Hi everyone and welcome back to the show! It’s Doone here, your host and hype girl! If you’ve just found us - we are SO grateful and happy to have you here. Every week w’re learning from some of the world’s most brilliant minds in business. Like Jenny Goodman, the co-founder of Tilit NYC, the fashion forward workwear brand for the culinary and hospitality industry.
In this episode we’re chatting through the last decade of learnings, why this brand has become a cult favourite in its industry and plenty of gems you can take into your own business.
But before we jump into today’s episode I want to quickly mention the Girl Code that we introduced in our last episode! The general gist is that it’s a very loose and casual deal where if you love Female Startup Club and what we’re doing over here, you take a tiny action every time you listen to one of our episodes. Whether that’s by leaving us a review, or sharing this episode on social media - basically anything that helps us reach more ears and keep growing. It’s a weird time right now and I’m in need of my hype girls. And to everyone who already does this - I appreciate you more than you know.
Please note, this transcript has been copy-pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Jenny. Hi. Welcome to the female startup Club podcast. Hi there. I'm so happy to be here and there's the child screaming. So apologies you're hearing. Yes. Um Bed time here in New York. But I'm really excited to be here and chit chat with you. Um This is one of my passions just talking to other women about entrepreneurship and what it's like to start a business. Oh my gosh, I'm so excited and I feel like this is something I haven't really covered ever on the show. This kind of, it's almost like B to B but also B to C. It's like two different blueprints in one. It is. Yeah, we have a really interesting business. We definitely have a niche audience. So we make chef clothes. Um We're really focused hyper focused on chefs and restaurants and work wear for the hospitality world at large. Um And we do set, we have two main channels. The one channel is what we call B to C but it really is sort of um B to C to like B to B to C. Um and so that's E com and you can come and purchase for yourself on our website. And then the other channel is selling directly to hotels and restaurants and, and things like that. Oh my gosh. Amazing. I know you started this journey a very long time ago. So I want to go back to life pre 2012 to understand what was getting you interested about this business. Were you always wanting to start a business and kind of how you landed on modern workwear? Yeah. I'm sort of an accidental entrepreneur in some ways before I started this business with my partner. I was working, you know, well, I had always worked because I was raised by a single mom. And so basically, since I was like 16, she was like, get a job and start earning. If you like pocket, shout out to single moms. My mom's a single mom too. You know what? But like the work ethic that I have is like, really amazing. The independence that I've gained from having a single mom is like, you know, just like a gift in a lot of ways. And now I have two kids and I'm like, holy shit. Yeah. Right. So I always worked in hospitality for like pocket money as growing up as through college and, and college. That's where I met my business partner and partner in life. We were working at a restaurant together. He was a chef and I was working in front of house. And that was how I helped to have, you know, like spending money throughout college. Um, and I loved hospitality. It was like, amazing. It was really fun. There was like all this camaraderie, but it's really hard to come by in a lot of other fields. And then when I graduated, I had a degree in like the life sciences. And so I actually went to the pharmaceutical industry and was doing project management and research and development and I really hated it. It was not fun. It was pretty soul sucking work. And um at the time, my partner and husband was a chef and had been working in kitchens for 20 years and was at the top of his career, he was doing private chef work here in New York City and felt like the job was so cool. Restaurant design had changed. Restaurants were so cool and at the same time, the uniform had never evolved. So he actually was like, I have to do something about this. I hate the work wear. I hate the uniform. I don't feel cool. I don't feel proud even though there's like, should be so much pride and joy in this profession. So that's where the idea started. And that was in like 2011. So like a year before we launched and at that same time I was like, but neither one of us have a business degree and we don't, you know, you don't know what, we don't know what we're doing and we actually had one failed business together. We had opened and closed a restaurant six months in 2010, which is like a whole other nugget, which we can get into too lot of learnings. I'm sure. I mean, it was, it was very expensive learning. But yes, lots of learnings. And we did things very differently from that business to, to this one today. So you said, you know, you didn't know what to do. You didn't have this business degree, et