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Primally Pure's Bethany McDaniel shares how she grew her business to a multi million dollar venture

Tuning in with me today is Bethany McDaniel, the founder of Primally Pure.

Primally Pure is a holistic skincare and wellness brand that handcrafts natural and non toxic products with a whole person approach to well-being for skin, body, and mind. Based out of Southern California, they formulate each product with real, recognizable ingredients.


What started with a $250 investment from her in laws kitchen, Bethany has grown this business over the last 6 years to now having 40 full time staff, crazy product expansion of more than 50 products and their own full time formulator.


This episode has so many nifty tips and bits of tactical advice I know you’re going to get so much out of it!


Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!


00:02:20

Yeah, definitely. My name is Bethany. I own a natural skincare company called Primary Pure and we make nontoxic skincare products. Um I started it really to fill a need that I had personally of wanting more natural products for my skin.

00:03:29 After kind of years of going down the path of seeing dermatologists and using conventional products and just not having success with that route and then finding that my skin responded so much better to natural ingredients and um as well as like natural lifestyle improvements. So we really focus on skin care from a holistic perspective because it's what you put on your skin is so important, but also how you care for your body is so important. And so we kind of take it away from this clinical perspective of caring for your skin to holistic perspective. And we do that through our products, which are incredible. And we also do that through the education that we provide on our blog. And we have an e book and send out newsletters with all kinds of clean living tips and stuff like that. So that's kind of us in a nutshell in a nutshell, I love that. Can we go back to your life before you started the business, what you were up to and what kind of like gave you the inspiration to go down the path of entrepreneurship?

00:04:39 Yeah, so my path was anything but linear. I went to school for communications and creative writing and I worked at trader joe's, which is a nice little um like organic grocery store. Um I worked there all throughout my time in college and then afterwards I went to work for the Lance Armstrong Lives Strong Foundation, which is a cancer foundation. Um did that for a summer, I was an intern. So it wasn't like a full time job. And then after that I started writing for a magazine called Business Leader and there's another one called Business to Business magazine. So I got to interview a lot of really successful business owners during that time, which was really incredible because I learned so much from them. I never thought that I would start my own business at that point, but I kind of like tucked that information away in my head somewhere in there. And so I'm super grateful for that opportunity. And after that we were living in, I was living in California and then um I got married to my husband, we moved to Arizona.

00:05:48 I started working at a retail store, lulu, lemon and then the special olympics, um which is another nonprofit. I worked there after that for a little while. I was doing some like freelance writing stuff on the side and then rewinding just a bit. When my husband and I got married, he had started a regenerative livestock farm with his dad and brothers. So we were all kind of starting to think more about what we were putting into our bodies. That was the first step for me just examining the foods I was eating and right away when I started trying to eat um less processed foods and more whole foods. I gave up gluten, dairy grains, refined sugar, all of those things and noticed huge improvements in my skin and my health overall. So that was kind of the first light bulb for me and then I started looking at what sort of products I was using. So it was kind of this um, simultaneous path of like I had these different jobs that I was that never felt like anything was the perfect fit for me.

00:06:50 And then on the side I was really interested in health and wellness and specifically in natural skincare and I was formulating products in my kitchen. I was having my family and friends try them and you know, after almost two years of doing that, we got to a point with our jobs in Arizona where we were still at them, still working these full time jobs, but driving back to California almost every weekend to be there for the farm and we got to a point where we decided to quit our full time jobs. My husband and I, we moved back to California. The farm was at his parents house at the time, it was a small 1700 square foot house, but it was on 2.5 acres. So we moved in with his parents, his sister and her husband and their son also moved in with his parents and then his other sister who was living in new york, moved back in with his parents. So there were nine of us living in this tiny house, just trying to make this farm succeed.

00:07:53 I was still making the skin care stuff, it wasn't like officially selling them yet. And then eventually I decided to start selling them on our family farms website. The customers loved them and I was really excited about that and that really motivated me to, you know, press on with it. And so I kept making them myself in my kitchen and eventually moved everything over to my own website just for primary pure. And um since then it's just been this kind of slow, natural, I don't want to say slow, but a very natural progression of going from doing like every job in the company by myself, like customer service marketing, shipping the packages. I was handwriting um you know, addresses on the packages. In the beginning I was like hand shredding newspapers to use as stuffing in the bag. So very D. I. Y. Very bootstrapped. And it's been a very like natural progression of, you know, hiring people on when it feels right, growing at a pace that really, that has, it's been, you know, a pretty quick, pretty quick study growth, but it's been a growth that has felt really comfortable and calculated and I guess at the same time.

