Pop-Up Aftermath

With the closing of our temporary retail location in Andersonville some have had concerns around our business. First we need to make it clear that this was a legitimate Pop-Up and always meant to be temporary. Initially to be for a couple weekends and we stretched it into 3 full months. Our decision to close when we did is attributed to 2 factors. 1. Our license is set to expire within days. 2. We have a few other activities on our schedule that would leave us with nobody to staff the store for a few weeks if we were to renew our license today.

It is very likely we will be back and in that same space. We are currently looking at a 2 weekend stretch in April. The space we have been using has been on the market for a permanent tenant and it is possible there is one ready to move in come May. If the space is available in May, we could do another weekend or 2. From there we will take it a week at a time.

We already have 2 festivals lined up and are working on 2 others. There are also a couple events we are working with for fun activities to bring awareness to a customer segment that is less familiar with our brand. July will be a busy month for us, personally, as we have family obligations to attend to. More details on these matters to come.

This Pop-Up is an exercise for us. Although we have a lot of retail experience without our leadership, it is a different matter when you are the “boss” and responsible for the budget and performance. We needed to see how people would receive us, and to do this without much fanfare. We wanted to rely upon our established customers to shop with us as well as acquire walk-in traffic. Having a barren space, with unfinished walls and no flooring, may not have been very inviting for some but we still had a lot of people come in and check us out. We made to friends and some loyal customers. We counted and weighed everything. Doing little nuanced changes to see how it would impact traffic and sales.

All of this information is being reviewed and distilled down. Then we have to scale it to the known costs of acquiring our own space. This Pop-Up was very successful, but that does not mean we can merely walk into a lease and know we will do well. The reality is, the area we wish to open a store is pricey and we most likely cannot afford the initial costs to get into such a place. Our biggest need is for a production space and that is what started the idea of having a retail space. The simplicity of it all is that if we are paying rent for a space to make our products, why not open it up to sell our products as well. To have a factory store.

If all goes well with our plans for this summer, we will start looking for a space that may not be on a main street with lots of foot traffic, but may be a space that is easy to get to and will permit public access to our space. With such a space we can create a “retail” zone in front with “factory” in the back and still have space for activities and events. Such spaces are a lot cheaper than a high profile commercial space. In time, we could expand from there to then open a genuine stand alone store. Our mission has not changed, we still hope to have such a space for the 2019 holiday season.


Product Development: Conditioner Bar – Part 1

Today we began testing our first formulation of a hair conditioner in bar form. Purpose is to provide a more natural environment friendly conditioner that performs equal to or better than a bottled conditioner.

Development began with studying known recipes and competitor products. Aligning learned data with our own internal data around properties of natural ingredients for hair care. To date, we have spent over 6 months studying existing formulations before attempting our first test product. Our studying has led to the addition of new ingredient items to our inventory. Some of these ingredients may appear in revised or all new formulas of other products. New ingredients include Mango Butter, Cupuacu Butter, Panthenol (ProV B5), Cetyl Alcohol – a thickening/hardening agent for fats (oils & butters), BTMS-50 [50% behentrimonium methosulfate with cetyl alcohol & butylene glycol] – an emulsifier and conditioning agent.

With the addition of Cetyl Alocohol and BTMS-50 we wish to assure everyone that these are in fact natural plant based ingredients that are proven to be safe. BTMS-50 is made from rape seed oil (aka canola oil). Cetyl Alcohol, which is not to be confused with distilled spirit alcohol, is made from plant oils and shares no properties with common alcohols like ethanol or isopropanol. It has the ability to thicken or harden oils as well as give a great slick feel to lotions and conditioners.

Test Candidate 1

This formula is targeted as our “dry hair” formula. To be released as SKU# CNB001, a 130g round conditioner bar. Ideal bar will be solid but not too hard, soften easily when rubbed in hands under warm to hot water in a shower or bath for creating a creamy lather to apply to hair.

This formula contains
71.4% Active Ingredients of assorted butters and oils
10.4% BTMS-50
2.2% Panthenol
16.0% Other ingredients (beeswax, cetyl alcohol, fragrance)

This first test bar set firm with a slight greasy feel to the bar. This is caused by the melting point of the combined ingredients. Bars set rather rapidly at room temperature.

In shower, the bar did not easily create a creamy “conditioner” in my hands when rubbed in hands under hot water on the first attempt. This led to the conditioner being too thick, waxy even, when trying to apply to hair. Second use found that the bar created a much creamier conditioner in my hands and rubbed into wet hair more easily but still not the desired consistency.

It is believed that the percentage of beeswax is too high which is causing it to not “cream” correctly. Beeswax is a common ingredient found in bar conditioners but those recipes we found with higher percentages of beeswax did not contain cetyl alcohol or BTMS-50. It is suggested that we replace a portion of beeswax with proportionate amount of cetyl alcohol for our next test.

Overall, the conditioner did a good job of softening hair, it is apparent that the negatives are the consistency before use (slimy feel), thickness of formula does not soften properly to produce desired conditioning cream for application to hair.

We will further test this candidate and confirm results after multiple uses then adjust formula for Test Candidate 2.

Update: Inventory Constraints

We are still dealing with supply and raw goods inventory issues with our suppliers. This is normal this time of the year but we are impacted more so than in the past as we are moving more product than our forecast. This is 100% due to our Pop-Up Shop. Yes, this can be seen as a good problem to have – in the short term.

Current products that may see Out of Stock notices over the coming weeks:
LIP BALM
HAND + BODY LOTION
AFTER SHAVE CREAM (both brands)
“Oxford” fragrance
BENTONITE + CHARCOAL MASK

We are diligently checking in with our suppliers for related materials to ensure we can have these popular items back in stock. Some of these items are currently in stock at the time of this notice but we predict they may sell out before we will be able to replenish supply.

Third party products are still seeing restraints caused by observance of the Lunar New Year in China. It may be March before we are able to receive inventory of the Travel size Brush and Shower Poofs.

Thank you for your understanding as we work to overcome these new challenges.