From “Cupcake Wars” To Ulta Beauty, How Wellness Brand Homebody Started And Is Growing At Retail

Homebody founder Rebecca Grammer-Ybarra’s life was a lot different a mere three years ago.

She and her sister Christy Grammer closed their food business of 12 years, Suite 106 Cupcakery, which encompassed three bakeries, an award-winning food truck and a commercial kitchen. During the food business’s run, the duo competed on and won the reality show “Cupcake Wars,” becoming the first Black women to win a televised dessert competition program, signed to celebrity chef’s Gordon Ramsey’s talent agency and appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” They were wildly successful, but they were also exhausted.

“It was team no sleep, just go until the wheels fall off,” says Grammer-Ybarra. She estimates she and Grammer made upward of 30,000 desserts per week and never took a vacation. There came a point in 2017 when Grammer had to step back from the company due to physical issues, leaving Grammer-Ybarra with a majority of the work. “I started getting depressed, super stressed out and super overwhelmed,” she says. In 2018, the siblings made the tough decision to shut everything down. “To save ourselves, we had to stop cold turkey,” says Grammer-Ybarra. “There was no getting someone to help out or to take over. We felt like we were out of time to save our own health.”

The plan was simple: Grammer-Ybarra and Grammer would tend to themselves for a while, maybe practice mindful meditation and rebuild their cupcake company to be stronger than ever. But reality wasn’t as simple as the plan. A few weeks after shutting down Suite 106 Cupcakery, Grammer-Ybarra ended an engagement. A couple of weeks after that, she was hit by a drunk driver. “I felt like a walking zombie,” says Grammer-Ybarra. “I felt like I’m broke, I’m broken-hearted, and my body is broken all at the same time.”

Grammer-Ybarra was prescribed 32 different pills following the car accident. She suffered from a concussion, and damage to her collarbone, shoulder and spine. Before the accident, she didn’t turn to pills to solve her ailments. “I never even took Tylenol for a headache or anything,” says Grammer-Ybarra. At the insistence of her sister, she sought out a holistic physician who taught her about plant remedies. “That’s when I decided I’m going to stop this medication and become my own healer,” says Grammer-Ybarra. “If he could do it, I could do it.”

She researched cannabidiol or CBD, adaptogens and superfoods to learn their applications topically, and began creating body solves. “Those felt great, but I wanted to submerge my entire body in the stuff,” says Grammer-Ybarra. “I wanted to be healed from the neck to the toe at one time.” So, she submerged the concoction in her bath. “It gave me this deeper connection to myself and distracted my mind away from the pain and the worries and everything,” says Grammer-Ybarra.

The concoction didn’t quite hold her attention to ward off the distractions from the phone. She opted to include colors from naturally occurring minerals for color therapy and quickly saw results. Blue baths made her calmer, and purple baths empowered her. Grammer-Ybarra says, “I was like, ‘Am I just tripping? Is this my mind playing tricks on me?’” She tracked how the soaks affected her emotions in a bath journal. “Doing that helped me to determine which baths are best for me on those days of instability,” says Grammer-Ybarra. She created six versions that are now a part of Homebody’s core collection.

Each bath bomb soak has CBD, antioxidants and superfoods. The bath bombs are priced at $42 for a 14-oz. full size or $14 for a 5-oz. travel size. The rainbow product Full Spectrum of Possibilities is “hands down” the most popular, according to Grammer-Ybarra. Homebody officially launched in October 2019, but Grammer-Ybarra initiated pre-orders in July 2019 because she received an inquiry from a major retailer. “Those pre-orders actually helped me to have the funds to launch the product into this major retailer,” she says. The brand is currently available at 600 Ulta Beauty stores along with Nordstrom, Revolve, and around 70 wellness and beauty boutiques.

Grammer-Ybarra prefers to partner with retailers that value inclusivity. “A lot of [the retailers we work with] have done a lot for Black-owned brands on their platforms,” she says. “They’ve given them resources like mentorships.” Retailers that understand emerging brands are important, too. “People who are looking to partner with us have to ease us into everything because we’re only a year and a half old, and we’re new at this,” says Grammer-Ybarra. “We’ve had a couple of major retailers reach out, but they have a lot of demands on their programs or their processes, and we can’t fit some of those demands…Basically, what I look at is how much you’re going to support the brands that you bring in and what that support looks like and how accessible are you.”

In her cupcake-making days, Grammer-Ybarra bootstrapped her business, and she has chosen the same route with Homebody. She notes, however, that may not always be the case. “We are in talks to possibly raise some capital, but we don’t want to take more than we need for the scale of what we need to do over the next year or two,” says Grammer-Ybarra. “Right now, we’re OK with using a percentage and putting it back into our company, and using that as capital.”

Looking ahead, Grammer-Ybarra expects to increase operations via a manufacturing center where she can hire, train and promote BIPOC women. “Homebody now is located in San Bernardino County [in California] where about 17.3% of the population has a poverty rate. That’s above the natural average,” she says. “We really want to go in there and help build our community and those women, and support them by giving them a sense of hope, happiness, well-being and stability.”

Additional products within the body and treatment categories are on the way. “When you go down the aisles of any store, you see a lot of the same products that you’ve seen for like the last 30 years or so,” says Grammer-Ybarra. “Times have changed, our instabilities are different now, the different stressors that we have—environmental stressors, work stressors—are different. So we want to develop products that actually speak to the modern-day woman using wellness techniques and tools.”

As Grammer-Ybarra grows Homebody, she’s cognizant about avoiding the burnout she experienced at Suite 106 Cupcakery. She has regular acupuncture and cupping appointments, enforces strict boundaries and, of course, indulges in daily baths. “Everything that has happened so far feels like it’s been this beautiful alignment of me being connected to myself and knowing exactly who I am and, therefore, everything around me is connected to me, too,” she says. “So, the self-care and the self-connection is never going to stop. It’s like this new, amazing, beautiful journey that I have with it—and I can’t wait to incorporate more rituals.”

She continues, “All I’ve wanted to do was to be my own healer at the beginning, and I feel like not only was I my own healer, but I ended up being my own little hero, and I feel like I’ve helped other people to become their own hero, too.”