Hey everyone! Doone here. Your host and hype girl. Today on the show we’re learning from Fiona Chan, the founder behind a brand called Youthforia. While they’ve only launched just last year they’ve managed to build some crazy buzz in the beauty industry garnering more than 50m views on tiktok and growing!
Kindergarten friends turned entrepreneurs, founders Drew Harrington and Amanda Klane set out on a mission to create desserts that deliver on everyday indulgence with great taste, quality ingredients and superb nutritionals. Since hitting store shelves in 2011 as the first to market frozen Greek yogurt, Yasso quickly became one of the fastest-growing dessert brands in the world, disrupting the brand ranks of deeply entrenched competitors and attracting a loyal following of brand enthusiasts. In this episode we cover:
The journey to building a business that does hundreds of millions in annual revenue
How to keep the energy and excitement in a business 10 years on and
Amanda’s important advice for food founders in 2022
Now before we get into the episode and incase you haven’t heard my recent announcement on Instagram - I have my very first book coming out at the end of February featuring the stories and learnings from 51 of the brilliant women from the first year on the show and I am just SO excited! If you’re someone who might be able to help me get the word out, or you know someone who might be able to help me get the word out. I would love to meet you, slide in my IG dms so we can chat. You can find me @dooneroisin
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Fiona. Hi, welcome to the female startup club podcast. Thank you so much for having me. Happy New Year, by the way. Yes, it's an exciting new year. I'm so excited to finally be done with 2021 and I'm so looking forward to 2022. Oh my God, I hear that. I'm like done with 2021, Bring on the new energy and the new vibes and all the good stuff that's gonna come from 2022, but you had a really big year last year. I'm actually surprised that you say that because I imagine for you, you launched this new business, you skyrocketed with it and you've had so many exciting things on the go. Yeah, 2021 has been a fast year for us. We launched the business in April um not really knowing you know how to launch a business and we kind of just learned on our way.
00:04:43Edit So I'm excited for 22 because we kind of have, you know, a few months under our belts. We know a little bit better how how to do certain things. So it's kind of exciting to see um us launching new products with kind of that skill set, find out some of the creases and kinks. Now you're, you know what I'm trying to say, you've had success now, you're on the way to the next level the sky, the stars. I don't know what I always love to start each founder startup story by going back to the origins of when you were kind of thinking about starting a business when you were thinking about, you know, becoming an entrepreneur and how you kind of launched the brand, how you kind of came up with the idea. Yeah, so we came up with the idea for youth for you. I mean right when the pandemic hit and for those of you guys who don't know euphoria mix make up the Active Skincare, we test all of our products by sleeping in it because for me, I wanted to make make up that was so good for your skin, you can sleep in it. I am someone who sleeps in my make up a couple of times a week and now, you know, I sleep in my makeup because I'm testing new products, But this was something that I was doing since I was 18 and there have been so many experiences, I want to say like, you know a handful of times where I've ended up in the hospital with these crazy allergic reactions because I slept in my makeup, my skin is incredibly sensitive and this is just something that is such a big part of our process where we test everything by sleeping in it.
00:06:09Edit I recruit my husband to test a lot of products also overnight and it's because for me, I really wanted something, I really wanted a brand that had done this for me. A lot of the ideas for you for your kind of came about during the pandemic. I mean at the time I was living in Hong kong, kind of got stuck there because of pandemic and I was just thinking, okay, well what can I do from my apartment? I just wanted to start a business and I think it was like that first week of not being able to see anyone that I realized that for me, the best part of wearing makeup is the fact that I got to go see people. I know I'm gonna, I'm going to have a good time and I am literally someone who wants wine. I will sleep in my makeup that night. And so you know, I really envisioned this as a post pandemic come company. Something that was going to be really fun. But yeah, it was really, I think I was just in the closet of the apartment that I was living in thinking about, okay, what can I do? What's really resonating with me, what will make me happy in terms of what, you know, once we get out of the pandemic, what does that look like.
