Joining me on the show today is Melanie Masarin, Founder of the spirited booze free brand, Ghia.
A Glossier alum, Melanie launched her brand earlier this year during the pandemic and it’s been on the tip of everyone’s tongue ever since.
We talk about the lightbulb moment she decided she was going to launch an aperitif, what actually happens in the lead up to the launch, the steps to doing a friends and family round and how her special vision was brought to life through branding and language.
With a super cute background story that involves Italy, her grandmother and all the good things in life Ghia has quickly grown into a brand that’s needed in our social lives, now more than ever.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Doone: Melanie. Hey, thanks so much for being on Female Startup Club today.
Melanie: Thank you for having me. Very excited.
Doone: Me too. I'm super excited. Do you want to start by giving us a quick overview of what it is and who it's full?
Melanie: Of course, so was really designed to be for everyone, but we're non-alcoholic aperitif inspired by the Mediterranean and a Tebow culture. We have zero point zero percent alcohol in our drink and no sugar added, which is very different from most aperitifs. But the tasting notes are very similar. It's a bitter drink that is very adult, really prepares your palate for that dinner or is really good from sunset to sunrise. And it's made entirely of botanical extracts.
Doone: It sounds so delicious and my favorite drink of the moment is Apple, and I was reading it's quite similar in terms of flavorings to that. So I'm so excited to to try it and give it a whirl. We usually start by going back to your life before Gayo and what you were doing in your career and just generally in life that inspired you to launch your own business and jump on the entrepreneurial train for sure.
Melanie: So I actually grew up in France and I moved to the US to go to college. So I went to Brown and at Brown, I was actually working for a dining services because I needed a job on campus and they were one of the biggest employers of students on campus. And I guess that's sort of where I got my first experience working in hospitality. I graduated and I worked in finance for a couple of years at Goldman Sachs, which was a great experience, but not for me at all. And I ended up working in retail for a little bit at American Eagle and was really interested in food and the supply chain of food in the United States. Why a lot of people had food issues, food deserts, all of that. And I ended up being put in touch with the CEO of a restaurant group in New York called Dig In that really wanted to make farm to table food more affordable to people. And I ended up joining their team and staying there for a few years. There were six restaurants when I joined and I think there were about 20 when I left. So we we worked really hard for just a few years. And it was it was an incredible experience. And I subsequently left to join the team. And last year, which is a beauty brand that was born on the Internet and led by Emily Weiss. And at that time, Glossier was really trying to figure out what it meant for them to be an Internet brand.
Melanie: And it was really a need for more engagement with the brand and the demand for more engagement with the brands from their consumers. And so I joined in and they asked me, what do we do with retail? Everybody expects that we're going to open all these stores. We don't really want to do that. And so from there, we started really defining that third dimension of the Gulf. You brand with really experiential stores in different cities that would really cater to their local audience and would be like a trip every single time. So a different experience, a little bit actually, like you would design a restaurant group. There are not all the same. They're they're all hyper local and they all live really listen to their customers and they're all a very different experience. So we designed glossier retail that way. And I ended up living in. December two thousand and eighteen. Not really knowing what I wanted to do, but I knew that I wanted to get back into food, I cook a lot and it's really kind of where my passion lies. But I knew I didn't want to open a restaurant. I'm not a chef. And so I have been kind of thinking about how to bring all the factions together and really creating these experiences. And I grew up spending every summer by the Mediterranean. My grandmother was a host to host with the most, and I learned a lot from her.
And she would always make these incredible drinks, whether it was Limoncello, which is basically 50 percent sugar and 50 percent alcohol or much lower ABV, her cereals and other things that she would dilute before dinner. I was very inspired by the ways that we gather in Europe and I had not been drinking for a few years because I actually was I was able to do the United States. I started to really have stomach issues and I didn't really know where they were coming from and which is probably why I was always gravitating towards food so much that I was really trying to understand. Sometimes you think you keep a very healthy lifestyle and you still have a lot of pain. And I was hearing so many of my friends saying they had IBS and I was just always trying to figure out what it was about our lifestyle and about the food that we eat that made us feel this way. And one of the triggers I realized was alcohol. It was very clear to me that if I drink alcohol, I feel. Very foggy the following day, and I operate that maybe 60 or 70 percent capacity, and so I had really early on the kind of wean myself off of booze, first on and off. And then just I couldn't tell you when I stopped drinking, but it just never felt like worth it to have another drink. So it's been a few years now of not drinking.
