How she sold 750,000+ journals to help women across America, with Silk + Sonder founder Meha Agrawal
Today we’re chatting to Meha Agrawal, the founder of Silk + Sonder! Silk + Sonder is a guided self care and mental wellness platform and community, generating millions of dollars in recurring revenue and serving tens of thousands of women across the US.
I thought this episode was so cool because Meha is a pro at blending DTC with tech and community. We talk through her start and how she got her first customers, what makes her community sticky and the lessons she learned from raising millions of dollars in capital; and it’s not what you might think!
Meha ended up raising $4M across a pre-seed and a seed back in 2020, and I was so excited to dig into her story. The first thing to remember is that getting your first cheque doesn’t make the other cheques magically appear. Every investor is different, every investor cared about a different part of your business. You have to be able to speak to the power of community if that’s what they’re interested in, CPG if that’s what they’re interested in. Essentially, treat investors how you would treat your customers. And a real golden nugget is that going out to raise when you don’t necessarily need the funding is the best time to raise. It will allow you to run that process authentically which is so important.
And remember to join our waitlist at femalestartupclub.com/waitlist ahead of our upcoming announcement! I’m excited to tell you more in the coming weeks!
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
So I may have the founder and CEO of a company called Silk and Sonder. We are a guided journaling and personal growth platform and community designed to help reduce anxiety and stress. And what's really unique about our model is that we are part analog, part digital. So our members get a guided monthly journal slash planner delivered to their doorstep with evidence based exercises, things like, you know, things you would see from a life coach or therapist coupled with bullet journaling layouts like habit trackers and mood trackers and meal trackers which allows you to really thrive holistically across all areas of your life and is the space to disconnect in order to reconnect with yourself and then our app, it's called Silk and Saundra. You can find it on android and IOS over there is where we house our very, very special community and social network, where there's plenty of peer to peer support and accountability as well as taylor digital programming to strengthen your relationship with yourself and with others no matter what you're dealing with and what your goals are. So really, really excite. And before that I was a software engineer and product manager. Gosh, so many things, it sounds so amazing by the way. And it sounds also kind of complicated, A monthly subscription physical products CPG and then we've also got on the other side tech notoriously difficult to build community added into that as well. Also something that's got to be sticky to keep people coming back. I'm excited to dig into all of it. I read that you kind of have been working at some startups, you were kind of feeling a bit stressed, feeling a bit burnt out and that's what was leading you to build this business. So I'd love to kind of talk about that time, what was happening for you and when did that lightbulb moment just turn right on. Yeah, it's a great question. So you know, I started out my career as a software engineer like I mentioned, so after college I moved to new york, I worked for Goldman Sachs and pretty quickly realized this wasn't my calling and knew that I wanted to pivot, but I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do. So naturally, you know, being a millennial just put a band aid on the issue. I moved on to the muse, which at the time, you know, I was the third engineer, eighth employee. And it was an opera to work for a female founded business, which was super inspiring. But that was really where things clicked, I think before that I always thought I wanted to be just a product manager and while I was at the muse, I had this opportunity to really understand what it takes to build a business from the ground up and what it means to work on problems that you as a founder or an employee can can relate to the end user and so I dabbled in a couple of side projects, nothing really took, and when I moved to san Francisco and worked for a company called stitch fix, that's why I really fell in love with this idea of building experiences for a consumer, both online and offline, because at the time marketplaces were taking off and you know, there was a ton of things happening in the industry where it's easy to slap technology on as a solution, but stitch fix was very unique where they were using data science and technology to really master personalization and you know, bring about this feeling of confidence for the end user, which in their case was mostly women and so I really fell in love with that, but at the same time I happened to be navigating my own kind of battles with really fulfilling what makes me happy in the inside versus you know what I had grown up believing, so I grew up, you know south asian american, my father is a professor, my mom also worked at the university and so all I really knew were academia becoming a lawyer, becoming an engineer or you know, becoming a doctor and this whole entrepreneurial journey was very new and so I didn't really know how to break into it and I was waking up super under fulfilled, not happy, I was dating a great guy, I was living in a new city, I was at this awesome job but something didn't match and at the time therapy felt very intimidating and inaccessible