Sweta, we met ages ago and have watched your brand grow through a difficult time in the market. How has Bubbsi done throughout Covid, and would you say Covid has favored or hurt the brand overall?
Bubbsi experienced incredible growth throughout Covid. Like many other eCommerce brands, we benefited from the increase in online shopping overall during the quarantine period, and I was grateful that I have strategically chosen to focus on the direct-to-consumer channel, which really paid off. Families were also experiencing more dry skin from extra time at home and increased hand-washing, so our products are perfectly positioned as a solution for this. My only regret is not having enough inventory to meet the demand last year. I expect both of these trends to continue and am hoping that I am positioned to capitalize on them, even more, this Winter.
How did you find your way to the right people to manufacture your product?
I actually have a background in beauty – I spent almost a decade at large brands like Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works developing and marketing body care products. This experience gave me a network of manufacturers to use as a starting point and a strong understanding of the supply chain and development process. However, none of the large-scale manufacturers that worked with those brands were interested in working with a startup! However, I took any introductions I could get and over the course of 3-4 months of talking to many vendors, I finally identified the right team to produce my product.
As a product that one needs to experience to love (rather than just *see*), how do you go about sharing with consumers why it's worth touching and using and experiencing the product?
This is definitely a unique challenge of being focused on the DTC channel. One of our biggest tactics is using testimonials as a key marketing tool. I know our products are highly effective, but I don’t expect customers to take my word for it. I rely heavily on quotes & content from our customers themselves. Our products do particularly well for kids that have specific skin concerns – sensitive skin, eczema, cradle cap, etc. – so I actively seek out testimonials and images from those customers and then reshare them as part of our marketing. My team is also trying to utilize video content more often to show the product’s many benefits. Finally, we have a generous satisfaction guarantee where I offer a “no questions asked” refund (or replacement) if a customer isn’t 100% satisfied. Those are just some of the ways that we’re trying to reduce the barriers to trialing our product.
Where do you think the CPG industry is on the journey to non-toxic products for kids? Have you seen the landscape change in your tenure running Bubbsi?
In the past few years since I’ve started Bubbsi, I’ve seen an influx of new non-toxic baby brands enter the market. Our generation of parents is highly health-conscious, especially when it comes to their kids, and I think the market is reflecting that. However, I still see the majority of these brands positioned to appeal primarily to the parents, rather than the children. We’ve designed Bubbsi in a way that appeals to both parents and little ones, with the hopes of engaging children in their skincare rituals from an early age and developing loyalty with them as well as the parents. We are also unique in that we launched with an eco-friendly packaging model (starter bottles + refill sizes) on top of being a clean brand, and I’m now seeing that echoed in the market. I believe clean formulations are becoming a baseline necessity for new brands, but eco-responsibility is increasingly important to our target audience, so I expect that to be a bigger trend going forward.
Do your kids love the products as much as you do? What are their favorite products?
Absolutely! My kids are my #1 product testers and my quality control team. All our formulas have been tested and iterated with them over a long time, and I make sure they love them before I launch something. Their favorite product is our Whipped Coconut Oil Body Cream (also our bestseller!) because I give them moisture massages with it several times a week. In fact, my daughter Juhi has now started trying to give me massages with it!
Who has been most influential in your professional journey as a Founder?
My husband has been a critical part of both my personal and professional journey as a Founder. On the personal front, he’s been my #1 supporter from the beginning. Having a source of emotional support is critical as both a solo- and mom-founder, since both journeys are daily rollercoasters! But from a professional perspective, we make a great team because he is a talented & experienced investor who looks at companies everyday from a very high level, and he pushes me to think much more strategically and long-term about my business. He brings a complementary point of view that has allowed me to be a more balanced Founder. Another important influence are the many other Founder friends that also provide support on an ongoing basis. As Bubbsi’s only full-time employee, it can be incredibly lonely to be the only person thinking about your business at ALL hours. It’s critical to have other founder friends who deal with similar issues and pressures to bounce ideas off of and to lean on for support.
How do you think about kids when you consider who your consumer is? Do you think kids develop any product loyalty?
I absolutely consider kids as 50% of my customer equation, just as much as parents. I designed Bubbsi to be the first natural skincare brand to appeal to children as well as adults. I often hear from parents that their child wouldn’t come near lotion until they got Bubbsi, and now they are asking for it! I definitely see kids as young as age 2 developing loyalty to our product, PLUS we’re making the daily chore of skincare much easier for parents, so mission accomplished!
As a third-time mom, what are you going to do differently now that you know the ropes as well as you do?
Such a good question! I’m hoping that now that I’ve been through this twice already (and this is the last time!), that I will be able to slow down a bit and enjoy the journey more. I remember being so stressed during the few years after my kids were born, and now it feels like they’ve grown up so fast. I now realize that everything is a phase, even though it doesn’t feel like it in the moment. Armed with that perspective, I hope I can stay calm and savor the ups and downs with a bit more patience and understanding for all 3 kids.
What are your hopes for your business in the next year?
Since Bubbsi launched in early 2019, we’ve established a loyal customer base and we’ve also worked really hard to make some critical improvements to our product based on their ongoing feedback. I believe the next year is all about growing brand awareness in a big way. I hope to explore new marketing channels digitally to spread our message, strengthen our customer loyalty and referral programs, and potentially think about new distribution channels. We’re also working on developing new products that our customers want to see from Bubbsi - I’m hoping that we’re able to launch the Bubble Bath that all our customers are asking for, as well as travel sizes. We have a few other new ideas for product innovation in the mix as well!
Shop Sweta's Look: Strappy Tiered Dress in Water Lily. Also available in Black & White Floral.
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