00:07:10Edit But yeah, I think, you know when when you start a company during a pandemic, I'm sure it's incredibly different. There's a lot of things you can't do but a lot of the early days was just googling how to do certain things and so like I guess you can't visit manufacturers, you can't, you know, go out and meet with potential partners, nothing. You've got to be doing it all from the house. Can you kind of go a little bit deeper on what your day to day like was kind of like in those early days of trying to figure things out, trying to meet with manufacturers, suppliers and get those early samples ready. Yeah, so for our manufacturer there's one that we use that's in Korea, we actually were able to fly to Korea before the pandemic hit and during that trip, you know, we just, we literally just googled like makeup manufacturers. I mean I'm sure there are better google terms. I think we set up meetings with Maybe 10 that we met in person and for me it was just like you know, the person that I ended up choosing to go with initially was it was because we just, you know, clicked very well, we do things kind of differently in terms of manufacturing, there's definitely easier ways of going about it and for me, I needed someone who really understood my vision and knew that they were going to make these crazy custom formulas for us?
00:08:26Edit Um normally the way that you would do it is you would go to a manufacturer, they would kind of give you a book of like, products that you can select. Um for me, I wanted to do something just so different and they would have to completely just, you know, rethink the formulation process. So for me, it was just important to find someone that understood that vision and would work with me and it was an incredibly long process to make some of these formulas as well. How long did it take from kind of like meeting them and starting those early conversations around what you wanted to, having the finished sample ready to go with packaging with packaging. Well, packaging takes its, I think packaging usually takes a lot more time just because it's like, our packaging is incredibly customized and that was not an easy process. I don't know that I would recommend doing that on the first go because it was very stressful. But I think like from initial concept to When we finally launched the business, it was about like 13, maybe 14 months your packaging and kind of like product design with the little lego eclipse the things, I don't know what you call them is so much fun.
00:09:32Edit I love looking at them and I'm just curious to know, like, how did you come up with that idea and how did you actually get that to fruition? Like what do you have to like? It's not obviously stock, standard packaging, it's very out there. Yeah, so for for me, I just remember looking at this messy apartment that I was in and you know, when we started the company, we didn't expect the pandemic, it was a very messy apartment that I was in, and that's kind of how we came up with our tagline, life's messy, but your makeup isn't, and I took that concept and brought it into, you know, our packaging, that's why it stacks it, like is nicely organized if you play around with it, and also like our ingredients. And for me, I wanted you for you to kind of emote a emotion. So euphoria kind of means when you're really happy in your adult life, it just reminds you of your favorite childhood memories. For me, it's when I'm at a music festival reminds me of the first time being at Disneyland and I wanted to bring that emotion into our packaging in our products. So that's why, you know that our containers, they have this lego s throwback concept and that's also why like, our formulas are a little bit unexpected.
00:10:39Edit You know, there there is like a nice element of surprise to the, to the experience of our products do you get a lot of feedback from customers about your packaging? Like, is that a big part of what other people talk about for the brand, Like I assume it is, but I think so and also the formulas itself, I think I get a lot more feedback about the actual formulas because it's so different. Um Our best selling product is B. Y. O. Blush. It's a color changing blush oil and I think people love just seeing like the color changes on their skin or how it looks on their skin. So we get a lot more feedback about that actually. Hmm. That's so cool. I love that kind of like those perfumes that change based on you know who you are, it changes the smell, I love that the beauty industry is notorious for needing a lot of startup capital and a lot of working capital as you get into it. How much money did you need to invest in the beginning to get the brand kind of like your first order and to launch and how are you thinking about the money piece and like the funding path in general.
