[Front photo shows a display case of Grillo’s Essential Insect Repellent at Fallon Wellness Pharmacy of Saratoga. Gina Grillo replenishes her stock at Fallon Wellness Pharmacy. Photos by PhotoAndGraphic.com.]
GREENWICH — Gina Grillo says she was happy to spend last weekend in her basement, switching her small business plans into high gear.
Local sales of her roll-on oil to repel deer ticks and mosquitoes seem to be picking up, and she needed to fill 250 more bottles for distribution.
A horticultural nursery in Hudson Falls had sold all of its bottles not long after a whole case was delivered and was calling for more, Grillo said.
“I’m off and running with this,” she admitted. “Let’s just say the repellent is flying out of the workshop.”
Her Grillo’s Essential Insect Repellent is sold locally in Fallon Wellness Pharmacy of Saratoga, Four Seasons Natural Foods and Brookside Nursery in Ballston Spa. The 10-milliliter bottles retail for $14.95 each.
Grillo promotes additional products as well, which are listed on her website (http://grilloessentials.com), but much of her time is currently devoted to the insect repellent.
Her newly invented product has given Grillo national attention. She is one of about 100 small-business owners nationwide flown to Dallas, Texas in April to compete for $25,000 in seed funding for their plans.
From that group, three winners will be selected in August and Sam’s Club will provide the funds. The company runs a program to benefit small-business owners, primarily women, in low- to moderate-income communities, in association with the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE).
Bill Edwards, vice chairman of a SCORE Northeast New York chapter, says he acted as a mentor for Grillo after learning about her products through economic development partners in Washington County.
Grillo herself said her relationship with Edwards started last fall at a small-business course offered by Adirondack Community College.
Edwards reported that one other local company— ExtendHer in Clifton Park, which offers clothing specially designed for pregnant women—has qualified for the national Sam’s Club competition.
He added that it was “unique” and showed the “creativity” of the Capital Region that two local women did qualify.
“It works. That’s the important thing,” Edwards said of Grillo’s product, which he also called “environmentally friendly.”
For several years, Grillo explains, family and friends have “field tested” her product, each bottle of which normally lasts for the whole season that bugs are active.
She calls the product a “powerful proprietary blend of essential oils, known for its ability to repel ticks, mosquitoes, and other pesky insects.”
Many public health officials point to deer ticks as the most common carrier of Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that can lead to chronic health problems.
Catherine Duncan, director of the Saratoga County Public Health Department, said there were 73 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the county in 2016. There have been 16 cases confirmed so far this year, she said.
Duncan said she is not yet familiar with Grillo’s product, but knows how people “look for natural tick repellents.”
Duncan indicated that her department also educates and advises people in how to make their own “tick kits.” She said her department has a limited number of such kits on hand, but will distribute them later in the summer at the Saratoga County Fair.
“All you have to do is get a good set of tweezers,” Duncan said. “There’s a proper way of removing” ticks.
“No matter what you use, use more,” Grillo said. The recent outreach to promote her own products is rooted in a genuine concern for people’s welfare during active tick seasons, she added, especially “vulnerable” children.
“We have a lot of customers who are being treated for Lyme,” offered Dianna Lenz, who manages the Fallon Wellness Pharmacy on Broadway. She was grateful when Grillo delivered another case of her Essential Insect Repellent earlier this week.
“People love it,” Lenz said. “We’ve been selling out.”