Cosmetic Product Recall Procedure

cosmetic product recall

Do you know how to responsibly execute a cosmetic product recall? There’s been some buzz recently in the clean beauty space after a well-respected, independent brand discovered that one of its most popular formulas isn’t stable. The development hit the airwaves last week, though the product has been beloved by editors and clean beauty fans from coast to coast for several years. The artisan took to their Instagram account and email list to announce that they’re temporarily halting sales while they investigate and reformulate though they stopped short of declaring a recall. I appreciate that this is a teachable moment for our industry, providing an opportunity  to shed some light on the best cosmetic product recall procedure.

 

How to Responsibly Execute a Cosmetic Product Recall

 

cosmetic product recall

 

A graduate of my cosmetic GMP class put the situation on my radar the day after our graduation, and I found the timing ironic. By way of background: I have both a depth of knowledge and an intense passion for the safety of natural cosmetics and ensuring a bright future for those who are pioneering this space. I spent fifteen years bootstrapping my beauty brand, implementing quality control systems, and building GMP-compliant production protocols. And I walked both the halls of Congress and the corridors of the FDA  for several years, working as a small business advocate to encourage government stakeholders to keep small, independent beauty brands in mind as they craft new federal legislation. As a consultant to makers and product designers, I now teach GMP principles to other beauty brand owners.

 

Product recalls are an unfortunate reality of modern consumerism, and product recall examples are abundant. But there’s a particular cosmetic product recall procedure that needs to be followed.

 

MY CONCERNS WITH THE RECENT SCARE FROM A POPULAR INDIE BEAUTY BRAND

There’s a whirlwind of confusion about the requirements for creation and distribution of personal care products within the United States. I engaged in direct dialogue with this beauty entrepreneur during her announcement and our conversation only deepened my concerns.

  • She elected not to use the word “recall” in any of the announcements that I could locate. That’s a critical keyword for this process and clarity is key.
  • The message to customers included romanticized verbiage like “bloom” and “mild fermentation” rather than clear terms which accurately describe what’s happening with those products: mold and contamination. She later conceded privately that she made “some language mistakes.” While my recommendation for an updated statement with clear language apparently fell on deaf ears, I remain hopeful that she’ll make an additional public statement with clear instructions for her customers.
  • When the brand owner addressed my concerns in the comments section of her Instagram post, she mentioned that she’d sold tens of thousands of units of this particular product over the years and affirmed that it “has always challenge tested stable.” She later reached out to me privately and said that the company was “undergoing challenge testing for all of [their] formulas as required by the EU regulatory system.” Those statements are contradictory and lead me to wonder if she understands the nature of these tests and when/why they’re required.
  • When customers inquired on Instagram about whether the product in their possession was safe to use, the company expressed that continued use was “at their discretion.” Both those who hadn’t noticed mold and those who spoke of scraping the mold off the tops of their face mask received that same information. *shudder*  This approach jeopardizes the health of customers while exposing the company to legal liability that’s simply not worth the cost of saving face.

 

BALANCING OUR DESIRE FOR NATURAL BEAUTY WITH THE PUBLIC’S NEED FOR SAFETY

 

Cosmetic Product Recall Procedure

 

Over the past few years, a host of bad actors have invited unwelcome attention and a sense of hysteria about cosmetic safety. I’m looking at you Claire’s, WEN by Chaz Dean, and Brazilian Blowout.

 

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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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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? 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!

 

Where Are They Now? Michelle Smith of MamaSuds

MamaSuds Laundry Soap

MamaSuds Logo

 

Wondering what happens to my Brick House Branding alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum + new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work? Then settle in with a mug of something yummy for the next installment of my “Where Are They Now?” series. And I hope you’re sitting down for this one kittens, because it’s a *doozy*!

 

As you read this blog and peek at the “before” shots, I encourage you to think about how much you’d pay for that product. Try to get a number in your mind, then scroll down and peep the “after” shot. How much would you pay for that product? It’s a great reminder about how much packaging + presentation influences value perception, and a poignant reinforcement of how powerful a magnet you brand can be when it comes to attracting the right kind of customers.

 

MEET MICHELLE OF MAMASUDS

 

I’m excited to introduce you to Michelle Smith of MamaSuds, who creates naturally-focused, non-toxic soaps and household cleaners that are free of synthetics. After graduation from Brick House Branding, Michelle’s company underwent a major reinvention and the results are nothing short of stunning. Welcome, Michelle… we’re excited to share your transformation story!

 

MamaSuds - Michelle Smith

 

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

Michelle: When I had my oldest daughter, I did everything by the book: baby shampoo, lotion, disposable diapers, etc. Then while I was pregnant with my second child, we bought new nursery furniture. One day I noticed a small sample bottle of name brand soap lying on its side on the dresser. I wiped up the small drop that leaked from the bottle and the finish came off with it. This sparked the question in my head, “What am I putting on my baby’s skin?”

Little did I know how much this simple question would change my life.