00:09:11 And so that was five years ago, you were about actually almost six years into the business now, wow, that sounds amazing what an experience all moving into the same house and you know, coming together as a mini community to be like, hey, let's make this work as a family and do this, you know, unique situation. That's so interesting. I love that for you have fun. Yeah, it was fun. It was hard but fun totally. I bet what was the kind of things in the early days that you were doing to spread that word and you know, find new customers and tell people about the brand. Yeah, I think one thing very early on that I recognize the importance of was connecting through quality content. So um, I was never focused on just pushing the products out selling the products. I was always really focused on like the education piece and you know, building trust with our community in that way.

00:10:17 So that was like such a pillar from the beginning and I think that allowed all of the outreach I did just to be that much more meaningful and powerful because I would reach out to influencers and I would say, you know, deodorant, like our best selling product, it's kind of what we're known for and I would, you know, ask them if they'd like to try our deodorant and then I would link, you know, our top three blog posts about how to transition to natural deodorant and things like that. So I think um you know, I did a lot of outreach like that, but I also wanted to make sure that whoever I was reaching out to you that they felt supported in their journey of switching to non toxic products and um, you know, I wanted to be like a friend to them not just pushing the products out there. I wanted to really come alongside them and you know, remove like any possible hurdles that would prevent them from wanting to use natural deodorant or try a natural skincare product. So um, yeah, to answer your question, I just, I really hustled with the outreach and I went to events and introduced myself to people and sent emails and you know, um, got a lot of no thanks replies and you know, I was also ignored a ton.

00:11:28 But you know, I also, um, was able to connect with some really amazing people and a lot of the influencers that we're still working with today are people that I reached out to super early on and in a really intentional way. I think that was the important thing. It wasn't just like a, you know, auto email. Like, Hey, we'd love to send you some stuff to try. It was like always a very personal, um, personal outreach. Yeah, Really considered and thoughtful. It sounds like, yeah, at what point of the business did you start to feel like was the pivot and sorry, not the pivot the pivotal moment where things started to really gain traction and you were like, hang on a second like things really are working. People do really want this product. I'm seeing people come back to the website and you know, purchase again and again. Yeah, that's a good question. one thing that I think was big for our growth was starting an affiliate program. I I started one pretty early on I want to say in the first year and that was a really, I know it's maybe not right for every brand but the way we set ours up I think was we give lifetime commissions through our affiliate program.

00:12:44 So it's not like an MLM but people are receiving like 15% 15% let's say commission on every sale that they make and then repeat purchases from that customer as well even if they weren't using like a link or code in their 2nd, 3rd, 4th purchase. And so I was working really hard to make these connections and then once we started the program it was like oh they have this ongoing incentive to keep talking about family pure and sharing and that was a really cool thing that I did that really just allowed us to see this continuous like uptick in sales. So I think that was huge. Yeah, that's so interesting. I didn't know that you were able to structure it so that you could have that continual percentage going back to that person who is promoting the products? That's such a good tip. Thanks. Um and since then you know almost six years on how is your marketing evolved and what are the kinds of things that you do now that you can see really drives your growth and helps you acquire new customers.

00:13:51 Yeah it's evolved a lot so much has changed since 2000 and when I started 2015, when I started the business, um, there was no algorithm back then, so like someone posts like good, oh, so good. And as you know, things are very different now. So we have had to start doing a lot of ads like facebook instagram ads. We do, we just started doing some white listing with influencers, which is um, does that mean I have someone on my team that's really understands that probably a lot better than I do, but I'll try to give a good, a good inaccurate description. So an influencer, will you kind of like request sharing access to your facebook accounts and then you can kind of work with that influencer to generate a post about Primary Pure and you like, we, the brand would pay for that post to be boosted but on their account.

00:14:53 So it's kind of a win win because the influencer is getting like more exposure, we're getting more exposure to their audience and hopefully I'm not missing anything with how that works, but it's been really strategy for us. So that's been something recently that we've done this, that's worked out really well, um sponsoring podcasts, youtube videos, things like that, we've, you know, gotten more involved in in the last couple of years and then also just doing more like surprise and delight types of initiatives for our customers, I think that kind of stuff still goes such a long way and it's also really fun to do. So I love the surprise and delight element of like, you know, e commerce brands and what's possible, it's just such a fun part of the business that brings so much joy. Do you have any examples of what you do? Yeah, well, we just did a big holiday gifting, so we're coming out with some exclusive holiday products um that like limited edition things we've never done before.

