Memo Exclusive: An Interview with the Founder of Spongelle
Spongelle Co-Founder Elaine Binder
For the past few years, we have visited the Spongelle (pronounced sponge-gel-lay) booth during Cosmoprof North America in Las Vegas, and watched the brand evolve. A line that uses the trademarked tag line, “Beyond Cleansing,” Spongelle’s range of body wash-infused body buffers feature a unique technology to deliver a wide range of scents and active ingredients with every use. With buffers in a range of sizes, and designed to appeal to different audiences (men, kids, eco-conscious), Spongelle continues to refine its message and attract new users. MODERN asked Co-Founder Elaine Binder to tell us more about her bath time beauty brand.
MS: Please share some background on Spongelle.
EB: The company was founded by my husband and me back in 2003. Since then, we made a commitment to manufacturing only in the US and we were able to hold onto this commitment to this day. We are a middle- sized company, located in Inglewood, CA, and our belief is in respecting and rewarding those who makes our business a success since without the team work, we would not be here.
MS: What trade shows do you attend and where have you had the most success?
EB: We exhibit at Cosmoprof North America, Cosmoprof Bologna, Cosmoprof Hong Kong, International Spa Association Conference and Expo (ISPA) and NY NOW The Market for Home, Lifestyle and Gift. After experimenting with many tradeshows over the years, those listed have proven to be the most successful ones for us.
MS: How did Spongelle ride out the recent recession?
EB: Interestingly enough, Spongelle did not feel much of a recession other than the typical slow months of summer. I believe due to our unique delivery system and simply being an ‘all-in-one’ beauty treatment, we were able to continue innovating through the recession and beyond.
Also, I believe the beauty industry was not hit as hard by the recession and products that are as unique as ours were able to ride it out a little better than others. It is never easy but by creating something special that the consumers cared about, we were able to build a strong fan base as well as great relationships with our retailers.
MS: Where are you retailed? Are you seeking distribution?
EB: Every brand is always seeking additional distribution but I am very pleased with the current positioning of our brand, an inspiring interest from retailers and licensors as well as the new opportunities opening up nationwide and in International markets. We are in Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Massage Envy, Lilly Rain, major hotel chains, resorts and beauty destinations, including but not limited to Duty Free Worldwide category.
On another note, we would love to add retailers like Sephora, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, and other high end beauty and personal care destinations.
Our products can be found at several distinguished showrooms including Goetz Inc. in Dallas, CMA Home in Atlanta, and Just Got 2 Have It! In Las Vegas.
MS: Your packaging and story have come together beautifully over the past few years. Talk about that process.
EB: I have really been inspired by traveling, by European brands and by the richness of the countries, themselves. From these travels, I’ve been exposed to a variety of different patterns, colors, and unique sensory experiences, all of which have influenced the products and the brand identity. All the while, too, I stay focused on following and being aware of trends. We are fortunate because we have always remained in the forefront of innovation technology so we can offer consumer an all-in-one beauty treatment in all-in-one easy application.
Spongelle’s story has had some bumps in the road like any other growing business, nevertheless, we were able to create a unified look and feel that stood out and that realized the direction I had always envisioned for the brand. From that point it has become easier to create new products and line extensions by adding onto the already well-received story.
MS: How was the infusion technology discovered and developed?
EB: It all started when my son, now 20 years old, was only five and he was always using my expensive bottles of shower gel. That set me on a mission to create a delivery system which would allow me-- and others-- to know how many washes are in each buffer and the cost per shower. All while keeping the highest standards in quality and, yes, being made in the US.
We are proud to have worldwide patents on our proprietary delivery and infusion technology. This technology offers an experience that goes way Beyond Cleansing. What we offer now in the Personal Care category is just the tip of the iceberg where the technology is concerned; our patents cover other categories including medical, auto, pet, acne, and sunless tanning, just to name a few.
We look forward to adding more products to our line that add value to the consumer by making their life a bit more luxurious while being incredibly efficient and cost effective.
MS: How important is fragrance in your story and who is responsible for determining the scents?
EB: This topic as it is very close to my heart; fragrance is an essential part of our story and we strive to bring unique and inspiring fragrances to our products. It’s so important to me, in fact, that I studied at a perfumery school in Grasse, France, which is considered the birthplace of the world’s perfume industry. While there, you have the chance to explore the ‘fragrance universe’ and come to understand about how to use raw ingredients, the subtle art of blending and how a fragrance is composed. I learned as much as I could so I could come back and share my newly discovered sensory vision with the world.