How Mary Ware’s Pursuit Of A Product To Address Post-Partum Hyperpigmentation Turned Into A Bestselling Turmeric Scrub
Motherhood brings many wonderful things, but there are a few on the not-so-wonderful side. Count Mary Ware’s hyperpigmentation as one of the not-so-wonderful things. “After I had my son, my hormones were going crazy,” she remembers. “I was looking for a way to solve my problem naturally, but I didn’t really see anything on the market that was inexpensive and easy to use that didn’t have ingredients I didn’t want to use at the time because I was nursing.” While she was taking a break from her job as a third grade teacher to care for her newborn, Ware decided to try her hand at making an affordable, clean product to tackle her dark spots.
Over the course of a year, Ware mixed up a myriad of concoctions until she arrived at a turmeric-fueled formula for Glow Skin Brightening Facial Scrub that helped her hyperpigmentation and has become the heart of her brand Minimo Skin Essentials. Within two days of its debut on Etsy, Minimo recorded a sale and, by the next month, its sales had jumped to $5,000. “We hit the ground running very fast,” says Ware. Today, the facial scrub is responsible for roughly 70% of Minimo’s business and, last year, the brand racked up nearly $1.1 million in revenues, up from $325,000 the year before. Needless to say, Ware didn’t go back to her teaching position. Beauty Independent caught up with her to talk about Glow Skin Brightening Facial Scrub’s backstory, production hurdles, the importance of reviews, proper pricing for broad accessibility and selling on Amazon.
Launch date: May 2016
Sales: 5,000 units monthly
Product development: Ware had been exposed to turmeric as a teenager during a mission trip to India. She learned Indians turned to it for external and internal benefits ranging from combatting blemishes to breathing issues. Back home in Houston many years later, Ware, now 34, experimented with masks containing turmeric, but they stained, were super expensive or fell off the skin messily. She believed she could do better.
Ware formulated over and over again before eventually landing on a cream-based scrub combining sugar with a slew of powerful natural ingredients such as cinnamon powder, lemon, hemp and abyssinian oils, Manuka honey, and chamomile, ginger and garlic extracts that she could offer reasonably, didn’t leave yellow on the skin and affixed to the face for 10 minutes to allow ingredients to soak into the skin. Ware says, “Once it hit the market, people saw other people using it and the results they were getting, and it quickly became our bestseller.”
Retail price: The Glow Skin Brightening Facial Scrub was originally priced at $9.95, but its price has risen to $13.95 due to the climbing costs of Manuka honey. “Customers still see it as reasonable for what they are getting,” says Ware, elaborating, “I didn’t want to make anything that didn’t have a decent margin. Even at the price point of $10, it had a good margin. We make about 90% profit from the product.” She adds that the scrub is priced to appeal to a wide demographic while permitting her to put out a quality product. Ware says, “I looked at it and said, ‘What would someone pay for this product where it would fly off the shelf?’ We wanted to be able to sell quickly, and there not be hesitation when they see the price.” For $18.95, customers can buy the scrub coupled with an exfoliator tool.
Packaging design: The brand name Minimo is a play on the word “minimal.” Befitting a minimalist aesthetic, Minimo relies on black and white labels and boxes. The simple design enables the brand to contrast its packaging with pops of color in marketing imagery. At the outset of Minimo, Glow Skin Brightening Facial Scrub was housed in a slightly larger jar than the 5-oz. plastic jar it currently comes in. The shift to a smaller size made shipping in padded envelopes a smooth procedure. Ware shares, “It gets to the customer in one piece. We don’t have issues of packages spilling or opening.”
“We are not a new business. To date, we’ve already [generated] over $2 million in revenue. We are reaching quite a bit of customers, and we can bring our customers to different retail channels.”
Distribution strategy: Minimo initially launched on Etsy, but it’s since exited the platform. The brand’s website and Amazon, where it went live October 2016, drive most of its sales, although it’s also available at select independent stores, spas and salons nationwide. On Amazon, Ware highlights the Glow Skin Brightening Facial Scrub is listed number 35 in scrub search results. The biggest challenge is keeping up with demand. “We may send 3,000 items and, within a month, we will need to send another 3,000,” says Ware, discussing Amazon. “The product moves quite a bit.”
