Meet the Maker: Leah Klasovsky of Leahlani Skincare

Leahlani Skincare

I’m excited to share another installment of our ongoing “Meet the Maker” series.  Here, we share morsels of business wisdom and a peek behind some of our favorite brands. This one is particularly special Leah Klasovsky of Leahlani Skincare.

 

Meet Leah Klasovsky of Leahlani Skincare

 

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LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?

Leah: Realizing that my body was out of balance, I set out on a quest for healing. Fate led me to Spa Luna, a holistic esthetician school on the Island of Maui. With no prior knowledge of skincare and never having had a facial in my life, I felt a strong pull to trust my intuition… so off we went.

My husband and I packed all of our belongings and moved from Oahu to Maui to embark on this new journey. In life, we have so many defining moments… moments that change our very existence. My experience in the year I spent on Maui did just that, it changed my life.

For the next few years, I immersed myself in the world of holistic skincare and soaked in as much knowledge and advanced education as I could. I became a Spa Director at the Hilton Spa on Kauai and also had the privilege of having my own private esthetician practice. Working one on one with my clients during this time proved to be my most valuable education. I have had the honor of touching hundreds of precious faces over the course of years in my practice, each face told a story of skin longing to be heard and longing to be healed. I quickly learned how valuable my hands truly are, and what powerful healing tools they make.

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Meet the Maker: Hana Brewster of Quiet Clementine

Hana Brewster of Quiet Clementine

For several years, Lucky Break hosted a “Meet the Maker” series featuring inspiring makers and product designers we though you should know. We were honored to host dozens of artisans, from Kristen Pumphrey of PF Candle Co to Meg Sutton of Belle & Union. Each one graciously offered inside peeks of their entrepreneurial journeys, while sharing some of their favorite resources, and dishing advice for what they wish they’d known when launching their own brands.  After an extended hiatus, we’re excited to reignite the “Meet the Maker” series, and we hope it helps you stay engaged, empowered, and inspired.

 

We’re kicking things off with Hana Brewster of Quiet Clementine. Hana creates whimsical and playful pieces from ceramics that include sculpted jewelry pieces and statement dishes. Thanks so much for joining us, Hana… we’re thrilled to share your story!

 

Hana Brewster of Quiet Clementine

 

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LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?

Hana: Prior to Quiet Clementine, I had two polymer clay focused businesses, one for jewelry and one for decor. I wanted to be a part of the handmade world, making something, and being able to work from home. I started with jewelry, because I had made some ceramic necklaces for my bridesmaids and enjoyed the process. Living in a small apartment with no space to make messes or to put a kiln made the choice to work with polymer fairly obvious.

Also, when I was in 6th grade, I went through a macrame jewelry making phase where I stayed in from recess to craft and try to sell necklaces to my teachers, so jewelry just felt like a natural fit to me. A few years into those businesses, my dad (who is a retired art teacher and amazing potter) encouraged me to make some ceramic pieces. I resisted for a while because I didn’t feel I had the skill to work in ceramics, but when I finally gave in, I was hooked.

Once I saw the first finished pieces, I think I knew I was done with polymer clay. I started making more pieces and posting them to Instagram. Then I started figuring out a plan for transitioning my business and how I was going to buy my own kiln. My business officially became Quiet Clementine in the spring of 2015 and I haven’t looked back since.

 

MEET THE QUIET CLEMENTINE COLLECTION

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Hana: I create playful ceramics for color enthusiasts. I make small items, such as ring dishes, earring holders, mini planters, statement earrings, and necklaces. Each piece is inspired by vibrant color palettes and playful patterns and is handcrafted to bring fun and happiness to everyday life.

 

LBC: Where can we find your products?

Hana: You can find my products on my website, my Etsy shop, and at some amazing shops around the country, as well a couple international, which you can see on my stockist page.

 

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LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?