And for a few years it was something that I always had to justify. I had to explain myself all the time and I had to hear people say, oh, you're boring, you're no fun. You come on, just have one hour. She doesn't drink. And it was a little bit annoying, obviously. And then I realized the past few years that more and more of my friends, more and more of the people that I considered to be fun, but also very high functioning individuals were not drinking. And it really made me think about how there just needs to be better options. That paired with the fact that independents really unveiled some of these issues. But how difficult it is to run a restaurant today. If sixty six percent of millennials, according to studies they are trying to get them on, they're drinking, then that makes it really hard financially for restaurants to stay in business. And the PennyMac really uncovered that this year. So I really wanted to create a product that would also work in a hospitality setting because the number one tenant for our brand is exclusivity. And if we're telling you that you can own the injury or another drink from the comfort of your home, then it's not truly inclusive. I wanted to be able to go out to dinner and really participate, order a drink that would make me feel like I was fully included in the conversation and the social setting, even if it didn't have alcohol in it.
Yeah, I can't tell you how many times my husband and I or even my friends and I have spoken about like, what do you just drink at the bar when you don't want to drink or even friends who are pregnant?
My best friend just had a baby, and it was a conversation all throughout her pregnancy because, of course, she wanted to be social and she wanted to be included and involved. But it's such a there's just no real I mean, they're all coming onto the market now, new new options. But it just felt like there was no one really ticking the box in a serious way that people were excited about. I mean, obviously, you're lack of you know, I don't want to drink a soda because it's packed with sugar and it's not good for you anyway. So, like, what's the point? I may as well just drink water, which then you're like, oh, this is boring for sure.
And, you know, it's interesting actually, because the UK is where all these brands really started, I think because drinking is so ingrained in the culture with pop culture and drink starting even before dinner, I would have thought that it would be the last country to maybe move to fully known alcoholic beverages. And actually they were really the leader with I think there's something like over 100 brands that have started over the past few years. So that was kind of our case study.
Yeah, that's crazy. Wow, how interesting. I definitely would never have picked the UK. I though it's really, really cool.
And so you've kind of got these different things going on. You're feeling that you want to stick with inhospitality, you're interested in food. What's the light bulb moment when we like. Aha, I've got it. Now I know what I'm going to do.
So I see the light bulb moment really happen when I stop putting pressure on trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. So I started consulting for a number of brands. It was great. I was I had just left glasses, so I was very in demand. A lot of people really liked the glossy retail experience and a lot of newer brands were wondering, you know, the same questions, how do we create this third dimension? What does it look like for us from a brand experience standpoint? And so I had a lot of clients and it really allowed me to breathe for a minute and say, I really want the next thing to be the thing. So I'm not going to put pressure on it. I also, by the way, was not wed to the idea of starting my own company, that felt very scary, but I actually ended up going on a trip to Italy, which is just my favorite place in the world. And like many other people, and it's on this trip that I realized that I wanted to do this because we were our days were guided by looking at design. We were there for Design Week and then figuring out where we were going to eat and what we were going to eat, which is pretty much like the perfect trip in my book. And I was with some friends and they were wondering if we should get an extra order of pasta or not. I was like, well, of course we must take the extra order. And they're like, well, yeah, but we were ready for lunch. I was like, Yeah, but you also on your fourth for it. So that's so much worse than the pasta. And we kind of started talking. They work in food.
We started having this conversation about what we eat versus what we drink and how this kind of health and wellness movement has really impacted our plate and how we think about food on the every day. And it's had a really positive change, but it just hasn't moved at all to drink like alcohol. Brands don't even have to disclose what's in it. And you have to say it's X percent of alcohol, but you don't have to say what you are. You don't have to say what the sugar content is. There's just nothing is disclosed. They don't even have to label. That's why you can have these really pretty bottles and you are subjected to a completely different set of standards when you you produce non-alcoholic drinks. So I thought that was interesting. And we started talking about it and that's when it hit me. And he said, you have to do this. And we talked a lot about the social stigma, how people say a real drink. And to me, a real drink is is a drink that has real ingredients. But for a lot of people, to drink is a drink that has alcohol in it. And so I wanted to create a real drink that would not be about using you, but I would be a better for you drink that would not be branded as healthy. I think it's it was really about just an invitation and we always say is an invitation because it's really the idea of participation is like if you have a guy in your hand, you don't need alcohol, but it's just kind of a good decision for your body. And in terms of, I would say, vibe, we wanted it to be just as fun, if not more fun. It's about that extra connection.