00:11:40Edit We self funded the company, I think I spent about like mid six figures, it was a lot more than I expected. Um But a lot of the costs went into, we did custom molds um that actually cost quite a bit of money and then we did a lot of custom formulations. So our M. O. Q. S. There were a lot higher than what you would typically order just because I wanted that customization. So it was, I don't know that I would go about it actually no I think I would go about it the same way um if I were to do it again. But those were the two pieces that I really wanted to invest into. There are other places where I will try to like cut costs just because for me formulation ingredients is like the most important and I really wanted that customization for our components. And were you kind of self funding through like savings or grants or loans or like how are you approaching that? Yeah it was literally my life savings. I remember paying for that first bill for your components and your, you wonder how many of how many units am I actually going to sell?
00:12:43Edit And it is incredibly expensive to do custom components because you know in a like for example like a lip gloss container that's like six molds or six or 10 molds that you have to make and it is so expensive to do. And I remember just thinking like is this is this really what I want to invest in its packaging? So important that I have to do this And I think I just had a gut check of like I really want to do this and to go back to your earlier question like how do you actually make components like this? I don't have like a technical design background. I literally drew out things with a ruler on a piece of paper and I took a picture of it on my phone, WhatsApp or we chatted to our manufacturer and they kind of have the drawing and the three D. Printed like different options that are very early designs of this. There are so ugly like all the proportions are really off because I'm not actually a designer by trade, but they, you know, they do help you and it's actually incredible. You can just draw things on a piece of paper.
00:13:44Edit The manufacturers are really good, they have technical design teams that will, you know, kind of three D. Render it and then they will send you examples before they actually go into making the molds and then once you get the mold you realize okay the edges are not as smooth and it's a it's actually a pretty long process. Oh my gosh, that sounds like so much fun. It's incredibly stressful because I think the first time doing it, you don't know, you're like, oh my God is the quality going to be good? And then you kind of realized, okay, this is actually part of the design process where you know, by the second round they smooth out the edges or like the actual dimensions gets, they look a little bit more even, but in the beginning, like I really had no idea of like proportions, like the curvature of these edges, like how to make things actually look and feel really nice. Have you kept the same packages from like your first approved kind of concepts or has it already evolved into different things? Like further down the track? Yeah, we've we've changed packaging for B Y O blush, we added a green tint to the bottles.
00:14:46Edit Originally, it was like a clear bottle on the bottom and I think what I realized is that a lot of people like to put make up next to the window and that was really affecting the formula. So I added a green tint to it to protect the formula, but this was something where we figured it out right away pretty much a month into launching the business and I was already thinking about, okay, how can I improve the packaging this next go around, But that's kind of like my process, if there is an improvement that I can make, I will try to make it as fast as possible. Does that also mean you were kind of doing like your, you said you had to do bigger minimum orders for the actual like formulation itself. But for the packaging, you were doing smaller orders so that you could iterate or were you kind of like doing big orders and then having to like throw it away? No, it was, it was always big orders. I mean we didn't throw it away, we ended up selling through all of it, but when you decide to do custom packaging, like even using standard molds, but just like your, your label screen printed on it. It's usually the M. O. Queues for that is 10,000. So packaging mots are always going to be larger than many formula mots.
00:15:52Edit But when you make a mold you, you kind of think about, Okay, how many units I am, I am I going to sell more than 10,000? Like that's kind of my thought process for it hey, it's doing here, I don't know about you but every january I think I'm going to change into this totally new person like Dune Version 2.0 but instead it's just me with a fresh take on the world around me. Same but different hubspot Crm platform helps you notice the subtle changes in your customer behavior that make them the same but different, helping you to give them the best customer experience possible With powerful new marketing operations, service and sales tools, hubspot is ready to help you transform and grow your customer experiences in 2022 from conversation intelligence tools to automated marketing campaigns and even data quality tools that automatically merge, duplicate customer records, hubspot tracks every teeny tiny detail so you can fully optimize your customers experience even when you haven't done something like capitalized a customer's name, like that level of detail, learn more about how you can transform your customer experience with a hubspot Crm platform at hubspot dot com.