Hana: Even though I had a couple of shops prior to Quiet Clementine, I still didn’t know that much about business, so I’m not sure if I really thought about how it would be defined. I just enjoyed making colorful, happy things out of a material that had so many possibilities and, as things went along, I started to understand my aesthetic more and more and what kinds of products I enjoyed making.

 

THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A TYPICAL WORKDAY

LBC: Walk us through a typical workday.

Hana: I don’t have a typical workday. I’m not a morning person, so I usually sleep in and then check emails and Instagram on my phone, which I know is a bad way to start the day!  After that, I start the kiln if it’s a firing day and I might do some computer work or answer/send emails if I need to or do a little product work.

After lunch, I go back to whatever the task is for the day. Each day is so different, depending on what products I’m currently working on and which phase of the process they’re in, but there are 3 different phases my pieces go through to become a final product. Some days I’m in the making phase, where I work in wet clay, creating the forms of the products. After that, I move on to the glazing phase, where I hand paint 3 coats of multiple glaze colors on each piece. For some products, that would be the final step, but I also apply liquid 22k gold to most of my pieces, so some days I’m applying gold and firing the kiln for the 3rd time.

For jewelry, there is yet another phase, so some days I assemble earrings. In between each phase are firing days, where I fire the kiln and then wait for it to cool. On those days (or whenever I need to), I might photograph or list new products, do computer work, start making more products, finish up a wholesale order, or just take a day to rest. My husband is my unofficial shipping assistant, so any orders that need to be packed up will happen after he gets home. I spend time with my husband in the evening and end the day by watching TV or reading a book.

 

BEFORE YOU START YOUR BUSINESS

LBC: What are 3 things entrepreneurs should think through when they initially decide to start a business?

Hana:

Make sure no one else is making your specific product already and if they are, figure out how you can make it unique and different from what’s already out there. Obviously, there are already a ton of people making jewelry or greeting cards, but you can determine what sets you apart from the rest. Having an idea of the feeling and aesthetic you want for your products will be helpful in understanding what makes you different.

Figure out pricing at the start and if you’d like to eventually do wholesale. You won’t want to have to dramatically increase your prices when you start wholesale. Of course, your costs and process will probably change from when you start versus a year out. You’ll find more cost-effective suppliers and your process will become more efficient, but having an understanding of pricing, in the beginning, will be beneficial.

Be aware of all the other roles that come with owning a small business. You won’t just be making the products you’re passionate about everyday. You’ll be the photographer, packager, shipper, admin, and many other things. Make sure you’ll be able to perform all of those tasks, at least in the beginning until you can, or want, to outsource those roles.

 

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Lucky Break- 2019 February Calendar

February Calendar

The 2019 February calendar is here. The sweet smell of roses, the taste of artisanal chocolates, and hopefully the sounds of your bank account going “cha-ching!” as new wholesale orders come rolling in!

 

2019 February Calendar

 

The first BHB semester in 2019 kicked off the last week of January, and we start February off with our first group call.  Open enrollment for GMP continues through the month with the live class dropping March 2nd. If you are a beauty brand thinking about enrolling, now is the time because we won’t offer this course live again this year.

 

And one final note. . . while the Lucky Break team will be holding it down, I will be on a boat in the Carribean with Mr. Barker for some much needed R&R.

 

You can download this February Calendar, along with all our calendar, to help you keep track of what we have going on, as well note some focuses for the month.

 

Make sure you are following along on all we have cooking this February via our mailing list as well as on Instagram! @lelabarker and @luckybreakconsulting

 

february calendar

 

Where are they now: Valerie DeVito of Gilded Olive Apothecary

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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 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!

 

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SAY HELLO TO VALERIE OF GILDED OLIVE

This week I’m thrilled to catch up with my Brick House Branding graduate Valerie of Gilded Olive Apothecary. Valerie shed her previous name and look and dove headfirst into a Roaring 20’s theme. The transformation is stunning! Welcome, Valerie! We’re so glad to have you here.

 

 

Lucky Break: Why and when did you originally launch your company?
Valerie: In 2011, I was working as a Licensed Massage Therapist and learned how to make bath-bombs. I was always interested in skin care, and thought it would be a nice after-care treatment to give my clients.

