Real World Stories from the GMP Trenches

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I recently threw open the doors on enrollment for my GMP (good manufacturing practices) class, designed especially for beauty brand owners. Yesterday, I offered a quick tutorial on the nature of GMP and highlighted some of the often overlooked benefits that entrepreneurs enjoy when implementing a cosmetic GMP program. Whether you create nail polish, body scrubs, handmade soap, hair care products, or bath goodies… GMP will be your new BFF if you’ll roll up your sleeves and dig in. I’ve had the privilege of teaching my GMP system to hundreds of artisan makers over the last five years, and I asked a few of them to share a few tales from the GMP trenches, highlighting how changing their manufacturing regiments has impacted their business.

 

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What was the biggest surprise when you started digging into GMP regulations?

 

I didn’t realize how much headache could be saved in the event of a recall by having systems in place. Small businesses sometimes don’t think about that, but we have recalls and batch issues, too. I didn’t “appreciate” just what GMP could do for me even though I’m a smaller business.I always thought that was for the big guys!

– Kriste McNamara of Tilvee

 

Just HOW MUCH goes into that simple little “batch number” stamped on the side of a box. It is waaaay more than a fun fact of how many batches you’ve made since the beginning of time!

– Aubrey Miller of REDBUDSUDS

 

My biggest surprise was how detailed and specific GMP regulations are. In fact, looking at the regulations as a whole feels completely overwhelming and untouchable until you break them down into tiny bites.

-Cindy Hanson of Cindy’s Suds

 

It was a lot more work than I imagined, but Lela did a really great job of explaining it and providing forms to follow. As a creative this was one of the more difficult steps in my maker business, for me.

-Kara Book Brown of Waxing Kara

 

 

How has locking down your manufacturing protocols affected your
confidence in the business?

 

It’s something that we are proud of, everyone in my shop takes this process and their role in this process very seriously. It is a professional way to run a maker business. For us, it’s the only way.

-Kara Brook Brown of Waxing Kara

 

It has given me confidence that I’m doing the best for my customers and if there is ever a problem, I’ve got the necessary info at hand to make necessary decisions.

-Aubrey Miller of REDBUDSUDS

 

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I feel confident in not only the quality of my end product but in my ability to pull any batch and retained sample and know all about the inner workings of it.

-Kriste McNamara of Tilvee

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What is GMP? A Quick Tutorial for Beauty Brands

When I started my apothecary brand way back in 2003, I had precious little clue about what I was doing. I’d never heard of “GMP” (good manufacturing practices) for cosmetic companies. I understood that personal care brands in the U.S. were beholden to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and I was aware of the specific rules surrounding product labeling, but manufacturing protocols weren’t a primary area of focus for me.  That soon changed.

 

 

Over the course of the next several years, I worked hard to implement GMP protocols within my indie beauty brand. That work was a Herculean challenge, since these guidelines were written with huge corporations in mind (though even the tiniest of companies within the U.S. is obligated to comply with them). So I put my nose to the grindstone and crafted distinctive strategies for making these outsized regulations workable for a micro manufacturer like myself.

 

Teaching GMP to other beauty entrepreneurs has now become a cornerstone of my consulting practice. I often hear from indie beauty brands that they believe they’re compliant, though it’s apparent that they don’t truly understand the GMP mechanisms and how comprehensive they ultimately are. Here’s an analogy I often use to explain the actual scope and power of GMP…

 

IMAGINE THIS NIGHTMARE-INDUCING SCENARIO…

 

Imagine that you receive a call from a panicked gentleman who explains that his wife has been using your makeup remover. It was purchased at a local shop, and she’s having a bad reaction when it was applied as directed. He’s driven her to the ER and she’s being examined at the moment. Her eyes are red, swollen, and painful and she’s having visual disturbances. He needs you to send him all the information you can round up about that product ASAP.

 

That frightening scenario makes my blood run cold. If you own an apothecary company, I imagine that it makes your heart beat faster, too. I’m confident that you could send him all of your company’s contact information. You could probably send him an invoice showing when the product was sold to the shop, provided that John could tell you where his wife made the purchase. You really should be able to send him a complete listing of every ingredient in the product (I’m assuming your ingredient label is complete + accurate, yes?)

 

But could you send him…

  • The date on which that particular bottle of makeup remover was made by your company?
  • The origin of every single ingredient that was used in the formula (which supplier the ingredient came from, when the ingredient was received by your company, and the related documentation that shows it met your quality standards)?
  • The physical record which displays the exact proportions of ingredients that were used and the conditions under which the eye makeup remover was manufactured?
  • The results of any microbial testing that demonstrates that the product was free of bacteria and mold when you originally shipped it to the store?

 

I imagine that better than 90% of the artisan beauty brands in our sphere couldn’t provide that information. And that’s a HUGE problem. GMP applies to brands big and small. Brands that are created in your kitchen, in your home workshop, and in commercial space. In fact, there’s no brand that’s too big nor too small for GMP, according to the FDA.

