Adulting for brands with Plum Pretty Sugar’s Charlotte Hale

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Entrepreneur Charlotte Hale faced a big business dilemma.  When she named what she expected to be a seasonal business, Plum Pretty Sugar, she wanted to evoke a whimsical tone. But the brand soon became a powerhouse as the originator and pioneer of the now global multi-million dollar bridal ‘getting ready’ category, and she faced a challenge she compares to adulting but for brands. 

In Charlotte's money story you will learn:

Let's talk about the name, Plum Pretty Sugar, which makes you happy to saying it. I asked you before we started rolling how you came up with it and that was actually an interesting story because you think things are going to be one way when you start a project and then maybe not so much and maybe that's okay. Tell us your money story.

Yes. After my initial business, I was looking for what my next business was going to be. I didn't really have all the answers. I started what I thought would be a temporary business and it was something that sold robes and it was going to be for a season. By season, I mean a holiday season and just something that I could do easily and quickly and was also fun for me. I thought to myself, okay, well, what am I going to call this business? I gave it this fun, whimsical, playful name, Plum Pretty Sugar. Of course, one thing led to another and Plum Pretty Sugar is now the business. I still have the name obviously.

Did you think about changing the name? Do people approach you about the name? Because I had trouble saying it at the same time when I saw it on the screen, it made me happy. There's something very, as you say, very whimsical about it. Was there a story behind when you thought of the name? Do people talk to you about it and ask you about it now? Does it invite curiosity?

It always invites curiosity and when I named the business Plum Pretty Sugar, I wanted to have something that sort of went against the grain of everything you learned in business school, right? They tell you, you shouldn't have something that has more than three words and you shouldn't have alliteration, and you should create a word that means nothing that could mean everything, i.e. Google, Nike, et cetera. I just went against the grain entirely. You know, of course, I do think about it periodically in terms of, oh my gosh, it's so long, but at the same time it's so long that people almost remember it because it's so long or they changed the words kind of like you did.

Of course, we own all the URLs and all the versions of the order but because it's so long and people are like, "I forget the name," but they know it has pretty plum and plum pretty and sugar are built in there. It almost becomes memorable in a way. On the flip side, I sometimes want it to feel more sophisticated and elegant and more representative of where we are today. That's something that's sort of in my heart. When I say that to other people, they're like, but it is, it represents your brand perfectly. To the outside, I think it works. For me personally because I know where it started and why I started it, I have this back and forth kind of personal thing with it. It's fun. I do like it and we love the business.

It's interesting because you look back and it was almost a whimsical decision in and of itself, but it really was a pivotal branding decision that when you switch the business from being this seasonal business that you originally conceived of to being the permanent business, it's now a decade old, I should say. You did make a decision at some point to keep the name.

I did. I did. I really wrestled with that. You know, I thought, well, I have established the success. Why am I now going to go and change it? You know, it wasn't something that I could easily make up a story for or a marketing story for a while. This was great, but now I'm going to change it. I just felt karma was on my side and I was going to go forward. That said, you know, we have done a couple of different collections that we've called for instance, PPS couture and we will reference ourselves sometimes as PPS when we need to or when we think that it's just a little bit too long for that given scenario. Also, another lesson is that it's really long to write as a logo and so we're always like, okay, how are we going to do our logo when we're ready for a logo update to make all those letters fit within a certain space or how people want logos to fit.

It does sound like what's happening is you are allowing the brand to grow up by having these things like PPS couture, you're adapting it for how the brand is evolving.

Yeah, we really are. I think also the connotation that I have and the whimsicality that it had for me initially, which kind of felt really sort of, I don't want to say young, but fun and lively. Now the way we've reiterated the letters a little bit differently and we're using the positioning of the logo a little bit differently and within the opportunities that we have, we're kind of growing up those words and trying to think of them differently. Sometimes it can be a challenge, but I don't think we can ever take away the name.

“What you think is temporary could be permanent whether it is a boyfriend .. or a business.. what you do in the early days impacts the long term”

In Charlotte’s money lesson you will learn:

Yeah, I guess, never think that something is temporary, what you think is temporary. It could be permanent, whether it's a boyfriend or a husband or business to a business. You know, what you do in the early days impacts the long-term and there's no doubt about that. To always think it through thoroughly and make smart decisions. I kind of knew in my gut when I named it, I was doing something that was kind of off the books and I probably should have listened to that at the time. We're going ahead and the name is staying.

Well, I like the name. I think it makes people feel happy. I think that it's serving you very well and like I said, I think you guys seem to have the way to adapt it in ways that will help the brand grow.

"Purchase quality pieces, think about who made them, where they came from and live with them for a long time.”

In Charlotte's everyday money tip you will learn:

Yeah, exactly. I mean I think for us and we talk about this in the brand too is just purchasing quality pieces, whether it's clothing or whether it's anything in your life, really, just to purchase quality pieces. Think about who made them, where they came from, and to live with them for a long time. For us as a brand that's important because we are in clothing and there is a decent amount of waste and we try not to be wasteful and we don't want to see whether it's clothing or plastic or whatever it is in landfills, for now, for our children, for our future. Buying quality pieces really, really can impact what we put in the landfill.

What are some specific things that our listeners can look for to know that something has been made in a responsible way and that is going to be long-lasting, et cetera?

Yeah. Shopping smaller, shopping locally, paying attention to the price point when something is 7.99 or $5 and it's almost like it's too good to be true then I think you really have to start thinking about who made this and what type of environment because it's just too cheap. That doesn't happen. You know, there's a cost for yardage. There's a cost for environmentally friendly ink. There's a cost to pay workers what they're supposed to be paid. When something is really too cheap, just think about it a couple of different ways and make sure that you really need it and want it.

“I just felt karma was on my side and I was going to go forward” 

In My Take you will learn:

Financial Grownup tip number one. It goes to that saying that you should give a lot of thought to how you name a brand as much as it is possible, choose something that can evolve and grow with the business. It's also important to look at how others may remember that brand name and on that note, I want to point out something that Charlotte said sort of in passing. She has the URLs for all the ways people might mess up the name of her company. Grabbing a few extra URLs when you're setting up a business or a side hustle is inexpensive and really easy to do. I own close to 30 URLs tied to my various projects and ideas and side hustles. You know what? The cost is really minimal.

Set them up so that if someone types in something close to your business, they still find you. Make it as easy as possible for potential clients and customers and of course also friends and family that you want to be able to find your projects and your businesses. Financial Grownup tip number two, don't fight who you become as you grow up and go through the seasons and the milestones of life. Maybe just highlight different parts of who you are at that time. Yes, you will change, but the essence of who you are will not. Just like Plum Pretty Sugar still reflects the same essential vibe as the earlier versions, the earlier iterations of the business. It's just evolving and growing as it expands. This show is free for you but as I hope you guys can tell, we do put a lot of time, energy, and yes, there's a financial cost into this show and to keep it free for you, we do need your support.

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