Friday, September 22, 2006

BalmTalk: Interview with

One of the best places to find truly unique, wonderful lip balms is KissFix (formerly LipMedic). The company carries hundreds of brands and flavors from all parts of the world and all walks of balm. It even has an exclusive Balm of the Month program for those of us who need to change it up every once in a while. KissFix's founder, Jacqueline Bethea, recently sat down with us (virtually) for a little chap chat.

1. How did your love for lip balm begin?

It started at a very young age. Its family tradition to receive among other gifts, a lip balm in our Christmas stocking every year. So, it’s a family affair.

2. How did KissFix begin? What motivated you to start it?

In 2002 I was living in Chicago and couldn’t find some of my favorite balms I had used while living in Europe. I couldn’t find them anywhere in Chicago or the internet. I did however find lip balm addiction websites and a few blogs of people just as passionate about lip balm as I was. Additionally at the same time, I was looking for a “lip balm of the month” gift for one of my siblings. Which of course I couldn’t find either. So I thought, heck, there are obviously other people like me out there with a need for balms, so I spent a few months researching, planning and launched the website in the Spring of 2003. The first week it was picked as a Yahoo Pick of the Week and it’s taken off from there.

3. Do you get to try every lip balm you sell? Which are your favorites?

Well, as we currently sell close to 800, I haven’t tried every one. However every one we carry has been tested by me or a staff member, if not every flavor of the brand, at least one of each brand. (ie I’ve tried 1 or 2 of the terratints, but not every color, or I’ve had the Original Tropical and Vanilla Mint of the Hawaiian Tropic, but not the Citrus Sport) Also we now get sent A LOT of samples from individuals and company’s who want us to carry their products. So we have more balms around here than you’d imagine.

My favorites change all the time. While I have a few standard favorites like Burt’s Bees, Labello Regular, Nuxe, Inara Organic, Kiss My Face Apple (no longer manufactured) Perfumeria Gal Peach, Chicken Poop I am always happy to switch them out with different ones like BeesWorks Eucalyptus, Shizen, Pin Up Balm Lemonade, Eyeko Strawberry and Sacred Earth Botanicals Lavender Orange. Truly each bag and purse I own has about 5-12 lip balms rolling around the bottom.

4. What are the bestsellers on Kissfix?

The best sellers change by season and publicity. When Oprah featured Rosebud Salve as her personal favorite, sales went thru the roof! When any product gets featured in a magazine or tv show, the sales spike for that particular item. The ones that are consistent best sellers are Burt’s Bees, Rosebud, Hawaiian Tropic, Labello etc. You can check out our Top 25.

5. What are the most "unique" (read:weird) or outrageous balms?

I think the most unique is Chicken Poop, I love the balm and the name. Twinkie lip balm and all the other Hostess Balms are interesting, and the Cheeto’s balm is truly for that special someone. I love the cute/funny balms by BlueQ like Gnome, Boss Lady, Minty Frickin’ Mullet and Total Bitch, they really crack me up. We also have Pussy Pucker Pots, but we’re currently out of stock of most of the funny flavors. You can check out some of these cheeky ones here.

6. Are there any balms you refuse to carry on you?

Well, we don’t carry balms that you can buy at the Gas Station, or your average Grocery Store/Pharmacy. They are kind of boring and since they’re available Everywhere, we like to focus on the fun, different, unique, and extra flavorful!


7. What do you think is the future of the lip balm industry? Do you think lip balm is a necessary commodity that will never stop being needed?

Well I think there are several aspects to the lip balm industry that make it interesting. There are the BIG lip care companies like Blistex, Chapstick etc which are part of large multinational corporations, and then there are medium producers who have body care lines + lip balm like Burt’s Bees or Hawaiian Tropic, and then there are the lip balm artisans. People focused on making a better, more unique products. Some are whipping it up in kitchens, workshops and small factories and putting it out there for people to try and enjoy. We carry products by all of these types of manufacturers, but I have a special place in my heart (and on my lips) for these smaller producers like Chicken Poop and Mama Cocos.

I think lip balm is a product that will continue to grow and expand. Its popular with men, women and children. Internationally it’s popularity is also increasing. I think as we spend more time and money on personal care you’ll see even more lip balms on the market. Plus, I think people crave sensation, many people like the physical act of applying the balm, or having their lips feel/taste/smell a certain way from the product.

8. What do you think about really pricey/expensive brands like Prada? Are they any more effective than the basic ones?

I think some of the more expensive products have some interesting research and ingredients in them which accounts for a large part of the cost, but I also think the name contributes to the cost of some. The same could be said for a pair of shoes or a car. They all will generally work as advertised but some have more bells’n whistles and some carry a certain reputation or associated class distinction. That being said, Nuxe and Eyeko, two of our most expensive are two of my favorites.

9. Do you prefer organic lip balms to petroleum-based ones?

In general I prefer non petroleum based balms, but only because I personally prefer thicker/waxier/sticky balms. I like balms that go on thickly and stay on. Perfumeria Gal Peach is one of my favorites, and it is petroleum based, but I love it for its lasting power, fragrance, beautiful tin and value for money bigness! So its not that I personally choose balms based on petroleum basis or not, I choose them by taste/touch/smell etc. and my preferences happen to run towards thicker less slick balms.

10. If you were on a desert island, which lip balm would you want with you?

Wow, hard to choose- I never carry just one. If I’m about to have a meal, or depending upon my mood I prefer different flavors/textures etc. Hmmm, a desert Island I probably wouldn’t have any food or sunblock, so I’d pick a balm that would help lock the moisture in and the elements out while providing a bit of SPF. I guess I’d choose Kiss My Face Lip Treat-Mint SPF 15 Organic Lip Balm. If this desert Island was of the holiday type instead of survival, then I’d choose the Inara Organic for my exotic holiday.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too WAS a lip balm addict! Nothing worked and I would reapply constantly! Then I was given LanoLip lip balm at my dental office.... I was cured! You should really check out ... it is a new Natural Lip Balm with NO WAX! LanoLip's key ingredient is medical grade lanolin. It works to heals and protect against further damage. I came across LanoLip with I had been prescibed Acutane for acne and it not only dried out my acne but dried my lips out so badly that they would bleed and crack. It was torture. Anyway, I put LanoLip lip balm on thick at night and it is still there in the morning! 100% guarantee to work!

10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out hive surf... They are a lip balm company that donates 100% of their profits to environmental charities. They are mostly organic... Good stuff...

10:57 PM  

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