Happi: So, what's new at Hugo Naturals these days?
Saavedra: Everything! We just launched the new baby line – it’s been restaged and it’s gorgeous. We just launched it 10 days ago and it’s already flying off the shelves! Internationally, we’re also doing incredible business. We’re currently Korea’s number one line; we’ve been named the cleanest line and have been on the front page of every newspaper and magazine in that country. We also have something very unique coming out in the next 120 days… Stay tuned!
Happi: As a long-time naturals marketer, how are you reducing your environmental footprint?
Saavedra: We’re doing something unique with Whole Foods right now. We’re sending them glass containers and bulk product; the customer gets the container at Whole Foods and buys shampoo, shower gel and our other products by the gallon, then they can continue refilling the container. We’re currently testing this concept in the Boulder, CO store, but if it works like we think it will, we’re going to bring this new concept into every store in the country. In the next six months, we plan to make many more changes to benefit the environment.
Happi:We know that in some cases, naturals and green products took a hit during the recession as some of the more casual "green" users went back to other brands. How did your company fare during the recession? Are you seeing any positive changes that suggest more mainstream consumers are coming back to the naturals space?
Saavedra: We are not feeling the effects of the recession. Consumers are seeing how incredible the product is and are continuing to buy it, so even in the recession, we have a recession-proof product. With the recession, consumers don’t pamper themselves by going to the spa, they do home treatments instead. We find that they’re using our products for these at-home treatments because they’re so luxurious; we’ve actually seen a gain in business because of that. The consumer is not going for a $150 spa treatment, they’re using our scrub or taking a beautiful bath with our bath bombs.
Happi: What is your most popular product this year—and why does it resonate so well with your customers?
Saavedra: I believe that the scrubs and the bath bombs are popular, and everything that we sell in bulk is resonating tremendously well with the customer, as they can buy smaller or larger pieces of our bulk products based on their budget.
Happi: Personally, what is the product that you are most proud of—and why? I know this is like picking a favorite child, but we all have favorites!
Saavedra: I am fanatical about everything that we do! I am very proud of our hair gels and scrubs and lotions, but I’ve also gotten a great response from our customers using the Brown Sugar Polish, as a lot of people tell me it helps with eczema. The emails I get are overwhelming; people tell me how it changed their life, so I have a special fondness for that product.
Happi: What are the "musts" that you have when picking or working with suppliers of ingredients and packaging?
Saavedra: Understanding that we are on a mission to create an incredible company is a must, and they have to align with our standards. For me, relationships are everything. We are very picky about who we do business with. The first priority is integrity – we go to special lengths to ensure that there is no animal testing or use of animal by-products, and that there are no harmful ingredients. How the product is produced is very important to us.