SoL Cups Founder Rebecca Veksler shares her journey from chronic disease to entrepreneurship
Today we’re chatting to Rebecca Veksler, the founder of SoL Cups! After going through a chronic health issue, Rebecca started this reusable cups business alongside her mum while she was back living with her during rehabilitation and since then it’s become one of the top 4 reusable cup companies globally.
We talk through her journey of building this business from the ground up but losing everything when the pandemic hit, the lessons she wishes she knew when she was starting out and how she approached global expansion.
When it comes to global expansion, there are two main points. Firstly, don’t expand globally if you’re not profitable and highly successful in the country where you started. Secondly, you really have to be there. Launching in another country is no different than launching in the country where you’re from. The reason it works is that you’re present, you’re available. Rebecca owes her success to the luxury she had to fly and to actually be there, boots on the ground. That first interaction. Showing face. It's absolutely key to dive into the country, the culture, the dynamic of the business relations, and really understand that interaction. Have the respect and time to join it. And if you physically can’t do it, to make sure to hire someone who is perfectly aligned with your mission and ready to communicate all those learnings to your partners directly.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Hello, Thank you for having me. I'm so excited to dig into your story today. Where are you currently at home in Sydney in Sydney. Nice. How's the weather? I feel like it's been a bit a bit weird. No, it's not fun. It's been raining, it's been raining a lot. So I'm I'm a little more pale than usual, but we'll recover, we'll recover indeed. Me too. I want to start by getting you to introduce the brand for people who might not know yet what it's all about and a little bit about who you are. Yeah, Beautiful Sol Cups, basically the short version is we produce incredibly beautifully designed reusable products being water bottles, coffee cups, and they're all made from 100% hand blown glass. So the sort of extra special detail is that we wanted to create something not just sustainable, but incredibly aesthetic and enjoyable to drink from, but also doesn't harm your health. So it was very important that it was a glass product and had as little to no plastic as possible. So yeah, we really pride ourselves on that innovation. I read that before you were launching this business, you were suffering from health issues surrounding an autoimmune disease and I wanted to talk a little bit about that and how that kind of led you to this product specifically. Yeah, it's a pretty special story. I had never considered myself to start a product based business. I never had that thought in my mind. I was actually in the fitness industry, I was a personal trainer and I was incredibly passionate about basically being at service to people and empowering others to be their best self, the most, you know, positive lifestyle and I was managing gyms. I was 18 at this point, by the way, I was managing Jim's and starting my first company which was workshops in mental health and corporate spaces and I was doing all this crazy stuff whilst being deeply passionate about health um investigating sustainability in my own right. So I was also already at that time quite passionate about it, but I didn't, you know, I didn't anticipate to get burnt out essentially, and I was creating this company, I was managing gyms, I was paying, like training clients and for some strange reason, decided to go back to university at the same time, and Lord knows why. Um no, it was, it was because I felt at 17 or 18 years old, I didn't have the credibility to start my first business, and I thought, okay, I better go get a degree, waste of my time ended up leaving after the first semester, because I had gathered so much quality information from the company had started, which was essentially almost human resources and people and culture, that I ended up guest lecturing my HR semester and I'm like standing at the podium, sharing all this incredible insights on mental health in the workplace, to this human resources course that I'm taking, and I'm like, I'm not meant to be here, like this is a load of shift, like I should not be wasting my time lecturing at the age of 18 to a group of people that don't care anyway, when I could be fast tracking my career, and all of this is happening, I decided to drop back out, I go back into competing in fitness. Um I'm trying to build this company and essentially one day I wake up and I can't walk. I'm in chronic pain head to toe, like 10 out of 10 wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. And yeah, that's crazy. Exactly. And I mean, I fast track a little bit. I'm probably about 20 years old at this point turning 21. And I mean, I remember having to call an ambulance and having to go to the hospital because it was just excruciating. I couldn't move. I couldn't even like, you know, set myself up from bed essentially and doctors running all these tests and you know, talking at me and basically saying, well, we don't actually know what's wrong with you. So we're gonna label it autoimmune, but we're really confused and you're probably going to get worse And yeah, that was the best part. And you can imagine at 21 years old, you're questioning everything. Like you fall straight into victim mode of why is this happening to me. And you know, what am I gonna do with my life? I can't continue this career. And you know, I was always a very resilient person and I always really believed in the positive outlook in any experience, but I sort of said to myself, okay, you've got three months to feel like shit, you're allowed to be, yeah, you're allowed to be depressed. You can cry every day. You can, you know, go through the motions, but after three months, you need to get