How to patent a formula & the blueprint for a 7 figure brand, with Type A Founder Allison Moss
In this episode I’m chatting with the founder of Type A, Allison Moss.
By making safer, high-performance personal care, Type A are on a mission to help people lead healthier lives by making it easy to switch to better-for-you products. They’re mostly known from their hero deodorant which is patented and unlike anything else on the market. We’re covering how you actually do that, the costs involved and how to launch into retail with your dream retailers.
If you haven’t heard me shout about our private network yet omg you’re in for a treat!! The date is set and we are launching on July 12! We’ve built what you’ve been asking for and we are so excited. I am so excited! This is a place we can connect and learn from each other. You’ll have access to some of the amazing women from the show for our take on Modern Mentorship, meet women who are building the next wave of the world’s best cpg and ecommerce brands - myself included, use our resident experts for things like Facebook ad reviews, business coaching and all sorts of business resources to help you grow your biz.
So! If you are a woman in the cpg slash ecomm world you can pop your name on the waitlist at Femalestartupclub.coms/waitlist and head to my Instagram highlights @dooneroisin for more details like the pricing, the why and the where.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
So I'm Alison Moss, I'm the founder and Ceo of Taipei brands and yeah, we make Taipei deodorant and other body care products. What makes us special and different and really kind of the beginning of of how this all started is that we have a proprietary technology. So we actually built a formula that's patented now and that has, you know, a really different approach to odor and wetness protection. So for a lot of people who maybe have tried natural deodorant but they haven't worked, it's clean and it's safe, but it's also high performance and it can really hold up to whatever whatever life throws your way.
00:05:51 So that's, that's our hero Products were starting to branch out into other products have been a market for about three years. That's so cool and I'll wait till we get into it to tell you more to tell me all the things can we before we get started and you know, go back to the beginning, can we just talk about patenting a formula like what does that mean? And how do you actually patent a formula? Excellent question. I wasn't sure either. So my background is in the beauty industry. I've worked in marketing and management for 20 years. I worked with bigger brands, Loreal, Lancome Launer et cetera, and then some smaller brands out here in the West Coast primarily jury like skincare and Ozzy skincare brand, which is amazing. Shout out to Australian brands. Love them. Yeah. And uh beauty counter all of that to say. You know, I had, I wanted to take I really had the idea for type, inspired by what I had done in my professional life. I had brought dozens of products to market. I really focused on all of the details and the Ukraine these great user experiences and high efficacy formulations and then more and more sort of something that is natural or clean or safe and in deodorant, I just didn't see that being done.
00:06:59 And I had an idea for a different approach when it comes to the patent and the idea of protecting it, that there it's not common to get a patent in beauty. And I had seen that, but at the same time I felt that we were doing something that had been done before and I started to ask around and really was leveraging my network and my connections to say like is it a crazy idea to go after a patent and what's the downside and what's the cost? And it really ended up being, you know, pretty low risk to go after it and you know, relatively speaking to starting a business, lower costs. So I said, why not? Let's go for it. And I actually worked with a legal team that I know through my network. Um I talked to a couple and it was really, you know, I think there's a, there's a general theme here. Have a lot of talking, just, you know, talking to try to inform myself, make myself smarter. What don't I know, learn listen to people who knew more than I do about a lot of things. And that continues to be a threat throughout the business. And how much does it cost to actually patent the formula and like what's the timeline to do something like that?
00:08:02 We worked on the formula. So like the backstory on the formula is I had this idea was like, we can create a time released, we can mimic the time release and that way we can have longer lasting protection and we can hold up to kind of anything you might be doing if it's stress sweat or if it's workouts or whatever. And also we can create more wetness protection by having a really strong kind of moistures absorbing sweat wicking aspect worked with the freelance comes to my network got our first submission really was were probably about 70% of the way they're on that first submission. And that, you know having seen many first submissions come in for other products and other categories over the years. I was like okay there's something here and we can turn this into something great and so worked over six months to refine it and then put into testing. It was probably about a nine month total process to get the formula ready And at that point along the way, once it kind of was in testing and I wasn't as hands on with you know the tweets and the development. I started asking around and trying to educate myself on what does it take to get a patent the cost and all of that. We ended up finally over the patent in late 2017 and took three years to actually secure the patent and there's a number of like rounds when they come back with questions and you answer and you refine so the overall cost to to answer your question, I don't have a firm final number but you know the up front cost was a couple of $1,000.
00:09:18 There are subsequent costs though. So it ended up costing more than that. But over a period of three years for an upfront just to explore and even just get your basically provisional application in to get a sense of the opportunity and then if that's accepted then you can file for non provisional and then you can kind of go through that back and forth process and see if They will grant you something that's broad enough that is really protect herbal like you could patent an exact formula concentrated, you could patent an exact formula with every specific concentration it has 10% water in 15% of this in 20% of that. But then if someone goes and tweets and says I'm gonna put 11% of water and you know they're they're outside of your patent. So you wanted to have kind of just a broader scope and that's ultimately the net at the end of the process we actually filed there's some piper where if you can file that it can be sort of a non release so it doesn't become publicly released if you don't want the patent issued. So at the end of the day it gets whittled down to something to specific not as protective and not as much value as you're looking for then you can kind of walk away from it because I couldn't essentially because you can find every pattern online right?
