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Tracy Land began Frangipani in December 2008 with one goal: to provide soothing, all-natural beauty products that are free of harmful chemicals and synthetic materials. Frangipani provides an option for consumers looking to purchase safer face washes, face serums, hand and face lotions, and body oils.
MO: What were you doing before you started Frangipani? How did your background and experience contribute to the development of the company?
Tracy: I graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Computer Information Systems. Before starting Frangipani, I worked in the IT industry for 8 years. I was an IT consultant focusing on software testing and eventually joined a small software company as their Quality Assurance Manager. While I enjoyed my career, I always knew I would eventually do something else and had been exploring other career options for a few years. When I was laid off from the software company, I decided to make Frangipani, which I had been selling only to family and friends, a full time endeavor.
My IT career has contributed significantly to the development of Frangipani, especially my experience as a consultant. I have had exposure to a corporate world that is invaluable when dealing with my retail clients in terms of professionalism, diplomacy, flexibility and sense of humor. I have the ability to present Frangipani to a variety of different people in a variety of different places. I have worked harder on Frangipani than any project I had in the IT world but I knew what working that hard was going to be like going into it. It just proves that most valuable skills can be transferred to any field or endeavor.
MO: How long did it take from having the initial idea of developing an all-natural beauty product line to getting it to market? What were the first steps you took towards making your dream a reality?
Tracy: The initial idea of Frangipani to its launch on store shelves took approximately 2 years. I started the company as a solution to my own diagnosis of Rosacea. I had talked to my dermatologist about better options for my skin care only to feel frustrated with the available options. Researching different treatments I discovered that many of the ingredients in conventional skin care products were probably irritating my sensitive skin. I also realized I could make skin care products that were free of these irritants.
I set out to research all kinds of natural ingredients and started experimenting. Admittedly there was a significant trial and error period that seemed impossible. Once finished with the product that helped my skin, I mentioned it to a friend who suffered from severe dry skin. She said she wanted to try some and called me after a week of use to say she thought I should try to sell the products I gave her. That idea had never occurred to me as I was simply trying to have peaceful skin of my own.
I started considering the idea while I experimented with more and more products. It occurred to me that maybe this was the career change I had been searching for. I began the process of choosing a name, incorporating the business, and having a website built. When I started sensing trouble at the software company I was working for, I thought through the idea to launch Frangipani as a product line, and my full time employment, long before I anticipated.
The day I was laid off was scary but also really exciting. I spent the first 3 months bringing all of the pieces and parts together. I had to work through everything from marketing materials to bottle labels and packaging and it was truly mind blowing. I signed up for a local trade show with two weeks’ notice and Frangipani became a reality!
MO: What kinds of hand selected ingredients are you putting into your products and how have you managed to build up a reputable network of suppliers?
Tracy: Every ingredient that goes into Frangipani products has to be natural, no chemicals or synthetics. High quality essential oils are used instead of fragrance oils so there is healing of the skin instead of being just a perfume. All ingredients are pure and created from high quality extraction processes.
Building a network of reputable suppliers has been an intense learning experience. At first I didn’t buy ingredients and packaging in the large quantities I do now. If I had known how much Frangipani would grow I would have made some different decisions up front. I try to keep my ingredient suppliers to a minimum so that I am guaranteed a level of quality and service. Some suppliers don’t offer the bulk quantities that I now require so they have been phased out.
After many brush-offs from packaging companies that considered Frangipani too small to service, a small company introduced themselves to me at a trade show and helped me solve a major packaging problem. It has made an incredible impression on me that they still consider my business valuable even in its infancy. They have earned my loyalty simply by knowing that every business was a small business at one time.
MO: You have serious competition from bigger cosmetic companies with massive advertising budgets. What has been your marketing strategy for getting the word out in the public about Frangipani?
Tracy: Anyone who has started a small business knows that marketing budgets are few and far between, if they exist at all. I have made the decision to make up for that by being industrious. I do monthly product demonstrations at all of my retail locations with the best helper around, my mom. I sell products at a local farmer’s market during the spring, summer and fall and sign up for different kinds of events and festivals that I think will attract people interested in a product like Frangipani. Monthly newsletters go out and posts to Frangipani’s Facebook page are on a regular basis. I take advantage of any opportunity for free advertising whether it is on Facebook or through professional organizations where Frangipani is a member. I even won an ad in a local newspaper through a silent auction at an event I was attending. I am always on the lookout for ways to fit marketing into Frangipani’s budget.
MO: What are the main differences between “conventional” products and “all natural” products?
Tracy: There are several differences between conventional products and all-natural products like Frangipani. Many conventional products contain a large percentage of water and chemical based filler ingredients. This helps make the product cheap to produce. All natural products like Frangipani contain only plant-based ingredients. There are no fillers and almost no water in Frangipani products.
Concentrated Frangipani lotion or body oil goes a long way when compared to the amount one has to use of a conventional lotion. My products usually last for approximately six months as compared to a much shorter time with the filler-based conventional products.
All natural products tend to heal the skin in the long term rather than focusing on short term, quick fixes. Instead of doing things like tightening the skin for the short term, all natural products like Frangipani heal the skin and make it glow from the inside out.
MO: What professional accomplishment are you most proud of so far?
Tracy: I am proud of so many things! I made a career change into owning my own business when the idea of doing so had never been a dream of mine. I have used all of my knowledge and education from a completely different field toward building Frangipani into what it is today. I have been able to have the courage and gumption to convince small, independent stores that they should take a chance on a product that people don’t know about yet and have been able to support those stores to make Frangipani successful for both parties. I am about to embark on the accomplishment of putting Frangipani on the shelves of a national retail chain and I can’t wait to see what comes next!