00:16:01 And so for um Our gifting, we, we gifted a lot of the products to like a lot of the influencers we work with and then we also took our top 100 customers from 2020 and we sent them all like a handwritten note and um the can the candle that were coming out with. So yeah, I love that. That is so cool As a customer, you would just feel so special to receive that and know that like they're on the top of your list and like they're on your radar, you know? Yeah, totally. Yeah, that's what I love that. Oh my gosh, so cool. I often like to talk about the money piece of the puzzle. Um I think I read you started with $250, um you know, started small bootstrapping the brand. How have you funded the business onwards from there and how have you been funding until now? Yeah, so we, um we have still just been bootstrapped the whole time. So there's been no funding yet to this point, we're just getting to the point where it is becoming more difficult to, to keep going along on that path with bootstrapping, especially getting close to like black friday cyber monday, which is, I think about 25% of our sales for the year.

00:17:19 We do kind of around that time. And so there's a lot that a lot of like inventory build up and things like that and staffing, um, that goes into like prepping for that, so it's really expensive just to prepare for that weekend and yeah, so like, you know, the bigger you get, it gets, it becomes more difficult to like put the necessary funds into it. So we've been, thankfully we have been been good up until now, next year we might explore some options for for funding, but yeah, up until now, just completely bootstrapped. Cool, That's so amazing. Good for you guys. I'm sure that also makes you so much more attractive as well for when you do go out for funding and you're able to show that significant growth and that, um, you know, that that income that you've been able to generate yourself. Yeah, it's been nice to, because we don't have to answer to anyone, um, you know, we don't have a board, we don't have investors anything like that, so which has been, it's been fun for for us just to kind of do our own thing.

00:18:29 Yeah, totally. A few women I've spoken to who um are also self funded, tell me that they've been able to really expand and grow their business through a flyer and I always just think like when I have you heard of Way flyer? No, what is it? Oh my gosh, you need to check it out. This could be such a game changer for you. This is not sponsored, this is me just being like, oh my God, they're amazing. Um so way flyer is a company that they basically finance, um, e commerce brands growth through their inventory and through performance marketing. So You know, I don't specifically know this bill, but it's something like that, you plug in your data to their system or whatever and they're able to fund up to maybe $5 million dollars or something um based on how you currently generate revenue and so they'll sort of like give you a loan I guess um for a certain amount of money and they don't take any equity, it's just a percentage on top of that. They take back from your ads essentially.

00:19:32 But I think they also offer the same service on the inventory side of things and helping you fund your inventory purchase orders and yeah, apparently she's totally a game change. Oh, she totally check it out, interesting. Yeah. Just a website. I think another one in the spaces called Clear Bank. Um and that's also one that does funding of inventory and financing and has a female founder as well, which is super cool. Right? Yes, So nice. No worries. Um, okay, back to the show every, every business and obviously every entrepreneur goes through so many ups and downs and I was reading about a story that you shared recently on Jenna's podcast about a particular challenge you had back in 2017 and you know, we're often talking about the highlights and what's going well in business. But I think it's also important to talk about some of the low moments and some of the challenges that people go through when building a business and that it's not always rosy like it can look like are you able to share a bit about that story and how you were kind of dealing with the mental roller coaster that was going on during that time.

00:20:42 Yeah. Yeah, that was nuts. We were launching, we were planning to launch these new deodorant tubes on black friday and we had a whole like campaign planned with like Celebrate Black Friday with our new charcoal deodorant in this like black tube and um, we were doing a promo, I think it was like spend $50, get a free charcoal deodorant and like all these, these kind of plays on like coal and charcoal and stuff like that. So it was like all planned out. Um, and then we were launching, you know, our, every other scent of our deodorant in these new tubes as well. And we had like newsletters planned adds planned things like that and it was our first time working with an international supplier. So we were ordering the tubes overseas and then we would fill them in house at our headquarters in southern California. And we hadn't, we were expecting to get the tubes I think um early november and kind of like days, weeks kept passing and there were no tubes and our supplier was reassuring us that they should arrive at any moment.