00:10:27 Like you can go and search them and like understand them. So if you're posting your recipe or your formula doesn't that then allow people to be like yeah okay I'm going to copy that exactly and then tweak it by the 10% or 20% or whatever it has to change by to be not copied and then does something similar ish but with a new ingredient or something isn't that the risk that you have, it is a bit of a risk. And I definitely thought a lot about that. So one if they tried to copy your exact formula or anything within the range is that you have protected. So it starts off really broad, it's like this combination of types of ingredients that could be one of several different ingredients. So if someone were to find something outside of that, then that would be outside of the patent, but it's, it's intended, you know, in a best case scenario to be pretty broad. So this group of concentrate of different ingredients and that they could be in the formula from 5 to 15% or some broad concentration or even 5 to 20% and so got it okay by that way, you kind of, it narrows it down.
00:11:32 So yes, they're gonna have access to your formula. But there's also these really big kind of broad parameters that say like, you know, if you make tweaks within this range, it's still protected. The challenge with a patent is then if someone were to copy you, you go out there and you want to say, hey, that's our protective formula and that's a different animal. I think for us, for me, the, the investment in the patent was to really validate the difference that this, there's a lot of deodorant on the market and more have come out since we've launched and they're all very similar formulas and we even share some of those similar ingredients and we use some different ingredients, but for us it's a composition. That's really what makes it special. It's how we bring those ingredients together and how they work together. And that is sort of that mechanism is kind of what we wanted to protect. Got it. And so just to clarify, who do you think should be getting a pattern like when it comes to, for example, the beauty industry or even for me in the beverage industry, like should you be someone who is doing something very unique and very special or should you be someone who's like, yeah, like I have a serum and this is what I'm doing.
00:12:40 Like who should actually patent in your opinion? It's a great question. There was never no guarantees going through the patent process. So we couldn't rely and it was three years to get the patent And so you know, for the first two years in markets 2017 we were sort of foundational 2018, we launched first years of market, we didn't have the patent. So I think you have to be able to communicate your points of difference. Why this formula is unique. Works differently, delivers a result in in beauty, your skin care is going to be about results or efficacy in some fashion unless it's this or color, you know, or trend like if a terror colour than the trends. But yeah, communicate your point of difference and why this formula is unique and special and you have to be able to do that without a patent. And I think for those, you know, who want to go after the patent, there needs to be something that really hasn't been done in the category before. Mm Gosh, that's so interesting. Thanks for sharing. That's really cool. Congrats by the way. I love that for you. Thanks. Crazy. It is crazy.
00:13:43 Gosh, I love it. I got totally ahead of myself and you know, jumped a few steps forward. So I want to go back to the beginning. I want to go back to the initial kind of a half moments and talk about where you're entrepreneurial story actually got started. Sure. So I had mentioned some of the beauty businesses brands I've worked with in the past and it really was, you know, having brought so many products to market over the years and spent a ton of time probably over analyzing every detail about those product launches for other companies. I, you know, can, I don't always take that hat off at home and I probably and over analyze a lot of products they used to and when it came to aluminum free deodorant, natural deodorant, I had tried dozens. They were all disappointing, but I just sort of had some inspirations along a kind of a couple of different levels that, you know, let me just say, hey, there's a different way to approach this. And if we can do that, if this idea hands out and this formula really is effective and also easy to use then and without any real tradeoffs, then why wouldn't you make the switch to something healthier?
00:14:49 And isn't it easier to stick with it? So with all of that, it felt like a chance to actually do something that can help people's lives bring a great product market that can also be one small but one important sort of safer, healthier change that they can make. And that was really exciting for me. So yeah, I was actually on maternity leave with my second and had a bit of extra time on my hands because baby sleep a lot when it's your second, you're like, okay, I got this, I know the blueprint, I took that time to kind of really dive in and you know, look at the competitive landscape and say like, hey is a real opportunity here, I think there is work with a freelance chemists in my network and then, you know, it was a year and change later that we brought to bay to market. That's so crazy. I'm just trying to understand, like, you know, you tried things on the market that you didn't think were very good and there wasn't something that really solved the problems that you're facing, but like how did you get to the point of thinking, yeah, we're going to launch this, like not done before, way of formulating a product like and, and I forget what you said earlier, like the specific words that you said, but like slower to release or something like that.
00:15:58 Like how did you actually get to that? I don't understand. So it was a couple of things. The thesis was first I had seen in other categories that you could create higher performance formula if you didn't try to force it into being highly or all natural and you embrace safe synthetic ingredients. And so what I was looking at the deodorant category, every formula was just really focused on all natural. A lot of the formulas that we're taking over are starting to get momentum. We're all about ingredients you can eat. That's great. And a lot of them have started in the kitchen and again and that's, that could be great, but it limits efficacy And so you know, first I said, hey, I can think of a number of ingredients I've seen in skin therapy effective in a based formula for a variety of different purposes. Maybe two deliver something that doesn't stain it, create a lighter way, like not as a heavy oil of a base that could be better and more clothing friendly. You know, something that's not irritating. How can we create a really lovely texture on the skin and aesthetic that glides on smooth so you don't have to warm the formula up on your hand and then isn't irritating and is really nurturing.
