Understanding Green & Blue Beauty

Green beauty has been a buzz word for quite some time, centered on products that are environmentally and socially sustainable. In the last few years, new subsection of green beauty has been gaining attention and coming to the spotlight – Blue Beauty. Blue beauty, which you may be able to predict, focuses on the protection of our oceans and everything in them. Much like green beauty, a large focus of blue beauty is the handling and use of plastic in products. The blue beauty label or callout on a product means it uses safe, sustainably sourced ingredients, as well as ocean-safe ingredients, with reused, recyclable, or refillable packaging.

Researchers estimate that more than 8.3 billion tons of plastic has been produced since the early 1950s. About 60% of that plastic has ended up in either a landfill or the natural environment. If current trends continue, our oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050. (1) Solutions to these problems not only include limiting the plastic waste that is adding to these totals, but also finding better management processes for dealing with the waste that is already out there.

A small and large scale example of companies taking action are One Ocean Beauty and Shiseido with their Blue Project. One Ocean Beauty is a brand formulated with zero waste packaging and sustainable ingredients using “blue biotechnology” which allows the preservation of the ocean’s biodiversity. Shiseido as a large corporation has partnered with WeAreOneOcean working to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030. Here at The Spearhead Group, a core value is to focus on sustainability, which can be seen in some product innovations with reduction and elimination of plastic in certain packaging options. All of these companies together are helping to tackle the bigger problems with their own unique solutions.

Education is a great first step to problem solving for both companies and individuals. Investigate your favorite brands and products to see if the packaging is recyclable, and how you can ensure the components are properly recycled. Read up on your favorite products to see if there is transparency on the supply chain for ingredients. Of course, once you have completed your research, actively choose to shop those brands that you feel support the movement to protect both our land and oceans.

(1). https://www.unep.org/interactive/beat-plastic-pollution/

America’s Spirit & Sustainability

It’s still Bourbon Heritage Month (yay!), so cheers to all of the old and the new bourbons, artisans, and distillers that have worked so hard to produce America’s Spirit! It is also a good time to bring up a burning hot topic these days… Sustainability, which is one of The Spearhead Group’s core values.  But what does sustainability really mean and how does sustainability relate to the America’s Spirit?

As we are seeing more and more companies share their sustainability goals, the questions around what to measure and what are the best metrics still remain. When creating bourbon, are companies looking at all possibilities to become more sustainable?  For example, from grain (sustainable farms and transport to the distillery) through post consumer use? This article, Bourbon & Sustainability, by Katie Garner is a great snapshot of various opportunities in the bourbon industry.

“As soon as Spearhead starts working on projects, one of our major focuses is to make sure that the packaging is ‘right-sized’ which might mean smaller in footprint.  We have had great success eliminating otherwise plastic films with eye-catching art and touch-and-feel open apertures to delight consumers.  We continue to challenge that smaller footprints aren’t enough to attract consumers.  We believe consumers want to have an experience with their brands and products, and the packaging is an opportunity to show consumers how engaging products can be.  There are of course cases when the client wants the larger footprint, but we continue to seek more sustainable materials for structure and design.” – Lana Toler

How do you show your consumers that sustainability is a core value of your business and brand?

5 Favorite Bourbons to Enjoy for National Bourbon Heritage Month

Get Excited!  It’s September, National Bourbon Heritage Month.  This month we celebrate bourbon as America’s “Native Spirit”.

Kentucky has quite the history and is home to globally renowned bourbons. As you may know, there has also been a tremendous boom in artisan distillery development in Kentucky as well!

During this month, Lana Toler, Spearhead’s Marketing & Innovation Manager based in Louisville, Kentucky, is taking part in Bourbon & Banter’s 30 Bourbons in 30 Days Challenge (follow her on Instagram @lanatoler).  In addition to sharing her 30-Day tasting adventure in the spirit of celebrating bourbon, she wanted to share her top five favorite bourbons.

