By Ryann Casey
Sitting through any conference, you get to a point where all you can think about is food. Across the room, a mini-fridge display filled with little smoothie bottles caught our eye. After further investigation it turns out they weren’t food, but smoothies for your face.
We may have first discovered Smoothie Beauty at FounderMade because our stomachs were growling, but after hearing the founder’s story, we decided to take a deeper look at what the brand is all about. Below we get the scoop from founder Stephanie Peterson on everything from why we should be putting food on our face to how to distribute a product that only has a 30-day shelf life, and why a hands-on product experience is so important for customers.
Inspiration for Smoothie Beauty came from watching your Korean grandmother make fresh skincare out of ingredients in the kitchen. How did this lead you to start a beauty brand of your own? Where does Smoothie Beauty fit within the landscape of K-Beauty?
For me, it was the combination of being in the beauty/modeling industry, my interest in natural beauty, striving towards healthier living, my blog, and finally the motivation of filling a need in the market in hopes of creating awareness that we have effective ingredients all around us that the earth naturally provides. Everything just came together at the same time and my grandmother was living proof that I was on the right track. Besides being half-Korean, I believe that Smoothie Beauty fits right in within the landscape of K-Beauty because K-Beauty focuses on simple yet effective ingredients.
Once you had your brand concept established, how did you bring the brand to life? How did you fund the business? How did you go about looking for investors?
From speaking to people within the health/beauty industry, I got a lot of interest in the concept very early on. I funded the initial phase myself and once we had some traction we were able to get angels on board that are very excited about the concept and strongly believe in my vision. So this part was not as stressful as expected, purely because the trends in beauty are moving in our direction and investors can see a lot of potential in the natural beauty space.
What made you decide to exhibit at FounderMade, and what were you hoping to get out of it (investments, press, networking etc.)?
All of the above. It is important for a new brand to gain exposure and FounderMade is definitely a good place to showcase a new concept or product.
Before starting Smoothie Beauty, you had a well-established beauty blog called The Global Beauty. Are you building The Global Beauty and Smoothie Beauty as separate businesses, or has the blog been a marketing vehicle for the business?
My blog is where it all began and it strengthened my desire for knowledge in the natural beauty space. I definitely use my blog as a marketing vehicle, but running a blog and a business at the same time can be very time consuming – luckily they blend together beautifully so that my research for the blog can turn into new product ideas for Smoothie Beauty.
Aside from being an entrepreneur, you are also a model. Do you feel that having a public persona as a model has helped in getting the word out about your products? Do you have any advice on how to create/leverage this presence for other aspiring entrepreneurs?
The marketing/advertising space is constantly getting more complex due to the variety of platforms and it’s also changing at speeds that we have never experienced before. But to answer your question, yes modeling has helped me get the word out to a certain extent, but I believe just having a public presence is not enough to achieve great things. Knowing how to leverage your own network is far more important and that can be any network for that matter.
Smoothie Beauty products are 100% food grade, made without preservatives, and are delivered on ice. What are the challenges in launching products that require refrigeration and must be used within 30 days?
We face the same challenges as any fresh food-based business and we have to have a well-organized supply chain management. The expiry date is merely a tribute to our products so that people understand exactly how fresh they really are and that’s why our customers love them! Consumers have become increasingly aware of what they use in their daily routine. If a product has a long shelf life, you have to ask yourself why that is. For us, the challenge of refrigeration is our biggest opportunity and our differentiator in a very saturated market where everyone fights for attention.
Taking into consideration the product’s short shelf life, what is your distribution strategy and how do you plan on expanding and scaling your business in a sustainable manner? Is a long-term distribution strategy possible with such a short shelf life?
We offer 1-2 days shipping through our online store to guarantee our products arrive cold. All of this needs to be factored into our processes. Also, it is possible to scale in a sustainable manner. We plan to operate using strategic warehouses nationwide to cut down on the delivery routes. Rather than individuals traveling/driving to shopping malls, we will distribute more strategically with our delivery partners to cut down on emissions to reduce our carbon footprint. Finally, efficient long-term distribution is indeed possible due to the factors mentioned above and they go hand in hand with the trend of people ordering online rather than physically shopping in stores. We are also actively looking for partners to further strengthen our mission of sustainability in order to give back to Mother Earth. Since this past Earth Day we have started to plant one tree for each “Earth” face mask purchased and we will continue to look for partnerships that share our vision.
What has been the most effective marketing tactic for you? What role does social media play in your marketing strategy?
I think it is too early to say what the most effective marketing tactic has been for us, but we do see that people like to try the product in person before committing to ordering online—therefore, we are increasing our exposure on the ground before we invest too much into online promotions. It is a new concept and people need to understand and experience our products first.
