In 2002, Suzy Batiz was losing her house and her business and was filing for bankruptcy. Six years later, she would launch a business built on banishing bathroom odor and become a multi-millionaire mogul. Batiz is the creator of Poo-Pourri, an essential-oil-based scent-entrapping spray that you spritz before those more odiferous bathroom assignations; and Supernatural, a line of green cleaning products which sold out on Goop within 2 hours of launching. Forbes has assessed her net worth at $240 million. But her road to success was paved with hurdles that would have been insurmountable to some — growing up in poverty, surviving childhood sexual abuse and domestic abuse, three divorces, two bankruptcies and depression. But the self-described “hustler” is like a real-life version of the Energizer bunny: She just keeps going.
At perhaps her lowest point, Batiz discovered a self-help book, Byron Katie’s Loving What Is, that turned her life around. “I remember thinking, ‘Are you kidding me, loving what is?! I’m literally in the worst place of my life.’” And I read it, and two weeks later I was at her ten-day workshop,” she says, “and I walked out free for the first time.”
Some five years and a lot of soul searching later, a chance conversation around the family dinner table sparked an idea with legs. “I remember being at my brother-in-law’s house, and he said, ‘Can bathroom odor be trapped?’ I remember a zing up my arm — feeling electric — and going, ‘I can do that with oils.” Batiz, an amateur aromatherapy aficionado, converted her Plano, Texas home into a veritable laboratory, blending countless potions for nine months until she found the perfect mixture. She turned every guest that crossed her doorstep into a scatological test subject, entreating them to use her bathroom and odor-eliminating creation. It worked. Batiz started small, selling first online and then in a handful of local gift stores. Within a year of launching, she’d earned a million dollars in revenue. Poo-Pourri can now be found everywhere from CVS, Bed Bath & Beyond and Target to the bathrooms of well-heeled society women. Says Batiz, “There’s so much in life to worry about, bathroom odor should not be a part of it — right?”
Batiz has since expanded beyond bathroom odor with Supernatural, an eco-friendly, toxin-free line of household cleaners which she launched in 2018. This year, she came in 77th on Forbes’ America’s Self-Made Women list, where she tied with Reese Witherspoon. “That was a moment when I realized that I had broken the energy of generational poverty,” Batiz says. “I often tell people, ‘Yeah, I’m rich as shit — but I’m rich inside. If everything went away tomorrow, dude, I’m good.’”
Below, Batiz dispenses advice for overcoming adversity, holds forth on her spiritual approach to business and opens up about the importance of relinquishing her “victim card.”
The Riveter: You started working on Poo-Pourri in your kitchen. Tell us a bit more about the process.
Suzy Batiz: It took me nine months. I mixed [essential oils] every single day. Drove all my family and friends crazy. When they came over, I’m like, “Do you have to go the bathroom?” They’re like, “What are you talking about?” And it was like, “Well, I need to test this product.”
Nobody thought it was a good idea. Nobody was into it. They thought I was crazy. So that’s another thing I often tell people is, “Don’t try to get validation for your idea. If it’s alive within you, it can happen, and don’t worry about what the outside world thinks.” They can’t see what you see or know what you know.
The Riveter: After you perfected the formula, how did you get Poo-Pourri onto the market?
Batiz: My husband built a website and we had a few sales online. I’d asked 10 or 12 friends that had really fallen in love with the product if they would share it with people they know, and they did, and we had a few sales. And then one of my friends said, “Hey, I have a friend that has a store. Would you sell wholesale to him?” And I didn’t know what that was.
I doubled my prices, and the store ordered two cases. I took it in a plastic milk carton, to the store. There was this lady standing there, and she had on a mink headband and her Louis Vuitton, and Harold said, “Will you tell her about your product?” And I said, “Yeah, it’s a discreet spritz … that gets rid of bathroom odor, and you spray it before you go.” She didn’t even look at me, she goes, “That’s clever. I’ll take four.”
The Riveter: Have you heard any fun fan stories from Poo-Pourri users?
Batiz: Always. We did have one guy get a tattoo of our little cherub [logo], it looks hilarious. I was like, “Okay, I’m not sure that’s a good idea, but you did it.” What I love about Poo-Pourri is it has a cult fan following, almost everybody that interacts with the brand loves it. I was on a plane, four or five years in, before it was popular. And I was sitting next to this GameStop attorney on the flight, and I told him what I did. We talked the whole flight, and he looked at me and he goes, “I cannot believe I’m a 60-something year old man, and I’ve sat here talking to you about poop the whole time.”
That’s when I realized this is more than a product. This used to be a taboo topic, and we’ve somehow made it okay to talk about. Now everybody talks about poop.