00:17:03Edit This is a nice segue into like the lead up to your launch and how you were planning to sell out of, you know, thousands and thousands and thousands of units. What was your thoughts in the lead up? What was the launch plan and how did it go? I had no plan. It was, it was an incredibly stressful launch week. I had just moved from Hong kong to the U. S. I moved because I knew that I needed to be on Tiktok from the early days of starting the business. I knew I just wanted to be on Tiktok and to make a product that would work well for Tiktok. And so I moved back from Asia just really to be on Tiktok. So I had no furniture. I had um, like a folding table trying to launch the website and I was thinking like, should I have a launch plan? And for me, I was just ready to turn on the website and see what happened and when you do that and you have no plan, you launched your crickets and you start wondering, oh my God, did I make a big mistake did I spent like literally all of my life savings to do something. And I wasn't sure about it. It took about like two weeks to kind of pick up some traction.
00:18:06Edit But yeah, we didn't really have like a major launch. I do remember that press was starting to pick it up, kind of organically not that that translated into a lot of sales in the initial days, but what really popped for us? Or you know, a mini pop was um, we actually had a customer post about us on Tiktok. And I remember one day I was like, I'm getting more than one order. I wonder what's going on. Like something must be going on. And then that's when I realized, okay, I should probably be on Tiktok and start, you know, making content consistently. And is that when you're saying like the after about two weeks you started getting traction. Is that because you were showing up on the platform every day? Or that was because other people were also starting to talk about it. Yeah, that was because other people were on the platform. I think as soon as I saw two people post about us on Tiktok, I was like, okay, let me just make a throwaway Tiktok. And I think it was like my third one that went pretty viral. And then, and then we had a series of videos that go viral and other people going viral on it. And then it became a really big marketing channel for us. But it took about, you know, a couple months for us to kind of figure that out, wow.
00:19:11Edit And so is your Tiktok strategy now focused more on like you creating content as the founder and face of the brand? Or is it focused on other influences and other Tiktok creators talking about the product or is it a mix of both? Definitely a mix of both on our account. It's, it's me creating content. It's something where I block out several hours a day just so that I have, you know, the time to create content and then, you know, it's just part of the ecosystem. We have influencers on details that, that like to talk about it. And of course, like our customers, sometimes we find that they also post on Tiktok as well. And it does help just to have a lot of people creating content all at the same time. And I think you guys have something crazy like 50 million views or something like that on Tiktok. Yeah, that was, that happened pretty quickly. Not all of it is from the user account. It's definitely a mix of us and influencers. Holy moly, that's so crazy. How have you started to like diverse via channels and what else are you using to, you know, drive customer acquisition or is Tiktok the go to channel Tiktok mostly.
00:20:18Edit But we also repost a lot of our Tiktok onto reels and reels is a great channel. I think for us just because our products are so visual, just the use of social video, whether it's on Tiktok or on instagram reels. Um, it's just been so beneficial for us? Um gosh, that's so exciting. What's your marketing plan kind of for Q1 of this year and moving into this year in general, does it change? Does it stay the same? Are you kind of bringing on new channels? What else are you doing? I think it's still going to be mostly Tiktok and instagram reels. Um, you know, we've been experimenting with paid instagram ads. We haven't found a ton of success yet, but you know, we'll experiment with different things. We might try. Youtube adds a different mix of pay channels, but they too, be honest, haven't really been that beneficial for us. Most of our customer acquisition is organic through social. Um, we're actually preparing for a new launch and this is the first time where we have a few, you know, we have a lot more experience under our belts. We know, you know how to look for influencers, how to seed, we're going through this with a slightly different approach.
00:21:23Edit Like the last time I launched a product, I just turned on the website and it was very stressful to do it that way this time. You know, we're building hype going into this product launch. I'm creating a lot of contents and I think about launches now in a way where I'm like, how many Tiktok's can I make about a product before? It used to be like, okay, like what are the benefits? But now I'm thinking about it in a way that's like, what can I storyteller, I can talk about why I decided to make a product here is like all these ingredients that are really great about it? So I'm pretty excited for 21 launch. I mean it's going to look very different just because it's the first time we're adding a new product to the mix. How long in advance are you kind of building the hype like before it actually launches? What's that kind of time period? Well this time we're gonna do it for about like 20 days I think just so that we kind of know what's going to land. But you know, it's pretty exciting because for me, I'm at this point I'm making two tech talks a day just to see what's going to resonate with our social audience and I never really know until I actually do it and in hindsight, what is it that resonates?
