Hi, it’s Doone here - your host and hype girl - if you’re new here: welcome to the Female Startup Club podcast - where we interview some of the world’s most successful founders in business. We chat with entrepreneurs - who happen to be women - about all things money, marketing and mistakes - and dive deep into the blueprint that got them to where they are today.
Today we’re chatting with Erin Deering who is the founder of a cult swimwear brand you probably recognise, called Triangl. It’s one of those stories that has so many highs - it gained instant cult status within it’s first year of business, it was all over our feeds, it grew to a $200m valuation and from the outside - everything looked amazing. But on the flip side, Erin wasn’t living her best life and she was struggling. In this episode she shares the story of her highs but also of the lows and what it took to exit the business and follow her instincts. It’s rare to hear founders go so deep into the lows and this is one of those episodes we can all learn a lot from so I hope you love it as much as I did.
I particularly love diving into Erin's approach to influencer marketing right back in the early days of building Triangl, all with gifting making up the entirety of their marketing budget. The idea is that your product is still the hero, but this marketing strategy put trust into your new brand. That's the key point there, build trust. When you apply that logic with your marketing strategy, building trust with them instead of getting sales, it will shift who you target and who you reach out to. That logic is still applicable in 2023.
And if you want even more content from us, we send out an email every Monday that features strategies you can implement into your business, job opportunities at female founded startups, all the best news about women-led startups and women in business as well as new grants and other fun stuff that’s worth knowing. It’s totally free and you can subscribe at femalestartupclub.com.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Hi, thanks for having me on. I'm very excited. I'm very excited. I feel like I've been someone who's, you know, been sporting your swimwear from back in the very early days. I have a memory of like maybe it's sort of memory, it's a photo of me wearing the yellow, no, not the yellow, the orange neoprene bikini beach vibes with the black finding the early days for anyone tuning in at the moment who might not know yet who you are or what you're up to do. You want to give us a little bit an introduction? Yeah, perfect. So I am the co founder of Triangl swimwear. We co founded the business, my co partner, co partner, co founder at the time, we co founded that business in 2000 and 12 in Hong kong had phenomenal growth. We launched our business at the same time as um instagram kind of did, I guess so it was a very fortunate acceleration of our business and then I exited the brand. I was living overseas, Hong kong moved to Monaco um experienced some pretty crazy growth journey, mental how every, everything it was like a life within an eight year period and then I exited the business in 2018 and have returned back home and spent the last four years doing a bunch of other stuff. Oh my gosh, I'm so excited, I'm so excited. I feel like you have so many learnings to share with the journey of triangle, especially in the early days. You know, you were just saying you started when Instagram was new and even though Tiktok isn't new now, it still is this platform that you know, it's giving everyone a lot of opportunities. So I'd love to go to that early time circa 2011 circuit 2012 when you were starting to think about triangle and that light bulb moment that happened for you and getting started. Yeah, So we, we came up with the idea on our second date, this was in 2011. So I met craig in 2011, right at the end at the end of 2011 and then it was a very quick courtship. We went on our second date at the beach and came up with the idea essentially. Then, um, I had gone around the store trying to find a bikini that morning to sort of, you know, impress him and couldn't find anything. And so when I got down to the beach, I did find a bikini, but everything was sort of pricey though surf brands, which is lower or more luxurious sort of over $100 price point. So we saw a really big gap in the market back then, especially in Australia for a fashion focused kind of swimwear label or just a bikini even. So came up with that idea conceptualized that you know, we did it initially as obviously a side hustle and we had full time jobs. I was working in a calm in customer care and craig was a designer. So he was always everyone, it's a bit confused sometimes they assume that I'm the designer but it's actually craig. He was the bikini man and I was the marketing, social media, customer care. We pretty much was just him and I for three or four years it was actually insane. We would be having these big meetings in new york with private equity years later and they'd be like so tell us about your team and we were like, they were like This is what we were doing, our revenue was sort of like getting up over $100 million dollars and they're like not like could not. It was, it was it was insane. I know, I know we had a supply chain like office in Hong kong we had a merchandiser and we had about three or four others then that we're facilitating that churn of the manufacturing and sampling and logistics in that respect. But the design, the creative direction, the marketing, the pr the so the media, the customer care that I mean we had a customer care team but I was on the top of it, it was, it was just, it was just the two of us. And it was a very interesting learning in terms of scaling and how great it was to be lean and it was asked and we're taking so much of the profits because there's no one else. And it was like, but when you are lacking so much infrastructure as we were, it ended up actually being quite detrimental to the content, the growth of the brand because we had everything stored craig had everything and I had everything. So even getting it out of our heads which we had no time to do because it was so busy was a whole process. So that was a very interesting and it's something that I would definitely do again if I had my time over. Um as you start to scale and grow to definitely find the right people to bring in because it was too much. It was too much for two people. Yeah. And I guess as well, like even on the on a smaller scale, just documenting workflow, documenting processes, documenting everything from the get go. So the day you need anyone to come in, you're able to just be like here read this, read this manual. Yeah. And like we had none of that. We had, we had a customer care manual because that was really important and my tone of voice that I sort of had held so tightly in the early days of triangle nurturing that customer, I set that up properly when we handed that over and that was the only manual that we had, there was no brand idea. There was no set of logos or set of colors black and white essentially anyway, which is pretty easy. But there was nothing, there was no there's nothing, there was no just literally up in my brain and in craig's brain. So it wasn't really a great way to do it. But it worked, it worked if you were to dig into that kind of blueprint from the early years for me as an outsider and for everyone, I'm sure who was buying the brand and seeing what was happening on social media, it really felt like you had that moment of overnight success, I'm sure that's not the case in terms of how hard you worked and everything like that, but that's what it looked like on the outside. What was the blueprint for you in starting to gain that traction? Like how did it take off? When did it take off? What was that kind of moment that things started to spiral? Yeah, well actually I'm writing a book at the moment and so I've just sort of written that bit, which is really, it's really highlighted that everything was kind of condensed in that first year. Everything. So even though it was an overnight success in the sense of it was sort of six months till this point and a few months till that it was so we were like working around the