Bodylove Naturals owners Stacey Antonelli and Wyatt Foley pitched their all-natural skin care product to Walmart at Open Call in June 2018. Walmart gave them a green light for the Body Butter Bar in three fragrances, which are made in downtown Rogers.
That meant the partners, who are siblings, began bootstrapping their business in their spare time as both of them have full-time jobs. Antonelli said the past 10 months have been a wild ride as the company recently got its first products on Walmart shelves in 85 U.S. stores.
None of the stores are located in Arkansas, with the closest store that carries the product in Edmond, Okla. Antonelli said their buyer put the product in all of his “test stores,” none of which are located in the Natural State.
The all-natural product is one of two dozen products the company makes in a commercial kitchen space it leases in downtown Rogers. Antonelli and Foley make the product, and they work with a broker/consultant who has helped them navigate the labyrinth of Walmart’s protocol for new products.
Antonelli is a graphic designer and marketing professional by trade at Home Depot, and Foley works in a supervisory role at Sam’s Club. Antonelli said the partners share a common passion for all-natural skin products. She said Foley has previous experience in the natural skin care business, and he recruited his sister to try to launch the products into retail last year.
They began selling their products at the farmers market in Rogers. Antonelli pitched the product to Harps Food Stores early last year and got the products in six Northwest Arkansas stores. In June, they pitched the Body Butter Bars at Walmart’s Open Call. The bars are the easiest for them to scale in their small operation.
“When Walmart said yes to the product, it was almost unbelievable for us,” Antonelli said. “We had so much to learn about the whole process of selling into retail on Walmart’s scale. The company has been great to work with us, and we have started to get replenishment orders for the initial shipments sent to Walmart in February.”
She said selling to Walmart fits very well with the company’s mission to make all-natural skin care products accessible and affordable for the masses. The Butter Bar products at Walmart sell for $6.98 and come in three scents: grapefruit and mint, cherry almond, and southern gardenia. She said the bars resemble a stick of deodorant and are skin care creams that can be rubbed on the skin.
Antonelli said the company is in the midst of bringing on another partner to help scale the operation. The company makes and sells roughly 30 products on its website and at area farmers markets. The company hopes to pitch additional products to Walmart later this year. She said Bodylove Naturals is in the process of being sold on Walmart.com, and Bodylove Naturals also plans to sell on Amazon in the coming months.
“We wanted to focus on getting the Walmart orders filled on time and in full. And now that we have that system down, we can start expanding our distribution,” Antonelli said.
Her advice for anyone pitching in this year’s Open Call is to know the cost structure of their products down to the penny. She said there are so many hoops and hurdles to clear throughout the process for new products and first-time suppliers. Antonelli said if small manufacturers need to partner with a broker or consultant, they should do their homework and find a consultant with expertise in their category.
“There is no time to waste when Walmart says they want your product. Make sure the people you bring on board to help you with the Walmart business have the same passion for the product and share similar goals,” Antonelli said.
Editor’s note: The Supply Side section of Talk Business & Politics focuses on the companies, organizations, issues and individuals engaged in providing products and services to retailers. The Supply Side is managed by Talk Business & Politics and sponsored by Propak Logistics.