Joining me on the show today is Jenna Owens, Founder of Fitish.
Fitish is a skincare company committed to embracing balance, using ingredients that do exactly that for the skin and body. Founded in April 2017, Jenna has grown their line with beauty and wellness products geared towards active people.
They believe that the anti-inflammatory benefits of CBD, along with botanical extracts, have an unmatchable ability to cleanse and nourish the body. Fitish aims to create calming rituals of self-care within an active lifestyle naturally and effectively.
In this episode we cover Jenna’s big life pivot, her key learnings in growing and scaling a skincare company, and things you can start doing today to increase your average order value.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Speaker2: Yes, of course. So my name is Jenna Owens and I currently reside in Dallas, Texas, and I own a business that I started called Fitish and it is a CBB skin care and wellness business.
Speaker1: So cool, might I add. Love it. Love the branding, love the look. I want to start by going back to your life. Before you started finish, you were a successful host on Radio four. I think I read Twelve Years, which is totally bonkers. I'm more than a decade. Oh my God. No you're not. What made you want to mix things up and change directions?
Speaker2: I think that my trajectory is similar to a lot of women, even if they didn't have a job on a radio morning show. Right. But that you reach a point in your life that you just realize I don't feel fulfilled. And that's what it was for me. So, yes, I had this job that to the outsider or to people that were fans of the morning show, we had a lot of popularity in Dallas. And I'm kind of the South and the United States. And I loved a lot of elements of the job. OK, however, I got up at three, 30 every single morning and I felt very rundown all the time. I wasn't feeling as creatively stimulated as I was kind of at the inception of the whole job. And I thought that with my platform that there was maybe something more out there for me. I always wanted to start a business. Right. I think that was just something that I think a lot of entrepreneurs kind of know that about themselves. At some juncture they go, I want to start something right. I want to do something more. And I had built this platform very organically as well. So I had a pretty substantial social media following and a lot of people that I think felt like I was their best friend. Right. Because I talked about my life very personally every single day for twelve years. And I wanted to, in a sense, capitalize on that and just do something that made me feel more fulfilled in my life with that platform. And so that's when I really started thinking. I mean, it took me years, to be quite honest, to come up with what that business was. It's scary, right? But you're going to put your name on something. You're going to probably borrow money. What if I hate the name? What if I hate this idea in a couple of years? So I kind of realized at some juncture fears like the only thing standing in the way from a lot of us kind of following our dreams and starting a business or taking that risk.
Speaker1: And that's so true. I definitely agree with that. I've been there or I have been there often, actually. Was there a light bulb moment that led you to going into the fitness space at that time?
Speaker2: I had a few. So the name finish was actually born from something I just started saying on the radio. I know you probably hear that word a lot now, but at the time, many years ago, I was saying it as a way to be very I guess I could say, since you don't know me very well, it's very reflective of who I am as a person. You have to be yourself on the radio, right? You can't pretend to be a character. It's not acting with personalities. And so I would be quite honest with women because I felt at the time we were inundated and still are with women who want to be perfect on social media. Right? It is. This is me. I'm. I do everything perfectly all the time, I work out for two hours a day, I use one hundred products before I go to bed every night on and on and on. And that is so not me. And I don't think that is a lot of women. Right. And I find it much more attractive and likeable and comforting when I hear women who are just quite honest about who they are and that my life's falling apart. And I'm heartbroken. At the time I was in my late twenties, I mean, my life was a shit show half the time. And so I was honest about it. Right. And so finish was women would ask me how I worked out what I did to stay in shape. And here I am getting up at three thirty. I'm like just drinking water and wash my face off before I go to bed at night. I'm not using one hundred expensive items in my nighttime routine and I'm not working out for two hours every day. I do maybe twenty minutes and like eat a little healthy and so I just finish, finish all the time.
Speaker2: And so when I went to start the business I thought, well maybe I can offer women like twenty minute workout programs. Right. Because that wasn't really around at the time. They were all 60 Minutes. And so I did those, but really quickly realized that I don't want to work out all the time. I mean, I carve it out here and there, as most of us do, but I do not want to have a foundation, a business that is fitness exercise. Right. But that was a way for me personally to charge not very much money. They were it was nineteen ninety nine to access all these programs. So it was more affordable than other things on the market. It also only cost me about nine thousand dollars to film all the videos. And so I knew that I would probably recoup the costs. But it was also a really good indicator of do I even have customers? Like if I want to come out with a product, do I even have customers know the business side of things? It was kind of a test for me to say, OK, what's something affordable that I can do that's not buying a lot of inventory, borrowing a ton of money that I can start offering something to see if people are going to buy what I sell. Right. Because I think that's a real concern we all have when we start a business like this is great, but are people going to buy it? And they did. And I made a little bit of money and then I took that money and started what now, you know, is finish in terms of the skin care.
