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Month: September 2022

Snyder Group, Inc.

Case Studies & Success Stories

Snyder Group, Inc.

David Snyder, President & Creative Director

Snyder Group is focused on fine-tuning every part of the marketing and sales funnel for their clients. They believe in the complete integration of marketing, sales, and technology teams. The group is made up of strategists, designers, copywriters and coders who share an interdisciplinary approach to achieving objectives.

President & Creative Director David Snyder talks about embracing the challenges, opportunities and rewards of building a digital agency in a virtual space.

“I lived and worked in New York City for a number of years before I took a job as a managing director at a branding firm in Stamford. Then, I opened my own business in Norwalk in 1996. When COVID hit in 2020, we basically went to a virtual model. Two years later, we were still working primarily virtually. And we are in the digital marketing space. So, it really made a lot of sense for us to go to a non-brick-and-mortar environment and it’s really working wonderfully.”

“Our entire office is virtual at this point. We have folks who live in Norwalk. We have folks who live in Stamford. We have folks who live in Bridgeport. We now have folks who live in the Midwest and out west. So, we also expanded where we can hire from. The virtual work environment for us has been a real win.”

“We’re a boutique agency by design. Just by virtue of living, working and playing in the area, we’ve had the opportunity to work with – and still work with – a lot of Norwalk-based companies. Our client mix is primarily business-to-business, encompassing manufacturing technology, life sciences among other things. Education is also a vertical of ours. Many of our clients are headquartered here or regionally but they’re selling nationally and internationally.”

“When COVID hit, it supercharged everything that can happen online. Whether it’s a Zoom meeting or anything else, we had been doing it for quite some time prior. What it did for our clients is that a lot of the spend in advertising budgets that would typically be put towards things like trade shows  and traditional media moved to digital.  A lot of companies got very innovative with how they were going to market and we got busier and busier. We were a little frightened at first like everybody was when COVID first hit but it turned out there were silver linings. What happened was a terrible thing but it did push some innovation and different ways of thinking about not just marketing but work and life in general.”

“We’ve always been a marketing company, first and foremost, leveraging all mediums and media that work best for specific objectives. When marketing automation first came into play, our B2B clients focusing on lead generation were the first to use it. We realized that the overall marketing trend was moving that way and got more involved with data-driven marketing applications.”

“Being a data-driven marketing company means more accountability. The types of media we engage in have clear performance indicators from data points attached. In driving awareness and brand through impressions where you’re working at the top of the funnel, we want to know what those numbers are and what sources are getting us the best traction for those goals. If it’s about getting people to the consideration point, we need to know what data points are supporting getting more contacts in the database, creating more engagement with email campaigns and things like that. Ultimately for businesses, it’s about where marketing dollars are actually converting into sales. Once you put that model in place, you really have successful marketing in play.”

“We can all talk about the numbers but at the end of the day, we’re a people business. Understanding communications, having the ability to listen and then obviously to deliver to goals. But the difference in our company is in our culture. Our retention is good internally and our client base is the same way. It’s transparency. It’s honesty. What you see is what you get.”

“We work with some really large Fortune 500 companies and I believe that smaller agencies like ours are now able to do a lot more than we used to. I worked at big agencies before, however, I enjoy where we’re at right now. We’re a lot more flexible, and agile, we can facilitate things faster.”

“Working in Norwalk and being part of the community, we’ve always had close ties to City Hall, and we’ve done a lot of work with the municipality over the years. We also have a list of Norwalk nonprofits that we’ve partnered with. We continue to have a real connection to the community.”

“In terms of our company culture, we try to get together once or twice a month in person with the team. We have to sometimes either bus or fly our folks in to take advantage of that. We make a point of doing that to get some synergy and mentoring opportunities going on with the team. It often happens in Norwalk because there are plenty of great venues. So, we take full advantage of what Norwalk has to offer. Like I said, I’ve lived, worked and still do play in Norwalk. This entire area is a great place to be and I think Norwalk is probably the shining example.”

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New England Fashion + Design Association

Case Studies & Success Stories

New England Fashion + Design Association

Irina Simeonova, Founder

The New England Fashion + Design Association was founded in 2006. Its mission is to provide knowledge and industry training in the field of fashion and design. NEF+DA believes that fashion is not a craft, it is a profession and lifestyle. Located in South Norwalk, the curriculum draws on deep, rich traditions perfected in European couture houses, as well as from contemporary design techniques. All courses are taught by professors from the best fashion colleges in NYC and guest lecturers are established professionals from the industry. This provides students with fresh, hip fashion experience and the skills to bring fashion to life.

NEF+DA founder Irina Simeonova talks about discovering passion for fashion and building a creative business in Norwalk.   

“I have been in Norwalk since 2002. I came here as an employee of a college that had a problem with its program. I rewrote the program action plan and then it became extremely successful. That experience created in my mind the need for young students to have a creative space where they can come together afterschool and when they finish high school and want to continue working in the fashion field.

