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How to bootstrap a brand to $10M in sales, with Blume’s founder Karen Danudjaja

Today we’re learning from Karen Danudjaja, the founder of Blume.

Blume is what happens when you pair the benefits of the wellness aisle and the experience of a cafe. They’ve bootstrapped the company to 10M in sales making your favourite cafe lattes with the magic of superfoods from Vancouver Canada.

We’re talking through that first year of business and how she approached getting her first 1000 customers, bootstrapping the brand until now and her learnings from her first raise of $2m.

And just a quick shout out to all the amazing humans listening into these episodes. I’ve been so happy and grateful recently about what we’ve been able to achieve together, all because you are tuning into these episodes and supporting the show. We’ve got a few exciting things in the works that I can’t wait to share with you soon.

Let’s get into this episode, this is Karen for Female Startup Club.

Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!

Karen, Hi, welcome to the Female Startup Club podcast. Hi, thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited me too. I'm so excited to be here for anyone who doesn't know you yet. Could you give us the introduction to who you are, what your brand is and the ethos behind it. All right, well I am the co founder ceo of a brand called bloom. We make superfood blends and our mission is really to make wellness more fun and accessible, you know, adding color and play back to wellness routines instead of them being so strict, regimented and guilt ridden. And all of our blends are kind of re creations of favorite cafe latte, so salted caramel, pumpkin, spice, oat milk chai's but done with Superfoods, no refined sugar, totally gluten free and 100% organic, sounds so delicious. I was just deep in your instagram looking at all the things and it looks so beautiful, its own little world going on over there, where do you like to start your story? What got you inspired to start this brand? Really, it was to solve a personal need and I feel like so many founders have that exact same story where they're they're looking for something for themselves, they can't find it, it ends up being like a side project that kind of gets out of out of hand. So I started my career in commercial real estate and anybody who knows me is just like why, why, why did you do that? That was a bad idea for you? And it really was like, I spent, I was lucky, I had like a great boss and it was a great company, but I just never felt inspired or purposeful towards work and I think so many people coming out of university feel that way, but that industry is super coffee meeting heavy, it's all about relationships, so I was going to coffee meetings like 56 times a day and I just was so messed up on it honestly, like my sleep, my anxiety, my digestion, and even though cafes were this place of connection, you know, it was supposed to be the successful place where you could meet anyone, there really wasn't anything on the menu that was a nutritional, but he just like met my wellness goal, so um that's really how bloom was born was like me wanting to have something healthy for myself and then eventually it kind of grew from there, that's crazy, how do you get from having an idea, you know, when you're going out to coffee to being like, you know what, I'm actually going to quit my job and start this thing that I don't know how to start or I don't, I loved our first products and but I was really scared to get started so I wish that I could come on the show and be like, I had this like beautiful business plan, I did the swat analysis, you know, and it was like really, really well thought out, but it just happened really gradually over time and every time the door opened, I kind of like stepped into it. So for the first year of the business, I was too scared, you know, to quit my job, I wanted, I was, you know, risk adverse and I did both at the same time. So during the day I was doing my commercial real estate and then in the mornings I would be doing deliveries around Vancouver and in the evenings I'd be visiting retailers around my lunch breaks. So, you know, I, I waited until there was like, kind of like a critical mass and that there was some traction before I was like, okay, this is it, I'm betting on myself and betting on the business, I'm gonna quit and go all in. I think that's the best way to start though. It takes that pressure off and allows you to like keep investing your money into this thing without having those, that pressure to like make decisions based on necessity versus based on what's specifically right for the business at that time. Yeah. And, and it allowed us to bootstrap to, you know, like I was able to take money from my regular job, invest it in the business and do things like slowly and like test and learn and make iterations and do things like really in hindsight, it allowed us to do it in a sampley kind of way versus, you know, I'm gonna, I'm gonna do 20,000 units in my first production run. Like, I think our first production run was 50 units. So, you know, it was just like me going to a commercial kitchen mixing in a big soup pot, you know, and I was able to do it really like slow and obviously it's gotten more sophisticated and grown since then but it allowed us to test and iterate in the small way that at least for me a diversified risk and helped me feel more confident when I eventually did quit my job. That is so amazing and such an inspiring story to start from, you know, this really small place of testing and learning and scaling from there. If you had to think about like how much money it costs you to get started, what did you invest to kind of make those 1st 50 units and get a website set up and all that kind of thing. Oh we did it so scrappy, you know, maybe like the first website we did on squarespace and you