Speaker1: Oh, my gosh. So exciting. So how did you actually get started with this? Ginko, what were the steps in those early days for you to be like, OK, I've made a little bit of money. I can reinvest that back into phase two, the new evolution of what the brand is going to be. What were those key steps?
Speaker2: Yeah, so it's interesting with the light bulb moment, too, because I think there's a few of them, of course, that you're going to have along the way. And so when I did those workouts, I knew that that was my long term plan. Right. We have gyms around Dallas. Good pop up that you'll see anywhere. And so I remember specifically I was working out one day and all the women are wearing these expensive workout outfits, women these days we spend money on workout outfits like they're going out outfits, which is great now that we've been in quarantine and we get to wear them all the time. But the super high end kind of athleisure. And then so you're at these places that are thirty dollars a class and the women are really fashionable. And in Dallas at least, they they're wearing concealer and mascara to exercise. And then I'd be in the bathroom after the class. It was very specific moment for me. I had been sitting on this idea of what kind of product is it that I want. I knew I wanted to create a beauty product because I was very passionate about that space, but I didn't know exactly what it was. And it's so crowded that I thought, well, I need to find some sort of like leaf here for myself if I'm going to enter that space. But I was in the bathroom after class and I'm looking at all these women. They're freshening up in the bathroom and stuff in a shower. But women, at least where I live, they're not showering after they workout at the gym. Right. They're going home later to do that. But they're freshening up so they can go grab a margarita across the street or go on a date and put on perfume and using dry shampoo and doing this whole thing.
Speaker2: And I thought, well, why aren't there more products that these bathrooms for women like that, like myself, that go to work in the morning and then get a workout in and then go to a business meeting, that sort of thing? So that was the light bulb moment for me when it came to product development. And I thought there's really not anything or much in this space that has good branding. And so that was it for me. And then I took the name finish and applied it there and it was a good fit. But of course products are expensive. I had happened to have a couple of contacts living in Dallas. There's some fabulous skincare labs, which just I think I'd say that that was fater luck, whatever you want to call it, you know. But I started researching and the CBD element, which we can get into is quite a bit harder, kind of beating doors down at labs saying, no, they don't work with CBD, they don't want to do that. So I wanted to create a product for my own rosacea I've been taking. CBT is a good antiinflammatory, like for flying anxiety and joint pain and things like that. But there wasn't anything topical on the market at the time. And I started messing around with kind of a post workout moisturizing spray, which is that toned down spray and as peppermint, of course, and some coffee. And I just wanted something that was hydrating for the skin. So if you did have a little concealer on right. But you were red, you could spray it over. And that was the thought behind it. And it just happened to tone down my redness. And that was the. As part of that, I made
Speaker1: Wow, that sounds heavenly, sounds so great. Yes, totally. I'm interested to know when you had that light bulb moment in the bathroom that day, what was the timeline for you having that moment right through to developing and putting those products on the website and being like, hey, this is for sale?
Speaker2: And. Seven months, it was a while, and I think that's been something in this particular space and maybe a lot of product businesses, from my understanding now that I've been doing this for about two and a half, three years so far, that seems to be the biggest obstacle, is just the source of the kind of the components and the labs and the promises and guarantees about when an order will be fulfilled and they're laid and they don't have all the raw materials. So that's a whole nother side of scaling. That's been quite a challenge. But in the beginning, when I decided on the product, I was fortunate to find a lot. Love didn't have huge minimums, so I took a little bit of money that I had made from the videos. I believe my first order cost me about twenty thousand dollars and I actually chose I can show you since we're speaking on camera, but if you go to the website, you'll see that my first two products, one was a makeup setting spray that didn't have CBD and one was the cooling spray I've been referencing called Tona. I ordered the same bottle for both of them in order to make my money go further. And so they have different boxes. But to keep it kind of cheap, I ordered the same bottle with different art. Of course, there different products. There was a lot of confusion in the beginning and as you can understand, because they have the same bottle. But that was a way to do it, to meet the minimum requirement of five thousand bottles. Right. But I split it. Twenty five hundred of each. I only filled a thousand of each at first so I could then, like, recoup some of the money once they sold and then get the rest of the bottles filled, if that makes sense and see what the customers thought about it. So I started out pretty, pretty small and was just really excited when people actually started buying it.