1.     Knob Creek Single Barrel: Anyone who has experienced bourbon with me knows that my all time favorite bourbon is Knob Creek Single Barrel. I’m currently drinking a barrel selected by Kroger Wine & Spirits (warehouse Z, floor 06, rick 12, barreled on 1/19/2011 and selected on 6/1/2021). I love it on ‘a rock’ or with a sphere of frozen cabernet.
2.    Rabbit Hole Dareringer, Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in PX Sherry Casks: Not only is the packaging beautiful (and has a purple label!), but the liquid is beautiful as a sipper or as the star of an Old Fashioned.
3.     Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch: I have been fortunate to meet Fawn Weaver, Uncle Nearest CEO, twice and have now met Victoria Eady Butler, Uncle Nearest Distiller and Master Blender, too! I am in love with the brand story as well as the Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch.  I drink it neat… in my Bacarat Crystal rocks glass of course.
4.     Widow Jane 10-Year:  After meeting, tasting, and learning about Widow Jane from Distillery President and Head Distiller & Blender Lisa Wicker at The 2021 Bourbon Women SIPosium in August, I am in love with Widow Jane 10 year straight up in my clear Norlan glass.
5.     Starlight Distillery Barrel Pick (Bourbon Women): Although you will not be able to get a bottle, I wanted to share a fun experience with the Starlight Distillery team.  I was fortunate to be part of the Bourbon Women 10th Anniversary barrel pick at Starlight Distillery just over the state line in Indiana.  Almost unanimously chosen by the Bourbon Women group, we chose Starlight’s Bourbon Finished in Cognac Barrels.  It is a robust and complex profile that takes me on a sensorial adventure which goes down so smooth

“I have been living and working in bourbon country for over 20 years and I am continually impressed with the old and the new arts of distilling, blending, and aging of bourbon.  I have always been a bourbon appreciator, but I am on a quest to try as many bourbons as possible.  Meeting folks in the bourbon industry that love the art and science of bourbon craft have been a huge influence on my passion for the liquid and the processes to creating the best liquid on earth!” – Lana Toler, Marketing & Innovation Manager

Giving Back: Heather Fritzsche, CEO/Co-founder Shares Her Personal Causes

With the introduction of The Spearhead Give Back Program this Fall, we reached out to Heather Fritzsche, CEO/Co-founder, about her own personal causes. Heather understands the fact that giving back to the community not only builds team morale but increases overall cooperation, both essential factors for business growth.  Read below to learn more about our conversation with Heather.

What volunteer organizations are you involved with or have deep meaning to you?
Sierra Club

What’s your volunteer style? Are you the person who ends up helping at the event or the project organizer?
Helping – Running my two businesses take up a lot of time, so I don’t have a lot of bandwidth to organize events anymore.  But whenever I can show up and donate my time, I do.

Why do you choose to give back?
Because I am able and everyone who is able should.

What excites you about starting The Spearhead Group Give-Back Program?
I say it all the time, that companies have more responsibilities than just paying salaries and turning a profit.  Companies have tremendous resources available to make the world a better place, and Spearhead has reached the size where we should be carrying our weight in terms of making social impact.  I’m happy to make this first step in supporting our team to contribute to the causes that are important to them, and I look at it like a first step on a long journey of philanthropy for Spearhead.

Get to Know April Wachtel, Founder/CEO of Cheeky Cocktails

April Wachtel, Founder/CEO of Cheeky Cocktails, is a 24-year veteran in the beverage and hospitality industry. She is an experienced mixologist, a cocktail & spirits instructor, Host of the Movers and Shakers podcast and an innovator. She leads a team of 8 to create an array of premium, all-natural syrups, and juices for the consumer.

In 2015, Cheeky Cocktails began its journey as Swig + Swallow. Founder and beverage industry veteran, April, realized people were looking for the path to make the best cocktails for their friends and guests, but were overwhelmed by the complexity or doubted their cocktail-making abilities. April set out to simplify cocktail making with a batched cocktail service. As time evolved, so did her business. In 2019, April realized that she had a decision to make for the next steps for her brand, to evolve the brand and produce shelf stable syrups and juices. From there, you can combine full bottles with a spirit of your choice to make your favorite cocktails. The rebrand as Cheeky Cocktails happened in early 2020 and since then the team has watched their business grow. Cheeky Cocktails brand launch was planned as large format syrups and juices for batched cocktails, but when COVID entered the US in March, Cheeky launched a smaller home cocktail version of the syrups, along with a bartender affiliate program, to provide an opportunity for those who had become unemployed or under-employed during the pandemic. As the Cheeky team has grown, they have partnered with bartenders and spirits companies as well as a range of Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies for happy hours and cocktail classes.