00:17:03 Taking a lot of those insights first setting the bar high for safety and clean and not focusing on all natural and then just taking a lot of the references I had from other categories. And then the last piece was, let's try to mimic a time release and that's ultimately we ended up doing so we created a formula that is sweat wicking. We call it our sweat activated technology. That sort sort of consumer facing language is absolutely language in the patent to and what it basically means is that the formula, every time it encounters moisture, it wicks that moisture away so it keeps you feeling pressure. There's no deodorant on the market that has the combination of ingredients we do that can deliver the same level of witness protection. And that's huge for people because they're just not feeling that like on a day to day basis, I'm sitting at my desk and suddenly I'm like uncomfortable. That's the thing, A big piece of, you know, wanting to switch to something aluminum free. But then really being able to stick with it because again, trying to produce all the trade offs. So the sweat wicking the moisture absorption, that's a big piece of it. But then the other piece of it is every time the formula encounters that moisture it releases just a little bit of the odor protecting complex, so little by little it's releasing the odor protectors as you sweat.
00:18:10 So it's working with your body when you sweat, it mimics the time release. Gosh! That is just bloody genius. That's cool man. Holy I'm really glad it worked. And it was an idea. But I, yeah, like I said, I'm just, I think I'm constantly, my mind is always turning and again it had been, you know, this is just, I guess how I was sort of trained. Maybe there's a little bit of nature in there to just always tinkering and like how can I make this better? But also a lot of observing and saying like, what do I see, what's working, what's working elsewhere? What kind of work can we apply it? And um, yeah, there's a lot of professional training that doesn't go to sleep at night. And uh somehow that applied to deodorant. Yeah, that's really cool. And it's really reflected in the like Kazillion five star reviews on your website of people saying those kind of things, you know that they're just never getting the problems that they had before. So wow kudos to you. That's really cool. How much capital did you need to get started and bring the brand to life And how did you finance it in the beginning? So my husband and I bootstrapped this until post launch and then we started to raise their friends and family and then that sort of turned we extended that into a seed round in 2019 and I've actually extended it since then.
00:19:25 So I've learned over time, this has definitely been an acquired new scale fundraising, then I'm grateful for it. And again it was a lot of, you know, my husband's actually in finance and so he doesn't do this. Exactly, but I have some good between some of my b school friends and and people I just know again in my network and having dan around, I was able to ask a lot of questions so I could, you know, get the guidance I needed. But yeah, we bootstrapped and you know, up front just to get the product to market really wasn't that expensive. You know, there was a little bit of investment and legal, there was a little bit of investment in the formula working with the chemist, but You know, each sort of material investment was in the few $1,000 ring, right? I'm also in various places in work. I've been work lives, especially you've had to learn to be pretty scrappy with budgets, nothing like what you do with the startup. But I just had that mentality from the beginning. There's, there's sort of two approaches, you can go and raise a lot of money and you can do it on a bigger scale more professionally. There's nothing wrong with that.
00:20:27 But that just wasn't my natural inclination and I feel like the pressure that that puts on the business to succeed is is a lot and I wasn't comfortable with that. And so my comfort level was, okay, let's do this crappy invest little by little. My husband was on board from day one. I said, I have this idea, you're gonna think I'm crazy and he's an entrepreneur at heart even though he's a finance guy and you know, day job and he was like, this is amazing, you should do this. And he's been, you know, strategic sounding board and an adviser and all of the things ever since. But having that partnership has been critical. And then of course to say like, hey, we're gonna put money in. I'd say he was actually more aggressive with wanting to, you know, with, with being open to putting money and then I was, I was more like really wanted to be so metered and careful, but ultimately it got to the point, how much did we put in pre launch Was less than 40 grand over a year and a half. And, And I'm blanking on the exact number, but you know, somewhere between 2045, which is a lot of money, don't get me wrong, you know, we had a fund for a new house and going to do in our business, instead but relatively speaking, you know, there are brands that raise $15 million level, but then also I think there is the need to understand sort of the expectations that can come with the capital, something I've learned over time, just capital raising.
00:21:57 Yeah, absolutely. I mean, then you have other people to answer to and you need to do things a certain way and you need to sell. Yeah, well you sort of, yeah, you say like, hey, we're gonna do this thing, we're gonna do this thing and you give us the money, we're going to do the thing and then nothing ever works according to plan and which is also somewhat understood. But then what is plan B and C and D look like? And where is that, what does that use of cap? How are you pivoting And maybe not getting stuck on plan a but also making sure that you're making the smartest use of all the capital. So yeah, it's a, it's an interesting balance. Once we launched, it was clear that we were going to need to be investing at a higher level. So we were putting more money into the business after that initial, you know, call 40 grand. And that's when, that's when we said, Hey, we're gonna raise the seat ground. We were advertising, we were getting some pr we're bringing in some consultants to support, We weren't in every full time employees yet. Um my partner in crime kate who's now our CMO was helping me part time. She's an old colleague of mine from Loreal, but we were on a, you know, sort of a good growth trajectory was still early days and it wasn't to the moon, but we saw the potential, we saw the product market fit and we wanted to lean into it.
00:23:06 And so then that's when we started the friends and family around. Mm. Yeah. So you've proven out the concept and then you're like, okay, how do we move faster? Yeah, exactly. Or like, yeah. And uh this is probably my like personality and a little bit impatient. But I was like, okay, Proven concept. Like let's let the academy take it to the next level, let's get it done and let's go, yeah, let's go, let's do it. So, so that was that was kind of how that happened. That was all kind of in year one in 2018. Mhm. Hey, hey, it's doing here. I'm just popping in to bring you a quick message in every episode of the FSC show, you'll hear women who were just like you trying to figure it all out and hustled to grow their business. And I would know a lot of you might be sitting there asking yourself, but how do I actually scale my revenue and get to that next level from where I am now. You also know that so many of the entrepreneurs I speak to have mentioned facebook and instagram ads as a crucial part of their marketing myths from today onwards.
