Colett Bigler – AllyKats President Interview
Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
I’m a mommy of a ‘tween (8 year old Alicia) and stepmom to 24y ear old Alex, 23 year old Marissa and 16 year old Lane.
My professional background is mostly from the tech industry, where I have worked as a data analyst/ SAS programmer for over 10 years in companies like Hewlett Packard and, Intel. After Alicia was born I also took on a side job and started selling kids clothes and accessories as a sales agent.
AllyKats was my 2nd line that I took on. 🙂
It was always my favorite line!
Where are you located?
I’m from the Pacific NW in the US (state of Washington).
How did you first become involved in AllyKats?
As a sales agent – I represented the line starting in 2004. In mid-2007 I purchased the business from the original owner. AllyKats was always my favorite line, and as other lines would come and go, AllyKats was the only line I kept the whole time I was a sales agent.
You’ve recently rebranded – what made you decide to do this and how is it now different?
AllyKats had been in the US market since 2004 and was needing to be ‘freshened up’. We had always focused on mainly the children’s boutique market, and with the economic problems that arose in 2008, dozens of boutiques have had to close their doors. In essence, our core market was drying up.
I did a lot of research in 2009, and decided that we needed to update the brand and product mix. We also decided to raise the age of our target market, from 4yrs old and up to ‘tweens (7 and up). So we moved more towards a more modern theme, with more edgy colors and graphics. We moved away from the bath products (shampoos, bubble bath, etc) and now offer cosmetics. We did keep our ever-popular nontoxic sparkly peel-off nail polish, however, but now offer it in a star-shaped bottle with hip colors.
In November, 2011 we will be bringing back our Sparkling Powder Puff with a new paraben-free formulation.
Our new products include:
Nontoxic Sparkly Peel-off Nail Polish in 3 colors (more colors coming soon)
Sparkle Lip Gloss in Pink Frosting
Mini Sparkle Lip Glosses in Pink Frosting & Bare Shimmer, complete with lanyard & AllyKats charm
AllyKats branded cosmetic bag to hold AllyKats products
Sparkling Powder Puff
We also have gorgeous acrylic displays for our retail outlets
We used a focus group of ‘tweens to decide which products and colors to manufacture, so the new line is, in essence, made by ‘tweens for ‘tweens! Of course, true to AllyKats’ nature, all our products are formulated to be safe and gentle for kids.
How easy / difficult was it?
It was a lot more difficult than I originally thought it would be! It took about a year and a half from the time I made the decision to when the new products were actually in. The biggest chunk of time was doing the research – what do ‘tweens like, what do ‘tweens use, what do ‘tweens WANT? After that, it was off to the marketing company to create new graphics and branding. The very last step was actually ordering the products.
Where would you like to see AllyKats in the future?
We’ve been in the boutique market for so many years that it’s time for AllyKats to go mainstream. Girls go crazy over our products, and being only in boutiques limits the number of girls who can get to know the brand. We are working towards the beauty supply and mass market in the US now. Another important goal of mine is to get more distribution in the UK. I get frequent emails from consumers there wanting to purchase AllyKats products. There is certainly a market for us there.
What do you know now that you wish you knew 5 years ago?
Oh gosh, where do I start?! You learn by making mistakes – and I’ve learned a lot since taking over AllyKats!
I hate to admit some of the mistakes I’ve made, but I have learned from them all and am a better business-owner from them!
Why is it important to have products specifically for children?
Children’s product safety is a very hot topic these days, and a very important one. However, there is also the factor of kids wanting products that are THEIRS. Especially with ‘tweens, who want to mimic their older sisters and role models, we need to offer them products that are made for them, are safe for them, and that have the right values.
An AllyKats girl does not go out with bright red lipstick and blue eye shadow. Rather, an AllyKats girl sparkles from head to toe. She garners attention from her shimmery eyes (our eye shimmer brings out the color of ANY eyes), her glossy sparkly lips and her tasteful polish colors.
An AllyKats girl feels grown up but still looks her age. AllyKats proves that a product can be safe and gentle, but also “super cool”.
There are a lot of environmental issues going on at the moment, carbon footprint, toxins in cosmetics to name a few. What can people do to make the world a healthier place for the next generation?
I think as a manufacturer, it is our responsibility to continually educate ourselves on safety issues, especially as they apply to children. Though AllyKats products are not touted as ‘all natural’, they are tested and inspected to be safe for kids.
How do you feel about products that are tested on animals?
I disagree with any and all animal testing, whether it be cosmetics or pharmaceutical or any other industry.
“Our products have never been tested on animals.”
How do you use the Internet in conjunction with your business?
Our site educates consumers on our products, and allows them to purchase directly from us. We highly value our retailers, however, and so we list all our retail outlets so consumers can find a store near them.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
The best part of my job is creating products that make girls’ faces light up when they see them.
You’re a very busy woman – how do you juggle your family, business and work lives?
Oh, it’s tough! How do any of us moms do it? It’s a juggling act, for sure. You have to find time here and there whenever you can. Somehow it just all seems to get done, though sometimes late at night 🙂
What are the advantages / disadvantages about running your own company?
The advantages and disadvantages are the same – decisions. Sometimes I GET to make all the decisions, sometimes I HAVE to make all the decisions. Also having to wear all hats – shipping, procurement, accounting, etc.
It is exhausting sometimes, but I wouldn’t give it up for the world!
Do you have any advice for people who want to start their own business but are not sure about how?
Realize that it is more difficult than you imagine, and everything will take longer than you imagine. Oh, and everything will cost more than you imagined!
I think the most important thing to do is be realistic when you start the venture and you will be fine.
What do you never leave home without?
What else are you passionate about?
My family – they are the ultimate reason I do everything I do 🙂
Thanks to Colett for answering our questions and sharing a little more about her fab cosmetics line. To learn more about AllyKats, visit their website www.AllyKats.com.
Stay tuned for more interesting interviews with other fun & fearless members of the nail industry.