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Poppy and Pout greens up the lip balm industry one tube at a time

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The popular purveyor of eco-conscience lip balms and lip scrubs, Poppy and Pout may be enjoying some newfound follows after being named to Oprah Winfrey's “Favorite Things” gift list this November, but the Idaho Falls-based business has been quietly growing a loyal fan base since its founding in 2014.

Poppy and Pout was selling exclusively online until last year when it grew out of its Rexburg space and moved to Idaho Falls, said chief brand officer Krysta Morgan. The Idaho Falls building at 396 Park Ave. provides a larger space for production and offers a unique storefront, a new feature for the company, which sells its products wholesale around the world.

“And now at the end of this year, we are looking to move again as we have way outgrown our current space,” said Morgan, who added that the company plans on staying in Idaho Falls. “We are moving our production and shipping to a bigger location and will keep the current store downtown, which we love.”

Founded by Derek Cooper in Rexburg when he was still a student at Brigham Young University-Idaho, the company pursued a gap in an emerging market driven by “green technology.” While market demand for environmentally safe and organically sourced lip balm was increasing worldwide, the packaging seemed to remain the same. For perspective, Burt’s Bees, the world leader offering organic lip balm topped United States sales at just over $140 million in 2019. Worldwide, the lip balm industry will crest $2 billion in sales by the end this year. That’s a lot of little plastic tubes headed to the landfill.

Thus, demand is increasing for better packaging along with better products. Poppy and Pout joins that growing market niche by offering the total package: The lip balm tube is cardboard and is able to be recycled. The labels, too, are printed with non-toxic ink.

“Derek saw that it can take more than 500 years for one plastic tube of lip balm to decompose,” Morgan said. “He saw this gap where we had plastic tubes that held natural lip balm. He came up with the (lip balm) formula and we created a great design and our customers have really responded. They like the way the product looks and then you use the product and realize this is as good as it gets for lip balm. Our product also holds double the amount of lip balm than a regular lip balm in a plastic tube.”

And it’s not easy putting your money where your mouth is, but Poppy and Pout works hard to vet the vendors it uses to create the balm, Morgan said. It buys ethically sourced beeswax and sunflower oil from a U.S.-based vendor and organic coconut oil from the Philippines. Adding a few drops of essential oils and natural flavoring with vitamin E, Poppy and Pout creates such favorites as the Pink Grapefruit lip balm and the Pomegranate Peach.

“We don’t have our own beehives, but work with companies who are vetted for their dedicated beekeepers who care for the bee colonies,” Morgan added. “With all of our distributors, we are not looking for the cheapest thing out there; we are looking at the integrity of our ingredients. And our distributors are awesome and reach out all of the time helping us plan for anticipated needs. We have been able to avoid the supply chain issues that others have because of this planning.”

And then Oprah’s team knocked on Poppy and Pout's door this summer.

“Obviously we were so excited,” Morgan said about being contacted by Oprah’s crew. “They contacted us this summer and let us know we were being considered for the ‘Favorite Things.’ We got as prepared as we could be.”

Winfrey started presenting her “Favorite Things” on her talk show in the late 1990s. Since then, the annual list has become a much-anticipated reveal during Thanksgiving week and has provided businesses with a financial bump after gaining worldwide marketing from Winfrey who now works with Amazon.com to host the product listings.

This year, the “favorite things” list was the largest list released to date, containing 110 items.

“After this past year, I think we all deserve some surprises and delights for the holiday season,” Winfrey wrote on her website. “That’s why we worked hard to find these truly incredible items. Extra important to us this year? Celebrating small businesses, women-owned brands and items created by people of color.”

Morgan said that the Oprah nod jumped sales and the business sold out of the 10-pack and three-pack sets after the list was released.

“We are trying so hard to keep up with our orders,” Morgan said. “We have seen an increase in store traffic as well as a huge increase in Amazon sales.”

Poppy and Pout is available at stores in the region, including the BYU-Idaho university store in Rexburg, Amber and Ivory in Idaho Falls, True Beauty Esthetics in Rigby and Roam in Wilson, Wyoming. And, of course, you can find Poppy and Pout at its store in Idaho Falls or online at poppyandpout.com.