Kristine Sperling with Makes 3 in Santa Barbara, CA
Makes 3 Provides Organic Products for the Whole Family, While Helping Families in Need
If making a difference is promoting health, well-being, awareness, and supporting those in need, than Makes 3 is a small business making a difference. Kristine Sperling, started Makes 3 as a way to protect her daughter, Alice, against the many triggers of allergies and asthma. Since then, Makes 3 offers a range of organic and natural products made in small batches, including: Bar Soaps, Skin Balms, Liquid Soaps, and Lip Balms. The purchase of a Soap Bar helps give back to families in need. Makes 3's Share the Suds promise states: “For every 10 bars of soap that we sell, we will donate 1 bar to a locally-based non-profit, serving local families in need.” I Admire U Kristine for the passion and commitment you invest in your products, customers, and community.
Kristine in her own words...
1. JoAnne Mulder Nagjee celebrates Makes 3 as a small business making a difference. In what ways do you feel your company is making a difference?
Every time we get someone thinking about the products they are putting on their skin, we feel like we are making a difference. So many of us automatically reach for the brands that we grew up with or that are easily available at the grocery store. But, we now know that so many of these products are full of chemicals that are possible or probable carcinogens, and full of endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins, and irritants. It’s amazing how many people we are reaching and the wide variety of demographics that are finding us and thanking us for what we are doing! When we read a comment on social media, on a product review on our website, or in an email that we receive from a customer, it’s all the evidence we need that we are doing something right.
2. You create skincare products that are free of: cruelty, gluten, alcohol, GMO, triclosan, sulfate & paraben, petroleum, and formaldehyde. How difficult is it to produce products with such high organic standards?
We think it’s easy. We make products that are straightforward, simple and honest. When you use plant oils instead of petroleum you don’t need any chemists on staff. So when you are committed to organics it all flows from there. We find certified organic suppliers and keep our processes clean and pure. We work with the USDA to ensure our customers can have the confidence that our claims are true. The important ingredient with organics is integrity.
"We of course know that in the end it’s the science that proves we are harming ourselves with the petroleum “byproduct” (read: waste) we are putting on our skin. So the best feedback we get is when we open someone’s eyes to a new way of living."
3. Kristine, for someone who might not be versed in the health benefits of using organic skincare or household products, what helpful insight would you share?
The gateway into changing your personal care purchasing habits to organic is usually through food. When you think about the health benefits of organic food you can apply the same reasoning to organic soaps and balms. You want to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals your family is exposed to on a daily basis and every purchasing decision you make for your household can help you do that. We aren’t claiming to get rid of wrinkles or to take five years off of the look of your skin. We think you look amazing just the way you are. What we do promise is that you will feel naturally clean and soft and you are going to enjoy our beautiful aromas. We also think you are going to experience peace of mind knowing that the products you are using are pure and in harmony with nature.
4. Your website,www.makes3.com, states, “The foundational idea for Makes 3 finally sparked when we realized we could combine our love for scents and soaps with our passion for helping families and giving back to our community.” Why do you think 19,000 Facebook followers feel connected to this idea?
As of today it’s 19,572! So many families face managing asthma, food allergies, and other serious health issues for their children. If you don’t personally deal with these concerns you know families who do. I think that people don’t want to accept the pharmaceutical response that conventional medicine relies upon. Moms especially have a deep, inner knowledge that something isn’t quite right with our health and that there must be a better way. We feel disconnected from our common sense and confused by the messages in the media and in advertising. So I believe communities of support, like ours, that exist through social media provide us with information and ideas to try to improve our wellbeing and the health of our families in a way that is in synch with nature. It’s giving us a sense of connectedness to ourselves and the inner wisdom that we all have.
5. Your daughter, Alice, has battled asthma, eczema, and allergies since she was 3 years old. Now, she is finishing up 3rd grade and her health is doing better than ever! What are some of the differences you have seen since introducing Makes 3 products into her daily regime?
Primarily, Alice just loves the way our products smell and feel on her skin. She frequently will go into the shower just to smell the Lavender Vanilla Soap. It’s like a mindfulness exercise for her. But for sure her eczema flare ups rarely happen anymore and her sensitivity in general has been greatly reduced. The use of our products combined with dietary changes to clean up what she is eating have allowed her to move on from her health issues and blossom. But we all notice the difference, say, if we are staying at a hotel and use the travel products provided in the room. The lather isn’t as rich and the film left by the soap or lotions is noticeable. Our skin just feels better using Makes 3 products, so we all feel better and notice a difference.
