Where are they now? Iyanla of MasterPeace

IV Headshot 2018

GEMMMIAS MP_GRADIENT logo_FINAL

 

Are you wondering what happens to my Brick House Branding alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum and new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work?

 

I’m back with another installment in my “Where Are They Now?” blog series and I’m doing-cartwheels-excited to show you the serious waves my BHB graduates are making!

 

 

IV Headshot 2018

 

SAY HELLO TO IYANLA OF MASTERPEACE.

I’m wrapping up this BHB Case Study series with the amazing Iyanla Vanzant of MasterPeace. You may recognize Iyanla from her frequent appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show, her own show on the OWN network, or from one of her best-selling books. It was a special honor to work alongside Iyanla. We collaborated on several fronts: Iyanlya is a BHB graduate, we’ve worked through several private strategy sessions together, and I had the honor of writing much of the copy from her new website. And I can share that she is every bit as warm-hearted and lovely in person as she is on TV!

 

LBC: Why and when did you originally launch your company?

Iyanla: I originally launched MasterPeace in 2006 to continue my daughter’s legacy.  A master aromatherapist, she passed away in 2003. She started the line in 2001 after creating her own hair care products. Gemmia wholeheartedly believed that essential oils and herbs were vital in creating and shifting energy on and around the body.

 

 

LBC: At what point did you know it was time for a rebrand?

Iyanla: I was invited to pitch my products to QVC in 2014 after one of the buyers attended a workshop that I facilitated.  She purchased and loved the products.  I attended the pitch meeting, and while they loved the product they felt that the packaging was “too rustic” for the QVC customer.  I laughed because I loved the rustic look but also realized that in order to appeal to the mass market, I would need to consider the feedback seriously.

 

 

MasterPeace packaging and logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

MasterPeace packaging and logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: Please share a significant realization about the brand development process that you discovered while in Brick House Branding.

Iyanla: Module 2, Developing Brand Personality and Emotional Resonance did it for me. I knew the name of the line was perfect.  I knew that the product features and benefits of African Black Soap were on point.  But when I began to examine the psychological benefits, I knew that I had to up my game.  I knew that I could win the hearts and minds of my customers because of the name recognition, but I didn’t want to be hanging out in the minds of people when they were in the shower!  I want my customer to want my product and love my product because they believed in it, and because it holds a benefit to them personally.

 

 

LBC: What professionals did you tag in to help with the process, and what pieces of the branding puzzle did you DIY?

Iyanla: I handmade the products for the first 10 years.  However, after my visit to QVC I realized that it was not feasible for me to attempt to produce the products on my own if I wanted to grow into the mass consumer market.  Because I was concerned about the integrity of the products, I searched long and hard for a manufacturer who was willing to follow a strict protocol in the making of the products.  That company is LiquidTek, a small semi-organic manufacturer in Chino, CA.

 

I then hired a 5th Avenue advertising firm to re-design my packaging.  That almost broke the bank.  I eventually asked my long-time graphic artist if she could duplicate some of the ideas they offered in a more economical way.  When it came time to re-design my website, I leaned on the support and recommendations of my masterful teacher, Lela Barker.  She directed me to a web designer and a photographer.  Here is my secret: For the first 8 or 9 years of producing the product by hand, whatever money I made that I did not spend on supplies, I saved. That is why I had a few coins to invest in the re-design and re-branding of the product line.  Because of my schedule, I knew that I needed help.

 

MasterPeace packaging and logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

MasterPeace packaging and logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: What was the biggest obstacle you encountered during the rebranding process?

Iyanla: My two biggest obstacles were letting go of the old ideas and being willing to invest time and money into the process.  I am a Virgo personality and I resist change because . . . no one can do it as well as I can.  I had to be willing to invite and welcome in the process of up-leveling my brand.  I had to become willing to do things in a new way for the good of the line.  I had to become willing to let some things go and embrace the ideas and concepts of others. And finally, I had to be willing to spend money without knowing (although believing that in the long run) I will have a magnificent and abundant return on my investment.  As a “home grown” product maker, it was hard for me to let go.

 

 

LBC: How has your own perception of your brand evolved since graduating from Brick House Branding?  

Iyanla: Module 3, the Brand Manifesto helped me to see my products in a totally new light.  Before Brick House Branding, I was making soap. By the time I reached Module 3, I was the owner of a branded product line, a brand that I believed in and wanted to share with the world.  I no longer make soap.  I am the owner of a collection of Body Therapy products that offer a solution to a national problem, specifically for women: how to manage stress, while building a better relationship with your body. Somebody slap me!  Where in the world did that come from?  Brick House Branding!  That’s where.  My concept of the products has evolved.  The language I use to describe the products has evolved. And, the image I hold and project for and about the products has evolved.

 

MasterPeace packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

MasterPeace packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: Are your products are being received differently by others since the rebrand? How has their reaction evolved?

