The Vermont Soap Facilities in Middlebury, Vermont, Photo Courtesy of Vermont Soap
The Foundations of a Sustainable Brand
Often taken for granted, soap is something most of us use every day! One person who definitely does not take soap for granted is Larry Plesent, founder, formulator, and CEO of the Vermont Soap Company in Middlebury, VT. Plesent has burgeoned from “a kid with a chemistry set” to the CEO of a leading organic skincare company. His personal journey and that of Vermont Soap began with a window washing stint, sensitive skin, and a chance encounter with an entrepreneurial business man who sparked Larry’s own innovative spirit. This voyage has culminated with the paradigm of sustainable business practices and all-natural personal, pet, cleaning and hygiene products. Soap for the People!
According to Plesent, “For over 27 years Vermont Soap has been making the type of products that everyone will be using in our more sustainable near future.”
Vermont Soap has grown to be more than a soap company. They have expanded their product manufacturing lines to include organic deodorants, salves, balms, oral care, and anti-aging products along with their iconic food-grade organic liquid, gel, foam, and bar soaps. While each of these products is outstanding in its own right, the values of Vermont Soap are even more impressive. All products are made from all natural and environmentally safe ingredients that are responsibly sourced and audited natural. They use mostly certified organic materials to lower agricultural chemical use, sequester carbon, and “begin a chain of good that goes out into the world through [their] products.” Their goal is gradual positive social change, one body at a time, and the alleviating of unnecessary suffering. Vermont Soap is a company who truly cares about their impact on their community, the earth, and people. For example, they recently installed 150kws of solar panels on the factory roof - creating enough power to meet all of their current electrical use!
The Vermont Soap Crew, Photo Courtesy of Vermont Soap
Rebranding Vermont Soap
Dion Label Printing has been a close partner with Vermont Soap since 2013. Vermont Soap is a contract manufacturer. When their old label printer could not meet the challenges of digital printing for a brand with over 100 skus as well as the numerous white label projects, Dion stepped up to the plate. Back then, Vermont Soap labels often featured Little Nell, an iconic image inspired by Tasha Tudor, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Adele G. Dawson. Nell personified the values of sustainable, organic, and nontoxic personal care products and of “old fashioned luxury.” Their labels at that time were printed on a metallic film with a gloss finish, usually in muted colors with bright metallic effects. They incorporated arabesque patterns and had a distinctively rustic feel. And while everyone loved Nell, in 2018 Vermont Soap decided it was time to modernize their look and reach a new generation while maintaining their core brand values. They wanted a cleaner, sharper, more botanical appearance that would have broader appeal across generations but still allow for the end user to recognize the products as Vermont Soap.
Change isn’t particularly easy, especially change that comes on the scale of a rebrand. Vermont Soap faced many challenges during this time, including labeling for 134 skus, new formulas, bottles, and a new logo. All of this was to be printed on different label material and in different sizes than in the past. The Dion team made sure that we did all we could to alleviate the pain points of their label production by understanding the core values of Vermont Soap and their goals for the rebrand. We made it our job to give them color consistency and perfect registration on their new labels and help them maintain a continuous brand feel across their wide variety of products. Digital print quality is something we pride ourselves on at Dion, and we worked to ensure Vermont Soap that their new labels and their many skus were printed with the exceptional quality they were used to. Dion Label Printing has a strong commitment to local and sustainable businesses and practices, so we love partnering with brands like Vermont Soap. And Larry says of the experience of rebranding that “Dion and Vermont Soap worked closely together, and when there was an occasional error, Dion was right there to quickly fix it.”
Lavender Ecstasy Foaming Soap Labels Before and After the Rebrand
Outcome of Rebrand and The Future
It’s been over a year since Vermont Soap rebranded, and we love that it has enabled them to maintain their core values while reaching a wider audience that shares those values. And their new label design? It retains the feel of a natural Vermont personal care product company while appearing more fresh and modern. They are printed on a white material in vibrant colors with a matte finish. Vermont Soap is now a cleaner, stronger brand that’s easier to sell. They have expanded their brand recognition and internet sales significantly in the past year and continue to grow both in profitability and as a leader in sustainable business practices.
Larry says of working with Dion: “We work with over 100 other businesses as part of our team. We make it, they sell it under their brands. It’s important that we have a reliable label company to recommend to these marketers. One that knows the ropes. I give Dion a solid “A” and that’s over a LOT of labels. If it wasn’t an A, we wouldn’t still be here. Dion works hard for us and they have earned our respect.”
We at Dion, for our part, look forward to many wonderful years of continued partnership with Vermont Soap and watching them continue to expand to reach future generations of environmentally conscious personal care product users!