Stephanie Leshney is among the many indie brand founders today who are well versed in the business of beauty. Industry insiders are stepping away from corporate jobs, supply-side companies, and legacy brands to launch innovative, contemporary products that meet next-generation consumer expectations.
These intrepid entrepreneurs have accelerated the pace of change in an already fast-moving CPG industry and are bringing new ideas to the marketplace. What Leshney has created is a tasteful brand that adds simple DIY, and product customization to the kids personal care space. Here, the entrepreneur shares a profile of herself and of the Dabble & Dollop brand.
Name: Stephanie Leshney, President and Founder
Indie Beauty Company: Dabble & Dollop
Launched: August 2019
Headquarters: Long Beach, California
Cash flow: To fund Dabble & Dollop, I’ve re-invested a portion of the proceeds of the sale of Ross Organic, the business I previously owned and operated, which we sold in January of 2017.
We just had our first six-digit order! We shipped $150,000 of Dabble & Dollop Starter Kits this week for a holiday promotion. We are under an NDA and can’t say anything just yet…
And, I’m really proud of how engaged my kids are with the business. When they get home from school each day, they ask “how many kits did we sell today?” They get so excited even if it’s only 1-2 kits, that’s nearly $100 to them and they think we are set for life!
Indie how? To me, an indie brand is an independent brand and I also think it implies authenticity, which usually comes with a smaller sized company, and one in its early stage of startup/growth.
Team work: Currently there are 3 of us working in the company. I do work with a number of freelance specialists as well.
Distribution: We sell in the US and Canada through our own ecommerce site dabbleanddollop.com and the products are also listed on Amazon. In October we announced our partnership with Maisonette.com, the leading destination for premium children’s products online. We also have an agreement with a global multiplatform retailer to promote the Dabble & Dollop Starter Kits during holiday. And that’s just the first few months…so I’m feeling very good about our launch.
Years in beauty: I worked for 20 years in the cosmetic and personal care industry, specifically on the ingredient side, with Ross Organic. I spent the majority of my time in sales, so I was privy to lot of the behind the scenes formulation action with the brands we supplied.
While I was on the science-side of cosmetics, I absolutely fell in love with the branding and marketing while revamping our branding in the early 2000’s. My inspiration often came from our creative customers. Ross Organic was a supplier to some of the largest and most innovative baby / kids brands in the US, so it gave me a unique insight and interest in that space.
Years at Dabble & Dollop: While the business formally launched in August, I started product development and business plan 2 years prior.
Entrepreneurial experience: Before starting Dabble & Dollop, I owned and operated Ross Organic, an ingredient supplier based in Los Angeles. I took over the helm from my father in 2012, subsequently spent the next five years growing the business and in 2017 we sold to Azelis. I was lucky to be in such an entrepreneurial environment, having started when the company was so small and essentially getting the opportunity to build it alongside my Father.
Starting Dabble & Dollop has been incredibly and a welcome new challenge. I feel lucky to experience what my Dad must’ve experienced 30 years ago and it gives me a refreshed appreciation for what he was able to build from scratch.
The wow-factor: Dabble & Dollop has created the first ever mixable bath products for kids. With our Starter Kit, kids get a DIY / customization opportunity to mix scents and textures to create their own bubble baths, shampoos and bodywashes. Not only does this make bath time way more fun for kids, but it encourages them to have the independence to bathe on their own. Our formulations are all made with a ‘less is more’ ingredient philosophy; there are fewer than 10 ingredients in each formula. I don’t believe children should sit in a bathtub filled with unnecessary filler ingredients, no matter how natural they are.
The consumer: We are targeting a mindful mother, one who appreciates a modern aesthetic, appreciates the union of nature and science, and demands the highest quality in their personal care products.
Our customer believes all children are unique and special, and that bath time should honor that self-expression. We’re also targeting moms of multiples since bath time can be more challenging for those mothers. (As a mother of twins and a third only one year behind, I had all three children in the tub for several years. It wasn’t easy shampooing each child and it was hard to make bath time feel special and unique for each child)
Milestone moment: We’re not quite there yet but looking forward to more brand awareness. I understand we’ll be in several gift guide roundups this Fall, so I’m really looking forward to the awareness those roundups will bring.
Advice for fellow beauty entrepreneurs: Being on the ingredient side for 20+ years, I’ve seen so many brands startup over the years. I think what is universal about the successful brands is that they are clearly differentiated with authentic brand stories. I would caution entrepreneurs to not build an entire brand around one story ingredient (e.g. CBD). Ingredients come in and out of fashion so quickly nowadays – like fast fashion - so I think it’s a risky strategy if you’re trying to build a brand for the long term.
Just one: Asked about her go-to-beauty product, Leshney says, I definitely pick a matte lip stain which then I could also use for blush. I always wear a lip stain just a shade darker than my natural lip, so that it doesn’t look like I’m wearing makeup.
Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.