health and beauty aids

With Sloths And Llamas, Welly Expands Efforts To Make First Aid Cute Again

Welly Health, the first-aid brand built on the insight that millennials want cute bandages as much as their kids do, is expanding. Until now, the year-old company has been sold only at Target, as well as direct-to-consumers through its own site. But it’s now adding distribution in major supermarkets, including Meijer, Hy-Vee, Giant Eagle and Stop & Shop. And it’s also available on Amazon.

It’s also broadening its look, adding tie-dye styles as well as images of animals like sloths, narwhals and llamas.

And as the brand grows, its principals are rethinking what it means to be an adorable wellness brand amid a hideous health crisis.

“Since we launched a year ago, we’ve always been about blending play and preparedness, and [the point that] wellness should fit your lifestyle,” says Laura H. Conlon, vice president of marketing of the Minneapolis-based company. “We always want our products to spark joy and playfulness, just like the way you got the bump or bruise.”

That lighthearted mission makes responding to the COVID-19 crisis extra challenging.

To start with, Welly is donating 100,000 bandages to institutions like the Red Cross and individuals in need. It’s also focusing on hunger relief, giving back 5% of sales from its Prepared Bundles to Feeding America’s Coronavirus Relief Fund during April, to provide meals for communities -- and kids -- that need food the most. 

Conlon acknowledges that some might expect a company in the medical-supplies business to focus its cause-related marketing on the healthcare crisis. But because it’s a small company, large mask-making efforts, for example, didn’t make sense.

“We wanted to do good while being true to our DNA, and we didn’t need to be the serious brand right now. But we know we’re important to moms and dads and families, and we know with our commitment to play, we can talk a little bit more about mental health, play, and how to keep a good balance.”

That family focus has made the company painfully aware of the hunger crisis sparked by layoffs and school closures, often cutting kids off from the most reliable source of meals. “It was pretty inspiring to see how quickly our team settled on community hunger as a top priority,” she says.

Welly’s kits feature whimsical patterns on its flexible fabric bandages as well as a hand sanitizer called Clean Hands, all packed up in snappy little tins designed to appeal to people who like everyday products to look as pretty as possible. (Not so surprising, given that one of its co-founders also started Method’s nicely packaged “People against dirty” cleaners and Olly vitamins.) 

The pillar of the brand has always been “that bumps and bruises are the badges of a well lived life,” Conlon says. “We're staying in our lane and not jumping into bigger conversations that we can't tackle as well. And we’re trying to be a voice for parents who are at home.”

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