I found myself researching the ingredients in what I thought I knew to be “soap,” and it was like I opened Pandora’s Box. One thing led to another and I started making real soap for my family. I had been making liquid Castile soap for my friends and family for over two years and had developed an awesome laundry soap that was safe for cloth diapers. My soap worked so well that my husband kept urging me to sell it online. I thought that was a ridiculous idea- who wants to buy soap from a school teacher? He developed a website for me in late 2011 and then I obtained my business license in January 2012.

 

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

Michelle: I took LBU and learned so much. In the spring and summer, I was full-on pitching MamaSuds’ products to boutiques and small alternative health stores. I was not having any success wholesaling my products. I had either received no feedback, or a shop would tell me my products were great but the look didn’t fit into their stores. I had no idea what that meant. After a few months of grinding it out, I felt like I was spinning my wheels and I didn’t know what to do next. I finally booked a one-on-one with Lela to get some advice and perspective. Lela was honest and straightforward about what I needed to do next. That one-on-one led me to decide I needed to rebrand to focus on our most popular products – all natural soap and household cleaners – and hone in on our core audience, which was ingredient-savvy moms. The day after our one-on-one, I signed up for BHB Winter Semester 2017.

 

MamaSuds collection, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

MamaSuds collection, BEFORE Brick House Branding and Michelle’s rebrand

 

MamaSuds

MamaSuds collection, AFTER Brick House Branding and her rebrand! (be still my beating heart)

 

 

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

Michelle: The comment I kept finding myself saying out loud during BHB was, “Wow, I didn’t know that!” You don’t know what you don’t know. I’ve never owned or run a business before, I’ve been teaching myself along the way, but there are aspects of being an entrepreneur that you just don’t know that you don’t know. Until someone tells you or you go through it first-hand, it’s all a big mystery.

 

 

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

Michelle: As soon as BHB ended (mid-March 2017) I began researching design companies. I used the knowledge I learned and the tools given to me in the course to narrow down a list of 6 designers I wanted to work with. I then reached out to them and interviewed all six designers. It was a long process, but it was a huge investment and I wanted to do this right. After the interviews, I reached out to their clients and asked them a few questions. I then tagged in Lela to help me decide between them.

At the end of April, I hired Bre Radenmacher at RowanMade. While RowanMade started their design work, I began working on product descriptions, finding the perfect packaging, redoing my website… the list was long. By the beginning of August, the product labels were done so I sent my products off to POW Photography, and then took the lifestyle pictures myself.

 

MamaSuds Laundry Soap, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

MamaSuds Laundry Soap, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

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

Michelle: My biggest obstacle was finding a bottle company that would sell me laundry bottles (called drainbacks). I found quite a few white bottles but it was really a challenge to find natural laundry bottles that didn’t have a high minimum. When I finally did find what I wanted, it took months to just get them delivered. Anything and everything went wrong, but in the end, they finally arrived and it was worth all the trouble.

 

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

Michelle: It wasn’t until I had all my packaging lined up in front of my face that I had that “aha!” moment where I finally understood everything Lela taught me about branding. It looked so clean and fresh and cohesive. It was really exciting!

 

MamaSuds Laundry Soap

MamaSuds Laundry Soap, 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?

Michelle: My customers’ reaction was incredible. It looks like a brand instead of just a collection of products I made. During BHB you come up with a list of words that you want your brand to stand for, and when I posted the pictures on social media to unveil the new brand, the feedback from my customers gave me were those exact words I chose in BHB: fresh + clean.

 

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

Michelle: During BHB, there is a video of before-and-after pictures that Lela shares to show how branding lifts a company. I remember pausing this video, turning to my husband and saying, “Do you want to know what my goal is? My goal is to be one of Lela’s before-and-after shots.” So, when I got the email asking me to share my journey in this blog series, I was on cloud nine. I am really proud of the end result, but if Lucky Break wants to share my story, it’s a huge validation to me that I’m on the right path!

 

MamaSuds Hand Soap Soap, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

MamaSuds Hand Soap Soap, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

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

Michelle: When BHB was over and I began interviewing designers, they all gave me a worksheet to fill out to learn more about my vision. It was absolutely no work at all on my end, because BHB prepares you for that 100%. It was easy to communicate what I wanted MamaSuds to be because I was SO prepared from BHB.

 

LBC: What advice would you give to someone who’s getting ready to start the brand development process?

Michelle: If you go into BHB with an open mind, dig really deep, and pay attention to the exercises that you seem to want to avoid (that’s a clue you need to really do some soul-searching in that area!) then I really think the brand development process will be more enjoyable and easier.

 

MamaSuds Hand Soap

MamaSuds Hand Soap, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

Thanks for catching up with us, Michelle. We can’ t wait to see what comes next for you + MamaSuds. We’re cheering you on!

 

If you’d like to build a stronger, smart brand in 2017, then I also hope that you’ll consider joining me in the spring semester of Brick House Branding. This 8-week brand development incubator 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 for the first semester of 2018 opens on October 3rd and closes after 10 days, or as soon as we sell out of seats… so if you know you want a spot, be sure to mark your calendar today to ensure you don’t miss out. I’d welcome an opportunity to work with you!

I hope you’ll stop by next Wednesday for another “Where Are They Now?” blog and an amazing transformation that I’m excited to reveal…