cetera, et cetera. Does that mean you went and did a business degree or how did you figure it out? How did you know what to do? Yeah. So at that time, um you know, like I had pretty good project management skills. I would really consider myself like a generalist. Like I sort of generally understand like a lot of different things in business. But um I did go back to business school, you know, again, like my partner now how we divide and conquer is I really oversee all the business, the sales, the marketing and he does like all the creative direction and um some of like the brand marketing pieces and oversees the production team. So it's like some one of us like really needs to understand this and like, I don't want to have to learn on the job. Um So I, I enrolled in N Y U Stern School of Business here and was doing part time M B A while still working at, in the pharmaceutical company and starting the business. So it was really like three job. Oh my God. Wow. That's a lot. When you look back, you know, at that degree, do you think it was super worth it to do the degree or do you think you still learned on the job? And I'm asking more out of that place of like, is that something you would recommend to people? Now? I think it depends. Um I think there's really pros and cons for me, it was worth it because the pharmaceutical company paid for the degree that I was working at. So um they paid for a big chunk of it. It can be really expensive to get an MBA. So I think it really depends on what your circumstances are for us. It was worth it because I used the business as a test case for every single project. So it was like free consulting advice from the professors from the other students. You know, I would bring my partner to class sometimes I'd be like, oh, we're talking about pricing models, like come to class and like, listen and then like, you know, so we can, we can think about how we're pricing the product and all those kind of things. So I love that. So for me, it was worth it. Um What I learned in two years I think would have taken 5 to 10 on the job. So it was like a crash course in that sense. And like I said, the financial burden of it wasn't so crazy for me. So I think those are the things you have to weigh. Like if is like financially, is it gonna be worth it for you? Like will you be able to like pay for it? Get yourself out of the, make the return on it? Can you hire somebody for that role? And would they be really expensive? If not, then maybe it's worth it. So I think every situation is, is different. Hm. Yeah, that's so interesting. Gosh. And so you're, you've launched the business then while you're doing this degree, I want to stick around that early time, like getting yourself even to the point of launch, you know, what were those early days, like kind of getting started finding your manufacturer, kind of getting into this development R and D stage? Yeah. So the early stages. So this is a lesson learned from the previous business is like, we just like went a whole hog at it didn't have a great business plan. There was not much of a business plan. We were just like, yeah, it'll be fine. It's a restaurant. We know how to do this like, no, that's not really how it works. So this time we were like very measured with, you know, we have X amount of dot We, we started the company with like 10 20 grand, right? And that was for website build, that was for initial product run, that was for, you know, whatever initial packaging, everything and that was like our own individual savings and how we really started. I always come back to this is like network is so, so important. My partner had a friend who worked at Kate Spade, which is like a major fashion designer at the time. And they, he asked her and he was like, hey, do you have any connections for pattern makers or people in fashion? And she connected us to a pattern maker and the pattern maker connected us to our first factory. And so it was those pieces were really learning on the job and that first factory we still work with today and we manufacture with them in both the New York and in China. And they really helped to mentor us for those first early years. So that's really key. Wow, that's so interesting. I love that, love the power of good network so important. Like people are like, oh, I'm scared to talk to people about my idea and like never be afraid to talk to people about your idea. Like you never know who's gonna be able to help you. And just like asking people for warm intros is, is like the key to so many people's success. You just have to be pretty brazen about it. One 100%. I agree so much especially because, you know, in today's world usually something isn't like the first ever world first if it is. Yeah, maybe you'd be more protective about your idea. But, you know, if it's something that already exists in the world, like, get out there and talk about it and I also just think, like, talking about it and bouncing off other people's kind of opinions and getting their feedback, seeing their facial kind of expressions can give you more as well to either go in a certain direction or you hit on something else that you might not have thought about before. And it kind of opens you up and