Our 5 Favorite Gifts in Health / Wellness for 2016

Nothing is better during the holidays than doing a little bit of self pampering or receiving a gift that focuses on your health and wellness. 

Here is our round up of our 5 favorite things that we would LOVE as gifts this holiday season, and think someone else might too :)

1. We live in New York, and right now it is winter. That means our skin is cold and dry! One of my favorite moisturizing tricks are using these amazing sheet masks from Japan right before bed for about 20 minutes. Your face will feel smooth and refreshed! Available for purchase here.

Moisturizing Sheet Mask by LuLuLun

2. Nothing is more soothing or relaxing than getting home and lighting a candle. We are both obsessed with candles and pride ourselves on our candle collections. A personal favorite? This Aspen candle by Capri Blue - available here. Smells just like being in the mountains, and not stuck inside New York City. 

3. In case you haven't noticed, we are germaphobes. We spent the last few months perfecting our new product - and now we couldn't be more excited to be obsessively using, and sharing with the world - our 100% natural hand sanitizers. Try our Chamomile-Lavender fragrance for a fresh new fragrance that is super calming. Shop it now

4. The ultimate luxury - a bath! Especially for those of us who live on the East Coast, few things are more enjoyable than a hot soak. Add in some extra skin care treatments and you can't lose. Try these Fresh bath sugar cubes to exfoliate and moisturize your skin for your next long bath. 

5. Part of any balanced healthy lifestyle is exercise. Recently, yoga has become a big part of my routine, and I am very into my new yoga mat. A "sticky" yoga mat actually makes a huge difference in your practice, and helps you avoid worrying about slipping in class. I love the Manduka mats and you can find them here

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Come Fly With Me (+ Birchbox + JetBlue)!

Who doesn't need a little freshening up mid-flight? Today, we're excited to announce that sprucing from 30,000 feet just got a little bit easier! We've partnered with Birchbox and JetBlue to be part of the JetBlue MINT amenity kits. Passengers flying JetBlue MINT will receive a Sprucie, along with other TSA-approved best-selling travel products. Thanks to this awesome collaboration, your phone, tablet, computer and glasses will arrive fresh and clean to your final destination. 


"Spruce & Co's gentle, plant-based screen cleaning wipes are the perfect way to keep our mobile devices grime-free. We're excited to add them as a brand partner on Birchbox.com and feature them in our in-flight JetBlue MINT amenity kits." -Birchbox Merchandising Team

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The Jills' Tips to Creating Brand Partnerships

***Originally posted on The Haute Mess

“If you build it, they will come” … or so the saying goes.

So … how do you get customers to discover your new business? Customer acquisition is a big hurdle for any company, but is especially challenging when you have limited resources and an even more limited marketing budget! It would be great to launch a Super Bowl commercial and instantly expose 115 million people to your startup. But until that day comes, you can still reach tons of new customers with creative and scrappy entrepreneurial ways.

In addition to social media, organic PR and building an email listserv, we found that the best way for us to reach our target audience was through brand partnerships! Why are partnerships important? They are a great way to expand your reach, strategically market to new prospective customers and associate your company with other brands your target customer already loves. Luckily, we had a leg up. One of Spruce & Co’s co-founders (Jill A) is a partnership pro from her time working at Google and StumbleUpon as a partnership lead.

During our first year at Spruce & Co, we have launched strategic brand partnerships with both large brands (including BirchBoxJetBlueDelta, TED and Zipcar) and younger startups (including Away Travel and Stowaway).

Here are a few best practices we keep in our brand partnership toolkit:

BECOME YOUR OWN TARGET CUSTOMER

Once you identify your target customer (remember, you are not always your own target), make an effort to immerse yourself in his or her world. It’s a helpful exercise to build a demographic and interest-based profile for your customer. What brands do they care about? Follow their social channels and sign up for their list servs. What do they read? Start following those blogs, newsletters and media outlets! Where do you think your customer shops, eats and travels? Which other brands are present in those places?