00:24:15 I'm really excited to be able to offer our fsc small business owners and entrepreneurs and no strings attached, our long chat with leading performance marketing agency amplifier, who you might also remember from our D. I. Y. Course, Full disclosure amplifier is my husband's business. And what's really important to know is that I've been able to witness first hand the transformation of so many businesses going from as low as $10,000 a month, all the way to $300,000 a month and in some cases upwards to seven figures. So if you're listening in and you feel like you're ready to take your business to the next level, jump on a no strings attached call with amplifier where you can ask all the questions you have about performance marketing and whether it's the right time for you and your business to get started, go to female startup club dot com forward slash ads, that's female startup club dot com forward slash A. D. S. And booking a call today, I read that you launched into credo beauty and I'm interested to know like how far in advance you needed to start working on that partnership and what that actually looks like, like how do you land a dream retailer before you even launch?
00:25:33 I will say, you know, one of the things that when I said, hey, I have this idea of this product, I'm gonna work on it and bring it to market for me as an entrepreneur, anything for everybody. It's different, the kind of cumulative experience that I had had professionally gave me a lot of confidence and so I knew there were things that I felt really comfortable saying, hey, I could at the very least get us off the ground when it comes to. So you know, running an e commerce, getting that up and running or some digital media or some, some of the other things I had just done before my life, the product marketing piece and then I also felt really confident in my network and just knowing who I was going to call already to validate to give me advice and I've been so blown away by how supportive everybody has been. I think, you know, I've just worked with some really amazing people over many years and I think there's just so much support that you have out there from your colleagues from your network that you can really leverage, so that from the beginning was a mindset, one of the early people that I called was a former coworker, she was actually the founding team at Beauty counter and her whole career is about health safety, formula integrity, um sustainability, All of the things that I wanted to really build into this and you know, this is meant to be healthier, safer, no sacrifice alternative.
00:26:48 Right, so called me a Mia Davis and she is, she started as a consultant is now a brand advisor for us. She also is now a credo, beauty. So she was able to facilitate an introduction to the buyer right before launch fun story. She was like, hey, I think you should talk to credo. They are setting the highest bar for safety from a retail perspective. They're doing things just top of the game there. An amazing partner would be great for you to get in early with them if they like the product. And I was like, I don't know, we're very lean. It's just me, I've got a lot on my plate and I actually was worried that I was taking on too much complexity from my other, one of my other approaches was just really streamline in the beginning. One scented one unscented version of the deodorant, no other products and I'm not sure like looking back, is that right? Is that wrong? But you know, reducing complexity was helpful in a number of ways and so only having one key channel to start which was DDC was also all of that said, of course I took the meeting with credo. The buyer loved the product and we decided to launch with that. So we launched on our site and then a few weeks later we launched it credo and it was one of the best decisions we made just to have the validity out of the gate from someone who's known for clean and known for curating brands and formulas that, that are exceptional.
00:28:02 It really helped and helped with pr it helped with awareness and and also they're just amazing people and we adore them and we're still, they're still great partners of ours now. So it was, it's all been amazing. That's so nice. I'm sure they're going to love to hear that for anyone who's kind of building a brand with that same idea in mind of like we're going to launch into a great retailer. How long in advance do you need to be having those conversations? Like what's the timeline? Excellent question. So retail timelines can be quite long and this is, you know, kate and I leaned a lot on, you know, experiences that Loreal and she's worked in other CPG industries before she spent some time in toy. So, you know, it depends on what channel you're going for. So if you're talking to a detail partner, it's a shorter lead time. They can really cut into product at any point. It's um, we're talking to a retail partner. It depends on the channel, but typically most food, drug, mass Natural sort of like the larger chains, they have regularly sort of annual or biannual resets and times when they bring new products in and so you're gonna want to talk to him about a year in advance, Wow.
00:29:07 So if you were looking, you know, we're having conversations, we have been and will continue be having conversations for 20, retail expansion now and some retailers have already made their decision, some are making them so we'll continue the same goes prestige. But the smaller the retailer, um, the more flexible they are with credo at the time, I don't believe they still kind of adhere to a very rigid reset schedule. They own their stores and their store formats are smaller and they have more flexibility. Now, they probably have schedules in there. But it's not, the, my guess is it's not as regimented as like a target or whole foods got it. But if you're having to have these conversations a year in advance, does that mean your product is 100% finished? Or is it kind of like they're buying into the idea and it's like almost finished and like the packaging hasn't been done because where I'm getting confused is like if it's a whole year before launch, but the product is already finished and maybe you'll have access to, you know, your first order, say three months later or six months later, but then you're wanting to launch, which is a year later.