your ship together, you're going to do everything you can and have to recover and heal and get through this and whatever the doctors tell you that can suck right off and you'll be fine. And that's the beginning of where Soul Cups accidentally was founded in the living room of my mom's apartment while I was in rehabilitation, trying to get my life together, we accidentally decided to start a business together. Oh my gosh, yeah, Okay, so you're in the living room with your mom? Why Soul cups? Why glass bottles? Glass cups, what? Like why? What's the lightbulb moment that lands you on that or what's the bit of research that lands you on that? So the context is, and it's very important context. My family's business, as in mother and father had a promotional products agency and I pretty much grew up in the world of product development, manufacturing, importing, exporting, its what we lived and breathed. I was never essentially involved in the business, but I definitely had a very clear understanding of how it operated because I was around it all the time. So the concept of product development was never an issue for me, but in saying that I never, in my life thought I was going to produce anything and I never thought I would consider using those skill sets for anything other than supporting friends who maybe were starting businesses. So what mom and I were passionate about was homewares and design. And my most fondest memories of my mother are in cute boutiques and homeware stores or jewelry stores or fashion stores where she was just always curating this exceptionally beautiful, you know, things around her home and it was always just like this quirkiness and she loved glassware. Always we collected like you know, all these eccentric pieces and I remember traveling to some trade shows in china with my father and we discovered hand blown glass as an up and coming quality piece in the more premium ranges of some of the clients we have been working with. And instantly mum and I fell in love with this and we actually started considering to design homewares and that's where it all sort of started. We were sitting in the living room and we were looking at this beautiful colored vase that she had on her shelf and she's like, you know, we could do such a better job and we've got such better taste, like we could create something really gorgeous and beautiful and I guess my natural passion for sustainability intertwined and it sort of became this very drip and drab concept that we developed probably over about eight months during my rehabilitation phase, wow gosh! And so in that eight months of developing the concept kind of piecing it together, what are the kind of early steps you're taking to get started, Obviously you had this background or this, not background, but this total exposure to supply chain and how you could kind of develop a product product development? What were those early steps for you in getting this kind of to life? Yes. So, look, the fundamental foundations of product based business are two things having clarity of product development in the sense of are you going to design from scratch or you going to take something off the shelf? Not either is right or wrong, but you really need to have that understanding from the beginning. So, those early stages were figuring that piece out. And for us, always, it was always going to be independently designed and crafted by me or a team of graphic designers that we felt connected with because intrinsically my goals with the company was always going to be, we're unique, we're different, we're independent, we're individual and unlike anything else. So that's that's the first early stage, is once you make that decision, the steps that go in place are sourcing that manufacturer and ensuring that you can sort of meet those expectations of what you're after. So that's more like the advice for anyone listening who hasn't done it before. But for us, obviously that was a no brainer when you want to do. So, the difficult part was the design was how do we, like, I'm not a graphic designer, I'm not, you know, an industrial designer? I'm not someone that competed together. So how do I take what's in my brain and provide it to someone I really trust. So the hardest thing was actually finding that graphic designer and seven years later, we still work with him on a daily basis. So that is a fundamental aspect, is finding people to work with that really understand your vision and your goals. I mean, we'll talk about it later, but the packaging was such an important design aspect and I mean, I can tell you how many times we sucked up with that aspect because I was just so unique and in fact, it's what set us apart and allowed us to grow so quickly in so many different industries. Because if you look at any other reusable product company out there, I won't name competitors. But they were designed for cafes, essentially, if we talk about reasonable cups, no one was sitting in the space of gifts and homewares. So because our initial passions lay in that category, we thought how can we take this product that's supposed to be really in the hands the cafe, but then expose us to industries that never thought to stock us. Let's create gift style packaging that is so undeniably attractive that you can't walk past in the shop. So there's so much thought that went into the design aspect, like I really would definitely say take your time and that stuff really matters because when it's in the hands of the final consumer, your customer, whether it's through your website or through a store that experiences everything that unboxing that, you know, physical touch of the box or opening the box, it's a lasting subconscious experience that, you know, is that tipping point of why they're going to buy again or they're going to buy it for their friends or they're going to tell everyone about it. Absolutely. It's a mini billboard needs to catch the eye of someone walking by and make them want to pick it up. So true on the capital side of things, I