Q&A with C2 Cofounders
Clarissa Shetler is a board-certified family pharmacist and has been in practice for more than 20 years. She has spent the last five years studying the emerging research surrounding the health risks of everyday chemicals used in skin care cosmetics and the alternative sources and benefits of nontoxic, advanced plant botanicals to formulate safer, powerful skin care for you. She feels that both an outside and inside approach to health including quality nutrition, exercise, mindfulness along with clean, nourishing skin care reduces the cumulative toxic burden to the body is a critical component to disease prevention and health promotion.
Christine Falsetti has always been passionate about life, family, and friends. After experiencing cancer in her family, she began to take a closer look at the toxins in her environment and was horrified by the potentially harmful ingredients she found in her daily life, particularly in her family skin care products. She began looking for safer skin care options only to be disappointed by their performance and frustrated by misleading marketing. Christine believes women and their families deserve quality products that perform, without comprising their health.
Can you tell our readers about your background?
We are both female scientists and have a strong background in chemistry. Clarissa is a Doctor of pharmaceuticals/chemistry and Christine was a NASA scientist and engineer. Our backgrounds were synergistic when we were evaluating various skincare solutions. We are determined to develop effective, clean and non-toxic products and to educate people on what to look for in the products they use every day. We also have business/marketing backgrounds and have a marketing consulting firm called KodaCon, Inc.
What inspired you to start your business?
We both have personal stories that helped drive our passion to find a good skincare solution. Christine’s son was sadly touched by cancer and passed away at an early age. Clarissa has a childhood skin condition called ichthyosis (fish scale skin) in which dermatologists only had a recommendation of Crisco lard. One day during a hike, we started talking about our skincare choices and what was out there. Due to our own personal experiences, we had already peeked inside other brands and saw the dark side of the ingredients in many products. On that hiking day, we decided that we could do something better -- something clean.
Where is your business based?
· Northern California – Silicon Valley
· Los Gatos, CA
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
We researched skincare for 4 years before the launch of C2 California Clean. It was important that we understood the landscape of the beauty/skincare business. We tested numerous products and took an investigative look at the ingredients in the products. Soon, we were contacting the scientists and labs of the ingredients that we liked and started to collaborate with them. The ingredients are the foundation for all products and most companies haven’t evaluated their own formulations for decades (since 1905s). At the same time, we contacted the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit dedicated to informing consumers of safe products. We had products evaluated through their verified program and started to work with them. EWG has an app called Skin Deep that evaluates the safety of the ingredient profile and gives a rating for products.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
Talking to people and networking has been the most effective way to evangelize C2. People want to hear authentic voices who are passionate about what they are doing. At C2, we want to truly change lives and help people live a cleaner and healthier life. We know “going clean” doesn’t happen overnight, and we are letting people know it’s okay to take baby steps. The first step is to reach out and ask questions. That is why our door is always open to talk with people – via email, phone, text, or social media.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
1. Developing awareness: We know that we can’t talk or educate everyone, so we need to build up affiliates and brand advocates to promote C2. We also feel that getting into distribution will help to promote our brand. We are launching an affiliate program in 2018 and also working with domestic and international distributors.
2. Finding the right message that resonates with our audience: We are nerdy scientists and we have to remember that not everyone wants to know all the details, so we had to test out various messages to engage our target market. Our messaging is always evolving and the more we talk and listen to people the more we learn.
3. Understanding the best way to market: Marketing is changing as we speak. Social Media, Videos, Texting, and Email have helped with brand awareness but getting sales conversion is a bit more tricky. We are constantly testing various marketing strategies to build sales.
4. Building sales: Of course, getting sales is the most important part of going into business and we feel that talking to people and making connections has helped our sales tremendously. There is so much information out there and as a founder, people want to hear from you and why you started the brand. Talking to people will allow you to find out the big issues at hand and which products can help them.
How do you stay focused?
There is nothing better than getting feedback about your product and how it helped someone. Those comments tell us that we are on the right track and what we are doing is really changing lives and helping people. Also, negative feedback is important because you can hear how you can improve and change the future customer experience. Checklists and being transparent with our team has helped us move forward together as a unit.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
There are oodles of products in the skincare world and we have learned that many people get overwhelmed by all the choices. We also want our customers to feed their skin with amazing ingredients – not junk food for the skin!
C2 is a brand that wants to simplify your life by giving you a skincare regimen that is easy-to-follow and offers you the best ingredients to nourish your skin. We also have a product line that addresses wellness for the whole body and is safe to use on the entire family.
There were three main ideas that we thought of when we started to create C2:
1) Clean: a product line that wouldn’t compromise your health
2) Effective: a skincare system that actually works and shows results
3) Simple: a regimen with simple steps
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
Our most effective marketing strategy is “getting involved.” We are participating in events, seminars and most importantly talking to our customers one-on-one. Start with your friends and family. People want to hear from the founders and understand why you started the brand. And being nerdy scientists actually worked in our favor, because people knew we understood the how the products worked and why. We are starting to promote C2 solutions by science, discovery and the genuine concern for our audience. We really listen to our customers and take their input to heart.
We also are promoting our brand internationally and working with the US Trade and Commerce Department. The advice and information are free and you are assigned to a representative who can help with matchmaking and global resources.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
The best advice is to start to knock on doors. Send out emails to other founders, ask questions and attend shows and events. Meeting other founders is the best way to get first-hand input on what is working and what isn’t. We collaborate with other non-competitive wellness companies and share information.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
Clarissa: EWG Skin Deep is an awesome app and I use it all the time when I am shopping. It’s so useful in the stores and I get the instant answer. My second choice is the texting app.
Christine: Number 1 is Text Messaging –fast, easy and fun way to stay in touch with everyone and Number 2 is IMDB- It is the best source for movie, tv and celebrity info. I often check it when we are watching a show to confirm who an actor is or to find out who someone is and why they are familiar.
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
Business Tool: Google drive has really evolved and has become an important tool for our team. We will also start to use it to save all our docs and assets.
Resource 1: EWG has been an amazing resource for information and data on product safety.
Resource 2: US Trade and Commerce has been a wonderful resource for global exportation.
Who is your business role model? Why?
Clarissa: Charles F. Feeney. An entrepreneur, husband and father -- who truly has a giving heart. He worked hard his whole life and then in his golden years he gives away the last billions of his fortune to charity. He is considered the James Bond of philanthropy.
Christine: Oprah Winfrey. Her story is the iconic American dream of climbing the ladder of success from abject poverty to one of the most successful and respected business people in our country. For me though the really inspiring thing about Oprah is what she does with her time and money. She is a generous philanthropist and a crusader for human rights. Oprah has used her celebrity to better the lives of millions.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
We are working to get our products into select stores and spas, and we are working on some new products based on customer feedback and pain points.
How can our readers connect with you?
We love hearing from anyone who is interested in making the leap to a healthier lifestyle. They can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-317-2029 to ask questions, get information or just chat!! We are also aligned with other wellness companies who share our same vision, such as, Kavella Hair products (Founder: Ashely Feinberg) and Freedom Deodorant (Founder: Ira Green).