Chicken Poop Lip Junk fans have asked for new flavors of the lip balm for years, and Simone Chickenbone founder Jamie Tabor Schmidt is answering with mint and coconut.
“I am in love with them,” Schmidt says. “They turned out better than I imagined they would.”
She did a Facebook survey to see what customers might want.
“There were all sorts of weird suggestions.”
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Habanero was one.
“I thought that would be too intense, of course.”
There was lime and cardamon, too.
“Which is something I might consider.”
Mint, her preference, and coconut were popular votes.
“Mint seems kind of wintery and coconut seems kind of summery,” Schmidt says.
She’s contemplated adding the flavors for a couple of years and started working on them in earnest in January.
Each tube has its own packaging, so Schmidt says, “It’s kind of a lot of work to get all that together.”
The new flavors will soon be in Whole Foods Market and Natural Grocers in this region along with Tractor Supply and possibly some Ace and True Value stores. They’ll retail for $2.49, just like original Chicken Poop, which features a lavender scent.
Schmidt says she imagines she can streamline future operations to create more flavors and products.
“It’s like the Poops are endless at this point.”
It’s far from where she started with inspiration from her first Sephora visit in 1998.
“It was like a candy store,” Schmidt says of discovering the makeup store.
Something clicked for the 22-year-old.
“And so I set a goal … right then and there: I’m going to have a product line by the age of 25.”
Schmidt started with Good Gravey, a hair pomade.
“Everyone loved it, but they were like, ‘can you put something in a tube, you know, for our lips?’ And I was like, ‘oh, that’s a good idea.’ ”
The Chicken Poop name came from her grandfather’s suggestion that if you have chapped lips, a little chicken poop will keep you from licking them.
The company started in Schmidt’s kitchen with help from her mother’s credit card and some experimentation with essential oils.
Following a 2005 Wichita Eagle article that mentioned Schmidt wanted Chicken Poop to be in Sephora and Walgreens, a Walgreens manager contacted her.
“She was a woman and was all girl power and was like, ‘I’m going to help you do this,’ ” Schmidt says. “I didn’t even have a UPC code on the tube then.”
The manager gave her guidelines for how a product should look in stores.
“It just took off all of a sudden,” Schmidt says. “We were the number one-selling manager’s choice product in all of the Walgreens. It was crazy. Every time the phone would ring … Walgreens was on the other end ordering.”
Then she got a call from corporate Walgreens about putting Chicken Poop in all of the chain’s stores. Before it happened, though, the category manager for health and beauty changed.
“He wasn’t crazy about Chicken Poop like this other guy,” Schmidt says.
Chicken Poop had what Schmidt calls bad placement back by the pharmacy area of the stores.
“We did have some success but ultimately … sales dropped and then they pulled us out of most of the stores, so that was our big dip,” she says of 2008.
In 2009, Chicken Poop landed in Tractor Supply.
“They’ve been our saving grace,” Schmidt says. “They’re amazing.”
She added more farm stores and boutiques along with the Home Hardware chain in Canada.
“We decided that we needed to go north for cooler weather,” Schmidt says.
Previously, 2007 was her best year.
“Every year we’ve been trying to kind of catch back up to that, and I think we’ve caught back up and then surpassed that now where it just keeps growing. I mean, we’re in the most stores we’ve ever been in: 10,000. It’s just crazy.”
Schmidt says her attempts to sell Chicken Poop to retailers don’t generally work.
“It’s usually just something falls in our lap.”
Though she has bank loans these days instead of her mother’s credit card, Schmidt still needs more money to grow. She has a sunscreen that will debut in six months and a whole baby line that needs capital to produce.
Schmidt says she was was close to a deal with an investor before deciding against it.
“It just seemed like it would take its course,” she says. “I have a saying. It’s ‘Chicken Poop always saves the day.’ And it always does. So I just – I have this faith in it that it’s going to pull through. If we need the money, we’ll figure it out.”
She says she learned a lot with the Walgreens deal.
“We don’t want to grow too fast.”
Her goals are big, though.
“I imagine Chicken Poop replacing ChapStick at some point,” Schmidt says. “Like, that’s where my head is. And having it be this legacy. My children are the Chicken Poop children.”
Or she says it could be good to one day sell the company.
For now, she says the business has given her and her husband freedom to be with their children and do other things.
Also, Schmidt still has goals for her whole Simone Chickenbone line.
It’s been three or four years since she tried to get her products in Sephora.
“They said it wasn’t a good fit at that time mostly because we didn’t have very many products. They like to have, like, a whole product line.”
Chicken Poop has grown in a variety of ways since then, such as with a shimmers line of lip glace – La Chick Poo Poo – Schmidt introduced in 2011 and, of course, the new flavors she’s about to debut.
“So we’ll have to revisit that,” Schmidt says of Sephora. “That would be a real dream come true.”