love to kind of understand the money piece kind of in the beginning and how you were funding it to get started for this particular product. You know, getting your first inventory, order, getting your website up and running kind of just getting started. What kind of capital did you need to invest in the beginning? So, this is a great part of the story. Great. I do things a little bit differently to most people. We bootstrapped just for context. We never had investors. Everything was done with whatever means we can, based on my ability to negotiate and sell. And again, because of the context of having so much experience with product development and importing. I knew how much time I had, I had six weeks for this product to be produced and then I had four weeks for it to be shipped. So it's not a lot of time. And if you're smart, you can negotiate with your manufacturers to essentially pay a very small deposit and then pay the remainder upon receipt of goods or once it's shipped. So what I did was utilize that relationship, negotiated a smaller investment for the original sort of retainer and pretty much pre sold the entire containers worth of stock before it arrived in the country. And yeah, so it was about 8000 units. So we launched with one size, our 12 ounce cup, three colors, which are still my top selling colors today and 12,000 cups and I sold it in 2.5 weeks. Oh my God. Okay, so first of all, before we get into how you sold the cups, what was your kind of even if it's ballpark capital investment to kind of that you negotiated to put in, I feel because it was so long ago, I don't have a clear recollection, but it probably was, I'd say the initial 20% deposit was under, I'd say under $50,000. Okay, got it, got it, got it, yeah, it wouldn't have been that much back then all in all because also the price of goods were so much cheaper. But regardless, I guess of the investment capital, it's like even if I didn't have it, the journey should be bootstrap, look at the means of who can support your friends, family, take a loan, if you can avoid, you know giving away equity. I mean at that stage of any business, your business is valued at nothing anyway. So really you want to use what you can and if you couldn't commit to that much stock, buy less, negotiate less, there's always sort of options to play with. But with our product being hand blown glass, the minimums were very high. So already negotiating, that was quite challenging. But that's where I went. Okay, I've got a great challenge. I know what I can do, I know what I'm capable of and I know where I want to sell to and the fundamental difference between my process and maybe somebody else was, I was never selling to my customers. I was building authentic relationships and what I did was I set a goal for myself that by the end of this four week period, every single coffee shop owner in Australia, if I could pull it off because I traveled a lot needed to know me by first and last name. That's a big goal. And the rest. Yeah. And the rest was irrelevant. And the consequence of building that relationship was a sale based on the incredible connection that I had made. And that's pretty much what I did. I walked around for hours coffee shop to coffee shop coffee roast our, anyone that would spend five minutes with me and I shared my story of my vision, my goals, my mission and I actually got them involved in the product development. I spoke to the baristas. I said, can you have a look at this? Can you use it? Can you tell me if you hate it? If you love it, does it fit under the machine? You know which color do you prefer? Everything? Every piece of feedback that I could potentially get I was looking for. And through that dynamic conversation, they fell in love with the product and it was just, it was a beautiful experience. Yeah. So in 2.5 weeks you pound the pavement, you are just out there talking to as many people as possible. You essentially sell 12,000 units. 12,000 wasn't yeah, 8000 8000 units. And you are like off to the races. So at this point it's not even a dtc brand. It's very much like a retail play. Have you even been thinking of D two C at this point or it was just like, this is the strategy just hit coffee shops, hit baristas and go from there. So we were thinking of course we we we were building a website. It was a ship website, like a shocking um whatever we could do because I wasn't a tech person, like I wasn't even focusing on it. We had our social media started with zero slowly was building up the followers creating content wherever I could, but also I had no samples. I only had pictures. I had actually, I had one sample that wasn't correct because I was so fixated on the shape of the lip of the glass. Like that's what was the innovation that I didn't even have a sample that was accurate. So I was selling all this stock based on just my storytelling and a shitty like a half done sample, but I knew we were going to sell direct consumer at some point. I just started with what I knew. Like I was already a social butterfly. I already, you know, grew up in a community where the baristas at my local coffee shop, you know, knew me and it was a beautiful relationship. So that's where I started. I just went to everyone I knew and you know shared the journey and you know, to this day, those cafe owners and restaurant owners and like Bondi where I'm from. You know, they watched me work on my laptop for hours in their cafe and and tell stories and work on it and you know, I still catch up with them now and we laugh about it. So gosh, that's amazing. Yeah. Start with who you know, start with who you know, I love that. I love that so much and tapping into your network, just starting small, expanding from there. 