Iyanla: I have an army of family and friends that I call my product lab rats.  While a few of them are still stuck on the rustic look and feel, most of the others simply love the packaging. In fact, they haven’t noticed if the products have changed.  They say that they look like they will make you feel better.  I won’t know until May if the general public feels the same way.

 

 

LBC: Can you share a recent win that you’ve realized because of the rebrand? 

Iyanla: My products have been accepted and will be presented on HSN beginning in May 2018!

 

MasterPeace packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

MasterPeace packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: How did Brick House Branding experience help shape your branding process?

Iyanla: Clarity.  Focus.  Intention.  Brick House Branding helped me get clear about my own thoughts and feeling about my products.  Was I invested in my products or not?  Did I believe in my products or not?  Did I want to sell my products or not? Did I really believe that I could be successful selling my products or not?  In this regard, that MVP assignment, although it kicked my butt was worth the entire fee for the course.  As I mentioned Modules 2 and 3 helped me focus in on what really matters when you have a product line and how to present what you feel about the line to the consumer. This is how I developed my intention for the product line. I also think the Expert Interview videos of the other brand owners helped me to put many things into a broader, wider, higher perspective.

 

MasterPeace packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

MasterPeace packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: What do you wish you had known at the beginning of the brand development process? What advice would you give to someone who’s getting ready to start the brand development process?

Iyanla: What I wish I had known was that branding is serious business.  Not only is it serious business, it is a business you must take seriously. I never even thought of my products as a brand. I made them because I liked them, and I wanted to continue my daughter’s work. I sold them because I spent too much money on supplies to give them away for free. That is how I felt about the “soap” I was making. Brick House Branding moved me into a brand consciousness which I now believe you must begin with. A brand is a living, breathing entity that needs care, nurturing and focused attention if you want it to grow.

 

I would advise anyone who is ready to start a brand to get clear about what the brand is, what it does, why it does that and why your brand does it better than any other brand. I would also encourage a new brand owner or those re-branding to have a clear intention about what they want to achieve with, for, and as a brand.  Finally, I would say, drop the word “product” from your vocabulary until you are clear about the energy and direction of the brand.

 

Thanks for catching up with us, Iyanla. The Lucky Break team will be watching (with cocktails and popcorn in-hand) as you make your big debut on HSN next month!

 

If you’d like to build a stronger, smart brand in 2018, then I also hope that you’ll consider joining me in the spring semester of Brick House Branding. This 9-week brand development mentorship dissects awesome brands and then helps you build your own, brick by brick, with me working right alongside you to cheer you on and ensure that you’re on the right track. Enrollment is now open, but we’re closing things up tight on April 27!

 

Where are they now? Christy Rose of KBShimmer

KBShimmer packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

KBShimmer_Logo

 

Are you wondering what happens to my Brick House Branding alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum and new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work?

 

I’m back with another installment in my “Where Are They Now?” series and I’m doing-cartwheels-excited to show you the serious waves my BHB graduates are making!

 

KBShimmer_Headshot

 

SAY HELLO TO CHRISTY OF KBSHIMMER

 

I’m thrilled to introduce you to Christy Rose of KBShimmer. After digging deep in Brick House Branding, Christy’s brand is all grown up and more in line with her ideal client than ever. Welcome, Christy… we’re so glad you’re here!

 

LBC: Why and when did you originally launch your company?

Christy: Like many small businesses, KBShimmer was created through my drive to do something beyond working at a stressful day job. I was working long and demanding hours in a career that left me unfulfilled. My indulgence at the end of the day was a long, hot bath and a good book. On really tiresome days, only a trip to the local spa for a pedicure and fresh polish on my tips and toes could change my perspective on almost everything.

 

In 2007 I walked into a bath and body store on vacation and fell in love with the bold colors, rich scents and creative vibe from handcrafted body care that filled this store’s shelves. I knew, with support from my husband Jason, that I could not only enjoy my pedicures and bath, but create my own products to enjoy during those peaceful moments.

 

In 2008, my home was overflowing with bath and body goodies and I needed to make room to create more! So I took those products to a local craft show and KBShimmer was born. For a few years, my night and weekends were spent making products, shipping orders and attending craft shows. But life has a funny way of propelling people forward, doesn’t it?  Unexpectedly in 2011, I found myself without a job. That event launched an internal struggle: though I didn’t want to work for anyone else, I needed to support my family. While pounding the pavement looking for work, I diligently watched for opportunities to grow my business into a sustainable income that would give my family the security it needed.

 

KBShimmer packaging and logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

KBShimmer packaging and logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: At what point did you know it was time for a rebrand?

Christy: Being in business for 10 years, things can start to feel stale and old.  Trends in the marketplace change, businesses grow and evolve, and sometimes what worked before no longer fits. That was really the case for us. About 3 years ago, I knew I needed to update my look. I took Brick House Branding, but ultimately I was scared that I would lose customers or my share in the marketplace if I made a drastic change. I took little pieces from BHB at that point and did a slight refresh on my bath and body labels.

