtown, the Airstream trailer officially opened its doors for business on Aug. 5, 2016.

“Her idea brings beauty,” Floros said. “It’s such a cute little Airstream. How could I say no to that? She’s an artist. She put color in her dream.”

While the majority of withSimplicity products are made fresh at her in-home studio using essential oils and other natural products, Dovganetskiy also has a vendor that provides men’s products including beer soap and aftershave. Her supply of nail polish is also provided from a separate vendor. Both vendors stick to her guidelines of handmade, toxic-free products. 

“There are no preservatives; I used extracts as a preservative and everything is made in a small batch,” Dovganetskiy said. “My [body] cream batch was five at a time. Now I’m trying to do 20 at a time, but I don’t think my mixer can hold anymore. I’m just trying to stay very fresh and very small with the batches.” 

The store boasts products ranging from fragrant soaps and scrubs to makeup products such as foundation and eyeliner. Its name, withSimplicity, is fitting to the products sold. 

“I use very simple ingredients and everything is simply made,” Dovganetskiy said. “I have products that are one ingredient.”

Other local businesses have recognized Dovganetskiy’s presence in the community and are nothing short of supportive.

“WithSimplicity not only brings downtown a wonderful shop to visit, but Irina herself adds such energy to our community,” Sara Christensen, the owner of The Lady Jane Shop, said. “She is already very involved with the community and events downtown, and her Airstream boutique adds style and diversity to our retail.”

Dovganetskiy wants to make each customer’s visit an experience. The addition of a scrub bar allows individuals to conjure up their own creative energy and put it to use. Customers select from a range of body salts, essential oils and other additions to make their own creation. 

While the small shop serves its purpose, it may not be big enough to cater to the batches of products made daily.

“For me, the next step — if this keeps on going — is to move my production somewhere to have a little commercial kitchen and kind of see how the year goes in the Airstream,” Dovganetskiy said.

For the time being, the trailer will remain in its downtown location, where Dovganetskiy will continue to make her products from home. 

“I don’t think it was missing — something like that downtown,” Floros said. “But it was missing Irina’s touch. Yes, there are stores with products similar, but not Irina’s.”

Contact Alison Gips at gipsar@dukes.jmu.edu.