Olika Flies Into Retailers On The Wings Of Its Bird-Shaped Hand Sanitizers
Olika may be a bit of an odd bird for beauty, but it’s making inroads in the segment nonetheless.
The Scandinavian-inspired high-design personal-care company behind the Birdie and Minnie hand sanitizers with ornithological sensibilities has launched online at Target, Hush and Urban Outfitters, where it’s also in select stores, this year after entering the e-commerce fray at QVC, LuckyVitamin, Walmart and Amazon last year. Its bird-shaped packaging houses spray formulated with alcohol, water, glycerin, aloe, bergamot, spearmint and lemon to hydrate and smell fresh.
“We are beauty adjacent. We’re not mascara or lipstick, but we’re educating women that hand sanitizers should be a part of their beauty regimen,” says Jessica Postiglione, CEO and co-founder of Olika. “The skin on your hands is very thin and can age sooner than the skin on your face. If you are drying out your hands with hand sanitizer, you’re accelerating the aging process of your hands. You should have a beauty regimen for your hands just like you have for your face.”
Olika, which gets its name from the Swedish word for differently, made its debut in January 2017 with the Birdie, a 3-inch by 2-inch twistable dispenser priced at $8.99 with enough formula for 350 sprays and 10 dry mini wipes in its base to boot. Slightly more than a year later, it released Minnie, 2.25-inch by 2-inch version priced at $6.99 that’s sufficient for 525 sprays and doesn’t include wipes. Customers informed Olika that wipes weren’t always necessary, and the brand responded to their feedback with the second product.
“The skin on your hands is very thin and can age sooner than the skin on your face. If you are drying out your hands with hand sanitizer, you’re accelerating the aging process of your hands. You should have a beauty regimen for your hands just like you have for your face.”
Postiglione describes Olika’s core customer as a busy woman, often a mom, who’s hip to the latest trends in beauty, scrolls through her favorite influencers on the regular and pays attention to merchandise recommendations from her friends. The brand has been embraced by those in the beauty trades such as makeup artists, hairstylists and manicurists staving off germs in between appointments. In addition to the previously mentioned retailers, it reaches beauty professionals at Ricky’s NYC and Alcone.
Olika depends largely on social media to spread the word about its hand sanitizers. Last year, it produced cheeky “Give ’em the Bird” videos to showcase Birdie on YouTube as well as television in New York. One involving a meet-cute that ended dirtily with dog poop sent Postiglione scouring Amazon for fake canine feces during the production process. “Our main challenge is cutting through the noise and having staying power,” she says. “I don’t want us categorized as just a pretty bottle. We have to focus on the formula because we all love it and know it’s great, but, until smell-o-vision is invited, we have to articulate that without anyone touching or smelling it.”
On top of the “Give ’em the Bird” videos, Postiglione shares Olika paid for influencer placements early on to build awareness. Through then-sponsored celebrity hairstylist Justine Marjan, it got into the hands of Khloe Kardashian, and the famous sister posted about it, resulting in a sales boost. The brand has moved way from paying influencers, but still remains of interest to the social media community. Postiglione estimates it’s netted at least 300 unpaid influencer posts.
“Our main challenge is cutting through the noise and having staying power. I don’t want us categorized as just a pretty bottle. We have to focus on the formula because we all love it and know it’s great, but, until smell-o-vision is invited, we have to articulate that without anyone touching or smelling it.”
Certainly, Olika’s inventive and vibrant packaging makes it plenty Instagram-worthy. In total, its hand sanitizers come in four colors: bright blue, charcoal, eggshell and purple or thistle, a recently introduced hue that’s already on back order. Postiglione doesn’t want to balloon the assortment, but speculates another fragrance could be a possibility. “We can go deeper with our current assortment. There’s definitely demand for it,” she says. “We want to do what EOS did in lip balm. They came out with different colors and fragrances.”
All told, Olika has broken into around 55 retailers, and its business today is evenly split between digital and brick-and-mortar sales. Postiglione’s distribution goal is to further enhance the brand’s national retail network. She points to checkouts and grab-and-go sections as effective in-store destinations for Birdie and Minnie. Postiglione says, “No pun intended, they fly off the shelves there.”