clock, you know, like 20 hour days and we were in China for weeks at a time and then back to ha Hong kong and then china and Hong kong and then you know, just like manic trying to get this thing off the ground. And so it was an overnight success when I, when I remember and I'm like, oh this all did happen in 2013. It felt like it felt like five years and one for us, it was like just, that was the level of work we applied, that's why we moved to Hong kong was to have complete focus on building this brand. So for us, you know, because I've just written it, I can be quite clear on the timeline now it was, you know, we were profitable sort of from the start, I mean it was tiny, it was sort of, you know, when we, when we launched, we launched an island spandex, not even near crane and that was at the end of december and that was like fine, it was cool, it was cute, it was summer in Australia. So I was just telling to my friends, I came back to Australia to kind of like cell and it was all like florida and then craig brought to me the, well actually we looked at neoprene before I went back to Australia, but then you said, look I really feel that we need something else, like we need another, we need a hook. I think every business it's really important to find your hook. And I think product is the hook is probably the safest one because that's what people are gonna buy. And we needed that. We felt like non spandex isn't just going to get that something, you know, this was before the word virally existed. So you know, in that kind of way. So it was that we're trying to find something viral but we didn't actually know it was a bit of a hook. So he brought the near plane around again and said, you know what we should, what about this? And I remember fitting it and just thinking this feels so amazing on, it was so flat on the body and it kind it was like bikinis never looked the same as they did on because they were flimsy and they moved and you know, and like if like you know if your breasts are like a little bit lopsided, like that would show it in islands medics the kitty. But the Neoprene was like you know, and if you had no boobs it didn't even matter because the black lightning was so distracting that it just kind of looked like a nice little triangle. Like it was like it just looked good. I remember when I first tried them on and I was like this is different, this is actually really special and whether it was that self belief, that craig and I both had that really started to get that energy flowing. I'm a big believer in the flow of energy and I was so wholeheartedly behind this bikini in terms of how it was going to make women feel that it really initially took off and when I say take off as in like one a day is on line, one day and then maybe 22 days later and then maybe three a week after that. So the growth was so tiny, but it was growing and I think that's really important too. And of course, as you know, it was in a short timeline, but it was still you could still apply that as long as you're growing, even if it's not like overnight or like 100 and then 406 100 it can be 1 to 2 to go back to one again, but then 23 and even see that what you're doing is working and we got that we had that sort of feeling pretty early on and then obviously our influences and building those relationships organically and our gifting strategy which you know, we were known, I don't know any other brand that was doing that at the time, no one, everyone was sending out things with and people still do and I get that you would but gifting without an obligation to post and that me, you know, I was so intent on building relationships with every single I wanted when I gifted a bikini to a girl, whether she had whatever many followers or who she was, I really wanted to know what she thought. I really wanted her to believe in the product too. So I set everything up for that to happen. And then that kind of got that momentum going. And of course, they started sharing and we started sharing on our page and just a lot of things that worked for us. You know, bikinis had this, you know, invoked summer and holiday and escapism and buying them felt fun and online was also like, fun, like, it wasn't an s when we want online, you know, it was like a fun new, like, I've never, you know, the people that were like, I've never bought anything online, let alone a bikini. And so I knew I had this this power in nurturing these people into trusting me and trusting the brand and there's a lot of power in that and I still would say they apply to today's climate for sure. Yeah. Oh my gosh, that's crazy. I'm wondering for you, like, because you were you were like 27 28 at this time, What was the money piece of this? Because, you know, yes, you were starting small with one piece here selling one piece there. But, you know, you're in china, you obviously investing in the manufacturing, you're investing in the supply chain. What was your investment in the beginning? And kind of like you said you were working full time at the same time in the beginning, like what was that kind of peace about? Yes. So we were working full time in Melbourne and then we made the decision to move to Hong kong. And so there are a few reasons why I wanted to do this. Firstly being near the supply chain were manufactured in china. Um so that was just like a bit of a no brainer to be close to that process. It was going to be quicker. We could sample quicker back then, you know, sampling to and from Australia, it was just a long process. Um and we just really wanted to focus on the business and not have the distraction of our lives in Melbourne and given All, so we moved to Hong Kong, we quit our jobs, we sold everything we had, which wasn't much craig was actually bankrupt at the time. So I was living paycheck to paycheck. So was he, he had a bankruptcy behind him. So he had no money, I had no money. So we made about 10 grand in total to move overseas with. Um and then we spent that really quickly in the first few months of living because Hong kong's cost of living is quite high. So even with our canned soup and and our, you know canned tuna and everything in a can because there was no fresh food in Hong kong really and fresh food was astronomically expensive. So we were just living. Oh crap. Yeah, it was actually really good cancer recipes. I'd like mix them in with a bit of veggie, it's great. We had no hot water in our apartment. I'm sorry, we're in a four story walk out in central Hong kong. Great location But no hot water. So we had to switch on the hot water heater to wait 15 minutes to have a shower and the shower was literally in in the same room as the toilet and the shower head was on the toilet, like it would spray onto the toilet. It was just the most insane place to live. But we loved it because it felt so exciting for us life. Yeah, it's like we're doing something amazing and you're like literally loving it. So we had, we spent, we spent that 10 grand pretty quickly craig did a little bit of other design work here or there to bring money in but there was not enough to put in a manufacturing order, it just wasn't, we needed like four, I think it's $4000. Um And we just could not get that. We couldn't get that money whilst living in Hong kong. So we're in a bit of a predicament and it was about september 2012 and we were sitting in on the steps in Hong kong and we were like we don't have any money and what do we do, couldn't borrow money from a bank, couldn't get jobs in Hong kong to even sort of get that going because we didn't have the visa, we weren't allowed um so we ended up asking all our friends and family to borrow some money and luckily crazy being 10 years older than me had friends that had, you know, they were at my age now, so 38 they had careers and they had houses and they had lives and more money so they generously loaned us, it was $25,000 to start Aussie and that was enough to get a production ongoing and be smart to sort of have enough to live off and do one more run and give it that kind of, I think we sort of said like six months of like having a real crack and thank God that putting that production run in and launching and then putting that little neoprene order in and having that