Contour Cube™’s Sarah Forrai sold 20k worth of product after her TikTok viral video (6M views!)

Today we are learning from Sarah Forrai, the female founder of Contour Cube™ which you might be familiar with on TikTok.

From 3D printed prototype to sell out success the revolutionary facial icing product Contour Cube is now TikTok famous having been viewed by over 25M people, gaining a global customer base and a following of over 150K. The Australian designed Contour Cube™ is a facial icing tool that has been uniquely designed to sculpt your face, de-puff eye bags and address your facial skincare needs from breakouts to fine lines.

We’re talking through her launch where she generated 20k and sold out of her products, how she’s capitalising on her TikTok strategy and what she’s doing when it comes to copycats.

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

Sarah welcome to the female startup club podcast. Hey, so happy to be here.

00:03:26Edit How are you? I am good, but I'm sure I'm not as good as you, you were just telling me some really great news from where you are. Yes, it's finally freedom day here in Australia. So we're finally out of lockdown, it's been 100 and two days, so I'm very excited to get my hair done, get my nails done, get everything done, drink shopping at it all to the list. Oh God, I remember the day here where we came out of lockdown and it was just such a vibe, you know everywhere in Soho was absolutely crazy, but everyone obviously took it too far as well. I remember walking around being like, whoa are we in bali Yeah, no, definitely feeling the good vibes. I'm really excited to get back into the gym and not go on a walk anything but going to walk or a picnic. Oh my God, totally, I know those fields, I know them so well, well I'm excited to have caught you before, you're back into the real world on your last evening in.

00:04:28 I'm very excited to talk about your brand contour cube. We've had you on instagram live before sharing a little bit of your story last year, I think, I think it was or was it this year? I can't remember, it was a while ago, but anyway, I'm excited to hear the updates. I'm excited to dig in again. Where do you want to start? I want to start with? Like actually let's start with your elevator pitch when someone asks you what you do and like what your business is, What do you tell them? I tell them that contour cube is a facial icing tool for healthy glowing skin. And I always say, you know, don't you hate using slippery ice cubes with your hands because it's messy, you know, it's slippery, it makes your hands really cold. So don't you want something that can easily grip the eyes, I can actually fit the contours of your face and that you can easily use for at least up to a week instead of having to like change the ice cube tray and what not. And yeah, you want something that could easily fit into your skincare routine and make facial icing that much easier.

00:05:36 Great sales pitch. Yeah, well that's how it all kind of started I guess. Well let's go into that. Let's go back to the beginning of when you started having these, I mean because you were working on a different brand at the time, Sammy's hand sanitizer, but at some point there's a rumbling of something else. Let's go back to your early early thoughts and ideas. So basically, um all kind of came about because my mom absolutely loves facial icing. She basically swears by facial icing and she sort of asked, like, just told me about it and wanted me to get into it and she's like read up on all its benefits, it's so good for, you know, de puffing your skin. It's so good for treating acne, it just adds like general radiance, like just go do it now. And I was like okay cool, I'm gonna incorporate it into my skincare routine. So I basically grabbed, you know, an ice cube out of an ice tray and started, I see my face in the mornings and basically quickly quickly realized how annoying the whole process is. It's awkward, it's slippery, it's messy.

00:06:39 And I actually suffer from something called a ray notes phenomenon, which means that my fingers and my toes and basically my extremities are really sensitive to the cold. So that was kind of like another reason why I don't want to hold an ice cube because cold things trigger it if I hold a glass of like coke, a coke bottle or anything that would trigger it as well. So I kind of really wanted something that would protect my hands from being cold. Um So I jumped on google and I was like, okay, surely there's a product out there that will help me fix this problem and surely enough, there was nothing out there. So I quickly sort of put pen to paper straight away and I was like, I need to design this. Like I need to make this now. Like how is this not a thing. Uh So I basically started designing um I come from a graphic design background myself. Um So I kind of was drawing different kind of prototypes and my pa Partner Louis actually has a three D printer. So we actually were able to start three D printing um different prototypes in, you know the comfort of our own home.

