Zika fears boost sales for Ocean Springs business owner

Zika fears boost sales for Ocean Springs business owner

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The Marina Cottage Soap Company in Ocean Springs is seeing an increase in sales on a particular product, and it's not soap. It's the company's all-natural mosquito repellent.

Concerns of the Zika virus are growing. Reports are saying that the mosquito-borne virus's next target could be the gulf states and a second travel-related case of the virus was reported in Harrison County just yesterday. People are looking for more and more ways to protect themselves against mosquitoes.

When it comes to keeping mosquitoes at bay, repellents are the go-to. But Vanessa Mueller, owner of Marina Cottage Soap Company in Ocean Springs, says many repellents don't have what it takes, especially when it comes to a certain chemical.

"DEET is toxic and you keep reapplying and we all know in the South that DEET is a marinade. It doesn't work after a while," said Mueller.

She knew a natural alternative would be best, but she couldn't find anything on the market that worked. Then her husband presented her with a challenge. "We couldn't enjoy our backyard. We lived by the water. My husband was out grilling one night and asked me to come up with something," said Mueller.

Mueller put her nursing and chemistry background into action and did some research. "It was not a mystery once you could go back through the history books and see what worked," said Mueller.

What worked is what she put into a formula that is now bottled, labeled, and sold on the shelves at her soap shop. She called it Gneaux More Gnaughty Gnats.

In recent weeks and months, it hasn't just been the health benefits of an all natural formula that have driven customers to her store. "With the Zika virus, people are looking for alternatives, as well," said Mueller.

According to Mueller, sales have increased each year since the product was released in 2013, but there's been even more of a spike since concerns about the virus have grown. "Even though we don't have it prevalent in Mississippi, people are still traveling and mosquitoes travel," said Mueller.

This is why she said it's best to be protected, and do it in a natural way. Mueller said her repellent is shipped all over the country and used throughout the world.

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