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Where Is She Now? Catching Up with Fearless Frizz Fighter Celeste Ruberti - Part Three!

Level 5
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Name: Celeste Ruberti

Business: Mane Island Truth Serum To be revealed …

Founded: Ongoing since August 2015

The last time we heard from Celeste Ruberti, our frizz-fighting entrepreneur was up to her elbows in natural ingredients. What was Celeste cooking up? A proprietary formula for all those gals (and guys!) who like their curls and waves air-dried, not blow-dried. When we left off, Celeste was feeling rejuvenated after taking a much-needed break from creating a new hair-care product (don’t forget, she’s a full-time hair stylist, too). She was refreshed, organized and ready to tackle logo design, branding, a new website and marketing – all while refining her secret recipe. So where is Celeste today? Let’s find out!

Celeste, since we last spoke in June, you’ve probably spent a lot of time just sitting around and eating bonbons. True?

Well … I did just take a day off from the salon to catch up on some product-related business. I’ve been creating a huge new blog post: the definitive guide to air-drying your hair! I’ve also been analyzing the feedback from a 50-person survey about the latest version of my product. Oh, and I’ve been interviewing chemists to decide who will make the final formula, too.

That’s not exactly chilling. Tell us more about what you’ve been doing the past four months!

I’ll start with the product. The testing process has been very time-consuming, and I’m the guinea pig for every product. I’ve made formulations that are too runny, too sticky or that separate over time. Last winter, I thought I’d found the perfect recipe. But after a long rainy season in California, we suddenly had an 80-degree day. I put the product in my hair as usual. As I drove to work, my hair dried and completely frizzed. It took me two months to figure out the problem was caused by glycerin. It’s a humectant that sucked all the moisture out of my hair!

I’ve now tested about 60 iterations of a leave-in conditioner that’s really close to what I’m looking for. That’s the sample I sent out for feedback, which I’m currently reviewing. As planned, I’m using all plant-based materials, which has the added bonus of being unlikely to blow up my house if I mix something wrong! My formula has nine or ten ingredients, which is a lot less than most hair-care products. I’ve realized you really don’t need all that stuff to make a great product.

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This is exciting! Are you ready to start the manufacturing process?

Once I decide which chemist to hire to make the formula, I’ll focus on manufacturing. It’s stressful – no one will give you an estimate until you pay a fee for research and development (R&D) first. You don’t get the money back. At this point, I have no idea what my margins or my cost per unit will be, and I don’t know how much product to buy. The smaller the volume, the more it costs. Plenty of people have done this before me and they’ve been fine, so I’m getting ready to leap first and figure it out later.

Fortunately, I like the process of being uncomfortable, of learning as I go. Every step in this process is new, but I like it!

It can be lonely figuring things out on your own. Where do you turn for support?

I’ve joined a couple of online groups, including the QuickBooks Community. This site is helpful because everyone here has similar experiences to share about building a business.

I also post regularly to an online cosmetics business group. A branding expert in the community has offered to help me pro bono. She’s already given me some great advice. She told me about Sephora’s one-week Accelerate program that includes presenting a product to industry executives, hearing their feedback and participating in a demo day in front of potential investors. Participants get $5000, too. I’m applying for the program this week.

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We’ll be rooting for you! Celeste, what’s been particularly challenging as you get closer to bringing your product to market?

I’ve been trying to build my social media presence without killing myself! I had lofty goals for posting every day on Instagram and Facebook but quickly realized I was sharing content just to get something up. I got really stressed out. My social media channels felt like two children I had to feed and take care of all the time.

I want my posts to be professional, but they also need to authentically reflect my business. It’s just me, and I’m messy and imperfect – just like air-dried hair!

Another challenge: I’ve had to change the name of my product. I found out a while ago that Truth Serum had already been trademarked by someone else in the skin-care space. I knew I might lose the name, and I did. I’m in the process of trademarking a new name, but I’m not ready to share it yet. Stay tuned.

What’s your projected timeline for launching your styling product?

I plan to launch by late spring or early summer 2018.

You know, thinking back on the past couple of years, one thing that’s kept me going is simply admitting how hard it is to work two full-time jobs. Sometimes I’m sad and stressed out because I have no free time. Just acknowledging this helps me feel better. And at the end of the day, I believe in what I’m doing. That’s what makes the effort feel worth it.

Do you feel like your social channels are like high-needs children demanding your attention? Have you struggled with branding and naming your amazing product? If so, let Celeste know by commenting below!

 

6 Comments

Celeste! The energy and enthusiasm you have for your products and your business come shinging through in this great update. I love that I've been able to follow your journey along the twists and turns it's taken so far (How do you take a great idea from research to market? Follow Celeste's journey! & Follow Celeste Ruberti's Journey from Research to Market) and that your business story is being told in real-time right here in the QB Community. Thank you so much for sharing and keep up the good, hard work! 

Level 7

@cruberti - I can't wait to hear the new name of your product! Will you please share it once you're ready to reveal?? I am so inspired that you didn't let the name issue get you down. As my mom used to sing to us when we'd fall down as kids: "Pick yourself up, Brush yourself off, And start all over again!" It totally applies as a small business owner...no matter how old you are. :smileytongue:

Level 6

I am super inspired to hear about how things are going, @cruberti! You are amazing. I can't wait to hear about the new name and to try your final formula. I hate blow drying my hair so I'm a target candidate!!!!!

 

Regarding your questions, we too struggled SO much with naming and branding. Our product was Bellybar and our company was NutraBella. We made it hard for ourselves because then when we launched non-bar products, we didn't know what to do. Call them Bellybar or not?! We decided to keep the name but it was confusing, admittedly. And then NutraBella - a whole other name to brand. Looking back, I wish we had just one name that was broad enough for different products. Like maybe we should have named the product line NutraBella. Who knows! 

 

And for social media, I get it. First, I LOVE following your FB and Instagram posts. You are real, charismatic, informative, funny, delightful. But I know it's tough. I wonder if it makes sense to focus on just one of them? It's hard because we want to do so much! Worth considering....

 

Cheering for you! As always...

Level 3

@ShanaNiederman, thank you for your support! It's been great to share my story with people other than those in my immediate sphere of influence, and there's no better place than the Quickbooks Community to do it!

 

Level 3

@AudreyPratt, I'm *really* looking forward to having my name settled, and I'll absolutely share when it's finalized. I never used to be a person who had a favorite quote, but I do now - "I win or I learn, but I NEVER lose!" I totally take that to heart - I love the learning process, which actually makes the challenging things fun and interesting!

 

Level 3

@LeslieBarber - Gosh, yes, the naming part has been difficult. What I didn't realize is that every name under the sun has been trademarked, and it's also important to make sure your name has a good chance of coming up in search results first even if you do get the name! After trying to trademark on my own, I am now going with a lawyer. I found a really inexpensive but reputable company called LawTrades and it's been a relief to not have to do it again on my own.

 

Regarding the social media - I've sort of gotten into a rhythm with things now between Facebook and Instagram. Since these are the two places I want to sell on once my product is manufactured, I feel like I need to continue to hone my messaging and branding there. I have been reticent to expand to other social media outlets, but I just jumped onto YouTube and am surprised by how much I love it. I have a background in acting, so it has been fun to create videos and share tips. So as much as it has all been a lot of work, the experience is also helping me to define what it is I'm trying to create. 

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