 

But, as you can imagine, it wasn’t enough. New brands were constantly come into the picture that looked fresh, fun, modern, and more current than I did, so I knew I had to get over my fear and embrace changes. I signed up for BHB one more time, and took it with my husband. We took a hard look at our Ideal Customer (or “MVP” in BHB speak), and figured out where she shops, what attracts her to brands, what drives her purchases. We took that knowledge of Liz (that’s what I call my MVP) used it as the foundation for our new branding.

 

KBShimmer packaging and logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

KBShimmer packaging and logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

 

LBC: Please share a significant realization about the brand development process that you discovered while in Brick House Branding.

Christy: I always knew that I might not be my ideal customer, but it is hard to step away and look at not what you like, but what your MVP likes. That is the most significant thing I learned, that we don’t need to be our MVP. We might be, but we might differ in some aspects, too. That staying true to what our MVP and ideal customer looks for in our brand was more important than anything. That really helped when my husband and I differed in opinion on the branding.

 

My husband and I took BHB together. I knew that it would happen, but at some points our visions did not mesh, both while completing BHB and during the design process.  So when that happened, we really dug back into our coursework, taking a fresh look at our MVP’s personality, her likes and what she would desire from a brand.  What did Liz Google, where did she shop, what she did in her spare time? We looked at so many facets of her personality that I can tell you what car she drives and what drink she will order at the bar. Liz does have a lot of traits that come from my personality, but she is a bit younger, more in tune with social trends, and almost has some traits from my sister and daughter. Realizing that we needed to know our MVP inside and out was very important in helping us stay true to our brand, especially on those occasions when our MVP did differ from my own personality or my husband and I did not see eye to eye.

 

 

LBC: What professionals did you tag in to help with the process, and what pieces of the branding puzzle did you DIY? 

Christy: I tagged in Shauna and the team from We Are Branch for my rebrand. I actually contacted about 5-6 branding agencies when I was ready to start the design process. I spoke to each company to not only see if they could do what I wanted, but to make sure they were a good fit for me. I already write my own site content, and had a plan for photography, so those were not important aspects for me when looking for a designer or design team. While also I wanted visuals for my website, I didn’t need a new website platform. I also looked at their time frames, if they were more modern, more traditional, more tweaked clip art or freehanding everything.  It was important for me to find someone I feel comfortable talking to and that was open to my ideas and vision.

 

Once the rebrand was over, and packaging design was underway, we tagged in both a box company and a label company. We brought those people in early as there is no use designing a beautiful component if making it is out of your price range or requires a longer lead time then you have. We were lucky to find great reps at Consolidated Label and Your Box Solution to help us out.

 

Once we received all our boxes and labels, our in-house staff got to work making everything in new bottles and with new labels.  We also tweaked some formulas for the rebranding. That meant that we really couldn’t just relabel old product, everything had to be remade. I also decided to tag in Products On White to retake all my product photos on white backgrounds.  That was something I had handled myself in the past, but the cost of outsourcing this piece was definitely worth the weeks of shooting and editing photos I would have had to do.  Plus, if I spent all this money on great packaging components, I wanted to make sure to show them off properly!

 

KBShimmer packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

KBShimmer packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

 

LBC: What was the biggest obstacle you encountered during the rebranding process?

Christy: The biggest obstacle was sticking to my timeline. I really would have loved to have launched before Christmas, but with design changes, hiccups in packaging and labels, and just the extended time it took us to remake everything, Christmas was gone before I knew it. I realize now that I was pushing too hard and would have had to take shortcuts to be ready by Christmas, so I am glad we took the time to do it right!

 

 

LBC: How has your own perception of your brand evolved since graduating from Brick House Branding?  

Christy: The hardest thing once my rebrand was complete was looking at my old logo! I really think that my old branding had a more youthful feeling then I ever wanted to project. I hated that we had new components in house, but had to keep using what I already thought of as my “old” logo. I think now I feel more sophisticated, ready to talk to more wholesale accounts, more confident in putting our brand out there to consumers that may not have known us.I know that we have a kick ass product line, but now I know that our design also reflects that!

KBShimmer packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

KBShimmer packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: Are your products are being received differently by others since the rebrand? How has their reaction evolved?

Christy: We just relaunched March 15th, but so far the reaction has been great.  When sending out press samples to bloggers, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.  It is super scary to take an established brand and redo everything from top to bottom, so the positive feedback we have gotten so far has been amazing!

 

 

LBC: Can you share a recent win that you’ve realized because of the rebrand? 

Christy: We have already had several new wholesale inquiries since the rebrand, and some collaboration requests. That to me speaks volumes that the changes we made are the right changes.

 

 

LBC: How did Brick House Branding experience help shape your branding process?

Christy: One of the best aspects was feeling like I was coming to my designer prepared. There were some designer that I spoke who seemed amazed at how well I understood my ideal customer, my MVP. There were some designers that wanted to start out the process with what seemed like a mini BHB session.  So with BHB under my belt, I felt I could confidently attack the branding process and really move forward in a direction that I felt would help my company stay current not only now, but 10 years down the road.