Who have you identified as your target market? How do you successfully reach and engage them?
Our target market is 18-38. But to be honest, I am my target market! A woman that is in her late 20s to early 30s that is thinking about starting a family and the well-being of herself as well as her future family. As well as, wanting to live a healthy, clean, and conscious lifestyle.
You currently have a space at the Canal Street Market. How has this been a successful retail space for Smoothie Beauty? Do you feel that your customers crave that in-person experience?
Canal Street Market has been a successful space for us because it is located in a high-traffic area and it has given me to the opportunity to engage with people from all over the US and the world on a daily basis. Nearly everyone I speak to personally is taken by the product/concept and has been very excited about it. Being at Canal Street Market has helped me educate the consumer and has laid the foundation of our long-term marketing strategy.
This article first appeared in BeautyMatter.
I walk into a room full of men and I know exactly what they're thinking: "What does she know about whisky?"
I know this because many men have asked me that same question from the moment I started my career in spirits a decade ago.
In a male-dominated industry, I realized early on that I would always have to work harder than my male counterparts to prove my credibility, ability and knowledge in order to earn the trust of leadership stakeholders, coworkers, vendors and even consumers of our products. I am no stranger to hard work and appreciate that everyone needs to prove their worth when starting any career or role. What struck me however, was how the recognition and opportunities seemed to differ between genders. Women usually had to prove themselves before they were accepted and promoted ("do the work first and earn it"), whereas men often were more easily accepted and promoted on future potential. It seemed like their credibility was automatically and immediately assumed. Regardless of the challenges and adversity I faced, my focus was on proving my worth within the industry, and I know many other women were doing the same.
Thankfully, the industry has advanced in the last few years since those first uncomfortable meetings. The rooms I walk into are no longer filled with just men, and perceptions are starting to change significantly. There are more women than ever before making, educating, selling, marketing and conceptualizing whiskies and spirits of all kinds. Times are changing for the better and it's benefitting the industry overall, which is exciting to see.
For me, starting a career in the spirits business was a happy accident. Before spirits, I had worked in the hospitality industry and on the creative agency side. That background just happened to be what a spirits company was looking for at the time and thus began my journey in the industry. I was lucky that my gender did not play a deciding role in the hiring process, as I know that might not have been the case for everyone at that time.
Now, ten plus years later, I am fortunate to work for and lead one of the most renowned and prestigious Whisky brands in the world.. What was once an accident now feels like my destiny. The talent and skill that goes into the whisky-making process is what inspired me to come back and live and breathe those brands as if they were my own. It gave me a deep understanding and appreciation of an industry that although quite large, still has an incredible amount of handmade qualities and a specific and meticulous craft I have not seen in any other industry before. Of course, my journey has not been without challenges, but those obstacles have only continued to light my passion for the industry.
The good news is, we're on the right track. When you look at how many females hold roles in the spirits industry today compared to what it looked like 15 years ago, there has been a significant increase in both the number of women working and the types of roles women are hired for. From whisky makers and distillers to brand ambassadors and brand marketers, we're seeing more women in positions of influence and more spirits companies willing to stand up and provide a platform for women to make an impact. Many would likely be surprised to learn that one of our team's Whisky Makers is a woman. They might even be more surprised to learn that women, with a heightened sense of smell compared to our male counterparts, might actually be a better fit for the role! We're nowhere near equality, but the numbers are certainly improving.
It was recently reported by the Distilled Spirits Council that women today represent a large percentage of whisky drinkers and that has helped drive U.S. sales of distilled spirits to a record high in 2017. Today, women represent about 37% of the whisky drinkers in the United States, which is a large increase compared to the 1990s when a mere 15% of whisky drinkers were women. As for what's causing this change? I believe it's a mix of the acceptance of women to hold roles within the spirits industry partnered with thoughtful programs and initiatives to engage with female consumers.
While whisky was previously known for being a man's drink, reserved for after-dinner cigars behind closed doors, it is now out in the open and accessible for women to learn about and enjoy too.
What was once subculture is now becoming the norm and women are really breaking through and grabbing coveted roles in the spirits business. That said, it's up to the industry as a whole to continue to push it forward. When you work for a company that values diversity, you're afforded the opportunity to be who you are and let that benefit your business. Working under the model that the best brand initiatives come from passionate groups of people with diverse backgrounds, we are able to offer different points of view and challenge our full team to bring their best work forward, which in turn creates better experiences for our audience. We must continue to diversify the industry and break against the status quo if we really want to continue evolving.
While we've made great strides as an industry, there is still a lot of work to be done. To make a change and finally achieve gender equality in the workplace, both men and women need to stand behind the cause as we are better collectively as a balanced industry. We have proved that we have the ability to not only meet the bar, but to also raise it - now we just need everyone else to catch up.