With the reality of self-isolation setting in, female-founded businesses like Bala Bangles, with … [+]
Bala Bangles/Timony Siobhan
Americans have radically shifted their shopping behaviors in the midst of the new normal as COVID-19 “has dramatically changed the way people around the U.S. now live their day-to-day lives.” There is a silver lining for many online businesses with specific product categories suddenly seeing “significant interaction increases in the wake of wide-spread social distancing.”
According to Inmar Intelligence, shoppers are looking for online resources and items to “keep themselves happy, productive, healthy, and stocked-up as they spend more time at home to retain a sense of “normalcy” in their lives.
As we adjust to this new reality, this has proven to be a boon for an enterprising group of female founders who are experiencing surges in their online businesses. What each brand has in common is their ability to cater to dynamic female market segments with engaging content, find innovative ways to be of service in a time of need and to give back in a meaningful way.
To help with the severity and sense of isolation many women are feeling while sheltering-in-place, … [+]
Tone It Up
Tone It Up. Successful entrepreneur Katrina Scott, the co-founder of Tone It Up along with Karena Dawn, is an expert on fitness, a passionate brand-building expert, and a new mom that advocates for body kindness and self-love. Founded in 2009, today Tone It Up is a fitness lifestyle brand with “an expansive community” that reaches millions of women across their social media channels.
Scott recently reflected that, “Sadly, conronavirus caused nearly all gyms and fitness studios to close their doors overnight. We could never have predicted that at-home fitness would become what the entire world needed during a global pandemic, but we are here and doing everything we can to help.”
As consumers everywhere have started seeking to remain healthy while sheltering-in-place, two weeks ago Tone It Up decided to respond. The first step was removing their paywall and offering their TIU App free to everyone for 30 days so their community and their families could workout and stay healthy at home. Since then, app downloads have increased by 950% and online store traffic has doubled with women stocking their shelves with protein and at-home fitness equipment.
Additionally, as an important outreach which brands everywhere are beginning to embrace, Scott “soon realized the severity and sense of isolation many women in our community were feeling.”
The result was Scott “also started filming Instagram live workouts (in collaboration with APL and REVOLVE), which have already reached over 8 million people around the world.” The live element and connectivity of these workouts has increased the greater sense of community by bringing everyone together. Women can workout with Scott, meditate with Karena, or choose a workout from the app. The bottom line is Scott and her team are “grateful to be in a position where we can help, while there are so many helpers and men and women on the front-lines.”
Olive & June Founder, Sarah Gibson Tuttle, is tapping into the in-demand self-care segment by … [+]
Olive & June
Olive & June. Tapping into the self-care segment, Sarah Gibson Tuttle, Founder & CEO of Olive & June shared that obviously, people “are certainly spending most of their time at-home and they’re looking for fun ways to occupy that time, ways to relieve stress and to find at-home solutions for things they previously went to professionals for – like manicures. We’re fortunate in that our product business has always been about creating salon-quality manicures at-home and we’re so incredibly grateful that people have embraced and supported the brand during this time.”
Again, engagement seems to be a critical component of why certain brands are seeing growth. Tuttle has “seen so many people proudly posting their at-home manicure content saying how they’re finally learning to do their own nails, asking for DIY mani tips and tricks, and people who have never before opted for an at-home solution finally taking out their kits or purchasing for the first time.”
This also aligns with what Olive & June is seeing from a sales perspective. Over the past week the brand has seen a significant spike in sales. Purchases of their at-home manicure kits are up over 8 times versus an average week and they’re seeing three times the volume in DMs on social. As a result, Tuttle and her team “are working around the clock to be there for their community, respond to every inquiry and to just simply connect” and help however they can.
Real. While more established brands are pivoting, first-time entrepreneurs are also delivering much needed services to the market at a critical time. Ariela Safira, founder of Real a new mental health company, shifted gears from her original launch plans of a studio opening this spring.
After quickly realizing “mental health is a priority right now,” Real fast-forwarded their launch to offer a selection of free digital therapy services to provide support for people struggling through this epidemic. On the day of launch, the first virtual salon reached sign-up capacity within 2 hours, and all salons were completely full within 2 days. Since the company’s launch of virtual services, their wait list has grown by 36% in less than a week.
