LooHoo Wool Dryer Balls
Nancy Strojny, Cintia Miranda
When Cyndi Prince and her husband decided to cloth diaper their son, Prince realized she would have to give up dryer sheets due to the harmful chemicals they contained. She found a natural alternative in wool dryer balls, which speed up drying time, but wasn’t happy with the quality of products on the market. In October 2010, she launched a business making wool dryer balls to provide a quality, sustainable alternative to dryer sheets.
Starting out manufacturing LooHoo balls herself, Prince sold the product to small health food stores, baby stores and boutiques with great success. She had just landed her first account with a major retailer—Whole Foods—when she met Portland SCORE mentor Nancy Strojny at a networking luncheon. Seeking help with the logistical and operational challenges of working with a large retailer for the first time, Prince started meeting with Strojny monthly.
Strojny helped Prince find a piece manufacturer to handle the additional volume required. She contracts with the manufacturer to make the balls, although she still does the felting herself.
Strojny also worked with Prince to identify retailers interested in sustainable products and to make the most of her product’s socially responsible and environmentally friendly attributes by emphasizing them in a way that her target customer could relate to. “For example, when we do product demonstrations in Whole Foods, we talk to moms about whether they consider their house ‘green’ and natural, and how to create a safe environment for their families,” Prince says.
Prince and Strojny explored the possibility of marketing to businesses such as hospitals and nursing homes, but Prince decided to stay focused on consumers. SCORE mentor Cintia Miranda helped her narrow her target market to “moms with younger children who are concerned with having a healthy home and very conscious of the cleaning products they use,” she explains. Miranda is also helping Prince fine-tune her marketing to highlight that, unlike most of her competitors’ products, LooHoo balls are made with 100% domestic wool. “Supporting U.S. sheep farmers is important to me,” Prince says.
Since Prince began working with SCORE, LooHoo’s sales have doubled every year; in 2014, she hopes to triple sales to $350,000. She is also working toward becoming a regional supplier to Whole Foods, adding more large accounts and developing new products. Along the journey, SCORE’s support has been “invaluable,” says Prince, who continues to meet with Miranda once a month.
Mass Mutual is not associated with, and does not endorse, the business featured.