Updated: Sep 15, 2021
Today on the show I’m chatting with Azora Zoe Paknad, the Founder of Goldune - and yes I love the name.
We’re talking in depth about her launch and the brands she’s on the lookout for at the moment - hint: it could be you.
Goldune is a new ecommerce retailer making sustainability less beige. Get everything you need for home and life, always sustainable-- but never granola.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
00:03:41 Female startup presence. Azora. Hi, welcome to the Female Startup Club podcast. Thank you so much for having me and I'm very excited as a listener of the pot. Yeah, I mean you've just totally brightened my day for everyone listening. Azora just told me she already knew about Female Startup Club and she's been listening in for a while. So she just blew my mind and I'm so thrilled. I'm just so happy. You've got a huge smile on my face. Um your name is really beautiful by the way, is aura. Haven't heard that before so much. Very, you've got lots of nice words going around as, or Goldune. Love it, love it, love it, love the whole mix for those of us who will not for us because I know, but for those who are listening who don't know who you are yet and don't know about your brand. Can you give us the elevator pitch for yourself and for gold june totally, so equal Dune is a e commerce retailer for home and life and we're focused on making sustainability, less stage granola, more inclusive, more design lead and a little bit more warm and human and forgiving rather than sort of, you know, all or nothing or doom and gloom or shame or fear based, which sort of, my experience navigating kind of a sustainable retail or sustainable living movements and, you know, the different kind of channels that we're there whether on social media felt like there was kind of one or two dominant narratives, like one on the end of the spectrum, there was kind of like a, you know, like a very waste like rich influencer where like everything in her home was super curated, super beautiful.
00:05:32 Aspirational. Maybe there was like a focus on slow living and you know, on the one hand that didn't feel accessible or inclusive necessarily is a narrative while of course beautiful in so many ways. And on the other hand, I felt like there was a really strong community that was zero waste and power to folks who pull that off. So, so impressive. But I also felt like some of the energy in that community was like a little bit zero sum game focus, right? Like if you mess up or you can do something like there was a stigma or shame. And also I didn't feel like there was that much dialogue and ethics either about what a privilege that is to write like for some reason giving their waste is stylized as a sacrifice, but We don't talk about is what a huge emotional socioeconomic privilege it is to even be able to have the bandwidth to think about not generating a scrap of trash. So there was like a friction there for me. Um my background before starting school soon it worked for a long time that that company called 52, it was another home sort of kitchen retailer and media company and you know, I, I've sort of got into sustainability in my time there and that's kind of like friction point for me feeling like I was sort of not an either bucket or at either end of each extreme side of the spectrum, I was noodling on that for a while and I think the pandemic for me really exacerbated and accelerated that process or that conversation about Sustainability.
00:07:05 But to be honest, privilege, I think we all started sort of thinking about evaluating and talking about privilege in different ways in 2020 and it felt like the time to do something about it also a crazy time, I will say, but I found myself with the time to really focus on something if you're passionate about and I really wanted to create space for climate optimism for inclusivity places welcome folks to the conversation around sustainable living and sustainable shopping, whatever that means, regardless of where they were at. Right? So like you don't have to be a pro or an expert, you don't have to, you know, have everything in your life for your home or your first look like you're coming back from a hike like that's not everything has to be outdoorsy, like it's okay and I think there should be some a shades of, I don't want to say sustainable living, but we should all have access to options that are hopefully is times to our ecosystem and as sustainable as possible no matter where you're at their, your pro whether the climate crisis overwhelmed, you can't even think about it, you're just getting started and every sort of facing between, right?
00:08:14 Because there's a million shades right between which I think is actually where most of us are feathers and movies around the suspect into. For sure. Absolutely, I love that. And being able to find like meet people where they are on the journey. So being like, hey, you want to make one small change, Here's a good idea and here's how you can do that and here's how you can do it, that's within your budget and here's how you can do it, that's within your style or whatever it might be. Do you want to just share a little bit about the kinds of brands you have on the platform and the kinds of price points and like what's a typical kind of curation assortment look like for you. 100%. So we'll do in itself is a marketplace and we're just, we're about, we've been live for less than eight months, probably, maybe nine months. And so we're just dabbling in kind of making one or two of our own product, but for the most part we really do go through, like a pretty intense evaluation process both on the sustainability side. Like making sure that we feel really, really confident, you know, putting something in front of you and telling you that we think it's the best version that's out there, whether, you know, at that price point, whether, you know like in that sort of context with sustainability.
00:09:31 But yeah, we work with at this point, I believe it upwards of 100 different brands and our focus is really still, I'm trying to provide diversity of price point. So there's acceptable options for all different kinds of folks which clearly challenge on either end of that spectrum, right? Especially in sustainability, but also really trying to make sure that you have what you need in the same sense that like when you, you know, you go to like sort of a quote unquote general store and you throw a bunch of things in your car, there's that, he's right. And you think too hard about Evaluating every single thing. We hope to do a lot of that evaluation from sustainability standpoint, from the aesthetic or design standpoint from that 16 point for you and then to present you with hopefully a lot of good options for your taste, your home, your budget, your the size of your place, right? All of those different factors and it's up to you to sort of, you know, take what works for you based on your own unique circumstance and life and none of our business are these to tell you, that's for you is another sort of things kind of important to me at least, or piece of our echoes is like, none of us know anything about what anyone else goes.
