How Sarah Lee & Christine Chang introduced the K-beauty phenom Glow Recipe to the world
If you’ve been following along on my Instagram you’ll know how excited I was to be recording this next episode with Sarah Lee and Christine Chang, the founders of Glow Recipe.
You’ve probably seen this brand on social media — their Instagram has more than 725,000 followers at the time of recording — or maybe you’ve heard about their most loved Watermelon Sleep Mask which sold out 7 times consecutively and amassed 5000 person waiting lists at the time of launch…
In today’s episode I got to chat to Sarah and Christine about the wild ride they’ve been on over the last few years and what it’s been like to build a brand at this scale. It’s packed with the good stuff and loads of advice for other entrepreneurs and I’m just so chuffed that this interview came about.
We ended up having a few tech issues so bear with us while we have a giggle throughout the ep, and in the end we ran out of time to do the 6 quick questions! But it’ll be back to business as usual for the next one so don’t worry.
TOPICS WE COVER:
The origin story of Glow Recipe
Bootstrapping the business through self funded startup capital
Pivoting from a DTC ecommerce k-beauty curation website to a product line of their own
Bringing k-beauty to the American consumer and introducing a new product to a new market
The Shark Tank experience
“One step at a time approach. You need to be patient and resilient and stay focused on what matters for your business.”
Navigating the relationship of being close friends and co-founders and the key to success
Launching in partnership with Sephora and advice for other brands wanting to follow suit
Lessons from working in a huge global corporate company; L'Oréal
The realisation moments that led to the first product; Watermelon Sleep Mask
The importance of packaging and focusing on the experience of a product; how it feels in your hand, what it looks like, how it makes you feel, what it looks like on your shelfie
The Influencer launch strategy they used
The ONE key moment that really moved the needle and sold out the entire site
How the brand keeps the community engaged and evolving, in particular through social media and surprise and delight pop-ups
Why it’s important to listen to your community and implement the feedback you receive
What’s working in marketing at the moment
Advice for women wanting to launch a brand
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
I can start right now. Glow Recipe Skincare is actually three years old. The anniversary is in May. So we're actually still a very young a company is five and a half years old. And he started off originally as a DC site really focused on curating natural and clean KBB. And that heritage still continues with Krispy Skincare because we're very focused on ingredients. So a lot of our skin care is powered. It's fun, it's sensorial. And it really speaks to this overarching philosophy that we want to set the Cabiria approach to skin care, which makes it really about this health care movement versus something that's more of a chore that feels overwhelming or something that's rigid and has to be X number of steps. And so. We actually had we were just talking about the anniversary and pinching ourselves, that within three years that we were able to really come together with our global community, especially on social media, and create this dialogue around skin care. I mean, this year we recently launched, for example, real clothing, which is a private space just for our community members. Of course, anyone's welcome to join, but it's an extension of very much our philosophy once again, where we want to create really authentic spaces and conversations around skin care.
And I think that over the years that our community has been a big part of how we've made our decisions, how we've made development decisions and having a space where we can interact with them that way has been really, really meaningful. So this year as a whole has been off to a really amazing start. We are a team of 30 people in New York, and that's where our offices are right now. Everyone, of course, is working from home. And it's a really great group of people that we call them content creators and storytellers, everyone in their own right. So it's a really bright, diverse group of people that bring a lot of ideas and a lot of collaboration. And right now, we are in Sephora, in the US and in Britain, and then we're in Australia and Dubost in Germany. So still very much in the early days of our global expansion. And it's interesting to also see a lot of customers from all over the world, us, and ask us when are you launching in our country? What are you wanting in this region? So we're working on it. But right now, it's it's just a really exciting time for the brand.
Yeah. Really exponential growth.
And so now that we've got, like, kind of the top
Line, let's go back to the very beginning of how you guys met and why you decided to start a big e-commerce platform and business together.
Yeah. So we started Glaspie about five and a half years ago. It was 20, 14. And prior to that, we were both in marketing and product development in L'Oreal. So we each worked about nine, 10 and 11 years in different brands and rotating between different functions. And really, we're trained for the marketing role and how much we contribute to the business in terms of that perspective really comes from our L'Oreal days. I do think that every step of the way, if that's the next step and that's kind of how we build our foundation for our careers. When we started out, we were we were already friends for a really long time. We met back in Korea, in L'Oreal Korea, and we built our friendship based on our passion for beauty and to sharing how what we were going through as junior marketers at that time. And without planning this together, we coincidentally ended up in New York around the same time as well, which was very unique to find. And I ended up being transferred to the New York office. And L'Oreal Christine was here for a Masters. She missed working for L'Oreal. She ended up coming back to the office and we were colleagues again. So quite often we would catch up and talk about our days from from work and talk about the company and overall the beauty industry. And one day that this was earlier in twenty fourteen, we were just catching up and over wine and she masking as all new ideas come from.