6. To provide your customers with knowledge and inspiration, you connect with them through your blog, And Baby Makes 3. What is the most motivational story or feedback you have received from a customer?
There are a lot of a-ha moments that we receive from the blog posts and also a lot of raised eyebrows, so to speak. There are still a lot of people out there who just don’t question their trusted brands and think that the organic movement is full of anti-science reactionaries. We of course know that in the end it’s the science that proves we are harming ourselves with the petroleum “byproduct” (read: waste) we are putting on our skin. So the best feedback we get is when we open someone’s eyes to a new way of living. There was one woman in particular who bought our Lavender Cheek-to-Cheek Body balm and hated it. She said it smelled horrible and not at all like lavender. With a little gentle coaxing we found out she was used to a particular major brand of lotion that was artificially scented to smell like lavender. Artificial lavender perfumes are much sweeter than the therapy grade lavender essential oil that we use. We asked her to keep trying it and to head to a local gardening center to smell the lavender on the plant – she had never smelled real lavender before! A week later she sent us another email telling us how much she loves and appreciates the balm and that she will never buy lavender perfume and fragrance again!
7. In 2010, you “retired” from your career in Law to focus on Alice and her health, and “To help families detox their lives with organic skincare.” What skills as an Attorney transferred to operating your own business? What new skills have you had to learn?
My practice was focused on corporate and finance and mostly structured finance for the world’s largest financial institution. So I would say none! I mostly had to unlearn many of my habits and expectations in order to be flexible and nimble enough to start a self-funded business. When you are working for large institutions you are managing risk. When you work for small business or for yourself, you are managing opportunity. So, when you start from scratch you have to be willing to move forward with ideas or change them entirely before your checklist is complete. Having all of your ducks in a row will stop you in your tracks. Over the past few years I have learned a lot of these lessons and the consequences have sometimes been expensive. But you take those lessons and keep moving forward.
8. As Co-Founders, you and Dan are building a brand that provides families with a peace of mind. Together, you do everything from manufacturing, packaging, sales, marketing, and strategic planning. Currently with no employees, how do you two manage the demands of running a growing business?
That makes us sound like control freaks! We are on the verge of finding people to help us. We can’t keep this up forever. As far as how we are managing it, I would say we are doing what we need to do to get the job done and trying to have a sense of humor and maintain a bit of levity with each other when times get tough. There is no task that is too far down the “ladder” for us to do. We believe that starting this way will make us better managers and leaders down the line because we will understand what it takes for all of our employees to be successful.
"The important ingredient with organics is integrity."
9. In addition to Makes 3 being available in a dozen retail stores, Makes 3 sells direct to consumers in 50 states! What nugget of advice would you share with a budding business interested in approaching wholesale clients and expanding to direct to consumer sales?
You can’t take “no” personally. There will be a lot of rejection and you just have to work through that and see beyond it. The most important thing is that you believe in what you are doing. If you have that belief, then the sales will happen. So you have to also be willing to invest in your vision and keep searching until you find what connects. For us our direct sales success has come through Facebook marketing. Our customers are on Facebook and they like learning about our products through Facebook. We have found this to be much more successful than pay-per-click ads through other internet advertising platforms. Plus, Facebook gives you this amazingly fluid environment where you can interact with everyone. We really love it.
10. Super exciting, your new product line-up includes: a line of Essential Oils, Lotion Bars, and a new series of Limited Edition Skin and Lip Balms. What else is next for you?
Well, the next investment that we need to make to further our vision is into attending trade shows. It’s taken us a while to find out where we fit best and we think it will be the California Gift Show in LA. Our products sell very well in gift shops as well as grocery stores and that show in particular is the place to be for our product category.
11. I Admire U, what small business do you admire?
I am absolutely inspired by my good friend, Jennifer Conner, who is the founder and president of Mustard Girl All American Mustards. She let her mustard seed take root and now she is selling all over the country through major retail outlets like Target and grocery stores like Publix. She is absolutely #1 to me!