money for it worked and we were able to pay them back sort of I think in March in 2013 and then move forward so it was pretty much cash flow positive from day one but we did, we did take on a tiny bit of debt from friends to start it, it's funny like in hindsight that you took it on as debt and not as you know, giving some equity of the business to your friends. I bet you they're annoyed that they didn't ask No, no, they were so generous. It was really one of those, you know, they made triangle, you know, without them, you know, my parents said no craig's parents said no, my friends had no money, no one else really and you know my parents believed in me, but they didn't believe in that and and rightly so I mean my parents don't have that sort of disposable money and they'd already been drip feeding me a little bit here and there for six sort of four months. We've been there to like you know get a whack sort of like you know, get a haircut or whatever it was. So they were kind of like no this is not going anywhere and you need to come home and get a job. So we were like no. Anyway, so it's very, very fortunate, very, very grateful for our friends for doing that. Oh my gosh, Hell yeah, shout out to them, shout out to those friends So you invest 25,000 that gives you a little bit of a runway for the first order, the second order and just kind of like getting by, this is when you start doing the gifting, you start kind of like spreading on obviously instagram is like having its moment back in those years and then at some point you start reaching bigger celebrities. Is that what comes next as the kind of like the next big pivotal moment that happens for you. It kind of, it kind of did, yeah, it was just, you know, I'm just running through my head, it was, we were, we were kind of already getting some good traction in the Australian market. Um but our bikinis, we could feel a few people that were, we could feel a little bit of interest from the States, like just a tiny bit and then we never planned to go international. We were very content with being an Australian brand. We never even looked at the States. Um and then when we did look, we were like, oh that's a much bigger over there. The market is phenomenally big for swimwear and they were just, you know, they're just, they're the girls that, you know, they got their summers and then they go away for spring break and then they're like christmas and they're just like living in their bikinis. Um and so we started to kind of reach out to american girls and we actually were just, I mean we were just what we did in the approach that I took with finding the, these girls was finding girls that were in swimwear that lived in bikinis that were in the areas that were wearing it, that were already like talking about swimwear or totally, and they weren't girls with big followings, you know, they were, as they know now like micro influencers back then back then they were just like girls that small followings and they were the ones, you know, and we had this kind of like, I still really believe in word of mouth marketing. So when I would gift one girl that was especially in the States because this we felt we really needed to like spread and I would give one girl and do you have any friends that like, like swimwear girls too, because I'll give them to. So then they would all get together and they would discuss what they wanted and then they would be like, oh my God you're so excited and they would all put their little order in and then they get them and they all wear them together. And that's I think why that kind of viral movement of girls all wearing triangle on the beach and I still saw it, I was down in lawn over summer and there were like groups of 13, 14 year old girls still wearing triangle because that has kind of carried on and it was signed. That was so mindful to set up in that way of, you know, because gifting was like it was that was our entire marketing budget. Like we didn't do anything within that pr we didn't do any other adds anything anything, there was no money going into marketing other than through the coffee, the bikini and the cost of the bikini was pretty cheap and then descend it. We just, it was just just kind of a no brainer for us. And also, I think by targeting pockets of girls, you have overlapping followers, the person who's following the, you know, one of those girls probably actually follows three of those girls. So then the consumer is having a moment of like this brand is everywhere. Like I'm seeing it all over my feed, they're all kind of all these girls are all together, they're all wearing it. Like it's it's that multi kind of moment touch point for the bread. Yeah, and it really worked. And it was a strategy that sort of wasn't my, it wasn't my goal to have that sort of flow on effect. My goal was just to make all these girls feel good and just gift more girls. It wasn't really that thought out, but it ended up being this whole strategy that is still not even like practically applied by triangle, it just is what's happening now because it was set up so strongly in the start to be that way. And so when we were gifting these groups of girls and that was kind of working and we were like, this is great and then sentiment strong and you know, and our followers were just growing and that was lovely and we decided to reach out to because we never wanted to pay. So we had to be really clever about finding any of the bigger girls. So we were like, let's just go after one big fish and let's just like focus on getting her. So we picked Kendall Jenner, so we didn't want the Kardashians, we're already hugely successful in their own right and demanding lots of money for things. And so it was like, Kylie and Kendall who were very young and Kylie was beautiful, but not really a bikini girl in that vibe and you can kind of see how they've gone and got that right. Kendall was like the active sporty, just starting out modeling really, like, just, you know, young but just cool and edgy and whatever. So we're like, let's go after her. So we're like, let's gift all her friends and not her and to see if she wants, if she ends up taking the bait and reaching out for one. So we gifted like six or seven of her friends. I went like trawling through the depths of instagram, finding all that, all her friends that she'd ever been posting, looking at tagged photos. I think our tag photos were around then or tags or whatever it was and I had a list of about six of them and two of them were actually Bella headed and Hailey baldwin now Bieber and they were unknowns back then and they were part of her crew and they were all girls in their bikinis. And so I give it all of them and they were like, absolutely because Triangle had enough of a name, like just on adom. Yeah, no, no, actually, because there were no DNS back then, so you had to write a comment on a photo and and hope that they saw it and say oh hi, it's you know, I would either say hi, you know it's Aaron from Triangle, I'd love to get in touch, can you email me Aaron at Triangle dot com or I would say hi, it's trying could you please let me know your email address like here, depending on the size of the girls following whether yeah, and then they would just wait for the time, simpler time. And so they all email like you reached out to me blah blah blah, we know how to stop that strategy because it became incoming. Like it was like a it was everyone wanted, it became yeah, everyone's like, I've got that email, how do I be a triangle girl? How do I be a triangle girl. Whereas at the start it was like to be a triangle girl anyway, so we did that and gifted them all and they wore them and Hailey and Bella wore them and a few other girls was charlotte coming with the other names and they were wearing them and obviously they're wearing them together and Kendall sitting there probably around the pool going, I'm the most famous person, you know, thinking or not even that, but just thinking why was I left out like this is not fair, why was I left out? I feel like maybe they, maybe they forgot. And so one morning I woke up and I had an email from like this random gmail, like it was like ken Kenny, Kenny, Kenny face killer, it was something like