Updated: May 21
Your business is like your baby! Make sure it is protected. You can spend months or even years mixing the right combination of shea butter, herbs, and fragrances for your skin care brand, but if that recipe isn’t protected someone can easily steal it. If you do not take the right precautions, you will need a lawyer. This can cost a lot more than what it takes to protect your brand. This week, I interviewed Breonna Massey, the founder of the all-natural skin care brand, SLAY Naturals. She gave us real facts on the legal actions you can take to protect your brand for free.
Breonna started making her product in college. She was sitting in her dorm room with her 4 roommates, when she got fed up with commercials for skin care products not reflecting her image. Overall, skin care products left Black women out and when we were included it was as the butt of a racist joke *cough cough Dove*. Products made for Black women catered to certain hair textures or were made for the type of “natural woman” whose style matches her eucalyptus scent. Additionally, natural products that did come close to Breonna’s chic style were too expensive.
"I wanted to take down the barriers of entry to the natural movement."
She wanted her products to break down the barriers of entry to the natural lifestyle. So, she made SLAY Natural’s products affordable and fabulous. Her sugar scrubs are bright pinks and blues and her body butters just smell lovely. Fun Fact: The SLAY in SLAY Naturals stands for Stay Lovely And Young.
In the beginning, she wasn’t buying her ingredients in bulk. This was a strategic decision because she was still getting to know her customers and what they wanted. She would take their feedback to design the next iteration of her product. This process of trial and error lasted for 2 years. She needed to start small and fail small or else her business would have been out of a lot of money in the beginning. Sure she could have tried to fundraise for $15,000, but would her business have been able to pay that back before having a recipe or understanding their target audience.
Breonna put in a lot of work to get her product made. Then, last year, someone took her product out of the label and tried to sell it as their own. Breonna could not afford a lawyer, and she did not have the time or patience to go through a lawsuit. She gave us 3 tips on how to avoid this:
Start small; don’t take on a huge financial risks
Focus on your Customers and success will follow
Trade secret > patent for a hidden formula.
The last tip is a hidden gem. Unlike patents, trade secrets are not limited by time. Additionally, there is no cost to register and it goes into effect immediately. However, once the secret has been made public, anyone can use it. Additionally, if your product is proven to be innovative, others will be able to research it and possibly reverse engineer it. These are important things to consider. If you want to build a network of founders that you can talk through this with, apply for our savings club today! You will learn strategies like this while saving more money and connecting with people to give you access to more capital for your business. For more on my interview with Breonna Massey, listen to the full episode here.