Joining me on today’s episode is Sashee Chandran, Founder of Tea Drops.
Founded in 2015, Tea Drops is a woman forward, innovative tea company creating magical tea moments. By making an assortment of bagless, organic, whole leaf teas, Tea Drops sheds 20% less waste than traditional tea bags.
Tea Drops has become a favorite among new and experienced tea drinkers alike, launching innovative tea experiences that merge flavorful blends, unique product formats, and convenience.
In this episode we cover
Sashee’s startup story and what it took to get it off the ground,
How you can go from having no network when it comes to angel or institutional investors, right through to a thriving community of people ready to invest in you
And what it means to have controlled luck and what you can do to bring it to life in your own business
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Sashee: Yeah, my name's Sashee Chandran and I'm founder and CEO of Tea Drops, and we make an assortment of Bagla holy teas. We call them bath bombs, except their actual tea that you drop in hot water, they dissolve in hot water. So a lot more convenient than a tea bag, more eco friendly than a tea bag. And you can enjoy them any time, anywhere, wherever you have access to hot water.
Doone: And they're so cute. I love the shapes. Yes. The little love hearts. The little flowers.
Sashee: They come in fun, whimsical shapes like hard stars and flowers.
Doone: Oh, so right up my alley. OK, I want to get into life before you started tea drops to understand what was getting you interested in starting a business. Did you always want to start a business and why this industry. Why this category.
Sashee: Yeah, all good questions, I do think I come from a pretty entrepreneurial household, both my parents are immigrants to the US. My mom is Chinese and my dad's from Sri Lanka. My mom came when she was eight years old. My dad came in his mid twenties and they always had side hustles going on when I was a child. So even though they had their nine to five day jobs, they would always be like, I remember my mom had a Crystal Bay store and so I kind of would watch her. So on the weekends at the swap meet and my dad was into real estate. So I would go to all those meetings with him or he would look at different properties. So I was always exposed to that level of hustle. So I think I was inspired by that growing up. And then I started working really early. By the time I was 13 or 14, I kind of either had babysitting jobs or worked at the gym or etc. So I was always kind of earning money and then also had side gigs in my high school where I would sell jewelry or other kinds of things. I don't know. I was just like, I love to be a creator and sell them. And that idea of, wow, you can actually make something in the world and people find value in it and enough to purchase it with something that was really fascinating to me. So anyway, fast forward, I grew up in Southern California and ended up working at eBay and Silicon Valley and I personally grew up with a very T centric household.
Sashee: My mom, like I mentioned, Chinese, my dad's from Sri Lanka. I learned my daughter was actually born on a Tuesday in Sri Lanka. So he was always at the table. And any time there was a family party or just a gathering, I would always be TI. And so I love the ritual of tea. And I was exposed to that growing up and always used to drink tea loosely tea specifically as I grew up. And so working in a fast paced corporate environment and trying to make tea wasn't really working out great because I remember of my work done, I would have an arsenal of equipment, I would have my kettle, my strainer, my loose leaf tea. I would boil the water, I would strain the tea for five to seven minutes. By the time I make it, I had to run to my next meeting. I didn't really have the time to enjoy it. And tea bags for me were just not as flavorful or aromatic. They often are made with what's called tea dust. That's the last part of tea harvesting and production. It's never as flavorful. So that was my own personal frustration. So that is really the point at which I set out to investigate why is there no convenient way to make tea? And I saw that even though the tea market itself, which is a sixty five billion dollar global market, second to water tea, is the most consumed beverage in the world, there were no simple options or convenient options on the market. And so that really was that first. Hmm. Maybe I should investigate this moment.
That's so interesting. And when you were thinking about investigating this moment, were you thinking, hey, I'm going to build a really big business? Or are you just thinking, hey, I just want to have a different solution for my day to day?
No, I think I always had this hope that I would be an entrepreneur in a way, and I don't think I recognized it at that time. But I always knew, like, starting a business I think would be fun.
And actually prior to tea drops, I had a lot of other failed concepts. Like I remember even a year prior to tea drops, I had this cookie concept, which I actually still think is a great idea if someone wants to take it. But I would go to artisan shows and the whole concept was baking a custom cookie on the spot. So basically you would have your cookie dough, you would come up and choose your mixes, whether it's walnuts, chocolate chips, Eminem. I had a basically a convection travel oven. I would just make it on the spot within five minutes.