Yeah, and I definitely feel that through all of your branding and tone of voice, which I definitely want to get to, but I want to stick with where you are now in the process.
Do you have that meeting?
You're not meeting your over lunch in Italy, enjoying some moments with friends and the moments box where you've got this idea.
How do you stop building a brand? Do you have to think about how much money you're going to invest, what your personal savings commitment is going to be, what it's going to be called?
How did it develop after that moment for sure?
Well, first of all, I was also really busy with clients. And so I started doing research slowly but surely, as if it was another project. So I think at the time I had six clients that I was designing stores for or helping with some strategy for retail or even just doing kind of other projects. And so I started looking into it and found this case study of the UK and how there were all these brands there. I started ordering a number of bottles to my mom's house and friends because they wouldn't deliver to the US or ship them over here. And I realized the opportunity is huge. And so I started asking people about it, asking I have a lot of friends who are chefs, like, what do you think of this? And they really needed to be convinced by the product because a lot of there's a lot of craft in alcohol and there is a lot of tradition. And so how do you break away from that? In a way, they also were not convinced that they could charge as much as alcohol. So I realized one of the challenges was figuring out a drink that would be as credible to the food industry as an alcoholic drink. And then from a consumer standpoint, also really convincing chefs or the people that we would tell to drink to and bars that this was not trying to sell from an alcoholic drink, but rather really catering to an audience that was trying to drink less.
And there were all these surveys that had started coming out about people trying to get them on their drinking. And even anecdotally, I was really seeing it's people not wanting to go to dinner on a Tuesday because they didn't want to drink, which these things don't have to be exclusive. So from there, it was a lot of research and it was a lot of whiteboarding. I'm a very visual person and so I wanted to really get a sense for what the child would be visually. And the challenge was, you know, you have all of these labelling requirements for the bottle. You want a bottle that will stand on its own in the shelf, but you also want to drink. That's recognizable when it's in the glass we speak about. Apple rolled it out. Apple has is like neon orange. There's nothing natural about it. But when someone's having spread through a bottle of apple and you can recognize it. And so a lot of it was like, how do you create this drink that I knew had to be Mediteranean? Because I was so inspired by all the recipes of my grandmother. I have her cookbook and any time I look for inspiration, that's where I can delve into and I started looking into that. But there's something about the 70s, Italian disco postmodernism that was also very wide and very exclusive in the way it's not adapted.
And we're talking research from two years ago. So not quite as recent as these events from the summer. But even then it was very important to me that the brand felt like it was for everyone and didn't feel like this luxurious name Erens cliché. It was it had to be adapted somehow. So how do you make something that's like a non-alcoholic upper teeth? That's very nice, very approachable. And so that's where we started playing with color and and all of that. And so there was this big wall in my house that had just been on the wall and it wasn't even the name and the time. It was just like we didn't have a name. It was like new beverage company, maybe set everywhere. And then I started working on this. It's all I wanted to do. So I didn't really want to do the consulting for other clients anymore. I just knew that that had to be the thing. And and I was just consulting during the day so I could work on Ghiyath Night. I was still funding for many months and started figuring out how to find a formula. Later we had to make the product first and we had to make a great product and they didn't have that expertise. So figuring out where my blind spots where and how I could bring them to help to help me bring the product to life.
And how did you find a formula like what did you do? What do you have to look for? If it's a beverage, of course.
And especially this specific of a beverage that doesn't really exist yet? I asked all my friends who work in food if they knew anyone. I got a few referrals and I met with five or six people that had more of a. Variance across categories. A lot of food, chemists and formulators, they will do the kind of beverages across categories that they will do alcohol. And so I spoke to some people who work with fermentation and I spoke to some people who work in narcotic. And I spoke to some people that do food and drinks in general. And then I met this one guy who said, I believe non-alcoholic operatives are the future of beverages and his favorite drinks are bitter. And all of these things that felt very cosmetic. And I just knew I had to work with him.
Wow, and so when you're finding a manufacturer that is able to bring your idea to life, how how many bottles do you need to order? What's the minimum order?
