A Look Back at Lucky Break’s 2015

Lela Barker

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!


About the Author

Lela Barker

Lela Barker hails from the deep-and-dirty south (ATL, represent!), where she spends her days helping makers and product designers navigate the pitfalls of product pricing, brand development, and wholesale strategy. She launched her apothecary brand in 2003 and bootstrapped the hell out of that little business to cultivate a portfolio of 1500+ stockists worldwide, generating $12million in revenue and establishing successful distributorships in the Middle East, EU, Scandinavia, and South Korea. Lela is the keeper of a well-worn passport and the maker of the finest lemon meringue pie you’ve ever put in your mouth.

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