expands your mind into what it could be or you can also get the feedback of like, oh I don't know if I would buy that not for me. And then having to think no, and that was really important for us too because we created a new category in chef apparel and chef wear. Like when we started everything was really commodity, really inexpensive, like no functional details, no tailoring, no like real thought behind the product. And so like when we went out to the first manufacturers and the first factories, they were like, oh you get it like, yeah, this is like needed, it's going to be more expensive, but you're going to have the better quality and there will be like, you know, a lot of value add. Um So I'm a huge believer in like talking about all the ideas and getting all the feedback one 100%. I also think last point on this, I think an idea is just an idea. Execution is absolutely everything. And so it's all well and good to have an idea. Anyone who's entrepreneurial probably has 50 in the bank, but execution is everything. So you've got to just get out there and, and see what you can do. I read that in the early days or at some point, you got a grant from JP Morgan for $100,000. How does that tie into the story? When is that in the timeline? Yeah, so we applied for the grant in 2000 and received the grant in 2014. So at the time, JP Morgan Chase was doing this grant program and they had like 34,000 submissions and they chose 20 grant recipients and they chose 20 grant recipients and we were one of the 20 businesses that they selected. Um And it was really, it was like life changing for the business. Um We had, that was until then we had been bootstrapping and reinvesting, bootstrapping and reinvesting. So that was the first time that we received any kind of outside capital. And I'm like to this day, I'm like, I will be a chase customer for life one 100%. It was pretty incredible. And so we used that those funds, you know, one of our problems throughout the journey with this business is that it's capital intensive, right? You have to make the product and the product sits on the shelf until you get the customers to come and buy it. So it's really hard to bootstrap um, a product based business. I mean, people do it. We did it for 9.5 years. And so that helped us like buy some inventory to get to a next growth stage, which was super helpful. We talk about grants a lot both on the show and in our content online. So I just want to ask a few questions around the grant specifically for you when you were applying for the grant, obviously 34,000 people. That's like, that's a lot of people. Was your application kind of like, hey, I sat down and did this in an hour or did you get help for the application or, or what was that kind of, what do you think went into that application that made you stand out? Was it about, you know, solving a very clear problem or did you have great traction? I'm kind of just trying to understand like for anyone listening because grants are so great, but I feel like you can also waste a lot of time if you're not applying for the right grants, you need to be quite clear on where you dedicate your time in these kind of applications and processes. And so, yeah, I'm just wondering like for you and that process how it was. Yeah, I remember we had to write like five essays and then there was a committee um and we had, and it was about like, are you solving a problem? And for us at the time, we really were that nobody was doing what we were doing. Um It was a really new category and nobody had really thought about it but chefs and had become such like a hot genre, right? With like social media and Instagram has really changed how chefs are like portrayed to the public. So I think because of that, there was like this cultural zeitgeist moment where people were really, you know, focused on hospitality and chef and, but nobody had really come to meet their needs. So for us, there was this like product market fit and I think we were really nailing and that I still think we do really well. And so I think the folks that chase really liked that story. I think it helps to be a women led business. Um You know, so it's like half of the team and I'm the one who's overseeing the business. So I think that also helps. I I'm with you, you know, I see a lot of people who do spin their wheels just like applying for grants, applying for grants. So you, you do have to be pretty measured and, and like conscientious of your time and not put your eggs in that basket. Like, we would have been fine if we didn't get the Chase Grant, but it definitely did help us grow more quickly that year. Mhm. And I think it speaks to the fact that if you do have something that is differentiated and you have a very clear US p, it's easy and also something that's really easy for people to understand. People are able to be like, oh, I totally get it. I see it in one sentence. I'm there for that kind of thing versus something that can be quite complicated if people don't understand the industry or they're not, you know, kind of informed in that area. It's like, oh, it sounds kind of cool, but I don't really get it. So having that point of difference and, and something that's really easy to