Mom of 6 Launches a Skin Care Company With Help From Her Daughters
I am thrilled to introduce you to this spectacular woman, Brandi Wallace, and her five fabulous daughters. She and her daughters created a skin care product line for tween girls called Blossom that teaches them about proper skin care and is specially formulated for young girls' skin.
Her daughters have been intimately involved in designing, creating and testing these products and building this blooming family business that sells products via SPA Parties and retail stores, and has built a passionate and loyal fan base. Here's how she did it...
Why did you start this company and when?
In early 2006, I had five children -- four girls and a boy. (I've had another daughter since then!) My oldest daughters were 10 and 6 years old, and I began looking for products to teach them how to care for their skin. I looked in many stores and couldn’t find facial skin care products for tweens. I read books about personal care and hygiene for girls; all the books explained how important skin care was but offered no tools for the girls to use. I couldn’t believe that there were no products on the market to teach girls how to care for their skin. I was a stay-at-home mom with an already overly full plate. I definitely wasn’t looking to start a business, but I really wanted the products for my own daughters. The rest is history!
Tell us about your products
All of our products were created 4 Girls by Girls meaning that our daughters and their friends worked with us every step of the way to create products that girls would enjoy and use. Blossom products have all been dermatologist tested, not animal tested; the brand is also vegan, which means the products contain no animal by products that could irritate the skin. Our facial skin care collections are fragrance free and won’t clog girl’s pores. The Blossom skin care products were formulated for girls ages 5 to 14 and are a real regimen meant to be used daily.
We have 4 collections named after each of my daughters. The collections are Bailey’s Skin Care 101, Bexley’s Skin Care Solutions, Brooklyn’s Hair Care, and Berry’s Bath and Body.
What were your initial goals?
I was hoping to create quality products that would be loved by both mothers and daughters. The goal was to truly build a brand that would educate people about the importance of girls establishing healthy skin care habits. Initially, I hoped to sell our products at our local mall through a kiosk. Within a few months of starting the company, our goal expanded to trying to gain distribution at high end department stores.
Tell us about you and your family:
Although I have a degree in Sport and Fitness Management, the majority of my married life I have spent as a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). I have a very loving and supportive husband, Chris, who barely batted an eye when I told him I was going to start my own skin care company and 6 amazing children who always keep me on my toes. My only son is 6 years old and my daughters are 13, 9, 5, 3 and 1; there is surely never a dull moment in our home!
As an owner of a "beauty brand," I am often asked what company I worked for before I launched Blossom. That question always makes me laugh because I know the person is expecting me to name some major player in the beauty industry, and I humbly explain that I was an SAHM when I came up with the idea.
Have you ever experienced an epiphany that changed the direction of your life?
Truly my life has never been the same since I started out on the journey as a business owner. Working and raising a large family takes a lot of juggling and it’s not easy. As a little girl my mom would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I would always answer, "A Mom." That answer never set well with my corporate-minded mother, but it was the complete truth. Not until I started Blossom did I really aspire to do anything other than be a mom.
I am so glad that I ventured out and pursued this dream because it has been rewarding in so many ways. It has helped me build a product that has changed my life, the life of my family and the lives of girls around the country! That makes all the sacrifices worth it.
What process did you follow to develop a prototype?
I had a clear vision of what I wanted for our products. To build the Blossom brand, I hired a company that worked directly with us on all aspects of bringing the product to market. I originally hired this company because the Packaging Designer has such an interesting, outside-the-box approach to design. We also used a formulator (a chemist) to help us develop products that would be right for young girl’s skin and not just adult products with our label on them.
I had 4 daughters at the time, so we had a built-in focus group! My daughters and all of their friends got to be very hands on with every step of the process from selecting product names and fragrances to approving samples. My oldest daughter, Bailey, actually drew the original logo and the pictures of herself and her sisters that are featured on all of our products and our website.
It was an amazing experience to work with my daughters to build something that is now used around the country and seen in magazines. Not many people get such an opportunity, and I don’t take that lightly! My children are learning business skills that will last them their entire lives; that’s so rewarding to see.
In January 2008, just as we were launching Blossom into retail, I gave birth to our sixth child. The pregnancy was a bit of a surprise to us, and it was challenging being pregnant, raising 5 children and running a company. After much debate, we settled on the name Blossom. When she was born, she had some complications and had to stay in the NICU for 5 days. That was scary, but it really helped put life and work in perspective. She is such a joy, and our family is so blessed to have her!
What process did you follow to determine your product’s marketability?
Because I am a mom and an inventor at heart, I knew there was a need. I knew that if my daughters could benefit from the products that other girls could as well so I began asking other moms what their daughters used to cleanse their face. Generally when I posed the question, "What did you use to clean your face?" I would get one of two answers, either, “I don’t know” or “I guess soap.” This is when I knew that I was really on to something big!
What process did you follow to find a manufacturer for your product?
I found our manufacture in an unusual way. I had seen the designer on a reality TV show where he was helping a celebrity hair stylist design the packaging for his new brand. I loved his creativity so I called his company and soon after I flew to New York for our initial meeting.
Were there any setbacks in product development that had to be overcome?
We have had many setbacks in bringing our products to market. The biggest setback being in the time that it took; we didn’t receive our products until a year after we originally planned to have them. This put a huge strain on the company, but I believe that you have to learn from every situation and keep moving forward.
What was the biggest learning curve in terms of developing your product?
The biggest learning curve was that I was an outsider to the beauty industry and all of its terminology and procedures. I am sure the process would have been quite different if I had come from that background, but I didn’t so I studied, studied, studied to become more knowledgeable.