00:07:48 And within like a couple of hours we already had like a three D. Printed prototype in our hands, which was just crazy. That is so insane. Yeah, it's very cool. And yeah, from there, I was like once we were happy with the shape, like it took a couple of months for us to really kind of um finalize what we were happy with. Um I was like okay, cool, I'm happy with this and happy with the logo, let's sort of finalize the color palette, you know, final touches like the heart shaped hole, that kind of thing. And then we kind of just brought the product life with like a first batch of contour cubes just to test out the market because we were really sure like how is this, is there going to be a demand for this product? Like what people need this, what people want this. And I gave the first one obviously to my mom. Um and she absolutely loved it. She swears by, she uses it every day and I was like cool, she's my guinea pig, she's into it, This is gonna work if it's got mum seal of approval. It's good. Exactly, exactly. And then from there, I was like, okay, cool, I'm gonna launch this on Tiktok and see what happens amazing before we get into the launch and the pre launch kind of selling that first batch just to rewind a bit when you're talking about the three D.

00:09:01 Design and you designed it and you did the logo and all that kind of stuff, is it fair to assume that your costs were pretty low in that sense of there wasn't a lot of capital that you needed to invest to do any of that. And if you were ordering kind of a small batch for the first test run, what was the kind of capital you needed for that? You kind of were able to do it quite lean. It sounds like, yeah, so obviously like I come from a design background so kind of like all the design and you know, web design, logo design, the actual product design and everything. We pretty much had down packed and that's kind of where our strengths really lie. It's just like the production of products and the branding. So that's kind of just to take it back. I actually started off in a design agency. So like my career started off in the design agency and then from there I kind of was surrounded by a lot of designers from all over the world and really picked up on their style and and learned a lot about branding in that space.

00:10:02 And then from there I started working for a production agency so that was literally like bringing products to life, working really closely with creative agencies, so like your Ogilvy's acclaim. NGO groups, Saatchi and Saatchi, they would come to us and come to us with a crazy idea and be like, I want to make this and we were the type of production agency that could make anything. So that was kind of my background to where I am today. I actually worked for a large online retailer. So when I look in hindsight, it's like I learned how to brand the product, I learned how to bring it to life and now I'm kind of learning how to sell it online, the e commerce side, you know, promotions and that kind of thing and yet investing and finding a manufacturer that can do a small batch, say a couple of 100 rather than, you know, needing an Mq of like hundreds of thousands is really great to find. How did you find yours? I definitely just jumped on google, jumped on different kind of supply of platforms and just kind of spoke to quite a few.

00:11:05 Um It's I like to speak to maybe like 5 to 10 supplies. They kind of just suss them out of it. It's like how good the communication, how quickly can they turn around things. Um Yeah, what is the communication like are they fast? So yeah, I had to like speak to quite a few and and kind of starts out that kind of thing. And yeah, if they had minimum order quantities and what their capabilities are. Mm Okay. Got it. And I know that you went through the process of patenting your trademarking. Did you patent as well? Yeah. Well the patents pending at the moment. Right, okay. But we did obviously protect the design aspect of it. So the design is protected and the trademarking, the name is protected. So I first trademarked in Australia um and then I could trademark like globally through the W. I. P. O. Which is quite, very surprisingly easy. You kind of like do it all online? Oh, really? Yeah. So because I trademarked in Australia, I had a priority date.

00:12:10 So that's like I was in first, I was in a priority and I can date back to that priority when I apply for other countries. So I apply to literally all around the world. Um and you know, it takes a while for that to be approved and what not, but this like coming in in batches. So we've got quite a few approved ones around the world already. Okay, right. And did you have to do that before you were kind of launching and showing the, showing the brand essentially or did you need to keep everything like secret. How did it work in those early days in terms of trade marking? I kind of did it as soon as we started to gain a lot of traction, I was like, okay, this product is doing pretty well. I'm trademarking now and you do want to protect yourself early before, before anybody jumps on the bandwagon. And definitely with the design as well, you need to make sure that you do that before you kind of show it to the world. So make sure your design, like registrations and stuff are in place. Got it because and the reason why I ask is, so as you know, I'm developing the monarch wine brand, but I haven't like shared the name at all.