that. And I just knew straight away it was her because it was so her kind of kooky aesthetic and she was like, oh, hi, it's Kendall. All my friends have been wearing your bikinis and they're really cool, can I get some too? And I was like, oh, that works. And that was literally our like acceleration into the States that was really put us on the map and cemented us in that market as being a brand that was, you know, it was like, it didn't, this is the thing, it doesn't take away from the product and it doesn't, because you can have people post things celebrities and it doesn't really do much, but that just accelerated the trust in the brand. That's all that it really did because the product was still the hero and the experience of getting a bikini and wearing it and that was still the hero. You know, the marketing strategy was just The strategy to put trust into our very, very new brand, putting out a Bikini in a fabric that no one had really seen for a very long time because it had been done in the 80's as body glove swimwear, they've been doing it. So it wasn't a new fabric, it just hadn't been brought into our generation. So it just accelerated. So interesting. Yeah, it just it just built trust, you know, I think when you apply that logic with your marketing strategies of building trust with them as opposed to getting sales, then it will shift who you target a lot and who you reach out to. Because I've always been thinking like this, how does this apply now? Because it was so much easier back then. It's so much harder now. But the logic to a lot of our application of why we did things is definitely applicable to 2023. I feel for sure, yeah, as you were kind of on that up, you've had this moment now you're on a global level what was happening with copycats because I feel like it happens a lot in business, the moment you start to kind of like hit that snowball, everything starts to change. And so I imagine it was happening a lot for you. What was your approach to copycats? And how did you deal with it? Yeah, so we, we were copied in every aspect of the business, you know, it wasn't just a product, but everyone was copying our strategy and our instagram page and putting up like everything, you know, like every like copying and gifting, email, word for word and like quite well known companies were starting to do this, although they didn't continue with it. That was frustrating, but also like, well we have a point of difference when they started copying the product, it was really, really hard. It's you know, I work with a lot of brands now in advisory an advisory role and and that is a huge thing for a brand having to deal with this part of it because it's so frustrating and it takes so much time and energy away from what you want to be doing to focus on it and you have to kind of way up. Do I go after the copycats or do I ignore it? And you know, we were getting people messaging us, you know, an email and going, I just wanted to show you like because we were such that like small brand mentality that people were like, these brands are copying you and we were like, don't tell us, we don't want to know, like we just wanted to be like earmuffs because you know, in a way you can't stop them, you cannot stop copycats, you really? And this is where we landed on after, we always seem to find them at like 10 o'clock at night. And then it was always just about to go to bed and then we were up until one or two, like crazy, like you know, like you're so angry you want to like call them or like turn off at their house and they're copying me, but that's not going to change anything like copycats will never go away. They just won't, especially in the clothing industry or industries that are heavily regulated, you know, they're not going to go away because they can do what they're doing and all of the advice that I would give to people that have to deal with this, because at some point, if you have a successful brand, you will be copied at some, you know, in some, whether it's product or strategy or whatever it is. You know, it's focused on being the innovator and focus on innovation because if you, for us, it was like, okay, great, they're copying that and that's really annoying is our best seller and it is probably taking away sales, but we have to a back that our product is more superior and build our name and our brand to a point where they don't want the copycat. And the other thing is you, there will always be a percentage of people that will buy a copy brand and not care. You know, it's like the people that buy fake Chanel or you know, like that's just, you know, that's just people that do that and they don't, it's not anything, it's actually not even anything wrong with these people that buy these fake brands, they just don't have that value on things. So in that way that they value other things, they're like, I don't care, I'll buy a fake so you can't stop the customer from buying them and you can't stop people from making them. So all you can control is what you can control, which is focusing on what is going to accelerate, grow, move, innovate your brand and your product offering and don't get stuck in focusing on that side because then they're winning, you know, it's just like a waste of time for you. Like when you look back in hindsight now and for anyone listening, what are the steps you can take to protect your brand? Yeah, look, this this is tricky because it's quite expensive to register trademarks and designs and go down the legal path and love lawyers. Like, I love them, but they are there to make their there to make money and they'll tell you, you are the winners in all of this. Yeah. They're like, oh, and they're like, even I was advising one of my clients and she had someone totally copying her brand and she was like, I spoke to my solicitor and he's just gonna drive this email and it's just gonna be a little bit and I was like, do not send that email because he's saying it to you and they're well intentioned, but this is what lawyers and solicitors do. This is good advice as well. I think for anyone that's sort of thinking about doing this, They might tell you it's a letter and all the sources are not going to hang me, but like they might tell you it's just a letter. It's just a one off letter. And it's just to say I'm here and I'm watching you and I'm noticing you that solicitor wants the other person to get their solicitor to them right back and start a fight because that's how they make money. Like solicitors and lawyers, they have business, this is their business. So they're not actually there to protect you. They are, but they're not. They're actually there to protect you via making doing billable hours and making their own money. So unless it's necessary and sometimes it is to send a formal letter to say, you know, you're actually violating a trademark or you're doing this like a season desist sometimes unnecessary button or patent or something like that. Get get advice before you start jumping in because once you touch your toe into going down, not only trademark and registering, you know, because that's sometimes necessary, but also so costly and can keep going forever because you can be like class this and class that and and in in this jurisdiction and in industry and in this jurisdiction. And then they're like, and then do you want to register your trademark? But that person actually own that trade but they only own it in classes and classes. So do you want to challenge. And it's like, it's a hot, it is so much, it took so much for us. I mean it's not necessary, but for us it took so much time away from innovation and from creation and you have to find what works for you and you have to kind of almost assess each jurisdiction and go, well, do I care if Jamaica don't, you know, like if someone like you or you know, so you have to kind of pick your target markets and get your, you know, I'd say if you have a unique name, getting it registered, it's probably smart, but again, maybe not necessary. It's just, it's just, it's a real Tricky one and I'm probably not the authority on best practice today and going forward. But what I will say is to get as much advice as possible before you undertake legal processes in any stage