and also just not necessarily the action oriented piece to my emotional well being that I was seeking coaching was obviously very expensive and I couldn't justify, you know, back when I was in my rut like how can I justify paying this kind of money when the results may not be guaranteed and the meditation apps, I found them to be boring and then I was reading a ton of books on self help and personal development but they lacked accountability and so in that moment I didn't realize I was going to create a business out of it. I just was looking for a solution for myself and so I started to piece together all the inspiration from self help leaders and positive psychology research and all these pieces to create a guide and in my journal which I had never touched and I also was a big step of bringing pen to paper but of course the clinical psychologists don't lie, you really do see a magical shift to your emotional health and you boost your immunity, you boost your mood, you increase your memory and your ability to reduce anxiety and stress and so that proactive piece was something I wanted to bring to you know everyone really nationwide and globally and the second key insight that I had was a lot of what was working for me, I found myself talking about that with others, right? And that's where I realized holy crap, there's no science fact, community driven approach to your daily mental well being that is proactive, that is holistic, that combines reflection with action and then you know, where is the space to talk about this? I mean it's such an addicting thing to be able to be on this personal growth journey. But then where do you go to like brag and where do you go to be like, hey, I need a little help, what have you guys tried, like where we're iterating here and that really is what life is all about. And so that's what led me to start silk and sander, but it was the nights and weekends project for quite some time after several months and really what I wanted to do was make sure that ai would make at least a dollar out of this business and be there was product market fit before I decided to quit my job and really I wanted to give myself the opportunity to figure out is funding, you know, raising capital, is that my calling or is going to be a lifestyle business. And so I wanted those key questions answered before I decided to take the leap and I think you know, and then we can go into the details, but you know, for me that moment really was when I had about 1000 customers that were paying me um we're basically in every state of the country and I remember promising these features and you know this, this whole bigger dream of silk and sander and then not having the time to really execute and bring that to fruition and it made me feel like I'm over promising and under delivering as a leader of this company and so I need to kind of jump and and actually make this leap into entrepreneurship full time. And I think one thing that no one ever told me, which is what I would tell anyone who's thinking about starting a business in any capacity, I think you know people are gonna make a rosy picture about, oh you have to be all in and you have to like quit your job right away and try it otherwise you'll never know and yeah, eventually you might have to, but you get to decide at what point you make that leap right? And for me the financial risk was far lower than the emotional risk of not trying and every founder noses, if you've got that entrepreneurial bug, you know like you feel it and you've got to cure it, no one else can do that for you. Oh my gosh, wow, wow, you told me a lot there and I feel like so many people will be listening to this resonating with everything that you were personally going through, I mean I certainly do in that kind of like trying to find something, trying to piece together, trying to understand what works for you and what you know, ultimately figuring out what doesn't work for you. And I have multiple questions to follow off the back of this. There are three that immediately came to mind. The first one was you mentioned, you were proving out the concept, you wanted to do that kind of nights and weekends before you kind of went all in. How specifically were you proving out the concept and what was your like proof for you? Yeah, that's a great question. So I think what people forget is that especially in consumer businesses, you have access to your customers, they are always going to be your biggest stakeholder. It really doesn't matter what you want to build for yourself, it doesn't matter what, you know, your future investors or your future team really thinks is going to move the needle. What really matters is the customer who's going to pay you at the end of the day and how do you bring her along in the journey? And so for me, you know when I started to get these customers that were not my friends, they were friends of friends or just random zai think I started to really analyze and understand who are these people and I started to notice that they're very different than me, They were living in random cities across the United States I've never visited. And I got super curious and I started to you know, schedule these user interviews and that's what really validated the business for me was understanding that this tool that I really created for myself actually was helping with really serious conditions like A. D. H. D. Or chronic illness or depression, anxiety and things that I didn't know that I was solving just by merging together all the evidence based pieces that had worked for me. And I think that is when things started to click where we were solving a universal problem because we integrated science into the product itself and made