We were thinking about how our jobs kind of evolved into really focusing on product development and looking at five, ten years down the road. And the fact that we were looking at Korea beauty as the next big thing. We were thinking how amazing that was and how surreal it felt because we were both Koreans. And I kind of felt I was interesting that we were kind of that middle person taking the Korean beauty technologies, but launching them under the L'Oreal brands. And then we had this aha moment where we felt that we could actually do this faster speed, but also help the brands in Korea that don't necessarily have the expertise or experience to to go overseas, especially the US market, the most saturated and complicated market and beauty with the different ethnicities and all different types of tones. And we kind of thought that this was a unique opportunity for us because we were the only two Koreans in the company actually at that time of ten thousand employees in the office that had this bilingual, bicultural but also beauty backgrounds in both Korea and the US. And so we just had this moment and thought of. We could do this ourselves, bring in Korean brands of real time, utilize our network in Korea because we knew the insiders of the beauty industry in Korea, too, and that's kind of how you have your hands with the first in market trends and formulations of whatnot.
So we decided to quit our jobs and and create a recipe. We came up with that name to really provide the best recipe for glowing skin and glow is the skin ideal in Korea. So we started our website, Krispy Dotcom, at that time with the mission to curate the best beauty technologies and formulas, along with education from Korean beauty. And it was all focused on clean skin care at that time. We use a language harsh, free, because clean wasn't the word that we were using as a category, but it really meant no parabens. No toxins in general knows that dyes or fragrances really, or natural skincare products that focus on really amazing stories, ingredients that were really rich in antioxidants. So we were passionate about it. And we started training for, as I think the first time we flew out to Korea, we came up with nine new contracts with exclusive brands that we were able to partner with. And that's how it all started. But it was very nimble, bootstrapped. It was just the two of us. We had maybe an intern or two in the beginning to help pack our boxes from our office, but that's how it all started. And then it evolved, of course, over time. But, yeah,
A lot of questions I get asked about when I'm going to talk on podcasts with people is about the startup capital needed in the beginning. Did you have to put a lot of your own money in to get started?
We put in twenty five thousand dollars each of our own savings and we are still bootstrapping independent. So over the years. You're right, a lot of start ups, a lot of entrepreneurial endeavors have it's quite normal for many companies to take on investment. And that's not to say we haven't explored of example being when we were on Shark Tank at the end of two of the 18, the entire program is about funding. But as amazing as that experience was, we actually got three investment offers on the show that day from three of the sharks and ultimately ended up shaking hands with Robert. But after months of after the show and going back and forth with his team, we realized that the goals that we were looking for, an investment partner, was a little bit different. So we amicably parted ways. So that was the closest we've ever come to getting investment. But it's not to say once again that we would consider it in the future. I think that it just once again has to be a strategic partner, because from day one, we've been very careful about our cash flow, our spend, how we approach certain investment investments in resources. And because of that, we've had we've been cash flow positive six months, three of our business, which is very early on. And that's given us the luxury to really take a step back and make sure that if we do potentially consider any partners down the road, it would have to be a strategic partnership where we're looking for for other aspects in partnership outside of just funds. So I think that approach to David has served us very well, and especially in a time like this where. You know, so much is changing us, so much is pivoting, I think, our continued approach of always being. Scrappy but creative and figuring things out. Has actually served this quite well during this time, and that umbrella value of how we operate also has been a good foundation for our team to have it together.
Yeah, and I think as well, like I was reading something that you wrote in another interview about how people can get swept up in the fact that you guys have a really amazing glossy Instagram now and glossy website and everything looks really perfect. But if you go back to the early days when you guys are really hustling and you see what you were doing until 3:00 in the morning, packing the boxes and writing the notes and sending out the hundreds of emails to all the influences and the people kind of forget that part of the story and that part of the journey.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think having had that experience makes us really grateful for what we have today and our team members and not taking anything for granted, but also knowing so in depth. What goes into every facet of the business is has been good grounding for leading the company today.