of your business because that, I mean, it's just like, how much money do you have? Because they will take it off because that's just how they operate. Yeah. And and also how much energy do you have? Because it's the energy suck. It's the draining and the anxiety and the thinking about it and the endless loop in your head. That's like why, why, why? Why? And so that's also just like not worth it in terms of yeah, questioning is it worth it and why are you doing it? Exactly. And and being really clear again, coming back to what your, what your why is and it might be necessary for you and it might not be and often you will end up getting caught out in the one thing that you didn't do is the one thing that becomes a problem and all the other things that you did actually didn't matter at all. So it's just setting aside the right amount of time and the right amount of money and getting the right advice from people outside your solicitor because they they are giving advice. That is great. And from a legal perspective and I still do this now. I trust my solicitors implicitly, but I will still get advice from people that are not them because they're just wide in a different way as they're supposed to. And they have different goals too. Unless it's an in house legal counsel. Yeah, if you can, if you can, if you can have your own full time on stuff, then great. That's probably that's that's going to be good. But otherwise just get the advice from other people that you trust. Yeah, I love that. That's great advice. I want to switch gears a little bit because we've been talking about, you know, the success of Triangle and how you are on this up, you've got everything working in your favor. It's wildly successful. You know, you said you're building it, it was $100 million in revenue. I read somewhere that you were selling like 2000 units a day, it's highly profitable. You're on the rich list, everything is looking great on the outside, but on the inside you were struggling and you were actually going in the opposite direction with your mental health. Can you tell us about that time and what was happening on your personal kind of lens? Yeah. So you know when we launched triangle, I was only 27 at that time I had no awareness of self, I feel like that, you know, that was 10 years ago and I think in the, in 10 years things have shifted so much already and mindfulness and wellness and, and and self discovery and all that has, has come more into the mainstream, but back then it hadn't and so I had no understanding of really crew I was and so I went 100 miles an hour triangle. Um, and made that my identity which is, I still feel fairly necessary when you're going out of business and want to make it succeed, you definitely have to lose yourself a little bit in making it work, you have to give everything to it. But because I've done no other work on myself or was not at the same time doing anything in learning about, you know, it was really just like a self worth piece and when you become tied up so much in your business and the stresses and the overwhelm and everything falls on you when it was, it sort of, I just kind of started to, it was like the business side to get more successful and because I'm so tied up in its success when it started to overtake me as it did because it became a hugely successful business that I was running and I'm like And I had no one to guide me through that process that I trusted, you know Craig was 10 years older but still in it as much as me but had 10 more years of life experience to handle it than me and I was just there feeling like you know when when when the business was a startup and I was doing everything myself and it was manageable and I was watching these things happen and I was like yeah and it was so great and it felt amazing and it was just the best feeling in the world, like every time my phone dinged with getting a sale it was like yeah and I felt that my core, but then once the business started to become more successful and therefore relied on me perhaps a little bit less or relied on me to up skill to rise with the business and not knowing how to or who what and what my skills were and it became all really and there's no time to sit even and think about this And then combining that with having a baby literally in the busiest biggest year we had that was our big, you know, $200 million Craig Craig, it's him, he's toxic and this and it's the business and I hate the business and business did this to me and so I had no skills or not, there was nothing that I was doing to bring myself back to me. So it just got worse and combine that with the fact that we were very isolated, we didn't have any friends or family around us. We were living overseas on our own and like a complete lack of connection and then the fact also know it was just that we had a complete lack of connection and I just couldn't. I just I just felt I also just felt too much shame to tell anyone because I was living this dream life and I was Miss Multimillionaire and Miss Triangle and living the dream and I was like how can I tell anyone back home that I'm miserable. Like what an asshole, what's that saying? Like no one likes the sad billy either. Like everyone's like what do you mean? Like you have it all and you're like how come I feel this way This sucks. Yeah and sorry, combined the business outgrowing me no connection with anyone and having too much shame to tell anyone. I was sad, I was just, it was just the worst experience. I mean there were times of fun in there for sure and joy and it wasn't like, I wasn't like every day, but it was that going to bed every night and just lying there and thinking, God, why do I not feel like this? Is it? How how can this not be it? You know, It was And then the way that made me feel, which was so awful because I was thinking, if I don't feel good now, I'm never gonna be happy, I'm never going to feel good because this is the best I should be ever feeling. And then having to unpack all of that. Eventually when I had a total breakdown and and come back to realizing that it actually isn't anything external that really makes a difference in who you are. But that was I had a really experience that to a point where it was so loud, I couldn't ignore it because it was just through, it was just too obvious that I was having a breakdown and it was coming from in here and I couldn't fix it with money and cars and clothes, even though I tried holy sh it, that's so crazy and also so powerful to have the courage to say, you know what I am going to step away and you know take the, take the control back for my life and go on this journey to make sure I I turn it around. So I'm wondering how you turned it around, what's the what's the secret sauce? What's the recipe look? I wish I had, I wish I could say it was something you could just do and you know what it's two things it's like for someone like me or anyone that is feeling like this that's already in a business or in a part of the life where they feel like they've neglected themselves. It just is going to take time and it's trying for me. It was for me it was just trying a bunch of different things and being really honest with myself as where as to where I was and starting to share it with people that I loved and trusted and then what I found really helpful was sitting with people in a more, I went down a more spiritual mindful path because those people used to just say to me you're amazing, you are amazing. You actually are the most amazing person. And when I didn't feel that and I had someone telling me that it really helped cultivate this. I think I can if they believe in me then there must be something here that I need that I can work with. Like you know it was so it was like that little light at the end of the tunnel and I know everyone says in the self and you know it always about you and you have to feel it in self belief and self worth but it really, really was important and it wasn't friends and family that they would kind of say that anyway and I was like whatever, but when people that were professionals and more, this is, it's a lot more common in the, in the spiritual sort of healing space would say things like you've got a beautiful, you know, your