 

KBShimmer packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

KBShimmer packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: What do you wish you had known at the beginning of the brand development process? What advice would you give to someone who’s getting ready to start the brand development process?

Christy:I would want anyone going through a full rebranding to know upfront that it will probably take longer than you think to get it all done and ready for the public eye!  Also, good designers are booked. Don’t be surprised if you need to wait weeks or even months for the designer that fits you perfectly. The perfect designer is worth waiting for. And budget more than you think you will need. You only have one chance to make a first impression with your new look, so if you feel it is off, not perfect, don’t move forward until it is.

 

I also suggest trying to stay away from trendy items in your branding. Pineapples, arrows, rose gold and woodland creatures may be hot, but so was avocado green in the 70’s and mustaches a few years ago, and now both look dated. It is important to look at the longevity of your brand.

 

In the end, you need to drive the rebranding process so that your look and products speak to your MVP.  In the end, we all want people to love our products enough to hand over the cash time and time again.

 

Thanks for catching up with us, Christy. We can’ t wait to see what comes next for you and KBShimmer… We’re cheering you on!

 

If you’d like to build a stronger, smart brand in 2018, then I also hope that you’ll consider joining me in the spring semester of Brick House Branding. This 9-week brand development mentorship dissects awesome brands and then helps you build your own, brick by brick, with me working right alongside you to cheer you on and ensure that you’re on the right track. Enrollment is open and closes on April 27!

 

Where are they now? Rosaura of Pigment & Parchment

Pigment & Parchment, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

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Are you wondering what happens to my Brick House Branding alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum and new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work?

 

I’m back with another round of “Where Are They Now?” case studies and I’m doing-cartwheels-excited to show you the serious waves my BHB graduates are making!

 

Rosaura

 

Say hello to Rosaura of Pigment & Parchment

I’m thrilled to introduce you to Rosaura Unangst of Pigment & Parchment. She spends her days creating beautifully vivid and colorful couture stationery wedding suites, with a style that’s all her own. And now she has a gorgeous brand that’s all her own, too.

 

LBC: Why and when did you originally launch your company?

Rosaura: I started Pigment & Parchment in October of 2013 a couple months after I married my husband, Nathan. I had already had two Etsy shops by then. One wasn’t super successful and that was before I even thought of the concept of a brand. The second one, Cameoland, was way more successful than the first, but I eventually burnt out because I had pigeon holed myself into a corner painting quirky caricatures and I was bored. I knew I could flex my painting muscles more, but I was too busy giving the people what they wanted to spend time focusing on what I wanted to create.

 

I shut down Cameoland and poured all my energy into planning our wedding. Everything was DIY and I knew once the wedding was over, I’d start my next venture based on my favorite part of creating for our own wedding. I was still a bit confused about what exactly the next venture would be still, so I very consciously named this company Pigment & Parchment. I knew I loved wedding stationery but also knew I tend to get bored and wanted a name that could easily evolve with my interests. I’m glad I had that forethought as the business has shifted in and out of different spaces (like retail & workshops) and it’s never felt like the name has held me back since it’s not overtly wedding related.

 

I originally launched this company after falling in LOVE with wedding stationery while painting our wedding’s menu. It was the first time I was applying my fine art painting skills to stationery in a way that I absolutely loved. I had my years of practice doing signage at Trader Joe’s and was ready to incorporate my lettering skills WITH my painting skills for weddings.

 

Pigment & Parchment logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Pigment & Parchment logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

 

LBC: At what point did you know it was time for a rebrand?

Rosaura: I had attempted branding before but thought all that went into that was picking colors, fonts, and making a mood board. I wasn’t terrible at it, but it had NO meaning. It was green and gold and modern and incorporated tropical plants because that’s what was popular but there was no WHY attached to any of it other than me wanting to fit into the luxury wedding market landscape.

 

Then I sat in a branding lecture by Lela at Craftcation and knew I wanted whatever she was selling. I asked her a question and I loved how she called it like it is, even when it wasn’t the easy answer I wanted to hear. That’s when I knew I could trust her.

 

I signed up for Brick House Branding within the week.

 

I don’t even really consider it a rebrand now. I can’t consider what I was doing before as branding really because it was so superficial. It feels like my brand was finally 100% fully born after I graduated from BHB.

 

 

LBC: Please share a significant realization about the brand development process that you discovered while in Brick House Branding.

Rosaura: I didn’t know there was more to a brand than the visuals. That’s where the buck stopped for me before Lela.

 

After Lela, I knew my brand inside and out. I no longer stumbled every time I needed to know what my ideal client thought. I no longer made up clients based on whims… there was a REASON for everything once I did the work of building the brand brick by brick up from the foundation rather than a shiny coat of paint on a house of cards like it had been before.

