5min readPeople 06 February 2019
As a self-proclaimed “ingredient junkie," Robin Shobin is exactly the woman you'd want to rely on for wellness products that work.
After fourteen years at J.P Morgan, the ambitious Cornell graduate decided to leave finance to carve her own path in the wellness world, founding Charlotte's Book. Charlotte's Book is a website chock-full of not just wellness brands, but also of sage advice. Experts in the field, such as doctors, nutritionists, aestheticians, and celebrity trainers have contributed to the site, either by writing content or by ensuring the efficacy of whichever products are promoted. The idea sprung from her own struggles finding the time to properly research wellness and beauty products prior to purchasing them. Now busy women can efficiently read up on worthwhile products through Shobin's user-friendly site.
“At Charlotte's Book I really try to always maintain our unique voice. Because the internet is so crowded with content, your point of view is all you have."
Beyond informative, expert content, Charlotte's Book has an enriching POV section. Well-known beauty guru, Bobbi Brown wrote one of Shobin's favorite pieces, called “Musings of a Curious Mind," in which she writes notes to her younger self. “This is the content I am most proud of," Shobin says, continuing to mention a second standout article written by April Gargiulo, founder of Vitner's Daughter, known for their famous Active Botanical Serum. These articles touch upon life lessons and aging, the topics that don't fit the wholly-factual bill, but are just as important to readers for their wisdom and relatability.
Shobin began caring about fitness and leading a healthy life when in her late twenties. “I realized that it's not so much about being thin, but more about feeling good," Shobin says. “And I realized that when you are working out and putting good things in your body, you just feel better. It's that simple." While Charlotte's Book does offer a plethora of options for high-quality, effective products, those products are not Shobin's own, which leads to her second great post-baking endeavor: HALO Sport, a groundbreaking energy drink, surpassing several brands in electrolyte density.
“I was always searching for something other than water that would help replenish and refuel the body after an intense workout," Shobin says. “A smoothie in theory sounds healthy. It's filled with antioxidants and is a delicious treat to drink after a workout, yet it's also filled with sugar."
Shobin then got the itch to formulate what she'd been missing.
With a team of advisors ranging from esteemed doctors to dieticians, Shobin co-founded HALO Sport. It is not your average energy drink laden with either artificial flavoring or other adverse additives, it is a 10 calorie super drink with more than 70 minerals naturally sourced from the Great Salt Lake of Utah.
It comes in three USDA certified organic flavors, lemon, lime, and pink grapefruit, each with a base of reverse osmosis water and lemon juice. Skeptics, let it be known that Shobin does not just sell her product, she uses it. As an active person dedicated to exercising at least 4 or 5 times a week, Shobin grabs HALO as her hydrating boost after yoga or strength training.
“Being able to see what is on the forefront of wellness is incredibly exciting. I don't regret my time at J.P. Morgan one bit, but the change of scenery from oil wells to the latest supplements is a welcome one."
What is HALO's secret ingredient? The amla berry, also known as the Indian gooseberry. Amla berries are rich with heart-healthy antioxidants and were utilized in ancient Indian Ayurvedic rituals. t's time for the ever-popular goji berries to step aside, and for HALO's amla berries to take over.
One of the most rewarding parts of entering the wellness space for Shobin was the opportunity to connect with countless determined businesswomen. “In finance I worked primarily with men," Shobin admits. “So I feel very honored to get the chance to meet with so many amazing women doing inspiring things. I know that sounds corny, but to be honest it's true."
I have always been in love with all things art- I was obsessed with drawing and painting before I was even walking. In high school, I started a career selling art through various gallery art shows and on Etsy. I then went on to study fine arts at the University of Southern California, with an emphasis in painting, but took classes in ceramics, printmaking, cinema and architecture to get a really well-rounded education on all sorts of art
During my senior year of college, my career path went through a huge transition; I started my own temporary tattoo brand, INKED by Dani, which is a brand of temporary tattoos based on my hand-drawn fine art designs.
The idea for the brand came one night after a themed party at college. My friends, knowing how much I loved drawing, asked me to cover them in hand-drawn doodles using eyeliner. The feedback from that night was overwhelming, everyone my friends saw that night was obsessed with the designs. In that moment, a lightbulb went off in my head... I could do some completely unique here and create chic temporary tattoos with an art-driven aesthetic, unlike anything else on the market. Other temporary tattoo brands were targeted to kids or lacked a sleek and millennial-driven look. It was a perfect pivot; I could utilize my fine arts training and tattoos as a new art medium to create a completely innovative brand.
Using the money I made from selling my artwork throughout high school and college, I funded the launch of INKED by Dani. I had always loved the look of dainty tattoos, but knew I could never commit to the real thing, and I knew my parents would kill me if I got a tattoo (I also knew that so many girls must have that same conflict). Starting INKED by Dani was a no-brainer.
I started off with a collection of about only 10 designs and sold them at sorority houses around USC. Our unique concept for on-trend and fashion-forward tattoos was spreading through word of mouth, and we quickly started growing an Instagram following. I was hustling all day from my room, cold calling retailers, sending blind samples and tons of emails, and trying to open up as many opportunities as I could.
Now, we're sold at over 10,000 retail locations (retailers include Target, Walmart, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and Hot Topic), and we've transformed temporary tattoos into a whole new form of wearable art.
My 4 best tips for starting your own business are:
- Just go with your gut! You'll never know what works until you try it. Go day by day and do everything in your power to work toward your goals. Be bold, but be sure to be thoughtful in your actions.
- Research your competitors and other successful brands in your category to determine how you can make your product stand out. Figure out where there is a need or hole in the market that your new offering or approach can fill.
- Don't spread yourself too thin. Delegate where possible, and stay focused each day on doing the best and most you can. Don't get too caught up in your end goal or the big picture to a point where it overwhelms or freezes you. You're already making a bold move to start something new, so try to prioritize what's important! I started off in the beginning hand packing every single tattoo pack that we sold and shipped. If I wanted to scale to align with the level of demand we were receiving, I needed to make the pivot to mass produce and relinquish the control of doing every step myself. I am a total perfectionist, so that was definitely hard! From that point on, overseeing production has been a huge part of my daily schedule, but by doing so I've been able to free up more time to focus on design, merchandising, and sales, allowing me to really focus on growing the business.
- Prioritize great product packaging and branding. It's so important to invest time in customer experience- how customers view and interact with your product. The packaging is just as important as the actual product inside! When we were starting off, we had high demand, and I definitely jumped the gun a bit on packaging so we could deliver product to the retailers when they wanted it. Since then, we've completely revamped the packaging into something upscale and unique that reflects what the brand is all about. Our product packaging is always called out as being one of our retailers' and customers' favorite part of our product!