From thriving in a huge corporate environment to starting her brand from ground zero, join us in discovering FORK & MELON’S wonderful, uphill journey with their amazing founder, Cheryl Fork!
Hi Cheryl! What motivated you to kickstart FORK & MELON?
The inception of FORK & MELON was the result of many factors coming together at the same time for me and my family. Before starting to work on the idea, I had built a successful career working for leading global consumer brands over the course of over 15 years, gaining invaluable experience, winning accolades for achievements, creating lasting relationships, and also feeling the frustration that comes from lack of control in large corporations.
“In the year prior to the idea of FORK & MELON, my husband and I were going through challenges with fertility, which had led me to want to make healthier choices with all of the products I was using.”
I've been a beauty/skincare devotee since I was a child (wanting to try out my mom’s makeup when I was little, and then experimenting with my skincare routine as soon as I hit adolescence), and although there were already many amazing non-toxic skincare and beauty brands available – I’m always trying and loving different ones myself – I wasn’t able to find some of the more everyday routine products that were 1) healthy & non-toxic 2) effective and luxurious/enjoyable to use 3) beautifully packaged with a clean aesthetic and 4) weren’t so expensive that I relegate them only to the guest bathroom. I was initially looking for a hand soap that fit these criteria, and came up empty.
“In mid-to-late 2017, a private equity buyout of my company at the time meant I was part of a large layoff, when I was just over 6 weeks pregnant. And a few weeks after the layoff, I mis-carried, and was at an incredibly low point.”
Eventually, after allowing time to heal, soul-searching, talking to family and friends, the idea of starting FORK & MELON started to emerge, which kicked off an over-a-year process of research and product development prior to actual launch.
We currently have 2 beautiful, non-toxic, multi-use products : our Fine Cleansing Wash (a hand soap/body wash/bubble bath), and Rich Hydrating Cream (a hand cream/body lotion), with product line expansion planned for 2020.
“The business is female-founded and female-run (aka by me) – we were honored to be one of the early acceptees to the Female Founder Collective led by Rebecca Minkoff.”
It’s a family business (I own the business entirely, along with my husband). Being self-funded has been quite a challenge, but for now it’s worth it in order to keep our independence.
Where did the brand name come from?
The brand name comes from a mixture of influences : At the most basic level, it’s a combination of my married (also my husband’s) surname, and my maiden name : Fork & Melonakos. But “Melon” also stands for “watermelon”, as Watermelon Seed Oil is a signature powerhouse ingredient in our product line.
We appreciate your sharing your personal journey with us! Could you tell our audience about your brand mission?
Our brand mission is to bring clean luxury to your everyday routine without making it complicated.
“Our brand ethos is “SIMPLE. CLEAN. CHIC.”
Simple = ease of mind, ease of use, multi-use. In today’s world, all of us are dealing with so much on our plate, and so we aim to make it a bit easier where we can. Clean = non-toxic, vegan, cruelty-free, recyclable, refillable, sustainable, minimal. Chic = the importance of design, style, an attitude.
I try to keep this mission and brand tenets at the core of my decision-making, and we’re continually building towards this mission, albeit slowly and steadily, making the most of limited resources.
The natural personal care industry is growing larger every year with so many players and brands in the marketplace. What is FORK & MELON’S unique selling proposition?
We fill a void in everyday personal care products for your home : products that you continually replenish, that you want to work, that you want to be healthy, that you want to look nice in your home, and that you don’t want to be as expensive as most of the luxury brands.
“Products that make your life easier, but also give you a sense of pleasure and luxury.”
Although it seems new beauty and independent brands are launching every day, we’re confident we have a unique point-of-view.
“Also unique is our use of Watermelon Seed Oil as a signature ingredient, which is still a lesser-known ingredient that offers so many wonderful beauty and skin benefits, and that is perfect for all skin types.”
Additionally, being an ethical and environmentally-conscience brand is very important to us.
“Our formulas are non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty-free, and they’re currently made in a certified organic facility in Southern California that is 100% powered by wind energy.”
We offer multi-use products that cut down on the number of products you need to buy. We use minimal packaging (intentionally forgoing an outer product box, and using 100% recycled packing paper when shipping), and we offer large refill bottle sizes, making it easy to reuse your original bottles. We will continually improve in this area as we grow.