 

Pigment and Parchment, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Pigment and Parchment, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

 

LBC: What professionals did you tag in to help with the process, and what pieces of the branding puzzle did you DIY?

Rosaura: Because I am an illustrator, it was really important to me that none of the elements of the design be predesigned artwork. So, I hired Steph with Mighty Within who used the elements I hand painted to put together my logo. She then did my first branded photo shoot too!! Now any graphic elements I need within my branding, I just create it for myself!! I have a friend Samantha Aceves Photography who does my branded photos now, and I choose the styled shoots I contribute to more wisely to make sure they’re more in line with my brand than I used to do.

 

I went back and forth on hiring someone to do my copy. I gave it the old college try, but ultimately decided against it and do my own copy.

 

Pigment & Parchment, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Pigment & Parchment, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

 

LBC: What was the biggest obstacle you encountered during the rebranding process?

Rosaura: Making the time. I did BHB smack dab in the middle of wedding season (my busy season), so making the time to commit to BHB was a juggle for sure. It felt like I was back in college for a summer!! In the end though, my company not only survived the busy summer, but it grew stronger because of the work I put in to knowing my brand inside and out.

 

 

LBC: How has your own perception of your brand evolved since graduating from Brick House Branding?  

Rosaura: I know it in my bones. I’m no longer just endlessly searching for anything that matches a certain color palette like before… I know when something aligns with my branding or doesn’t pretty instantaneously now so I don’t waste as much money buying promotional junk I won’t like in 6 months like I used to. I don’t follow trends anymore, I don’t have to. I’ve started my own trend and don’t spend as much time ‘researching’ what other people are doing since I’m so much more secure in what I’m doing now.

 

Pigment & Parchment, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Pigment & Parchment, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

 

LBC: Are your products are being received differently by others since the rebrand? How has their reaction evolved?

Rosaura: Absolutely. Since doing the rebrand, I no longer get brides that simply aren’t a good fit for me and my vibe. I honestly started booking my dream jobs in locations all over the world once I did the rebrand. I had done this before the rebrand too, but it was few and far between. Once I rebranded, dream clients became the norm.

 

 

LBC: Can you share a recent win that you’ve realized because of the rebrand? 

Rosaura: A win that’s started happening exponentially since the rebrand is working more and more with international clients. I offer files for sale for them to print locally with a lot less stress, since one of Pigment & Parchment’s core values is being stress-free.

 

Another recent win is that I’ve now done live painting for two weddings since rebranding and have two more coming up. Once I really owned how travel & wanderlust are a big part of my brand, I can incorporate that ethos into the services I offer!

 

Pigment & Parchment AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: How did Brick House Branding experience help shape your branding process?

Rosaura: It gave me structure. Plain & simple.

 

We creatives tend to be great at coming up with new ideas. Follow through, though, is not always our strongest muscle.

 

BHB helped me focus and dial in on what was most important while utilizing all of Lela’s knowledge & the team’s organization & accountability skills.

 

 

LBC: What do you wish you had known at the beginning of the brand development process? What advice would you give to someone who’s getting ready to start the brand development process?

Rosaua: I honestly had a great experience and don’t think there’s anything I wish I had known before. I got everything out of BHB I could possibly dream of.

 

Advice I have for others though: Save up money to invest in doing this right. Cutting corners is more expensive in the long run because you end up doing things three, four, five times. Allot the time and resources you can to really dive deep and make the most of this time.

 

One last piece of advice: Don’t fight Lela and the team. Defensiveness gets you no where. You’re paying them hard earned money to help you, and that’s all they’re trying to do. They want to see you succeed as much as possible. If you’re going to be defensive and not open to change, save yourself the money and time and don’t do BHB. Otherwise, if you feel yourself resisting change, think of that as a red flag to something that could be holding you back. Don’t be afraid to change, that’s why you’re in BHB.

 

Thanks for catching up with us, Rosaura. We can’ t wait to see what comes next for you and Pigment & Parchment … We’re cheering you on!

 

If you’d like to build a stronger, smart brand in 2018, then I also hope that you’ll consider joining me in the spring semester of Brick House Branding. This 9-week brand development mentorship dissects awesome brands and then helps you build your own, brick by brick, with me working right alongside you to cheer you on and ensure that you’re on the right track. Enrollment opens on April 17!

Where are they now? Crystal of Sugar + Spruce

SugarSpruce_Crystal

SugarSpruce_Primary_Logo_Emerald

 

Are you wondering what happens to my Brick House Branding alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum and new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work?

 

I’m back with another round of “Where Are They Now?” case studies and I’m doing-cartwheels-excited to show you the serious waves my BHB graduates are making!

 

SugarSpruce_Crystal

 

Say hello to Crystal of Sugar + Spruce

I’m thrilled to introduce you to Crystal Wellman of Sugar + Spruce. Crystal recently rebranded her apothecary company, and I love how she’s incorporated feminine fun, whimsy, and color into every single aspect of her brand (including an amazing launch party that she shared on Instagram). Welcome, Crystal! We’re so honored to have you.

