How to Launch Your Own Product Line
For those of you who are just meeting Tena Pettis, she is the founder of Tena.cious, a social media and graphic design firm in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN. Additionally, she is the host of two podcasts: Create Your Clique and Before You Open Your Mouth—yes, they are as fabulous as they sound! If that’s not enough, she has also launched her very own product line: Hello Life. Keep reading to learn how Tena took an idea and turned it into a product in only eight months!
Tena explains that the idea to start a product line didn’t actually begin with her; instead, it was the idea of her counterpart at Tena.cious—Angie Weber. In Tena’s words, “Angie got the entrepreneurial itch.” Tena couldn’t help but lend a hand to the fledgling entrepreneur!
Angie and Tena knew that they wanted to launch their own brand, but they weren’t always set that they were going to create a makeup line. When they started brainstorming product ideas, Tena explained that the ideas “just weren’t sticky enough—there wasn’t anything new or exciting about them.” Even though they hadn’t reached their “Aha!” moment, Tena and Angie kept coming back to the guiding question: “What makes women feel gorgeous?” After reflecting on this question, they both decided on creating a makeup line! Whether spending five minutes putting on mascara and lipstick, or twenty minutes creating a stunning evening look, women feel gorgeous when they stand in front of the mirror and apply makeup.
After the duo decided on makeup, they needed to make their product stand apart from the countless makeup lines on the market today, so they focused on three components. First, Tena wanted “everyday makeup” that was simple and would take minimal time to apply. She wanted to avoid offering ten blushes and five mascaras that would force consumers to make even more decisions in their busy day. The simpler, the better.
Second, Angie and Tena wanted positive messaging. They wanted moms to buy it for their teenage daughters and have everyone feel beautiful and positive as they were doing their makeup. To accomplish that goal, they named all their products something empowering such as: joyful, bliss, bold, and classy. How fun is it to put on your makeup and say, “I’m joyful and sassy!”
Lastly, Angie wanted a give-back piece to the brand. Angie’s family has a history of mental illness—like many of our families—so one dollar from every product sold goes back to the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care. If someone buys nine products, they donate $9 dollars—it’s so easy to give back and it makes a huge difference!
Production & Branding
Now that Tena and Angie had a vision, they needed to actually produce their product. Through their work at Tena.cious, Tena and Angie had made some relationships with various manufacturing plants. Because their firm had been great to work with in the past, the manufacturer agreed to work with them on creating their makeup line! This goes to show that you never know where your connections will take you, so always be on your toes and have an eye on building lasting relationships.
You might be wondering, “Well, where do I start if I don’t have any connections?” Tena explains that you must start with research! Going down this rabbit hole will likely lead you to an industry trade show, and this is a terrific place to get started! You can pretty much Google: “your product + trade show” and find a gold mine of information.
Because Angie and Tena both have a background in marketing, they knew the importance of branding, so this was one of their main considerations when developing their product. They didn’t want the product to look like a start-up from Minnesota, but like a professional product that you would see in any high-end salon. When you visit their website, you can tell that they are spot-on—the products are super cute and professional!
At this point, Tena and Angie had transformed their idea into a product. Now they just needed to sell it! Since the beginning, they had the goal of finding retailers for their product. Even though the products are sold online, the team “really, really, really” wanted to sell in salons and boutiques. To accomplish their goal, they developed an Instagram strategy. Tena started following all kinds of retailers where they would want their products sold, and started interacting with their brands—liking their posts, commenting on pictures, and reposting other people’s work.
Tena explains that when you start your brand on Instagram, you need to be intentional and you need a strategy because people will judge you in seconds based on your Instagram “grid.” When you visit someone’s IG, you will see the first six to nine pictures and that is your grid. This is your first impression and it needs to be clean, inviting, and represent your brand. If you need some inspiration check out Hello Life’s Instagram—it’s pure beauty.
Tena admits that taking great pictures for social media seems daunting, but you just need to do it! The more pictures that you take, the better you will become. In addition to great pictures, your captions should speak directly to your dream client. Is your dream client a little sassy? Then, add some snarky jokes to your posts—don’t worry if some people won’t understand it because your dream customer will! Again, you don’t need to hire a professional company; just do your very best, and it will serve as a strong foundation.
Tena and Angie’s strategy has proved to be successful because they actually matched with their first boutique via Instagram!
Does Tena’s story inspire you to launch your own product line, or are you slightly overwhelmed? Both feelings are totally understandable, but you just need to take one step at a time. Think about what you can do today to move closer to your product launch and never forget your mission! To get more industry advice, make sure to follow Beyond The Technique, listen to our weekly podcast, and join our private Facebook group.
Listen to Tena’s full interview on Beyond The Technique podcast Episode 56.