Hi everyone and welcome back to the show! It’s Doone here, your host and hype girl! If you’ve just found us - welcome welcome welcome.
Every week we’re learning from some of the world’s most brilliant minds in business. Like the founder of Ritual, a leading personal health company in the US founded by Kat Schneider. Since launching her supplements biz Kat has gone from working in the VC world to building a business that brings a new level of transparency to the health and wellness industry. While pregnant and in search of a prenatal she could trust, Kat took matters into her own hands and pioneered a new standard of high-quality multivitamins and supplements that are backed by science and Made Traceably. Now it’s one of the most trusted brands in the category and has more than a million customers. LOVE this episode. So many insights.
Before we jump in a quick reminder on the girl code - you know we love it! And I’m doing a call out for our loyal listeners to be involved in our new content series where you DM me a voice note or a question about anything across business, life, or relationships to feature on the show! You can send it to me personally on Instagram or through Female Startup Club’s Instagram - I’m so excited about this one!
Please note, this transcript has been copy-pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Kat. Hi. Welcome to the female start-up club podcast. Thanks for having me. Excited to chat. Me too. Your office looks so fun. I feel like we're very kind of on brand for our businesses right now. Yeah. Yellow and pink is a weirdly nice combination that I didn't expect. Yeah, I love it. It reminds me of like tropical holiday vibes. I guess I could use some of those right now. How was your day? Have you got any highlights that you can share? Yeah, I took, I took my kids swimming, which is always fun. I just kind of like plop them in a, in a pool and then just sat back and, and watch the chaos them out. Yeah, they were so, so exhausted. And then we went to the park and I just love days when I can just spend time with them and just focus on them completely.
How does it work now? You know, you many years into building your business, how you have a family, like, what's your kind of schedule like now that you do have, you know, kids that you want to spend a lot of time with? Yeah. So I have three kids the ages of 35 and seven and then I started ritual when I was pregnant with the older one, they've kind of just integrated life and business together and they're at the ages now where they're in school most of the day. And so I'm just completely present with them when they're out of school, which is in the mornings and in the evenings we have dinner together. I love to cook and put them down and then, then I'm back online, but it's, I love it. I love just being completely present and almost using time with them as a moment to recharge. Whereas I think before I had kids, I'd go out for a drink or kind of do odds and ends. And I wasn't even as, like focused business wise. Now I'm like, ok, 30 30 minute meeting, let's go, let's go, like, give me the details and I think it just makes you a lot more focused and also for me just, it gives me like a sense of purpose and, and I'm so grateful for that. Yeah, I love that. And I've had people kind of talk about that on the show before. Like, once you have kids you're really forced to focus and prioritize and, and a lot of the time you become a better business owner and a better business leader because you're able to really kind of get into that deep zone, like zone of genius versus just procrastinating and being like, well, I have unlimited time. Like, it's all good. I'll do it, I'll do it later. I think other people appreciate it too because it's like the meetings are shorter, they're more intense, there's action, you know, for, it's kind of lingering. And obviously I think the other, the other thing that's, you know, I've gone through pregnancy three times and postpartum throughout having a business and just learning about that period of time and health for people has changed our parental leave policies at Ritual. We now have five months of paid leave for everyone and then eight weeks of transitionary time for the birthing person. And it's just, I don't know, it's opened my eyes to everything that companies should be doing to support their parents and working parents especially. Wow, what's the standard parental leave in the US? It's a touchy subject because we had a whole campaign at Ritual where we were working on paid leave and increasing that for the US. But it's, it's like completely abysmal. Um and it's really up to companies to come up with their own standards for, for people coming back. And I, you know, the first, I, I could barely walk after like four weeks of, of delivering and, and yet we have people in the US that are coming back to work after a couple of weeks and, you know, imagine just, like, not being able to get out of bed and, and you're in a job where you're standing 9 to 5, it's, it's abysmal and we need to do something about it and, and it's something that I'm really passionate about. Yeah. Oh, my gosh. Well, that's amazing that you're able to do that with your company and, and spread that kind of message and hopefully influence other companies. So what is it for you guys? Do? You know? You know what, I don't know in Australia, I haven't lived here for eight years, so I um I actually don't know, but I think it's pretty good. Um a friend of mine, she, her and her husband work at the same law firm and they both got six months paid leave um at the same time. So they were able to really enjoy. But that's, that's only one example. I really don't know what the standard is, but I think it's pretty good in Australia. But yeah, I'll have to look into that. I'm not sure. I want to go back to kind of the beginning of ritual even before you launch to understand where your story starts, why you are getting interested in this business and your entrepreneurial journey. So I like to say that my entrepreneurial journey started when I was very little. My dad was an entrepreneur. We were refugees. And we came to the US with, with a suitcase and $50 and lived in a welfare hotel in Brooklyn. My dad eventually became an entrepreneur. My mom worked on Wall Street and I was just so inspired by his entrepreneurial journey and I saw it at our dinner table and I always knew that I wanted to start something, but I never knew what it would be. I had a lot of ideas throughout the years, you know, as a kid when you're like making up businesses or business ideas, like what I'm not, I don't even