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!
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.
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”!)
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!
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!).
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.
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!