 

LBC: Why and when did you originally launch your company?

Crystal: Sugar + Spruce started out as Ladyburg, the symbiosis of my passion for skincare and a  shared mother-daughter hobby of making soaps and bath and body products. It was the Summer of 2012 when I had a skincare studio that I operated out of a salon. At the time, I was looking for growth and, as my lease was ending, I took that as a push to pursue my dream of owning and operating a boutique in the quaint historic downtown area of Fredericksburg, Va. After a lot of market research I decided I would combine my passion for skincare and making personal care products. The front of the boutique was our retail store and the back was our skincare studios.

 

Sugar + Spruce packaging and logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Sugar + Spruce packaging and logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: At what point did you know it was time for a rebrand?

Crystal: Online marketing has grown so much in the past few years. Especially with social media becoming such a necessary tool for business, we wanted to create a brand that could relate to our online audience just as much as our local audience. The name “Ladyburg” didn’t quite resonate with our friends ordering online in say, New York, as much as it does with those here in Fredericksburg. The name, Sugar + Spruce, instantly tells our audience we have a sweet tooth for sprucin’ up! (Plus, we’re no longer mistaken for a “Ladybug”!)

 

Sugar + Spruce packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Sugar + Spruce packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: Please share a significant realization about the brand development process that you discovered while in Brick House Branding.

Crystal: BHB taught me to dig deep…I still hear Lela saying “Dig Deeper” in my dreams. Digging deep is hard and painful and I honestly wanted to quit every week during BHB.  Prior to BHB, our target “audience” were women 25-45 and that’s all we had, which showed in our marketing since we really had no consistent person to market towards. We were able to define a specific person to be our target customer and that allowed us to have a consistent voice which is easily transferable across all channels of marketing.

 

LBC: What professionals did you tag in to help with the process, and what pieces of the branding puzzle did you DIY?

Crystal: Because I was already running a very busy retail and online store, I didn’t have the time to DIY. I tagged in Aeolidia to come in and create a brand that spoke to us as well as our target customer. Having the knowledge of going through BHB made the process of working with Aeolidia so smooth and easy. Now that we had our cheeky brand we needed a company that could help bring our brand to life. We worked with a boutique PR company based in Richmond, Va. named POSH PR®. They’re our creative aids! From branding shoots and in-store parties, to managing social media and blogging, they’ve helped us create a brand personality that’s consistent in its imagery and messaging!

 

Sugar + Spruce packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Sugar + Spruce packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: What was the biggest obstacle you encountered during the rebranding process?

Crystal: The timing! (Okay, and maybe my impatience.) I wasn’t quite as prepared for the amount of time re-branding requires. Whether you’re DIYing or tag-teaming with another company, it’s a time consuming endeavor! But you know what they say, “Good things take time!”

 

LBC: How has your own perception of your brand evolved since graduating from Brick House Branding?  

Crystal: Prior to BHB, we were a bit all over the place. We lacked consistency. There was no cohesion between our product, our brand voice, and our design. We started our re-brand with the ending in mind. We knew we wanted to look and feel like a candy store. That one absolute helped streamline our decision-making process when it came to choosing fun colors and patterns. We’re all about the sweetness at Sugar + Spruce and making products that look delicious! We’re appealing to all of the senses and customers can’t help but linger a little while longer (which we have seen through higher transaction amounts!).

 

Sugar + Spruce packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Sugar + Spruce packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: Are your products are being received differently by others since the rebrand? How has their reaction evolved?

Crystal: Customers used to think that our products were expensive. Elevating our brand has elevated the perceived value of our products. Through colorfully consistent packaging and cheeky descriptions customers are buying more than a product, they’re engaging in a fun experience! Some of the products have tripled in retail price, yet, they are selling better than ever!

 

LBC: Can you share a recent win that you’ve realized because of the rebrand? 

Crystal: Partnerships! We’ve worked with numerous lifestyle bloggers and influencers who are equally as excited for our new brand. Our new brand has opened up more avenues and we’ve loved exploring how we can continue expanding our brand awareness. Expanding our social media presence has played such a pivotal role in discovering fun partnerships.

 

Sugar + Spruce logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Sugar + Spruce logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: How did Brick House Branding experience help shape your branding process?

Crystal: BHB instilled strategy in my business plan. Admittedly, we used to “wing” it when it came to any kind of business plan. Now, our messaging, marketing, and introduction of new products are much more synchronized, which automatically adds value to our business.

 

LBC: What do you wish you had known at the beginning of the brand development process? What advice would you give to someone who’s getting ready to start the brand development process?

