Earlier this year, a friend of mine stayed at my house to watch my cat while I was on a trip. I told him nothing was off-limits and to make himself at home — feel free to open the cupboards, pantry and fridge to find anything he needed. Halfway through, I texted him to see how it was going and received a message back declaring my kitchen “so Laura.” I asked for further explanation, and he elaborated that he wasn’t surprised in the least that nearly all my stocked items were private label brands.

Why exactly that is “so me,” I don’t know, but it most likely comes from a combination of things. It may be because of my age. Maybe is it because I like saving where I can, putting my dollars toward my house projects primarily. Or hopefully, it is because I have good taste — all these being reasons why 1 in 5 dollars are spent on private label brands (a statistic I picked up from Hornall Anderson's design director Jay Hilburn last month at Packaging That Sells).

Private label brands are no longer just for recessions. They are considered individualistic, smart and provide purchasers with many unique formulas or flavor combinations. Many private label brands have a more complete, fully formed identity than some national labels. The social stigma surrounding own brands no longer exists; now, private labels are not something you have to hide — in your shopping cart or in your kitchen.

Turn to Declaration of Independents to learn more about developing products and brands consumers are proud to own. In addition, view Jay's session and others from our conference on demand at .