Welcome our newest sponsor, Gabrielle (Gab) Melchionda of Mad Gab’s natural and organic bodycare, to the blog! In the early nineties, Gab started making lip balm in her mother’s kitchen just for fun. Family and friends encouraged her to sell her homemade balms at farmers’ markets and local stores, and in a few short years, her company received national attention. QVC featured her lip balms on television, and magazines including Vogue and Working Mother highlighted Gab and her sought-after products.
Flash forward 25 years and Mad Gab’s is looking to make headlines again. They’ve recently launched an exciting new line of products called MG, geared towards young women. The company is also a finalist on Greenlight Maine, a local TV show that features up-and-coming Maine businesses.
MP sat down with Gab to discuss the challenges of running a successful business, balancing work and motherhood, and what she’s dreaming up next.
MP: How has the natural/organic beauty industry changed since you started 25 years ago?
GM: The industry has grown in leaps and bounds — so much so that Mad Gab’s decided to focus solely on the gift market. At Whole Foods, for example, our lip balms would be lost among dozens of other brands. That being said, the hope is our products will eventually have mass market appeal.
MP: How did you balance business and parenthood early on?
GM: I didn’t have any kind of balance! I always put my kids, Silas (16) and Jasper (12), first. I sacrificed a lot of great opportunities for the business, but in the end, it’s important for me to know I was there for my boys when they needed me most.
MP: As a parent and an owner of a beauty line, what ingredients are best for kids’ sensitive skin?
GM: For any age, the ingredients in your kitchen pantry are best: extra virgin olive oil is as good as it gets, and liquid Shea butter, which you can buy at natural food stores, is amazing for sensitive skin.
MP: Your current schedule is so busy, I imagine you’re not creating new products in your kitchen these days. Do you miss the creative process?
GM: [laughs] You’re right. Most of our production is done at the Dana Warp Mill, where our offices are located. But I’m always creating a list of new products in my head. It’s important that our brand stick to the products people know us for, namely lip balms and body balms. But eventually, I would love to add a simple lotion to our line.
MP: You appeared on Green Light Maine, where 26 Maine entrepreneurs compete for a $100,000 prize. What was that experience like?
GM: It was fun to be a part of something new in Maine, and the competition was friendly. I was sitting with my competitor — Bill Zelman of Hot Tubes — and he wished me luck before I presented to the judges. There was just this great sense of camaraderie and support.
MP: Do you have a favorite Maine brand of maker?
GM: There are several Maine companies that I love. Grandyoats, an organic granola company, has done such a nice job marketing their brand. And I love that Mary Allen Lindemann of Coffee by Design travels all over the world to meet the farmers that produce the company’s coffee beans. Oh, and Jill McGowan. Her clothes really exemplify that made in Maine quality.
Many thanks to Gab for talking with us! And did you know? Mad Gab’s is one of 13 Green Light Maine finalists! Stay tuned for the next round of competition on May 17!
To learn more about Mad Gab’s or to shop their latest line for kids and adults, visit here.