And I think for any new entrepreneurs that might be listening to your podcast, I think it's important that everyone thinks because it's not what you see. There's a lot of behind the scenes. I actually was answering one of the questions for how I built the business, and that's exactly what I said. It's like you can't it's like one step at a time approach, like you need to be resilient and patient and stay focused on what matters for your business. And there's a lot of hardship along the way, too, and ups and downs. But everything kind of builds up together and creates one beautiful story at the end of the day.
Yeah, absolutely. Do you think that as a kid, you had an inkling that you would have your own business one day?
So personally, I always wanted to have my own business. I didn't know what it would be. Honestly, I had too many interests, whether it's music or art or marketing, beauty, whatever it might have been. I was very interested in so many different fields and industries, but I think everything happens for a reason. When we started both interning for L'Oreal in Korea and started working for the company and learning about marketing and developing products, we were never bored as any single day because within L'Oreal they're over thirty five brands. And so you basically move from one branch to another to get new experiences. It almost feels like you're moving to a new company. And so that kind of equipped for me that really equipped myself to be adaptable, to adjust to new environment, but also never get bored of being in one company because everything's just seem to be so fresh and challenging and exciting all the time. And the company trained us to be more entrepreneurial. Interesting, even though it's a large company. So I think that kind of built everything to this foundation that we had when we started our own company. But yeah, we always dreamed that one day we'll have our own companies.
And do you think that there was like an aha moment of when you realized that you were going to make the watermelon product in the beginning? Because I know that you you both talk about your grandmother's putting watermelon on your skin, and that was always something that was part of your story and your tradition. But do you remember the moment when you thought, oh, my gosh, that's it?
I think it was a culmination of several moments. So wanting to recreate some of the experiences that we able to have by traveling back to Korea and getting these amazing facials and treatments and finding these products on the ground and distilling what that meant. And so essentially gives you not only exfoliation, not only extraction, not only hydration, but all of you walk out feeling blowy and your best your best self. And how do you bring that to a to a jar, basically. And so we had worked with our chemists that we had found for some time to get to the formulation. And we actually did over a thousand submissions because we kept pushing for this duality of how do we get this perfect hydration, how do we get this doing this and lovingness from that of your skin bouncy. But Heti's also exfoliate and bring in these elements that should be part of a should technically be part of a longer fascial into this overnight experience. And it took a very long time because we had such high expectations for it. Plus water though, and hadn't really been used in skin care as a hero ingredient before our watermelon. And now fruit is very prevalent in skin that which is great to see. But it was a passion for us because watermelon was something that our grandmothers used to use on us. When we were growing up, Sarah and I both had this experience and in the hot summer months I would be used as a skin Suvir and healer.
And having had those kind of traditions be part of our growing up process, we wanted to make sure that we pay tribute to that ingredient in that story because it is part of our beauty heritage and how we became so interested in seeing her as well and being able to leverage this antiinflammatory mineral rich, amazing super food in this way and tell the story and educate on the ingredient we thought was meaningful as well for skin care as a whole. Because I think in order to get efficacious skincare care to date at that time, it was more about these clinical brands or doctor brands or different approaches that perhaps weren't as accessible and approachable. And by having a food ingredient with an active that people understood but wanted to know more about AJ carrying the two and bringing this to our results, but also ingredient stories was a big part of the success of the watermelon and some of that initial inspiration of the watermelon rind, the use of the skin. Silver was also part of the packaging design. So the packaging looks like a melted ice cube because that's how the water was was used as an ice cube alternative. So I was thinking through all of these facets, really helped catapult the product initially. And we were blown away when it's sold down and had a wait list at launch because that was not what we were expecting at all. But it was a great way to launch a recipe as a brand.
I want to get into talking all about the markets in just a moment, but I want to ask first about your relationship as co-founders and obviously extremely close friends and what's it been like?
