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Colorado-Based Natural Skincare Company Spinster Sisters Turns to Local MEP Center to Increase Throughput and Meet Hand Sanitizer Demand
In the early 90s, Kelly Perkins had growing concerns about the toxic chemicals being used in everyday products and decided to do something about it. Instead of using popular ingredients like triclosan, which has since been banned, Kelly started making soaps out of things like olive oil and fermented coconut, materials she could pronounce and that she knew would not be harmful to her body. Soon, requests from friends and family grew into demand from farmers’ markets and health food stores. Eventually, Kelly’s skincare products had taken over her house and she decided to take the leap into larger-scale production. From a corner of her husband’s man cave, Spinster Sisters production has grown into an 8,860 square foot Microsoapery in the hills of Golden, Colorado with a flagship store. It has also grown from a team of 1 to a team of 16 people, and her products are carried by over 1,900 retailers across the country, including Whole Foods Market, H-E-B, Kroger, Duluth Trading Co, and many more.
Prior to the pandemic, Spinster Sisters was considering discontinuing some of their product lines and had earmarked their hand sanitizer as one possible candidate. As Kelly watched the news roll in from China, however, she realized that it would be better to double down rather than eliminate the sanitizer in anticipation of what might be coming our way. In her words, “we had better be ready for this!” She then reached out to her packaging supplier and placed an order for 200,000 bottles and pumps, which was a significant increase from her traditional order of 5-10,000 units. Since Spinster Sisters has an excellent ongoing relationship with Whole Foods, Kelly called them first to see how many of the 200,000 bottles they would be interested in purchasing and was shocked when they requested the entire batch. And then some. With pressure mounting to produce more and to produce faster, Kelly reached out to Janine Ledingham at Manufacturer’s Edge, whom she had previously met at a Naturally Boulder event, to see if there was a better way.
Manufacturer’s Edge spent time at Spinster Sisters studying their current workflow and experimenting with different methods for reducing waste and expediting the process. At one point during the early days of the pandemic, Manufacturer’s Edge Service Delivery Specialist Juan Emilio Aranda even rolled up his sleeves and spent time helping to bottle hand sanitizer with the rest of the Spinster Sisters team in order to meet demand. Based on his experiences, and after studying the systems currently in place, Juan Emilio was able to make a series of recommendations for improvements. Phase one consisted of simple modifications, including the purchase of a manually controlled piston fill system and resulted in an increased throughput that allowed them to make six bottles of hand sanitizer in the time it had previously taken to produce one. Phase two focused on the addition of a new Production Manager with whom the Manufacturer’s Edge team worked to create long-term strategies for process improvement and layout changes.
Spinster Sisters continues to rapidly expand and is currently focusing on their marketing and outreach efforts while also moving into the Canadian markets in the coming weeks.
Manufacturer’s Edge really came through for us when we needed you most at the start of this pandemic. I appreciate your assistance so very much. Thank you!Kelly Perkins, President/CEO Spinster Sisters