Maryland firm soothes lips, skin worldwide

  • Article by: MALI KRANTZ , Capital News Service
  • Updated: May 30, 2012 - 2:05 PM

When Sephora bought family-run Smith's Rosebud Salve, the skin saver became an international hit.

Smith's Rosebud Salve is a beauty product made entirely within Maryland, but its brand name stretches far beyond the nation's borders.

In 2003, Sephora, a major beauty chain, picked up the salve for sale in its stores across Europe and the United States.

"Of course it has amped up production considerably," said Linda Pruitt-Michielli, vice president of Rosebud Perfume Co. "Because of the influence of those major companies carrying our brand, we are also requested by many other stores across the country and the world, and it has increased our brand recognition."

Urban Outfitters and its higher-end clothing boutique, Anthropologie, also carry the rose-scented balm typically used for dry lips, cuticles and skin, as do many mom-and-pop shops that carried the product before it took off on an international scale.

"I use it on my lips," said Hannah Gately, 24, while shopping at a Bethesda, Md., mall. "And I have multiples. One for every purse."

The family-run company ships to stores and apothecaries as far away as Australia from its office on Main Street in Woodsboro, Md., a town of 922 people. The office has been housed in the Rosebud Building, a former hotel, for more than 100 years.

"[Woodsboro] is where my great-grandfather started the company [in 1895], and this is like our family home," Pruitt-Michielli said.

Since being picked up by Sephora, the company has formulated new Minted Rose and Brambleberry Rose balms. It has also started packaging its salves in lip balm tubes, as well as in their signature round tins.

The next product to be released will be the Minted Rose in a tube.

"It's the company's third-best seller," said Pruitt Michielli. "I think it's going to be really popular."

The rosebud salve has been mentioned in beauty magazines and touted as a "favorite" product among celebrities and makeup artists, such as Lindsay Lohan and Bobbi Brown. It has appeared in gift bags for red carpet events and was most recently featured as a giveaway on Anderson Cooper's new syndicated daytime talk show with Kristen Johnston.

The salve is manufactured and filled at Case Mason in Joppa, Md., and the tins are made in Baltimore. The original Rosebud Salve comes in a red, white and blue tin easily recognized by followers of the brand.

While the company is enjoying great success now, it hasn't always been as prosperous.

"Back in the 1920s, my grandfather amassed a fortune with the Rosebud Salve," Pruitt-Michielli said. "When the Depression hit, we didn't really know if it would ever take off again."

After the Depression, the company switched from door-to-door sales and sending the product out on trust, to being paid upfront, and the family-owned company carried on selling to its regular clients.

Pruitt-Michielli credits two high-end beauty chains in Manhattan, C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries and Ricky's, for renewing the company's brand recognition in the late '90s when they started to stock Rosebud Salve.

"They had a lot of high-end customers and celebrities through their stores," she said.

Today's beauty buffs can get their hands on a tin or tube for $6 at Sephora.

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