Yeah, we've been friends for 15 years or even more. So it's been a really long time. And I think that's also why the co-founder sort of relationship has been smooth from the very beginning, because I think we already had trust and understanding of each other and we also had similar backgrounds with working L'Oreal and marketing divisions. So even though we had a crazy busy schedule from the very early days of our business, I think what really helped was efficient communication because we didn't have to add a lot of context to what we were trying to convey. Everything was very quick and easy. We still today sit together. Now we're off the office, but we're back in the office. We have a shared office with a desk pretty much attached to one another. And I think that that in addition to being very honest with one another and open about feedback or any sort of thoughts that we have in mind of being transparent is the key to create partnership, because I think that as a company grows and we've heard this from other entrepreneurs or partnerships, as a company grows, your team will grow and you do have to somehow divide up your projects or what you oversee. Of course, all the decisions are made together and anything that involves a lot of budget, for example, we always make sure to discuss before decisions are made. So that's kind of our promise to one another. But I think when it's so busy and you have to make quick decisions and if somebody is traveling, I think there is this underlying understanding once again that we're going to be flexible with allowing the other person to make some quick decisions.
And that actually helped us free up some time when we're traveling, because when you're in a different time zone, it's really hard to be in communication with your entire team for the full time. So in a way that helped us, if anything, because you can make things move quickly and not delay because of your travel schedule or because you're waiting for something else or your boss is not around. So the team has to hold off on anything before moving forward. Like we never had to deal with those issues. And I think oftentimes when co-founders also have very different backgrounds, for example, somebody is a CFO and if another person is in charge of marketing, there's always going to be a level of misunderstanding just because you have different perspectives and backgrounds. And for those types of partnerships, I think you add such amazing value and your own unique way, but you do need to communicate even more with one another just because you have different perspectives. In our case, we think pretty similarly and in most things that we decide on. So I think, again, things have been moving really quickly and helpful because of that. A team understands that, too, an entirely. And even though we now have separate projects for different accounts and sometimes products, we still make all the decisions together. And the team knows that when I'm traveling, for example, they can go to Christine and vice versa.
That's so great. And I think it really is different to a lot of companies in that you're right, usually it's a different skill set, whereas you guys have some similarities and some overlap, which kind of lends itself to the success of decision making and and the vision. I want to talk about the beginning of the watermelon sleeping mask, like when you were launching it and going into that process. Obviously, Sephora played a key role in launching that product line with you. How did that come about and what advice would you give other businesses who want to launch with huge
Stores like the As of the world? So the long run was absolutely a really big part of that. And they're they're amazing partners. And we're lucky to be working with them because they're so great at the brands. I think another facet of that launch that really took us by surprise, but also really helped overall was the fact that it had such a reality on social media. And what I mean by that is it was this virtuous cycle where a influencer or a blogger, you post about it on social media and they would see such engagement with that post in particular because people were craving to know more about the watermelon market or visually arresting on your feed. We had thought through this process, whether it was like the grip of the jar on your hand, how that was on your show, how that would look on your vanity, because that is very much part of this process, like a forced efficacy is king. But those additional elements are what we experience asking your users when you go through our self care process. So it was thought through, by the way people responded to that created this virtuous firestorm on social media where we were seeing more and more people posting because they were getting such great engagement from it. And I think in the beginning days, that really helped with boosting its profile on social media and getting the word out there.
And eventually, in a very short time, getting to a sold that waitlist status advice program. PayPal has several thousand people. It's mind boggling what we had to rush to make another production because we had no idea that it was so sympathy for advice for brands that are entering into a partnership with a big retailer. I think that, as with any partnership, communication is key. And I know that sounds quite you know, of course communication is key. Right? But what I mean by that is not everyone is in your shoes. Not everyone has been an entrepreneur. Not everyone is leading a startup or smaller brands. So if there are challenges as a startup or a smaller brand that you need to have addressed or you need to have understood to make the partnership was there, I think it's in your best interest to really overcommunicate that give your partners plenty of context as to why you can't execute something or whether something is not in your budget and try to find ways through it for discussion and in our early days. I think this is a big part of why we were able to hold hands with Sephora and create such a successful launch was because we really did move them into discussion every every step of the way.
Amazing. And when you guys were going through that launch and you said those all of the influences, people and people on social media posting about the product was your initial strategy. Just send it to as many influencers as possible and do some gift for posts and see how it goes.