 

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Tariffs and Their Impact on Small Business

Price increases.
Delayed shipments.
Complicated paperwork.
Uncertainty in vendor relationships.
Welcome to life in the age of heightened tariffs.

 

When the Trump administration announced new tariffs with China in August of 2018, I was optimistic that this was a short-term problem that would resolve itself in short order before many of my clients felt any significant impact. Regrettably, we’ve had no such luck. The administration seems to be digging in its heels, announcing successive waves of new tariffs that have expanded both the scope of goods affected and the degree to which they’re affected.

 

Cargo Ships On The Sea With Mountain On Background

 

Small businesses are beginning to feel the crunch, so I’m diving in to help decode the impact these new tariffs are having on our community.

 

WHAT IS A TARIFF?

Tariffs are a kind of tax leveraged on a particular category of imported goods. The amount of the tax depends on many factors, including the type of products you (or your suppliers) are importing and the country in which those goods originated. These charges are collected by U.S. Custom and Border Protection agents at all U.S. ports of entry, and the funds are deposited into the U.S. Treasury.

 

Tariffs aren’t some new taxation scheme. They were first introduced by the U.S. government in 1779, but 2018 saw a flurry of new tariffs assigned to Chinese goods in an attempt to “level the playing field” while renegotiating international trade agreements.

 

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That might sound good in theory, but tariffs aren’t generally welcome news within the small business community, and economists have been putting in some serious overtime to analyze the current situation and fact-check the administration. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum as a voter, these tariffs are likely coming home to roost for you, too. I surveyed my community this week and discovered that 46% of my clients have already felt the squeeze.

 

WHICH PRODUCTS ARE AFFECTED BY TARIFFS?

There have been several waves of new tariffs enacted by the administration, with the most recent taking effect on January 1, 2019. Many basic supplies used by artisans were included in recent tariff expansions, including:

  • Leathers
  • Wool
  • Yarn
  • Silk
  • Cotton Fabrics
  • Buttons
  • Glass containers
  • Metal containers
  • Citric acid + many common personal care ingredients
  • Pigments, dyes, inks, paints
  • Plywood
  • Film
  • Paper
  • Glass beads

 

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Lucky Break Calendar – January 2019

January Calendar 2018

Huzzuh! Give yourself a huge pat on the back because you have officially made it through 2018! We at Lucky Break have taken a breather from the big holiday rush and hope you have too.
 

However, it is now time to roll up our sleeves and get back to work. It’s a time to examine what worked, what didn’t, and how we can improve to grow our business for 2019. If you are feeling stuck and aren’t sure where to start, be sure to snag our Master Plan for My Best Year Yet. It’s the perfect guide to get you organized and ready to tackle your business smarter.

 

And if you are diving into wholesale, now is no time to rest. Now is the time to gear up for a big buying period starting mid-January. How are you preparing your outreach strategy?

 

Whatever you’re up to this month, know the entire team is cheering you on! Cheers to the start of a successful 2019!

 

January Calendar 2018

THE YEAR IN REVIEW: LUCKY BREAK’S 2018

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Year In Review

 

I recently shared some of our big clients wins of 2018 and Lucky Break has enjoyed good success this year, too.  Raising teenage daughters, resettling my family in a new state, and navigating the Summer of Surgery (I survived three operations over the course of three months!) kept new product launches to a minimum, but we were plenty busy nonetheless. A few of our highlights…

 

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  • We graduated three full semesters of Brick House Branding, empowering 75 entrepreneurs to take their companies to the next level. We also continued another round of updates from BHB grads, highlighting their progress and what they’ve learned in the process of launching, rebranding, or up-leveling their brands.  You ‘re invited to catch all the awesome “before + after” blogs in our Where Are They Now series.

 

  • I was quoted in business articles in several notable publications, including the Motley Fool, Craft Industry Alliance, and SoapQueen.

 

SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS + LIVE EVENTS

 

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  • I had the distinct pleasure of keynoting the Craftcation conference in Ventura, CA. My talk focused on giving ourself much-need flexibility and grace as entrepreneurs. This was my third consecutive year attending and it’s quickly become the highlight of my year. If you’ve never been to Craftcation, it’s one part vacation, one part business conference, one part craft party… and 100% good time. The Lucky Break Team will be there again in 2019 and I hope you’ll grab a ticket and join us!

 

  • I keynoted the HSCG Annual Conference right here in my hometown of Atlanta, GA. It was a blast hosting the Lucky Break team and we grubbed hard, cocktailed harder, and enjoyed some late-night festivities at the Georgia Aquarium. In between all of that, I sat on an Expert Panel and taught two additional workshops on brand development and wholesale.

 

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  • In mid-summer, I rolled into Alabama to be a part of their annual soapmaking event, leading a workshop on pricing. I had my daughter in tow and we spent the following day at the  in reflection at the National Peace & Justice Memorial. If you’ve been thinking about visiting, I encourage you to go. It was overwhelming and moving and powerful all at once.

 

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