grasp is definitely key for grants at that point in 2014. Are you still working in your full time jobs or have you quit your full time jobs at this point? We had, so my partner had quit about nine months about like a little shy of one year and he quit. Um And then I quit like 18 months. And so I was, yeah, so this was full time then. Got it, got it, got it. I wanna touch on marketing, kind of your go to market strategy and how you were getting your first customers. But I just want to touch on your name first till it. I was reading it's part of utility which I freaking love. But we were talking off line a moment ago around the name being Tillett N Y C. Was it originally Tillett N Y C or is it officially Tillett N Y C? So, so our, yeah, so now like our official incorporation name is Till It N Y C in, I always believe in iteration and everything is an evolution too. So like I always see entrepreneurs get stuck like product has to be like this exact way. I'm like you can iterate, you can evolve. So we actually started first with Till it Chef Goods because we really wanted the chef and there for like E O purposes, this new company, we didn't want, we wanted it to be very clear what we were. So we were till at Chef Goods and then as we started to evolve, the company, we started working with people to do front of house, right? So the waitresses, the servers, the servers, assistants, we started working with hotels to outfit their front of house staff. So the front desk folks, the folks who are working in housekeeping. Um So we're like Tillt Shot Goods doesn't really feel right for the next evolution of the brand. And that's when we went with Till N Y C and that was because till it dot com was not available. Um So the closest thing we could get was till it N Y C got it, got it got it. And so till it dot com is still parked out there, still parked out there. No activity in 20 years, no trademarks for it. I mean, we own the trademark so we've messaged them no response. It's just parked out there. So we have all of the domains surrounding till it, till it N Y C all of these things, but we have not yet been able to secure till it dot com. It's funny how, you know, platforms like Twitter and linkedin even I think now and Instagram, they'll kind of like after a process and after a time they'll give up unused handles and things like that. And that obviously sounds like that person probably just doesn't even know they own it anymore. Like that's connected to an old email that's gone. But it is so weird that after like such a long time nothing's changed. I'm like, what is that? Also a whole other conversation which we won't go into but go daddy has a business model is the whole business model. I mean, this is their whole business model. So they're like, you know, there's domain brokers and we've gone out to several domain brokers. We've had IP lawyers look into it and the IP lawyers are like, it doesn't seem like anybody is trying to like, you know, back for lack of a better word blackmail you for the, for the domain, but it's like they're just not interested in selling it. I'm like, I don't understand. Um So yeah, so, but then I looked at, well until very recently this changed, but you look at like Supreme, which is a billion dollar brand until literally two months ago was Supreme New York. So there's a lot of brands who have built their business where they don't own that domain, the full domain that is their name. So at some point again, it's just like you have to iterate, you have to just go for it. So, yeah. Yeah, God, it is so frustrating though. It is very frustrating. Yeah, very. Let's talk about your go to market strategy and those early kind of, you know, first years in finding your first, let's say 100 customers, what you were doing to find them, acquire them, were you strictly focused on more of the wholesale B to B route at that point? So we our first go to market strategy was eco. So actually that was our first, you know, our first channel was, was we are going to be eco, we're going to sell on the internet and the B to B piece came a little bit later, mostly from need from the audience. And for us, everything was super organic. We didn't have that much product, we didn't have that much inventory. So we were really like selling product to friends, asking them to get, give us feedback, asking them to tell their other friends and colleagues about it. We had no marketing money. So we really had no money for like Google ads or Facebook ads or any of those kind of things at the time. And we're talking 2012 when that was, you know, a very different world than it is right now, especially Facebook was like, Facebook ads weren't like, even really a thing. So it was really, really organic. Our whole strategy was always really organic chefs talk a lot, they move restaurants a lot. So we knew if we made a really good product and we treated the chefs really well and we knew how to talk to the chefs that they would tell their friends. And that's, that's what happened. And so in that kind of first year, did you realize first year or two? Were you like, we've already hit that kind of proven concept? We're like ready to go and ready to scale or was it kind of more like, you