Going forward, Minimo’s goal is to break into retail chains such as Dillard’s and Ulta Beauty. For retailers, Ware asserts the brand’s affordability is a key selling point. “It makes it easy for them to bring into their establishment, and it makes it easy for the customer,” she says. Ware emphasizes Minimo’s experience is an advantage, too. She says, “We are not a new business. To date, we’ve already [generated] over $2 million in revenue. We are reaching quite a bit of customers, and we can bring our customers to different retail channels.”
Digital approach: Shortly after Minimo premiered, Ware starred in her brand’s advertising holding her product and showing it on her face. It’s very straightforward imagery, but has proved to be incredibly productive. The ad featuring Ware has reeled in over $100,000 in sales. The ad embodies Minimo’s strategy of showcasing real customers in its marketing. “We want the ads to be relatable to customers. When they see someone just like them getting the results they want and real reviews, it gives them more confidence when they decide to buy,” says Ware. Minimo actively retargets customers with videos, photos and reviews to persuade them to take the plunge.
Minimo’s reviews are handled by third-party verifier Judge.me, and the brand has accumulated close to 3,000 reviews via Judge.me. It asks customers for feedback, photos and videos once they’ve bought from Minimo. On its boxes, the brand includes a QR code directing customers to its reviews. Judge.me has boosted Minimo’s business. Ware says, “Even if I look at myself as a consumer, I try something more when there is a review, especially if there’s a video or photo with the review.”
“We want the ads to be relatable to customers. When they see someone just like them getting the results they want and real reviews, it gives them more confidence when they decide to buy.”
Hiccups along the way to success: Scaling production has been tricky. To begin, Minimo was producing batches of 300 jars, and its customers were clamoring for three times that amount. “It was a nerve-wracking process because I didn’t have any background knowledge about production machinery and, honestly, several of the machinery companies I reached out to didn’t seem too enthused about working with a small business,” recalls Ware. She decided pony up for a filling machine, but it didn’t work with the Glow Skin Brightening Facial Scrub’s thick recipe. Ware had to purchase custom gravity-fed kettles that connected to Minimo’s machinery. “This was a game changer,” she says. “My team went from filling jars by hand and only able to complete about 50 jars an hour to a filling machine that does about 60 to 100 jars a minute.” Minimo may tap a contract manufacturer if in-house production becomes overwhelming, but Ware notes production is manageable at the moment and retaining it in-house minimizes costs.
Maintaining momentum: Ware is evaluating various kit options for Glow Skin Brightening Facial Scrub and the items that complement it. Minimo has created a Glow collection that pairs the facial scrub with the products Balance Skin Brightening Toner, Radiant Skin Brightening Moisturizer, DejaVu Acne Control Serum, Miracle Mud Mask, Genesis Sulfate-Free Foaming Facial Cleanser and Lumen Dark Spot Corrector Serum. It sells the products together in a bundle that’s under $100, and a travel option for the bundle is a future possibility. “If someone is looking for a replacement for a lot of the products they use, we have a full regimen for them. We have something for every step of their beauty process,” says Ware. “The Glow is the introduction for our customers. We have a 35% customer return rate, and I want them to come back and buy everything.”
Retailer take: “We absolutely love it. I personally started using the turmeric scrub about two years ago as I was suffering from acne and hyperpigmentation. I then introduced it to my business partner, and the rest was history. We knew it was definitely a product we wanted to carry in our salon and recommend to our vast array of clients,” says Dominique Harris, co-owner of Bleu Honey Beauty Bar, which stocks turmeric and charcoal versions of Minimo’s scrub at its Berkeley, Calif., location. “Our clients rave about them both and often return to purchase for friends and family. We can all agree what we love most about the scrub is the fragrance, the natural ingredients and, most of all, the fact that it actually works. The price point is great as well.”