00:10:37 So who am I to tell you how you should live your life? Like how you should compost or you know, I think we kind of easily get into that discussion, sustainability stays like prescriptive place where we should be doing this, you should only be doing what you can do easily. No, we'll give you as many options as we can and sort of up to you to pick what if you based on where you're at and hopefully we can grow with you and like be your partner, I'm not your name. What's funny to me is like, how does this not exist already in terms of something so cool and like, the product assortment is amazing. I love that you stock a lot of women owned brands. I love that you stock a lot of women of color owned brands or founded brands rather. And like the platform speaks to me in terms of branding. Like I just, I get joy from being on there, like, because it doesn't feel like the classic sustainable everything's just green and you know, whatever, like, you know, the 10 years ago, sustainable vibe that's still kind of like, exists a lot today, but it's fun and I love that you said you're making your own products, it's something I wanted to ask you about, but we'll circle back to that because I want to go back to, you know, pre getting started, where does your entrepreneurial stories start?
00:11:55 And were you always interested in, you know, building your own business? Good question, definitely. Yes, my parents are both serial entrepreneurs, so I would put the environment I grew up in, I like the kid napping under the table in the conference room during board meetings, like sleeping under my mom's death and my barbies very much sort of a piece of me as a little person before I knew it. And so for me it was never a question of, it's just a question of when, so to be honest, I really, really didn't think it would be now and I kind of thought the impulse when it came along, you know, when you're younger, like all of those things feel very accessible and interesting and open to you. So I, I definitely felt as a kid, like I'm gonna do something amazing. I grow up, I don't know what it is, but I swear I will and then, like, I, I got older, I did a few different things and I think I started to feel like there was a certain level of required exactly like very entry or prescribed milestones I had to hit in order to do something like this on my own and I pictured myself like further along in my career myself, older, I had imagined that I would have liked more established investor connections or relationships or a better network and I'm not sure what exactly pushed me off the edge.
00:13:19 I think probably it sounds like also when you're getting ready for having a baby, literally yeah, kind of like, you know, any big lights milestone, right? Like you have this picture of what you envisioned, you'll be like and I know that's never ever like how it goes. And so for me, I actually sort of like push or negotiate with myself and talk myself into doing this big thing. I think the pandemic kind of health and that it is sort of stripped away like a lot of the ego, I think so many of us were sort of like for the first time perhaps more open about vulnerability or anxiety or circumstance or just the dialogue opened up there, but I don't know, it took a push. It took a push finally quote, but finally it was like 45 days. I made it sound like it was here. It was like, come on, but in pandemic times 100 years. But after a lot of noodling I decided to go for it. Even if you know, I wasn't what I thought I would be when I started business or my career wasn't or I wasn't at the stage of life, I mean, I was literally like living with my parents all the time I launched this, this so I think I imagine like a sophisticated version of myself that that version of yet to materialize, I'm still not sophisticated in, but we're waiting to plunge anyway.
00:14:38 You're working towards that, you're working towards it. I'm sure you're very sophisticated, put yourself down a lot of things and I think that's okay. There was a way to make that work for you. But no, it's a good being, an opportunity is an amazing exercise and like ego crushing and just completely every day you have to like fall on your face and then get back up and do it again the next day, totally dealing with that rejection. Those constant nose. Yeah, I feel you, I want to know like I always love to ask about how much capital it took to get started and what was the kind of blueprint to getting started? What are those early, you know, lead up to launch early months, like when you're like, you know what, I'm going to start this thing and where were you at in your career by the way, I think I read that you quit your job already and you had other plans pre pandemic. But if you want to just kind of like summarize those, you know those early moments, I'll set the scene.
00:15:41 I love setting the scene, please do you Might as well I had started or sorry I quit my job at 52, we've just been through an acquisition a few months after the acquisition and I felt like I had a little bit of startup burnout happening and I wanted to do something big and something really different and like, frankly not not work at all for a while, so I've given lots of notice, I've been saving up, I was like, give me to travel the world. I know, I was like, oh, I, I think I don't want to work and then I was like, let me work a million times harder than ever. But no, I thought I was going to travel. I heavily sort of an untraditional college experience. They worked through college, I mean in college and it was night school in new york and I had never sort of had that like, kind of young adventurous wander left chapter that some folks get to have. And I was like, you know what, let's try to recreate that later and make it happen now. And so I gave probably four months notice.
00:16:44 I so I blew up my apartment, I started packing upon myself to put into storage and I was like, I'm going to Italy, I like western walls, emotions, I literally threw myself a goodbye party, I'm going to do my eight pray love thing. Yeah, I was like, actually I walked deeper love for the first time that month and I was like, I guess I'm going to do this, I I like fully bought in right, And then of course like March rolls around, there's no going to Italy and I had already gotten rid of my apartment and I now had no job or was winding down, I think I had like another four or five weeks left, but you know, that was, that was really the end of that and so I guess I'm moving in with my parents, the opposite of going to Italy are traveling the world alone for six months is moving back in with your parents. So I did that when I was talking about investigation. You're like, I was taking all these steps forward for my personal self, but I'm actually taking a couple steps back and I'm going back in time. It was wild.