00:22:28Edit Like what are the kind of videos that have worked really well for the euphoria channel or rails on your instagram channel? I think people like to know why I created a product. Um what was my thought process behind it? A lot of people love watching the blush change on, on different skin tones, like why I created something like that because it was so different. So I do a lot of storytelling of like why I wanted to create this product or how I went about testing it and things like that and like just ask one more question on this, How do you actually map out what you're gonna do, Like, do you just make a plan the day before or do you have like a month worth of content ideas like in a spreadsheet or is it literally just like show up and see what you're in the mood for? Like how do you kind of, and I'm asking for other brand owners who are listening, who are like, oh, you know, maybe getting a bit stuck on the Tiktok and the reels kind of journey. How do you approach this strategy and planning for it? I don't actually have a big plan for Tiktok. Tiktok is a little bit more reactive for instagram. We plan about like one or two months ahead with knowing that we're going to slot into talks that I'm creating just because like, you can be very topical.
00:23:35Edit I created this series of um y de que makeup trends that are making a comeback and that is very topical based off of either, it's like the met gala and I'm doing it the morning of and I'm, you know, staying up the night before, looking at all the looks to know what I'm going to talk about. Um that's what is very reactive, but there's other things where I know I'm always going to talk about certain ingredients or you know, I have these content pillars that I know I can go back to or like why I created this or I talk about like, I don't know, making my husband also tested these products or situations when I was younger where I wish this product existed. Um, there's certain pillars I always go back to, but it's usually like morning of, I will know generally, you know, I might do a Y G. K. Makeup trends video. I might do a, let's talk about this feature, I might do a makeup tutorial but it's very dependent on, you know, what's going on that week. I make, you know, kind of like to 2 to 3 day plans. I don't do anything further out just for Tiktok mm hmm hmm hmm hmm wow, that's so interesting. And how cool, wow, two videos a day is a lot to be doing that and like posting on other channels and everything like as the founder.
00:24:42Edit Yeah. I think for me, um you know, my, my biggest advice is if you're going to create this much content, picking content style that is very easy for you to do and produce. For me, there are certain styles where I just know I'm not good at, I can't make these like fast cuts, these crazy edits and there are other people that can do it in like five minutes or less. So for me I just pick a style that I can do easily and I can do consistently. I won't try to change my style because it just doesn't come naturally for me and I think it's so important to be able to audit yourself and be like I know what I can do and what like my strength first. My weaknesses are and like lean into what you're able to commit to. Yeah, exactly. What do you think is your best piece of advice for beauty entrepreneurs coming into this year? I think you know, just get started. I think the for me um the entrepreneurial journey has more has actually been a bigger mental health journey and you find out so much about yourself going through this journey. So you know, I wish I had just gotten started.
00:25:44Edit I'm a very different person now than I was even like a couple of months ago and it does get very, you know, if I feel like you just developed like a resilience over time with dealing with these different situations. So you know, it's something where there's no reason to wait, I love that.
Welcome back Here are the six quick questions.
00:01:12Edit So question number one is, what's your, why? Why are you doing what you're doing? I really wanted these products that didn't exist on the market. I really wanted high quality makeup that could act like skin care for me. You know, I looked around and I couldn't find these products, so for me, my wife is, I think a lot of people would like these types of products and I just really want them to exist. A lot of my product development processes. Looking at how do I solve a problem from a very different way. And that really drives me just, you know, kind of creating new concepts of how to solve a problem and creating like a really nice and so real experience for the customer. Oh, that is so cool. I love that question. Number two is what has been the number one marketing moment so far? And Tiktok as a whole can't be the answer, definitely. We actually got featured on a Beauty Insider video on Tiktok and Tiktok on Snapchat and that was incredible.