it really pretty and made it accessible and made it you know, energizing for the end user. So I think on one hand from a qualitative standpoint it was having those user interviews and there's this wonderful product market fit article that Rahul Vohra from the company Superhuman has written about. And it's basically this survey that you can ask your customers and and all you need to add, ask them is you know, what would you do or how would you feel if silk and Sander or or your company were to discontinue and if they if over 40% of your users say that they'd be very disappointed you have product market fit and if you don't if if it's less than 40% that's okay, you just have to reiterate until you get to product market fit and what you do is really figure out who your initial market is, and for me, I was very disciplined about that. I think we were lucky that we already were at 40% but getting super curious, not with the people who were churning or leaving your business, but the people who are die hard fans understanding who they are, what they do. You know, our customers say Silicon Sander has not only, you know, changed their lives, it saved their lives. And I think that kind of feedback is really, really important as a founder, when you're in the, you know, you're you're you're in the weeds and you're you're really in the trenches, and it's easy to beat yourself up over what's not working. But then remembering that this tool is helping people and you can't just sees business, you know, like you have to keep going. So for me it was that and then I would obviously say the numbers, right? Like numbers don't lie. When you look and you see the revenue growing or you see customers referring Silicon Sondra, I think then those are also your key points of data to understand that you have a viable business. Absolutely, that kind of anecdotal, someone slipping into your inbox or into your D. M. S. To give you a sweet message. That is just like absolutely the fuel that keeps you going and lights you up. I totally know that feeling. I want to talk a little bit more about your journey to 1000 customers before you started thinking about moving into raising capital firstly. Like how did you get to 1000 customers? And how are you funding at this point? Because obviously you're bootstrapping, you were thinking about the money piece, but what was your kind of thought process around that capital piece? Yeah, so I think um and you know we we had a very much print on demand model, right? So trying to predict how many people you're gonna have versus ordering all this excess inventory and then being stuck with it was very important and in the early days you know you have very very small runs like 50 customers or whatever it is per month. And so there is a bit of a loss and so really figuring out where is that break even point and how much time do you want to give yourself? And so you know, I think for everyone, it looks a little bit different. I think for me it was like I'm willing to gamble with $5,000 and see what I can do and if I can't make a profit after this and obviously I wasn't paying myself, a salary I had no one on my team. But I think you know figuring out what your comfort level is if you only have $1,000, what can you do that if you have $20,000, what can you do with that? So really figuring out what is your comfort level and what you need to prove out before you go all in. And so for me I didn't pay myself a salary. So I was able to keep things very lean. I had a full time job while I was getting these 1000 customers. I didn't know that 1000 would be the magic number or anything like that. I didn't have that goal per se. But I was willing to just at least get to break even point with our printing press and be able to make $0 or a few cents here and there. Um and then feel like I want to keep this going until I figure it out. And so I think I think a the way the path to get there in our case obviously this was very, it was like end of 2017 so times were very different and I was, I was a hacker. I literally called up my friends who worked at Facebook at the time, I was like I don't want to spend any money on advertising but I know that each of you get $250 of credit to play with. If you don't have a business, use my business as your case study and and let's let's you know use your credits and they got that every month. I love that. Yeah and so and it was you know just like it's just sitting there right in their accounts and they're supposed they're supposed to use it to understand the facebook ads platform. So I had like 23 friends, you know, helping me with that. Um, and that is really where we got, you know, some initial traction and growth because I was taking the customers that had organically found out about Silicon Sander and start to create these interest audiences based off of that because our volumes were so small for lookalikes or anything like that. And so while that was happening, another kind of, you know, word of mouth and blogger type, organic traction was happening. So one of our early customers, her name is hit the palate who she found out about Silicon Sondra because someone at her shared coworking space happened to have it, She asked about it that she wrote about it and then I noticed a lot of people were coming through her blog. So you know, you see that kind of word of mouth or people of influence being able to share. And so I would say those were the initial sources of our first wave of growth. And that's so amazing. And I'm so interested to know when you're talking about the facebook side of things, were you leading with the physical book or were you leading with app and community? So there was no app, right because app takes