It's in the thousands for sure, it was definitely a big order or what felt like a big order. I think our first batch we made. I think our first batch, we ended up making five hundred bottles of the product, but that was for product development, so it was with the idea of making more in the future. They were not even our final bottles yet. They were just friends and family samples because we really wanted to get a lot of feedback and we were so grateful to have been able to do that before the pandemic. So we finalized our formula. It took us a year to finalize the formula. Wow, that's crazy. Eighty seven iteration. We got a lot of feedback. It's very difficult to create a beverage that will have many notes that will be very complex, but that will be made entirely of extracts. And we're also trying to figure out how we make a drink that people can actually afford. And it's not really crazy expensive. So a bottle of retails for thirty three dollars, but it's only extracts and only ingredients in there. There are no flavors and that's very difficult to do. So it was also hard to create something that is concentrated but that provides value for the customers. We ended up concentrating on more so that people could spread it so that it would be a better value per serving for them while remaining really, really clean. But then you have all these really potent extracts and they interact with each other and you don't have booze to preserve it. So how do you create a formula that's chemically stable? And that was a big challenge for us.
Yeah. Wow. It sounds such a big challenge.
It's I learned so much. It was an incredible year, but it was definitely stressful. You know, we were still working during the day and trying to pay for the formula and then our first employee to work for the first year before we brought the product to market.
Who was your first employee and how did you identify what you needed and who to hire?
So at first, I think a lot of startups are like you hire people, you know, because you've worked with them before or you kind of grab onto the network that's around you. And so it wasn't even a formal recruiting process, but I ended up hiring a CEO very early on, a few months in to help me really figure out the operations and the legal part of the business. We knew that there would be a lot of trademark challenges. We want to be global eventually. And so we wanted to protect our intellectual property and there was just so much to do. So I ended up hiring Henry, who was a friend that I have known for many, many years, who actually used to run an agency that had worked with us on the glossier flagship. And he left after eight years on the job and he said, I thought he was going to help me with my consulting projects because he's also a very talented designer. And he said, I need to go on vacation. I've been in my job for eight years, but when I come back, I'll take some of the retail work off your plate so you can focus on the beverage company. And he happened to go to the south of France and they said, if you try anything delicious there, let me know. Bring back a bottle is good research. I'm not able to go to France for a bit, so definitely look into that for me.
And he came back and he had all of the operations of the entire Riviera and he said, OK, I was kidding before.
I definitely just want to work on the beverage company with you. And so I said, OK, come on in.
Wow. So first employee, that's so exciting. How cool. Especially to work with a friend. Yeah.
Something that I love to talk about is sort of more in the money side of things. And I know you guys did a friends and family around and something that I'm really eager to learn about is how you actually do a friends and family around. What are the steps? Is it an email?
Is it text messages? What's the like? What are the steps to launching a friends and family around?
Yeah, it was a bit of both. And we raised around in October two thousand and nineteen, which feels so far away. It's a completely different world from the one that we live in now. But what I did first is I started as I was doing my research, I started tapping some people in entrepreneurs that I admire in my network to kind of get their advice. What did they think of it? How do they invent an idea other than the gut feeling? And I'm a very intuitive person, so I'm like, this one feels right. But it's like, how do you know when it's the one? Does it make any business sense? Is there anything to look out for? And so I reached out to a few people, one of them being Jennifer Rubio, the founder of OK, and a few other founders that either I had worked for before. And I just really ask them for advice. I told them, Didinger, we didn't have a name, we didn't have a deck, we didn't have anything. It was if I reached out to Emily Weiss and I reached out to Jenn Rubio and I reached out to a few others and they all could tell I was so excited by it. And I it had all worked with me before or seen my work before and said, do it, I'll invest. And I think that was the vote of confidence that I needed. It was those first checks from these really admirable entrepreneurs that have done so well and that were also good anchors for me to be able to go out to people that I didn't know as well and say we already have commitments from these people that whose judgment you probably trust more than mine.
So then we put it back together, really talking about the opportunity. And there's not a ton of research on all alcoholic drinks because you have alcohol and then you have sodas. And so we were trying to create a new category, which is very different. But the reality is, I think a lot of people resonated with this idea of like trying to cut down on drinking without having options. So sometimes the big idea really you get to convince people with the very practical details. And it was like asking questions such as when does it make sense to socialize but not be drunk so many occasions. And so we put it together and we reached out to people individually, people that I had worked with in the past, and then just friends that I knew were investing. And you really have to put yourself out there. Thankfully, we weren't raising a lot of money, and so we ended up just scheduling a number of meetings. And some of the people that had decided to invest also referred us to some of their friends. So it was very kind of friends and family and friends of friends. And we ended up raising our round in a week. So I did something like 50 or 60 meetings and the week was back to back to back to back. And then so the following Monday, we were we had all of the money that we needed and more, which was very lucky, given I think it's much harder to raise money today. But I went quickly.