energy is really special or you know, you are because everyone, you know, if you do believe in these things, everyone is special, We are all unbelievably magical beings that are here to do great things and we're all trying to unlock it at whatever part of our lives were meant to unlock it at. And so hearing that really gave me some flicker of hope of like maybe I'll feel happy, I don't and it was really long journey, it was four years of going hard at it and it wasn't a living a line of growth either. It would be like you think when you start self work that you're going to just be like we and it's actually like you usually go in and you're like work And then you kind of like down, up, down, up down, you know, until you get to a point where you feel like your foundations are so strong that things are totally rock your world that still bother you but you'll be able to work through them that deploy years for me, but anyone that's younger than me that got out, you know, 33 I had two Children by then. I had two more during that time there's a lot else going on. But anyone that's and this is why I'm so passionate about teaching. What I do now is that anyone that is where I was at the start of triangle 27 younger or like in that discovery phase, it's like start doing the work now. Like start understanding yourself now and knowing what triggers you and knowing what toxic things you might bring to the table and love. It's like loving yourself in spite of all of your flaws because you have them because we all do, starting to know that if I had that going at the same time as launching triangle, I would never have gotten myself to where it went. It never would have happened. But I was just like floating on a breeze tied up in every other person's belief of me and felt like a failure at all times. So yeah, I would, I would say do the work when you say like do the work and and you know for anyone listening, like what is an actual like what's a resource? People can turn to like where can people go to read about their toxic traits or you know their self limiting beliefs or you know whatever it might be like like where do people turn right now if they're listening, you know, I'm still, I still find the space a bit confusing and it's, you know, it's either I think it's like people are still a bit like one way or the other like wellness is over there and then commercial success and the real world over there and it's like, I feel like we're still working on blending the two as they should be blended. Um and we should find balance between both. If you're really into more hardcore spirituality and wellness, there's, you know, you can do things that I do is sort of, you can kinesiology is an amazing one that is actually scientifically based practice about muscle testing and that is, it's kind of when I see my kinesiology, it's like therapy with touch of spirituality, you know, like it's, we talk and it's a back and forth and she asked me what I want to work on and then it has this beautiful abundant spiritual feeling about it basically knowing that you're going to come out of it. You don't often come out feeling terrible, but you're going to come out of it knowing that you're growing and I mean I hated it for the first year that I did it and that's something that you have to go into it ready for that as well and knowing what times you want to do it and when and what journey you're on and are you ready and don't force it and you know rape is another one that you can do and there's so many spiritual things and you just have to have, you know, I'm launching my own podcast, you know in a month or so, which I will talk on all of these things because the thing is, I am not a spiritual person in the definition of what you would say, I am like, I don't wear crystals, I still wear designer, I still drink wine, you know, but I believe in it so much as part of my modern life and there are other things, you know, for me even this is the biggest one and it's so lame and I know it's annoying but regular exercise, like having a regular routine is really how I actually really started working on myself and valuing myself and having that value to do these things. This is why people kind of often like I don't actually want to go into doing anything. I just kind of there like kind of like throw stones at everything and it's usually because they don't value themselves enough and then they just like, I can't be bothered. So they just move on from it. So there's ways you can kind of trick yourself into into having that value and do small things. You don't have to go like an idea, 100 miles an hour into wellness and spirituality. You can do small things to make yourself feel better and just be really honest with yourself and admit that you are sometimes not a great person because we all are sometimes not a great person and you know the truth really does set you free in that way. But yeah, there's a lot, there's a lot, it's not true, there's not, I don't look at a resource and like obviously I got my instagram pages that I follow that that I look at, but I'm also internally reference now, but when I was externally referencing because I had to because I needed to, you know, I just don't want to google and just start to like read articles about those things and I only read the things that benefited what I thought about it. So I only did things that I was interested in maybe doing and people that were going to tell me that I was special and great and amazing. Like otherwise I'm not interested well I am so excited for your podcast and deep dive on all those kind of topics and talk more about your journey. I'm really excited about that and I feel like this is a good segue to talk about what you're doing now with your consultancy and you know, your work now with women and founders, Tell us about it. Yeah, so I, because I'm sort of in both worlds, I am still very much commercially driven and logical in my application of strategy and I work with brands on all of those practical applications of everything, you know, social media and marketing and I love that, I'm a businesswoman by heart and it is what gets me so excited to like look at a brand and assist and advise on where they are and whatever journey there at, you know, But then the side that I'm really passionate about that I also teach is helping people feel better in that process because life's too short to have a business or work in a business or do anything without enjoying it. Like it's just it's that simple, it's life is too short and helping people through and supporting people through those challenges in business. What I find is that whenever I get into a business and I start to do advisory work, it always goes personal because it is because they're so closely linked and once we realize that all these attachments that we have of like work life balance or different words or whatever they are. Once we just drop that whole build up around it and just start to really individually access what it is that makes us feel good and do good in our business and what do I like doing? You know one thing that and craig used to always say this to me and I hate for it because I was miserable at the time, but now I use it all the time. I'm like for people, it's like what is your perfect day? Like today, it doesn't, you know, it doesn't have to be the day in six months, it just like think about and I couldn't even do this at the time because I was so broken and couldn't even access that and it was like, I don't know but it was pretty bad so most people can still do this and it's like work back from that perfect day and look at what you actually don't want in there and then get rid of those things and there's a lot of freedom in just being honest about what you want to do. And sometimes we were always doing things that we think other people, we get totally good at that so we run down with that and then this and this and it's like just do what you want to do and in business a lot of that is then like sometimes we do things that we don't want to do in business, we have to but just like allowing the space to attach yourself to what actually makes like work on what makes you feel good with it and focus on the feel good parts of it and then the bad