investment. So initially we we basically just had the journal and a facebook group was which was our proof of concept. And then after I raised money is when we created the app and you know, all of that happened after, you know, there's a really famous strategy, it's comfort the tools day for the network. And so I think, you know what ultimately why do women buy silk and Sander? It's because they're looking for a guided solution to feel better and you know, before the app, the only way to do that was to get the journal and then you would go to the facebook group and you would chit chat and then now you can do that through our app. Now we have tools in the app. So it's easier to say, come for the tool within the app and stay for this network beyond just that digital programming. And so yeah, it is, it is very much initially it was very much like, here's a monthly journal subscription service. It's not blank, it's not, you know, it's not just gonna sit on yourself to rot. It's truly a thoughtful curation that is going to help you feel better and it works. And so that's what people loved it. Oh my gosh, I love that. That's so cool. And it really resonates with me because we have a private community for founders who, you know, listening to the show and something that we find is we have all these resources and we have this amazing content. But the magic is in those weekly calls. It in the message is it's in the relationships that are being formed and women helping each other build their businesses. It's just so special and it's hard to, and the reason why I asked that question was because it's hard to lead with community because unless you're in it, people don't understand that magic. You've got to see it. It's a show and tell. Yeah, exactly. You can't, you have to see it to experience the value. You don't think you need it until you're in it. Yes, yes. And then you realize the impact and its power absolutely totally. If you're an e commerce brand owner, you've probably thought about whether your product suits being subscription based. Maybe you've got a beverage brand or a beauty product that has a high repeat purchase rate, join fast growing Shopify brands like athletic greens and rise coffee that are growing their commerce subscription and retention businesses on up scribe scribe gives you the out of the box tools that you need to build, grow or scale your Shopify subscription and retention business, deploy a beautiful customer experience in minutes that treats subscribers like royalty and drives brand loyalty. Additionally, scribes knew reorder product makes it frictionless to capture reorders in a single click to help you increase your business's profitability and customer lifetime value, give your e commerce business the charge that it needs today by visiting up scribe dot iO slash female startup club to learn more and you'll also receive your first month free, that's up Scribd dot io forward slash female startup club. Okay, and I'm still on my third question from your initial, from your initial introduction, I want to understand now your turning point for raising investment and how you decided to go down that pathway and where that led you. Yeah, so I think I knew very early on that with or without outside investment Silken Sander is going to crush it right? Like I had this, I had built a business that wasn't about me anymore, it was about my customers and and the problems we're solving and we just have to exist in this world. And so I I had that firm belief and I think when I sat down to think about the type of impact that I wanted to have as a founder and really separate ego from like, true calling and true, you know, purpose and intention for me, it was very much coming to this realization that I want to build a legacy brand and I want to have the global footprint and in really solving this emotional health epidemic through a tool and community and I couldn't do that a by myself, right? That's why I needed to hire a team and B I needed to really figure out ways to test and experiment and try different things, both in terms of the product and marketing and really expand and all of that, all of that. And so in order to do that at an accelerated rate, you have to have outside capital if you want to do it kind of a slow moving and really be super, super careful. I think that with your money and spend, I think you can do that, but it would just take a lot longer and so for me it was, you know, I'm an Aries, so I'm like, I don't have time for that and you know, there are people left and right dealing with their emotional health issues, the pandemic. It has made it even worse. I think ultimately we all crave connection and belonging. I want to build this massive platform, how do I do that? I do that by at least trying to go raise capital. And so that's what I decided and I made that decision in the time frame after quitting my, I actually had another offer for a product role in new york and um my then boyfriend now husband basically kind of was like, you know, you've been a ceo, like a part time ceo, what do you have to lose? Like why don't you just try going full time and decide if you want to raise? And I think for me hearing that from it made me realize, what do I have to lose, literally the, I've already built the safety nets and I say this to every founder, you already have your, you've gotten your gold stars. You've already built your safety nets? Go try and if it doesn't work, take those learnings and come back into the real corporate world. So for me I just told myself this option is always going to exist. Why don't I go full force? And when I did that, I started to really think about my vision and what I wanted to build for women and eventually