know, we just chose a template, we took the pictures ourselves, we you know, wrote To copy ourselves like it was all kind of like do what you can and and minimum viable product for sure. And I remember that I bought like the first round of packages and labels just from like a local print shop and it was like label stuck on kraft paper bags. So I think like the initially it was probably like less than $1,000 to get everything going. And then you know every time, next time it was like 100 units. The time after it was 150 units and it was just like slowly and incrementally adding on. And so when you had, let's go back to that, you know, 1st 50 units who were your customers at that point? And how were you talking about the brand? How were you kind of reach two people to buy this product that you had? So the very first customer that I had was actually a smoothie shop that I often went to on my way to work. So it was you know, I lived downtown Vancouver and I would walk to work in the morning and it was kind of like a regular spot for me to go in and get something in the morning. And one day I went in there and I happened to talk to the owner and was sort of like, do you have a tumeric latte which was our first product And he said that you know, he didn't have one, but he'd be interested in serving one. Like he understood the benefits of tumeric and he understood that people were looking for products like that and so I was just like I'll do that for you, I can do that. And literally like within two weeks he was kind of like I had like a confirmed purchase order that I had made in like an Excel document and then he was and he was like the first order and then what I started to do was I had these samples and I would go into little cafes that were in the neighborhood of a place that I thought blue would be a fit in and ask them to make up a tumeric latte. So I would order like a milk steamer in a, in a regular cafe and I would give them our blend and ask them to make it up and I would go in with my, you know, couple of bloom two little retail shops to for them to try it and tell them that we were in new business and and and yeah, that was how we probably got the 1st 30 or 40 accounts that year was just literally like bringing finished drinks in which you know now in like post covid times would probably not be the best way to to secure buyers but it was literally just like knocking on doors like pounding the pavement and bringing samples for people to try. I feel like there's this you know thought process that you go from like zero to you know, You're in like thousands of stores now or the last thing I read was that you're in over 1500 retailers. So a lot of retailers and it seems like this huge mountain, it seems like this huge feet. But actually like if you're just to go into your local neighborhood and start knocking on doors and start giving people your product to try, you get one account, you get 10 accounts, you get 40 accounts, then you get 100 accounts and you slowly build up over time and then it's that compound effect. Now I'm sure you look back and you're like, wow, this is crazy. And it all started from those simple actions of just knocking on doors and talking to people totally and I still do it. You know, I still like if I'm traveling I'll, you know take an extra day and walk around and pass out a few samples and I think people underestimate what the power of a small boutique or the power of a small store small business. You know when we talk About startups were like, you know, getting into Nordstrom's or anthropology and all of that's like amazing. But these small businesses that are really like the foundation of gloom and where we started, they give you so much insight, they give you so much feedback, they help you refine your product there. You know, they allow you in the door without going through like 800 pages of paperwork, and and you know it's just more flexible and they were really our original ambassadors. So before we were doing influencer marketing and ambassador marketing, it was these small businesses who were championing the product in person and would take the time to learn about it and educate customers that came through the door. And so when when I talk about like how bloom started like small business, these like small independent cafes and boutiques, they're really at the heart and soul of where we started, you know what's really interesting to me is like now the landscape is very sexy to launch a Dtc brand. Everyone's like to see first and foremost and everything else comes after. But for you it's obviously the other way around where you did retail first and it sounds like you were focusing, you know, pretty much all of your efforts on retail. At what point were you thinking about going more direct to consumer? That's true. So we, because I was trying to solve this problem of having healthy, you know, drinks on the menu, it really did start at retail and March 2020, that was like really when the pandemic hit, about 80% of our retailers were food service and so you know, in that moment the business really changed. You know, like overnight it was kind of like Okay, you can't, we can't grow the same way we were growing before. So what I ended up doing was I took a digital marketing course. It was, I was like in san Francisco at the time and I took like an online like intro to digital marketing or something like that and really did a pivot in the, at the beginning of covid to do D to C. And so we built all these like bundles and experiences online that were really about what people were feeling in that moment. You know, super isolated, really stressed, super anxious, worried about their immunity and and I knew that plant based Superfoods were a way to support people in that moment and and that was the way to reach them. So really it was out of necessity originally, but I'm so glad we built the DTC business now because having that direct line to