Training yourself to think like your customer will help inspire ideas for partnerships to strike up across the apps, brands and places of interest your customer cares about most. If an idea sparks, find the right contact (more on this below…) and PITCH IT! 

LINKEDIN STALK LIKE IT’S YOUR JOB (AND LEVERAGE YOUR NETWORKS)!

LinkedIn can be your best friend. Make sure your own profile is up-to-date and then spend time scouring the site, refining your search to particular companies and roles within those companies. The larger your network is on LinkedIn, the more connections you’re able to make through friends, friends of friends, etc. Utilize the feature to ask for introductions, and if you’re not able to get an introduction – don’t be afraid to send cold emails!  You never know who is going to be helpful. Some of our most successful partnerships to date started with a cold email to someone we connected with on LinkedIn.

Outside of LinkedIn, you should also engage with your alumni communities, past co-workers and any other networks you take part in. Since we launched our company during business school, we were fortunate to have a built-in network of classmates and alumni – and we reach out to them often! A handful of our classmates are working at the companies on our “dream partnership” list, or are connected to someone who is – the Facebook group for our business school class is active with people asking “Does anyone know someone at XYZ company that can help make an intro?” The key is to not feel limited by your immediate network—don’t be afraid to leverage your networks (both “real life” and social).

GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR OFFERINGS

Many partners approach us with an idea that requires a marketing budget or a large social media following. (i.e., “In exchange for $X, we’ll do XYZ for Spruce & Co” OR “We’ll post to our 5 million followers, if Spruce & Co. posts to a similar amount.”) The thing is – we are small (but growing :)) and aren’t in a position to entertain most of those types of ideas – which forces us to think more creatively! A good partnership only works if BOTH partners feel like they are getting something good out of the deal. Rather than exchange $$$ or the promise of a massive social following, a few things we can offer potential partners include: product samples (sometimes in custom co-branded packaging), specialty discount codes, gift giveaways, design collaborations, guest blogging, or features through our email newsletter.

Keep in mind that a partnership with a brand or company bigger than yours is not always a good idea just because you’re working with a larger company. Make sure you’re getting something out of it that’s helpful for your business – and be patient! Some of our best partnerships have taken over one year to cultivate. Good luck and we’ll see you on LinkedIn!

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Sprucing up business travel with DUFL

*** Originally posted on the DUFL blog.

Have you ever thought about all of the places your phone goes with you during the day? If you’re like us - you bring your phone with you to work, to the gym, to the kitchen, on your flight when you travel, and probably even to the bathroom! When was the last time you cleaned your device? The typical smartphone user in the US has a phone screen that’s 18x dirtier than a public toilet seat, and most people don’t even think about the fact that we should clean them! Well, we think that’s disgusting - which is why we startedSpruce & Co - our wellness-focused consumer products startup.

We’re creating simple products to help maintain everyday healthy routines - and that starts with keeping your screens clean! Our screen cleaning wipes are specially designed to keep your phones, tablets, computers and glasses shiny and bright. They are plant-based, vegan, free of alcohol, ammonia and fragrance, and made in the USA.

How did we get inspired to start sprucing things up? We met during our first year at Harvard Business School. As students, we were both excited by the prospect of starting our own company and would spend tons of time brainstorming ideas together. We found ourselves in class observing each other’s compulsive need to clean our hands, desks and phones. Prior to this, we each had specific experiences with what we like to call “tech hygiene.” Jill R was a classroom teacher with iPads in her classroom - constantly filled with saliva and Cheetos stains. Jill A ruined her iPhone speaker after dousing a bit too much hand sanitizer onto her screen!

After researching the market, we saw a real opportunity to develop a new consumer products brand - starting with gentle cleaning products that are safe for our devices. We wanted to create a product that we felt good about sharing with others - whether our coworkers or a toddler using their parent's smartphone. We officially launched Spruce & Co in 2014 while still at Harvard Business School; taking advantage of the amazing resources on campus, and participating in fellowship programs and venture competitions to help us with initial funding.