00:21:46 So we, we felt pretty good about it. We felt like okay, these maybe they're running a little bit late but they can't be like, there's no way we're gonna be like weeks from weeks off from what they told us. And um sure enough like black friday came, we still didn't have the tubes, we still felt really confident like they have to be arriving any time. I think we may be even thought that they were like had arrived but maybe weren't customs, There was a lot of confusion along the way, but they actually weren't even like on land, they were in the middle of the ocean, still at the time of black friday. So we ran the promo, we ran the promo s they did really well, we sold a lot of these deodorants that we still didn't even have possession of. We didn't know when we would get possession of them. And thankfully we did promo s on other products as well. So we had orders to fill plenty of orders to fill like after that weekend that we're keeping the team really busy. We just, we couldn't fulfill any of the deodorant orders. So I think it was like maybe a week or two after black friday.

00:22:50 We actually received the tubes and they came on this huge semi truck like we weren't even prepared for Okay, how do you get the these all these boxes like off the semi truck into our warehouse. So our team like spent, I think two hours was like all hands on deck. We were going like taking turns like all going up into the semi, like some people were just like staying in the truck and then like handing boxes down and then other people were grabbing them and it took us like two hours to unload this full semi truck full of dealer in tubes. So we were just so like an experienced and didn't know what to expect with any of this. So the tubes were in the, we're in house and then we still had to make the deodorant because we hand make everything. So it took us a while to fill the tubes and then we were finally able to fulfill these black friday deodorant orders and get them out to customers in time for christmas, like barely but it was my gosh, that sounds nuts. Were there any like negative repercussions from that, that you had to deal with like kind of like crisis management with your customers?

00:23:57 You know, there if there was, it was very minimal. One thing we did, we sent out an email just letting our customers know there's going to be a delay. Like we're doing everything we can to get your supporters out in a timely manner. So we kind of warn people in advance and then we also upgraded people to a bigger deodorant size. So it was like a 1.7 ounce deodorant. That was, that was the standard size. So I think anyone that took advantage of that promo to get the free 1.7 ounce deodorant, we ended up upgrading them to a 2.5 ounce. So, and you may have thrown in like a free lip balm as well, I don't remember. But yeah, we definitely tried to stay in touch with people and just kind of like keep them in the loop of what was going on as much as we could. Yeah. And I feel like most people understand if they're like in the loop with communications and you're like ahead of the game, like keeping people up to date and just being like, hey, we're being transparent, there's an issue here, there's gonna be a delay. People are angry, but I think what happens is when you don't update customers, that's when people like what's going on and when customers have to contact you first?

00:25:02 For sure. Yeah. Do you think that challenges like that one changed how you manage your stress and like deal with challenges if something comes up, you know now. Yeah, definitely. And there's been several things like that over the years and I think for a while I was kind of in this pattern of whenever something would go wrong, I would go into panic mode and stress mode and now I'm to a place where I just, I know that like that is a part of owning a business, like there's always going to be things like that and you can't think that every every road bump is the end of the world. And so now I can look back at things like that deodorant to disaster and other things that have happened and say like okay, you know this thing that I'm going through now feels really hard but so did these things at the time and we got through them and we came out better on the other end. So it definitely changes the way you look at challenges, um, changes it for more of like a why is this happening to me? Kind of a situation to like, okay, what can we learn from this and how can we grow from this?

00:26:10 Totally. Absolutely. Looking back. What do you attribute your success to and why do you think you've been able to keep growing the business successfully for five plus years or six years now? I think in the beginning I would say I had my head down a lot and a lot of hard work and grit and scrappiness went into just kind of getting us like to that next level and getting us like up and running as a business and then that can only, I think it's necessary in the beginning, to an extent, to like really hustle because um you know, you don't know enough to like work smarter yet you have to let just like work hard and figure things out and so that's what I did for the first few years and then I got to a point where like my hard work wasn't going to get us any further, like I had to start like learning about, you know, how, how to manage people and learning about um just how to grow a business and things like that, and so I kind of got to this point a few years in where I really started prioritizing education, I started prioritizing like my health again, because I knew like mentally I had to be sharp, I had to, I, I couldn't feel like I was dragging all the time, which I did for a long time because I was just, I had no boundaries and was working like constantly and things like that, so I knew I didn't want to feel that way, I wanted to, you know, be more alert and just mentally there for my business and my family and in order to do that, I had to kind of take a step back and like start caring for myself better and also start investing in learning and that means that can be hard because it's like time taking time away from doing things, you know like actually doing physically like making product or answering emails or whatnot, but it's like so so crucial I think to growing Yeah, that sounds like such a critical step in the journey and we actually haven't really spoken too much about that piece of the puzzle on the show so far.