know, slow and steady, slow and steady one day after the other? And I always say businesses and everything are built brick by brick. So for me, it's always been like brick by brick, brick by brick. And again, we're starting from, from zero. So yes, we were doubling in size every year, but we were talking like we went from, you know, I think we did like $8000 in that first year because we started in November. So it was like two months. But, and then, you know, we did 100,000 and then it was 300 then, you know, finally like, ok, we can pay ourselves. Um So I would say, you know, we didn't start V C back where we were like 500% growth in the first year, but we were, we were doubling pretty much every, every year and in those first years, what were the kind of key, pivotal moments that leapt you for, you know, key partnerships or a key contract or something that kind of really shifted the needle and took you up? Yeah. Um, so definitely the Chase Grant was one which we already talked about. And then on terms of like the key partnership side was soho house was a pretty early adapter for us and they were, um, which was really huge. Um So it's actually funny because you were saying like, who were your first customers? And one of our first ecommerce customers was a chef in Brooklyn who was the chef at like an award winning restaurant in Brooklynn. And he ended up moving with his family to London. And I actually remember we hand delivered his shirts because we were so excited that somebody we didn't know had ordered from us online and we like went and like dropped him off at his apartment in Brooklynn because we were like that excited. And so he ended up moving to London uh in around 2015 and became like their head chef and introduced us and introduced the brand to us. They were like we went hipster like Brooklyn close. He's like I got you. Oh my God, that's crazy. And I mean, are you still the supplier now? We still work with some of the houses. Um but that just like having that brand recognition to be like and then people you know, look to them as, as these like market makers and um just like such like a cool place. So it's like when you're like, oh I'm working with. So like, ok, here comes standard hotel, here comes Ace Hotel. Um So that was really like one of the key accounts early on. When did it shift from being like e-commerce first selling kind of like here and there to being like, oh shit, we should focus on these like let's focus on this one partnership. But then that leads to 200 people getting an outfit and exactly. So we realized it pretty quickly. So I would say like the first year we were pretty focused on trying to do D to C and then that same year towards the end of the year, a new restaurant was opening in the lower East side and they were like, we want to work with you guys to do something exclusive that nobody else has right there. Like we want like a cool fancy apron, that's just ours and that restaurant it's called Contra. And so actually our our best selling apron still to this day is called the Contra Apron. And it was based on our original style and we just added some like leather details and then that was like, ok, do people want something very unique and individual to their restaurant? So I started walking around like our neighborhood in, in New York, the Lower East side handing out like cards and going with bags of aprons on the weekends being like you should try your stuff and we can do custom cool things for you and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And pretty quickly the business started to go 50 50 and that's still where it is like 50% D to C and 50% B to B. Oh, that's interesting. My, like initial thought would have been that it was kind of more focused on that B to B um, all of the business. That's so interesting. Yeah. Yeah, but it's not, it's, it's really split. Um, and you know, D to C actually in the last three years has scaled a lot faster even than the B to B side. But then what ends up happening is that those D to C customers end up converting into B to B customers as well? Oh, right. Ok. I also love something about your marketing to me. It doesn't feel like a super B to B message. It does feel like a fashion brand. It feels really cool and sexy and fun. And you, like, you've taken all those kind of like fashion brand elements and campaign shoots and, and language and you've made it ad to c brand as well, but it doesn't feel like, you know, when you can go to those trade kind of websites to buy whatever it might be. And you're like, oh my God, this was made in the nineties. I can't use this. Yeah. And that's part of the business model. So, one thing that we do that's really different than how all chef apparel was in the past is that we come out with seasonal collections, right? So we have like a fashion collection and that's sort of this hype beast model where we, you know, four times a year will drop totally different product that's based on our normal silhouettes but are funky and different and really fashion forward just to give that feeling of like this is a fashion brand, but it's for chefs to wear at work, but it's cool enough for them to wear, going to work on their day off and leaving work and