And so I tested out that concept and it actually went well, except one day I was invited to this fair and I was going to make cookies. And it was the basically it was summer, whether it was going to be over one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. And I was like, there's no way people want freshly baked hot cookies on a summer day. And in the meantime, I actually was already working on these prototypes for tea drops and I had made a couple of prototypes. So I brought when I say a couple, I probably had forty to fifty and I brought those prototypes to the show to actually just sell in case I couldn't sell the cookies. And what ended up selling out were the prototypes of the tea drops and very few cookies. So I think that was really the point of validation to say, OK, like maybe I should give up this cookie thing. I've done a few shows with it. It's gone OK, but I don't think that's going to be the silver bullet. And maybe I should investigate this teardrop thing a little bit more.
Totally jump ship. Give it a little.
Yeah. And so a lot of those initial early days, what I was thinking about tea drops, not necessarily as a business, but just my own fascination with how do you make tea in a more convenient format was just literally buying tea and spices and then going into my apartment kitchen at the time and after work and on weekends, I would just start experimenting with different tea leaves. I would grind them. I would just really learn the properties of the tea leaf itself. And a year, year and a half later is when I really developed this. Notion of the tea draw. So I think I was inspired honestly by a bath bomb and seeing it and seeing how it works, like, oh yeah, you just drop it in your bath and it magically makes this amazing a bath experience and why can't we do that with tea? So that really was that point of inspiration to start putting the tea into these fun shapes. And that took me a while to figure out how to do my bet.
How did you do it in the beginning when you're at home? In the kitchen?
Yeah. So I would basically gather all the spices. I would grind the tea very fine. I had bought these like custom molds, if you will, and I was experimenting with that. But then I realized the texture wasn't right. So then I just developed this system and this is now one of our proprietory I ended up painting the idea of how tea drops are made. So once I figured out the certain format of how to make it, I then went to my local business resource center called Score, and they just provide free mentorship for starting emerging businesses. And again, at that point, I didn't know it was going to be a full fledged business. And I went there and I said, hey, look, I have this idea. This is how I make it. Is there any IP around this? And there was a retired attorney there and said, yeah, I actually think the way you're making it, there's something that you should be protecting. And I was like, OK, cool, how do I go about doing that? And he said, well, it's going to probably cost you five to twenty thousand dollars to at least limit it, protect it. And I was like, I don't have that right now. Or at least that's not how I want to spend my savings without really knowing where this is going. So I was going back and forth and he said, well, why don't you write it, write your provisional patent and I'll review it. And then once I review it, you can submit it to the USB autosite. So that's what I did over the next two weeks.
Holy cow, that is so cool.
It's kind of crazy how you meet those key figures in the story, like that guy obviously nudged you in the right direction and inspired you to do it yourself. This is just being like a let's leave it. I'll just, like, start and figure it out later kind of thing.
Yeah, I think it was one of those definitely pivotal moments and people that change the trajectory of what you're doing.
Totally. So I want to know and I want to understand what were the key steps to actually getting started. Know you've got the patent and the formula. How did you actually go about bringing this brand to life? What were the steps?
So I was still working full time at eBay. And basically those initial months was figuring out, is this something viable? Also, do I enjoy working on it this intensely? Could this be a full time thing when you're first starting?
You know, you're just going through. So obviously there's so many questions. There's self-doubt, there's how am I going to finance this? There's all of these things happening all at once. And for me, I started just asking myself, well, if I really do want the opportunity to take this seriously and I seriously I mean, make this a full time thing, then let me just start attending trade shows, learning more about this industry, selling the product. And that's what I did. I took every opportunity at these small artists and shows, gift shows to create a small booth and sell my product directly and see how people responded to the tea drops like did they like them? What was the feedback? And I must have done 30 or 40 shows that first year of just getting customer feedback and every opportunity that someone said, oh, there's a show happening here. I would just all my weekends would be spent doing this. And so it gave me a good sense that after that period of time when I really took tea drops like this could be a path for me. It was around six or seven months in and I still was working in my corporate job. And at that point, I kind of made that decision that I had enough feedback. I have done enough trade shows. I was actually working on making this product in my home kitchen, selling it like it was madness. But I love that process. And so at that point is when I decided I want this to be my full time work. I want to figure out a way to make this my full time work and. There's obviously a lot of different factors that go into that, how you're going to finance it. How long are you going to give yourself to do this before you go back to your original corporate set up? So I didn't really have a plan per say, but I was debating at the time whether I was going to pursue my MBA and I had already taken my gym out, which is that test for us to get into business school.
