Periwinkle Lane owner finds new route to success

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By Rob Hunt

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PENDLETON — Suzie Steele’s passion for baking led to the creation of Periwinkle Lane, a company she created with the help of her sister.

But because of unforeseen circumstances, the aromas of goods designed for the sweet tooth have been replaced with the fragrances of designers from around the world, which can be had right here in Pendleton.

Steele began making perfumes, colognes, body oils, skin moisturizers and soaps about seven years ago in what started as a fun hobby making candles. She makes and packages the scents in her home and distributes them worldwide, with customers in the United Kingdom, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Estonia, where the price of goods can soar.

“I have one fragrance that is very popular but is extremely pricey,” Steele said. “Killian is the name, ‘Back to Black’ and ‘Straight From Heaven’. And this lady from Estonia bought them from me because they are $500 to $600 per bottle where she lives. Well, they’re $475 here, so she bought multiple bottles from me.”

Her prices are lower than the designers because she doesn’t have the same packaging and marketing costs, she said. Steele does the distribution work herself through Facebook and Etsy pages, where more than 900 items are available for order, including her own original creations.

“There is something for everyone,” she said. “Hands down, the most popular is Le Labo Santal number 33. It is a unisex fragrance; for some reason, people order three or four bottles at a time. Roll-on, oil, you name it, they’ll take it any way they can get it. They love that stuff; it’s a leather earthy undertone.”

Steele was delivering baked goods to stores in Carmel, Noblesville, Fishers and Pendleton when she was diagnosed with epilepsy. Due to seizures, she could no longer make her deliveries. Fragrances were a way to continue her passion for Periwinkle Lane while working from home.

“Three years ago this month, I lost my driver license,” she said. “I did all of my chocolates and my cupcakes and this, but I couldn’t drive anymore. I couldn’t restock. So, I took those lemons and decided that the biggest sales were on the internet. I can get all my packaging shipped straight to the house and packages picked up at the house. That’s when I shifted from the baking to this. I decided to grow this, because this is where I can focus right now.”

Despite the setback in her health, Steele, who is also the receptionist and maintenance secretary for the South Madison Community School Corp., remains positive. This is partly because of the demand for her goods, which she expands based on requests from her customers.

“You figure out another plan,” she said. “You get thrown a wrench, and you fix it.”

She usually wakes up at 4 a.m. and works with her oils, soaps and perfumes. Then, after a long day at the school corporation building, she returns home to tinker with body washes and beard balms again. That’s a lot of hard work for something she loves to do, with one added side effect.

“I have the best- smelling garbage in Pendleton,” Steele said with a laugh.