The Riveter: Tell us a little bit about your adventures in business prior to launching Poo-Pourri.
Batiz: I have it on my bucket list to write a list of all the businesses I’ve been in. I’d always have a job, but then I had a side hustle. I’ve had tanning salons, beauty salons, clothing stores. I sold gearboxes, tractor trailer loads with the gearboxes in fabric. I had my boyfriend, at the time, go into strip clubs to sell lingerie to [the strippers]. I had a tanning bed repair business. I had a hot tub repair business. I did a faux finishing business. I had an interior design business. And that’s not counting all the gazillion garage sales I had. When I couldn’t feed my family, we’d rummage around the house and find enough to have a garage sale on Saturday, so we could make a couple hundred dollars to buy groceries for the week. I was just always hustling.
The Riveter: How did some of those ideas that didn’t ultimately work out inform your success today?
Batiz: Realizing I wasn’t doing things because of passion, I was doing things because of desire for money. I networked. I went to lunch with a cute guy, because I knew I was going to get the deal. I would do a favor for someone, because then they owe me one. These are done in business all day long, every day, and they’re really slimy moves when you think about it. After my bankruptcy, when I realized everything can fall apart, I was not willing to compromise on any amount of my integrity.”
The Riveter: How did you pick yourself up after the bankruptcy and regroup?
Batiz: What I found is there’s no power in being a victim. The only power is in me taking responsibility, so I took full responsibility. I realized that life wasn’t happening to me, I was happening to me. Once I removed that story of being a victim and started claiming responsibility, I gained back my power. I’m not some abnormal person, I’m a very normal person. It’s just I have been courageous about my own state of mind.
The Riveter: What are some of the high points of your career as an entrepreneur?
Batiz: The first year, hitting a million dollars, was really awesome. That’s with a $5 product 13 years ago, all by word of mouth. That’s why I often tell people, “Don’t do something good, do something great,” because people talk about great, people don’t talk about good. And what we say at Poo is “We do epic shit.”
The Riveter: How do you deal with setbacks?
Batiz: I go inside and I look at, “How did I create this? What is this here for me to learn?” If sales are down, I’ll be like, “What are we doing energetically in this company that we’re not open? I often call creations [like] a business a dynamic living organism. They are very resilient as long as you provide fertile soil. Where did we not provide the fertile soil for success to happen?
The Riveter: Tell us about your creative marketing techniques — your videos have over 500 million views, and I recently saw the Jonathan Van Ness videos on Instagram. Can you tell me about how that collaboration came about?
Batiz: We were looking at people that own their shit, and understand that you shouldn’t let something like bathroom odor weigh you down. And [JVN] is such an iconic person that does that. He encourages people to let their best selves come forward, and we thought he’s the perfect person for the campaign. And he’s just a dream to work with.
The Riveter: Spirituality is such an important part of your story. Could you tell us how it’s affected you?
Batiz: I’m really passionate about people doing what lights them up, because I believe that the world just needs more lit-up people. When you’re doing what lights you up, everyone around you benefits. So if you have thoughts like, “This is killing me” or “I hate this job,” or “I can’t stand this person,” then remove yourself from the situation. You waste a lot of energy trying to change it. Go towards your idea, because when you say, “It’s killing me,” it literally is, and will. It drains your life force energy. The faster you can make a move, the better. It may be painful for a bit — you may have to eat ramen noodles.
The Riveter: How did your green cleaning supply brand Supernatural come about? You sold out on Goop within two hours, which is incredible.
Batiz: My mother died of MDS, which is myelodysplastic syndrome, and it turns into leukemia. And I remember I was asking the doctor, “How’d this happen? And he said that it happened because of chemical exposures. I was just sitting there watching my mom die thinking, “This is completely avoidable.”
That really was an eye-opener to me. It took me two years [to create the brand]. I spent over $2 million. I really didn’t want another company. I told one of my friends, “I really just don’t even know what I’m going to do.” And they said, “Well, go to bed tonight and ask Supernatural if it wants to come to life.” I literally slept with a box [of Supernatural] in my bed. I wake up the next morning, and I look at Supernatural and my question was, “Do I want to birth you?” And I just started crying and I thought, “How can I not? When you create something from your heart, it’s not about, do I need to make a bunch of money? It’s how can I share my love more?
Christine Whitney is a writer, editor and consultant living between Los Angeles and NYC. She writes frequently for publications like The Cut and WSJ, and most recently served as Editorial Director for Violet Grey; prior to that she was the Senior Fashion News and Features Editor at Harper’s Bazaar. She lives with her husband, set designer Daniel Horowitz, their daughter Romy and their cat Mittens.