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Invest in your IP!” From $15,000 to 8-Figure Biz with Shhhowercap Inventor Jacquelyn De Jesu



This is Jacquelyn De Jesu for Female Startup Club.


Hello and welcome back to the show! It’s Doone here - your host and hype girl - and today I am so hyped because this chat with Jacquelyn De Jesu is just on another level! Jackie is the founder and inventor of Shhhowercap and she has such an interesting, insight packed journey to share with us. We’re also talking through her learnings after going through a multi year legal battle for her intellectual property, and for anyone listening right now who might be going through something similar or starting to see your invention and designs ripped off by copycats there’s some great advice in here.


Before we jump in if you learn something for this episode - or even if you just love it as much as I do make sure you let Jackie know! Send her a cute DM or share a screenshot on Instagram, I love it when you do that.


FOUNDER STORY

  • Daughter of two creative entrepreneurs: mum professional hair-dresser and make-up artist, and she grew up on set - that’s really where she learned beauty 

  • Always an entrepreneurial streak and building things 

  • Then worked in advertising for about 8 years and building the candle both ends: “so much of that work took so much out of me” - literally sleeping at the office 

  • My hair always needed to look good but where did I have the time? 

  • My mum said to use a shower cap like when I was little; so I went to go look for one - but I couldn’t find any with a great design (great design = when form and function are in unison - it doesn’t have to be luxury or expensive to have great design) 

  • I started mining for the “why”... A busy mum not washing her hair, the college girl who’s hungover, the girl going straight from practice to college: but the thing we all had in common was the fact that we were skipping washes and there was nothing

  • I realised no one was going for this so I was like YES, we’ve got to go 

  • I go to AIM buddy list - instant messaging for friends - and ask every random girl that I’ve ever been friends with and ask them two questions: 1) do you wash your hair every day? 2) Do you use a shower cap? 

  • Then I contacted a patent attorney - intellectual property is everything in advertising 

  • I didn’t want to leave just to launch a company, but I would leave if I could own this space - got a design and utility - we created the category of waterproof shower caps - especially ones with the pleat on the front - with activewear nano technology 

  • I stayed a little bit longer and then I decided to leave

  • I really spent time in development and built it right, no one knew this was coming so I had the time to really spend to get this right - 2.5 years of development 


NEGOTIATION AS A SKILL IN BUSINESS 🤝


It’s cultural, every country has a different expectation on that. I’m a New Yorker born and raised, and had absolutely no problem going in and saying what I needed. But it was also my money. If you’re going in and playing with a couple of million dollars from a seed round maybe you’re not as price conscious. 


Remember: what you negotiate is what you’re locked into until your scale allows you to re-negotiate. & something that’s a pretty far threshold. So you should really, really look at that first price as the price you’re going to inherit for a while. 


THE MONEY PIECE 💸


I had allocated $10,000 - this got me to a functioning prototype and enough interest to be able to utilise what we had. 


THE LAUNCH MOMENT 🚀


There was no MOQ but I launched with 980. 20 had gone out to press and to friends for testing, they were sitting in boxes in the house waiting. I was reading Girlboss. We sold $15,000 worth in the first 10 days - FastCompany picked it up the day after the site went live. 


Our launch and the virality behind it, looking back, it's one of my favourite memories. I’m big on energy and manifestation. The site was incredible, SquareSpace commerce. 


We launched on Facebook (META before META was META), and Instagram. And the orders started coming in - $43,00 shower cap. Able to find product market fit immediately. 


WHAT CHANNEL WORKED FOR YOU? ✨


I used META really early on - it’s not a game I would play now. I would emphasise with anyone launching today, I get overwhelmed. The expectation for founders content, and branded content, and social selling and TikTok Shop and this and that… My best advice is to focus on the brand, that’s what I did. 


One calendar, one theme and modify per channel. Take the same relevant concept and twist it slightly. 


If you were to have 1000 units; allocate 100 & track everyone you would give it to, follow up with a survey. Ask in the survey if they’ve told anyone about it. Ask in that same survey if they would be willing to tell anyone about it, and track who did tell someone about it. That portion would guide what you would be willing to do again. A 10% ratio of anything you’re producing should be really good. If you’re creating something new and different you can slide into someone’s DMs. So many CPG brands don’t have that virality because it’s not baked into their why. 


THE RETAIL GAME 💖


Retail has been a big thing for the journey. We’ve always been an omni-channel business. We started online to get the traction and the buzz, but when the retailers started calling I was like: I’m ready! Let’s go! A lot of entrepreneurs get scared of retail, the reality is that buyers are really excited about discovering new things. 


Our first retail interest: Bloomingdales. Tip: when you launch and if you have any blip of success; read every single person that comes in. Especially if you’re in a bigger city, the people that learn about it early are typically taste-makers. Early adopters are not just your biggest fans and your loyalists - they’re the ones. It’s so important to know who is buying. 


One of our customers was a buyer. I pulled her order out of pre-order and hand crafted it with a special note and she’s been a big fan ever since. Inbound was Violet Grey. We pitched Sephora as soon as we had packaging, found an email on LinkedIn, emailed her the press pieces we’d gotten and some imagery, and she sent us to the relevant person in Sephora. We pitched them, they brought it in the room and we were in Sephora by year 1 and 70 locations by year 2. We sold out every print in the first 4 hours on Sephora.com


Advice: build your brand, that’s the best protection you can have. There's a way to get buffer around you by being a good person. Nurture your healthy relationships.


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