Vagina Dialogue With The Honey Pot Company’s Founder
“The vagina is the next big thing,” exclaims The Honey Pot Company founder Beatrice Feliu Espada, and she has the PO’s to prove it. Already entrenched in Whole Foods’ Southeast stores, Honey Pot entered Target in April with its feminine washes and personal wipes.
The brand is among a group of surging startups, including Lola, Sustain Natural, Cora and Love Wellness, challenging standard feminine care fare and down-there taboo as feminine hygiene treads into beauty territory. Outspoken and experienced with a resume that includes stints at Whole Foods and Wildfire Sales, Feliu Espada leads the charge toward new way for women without mincing words. Beauty Independent picked her brain about vaginal skincare, the true cost of building a CPG brand and her ideal exit.
You worked a full-time job and ran The Honey Pot Company for five years until you finally left your job at snack company Rhythm Superfoods this year. Why?
You have to wait until your company is healthy enough to support you, the people that work for you and all of the inventory and marketing that you need to be in business. CPG costs a lot of money. You can’t grow in stores and be paying yourself the money that you and I are probably accustomed to making. I still had to eat, pay my mortgage and keep the clothes on back. I had an executive admin assistant, so she was full-time.
How much did it cost to get The Honey Pot Company off the ground?
All in, it cost us $700,000. The biggest expense was getting into Target. We used to make everything in-house. When you get into 1,000 stores at Target, there is no damn way you are going to be able to make all that product. Also, we had to rebrand our products. It was nice packaging, but it wasn’t Target packaging.
How did you get the money?
We did a friends and family round. I have an uncle that invested some money, but [chief financial officer] Simon Gray brought 95% of the investors to the table. It was built on relationships.
Do you have to continue fundraising?
That $700,000 we raised, that went toward rebranding and inventory. Now, we have to raise another $250,000 for marketing. We are about to do crowdfunding. Whenever you do a friends and family round, you give away equity. I feel we have such a dope thing happening. The smartest thing to do is to exhaust the money we raise before giving up more equity.
Pretend I’m a retailer. Give me the quick pitch on The Honey Pot Company.
The Honey Pot Company is the first plant-based feminine care system that women can come to get everything they need in one place. You can trust us because we make great products that work, and we are not out to sell you toxins.
We are increasingly seeing a crossover between feminine hygiene and beauty. Why?
Your vulva is skin. In my mind, it’s the most important skin on your body. I think women are starting to understand that, just as you use beautiful skincare on your face, you need to use beautiful skincare on your vulva.
What is your brand’s bestseller and why?
Our washes. You are not going to use my product and smell like lavender blossoms because that’s not what vaginas smell like. Eight times out of 10, women are going to use my wash, and they are going to feel confident, fresh, healthy and clean. That’s what a vagina is supposed to feel like.
How did you land on The Honey Pot Company’s prices?
In Target, our washes are $9.99. You have to understand your margins. In the beginning, you may give yourself 40% to 50%, but your goal is to get that to 50% to 60% because that’s how you pay your bills and for marketing. To shoppers, I want to communicate that Honey Pot is premium body care. We are using organic essential oils, coconut oil and apple cider vinegar, and those ingredients cost money. Honey Pot is the most expensive thing at Target for feminine washes, but it also has the best feminine hygiene ingredients.
We are restructuring our e-commerce. I’m trying to figure out the special sauce. Do you make wash more expensive on the website than it is at the store? Do you make it all the same price so you aren’t competing against yourself? We are coming out with a subscription box program. I would like to be doing $300,000 monthly in subscriptions.
Amazon. Yes or no?
Yes, Amazon is about to run the world. If you have a product and you are not on Amazon, what are you doing? We hired a third-party company to handle our Amazon business because Amazon is a monster and, if you’re going to do it, do it right. It’s called Etailz.
What percentage of your business is direct versus retail?
Because of Target, retail is probably about 70% of our business. Online is the rest. My goal is to be in 10,000 to 20,000 retail doors.
What is your projection for Honey Pot’s retail sales this year?
My goal is between $1.5 and $2 million.
When do you plan to reach profitability?
If we reach profitability by 2019, I would be happy.
What outside firms do you work with that you couldn’t execute your brand without?
Ampersand did all of our packaging. That was a big part of selling into Target. We worked with Diamond Wipes, and they really helped us with payment terms to produce our wipes. We work with Spa de Soleil to manufacture our washes.
What kind of boss do you want to be?
In my last company, my boss lived in Boston and, in the company before that, my boss lived in New York. I want to empower people my people so that, whenever they leave me, they can leave me and do better, and I want them to know that they are appreciated. I can’t do what I do without them.
How often do you take vacations?
My husband is Cuban, and he is still in Cuba, so I have to go there. He can’t come here. Whenever I go on holiday, it’s not really a holiday because I’m going to my house in Cuba. I go every few months. We met in London six years ago and got married two-and-a-half years ago. We have been living in separate places the whole time. It was hard in the beginning, but it becomes your way of life.
What personal care products do you have in your bathroom that aren’t from The Honey Pot Company?
Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap and doTerra peppermint oil. I have Mrs. Meyer’s. They have a basil body wash I really like. I use Cocolene and Yes To Tomatoes skincare.
What’s your ultimate goal for The Honey Pot Company?
I would like Unilever to have purchased us for $1 billion, and I would like to see my brand in every store you could possibly dream of. I would like my granddaughter to be able to go into a store 30 years from now and for Honey Pot to be in there whether I own it or not. I want to be a legacy brand like Vagisil or Summer’s Eve.