Who are your products primarily made for? Are they suitable for those with problematic skins?
Our products are extremely wide-ranging, as they can be used by pretty much anyone (all genders, all skin types), which could pose a challenge in terms of brand voice.
“Our core target audience is less defined by typical demographics, and more by taste : customers who have a higher-than-average interest in both health and design, and an appreciation for sophistication and simplicity.”
We share our love of art, style, and home décor on our instagram, rather than only showing product shots in every post.
With that being said, some of our most devoted customers care less about the design and brand aspects, and more about the fact that they’ve been searching for years for products that didn’t irritate their skin, and they’ve finally found ours that work well for them and/or help or have eliminated skin conditions such as eczema, keratosis pilaris, dry skin patches and cracked skin, skin allergies, itchy skin, and more.
How and where do you source these high quality ingredients to formulate your products?
We work with a small lab in Southern California committed to sourcing green and cruelty-free ingredients. We source the Watermelon Seed Oil separately ourselves, which is currently imported from France.
What are the struggles and obstacles you’ve had to face in your business journey and how did you manage to overcome them?
There have been so many! Just the sheer volume of research and learning involved, from delving deep into ingredient efficacy, product development, product packaging, figuring out all of the many details in getting set up as a legitimate business entity (registering for business license, bar codes, getting insurance, trademarking…), etc. And that’s all before launch!
“Once it was time to actually sell the products, figuring out how to get the message across and connect with the right consumers effectively has of course been very challenging, in such a crowded market with limited resources.”
Having previously come from positions within large companies where I had hefty marketing budgets and large teams to help execute brand strategy, trying to execute my vision without those things is quite a different thing.
Do you regard social media as an important part of your marketing strategy?
Social media, especially Instagram, has been very important in helping us grow our audience and visibility. We’ve gotten to connect with customers, which we love, and it has also brought us new business opportunities via people who have found us through our social media channels.
It’s been frustrating how Instagram’s algorithm changes have negatively affected the number of people who see our posts, but it continues to be a great way for us to connect to others and provide a first impression of the brand.
“We were re-posted by Zac Posen (the illustrious designer with almost 2 million followers) soon after our initial launch, merely because he liked our post.”
Just a few days ago we connected with another high profile taste-maker there who hopefully we will end up working with.
If you connect with my story, our brand message, and/or our products, I’d love it if you would follow along our journey :
We’re so excited to be featuring your Rich Hydrating Cream in our October box! Can you pls tell us a little more about it?
The Rich Hydrating Cream this month is an 8 oz. version. This makes the perfect hand & body lotion for a smaller powder room. Leave the cream on your nightstand to give your hands and feet a soothing massage before bed. It’s formulated with our signature Watermelon Seed Oil, which you can learn more about the many benefits here.
Besides advocating for the betterment of our environment, do you support other charities or movements?
We are part of the Female Founder Collective, which is very much about women’s empowerment, something we strongly believe in. We’re also committed to being environmentally conscious as I touched on earlier. We’re in talks with a company who connects brands with charities so that we’re able to donate prizes in order to raise money for charities we believe in on a regular basis.
“Once we grow to a level where it would be feasible, I’d also like to more formally involve the business in giving a portion of our proceeds to causes we’re passionate about, like helping women experiencing infertility, which is very close to my heart.”
Other than Nourish Beauty Box, where else can we find your products?
The best place to learn about us is on our website. On our site we offer the option to sign up for auto-renew, which means you always get 15% off and free shipping. You also earn points automatically for every purchase, easily adding up to credits toward future purchases.
For customers who prefer to order on Amazon, we also have a store there.
We’re currently carried in a number of boutiques and salons as well, and working on expanding our distribution in 2020.
Before you go, are there any exciting news about FORK & MELON that you’d like to share with our audience?
We’re looking forward to a number of exciting new things planned for the new year.
“New product launches in 2020 will include a glass bottle option for our current products, as well as new formulas.”
We’re also looking forward to expanded retail distribution. Also, we’d love to offer Nourish subscribers a code for $10 off their first order of $30 or more*, with code NOURISH at checkout here.
*Applies to FORK & MELON branded products only. Cannot be combined with other offers. Some exclusions may apply.