Amy Risley, CEO of skin care company, Skinfix, acquired sexual wellness brand Sweet Spot Labs in 2014. Since then the category has exploded, and the brand itself has posted quadruple-digit growth in some channels. Recently, Amy brought on Rachel Zar as Senior Marketing Director, and the two set out to completely reposition the brand, which Amy described as the first clean feminine hygiene brand at retail. Here, Amy spends five minutes with Beauty News talking about Sweet Spot Labs’ mission today, its evolution and her advice for brands navigating this unprecedented time in history.
Beauty News: How did Sweet Spot come to be?
Amy Risley: Sweet Spot’s founder, Shari Creed, was working as a brand strategist for many of the big CPG companies investigating different categories, with feminine hygiene being one of them. She saw a huge opportunity in feminine hygiene and in 2003 she launched Sweet Spot Labs. The brand first went into spa distribution, mainly because she had a very hard time getting retailers to pay attention to her—and the category. She also had a really hard time getting the media to talk to her. They literally wouldn’t write about the category. We partnered with her in 2014, re-formulated, and in 2015 had distribution in Shoppers Drug Mart, and then Target. To see where the category is now and how comfortable people are talking about their vaginas, pubic hair and menopause and all sorts of issues related to women’s health, it’s really exciting. It’s finally evolved.
Beauty News: Talk about Sweet Spot’s current evolution.
Amy Risley: The sexual wellness category has exploded over the past five years. We were the first clean fem-hy brand at retail. And then a lot of people jumped in. So, recently we took a step back and said, ‘Given the current landscape and all of the new launches, what do we stand for and what lane can we own in this category? How do we reclaim our spot as the original in the space?’ We worked with a branding agency based in L.A. and refined our imagery and positioning and then leaned into some new innovation that we think puts us in a completely new space in the category.
Beauty News: What did you learn about the brand looking from the outside in?
AR: We saw that we stand for wellness, from the perspective of our femininity and our responsibility. Our ‘sweet spots’ are such an important part of our bodies. It’s where life begins, and it’s often a barometer of our health and wellness in a lot of different ways. We originally launched with washes and wipes, but we’ve taken a big step forward into more clinical skin care for the vagina, and that’s really what we’re focusing on in the competitive arena. We are also very focused on using intentional ingredients, it’s not just about what you leave out of fem care but what you put in.
Beauty News: Is Shari still involved in the business?
AR: Shari remains a minority shareholder and she is involved in the brand. In fact, one of our newest and most exciting products was actually her idea.
Beauty News: Tell us about that.
AR: The whole wipe market is clogging our sewers. Shari’s idea is A Clean Swipe, an environmentally-kind, wipe-less lotion that cleans, conditions and helps balance skin’s micro-biome. Think of it as your own probiotic cleanser. You can pump it on toilet paper, tissue, washcloth or even your fingertips to cleanse yourself without the environmental impact of actually using a wipe. It’s formulated with a natural deodorizer and chicory root extract, which is a probiotic multi-tasker.
Beauty News: Talk about Sweet Spot’s overall revamp.
AR: A new look and feel has taken place for social media, along with a website refresh. There’s new packaging with a softened color palette. We’ve upgraded our imagery. We were in the process of rolling out to 600 Ulta Beauty stores just as COVID-19 hit.
Beauty News: What is your message to brands right now?
AR: Now is an opportunity for brands and retailers to educate consumers. I think the most important thing is to really understand what you stand for and how you are offering something new and different to the category. That’s just fundamental. The barrier to entry is low and if you don’t have a point of difference, I think you’re going to have a hard time unless you just happen to have a viral marketing success. In the context of COVID-19, I know it’s hard to wrap your head around it, but I would say don’t panic. Take a deep breath. We’re all in it together. Honestly, if you’re in Sephora or Ulta, they are both incredibly supportive retailers, as is Target and Shopper’s Drug Mart. Focus on your health and the health and wellness of your employees and your families. Just take one day at a time.