her family and teams and relationships and all of that. And for me that was like, I got to do this in a way where I have the funds to support everything that I want to bring to life. Oh my gosh! And so how did the race go? What was your experience? What did you learn? What did you realize you're never going to do again? What, what's the, what's the vibe? So I ended up raising four million across a pre seed and seed. That happened pretty pretty quickly together And what? So initially when I went out to raise, I took all the feedback, I took all the advice. Everyone was like, oh, it's a numbers game and you just have to talk and you should talk to the less serious or exciting investors first that you can polish your skills and really be great for the next round of investors and I don't work that way. So it took me a while to realize like this sucks. Like, like that's not how I approached my dating life. That's not how I approach my social life. So like why should I abide by these rules? Because that's what everyone is telling me to do instead time is precious. I'm a solo founder. I get a lot of gratitude and joy from building my business and everyone was telling me when you fundraise, you can't do anything else. You have to just fundraise and I'm like, but like I don't want to do that. Like I wanna, you know, like I want to talk to my customers, I want to build more features. And so for me, um, you know, subnets to redraft advisors, she was the first investor and she was honestly a skeptic, but she was really interested in the community and kind of this like vertical social network concept that Silk and Sandra had really cracked and she made me do a ton of work initially. I mean everyone told all my founder friends who build companies before, they're like, why are you creating a financial model? Why are you doing cohort retention reports? I mean you barely have any customers, Why are you making the, he's like fancy decks? And it was because investors were asking that of me and I remember feeling initially kind of not just something like a bunch of them, right? A lot of my early investors, they were asking that of me. And initially I was kind of like, why am I doing all this homework that other founders don't have to do. But then I came to realize, you know what? Sometimes when they don't, they're not your target market, right? So they don't necessarily know how big this opportunity can be. It's kind of like you got to show and tell them. And those are all things that are gonna be so helpful for you when you actually are operating your business, right? It's not such a bad thing if you do have a financial model and it took you a while to build because now guess what? You actually get to operate against that financial model. And so I had to do a lot of work initially to get those first checks basically, everything people told me was a total myth, like getting your first check does not make the rest of the checks magically appear. Every investor is different. Every investor cares about a different part of your business. And so you have to be able to really speak to the power of community if that's what they're interested in CPG, if that's what they're interested in the, you know, morality of, of content and you know, things like that in order to really get their buy in. And so it's important to treat investors like you treat your customers right? So I actually did a whole like little analysis of my early investors and I was like, wow, what's the pattern here? Most of these people are former leaders or founders or, you know, like tim Kendall, who is the former president of Pinterest. A lot of these people were high up so they've experienced burnout and stress and they understand that, you know, while the social networks are trying to solve this problem in connecting people, they really left the world disconnected and isolated And so what are they going to gravitate towards in my business that's really going to help them understand where the dollars are and the opportunity is. And so I just treated it like, like the way I did my product market fit analysis with my customers. I did that with like an investor, um, you know, product and Silicon Sondra fit with with fundraising and eventually, you know, I joined 500 startups and was really focused on growth at that time. And That's when we, you know, like that kind of prepared us for a nice seed investment in the summer of 2020 in the middle of the pandemic. And that round, I end up closing in less than 30 days and that was because I had learned from my time doing the pre seed, you know, six months before, but also I think, you know, going out to raise when you don't necessarily need the funding is the best time to raise and I was able to really speak from a place of confidence. The numbers were kind of speaking for themselves and I think that's, you know, just just running that process authentically and really focusing on what types of investors you want. It's not just about the capital, it's about what, what else they bring to the table. And you know, I think that that is very, very important and founders should always remember it's, it's your company and you want investors that are bringing value beyond the dollars. Absolutely, wow. Gosh, what an experience. It sounds amazing for you. Like a, I don't know, just this crazy well wind, perfect storm. Oh man, I guess looking back maybe. But during the time, you know, everything felt, feels hard as you gear up for fall. You need to find the right people on your team to help your small business fire on all cylinders. Linkedin jobs is here to make it easier to find the right people you want to talk to faster and for free if you follow me on linkedin or you're a