Yeah, so we didn't send it to everybody. We just sent to over six hundred people. But that included editors and influencers. And we put together a list of people that we thought were very relevant and potentially would write about us or speak about us given their past content. So that actually list came from our research, very, very diligent research that we spent a lot of time on actually prior to sending out the products, because we wanted to make sure without a PR agency or any third party vendor and we were doing this all ourselves. We wanted to make sure that our efforts are we have some R and we know that if you personalize communication and even the skincare routines and products that we sent to them and we and the recipient would know that we've been reading their articles and we've been watching their YouTube videos, and it comes across pretty clear that we have then there's a higher chance that they would write about us or talk about us. So that's why we wanted to really understand these beauty experts or gurus who would fall in love with their products, potentially just based on what they have been talking about. And that's how we, I guess, targeted them. Even though the number was big. We had a customized communication and email D.M.
whatever that platform might have been very much customized to each individual. And because of that, we got a pretty high response rate. About 30 percent of them responded, which was huge for us at that time. And from then we really start to build special relationships with each individual because it was so it was so, so much to us. We were so grateful for anybody who even took the time to respond to us and was willing to try our products. And then from then that the huge sort of milestone for us in the very beginning was when Refinery Twenty Nine wrote about our one of our products from a first person review SailPoint, and that really moved the needle. I mean, she really, really actually love the product she took photos of before and after how her skin was radiant after one use. And over time she talked about the texture was very passionately written. And I think that also is why people were really interested in trying our other product. And because of that article, we actually got a ton of traffic and one day our entire site was sold out and that trickled to other media outlets picking up that article. And it just became really put us on the map in a whole different level after that was posted.
Wow. And was that before you guys went on the shoptalk?
It was before this was around three months in. So very earlier on we we are inventory level was much smaller than, of course, when we were on Shark Tank. But that really put us on the map to the beauty gurus or obsessed advocates out there. And then I think the meaningful aspect of Shark Tank was we were able to to really be able to tell the story about the beauty and the amazing ness of the beauty technologies to the people that have never even heard of the term beauty. You know what I mean? There were people tuning in from all parts of the nation that have never even heard of the category, never were interested. But for the first time, they really opened their eyes because of that episode. So it was a whole different level of outreach, but a different milestone.
And I also think what you guys do really well, and I know that I get this from personal experiences, I get quite overwhelmed with the language and all the things. And, you know, it comes across as quite daunting, I think, when you're trying to explore particularly a new category of skincare. But you guys do a really good job of educating and talking easy to digest language, and everything's not overwhelming. And I also think that's something that's super important when you're trying to get a new market and a new audience involved.
The education is a key, key strategy of ours because we really do believe it's easier to enjoy your skin care and really contextualize your routine and how you approach it every day. So whether it's on YouTube or Instagram, it's always been a key focus for us. So our content spends a lot of time making sure that his education elements are crucial regularly and that everyone has access to them.
I want to talk in particular about your community. What do you think in the beginning you were doing differently to other brands? And what are you doing now that's helping your community, like, keep evolving and growing and innovating?
So in the beginning, you very much involved in a lot of our decision making, whether that was taking them along the stories when you were traveling to Korea to create products and asking them, do you want to see brands versus this? What do you guys think? And just really keeping that dialogue open and transparent. And they also weighed in on our decisions, what type of products that they wanted to see, what type of categories were of interest to them. So I think they're very used to being involved and we treasure that involvement because it's so important for a small business to have that sense that a pulse from their customers. Another example being when we had our first offer that was to 17, we then asked our team, where would you are? Where would you want to see the pop up next? And the overwhelming response was L.A. So the following year, year after we actually opened up at the Grove in L.A. because we had that feedback in mind. And that also extends to products as well. When we initially launched Blueberry Answer, which was our first sponsor, along with the Mass, people loved it, but there was feedback on the format of it, too, versus a pump.
And so within a year, we actually moved to a packaging format, which I know is not a usual timeline for brands to respond. But for us, once we're seeing that type of feedback, we're taking it seriously. We took it seriously as well, and we acted immediately on it as a team. And I think that that type of response is appreciated by competing these days, that the conversation is very active. We still Instagram's in-house, but we also wanted to create that space for discussion, has a real account that I mentioned earlier, which is really a safe space for all of us to have open on unfettered conversations about skin care. So the topics can range from anything, from something like what's your favorite active? Like, how are you using it to something like, oh, if your skin care routine is a movie, what type of movie would what's the title of the movie? And then people, it's just really a great space for us to have even more direction. Community.
It feels very inclusive. You mentioned the pop ups and that you've had them built into your marketing strategy, I guess, since the very beginning, and they look like so much fun. I was loving the the bucking banana. What's the primary objective for these events? Is it a key sales channel or is it to learn and get direct feedback from your customers, or is it just to give back to your customers and create that sense of community and spirit offline versus being solely online?