remember what they're like, everything. Like I even took, I remember I even took fashion classes and I started knitting these bamboo dress. I was way ahead of my time where I was knitting kind of sustainable clothing dresses. My mom saw where is one of them? Oh my God, I love. Yeah. So I've got, my career has taken a lot of different turns I would say. And I ended up in finance, worked at Lehman Brothers was part of the largest bank failure in history and eventually worked my way into startups and kind of just experienced so many different types of, of jobs. And I was running a venture capital fund here in L A for Troy Carter, who was Lady Gaga's manager at the time, and he'd invested in over 70 companies, everything from Uber dropbox, Barley Parker, Spotify. And I've been so inspired by him. I was also inspired by my husband who is also a serial entrepreneur, is pregnant and I was kind of the stable breadwinner at the time and couldn't stop thinking about vitamins and prenatal vitamins. And as someone who hadn't really taken vitamins regularly before I and I grew up in this kind of alternative household where we were very focused on wellness, growing up everything from Ayurveda to pressed juice to just cleansing and all these different things. And never did we take vitamins. And then all of a sudden, I was four months pregnant with my first daughter and, and I couldn't find a prenatal vitamin that I trusted from heavy metals to artificial tolerance to products with without key nutrients that, that we needed. Like Colleen, I knew that we deserved better and that's how ritual was born and it was born out of a personal need that I couldn't stop thinking about. And I knew that I was the right person to solve it. Oh My gosh, how exciting. I love when you have that kind of light bulb moment where you're like, yes, this is it. This is what I'm gonna dedicate my time and my energy and my like brain power to, were you thinking kind of like all in all at once? Quit your job with Troy and, and build this business or were you thinking side hustle? Get started kind of easy steps. What was the, could you paint the picture of what your life was looking like at that time. That's a great question because I talked to a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs and I mentor a lot of women. And I feel like for every, everyone thinks it should be a side hustle and I knew that I wanted to do something big and this was not going to be a side hustle. I needed to raise venture capital funding. And I would say at the time, I started working on a deck, I started talking to people in the industry and then I had a conversation with Troy and, and he was like, I'm gonna invest and I, you know, I left Adam factory at the time. Um but I had already more or less when I quit my job, I'd already secured some funding through that time. But it was also because Troy was really supportive of me, but I would say it was not a side hustle and, and having I knew that because I wanted to change this industry that was so rooted in science because I wanted to invest in things like clinical studies, third party certifications and higher quality ingredients and things that required so much capital. This wasn't going to be something I was just, you know, doing on the side, especially when it impacted women that were pregnant. Got it right. I want to kind of stick on this um VC kind of area just for a moment before we get into kind of launching ritual and talking about the marketing because I think that it's something that, you know, we know that the stats aren't really changing. And there are lots of, you know, systemic issues in the VC world, especially when it comes to women and, and raising and, and obviously, you're in a position where you really knew both sides of the coin and you were able to play that to your advantage and you also had network and connections and things like that. But at that time, kind of seven years ago, right, when you were, or maybe even a little bit longer when you were getting ready, eight years ago. What was the landscape like in the US for women raising venture capital specifically in CPG? Because I guess like from my point of view in Australia and Australia, it's a lot further behind the US in terms of maturity, I think our first VC and like the main VC firm that is in Australia started in 2012. So it's only 10 years, right? There's such a big disconnect between what V CS are actually investing in versus what women are actually building. So for us in Australia, it's, and it's the same everywhere, right? But it's B to B SA, it's deep tech, it's that kind of space for the most part. And then there's just such a disconnect and I'm wondering what you were seeing at that time when you were working in VC and, and what you were experiencing circa eight years ago, it sounds very familiar to how it was when I was, you know, when I quit my job and I started fundraising for Ritual. It, you would think because I was an investor that I would have a really easy time. And if anything, it was incredibly eyeopening, I didn't have anybody to look to as a female entrepreneur who was pregnant, who was trying to have a family and a career, there was no one to be like, oh, you know, they, they raised, you know, $50 million and built a successful nine figure business and had kids and I want to learn from them. And there were very few people that I that I found and it's because the infrastructure was just wasn't there for, for myself or for us in, in general. There weren't very many women investing in women at the time on the venture capital side. Now I'm seeing a lot more and seeing less of that on the growth equity side. So when you want to actually scale and get even bigger, but I think the venture capital side has increased. Um I think that for me, the infrastructure for, for things like breast feeding and pumping and, and doing all those things when you even go to conferences didn't exist. So I I we were finalists at one of the largest tech conferences in the US tech crunch disrupt. I was on stage, like, basically like leaking and too much information. Um, and I knew it was a pump and, and they were like, we, we don't know where to put you. So we have, you can sit on the top of an escalator that's broken or later on. I complained, you know, and they put me in a closet with a bunch of wheelchairs, which is very interesting. So it was just, it was a kind of a rough time and, and I actually went to investors that I knew I went to one of um a very well known investor in L A. And I said, hey, I want, I want start a company and I'm four months pregnant and I was super