 

Bath bomb research led me to discover soap-making and a year later, I was addicted to it, selling my wares to recoup some of my costs. I printed my ingredients on cardstock and wrapped it around the soaps and called them M.H. Brand. I had always been creative, so making soap and even the labels scratched that itch for me. I loved it!

 

 

Lucky Break: At what point did you know it was time for a rebrand?
Valerie: By 2015 I was selling quite a bit, mostly to my massage clients, plus a couple of small, local wholesale accounts.

 

I made lots of different products. Stuff that I wanted to make, and basically anything anyone asked me to make. I sold on Etsy and at local fairs, and people who were not massage clients would always ask me what M.H. Brand meant.

 

I changed my name to Lilac & Olive Soaperie and had a friend design a logo and a website. A year later, I had failed to launch that site. It was pretty, but I felt like something was missing.

 

I was making product like mad, offering way too much, and getting very little to show for it. I couldn’t keep up with the inventory needed for everything I’d been making. Ultimately, in trying to please everyone, I ended up disappointing people instead. With so much variety, I was always running out of something. It was late 2016 and I knew I needed some real guidance. I came across a line from Lela Barker that read, “do less and do it better”. It resonated, hard, and I knew I had found my answer.

 

 

Gilded Olive, before BHB and a rebrand.

Gilded Olive Apothecary, before BHB and a rebrand.

 

 

Lucky Break: Please share a significant realization about the brand development process that you discovered while in Brick House Branding.
Valerie: I bought my binders and my sticky tabs and lots of ink for the printer. I cleared my schedule and listened obsessively to the video in which Lela prepares us for the work. I’m a hard worker and I was not at all afraid of it, I felt ready.

 

What I wasn’t prepared for, was just how emotional this type of work was. Although gradual and gentle, truth be told- it’s a deep, soul-searching dive. I began to have these light bulb moments, and some of them were really surprising!

 

The work helped me discover the one thing I wanted my brand to be, and why, which resulted in the cohesiveness I’d been missing. I’d say my most significant realization about the brand development process, is that it’s more about discovery than creation.

 

 

Lucky Break:  What professionals did you tag in to help with the process, and what pieces of the branding puzzle did you DIY?
Valerie: I built my own website, using the Shopify platform, which I really like. Wholesale Line Sheets seemed pretty straight-forward to me, so I used what I learned and took care of that on my own, as well.

 

I like to write, and I was looking forward to blogging, so I wrote all my own copy.

 

During the course, I discovered that I needed to change my name again (surprise!) and wanted nothing to do with the filing of a trademark, so I hired that out, first thing. Then I used a wonderful graphic artist who designed a new logo for me and helped me create my business cards and all of my packaging.

 

I thought I was ok at photography, but as it turned out, ‘ok’ wasn’t really what I was going for. So I hired an excellent photographer and I’m so happy that I did! She took beautiful photos that I could have never accomplished on my own.

 

 

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Gilded Olive Apothecary, after BHB and a rebrand

 

Lucky Break: What was the biggest obstacle you encountered during the rebranding process?
Valerie: Probably me. My brain, my own worry. All the small stuff that went awry along the way, eventually got remedied.

 

For example, the first time I had my soap boxes printed, they used the wrong files and the color was off. The fact that I had to have one thousand boxes reprinted seemed like a big deal at the time, but I’m sure it’s pretty common when you’re dealing with so many files every day. There were website issues, image file issues, email issues, you name it.

 

Nothing that couldn’t be fixed, and in the end, nothing that truly was a big deal. When in doubt, I learned to just breathe.

 

 

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

Valerie: It may sound strange, but I feel so much closer to it now. And I think its beautiful. I’m proud to send people to my new site.

 

I can describe it in one sentence, easy peasy. Before BHB, I was always wobbly on the subject of what my brand was, (I make a lot of pretty stuff?) as well as the subject of wholesale.

