Where are they now? Gates Councilor of Burly Stone

BURLY STONE LOGO NoBg

BURLY STONE LOGO NoBg

 

Are you 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?

 

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!

 

TGatesCouncilor

 

Say hello to Gates of Burly Stone

This week, I’m thrilled to introduce you to the official rooster in the Lucky Break hen house, Gates of Burly Stone. Gates recently rebranded Burly Stone after graduating from Brick House Branding, and he’s here to share how he injected a whole lotta handsome into his brand. Welcome, Gates… We’re so honored to have you!

 

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

Gates: We launched Burly Stone in April of 2014. Initially, it was just the outgrowth of a hobby – my hubby and I had started soap making in the summer of 2013. Before we knew it we were making more than two people could use, so we were giving soap away like it was candy. Once we got the hang of it, we had friends and family begging us for more, so it became a side hustle for us. When I was laid off in August of 2014, it felt like the universe giving us a sign, and it became a full-time endeavor.

 

As for the “why?”: We fell into a niche we hadn’t seen, and one that suited us: high-quality handcrafted soap made with guys in mind. We had been in business in one way or another long enough to realize that we might just have a little bit of lightning in a bottle.

 

 

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

Gates: About two years ago we started to feel like we were bouncing off the edges of our brand. By this I mean that, while still happy with Burly Stone (and we had many folks who LOVED what we had in place already), we knew that there was a limit to how far our current branding would take us. We had grown and developed new products (hand balms, shave soaps, etc.), but hadn’t planned for that growth within the brand itself, so we just started slapping stuff together and hoping it would stick. We realized that we had taken the current brand about as far as it could go.

 

We wanted to be in larger markets, bigger stores, and have a truly professional presence. Our old look wasn’t polished and cohesive enough to get us into those doors. So in summer of 2016 we knew we needed to pull the trigger on a rebrand.

 

 

The Burly Stone logo BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

The Burly Stone 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.

Gates: At the start of the process we were like “No worries – this will be a cakewalk. We’ll just polish some stuff up, pull together a new logo and that’ll be it.” We realized pretty quickly that doing it halfway would be far worse than not doing it at all. To do it effectively, to really arrive at a solid rebrand, you have to be willing to dig deep, to shed your preconceived notions of who and what your brand is. It’s hard work with a TON of heavy mental and emotional lifting.

 

You have to be willing to throw away EVERYTHING that came before. You may not have to, but if you’re not willing to pitch it all if needed, you may well miss the mark on your rebrand.

 

 

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

Gates: We are incredibly lucky that we have a very close friend who happens to be an awarding winning designer. She’s worked with multi-million dollar brands, so being able to pull her in as our designer was a huge benefit. With her, we knew the visuals of the rebrand were in good hands, so it left us free to deal with the rest. Once the packaging was done, we splurged on our product photos – we used POW (Product On White) Photos, and the results are well worth it!

 

We didn’t have the budget to farm everything else out, so we plugged away on our own. I’ve done enough writing in my time that I felt I could handle the product descriptions, “about us” page, and the other written elements. While the end results may not be worthy of Shakespeare, everything hangs together and has the right feel. We’ll count that as a win.

 

As for the web site, luckily Shopify is mostly plug and play. We found a theme we liked (the Turbo theme from Out Of The Sandbox), and pushed through. It’s not 100% where we’d like it to be, but it’s pretty damn close. We’re budgeting money for web work in the coming year. We did have a friend who does a lot of web work help us out with a few minor things – just helping us refine the look a little. Don’t be afraid to reach out to knowledgeable friends and family!

 

Burly Stone packaging + logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Burly Stone packaging + logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

 

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

Gates: FEAR.

It’s a terrifying process, deconstructing your “baby”. You’re afraid that it wasn’t good enough before, and that it won’t be good enough after. You’re afraid to fail. Each step get a little more frightening because you’re pushing your brand in new and unknown directions. BHB is a deep dive, and that dive isn’t always comfortable.

 

But then things start to click. For us it was on our second round of logos. After BHB we spent weeks setting up brand inspiration boards on Pinterest for our designer, but the first set of logos she created just weren’t working. We left that meeting with a pit in our stomach. Out of the dozen logos she had pulled together, we only saw two that had any glimmer of what we were looking for, and even those felt far off the mark. But she worked with those two, and on the second round things started to gel. Suddenly we could start to see the new brand coming to life, and the pit in our stomach wasn’t fear, but excitement.