fired up. And he said, you know, you can either start a business or a family, but you can't do both. And it was really representative I think of, of the culture at the time, which to me has changed a lot. I think in the US, especially where we have women uh like the CEO of stitch who, who IP O her company, you know, you know, it's been on the cover of leading magazines, pregnant. And I think that now we have all these examples of women that are building not just small, you know, small businesses, but really significant businesses that the world is paying attention to that we can all learn from. And that's become part of my kind of driving force is also to show other, other women that they can do both if that's what they want. Um Yeah, absolutely. What I find interesting is like, it feels like the times are changing. It feels like, you know, we see a headline every other day about a woman in CPG, specifically raising capital or a pregnant mum, you know, doing these things. But then when you look at the stats, it feels like it isn't changing. And I'm like, what? Like, I don't know what the answer is but like, what do you think needs? Whe when do you think it will change? Like, what do you think that means? I saw a stat that, that said about a year ago that close to 50% of businesses, small businesses were started by women. But then you see the stats of, you know, less than 1% of venture capital funding goes to women. So, so it's not like we don't have great ideas or we're not starting businesses, but the funding, the funding to scale a business to a larger scale is not happening. And I think that's a huge problem because the businesses we want to start happen many times from a personal need, whether it's women's health or other areas that there's a massive need for, for change there. And so we're underfunding these incredibly important businesses in the world. And so it's not that we're not just funding women, we're, we're not funding opportunities to change lives to change our culture, to change and change the world. So that, that makes me really, um, you know, I think it, it is changing though. I would say it makes me really disappointed, but I would say that from where I was eight years ago and, and to where I am today and, and even being in rooms with venture capitalists and, you know, I've, I've seen the change happen. Um, and I've, and I've experienced it too and three quarters of our three out of four people on our board are women. So our boardroom is mostly women and that's, that's a good sign, right? And they're powerful women. There are women that also investing in other women and, um, and they're making a mark and they're investing in businesses that we need. And I would say it's not just even women, it's minorities as well totally. And I guess like when we think about, you know, the, the cycle of a fund, it is kind of a long time. It's, you know, probably 10 years for that fund to come around. And so it works cyclically. It's, it's taking a long time and then kind of the women that are getting into investing now from the ground up, whether they're associates or analysts and, you know, in 10 years time, they'll be a partner. It's not really overnight change. It's, it's long meaningful change. So, I guess, you know, it's part of it that it is changing and you've already seen it change and it will continue to trend in the right direction even though it feels kind of slow and, and sort of micro, micro change. What do you think is important advice for anyone listening, who is wanting to kind of go down the pathway and raise venture capital for a big idea that they have in an area that needs and requires a large amount of funding to scale or to even get started. That's a great question. I think to the, the first thing that people should ask themselves when they're trying to raise money or thinking about raising money is do I need it? Because when you take money, it is a commitment that you make with your, with your investor that you're gonna, like you said, return their fund, right? Not you're not your individual business, but part of your business. And so they is there are higher stakes because it maybe they want to see on, on their investment or whatever it is. And I think you have to also believe that your business is gonna get there. If you're just trying to create a lifestyle business, then an investment is probably not, not the right thing for you. But if you're trying to create a unicorn or something that is, that is gonna be tremendous in size and scale and value, then it probably makes sense. And I think, you know, one other thing is like for us I knew right away that I needed to raise money because I wanted to invest in the right things that the industry was not investing in. So, a lot of things are not required by the supplement industry, whether it's clinical studies or third party certifications or testing or even patents and innovation around the delivery technologies. And I wanted to start from the ground up and to do that required a lot of investment upfront. And if we had hadn't raised money, you know, I could have gone to a, to a manufacturer and I and say, spit, spit out this product, which is what a lot of companies do in the category, the category has exploded from 4000 to 90,000 supplements. Wow. In, yeah, in 30 30 years. And so it's pretty, fairly easy to, to create products in the category, but to do it the right way and to create something from the ground up, it requires a lot of investment. And I knew that that investment would pay off. I also knew that I wanted to create a household name, an iconic brand and go beyond just prenatal vitamins. And even though we have one of the leading prenatal vitamins in the US, it's just a part of our business. And what we're doing is really setting a new standard in the supplement industry. And so I think going back to your question, like you have to be thinking about things at a larger scale when you're taking that money on because it is a lot of pressure and, and one thing that's really interesting for me isn't, you know, we've raised over $50 million in funding and every time we've announced our funding and anyone announces your, any funding, it feels like a very celebratory moment. Which is really weird. You can glorify it. Yeah, it's glorified but it's actually just again, another commitment with an investor that you're saying, hey, I want to take this business to the scale. Do you agree or not? And you haven't earned it yet? And I think that, you know, the first thing that I get is like, do you want to buy a jet or a plane or all these things in my inbox from, from the