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.
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.