feel really seamless. Oh I love that. Genius. Totally genius. What is shifting the needle for you now? You know, it's, it's a decade on the world of social media has changed organic content, storytelling. So critical in every business kind of journey at the moment. Uh What are the kinds of things that kind of keep you moving to the next level? So, right, this year, we're really trying to invest in like in person things again, um which I know seems kind of crazy. But I think one of the things about our industry and, you know, I really consider our company like an extension of the hospitality industry is that we don't get to work from home, right? We are in real life, we are going to restaurants, we are connecting with our community. So one of the things that we're really investing in this year is community building in real life. So special events and making sure that we're really like touching and seeing and being present with the hospitality industry where they want to be. And I feel like that's already started to move the needle for us, which has been really fun. It's also such a fun space to be in, you know, cooking, watching the A S M R of cooking. Like it's such a great play on social media as well. Yeah, I, I feel like the R A L side of this sounds really fun and really exciting on your like day to day job. And I just hired a chief revenue officer overseeing our sales and marketing team, which is a really exciting hire for us. And she was like, oh my God, do you mean I get to like eat for a living and go to restaurants and hang out with chefs. This is like amazing. So she comes from a totally different industry. So um but yes, it's definitely a perk of the job, I would say for sure. You said that, you know, earlier on you had the startup capital you put in, you had a grant and then you bootstrapped for 9.5 years. At what point did you start looking for outside capital? And were you thinking venture capital? Were you thinking private capital? What were you kind of going for? Yeah. So early 2022 which ended up being a horrible time to raise money. I was, I'm like, ok, let's raise money at the worst time ever. Why didn't I think about this in 2021. So, you know, with the pandemic, things obviously shifted and changed for us as well. So the 1st 2020 we were like, oh my God, we're in survival mode. We pivoted to making masks to keep the business afloat. And then pretty quickly like chefs returned to work and, you know, we were selling masks and also started making our own product again. And we actually ended up scaling the DC side of the business in 2020 and then in 2021 with restaurants and everything like normalizing. We scaled both the DC and the B to B side of the business. But at the same time, supply chain was getting longer and longer, right? So we were, we scaled at 40% in 2021 in 2022 our weeks of supply went from 16 weeks to 20 really from 12 weeks to 20. So we were growing really quickly and we were taking longer to get product, which means we're always out of inventory, which was not a great look and was actually hindering growth. So I looked at debt um because I think a lot of debt is, is a lot of times better for founders. It really is, you get to keep 100% of your company. It's often cheaper than giving up equity in the long run. You know, in 2021 2022 the interest rates were so favorable. The problem with debt is that I couldn't get enough to really like do what we wanted to do. Right. So to make the debt that you needed to make the debt. So I was really fortunate to have a great relationship with Chase and I had a line of credit, but the line of credit was only $150,000 which it wasn't really that helpful. Um I looked at like S B A but the max we could have gotten from S B A was about a million, which again would have been great for inventory, but wouldn't have let us like, do any of the additional hiring that we'd probably need to do at the same time to like, help manage all of that and manage the growth. Um So that's when I was like, all right, let's look at venture what did you learn from the process of raising capital as a woman raising venture capital? Um It's really, really hard. There's a lot of projection. Um because before, you know, I, I still pitched probably 55 U CS before we got to the yeses, 55 investors. It's really, really hard. I mean, still, I think like 2% of capital goes to female founders and CEO S but 17% only 17% goes to men and like female and male co founders. So it's still really small, you know, it's definitely, you just have to like, have a really thick skin is what I like to say. Um And just know that like, you're going to get a lot of rejection and it only takes one. Yes. Um But definitely have a lot of thick skin and it's like, it's so interesting because I feel like as a woman, when people give you feedback and maybe it's everybody's experience. But I think they were just like, oh, everything's so great, but we're just going to pass, I'm like, but that's not helpful. So like, give me the real, tell me why. Yeah, like, tell me exactly why. And somebody once said like, one of the ones that was the most frustrating to me was that, well, I just don't know about your channel strategy and I was like, what do