Being an “outsider” has its drawbacks, but it also has its benefits. None of the “insiders” had ever come up with the concept of skin care for girls. Because I am a mother, I was able to see a need others may not have recognized. I wasn’t motivated by dollars; I was motivated by the desire to teach girls healthy habits!
Through what markets are you selling?
In February of 2009, we launched Blossom SPA Parties, our direct sales company. When we first launched Blossom products in early 2008, we began pursuing distribution through retail stores. We attended tradeshows and got into some small boutiques and a children’s spa. Although we had some success in getting into small retailers, we truly felt that our brand wasn’t really reaching the consumers in the most effective way.
We knew that we needed to be able to speak to both the mothers and daughters and to educate them so we went back to how we built the brand. We went back and asked girls how they would like to purchase our products, and overwhelmingly the girls said they would prefer SPA Parties over traditional retail stores. We immediately began the process of launching our direct sales company.
What secrets have you learned in terms of publicity and marketing your product?
So far I have found that word-of-mouth is the best way to build your brand. When one mom loves your product, they can really spread the word without you ever knowing it. We have one woman who has told so many people about us I can never thank her enough. She even went into a new local retailer and told them that they needed to carry our products. A satisfied customer is your highest endorsement! I am currently learning about social media and growing our online word-of-mouth presence; I am excited about our initial efforts.
What was the biggest learning curve in terms of marketing your product?
We’ve definitely learned that as a startup company especially you have to use your dollars carefully. Just because you spend money on advertising or public relations, that may not directly translate into sales. It may end up building brand awareness which is also important but does not pay the bills.
How long did it take to get your product from idea to market?
It took us nearly 2 years to launch Blossom. We were initially told it would take less than a year. All of the delays can be so frustrating. I have learned from other business owners that it happens to everyone; I don’t think I’ve come across one entrepreneur who got the products to market exactly when they expected.
How have you managed to juggle the roles of business owner and mom?
I learned long ago that I am only one person and that I can’t do it all. My house is messier than I would like. My treadmill is collecting dust, but I do try everyday to be the best mother, wife and businessperson that I can be. My entire family has had to sacrifice, but I believe that it’s truly worth it. I’ve worked with my girls to build our business and that has been a true blessing to us all.
What kind of support system do you have in place personally and professionally?
Personally, my husband is very supportive and works with me in our business. My mother is always there for me to talk to and bounce ideas off of, and I have some great friends that don’t mind talking to me through all the kids and chaos in the background.
Professionally, I have really been blessed to have found many wonderful people who have shared their knowledge and insights with me.
What is your company’s current financial picture and what are your projections?
We just launched Blossom SPA Parties in February, and we are already experiencing tremendous growth. Because we are the first company to do SPA Parties for girls in a national direct sales company, we are seeing women really get excited about starting their own independent Blossom SPA Parties business.
I love this business model because it allows women to create the life they desire doing work that is fun! Our company provides the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a quickly growing company. And although it’s no requirement, we encourage our SPA Advisors to take their daughters to work with them. It’s truly an amazing opportunity!
I am so thankful that women have begun to see the vision, and now we have SPA Advisors in many states coast to coast. We are looking to expand even further. I’m very pleased with where we are and am excited to see what the future holds.
What has been your greatest high point in the process?
I have a heart for girls so my greatest highs come from stories of girls who love our products or moms who have seen a big change in their daughter’s personal care habits.
Above all, I have had so much joy working with my daughters. It really touches my heart to see their names and images on the packaging and in magazines.
One of my greatest memories came one night when I was overly frustrated with trying to get all the kids in bed and still had a mountain of work left undone. I was looking for our 3 year old and couldn't find her anywhere. Finally I looked the in bathroom, and there she was using our Pure-Fection Facial Cleanser. It brought me to tears when she said, "Mommy, I’ve got to wash my face!" That's why I started this company; that’s why I sacrifice so that girls around the country can have products of their very own!
Have you experienced a low point? How did you rally yourself to get back on track?
It can be incredibly difficult to accept what you cannot control. When you have been promised items will be delivered on a time schedule and they are not, it’s devastating. It’s even worse when those delays then cause a chain reaction of other problems. We had started working to get press coverage for our brand. Magazines work a few months in advance so you have to start early. We had already generated interest, and then we learned of the production issues. Because magazines can't feature a product that isn't for sale, the delays cost us a lot of money and were incredibly disappointing.
Thankfully, I am very optimistic. It's not easy, but I would try my best to find something positive out of the situation. There have been many difficult days, but focusing on the end product and my core mission can lift my spirits and keep me moving forward.
What advice would you offer other moms developing their products/ideas?
Read everything you can about your industry, EVERYTHING! You must continually educate yourself to become a better businessperson. If possible find a mentor and join a trade association; the resources they offer are invaluable.
Is there a resource that proved to be invaluable that you would like to share with other moms?
Early on, The Mom Inventor’s Handbook really taught me business basics that helped me go into meetings and be more knowledgeable about how everything worked. It gave me a great foundation, but because our products are in the beauty industry, I had to research that industry as well. Trade magazines were a good source of information.
Also be realistic. Even if you have the greatest new thing, give it time to grow. Get it in the hands of your everyday consumer and they'll spread the word for you. I also firmly believe in focus groups prior to production and getting lots of feedback. You may think that your message is clear, but the best way to be sure is to get it to the consumer.
We thought retail stores were going to be the big hit for us, and although we had some success there, we realized that the best way to tell our story and to educate mothers and daughters about our products is through home party sales. That’s why we launched Blossom SPA Parties. Being flexible enough to change your business model can completely turn your business around.
Thank you for sharing your story with us! If you have a great story to share, we'd love to hear it!
6 Responses »
Leave a Response