fundraising? I'm like, no, no, no, I, I don't, I haven't taken any of this money. I'm putting it into the business so that we can scale it. I think it's wrongfully glorified and I kind of deny that. Congratulations because it's not a congratulations. And I think a lot of people kind of don't realize that who aren't deeply invested in this world. I think the other, sorry, one other thing that, no, please keep going. I think it's really important. You know, I've been on kind of both sides of the investment and the investor side of things. And what's another thing that people don't realize is that you should, you know, it's kind of like a date when you're meeting an investor, you should also be seeing if you like them. I think a lot of people take money from funds that are glorified as well, but they're not really focused on the partner that's gonna be with them for possibly the dura, you know, forever for the whole duration as, as long as they're in the company and it's really important that, that you feel that chemistry with the partner that's gonna be on your board, that's gonna be with you through the ups and downs more so than the name of, of the fund that you take money from. Have you turned down investment before because of that? Yeah, I have, I, I, we, you know, I think we've had some competitive rounds at and, and for me, it's, it always people first, we, we're a people first culture and it's always been that way also on the investment side. And I, I'm, I am so close with our ambassadors, which is a weird thing to say. We have Lisa Wu from Northwest who's on our board, who I, I talk to regularly and religiously almost. Um she's become such a big part of my life and I can't imagine, you know, this company being where it is today without her and that and that fund because not everything has been so linear in especially the last couple of years where we've all experienced, you know, global pandemic to another bank failure with S DB to all these things, you know, the world shutting down to capital, shutting down and so on and so forth. And I think, you know, knowing that somebody has strong conviction in the brand is just can't ask for anything more. Hm. Yeah, that, that true support and, and cheerleader that also has a lot of knowledge and insights that can help you get to where you want to go. So important, I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about the launch, getting ready to kind of bring this to market. You know, what you, how, how do you create a supplement? How like where does this start in terms of finding your raw ingredients, understanding how to formulate a supplement and then bringing it into the world? Yeah. So I knew nothing about the supplement industry when I started and I would say my greatest strength is just kind of being an investigative journalist almost or highly skeptical journalist, I would say and, and just digging through information, whether it's pop med or even just people. And so I, I spent, I spent like hours like hundreds of hours on linkedin and finding people in the category, reaching out to them, meeting up with them. I met up with a guy that I messaged on linkedin in a strip mall in New Jersey. I flew across the country because he was an expert in the industry and I assembled a team of people that were experts in, you know, as a mom and a healthy skeptic, I was, I would say more of an expert in terms of, of marketing or connecting with our consumer. But I assembled a team of scientists that were experts and that was stage one for me because I knew we wanted to lead with science and that's where the investment came in because they're very expensive. So hiring scientists was my first priority. And, and as someone who didn't come from the industry again, it was just meeting people that, that knew so much and had been in the industry for decades. And our first scientists had been in the industry for several decades and leading scientists and had formulated some of the leading products in the US. And I asked him, I'm like, where are the skeletons buried where, you know, I want to learn everything that has been done wrong before or what is it that you've always wanted to do that hasn't been done after 30 years of working in this field? And ingredients were the first thing that, that he brought up. There were so many ingredients that he wanted to use. That other companies, very large companies had not used because they were expensive, even though they might have been higher quality or more bioavailable or, you know, had clinical studies behind them. It was too expensive and, and it always comes down to that. And so that was our first order of business when formulating a multivitamin for women. 18 plus we scour the world for the best ingredients. So Omega three is from Microalgae from Nova Scotia D three from wild harvested lichen in the UK methylated folate from Italy and K two from Norway. And so I, I go on and go on, you know, um and we became close with all of the suppliers behind that and that was groundbreaking. Like no one had ever seen a traceable multivitamin before and we put all those ingredients on our site so people can see where they came from and why. And then we were ready to choose the manufacturer and I wanted to work with the leading manufacturer who had pharmaceutical experience because it wasn't just about ingredients but how they were delivered in the body and they said no, they didn't want to work with us because they never heard of us. Oh, they'd never heard of us. And what's interesting is, you know, as I said, the supplement industry has exploded, it's gone bananas from 94,000 supplements in 30 years. And so everyone wants to create a supplement that you have some of the best manufacturers who just want to work with people at scale. And so we hadn't had any scale yet. And so convincing them to work with us was something that I was really focused on. And so email message to everyone from the CEO down and, and I, that's definitely my strategy. Usually it's just like, how do you get the right people? Yeah. And then convince them, I think they still joke about it because I was like, almost ready to give birth. What do you think? Got them over the line meeting with them in person. They actually had a relationship with our previous scientists. So it came down to relationships and trust and, and those are the two things that always gets people over the line. And in I think the other funny story for ritual, for me, for, for getting besides just the products and by the way, we invested in human clinical so that we did so many things. But the other story was getting ritual dot com. Oh