If the word “scrotum” makes you blush uncontrollably or squirm clear through to the outer limits of your comfort zone, please stop reading now — this is not a story for you.
Now, for those of you who are still with me, let me introduce you to Chip Nary and Alexa Grier, a pair of savvy local entrepreneurs soon to step into the national spotlight with their brainchild in tow.
Happy Zak’s Scrotum Bliss — “zak” is a play on an all-too-obvious euphemism most readers should readily be able to decipher — will make its national debut when Nary and Grier visit Toronto for an April 10 taping of CBC’s wildly popular Dragons’ Den.
With only four days’ notice, the intrepid duo auditioned for the show’s producers Jan. 30 in Nanaimo.
“It went very well,” Grier says, bouncing in place atop a large purple exercise ball in the living room of the couple’s Warren Street home.
“They seemed to get the joke,” Nary adds. “You always worry: ‘Are they going to get the joke or are they going to think you’re kind of a pervert?’”
Perverted or not, the producers fell in love with the pitch and called four days later to offer Nary and Grier a spot on the show.
“They said, and I quote: ‘‘You guys are classic Dragons’ Den material,’” Nary says, grinning as he straddles his own blue rubber sphere. “We’ve been finding, for the most part, everybody gets the joke.”
“It’s fun,” Grier adds, “and that’s part of it. We want to bring laughter, we want to bring bliss, we want to bring good health and we want to get the scrotum out of the dark. Scrotum’s such a good word. It’s a kind, nice word.”
Nary chuckles as Grier repeats the word “scrotum” again in an airy, light tone as though it’s some sort of new-age mantra and then he reminds me that “they’ve cradled the jewels of humanity throughout history.”
“From the beginning of time,” Grier adds.
Their quest to bring “testicular tranquility” to the transglobal masses dates back to a hot, sticky summer of cycling along the flat, manicured roads of Florida’s Gulf Coast barrier islands near their former home in Nokomis.
“It’s flat, warm and lovely — it’s a bicycle playground, for sure” Nary says. “But between the humidity and the heat, and stopping for a dip in the ocean — you get a little salt water going! — things got a little raw down below. [Alexa] suggested that instead of using Gold Bond powder, I get proactive with the situation and properly moisturize and so we came up with this great stuff. Alexa’s very familiar with aromatherapy, and we have a friend who’s an aromatherapist. We looked at all the things we could use, and we took the best of the best and put them together in a lotion that’s aloe-based. And that’s what we got.”
Grier and Nary invested a year and a half refining their formula, they say, christening their magic blend of herbs and oils Scrotum Bliss. The elixir contains a mixture of mint, eucalyptus, neem and other essential oils that combine to create a scent which is androgynous by design.
“We were very particular about the lotion,” Grier says, “and we were very particular about the scent of it. We didn’t want it to be a male scent or a female scent. We just wanted it to be …”
“… Fresh!” they add in unison.
They soon discovered that the lotion alleviated the symptoms of more than just “scrunched scrotum syndrome,” and friends were soon taking advantage of its healing properties to relieve bug bites and eczema. Bliss has “anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties,” Grier says, “as well as rehydrating and rejuvenating qualities. This is a deluxe lotion with really pure ingredients, and it’s certified vegan and certified organic.”
They now brand Happy Zak’s as both Scrotum Bliss and Body Bliss because “you have to lose the Scrotum for the ladies,” Nary adds. “They buy a lot more lotion than fellas do.”
To ensure their customers don’t mistake Scrotum Bliss for a product designed to deliver sexual bliss, they’ve labelled it as “not intended for medicinal use or as a sexual lubricant.”
“It’s just a lotion, people,” Grier confirms.
Once they’d perfected their recipe, they realized they needed a bottle but were unable to find anything on the market that did their lotion justice.
“Imagine that,” Grier says, “we couldn’t find a scrotum-shaped bottle anywhere. And we looked and we looked.”
Cue Nary’s penchant for pottery. Nary says he’s worked with ceramics periodically since he was in seventh grade and now crafts “crystalline pottery,” an “extreme” form of potting that involves the creation of zinc and silica crystals in the glaze using a complex process he’d be happy to explain to you in person.
Our “master potter, plumber, drummer” set to work crafting a bottle of his own design, and the end result is nothing short of comic genius. Happy Zak’s Scrotum Bliss is packaged in a green ceramic bottle with a bulbous base and a long, shaft-like neck that’s unmistakably phallic. Nary crafted the lid in the form of a bald man’s upturned head, its face bearing a serene, “Buddha-esque” smile and a vague resemblance to its creator.
“A happy coincidence,” Nary says.
Nary handcrafts each stoneware bottle from scratch using his own plaster-of-Paris molds, producing the bottles in batches of five over a two-week stretch.
“I can crank ‘em out pretty good,” Nary says, “but you’ve got a handmade bottle right there which is probably worth more than the $20 we’re trying to sell the lotion for. As far as my time and material and everything else that goes into it … I’ll go broke doing that. So, these are production prototypes only at this point.”
That’s where the Dragons come in.
Nary and Grier hope to enlist the backing of a deep-pocketed partner to purchase a shipment of 50,000 trademarked frosted-glass Happy Zak’s bottles from China “for hopefully under a buck a bottle,” Nary says.
Grier and Nary say they will fund their own way to Toronto, where the producers will help them polish their pitch prior to the taping of the show. They won’t know when their appearance will air until sometime after their visit to Toronto, and they’re not sure how Happy Zak’s will be received.
“We just feel we’ve got to try,” Grier says. “Even if they chew us up and spit us out, someone else might be watching and say ‘Hey, that sounds like fun’ and we’ll take them on.’”
For more information on Happy Zak’s products, call 250-924-8007.