00:28:24 How do you actually, you know up skill and figure out how to become a great leader and you know, manage lots of people. What are the kind of education things that you need to do? Yeah, I mean there's so many things out there and 1, 1 book in particular was really helpful for me. The book called Good to Great and it's like a study, He's this the author I think Jim Collins is his name, He studies, he did this big study on several businesses that like good businesses and great businesses and kind of like nailed down the determining factors and what differentiates a great business from like a good business or even a business that fails. So um his insights were really powerful for me and I know it's a lot of people who gained so much from that just what he took away from his findings and so loved that book, Brendon Buchard has a book called high performance habits that was great.

00:29:30 Um a lot of like mindset type stuff but so important and then podcast too, I love listening to podcasts and you know how I built this is great just for like getting fired up and inspired by successful business owners and then um, you know, you mentioned, you heard me on Jenna's podcast and that was like one of the first ones that I started listening to as well. Um but you know, there's so many good ones and I think people should just like figure out what resonates most with them totally, absolutely, Oh gosh! And so where is the business today? Like how big is your team, What is the kind of picture vs five years ago? Yeah, so we have about 40 people on our team now. We've hired, I think around 20 just for the holidays, temporary seasonal employees, so that's been kind of nuts. And then we opened a spot our headquarters a year and a half or two years almost ago, which has been super fun and just kind of like expanding to that pretty consistently whenever a new unit opens up in our building were like, we'll take it.

00:30:46 Um yeah, just um still like growing at a pace that feels really comfortable and you know, I never want to get to the point where everyone's feeling like overwhelmed and not that there aren't times where I feel overwhelmed or where my team feels over overwhelmed but you know I always I never want to grow at the expense of of our sanity. So you know we're definitely focused on growth and we want to grow but also doing it at a really at a pace that just feels really good and really smart mm totally. And what does the future look like, what's coming up next? Um You know we have several new products planned, we hired on a formulate er Early in 2020 and that's been great because up until then I was formulating all the products in our holistic competition was helping me with that a bit but we didn't have anyone like fully dedicated to it. So having her on board has been amazing and I feel like there's just so much potential now for all kinds of new creations, so that's kind of what we have planned for next year.

00:31:54 And then after that um you know we'll see, we'll see where where everything takes us. But yeah, super excited about some of the new products we have planned for now. Oh my gosh, sounds very exciting. Yeah, what advice do you have for women who have a big idea and want to launch their own business? I would say that I I think something I see from a lot of people is this big idea and then this like it's so big that there's no like they don't know how to connect where they are now to getting there and just, it gets to a point where it feels like unachievable and unattainable and they kind of talk themselves out of it, but I think it's so important just to dedicate Whatever, like commit to dedicating 30 minutes a day to that dream, like whatever that looks like if it's writing a book, like just start writing for 30 minutes a day or if it's launching a company like work on your product for 30 minutes every day or whatever that time is like determine an amount of time that feels doable and I think just giving like even if it's a small amount of time dedicating like whatever you can to that big goal like over over the course of several weeks months years, like a lot can come of that and if you have more time like even better, but I think that's just one way to kind of bridge the gap between like where Maybe where someone is in the, in the present to like what could, where they could be, you know, 10 years down totally.

00:33:38 I think the, the compound effect of doing small steps and small actions is just so important and so something that like, I talk about it all the time on the show because you know, just doing that little thing, chipping away every day every week, every month, you'll look back in five years time and be like, oh here I am. Unbelievable. Can't believe I did that. So true. So true. Okay, we are up to the 6th grade questions part of the episode. Few of the things we might have covered a little bit already, but we'll roll with it. Question number one is, What's your wife? My wife is a lot of times. I when I think about this, I think about like girls that were girls that are in high school struggling with skin issues because that's kind of when it started for me and you know, I didn't know that there was any other option than seeing the dermatologist and taking like the pills that they prescribed in the creams that they prescribed, which um which I'm really convinced did more damage.

00:34:49 Like I did more damage to my skin than treating it than then just like, you know, the acne I had. So I just want to share, I want the message to get out there that like, skin care is so much more than just masking symptoms. It it really is a holistic um or it should be, you know, this holistic experience and that what you put in your body and the ingredients that you choose to put on your skin really make a difference. And that's kind of what I want,