Wednesday, May 8, 2019

"Delete All Dis Ish, Piggy!"

If you're just joining me on this journey, I am the founder of Fancy Free Hair & Skin, a personal care manufacturing company. I did not set out to start a business. It happened accidentally. I don't know much about marketing product. I am an expert at developing and manufacturing products because I spent 7 years running a laboratory.

Now that we've got that out of the way, I am always looking at my products, website, social media, pictures, etc. trying to figure out how they can be improved. Last year, I felt like I hit a plateau but wasn't sure what I could do to take my business to the next level. So, I decided to hire a new marketing company to give me a fresh perspective on the things I look at everyday.

The graphic designer I use for my labels and other marketing material has been with me since the beginning. THEE VERY BEGINNING. She was the one who sent me a message saying "Girl. You are too fancy for this janky label you have. Let me fix it." The rest is history. My product labels have gone through a few
adjustments over the past 3 years but no real overhaul. Last year, I finally decided to create individual labels for the 5 different scents of shea for hair and skin instead of continuing to use one standard label with separate scent labels. Sounds simple, right? That's because "you did not do your math" *Erykah Badu vc*. Let us add up the cost for ONE product's labeling:

  • (2 labels per jar + 2 different sizes) x 5 different scents = 20 rolls of labels
  • Each roll of labels (minimum 250 labels) costs about $80 per roll with my customer loyalty discount
  • That's 20 x $80 to upgrade my labels for ONE product. 
  • $1600 for just the labels
The labels for one product. I have 9 different products. My graphic designer and I went back and forth about a few things with the labels for this one product. So when I required new labels for another product, I was kind of over it. Plus I was on a time crunch because I had made promises on when the new packaging would be available. 

Fast forward, I meet with the marketing company to really dive deep into what Fancy Free Hair & Skin is all about and who I am as a founder. One of the first things they comment on is my packaging and labeling. AAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!! I got that anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach because.... well, see the calculations above. By the end of the "deep dive" session, we had shifted our focus to other aspect of Fancy Free that could be improved and did not mention the labels again. Then I started working on labels for the Clay Wash and Castor Oil blend (Available sometime this summer. Continue reading if you want to know about what's taking so long). The marketing company asked to see the labels that my graphic designer came up with, the designer who has been with me since day one. The one who I trusted with a major part of my branding. I gave her the go ahead to use more color and to keep in mind that I approve changing the label design to be more "Fancy". The labels she designed for my new products were in line with all of my other product labels. I understood that she wanted them to be cohesive with my existing products but my marketing company had something different in mind. Whole time, I'm confused and unsure, so guess what I did. Nothing. I put the new product release on the shelf and started working on shampoo bar, soap, shampoo and body wash. SMH. 

About two weeks after "Label Gate", I go to the grand opening of the Made In Baltimore Pop-Up Store, since my products are being sold there. Fancy Free was set up in a display in the middle of the table with about eight other handmade personal care products. My sister, who is my creative director, and I were looking at my products among the others like "Something isn't right here." I didn't like the way my products looked next to others. I felt like mine looked amateur. I felt like Fancy Free products didn't measure up. Which I know isn't true but just looking at them next to other products made me feel that way. It hit me like a ton of bricks. The marketing company was right. I need to do something about these labels. *hears money flushing down the toilet*

Moral: Sometimes you have to throw everything away and start over.
I know this. I do it all the time during product development. I would make a change in the formula, just to see how it would turn out. The results....TRASH! As duly noted in my lab notebook. 
This same theory applies to my labeling. While my current labeling isn't "trash", I realized that they need to be improved in order to give my brand the image it needs to take Fancy Free Hair & Skin to the next level. And while it will cost me money to make changes, it will cost me more in the future if I leave them as they are. After all, marketing and branding are not my ministry, this is why I paid the marketing company to fix my life. Seems counterproductive to hire an expert and then not take the expert's advice. 

I spent 2018 putting systems in place, hire and training staff, and building relationships so that I could spend 2019 growing my business. This realization can definitely be filed in the "growing pains" category but Fancy Free and I will be better for it.
Ok. Now that I've told the story. Let me swallow my pride and order these new labels.

Shameless Plug Alert:
Fancy Free Hair & Skin manufactures quality products for hair and skin, as well as provides natural hair consults for women who would like assistance on their natural hair journey. Our motto is "Keeping you fancy and free of chemicals." Visit our website,, to see a full range of our products and services. Sign up for our mailing list to receive natural hair tips and stay up to date on sales and the latest happenings with Fancy Free.

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