00:30:13 How does that work? Right. Or like if you have all the products ready to go and it's a year later, like what you're sitting on it for a year, That would be tough. It really depends on the retail channel and the retailer specifically. So in the example of credo, you know, we talked to them two months before we launched. They love the product or maybe a few months before we launched and they don't have these really strict long lead retail schedules if you wanted to talk to a whole foods as a launch partner or, you know, or Target or CVS or another really kind of larger scale food, drug, mass channel partner, those are very kind of regimented and also truth be told they're going to want to see some in in market traction, so you're probably not having those conversations proceed. There are, I know of brands who have launched first with a partner like that and so they had to, yes, pitch the idea, but I think that's a situation where you're also actually going to want to be well capitalized going into it. So you're going to have raised a pre seed round, you're going to be launching sort of, you know, it's a totally different launch plan, retail is amazing for building awareness.
00:31:17 Um, you get that billboard effect on shelf, you know, you don't have to drive the traffic necessarily, but you have to sell through and you have to build brand awareness outside of the retailer to help deliver that sales velocity and then really importantly, you have to have a good system of calendar of trade promotions doesn't always have to be a discount, but involvement in the whatever the retail over the retailer engages there shopper to make sure your product standing out on shelf, so, you know, different channels will require different things and, but all of it, there's a lot of investment and then the pay cycles are tough like they're going to pay you you know you're gonna send them products and then they're going to pay you you know a few months later and so you really need to be capitalised for that if that's your launch plan. Mhm. Yeah that's really interesting and I hadn't thought of it like that before. Can we talk about the D. C. Side of the business around when you launched? Obviously in your case you had a really innovative products so the product would for sure speak for itself. I imagine word of mouth was really key in building that awareness as well.
00:32:21 You launched with a great retailer but how else were you getting the word out? And what did you find was really driving that initial growth to your ecommerce store. So when we first launched we had a couple of things in play. So we had a starter email list looking back full disclosure. I would have we would have approached that have been much more aggressive with it. We had a few 100 people and started email us who through our connections and sort of had seated it lightly there was an opportunity to start off with a you know sort of a bigger being and then you know really start that word of mouth going with a larger list and looking back would have invested a little bit pre launched a a little bit of time and not that much money to build that out bigger, but that did get us off to a strong start. And then we also launched, we started shipping or gifting influencers organically, and that really, kind of just took off and we got a lot of influence or response really quickly, and then that really lasted, we were for the first year and a half, we were reaching out to influencers offering products, we were doing it all organic, unpaid and, you know, really getting a good return, right, and a good response rate, and it was all micro influencer level.
00:33:36 So, you know, it wasn't the R. O I have one individual influencer, it was sort of the effect of having, you know, a constant chatter of the product happening, probably hitting, you know, the same demo and some of the same the same people over and over again from different places. So, those two things were truly, well, we turned onto our digital, really didn't get going until 2019, and then we did a lot of pr and it was like, very scrapping the beginning, it was me and kate going to new york, um getting appointments with editors who would meet with us through connections, we had whatever way we could, and we ended up getting quite a few conversations going and then ultimately we brought in a freelance publicist and then continue those conversations. We got a lot of pr right out of the gate. Um, so it was influencers pr and it was, I guess email marketing in a very nascent way and that was how we got off the ground. And I would say credo contributed the exposure. We got a credo was really meaningful and, you know, was another layer of Pr and another layer of visibility of trial. Um, so that, that was really helpful as well. And then later in the year, we actually got picked up by Goop and featured in Goop and then that, you know, was again sort of a pr retail hybrid that that furthered.
00:34:43 So, so that was the launch, that was the launch strategy and what kind of works in the early days. Yeah, that's amazing. And I think, You know what I'm wondering is do you think if you launched the brand today, I know you said you would work on building a bigger email list and that kind of thing. But do you think the same strategy would have worked when it came to things like influencer marketing like 2018, even though it's only a few short years ago, it really was a different landscape compared to today where things are oversaturated, everyone's an influencer. Yeah, yeah, yada, yes, we still would have focused on influencer, you can call it any number of things. What we were doing was, you know, at the lower level of micro or nano influencer and really just trying to create buzz and chatter about the product and, you know, if you think about like marketing, the very, very basic marketing equation is like reach times frequency and so you know, we need to reach our audience multiple times, right? And it's a very cost effective way to do it over time. I think the landscape has changed, I agree, it's gotten crowded, there's a lot of chatter and, and, and it has become more pay to play, but for a new brand there's a lot of, you can leverage that newness and we were advised that at the time, you know, by many people influence or agencies were like, we don't want your business yet you can still milk the unpaid, you know, smaller scale milk it until you can't and I think, you know, we, we've, and, and, and landscape having changed, I think a new brand today can absolutely still do it and should, and we still do a mix of both unpaid and paid, but we're really starting to come back to favoring, you know, the paid influencer, landscape is really tough And you know, certain categories tend to benefit.
00:36:27 You know, we think about in beauty makeup and hair where you can sell one eye shadow palette and you can do 10 different looks and the influencer can come back and really engage your audience many times about the same product and you can't do that. There's only so much, you can say about deodorant, you can like say, hey, it worked on my workout. Oh, now works when I like met up at the park with my, with stroller buddies, you know, core demo is like a 25 to 45 year old woman, some leans mom. So you know, we lean into kind of the themes that work, there was a lot of testing and finding, you know, sort of food influencers. We thought, oh well those who are into maybe organic food and healthier eating might be, you know, also thinking about what they put on their body they do, but they're not necessarily looking for. The influencer has given them a recipe idea to tell them about the owner. So that didn't work as hard for us as, um, you know, lifestyle influencers, mommy bloggers and, and the mom crew and then, you know, beauty influencers and skin influencers. So you've got to find sort of the niche of the types of influencers that maybe seem to resonate more. Absolutely would say invest time in it because it's also relatively low budget And that chatter is never going to be a bad thing.