I made it like a community center in the beginning. That was the original idea but then somebody found me. She was the mother of an autistic child and she said, ‘My child has never been so engaged as when she’s in your center. You need to make a class for her.’ So, I actually  wrote the first curriculum for her. This is how the business got started. It was only because I met this autistic child who was very happy to learn something and she stayed with me for three years. This helped pull in quite a lot of people and it turned into a little school. We now have students from ages 7 to 72.

In the beginning, I made the classes separate by age. Later, I discovered this didn’t make sense because they all love being together – the young ones with the older ones. It’s such a pleasant experience. They come here and they’re happy. There is this constant sense of happiness and they learn a lot of things.

I also run summer camps. I scout for talent and discover talented children. I ask the parents to allow me to teach their kids and I get a nice group of extremely talented young people. By now, I have actually placed more than 40 people in the best colleges around the world in fashion design.

So, it’s kind of a magical. It’s a very good experience every day. It’s almost like a playground but by playing, we teach in a very professional way and everybody comes out really prepared. My students are the ones that want to enter college and they are the best prepared students going into college.

We teach between 30 and 40 people a year. In summertime, we have about 200 during the summer camp. I have some students that have stayed with me for up to nine years but the usual time is three to four years. They continue upgrading their skills. Many of them just keep going. It’s an ongoing process. It’s amazing passion. So when it’s based on passion, passion doesn’t stop, right?

Most of my students are from the Fairfield County area but we have some people coming from Greater Hartford. We have had people coming from Illinois and as far as California. They stay in hotels when they’re here with us. I don’t know of any other school with our uniqueness in professional level education.

I have never done anything in my life but fashion design. The students that come to me are the same type of people. They just love to design and make things. I actually tell them, ‘I’m not your teacher. I’m just one of the kids. I just happen to know a little more than you know.’ I’m teaching the gang but you know, we like playing together. When they’re young, they absorb super-fast and they make my life worthwhile.

When the environment in the school is so stimulating for students, even after they finish they like to come back. Some of my students graduate colleges and they come back for more. I have never had a compliment like this before in my life.

In my business, I’ve discovered that it’s so good for the soul during crisis. Even during the pandemic, we were still in business. The business didn’t shrink. We did some online classes but when we were able to reopen, immediately everybody came back.

My challenge is that I want to bring the business to the next level and elevate it to a degree-granting program. I also have this idea to grow it into a design center in Norwalk and to pull in all the creatives and to make it a business center selling unique products. That’s my aim. So this is where my mind is right now.

What’s nice about Norwalk is that it’s very close to New York. When you need supplies, you can just get on a train. It takes an hour and five minutes. It’s also interesting for my students. I do field trips with them and take them to all the events. I teach at Parsons School of Design. So, we are all connected. Being close to New York City makes a big difference. You can actually bring the culture here to Norwalk and it feels like you’re in New York.

The City of Norwalk was extremely supportive when I rented this space in the train station. It was not renovated at the time. I had a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce and they agreed to hold quite a big breakfast in the train station. After that breakfast, the train station was renovated by the City to look very presentable. That helped my business to grow, which was very, very nice.”

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Get Joy

Case Studies & Success Stories

Get Joy

Get Joy is building the first metaverse dog park.

Get Joy, an online dog food retailer based in Norwalk, announced it was building the first dog park in the metaverse, the virtual-reality space touted as the future of human interaction. The park, called the Get Joy Dog Zone, will open as a site to host virtual and non-profit activities that support dog wellness, according to the company. Users can interact with virtual dogs at the park using virtual-reality headsets. No word yet on the rules for leashing and disposal of virtual dog waste. Get Joy offers subscriptions and one-time purchases of fresh meals, snacks and freeze-dried food for dogs on its website. A 16-ounce bag of the brand’s freeze-dried beef dog food sells for $35 for a one-time purchase at

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One Fun Company

Case Studies & Success Stories

One Fun Company

Alli DiVincenzo, CEO

As parents, we know that proper, consistent handwashing is critical to keep our kids, family, and community safe. However, getting your kids to maintain a healthy, daily handwashing routine isn’t always easy, especially if your child has sensory triggers. With this in mind, the One Fun Company founders set out to rethink the handwashing process from a kid’s point of view.

Founder and CEO Alli DiVincenzo talks about how ideas and innovation are working hand-in-hand in Norwalk.

“When my son was young, my husband and I struggled to get him to properly wash his hands after school and before dinner. He loved playing with tactile toys, such as water beads, slime, and anything that popped, but washing up with boring, old hand soap was a struggle.

I knew I couldn’t be alone in this handwashing battle. Kids want to have fun, even while doing daily routines. Then I had a light bulb moment. I couldn’t change my kids but I could change their soap. Just like that, the idea for SPLATZ was born. This naturally fun hand soap starts with a satisfying burst that makes washing up a fun treat instead of a dreaded task.

