How This Single-Product Startup is Making a Splash (and How You Can Too)

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This body balm's headed for cult status.

Following the far-stretching success of Spanx and (somewhat confounding) rise of a rubber clog called Crocs, Ellen and Luke Newman are hoping their pocket-sized solo product will reach iconic status. Earlier this year, after selling their men’s grooming business, Uppercut Deluxe, the husband-wife duo from Queensland beach town Noosa launched The Great State with a lone, all-natural body balm at its fore.

“We are unashamedly a single-product company; we do one thing really well,” says Ellen. “Convincing store owners that they don’t need a range in order for the product to have a strong presence in their stores can be a tough sell, [but] we get around this by reminding people of other single product companies that are now cult items, offering point of sale suggestions and pitching it as a perfect counter product that is great for add-on sales.”

Want to step out and stand strong with a single product? Here are five lessons we learned from this gutsy tin of goodness.

1. Make it right

During the development process, Ellen discovered that an initial sample used castor oil as a basis. “My research found that during the harvesting process workers are exposed to an extremely toxic compound called ricin. That didn’t sit well with us, so we went with grapeseed oil instead – a by-product of the juice and wine industry. As my mum always said: ‘Waste not, want not’!” Going all-natural is “definitely not” cheap, but quality is more valuable to this brand than massive profits. “Our revenue will increase as our production volume increases. For now, it’s a sacrifice we are willing to make.”

2. Packaging, packaging, packaging

If a product is going to market stag, it needs a killer outfit. “Our vision is that The Great State will become a household product, so we looked at other iconic brands for inspiration: the Red Heads matches’ lady, Fred Perry’s laurel wreath, the Swiss Army Knife cross… I loved the idea of the brand having a little logo that wasn’t primarily font based.” A lengthy branding process saw the pair settling on a simple, striking design. “The Great State umbrella is a nod to our local beaches, and to the protective nature of our balm.”

3. Grow a loyal following

“We have built our Instagram following slowly, but with lots of genuine and engaged followers,” says Ellen, who stresses the importance of creating original, inspiring and engaging content. They’ve also done some (considered) influencer gifting. “We were really selective about who we sent our product to. Even if we never heard or saw any reaction from the receiver, we trust that our product is useful enough that it will be getting used by lots of influential people whose friends may see it in their bathroom or handbag.”

4. Seduce store owners

When it came to sourcing stockists, Ellen and Luke tried a couple of approaches. “Our first point of contact was a branded postcard mailout. This was pretty ineffective, although we secured our first interstate stockist through this avenue and she is wonderful!” The pair also contacted potential stockists via email with their brand document and key information, and have found that the most successful stockists “have someone at the helm who has used the product and believes in it; this passion trickles down to the store staff and the turnover of product is amazing!”

5. Go for mass appeal

The Great State went in with a big, bold promise to be “for every body” by easing all manner of common skin complaints. “We sourced our ingredients with the brand promise in mind, too. For example, our coconut oil comes from a social enterprise helping South Pacific Islander families and we were conscious of considering the wellbeing of the farmers and workers who grow and harvest our ingredients.” The duo also donates 10 per cent of profits to the Love Mercy Foundation’s Cents for Seeds program, empowering women across the globe – and making the purchase of this little blue balm all the more appealing.

Visit thegreatstate.com.au

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