At New E-tailer Arrive Well, Conscious Consumption Is TSA-Approved

In the post-9/11 world, travel has become a real drag. Launched six months ago by Erin Lindquist and Renee Pindus, two road warriors weary of airplane travails, Arrive Well is out to ease the process by taking the pain out of packing. The e-tailer stocks natural face, body and hair products along with travel necessities like chargers and passport holders suiting jet-setters with conscious consumption habits. “We want to make people feel better about their travels. We want to support people who are doing good things for others and the environment,” explains Lindquist. Beauty Independent talked to her about shepherding Arrive Well from idea to implementation, lessons along the way, building inventory, overcoming perfectionist tendencies and the benefits of shampoo bars.

How did Arrive Well come to be?

It started a couple of years ago. In my former life, I was a consultant traveling around a ton. I was gone about two weeks out of every month. It got to the point where my health started to suffer, and I’d find myself stuck relying on hotel goods or I’d have to find things in a hotel kiosk. I just felt that there wasn’t an online place where I could go to find everything I might need to travel with, and also a place where the products are really well-made, conscious of the environment and fun to use. My favorite thing to do in hotels when I’m traveling for work or otherwise is to settle in with a nice mask at night. That helps it feel a little bit more like home. All of that led to the creation of Arrive Well. Renee, my cofounder, was the one who made it actually happen. It was always something in my head. The website launched at the end of September 2017, but Arrive Well started forming partnerships with the brands last July.

Arrive Well travel
Erin Lindquist and Renee Pindus Chris Nigul

How did you connect with brands before going live?

There are three pillars that we try to align everything we do with: curation, customization and inspiration. We have a wide assortment now, and we will continue to get bigger, but we wanted to make sure that we had bio-individuality. Everybody has different skin and different preferences for scents and textures. We found smaller brands, made connections with the founders and, then, tested the products for quality and efficacy.

What are some brands you’re working with?

Having a relationship with each of them is really special and really important when it comes to providing products to our customers. We have brands like Berlin Skin based out of San Diego. Monica [Watson] is the founder. She has this great minimalist line with a beautiful aesthetic and really high-quality ingredients. I love their face cleanser. Soul Sunday is another great brand founded by two women who have this love of travel and being out in the world. Happy Spritz is a newer brand that we’ve launched. They have all kinds of aromatherapy [products] like scented towelettes made of a plant-based biodegradable fiber. Their proceeds go to support animal shelters, and they’re all about being cruelty-free.

How do you introduce Arrive Well to brands?

We have a brand deck that’s a pretty new addition to our pitch. When we approach a relationship with brands we want to work with, it’s mostly [through] a pretty friendly introduction email talking a little bit about what we do, what we love about that particular brand we are approaching and, then, from there, deciding if it’s a good fit. Usually, we will test some of the products. During that process, we want to learn a little more about their operational procedures like what missions they are focused on and what values are important to them.

Arrive Well travel goods
Chris Nigul

How do you help your customers understand the brands and brands you sell?

The way we decided to approach customer education is [to address] what’s really important from a travel standpoint. Travel is something that I did for work for a long time. Sometimes I didn’t love it, but there is also the part of travel that is really moving and inspiring because you’re connecting with other people. A big initiative for us is to improve our blog – Travel Journal is what we call it on the site – and those are stories we will be sharing on Instagram, email marketing campaigns, Pinterest and otherwise. That will be a mix of travel journeys and experiences, mostly to just tell people about us and to give them a reason to come visit our site. [There will also be] a mix of product reviews and introductions to brands they might not know about. We’re going to be doing a few interview pieces to introduce them to brands and founder stories.

How do you use digital advertising to appeal to your base?

At the moment, we’re trying to use social media as much as possible. Occasionally, whether it’s a new brand or product we’re rolling out or if it’s around a campaign we’re running for a particular time or season, we might use Google AdWords, but that’s pretty small. Percentage wise, a lot of it is just us working really hard to be on the ground, and interacting with people in real time and using organic social media traffic. We actually cut back on some of the Facebook and Instagram campaigns we were running because we realized people are still learning who we are.

Has Arrive Well partnered with influencers?

There have been a few influencers we’ve connected with. YouTube is something that we’ve talked about, and I would love to do it, but [we have a] resource constraint [issue] right now. Part of running and planning the business is scaling effectively. There are times, especially in the beginning, when we felt like we have to do all of these things. Then, you realize you may not have all of the time, money and people to do all of the things. So, you have to look at the most important things to start with. That’s where we’re at right now, but I think video content is huge, so I would love to do that eventually. We definitely have a network of contributors. We’ve had a few features on different bloggers’ websites and posts. We’re talking about different types of partnerships we can do with people.

Chris Nigul

Who are a few of the influencers you’ve partnered with?

Some of the influencers we work with are Ashley Chmelka (@ashleychmelka), Elisa Leonard (@browneyedella_), Kristine Mahan (@kristinemahan) and Rebecca Piersol (@rebeccapiersol).

What’s your approach to inventory?