00:13:17 And we just, we just filed our trademark in the UK and once that kind of comes through, we're going to push that to the U. S. But I'm in this position of like, so can I share the name now or is it still kinda because what if it's four months, you know, until I get it back and then I'm like, but I want to start talking about it. What would you recommend? I would definitely protect it now and I would make sure you have your domain handles, your instagram handles our social handles. Yeah, we have all of that. We have that and we've registered the trademark. So now I'm kind of like, can we start talking about it? Yeah, definitely. I reckon if you, yeah, if you've definitely registered the mark, then I would I would start talking about it. Mm. Cool. Okay, so you did all that like early phase stuff. And then you had your small batch of, I guess a test run. Let's talk about the prelaunch phase and like what you were doing to get it ready to launch and bringing in Tiktok and things like that. So it was kind of a, like a not very planned launch to be honest.

00:14:20 So as you said, I had that Sandy business. So what we did was we actually launched the product on Sandy's dot com dot au at the time. We didn't have like a full website dedicated to contact you. Like we do now. And we basically, as soon as we got the batch, the first batch here, we actually got the packaging produced in Australia because it was only like, you know, just our sleeves that go around the product. And once, like, you know, we did the E commerce photography at home, um, with our light box that we have here. So all the E commerce photography, we do ourselves. Um, so we basically just got that already um, on the Sandy's website. And then I literally just launched my first Tiktok video explaining the product. So I was basically standing in the middle of my living room and just said, hey guys, I invented this product. It's called the contour cube. This is how you use it. And it was a really short video. It was like, Like 15 seconds long and I think it hit probably like 20,000 views.

00:15:22 But from just that video, I had already generated sales like me as a total random product? No one's ever seen before? Somehow converted some people to, to buy it like immediately like traffic straight to my website, which was insane. So it was like a signal to you that you were on to something because for Sonny's, you've been going for quite a while with Tiktok and you've been obviously hustling on that business to, was it different as in, were you like, oh okay. Like this is this just hit straight away? Yeah. Well with Sani, we, we had a video that did go viral but the problem, well it hit like 400,000 views and we had a lot of traffic to the website. But I think for san ease we were kind of limited because of the product. So because it was a hand sanitizing spray, we had limitations and restrictions and shipping it overseas. So we had like quite a lot of, yeah, like interesting people in America like on a website wanting to check out, but they couldn't because of the yeah, just the nature of the product, which was such a shame.

00:16:27 So I think that that's really what like hindered our growth with that specific product. So that's, that's the thing with contour cube, you can ship all around the world. You don't have to worry about the ingredient that's in it because it's just like the packaging itself. So um, yeah, that's kind of why it's so interesting. Are you still pursuing Sunny or have you completely pivoted and now you're just focused on contour cube at this stage. I've kind of pivoted and I focused all my energy pretty much on contour Q. Because that's what's really kicking off at the moment. We've separated the websites as well because we're like, we don't want the confusion of people trying to check out a contour cube even though there were like a halo effect in sales of people wanting a contour cube and wanting to check out a Sandy. You can only do that in Australia. Um, so we didn't want the confusion of people trying to check out conduct you but then also trying to check out a sandy but not because they're overseas and that kind of thing. So we split the websites so its contours dot com and yeah, it's all focused on that one website and we definitely want to put our efforts back into sani and we will like get the website back to where it was, have it Sandy focused and whatnot.

00:17:38 But at this point in time it is very much Kentucky focused. Got it, got it, okay, so back to the launch, You sell out of your test batch then what happens, tell like paint the picture of what life is like when this is all going on. So what happened was, so that was the very first video that I posted. But it wasn't until like the third video that I posted that it really went viral. So I