And so I already have that lined up. And instead of paying what would have been maybe seventy five to one hundred K, I just decided to take a step back and use what I would have used for education and put it into the business. And then at that time I just purchased a home and I went and did something that probably people would consider risky. Now I took a home equity line of credit on the house and I use some of that to start the business. So in total, I had around one hundred and twenty five K really, but I didn't think of it that way because it wasn't necessarily savings I had in my bank account. It was reserves that I knew I was going to spend eventually on either education or my property. So I think those two I had that lined up. But I also didn't realize and I was naive to think how much would be involved in actually growing and starting a business. So once you start purchasing, packaging and also buying ingredients and attending trade shows, which are expensive, you soon realized, wow, there's a lot of costs that go into building this. So those early days, I was literally making the product in my kitchen downstairs is where I was packaging fulfilling orders. And then on my weekends I would be doing these artisan trade shows.
And at those trade shows, you are obviously making enough sales to go into retail stocks, or was it like consumer trade shows a little bit of both.
So did consumer facing ones where people would just buy your product directly, say those holiday boutiques where they're buying for their friends and buying for themselves? And then also there were trade shows where you would sell, you would kind of have a booth and retailers would come and notice you.
And so for us, we did a lot of those retail trade shows and one of our first big accounts was getting Anthropologie and a few other. So basically, by the time that first year, maybe year and a half I was doing it, I did so many trade shows, like I said, 30 or 40 the first year, a lot more probably the second year. I personally had built and cultivated about five hundred retailers that we were then working with at that time that we would ship product to they would sell it in their boutique store. And then I also started our online store of just selling direct to consumer. So it was between those two is what really I was focused on the first year.
And am I right in thinking that in that early time when you were getting five hundred retailers on board, your biggest challenge would have been having the upfront capital to be able to actually pay for the production of the product that you needed.
It was a little bit of that, it was also not being a hire the right people. It's not just you're paying for ingredients, but you're also like, who's going to help make it? And so I actually am very grateful. I enlisted my mom. I retired mom who just got into retirement to come and help me in the kitchen at that time.
And then I love the ones we grew out of my kitchen at home. I moved to a commercial kitchen, which is you share this kitchen with other makers and you haven't allocated hours in the day. But sometimes our productions would run so much and there is such demand that I would ask my landlord if I could come at 1:00 in the morning, 2:00 in the morning till 6:00 a.m. to do the production runs. And so thank God for moms. But my mom really came through and then I had a couple of other interns at the time helping to make the products and also package it and ship it. So I think there is a couple constraints you have on your first starting something. Obviously, it's the capital front to buy the inventory and the packaging. And a lot of these have big kind of mandates for quantity mandates. And you're like, can I even reach those? And I remember it was so intimidating that the first time I purchased these wooden boxes, that kind of Zahera product are classic T sampler. I purchased five hundred of them and it was so nerve wracking for me.
It was a couple of thousand dollars in inventory, but they took up my entire living room. I was like, how am I going to sell five hundred of these? And it's like that nerve wracking feeling. But it's the mandate. It's like, how am I going to find the people to help actually make it? It's all of these different. It feels like very stressful from various angles.
Yeah, totally. Especially when it's the first time you're dealing with those kind of problems versus now being a seasoned entrepreneur. I'm sure you're able to look at a challenge and be like, OK, well, let's think about this. How are we going to solve it? Stress free, maybe not stress free, but you know what I mean.
Yeah, well, I also say it's a different type of stress. I think when you're starting something to when you are on the path to growing it, it's not that the problems go away. It's just the problems are different. But I do have so much respect, respect for myself and respect for anyone that starts something from the ground up is like in the kitchen making it is doing artisan trade shows or one on one selling your product, pitching your product, watching people be like, oh, that's kind of sucks, you know, or whatever the feedback is initially and absorbing that and still deciding to move forward.
Something else I read that you were doing, maybe it was around this time, was a lot of pitch competitions to be able to start getting more experience in pitching and getting more kind of dollars coming in the door from different kinds of investors. Yeah. Can you tell us a little bit about that process and why you decided to go and raise a seed round and take the route of venture capital?