00:02:14Edit I hadn't even had Snapchat at the time, but I could see a pop and that was like, this is incredible. I don't even know too much about Snapchat these days. Like do you mean like an influencer on Snapchat? No, there's actually a publication that does videos. Um, it's called Beauty Insider and they didn't even tell us that they were going to do a video about the blush and it just, we know we definitely saw the sales that day. Wow, that's so cool. It actually sparked something for me. I was reading about something else that you do like these live shopping channels that are kind of specifically beauty up things. I don't know what it's called. Can you tell us about that? Yeah. I go on super great. I used to go on once a month and it was incredible for us in the early days because you have like an hour to talk about your products, why you created it, how to use it. And I mean it it was really like such a great growth channel for us in the early days and how come you don't do it anymore or are you still doing it further between? Yeah, I basically just didn't do it last month, but I'm doing it this month. It kind of reminds me of that like movie, I think it's called Joy where she does the shopping channel and she's selling her like mop or whatever she invents at the time, but in today's landscape, but I actually don't know too much about these channels.
00:03:30Edit No one's actually spoken about that before on the show. I hadn't even heard of Super great until I read you talking about it in an article and I was like, huh, that's so interesting. I'm out of the loop. I watched a lot of TBC to kind of learn how to do life selling actually. And super great is great because it's like just a community of people who love indie beauty brands. I mean it is where for us, and it's, it's where our audience is and it's just a cool way because you get to see their chat of like all the questions they're asking and you can answer in them, you can answer them real time as well. That is so much fun. Is it just for beauty or are there other verticals like within it as well for fashion or other things for super great. It's just beauty. But I've seen that like amazon has, you know, added like their live shopping feature. I haven't tested that yet, but it's something where I'm kind of like interested to test this year. Oh my gosh, that is so cool. I love it. Question # three is what's your go to business resource when it comes to book, newsletter or podcast. I really like reading books of, you know, businesses that I really admire.
00:04:35Edit I read the learner lauder book recently and that was incredibly helpful to think about how did he think about his business over three decades and then podcast like this. I think every morning when I go on the run, I always listen to like someone's journey of how they started their business. I love that. Very cool. I haven't heard of that book before, so I'm going to check that out. Question number four is how do you win the day? What are your AM or PM rituals and habits that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated? Yeah, every morning I love to work out, I either meditate or I do something called meridian tapping where it really helps me think about what I want to do for the day and then at night I always try to sleep eight hours a day. I think nothing is worth staying up for. But sometimes you know things happen, but I do try to do something where I can use relaxation techniques to really call my nervous system so they can start each day with a fresh mind. What else besides the meridian tapping, I love taking baths sometimes um in the middle of the day, if it's particularly stressful, I would just take a bath, but that's like the benefit of working from home, A bath in the office, not gonna work.
00:05:46Edit Question # five is what's the most important spend of a dollar for you right now in the business? I would say probably my employee salary, I think, you know, having a good team around you is so incredibly important. If I, you know, had limited budgets, I would just try to make a lot of Tiktok to kind of offset some of that. But having that support system around me has been incredible. Amazing. And last question, question # six is how do you deal with failure? What's your mindset and approach when something doesn't go to plan? I have, I don't know, I feel like I approach failure as now just part of the journey. I mean in a day to day basis, there's usually something that goes wrong previously, I would, you know, freak out or I would, you know, question what I was doing now, I think about things as you know, just to kind of expect that some things won't go right and I kind of put that like use that as part of my process, like we set aside time for things to go wrong almost just because it's less stressful when you kind of plan for things to not go right.
00:06:55Edit But yeah, I just see it as part of the journey. Amazing. That is sound advice and plan for things to not go right. Leave time for things to not go right. I love that. Fiona, thank you so much for taking the time to come on the show today and share your journey with Euphoria. I'm so excited to keep watching you grow and all the things you're going to launch this year in 2022. Thank you so much.