00:37:35 It also as we enter 2019, we had an ad unit that really took off on Facebook and that was when we started to start really explode in scale and then we went and raised to see around sort of turned our friends and family to see around and there was definitely an interplay between influencer and um, and digital media And they amplify each other, the challenges you have to invest. So, you know, digital media, that landscape has also changed dramatically and what we got in 2019, it's hard possible to replicate now, but I do believe that they still reinforce each other like all of the media when done right, you know, there's multiple touch points, it's more frequency, so we're reaching that audience more times. So that especially if you're kind of got the overlap of the right influencer, you know, group of influencers that meet your, that match your demo and then you're targeting them properly on on digital, um, it can really work together and help bring some efficiency and when you're thinking about today, what's working for you really well now and what are the things that you're doing to kind of find new audiences and find new people that are interested in your brand?
00:38:40 So what's working for us now is an extension and evolution of what worked in the early days. It's sampling and we, we know when you try the products, you love it, you know, Estee lauder, more or less invented beauty sampling for and it works for a reason, so thank you mrs and mrs lauder. But no, it really is effective. So, you know, how can you get exposure through trial size through full size? You'd be judicious about full size and really think about, you know, are you sampling to, you know, how repeatable is your product or how replaceable is it? Some of the boxes can be really tempting, but when you're putting a full size in a subscription box and then every month that customer gets the same product from a different brand, are they going to be loyal enough to your point of difference? Is it gonna stand out enough? They're going to repurchase and, and repurchase rates and conversion rates are low. So it takes quite, you kind of have to really cast the net wide in any activity um, even with the standout products, but samplings big, we still do a lot of influencer and actually kind of coming back to our roots to say, you know, how can we?
00:39:43 Re engage those micro nano influencers in a bigger way and it is just a numbers game In the beginning in 2019 when we were like scaling a very, very fast. Um, we were mailing, I want to say we're reaching out to 200 influencers, we hear back from about 100 this is on a monthly basis and then about 50 Would take the product of 100, would, would call for samples and then 50 would actually post And so you know, you're starting at 200 and and I don't know, you know, that equation has kind of fallen off a little bit, we're seeing less of a return, but I think that's a combination of the competitive nature of our category, the influencer landscape maybe becoming a little bit more crowded and maybe a little, um, like the influencers trying to figure out how to monetize and, and less adoption, less willingness, but also every influencer knows that they need to have some unpaid, you know, in the mix. And so you know, it doesn't go away. And as a new brand, you can carry a lot of favor. Mm Yeah, that's so true because I think as well like influences do need to have new and unique content and they do need to be trying new things to see whether they actually like it when they actually want to talk about it without it being paid opportunity, which of course people are like, well, you just got Paid to say they're only authentic if they can be like, Hey, I discovered this or you know, this is not paid and be very, 100%.
00:41:04 The other thing that works for us. I think it works for us because this is a, this is the right fit for our category is retail expansion and retail exposure. And it really does have a billboard effect and in Omni channel presents another unique set of challenges because you're not controlling the consumer experience. Like you do indeed to see, you have to accept that there are going to be people who shop on your site that are going to repurchase and other channels, but then you're also gonna get the benefit of people who repurchase them who purchased initially from other channels and they come back to your site because you have the fullest assortment of sense or other products or they get engaged with the brand. You can bring them in in other ways or come to amazon and I, and I look at me to see an amazon sort of equivalent. But retail expansion has been big, 89% of us. Adults are still buying deodorant retail. And so for us as a category, it's important for us to accept the how omni channel kind of functions because it's really what we need to be meeting our customer where they're shopping and be there at the point of purchase. When they're thinking about making a switch, we might capture you online, but a lot of times it's going to be in store to say, hey, there's something in between natural and antiperspirant that works really well and it's really safe.
00:42:08 And there's a lot of meeting them where they shop and especially in this category And you are everywhere now. Right. I think I read your in 1500 target stores, urine, all all the places everywhere. It's amazing. Thank you. Yeah. So we, we did do a test the target right now we're focused on, we just launched in whole foods in California and the southwest And that has been super exciting for us because it just, it's such a fit and we, you know, and I give all of my money to whole foods. So I'm like now in America, I can see Taipei, it's amazing. And we also just launched nationally with bed bath and beyond. So that was really exciting. And then we had a couple this year, we've had a ton of retail growth in the last nine months. We've added 1400 doors. We also added a couple of really key detail partners. And so in earlier this year we launched in thrive market, which was incredible. We just, you know, so much that makes sense there. And then we launched on Costco dot com and that has been just, you know, really explosive.
00:43:09 We've been really excited. It's been an incredible surprise. It just shows that the customers ready, they're looking for aluminum free there, but they're looking for performance and it continues to be a great fit. So it's great to have these partners and there's a lot of room to grow with them as well. That's so cool. What's the goal? What's the big vision goal for you right now. So many goals were raising capital right now. So my very, very near term goal is to complete the round. We, you know, it's coming back to fundraising that has been such an interesting journey and you know, understanding and having partners and, and expectations and going into capital knowing capital raising, knowing that, you know, really, there's going to be an exit, right? We actually just, it was pretty exciting earlier this year, we welcomed a celebrity investor. Sophia Bush actually haven't mentioned in this publicly. Yes. So you're, you're the first to know, exciting congrats. Thank you. Yeah, she is. She's so passionate about, you know, clean choices, but also making them accessible, really everything we stand for. When we were chatting with her.