Yeah, and I think it's a hard decision that everyone has to come to themselves and really ask the question, what type of business do you want to build? Is this going to be a lifestyle business where you just kind of want this to be your baby for maybe the rest of your life or, you know, generationally, you pass it on? Or do you want to scale this business fast, have potentially an exit? And for me, I wasn't clear initially what that was. So it actually took me a while to figure out if I wanted to take CapitaLand. But I think the breaking point for me was realizing that in order to do the business justice, I was going to spend the same amount of time working in it. I was struggling right with finding the right talent, not having enough capital for purchasing inventory. For all of these things that I felt raising capital was the right path for me, just for the type of business I want to build. I wanted to build and also to hire a plus talent. And so once I decided that it was then figuring out, OK, how do you even do this? I hadn't even heard of this term angel investor before diving into it. And so a book that really helped me early on was this book called Venture Deals by Brad Feld. And I believe there's another author, but it was a really helpful book to really understand the different financing instruments that exist, whether it's convertible note or an equity raise. What does that mean? And so I had that as a great guide for me. But then it was like, OK, where do you find these people called angel investors or institutional investors? And so you're right that I did enter a lot of pitch competitions and the rationale there was a I felt it would bring a discipline to my business.
If you have to pitch your business, that probably means you have to put together slides. You have to really understand the nitty gritty of your business, the finances, et cetera. So enforce a discipline. But second, that I notice a lot of the judges on these different pitch competitions were either venture capital funds themselves or notable angel investors. And so I said, well, at minimum, if I even make it to a top 10, like, they'll be exposed to my business and then maybe they know other people that they can introduce me to. So that was the route that I went. And I just started learning more about different networks like Woman Founders Network, How to pitch competition. I entered that very surprised when you made the top 10 and then we ended up winning that first twenty thousand dollars first place was the big point of validation. And I'm still one of the judges on that panel became an institutional investor of ours. And then we entered the Tory Burch Foundation. She has an amazing fellows program and at that point they also had a similar pitch competition. So we made the top 50, the top 30, the top 10, and then we took home that first place. One hundred thousand dollar investment, as well as two of the judges ended up investing in tea drops. So that is, frankly, how without really knowing anyone and having zero connections initially to investors, that's how I started just gaining more exposure for tea drops and garnering investment.
Is there any key takeaways from learning how to pitch that other people could benefit from hearing?
Yeah, and I think the good news is that just like anything or most things, it's it's a muscle that you develop, you know, it's not like you're going to be amazing at it first, but it's something that you can learn.
And the brilliant thing about all of us as founders is we know our business is in and out. You know, the value we're bringing to the world. We know its potential. And so I think being crisp about that, I also went to a pitch coach, if you will, to really help me out. My pitch coach. Her name is Lisa Alea. You can find her online. She was really great at sitting me down, looking at my initial deck and being very clear on what was essential to tell my story and what wasn't. So a lot of things, I think, founders, because we're so close to it, we think everything's important. Well, this metrics important. Well, this piece is important. And I think it's important for someone to really sit you down, a trusted advocate or someone to be like that's not essential to the story, or this metric should be in there. They shouldn't. And to be really truthful about that. So I felt that practice really helped me distill my story and narrative. And then once I had that, then I felt confident that a lot of these pitch competitions have three minute or five minute cutoff points. And so you really have to work around communicating everything you can about your brand, your metrics and where you're headed. And that limited time and having someone like that is a great forcing function. You can do it on your own, but you just have to be very honest about what's essential in the pitch dark, what's not.
Yeah, that's really interesting, coach, for pitching and didn't know that was a thing. Sounds great.
Well, I don't know either, but when she made the top ten on one of the pitch competitions, they automatically gave you a pitch coach. And I just happened to get Lisa, who is just phenomenal and really helping. So it's not that you need one, but I do think you need a truthful friend and or a truthful mentor to really be honest with you when you're pitching. And so I think if you get that feedback, that can really come from a lot of different sources.
Totally. I want to switch directions now and focus a little bit more on the marketing side of things, especially when it comes to building the data. See consumer part of your brand focusing more on online. What were you doing to bring people to your website and get eyeballs on your business in those early days outside of the trade shows?