 

I never knew if my products were good enough, or the proper way to approach retailers. BHB was so amazing, I took Lela’s LBU wholesale course as well. Now I feel empowered, knowing what to expect from retailers, and knowing what’s expected of me.

 

 

Gilded Olive Apothecary, after BHB and a rebrand

Gilded Olive Apothecary, after BHB and a rebrand

 

 

Lucky Break: Are your products are being received differently by others since the rebrand? How has their reaction evolved?
Valerie: I just recently launched, at the end of September, but I’d consider my launch day very successful! I received several orders, plus lots of messages and positive feedback on my website and products.

 

I even got a comment on my blog, the first day. That really blew my mind.

 

I’m getting a lot of messages along the lines of, ‘It’s so YOU!’. I think that’s a positive thing, because I’m only really good at being myself.

 

 

Lucky Break: Can you share a recent win that you’ve realized because of the rebrand?
Valerie: On 7/17/17, I wrote out some goals. I found the paper in my desk just the other day. One of them was to be featured in this blog. Huge win!

 

Another win is: I know exactly what I’m doing every day now. Whether it’s my blog, newsletter or making product- this experience has made my business so much more streamlined. I know what inventory I need to keep on hand, I’m not just randomly making things. No more spinning my wheels, wondering what to do first, wondering what would be best to make next.

 

 

Gilded Olive Apothecary, after BHB and a rebrand

Gilded Olive Apothecary, after BHB and a rebrand

 

 

Lucky Break: How did Brick House Branding experience help shape your branding process?
Valerie: I desperately needed this. I was way too close to my work to be able to be objective.

 

I could have never done it without the seeking questions Lela proposes. I needed the coaching, the questions to help me figure out where I wanted to go. To help me figure out who I was, as a brand. And listening to others as they went through the same process, helped me understand it better. Sometimes she just gave us pep-talks. And I needed those, too.

 

Before BHB, I had no idea that it was me running myself ragged. Niching down and doing less has helped me gain significant focus and renewed energy. As it turns out, I don’t have to serve the entire population. What a concept. I like it!

 

 

Lucky Break: 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?
Valerie: I’d say, don’t think you’re going to accomplish this in a month.

 

Don’t compare your progress to other’s because everyone’s so different, and at different stages. It’s not a race to the ‘finish’ because you’re never finished. Give yourself the time, it’s a process. Trust your gut to determine what’s right for you. Do the parts you don’t want to do. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out.

 

I learned that rebranding is strategic, it’s about the long game. It’s about putting down a foundation on which you can build, for years to come and that’s everything. Do the hard work now, and everything after will come easier. And be sure to take breaks. Enjoy your family, your friends and your life.

 

Celebrate small wins, and try not to panic when stuff goes wrong- because it will. When you get tired, remember that tomorrow’s another day. Work hard, stay the course and it will all be worth it in the end!

 

 

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

 

 

If you’d like to build a stronger, smart brand in 2019, then I hope that you’ll consider joining me in the winter 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 through October 12!

Where are they now: Angela Heitz of Angel Minaro

Angel Minaro, after Brick House Branding + 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 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!

 

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SAY HELLO TO ANGELA OF ANGEL MINARO

This week I’m thrilled to catch up with my Brick House Branding graduate Angela of Angel Minaro. Angela really embraced my message to niche, niche, niche (and niche some more), and she turned a good brand into a great brand. The transformation is stunning! Welcome, Angela! We’re so glad to have you here.

 

 

Lucky Break: Why and when did you originally launch your company?

Angela: At college, I specialized in product formulation and so I had always dabbled in making skin and body care products. I had dreamed of having a skincare store but never really did anything to realize that dream. In 2009, my now-husband and more than a few friends and colleagues got let go from their jobs. It seemed to be commonplace at the time. I felt a deep anxiety that I needed to have something to fall back on if indeed I ended up with the same fate, so I went to work and started seriously formulating and creating skincare products that I could market as a serious business. In 2011 after a lot of hard work, Angel Minaro launched and I was so very proud of it.