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That's up Scribd dot io forward slash female startup club. What happens next? How do you go from that to like your 1st 1000 customers? Is it the same process? Are you trying to like scale faster? How does it kind of move into the next phase? Pretty much it happened. It happened very fast. We went from, I'd say our 1st 100 stock lists to our 1st 1000 stock lists in under six months. And it's crazy. It was, it was surreal, surreal. It two fundamental reasons, absolute sheer luck of timing of war on waste happening. That was 2016 abc network in Australia and I believe in the UK as well launched the war on waste series, which was astronomical for our growth because the entire show revolved around single use coffee cups so suddenly out of nowhere, everyone's watching this series going, oh my God, I can never drink from a take away coffee cup again, Like amazing by hours. And in complete respect to that, that meant there was a huge demand for cafes or gift stores being asked like do you sell reasonable coffee cups? And the first thing they do is call us and ask for stock. So the luck that occurred was at that exact moment all my competitors were sold out of stock and we were the only brand that had stock available in Sydney in Australia to supply to an Australian market. So it was absolute sheer luck on that side. And then the other thing is we discovered trade shows. So within, you know, a couple of months of operating, we dive into the world of trade shows and just at this one single show, we literally accumulated almost 400 new stock ists Across Australia, which is wild. So I basically was buying 40 ft containers worth of cups Every 12 weeks to sustain the demand at this point. And within that exact moment we also decided to launch in New Zealand and Mimic the entire process there because they were, there was such a demand across the sea. So it was just this like exponential, accidental growth of, I'm like, what did I do? I didn't do anything, but I also did everything, you know, because I think the energy that comes with it, you have to really keep up with that demand and create that, you know, customer service and experience, even if it wasn't director consumer, it still was so you know, through through the stuff this and you're not working with a distributor at this point. So are you managing hundreds of relationships with these coffee shop owners and managers? And that's crazy. I mean it was, it was comical because I was still living at home because I was quite sick still. So I'm still managing my health, I'm still managing my mental health through all of this. And I was so lucky that I had mom to lean on and I could still live with her. But we're working from the living room, like the entire garage was filled with cups and at this point we were also offering co branding, which is, you know where we popped the company's logo on. So we had this inundation of corporate clients outside of our wholesale stalkers. So my favorite was I would do the Bondi Beach farmer's markets, like a store, like a physical market stall. I did it every saturday and sunday for two years. The first two years we operated and I remember, you know, like I would, would dress casual, it's, you know, the weekend, it's the beach and this woman in her like feathers and flip flops walks up and she's like, oh, these cups are so cute can I get, you know them for my, my company where we need some gifts for the employees. I'm like, yeah, of course. Like give me your card and she's like head of sales and marketing for JPMorgan asia pacific and ordered like 3000 custom cups branded with their logo on it, which was, you know, had to be done in production. It wasn't even stock that we had and I'm scratching my head going, fuck, like what have I created? Like what is this going to be? And we pretty much overnight went from me sitting at a laptop, dis leaving cups myself, like taking the sleeve off to get them grounded. Like my fingernails are bleeding to a team of, you know, 12 in an office in Sydney and then a company set up in New Zealand and a team there and then an office set up in the UK and employees there and I was traveling like every three weeks to different countries to meet with distributors and partners and yeah, it was just insane, insane during this time, like how are you managing your health and your mental health because obviously you've come out of being burnt out. It's caused you to get sick and now it sounds like you're, I'm sure you're like loving the fact that it's going so well, it's so successful, but it sounds like you would have been super busy, potentially very stressed, What are you doing to take care of yourself during that time, Not into no, I never sugarcoat this part because I was not looking after myself, I did not have a second to breathe, it was insane and I have to say the only thing that kept me alive was I was really fortunate at that exact time. I had the most amazing supportive partner. I had mum doing as much as she could. She for context her part of the business is the financial side of things, so she's like the accountant bookkeeper CFO sort of role. So she was heavily supportive on that side of administration. But I actually do not know how I survived that time because I felt like I was hiring someone new every five minutes. I had no experience of what it meant to be a leader, let alone a business owner that was profitable and growing but at the same time, innately within me it's what I was born to do. Like I was in my element, I was my happiest, I was not my healthiest, but I was functional and I don't think I sat still until covid happened. Yeah, you were full steam ahead, You're just powering through for you. What has global expansion been like and what have you learned that you can pass on to other people who are wanting to expand into new markets, kind of explore new countries, you know, there's so much to navigate when you're launching into new countries. So what's it been like for you and what's your advice, it is such a phenomenal experience, but I would adamantly bring it down to the fact that you have to be there launching in another country is no different to launching in the country you're born in, that you're from. The reason it works is because your present