We have a wide range of offerings in our inventory right now, and we want to extend that because we want people to find their niche and what works best for them. If it’s a new brand, we will work with their minimum order. Sometimes, we’ll post potential brands on social media to see how much interest there might be in a particular product, and we’ll go from there in terms of product. It depends on what the minimum order value is, but also our interest and how quickly it’ll sell. We have a [small] team right now, so we’re all pretty involved with everything that’s going on behind the scenes and in tune with what needs to be restocked and what doesn’t. We can just increase the order based on interest.

How do Arrive Well’s customized kits play into the inventory?

We have kits on the site. People can build their own, but we also have some that we can put together that are built with a specific theme or a specific purpose. We have a calm evenings kit, which is intended to be mostly a gift, but also something you indulge in yourself. It’s got the sweet little paper notebook and a hydrating oil. Something like that, we will have to make sure enough to fill different kit orders and the one-offs. It’s a balancing act, and we’re learning a lot, but, so far, it’s been manageable. We haven’t let anyone down yet.

Arrive Well travel
Chris Nigul

Do you have seasonal sales or promotions?

We actually have a promo code going on right now: Enter GIRLPOWER for 15% off all orders over $50 for the month of March for Women’s History Month. Apart from that, we have things seasonally for different holidays like Earth Day or Arbor Day. We will definitely have holiday sales, but, overall, we don’t do a ton of them.

As a newer business, how do you forecast?

That is something we have done for 2018, of course. It’s something we didn’t do during last year’s holiday season because of how new we were, and it caught us off guard a little bit. Depending on our top sellers and new things that are coming through, we’ll plan based on our current average order values and peaks throughout the week, which days we expect to get the most orders throughout the months we’ve seen. The only challenge for us [is a] year-over-year comparison. We don’t have that yet, but what we do have a month-to-month comparison. So, we’re using that at the moment to plan ahead.

Why didn’t you go the drop-shipping route?

I know that’s really popular with online brands, and that’s a buzzword from the e-commerce space for people who are starting online stores. For some people, it might work, but, for us, it was really important that we were able to deliver the finished presentation. When you get a box from us, it has a handwritten note from one of the members of our team, and it’s carefully wrapped. We wanted to make sure that was a really special thing for someone. I think of each order as a gift.

Arrive Well Travel
Chris Nigul

How many email subscribers do you have?

We have a few hundred subscribers. We don’t promote our subscriber list, so the people who are subscribing are usually our customers.

Are Arrive Well’s products only designed for carry-ons?

In terms of the liquid products, everything is within the carry-on limit. That’s one requirement we have. So, if we work with brands we won’t carry any products that they sell that are over the 3.4-oz. or 100-ml. size. One thing we will start getting, and it’s something I’ve recently fallen in love with, is shampoo bar soap. There’s a ton of research on bar soap and how most people think it’s really drying. Actually, if it’s handmade, it isn’t drying. We carry Aloha bags on the site. These are splash-proof bags. If you’re on the pool or at the beach, you can throw your wet bathing suit in there, and it won’t get any of your stuff wet. If you’re checking a bag, one of the biggest fears is opening it up when you arrive somewhere and all of your liquids have exploded. So, these bags are really great.

As a travel expert, what your three travel must-haves?

A lip balm. A good book. I know we have an e-commerce site, but I’m old school. I love to have a magazine or a book with me. And a sunscreen. I always have this stick we sell with me. Sunscreen is so important.

Arrive Well travel
Chris Nigul

Is there anything trending for travel that we’re going to see more of?

Yeah, shampoo bars. That’s a big thing right now. Whenever we chat with people on Facebook or Instagram, people are talking about it. I never thought that I would use shampoo bars, but a bunch of people have recommended them. I can totally see the convenience of just having this bar, and you don’t have to worry about the liquid count. After I used one, I was just totally wowed by how soft my hair was, and how nice it felt. That’s going to become more popular for travel goods.

What tips do you have for others starting a business?

I would recommend someone get started in a way that makes the most sense [to him or her]. Arrive Well had many different forms before it turned into Arrive Well. It was a travel blog. It was a drop-shipping site. Eventually, [we said,] “Let’s do this the right way.” Don’t be afraid to try something, and let it evolve. I have this issue with something needing to be perfect before I let anyone see it, and nothing ever ends up coming from it. Renee has made this a reality in a lot of ways by bringing it to life.

Another thing is peaks and valleys are just a fact of life. You’ll have days when you’re on top of the world and everything is going well and, then, you’ll have days where you don’t know what’s going on or things are unexpected. So, just focus on that road between the peaks and valleys. Just know that things get better, and people will be there to support you. That’s where people helping people, and women helping women is important. We thrive by lifting others up.

If you could invent a dream product for Arrive Well, what would it do?

That’s a great question. I have so many ideas. Sustainability is huge for our brand, and it’s also a challenge. Packaging is unavoidable. I was thinking [about] a beautiful case – like my custom kit – and it has space for whatever you want to have in it: shampoo, face wash, body wash. In a dream world, that could be something you just send back to us, and we could refill it for you and mail it to wherever you need it to go so it’s a less wasteful experience. There’s a lot of operational things needed for that, though.

Feature photo credit: Chris Nigul