00:17:46Edit I haven't lived with my parents since I was like 16. So it was so like such a trip right in so many ways, Such a shock to the system, not a bad way actually, I like very, very happy that happened, but it was just very much like the absolute opposite of what I had planned for myself, which is fine and that's how life goes and it's funny and make sure the hilarious story now because starting businesses like truly the opposite of going and traveling with no job, but you know, probably like after I worked remotely from from there for a while and you know, like explored a bunch of different Ops and I found myself kind of, I felt I felt like I should take them right. It was a hard time to get a job And so any time I had a great opportunity in front of me that, you know, theoretically in the bill for what I said, I was wanted to do next, which was like, I did want to work with the ability. It did want to make commerce. There's only so many older businesses and any time the opportunities in front of me, I found myself making so many Houston's or like trying to kind of like wiggle out or, or not just some astounding or like not not letting it happen.
00:18:56 And at a certain point I realized because I had the idea or I have this inclination or the passion that I've been, I haven't told anyone about because I was embarrassed or about like uncomfortable with the level of vulnerability that is literally going around. Some people leave from business idea and then having to explain like your hat fake business idea. I don't think there's anything more embarrassed going through that. But I was like being very, you know, very tight lipped about it. And at a certain point I think one day I just woke up and was like, oh my God, I'm already spending so much time fixated or focused on this idea. I have zero financial observation to anybody for the first time. Like in a long time and probably that's kind of a once in a lifetime opportunity as well, right? A lot of people don't get that lucky that their big idea times out pretty well talking no overhead. And I just would like to say it's not, it's not now then when and I kind of thought over all of that weird ego stuff about them. Like I needed to ask more savings or you know, like a partner or better protections than just sort of like made peace with it is what it is.
00:20:06 And there are so many founders out there with wackier stories or you know, maybe like life experience a different experience who has been wildly successful or who worked really hard and why not me? But if you start asking a lot of why not me? I still do to be honest. It's like actually my screen saver says, why not? Me and I have to like pummel it into my little egg brain every day and go up there and take risks. But no, that was what was coming. They're totally, I'm with you. I do the same. Yeah, the question isn't it? But to answer your question, sorry, I lost myself there on a long journey. Not a journey a journey now. Huh? I raised a little bit of friends and family money, but very, very little. I think relative to most e commerce startups or most folks and the goal is just like, let me get a minimum viable product up and running and it's actually the same one that's out there now, if you see it, nothing has really changed in that regard.
00:21:11 But no, I I like to share my idea with people who I felt comfortable with and who I felt wouldn't judge me and he would support me even if I mean not that they would support me blindly. Obviously people who I thought would be honest in time and that's that's what got me started. I worked quietly from, let's say the end of june Through October 20 of the day we launched just behind the scenes and yeah, it was actually pretty tight turnaround in hindsight, but that, that was it, that was like the journey from build to launch and what were the kinds of things you were doing behind the scenes in the lead up to launch in terms of, you know, getting brands interested, like how are you getting brands to commit to being on board? And was it more of a drop ship model where you were kind of like placing the orders and they were shipping them out or were you like gathering stock and using that money to buy into inventory? What was the kind of pre lead up, non marketing wise because we're going to get to the marketing stuff too.
00:22:15 All of the money I raised went right into building the website and then some small amount of like legal setup, fees, which actually not small at all and totally will eat into your budget and they're super dramatic and annoying way I will say. But I saw everything went straight towards building the site. I came from a drop ship business 52 was the direction business was there and drop ship. I think that's kind of the only way to get started it on Capitol. And to me also, since I was taking a huge risk, drop ship allows you a certain amount of freedom to learn that your customer learned by your audience on the go. And I think like that was absolutely essential when you don't have customers audience. So the good news is that there was besides the building of the digital product itself, there's very little risk involved from an inventory standpoint or an assortment standpoint and there still isn't right. So we're still just working as hard as we can to like learn as much as we can about what looks like and obviously evolved that and hopefully pull some inventory and house in the future.
00:23:24 But for now I think it's still, we're still able to learn and provide better experiences for our customers by drop shipping. But as far as this sort of journey behind the scenes from june to october a lot of focus on creative and brand. You mentioned like there's no green, like a big piece of the mission from the ghetto is always like this inability is super crunchy right now. Everything is like brown Kraft paper, cardboard. So that's, that's like first, all inclusive aesthetic, but it's just not, it's not an acceptable one. And it's also like it, you want a lot of people to get excited about sustainability and we need a lot of people to get excited about sustainability. Is this the best we can do? Could we do a little better on the aesthetic point of the design standpoint? Um being sensitivity standpoint. Like could we build an assortment that valued women and people of color and their contributions and like weighted that heavily in the assortment. We build an assortment that felt, you know, she and interesting and accessible and colorful and there are a lot of different things at once.
00:24:33 So I will say there was a lot of bouncing back and forth and they're still in and they were still trying to figure it out, it's sort of like a pendulum for a delicate balance. And yeah, a lot of like visual design work, working with designers trying to build out our brand and then also on the side, I started my career in sales and it doesn't seem relevant to eat congress at all. I worked in a sales, but it's actually probably of all the things I've done the most useful and transferable skill, right? Like everything that failed, especially the founder. So even though I wasn't selling the brands, I was approaching in the early days, I was kind of selling them the idea, I have nothing to show them. Like there was no website, there was nothing. So you know, just the cold emails like, hey, here's who I am, here's what I'm doing, you want in here my terms right at zero negotiating power leverage. But in some ways that was reversed sales and seeing that your fund raising for the journey I'm on now as we grow the business and try to kind of build a team, right?