stuff won't be like such a bugbear I guess. Um Anyway, it's it's every business has its different sort of layers to it because every founder is so different to what their needs are but often are going into it with the same, they think they all have the same desires and drives and needs and actually everyone is completely different with what they're looking for, what they want to work on what they feel that they want, you know, it's like, it's like everyone starts a business for a reason and it's usually a good reason whether it's the products right, or they really like honed in on their y of the product or they really like the great product, but why they did it is, you know, like all those different things and then like remembering that at every single point in your day or every day going, this is why I'm doing this, so I'm not going to do that because that doesn't align with what I'm actually doing this for and the things that give you energy back, you know, when you're in your zone of genius and then you feel excited and energized because you're enjoying that thing that you're doing instead of being drained and being like, I'm doing this thing that I really shouldn't be doing, I need to delegate. Exactly, exactly. And and then when you have to do the things that you don't want to do, you have such a build up of great feelings and great, you know, you can kind of like tackle the thing you don't want to do easily because your whole day has been built around doing what you want to do and knowing that you're doing doing this because it makes you feel good and it's just switching people's mentalities and allowing people to be really honest and I always encourage my clients to be really honest with me and they usually are because I can also pick on it like really and like, you know, and it's it's been it's really lovely because we we can't afford the world to continue the way it's going with divisiveness and and and and lack of connection and all these things. It's like we have as founders and and people that have businesses, we have a social responsibility to do good and to leave the world in a better place than we arrived to it in. So it's it's something that I'm really passionate about helping founders unlock that because founders, you know, and and anyone, anyone that even maybe wants to be a founder or anyone that is in it or you know, anyone who wants to leave it as well because some people get into a business and actually want to do this and it's like just helping people through that process. Because we all, you know, everyone deserves to love what they're doing and love their lives. Mm Absolutely. Gosh, So for anyone listening, it sounds like you're working with a variety of different people who is your ideal client right now, Like who are you? Who do you want to work with? Who are you kind of like putting your energy towards bringing into your consultancy? Um it's you know, obviously it's consumer led businesses. So anything that's in that space that I'm familiar with and probably in I like calm, but you know what, it really doesn't matter, kind of what they're doing and I feel like the right people are coming my way in the sense of it's anyone that feels like I just want something a little bit more out of their lives and that is their intentions, why they started the business was so Pure and good and great and they want to build on that, you know, I, because I don't teach people how to make money and I don't teach people how to get a return on investment of 50% of this, I could not care less in those strategies because it doesn't matter if you're not happy. So I teach practical applications of logic and strategies and doing things to that will result in growth that will be done in a way to feed you and fuel you in a positive way. So I find that anyone that comes to me is has that understanding and that I'm not getting, so I'm open for anyone that is knowing that yes, we want to, it's okay to want wealth and we want the business to be profitable. What's the point? But to know why you want that well or why you want to succeed and have commercial success is really important and will help you align on it, will help you get there rather than just going, I want money, I just want to make all this money, how do I do that? Because people, people come to me for that because they think that that's what I'm going to take. And it's like, it's like not, it's not I'm not interested in teaching in teaching that, sorry. It's for anyone who just wants more out of life. I love that. And we all want more out of life. We do. We all deserve so much more. We deserve everything. When you think about the lessons that you've learned in the last decade, Building Triangle and what you're doing now, is there anything else that you wish you knew when you were just starting out that you want to leave our listeners with? I would say just be prepared to work harder than you've ever worked and give everything two reasons to make it succeed and to get out of your comfort zone with it as well. Especially in the early days of Triangle, we had to really eat humble pie to tell the bikini and you have to leave your ego at the door. So that is something that I went into and it was uncomfortable and it like, would keep me up at night and knowing that we had to do all these things, but it ended up being why we succeeded because we worked so hard. So be prepared, You know, going back to myself, I'd be prepared to work really, really hard. But especially in those early days, I feel really good about it. And don't compare, you know, we didn't compare ourselves to anyone else because that we're in a new space but I think everyone now is comparing them to every to everyone else. And it would be just to say don't just don't you know because no one knows your business better than you so don't do what someone else has done just because you think it might work better because then you're stepping out of your alignment and it won't work.
So question number one is what's your why? Why do you wake up every day now and build their endearing dot com because I feel incredible every single day and I want people to feel that way too. And everyone can, if they start to be really honest with themselves, my wives sharing how I feel and make sure everyone else It's a damn good one. Question. Number two is what was your favorite marketing moment in building triangle? No, I would say the the, the initial interactions and when I would nurture a relationship with the customer and they would write me an email to say how blown away they were with the effort and the care that went into every process and and how proud that made me. Those marketing moments were really what set triangle up to be the brand that it was. So that encouragement is what fed me. So that that was like those really early moments with my proudest moments. Amazing question # three is what's your go to business resource if you have to name a book or a newsletter or a podcast that you're reading, listening, subscribing to at the moment. Um, at the moment, I'm not really doing anything businesses like that. I'm more in the other space, but popular in my head then was the lean startup, which is the book that we read before we started trying. It's old, it's pretty old, but I it's still a classic and I would say very important for people that want to start a business because you can spend a lot of money really quickly if you don't take care of your money goes real fast. So yeah, that's my, that's my tried and tested book. But at the moment obviously I'm more of a podcast girl. So diary the ceo, the mentor marc Boris, they're just kind of easy ones too. Like tapping it out. I actually have one of my girlfriend listens to podcast a lot more than me and she'll just send me like bits and say listen to this five minutes. Listen to that 10 minutes there that I like that a little, a little bank of the good bits. Question number four is how do you win the day right now? What are your am or PM rituals and habits that keep you feeling energized and happy and successful. Yeah, I am is my, I'm a morning person early riser and I have kids. So, and God I am that way anyway. But I work out every morning. Pretty much. I don't push myself. I do