Gender-Neutral Essential Oil Brand Happy Spritz Marches Happily Across The U.S. And Canada
Before creating Happy Spritz, husband and wife Michelle and Bram Hutchinson weren’t all that happy.
Ascending the corporate ladder in the apparel industry, they battled stress, sleep deprivation and lack of focus. Seeking alternatives to pharmaceutical remedies to address their issues, the couple turned to essential oils, which provided welcome relief, but were often sold in cumbersome do-it-yourself kits they didn’t find particularly welcoming.
“Nothing was on the market to cater to somebody living a busy lifestyle that needed something just quick and easy on the go, where you didn’t have to really think about it,” says Michelle Hutchinson. “We wanted a line that you could use from morning to night that was really simple, 100% plant-based and gender-neutral, so it didn’t matter if you were a man or woman.”
Happy Spritz was born four years ago in Vancouver, Canada, where Southern California residents Michelle and Bram lived while working at Lululemon, to fill the gap in the essential oils market and, since then, it’s sales have roughly doubled annually. The aromatherapy brand has spread to some 500 shops across North America, including Anthropologie, where it’s settled in the lifestyle retailer’s luxury wellness section.
Instead of essential oil singles for DIYers, Happy Spritz initially released eight blends with names broadcasting their purposes (i.e., Run Sweat Recover and Namaste Ninja) that could be understood by essential oil novices. Later, the brand translated its bestselling blends – Sweet Dreams Darling, Good Morning Beautiful and Breathe Deeply – into biodegradable towelettes. Diffusers are recent additions to the merchandise mix.
“If a store has a ton of beauty products, sometimes it might be overwhelming for people, and that’s one reason our branding is so important to us. Somebody right off the bat might be attracted to the name Good Morning Beautiful.”
A graphic designer by trade, Hutchinson was intent on Happy Spritz making an impactful first impression on shelves. The brand relies on Kraft labels and frosted glass amber bottles for its spritz blends. The product names are capitalized on labels to be seen from afar. “If a store has a ton of beauty products, sometimes it might be overwhelming for people, and that’s one reason our branding is so important to us,” says Hutchinson. “Somebody right off the bat might be attracted to the name Good Morning Beautiful.”
She also was careful Happy Spritz’s prices didn’t scare off customers. The essential oils kits in existence when Happy Spritz started could retail for $300 or so, and Hutchinson believed prices that high could deter customers new to essential oils. Happy Spritz priced its blends at $25 across the board in the U.S. and 28 in Canadian dollars.
“Our margins are better in some than in others, but we didn’t want to have one bottle $15 and another $30, and have the customer confused,” she says. “Anybody that is familiar with essential oils knows they are pricier than fragrance. We have been really trying to educate people on the difference. Essential oils are gaining in popularity, so people are more aware of what they are, but there was a lot of education at the beginning about why they were $25 or 28 in Canada. We just tried to make it really easy for the consumer.”
In Happy Spritz’s infancy, Hutchinson’s distribution strategy was to target stores in Vancouver with an undeniable cool factor, although often the stores’ products were pricier than Happy Spritz’s merchandise. The concept store Litchfield took a chance on the brand early on, and Happy Spritz’s distribution subsequently mushroomed without Hutchinson aggressively chasing retailers.
“Everything out there is so complex, and our philosophy is less is more when it comes to the scent profile. We really try to use eucalyptus, peppermint and lavender, the ingredients that we know have really specific functions and can appeal to both men and women.”
“We grew really organically. Vancouver had such an amazing community that, after approaching a few of our favorite shops, we didn’t have to really reach out again after that. Every account that we had built throughout the country was due to shop owners reaching out to us because they saw our products on Instagram or social media,” she says. “It was pretty cool to see that we were onto something.”
In 2015, the Hutchinsons returned to their native U.S., but they protected Happy Spritz’s Canadian business in the move. Happy Spritz products in Canada are shipped and made in the country with Canadian ingredients. “It’s really important to Canadians to shop local,” says Hutchinson. “We have kept it completely separate, so we cater to the two countries, and we don’t have to deal with the border.”
As Happy Spritz established itself stateside, the brand discovered it can fit into many different settings. It’s touched meditation destinations, home goods specialists, yoga studios, department stores, gift shops and apparel chains. No matter where it’s available, Hutchinson emphasizes the brand’s straightforward perspective on essential oils cuts through the clutter.
“Everything out there is so complex, and our philosophy is less is more when it comes to the scent profile,” she says, noting product testers are extremely effective for Happy Spritz. “We really try to use eucalyptus, peppermint and lavender, the ingredients that we know have really specific functions and can appeal to both men and women.”
“It’s hard not to be clumped under the general beauty tagline, but our products are so different from what’s out there. We’ve really tried to be essential oil-focused and an essential oil beauty company in order to stand out.”
Going forward, self-funded Happy Spritz’s goals are to increase brand awareness, explore the possibility of selling equity to a larger brand, and score wholesale deals with retailers that will augment its current distribution network. Hutchinson points to Sephora and Ulta Beauty as dream retail partners.
“It’s hard not to be clumped under the general beauty tagline, but our products are so different from what’s out there. We’ve really tried to be essential oil-focused and an essential oil beauty company in order to stand out,” she says. “Right now, I don’t think you can find anything like our products at Ulta or Sephora, so it could be great to work with a company like that.”