00:25:36 It's kind of, I think saying I'm still selling an idea that we have something up, right? It's a little easier. There is some frame of reference, some people have heard of us, but still it's in many ways and selling things that the, I can't see or that hasn't materialized yet, which is frankly, still sometimes easier than selling digital advertising, which is so many ways sometimes snake oil. So yeah, it was, it was a lot of pitching and then switching gears to be creative and then switching gears to be maybe more legal or administrative focused, like getting sales license, all those things, which to be honest with still pretty much a perfect metaphor for what I do now. Mhm 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'll also know that so many of the entrepreneurs I speak to have mentioned facebook and instagram ads as a crucial part of their marketing mix.
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00:28:01 Mhm. Yeah, I read something that kind of in the lead up to when you were getting started, you know, in the lead up to the launch your dad gave you a bit of a nudge in the right direction of like, hey, what's your marketing plan and forced you to switch into the gear of marketing. Hat, what was your marketing launch plan? And how did it go? That's a deep cut. You really, you did you googled me? Good, very, I told one person, I mean in some ways a nice and humbling reminder that this whole time I was still a person to live with your parents would be like, I was getting was from my parents, but also in some ways super valuable. I think a lot of folks are like, oh, was so helpful having your parents around or like having to entrepreneurs around to weigh in. But my parents turned software and so there's not a very direct parallels like selling goods and software as it's not as strong of a high as one might think they weren't as actively involved and it was kind of the only involvement my dad has, it's just like, this morning we were like in the kitchen at the same time and I'm like pretty private about my work.
00:29:18 I can't say that I share that many details with friends or family about what I'm working on or how the business is going, which is probably a false, but he was like, so he's a marketing plan. Yes. And I was kind of like, yeah, I think I'm marketing good dude, like you engineer you, I think I can figure out DPC style marketing and funny, funny, thank you very much. Yeah, I was like thanks. But last I checked I'm the one God that created. But you dad, Yeah, I was like, thanks dude. Like okay. But he actually was super right? Like no, you need an actual plan. He was like, I'm an engineer and I've built many amazing products and some of them were even better than others and I'll tell you what none of that matters. All that matters was like who was the co founder or the exact or my foil, the partner who was able to bring the marketing chops to the table because I've got amazing ideas and amazing businesses that you know like didn't fly as high as they could ever should have because we didn't have that talent or that person or that point of view or that plan or strategic minds in place and it's like devastating to watch one of your best ideas not exceed the way you hope because that you overlooked that piece, right?
00:30:39 And then to have ideas baby, you're like, they're not your baby in the same sense like fly. Not that that's true like him in particular, but he pointed it out and I was like for some reason I had like an oh shit moment, I was like, oh my God, I don't have a plan that my dad's right. Yeah, I don't know what it wasn't click. I mean I had an abstract plan, but I realized that day like, oh no, I needed to have a plan months ago and I don't have a plan and I just kind of assumed that you know, there's an expression like build it and they will come that is not true of startup, they don't like every you have to really like hustle to start knocking down the doors. Yeah, not like I don't want to over glorify the hustle or hustle porn. I also think we're all sort of aware of the false of that kind of language that I will fight. Like part of the trickiness about entrepreneurship is like you there is no other way, like that's the way it's like you're kind of between a rock and a hard place because you want to have great work life balance and like often mental health and on the flip side of course, like you're you're asking the extreme of yourself, right and of your team if you have a team.
00:31:56 But anyway, that equipped it for me and I was like, okay, but I admit to this day it's still sort of a challenge figuring out how what the marketing strategy is, right, and also to what extent like what the strategy is and what just sort of happens to you and what organic momentum and what your group looks like. I would say that I have sort of a love hate relationship with that process even to this day. But yeah, I'm very glad that I happened to run into my dad in the kitchen. That's because that was the day that I like forensically started pitching. So pitching like journalists and editors and things like that or what was your kind of, what became your marketing plan from there? It was a chaotic google sheets. I would say it came from my little last roll of the details and kind of like Sort of on one level partnership. So like working with other brands and thinking a lot about like how can we grow through 52 by doing X, YZ or opening a store here or doing this in partnership with this person.
00:32:59 So I put that hat back on. But of course it's really different when you're trying to grow a non existent business versus like a business that already has some clout and like, you know, made well, doesn't want to partner with gold and they've never heard of building right in the same way we haven't made whole partnership behind us many, many moons ago. So in some senses, my I feel like my partnership chops were transferable and in others, they weren't so think adapting that thinking a lot about to our customers would be or what I wanted them to be and where they were and how we could show up there and in the same way that I sort of reached out to brands and kind of like asked them to take a leap of faith and did sort of a similar thing with editors with a lot of influencers of pacemakers, with people, even other founders who I just admired. So it just made a huge dump of people I admired people I thought were thought leaders, pacemakers, translators, no matter their domain or what sort of medium or channel of media they worked with and then trying to be really thoughtful, personal and strategic in our next to them.
00:34:03 So I think that's kind of actually being on a still strategy. We don't, we don't never hired a pr firm, we'll try to be super earnest and personal and kind of like every interaction we have with folks who create content because that that's that to me feels like the only authentic way to do that, but no, lots of people do it differently? That was my approach. I'm not saying I'm not open to other approach, that's what's in my toolkit, and that's that's what I have access to and where I feel most comfortable and yeah, that's how I did it and truthfully how we still do it and how's it going? Like, what have you seen? You know, you've launched, you said eight months ago now, So are you consistently growing, are you seeing like specific momentum coming from specific pieces of pr influences or whatever the moment is and what's working really well. Yeah, the question, I think at a certain point we started seeing people, I mean people started reaching out to me right? Or like people we hit a snowball point right where like now I'm not I'm not couple hearing every time someone finds out about muldoon which is amazing but at the same time I am still puppeteering a lot of it or trying to make it happen.