customers, it's just become This incredible way for us to get feedback. Iterate on products, improved formulations and has become about 50% of the business. Oh wow, that's so interesting. Gosh, and so if you have to kind of break down your blueprint from you know, 2020 things changing too. Now you've just done this amazing raise of $2 million dollars that will go into scaling the business. What are those kind of key things that pushed you forward or let you forward to get you to being able to go through a raise? Well, I think something that was really pivotal for me and I don't, you know, this might be like unique to me, but as a founder, especially one that didn't have outside financing, like I had trouble accessing outside financing at the beginning of our journey was I wanted to do everything, you know, I wanted to save every single penny. I didn't, I was driving around to to do deliveries so that I didn't have to pay for postage. You know, I was doing customer service, but also sales outreach and it was incredible what automation of just like a few of those things did for the scale of the business, like how fast it changed. So in our first two years of business, you know, like we didn't have this trajectory of just like zero to hero. The first two years of business were like relatively flat, like the first year was off the side of my desk that I was doing a full year full time and I didn't see big changes in the business, but but it was really around, you know, me trying to do everything and and realizing at a certain point that I'm not an expert in everything, you know, there are some things that would be better sitting with somebody else. There's some things that I need to like have off my plate so I can focus on the things that I do well. So my my first hire with someone in customer service and it just allowed me to spend more time on like strategy, sales development, formulation and it's it's amazing what a difference that like one thing made also for my, you know, mental health to have time and space to be creative versus you know, always running between everything. So I think that that's something that I really try and embrace now that I don't, I'm not the best at everything and and surrounding myself with people who like really believe in the brand really like want the brand to be better and that can help me get there. What are you best at in the day to day of building the business and what's your like business superpower. Um, I think what I love the most is operations honestly, which is you know, not super like that's what I came from. So when I was in real estate it was like really about like project management and I think of myself as a generalist so you know, I can, I can speak the digital marketing lingo, I can speak the sales lingo, but I'm not an expert in any of it and I think that's okay, you know, as long as like you build trust with people who are there to support you and take the time to educate yourself and to learn on the things you don't know if you're a small business owner and you manage your own fulfillment. You've probably heard of the Dymo label printer, it's the gold star for e commerce store owners and they've just released their label writer five series with new software that's easy to install and use giving you more control over your printing than ever before. This printer will streamline your operations and print labels in precise quantities with ease and faster than ever. And with the new software you can keep track of the size, type and number of remaining at a glance reducing misprints and alerting you when it's time to change the label roll, you'll also be able to save money with no need for expensive ink or toner, which also means less waste as well as being made from sustainable materials. This is Deimos most impressive label writer model yet and we can't wait to hear about the impact it can have on your business, You can pick one up from your local office supply store or learn more at Dymo online dot com dot au, you said a few moments ago that, you know, you started to work in the influencer marketing side of things and the ambassador program, could you tell us a little bit about like what that looks like, how it works and break down the impact of you launching those programs? Yeah, So the ambassador program, you know, I'm originally, it was like our, our small business supporters, you know, like they were owners of boutiques and they were sharing the product and loved it. And it ended up being this like really almost like niche audience because small business owners, cafes, baristas, like all these things, they're also, you know, influencers in their own right to a very specific audience. And so, so where, you know, some brands might be tapping into mom's or weight watchers or, you know, these audiences like that, we, we found like this really unique audience that just supported women and small businesses and wanted to be part of something from the beginning. So, so that was really like our first influencer or ambassador crew and then where it's changed from there is that we, what we do is we, you know, see monthly to people who are aligned in values and who are managing caffeine, who care about wellness, who have similar, you know, values and interests to our audience and our brand and now we have, you know, hundreds of people in the program who are champions of, of what we're working on, they're actively involved in new flavor development there, provide getting feedback all the time in terms of like swag packaging, that sort of thing. Like our ambassador inside our community is like they run more of the business than than meets the eye. Um they're really actively involved in so much of what we do and so, and we just actually did our first ambassador collaboration as well. So we worked with and an influencer based out of Toronto to do a co branded product and and that's the way that we're expanding the program now, is, is