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Time flies when you’re scrubbing up: An interview with Josh from Scrubba

For our first ever issue of Swell Magazine, it was a tough call to go past the incredibly dynamic duo that is Josh and Jason from Scrubba Body. Now that we’re 12 issues on, we thought it was time for a catch up!
They’re a little hard to miss – Scrubba stores that is. They’re light, bright, and smell delicious. From their humble beginnings at Newcastle’s Olive Tree Markets, to opening numerous stores across town and beyond, we were absolutely thrilled to catch up with Josh. We talked about Scrubba’s beginnings, how it’s going now, and a new venture the pair have planned – launching very (very) soon!

It’s been such a long time since you were first featured in Swell! So many things have changed, but let’s start from the top.

It’s definitely been a while! Oh god so much has changed! Well… that’s probably around the time we started hiring people to help. As in, someone other than me and Jason. You go to all these business courses and they tell you to outsource and hire people and you sit there thinking, ‘that’s fine but only if you’ve got the money’. But here we are just over two years later and we’re now a team of 14! That’s what really blows my mind.

Of course in that time too, we transitioned from just being at the markets to opening our first shopfront in Marketown. Since then, we’ve also had shops in Greenhills, another one at Marketown, and now we’re at both Charlestown and Kotara permanently.

What was that like going from just doing markets to opening your first shopfront? The market world is a pretty weird, wonderful and wild one!

Definitely! I love to have a chat and I feel like the markets were awesome, because there’s just so many different stallholders and customers. You see a lot more people per day at the markets and get to have a chat. But in saying that, with the shop I can get there five minutes before we open, turn the lights on and turn the music on and I’m ready to open.

Whereas with the markets, it’s two hours before you even start to get everything all set up, not to mention the 12 hours you spend the night before getting everything ready. Markets are also unpredictable. If it’s raining or windy or too hot – there’s way too many variables sometimes! And at Christmas time, things can get really (really) crazy.

Speaking of Christmas, how is your prep work going?

This is probably the most prepared I’ve felt, like ever, although it hasn’t really started yet. Every year prior we would have at least two or three all-nighters, no sleep, and then get up and get ready to go to a market, which is crazy. But last year, we only had one of those! We’re also going back to the markets this year (Olive Tree) for a ‘limited time only’ which is super exciting! For us, it’s perfect timing (although it’s not like we’re not busy enough already!) but we’re actually launching something completely new!

Tell me everything…

So it’s pretty similar to what we already do but… for dogs. It’s all natural, vegan, handmade stuff! Think shampoo, conditioner, deodoriser, that kind of stuff and it’s called Hey Hudson. We’ll have a new website, new branding, new everything! Right in time for Christmas. Scrubba and Hey Hudson will be at every Olive Tree from now until Christmas!

You obviously have a passion for small business, what do you love about it so much?

I like to say freedom. I used to say flexibility, but you still have deadlines and things that you have to do. But, previously I used to do a 12-hour day in my old job and I’d come home with the shits because I had such a crap day. Now when I do a 12-hour day, yeah I’m tired, but I worked for me! It was all for the business. 

To be honest, previously I wasn’t someone who would always go out and support small businesses or shop locally. I’d go to the markets every now and then for fun, but now…  We have really started to get to know the people who are doing business right beside us and understand that they’re in the game too. They’re doing this to feed their family and it’s their livelihood! So now, I always make sure when shopping for presents or anything like that, it’s always with a small business, and I think that’s really cool. It’s also a really wonderful community, especially here in Newcastle, and I love that.

There’s something pretty special about the small business community in Newcastle right?!
Absolutely, and I think that Novocastrians are always here to support other Novocastrians. We’re proud of what we’ve done and we’re always here to get behind each other, it’s pretty special.

And finally, I have to ask, what’s it like, being a couple in business?

When we first started out, we were both working full time and Scrubba was just a little side gig. We didn’t plan on really turning it into a big business, it was more about doing markets on the weekends and if we didn’t feel like it, that was totally fine. But then of course it grew! That’s when we were like – ‘Okay,one of us is going to have to put in more time here’. So we basically flipped a coin! I went down to three days a week at my old job and eventually left altogether.

At that point, Jason was still working full time and there was a discussion about what he could and couldn’t cut back on. It’s really all about open communication and making sure we can both support each other when we need to. It’s about talking to your partner before you get to that flame-out point or you’re just too stressed to get anything done, let alone all of the things you need to get done, especially in the lead-up to Christmas.

As someone who also runs a small business, I can absolutely attest that Josh and Jase from Scrubba are big fans of the business community and will go out of their way to help other small businesses along the way. So make sure you head on out to Olive Tree this weekend to celebrate the launch of Hey Hudson and Scrubba’s triumphant return to #marketlyf!

Words: Laura Kebby | Photography: Zoe Lonergan

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