sustainable exercise and strength training or walking or a bit of Pilates. Um, and it's really just taking that time for me. That's how I win the day. I value myself every single morning. I get out of bed. I go and do something that clears my head. It's like meditative for me. I actually go for walks now and don't listen to anything. I just, you know, just take the day end and that's really how I win the day because if I've taken that time for myself to do something that's not so easy for me to wake up and jump onto emails or jump something or talk about something because I get things from the US overnight while I'm sleeping. So it's like I could even make up at three a.m. And I did this morning and read an email but that's my that's my thing. Night times is definitely I just go to bed early but in the morning is how I win the day for sure and valuing myself enough to do something good for me. Mm I love that Question. Number five is what has been your worst money mistake in the business? And how much did it cost you? Oh there's so many, there's so many, two huge ones that probably should have killed our business. Tell us both. Yeah. Okay. Well the first one is that we used to do all our fulfillment out of Hong kong ourselves or ourselves. So it was in our tiny little warehouse studio apartment place and we decided we had to get rid of it was taking up like 56 hours of every single day and we just, it was just not the best use of time. So we outsourced to a third party facility decided that we would carry it over the chinese border without doing it properly because I don't want to pay tax because we didn't have, we didn't want to spend that money. So we put in suitcases and tried to illegally drive it over the border and got caught and had all our stock confiscated. So literally everything we had and we thought that was going to kill our business and I don't even know how much money that we didn't actually ever, but it was everything we had and luckily we had enough repeat orders sort of moving for our best sellers and to delivery timelines were very like there were 2 to 10 days or something but it always got there at like two days. So we were able to be like you know it's it's still in time, it's just like seven days like so that was the first one. And then the second one we found out that our chinese factory were completely ripping us off and rebranding our bikinis, manufacturing our fabric in with a different label and selling them in china. And when we went to take our stock back because we owned all our fabrics and we did all our negotiations in china ourselves. We didn't use an agent or anyone. And great until a situation like that happens and craig went to try and take the stock back and they refused and locked him in a truck in the garage was a very scary situation but he got out our stock didn't and again we lost everything we had. So that was really the bigger one because that was a few months after the first one. And that was a bigger moment for us. Really scary and really vulnerable when you trust people implicitly and they completely let you down. That was probably out our the worst one. And that was, that was a huge, huge loss. I mean again because we did everything ourselves, we were able to buy a new fabric pretty quickly from the Guangzhou fabric markets and we had a few other factories that we were sampling with magically by some miracle because we were just wondering because they couldn't do the volume our current factory but not really didn't think they could get the volume we wanted. So we were looking at some point to go elsewhere and we had to really accelerate that. We didn't have a factory for about three weeks. So luckily our third party facility that we ended up using, they had some stock so we were able to not have too much of a lag some by some miracle. Again, I'm pretty sure I was Emailing everyone 24 hours a day, not sleeping for weeks to make sure that every customer was spoken to that had an order coming and it was delayed and this and yeah, so those were huge, huge lessons and I would just say if you deal directly with manufacturers and suppliers to be really careful and maybe not as bullish as we were in doing that process. But it saved us money initially and then lost a lot. That is so I feel like your story is truly the definition of the playbook of like roller coaster, you know, the highest of highs but also like the lowest of lows that really could have stopped the business. Yeah. The ones where you're like now when people are like, oh, I'm worried about maybe I'm like, no, trust me, I use if you've got the grit and the resilience, you're gonna be fine. The only thing that would have killed us is if we stopped literally like there is always a solution. If you keep going, it's when you as a founder actually goes, then you're done nothing else will destroy you. You know, and, and that's, you know, money and stock and everything, you know, like you can really find a way to get through things if you just don't give up. Like we proved that many times over two years. Yeah. Oh my gosh. I feel like, so this last question you've already shared so many, but I'm gonna ask it anyway, just in case there's another one in the bank. What is just a crazy story, good or bad that you can share from your journey building triangle One that popped into my head, which is different and probably I'm going to bring it up because I feel like I believe in manufacturing. That stresses me out, even thinking about it. It was so many years ago. I'm like is when we were signed to really succeed and in our big 2015 year and Bloomberg which was at the time because we traveled so much um we, that was always on in every hotel Bloomberg like business business week, it was like everything, it was like the asian one, the american one, it was like when I hear it now, it's like soothing to my soul because it was the only constant in our lives for a couple of years and because we were just on the go and they asked us to be on one of their episodes like and so we went to new york and we went into, it was just the most surreal experience. I refused to go on here. Actually I make like I'm not going on Bloomberg and it was just so surreal because it was something that we've been watching every single day and watching, you know, huge business owners and like leaders of the world in business talking and then craig got to go on and talk and so that was pretty crazy. That was like that was the biggest acknowledgment of the american market actually knowing who we were because we were able to be on that show and talk about the business to people that knew who we were. So that was that was crazy. It was really crazy and I had the most amazing food and snacks in the kitchen, I waited outside and it was just, it was like the simple pleasures Yeah, that was my highlight of Bloomberg, not anything, it was that the food, Oh my God, I love that, it was cool. That was crazy. Crazy time that whole year. It will be in the book, the whole crazy story, like everything is crazy every week. It was like, we didn't even have anyone to tell because we were like that, like, you know, like so many stories like Kardashians and Beyonce and like just really wild stuff was happening to us and we were just there going okay, it's like, are we making up soon for this? I don't know, it was crazy. That is crazy, Aaron, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing all of your bits and pieces and learnings from along the way, I'm so grateful for your time and we've got a little bit over so thank you so much for coming on the show for anyone who wants to reach out and learn more about your consultancy, where should they go? Yeah, so instagram, obviously I'm on there, so check out my instagram and then my website is there, I am at capacity this year for most of my work, mainly because I'm working on my podcast, writing my book, so there will be things are evolving so much this year for me, I will be available so much more as time goes on. So if you can't get in with me now and if you want to talk to me or sit with me or whatever it is, there will be ways they are coming. Great, amazing. We'll keep our eyes out for the book and for the podcast. Amazing. Thanks. Thank you.