Crystal: That asking for help is okay and encouraged. I equated doing everything myself to being the best business owner. I learned the hard way that that is far from the truth! I was able to do a little bit of everything without mastering anything, which negatively affected overall quality. I was fortunate to be able to tag in some amazing companies to help with my re-brand: Lucky Break Consulting helped me pinpoint what and who my company was. Aeolidia helped bring my brand to life with amazing graphics, logos, illustrations and sooo much more. Posh PR is helping me bring my brand to life by taking over my messaging, marketing, blogging, branded photo shoots and helping to keep me sane. My in-store visual company has transformed the interior of the store in less than a week by hand painting my custom branded graphics on some of our walls, I gave him a few days and many cans of paint and it was pure magic in the end. Many hands make light and oh-so-much-better work!

 

Thanks for catching up with us, Crystal. We can’ t wait to see what comes next for you and Sugar + Spruce … We’re cheering you on!

 

If you’d like to build a stronger, smart brand in 2018, then I also hope that you’ll consider joining me in the spring semester of Brick House Branding. This 9-week brand development mentorship dissects awesome brands and then helps you build your own, brick by brick, with me working right alongside you to cheer you on and ensure that you’re on the right track. Enrollment opens on April 17!

 

#LBCWantsToKnow: March 2018 >> Email Marketing

lbcwantstoknow - email marketing

lbcwantstoknow - email marketing

 

I floated an idea past the Lucky Break team in January at our annual strategic retreat. I wanted to find a way to help our community brainstorm around marketing ideas and discover helpful tools and encourage each other on the often-disorienting journey of starting and running an artisan, product-based business.  And I wanted to explore ways that we could build a bridge between our community members and help facilitate those conversations.  The result? The #LBCWantsToKnow hashtag on Instagram.

 

We took that hashtag out for a spin in March, launching a month-long dialogue around one of the more mysterious facets of running a business: email marketing. If I was a betting woman (which I can be, when sufficiently plied with a few cocktails), I’d bet that all of us have heard an expert- or a string of experts- sing the praises of email list building and the importance of frequent email communications with our audience. But I’ve heard oh-so-many groans about the art of email marketing in my private consultations, and though it seems that we all understand that we *need* to do it, but scanty few of us are actually *excited* to do it.

 

So the mystery of email marketing seemed like a great place to start this new adventure. I posted four questions over the course of March) and I was grateful to have dozens of voices chime in.  Here’s what they had to say…

 

What service do you use for your email marketing?

 

The Lucky Break Community said:

MailChimp: 76.1%

Constant Contact: 9.5%

Convert Kit: 3.6%

Active Campaign: 3.6%

Aweber: 3.6%

Mailerlight: 3.6%

 

Not sure which service is right for you? Here’s a few thoughts people shared with me:

charliemadisonoriginals: I use MailChimp and love it! No complaints at all.

ekp_creations: MailChimp. Easy to use, lots of templates, great stats and it’s free!

urbanessencesalonspa: I have been using Constant Contacts for probably over 10 years.

shopgifted: MailChimp! Love it. Favorite: Easy to use, looks professional. Least favorite: I still have to create content for my newsletters.

trystudioapp ConvertKit and I love it! Switched from Mailchimp. It is more expensive and has less design options, but I’ve found the tagging to be so much easier and neater than what MC had. Also, as a designer, I can blow way too much time on the layout… having fewer options actually helps me focus.

@sensoryflight: I was with Mail Chimp for a couple of years, then with Constant Contact for about 9, will be moving back to Mail Chimp.

 

My take: For virtually all of my Lucky Break clients, I think MailChimp is the clear winner. You can get started for free, and affordable plans scale with your business. It’s more intuitive and less buggy than Constant Contact and there are rich designs options available. I had my designer create a suite of templates and load them into MailChimp for me, so I can create beautiful, on-brand emails in a snap. I also appreciate how much MailChimp celebrates the artisan community and they’re frequent sponsors of events and conferences in our space. ConvertKit is a great option for those offering services (think: coaches, consultants, etc.) but MailChimp wins out for product-based businesses, at least in my experience.

 

What “bait” do you lay for your audience via your email opt-in bonus?

 

The Lucky Break Community said:

herbanrootsllc: I currently offer a 10% off coupon, but I can’t say that it’s been super effective so far. I’m about launch a new product line that I’ve been building some excitement around though, and I plan on offering a pre-order option for email subscribers only. I’ll debut the idea on our social media platforms first to give new subscribers a chance to sign up prior to sending the newsletter with a “Buy Now” button.

bellajoypottery: I tried a video on how to fix broken pottery, that bombed. Then I switched to free shipping on your first order, that went well, but financially it wasn’t the best decision, but that was before real time shipping on Shopify. Now I use 10% off your first order, but typing this I think I should explore the free shipping again. Thanks for the prompt!

kidessenceshop: Free hand drawn coloring sheets!

waxingkara: We offer seasonal booklets. Right now the booklet is all about farm to table recipes with honey. As we get ready for spring and planting lavender the booklet theme changes to things you can do with lavender.

 

Pssst: Need some more ideas? Check out my Email Marketing Blueprint project.