working directly with people who align with the brand mission to help grow, reach and awareness and and really tell that story that we're trying to tell And how do you actually do that? Like if someone was listening and being like, I really want to launch an ambassador program and I really want to start, even if it's to start small with like 10 people for example, you know, are you using some kind of software or is it just like, you know, scrolling through instagram and putting people on a facebook group? Do you pay people other than product, like what does it look like to be getting those ambassadors into a program and like where does it live? In the beginning it was so much about just Dm you know like you're on instagram and you're finding, you know you you really wanna be specific about who you're chatting with and take the time to really learn about them, share your tailoring your message to them versus being like a blanket statement that you're you know putting across all channels. But we do a mix of instagram messages, emails, you know meeting people and invents now there's quite a bit of inbound and and we use a platform called aspire to manage it now but in the beginning it was so casual just I remember that you would that I would like cap out there was there was a max, there are some max on like how many D. M. S you could send and I would always try and like hit that in a day kind of thing. So um so how so so it Wasn't that high, it was a numbers game in the beginning and but it was it was something like you know let's say let's call it like 15 messages that I would send out to and and just like you know using my own my own social and bloom social to to reach out to people that I knew would love the products and it was solving a problem for them. So many people manage caffeine for different reasons. So it was about, you know, making it more personal to what they actually needed versus hey, you take cool pictures and you've got a big audience. Can you help me? It was more like, no, like these products, like you're sharing a specific story and I think these products could help you and, and other people, you know, with you like, along on your journey might be interested in them to like, I'd love to send them to you to try and for the most part we send them for free and if they love them, they share them and, and you know, and then the relationship could develop from there. So we don't do a lot of paid partnerships right now. It's more like gifting and hopefully they love the products. Yeah. And I think there's a difference between like sending a product just without any strings attached, like you don't need to post about it, you don't need to, and obviously that comes from a privileged position when you're at a point in a business where you can send out a lot of product and it's not kind of, you know, going to be a big stress on giving out that product for free, but sending it to people to truly work with, you know, folks who love your brand and love your mission versus sending out a message, being like, hey, can I send you something and can you post about it? It's two very, very different approaches, something else that we did like in the early years with a lot of markets, like we did like farmers markets and holiday markets and just talking to customers that way and say playing, you know, getting in front of them was a really inexpensive way to get the word out about the brand and have people actually trying the product, which is, is such a barrier in food. Like you, people really want to know if they're gonna like it before they buy it. So that was one, you know, inexpensive way that we were able to get in front of people and get those early Sales. I love that you just did a raise. I think I read it was $2 million. Congratulations. How was the experience? How did, what did you learn? What's the vibe? I've heard so many different points of view on raising as a female founder, what has been your experience summary? Well, you know, it's something that I, so like bloom has a bootstrap story. We, we were able to last year get alone for $100,000 from a business development bank, but other than that we've never really received, we've never received any funding except outside of grants and so it was something that, you know, was intentional, we didn't want to bring in capital too soon before we had really like proven attraction before we had had, you know, the fundamentals right? And before I felt personally ready. You know, you hear horror stories about getting like the wrong capital in and you know, growth for the sake of growth versus it being really strategic for the business because it's, you know, one of 30 companies that they need to make it. So I really wanted to make sure that we were in a place where I felt strong going into it and I could be picky about who came into and it was at a point where we really needed it. So we, we had gotten to the place where we were starting to say no to opportunities because we couldn't really afford like that, we didn't have the working capital to support it, we didn't have the resources. So that was when I knew, you know, the time was kind of like now for our category and, and that it was time to bring in people who could support us. And so the experience was, it's like a very emotional taxing experience, but it's, it's fun to, like, it's hard to explain, but, but every time you pitch, it's, you know, you're selling your vision like what you think it's gonna be in 20 years and it's just, it's very, this very vulnerable thing and some people got it right away and they were like, I want in on that, like I had, I had like, yes, is in our first call and but then there were others that you know ask me questions that I just like knew that they weren't, they weren't my people, you know what I mean? Like there weren't people, I wanted to have emailing me questions when times are hard because I don't think that, I think very few stories