Brandon Love is keeping his iconic, brightly-colored hair, but melting away distractions that could be holding back his already wildly successful, but evolving lifestyle brand, Crumble Co., he said.
The first to go: Some of the eye-catching candle and wax product names that first caught customers’ attention because of their tongue-in-cheek innuendos and four-letter words, said Love, Crumble’s founder and owner.
“[When I started out] I decided I’m just going to do ‘me’ — I’m going to cuss where I want, I’m going to make sexual jokes where I want — and then my dad had a heart attack and everything changed,” the young entrepreneur explained, referencing his parents, who both work alongside him in the venture. “I realized that this company needs to succeed, not just for me but for my family.”
Growing the business from humble beginnings in Baltimore — before moving the operation to the Kansas City metro — Crumble helped Love recover and reboot after a traumatic breakup that had caused him to contemplate suicide, he said. The company later took on a mission to help others through suicide prevention efforts — aided by Love’s personal brand and lighthearted wordplay.
Click here to read more about Love’s beginning stages with Crumble Co.
“[This business] saved my life and it’s helping so many people across the world and I need to take it more seriously,” he added. “I decided to put a filter on my decision of like, ‘Does it serve our mission of connecting people and making people feel welcome?’ If not, it can go on the chopping block.”
Curse words on such products as “Fuck Anxiety” didn’t really serve a meaningful purpose, Love said.
“[The curse words were] a part of our brand, but it’s not our brand,” he said. “I’m just trying to make it palatable for everybody and a more serious company for my family and myself,” he added. “This is Crumble growing up with me.”
A more welcoming experience
Renovations at Crumble’s Bonner Springs storefront just months after opening reflects more of Love’s “fix it as you go” mentality, he said, noting he’d rather not wait for perfection.
“We are breaking down walls and we’ve got pink paint everywhere,” laughed Love, hinting at a lifestyle brand that now goes beyond candles and wax to deliver “treats for bath, body, and home.” “We just want some organization for our own sake and the customers who are coming in to meet us for the first time.”
“We’ve scared some people away,” he added. “They walk in and are just overwhelmed. I’m trying to fix that and make it a more welcoming experience for everybody.”
Click here to shop Crumble Co.
“[The new space in Bonner Springs] is going to be really pretty and more of what you would see in a downtown store — very organized, cute shelves, and a minimalistic style versus the chaos that was Crumble [before],” he said.
Reorienting the company’s product focus on bath and body items has been a recent passion, Love said.
“Now half our product is bath and body, and it’s huge to change half of your product. That’s insane,” he said. “I’ve just fallen in love with [those products] a lot. I’ve had to learn recipes and build these things from scratch based off of what I like and if the ingredients work well for me. I study this nonstop.”
Check out a photo gallery from the Bonner Spring store’s October opening below.
Expansion and engagement
A push toward a stronger wholesale strategy is part of Love’s goal to get Crumble products picked up by Target, he added.
“I love Target so I’m like, ‘Let’s go big or go home,’” Love said. “They have the morals that we care about, [too.]”
Until then, the expanded Bonner Springs space is geared to better engage the Bonner Springs community, he said, noting the second priority after growing the retail concept is allowing space for candle- or soap-making classes.
“We have a lot of space,” he said. “Bonner Springs is a small community, but it’s tight-knit and they know everything that’s going on there. So we want to master building that community aspect.”
After firmly establishing the Kansas location, a new store might appear in the River Market area on the Missouri side, he added, noting a welcome center concept involving coffee is percolating.
“We still need to figure what we need to do to make it a viable concept, but Crumble Cafe might be happening in a River Market near you,” Love teased.
Click here to read more about Crumble’s previous partnership with Betty Rae’s Ice Cream in River Market.