The 2008 financial crisis fundamentally altered how Americans view and approach business in far-reaching ways. One positive shift – driven by the demand to fulfill job opportunities – was the rise in entrepreneurial business. While this growth rate has leveled off in the face of economic stabilization, many of today’s entrepreneurs continue to enter the marketplace out of opportunity and creative drive, rather than necessity. Douglas Everett’s entrepreneurial opportunity began with his passion for hummingbirds and the discovery that plain table sugar – a common substitute used to replenish feeders – contained potentially harmful ingredients such as chemicals and preservatives. Driven by one major tenet – to prevent harm to hummingbirds – Everett set out to create a healthier product. For two years, Everett worked with scientists at multiple universities to develop the perfect blend of ingredients for hummingbird nectar. The final product, marketed under the Hummingbird Market brand name, is formulated from a blend of 100 percent plant natural sugar. It mixes instantly with water to create clear nectar that consists of sucrose, fructose and dextrose.
High quality, customizable labeling was a critical part of bringing this unique product to market. The labels had to accommodate the individual needs and packaging preferences of the retail outlets that carry the product under their own brand names, feature personalized logos and contact information, and finally highlight any of the 18 different species of hummingbirds that visit North America. Only the Americas are home to the 330 different species of hummingbirds that exist, with the largest concentration found by the equator. For this reason, showcasing the specific species found in North America was a top priority when it came to informative label information and distinct branding. The labels also had to educate consumers during the purchasing process about ingredients and the proper care of hummingbirds. This balance was a major point of emphasis for Everett, who noticed that other brands used bright colors and imagery to distract consumers from the nutritional deficiencies of their products.
Everett initially used a local vendor to fulfill his labeling needs, but soon found that this approach came with delays in project timelines and made it difficult to manage costs, especially when it came to incurring premiums when labels were needed quickly. Costs were also incurred when Everett had a label surplus and had to manage the overstock. In addition, since many consumers choose to store the mixture of nectar and water in the original resealable pouch the product is packaged in, the labels needed to be impermeable to water to prevent smudging.
“Ultimately, I had too many label requirements and my existing vendor just could not keep up,” says Everett. “I needed a solution that would allow me to quickly and efficiently produce highly customizable labels that were durable and did not smear when in contact with water.”
Not one to accept things as they are, Everett set out to research different color printing technologies. Through a relationship with Guy Mikel of Color Label Solutions, Everett explored the option of bringing his label production in-house. Color Label Solutions is a premier provider of print on demand color and has deployed solutions in hundreds of companies and multiple industries.
“The first step to working with any client is to identify their requirements and expectations for production,” says Mikel. “My collaboration with Douglas [Everett] was no different. Once we determined what he was looking for, I was able to identify the right printer that would give him the results and the flexibility he needed.”
Mikel recommended one of Epson’s ColorWorks label printers as a solution to the durability and production challenges plaguing the company. After reviewing sample labels printed by the ColorWorks label printer, Everett agreed to further test the printer’s abilities, integrating it into his label design software.
“The printer fit seamlessly into our existing system and allowed us to make edits to label designs in real time,” Everett says. “We can now print the exact amount of labels each customer requests, which can be anywhere from one label for a personal online order to 500 labels for a retailer. On demand color printing has helped us greatly reduce production time and costs. Epson’s smudge-proof ink also eliminated any concerns about the damage water could do to the label. In other words, it was a perfect solution for our operations.”
As Hummingbird Market’s business continues to grow, Everett is already exploring the possibility of adding another Epson on demand color printer to his production facility. “I now see myself as an Epson expert and team member – I regularly receive suggestions from them on different samples and sizes of media that could work better with clients and customers.”