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stories from our founders: the hits & the misses

stories from our founders:  the hits & the misses

At KISS we’ve had some HITS and we’ve had some MISSES……course there have been more of the former than the latter, but it doesn’t make the misses any less painful.

three-legged stool is how we always approach innovation.  1) Its got to be clean as a whistle – no animal ingredients, testing etc;  2) its got to be available to our loyal customers at a fair price…..and here’s the tough one….3). it’s gotta work!!   The first two are often easy, the third can be daunting (and who hasn’t bought a  “pure and natural” product that has absolutely NO efficacy !).

If you don’t have the three legs the stool doesn’t stand and the product never sees the light of day.

I could tell you a hundred product tales….but you might fall asleep  –  here’s one though where we turned a “miss” into a “hit”; a huge hit…and In the process learned a valuable lesson.

Several years back we decided to make a clean shave creme.   Looming on the horizon was the biggest trade show of the year in California – where every brand you see in your fave store shows up to show off to retailers their latest and greatest products  We worked madly to get the new shave ready to show off on time at the trade fair.  We succeeded and then a few months later launched it with our retailers.

Trouble was, Steve and I didn’t really like it.  We thought it was good but not great.

Now, most of our best product ideas come from consumers and friends and even relatives.  Usually, they’re effusive in their praise of a new product.  This time nobody seemed to be raving.  But the stores were selling it and nobody was complaining much about sales levels etc.  It just wasn’t  setting the world on fire.

Then one day out of the blue we get a letter from a young soldier.

He writes:

Dear Bob & Steve…I’m serving my country in Iraq.  I got shipped over 2 this place with one small bag.  I chose very carefully what I’d put in this small space.  I bought your new shave cause I love so many of your other products.  This stuff is sh*t. 

Just thought I’d let you know”.

Sincerely,   Private X

WELL!!!  We went into a tailspin.  We were so hurt by the feedback.  We called in our sales team and told ‘em we were immediately stopping sales of the shave until we could get it right.  They thought (maybe with some justification) we should be institutionalized.

It took us six (long)  months of working on the shave to arrive at a result we thought was beyond exceptional.   Within a year KMF was selling more shave in natural product stores (to both women and men) than all our competitors combined!   It was a huge HIT.  And still is.  If you’re wondering why??  The HIT version has exceptional “glide”.  That’s shaving lingo for how the blade slides across your face or your leg (or whatever you’re shaving).  After you’re finished, it rinses off with remarkable ease. The third major improvement was MOISTURE.  The new version leaves your skin super moisturized.  I’m sure you’ve noticed how shaving can leave your skin pretty thirsty!

To this day we offer the same product.   I think its the BEST shave creme on the planet and so do a lot of Kiss fans.

It was a valuable lesson in innovation, and one mistake we haven’t repeated.


Bob MacLeod

Co-founder Kiss My Face