00:35:19 But it is definitely nice to no longer be super reliant on. That is the only way because I don't even want to say acquire customers right because to me the mission is so much more about how can we get millions of people excited about sustainability in ways that feel inclusive and authentic and acceptable to them. But to me our mission is a lot more than like selling soap but telling we want you to of course remember us if you need soap. So it's like a multiple multiple level to that mission. But things that are going well, I think first months was unexpectedly huge for us and I saw so many folks, I mean this is kind of an example but still so many brands pushing earth on sales like Offloading products at crazy rates being like five the sustainable products, they're 50% off the earth month, not just like got under my skin and I couldn't something that at all april it really bother me, it felt so antithetical to first month itself as a movement which like originally started as a movement to erase environmental racism right?
00:36:26 And like we're not addressing environmental aeration burning and we're like, here's more stuff buy the stuff for the earth, right? It's really confusing messaging and really hypocritical messaging. Especially for a lot of brands that sort of I think lean heavy on the conscious consumerism. I'm using airport through listener but that like label right? And it just didn't sit well with me if we put out a super kind of like a letter explaining why we're not doing sale and why we generally don't do sales and why we didn't think that this was an appropriate months or window or time to push products and like instead that we donate all profits to we act which is an amazing organization and like shockingly that that hot wings and sort of like blew off and it ended up of course, ironically being like the biggest months we've ever had. But in so many ways that I think it's a good kind of example of maybe where we should invest, what we do best sort of trying to create value.
00:37:28 The super transparent is sometimes maybe not the right or so it is transparent but like earnest and honest and our marketing, your messaging and I just think that we go down as a brand sounds like there's a person behind the screen because there is and I don't, I don't think we're trying to strip the business of our personhood or um the fact that we're maybe attempts lot are still learning or on the journey together and in many ways, but pieces of our value profit that is, I do think that's also what allowing us to grow. I think people kind of resonate with that and I think we're all maybe sort of tired of an era where everything must be and everyone must be polished and perfect and where brands are like these sort of millennial pink or baby blue veneers of like perfection, bTV perfection. Like even at this point, adult retainers are like glossy blue and beautiful and it's like, okay, this is a routine or like we all have this terrible orthodontia memory and I get why were, you know like sugarcoating it or repainting it or reframing it for now is like something operational.
00:38:34 But I think for us we're sort of moving away from that and that and sort of what has enabled us to grow of it. Obviously their pain points to if I don't want to walk over them or make it sound like were like magically traveling advisory months. We're totally not lots of ups and downs and I think growth is not necessarily linear kind of winding path and I think the goal is like happening, enjoys off more digging into the past 100 no destination to enjoy the journey right? And I imagine you're already doing this, but for you guys, I imagine content in general would work really well in terms of building out your like if people responded to that letter. So your blog content and things that like help show people different ways of doing things and also in the same way that your visual language and like your tone of the visual stuff would also really suit coming through.
00:39:37 And that written word as well. Is that part of the strategy? Yeah, definitely. We create a lot of content. We have goals to create a lot more. I think in date we went from being, it was just me and two interns through to july and then we've added more folks. But um, uh, somehow there's just straight up limitations on how much we can create. But I think the goal is definitely to create more. One thing that we try to be thoughtful about is natural content for content state, which I don't know if you feel this way, but I encounter it constantly, especially the e commerce world. So like there's, there's no need for us to write things just to write things or for our health there said that like you click blog on our website and it's not empty, but we're trying to be really thoughtfully about what I want. And I think the nice thing about are traveling or that vulnerability of talking about if people will tell us, which I love. We'll ask really regularly. I don't really know why like customer surveys are a one time or like a once a quarter deal.
00:40:39 Like we'll ask quite every two weeks. Like what do you want to see more of or any products that you're feeling or what are you looking for? You can find and that sort of constant feedback loop makes it so much easier to create content, right? Because it's so hard to like put alone in your vacuum and be like, what will thousands of people like frank it out without any feedback? That feels very difficult. Also very unfulfilling from a creation standpoint. So usually we create based off of request and feedback and like what are, what are frequent questions that people are writing in with? And the thing is kind of true from a product standpoint. I mentioned trying to start filling in the gaps in our assortment if there's something we can find the same well version of something that we think it's cleverly beautifully and functionally designed, starting to make it ourselves and the same is sort of that we can get that feedback mostly via instagram DM or poll from our community who write in or honestly authority group to talk and say we really want to have to sing or like, hey, I've never been able to find plastic free shower curtain liner.
00:41:43 So specific. Right? But like now we have this amazing lists and wealth of knowledge of these hyper specific needs that many people have and haven't been able like they can't scratch that issue was able to find it anywhere. And right now sort of in the wild, I don't know how to make a plastic free shower curtain. Right? Like I have no idea that sort of work where I'm sitting now, it's like, okay, what's interesting for you is like, it's also kind of genius that you've built the business in this way where you've built your curating products, but you're really using this as a place to gather data and to gather insights from the community that you're building before you go and launch your own products versus just launching something. And, you know, hoping for the best. It's like you've actually got some really cool insights based on what people are telling you now that you've got a community and I think I'm sure you didn't have that necessarily like full intention there as in like, that wasn't the kind of goal you had this mission and you were following the mission.
