Mabel’s Labels Successful Social Media Marketing that Sticks!

Carina Fato    November 8, 2016

What binds together four University of Waterloo Alumni, millennia moms, and celebrity moms like Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rachel Weisz, Heidi Klum, and Reese Witherspoon?

Mabel’s Labels. They have developed a brand and social media marketing platform that responds to the needs of moms worldwide.

What is unique about this story? The founders of Mabel’s Labels are pioneers. They started their company before the words “social” and “media” were put together in sequence (note that Facebook was founded in 2004). When founders Julie Cole, Julie Ellis, Cynthia Esp and Tricia Mumby created Mabel’s Labels through their social networks with other moms, they knew they were on to something…

2003, four busy moms noticed a huge gap in the market for durable kids’ labels. Frustrated by their children’s things getting lost, mixed up and leaving home never to return, knew they could do better than the scribbles on masking tape that were being passed off as labels.

Presently, Mabels Labels has 163,600 devoted Facebook followers with a conversion rate of 5.1%.  In January 2016 they were acquired for $12 million by Canadian-based CCL Industries for its Avery North America division.

I met with Social Media Coordinator Sandra Barbera. One of the first stories she shared with me on how they continue to build “their Tribe” was based on an unsolicited Tweet by Jamie-Lynn Spears. Jamie-Lynn had thanked Mabel’s Labels (#Mabelhood) for a package she received in response to an earlier tweet about her favorite labels.  This post was liked by 280 and re-tweeted 58 times.

“What continues to make our marketing and corporate culture unique (and fun!) is that we’ve always stayed true to being authentic. We’re proud of this and we live it.   Answering to everyday needs and parenting questions that moms and dads have everyday.  The core of our “crowd-culture” is a “collaborative community” we offer a space where members of our “tribe” share their questions and find commonalities of their experiences.” – S.Barbera

The development of Mabel’s Labels marketing and product approach since their infancy has always been consultative and responsive. The founders, being moms themselves (Julia Cole was a mother of 6 when they started the company), knew how to reach the “Mom to Mom” market. One would say they were among the first to craft an online label presence that stuck.
Long before blogs such as Mom Marketing: How Brands & Businesses Engage Moms (2014) were written, the Mabel Labels founders pretty much mastered the 5 key-points listed below plus one more that needs to be mentioned(ie – Item 6 below).

  1. Continuous collaboration with other moms
  2. Involvement of moms (and dads) in bloggers projects/posts
  3. Select the right influence for each “tribe”
  4. Take mom (or dad) bloggers seriously
  5. Connect with everyone on a personal level
  6. Partnerships with school and children related organizations

Now that Mabel’s Labels has built a distinctive marketing brand under the umbrella of Avery Canada Labels, just how have their daily operations changed….if at all?


“We are pretty much left with a free reign. Our social media and marketing team of 10 are far from conservative. We hold Monday morning meetings collaboratively coming up with weekly blog themes. Comments and ideas are shared on our chalk board in the main foyer. ” – S.Barbera




Julie Cole(owner-partner) said new owner CCL is a great fit because it is a big company with a lot of contacts — and it doesn’t want to change the way Mabel’s Labels innovative and creative workplace functions.  -Hamilton Spectator

Lessons for Others

The authenticity of the stories found on Mabel’s Labels blogs and Facebook provides followers a platform that they have found a kinship with other parents. These real life accounts make you want to be part of a community. Mom’s (or dad’s) can do their part to participate while also receiving product that they have grown to trust.  The approach of Mabel’s Labels since day one has been to solve a problem and present meaningful content marketing to their devoted followers. The unconscious redirection of feeling of being “sold”  to being “heard” has proven that consumers respond well towards building long term trust with a brand.

Organization: Mabels Labels
Industry: Online Retail
Name of Organization Contact: Sandra Barbera, Social Media Co-ordinator

Authored by: Carina Fato

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


Mabel’s Labels’ Keys to Success – Julia Cole, University of Waterloo Alumni Blog Feb. 26,2016
Meet Mabel  – About Us page –

CCL INDUSTRIES ANNOUNCES THE ACQUISITION OF MABEL’S LABELS FOR AVERY NORTH AMERICA – CCL Press Release – January 4,2016 How Sustainability Crowdculture is Changing Branding on Social Media

Mom Marketing: How Brands & Businesses Engage Moms  –  Josh Ochs on June 27, 2014 in Blog

Out of the basement, homegrown Mabel’s Labels sells for $12M – Jan. 07,2016 – Hamilton Spectator- by Carmela Fragomeni