Yeah, so I think I was so busy focusing on the retail trade show, even though I knew direct to consumer was going to be very important to our business, I didn't have really the time nor a team to really dedicate two days to see. I think it was around twenty seventeen that for me personally, I feel that there's a huge opportunity to really build a community online. We have a lot of heritage players in the T space, as you might know, that are just mostly selling wholesale. They haven't really touched the online space. So I feel we have a huge opportunity to really be a force in this space. And so that's when I started cultivating a team and with the seed round that I raise, I started building out our direct consumer team.
So we hired a head of digital growth. We brought on helpful agencies. We really focused a lot on content because I think I came from more of the digital marketing space, even at my prior jobs. And so I really understood the value of helpful and creative content. And so that was a huge focus for us. Then also, just really sticking true to the brand mission I started to draw, because I really believe that T is this amazing force for community and connection with others and connection to yourself. And so I really wanted that to come to life in the online universe and space and also create a community that I wish I had growing up or wish I had as a tea drinker myself. And so making sure that those values came to life and our focus on our supply chain. So we have a very female food supply chain and we're Fairtrade, we're organic. So we really want our state workers to be paid a fair, equitable wage. So all of these decisions I wanted to come to life and all of the different assets that we created. So that was a bit about the journey there. And still to this day, it's constant iteration and refinement. And we've gone through a lot of different iterations on our brand and a lot of different iterations on our website experience. I think I'm really excited now that we have a website experience and a selection of products that really speak to what we're trying to build. A few drops, which we are a self care for experiential tea brand. And I think that comes to life. If you are kind of engaging our community when you visit our site, when you subscribe to our emails, when you touch our social channels, that all is very clear.
Yeah, I can definitely feel that when I'm browsing your website. And something I did see on your website that was a crazy piece of social proof was the fact that you have some mega celebrities who are very interested in your brand, specifically Michelle Obama and Chrissy Teigen. How did they come to learn about you and what was it like getting that feedback?
Yeah, so Michelle Obama's was a funny kind of situation where she was speaking at a women's conference a couple of years ago. And I had a friend as she was also working on the conference and she said, we're putting together these gift bags for all of our speakers, although I didn't know at the time that Michelle was like one of the speakers. But she's like, you know, if you want to include tea drops, I would include a note that would be great. And so I did that. But you kind of send it out not knowing it like it's going into this black hole. Right. And I was at the conference, but I think I was so busy because I had a tea drops booth or something, I didn't even see her speak. So a few months passed and I get this note that this envelope and it says, like office of Barack Obama and you're like, this is a scam. You know, it's one of the signs in your living room. And so I opened it and there was this beautiful letter from Michelle just saying thank you for the tea drops and how her and Barack were just really impressed by what we're building and all the stuff that it kind of feels very surreal. So that was definitely a surreal moment. And then Chrissy Teigen, it was funny because we when we had our team retreat, we were thinking about who would be our dream celebrity influencer, that we would want to connect with our brand.
And we just felt that Chrissy Teigen really aligned with the values and our brand ethos. And so I actually investigated what would it take to work with her, etc.. I soon learned from her team that it's like hundreds of thousands of dollars for a post. And she's like, we were just starting out. We don't have no budget. So I was like, OK. I went to my team and said, let's send product to every address that we can find that's affiliated with her in some way. It can be like we think it might be, but we have no idea. Google, whatever you have to do. I found some addresses from other sources and we just sent product everywhere. And then we just kind of do that. But you don't know what's going to happen. And that's also what we did with Oprah magazine, too. And then five or six months later, we see this tweet. Isabella, who runs our soldiers, is running down the hall and like, screaming. And I'm like, what's going on? I thought someone died. And then I saw that this is amazing, amazing organic endorsement of tea drops. And it was so genuine. It was better than, I think, anything you could ever really pay for. So that was a huge point of validation for us, obviously, and it's definitely paid off in spades. So we're very, very grateful.
Gosh, I love that. And I love this too different like in both of those stories. The first story with Michelle is very much, again, one of those serendipitous moments that you can't plan for. And then the second is very much that, like the hustle of just being like, let's throw everything against the wall and somewhere let's hope if she truly loves our brand. And of course, not only do you save hundreds of thousands of dollars, but it's truly an authentic endorsement of your brand. She actually really loves it. She wanted to talk about it publicly.