Since my background is in product design, not soap chemistry, I connected with Boston-based scientists Jeff Karp, Ph.D., and Yuhan Lee, Ph.D. With young kids of their own, they loved the idea and together we spent hours in our kitchens developing our unique formula.

Though we started from a kid-centric point of view, we knew we wanted a product that worked as hard as it played. It also had to look good, smell good, and use clean, natural ingredients. Because we care about the environment almost as much as we care about our kids, being biodegradable and packed in reusable or recyclable jars was also at the top of our must-have list. All told, it was a tall, daunting order. After many fails and quiet lulls, we created a shelf-stable prototype ready to test with kids and families in January 2020.

In March 2020, the world was flipped upside down with a global pandemic and the simple act of washing one’s hands took on a new importance. Our new popping hand soap formula drew attention and kids used sample bottles enthusiastically. Parents gave us feedback and the common thread was that kids wanted more.

In November 2020, we launched SPLATZ which, at that point, were made by hand. Thanks to helpful feedback from our customers, we continued to tweak and improve our formulas and offerings. Today, SPLATZ is in homes across the U.S., improving lives one bursting pod at a time. We’ve also expanded our product line to include SPLODEZ, an exploding bubble bath and body wash.

It’s exciting to be part of the Norwalk ecosystem. When we first launched our product, we were up in the Boston area to be closer to the scientists. We hired a small team and they were able to figure out the formula. Then I wanted to be closer to the company as CEO, so we moved everyone down to Norwalk. I’ve always had my sights on Norwalk as an up-and-coming city with great energy and so many fun pockets and interesting people. The guys in the One Fun lab were excited to move to the area. The whole team is in Norwalk now. 

We needed a factory space, light industrial, and it would be a bonus to have a front office. I felt like we hit the jackpot with this manufacturing facility at 5 Merritt Place. It had been an old woodworking and cabinetry making space. It was obviously quite dusty when we found it, so we had to do a really deep clean on it because we’re making soap. We needed to have a loading dock because we ship pallets. We really wanted to be on the first floor and it’s a one-story building. So, it really fits all of our needs now. We do all of our manufacturing and all of our bottling here and then we fulfill it, whether we ship it directly to customers or to a retailer. Everything’s done in the factory.

We’ve sold about 30,000 units so far, mostly direct-to-consumer, then Amazon and then to some specialty retailers throughout the country. If you go into any grocery store or drugstore or pharmacy, you will see a plethora of personal care and bar soaps for babies 0 to 24 months. There is this white space between ages 3 and 12 where there are no products designed specifically for kids from a kid’s point of view. They might have a baby product but then no product that’s really designed for kids. There’s a big wide open space for us. We’ve started with soap and bubble bath and we could potentially move to shampoo and conditioner.

We’re a very small team. We have three full-time employees; myself and then two in operations in the lab. We also have some part-time line workers. Finding consistent help to work in the lab has been kind of challenging but it’s been a really interesting adventure. Just the fact that we’re selling a hand soap during a pandemic and that our mission is to help families and kids have better hygiene routines and enjoy the process. We’ve heard from a lot of our customers that it has, in fact, changed their habits and routines and their general feelings about hand-washing. So, in that sense, we feel like we’ve really made progress and are hitting our mission and our goals.

Digital marketing is key to launching any product. So you have to spend on Facebook, Instagram, Google, have an email marketing campaign, SMS text messaging, all that good stuff. We were also lucky to have some organic press. We were featured on The Today Show and that brought an incredible influx of customers and sales. We were featured on CNN’s top 25 list of stocking stuffers; that moved the needle quite a bit. We were in Parents Magazine. We were in Real Simple Magazine. We’re currently in the Uncommon Goods fall catalog where we’re doing a custom product and also an exclusive product for them for the winter. And so they’ve been a big customer of ours.

We’re really excited about our subscriber program where direct customers can save 10% or more and get on auto-ship. You don’t have to go to the store and buy your hand soap. You don’t have to think about it anymore. It just automatically ships to your door. After someone purchases, an email is sent to the customer asking them for a review. Every review that comes in, we read in our daily management meeting. It’s just fun to hear and sometimes people send in photos or videos. People will often buy our product and then bring it on Tik-Tok or Instagram or Facebook because it’s so visual. It helps us grow because they’re promoting our product. There was one woman who had four million views in a matter of days and that was truly organic.

We’re really excited for this next stage of growth. We’re looking forward to the next fundraising round and maybe getting in some consumer packaged goods veterans who’ve done this before to help advise us through the process. But we’re young, we’re nimble, we want to learn and we’re just really excited to be to be in Norwalk. I love that we’re walking distance from Metro North. I love that you can walk to SoNo Baking Company or Spacecat Brewing. The guys that moved down from Boston didn’t know what to expect and now they’re like, ‘Norwalk’s cool!’  On our Instagram, I recently posted before-and-after photos of our little office space. We took it from this really gritty, old space and made it into one very happy, fun front office.”

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