Wow, that is so crazy to achieve in a week. Did you have to once you had all the commitments from the different people, what happens next? Like, do you have to hire a lawyer to be like, OK, we're going to draw up a million contracts. Do you just shoot out your bank details and be like, hey, here we go, what's the actual step there?
Pretty much, actually. So, you know, we decided to open a safe note. It was easy and it was the least expensive one in terms of legal fees. And we hired a lawyer and we ended up people are like, OK, I'm in for twenty five thousand dollars or fifty thousand dollars. And you end up sending them your wire information and a safe note. That's still fine. And you'll sign and execute when you get the money basically. So it's pretty simple.
Well, must have been so thrilling. I love that. So cool. Congrats, by the way. Belated congrats. And so once you have all the money in your account, what happens next? What what kind of things did you spend the money on?
Formulation for sure. That was really the most important one for us. And then we started looking for a design agency. It was clear to me that I had the vision for the brand, but I needed help really bringing it to life. And I'm not the designer by any means. And so we started looking for a design agency and we knew that that would be a part of the budget. We started looking for a web developer and we started sourcing our packaging and materials, which was incredibly difficult and was made even more difficult during the pandemic.
Well, our factory shut down to make hand sanitizer, among other things. And my gosh, of course, some of the packaging that was supposed to be made in China, we had to move to the US, but then the US shut down and our bottles got stuck in Italy. And it was just so many things that you can't if it was in a movie, you would say that it's not credible.
Every challenge that came your way, you would just like, oh, my God, not another like it's too much. There's no way the universe testing you. I really want to talk about your branding for a hot second, because something that really brought me into your brand in the first place was the visuals, the tone of voice, the language. All of it is just so unbelievably cool and different and unique.
I know you've obviously brought this to life through your experience in the Mediterranean, but how did how did it come together? What was the process of bringing it to life with this agency?
So we worked really closely with MDH and Sears Will Open and Associates. I always love to give them a really big shout out because they really feel like family to us now. They can pull ideas off our brains and make them better. And, you know, they were an agency that had not really worked on a lot of CPG products before. They really worked music and did environmental and design. And and so when we it was a fun rabbit hole to get into, to start really looking into uprated friends through their eyes. And, you know, a lot of it started with them asking me to talk about the inspiration for the brand. So I showed them my grandmother's cookbook and I talked about her a lot. And I was like, what do you love in terms of design and colors? I have this weird obsession with totem poles. And so a lot of it was like a success and postmodern design. Like some of you go around on totem poles and all of these really playful, colorful, joyful colors and talking a little bit about the things that we loved about all of our inspiration, images and things that we didn't love. And as we we discussed, a lot of it was felt a little bit exclusive. It felt like the top one percent of like Italy vacation. And I was like, how do you bring this to every day in a way that's very approachable? And then some of it was also very practical. Like everybody had told me, if you want your product to sell on the shelf, you're going to have to explain what it is you need to say.
Non-alcoholic aperitif, better and big. And we started looking at the label and I was like, not really happening. I was not convinced that that would work for us. And so we decided to do the exact opposite and have a very minimal label with a really fun top so that it's more of an object that you gravitate toward and want to grab breed closer. And maybe that won't serve as well. I guess we're open to changing it. But so far and I think it's really resonated with people as like a really fun object that they want to read. So they helped us find our name, first of all, and we wanted a name that could be easy to pronounce in a lot of languages and was really happy. And it was one of those things where when they said if we just knew it was the name and we'd been looking for a name forever. And we also talked a lot about the personality of the brand. And for us, it was the personality. A lot of it was about gathering. So a lot of the moments that we were describing were kind of social, which is something we've really had to pivot from with the pandemic because we launched in a time when people come together in person as much. But it was like for us was the coolest girl at the party. She welcomes you with open arms like she's that friend who is the warmest of sun and just always makes you feel like the most welcome. So this idea of invitation and participation, again, was omnipresent in the brain.
I love that. Wow.
And I hope that everyone who listens to this episode jumped straight on your website and your Instagram to check it out, because it is just so cool, so amazing.
I really want to get into the launch of the brand and what happens in the lead up to launching a brand like this and your go to market strategy, how you got your first customers and what the response was like launching something that was in a new category.
