Cañon City, Colorado
Industry: Consumer & Lifestyle
Products: Natural body care and aromatherapy products
Owner and CEO Lisa Scheerer, is growing all aspects of her natural body care product company: wholesale, retail, and private label.
In the early 2000s, Scheerer invested as a partner in Mudd Hens of Calistoga, California, while living in Colorado. That company made natural body care products, such as Calistoga Mud Bath, while retailing other natural body care brands.
In 2003, Scheerer and her partner, Denise Ewing, sold their interest in Mudd Hens and changed the focus to creating natural products that were sold under the brand Not The Same LLC. The recipes were the tried and true products that Mudd Hens had discontinued manufacturing in their pursuit of retail sales.
In 2007, the company moved to Colorado, where it continued manufacturing products for private label California spa clients and existing wholesale customers. Steady growth went from ten wholesale customers to over 60 by 2012. During that time, retail sales were added through a website and participation in festivals. This growth created a need for more manufacturing space, so in 2014, Not The Same LLC moved into the Fremont County Economic Development Corporation business incubator space in Cañon City.
A major shift occurred with the passings of her business partner, Ewing, and a key employee, Avril Anjers, within a year of each other in 2015 and 2016. Scheerer continued to produce the high quality natural products with the processes developed by Anjers and the enthusiasm of Ewing for authentic natural skin care.
2017 brought rebranding to Not The Same LLC. In an effort to honor her friends' memories and their commitment to providing wholesome products, Scheerer hired a marketing expert to walk her through the arduous process of rebranding her products. Alise Body Care with a new tagline, website and logo was born.
Using the same formulations, the new brand focuses on consumer education. Using only U.S.-sourced herbs, essential oils, honey, bee propolis, and oils, the all-natural products promote healthy skin.
"The theme of our products is that we’re 100 percent natural," says Scheerer. "We don't sneak something in because others say an ingredient is natural. Everything we make is all natural, and nothing is artificial and synthetic. It's black and white -- there are no bleeding of the lines. You won't see lotions in our lines because they are water-based and need preservatives."
Because of this, Scheerer resists sending products to distributors. Due to the variability of warehouse conditions, she will not chance her products becoming less than optimal by the time the consumer uses them. "I like to keep the products fresh," she explains. "Even though the shelf life is three years, I don't keep a lot of inventory. Instead, we make small batches and ship them out."
Although the spa industry has been the pillar of Alise sales, Scheerer sees outdoor enthusiasts as an untapped market in the natural skin care industry. She seeks outdoor companies who are looking for natural skin products to private label.
Sheerer provides local organizations with event-labeled lip balm at the same cost as promotional lip balm companies. This effort supports local groups while keeping the business within the local economy.
Attention to detail is vital to the Alise mission. The ingredients are sensitive to time and temperature as they are cooked with heat or melded to produce consistent products. The combined ingredients create a synergistic blend that helps skin to heal or stay healthy. Since everything that contacts the skin is absorbed into the body to some extent, it is important to control the manufacturing process from the sourcing of ingredients to the heating, mixing, and handling of the final product.
Current manufacturing processes are hindered by the batch sizes that can be produced. Scheerer is looking at equipment that can scale production while maintaining control over the quality of the products.
Although locally sourced ingredients would be optimal, Alise uses the same California sources as they have been since the early 2000s. Scheerer has determined that domestic sources are the benchmark for Alise products when the ingredients are not available in Colorado.
Although the local workforce appears adequate, Scheerer has found that the people she employs must fit in the company culture as well as be trainable. The team starts the workday with meditation and yoga to become grounded and balanced. These team-building exercises help to create the best atmosphere to create bio-available products.
The body care or cosmetic products industry walks a fine line within FDA compliance. If certain claims are made, it can cross over into the pharmaceutical parameters. Scheerer has no desire for Alise to become a drug company, so she treads very carefully with labeling and marketing.
The farm-to-table movement in the food industry is something Scheerer seeks to emulate. She says creating natural skin care products with ingredients that are sustainably sourced and reliably produced with integrity results in negligible returns and repeat customers.
Challenges: "Growing the business while prioritizing needs on a daily basis," says Scheerer. "We need to be nimble enough to be able to shift priorities because we're lean with resources, and we often have to shift focus to things that need to be done today."
Opportunities: "I really want to increase our presence in the spa industry and help those businesses grow by creating private labels," says Scheerer. "Spas are the roots of this business."
She also sees opportunity in the outdoor industry: "Because of my active lifestyle passion, I want to get these products into the outdoor enthusiast market. For that, we have to shift our packaging and marketing message."
Making products with CBD oil is a third opportunity.
Needs: "My biggest need is time management and self-care," says Scheerer. "Sure, I could say I need more money, some equipment, better people. But it all starts with where I'm at and how I'm leading my staff on this journey."