00:44:12 She was like, I love the product, but you know, actually what first caught my eyes that europe before and that you are focused on, you know, your mission driven, but you're really focused on doing good through the business and thinking about, you know, consumers and all the stakeholders. And I love that she knew what it meant. And it's really, you know, it's been really exciting. Her manager, Jason Weinberg also came in. So we have two incredible additions to our cap table in our investor base. And then also, you know, Sophia is going to be of course helping us spread the word as she does, which is, which is wonderful. But you know, our investors are looking, you know, there's an open conversation about where we want to take this business and we want to fulfill our goal and our mission of helping as many people as possible. The mainstream consumer find a natural deodorant, an aluminum free deodorant that isn't a trade off and stick with it. And so we want to take that pretty far. But eventually we will, you know, we'll, we'll look at partners who can help us take that to the next level that we just can't do no matter how many resources, how much capital we raise it becomes, it makes sense to be able to really maximize the opportunity for like a leading personal care brand, which is already what we're on track to do to be a leader in clean personal care to stand for our brand.
00:45:28 We just did a brand survey and what came back was great, reinforced kind of what we knew. But it was great to hear it and people were saying, yeah, well I believe that Type A is going to deliver on its promises. If you're called type you're going to deliver. And so it was about safety and trust and reliability and efficacy and all the things that are important to us. And so yeah, we're gonna take the type A brand. We're going to become the leading clean personal care brand and we'll take it to a point and then there'll be a partner who will help, you know, really take it to the next level. Gosh, how exciting That all sounds absolutely amazing. Love that for you. It doesn't, we still need to make a lot of that happened, but we're on our way, we're on our way. You'll get there. I'm excited to cheerlead you on thank you. What advice do you have for women who are on the entrepreneurial path, but there earlier on in the journey than you are, you know, so many different pieces of advice, I think, you know, if your if your earlier on the one thing that I really, I wish I could go back in time and um you know sort of focus on more strategically practically dive deeper on was this is gonna sound really nerdy and boring and brainy but our financials, our P and L.
00:46:44 And like just a more a more detailed approach to, you know to being To tracking our results and tracking, you know, our full are full financial model against actuals and tracking our cash really closely and really understanding we and and it's not that I think we did a poor job of it, but last year in 2020 we were forced to get so much more fundamental than we had been and it was an incredible learning and um it's really, you know, it's made us stronger as a business going forward. So what we were getting more efficient and we were learning and we were getting you know more efficient with every dollar that was spent and where it was going and how it was used and that would have happened anyway. I think we could, you know, there's just there, you know, doing it even better, we'll get you a better result and the more positive cash flow you have coming in, the more you can do to grow the business so you know, having a handle on really understanding your financial fundamentals and we actually implemented in early 2020 And it was a saving grace and has been ever since, uh, With our bookkeeping partner, we do a 13 week cash management meeting every week.
00:47:51 So we look ahead 13 weeks and saying how much cash we have on hand, what our expenses coming up, what are, you know, cash inflows. And um, it gives me a much firmer handle on and we get into retail. You know, you gotta kind of case down your payments. Um, you know, they're, the payment cycles are long and often you kind of have to go after the dollars invoices get missed. So, you know, really understanding, you know what we're getting paid out. Oh, this promotion on amazon that I budgeted export actually get over delivered. Great. But this is what that looks like to the bottom line. And it doesn't mean we shouldn't have done it, but just know that that happened and then understand that how that impacts our cash position. So I'll stop with the numbers. But no, but I think it's really important. I think it's really important, especially if you're a creative entrepreneur who's maybe not on top of the numbers and not on top of, you know, all the actual costs to come up with your colleagues or your cost of goods sold. If you're missing things, then you're not really understanding where your, where you become profitable. Yeah, I mean, there's a great example of this last night.
00:48:55 I'm digging into our cost of goods sold and as I'm actualizing our financial model and I'm like, This doesn't look great there higher. They're higher than I know they are. I know I pay the bills, I know how much we paid for it and yet it's showing me on paper that's 5% higher. It was the cost of the secondary packaging that we ship our, so we, for some of our packs, we have like a branded pouch and a sticker and we sort of, you know, have a nice branded experience, Which isn't right or wrong. But I didn't, that's where it's hitting on the, on the budget and so you know, it's one of those things that you sort of violate 10,000 stickers in the last year while I'm not going to think about them. But how do they actually on like an individual units sold reporter item basis. contribute. It's just something to be mindful of and then think about, okay, is that how much we want to be spending on that on that experience? Maybe it's not enough. Maybe it's too much so. And I think there's like, it was intimidating in the, like, I think it's a learning process and you get sharper as you go, but find a good partner, find a good book keeper who can implement some of these, um, you know, and then just stick with it and meet every month every week and sit in the meetings and you learn to ask different questions and you'll sort of just get a better feel so it can happen over time.