Yes, it was. Our launch was very difficult. If we say to truth, it was first of all, it was your independent make. Our initial plans for a launch was to launch exclusively in restaurants on April 1st with a product that chef and our friends would get customers to discover so that we could really finalize the formula based on people's feedback and then gear up for launch in retail and launch. And of course, two weeks before that, all the restaurants in the world shut down. So we're here with all of these samples and really no one to sell them to. And also, like, I think just a moment of panic. Nobody knew what was going to happen. Remember, at a time when people said, wow, I love down again, might last until May and we know the right reason.
So we have no sense of timeline.
But it became very clear we needed to pivot to a digital first approach like a few weeks in. So we did that and we figured out how to work remote like many other teams. And that's when all the supply chain issues really started happening with delays, delays, delays. We could have to do a photo shoot. We couldn't do so many things. And finally we said, OK, we managed to produce our drink. And so we said, OK, we're going to be launching that. It's really it was really important for us to launch before summer because it's a very bitter drink. It's kind of perfect for that. And also at that point, like when we set the stage, we thought we would be fully reopen by summer. So based on countries like China that we're starting to reopen. And so we set the date for June 9th. And then as we got closer to June nine, actually when all of the Black Lives Matter protests started happening in the United States. And so at that point, we had to pause at the beginning of June and we said, you know, we just have to sit it up and make room for the conversation that's happening and figure out a new date. But we had the product that was ready, so we knew we had to sell it sooner rather than later. So we ended up pushing the launch to June 16th.
And the launch was with a lot of the press had pulled out because of more significant news happening. And our launch was really like we sent a newsletter to our small might email list and we posted on Instagram and we had a few pieces that came out that helped a lot, but that was kind of it. And thankfully, people were supportive and people were really excited. And I think people have drunk so much in quarantine and had maybe realized that we only have one body and and we need to take better care of it. So I think I was expecting for all my friends to order on Monday and to recognize all of the names and the lists. And it was like, wow, like orders were going to Massachusetts and orders were going to Iowa. I think on the first day we sold to thirty two states and I just couldn't believe it. So that was, that was really amazing. And through that we had a lot of word of mouth. I think people were not posting too much on Instagram then because we were still it was still a bit of a quiet period and that was very understandable. And so we didn't really know what to expect in terms of spreading the word. And we didn't really want to reach out to people either for that.
We were also doing a lot of introspection and we were protesting at the same time and we were figuring out what it meant to create a company during those times and really setting the foundations for the culture of our company. And so it was some super rapid movement on the outside, but also turmoil. Indian side is like what kind of company are launching and what it means to launch to this time. And then from there we ended up we ended up seeing a lot of word of mouth from people and we realized a very high number of people repeated really early on. So people that truly either didn't drink at all or just really loved the product. And we got something like, I forget the number. But in the first 10 days, we had like a. 10 or 15 percent repeat rate, which is like music, you drink a whole bottle in the first week and you needed another one immediately. And then we also saw about 10 percent of our orders were gifts to other people wanting to connect at all cost. And if it meant through a little package that would get on their doorstep, then so be it. So it was great to see that and to see people sharing even when they couldn't actually experience together.
Yeah, gosh, that sounds so amazing, and I think I read you wrote something like more than ten thousand handwritten letters or something crazy like that, more than a thousand twelve hundred in our first week, which was a lot of notes. Oh, my gosh. Your head must have been so sore.
And I love all of the press that you've been receiving because it just it really tells your story and it really makes you want to order the drink. Like, I totally get the significance of press.
In your case, what's the plan for global expansion? When can the rest of us have your brand?
We give us this so much and I feel bad because even at launch, my brand still had no idea. But, you know, right now we are not working on international expansions yet, but it is in our plans and it will be prioritized soon. The goal will be to have Guia everywhere when it makes sense. We don't want to just turn on shipping and then have people in Europe bear the cost of a really, really expensive bottle of diesel. We want to be really intentional with how we go to market in each country, how we speak to a local audience, and we want to be as thoughtful as we were when we thought about our launch in the United States. So we wanted to be an experience and hopefully it will be more real than our launch over here in the US.
Oh, bringing that retail experience, hospitality experience to life, I love that. How exciting.
What advice do you have for women who have a big idea and want to launch their own thing?
That's a good question, I would say, you know.