my God, tell us the story. I knew that I wanted the brand to be called ritual. So it started as needles evolved ritual because ritual is how you turn a routine to a habit to a ritual with ritual being the ultimate. And I wanted to change the way that people interacted with the products they use every single day and actually like look forward to taking their vitamins because everyone forgets and it's, it was just not fun before us. So I want original dot com. I and I want something I need to get it. I'm gonna get it, do everything to get it. I think that's another sign of entrepreneurship. The perseverance was it domain parked or did someone actively have it and use it. Someone had it and they had an entertainment company around it and it was tough and I actually got to know the person and I ended up spending a lot of time with them and actually understood that they wanted a different domain at jolt dot com. And so I got them a shorter domain eventually because I got to know the person that owned that domain and then conducted a transfer. And so it was just so wild because it felt like it could never be accomplished. And and why it was so important was trust. You know, this category, there was, there's still so much mistrust, especially just given the lack of tight regulations, there are regulations, it is a regulated industry, but there could be more oversight. And I think it's led to a lot of consumer mistrust and to earn that trust, it was really important for me and for us to do things the right way. And I didn't want my virtual get your virtual dot com. I wanted virtual dot com and I, and I want this to be a brand that expands to so many different things and stands for so much and I needed to get it and I got it and I got on Instagram and Twitter and all the things. I mean, it's such a great UO and it was a battle, but I believe that that's the right thing to do to build a long lasting brand. How much did the domain cost you in the end? Almost nothing. Almost nothing. Yeah. Because of the transferring. Oh my God. Did, did you have to buy the other one or just because you had gotten what they wanted? Did they pay for the other one? Yeah. Yeah. Well, yeah, it was probably, like, can't just close. Right. Exactly. But it was, yes. Almost nothing. Wow. That is. So, that is such a cool story. And I love again that it goes back to trust, connect relationships because everything in business is just relationships. It's relationships with your suppliers, with your investors, with your customers, uh with your influencers, everyone that's involved. It, it's just a relationship. I love that. That's such a great reminder. Uh to everyone listening, how important that is. I wanna talk about the launch and kind of that first go to market strategy. How were you getting the word out there? What did you do to get your first, you know, 1000 customers if we have to kind of break it down? How did we get our 1st 1000 customers? Oh, my gosh. That was so long ago. I don't remember exactly. I think a lot of it was word of mouth. There was a lot of hype for us launching, especially we got a lot of pr from, from techcrunch and, and that was an unusual place to launch a supplement, I would say because it's the technology that we became a technology company, by the way, we invested in our own software, but it was kind of contrarian in a way because we did things a little differently and we got a lot of pr so that definitely helped, there was a waitlist and, and people signed up initially, we definitely built our brand on Instagram and, and that was just so key for our success because it was kind of untapped at the time in some ways for, especially for D to C and so many of us built our brands off of that opportunity, which it no longer is, I would say as much where you have to diversify your, your media mix. But we like went hard on Instagram in the beginning and you know, it was, we got headlines like the world's most Instagrammable vitamin, which I, you know, I hate it because I'm like, we actually stand for science and we're not a, you know, pretty thing, but it, it helped us a lot because they created trend and buzz. And since then, like, what do you think have been kind of the giant leaps forward? Like we love to understand like, what are those pivotal moments in a company that yes, you've got your Instagram strategy, you're getting lots of press. Um I'm sure you're doing, you know, influencers and all that kind of stuff. But what are the actual moments that like propelled the business forward kind of over the last seven years? The moments that have propelled the business forward is are really unsexy. I would say, like it's actually just launching great products that people trust and believe in and being really thoughtful about which products to launch when. And I remember meeting with an advisor who kind of drew a picture of a house and said, the way that you build the house is actually how you launch the product, the foundation. And he advised us to really launch with one single product and just go hard on that. And what we stand for through that product, which was our multivitamin from an 18 plus. And even though I was pregnant and you know, the business came out of a need for prenatal, I was dying to launch a prenatal. But I waited because I wanted to earn trust with that consumer. And so after we launched the multivitamin, we waited, I believe two years and then we launched the up our customers were asked like, why don't you have a pre needle and having a baby? Please put out a pre needle. We need your pre needle because they believed in us that we were, we we stood by traceability, traceable science and traceable sourcing. People knew where their ingredients were coming from for the first time and why. And it was almost the sequencing of the products told a really eloquent story of what we stand for and where we're going. And I, I think that is just so important for for companies because every product launch tells this connective story to, to the customer and to the world even if you're if you're not buying that product from somebody. Yeah. And it feels like in your or it sounds like in your journey specifically, you really built that demand, you build the trust first, then there's that core demand where you're like, yes. OK. Now my original vision is happening but I already have all these thousands of people ready and waiting and super excited to buy versus maybe not necessarily that crazy demand from the get go. Yeah, we've been so lucky to build a subscription business first. So we had hundreds of thousands of people that were subscribing to our