Because you're available because it's timely. So I owe the success to the fact that I had the luxury to fly and be there. And I'll tell you now the first trade show I did in London at the London Coffee Festival where 3000 new people are let into that venue every three hours and it runs over four days. A lot of humans. I can tell you now the fact that I was there, that first one, you know, it's 20, people from that show are still asking about me when they met me in 2017. that absolute first interaction, that showing a face that, you know, first impression is everything. And if you're trying to launch in another country that you don't know anything about, go and learn everything about it, dive in, get to know the culture, understand the dynamic of the business relationship and interactions, how to supply is work, how do they expect to be spoken to? You need to actually have the respect and the time to go and join it. And if you physically can't do it, then ensure that the people you hire the people you work with your partners, whether it's your logistic partners or distributors or whatever are not only aligned to your values and your mission, but they're there to support you and they're there to communicate all of those things to your customers correctly. So it's a big education piece. It's a big training piece and it is a big task. It's, it's not a simple process and like off the back of that question, the other part that, you know, comes inherently with global expansion is working capitals obviously needed to fund that growth to fund the marketing behind it, to fund the travel, all of that side of things. And I remember earlier, you said you had bootstrapped, you hadn't raised at that point. You know, when you're kind of growing aggressively, how were you approaching the working capital piece and kind of accessing more capital to grow and have you raised since basically I always give this advice is don't expand globally. If you're not profitable and highly successful in the country, you started, you know, people like to rush and spread, you know, everything too thin. If if you're not number one in Australia, for example, you know, where I'm from, if you're not number one here, why would you half asked go then And launch in another country where you have to basically your start up again, you're nothing, you're no one, nobody knows you exist. So to answer that lightly, the way we manage that was, we knew that Australia was operating highly successfully. It was autonomous in the sense that I had an amazing team that I could step away from and I could go start again somewhere else and I would spend 3-6 months at a time in the London office with the tame building them up and building the business from scratch and it would run independently. So each country that we function in is actually a separate entity and runs in autonomy to its sister companies. So we never had to lean on any other country for capital. We essentially started the process again where yes, we had enough us dollars in cash to purchase stock for say the UK or new Zealand. But in essence we could negotiate the same deal where we could put a small deposit on and then use that time to pre sell The system worked. The model worked and it was highly successful in Australia. Why wouldn't it work anywhere else if we do it right. And that's pretty much how we managed to again, bootstrap in another country successfully because of the calculated risk I guess. Um, and then to answer your other question no, we have never raised money through external investment, wow, that is so cool 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 verse 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 when you look at your kind of business overall today. What are the things that shift the needle when it comes to marketing and sales and growth? It's a tough question because it's such an ever changing world and changed a lot. I will open heartedly express that. I have no fucking clue when it comes to marketing, right, It's, it's such a complicated, confusing time, if we're being you know, quite present in this, in right now, but in sales, I mean its agility, right? It's such a cliche concept, but as long as you can be open and aware of the world around you and what's happening and what people need, like what problem are you solving? If you can successfully communicate that, whether it is marketing, whether it is sales, you'll succeed, your message will cut through and if it's not working change, if it's not getting through and it's not being communicated clearly try something else and I think that's what has always kept us, you know, stable and successful because I'm not stuck in my ways, I'm not sitting here going, it's black and white, this is the only way we're going to succeed, no things change, time changes, so I'm going to connect to my audience under any circumstance and I'm going to ensure that we are there to support them and solve their problems through sustainability and beautiful products, I love that having been on this journey for a while now, when you look back at the lessons you've learned along the way, is there anything that you wish you knew when you were just starting out that you can pass on to anyone listening here so many things, where do I start? I think in my personal experience specifically to this business, I really do wish we had a different business model from the beginning and focused a lot more on e commerce more than you know, even we do now because we would have been a lot more profitable and we would have survived covid successfully, we wouldn't have been impacted like we were. So that is a fundamental lesson. There is don't neglect an avenue just because you don't understand it, Take the opportunity to learn or bring somebody onto the team that can support that aspect that you're maybe not so qualified in. And then the other side is really fundamentally understand your numbers and in saying that I'm very fortunate that my business partner is my mother who really understands