Yeah, I think it's a mix of those two. But also I think we want to make sure there's always a way to create buzz. And having a pop up store that is your digital experience coming URL is really important because we are digitally native brand and we think about how to always stay digitally first. But at the same time where a beauty company, when it comes to skin care products, it's important that the community has the opportunity to test, try to feel the texture, smell the scent and also interact with with us in person and have that engaging moment. I think that really makes a very special moment and really helps to also get everyone on board with the brand and to have people's faces always helps to also be more invested in the brand on a personal level and understand what the brand is all about. We also think of it as an opportunity to to get our team to be as creative as they can be. It's almost like a creative outlet because we have a team of very creative individuals and each and every team member, regardless of their role or function, has a very creative idea in terms of how things that are digital can come to life in person. And this is a way for us to also challenge ourselves to say, hey, what's next? How can we make sure that we surprise the industry and our community with something that is out of the box, surprising and also delightful at the same time, and come up with a new, completely new concept of what we did last time.
And then lastly, how do we make sure when we do have these interactions and engagements with our community in person, that we're really maximizing this opportunity, whether it's through education or some sort of a meet and greet session with ourselves or our employees or friendlies, or do we make this into some sort of a master class with skincare or likeminded brands? So we've held classes with other brands for a full get the glow from skin care to makeup finish. Plus, we've also had it with fashion brand. I think we partner with DBF actually, and we invited makeup artist or facials or other influencers and you tuberose to really speak to their expertise and what they're known for. But in our space. So every day there was something new to learn about. There's something interesting going on at the Pop-Up Store. There is something really exciting. So we didn't want that person to just come by once and shop and leave. We wanted her to come back and just have a good time and spend time with our team.
I think something that you guys do really well and which is how I came across you in the very beginning, was when you post your behind the scenes content on Instagram, like being in the in the factory in Korea and showing the experience of the watermelon and cutting it up and how it goes in the big pot thing and really showing that side that I think that a lot of people don't really know too much about if you don't work in the beauty industry. So I think that's that's that's where I kind of came across you guys. And I definitely feel that in your content and what you guys are creating.
Yeah. Thank you.
I've also seen you have some programs online, the Referral and the Rewards program, and also the Glo Pro program. Is that a key part of your marketing strategy?
Right. So it's part of our overarching CRM program, which includes Miles, which is our loyalty program. And part of that has a referral where we reward customers who connect us with their friends and purchases. The customer who often gets the new customer gets 15 as well. It's just really been about rewarding ambassadorship. And I think ambassadorship takes form very diverse ways these days, whether it's someone who wants to post about our brand on Instagram or someone who wants to talk about it on their stories, or someone who wants to refer a friend through email. So there are many faces to it. But we call this as an umbrella. Arklow. So our community name is blogging and has reflected in the Instagram account that I mentioned earlier. And it's really about creating fun different. Points for them. So this type of CRM program, I know it's quite commonly done, but I think what's unique or more unique to our program is that, for example, on the real side,
We have a new launch site, for example, the launch that just went live a little over a week ago, we actually exposed it to our members first. So they got the first preview. Also did a lot sample program with them where they had access to getting a sample first before anyone else. And so these types of parts are really reserved for our community members that. Let's get our super involved and passionate about the brand, and it's just our way of showing that appreciation.
