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.

13 thoughts on “You’re Cheap, And You’re Not Pretty Enough”

  1. You products are amazing, and you have a loyal customer for life. I appreciate the quality AND affordability, and my daughter’s are going to be customers too. Thank you for putting quality and customers first.

  2. When I made the decision to eliminate all mass market cosmetics in my case in favor of truly natural products I resigned myself to the cost and figured I’d just have to build my new collection slowly. Brands with “Beverly Hills and Paris” on the label charged accordingly. When I found your company I was all in and I tell everyone I know that they can support a local company, get high quality products, and not spend a fortune. Organic shouldn’t be an elitist luxury, and you are helping see that it isn’t.

  3. From the bottom of my heart I want to tell you how much your products and brand matter to me. I ventured into natural make-up and skin care several years ago. I always had a hard time and strayed away from it when I got sticker shocked by wanna-be natural high end beauty brands or when products didn’t perform well. Your company has amazing values which I support whole heartedly ! Since I found HBG I don’t use anything else. I love your pressed foundation and wear it daily. Works better than Bare Minerals or Jane Iredale for me since it has no Talc or Bismuth and doesn’t break me out. I can reapply during the day without caking and also use it as a concealer with a different brush. So practical to take along with your beautiful compact. I think your products look pretty and work well! Plus they don’t break the bank and make you feel good while using them. I couldn’t get myself to pay $30 or more for a foundation. It makes me mad that so many companies are now trying to go green by slapping a label on which says “natural” on the box and then charge way more for it. Their reasoning is that natural ingredients cost more. That isn’t always true and they only cost more to a certain extent. It’s not like that they use all certified organic ingredients. I try to only buy products from brands which have the USDA organic certification or something equivalent or if I know that they use natural quality ingredients.
    Those other big name companies are most of the time just after the money and they couldn’t care less about the wellbeing of their customers.
    Thanks for being different and trying to make a difference. People will hopefully catch on to what’s going on in the natural skin care/cosmetic world and support companies which deserve their attention like HBG.
    There will always be those people who need to have a certain label in their make-up bag to feel special.
    Actually I enjoy having mainly HBG in my cosmetic bag-I use your pressed eyeshadows, Mascara, Pressed Powder, Blush, Eyeliners, Lipstick, Nail Enamel, Lipgloss etc. and love to recommend your products to others.
    Don’t give up and hang in there. Stay as you are and thanks for being awesome! 💕🌻🌹🐝

  4. I don’t think your products are too cheap at all 😉 In fact, I would feel guilty paying this much for a brand that wasn’t so healthy. But I believe HBG products are worth it. Your packaging is just perfect, too. You beat out another “healthy” brand in my eyes because of your hygiene policies, specifically shrink-wrapping certain products and stating on your web site that you will not resell returned items. I also appreciate how great you are with answering questions and providing useful information on your web site. You’ve won a loyal customer. Feel free to vent, but this post scared me a little: I don’t want to think that you’d get discouraged and close up shop or sell out, because you’re one of a kind. Thank you.

  5. I love this so much. I am amazed that you can sell your wonderful products for the price you do, and that you have remained committed to keeping them affordable. I’ll tell you honestly that the reason I initially tried your company was because of a recommendation of your nail polish. Once I visited your site–which is very well done–I was excited to try other products because they were affordable and you offered samples. Since that first purchase, I have recommended Honey Bee Gardens to many of my friends and family members and will continue to do so. If your site was not so well done, I may not have trusted that your products were quality. You have invested wisely in that in my opinion. And I LOVE your packaging and the fact that your containers are refillable. My daughter and I get so excited when our boxes arrive. If people give you a try, they will be hooked, so word of mouth is still the best sales tool! Thanks so much for providing the best quality at the best price. <3

  6. I just want you to know I am so thankful for your affordability. I am the one who scours the ingredient list of everything I look at, and that is what matters first, and then how affordable is it is second because we live on one income and have so many other things going on with our finances that are more important than buying things that aren’t necessary purchases. To have the courage to continue doing you, just a big thank you!

    P.S. could you make a foundation stick? Just pop it open, rub it on my face, and blend with a brush. It would be magical!

  7. I am guilty of thinking if it isn’t expensive or pricey, it isn’t good. Only recently have I discovered I am guilty of such thinking. The scariest thing is that I know I have been conditioned to think this sort of way, which is even scarier.

    The product to which you refer in your article is a product I have in my bathroom right now. Do I enjoy the product? Yes. Is it worth that kind of money? No. Am I ashamed that I have been reticent to order from HBG because I thought there was no possible way the products could be good at the price point offered? Absolutely, resoundingly YES!

    Thank you for holding to your values for in actuality they reflect my own as well as many people. In fact I believe most everyone feels the same; however, we live in a consumer focused culture and we are in a sense all victims of that. I keep wondering how long our rampant consumerism can sustain itself.

    I will get off my soapbox now, I simply felt compelled to post my thoughts. My best wishes are with you.

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