 

 

Angel Minaro, before Brick House Branding and rebrand

Angel Minaro, before Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

 

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

Angela: After a few years in business, I really wasn’t seeing any progress or results. I had a few accounts here and there and a few sales. I was working very hard but the business wasn’t profitable, so I knew there was something missing. I don’t think I ever really knew that I needed a rebrand until I took Lela’s Brick House Branding class.

 

While taking the class, I shockingly realized that I didn’t really know what a brand was and how deep branding is. I began to realize that that was at the root of the problem.

 

 

 

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

Angela: For me, the brand development process was very emotional. I realized that I didn’t have a brand identity or an ideal client. It was very gut-wrenching to me when I got to the realization that I had worked so hard for so many years and that I would literally have to start again. I had to get to this point emotionally though to realize that I couldn’t hold on to the past and to be willing to move on.

 

I had to figure out who my ideal client was and get to know her inside out. Her wants and needs, likes and dislikes, everything!

 

It dawned on me that I needed my brand to resonate with my ideal client as strongly as my old brand did with me. It had to be all about her, and all of a sudden it clicked for me what branding was all about.

 

 

Angel Minaro, before Brick House Branding + a rebrand

Angel Minaro, before Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

 

 

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

Angela: I hired the same graphic designer who designed my old labels to work on the new labels and boxes because we have a really good working relationship. This time though, I was armed with all the information I needed to convey what I wanted from her. Not just… “Make it pretty”! I didn’t have that before.

 

Gilah Press and design printed the labels and Custom Boxes Corp printed my product boxes. They were so helpful.  I got the super talented Madam Scodioli (a referral from Lucky Break Consulting) to take my product shots and as you can see, the difference is crystal clear.

 

I will be writing my own product descriptions, and this is purely due to financial reasons but as soon as I can swing it, I’ll be tagging in a professional to do that.

 

 

 

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

Angela: Trying to figure out my brand identity and time!

 

First of all, I had to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t really have a brand, and then trying figure out my brand identity was hard and took me a long time. I also had a timeline for completing the rebrand, but I’m learning fast that life gets in the way and that’s the reason I still haven’t officially relaunched. But I’m still pushing through. If you want it bad enough, you have to keep going, and that’s what I’m doing.

 

As painstakingly slow as the progress has been, I look at where I started and where I am now and I’m really proud of how far I’ve come.

 

 

Angel Minaro, after Brick House Branding + a rebrand

Angel Minaro, after Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

 

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

Angela: Honestly I feel more confident about my brand. It is more cohesive. I feel more comfortable pitching to my ideal client because I believe my pitch. I know what I’m offering and who I’m offering it to. The old brand really wasn’t speaking to anyone and was completely all over the place.

 

 

 

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

Angela: It has been received very well. The feedback I’ve had from the focus groups has been overwhelmingly positive and most importantly the reactions and feelings that I’m trying evoke with my products seem to be happening. The rebrand has been having a more emotional response than the…“Your products are good” response!

 

 

 

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

Angela: A few upscale wedding industry professional have inquired about including my products as gifts to their clients. I’m really excited but also feel a bit intimidated.

 

 

 

Angel Minaro, after Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Angel Minaro, after Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

 

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

Angela: It was my road map. It literally helped me realize that I didn’t have a brand and that I had to start from scratch. Once that happened, I found that it was a complete guide that helped me figure out what I was offering, who I was offering it to and how to do it…very well!

 

I’m always referring to the Brick House Branding curriculum when I’m working on any aspect of my brand.

 

 

 

Lucky Break: 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?

Angela: I wish I knew how emotional it would be. I would say to someone who’s getting ready to start the brand development process that they should come in with an open mind and be ready for some really hard and intense physical and emotional work.  But it’s so worth it!!!!

 

 

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

 

 

If you’d like to build a stronger, smart brand in 2019, then I hope that you’ll consider joining me in the winter 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 October 2!