Latina-Led Honey Baby Naturals, Which Has Gone Into Walmart, Target And More, Is Breaking Down Barriers At Mass Retail
Honey Baby Naturals is pushing family-focused hair and body care to the fore at mass retailers.
The rising brand has rolled out to 1,200-plus doors, including around 200 at Walmart, 100 at Rite Aid, 300 at CVS and 90 at Sally Beauty over the last few months. All told, Honey Baby Naturals has enlarged its distribution network by 85% from last year, when it cracked the mass market by entering around 125 Target and Meier locations, and is on pace to quintuple annual sales.
“My strategy was to first have one major mass retailer to learn, and we went into Target. Then, other retailers saw the growth we were having, so I started taking meetings with them,” says Honey Baby Naturals founder Aisha Ceballos-Crump. “They understand that there’s interest in healthier, better products for hair and skin, and Honey Baby Naturals is bridging textures. There were different products for this or that type of textured hair. This is a brand that works for everyone. It revolutionizes the way we think about caring for our hair and family.”
Before she created Honey Baby Naturals, Ceballos-Crump, a beauty industry veteran of Puerto Rican descent, purchased multiple products to address the hair-care needs of her African-American husband, three multiracial children and herself. Tapping honey, an ingredient her grandmother used in skincare treatments, she created universal solutions that suited her family in its entirety. Ceballos-Crump invested roughly $60,000 to bring Honey Bee Naturals to fruition in October 2015 with seven products. She’s since added three.
“Honey Baby Naturals is bridging textures. There were different products for this or that type of textured hair. This is a brand that works for everyone. It revolutionizes the way we think about caring for our hair and family.”
The early retail buyer reaction to the brand wasn’t as enthusiastic as Ceballos-Crump hoped. During her initial meeting with Target in the spring of 2016, Ceballos-Crump, who named the brand after a term of endearment, remembers buyers said, “We don’t get it. Is it for babies?” Later that year, its Honeychild Moisture & Scalp Balance Gentle Shampoo was Naturallycurly.com’s editors’ choice for best wavy shampoo, and the retail tide began to turn for Honey Baby Naturals.
At stores, Ceballos-Crump has discovered an audience much larger than she anticipated for the brand. “When I looked through my own lens, I thought about an on-the-go mom with a multicultural family, but grandmothers, men and women of all ethnicities and backgrounds love our collection,” she says. “I never imagined it would not be niche. We have reached so many households because they fall in love with individual products like our Honey Nectar Body Jelly and try more products from there.”
Ceballos-Crump envisions the brand extending across various departments within retail environments. “I want Honey Baby Naturals to be a household name,” she says. “I want it to be in the baby section, kids’ section, naturals section, multicultural section, and I think tween could be a fun area that no one has really played in. I want to break down barriers at stores and be in many homes, not just homes that look like mine.”
“I want it to be in the baby section, kids’ section, naturals section, multicultural section, and I think tweens could be a fun area that no one has really played in. I want to break down barriers at stores and be in many homes, not just homes that look like mine.”
Currently, the brand’s bestseller is Knot My Honey Instant Detangler, but Ceballos-Crump points out the Milk & Honey Leave-In Conditioner is gaining ground. Speaking of the detangler, she says, “It cuts down the time you have to do hair. It takes time for a person with textured hair to sit there and comb through their hair. The detangler keeps volume because it doesn’t weigh down the hair, and it’s great for blow-drying.” For the remainder of this year, Ceballos-Crump expects to release five products and increase Honey Baby Naturals’ presence in the styling category.
Ceballos-Crump is also planning to open a warehouse in Chicago, where Honey Baby Naturals is based. The move will give the brand heightened control over fulfillment. Inside the warehouse and outside of it, Honey Baby Naturals is augmenting its workforce. Ceballos-Crump is considering hiring employees with digital, marketing, accounting and legal expertise.
“I still don’t pay myself. We have been a one-person team, which is me,” she says. “Because I’ve stayed so lean, I’ve been able to put all the money back into the company. I invest heavily in marketing and events, and I was able to secure [favorable] credit terms with a lot of my suppliers to scale up. I’ve been blessed that there are people behind me that are helping me grow quickly. When you grow fast, it can be hard to keep up financially.”
As Honey Baby Naturals makes inroads into retailers, Ceballos-Crump takes pride in being a Latina succeeding in the beauty business. “I want to be an example for young people in our community that they can become a beauty boss,” she says. “We are a melting pot, and I want our retail shelves to reflect the country that we live in. Now, we are starting to see that.”