you mean? And they were like, well, you're, you're both B to B and D DC I'm like, yes, that's called Omni Channel. I'm like, have you heard Omni Channel? And they were like, you have to pick one. I'm like, no, that's called Omni Channel. And then you know what, this year everybody's like, D DC is dead. Everybody needs to be Omni Channel. And that to me was like the most frustrating thing. Oh my God. When you think about those 55 nos, what was the most common feedback that you got? It's just not a fit for. I mean, and like I'm saying, like, people just don't give you like the real feedback or like, oh, it's just not a fit for us and some my favorite excuses do this like, oh, you know, well, you're asking for just like a little, you're, you're in between where we like to invest because you're like asking for a little bit more than our small round, but you're not quite big enough for our next big size. I'm like, just give me like, come on, like if you really wanted to give me a check, you'd give me a check. Yeah. Yeah. Hell. Oh my God. Now, if you were starting this brand again tomorrow in tomorrow's world, tomorrow's landscape, is there anything that you would do differently or what would you do the same? What would I do the same and differently? I mean, I think I would probably go harder on influencer right out of the gate. That was something that we didn't do initially, like we were just like, really going direct to like the customers. Um But that was because like Instagram wasn't such a thing now. So I'd probably, I think that's the cheapest way to start a brand right now is to go really, really hard on like a couple of key influencers and probably even give them equity, just get like 10 like amazing shots and be like, I'll give you like a point here, point here, point here just like, go hard. Um I think that's what I probably have to do in today's landscape because I think it's really expensive to buy it now. It's tough. Um That's a really interesting strategy, especially if it's like, you know, very still contractual vested over a long period, you have to meet your deliverables and really get people kind of like in on the journey who are super passionate about your business and what you're doing and excited to make some of the upside. Exactly. And we've been really lucky that we've had that organically. Like, we've had a lot of organic, like super fans who just love us and post about us and share and just naturally want to be a part of the product and a part of the journey and a part of the story. Um But I think there is something about like really brand building with your community from day one. Oh, yeah, for sure. What is your key piece of advice or recommendation to any small business entrepreneur or founder who are in the early stages of building their business. Don't give up. Um Don't you are gonna make mistakes and that's ok. Um And it is ok to actually, you know, and I like I take that back because we did get, we did close the business that wasn't working and that's also ok, like you can try something and it can fail and you can walk away from it and you can learn and how to do something, um, better for the next time. So I think, you know, my biggest thing is, like, always, always, always trying to learn from the failures on that note for the first business. It was called Good. Right. The Restaurant Good. Yeah. Mhm. How did you know it was time to close the doors? Like, did you run out of money or were you, like, you know what this business model is flawed and we can't turn it around both, like, both. Um, yeah, like, our X was just, like, out of control and it was never gonna get better. And, like, when we realized that we're like, there's, there's no band aid to fix us. We just need to, like, shut it down. What's X? Oh, operating expenses? Yeah. Ok. Right. Right. Right. Yeah. Ok. So you just, yeah, you couldn't turn it around. Yeah, it was pretty clear. So it was like, because the expenses were scaling with, with, like, the demand for the business, right? So it's like the more that we, the more we serve people, the more it was scaling and our margin wasn't getting better. So there was just no chance to turn it around without putting in like a ton of additional capital to make capital improvements that we just didn't have. So it was, that was a pretty clear case like this is just never gonna be, this is just not gonna work. Is that common in restaurants like single, like 11 only restaurants, um, restaurants have a super high failure rate. Uh We had a super fast, high failure rate. I don't think people failed quite as quickly as we did. Um But yeah, a lot of restaurants, you know, don't, don't make it that much past the first year mark. Um we open and close in six months. So we were even faster. We like to say we were some of the fastest restaurant tours around. But yeah, it's, it can be a really, really tough business. It has pretty, it can have pretty slim margins and if you don't set up like, it's all about the real estate that restaurants are really about like the people in the real estate. And so that's a really huge thing. So if you don't have real estate that can um you know, if you don't have a real estate at the right price that can