(This article was originally published in the Feb-Apr 2016 issue of the The Brass Herald. In Part 1, Dan explains how the idea for ChopSaver Lip Care first came to him. In Part 2, Dan discusses how he prepared his company for expansion. While ChopSaver is no longer sold in CVS stores, this was still a major accomplishment in out product journey.)
Finally, on April 21st, 2015, we received a very simple email. No fanfare (pun intended), just a request to send “the new item form” – ASAP. Aside from the birth of my son and my wedding day, it was truly one of the happiest moments in my life and a few tears of joy were shed! Over the course of those five meetings spanning some 26 months (not to mention the 9 years of work prior to that!) CVS® finally decided to take a chance on this odd little “niche” brand. In the end, it was because we knew the product was superior and we had made the case that there are a lot of musicians and non-musicians out there who, with the help of our medical endorsements, would come to love the product as well. And, I never gave up!
But the challenges didn’t stop. Adoption by CVS® meant we suddenly had to produce and ship enough inventory to fill nearly 8,000 stores in time for an August 2015 launch. In addition, we had to begin marketing in such a way as to encourage thousands of consumers to walk into CVS® to purchase a tube of ChopSaver. We still rely heavily on grass roots marketing and word of mouth, both face to face and digitally with email and social media. But our sales are steadily growing in these first few months and I believe success in CVS® will lead to placement in other major retailers. Our goal is to be found wherever Chapstick®, Burt’s Bees® or any other major brand of lip care is sold.
I’m not a millionaire – not yet anyway. In fact, quite the opposite as all resources are used to market the product to increase awareness and help sell through in CVS® and all of our other retailers. I am often asked if I still play. Years ago, my business/trumpet balance was about 50-50 but as the business stakes get higher and the responsibilities increase, I find myself playing much less. But that’s OK. I find my new role as “The ChopSaver Guy” to be just as fascinating as being a working musician and, despite the enormous struggles, I am learning to enjoy the ride. I also enjoy tremendous support from my wife, son and extended family and friends. And for those of you who have accompanied me on this journey by simply recommending and using the product yourself, I am eternally thankful for your support!