 

My take: Leading with discounts can be hugely problematic. Chances are good that you’ll grow your list, yes… but you’ll also experience lower open rates, lower click rates, higher unsubscribe rates, and you’re training your peeps to expect discounts from day one.  If you’ve been around for a hot minute, then you’ve probably heard my take on the danger of offering regular discounts. They contribute to brand erosion and cultivate the wrong kind of rapport by placing all the emphasis on *price* rather than *value.* Instead, I recommend adding value by creating some sort of opt-in bonus that is more than people expected: free shipping, a guide to how to use your products, free digital wallpaper or printables featuring your work, etc. If you’re stumped about what you could create that your customers will crave, then that’s a sign that further brand development is needed.

 

How do you feel when people unsubscribe from your mailing list?

 

The Lucky Break Community said:

oldsoulartisan: Initially, it really bothered me. Now I realize that it can be a good thing because most likely this person wasn’t my target market and probably wasn’t going to purchase from my shop because we weren’t able to establish a connection. As long as I gain more followers than I lose I don’t worry about the periodic unsubscriber.

bobodesignstudio: As long as it isn’t a friend. I’m okay with it!

wickedhitches: At first I was hurt but then I realized those who stay subscribed or stay as a follower are the ones I want and as long as those numbers are growing steadily and not losing traction I’m good.

loreasample: Just fine!!! Matter of fact, I just sent out a campaign for spring cleaning inviting people to unsubscribe of they didn’t want to be there and included a parting gift… no one has unsubscribed so far, lol.

stellachroma: I’m not fussed about it. I’d rather have a small list that is full of just my people than a huge one with folks who aren’t.

heymavensxo: Good riddance! If you didn’t want to buy from me, GTF and stop ruining my open and click through rates

olivemyskin: If someone unsubscribed from any of my social media or newsletter, I don’t get bothered, they aren’t my people.

makermountainfabrics: It doesn’t bother me! I always feel like if they unsubscribe because ______ then they aren’t my people and aren’t going to buy from me anyway, so I don’t care about them being there. My list is still pretty small, but I am proud of all the newsletters I send out and consistently get sales from them, so I know it’s them not me when they aren’t into what I am sharing.

shopjanery: I get a little pang of feeling rejected, but then I throw my CEO cape over my shoulders and remind myself that they’re just helping me narrow down to my to my target audience.

 

My take: Amen to Shop Janery (above!).  Unfriendings, unsubscribes, and unfollows are all part of business. They sting, but they’re truly no big deal in the long run. If people aren’t interested in your work, then it’s actually a blessing for them to exit stage left. Seeing that process happen can be a bit twitchy, but just remind yourself that they’re helping to boost our open rates while keeping your service fees for email marketing low. So “sayonara” and best wishes. Don’t fixate on it and keep the train moving. You only have so many energy molecules to work with each day and a few unsubs here and there doesn’t warrant an investment of energy.

 

I recommend NOT asking your email service provider to send you daily updates of both subscribers and non-subscribers. Those become an energy suck and feed obsessiveness. However, I do a quick audit each month of my recent email marketing efforts (See the “reports” tab in MailChimp). If there was a higher-than-normal unsub rate, I’ll reopen that newsletter and examine why that might be. A subject line that wasn’t particularly compelling? An errant typo? Was I talking about something controversial? On the flipside, I also examine which newsletters enjoyed the highest open + click rates in an effort to unearth what types of content my readers enjoy most.

 

 

How often are you sending email newsletters to your audience?

 

The Lucky Break Community said:

Monthly: 57%

Every other week: 29%

Weekly: 14%

 

ettaandbillie: At least once a month for both. Occasionally twice if I’ve got something particularly juicy to share.

hangupsjewelry: We have one newsletter that we send out every second Tuesday. We also took your advice and relaunched our blog yesterday!

stellachroma: I have one newsletter that I send out at least monthly. Sometimes twice a month if there’s extra goings on.

little_truths_studio: Sending my first newsletter this morning! My goal is to send them out monthly and then twice a month if the response is good.

wholecirclestudio: Every other Thursday consistently. I’d love to do every week, but find that consistency Is better than just trying to get out every week. Started almost a year and a half ago and haven’t missed one yet!

ambikaherbals: I try to send a wholesale newsletter to my stockists once per quarter.

kidessenceshop: Twice a month for retail buyers, once a month for wholesale buyers.

hborganics: Weekly.

 

My take: Consistency is key when it comes to newsletters. Sliding off radar for 3 months while you move your workshop or attend to a big launch is no bueno it will unleash a stamped of unsubscribes and have people asking- “Wait… who is this again?” Email marketing is a groove and I realize that it takes time to get into a good groove, so here are my recommendations:

  • Start with once retail newsletter per month, plus a wholesale-exclusive newsletter to a separate list once per quarter.

 

  • Got your groove? Good! Kick things up a notch. Aim for a retail newsletter once every other week and a wholesale-exclusive newsletter every other month.

 

Many thanks to those who played along with us in March. We’re shifting focus to one of my favorite topics in April: brand development. Search the #LBCWantstToKnow hashtag to weigh in!