 

Burly Stone packaging + logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Burly Stone packaging + logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

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

Gates: I’m glad you used the word “evolved” in the question, because that’s key. Over the course of BHB, everyone attending had their own “a-ha” moments about their brand. For us, it was that, while we tore Burly Stone down to its very foundation, the new look has its roots in where we started. Our rebrand is an evolution of our old branding. Everything we had done before wasn’t wrong, but BHB helped us clarify every single element of what makes up our brand.

 

In a nutshell? We used to say we were “Rugged with a refined edge”. Now we are “Refined with a rugged edge.” It’s a subtle difference on the surface, but it means the world to us. It’s led to massive shifts in how we speak as a brand, stores we reach out to, and who our ideal customer is.

 

 

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

Gates: What’s great is that people seem to get it. They can see bits of the “old” Burly Stone in this new look, but see the overall elevation of the Burly Stone brand. People used to like our products, but now we’re starting to see that people love us as a brand. They’re running their hands across our shave soap labels and “oohing and aahing” over the look and feel. We’ve also learned how to speak to our ideal customer, and the results are starting to show. Thanks to BHB we’ve got the opportunity to develop a rabidly loyal customer base.

 

Burly Stone packaging + logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Burly Stone packaging + logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

 

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

Gates: There is a certain store that we have been dying to get into. We reached out to several times – emails and postcards, and yet we’ve never heard back from them. We reached out to them again after our rebrand and they responded along the lines of “Yes, THIS is what we were waiting for from you.”  We sent them a sample kit, so keep your fingers crossed.

 

Burly Stone packaging + logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Burly Stone packaging + logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

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

Gates: I can honestly say that without BHB, the Burly Stone rebrand would have flopped. I mean, it may have looked okay, but the foundation wouldn’t have been there. Lela lets you know right off the bat that this is going to be a deep dive, but she doesn’t just throw you in the deep end. The course is designed in a way that eases you into the rebranding process. It helps you deconstruct your brand, to peel back all the layers, and get to the heart of your brand. I can’t think of a single element of the rebrand that the course doesn’t cover – and there are dozens that I hadn’t even considered before I took BHB. I mean, who even thinks about whether or not to use exclamation points?

 

Looking back, Brick House Branding was vital to our rebrand. It’s incredibly comprehensive and well designed, and every painstaking step is soothed by Lela’s loving southern charm. BHB was a life saver for Burly Stone.

 

 

Burly Stone packaging + logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Burly Stone packaging + 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?

Gates: A good, solid rebrand will take time – more time than you think. It was over a year from the start of Brick House Branding until we relaunched Burly Stone, and we were working on it constantly. Even after launch there are dozens of pieces floating around that we haven’t had the time or energy to deal with yet.

 

If you’re doing it right, rebranding is a time consuming, emotionally draining process. You can expect sleepless nights, upset stomachs, and more than one “Oh god, I’m in over my head” moment. But if you push through and follow the sage advice contained within BHB, you’ll emerge with a stronger, more thoughtful brand that ties more intimately to your ideal customer. You won’t just have a logo and products, you’ll have a brand, and that is worth its weight in gold.

 

Thanks for catching up with us, Gates! We can’ t wait to see what comes next for you + Burly Stone … 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!

 

 

A look back at Lucky Break’s 2015

lucky break 2015 retrospective

lucky break 2015 retrospective

 

There are so many reasons to love December, but my favorite facet of this month is the opportunity to look back reflectively at the going-on’s of the past twelve months. As a business owner, I’m so often focused on what’s dead ahead of me, that I need a reminder to pause and look backwards- even for just a few moments- to celebrate how far I’ve come.  In the first few years of owning Bella Lucce, my apothecary brand, I was so intently focused on the hustle that I never really savored my wins.  And several years ago, I made myself a promise to keep my perspective and connect deeply with both the high’s and the low’s.  I hope you’ll make a similar promise to yourself, too!

 

In that spirit, I’m taking a retrospective peek at the year that was.  Here’s what 2015 looked like through the eyes of Lucky Break…

 

  • A NEW VISUAL IDENTITY + WEBSITE: We kicked 2015 off right with a top-to-bottom visual rebrand and a brand spankin’ new website that went live in January. It cost a small fortune and the process sometimes had my team and I drinking in more-than-moderation, but hot damn! We’re thrilled with the rebrand and the response has been so overwhelmingly positive that I can’t help but be grateful in spite of the 80 hour works weeks it took to get us here!

 

  • A NEW CUSTOM-CODED VIRTUAL CLASSROOM: Alongside that new website, we also launched a custom-programmed Virtual Classroom that centralizes all of our curriculum.  Three cheers for efficiency! Clients are diggin’ on the ability to have one central spot for all of the business tools Lucky Break offers. Technology is a beautiful thing, friend.