subscriber to our newsletter, you already know how often we're sharing jobs that are coming directly through linkedin. It is so powerful. You can create a free job post in minutes on linkedin jobs to tap into the world's largest professional network with over 30 million people in the UK alone. It's why small businesses rate linkedin jobs, number one for delivering quality hires versus their leading competitors, then add your job and the purple hiring frame to your linkedin profile. So your network can help you find the right people to hire simple tools like screening questions, make it easy to focus on candidates with just the right skills and experience. So you can quickly prioritize who you'd like to interview and hire linkedin jobs helps you find the candidates you want to talk to faster and you can post a job for free just visit linkedin dot com slash F. S. C. Again, that's linkedin dot com slash F. S. C. To post your job for free today. T and CS apply. You mentioned that you, you know, you went out to raise and then you were doing a lot of like testing to figure out what was working and what wasn't working in that kind of first, you know, year after you did the race. So I guess 20/20 maybe last year a little bit what was working and shifting the needle in acquiring customers for you. So of course 2020 you know, before the whole IOS change and facebook Apple Wars. Um the ads were amazing, right? Like I I just think that I would be lying if I said that we didn't also benefit from that traction because of facebook ads platform and a lot of our customers are women between 30 and 60 who are always on facebook and instagram. So definitely that was working. I would say, you know anytime we have some kind of publication or feature on me also podcast, I think people really resonate with my story and I am very much involved in the Silk and Sounder ecosystem, right? There's an editor's note from me, I'm always in the club in our app. And I think that, you know what's really unique about Silk and Sander is since day one, the product iteration. And the reason we have such a sticky product is because our customers are very vocal with what they like, what they don't like and and we give that safe space for us to iterate. And we kind of landed at product market fit at least with our journal pretty quickly because of that. And same thing with our app. Right? So, I think what's really working is is kind of that ability to share with your physical communities in your network. Um now in 2022, since things have opened up. But prior to that, it was very much any kind of, you know, opportunity where I would get to share my story or customers could share their stories alongside the ads. And now, of course, you know, there's there's like different things that we have to do, right? Because like every consumer business things are working, but not as well as they used to. And I think for me, what's really special about Silicon Sander is your customers really are your biggest advocates. And so how do you empower them to really spread silicon Sondra like wildfire? Because this is a tool that you don't just need when you're in a reactive moment of your emotional state, right? Like it's not like, oh, only when I have a breakup or only when I have, you know, a loss, can I use something like Silk and Sander? That is very much a use case, but so is, you know, for all of my founder friends, it's like literally the goal setting framework, you need to succeed in your business and so a lot of our hyper ambitious, super productive users are very much loving silk and Saunders because it's just easy to follow and it's not, you know, you don't you're not doing things yourself. There's there's a whole framework based off of self help and personal development books that will help you get from Point A to point B And so how do we, how do we make journaling less private and more of like the way we talk about going to the gym or going to a workout class, how do you make Silken Sandra? Little bit more of a multiplayer game within your physical communities. And so that's something that I'm hoping will take off, but it has already kind of shown potential so that we're not so dependent on ads like other CPG and even businesses. Absolutely, I was talking about this with someone today that, you know, the world has changed so much from, you know ads being the go to a couple of years ago to now, it really is focused on community and storytelling and just getting out there and bring being front and center and it's a big change for a lot of founders because a lot of people, I think just expect to like swallow the magic pill and grow through ads, but that's not the world anymore. And you really have to be kind of out there telling your story as the face of the brand, totally, totally. I know I did love, I love magic pills though. So if you stumble upon one, let me let me know. Tiktok is the magic pill of today. Yeah, it makes it Tiktok Tiktok, I know, I know, yeah. Tiktok Tiktok working for you, I guess it depends on how you define working right? Like I think that all, I think ultimately all these things are working right? So in our case a lot of our customers actually tell that they contemplate the decision for silk and Saunders because even though it's less than a dollar a day to use silk and sounder, it's this idea of like, am I worth it? Do I have the time, Can I spend this money on me? You know, like, so they contemplate this decision and when they get it, it's like, no going back. But that's why I say like all these organic social platforms and the ads platforms, they all work because there reminded of silk and Saunders, but just yesterday, one of our, one of our organic Tiktok videos had over 