00:42:48 But actually when you think about it, it's just genius. Thank you so much. I, we definitely planned for launch products with community feedback down the line. It's happening a little faster than I expected. I think I'm very impatient. I'm like trying to push things along maybe sooner than you do. But also like, I don't know, I think it's kind of most sustainable approach. I said, what's the point in creating something that people don't want and how can you earnestly call something sustainable or like eco friendly if you will, if you don't actually, there's not actual demand for it. That's just creating stuff and then trying to generate demand in the afterlife. I mean that's the marketing strategy, right? Like that people are pouring money into and like that's why paid media flourishes. But I, I sort of like the opposite version of events where you know, our growth is organic because we're creating something that there's genuine demand for before and we're feeling the need and the after. I know that's not forever strategy and that's very much like a unique positioning for a super small business.
00:43:51 But for right now and that's sort of my approach is rather than making stuff for adding a bunch of stuff to bite and then retroactively trying to force the donald throat like how about we wait first and find out what people want their like as we go and and kind of like continue to plug in those gaps. Are there any teasers that you want to kind of drop on these to be released products or is it all hush hush. I can definitely openly talk about one. We design accomplished vendor about sellers far and far away. And so we designed one in a new color, very golden family colour instagram stories. It's like a mustardy colour, which was really excited about kind of 70s. So that one is coming out hopefully in the next like, let's say 90 days comb, it has held us up a little bit there and then we're working on a few more for holiday, which is a crazy tight turnaround but Trying to come up with more thoughtful gift revolution under a zero waste and can be used for a variety of sizes of gifts, situations, personality types and a few sort of vegetable kitchen products to that hopefully makes only getting a little easier sort of thinking a lot about holidays consumption and like what's the best way to actually approach them sustainably is and that's sort of a big keep this ahead.
00:45:18 It's like okay, what does that look like and like most accessible iteration for customers for us or like just on, on every level, like how can we make the least amount of things, make them as reusable or, or light sort of impact as possible and filter fulfill that desire to no celebrate your family, like explore tradition just from all these things that may be felt out of reach last year and particularly hopefully are in reach this year. I don't know, those are the wide questions about yourself now along with how do we make a lot of free shower liner, of course things that you need to have a list of like things I never thought I'd be talking about or like doing and like the random stuff that comes from building a business that you're like, yeah, it's pretty weird, but just quickly to circle back to this gift wrapping thing and the bin liners, this is so cool, I'm like so excited for you and like the future and all the things that you're doing, and I just know that everything is going to look so bloody cool and I, yeah, I love that for you, love that for us.
00:46:27 What are the things that people don't tell you about business? What are the things that have gone wrong and what are the shitty pitfalls that you've encountered that might help others by talking about? Oh my God, okay, so many things, I've just sort of started the fundraising journey, I haven't raised very much, I have raised enough to grow our team a little bit and I think one of the things that folks don't tell you about raising money and then, not that I've even experienced this in the macro sense, but I'm learning is like, oh, it's just how sensitive story, funny. I think there's some sort of perception that when you raise you really, like put all of that amount in the bank and you can apply it immediately towards, you know, broke buying inventory, investing in manufacturing or on the hiring and the reality is, but it's not the case at all right, it's time to raise money. There's a lot of legal fees, there are, you know, like there's costs to growth that I think is sort of invisible until you get there.
00:47:31 And that's one thing, what kind of feet, like, how much, how much do the legal fees cost for example? It depends, it really depends on how you structure your fundraising. So like, are you, you know, raising on a safe, are you doing a price ground and super depends. And even just to be honest, like the experience of finding a lawyer you like, like if you don't have a network where you're getting a referral for someone that you like, I think that's kind of a tough journey, right? You spend a long time with this person, you can give you a lot of advice to structure your business structure, like fundraising and off your financing, how to quit the team. And I feel really lucky that I did find someone who I absolutely love, but I think that like how I got, there was a total role of the day, like I like stock someone else's lawyer and I was like, I love this friend, I think that this must be good, but I think that's really tricky if you don't have network. I think a lot of this is really tricky if you don't have network. And I think that having network is a huge, huge privilege.
00:48:36 But yeah, I would say that, I think a lot of these things come cheaper with privilege, which doesn't get talked about either, right, Like being able to get better rates because you know someone or being able to get referrals or even being able to get a gut check right in my face. I was able to check in, I checked with my mom, I was like, hey does that sound about right to you for this service right? Or like you know raising this amount, does this sound right to you? And she was able to say it sounds a little expensive for like no, that seems about right. I think that's what you know market is right now. I wouldn't have known and google tells you a lot of things but I think like cora is full of these sorts of questions, right. People asking each other different questions. But I think sort of the important cases like getting happy back from someone you trust to understand your what your business is in a way the internet like doesn't quite facilitate right. I mean I've no regrets but I wish even in the early days like dealing with some of the setup paperwork, I had no sense of how much it was going to cost and I went in totally blind and I was shocked.
