Allison and I were honored to recently be featured in an Entrepreneur Profile by NEXT Accelerator. NEXT Accelerator is a dynamic community that provides natural product entrepreneurs with the year-round insights, tools, mentorship and access to service providers needed to launch new products and poise their businesses for long-term, sustainable growth.
Here is what we had to say:
What was the inspiration for your business? What inspires you daily?
Adam is a long-time psoriasis sufferer. When we came to the end of the road with medications, we started looking for natural alternatives. Adam started bathing in bladderwrack seaweed from Ireland and soon found his redness, inflammation and irritation was drastically reduced by using the seaweed. After testing our first product on other psoriasis sufferers, we decided to launch our company. We are constantly inspired by our ability to help other irritated skin sufferers.
What's been your road to success and critical success factors along the way?
The road to success has been a rocky one. It has been longer and harder than we ever imagined. We launched the company out of our guest bedroom with no prior experience in CPG. However, we have been very fortunate to meet amazing people along the way that have steered us in the right direction. Having a team of mentors is critical to success, but you have to be willing to listen. Our ability to listen and take criticism has allowed us to make beneficial changes to our brand.
Describe a mistake you made with your business. How did you fix it?
Our original branding during the first four years of business did not communicate our message effectively to the consumer. We spent 2014 doing consumer research and we were surprised by the findings. We took the feedback and did a re-brand that has been a home run. We should have done consumer research every 12-18 months from the beginning.
What's your best piece of advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
Be flexible and open to criticism. Having a vision and sticking to it is not exclusive to being flexible.
Where are you going? What is the vision for your business?
Within two years we aim to be one of the top 10 personal care brands in the natural channel. From there, we anticipate growing our SKU count significantly to meet the everyday demands our customers face.
What has been your experience sourcing non-GMO ingredients? Any challenges?
The supply chain in personal care is not as ready for the non-GMO revolution as food and therefore, it can be challenging to find verified non-GMO ingredients. We are constantly working through these challenges.
Your ingredients are sustainably harvested. What does this entail and why is sustainability such an important part of your business?
We sustainably hand-harvest our seaweed by cutting it in a way that allows it to regenerate and grow to the same size or larger than we found it within 36 months. Sustainability is a key aspect of our business because the world is changing rapidly and many precious resources, including our oceans, are in danger. It is important for us to set the bar high and continue to inspire our team, our customers and our industry to take social and environmental responsibility.
How did you land your first retail account?
Our first retail account was Central Market in Texas. Allison has always loved Central Market and we met the buyer at the first trade show we ever did.
Has anything surprised you about working with independent retailers?
Independent retailers tend to be much more creative than chain stores. They need to be creative in order to thrive, and it allows for unique partnerships. Many of the independents resonate with entrepreneurs like us, and it makes for a win-win partnership.
How do you position your products in mass, natural and online?
We focus solely on the natural channel in retail and limit the number of online retailers we work with. This may sound counterproductive, but we would rather have 5 e-commerce sites competing to sell our products than 50.
How do you develop relationships with retailers and educate them about your company's story?
As a team, we spend a lot of time in stores doing demos and training. It is an old-school mentality, but establishing a personal relationship with buyers and store personnel is the best return on investment.
What most helped market your product in the beginning?
Adam’s story. We traveled around the country visiting as many stores and meeting as many people as possible to share his story.
What’s a guilty pleasure of yours?
The very best gluten-free, vegan desserts are made in Austin by a company called Better Bites. We love their Snickerdoodle Bites. They are rich, but Adam can eat a whole pack in minutes!
What's the inside scoop on yourself?
Adam is a die-hard Denver Broncos fan and during games, his superstitious side comes out. Allison is not allowed to turn off the lights, move a glass or move if the Broncos are winning.
Read the full article here: NEXT Accelerator