November 12, 2008

ReFresh Agency: Communications to Achieve a More Sustainable World Through Skill, Style and Sensibility.

Just a few days after writing about my experience at Naturally Boulder Days, I had the opportunity to meet one of Boulder, Colorado’s most dazzling entrepreneurs, Ms. Sandja Brügmann. In my article, I had shared how I learned that in the Boulder community, there is always someone to have coffee with, and not three days later, I had an invitation from Sandja, a woman who owns her own public relations, marketing and merchandising company.

The firm is called ReFresh Agency, a full service communications agency with results in the Natural Products, Fashion, and Consumer Goods Categories on local, national and international levels. I initially acclimated myself to the business by taking a thorough look at the agency’s website. The homepage opened to an image of recycled glass blue beads from Ghana (pictured below) across a sharp black background that made for a lovely first impression for me. My past experience includes assisting in package design for a natural products brand, and I always leaned toward a modern look. And in this case, it isn’t simply about web design—I’m a believer that good design makes for better accessibility, and sustainable products need to be marketed in such a way to reach beyond “the choir,” to a mainstream audience. I had a feeling from the start then that this was a top-notch agency that understood that style needn’t be sacrificed for sustainability.

After Sandja and I set a time to meet, I immediately called my sister. Her husband, and son, who had to have shoes like daddy, are so in love with their Crocs, I had to tell her I’d be meeting the woman that helped launched the Republican-owned (a rarity for Boulder!) brand. Of all of the things I report to my family back East, this one was huge and well-received. Sandja’s company does have roots in the natural products industry, one recent project being Embodi, a beverage that is the first to have the health benefits of red wine, without the alcohol (and also has a lovely package design, check it out at Embodi’s site).  Another project of ReFresh Agency is NextFoods’ GoodBelly, a probiotic fruit shooter that I had purchased two packages of on the first day I lived in Boulder. I knew it would help settle my stomach from all of the traveling, and I remember thinking I’d be supporting the latest venture of one of the area’s natural products pioneers, Steve Demos, and that it may be a good foot to set off on in my new community. The rest of the ReFresh client list reads like an example of how we’re going to make sustainability achievable. In just my few years of working towards this goal, I’ve really seen how it’s going to take efforts in varying sectors to get us there. Besides mission-driven food brands, there are nonprofits, like their client Shambhala Mountain Center (where elephant journal’s Waylon Lewis worked and spent much of his youth), fair trade initiatives of companies like Pernille Bülow, and events like the SNAP! gathering, which we attended and covered in a couple posts a few months back. The agency’s diverse client portfolio is perhaps its greatest strength.

So who can draw such a remarkable list of clientele? Yes, not one but two of those women entrepreneurs I had envisioned I’d connect with and learn from in my new community of Boulder. Sandja told me about her background when we met in person. From growing up in Denmark, a culture that has a longer history than our young country’s of walking lightly on the earth, where she also cultivated an initial spark in business by purchasing stock in none other than a small windmill company at age 12. I was impressed by her adventuresome nature, by traveling so far from home to attend the University of Colorado, then growing her career in marketing and PR after completing her studies. She was also a fun one to swap stories with of hot eco products, as she stays connected to her heritage by being a trend spotter for one of the largest Scandinavian fashion & lifestyle publications, IN Magazine. Sandja’s partner Hilary Martin, who I look forward to meeting eventually, also has a communications and PR background and has worked on several large international brands. The two combined bring over 30 years experience to the table in both agency and corporate environments. What’s exciting about this is their ability to understand positioning in both the conventional and natural product markets. What this means is that they can provide great value to entrepreneurial companies while also larger international brands wishing to offer their consumers a more sustainable product. To me this is essential to making sustainability achievable as well. Just as it’s about diversity of industries as shown in their client list, it’s about supporting both small mission-driven companies, and the large corporations wishing to rev up their environmental efforts.

Sandja also shared with me some news about what’s next for ReFresh, the launch of the agency’s ‘PR-in-a-box,’ which is sure to delight (and relieve) smaller business owners! A service for budget-conscious start-up companies in the natural products industry, the program offers essential PR tools which will give growing companies an opportunity to launch a public relations campaign. Contact ReFresh directly for more details, but after recently seeing new entrepreneurs speak at Naturally Boulder Days, and after having worked at a start-up myself, I can see a need in this area and can appreciate ReFresh for helping young companies make those needed initial waves, that are now possible on a smaller budget. This makes so much sense.

Sensibility is a word that I’m left reflecting upon after being introduced to Sandja and ReFresh Agency. It’s sensible to have woman-owned businesses, increase communications in varying sectors, not sacrifice style in a modern age, support small companies and large corporate efforts. And support one another in our careers and personal challenges as well, have coffee with a new-comer. Reach out. And all can be found in one place, ReFresh.



All images via ReFresh Agency

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