Yeah, because we talked to our team later and they're like, yeah, she never does that. And she had to get permission to really do that, to just say, hey, organically, I'm going to just shed some love to this brand because I really love it. So it was definitely surreal. But I do think you hit on something that I think is really encouraging for any entrepreneurial journey is that there is this notion of luck, but there is controlled luck that you have input into and these magical things happen. You know, it's like kind of that notion that the harder you work, the luckier you get type of thing, you know, totally.
Yeah, that's one hundred percent what happened just before. You really love that circle. Where is the business today and what does the future look like?
Yes, so we have been focusing a lot on the direct to consumer front, I would say now, whereas before when I was first telling you about our earlier in our journey, about 70 percent of our business was retail accounts and selling into retail. And that's completely shifted for us, where 80 percent of our revenue is direct to consumer online. And for me personally, I've seen seeing more of that ability to really build this self care first experiential brand and community. And so what does that mean for us? Like when you say self care? I think it's certainly a word that's used a lot. But we care about the emotional, physical and mental health of our consumers. And so all of our products really service that in the same vein that I always craved a community I could turn to to obviously talk about T, but also talk about other personal development or mental health topics. And I think slowly and slowly, teardrops is starting to be that community. We now have our membership, which is yes, it's a subscription to T, but it really is bringing together self care experts and various topics every month. So we've featured Gary Chapman, the author of Love Languages, and we've featured amazing entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs as well, because I think that content piece is just as important as the subscription to the tier. The product both have to deliver really well. And so that intersection is something that we're really, really focused on. And so that's really kind of panned out for us, that we now have over two hundred thousand really engaged t drops community members. And it's just amazing to see that happen because that was always the vision from day one, is to really build out this community and we're seeing that come to life and it's really beautiful.
Wow, that sounds incredible. I'm going to get in there, join that community.
Yeah. We have a different Facebook groups like the Tea and Chat Club. That's just for members. But sometimes other people come and want to join. And then on social, we're very active and we have a whole content series through our membership. And so it's really taken a life of its own that way. And so I guess that's next year. We're really focused on products that serve her like our main consumer is female. Her average age is thirty six majority our working moms. So they don't have a lot of time, but they're really looking for that point of self care for themselves. So we're launching an unsweetened version of our tea drops. We currently had a mix of sweetened unsweetened. We have a new and sweet line that we're launching in April are very excited about. We're launching also a brand collaboration with Hello Kitty, the Sanrio this year, which we're very excited about, and also women's health line, which is focused on menstrual and hormonal balance. So I think all of those are keeping us very, very busy this year. But all exciting things that were super jobs to be working on.
Holy moly, so exciting. Twenty, twenty one. I know you what advice do you have for women who have a big idea and are looking to start their own business?
I think there's so much to be said just about perseverance. I think that what's comforting to me is that when I meet also some incredible entrepreneurs that I really look up to is that they're just ordinary people that had a true passion for a specific idea and have the grit to really see it through. And I think that's very encouraging. And moments where you just feel like today's are going well in the line of we were talking about raising capital, I got like ninety to one hundred rejections before raising my round. And I think that can be really discouraging. But you can also just level set and keep going. And I think that's a true mark of an entrepreneur is just that grit and perseverance, that daily hustle.
We are up to the six quick questions part of the episode, I'm going to power through it because I'm conscious of our time here. Question number one is what's your why why do you do what you do?
I think a lot of my centers around my family and my upbringing and the opportunity I've been given, I talked a little bit about my parents being immigrants, coming to this country with really nothing and and my ties to TI culture through them. My dad was born on a date. My mom came from a heavy culture as well. And so I look at the opportunity that they've afforded me to just pursue this idea that it wouldn't have been possible without the journey that they went on. And my mom personally came from a culture and a family that really didn't value women. Her birth papers were sold early on, so she actually couldn't come to America and meet her family. And there was a lot of strife with her father and questions around her value. And so to come out of that and be raised by such a strong woman and father and be given this opportunity to pursue this dream job, I think that summarizes my why I love that.
Oh, your parents must love to hear that kind of thing. That's so special. Yeah, well. Question number two is, what do you think has been the number one marketing moment that made your business pop?
I think definitely that Chrissy Teigen moment was a turning point for us, and it's not marketing that we really had much say or control over, but we saw that blip, obviously, in our direct consumer website went crazy. Amazon went crazy. I think outside of that, it's been a true focus on digital marketing. So on Facebook paid advertising industry and marketing and really getting a handle on that, learning the ins and outs of that, learning about content related to that. So that was definitely a turning point for us because we could see the truth in our business once we got a handle on that.
