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Cultivating a Luxe Bath and Body Collection for the Mass Space

By: Abby Penning
Posted: November 22, 2013, from the January 2014 issue of GCI Magazine.
Tube packages for body lotions for the Sonia Kashuk bath and body care collection with black backgrounds and brightly color flowers on them

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SK: A little over 18 months. About 18 months to two years of really being on it and focused and knowing the labs I wanted to work with. I knew right off the bat, from the get go, who I wanted to be formulating all these products. So I had my team in place. It was just a matter of finalizing everything.

In terms of the labs I worked with, there were some past and some new ones that I brought in that I had wanted to work with but hadn’t yet had the right opportunity to do so yet. I’m very relationship based and trust based, and so there just is no room for concern. These partners get me. I get them. And whenever you’re doing design work and innovation work, that sense of trust and respect is really key, and I so admire and respect everybody on my team. They all make me better, and I’m just so grateful to have those hands in it.

We’re actually a pretty small team, and everybody really controls what they do. As we’re evolving—we’re not a big brand, but we’re not a tiny brand—we hold a really good sense of the control of it. We really maintain and definitely watch our product, our image.

GCI: Do you have any plans to branch into hair care products or other beauty segments?

SK: I feel like everything is kind of our playground. For me, I try to stay focused. I’m talking lifestyle beauty, and it’s really about those products and those things that are relevant and work under that umbrella. Never say never in life, but so far I’ve been pretty focused on that beauty segment and crossing that beauty-lifestyle thing, so I guess it’s depending upon what fits into that. With a brand and name, it’s really important to own who you are. You can so easily disengage and then people don’t know who you are. So I feel like we’ve stayed very hyperfocused on the messaging and the visual content of the brand and what are those things that are going to fit it. And also I don’t want to do a product just to do a product. It has to make a difference and have a point of view.

GCI: What's next on the horizon for you, if you're able to share?

SK: I’m always working. I’m always working on things to be better. It’s about presentation in store, about product assortment… To me, it’s so great that I’ve just done bath and body and that we’ve had such an incredible response to it. But, to me, it’s now about what’s next. You can never sit idle. You always have to be thinking about innovation. It’s not that what you did is not important, because I feel it is. But the question I go to sleep at night with is, “What’s next?”

GCI: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

SK: I think that I’ve just been so blessed and so lucky. The thing that I find astounding about my brand is that, we launched into a very busy, competitive segment of the business. And the thing that I’m so proud of is that we’re celebrating, in 2014, our 15-year anniversary. We have sustained and grown year after year being in such a competitive [market] and being a small brand next to majors. I think that growth comes from making sure that I differentiate, that I continue to innovate, and that I really stay focused and own who we are. What the majors are doing, I try not to do that. They’re doing it really well, so why would I go in to try to compete against that? They do what they do really well. So I try to own who I am and do it well.

My thing is also educating women—educating them in what their expectations should be in a product and how it should perform. To encourage them not to settle for a less than stellar product. Just because the price point is lower doesn’t mean the product should be any lesser of a product. I think expectations should stay high. It’s available to have what we’ve done—great products—and have them be affordable.

It’s fun, and I’m lucky that I love what I do. Hopefully we are making a difference and that people are enjoying the product. Because at the end of the day, no matter how much I love it, somebody else has to love it too.

I definitely go down on my sword on these products. The quality, the experience—it’s really quite amazing. The level of response we’ve gotten is what puts a smile on my face and what energizes me to go back and keep doing it again and again.