numbers, but I wish that I had a better grasp on it and I again took the time to consider and learn as much as she knew so that I could do a better job as a a sales person, as a, as a sales manager, as a team leader to basically make smarter decisions quicker, meaning hiring the right people leading them in the right direction, understanding the industries that are more beneficial for us and learning how to utilize time and optimal processes. So advice wise, I'd say don't be scared of what you don't know, dive headfirst into it, educate yourself as much as possible and if you can't figure it out, really ask for support because as a founder, as a business owner, you have to wear all the hats and you can't sweep anything under the rug just because you don't like doing it so true. What is the future looking like for you? What do you want to shout about? It's an exciting time. We really struggled with. Covid really did impact us so much as a business. So what I've been working on quietly and surely is product development side of things will be opening up new categories into hopefully homewares and kids, which is very exciting and potentially walking down the route of investment. So it's, yeah, it's a pretty, it's a pretty special time. That sounds exciting what happened during Covid for you. Like, like my my feeling is that obviously coffee shops everywhere, closed revenue drops a huge amount and you have to pivot to focus on e commerce. Am I on the right track? Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I will scare you by saying we lost 95% of our business overnight. Oh no. Yeah. Every, not just coffee shop, but every corporate client that we had, every gift store, homeware store, pharmacy cafe, every industry that we touched decided to of course secure their cash and either close or stop purchasing. And it's so funny because I remember that feeling, um it was like blind faith, like I was such a sheer optimist. I'm like it's fine, it's fine. I'll figure it out. It's all good, will go on instagram live and we'll connect to our audience and we'll have so much fun and it's gonna be amazing and meanwhile my mom's hair is like falling out, but you know it was, it was a very challenging time, but I always knew that the absolute core of who we were as a brand was, we have an incredible product, we have an incredible story and our mission and values align with the environment and changing the world, so this isn't going to die overnight, we have an amazing community in an audience and we will come back and work this out and that's exactly what happened, what were the things that you were kind of leaning into to keep it alive and keep kind of switching into that new direction. I realized this was the most beautiful opportunity to come back to the thing that I'm most passionate about and that is inspiring, educating and empowering people to be the best version of themselves back from my personal training days and I never really got over it, I never really got over the fact that I couldn't do that anymore and I believe that one of my greatest skill sets is how I communicate and how I use language to inspire people. So I deeply honed in on that and we became a platform for education and I flipped the script of who we were as a brand, it was no longer just cups and bottles, it was, we are the spokespeople, we are your soul mate, you are a soul mate, fundamentally by owning one of our products and through this incredible platform, I'm gonna use everything I'm passionate about to bring it home and a shared educate and inspire you to not just be a conscious consumer but to be part of a community that is safe and exciting and full of love and joy and reminds you why every day is beautiful and why we should care about the environment whilst drinking out of a beautiful glass cup and that's what we did. We just focused on our community and giving them a lot of love. I love that and I feel like in today's world, you know it's different times to 2016 where you could turn on an ad and have some crazy rowers and you know skyrocket in today's world, it really is about community and it really is about storytelling and all these things that for you, you started your brand inherently with that from the very beginning, it was just pulling it all back together and and putting it back at the front and center of what you were doing. It's so funny because we actually don't spend any money on facebook advertising. Probably not in the last, I'd say three years. I haven't spent a dollar on facebook ads or instagram ads because it doesn't do anything at the end of the day, we realized that no matter how much money we spent on advertising, we were still making the same amount if we didn't spend anything. So there was no point and it all just a line back to exactly what you said. It's like the fundamental reason brands are succeeding now. Like right now in 2022 is because they have an incredible story. They have an incredible product and they do a really damn good job connecting to their audience. So if I could do that in person, why can't we do that through tech? It's it can't be impossible. And I think that's such a big vat solid piece of advice for anyone who's in the middle of their journey or at the start of their journey. Like forget about all the flashy stuff, just speak your truth. Why did you even start this product? Why did you start this company, this brand, this service? What are you so passionate and in love with? Why do you get up every single morning and work on this brand? Talk about that, that's what people care about and the rest will work itself out. And I think, you know, that's I think that's where we're heading anyway, based on exactly what you said with ads, just not performing anymore. Absolutely.