The Spearhead Group began working together with April last year. In 2020, Cheeky Cocktails partnered with Don Julio Tequila on an innovative project to launch a cocktail kit. With the advancement of cocktail kits, The Spearhead Group collaborated with both brands to create a custom and innovative brand package. The team was able to work together to innovatively design the kits to hold two 50-ML bottles of Don Julio Blanco Tequila and two bottles of Cheeky Margarita Mix. The Spearhead Group is now working together with April on her next project, which includes an experiential e-commerce platform. Stay tuned over the next year to learn more.

“Working together with April and Cheeky Cocktails is a joy. She has an innovative process in developing cocktail and shelf stable syrups for consumers to enjoy,” said Lana Toler, Marketing, and Innovation Manager at The Spearhead Group. “April presents both art and science in her cocktail making and her products taste amazing.”

Cheeky Cocktails is an innovative company that is always looking for the next creative path. April said that they are always wanting to keep evolving and having an intimate conversation with their consumers. Finally, We asked April what cocktail and syrup combination she would recommend: Cheeky Cocktails Honey-Ginger Syrup combined with scotch for a classic Penicillin. Cheeky Cocktails is available online or you can find them through their website.

Spearhead Family: Fran Rosenbaum, Quality Assurance & Quality Control Specialist

For our Spearhead Family post this month we are highlighting Fran Rosenbaum, Quality Assurance and Quality Control Specialist at The Spearhead Group. Fran joined Spearhead in July 2020. Fran shares more with us about joining The Spearhead Group and what inspires her to work on innovative projects.

Tell us about why and when you joined The Spearhead Group.
Fran: I joined the The Spearhead Group in July of 2020 and I am so excited to share that I am celebrating my one-year work anniversary! Before joining the team, I was looking for a new challenge with a company that focused on innovation, inclusion, and women in leadership roles. Having previously worked along side Heather and Robert,  I knew that joining this team would be rewarding and welcoming!

Tell us a little more about your background and what excites/inspires you to work on innovative projects on the logistics side?
I worked in the textile industry for 10+ years, prior to joining a quality team where I managed production, tested/evaluated products, and assisted in logistics coordination to ensure customer satisfaction. Currently, I enjoy working on the Spearhead Quality Team with Tom Harney where we create testing plans and work collaboratively with the sales team on new projects. What really excites me about the Quality Team is the Spearhead Innovation Lab. Though challenging, it’s fun to get creative on problem sol
ving and adapting the equipment for our needs. It’s my goal to add value to every projects I work on. In my short time with The Spearhead Group, it’s been exciting to see the company’s vision come to fruition and I can’t wait to see what we do next.

The Spearhead Group has 5 core values (1. Focus on Sustainability and Diversity; 2. Innovative Thinking; 3. Do the Right Thing; 4. Acts with Equal Respect for Clients, Colleagues and Suppliers; 5. Go the Extra Mile with Entrepreneurial Spirit). How do you practice these values?

  1. Focus on Sustainability: Adapting to in-house testing, our goal is to reduce testing costs, get immediate results, and have the flexibility to run consecutive testing for quicker communication with our clients. I think it’s important to work for a company that looks for new ways to not only improve business functions, but also help the environment.
  2. Innovative Thinking: The Quality Team is all about innovation! We are constantly looking for new ways to improve testing, communication, and production for our clients. We work collaboratively to create new procedures to meet our high expectations.
  3. Do the Right Thing: Transparency is always The Spearhead Group’s top priority when working with clients. It encourages trust through communication to ensure we are meeting the expectations of our partners.
  4. Respect: Respect is something I always value. Appreciating everyone’s time, experience, contributions equally and trust that together we can meet and exceed our goals.
  5. Entrepreneurial Spirit: I have entrepreneurial spirit by helping the company grow as a whole. I think having a collaborative team that shares and creates is the main reason The Spearhead Group has been so successful. Having innovation and creativity feeds into the goal of being the leaders in primary packaging.