00:50:08 It doesn't mean you need to suddenly become a financial expert overnight. And I still would not probably call myself a financial expert but I surround myself with some people who I would call that totally thank you for that advice. That's really great advice. So at the end of every episode we ask a series of six quick questions to every woman on the show. Some of which we might have covered, some of which we might have it. But we asked them nonetheless. So question number one is what's your why why do you do what you do? It's the mission. I love the idea of starting my own business and building a brand and and it was gonna be a lot of hard work but at the end of the day what was most exciting was that you know through this business I can make an impact on people's lives and it's a small impact. I totally get that the attorney isn't changing the world but it is one healthier choice and what we put on our body contributes to our health. So yeah that's that's my wife. I love that Question. Number two is what do you think has been the number one marketing moment that made the business pop it was that facebook video that I mentioned in early 2019. We had one video ad that took off and it was efficient.
00:51:15 It has a low C. P. A. We were able to scale it and really ride that and that brought a ton of trial and awareness for us. That's crazy. What was your oas return on ad spend for anyone listening? Do you remember you know our Rose who were low priced products? One of our challenges on dc retail makes sense because that's what people are shopping for deodorant. It actually offers us the best margins though because of our price point at 10 to $12 for deodorant. And you know even we build the Elvia doesn't leave a lot of room for cats so it's not really the most impressive row as it was like patent bested two but often little less than that. Yeah I got it. That makes sense actually. Now that I think about it, silly question from me, Question number three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading or listening to or subscribing to that others would benefit from knowing about. So there is actually a subscription that I really like. It's called retail brew and I just find it to be informative and a little snarky. Which is it's always entertaining for me. Um but if I'm being really honest I have read so many newsletters and often um it's very high level it can be quite redundant.
00:52:24 I get the richest information from conversations so you know it's a lot of talking a lot of time, but both, you know, through the fundraising process. I'm meeting so many really smart people who are seeing so many companies that have been through this through, going through this in our category, in different categories, an outside of fundraising, just talking to my advisors, seeking out new advisors, just sort of evolution, being part of founders clubs or groups, especially females founder circles and just talking and listening is where I think I get the best advice. I mean I love that answer because it gives me a chance to plug our private network that we're about to launch on the 12th of july. And so everyone who's building e commerce DDC brands should absolutely join us as a founding member and be part of our community and network where they can access mentors and people like you, which is super exciting. So I, I mean I love that answer. If you'll have me, I'd love to be there. Yes, Oh my God, you're indefinitely, we would love to have you there. That would be amazing Question number four is how do you win the day?
00:53:28 What are your AM and PM rituals that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated? I wish this were ritual and I want to do a better job of it, but yoga is sort of an A. M ritual that when I get to it clears my mind in such a great way and really just, it is mindful, it is meditation into my my moving meditation, my other win the day that I do every day is you know before I go to bed I want to it's so hard to have things hanging over your head and you always do. It's unfinished. It is never done. And so I make lists, lots of lists but I try to have a short list of three things that need to get done that day. And so when I go to bed at night, if I've done those three things, I can feel really good that you know I've accomplished what I need to accomplish and not sort of worry about all the things hanging over my head that didn't get done. Yeah, I love that. It's so it's so critical to do those kinds of things because it can get really overwhelming. Yeah. Question number five. If you were given $1,000 of no strings attached grant money, where would you spend it in the business? Oh I would think long and hard about where I put that money and want to maximize the R.
00:54:36 O. I. And so it would be a moment in time. It is not static having a startup, everything is constantly moving and what might be efficient like three or three key channels. DTc amazon retail. So I would think about it from that perspective and I would say where are we going to invest this for the best return And if you ask me, you know, today, it might be amazon and if you ask me tomorrow, it might be whole foods and if you ask me, you know, thursday friday, it might be on, you know, when you, you know, a sampling initiative. So any of the number of things we said before, but I think I feel it's more important than ever to really be thoughtful about where you spend your dollars and to like think about saving in a way, you know, we're not really saving, we're still, we're still startup, we're still, we're not profitable yet, but it becomes even more important to be very careful cash management. Yeah, I love that answer, that's great And question # six, last question is how do you deal with failure? What's your plan when, what's your approach, when things don't go to plan? I take a very deep breath and I, you know, failure is just a lesson and ultimately what I do is I try to, I try to figure out what the lesson is and maybe in part because it makes me feel better knowing that I've gotten something out of it.
00:55:55 So it's not a fail, it's just an opportunity to take something out of that situation. It is fail. Um, but it's also, you know, something I can actually benefit from going forward and that makes it a lot easier I think to, to process and deal with and handle and if it's really crappy, I also just cry and then I look at what I can learn from it. But you know, I try my very best to be open to the learning because there have been countless times where someone says like, hey, unsolicited advice, this is less of a failure situation, but more of just, you know, you get approached with so many different things, you have failures, you have lessons learned, people sharing unsolicited advice and, and often, you know, your first reaction can kind of be very defensive and my mind can be and be like, okay, I got this, but I really force myself to listen to everything because there's often so and then filter so many times I'm like, yep, nothing there.
00:56:56 But then many times more times than I and then I'm always surprised about like, hey actually that's really interesting perspective that I hadn't thought of. Mm Yeah, I love that. That's really cool. The unsolicited advice. Lowell Alison, this was so great. I have learned so much from you and I've absolutely loved chatting. I can't wait to see you in the network and I'm gonna be cheering you on from the sidelines. Thank you so much, Thank you.