It was important for us to create a company that keeps consumers (and their changing habits and preferences) top of mind. We care about the ingredients we source and where our products are manufactured. We also hope that our colorful and fun packaging will help brighten up your day.

The screen cleaning wipes are our first product and we have several more in development slated to launch later this year - so stay tuned!

To that - we are all about trying to make your life a little brighter by providing simple everyday products. And that’s why we love DUFL! DUFL simplifies your travel and makes the packing and airport experience stress-free (yes please!). Spruce & Co + DUFL definitely have some shared goals around cleanliness and simplicity.

We are so excited to collaborate as a DULF Bits partner to help spruce up the experience even more by providing Sprucies - our plant-based screen cleaning wipes - to DUFL users. In addition to finding your fresh, clean and neatly packed clothing in your DUFL, you can now use our screen cleaning wipes to make your phone, tablet, computer or glasses shiny and bright.


Less than one year into our launch, our first product - screen cleaning wipes - were named by Travel + Leisure as one of the “Best Travel Products of the Year.” We are excited to continue our growth into the travel space, and help every DUFL user keep their devices a little bit spruced up!

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4 QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK WHEN STARTING A BUSINESS

***Originally posted on The Haute Mess.

                 

We met at Harvard Business School at a point in our lives when we each had separately decided to try to start a business. We didn’t have a specific idea in mind, but we knew we wanted to start a company that we believed in and were excited to grow and develop. The result: Spruce & Co, a company making plant-based cleaning wipes for your phones, tablets and computer screens.

1. SHOULD I START A COMPANY ALONE OR WITH OTHERS?

For us, the idea of starting a business alone seemed isolating and intimidating. While some people thrive with the independence of being a solo founder, we each felt strongly that starting a company together would be more fun and interesting, and would give us a much needed support system.

At the end of the day your co-founder has to be someone you can communicate effectively with, has complimentary skill sets and you enjoy being around (all day, every day!). Finding an ideal co-founder takes open and honest conversation, a shared sense of vision and commitment and most importantly a lot of trust and respect—something we were able to build as classmates and friends for two years!

2. WHAT ROLE DO I WANT IN THIS BUSINESS?

Not everyone can be (or wants to be) the CEO and not everyone wants day-to-day involvement. Think about what role you want to play in your new business and what you think you can personally add. Honestly assess your skill set.

Ask your former classmates, co-workers or managers about your greatest strengths and weaknesses. And leverage your strengths to make yourself as valuable as possible. You might thrive at sales, but not so much at operations—and that’s okay!

Self-assessment and self-awareness are incredibly important, and selecting a co-founder or building a team that complements and rounds out your own skill set is a critical part of the founding process.

3. WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT THIS IDEA?

In the early days of Spruce & Co when we starting thinking about developing our screen cleaning wipes, we spent a lot of time understanding the market and researching the competitive landscape.  

  • If you find a space without existing competitors your first question should be why?

  • If there is an existing or potential market for your product or idea, you need to understand the challenges of getting to market.

  • What is special about your product or idea that you can actually turn into a business?

Study your target customer demographic. Spend time with your potential customers and immerse yourself in their world. Don’t forget, you may not always be your own customer, so it’s important to check your biases at the door. Your idea doesn’t have to be completely novel, but you need a differentiator — something that consumers will care about enough to impact their purchasing decisions. What will yours be?

4. WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW TO DECIDE IF MY IDEA WILL WORK?

Every business will struggle and it takes time to ramp up. For us, what’s been helpful is setting long term goals, coupled with shorter term goals that we check in on at the end of each month. It’s important to have a long term vision, but it’s equally important to celebrate small wins and constantly re-evaluate your goals and your metrics.

Breaking things down into digestible benchmarks you can hit along the way will keep you motivated and accountable!

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