Really, testing product market fit is so important, there are so many great ideas that are just don't succeed because it's not the right time for the audience. And so I think for us, it was doing a lot of community building before and seeing how people reacted to your drink. We learned so much before we actually finalized the formula and did our first big batch of thousands of bottles. And so I would say, like involve your community in the creation of your product, because they're if they're the ones that will give you the feedback, you don't hear it as much from customers when it's bad and you you want to create it for them. So create a product that they will be addicted to.
I love that.
Thank you. We are up to the six quick questions that I ask to every woman that I speak to. Question number one is what's your why?
I want to help people gather more mindfully. I want to create experiences that will be memorable and I think it really helps, really helps with the simple things which are the things someone told me once, like how you live your days is how you live your life. And for me, it's all about these really small moments and making them count. And if it means gathering better and having drinks together and a more connected way, then that's like a great life purpose for me.
Absolutely, and I think now more than ever, it's super important to be doing that and sharing those small moments with the people that you care about and the people closest to you. Question number two is what's the number one marketing moment that's made the business pop so far?
We were included in New York Times in August, thanks to Julia Bainbridge, who is an incredible writer whose books about non-alcoholic drinks is actually coming out in October, and she included us in the very thoughtful piece about bitter divorce. And that was really a big moment for us.
I definitely read that article and I loved it. I actually came across the article, though, funnily enough, through the Linux newsletter, it was included in the link and I was like, oh, this is so cool.
I've had this brand on my radar. So I love, like, shout out to them.
Yeah, shout out to Paul. They're incredible. And they've been so supportive of us since our launch.
So for sure it's really cool. Question number three is where do you hang out to get smarter. Where are you learning these days, all these days?
It's a lot of learning on the Internet. I have to say. But, you know, I've actually been really thinking a lot about current events and I've been able to find a good network of friends with whom we can have some of these debates and conversations and a really safe place. And it's been really inspiring, actually, to be able to talk about all of this throughout the summer.
So people people absolutely. Question number four is how do you win the day? And that's around your A.M. and your PM rituals that keep you feeling motivated and happy and successful and productive for sure.
I think now that I moved to California last year, I have a much healthier lifestyle and we go to bed much earlier and we wake up much earlier. And so I tried to work out four times a week, which is not something I could ever achieve in New York. But I play tennis and do things here that are really part of the life that people live in that's been really helping me move. My body has been helping me clear my head. And I also have learned to organize my day around the times that I'm the most productive. So from seven to 10 a.m. is when I'm most productive. So I try to be always at a computer with no meetings during those times. And really, I do organize my time for the team and then go into meetings and management after that. And it's just been working so well.
Yeah, I think it's really important to tap into your personal energy cycles and it's something we've discussed on the podcast before is traditionally if you're working in a nine to five, you have to operate as the company operates. But now with the move away from the nine to five and the office sort of set up people having the freedom to work at their own pace and thrive in a really special way, which I really love. And it's definitely something that I value most about being able to work for myself. Busher.
Question number five is, if you only had a thousand dollars left in your business bank account, where would you spend it?
That's very little money, but I would probably spend it on the existing customers that I have, I think I would either spend it on like a survey or learning about how we can make it better for them or try to get them to come back for the product. I think your core, your first cohort of core customers from the very beginning are your biggest advocates. And so if it came down to having very little money on our bank account, I would invest in them to help us grow organically.
Of that and question number six. Final question is how do you deal with failure and that's around your personal mindset or an experience that you have in mind?
It's very hard, I think we think about this all the time, and I think as an entrepreneur, there's a lot of fear of failure as well. And that's just that's crippling, I think, as grieving, like grieving, a success that didn't happen. And so I think really going back to you, why why are you doing this? And blogging during the pandemic felt like a failure in March when we realized we couldn't launch. And it was really asking ourselves the questions of, like, why we're doing this is still worth it to keep pushing. Is it still if we want to do do we feel like this is a product that people still need? And I think that's really helped recenter ourselves and I mean that for the whole company, because it was also really hard to kind of be the driver of energy in the company. When I didn't have dancer, that felt like a failure in terms of management so early on. And so it was going back to the why and trying to be centered and getting some advice from the people that I trusted had been through this before.
Thank you so much for being on the podcast today.
I have loved to learn about your business and everything that you're doing is just so incredible. So thank you, really.
I really thank you so much, dude, and thank you for the opportunity. And I hope we can meet in person very soon.
Oh, me too. With a beer.
Yes, for sure.