To say Janine Booth is busy would be a massive understatement.
The chef, along with partner/husband/fellow Top Chef veteran Jeff McInnis, operates several restaurants — including Root & Bone, Mi'talia, and Stiltsville Fish Bar — and is preparing to give birth to a second child, due in two short months. Add a global pandemic to the mix, and a normal human might be overwhelmed.
Instead, Booth has just announced a line of skincare products, including something that's increasingly difficult to find in stores: hand sanitizer.
Like all of the products in Booth's Sunny Side Up line, it's cruelty-free, consciously sourced, eco-friendly, and packaged in recyclable materials. Most items are vegan-friendly.
Booth, who launched the company in December, says the idea to make a hand sanitizer came from increased demand. "Everybody's been looking for hand sanitizer, and there's price gouging for really junky product out there."
The hand sanitizer comes in sizes and scents: a two-ounce blend of citrus and mint ($11) and a four-ounce lemongrass and tangerine ($14).
Booth also sells insect repellent ($16), which will come in handy as we continue to seek our backyards as a source of fresh air as we continue to social-distance. Booth's version contains essential oils such as citronella, eucalyptus, geranium, and cedarwood, blended into a soybean-oil base. "I use it in my backyard, which has a ridiculous amount of mosquitoes," the chef says. "I spray it all over my daughter, Sunny. It's all-natural and safe for kids."
Among other items, the Sunny Side Up line also includes cosmetic face masks, self-tanners, and the item that birthed the company: hand scrubs. Booth says she began making hand scrubs for the restrooms at her seafood spot, Stiltsville. When they became popular, she started selling them at the restaurant. For her Southern American eatery, Root & Bone, she made a scrub with tea and lemon; for her Italian restaurant, Mi'talia, the scrub contains olive oil and Meyer lemon.
As the business grew, Booth turned her home garage into a laboratory. She collaborated with a farm in Albuquerque that grows herbs and makes face masks and scrubs. And she learned coding to lay out her website the way she wanted it. "This is the business I've always wanted to start. It's more work than I thought, but it's given me motivation in the current climate," she says.
Sunny Side Up's product line is available at sunnysideuplifestyle.com, and Booth is accepting orders that will arrive in time for Mother's Day. The hand sanitizers will also be sold at her restaurants and are available for online ordering along with food.
As for those restaurants, she reports that McInnis "has been working full-time over at Stiltsville seven days a week — our chef Kevin is having a baby any day now, and he wanted to take some time off." She has been filling out paperwork for Small Business Administration loans and making sure the New York Root & Bone flagship stays afloat.
"Things have been great because we're feeding a lot of the frontline workers, but it's not enough to sustain us or even break even," she says. But she remains confident the restaurants will survive. "We'll make it through and come back bigger and better and stronger once everyone is able to go out and eat," Booth vows.
She's also confident that even when restaurants reopen, people will want to carry around their own hand sanitizer. "Once we are back into the next phase — whatever that looks like — having hand sanitizer is going to be vital for peace of mind.
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