00:49:43 I feel like tv and voice right and just little things like that and we all have those moments when we're getting started. Can you share what it was? I mean I yeah, absolutely. I'm trying to remember what the exact service was. I just know that I got a legal bill for like over 10-K and I was expecting it to be way less and I was like At a stage where we did not have 10K. And like backup funds for emergency legal bills and it was something I remember feeling like I could have or maybe should have done myself and I had outsourced thinking you know, you hear that entrepreneurial circles like if there are things you're not good at or things that you don't think you'll do a good job at like outsource them, you can't do it alone what you got advice and then I but I was like man, I kind of wish I had tried to do that on my own. It would have saved me a lot of stress and a lot of money and in the end of course the time like say the invoice made it work over a longer and try this meanwhile for the voice and that was like a very, very early stage like just me.
00:50:47 I don't even think I had insurance yet, but that's that's a good one and then and that doesn't happen to me anymore because I know to ask and I know to get a better sense of like civil work and how many hours do you think this will take and do you expect actually might go wrong. But those are just, I think you learned those by doing and I don't know about you and I'm sure there are listeners who are like that too. I'm not stupid kind to myself when I make a mistake. So I'm still upset that one I like, so negligible now, but the stakes feel really, really high when it's your business and it's your baby. And I just, I think that people are sort of mom about how much privileged health and how much I think almost all entrepreneurs have to some degree, right these days, I think it's sort of like the elephant in the room, but no one is talking about and we should maybe talk about more, none of the businesses that we interact with or we see I'm speeding hyper policy, maybe there are some, but most of them wouldn't exist. Like the scale of the grandeur or the level of success is there at where they're not some level of privilege of the founders or the exact scheme has behind the scenes, what is that?
00:51:57 Institutional wealth, institutional knowledge, and I'm I'm at like, as privilege and always guilty of it too, but I just started, it doesn't, nobody talks about it. So it feels like secret, usually looking around me like how did people do this or how, how am I going to pull this off with this much money or just just trying to figure it out. And the reality is that I think nobody is super open it out shortcuts or you know, access and not that we all have to fill party because nobody owes anybody anything, but I do think that on some level you realize, kind of, once you walk through the door and you start like, you know, spending money and trying to make money and feeling, you know, very, very tied to your business's success and wanting to be successful. I think then you sort of start to see all of the different layers and you're looking around like how does anyone feasibly navigate this? Right? And the answer is I don't I don't know how Yeah, I mean I'm trying to figure it out, hence the show, right?
00:53:01 We all are, we all are. What is your key piece of advice for entrepreneurs who have a big idea? Oh wow. At what stage, like is there a pre launch, just idea stage? Like dreaming your dreams? I reckon like, you know, it started, you've started, yeah, you've taken the leap. I would say this is hard because I still feel very much there myself, but based on my own experience, if you're a solo founder and I am, and I think that's actually been much harder than I stated, finding like a safe place to have conversations or events or even like receive feedback or encouragement, whether that's like an executive coach or I guess even like a therapist or confidence coach, like a family member who really root for you. I think there's some people who have that kind of relationship with someone in their life or in their immediate family where they feel like really supported and they can tell them everything and it's just like, it's a very unique set of challenges.
00:54:14 There's a very long road and it's also a marathon and not a sprint. So it feels like a sprint that is the length of a marathon. I think that particularly in the isolation of the pandemic, like I was in California, I was living with my parents in the mountains full time. I'm just move back to new york, partially because I love new york and partially because I have the best room networking community of friends here, right? And if I'm gonna be doing these big things like solo, obviously not being below in the grandsons, lucky enough to listen some amazing people on my team. But the founding peace solo, I wanted to have a really solid foundation of people who, you know, I could call at the end of the day and be like, hey, let's get a martini wake up in the morning like, hey, you want to walk a few miles before we start the work day and if I'm gonna few weeks, I started making a huge difference, but I still, you know, on the lookout for like, okay, what is the great executive coaching relationship looks like for me, right? Just in order to be successful.
00:55:14 Like I have to be well and feel secure and confident and engaged and invested. It doesn't. And I think that's actually pretty hard to like both be your own sort of mental health and wellness, gatekeeper person like coach and also everyone else's and also, you know, know what, you know, and like hold all of the responsibility and the keys, especially when you're responsible for other people's livelihood. It's one thing when it's you, when it's other people, it really does it different. So I think having a coach or a safe place, um, it's huge. I don't know. That's my shake. It could be less huge for certain people. I think having a co founder, like when y'all can lean on each other and you know, if someone's having a rough day, the other person to be like, hey, I got it. Like I'm gonna take the lead and if you can take turns doing that, I'm sure there's also folks out there who are working with the founders and there may be realizing like maybe it's not a perfect it. I know that it's not all I'm doing a little bit of the grass is greener. Yeah.
00:56:15 I, I know there are people who come through co founder divorces and that's also rough. So maybe even in that case you have a place that's not your co founder where you can offload some of attention will be really honest about what's on your mind or what you're facing without fear of judgment or you know, like the nervousness of what that might do for him for their perception of you, but I think that we all might need, I think everyone needs therapist, but I think we might also all need business therapist. I mean that's so funny that you say the business therapist thing because so we have the hot club, which by the way, is pretty much the safe space that you speak of. It needs to be part of hype club. The women in the group are so amazing. Everyone's really open and vulnerable and like, it's really cool, but we've been talking about this, I want to have this hotline for business therapy where like, if you just need like, a bit of a a nudge in the right direction, like, and you can just text and be like, get some support that's private from someone who's credible and like, I don't know who is going to be on the other end of that line because like, it's not going to be me, I need to be a texter, but like, it wants to be part, I wanted to be part of The female startup club offering because I think it's so needed.