So question number one is and this we've definitely touched on. What's your why? Why do you wake up every day and do what you're doing. I love this question. My why is I really believe that I have through this company and through you know my voice, the ability to create positive impact and positive experience in the world and there is nothing more special than not only seeing that we're changing the environment one cup at a time by eradicating the requirements for plastic production, but people's mindset, if I can change someone's mind set to be a more positive one and a more conscious consumer, I can sleep at night. I love that. That's so cool. Great mission to have. Number two is what's been your favorite marketing moment since you started the business. Oh um my favorite marketing moment. Probably seeing the product like on posters on busses all over new Zealand and also through the U. K. And europe. Like just traveling and seeing your products like bill boarded all over the world. I just think that's so surreal. I still can't really understand it. Yeah, well that sounds like a different kind of thrill. Very exciting. Yeah. Question # three is what some of your go to business resources when you have to think about things like a book or a newsletter or a podcast. I always go to my mentors definitely. And if I could suggest the biggest most valuable piece of advice is build your circle, build your network and build your tribe and make sure everybody in that space is much smarter than you are. I love that. I love that we've been building a private community, it's called Heart Club, but we're in the process of launching 2.0 and it has just been the most joyful thing to be part of because there's so many women who you are first time founders starting their business coming in and coming together and I learned so much from what they're going through and like what they're doing to kind of get the word out there. It's just such joy. And I think having that network of other founders around you that you can turn to and ask questions is just invaluable. You can't, you can't find better answers to questions, you can't find this stuff on google. It's it's so important. I totally agree. 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 motivated and successful? I love this because my entire sentiment is do one thing a day that brings you joy and fundamentally I didn't have much of a childhood. So I always try as much as I can to bring in that play into the office into the day, into my life. So my morning is really important to me. It's my special time. I have to work out. I have to journal or meditate or just have a little bit of peace and if I don't start my day like that, it's just my brain isn't together. So always have me time in the morning and During the day I like to implement 5-10 minutes of playtime and that goes for everyone in the team. So I have a hula hoop, I have a trampoline. Um I like to get everybody to sort of stand up and stretch or just get out of the office and go for a walk or something. I've got the dogs as well, so any kind of play. Um and then in the evening I really, I know it sounds so ridiculous but silence like there has to be half an hour to an hour where I don't talk to anyone, I don't look at a phone, I don't touch the computer and I just stare at a wall because and meditate essentially just to reset and reboot, have some quiet inside in a quiet. I love that Question # five is what has been your worst money mistake and how much did it cost you? Um Got a few of those. Um The worst one was we this is a terrible story. We built the second version of our e com website with this company that promised us the world charged us in total. It was almost $50,000 in losses because it's such a terrible story. I'm like I have pTSd thinking about it, they had to redevelop it a number of times because of terrible coding problems, but somehow managed to blame us because of our naivety and then in the end left us half dead as a half completed website and it turns out that one of the business partners ran away with all the money and ended up being this like big fraudulent case. I know it was like Shia bad luck, but although that was such a terrible loss and it was a ridiculous amount of money, we ended up meeting an incredible developer that not only overnight built us a website for free just because he felt so bad for what occurred, but you know, again to this day we still work with them and yeah, we're so grateful to have been saved, but that was that was a horrible, horrible loss of mistake. Yeah, that sounds, that sounds painful, That sounds crazy, but shoutout to the developer who helped you and came to be a saving grace, That sounds absolutely amazing. So many good people out there. Yeah, there's always a silver lining, there's always good people. Absolutely. Last question question number six, and you just gave us a pretty good one, but not that one, What is just a crazy story, good or bad that you've had from building your business? Oh my God, a crazy story. Um Honestly, there's so many, like I've lived such a crazy life, I think for me the craziest aspect and I know it's so simple and it's not that shocking, is walking and traveling around the world and seeing people use your product like in the smallest town in the south of France in Nim, I was like literally there for three days and I think I experienced, you know, a dozen or two people walking around with a soul cup and to me that's enough. Like that blows my mind. Like I will never get used to it, I will never understand it. Like I remember in the first like year of operating being in new Zealand and seeing people walk around, I'm like, where did you get it from? Like how do you have 1? That is so cool. I know it's not like wild, but to me it is because it's just you know how we started so small from a living room, you know, growing into this incredible global brand where people all over the world are reducing their waste by stopping single use plastics by using a product I designed with my mom is just insane. That is just insane. That is so cool. It's such a cool story. I'm so grateful that you came on the show to share your journey so far with me and for everyone listening, thank you so much Rebecca, thank you, thank you so much.