Design Redux: Indie Beauty Brand Founders Discuss Packaging Changes

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask 15 founders and executives: Have you ever overhauled your packaging?

Lorri Mansker Founder and CEO, Sweet Cheeks Organic Konjac Skincare

We are in the process of completely revamping our brand: logo, packaging and website. We entered indie beauty as an awkward middle schooler, but customers and buyers really like her on the inside. This summer, we glowed up her outside. Remember how you felt when you got your braces off? That’s what we’re talking about!

Tina Rudolf Founder, Strange Bird

Yes, and before we even launched! I spent a year or so working on a design and a vision that looks nothing like what it is today. The brand was originally called August Wild and the design aligned with that. It was intended to celebrate our wild nature and, ultimately, felt contrived and inauthentic. It took a lot of courage to scrap a year-plus of work—keep in mind this was also a year-plus of fees in design and testing, etc.—and follow my intuition to where I am today. 

In the beginning, you get so excited and have so many ideas. That excitement and those ideas can easily turn into noise. I lost track of why I was really doing this and knew I needed to get clear and start again. I'm lucky that happened before launching, before bottles were printed, etc. But I also understand that this brand is a part of who I am and I'm always changing. So, the brand will evolve again and again.  

Everyone has a different reason as to why they're starting their own line. For me, even more than an entrepreneurial pursuit, this is a spiritual mission. So, first and foremost, it has to feel aligned, authentic and true to who I am. It also needs to be able to grow as I do. I really think that what I've created now, the design, the message, the mission, allows me to do that for the long run.

Mutiara Pino Co-Founder, Speak

We are currently working on switching our lip balm and possibly deodorant packaging to compostable paper packaging. It was not a difficult decision since we constantly look at ways we can improve our impact on the environment, and we finally managed to find the right packaging for these products, which is also good for mother nature.

Joshua Onysko Founder, Pangea Organics

In 2018, we totally revamped our packaging. It had been 10 years since our last branding project. The sustainable aspects of materials that are available now verses 10 years ago have dramatically changed and improved. We saw an opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint by switching to a sugarcane bio-resin—plastic made from sugarcane pulp—and give our brand a fresh new look.

Jessica Parker Founder and CEO, Kusshi

We are currently in the process of doing this now. For us, it was a decision to help reduce 3PL (third-party logistics) costs along with making a better opening experience for our customer. We want to surprise and delight everyone who orders one of our bags, and you only have one chance for this experience when you are an e-commerce company. There are so many options with packaging to be creative and step outside of the box.

Gabriel De Santino Founder, Gabriel Cosmetics

I am always interacting with our customers and listening to their requests. When I hear the same request repeatedly, I know it’s time to make a change, like switching from pop tops to pumps on the bottles for our children’s line or redesigning our foundation compacts to be sturdier and easier to refill.

I launched 27 years ago, and recently revamped my logo and product packaging to better reflect where the brand is today. It’s important to evolve and pay attention to trends in the larger beauty industry.

BEE SIMONDS Founder, H Is For Love

We switched from amber glass to Miron, and printed labels to printing directly on our bottles. We also revamped the overall look of the brand and chose to have a color versus our original look, which was monochromatic. Switching to Miron glass was a difficult decision because so many brands use it, but, in the end, I chose what was most protective for the ingredients. 

The main reason we switched from labels to printing on bottles and boxes was growth. It was time to scale, and spending countless hours labeling products no longer made sense. Although necessity is what inspired the change, the process itself was really fun. It had been three years since launching the brand, so I had a firm grasp on what was out there in the clean beauty industry. 

H is different for many reasons, and I wanted our packaging to stand out and reflect those differences. I chose a dusty rose/terra cotta color because we are a woman-owned and -run brand, and proud of it. Our color can be viewed as feminine, but our fonts and design are definitely more on the masculine side. I like the playfulness of that and, of course, the balance.

Robin Brown Co-Founder, Erbaviva

We completely redesigned our packaging, while still maintaining some of our aesthetic heritage. We made the decision to do this for several reasons. We had used our prior design for several years and felt it needed to be refreshed and modernized. While we had adopted a pretty unique look, we felt it needed to be elevated to better complement our prestige retail channels.

Erbaviva was originally developed as a mother and baby brand, and we’ve added new categories with time (personal care, body and everyday essentials). We felt we needed to differentiate between the different categories to make it easier to choose a product on the shelf and make it less confusing for the consumer. We adopted different colors for each category, and retained the more gender-neutral logo color for personal care and kept the warmer tones for mother and baby as well as retaining the use of our signature orange color for mother and baby logos.