sustain like the neighborhood and how many customers you can get you. It's, it's a challenge. Goodness. Oh my gosh. Sounds tricky. What do you want to shout about now? For Tillett? What's coming up that you want everyone to know? Yeah. Well, we're launching our newest fashion collection, right? So it talked about how we do four collections every year. So the newest one is coming out called Blue Skies and that's dropping on May 23rd. So, in just about a week which we're really excited about. Um That is, that's the, that's the newest thing that's coming out. We have a bunch of collaborations that are happening later this year, one with um Paola Velez who has been a friend and a chef um for a long time, been a brand supporter forever. She founded Bakers against racism, which is really cool. So that's going to drop later this summer. We have another one coming, we have coming out with a small collection with so um another chef in our community that we love and we have some other fun, fun collabs that are dropping later this year that I'm really excited about. So stay tuned for those. Oh, my gosh. Sounds so fun. How cool.
Question number one is, what's your why? Why are you waking up every day and working on till it? I just love seeing chefs feel really proud in the kitchen when they're wearing our clothes. It's like when I see like a woman put on a chef coat that actually fits her and makes her feel really good and proud in her career. There's like nothing better than that feeling. Oh I love that strong, powerful question number two is what's been your favorite marketing moment so far? My favorite marketing moment. I mean, I think the Chase Grant was probably like the biggest, oh my God, because they also did like this cute little video with us. And at the time, we had no money to make our own cute little video. It wasn't like today where like, you know, everybody has an iphone. It's like they said a whole production crew and it was like played a lot of places all over linkedin. It was like on the chase. It was like in chases. It was like pictures of me and my partner that was probably like the craziest one. Um I know that was a while ago but I still, it's like, still a very proud moment. Love that question. Number three is, what's your go to business resource? Where do you turn now if you're kind of leveling up, upskilling, learning something new. My friends, my network, um other entrepreneurs. I can't even, I know I started off talking about that too but like, I can't even sing praises enough from like leaning on your community to bounce ideas to ask them. How did you do this? Um I have a crew of women founders who I have dinner with like once a month. I have several other e-commerce founders who are in the same, you know, have different products but also work with hospitality that like I'll call be like, how did you deal with this? Da da da da da. So like just use your network, tell them about your problems, get naked about your numbers, all of those kind of things. Mhm mhm I love that. Love a good network. We've got magic for any early stage founders who are looking for community are looking for network. Come and check us out. Question number four is how do you win your day? What are your AM or PM rituals and habits that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated to keep going? My Am ritual is yoga and coffee for sure. Um I try to always start my day with exercise. I feel like you need that, like me personal space time, end of day, it's putting my kids to bed and reading a story with them and we always have a family dinner. So that's, you know, pretty much five nights a week. At least we sit down, have dinner as a family. No phones. What did you do today? What did you learn? How was your day? And that definitely like is the best way to end my day. Beautiful question number five is what's been the worst money mistake you've ever made? And how much was it in the business? Well, definitely the worst money mistake we made was with goods and we burned. I think we ended up burning like $50,000 in that one. It's a pretty big one. A pretty big one. Pretty big one. Question number six. Last question. What is just a crazy story? Good or bad that you can share from your journey in building till it a crazy story? Good or bad. I mean, I think the crazy good thing is that you'll never know who your customers are. So, I mean, just to bring it back to that story about like the first customer that we hand delivered the product to that ended up becoming the the chef who was in charge of all the solo houses who landed us this this client and we ended up doing like a quarter million dollars of business with Soho House that year, which is like shit crazy. Yeah, it's crazy. So I think that's like a holy shit, like that's like a holy shit. Um So you like treat everybody like they're your best customer because you never know. Um Wow, the LTV of that client is crazy. He's still an amazing client, like still buys from us today. Yeah. Wow, that is so cool. What a cool story, Jenny. Thank you so much for coming on the female startup club podcast and sharing your learnings and your insights and what you're up to. Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.