You’re Cheap, And You’re Not Pretty Enough

Sounds hurtful, doesn’t it?

If someone said this to you, it would probably make you angry.  You might think about slapping that person in the face.  I found these words hurtful and confusing.  Though they weren’t said about me personally.  They were said about my brand.

Sometimes I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle.  Since I started this company 23 years ago, it has always been my mission to create products that would help people.  My products also had to incorporate wholesome ingredients, and they needed to be affordable.  The very first product I ever created, our Herbal Aftershave, was designed to ease the irritation and discomfort associated with shaving.  From there I went on to make a 100% natural deodorant made from only four ingredients and a highly moisturizing lip balm.  These very first products are still made the same way today.

I’ll never forget many years ago when I was still making products in my kitchen and selling them out of my house, an old farmer came to buy some of our Hard Working Hands.  It was a moisturizing balm that was good for very dry skin.  He was a soft-spoken gentleman, wearing overalls and a well-worn flannel shirt.  As he pulled the crumpled five dollar bill from his pocket to pay me, he explained that he had been to the doctor for his condition, and nothing he had been prescribed seemed to help his cracked skin and dry hands.  But my balm worked.  It healed his skin and took away the discomfort, and it didn’t cost him a fortune.  He smiled and thanked me.  My heart melted.  I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life.

A few years later when we introduced our very first color cosmetic product – our lipstick – I met with a group of buyers at a well-known natural grocery chain to introduce them to Honeybee.  There must have been 20 people in that room as I nervously explained all the healthy ingredients in the product, and how we created colors so that there’s something for every age group and ethnicity.  I passed around samples, watching their reactions as they swatched the different colors and applied the product.  They loved it!  I felt euphoric!  Amongst all the excitement, someone shouted out, “how much does it sell for?”  Feeling my price was a bit too high, but knowing it had to be there because of all the advertising I was expected to do along with the store free fills, I sheepishly replied, “It’s $7.99.”  The fervor quickly died down, and the mood of the room changed.  “$7.99?  That will never work.”  Ugh, I was devastated.  I thought my price was too high.  But then I heard, “It’s too cheap.  No one will buy it.  You need to charge more.”  Charge more?  Huh?  “Yeah, you should be charging at least ten bucks for this stuff,” another buyer chimed in.  “People will see it’s only $7.99 and think it’s junk.”  “But look at the ingredients!” I defended.  “You can see my ingredients are better than the competition.”  “Doesn’t matter,” said the first buyer.  “People expect to see a certain price point in our store.  If you’re below that, the perception is your stuff isn’t as good.”

Several years have passed since that learning experience, yet I still face the same challenges today.  I hear that our products are TOO affordable.  Or that our packaging needs to look like it costs more; maybe add a nice box with some foil embossing.  Imagine being turned down because of these reasons.  Not because the products don’t work, not because they’re not healthy formulas, but because they don’t fit in with other similar brands who charge more for their products and package them differently.

I’ve been doing this long enough that I know ingredients, and I know how much they cost.  A friend recently purchased a natural product, and paid $36 for the tiny 0.2 oz jar.  The ingredients were coconut oil, castor oil, beeswax and jojoba.  I can tell you the contents of this jar literally cost pennies.  BUT the jar itself was a lovely frosted thick glass jar.   And it came in a box.  My guess is that the company had about a dollar in packaging.  So why charge $36 for this item?  I can’t answer that.  Maybe they were told that they needed to charge more to be taken seriously, and they listened.

The company who chose not to work with us because we are too affordable, carries this $36 item, along with about ten other brands just like it.  It’s what they’re known for – selling only high-end beauty products.  Of course, that’s not what they tell you in their store and on their web site.  No, they say they sell healthy, clean beauty products.  Only natural products that pass their tough definition of clean.  They mention nothing about price and affordability.  Though I have yet to see anything they carry that sells for less than $20.00.

I’m not crying sour grapes here.  Really.  I just wonder what the motivation is.  Is it money?  Is it bragging rights?  I see it on Instagram.  These people who post about having spent $150 on a particular face serum or $80 on a popular eye shadow palette.  It’s like they’re saying, “look at me, I could afford to spend the money for this item”.  But then they say nothing about the efficacy of the product.  Sure, you bought the item but does it really perform any better than something that costs less?  Maybe it makes them feel special.  And who am I to judge that?  To me, it just doesn’t make sense.

So here I am, left somewhere in the middle.  Our products are not cheap, mass-produced items spat out by a mega-corporation, nor are we the she-she froo-froo luxury products that will give you bragging rights.  We are in this no man’s land of products with really good ingredients and formulas that really work, that look pretty and are also affordable.  Maybe this will be a niche someday.  I certainly hope so.  For now, I guess I’ll just enjoy the solitude.

Facebook Has Changed Our Lives, For Better or Worse

I wanted to write a blog post this week, but a sprained wrist is making it difficult to type.  So I’m reposting an article from CNN about Facebook which turns 10 this week.

CNN, January 30, 2014 –

Ten years and 1.2 billion users into its existence, there’s no question that Facebook has changed our lives.