The redesign, though a mammoth task that took a lot longer and was quite expensive to implement, has resulted in much better sales as well as sell-in.

Mia Saini Duchnowski Co-Founder and CEO, Oars + Alps

For the first two years of our business, we really focused on learning everything we could online through our dot-com site. When Target approached us to go offline, we really had to go back to the table to understand how we would make our brand come to life in an offline way. 

This meant changing messaging. We no longer had the space on the site to explain the benefits of our products or ingredients, so we had to be a lot more concise on our packaging. As for our packaging, we had to make it pop more on the shelf. We used to have dark blue on blue as our main package colors. We have since shifted to something more retail-friendly: white on blue.

Annie Tevelin Founder, SkinOwl

This is a very timely question as we are undergoing our first packaging update since its inception. My brand has evolved so much over the last five years and, while I love the current packaging, I have wanted to elevate and streamline the range for sometime now. I am so clear on what the brand represents now, and I truly felt like the product packaging could showcase more of what the brand stands for. 

I always ask myself, “Is this where we've been or where we're going?” I do believe a repackage was necessary based on where I hope to take the brand. Plus, we are launching in Canadian markets, so I wanted to update the packaging reflecting the French language required on every product.

Cherie Hoeger Co-Founder, Saalt

We haven't done a complete revamp of our packaging since our launch, but we did overhaul our pre-launch design, which pushed our launch back by a few months. We knew we only had one chance to make a first impression, and it had to be stunning. So, when we weren't completely happy with our first packaging prototype, we invested heavily in our new design and revisited every detail, down to the construction of the cardboard holding up the cup inside the tube. 

We did make some noticeable changes to our packaging before launching in Target as well. The Target buyer was actually really helpful during this process, teaching us about consumer behavior and point of sale decision making, and she helped us better differentiate our colorways and sizing to stand out more on the shelf. We were really grateful for the feedback and it helped us take what was already an amazing offering and make it that much sharper.

JENNIE FRESA Founder and Owner, Copal Clean Beauty

We’re actually in the process of doing this right now.  We’re looking to lighten up on our carbon footprint by using all recycled paper and bags. We’re looking at ways to cut back on paper and minimize our shipping materials. This gets tricky because we would like our clients to have an amazing unboxing experience, but, at the same time, understand that we’re aiming to be as green as possible.

Kristen Bowen Founder and CEO, Living The Good Life Naturally

My company is the perfect example of not waiting to build your business when something is perfect. Design and communicating design has not been my strength. So, our labels have been redesigned more times than I would like to actually confess to. 

TESS TAYLOR Founder, Taylor + Tess

We have only completed our first production run, so we have not completely revamped our packaging yet. However, I do believe that you live and you learn, as with everything in life. There are some tweaks that I would make after learning the first time around. I am constantly contemplating ways to improve my brand’s representation through packaging and learning about new innovations in sustainable solutions. We are excited to begin exploring hemp as packaging material.

I am very observant and inspired anywhere and everywhere. While in Bali the other month, I learned that the island recently banned single-use plastic. However, as we stopped in at convenience stores on the walk home from dinner, I noticed that the bags felt like plastic, but surely this couldn’t be, and it wasn’t. The bags and other “plastic” items around the island were made from cornstarch. 

Bali is a very spiritual place that is home to various religions. However, what they all have in common is the belief in four essential relationships in life: relationship with God, with self, with others and with nature. While the island and its waste management is not perfect, it is easy to spot individuals doing their daily part in taking care of each other and Mother Earth. I believe all brands, no matter how big or small, should prioritize sustainability when developing products and choosing their packaging solutions. We only get one earth, and our collective habits continue to negatively impact our oceans, lands and air.

Mary Schulman CEO and Co-Founder, PYT Beauty

While we have not revamped our packaging, we are always making improvements. The main drivers for the changes that we have made include opportunities to communicate more clearly with our customer. Staying true to our tagline, "Beauty without the BS [bad stuff]," we always ask ourselves if we are providing the best products for our customers. We do this with the formulations as well as our clear, straightforward communication.  

We are also excited to announce that we listened to our customers, and they are looking for vegan products. While many of our products are already vegan, as we launch new products this year, we will carry the vegan logo on the packaging. Additionally, we are slightly modifying some of our current products with a promise of being 100% vegan by the end of 2020.

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