The Spearhead Group in the News: 9 Alcohol Trends in 2021-22 (Beverage Dynamics)

Heather Fritzche, CEO/Co-founder, and Robert Catalano, CINO/Co-founder, were recently interviewed by Beverage Dynamics Editor Kyle Swartz about how “alcohol trends have shifted significantly in the past two years.” In the article, 9 Alcohol Trends in 2021-22, Heather and Robert provided insights about sustainability, product shortages, and diversity & inclusivity.

“It’s tough to forecast even the immediate future, given the unusual nature of the pandemic. Our modern world has never experienced anything like Covid-19, or the inevitable post-peak recovery. Nevertheless, we have identified nine alcohol trends that will likely grow, even as the pandemic declines.”

  1. Ecommerce Alcohol Trends
  2. Diversity and Inclusivity
  3. The Whiskey Boom Escalates
  4. More RTDs and Seltzers
  5. Sustainability Matters
  6. Product Shortages Affect Alcohol Trends
  7. Celebrity Alcohol Brands
  8. Wine Must Recalibrate
  9. Cannabis Beverages

Click the link to read the article and find out more about what we had to say about the forecasted trends. Follow us on LinkedIn to learn more about The Spearhead Group.

Christmas in July: Your Holiday Packaging Checklist and how can we plan for next year – 2022 Trends?

Planning for your holiday packaging should start early, but how can you start planning? Robert Catalano, Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) and Co-Founder of The Spearhead Group discusses how brands can start that planning and what trends we can hope to see in 2022.

When should brands start planning for the holidays?
That always depends on the quantity and how much customization you want to put into your project. Give yourself at least 6 months if you want to develop a custom product because you will need a few weeks just for R+D. Particularly right now, it might be best to buffer than even more due to the supply chain uncertainties in the current environment.

What are the top items The Spearhead Team recommends to keep in mind when planning for Holiday 2022?

  1. Good forecasting is a must. Brands need to try their best to start the project with a good understanding of budget, quantity, and timing. Not having this clearly defined from the start can result in the project going in wrong direction. Don’t be afraid to share your budgets with your partners.
  2. Focus on your brand demographic. Make sure that you partner with someone that listens and understands what your brand represents. I have seen so many examples of VAPs in the spirit space all start to look the same. Find ways to express the voice and heart of your brand and make sure you are working with people that embrace it!

What trends do you hope to see in 2022 for packaging and Physical Brand Enhancement™?
I am starting to see some change, but I think we should unfortunately expect to see a little bit more of the same. It takes a lot of time to change mindset – we are working hard on this to educate. However, we expect to see more of the same in 2022. Spearhead has put R+D in place to prove what we are creating with minimal packaging will succeed and while I would like to see these changes come sooner rather than later, I think it might take some time.

 How can a brand get in touch with you to start planning?
If your company wants to take the first step to planning for your brand, please reach out to Lana Toler.


The Spearhead Group and Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) Turin Announce Second Design Contest Winners

One of the main ways that The Spearhead Group is able to drive innovation is by collaborating with creative people. We see supporting design and engineering schools, such as IED Torino, as an important path by creating a collaborative program. The collaboration with Istituto Europeo di Design Torino, Italy launched in May 2019 with the initial program developing spirits brands and any Physical Brand EnhancementTM that supports them. Unfortunately, because of the Covid-19 pandemic we were not able to run the 2020 competition.

For the 2021 program, The Spearhead Group created, sponsored, and supported an exclusive innovative program with IED Torino students. The students were invited to create innovative upcycled products using the element of PVC rods recovered from industrial processes. Students were briefed on the program by The Spearhead Group, challenging them to create and design objects, products, accessories, or toys using PVC rods along with only common and accessible materials.”Collaborating with companies is a fundamental element of the IED training method. It allows our students to test the skills acquired, to learn to relate to client requests, to understand the dynamics of the market,” declares Paola Zini, Director of IED Torino. “The collaboration with The Spearhead Group makes us particularly proud: it is a great result for us and especially for our students to see how their projects become reality.”

