Be­ing too niche spe­cific can slow a startup’s growth

Mov­ing away from her own name was part of Lisa Heeny’s re­brand and re­fo­cus as Aroma Bump

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS INNOVATION - New In­no­va­tor OLIVE KEOGH

Nat­u­ral skin­care en­tre­pre­neur Lisa Heeney fea­tured in the New In­no­va­tors col­umn in De­cem­ber 2016 when she launched her range of aro­mather­apy-based prod­ucts for preg­nancy.

Al­most two years later her busi­ness has changed sig­nif­i­cantly. She has re­branded, drop­ping her own name as the com­pany’s sig­na­ture, and has thrown her en­ergy into broad­en­ing her com­pany’s mar­ket ap­peal with the launch of two ad­di­tional skin­care ranges (one for men one for women) un­der the all-new Aroma Buff brand.

“Hav­ing the prod­ucts branded with my own name was a stum­bling block for a long time and I was get­ting con­flict­ing ad­vice about keep­ing it or chang­ing it to some­thing more self-ex­plana­tory,” she says. “

Peo­ple also tended to con­nect me only with preg­nancy and one of the main rea­sons for mak­ing the changes was hear­ing com­ments like, ‘oh, they sound, smell and feel re­ally nice, but I’m not preg­nant, can I still use them?’ Hav­ing just one range (Aroma Bump) was be­com­ing too lim­it­ing and I was jug­gling the mer­its of stay­ing su­per niche or ex­pand­ing my ap­peal to a larger au­di­ence. At the same time I re­alised men’s groom­ing prod­ucts were grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity, espe­cially for beard care, and I wanted to be able to cater for that au­di­ence as well.”

The Aroma Buff women’s range in­cludes a lip balm and a body but­ter while the launch prod­ucts in the men’s’ range in­clude beard oil and tat­too balm.

“Aroma I chose for ob­vi­ous rea­sons and buff, well, it has a num­ber of con­no­ta­tions – naked, stripped bare, pol­ished, well-built physique – all of which I loved and felt res­onated with what I wanted the brand to rep­re­sent,” Heeney says.

Threat of ex­tinc­tion

She is a pas­sion­ate en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist and sus­tain­abil­ity is vi­tally im­por­tant to her. “The jar lids are made from beech, the jars are glass and re­cy­clable, the lip balm tubes are made from bam­boo, and the beard comb is made from sus­tain­able pear wood as op­posed to san­dal­wood which is un­der threat of ex­tinc­tion in cer­tain ar­eas of the world,” she says.

Heeney says one of the keys to the suc­cess­ful re­brand­ing and launch of her new prod­ucts was a meet­ing of minds with her graphic de­signer, Brid­get Ker­ri­gan. “It took a lot of back and forth and re­ally play­ing stuff out in my head but Brid­get ‘got’ me even bet­ter than I got my­self and was able to turn that into great look­ing de­sign,” she says.

Es­sen­tial oils are cen­tral to Heeney’s preg­nancy prod­ucts and are also at the heart of her new ranges. An­other driv­ing force is so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity. “I want Aroma Buff to grow and be suc­cess­ful be­cause I want to be able to do pos­i­tive things with the money,” she says.

“For ex­am­ple I have made a com­mit­ment to the Leonardo di Caprio Foun­da­tion (which is ded­i­cated to pro­tect­ing vul­ner­a­ble wildlife and restor­ing bal­ance to threat­ened ecosys­tems and com­mu­ni­ties) to make a do­na­tion for ev­ery prod­uct sold.”

Heeney has self-funded her busi­ness to date and had to take a fi­nan­cial hit when she stopped sell­ing to fa­cil­i­tate the re­brand­ing. She es­ti­mates the re­brand­ing and new launch costs at around €15,000.

Known to be­ing un­known

“I think the hard­est part was the fact that you go­ing from be­ing known to be­ing un­known. It’s like start­ing all over again. I thought peo­ple would re­mem­ber but they don’t so it’s back to square one on brand­ing,” she says.

“My pri­mary out­let is still on­line sales, but I am look­ing at bring­ing some re­tail out­lets on board and at the pos­si­bil­ity of sell­ing on Ama­zon. This has been a big change for my busi­ness, but I don’t think you get any­where if you stay in your com­fort zone. One thing I have learned look­ing back, how­ever, is that things move a lot quicker if you con­sult a pro­fes­sional.I have prob­a­bly spent more money and time in the long run by choos­ing to do ev­ery­thing my­self.”

It’s like start­ing all over again. I thought peo­ple would re­mem­ber but they don’t so it’s back to square one on brand­ing

■ Lisa Heeney has self-funded her busi­ness to date and had to take a fi­nan­cial hit when she stopped sell­ing to fa­cil­i­tate the re­brand­ing to Aroma Bump.

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