I'm going to quickly break the format here, but are you able to share what the impact was of Reagan's tweet like in terms of how much money it generated for you or how much traffic it drove?
Yeah, and it's hard to quantify because it's been like the gift that keeps on giving. But we saw immediately that first week an incremental couple hundred thousand dollars in sales the first day and then the remainder of the week. Yeah, it was pretty significant for us. So I would say an incremental couple of hundred thousand dollars. But then residually, People magazine wrote an article about it. Yahoo! Magazine wrote an article about it. So you had then all of this additional PR that arose from the tweet so that alone and they have links to T drop. So we know that overall there was a huge lift in the business certainly for that year and that month. It happened on October 20, 19. So like even now, we came across October twenty twenty and we were like, oh well, there was a huge spike. Why are we not seeing that same trend October 20, 20, then we're like, oh yeah, it's because of that tweet. So it really did seismic shift the business. And I think it still keeps on giving.
Right that validation totally.
And then with direct to consumer, it kind of increased our each year. Obviously we're getting better, better at direct to consumer, but we've grown three to four x our direct to consumer revenue year over year. In fact, Shopify named as one of their top fastest growing direct to consumer brands of twenty twenty. And that's really because we've been focusing a lot on driving quality traffic to our site, not just paying for digital ads and on Facebook marketing just for the sake of it, but really being strategic on who we're targeting, knowing their interests, knowing what their interests overlap with so that they might like a particular show, anti drop's. And so really being specific on our targeting has also helped a lot in growing our direct consumer business three to four X this year.
Hmmm, I bet Bridgton watches would love to drop.
I know, I know, that's what everyone say. I'm sure there's an overlap. We should do this together. Yeah.
Question number three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading or listening to or subscribing to that everyone needs to know about?
Well, I think that I get the most value from other founder groups, and so I hang out a lot in certain channels, like there's a KPG consumer packaged goods channel. There's also a Facebook group called LMG. If you're just first starting out and people ask questions and people answer them, it's a really great ecosystem. And then just generally, I have a network of founders that I love turning to for different questions. I find them to be most valuable in terms of what I listen to. I obviously love podcasts like yours. And I think that just learning earlier in the journey of what the experience is like, I think is just invaluable. And so I listen to a lot of entrepreneurial podcasts, but also I think that I also like leaving Whitespace to just refocus on what you know to be true. So I think you can get caught up in a lot of noise as well when you're consuming so much content. So I also think, like tuning into yourself is also where I like to spend time.
Absolutely. Question number four is, how do you win the day? What are your a.m. or p.m. rituals that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated?
I think for me, I am definitely more of an earlier riser, so I've just like how quiet the morning is. I start my day, as you can see, with celery juice and some form of meditation for at least like 15 or 30 minutes. I try to incorporate it. If I can't get in the morning, I definitely do it in the evening. Oh, and a walk. A good walk as well.
Love a morning walk for sure. I bet it's nice, by the way. You are.
Yeah, it's near the beach. That's really nice.
Oh, stop it. Question number five is if you only had a thousand dollars left in your business bank account, where would you spend that money?
I have to say, I think it's going to be the digital paid ads. I think that, like now we have this machine of an operation and I know our head of digital growth would love to hear that, that we know and we know the anticipation of dollar out. And so, like, if it was down to the last wire, we needed to make a couple of sales to keep on going. That's what I would do.
Amazing. And question number six. Last question is, how do you deal with failure? What's your mindset and approach?
I think if you can get in the mindset that obstacles are just part of this journey and so are mistakes, it really reframes things because it's no longer sure you can call it a failure. But I think entrepreneurship is kind of expecting a series of failures, even multiple failures or obstacles a day and having an attitude of obviously not embracing it with loving arms, but knowing that it's part of this journey. And there's a lot to discover about yourself in addressing those obstacles and uncovering them and working through them. So I think it's like the reframe of it has been really helpful for me.
Sashi, thank you so much for taking the time to join me on female strip club today and share all about your business and your learnings from along the way. I just love what you're doing and I think it's so cool.
Thank you so much.
Thank you. Such a pleasure to be here. And thanks for capturing my story.
Hey, it's just me here. Thanks for listening to this amazing episode of the Female Startup Club podcast.