Whether it was an inspired vision, deft execution, a bit of dumb luck or a combination of all three, Mark Zuckerberg’s social juggernaut has ingrained itself into the daily lives of digital-age users in a way that forebears like MySpace and contemporaries like Twitter could only imagine.
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Lemon Water Really is THAT Good

I know I talked about this last year, but I’ve been doing the lemon water thing for several months now and I can honestly say I see benefits. I find that it aids in digestion, wakes me up in the morning and somehow encourages me to make healthier choices throughout my day. The proven health benefits are numerous. This is an article by Jim Dillan for Healthy Ambition which spells it all out.

The Many Health Benefits of Lemon Water 11/13/2013

Lemon water is a simple and surprisingly healthy internal cleanser to start your day with. I certainly noticed a difference myself when I first started having the juice of a whole lemon in water first thing in the morning. I really like the way the sharp taste wakes you up and gets you going.

Some resources say that it’s good to have it in warm or even hot water. I suppose in this way you could use it as a healthier replacement for your morning coffee, but I personally prefer it in room temperature filtered water.
Continue reading “Lemon Water Really is THAT Good”

My Take on New Year’s Resolutions

You’re going about it all wrong.

First, I’m not big on the idea of waiting until January 1 to start anything.  You have to be mentally prepared to make changes, and the calendar should not be dictating that.  BUT if you are truly ready and you need a convenient start date, then go for it.

Continue reading “My Take on New Year’s Resolutions”

You Got The Number 7

I’d love to meet the person who comes up with some of these “Facebook Oddities”.  Like Throwback Thursday.  Or “Make your status post the color of your bra”.  The latest seems to be “I’ll send you a number, and you have to list that many things about yourself that other people wouldn’t know about you”. 

I never given into these gimmicks, but I’ve been drawing a blank lately when it comes to blog topics.  And all the marketing websites tell you to write what you’re passionate about.  So I decided to combine the two ideas and see what happens.  What could go wrong? (*cough*)

1. I’ve never seen a Hobbit or Lord of the Rings movie.  Ever.  Couldn’t even tell you what they’re about. 

2.  I like cats more than people.  Not to say I don’t like people.  I do.  Most people.  But cats don’t talk behind your back.  Cats don’t get jealous.  You don’t have to try to “read” a cat; if it’s happy you’ll know it and if it’s unhappy you’ll know that too.  No guess work involved.  Cats don’t have ulterior motives.  Cats either want your attention – all of it – or they want to be left alone.  Cats love you no matter how much you weigh, if you smell bad, if you made a mistake, and they even love you when it seems like no one else in the world does.  Top THAT humans!

3.  It annoys me to no end when I walk into a department store and see a brand of cosmetics on the shelf marketing itself as ‘green’ and ‘natural’ when it’s anything but.  Leaf shaped mascara containers, green packaging, buzz words on labels, but then you read the ingredients and need a degree in biochemistry just to get through it.  I get angry at the deception.  People who don’t know any better may actually believe this stuff is better for them.  How unfair!  But these guys have more money than I’ll ever dream of seeing, so they get the shelf space.  And all I can do is keep fighting.

4.  I’m girlie and I’m not.  I love to try on gorgeous evening gowns, but then I’ll go outside later with my chainsaw and clear the woods of dead trees.  I LOVE makeup but on a summer weekend you’ll find me sweating in my garden with dirt under my nails and looking like something that had been raised in the wild by wolves.  I can’t bear to watch gory or sad things on TV, but I have a license to carry and am a pretty good shot with a 9 mm.  I’ll hang drywall, lay hardwood flooring, repair a toilet and then go get my nails done.  I will not be defined.

5.  I’m not fond of the holidays.  Only because I’m tired of the world telling me what my life should be like that time of year.  I should be wearing an apron and pulling a turkey the size of Kansas out of my oven feeding a perfect loving family of 16.  My house should be spotless and brimming with holiday décor.  There should be a mommy and a daddy and 2.5 children and grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles and cousins and babies.  And everyone should be happy.  Well guess what main stream media, most of the world isn’t like that!  And the more you try to cram it down my throat, the more I will rebel against it.  It makes me want to live on an island somewhere in the tropics for the months of November and December. 

6.  I believe it is each person’s mission to somehow leave this world a better place.  Whether you’re Einstein and come up with that whole theory of relativity thing, or you’re Mrs. Jones down the street who created a neighborhood garden to help feed her community.  We’ve been given the gift of life.  And I think we owe it to the world to somehow leave it a little bit better because we were here. 

7. I’m a control freak.  I’m a clean freak.  I’ll cry over a cartoon if it’s sad, but I’ll never cry in front of anyone.  I like tomatoes but only if they’re hot (sauce, soup, bruschetta); raw cold tomatoes make me gag.  I’ve never been happy with my body weight, ever.  I would do anything to save or protect an animal.  I don’t kill spiders.  I catch them and release them outside because I think it’s wrong to kill them just because they look kinda creepy.  I’ve never eaten Brussels sprouts.  I am fiercely independent.  I am honest to a fault.  I hate seafood.  My favorite holidays are Valentine’s Day and Halloween.  I believe that everyone is responsible for their own actions, and our lives are the results of the choices we make.  I believe you can have anything you want if you want it badly enough.  I believe everyone has a purpose.  And I don’t think I’ve figured mine out yet.