Case Studies & Success Stories
One Fun Company
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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