 

  • A NEW TEAMMATE: The team grew this year, too! I welcomed our newest teammate Shannon in May, just as Melissa was preparing to birth the cutest kid in Massachusetts (mission accomplished!). We’ve been a trifecta of strategic thinking, group support, and some crazy-smart implementation ever since and I couldn’t be happier to kick off 2016 with these two chicks by my side.  We have a few gentleman around too (a tip of the hat to Chris who tackles software development + video editing and Padraic who handles all of our custom coding), but they’re not nearly as cute as Melissa, Shannon, and I. *wink* A good team is everything, gang.

 

  • THE LAUNCH OF MY FAVORITE CLASS YET:  If I had to venture a guess, I’d bet that Brick House Branding is the most comprehensive brand development course you’ve ever seen! We did a test run in early summer that sold out in just a few days. The response was so incredible that we unexpectedly ran it again the very next month and that one filled right up, too.  The feedback and testimonials we received have been one of the brightest highlights of the year. Knowing that our work is helping makers build smarter, more successful businesses makes my toes tingle.  And because I can’t leave well enough alone- I’m taking Brick House Branding up several more notches in 2016.  More about that coming in a blog post later this week!

 

  • 200+ STUDENTS: 235 unique brands took classes through Lucky Break in 2015. We welcomed product-based entrepreneurs from almost every state and from as far away as Australia, UK, Vietnam, Ecuador, Japan, Canada, Turkey, and Singapore. Huzzah! I wish I could fly to each of your cribs and teach on your patios under some magical cafe lights (with a glass of wine in-hand), but I’m ever-grateful that technology makes it possible for me to work with makers on the move in every corner of the globe.

 

  • 4 MENTORSHIPS: I mentored four brands in 2015, too. A beekeeper + artisan bodycare maker. A creator of DIY skin care kits. An amazing woman who upcycles vintage Japanese kimono into the most gorgeous scarves and dresses. And a chemist with an Ayruevedic-inspired luxury sunless tanning collection. Our projects ran the gamut, too, because each of my mentorships is custom tailored.

 

One thing they all have in common? They  provide an opportunity to work together on deeper, longer-term projects.  My mentorship work this year included: custom formulating body scrubs and creating GMP compliant paperwork, copywriting for product packaging and websites, assisting with equipment selection for scaling up the manufacture of personal care products, designing product packaging and customer experiences, overhauling ungainly product collections, developing social media strategies and content, and coordinating a top-to-bottom visual rebrand. Some of these projects took months to finish, but seeing them take flight made for some of the proudest moments of my year.

 

  • 100+ PRIVATE CONSULTATIONS: I spent more than 100 hours in 2015 on the phone with clients in private consultations, which are independent of classes and mentorships. What did we talk about? How to assign financial values to our companies, how to prep for meetings with potential investors, how to raise prices without shocking the hell out of customers, how to uplevel our packaging and brand presentation, how to get wholesale buyers to love us, how to get magazine editors to notice us, how to cut costs, where it’s wisest to invest money in our businesses, how to keep going when everything sucks, how to build collaborations, how to boost engagement on social media, who I recommend hiring for your logo/ website/ printing/ photography/ legal defense/ accounting, how to secure your trademarks, how to get you out of trouble when you didn’t secure your trademarks, what to do when someone’s jacking your trademarks…

 

I think I *might* have fielded more trademark queries than almost anything. I suppose a simpler question is: what didn’t we talk about?  Fun fact: for every hour I spend actually consulting, I spend 1-1.5 hours studying up on your brand in advance of that call and preparing action plans that are delivered after the call. Want to get on my calendar for 2016? It opens again in February, but I recommend nailing down appointments sooner rather than later as these spots are limited and tend to go fast!

 

  • LBU LIVE: I welcomed 92 brands into my flagship “how to wholesale” program. It spans eight weeks and is some of the hardest work you’ll ever do in business, but I’m damn proud to say that 100% of all the brands who have ever graduated LBU Live say that LBU was a wise investment for their business.  The financial and time investment for students is significant and brands come in with increasingly high expectations, so the fact that we have a 100% satisfaction rate is a source of tremendous pride for me. My team and I are passionate about your success and I’m so glad that our commitment shines through!

 

  • TALKING MY WAY ACROSS THE COUNTRY: I was invited to speak at events from New Orleans to San Francisco and from Indianapolis to the Caribbean. This year, I had the privilege of teaching more than 1200 students through workshops at live events and I had a ridiculously good time doing it, too. The 2016 speaking schedule already includes stops in Las Vegas, Tampa, Nashville, and Ventura. Check out where I’ll be in 2016 and come say “hello!”