for businesses are like linear where it's like completely up and ups and downs are gonna be there and I wanted people who were gonna be there for the downs to and believe that the cops were coming back. So and and some people, you know, you just got the vibe that, that wasn't the case and I just like quietly, it's true. The gut instinct is very powerful and I've heard about it so many times on the show where people have been like I took the money but like cost me in the end kind of thing. You know, I wish I didn't take it, but you're in that stage of potentially desperation where you need capital to keep going and you're in this point where you need to make a decision so you make the decision and then looking back, you're like damn yeah. And I think that like that that is a commonplace that founders find themselves and and so I mean I got asked some crazy stuff like I was asked if I was asian, you know, for some like perform a torrey box, I asked if I had kids like I was asked like how how are you gonna text my money and like you know a ridiculous timeframe but then I also had people ask like, you know why me, how can I best support you, what is your, like, what is your vision and like what would your team say about you? And, and there were like, there were questions that were obviously coming from this very intuitive place and, and I'm really proud because 40% of the investors in this round are women and you know, we're a team of 13 women, it's always been like a women led business and I'm, I'm really excited about like the next phase and having you know these champions behind the hell yeah, that's what I want to think about Yeah. In the moment of people asking less than ideal questions, how do you respond to that and like people prepare you for that, did you expect to receive that? Like we all see this in the media right? But like actually being there in person and being on the receiving end of a question that you're like, what is this? How do you react honestly for some of them? I was like really surprised and it like took me, it took me time to like even process it, you know what I mean? I had been prepared in the sense that we were going into raising at an inopportune time, let's call it, you know like that people were becoming more risk adverse and it was like a challenging economic kind of climate and I had been prepared also, you know, you see all the stats that very few women receive funding and it's like less than 3% of VC funding goes to women. But um, you know, what I did was I I, you know, have a community of founder friends and, and you know, friends and that that gave me like soft introductions and I took all meetings and so I basically stepped away from the actual running of the business as best I could for, you know, the length of the race, I could take as many meetings as I could. So, you know, after the announcement of the race came out in the way that I was portrayed in media, it was like, in five weeks, like, the five weeks part is really not the part that I'm proud of. Like, the, the part that I'm proud of is the type of partners that we brought in, because, you know, in a day I would do like seven meetings if I could if I could squeeze that many in and, and it was like, you know, picking the people who are really gonna support and like, add strategic value, not just capital to the business. So I think like, I had heard tangentially that it was challenging. I was surprised by some of the questions I received, but that I'm really proud of in the end, the mix of investors that we have and I think that we're more armed than we've ever been for like the next phase of growth. A 100%. You have some really great names in your investor list. Where does the capital go now? What does this take you to? Well right now, 85% of our business is actually in Canada. So a big part of the raises like supporting our growth into the us market, adding team members and building in like process, you know, that we didn't really have like just starting to have more systems in place to allow us to scale a little faster. So lots of projects underway and and community is really at the heart of bloom and I really want us to also do more in person events and get to know our customers like in person and so that's, that's a big part of this race too. Is building community at kind of an in real life aspect. Fun. That sounds super fun. Do you have any, anything you can share like about what that could look like? Well we're turning five in october so we're gonna throw ourselves a birthday party with some of our, some of our customers and very cute, Happy birthday for october Thank you. Um, and like a bunch of, we're launching like some new flavors that have really interesting functions and so a lot of our events are going to be tailored around kind of like the theme and function of our products. So I'm really excited about them. And just on the last note on the fundraising, what advice can you give as kind of your best piece of advice for anyway, one who is gearing up to go through a potential fundraise or you know, first time even if it's friends and family or institutional capital, I think it's to take the investor lens. Like, so it's really easy like as a founder to come to a presentation really from like all the everything you see and you, you need to be that like they're buying into you and, and you need to be that visionary that really excites an investor but framing it in a way that they understand, kind of like framing it in a way like that's from their perspective too. So just like, that was one thing that I needed to kind of like evolved during the pitches where in the beginning it was so much about like, you know, the, the nuts and bolts, like really granular about what we were doing. Like we sent this many ambassador packages and just like really adapting it to, to be more like the vision that where it's going to be in five years, like what just, just so that I was