Our 2021 program took a sustainability focus rather than a branding and package development one, by featuring a creative upcycling and reuse element of PVC rods recovered from industrial processes. Through one of Spearhead’s production processes, a waste product of dunnage in the form of PVC rods is created. While it is possible to reuse and/or recycle these rods, Spearhead decided to investigate the possibility of upcycling as a much more environmentally friendly alternative.

The program featured selected participants of six teams, two students per team, that were selected from the Product Design and Jewelry & Accessories Design courses at IED Torino. The teams then competed for 1st and 2nd prize/place. The winning designers each received a cash prize; first place: Euro800 (US$950) and second place: Euro300 (US$350)

Utilizing 50 to 200 rods per team, the students created images/drawings of the proposed idea or product, a physical product and a simple video showing the design concept, solution, and instructions for step-by-step production of the new product. Students were then judged on overall design, functionality, and innovative thinking. Students presented their ideas at the end of May 2021 to Heather Fritzsche, Robert Catalano, Natale Bauducco and Giovanna Pinna.

The first-place winners were Alberto Boscolo & Marta Scialdone with their product “Build It Green (B.I.G). Through the creation of simple structural joints and the insertion of a rope in the pipe section, they designed various outdoor structures for home and garden, leaving the user wide freedom of choice and fulfillment. The first-place solution is a unique connector design that people can easily download, and 3-D print, along with instructions and different applications.

The second-place winners were Debora Raimondi & Giuliana Noto, with their “Pipe-It Up” project. They focused their design on creativity and the connection to mental health, a very pointed topic.

“This year, again, we have been very impressed by the creativity and professional ability of the IED Torino students who took part in this very focused project,” said Natale Bauducco,
European Advisory Board Member.

“I particularly wish to thank Marco Piacentino of FabLab Torino for his leadership and competent coordination of the whole project.  We are happy to have had the opportunity to share with him our vision of this “upcycling of PVC material” project, a major part of our Group “cleaner world” vision.”

“We are proud of all the participants at IED Turin; Once again they have proven our methodology that collaborating with creative minds outside of your industry is one of the best ways forward. Special thanks to all those that help make this a successful program.” stated Robert Catalano, CINO and Co-Founder of The Spearhead Group.

Please follow us on our blog and LinkedIn to see more announcements about this year’s program and the previous program, including videos of the winners.

Spearhead Welcomes Tapones Premium to Pioneer Program

As you know, The Spearhead Group’s Pioneer Program was created for us to partner with only a few exclusive suppliers
that are experts and true innovators in their field. We are very proud to announce the latest edition to our Spearhead Pioneer Program,
Tapones Premium.

Tapones Premium, based in Mexico, is a true innovator in their work with metal medallions, ornamental bottle neckers and cork closures. Having been in business for 25 years, the team at Tapones have created and supplied fantastic Physical Brand Enhancements™ for spirits brands all over the world. Their reputation for quality, on-time delivery and, most importantly, innovation, makes Tapones a great addition to our Pioneer Program.

“When we first began working with Tapones some years ago, we recognized the difference right away to others in the industry,” said Robert Catalano. “They are extremely responsive and truly embody Spearhead’s core values, particularly in their creative and innovative approach to every opportunity. Now with a strong Pioneer in metal medallions and bottle closures, I believe Spearhead has become unstoppable in the market of all things related to Physical Brand Enhancements™.”

About Tapones
Tapones Premium was established in 1996 and is based out of Jalisco, Mexico. Tapones specializes in manufacturing metal and wood closures, labels, medallions, charms, and accessories by customizing products to distinguish brands from the competition. Tapones Premium is a pioneer in the industry and transforms ideas into something producible, providing the technology to manufacture your product with the highest quality standards.

Welcome to The Spearhead Group Blog

The Spearhead Group provides Physical Brand Enhancements to clients in the spirits, beauty and personal care industries. Headquartered in Yardley, PA midway between New York City and Philadelphia, The Spearhead Group offers companies a modern, full-service, consultative approach from concept to reality.

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