products. And I feel so fortunate because they want other products from us. And so every month we are on target and whole foods now, but we're not just selling in retail. We're actually selling to this really engaged base of subscribers that trust us with their foundational health. And it actually we just more recently launched our gut health product and it was our biggest launch to date because it was our number one requested product from that base of hundreds of thousands of people. And so the sequencing the subscription, the engagement, the community, all those things I think have been kind of slow and steady moments for the brand without being like some, we haven't been an overnight success story. I would say, and I, and I do think that that actually is, is more beneficial than not. Um What's the saying? Um takes 10 years to reach overnight success. Yeah, exactly. Or eight in our case. Yeah. And, and you know, the last year has been monumental for us. We launched, we were an online only business and we launched in Target and, and Whole Foods were now, you know, top, we have top selling products there. And I say, I can't say the exact stuff even the um like, oh I can say it, but we are um we are leading prenatal now in, in so many channels and having launched in, in retail and taking our time to launch in retail has, has been huge because we also had built this trust and now we're meeting our consumers where they are outside of dot com. If you were launching a business tomorrow, whether it be supplement or something else, what do you think you would do differently given today's world today's landscape and what, you know, after nearly a decade building this business? Oh yeah, I think today is so interesting. It's so different from when we launched, we launched, obviously Instagram was so key and now we we have incredibly diverse different marketing channels, other podcasts, podcasts are a really big channel for us whether influencer tiktok, Instagram, it's, it's such a mash of different things. And I think in, in previous world it was you kind of just go hard on one thing and then you diversify and I today's world is really interesting. I think tiktok has kind of taken over and if I were starting something today, I think, you know, especially a digital brand, you can't build a digital brand without tiktok. And I think a I is fascinating. I don't think it's gonna replace humans, but I do think it's going to make our work a lot more interesting and creative. We actually get to be creative. And I it's for me personally, some of the the harder, harder work, even just like getting started on a thought or anything. I think A I is gonna replace. I think the combination of A I and being really focused on tiktok, especially for more like direct and digital brands is, is the way to go. I also think in today's world, it's more important than ever to have best in class products. So when I started, there were, you know, they were the Caspers of the world and the dollar shaves of the world, but there weren't that many brands that were like visually disruptive and all of a sudden you have all these creative agencies and designers just, just like kind of factory popping out amazing looking brands and in so many different categories and it's almost like a commodity to have a really well designed, beautiful brand. What you actually need is to connect with people and create products that are infinitely better than something that exists. I think before you could have gotten away with just creating a beautiful design and, and plopping it on to a product. So, I think it's gotten harder. I also think it's probably really tricky these days to go, you know, digital direct first. I, I think you have to be omni channel as well. Mm. Yeah, I agree. It feels like the, the level of what people put out in today's world and, and with new technology and software and things that can help you um build businesses. It's, it's very impressive what you can do, but it also means that you need to be a step above the rest when launching a brand. Yeah, I'm so curious to see what comes out in the next couple of years, you know, because I think the the stakes are kind of higher. Uh the the channels are trickier like you can't target with all the I OS changes like you can't target the way that you could. And so it's just everything, everything's so new for people totally. And A I is gonna change a lot of, of how we work. I mean, obviously we're in kind of the beginnings of what it's doing now, but it's gonna advance quite quickly. I would say something you talk about a lot online is just your kind of experiences being a mum and an entrepreneur, your mental health topics like burnout. How have you dealt with burnout? In the past? And what are your kind of steps to keeping a, a happy mind? So, I wasn't always good at dealing with burnout, especially coming from investment banking where I was working 100 plus hour weeks and I was just grinding and I thought 100 hour weeks. Oh, my gosh. I mean, it's not so different now that it's for your own business. Someone else happening that. Holy shit. Yeah. And I'm sure that investment banking analysts are still doing that, but it's so intense and it was a great learning ground for me in a lot of ways. But you know, it's, I thought that the more you work, the more successful you were. And I, and it's only been the last couple of years for me where it's actually like how present you are, how focused you are, how good you are at making decisions and that is the good work your work is to make the best possible decisions. So if you're burnt out, you're not making good decisions. If you are not working out or taking care of yourself, you're not making good decisions. So how do you, how do you get yourself in a mindset and take care of yourself to make the best possible decisions throughout the day? And for me, it's kind of taken all different twists and turns, but working out and taking care of my body and my physical health has been a non-negotiable. I work out every single day. You know, my kids will often say, hey, mommy don't go to yoga, don't go to yoga. You know, because they want to spend time with me. It's the hardest thing. It crushes my soul where I'm like, uh, you know, but I'm like, I tell them I'm like to be a good mommy and to be a good CEO I need to, I need to go to yoga or I need to go to Pilates and our strength training or whatever, whatever it is that day, movement, body movement. Yeah. And I'm hopefully I'm setting a good example for them. And I think eating well is really important. Obviously, we're a nutrition focused company. So I know