speaking the same language as them. That was something that I hadn't done before and I needed to change up. How long did it take you to kind of like nail your pitch, how many meetings, I don't know if I've even nailed it now, but but like actually if I could give one other piece of advice is that and what one of my, one of my investors said this to me so judy brooks shoes, the chairwoman of smart Swedes and she was like the first person to be like, okay I'm in, she was like, don't, don't change your pitch duck. You know, people are going to give you all their advice and on your pitch deck just like just say thank you and are you in or you out? And she was, she's like very like black and white about it and and I really took her advice like there there were people like in, in my, in my deck, I had that there was a team of 13 women and had people say, you know like why is that in there? That's not important kind of thing. But it's super important to me and super important to our team and our culture and like where we see this heading like bloom is all about the empowerment of women. So did I take that deck and make adjustments? No, like that person didn't get it and that's okay, you know, find the people who get it and so I didn't spend a lot of time like catering my pitch deck to individual investors, you know, they were either going to see the big picture, they weren't and and if they were gonna hang on to like one detail that didn't resonate with them, then they probably aren't the people that I want with me on the journey for the long term. It's actually a really good piece of advice that we haven't had on the show before. And I think what's also important about it is when someone tells you like, oh, that doesn't matter, take it out that lends itself to going back to being a more generic pitch deck when you're right like to you, that is a really important thing. That's part of your vision, that's part of the story of your company. So of course you would have that in there. Very interesting. Thank you for sharing that. I love that tip. Is there anything that you want to shout about and tell us about that's happening right now? What's going on? What's working, what's exciting that you can share? Well, I think that something that like, I love to share about bloom is that we have a team of people who aren't necessarily like experts to, like I mentioned earlier that, you know, I took a digital marketing class and you know, so many of the people that message me are kind of, you know, early stage founders and they're wondering, you know, how you go from A to Z. And I think it's more about like taking a step and, and that it doesn't have to be perfect when you do, you know, it's like about that minimum viable product and having a mindset of like growth and iteration. So the tumor blend that we have to Today is totally different than the tumour blend that we originally started with. You know, it's been the formulations changed a number of times the packaging, the copy, the size, the price, like almost everything has changed based on feedback. And so I think that so many get held up in wanting it to be 120%, absolutely perfect. And some things, you know, should be perfect in terms of like, you know, it solves the problem, you say it's gonna solve and, and it, it tastes good and all those things, but, but just that it's okay to iterate to and, and I think that's the first step is like the hardest one. And then you can follow it up with like more iterations going forward. 100%. Don't be crippled by perfection done is better than perfect. Yeah, exactly. I love that.

So question number one is, what's your, why, why are you doing this every single day? It's because I want to love what I do and connect with people on, you know, like a more personal level. So in, you know, commercial real estate, I never felt really connected to the end product or consumer and with bloom, I feel like we're really influencing change and how people are like addiction to coffee and how they treat themselves and how they're able to take moments of self care and that's something that really lights me up and gets me excited to get out of bed. I love that. That's so cool. Question number two is what has been your favorite marketing moment so far? I'm super proud of the co branded product that we did with Sasha Exeter who's based in Toronto, it was something that led to like a $40,000 sales day, and you know. adding so many people to our email list and into our community. So um it was definitely like a labor of love and, and, and that's like a marketing moment that I didn't know what it would be like going into it but that I was super proud of how it was executed in the end, We need to pause so you can just break down how this came about because this is kind of crazy like was this like a really organic, like meeting of the minds and being like, let's do something together or did you pitch Sasha or vice versa and like how did this come together? Like what is the blueprint for this? Well we have been, you know, with facebook roos changes, we have been thinking about how you grow awareness and reach like in a more organic way anyways, like where it's with aligned community and so Sasha was on this hit, like top dream list of influencer that we could work with and so she shared about the products before, so she had tried them and so we reached out and just kind of pitched what we were thinking and, and um it came together really quickly, like I think we had the paperwork signed at the end of like november december 2021 it was launched by june 2022 so we just worked so hard together to bring it to life and with like what supply chain is it was, it was really, you know, a bit of a special, it was definitely a bit of like a special project and that's why I'm so proud of it because everyone just like really rallied for it like from operations to marketing to, you know, our co branded partner, we just like really