100,000 views, which was a big deal for us. And so I guess it is semi working. I think it's just really fun to explore and see, you know what type of content tiktok users resonate with versus instagram versus Pinterest. And so it's a fun challenge for our social media manager. But I do think it's working. I mean if anything, I think the Tiktok user is perfect for silk and solder because it's like, hey, you just spent hours on Tiktok. What if you spent hours on yourself? Like what a fun. Absolutely. So, so true. When it comes to your, this is just a quick question, are you still doing print on demand model or you've switched to inventory? We are still doing the print on demand. But it is, what we mean by that is we just try to predict our inventory to try to keep zero inventory cost, right. And so some some months we over order some months we under order and we have to order more. So it really gives us that flexibility and we have a great partnership with our printing press to be able to do that. I think if we were, you know made overseas or something like that, then we would have to order far far, far in advance. So luckily because we're made in America and made in California in particular, it's very easy for us to, to reorder or to scale back or scale forward depending on on the months demand. Very cool, very interesting. Love those negotiation skills. Oh yeah, always working on them. But yeah, always working on them. Indeed when you think back about your, you know, key lessons that you've learned in this journey, is there anything that you wish you knew when you were starting out that you can share two founders, like me or founders, like anyone listening, who are focused on community and kind of that side of the business. Yeah, I think, um, number one community really can only be sticky and values based if the founder is involved at least initially, right? Or, or some kind of person in charge of the community that's representing the brand. And why I say that is because I remember wanting to be very quiet about the fact that we were very small and scrappy and I didn't want to be super vulnerable at first. And then when I broke that barrier and I just was like, hey, I'm the founder, what feedback do you have? You know, we're still iterating, we're still building, we're still small and lean. It's amazing how that feels for your customer because no other brand does it. Every brand tries to project that they are bigger than they actually are, that they're not available. The founders so busy. And it's like, yes, that might, that is the case. But if you are somebody who cares about your members, which anybody building a community should, it's really important for them to be able to attach a face to, to the product experience. And I think that's a key lesson that I learned luckily early on. And then I would also say pay attention when I started the facebook group. My intent was very much like a stitch fix model. So I just wanted feedback and I wanted to know who my customer was that I could make the product better. I didn't know we were building a social network. I had a hypothesis that there would be some kind of peer to peer exchange, but I had no idea that the values that I created in this facebook group would lead me to build the next social network. And so I think That to me is immensely rewarding and that's only really possible when you're in there trying to facilitate conversation, paying attention to what topics people are talking about. So you encourage more of that, that conversation and really making people feel hard. You know, just small things, address people by name, comment or respond to something that's a little bit more thoughtful, even if it takes an extra 10 seconds. And I think you'll be so surprised and pleasantly shocked at how a little bit extra of radical thoughtfulness goes such a long way because we're all humans at the end of the day and we're all lonely and we're all trying to navigate life and we all have a gift to share and a gift to learn from others. And I think that's really powerful when you put customers in that kind of or, or kind of community members in that kind of seat, it's very validating to know that no matter who you are, where you come from, you've got something to share and and you've got something to learn radical thoughtfulness. I am writing that down on a post it note, that is so cool, I love that, I love that so much. What does the future look like for you? What do you want to shout about? What can we look forward to? Yeah, great question. I think, I think, you know, when I think about what works at Silicon Saunders and what we do, Well it's obviously our content programming and community and personalization. And so I really think the future of Silicon Saunders going deeper on all those things and really, you know, creating a magical exp experience where anyone at any point comes to Silicon Saunders and whether they're there for their reactive emotional state or their proactive emotional state silken Saunders almost like your life coach or self care prescription of sorts for each and every day. Um and so I think what there is to look forward to is definitely more Gamification and more relevant community formation in the app side of the house and then really different types of workshops based off of different areas of your life. So you're struggling in the relationships department or if you're struggling with the financial health Silicon Sandra is going to be your go to platform to level up across all areas and to do that quickly but in a gratifying way and then foster connections with others um as well. So exciting stuff all around. So exciting. I love it. My gosh how cool and have fun. Yeah it's so fun.