way too much about all that stuff. But I, if I'm not eating well, I'm not thinking well and I need to eat really cleanly. I would say I've just gotten become kind of a perfectionist at the basics, even though I'm in a wellness company and I've lived in wellness for so many decades. I've kind of gone back to the basics and like, how do I be, how do I crush the basics? You know, how do I sleep really well? How do I hydrate well, how do I have the best nutrition and best relationships? And those to me are like the non negotiables that's taken a while to figure out and form rituals around. I stopped drinking six months ago and like all these things combined. Um What's that been like? That's been interesting. I think, um, not drinking has been, I'm, I'm such an experimenter. I love experimenting. I became, again plant-based eater 15 years ago as an experiment in a way. And this is an interesting one where I would go out, my husband would go out Saturday nights and we'd have a drink or, you know, I'd be working at my house and then I see my kids after work and I wanted to transition from work to Children and the drink was that and I'm like, you know, let me figure out a different transition and different way to, to unwind than that and see how I feel and I feel so much better. I feel like my mind is clear. I don't have room for error. I think in my days I can't, I can't feel, I can't feel bad the next day. And so when I noticed, you know, I was drinking wine or, or drinking non natur wine and I wasn't feeling well the next day and even with natural wine and cutting it out has been such a huge game changer for my life. I also wasn't happy drinking. I wasn't a happy drinker. I think about mental health a lot. I was feeling a little bit more depressed. Um, so it just wasn't something that was, that was great in my life. Do you think that also played into your, you said a moment ago, you know, sleep health is really important to you. Do you think that also was a big part of your sleep routine and getting that proper sleep or is there something else that you do to kind of make sure that your sleep is like 10 out of 10? Yeah, it it obviously impacts your sleep and I know there's rules of when you drink alcohol, how many hours before you go to sleep? And you know, none of that was working for me. Sleep is so important to me. I do have a sleep kind of like routine and hygiene is really important for me, especially getting sunlight in the morning and, and you know, as the sun setting as well and setting up my space for sleep, keeping my phone away from my bed and obviously not drinking is helping a lot as well. Um But all those things are so connected and, and I just feel like infinitely more present with my kids and, and in my business. So I, I always, I like always like to experiment and eliminate things and see what happens and that, that's just one of the many things I've eliminated. Um But I, you know, I'm not like a, you know, maybe sometime in the future I'll, maybe I'll have a drink. I don't know, we'll see, we'll see not a finite kind of mentality totally. Yeah. What is your kind of favorite piece of advice that you like to give? Aspiring entrepreneurs or small business owners. I would say that I hope that everybody can embrace the nose. It's become one of our company values that you're gonna hear. No, all the time, day in and day out, it's gonna become your favorite word. And if you can embrace people saying no to you as a challenge as they said, no, but I'm gonna figure this out. Something I like to say is that just because someone says, no, it just means it hasn't been done before. And that's exciting. Like as an entrepreneur, you, you want to do something that hasn't been done before and to just really embrace it. And I would say for me, you know, it was everything from, no, you can't start a business and a family. No, you can't work with this manufacturer. You can't invest in human clinical studies. That's too expensive. You can't use this ingredient, you can't hire the best person and you can't grow this business in nine figures. You, you know, all these nos have added up to our success as a company and something that I'm really proud of. And I hope that my girls also embrace the nose when people tell them no, because it's the ultimate challenge. Totally. A no. Today isn't a no forever, no, especially when you can turn it around.
So question number one is, what's your, why? Why are you waking up every day and building ritual? Hm. That's a good question. Say I'm building ritual to set a new standard in the supplement industry because people are putting something in their body every single day and all of us deserve to know what we're putting in our bodies and why. And I want to change that not just for myself but also for future generations for my daughters. I love that question. Number two is what's been your favorite marketing moment over the last seven years? My favorite marketing moment. Oh, I have so many. I would say what I love about marketing and red is that we don't just launch products or campaigns, but we try to change culture. And one of my favorite ways that we've done that is our pregnancy campaign. So half of pregnancies in the US are unplanned and more than half of people are not taking a prenatal vitamin. So they'll show up to their ob and, and they'll be pregnant and they'll say, hey, take a prenatal vitamin. But the 1st 28 days are actually when the neural tube forms. And so we did a campaign for thinking, trying when it's time to really educate people on the importance of taking a prenatal when you're trying or not, not trying. And more than half of our customers are actually in that prepregnancy phase now, which is so cool because it, we've obviously made such a change the other marketing moment that I'm that's there's so many. But um oh yeah, and we also did a billboard for the pregnancy thing for your consideration when considering during the award season, which is so, you know, ballsy and amazing. Uh The other marketing moment that I'm super proud of is we did a whole campaign over New Year's and we took over a bunch of subway stations in New York and we put these billboards that said this is not a miracle with our multivitamin. And I think so much of culture in Lana's culture in the US, especially around vitamins is that this is going to change your life overnight. And, you know, in other places, we said this is just good looking signs like we're really just it essential for women and it's just a multivitamin you need to put in the hard work. This is gonna fill your new gaps. I love them. And it was so cool because my