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Caitlin Brotz, a 2005 graduate of Lakeland College and a native of Sheboygan County, may have stuck close to her roots, but she has travelled far in her life.
Today, Caitlin owns Olivü 426, a boutique on Eighth Street in Sheboygan. Olivü is a place where customers can make their own bath and beauty products from all natural ingredients. Most likely, people who knew her as a child would not be surprised that Caitlin created a business like Olivü.
When describing herself as a child, Caitlin said, "I was always making messes I suppose. I was always into something. I would start a project, and then move on to something else. Eventually I would get back to the other one. I didn't care to necessarily master what I embarked on; I just always wanted to figure stuff out and see how stuffed worked."
In 2000, Caitlin graduated from Kohler High School, and she wanted to get "as far away as humanly possible" from Sheboygan. While the University of Oregon is not as far as humanly possible, it was far enough for Caitlin. That is where Caitlin realized exactly how special the Sheboygan area is.
"It's unique and family oriented. I decided that Sheboygan County was not so bad after all." So Caitlin came home and attended UW Sheboygan for a semester before transferring out to Lakeland where she majored in business.
"It has a lot more of what I was comfortable with. Smaller class sizes make a more intimate relationship with the professors; they treat you like family. You're not just another number, another person going through the doors, but they actually really, really care about you.
"When you get to the college level, you need to realize that it is up to you to make the most of your education. You get out of it what you put into it I suppose," said Caitlin. "One thing that I appreciate about Lakeland, which I probably didn't appreciate so much back then, is that it does have an emphasis on writing and writing skills.
"In the real world you need to be able to convey yourself as intelligent. I know if I get e-mails from people and there are a lot of grammar mistakes, spelling mistakes, I notice it. So I think that [the writing emphasis] prepared me to make sure that I at least spell check whatever I send out."
Caitlin continues to be involved with different events on campus. Last year she demonstrated how to make sugar scrubs at the mother/daughter tea luncheon, and she also spoke at the banquet honoring Professor J. Schilcutt for his 50 years at Lakeland.
Caitlin first discovered homemade cosmetics when Adam Muesegades, a fellow Lakeland student that she was dating, suffered severe burns while he was clearing brush for a snowmobile track. "His doctors didn't want him to use any store bought products. They thought they were a gimmick," Caitlin said. "So they gave me the recipe for this chapstick, and I went home right away and made it."
Adam's burns healed, but sadly, he later died in a car accident. His snowmobile number was 426, so Caitlin used that number in the store name as a way to honor him. The name "Olivü" comes not only from the fact that many of the products in the store are made with olive oil, but also because it sounds like "I love you."
When Caitlin made the chapstick, she made more than any one person could use, so she decided to try and sell some. "I sold about a hundred tubes in one night, and everybody who used it really liked it, so I started production."
Caitlin made not only the chapstick, but also lotions, scrubs, and soaps. Being a very social person, she decided to move her production from her house to the public. During an entrepreneurship certification that Caitlin completed after graduating from Lakeland, she was told that showing at home parties would be a good way to perfect her plan of opening a shop. "Any mistakes that you make are low, small budget mistakes instead of large mistakes. And after a period of time of doing home parties, I decided that I had built up enough of a clientele that I was going to give the boutique a shot."
There is one main reason why Caitlin decided to open up her own store. She said, "I knew I had to work for myself because I would probably just end up calling in sick every day if I worked somewhere else. Plus when you find a passion, something that you really enjoy doing, you can't help but just keep pursuing it."
Watch for Caitlin Brotz to appear on two new cable shows called "B. Organic" and "Courage to Create," both of which are being hosted by Michele Beschen. HGTV (Home and Garden) and the DIY (Do-it-Yourself) Network will be airing these shows sometime in the spring of 2009.