dug deep into it and she did so many, you know, customer surveys on her side about like people wanting something that was for beauty for, for digestion and it was like really built by community. So we launched it with a wait list where you could sign up with an email list to, to basically get early access to the product. And we generated thousands of emails that way, both through your community and our community. And so it led to this really successful launch because we had all these emails that were generated from really like high intent customers who like either loved bloom, loved the function that we're building for because it was like from their suggestions or loved the influencer, Sasha and so yeah, it led to like a really exciting launch and bloom is typically a really seasonal products. So it was also a way for us to, it was also like this like really exciting, exciting way to add interest to summer months when we're typically more fall winter. Oh, that is so cool, so exciting. I have one more question just before I continue. So sorry and the person that always has just one more question when you're working on an influencer partnership like that, is it, Hey, let's pay you up front to work together or is it a rev share model or is it a blend of both? In this particular scenario? It really varies from partnership. Partnership, is what I found in, in this case we wanted it to be, it was our first time doing something like this, we wanted it to be really authentic. So we did like a year long partnership where um, it was a blend of, you know, her sharing the products, her story with the product, which was like kind of like a base fee and then there was also like a revenue participation component for the actual product. So I think it's really important that whoever your partner is is like incentivized as well and should participate in the upside because their name is on the package and everything like that. So you know, everyone is like everyone's interests need to be aligned to make a partnership really be successful. So I actually think the revenue share component is really, really important and it was a way to keep like also the base fees down because we were at the time, you know, bootstrapped and scrappy, we leaned more heavily into the red shared component that we did in the base fees. Yeah, yeah, I agree that it's, I think the performance incentive piece of the puzzle is so key to also keep people interested over that long kind of period of time and keep sharing and things like that. Wow, so interesting. Thank you so much for telling me about that Question # three back to it. What is your go to business resource when you think about things like a book that changed your life or a podcast that you listen to often or a newsletter that's packed with the good stuff. Well I love the, how I built this. I feel like I'm probably not the first to say that, but that's something that I've listened to since like, since before I started on this journey and I've always found it really inspirational, I think it's like really nice to know that people make it to the end and that's what, how I built this does really well. But I also, there's a book called Good to Great that I've recently read that I loved and it's kind of a playbook on most common mistakes for for founders and how you can think about your business to really get scale and get efficiency. So, um, when I was reading that book, I was like, oh man, I definitely do that do that. So it was like, that one's really resonating with me, right? Amazing. I'm going to link it in the show notes for anyone who wants to check it 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. So I obsessively write to do lists on paper, like no matter what programs come out like a santa or whatever. I'm always writing it down on paper, I was just looking, I have a million to do list on paper. I was looking around to show you one and of course there's not one, right? And, and what I do is like in the morning, I always write like, you know, I'll have one from the previous day, but I rewrite it, it's like sort of intention setting or something like that and I highlight kind of like the three things that I need to do to feel good and if those three things are done at the end of the day, then, you know, even though there's gonna be like 10 other things on that to do list, it's kind of like I did what I set out to today, so definitely obsessed with the to do list and the sticky note reminders. Like if I showed you what my office looks like right now, it's just like, you know, like inspirational quotes and um to do list things and like, so I think like writing things down like journaling about about like what your intention is, but also how you feel about it is so important to just getting in the right frame of mind to be really productive. And I think today it's so easy to get sucked into like zoom meetings and google meets and all those types of things and they really take away from like for me anyways, like they take away from really having time to work, you know, to do like the work that like moves things forward. So I've gotten in the habit of blocking out mornings where I auto deny like invite requests just to, to save space in my calendar for and maybe I just need to go for a walk or like, you know, sit outside with my day or something like that. But I think it's really important that we don't get into this cycle of like working around the clock constantly. So there's no creative space and like the love of the job is gets hit because you need to keep all that energy really high because it's a marathon, not a sprint. You know, I mean 100%. I felt like last year I was just packing in so many calls at any time of the day. I was doing recordings all over the shop and this year I really switched to be like I need days that are like clear without these like broken up calls all throughout my days that I can just be creative, create content, do