Speaker1: Yeah, you really proved that concept and you had your loyal customer base ready to buy and that appetite for what you were putting out there. You mentioned a little bit ago that the CBD side of things was a bit more challenging. What were the kinds of challenges that you faced at that time?
Speaker2: It's the lack of regulation in the space which still exists today, and anyone that's in the CBD business knows very well that it's very exciting when you're a believer in it. But at the same time, it is the wild, wild West. I mean, with no regulation, that's a problem for the industry with CBD because you're going to have a lot of naysayers. And for me, living in Dallas, this is a very conservative market as far as things like that. Cannabis is not legal here and probably, I would assume, one of the last states in America that's going to legalize it. I'm a big proponent of all things in that space, but regulation is important. So it kind of weeds out the crap, you know, the stuff that's being sold to people that doesn't have anything in it or has seen it is totally mislabeled. So that was hard, but also a good thing for me, I think, to be in a space like this that's not as liberal minded because it put the onus on me to educate the customer about CBD that a lot of other brands probably don't do right, because it's just going to be trendy and cool. But for us, it's no look at all of the benefits of using a really good form of health derived broad spectrum CBD and getting people to try it.
Speaker2: But you had the labs weren't familiar with it, because when you want to make a product like this, I'm not a scientist by any means. By nature. I was terrible at chemistry. So when you want to take an idea, you take kind of some of the ingredients you want. You take a list of ingredients you don't want. You take other products, maybe that you like scents or fragrance or whatever, whatever you desire. You can go to these beauty labs and say, this is what I had in mind, my branding, this is my logo. And they will make a formula for you that you get to test over a period of time. But a lot of the labs just had no familiarity working with the CBD oil because, of course, oil doesn't mix with water. And so now here we are a couple years later and a lot more labs are open to this, of course, and have better understanding of how to work with those elements. But, yeah, that was hard in the beginning. There weren't a lot of options to choose from totally.
Speaker1: And I also learned recently, which I didn't know, and it makes total sense now that I think about it, was that even on the back end, there are a lot of companies who won't work with CBD brands in terms of like payment providers and fulfillment houses. So were you aware of them before you started the business or did you just kind of have to stumble along with these things?
Speaker2: You stumble along, it hit a brick wall that had no door on it to get through, not even a cracked open window. Right. And and turn around and find another option. The payment processing was one of the biggest hurdles we had to overcome. We had been sold out of a product. So this was about six months after I launched. I sold out of the couple of thousand I had. And so waiting on those to get filled, I remember I actually had gone out of town to a girlfriend's bachelorette party in Mexico for the weekend. We were restocking that weekend. It was Memorial Weekend. And I was so excited because we had been out for months, which was a nightmare. And it wasn't a I wanted to make money. Right. And I remember that that Friday when we launch and we had all these orders about to come in, our credit card processor put together that we were CBT or something like that and like shut down payment plan. So I had had a couple people at my fulfillments are really, really instrumental, helping me constantly. I mean, you're paying higher interest rates. So we had a backup plan, payment providers that, of course, instead of taking three or four percent off every order, they're taking like nine or they're routing that through like a bank account in Ireland.
Speaker2: And then your customers going to see an international charge and wonder like what the going on. It was really difficult. We would be out of sales for a day or two here and there while we were shipping processors. We're sold on Shopify, which I am just I couldn't say enough good things about that platform. And they have been so supportive of us as a business. However, they use Square as their payment processor and they were like, we don't mind CBD, but our payment processor does. So they allowed us to find another payment processor to use. But yeah, anyway, I mean, I can go on and on. It was kind of hell, it felt like hell for a while. But at some point you say, you know what, these are the risks that you're going to take. Being in a business like you hopefully will reap the rewards of being a first mover in an industry like that if you can hold out and figure it out. But it took a lot of persistence, a lot of pivoting all the time in the space. I mean, we're changing our ingredient decks all the time, even though there's no regulation and there's no requirements. You just want to constantly be on the right side of what you think is going to be the regulation, if that makes sense.
Speaker1: Yeah, that's so interesting. And I think that's something that is really important for entrepreneurs who are interested in potentially moving into that space to be aware of before they jump in. I want to kind of back step a little bit to when you launched the brand and what you were doing in the lead up to generate hype and you'll go to market strategy when you were launching the skincare side of things.
