From a home studio in a little Montana town, Corrie Colbert is trying to remedy a global problem: dry lips. She’s calling on organic farmers to join her and they are answering.
Colbert is the proprietor of Hurraw!, a lip balm manufacturer based out of Whitefish. The company’s tag line is: “All natural. Organic. Vegan. Raw. Good.” To procure the ingredients for her very specific products, Colbert tries to directly contact fair-trade farmers across North America when possible. This often requires a lot of phone calls.
“You just start calling,” Colbert said. “I’ve been able to cut out the middle man and go straight to the farmer.”
Colbert is a trained photographer who began making lip balms as a hobby years ago to satisfy both her creative urges and her vegan lifestyle. The hobby grew into a business, which has in turn grown into somewhat of a phenomenon that even surprises Colbert.
Last year, she shipped out 50,000 tubes of balm and this year she’s looking at 150,000. She said she “was shocked” to discover how large the market for vegan products is. Hurraw! balms have been reviewed in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Women’s Health, Teen Vogue and other publications.
The business is growing fast enough that Colbert enlisted the help of her mother, father and husband to avoid “working 16 hours a day.” Each lip balm is made by hand, from the mixing to the pouring.
“There’s no machinery out there that can really do it – it all comes down to the 10 digits,” Colbert said, holding out her fingers.
Both Colbert and her husband have professional backgrounds in production and design, which helps them with self-marketing, branding and packaging. Colbert’s lip balms are found in health food stores across the state, though Montana represents a very small percentage of her sales. Colbert said she has established markets nationwide and especially out of the country.
Hurraw! has a strong base in Australia and Europe, with an increasing number of customers coming from Asia.
“Those markets recognize unique items a little more,” Colbert said.
But before Colbert could launch internationally, she had to figure out her basic balm formulas. She said she tinkered with over 150 test batches in an effort to find the appropriate ingredient combinations.
“I was a mad scientist for a few years,” she said.
Today, Hurraw! offers a wide selection of flavors, including green tea, coffee bean, chai spice, black cherry made from Flathead Lake cherries, orange, mint, coconut, chocolate, grapefruit, cinnamon and more.
In addition to the flavors, the balms’ core ingredients are almond oil, coconut oil, cacao butter, jojoba oil, olive oil, castor oil and candelilla wax. The Hurraw! website explains where the ingredients are derived.
“I’m pretty into full disclosure,” Colbert said.
Because the oils and butters have been processed at low temperatures, Colbert said they are considered “raw” and maintain many of their essential nutrients and enzymes.
Colbert is remodeling her studio where the balms are made, but at this pace she’ll have to move into a larger space soon after the current remodel is finished. She will likely need to hire some employees as well. Those dilemmas will come in due time, but for now Colbert is content to ride her steady wave of growth.
“It’s been perfect,” she said. “It hasn’t been too fast or too much at once.”
For more information, visit www.hurrawbalm.com.
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