I started my company, Megababe, three years ago because I saw a need. At the time, I knew it was, at the very least, a personal need. I had a thigh chafe, the little-talked-about but often-experienced discomfort of your thighs rubbing together that can really ruin your day. I’d experienced this always, but there were no solutions on the market that spoke to me. So I created my own solution. I brought in my sister and my childhood best friend, despite none of us having any beauty or product development experience. Together, we boot-strapped our savings to start Megababe.
Pre-launch, our production minimums were overwhelming, and doubt started to set in. Would anyone actually buy this? Was I totally crazy to launch a brand for issues no one talked about except me? Our first product, Thigh Rescue, sold out within one week of launching. Our second product, Bust Dust, sold out on pre-order. Now, we offer over 13 (and counting!) clean, effective, solution-based products for women and men. And megachains, Target and Ulta, and upscale retailers, Goop and Nordstrom, sell our products.
Since a lot of our Megababe products combat sweat and all of those unsavory discomforts that come along with it, summer is the season of Megababe! And the summer of 2020 was going to be our moment. I’m talking about a road trip across America: shaking hands, kissing babies, and tossing Megababe products from a branded RV. Our strategy was all about IRL. But then a pandemic hit that was completely out of our control, and everything changed.
Despite the change, we experienced significant year-over-year growth in Q1 and Q2 2020. No matter your challenges, here are seven things you can do to pivot your business.
1. Create original products that people need
We’re living in a brand boom. It’s never been easier to start a brand, but it’s never been harder to stand out due to the competition. It all starts with the product. Develop products that are unique and have a clear value proposition.
Thigh Rescue for thigh chafe, Beach Paint for melasma, and Le Tush for acne weren’t products that other brands were making. But that’s what we do at Megababe. We find the gap in the market and fill it. It’s a lot easier to stand out and develop loyal customers if you are innovating.
2. Meet your customers where they are
A lot of direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands market more value at a lower price. But with those margins, it’s difficult to expand into wholesale. Before retailers picked us up, we sold exclusively on our website. But brick-and-mortar retail was always the core of our strategy. Our products can make or break your day—anyone who has thigh chafe will understand.
I didn’t want our customers to have to wait for shipping to get their Megababe. I wanted them to be able to walk into their local retailer and buy it right away. When national chains like Target and Ulta picked us up, it was a game-changer! But when the coronavirus hit and no one was walking into stores, web sales picked up. You have to meet your customers where they are. And to do so, often, a mono-brand website isn’t enough.
3. Cultivate a loyal community
We have an amazing Megababe community that’s mostly online. We truly built this community order by order, post by post, and person by person, over the past three years. Because we never had an advertising budget, our organic growth has been very true to who we are as a brand. We are always communicating with our customers in a loop. We ask for their feedback often, and we implement it! They very much feel like they are part of our brand because they are. When you have authentic relationships with your customers, they stay with you through thick and thin.
4. Be ready to adapt and reimagine
Before the coronavirus, we were finally ready to invest in real marketing. Until then, our growth had been mostly organic. In the early days, I hired a PR firm. As a former publicist, I know how valuable good PR can be when you have a great product. That has been the key to our visibility. We promoted on Instagram, mostly through my personal account and creating a presence for Megababe. We never spent on ads or hired influencers. We never hosted an event or had a fancy photoshoot. But we were about to do all of that! Our January 2020 strategy meetings were mapping it all out. But the times changed, so we adapted and reimagined our strategy.
We returned to our roots and did what we do best. We put all discretionary spending on hold and marketed ourselves from behind a screen (I do my best work on my phone, truly). We doubled-down on paid social ads and upped our gifting budget. Since we create our products to reach all women (and men), we’re looking well beyond the Instagram influencers. I love what is going on on TikTok and all of the new people we can reach there. I’m also thinking a lot about representation and inclusivity. Not only across gender identities and ethnicities, but also abilities. There are incredible, fearless people who continue to inspire us and who we want to use and love Megababe.
5. Think of other brands as your allies, not competitors
Now is a time when people (and brands) really need to help each other out. You know that saying, “A high tide raises all ships”? Well, what about when the tide is low? So low that it reeks of seaweed and dead fish, and you have to plug your nose just to stand on the shore. That’s how it is right now.
We need to stack our ships on top of each other and find a new way to see the horizon. That’s just an elaborate way to say that Megababe is teaming up with other like-minded brands for co-branded programs. For example, Megababe has teamed up with one of my favorite accessories brands, Lele Sadoughi, to create a custom mask and hand-sanitizer kit. It’s a fun project that we know our customers will love. And we’re developing others like this.
6. Do what you can to help others in need
I truly believe that businesses can help drive positive social change. Spending power is real power! Through Megababe, I have been able to shed light on women’s personal care issues that retailers and the mainstream media were never talking about. And I know that I have a powerful platform, which I have always been passionate about using for good.
When the coronavirus hit, our product, Squeaky Clean, was in a unique position. After 18 months in development, we launched this hand sanitizer in January 2020. Six weeks later, the world was in short supply. We sold out of our initial production run and amassed a 15,000-person waitlist. But with more experience under our belt, we kicked up production.
We made as many units as possible to get to as many people as possible as fast as we could, especially frontline workers. From nurses to grocery store clerks, we sent bottles to any essential worker who requested them, free of charge. That is a proud moment that brought me back to Megababe’s core mission: We exist to create products that actually help people. We offer real solutions that make it easier to go about your daily life with more comfort and confidence.
7. Know it’s OK not to have all the answers
Right now, we’re not planning too far in advance. These times are unprecedented and uncertain. We don’t have all of the answers, and we don’t pretend to. That is core to my style as an entrepreneur and my most sage advice. I’m always learning, always evolving. And I’m never done. As long as we keep creating helpful products that make someone’s day a little brighter and a lot more comfortable, I’m confident they will keep coming back.
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