Speaker2: Rather, I wish I could say I had a formal go to market strategy, like a product launch strategy. That's funny. So I'm a creative at heart and so. The business side of things is been it's been fascinating for me, I would say I have learned more in the last couple of years of my life that I learned in my college education or high school education combined. It's fascinating. I wish that they taught us entrepreneurial classes when we were in high school or college, like, here's a product and you're going to spend the whole semester learning how to monetize your business. And it would be so informative much more than just like our calculus or something like that. But anyway, I didn't know. So I surrounded myself with some I had a couple of older gentleman mentors that I intentionally had as part of my life to bounce ideas off of. And I would talk to them quite a bit about that. But when it came to social media and me wanting to use that, they, of course, had no idea it was some business advice that they were like this social media thing is so strange they could not understand how a lot of people are monetizing that. And my whole goal was to make it as direct to consumer as possible. I really wasn't caught up in getting it into a retailer. I got distracted with that for a little bit. But it was more this is a crazy world that we live in and a great way that we're able to use the social media platform and reach customers that way. So truthfully, my plan was always I started pulling back on endorsement's. I was doing personally on the radio show.
Speaker2: Right. I would never put my name on something for many years leading up to this to sell every teeth whiteners, skinny t whatever kind of this trash was getting sold through influencers or through endorsements. I said no to everything because I wanted people to know that anything I put my name on was important. So that was a personal branding decision I did for myself, that people are not going to believe me if I sell everything that came my way with my platform. So that was that was very intentional on my part, much to the dismay of the people that ran the radio show and did sales. And then and then I started taking people behind the scenes and I wasn't sure if that was the right PR move. I obviously didn't have a PR team at the time, but I thought and now more than ever, and I'm glad I did it this way, I took my customer, my hopeful potential customer, I should say, behind the scenes of what I was doing. So I would take them into the lab on my social media. I would show them I wouldn't give everything away. Right. Like not what exactly I was making that I wanted to kind of wait on that. But I would show them, like, the bottles coming down the line or that I was in the lab wearing my hat to cover my hair in a laboratory. You know, I'm working on something I'm picking out since or whatever it was. And so they seem to get kind of excited. What is going to working out? What is she making? This is cool. This is a beauty lab. What's going on?
Speaker1: Rallying, rallying the troops.
Speaker2: So I want to that's what I was doing because I didn't have a whole lot of other stuff to show them to market know. I made some merch, like some sweatshirts and some hats with the logo because I wanted to create a sense of brand awareness. I think that's what's hard when you have a product and not a clothing line or something. Right. The branding, the little more difficult there because you want that awareness, but you're not always going to get that awareness unless people see someone. It was very cool to have a moment where I'd have someone reach out to me with a photo of a stranger. We finish in the wild like someone's on an airplane wearing the hat or wearing the sweatshirt. And so that was intentional. I think a lot more than people realize that I wasn't trying to get into the apparel business, but even now, we still kind of roll out with limited edition pieces of merchandise here and there because you want people to have that kind of brand loyalty, still fashionable but affordable. And just the way that they're wearing it, showing their love for the brand with the cool logo. And so I could recommend that enough to all brands, no matter what kind of product you're selling, especially if it's not clothing, to make items that your customer would like to carry around with them from coffee mugs and water bottles and things like that, because you're getting that brand recognition.
Speaker1: That's so interesting. I totally agree. I love some good much love attracts it. So you launch it's primarily through social media channels. That's how you've generated the hype. What was the launch like? Was it more than you expected, less than you expected? Are you able to share any kind of numbers or the impact that you were seeing after launch?
Speaker2: Yeah, it was great. I mean, I remember I had Shopify has this great feature that you can have like a touching noise. So when you make a sale, it goes to things. So of course, I had to turn that off, but I told myself I was going to leave that on for a while. So I remember when I went live, I had it on my phone so I could just hear the thing. I sold like thirty bottles the first day or something. I was really excited about that. But then people kept buying it and I was like, why are they buying it? I mean, I show them make up skincare routine, things like that. I definitely made an effort to show more natural skin photos over that. But let me tell you this. I didn't have any employees at the time other than a fulfillment center with a couple of guys who I still use this fulfillment center. I love them. And they helped me quite a bit with the back end stuff as well. But I didn't have anyone working for me. So here I'm just posting it and sharing. And I had a website, of course, that was. Well done. And so just doing some blog posts there, but yes, so I ended up selling out of those ones, I kept selling them and I only had a thousand of each. I think that took maybe j