grandparents were 98 and, and I came from Brooklyn. So my grandparents came to the subway and they, they saw the campaign. They were crying with my parents and I have this amazing photo of them like pointing to it in the subway station. Oh, my gosh. That is so cool. I love grandparents. That is so special. Yeah, me too. My grandparents saw our products in Target and it was such a special moment. I bet. Wow. Question number three is, what's your go to business resource? Where are you learning? Consuming book podcast, newsletter type things at the moment? That's a good question. I love the book Radical Candor Candor. That hasn't been recommended on the show before. That's a first. Yeah, it's a great one. It's something that I aspire to. I would say that I'm maybe not perfectly there yet, but I think it's the best way to lead and, and also be in relationships where you're where you care and you're empathetic, but then you challenge directly and that intersection is where I hope to be as a CEO and leader because you want to be honest, you wanna give people feedback, but then you also want to care and the closer you get to that alignment, the, that's where all the change happens. That sounds amazing. We're gonna link it in the show notes for anyone who wants to check that out. Question number four is, and we touched on this a little bit already. But how do you win the day? What are your AM or PM rituals that keep you feeling happy? And successful and motivated. There's so many, I think because life is so unpredictable with the business and the kids, I, I have non negotiables. So non negotiables for me are working out cooking breakfast for my kids, taking them to school and having a really busy full day at work and then also, you know, having dinner with them and, and putting them down to bed. And those are, those are really, really important to me. I would say then taking care of myself is also non negotiable. So working out every single day, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and I would say the last ritual that I've been practicing for the last couple of years, it's been pretty impactful for me is just feeling grateful and I just feel so grateful for an incredible team that I have and a beautiful family. And I think as everyone knows, things kind of go up and down businesses and things are great right now. Um But having, you know, just kind of approaching each day like, wow, I'm so lucky and I'm so grateful for all of this has, has really changed, changed my mood and my perspective on things. Love that, love some gratitude. Question. Number five. What is the worst money mistake you've made in the business? And how much did it cost you? Hm. The worst mistake I made was wasting almost all of our initial funding on design and branding. So the initial design for Ritual was not what we ended up with. And I worked with a fancy person and agency and created something that was very much more like a than what virtual is today. And it was biggest learning mistake of money that I had early on. I'm glad I had it early on where the branding and the marketing, like it just didn't feel anything. And I, I learned to like that. I have to feel something from the design. And that was kind of my became my guiding principle with all design and why I think bri is so vibrant and different and, and we weren't when we did it the second time, we weren't looking at it in any other brand. We were just trying to be ourselves and the yellow was so vibrant and it brought such warmth to an industry that was so opaque and I just really leaned on, hard on, on design and aesthetic. So because of that mistake, how much did it cost you ball park? Uh I don't remember, I don't know a lot, a lot, a lot of time too, right? Because then you have to go back to the drawing board. And I would say the other interesting thing that I learned there was like, I couldn't make emails from the branding or I couldn't make collateral. And it was kind of like a no, it just didn't go anywhere. And I, and one interesting thing that I did with Ritual was the woman that designed our branding early on. I had to stay on for like a year or two and keep that brand DNA through all the different touch points because I think a lot of times people will hire an agency to do their branding and then you, you're kind of left to figure things out and it's disconnected. And I would say that we've become known for our branding and I would say because it was like hyper consistent and we had this amazing person who stayed on in house. Yeah, I love that. It's like you start branding by getting like a logo and a color palette. And like here are your different sets of type and then it's like, well, hang on, how do I want this to look on social media? Because that's actually what people are gonna be looking at. How do I want this to look on my like email pop up thing on the website? Like how does it look everywhere else over time? Totally. Oh gosh, love that. Love a love a design that makes me feel something, hopefully something good. Definitely something good. You want the good feels. Last question. Question number six. What is just a crazy story, good or bad from building ritual? I think a crazy moment for me was launching our skincare supplement. It was a category that I never thought we would go into. I thought it was incredibly shady and lacking in science and our, my team surprised me because they were like, we have to change this and they were so passionate about it. And our scientists were like, there's no way any ingredients in this category have real science. And then they spent a really long time researching like every single ingredient and found two ingredients with the most amount of clinical studies and the two of the best clinically studied ingredients and, and the and it created this phenomenon product that impacts skin hydration, fine lines and wrinkles. And now all of our scientists are taking it and it was just like a slam dunk launch. So I feel like it's a crazy, it's not that crazy of a story, but it was crazy to me because sometimes as a CEO, you feel like you have to have all the right answers for all the products and everything. And I have also recently been just surprised and blown away by the team and, you know, key leadership and things like that having like the team just having brilliant ideas and, and, and then just blowing it out of the water. Love a slam dunk. Always love a slam dunk. That is so cool. How amazing Kat I have loved talking with you about ritual and what you're up to and I'm so excited for you. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Thanks for having me.