00:57:27 It's funny. We were literally just saying like, it should be called $1 $800 therapy. So watch this space, like that's going to be coming for sure. For sure. I want that too. I want that too before we get into the six quick questions that we end every episode on, Are you looking for any specific brands? Obviously, you know that female founders are listening to this show there listening to this episode? They're part of hype club or private network. So is there anything that you're looking for to add to your curated list that you want to kind of put a shout out to if you want a sustainable business, please contact me like, no, no details necessary. That is enough. I want to connect. I think that would be amazing no matter your product, whether it's a fit for our marketplace or not, I think it's just, it's a hard hustle and it's great to all get to know each other is one of my favorite parts about what I do recall doing is like at the end of the day, I also have to be the broker of all of these amazing relationships with all these different, amazing, they will friends who are really trying their best to do better.
00:58:31 So I love to do that and I always want to need folks and connect with them and if you think you're fit for assortment even better. And uh other people, founders, if you have executive coaching, love sending my way, I'm in the market in general and I'm just very into connecting with folks who are like minded or going through similar journey again as a solo founder. Like, I think you gotta, you gotta get on the phone with people and like have the Congo, that's the only way, 100%, I totally agree, totally agree. So good talking to other people and hearing their experiences and just getting the point in the right direction. All right, I'm conscious of time. So let's jump into the six quick questions, some of which we might have already covered, some of which we might not have. But question number one is what's your why? Why are you doing what you're doing? Um I think did not to be dark, but I feel really anxious and depressed up the climate crisis and the way I think a lot of folks do and you start doing that, how am I uniquely positioned to get involved?
00:59:37 And obviously there's a certain level of activism that happens. I'm fine and not not at all connected with the business, but in many ways I thought about, okay, I want to get millions of people feeling excited and included in the movement and then the discussion about like, personal consumption without the shame and the stigma like feeling like on your right, the reality is of course like the perception that sustainability but you personally like must recycle or else the world will explode is like a whole total pr campaign by Exxon, Like it's not a reality, but in some ways still we all can do better and should do better. And so like what does that look like? And what are the ways that we can get folks involved and excited and engaged that feel fun and future and forward thinking and accessible inclusive. Um that's my why trying to figure that out. It's an ongoing question. I don't think golden is a finite answer to it is the beginning of probably a lifelong inspiration. I love that lifelong exploration for Sure. Question #2 is what's been the number one marketing moment so far that made the business pop being in bon appetit in print and in digital really early on like two weeks, one month in was huge.
01:00:55 Wow, I love that for you. Very cool. Question Number three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading or listening to or subscribing to podcasts and then big podcast head. I'd really like reading as well. Both sort of like nonfiction and they kind of like using that time to learn but also frankly fiction and like turning the brain off and having some opportunity to kind of go analog and like let the mind wander and be creative is so many times like more helpful for me than the alternative, which is weird and I'm always like wanting to make both my friend and be proficient and like optimized. But in reality, I think sometimes we lost optimization is like creative flow like doing something silly and turning your brain off and then all of them Tiffany and a great business idea come to you. 100%. I totally agree. I really actually prefer reading fiction, especially at night because I'm like, I just want to think about something else. That's a totally different world and like not what I'm currently dealing with in the world kind of thing and go to another time or another space or even if it's yeah, just just stories, I love like stories of different times.
01:02:09 Question # four Though. How do you win the day? What are your am and PM rituals that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated. I just moved some sort of like off my flow. But my new flow so far is every morning I take a walk around the park, like around the track. Sometimes along with the email podcast, Sometimes the friends which is great and try to get in as many steps as we can before the day is sitting at the desk and then in the evening I like to read, I try not to keep my phone in my bedroom. It's like a weird thing. I do just try to spend less time on it and uh kind of public separate, I don't know, sleep and rest vibe from technology and usually I'll try to read for like 30 or 45 minutes right now. I'm on a big um I've been collecting like 1st and 2nd edition nancy drew but I read when I was a kid. So I'm reading nancy drew all over again from the beginning before bed every night. I love that. So cool. Question number five is if you were given $1000 of no strings attached grant money, where would you spend it in the business?
01:03:20 I would put it towards product development and sort of some of the products we want to test and bills and invest in. That feels like a very right place to invest and see what happens. Amazing. And question # six, last question is how do you deal with failure? What's your mindset and approach when things don't go to plan? I wish I had like an aspirational answer where I was like, oh I roll with it, like I'm just so evolved, I'm so abused and I accept my failures, but the reality is that uh drives me like crazy by trying to outrun failure. I have failed and I do think that failing and being fine are like that would be great learning, but in general I was kind of obsessed with failure avoidance and it's like sort of the driving motivation that keeps me going and like working hard and running my engine uh for better force. I think there's a lot of problems with that, but that's just the way my brain is working. Okay, fair enough.
01:04:25 I hear you, I hear you so hard. Uh sorry, this was so so cool, thank you so much for coming on the show to share all about gold Dune, which just makes me feel really happy every time I hear you say that long, thank you so much for having me. Um and I'm excited, I'm so excited for the future. Me too. I really appreciate it. This has been a absolute delight. That's so cool.