So question number one, what's your why? Why are you waking up every single day and working on Silk and Sandra? Yeah, I think um my mission statement for myself happens to be very similar for for Silk and Sandra and ultimately it's really providing the tools and the community to spark joy in each individual so that they can illuminate the world because when we operate from a place of authenticity and freedom and happiness, you really are really, you're, you're just, it's like you're a spark, you can really light up this world. And so I think for me it's it's making it easier for people to show up for themselves so that they can show up for everyone around them. I love that. That's so nice Question # two is what's been your favorite marketing moment so far? Favorite marketing moment? I think for me it would probably be gosh, there's there's so many, I think I think my favorite marketing moment is is in the early days when I saw you know the blog of a random, she was random at the time random customer hit the palate who seeing a ton of new customers using her code and coming in through that platform. For me, it was just this, you know, observation that women can have such influence with their readers and with their own micro communities that what a special thing that people are able and willing to not only share some consulted but but trust other people's words. And I think for me that referral concept is just so special And so I think for me that's, that's one that sticks out question number three is what's your go to business resource when it's like a newsletter, a podcast or a book? Yeah, I love 20 minute VC with harry stabbings. Um I also really love how I built this in second life um as kind of podcast platforms, but honestly I love masterclass too. Like I love hearing from leaders of Disney or even chefs or whoever it is, it just is so uplifting to see people who have really left their mark on this world and we can just take lessons from athletes and entrepreneurs and actors and really combine it into our own operating system. And so for me that's where I go. And then of course books like I just, I'm a ferocious reader. I read all the time. I prefer books over articles, but obviously articles are a little bit easier to skim through for tactical stuff. But for actual inspiration, I go to, I go to books, what are you reading at the moment? At the moment? I am rereading the art of thinking clearly it's a series of short snippets about our cognitive by um so it sounds boring but it's actually really digestible and really interesting with examples and it just kind of reminds you that you know, you are your harshest critic and you hold on to these crazy fallacies about life and yourself that are inaccurate. And so how do you undo? That sounds so interesting. I'm definitely gonna look into that one. I'm going to add it to my list. Love to read as well. Question number four is how do you win the day? What are your AM and PM rituals and habits that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated? Yeah, so my aim ritual is very much a combination of reflection and action and no notifications. And so I wake up, I put a little essential oil if I'm not so lazy I'll have the aroma diffuser running and I start by journaling and I purposely schedule my meetings further out in the day. So that way I can get my 15-20 minutes of uninterrupted time. It's a mix of gratitude scripting, manifestation statements, affirmations and what I'd like to, to kind of accomplish for that day. And then I switch into my silk and Sondra and I actually plan answer prompter too. I also scroll through Sondra club, so before I even eat breakfast or have coffee, I have kind of connected with myself and I've connected with my community and then in the evening I try to do something to kind of expand myself. So that could be watching a master class, it could be watching something on netflix where I'm learning something, could be reading listening to a podcast combined with a workout and something delicious and then I try really hard To not do work at least 30 minutes before I go to bed because I want to just be away from my gadgets. And so that sometimes involves more journaling or it could just be watching something or just doing something that's unrelated to to my role. It's really tough though. It's really tough to put away the gadgets and especially when you love what you do. I mean I always tell my my friends who aren't founders and like stop telling me I work a lot. It's like this is what I enjoy doing when you decide that that work is actually play. It's not work. So but yeah, I think it's, I think it's more um you know like I think we have, we have people overseas and so I want to unblock them sometimes. But it is hard but you know what? It's, it's some days sometimes you don't do it. But sometimes you do some days you do Question # five is what's been your worst money mistake and how much did it cost you? Worst money mistake? Oh what wasn't mine? But because the buck stops with me, it was my team. We placed an order overseas for uh for these cute little boxes and it did end up being a lot more expensive because they didn't factor in or we didn't factor in all the hidden costs because it was our first first time getting things from from overseas. We were a little too excited. So we placed a very big order. but then we didn't know what that would do to our shipping costs and we always try to cover the shipping for customers. And so it was a bit of a cogs nightmare and I think it probably cost us like quite a bit like over $100,000 but we figured it out and you know, we were able to offset it. Yeah, so that would be my very expensive one. Um but I think, I think on a smaller scale, I mean that's probably the biggest one that I can think of, one. That's a pretty big one. And last question question number six, what is just a crazy story, good or bad that you've had from this journey of building silk and Sunder. So crazy story, good or bad, I think a good story and this might be similar to your marketing question, but the actress from Big Bang Theory, she organically posted about silk and Saunders er and it was just unexpected and so amazing and I had people like my dad being like wow, like I just saw this and I was like oh I didn't even know that existed. So I think those moments are really, really special when when people have like talked about Silicon Sandra and you don't know and a similar one, I was actually at a winery in napa and um the guy hosting us happened to ask me what I did and I was like oh I worked for this mental wellness company, it's called Silicon Sander. He's like oh my God my girlfriend loves silk and Saunders. She's you know she's a huge fan and he didn't know I was a founder and he was like she uses their journals all the time and it helped her treat her depression and I was like oh I was like that's actually my company. Yeah and it was just it was such a private affair. Like the likelihood of something like that to even come about in conversation was unexpected. And so it's those moments like even as a founder even as your company grows when you hear those organic stories just like in real life it just is a true testament to your hard work and and really what you're building. And so I love I love moments like that that's special. They still are very special. Very special, wow thank you so much for taking the time to come on today and share your story and all your insights.