So I think our social media strategy has really worked for us. That's probably one of the key drivers, actually, of our growth and awareness. And it's a platform that we use for creating the buzz for any new launches or projects. So and the growth that we're seeing with our Instagram, for example, has been phenomenal. I think that we actually saw the
A research company where they looked at all of the skincare brands in Sephora and some other retailers. And we were definitely the top skincare brand with the highest growth in terms of followers and also highest growth in terms of engagement. That was really interesting to see, but we have been on that on the top of the ranks for quite some time. And when you look back at how we had two hundred thousand followers in January of last year and right now we're over seven hundred K. We've more than tripled during this time. And I think that we were able to really just grow our community in a way that was organic, but also that we're really genuinely excited about what's to come next as a brand. And the reason why our social media strategy has worked for us is because I think that we were able to really keep it authentic and tell our story in the most organic and real way and also real time. We utilize our social media channels for telling our story, but also giving them tutorials, giving our audience tutorials of what we know. And I think that when we were traveling to we we kept it really open, say, hey, guys, we're traveling to Korea. What do you want to see next? And whenever we got responses, we actually address them right away or responded to them like with another post. That was a response. For example, we kept transparent. Marketing is one of the tools to do so. For example, when we launched the Pineapple C0, we did a lot of
People loved the what the texture did and what the formula did to the skin. But there were some people that weren't really satisfied with the scent. And it comes from the fact that it's a blend of natural pineapple juice with pure vitamin C scorebook acid. And people can be subjective in terms of what that scent could be. And that sort of led to some online conversations and our community sharing these very constructive feedback about how the sun could be improved and optimized. And there was an there was an influencer, Kathleen Lites, who spoke about it, too, saying, you know, I love the formula. I change my skin, but I, I don't like the stand. And she actually kept a very real once again on her YouTube channel. So what we did was we worked on optimizing the stunt. And when we were ready with the rollout, we announced it on our Instagram. We said, you know what? Thank you for your feedback, you guys. This is why it's important
That we hear your
Feedback. And that's the most important for us. And Kathleen writes, Thank you for your feedback to that. You share with your audience. And we actually talked to her before we announced it and we said,
Can we use
Your post actually to announce this optimization to again, keep it real and share with the world that we listen to not only her, but everybody
Else that was sharing this feedback and that got such amazing reception from our audience. And I think that's one of the reasons why our community is loyal
To us in so many ways.
Yeah, and I love how you're also jumping on new platforms. I saw you had a really fun Tick-Tock account, which I love, and I love all the recyclable ideas. It's it's such a fun way to to express the brand there as well.
Yeah. Thank you for that. Tic-Tac has been really exciting. We just recently launched a couple of a few weeks ago and the engagement has been phenomenal. Yeah, yeah. We have a great mix of GenZE and millennial audience and I think it was just time for us to to be present there. So take talk.
Um, what are the kinds of challenges you're facing? Because obviously you've gone through the initial
Growth of finding your customers and
Finding your audience. What are the kind of challenges now as essentially a really big business,
Challenges of running our business, you mean?
So I think, you know, every day there's some type of challenge, whether it's small or a big I think right now, you know, overall, we are a good place where we're really focusing back on our roots, which is being digital. And that's who we are as a as a. And during this time, I think, you know, we had to adjust in new ways of working and brainstorming new ideas to come up with ways to connect online versus. One hundred percent. Right. So I would say it's less of a challenge, but it's definitely something that we had to be nimble and be flexible and switch around and shuffle our strategy to be more relevant for the current times.
I mean, tech issues about to happen.
We were just talking about challenges of running a company and then so I think as founders, one thing that we are constantly faced with and we will probably see more challenges of this is how we hire. And it's going to be a bigger focus as we grow because we have to we have to have new hires from all different levels, from senior to junior to interns. And, you know, when you have people that are so amazing on their resumes, the next step is to really think, is this person going to be the right fit for the company culturally? And that's always going to be something to think about because each and every individual will impact the overall culture in such an immense way. And we've experienced that in the past. So whenever we hire somebody new, it's important that we take the steps to be take due diligence measures, really go through reference checks. But also at the end of the day, listen to our guts and really see if this person could be the right fit. I mean, personally, I really want to hire people that I can be inspired by as well. And something that I can learn from. Doesn't matter what level this person is. You know, I think that having a fresh new perspective always gives something to the table. So in their unique way, I would love to find more people that can add value, whether it's being creative or being analytical, know it can be whatever is right for that role. But I think that's something that's going to be an ongoing challenge going forward.
And what advice do you have for other entrepreneurs listening who are either in the journey or wanting to start their own business?
For me, I think one of the key pieces of advice would be to just really find your network in your tribe. And what I mean by that is a personality like personality wise, I'm actually quite introverted. So finding my own network over the years has been a personal challenge for me. And I think that what I've come to realize is that really you can't do it alone. Whether that's finding an amazing co-founder like Sara to to help you grow and help you get there faster or to find people that are in a similar position. So, for example, other founders, other female founders, other entrepreneurs, whether it's through networking events or or other kind of avenues and really connecting and trying to find these these people who will be there for you to support, to give you ideas, to give you inspiration is a key thing as an entrepreneur that you will need to continue to feel yourself because it can get quite lonely and it can. The highs are high and the lows can be low. So having that sense of emotional support, I think has been