what I need to do. And it made such a big difference just scheduling, like only certain windows of time when I would take recordings or calls and just kind of like packing them in like sardines back to back and doing like shorter calls as well, like 20 minute calls instead of like half an hour to an hour long calls where you're like, This could have been done in 10 minutes kind of thing. Yeah, totally. I think there's a difference between busy and productive and that we, that we all need to kind of like realize what the, what the difference is there. And I'm, I'm trying to do it. It's hard, it's hard to say, you know, because you, the thing is you want to do these things to like you sometimes you have to say no to things you want to do. But it's, it's like hacking your schedule or hacking or hacking your calendar and I'm, I'm working on it. Perfect question number five is what's been the worst money mistake you've made and how much did it cost you? Well, that's a really good question. One of the worst money mistakes I had was bringing in a product for a retailer. So it was basically like a retailer had requested a specific product and so we did it to appease a retailer versus doing it to align with like our, our values and our strategic mission And in the end, you know, it probably cost us $15, something like that. And maybe, you know, like not enough to take the business but enough to be like why did I, you know, it's, it's like making choices that are short term versus long term. And so I think that it's really easy, like at least I feel really tempted by low hanging fruit sometimes, you know, to private label or to, you know, things that would like bring money in the door today, but you have to or what I'm trying to learn is to like really like step back and think about like what are the things I really need to focus on to reach the end goal and make sure that all the, because we're so limited on time because we're so limited on resources that everything that you do should be tracking towards that versus you know, all these shiny objects that are along the way. So I don't, I think that's one that I like regret not just from like a financial perspective, but because it shows kind of like, like that was a moment of lack of focus and going for the low hanging fruit when I need to be like staying focused on kind of what what we're really trying to build, 100% focus is like a real super power to master. I find like I actively try and do this every day, but it's still one of those things where I can go off on a tangent and like work on something that I'm like damn, I shouldn't have done that. Last question question number six, what is just a crazy story you can share from the business, good or bad? Well I actually started this business with a co founder and so this is something that I get asked a lot too, is kind of like, you know what happened there sort of thing and a lot of people start with co founders and, and maybe have different visions, maybe it works out great, you know, if very, so much from time to time. And and so I would just say that like that's like a choice that needs to be like really carefully considered.

00:11:33Edit I think like in the beginning when we started bloom as like a side project, it was like a fun thing between friends sort of thing. But just that when you're bringing in investors partners, you know, even like senior level, like team members just, it's better to go slow and to make sure that all the values, all the visions are aligned then jumping on first opportunities. Like it's better to some projects aren't going to get done because you don't have people, but to take the time to find the right people because I think that's something that I I could have done better in the past and I would just encourage anyone to just be really thoughtful about. Yeah, that's a really key point. How does it work in that scenario where two people in a co founder relationship decide to go different ways. Did you have to buy her out or does she still have equity in the business and just doesn't work on the day today? So I brought her out in the end, I bought her out in March 2020 which was like, right, when Covid hit and like the business really shifted so, but it's a scary time and I was really lucky. Like she, you know, she agreed that, you know, it wasn't working and she wanted to pursue her own things and I wanted to pursue my own things, but you hear stories where it's not that way too. So that's why I say that it's just like better to be thoughtful and like really clear and upfront about what expectations are at the beginning versus you know, having those comfortable conversations later on. 100%. Karen, thank you so much for taking the time to come on the show today and share your journey with Bloom. It's been so cool talking to you. I'm so excited to see all these new things that are coming up for you this year and what you achieve. Thank you so much for having me. It was such a great chat, I really appreciate it. Hey, it's dune here. Thanks for listening to this amazing episode of the female startup club podcast. If you're a fan of the show and want even more of the good stuff, I'd recommend checking out female startup club dot com. Where you can subscribe to our free newsletter, we send it out weekly covering female founder business news insights and learnings in D. C. And interesting business resources. And if you're a founder building an e commerce brand you can join our private network of entrepreneurs called hype club at female startup club dot com forward slash hype club. We have guests from the show joining us for intimate. Ask me Anythings, expert workshops and a group of totally amazing like minded women building the future of dtc brands. As always, please do subscribe rate and review the show and post your favorite episodes to instagram stories. I am beyond grateful when you do that



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