 

  • PUT 204 MAKERS IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT OF THEIR PRODUCT PRICING: In 2015, more than 200 lucky peeps got their hands on Price-O-Matic, my innovative product pricing software system. It helped them wrap their brains around the true costs of bringing each of their products to market. For many, it was the first time they a clear picture of their COGS!  It helped them calculate overhead, analyze costs, identified opportunities to save money, and empowered them to see how a variety of distributions and pricing structures would impact their profitability: from wholesale to sales reps, and from volume pricing to seasonal promos. And the Lucky Break team celebrated right alongside each of you as you emailed and called to say that you were in the driver’s seat of product pricing for the first time ever! *cheers to that*

 

  • MY CLIENTS ARE KICKING SO MUCH ASS: Yea, I went there… because there’s really no other way to explain it. All year long, we celebrated as Lucky Break peeps shared their accomplishments with us.  There are far too many to list, but I’ll share a few of my favorites.

 

Shipping 50,000 products to Anthropologie

Opening brick + mortar shops

Scoring press in major national magazines

Winning national business contests, from Etsy’s Wholesale Open Call to Intuit’s Local Buzz competition

Signing sales reps

Kicking tush at trade shows

Launching new brands and SERIOUSLY upleveling existing brands

New product photos, new line sheets, new websites

Falling back in love with your businesses

Doubling the number of wholesale accounts

 

And more workshop expansions than I can count on my fingers and toes. So many of your rocked 2015 and while it was often challenging to watch you dig deep to get to the very core of your brands and reinvent systems that weren’t serving you, I have so much confidence in where you landed and I know that the hard work of 2015 is paving some pretty scenic pathways for 2016.

 

  • Oh yeah, I doubled Lucky Break’s revenue, too! That was fun.

 

We had quite the year here and I’m grateful that you were a part of it.  The challenges haven’t all been easy. The growth hasn’t necessarily been consistent. Things didn’t always go according to plan, but I’m proud of the work we did this year and I’m honored to have an opportunity interact with, be influenced by, and give a leg up to so many amazing people who are building lives of their own design while putting more beauty out into the world. Over the past twelve months, I’ve become a better boss, teammate, teacher, and businesswoman.  Thanks for challenging me and being a part of my journey, too!

 

lucky break 2015 retrospective

 

The Lucky Break crew has some B-I-G plans on tap for 2016. Stop back by the blog on Thursday for a sneak peek. What’s your proudest accomplishment of 2015? Drop a comment below and we’ll celebrate with you!

 

Today’s the day that our outside matches our inside…

Square_03

Seven loooong months in the making, a brand new Lucky Break was born today! I’m thoroughly exhausted, but so incredibly proud of this rebrand, this new site, and the thousands (!) of hours that it took to bring it to life. I hope you’ll grab a floor pillow, slip into your jammies and make yourself right at home…

 

Why rebrand only two years into a company? Why rebrand when I’d spent north of $40,000 (!) bringing the original brand to life? Especially when nothing was actually broken?

 

I realized early in 2014 that Lucky Break’s original brand identity was likely holding back the company. When the brand first launched in November 2012, I wanted the business to feel fun and approachable. A lot of beautiful, brilliantly talented souls faithfully created the visual original brand that I requested. But I woke up one day in February, punched up my website (as I do in the course of virtually every work day), and I suddenly saw it with fresh eyes.

 

The cutesy? It was too cute.

 

As adorable as it was, it didn’t communicate the caliber of work that I do. I had a good cry (or three) and tried to suppress the realization that a rebrand was likely on the horizon. I felt like someone had punched me in the gut.  A rebrand would mean rebuilding every stray bit of curriculum from the ground up. Reworking every PowerPoint slide. Redesigning hundreds of pages of handouts. Rerecording every curriculum video I’d ever made. Developing a whole new site. I wanted to throw up just thinking of all the work involved.

 

Undertaking this rebrand was a leap of faith.  Faith that rebranding was the right decision. Faith that the investment of time and money would be well-spent. Faith that you’d love it as much as I do. Faith that I’m doing the work I was born to do. Faith that my fantastically patient husband wouldn’t try to have me committed when I casually mentioned over dinner that I was going to level the company and start again. Faith that I could put the company on hold for a solid quarter (no blogs, no webinars, no newsletters, no speaking engagements) and you’d still be here to share this journey with me when I returned. And look… here we both are. I love that about you.

 

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