Artisan Spotlight: Liana Spiegel - Marmalade Hills

“Nurture your skin with nature”

As a new mom, Liana Spiegel was very concerned with creating a healthy environment and diet for her family, by incorporating better quality foods and products into their lifestyle. It was 2006 and her father's recent passing from skin cancer brought it all into even sharper focus.


Before emigrating here from the Ukraine, she attended law school and says she has always been an “entrepreneurial” type, so when she decided to stay at home with her children, it was an easy decision to explore creating a line of natural bath and body products.

“It was very much trial and error the first year”, she explains, but she learned from her mistakes and taught herself what she needed to know to make a quality product. She worked on a small scale—in her kitchen--selling mainly to friends and family, but she listened to their feedback, and learned—trying new ideas and growing her customer base.

A year later, she opened her Etsy store. “It was really just an online catalog”, she explains, “and a place where I could show photos of all of my products, but writing up all of the descriptions for everything really helped me to get organized; I still use a lot of those descriptions now on my own website.” For the past few years, she’s found success selling at local and regional craft shows, which have helped her to get the word out about her products and her company. Her website became the spot where her returning customers could find her for reorders, and to see what was new.

Marmalade Hills is now manufactured in a 1000 square foot studio, where production is still growing. Her olive oil cold processed soaps and full line of products – cleansers, toners, moisturizers, clay facial masks, body scrubs, massage oils, lotions, and body washes—are still made in small batches using only high-quality, natural ingredients carefully chosen for their healing and beneficial abilities, with Liana’s mom helping with production.

Liana recently exhibited at the Chicago Merchandise Mart and secured a contract with a fine foods market retail chain, with nine locations. Package design is very important, she says, in helping to secure retail accounts. “I pay a lot of attention to the packaging and presentation, so it’s not only a good product but a practical piece of art. My labels are feminine, artistic and upscale.” The strategy has helped her to earn wholesale accounts throughout the Midwest. Changing up her scents, seasonally, helps to keep customers watching to see what’s next.

What’s next?

Liana just received her trademark certificate, and as she works to grow her business further, she continues to work at optimizing the work/life balance—staying involved with school projects for her 2- and 6-year old children and keeping her house clean. “You have to learn to let go. And delegate.”

ROBIN M LENHARD is a freelance business writer, based in Buffalo New York, and is a board member of Artists in Buffalo, Inc. Robin wrote this feature article exclusively for Debbie May.com (http://www.debbiemay.com/), an organization dedicated to helping small businesses succeed.