Real is also rolling out a free month-long mental healthcare platform, as part of their giving back effort, called Real to the People that will host virtual Group Salons, therapist-run digital events and 1:1 sessions to help us feel that we are not alone and to support well-being during this global health crisis.
After gaining notoriety on Shark Tank, Bala Bangles is experiencing major online sales traction in … [+]
Bala Bangles / Jason Renaud
Bala Bangles. Founded by husband and wife team Natalie Holloway and Maximilian Kislevitz, Bala Bangles was conceived after an epiphany while the duo, who had spent the majority of their careers at large advertising agencies working on major brands, was on sabbatical in Southeast Asia.
The idea for ‘Bala’, which means ‘strength’ in Sanskrit, emerged from a yoga class meant to burn off “steam”. After an hour of light stretching, the couple felt unsatisfied and began sketching out designs for a more fashionable, more functional wrist and ankle weight.
To fund the first production run, they launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising $50,448. They went on to do $2.1M+ in their first calendar year. Their pivotal moment occurred in February 2020 when they appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank and received a $900K investment from Mark Cuban and tennis legend Maria Sharapova. It changed everything along with the emergence of Covad-19.
As Holloway detailed, “We aired on Shark Tank on 2/28, just weeks before the gravity of the situation set in and people began self-isolating. Put differently, the Shark Tank airing gave us huge exposure at a time when people are trying to stay fit while staying home. Since gyms and studios have closed, we have become an essential part of people’s at home workouts.”
As part of the in-demand “healthy” segment that is rapidly growing, The Shark Tank airing resulted in a large uptick of 466% in sales relative to this time last year. Holloway shared, “But with shelter in place mandates and the uncertainty of just how long this will last, demand has yet to slow down and we have completely sold out on our website and also at all 500+ retailers that carry us.”
The brand is also moving as quickly as possible to keep up and add value to their home-bound customers, commissioning instructors to develop free Bala-fueled workouts. Similarly, in partnership with brands like Year of Ours and APL, Bala is hosting bi-weekly Instagram Live workouts to foster a sense of community and keep people moving. The strategy is working with every pair every single set of Bala Bangles sold-out and the site accepting pre-orders which are on their way.
Branch Basics. With consumers focused on stocking up and staying healthy, the combination of the right product paired with the right information is a dynamic growth category. As cleaning and personal hygiene have taken center stage as part of a new cultural conversation, Branch Basics, with their natural, non-toxic, multi-purpose cleaning products, has seen an increase in sales and interest in its educational content.
According to Founders Marilee Nelson, Allison Evans and Kelly Love consumers are seeking ,“increased guidance in uncertain times to reduce their risk of infection and protect their families.” The brand’s Starter Kit has been in such high demand that it sold out on March 13th and since then, they have built a wait list of 4,400 along with a website conversion rate increase up to 50% for their full product range. Much of this could lead to a long-term change in consumer purchasing habits for basic household goods. It will be interesting to observe in the coming months.
Minibar Delivery. Since COVID-19 became prevalent in the U.S., Minibar Delivery, which offers on-demand delivery in over 50 American cities and ships to 40 states, has seen a significant surge in business, with Inmar Intelligence reporting a 47% increase in demand for home delivery options.
Falling squarely in the “be happy” category, Founders, Lara Crystal and Lindsey Andrews, explained “since liquor stores have been deemed an essential service, the rate of purchase via alcohol delivery service has dramatically increased nationwide. Minibar Delivery, specifically, has seen a 75% increase in orders and a 373% increase in new buyers.” As a result, the duo are adding new liquor stores to their platform daily in order to help them keep up with demand and stay running during this unprecedented time.
Finally, while most businesses are trying to restructure and get creative in an effort to stay afloat during this crazy time, social distancing and shelter-in-place has a whole new meaning with Honey Bridette. Female Founder, Eloise Monaghan of the luxury lingerie brand for women, shared that their sex toy sales were up by almost 235% last week and bondage inspired lingerie was up by 90% over the previous week.
Apparently, since everyone has been self-quarantining, overall sales have increased by 30% over last year, as many couples are looking to keep themselves sexually satisfied in these uncertain times. Overall, it looks like we can possibly even expect a surge of corona babies nine months from now.
Disclosure: In my current role at APL, I have worked on joint promotions with both Tone It Up and Bala Bangles.