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How to buy a business (& have Venus Williams as a part owner!), with Asutra’s Owner & CEO Stephanie Morimoto

by Female Startup Club
May 22nd 2021

Today I’m chatting with Stephanie Morimoto, owner and CEO of Asutra. 

Asutra is women-owned and women-led. They offer natural remedies for pain, sleep and rejuvenation. A few years ago Venus ... More

before we dive into the show. Today we have some super exciting news as of this month. Female startup club is officially part of the hubspot podcast network, Something we love about, the hubspot podcast network is all of the inspiring shows dedicated to helping professionals learn and grow, especially women in business. So if you love female startup club and want to check out other shows like us, we definitely recommend checking out, Being boss, the gold digger podcast and the shakeup Check out all these shows and more at hubspot dot com slash podcast network. This is Stephanie morimoto for female startup club. Hey everyone, it's doing here, your host and hype girl today, I'm chatting with Stephanie morimoto, the founder of a sutra. A Sutra is women owned and women lead. They offer natural remedies for pain, sleep and rejuvenation A few years ago, venus Williams loved Sutras products so much that she decided she wanted to be part of building this incredible brand and has since become part owner and chief brand officer.

In this episode, we're chatting about how to buy a business, how the partnership with venus came about and the key learnings now that the brand has expanded into thousands of retail stores across America and as with every episode I do have a quick favor to ask you and I'm giving you my major thanks in advance reviews on the apple podcast app. Help new ears find us. So if you've been loving the show, would you please take a moment to leave us a review and a million bonus points if you want to send me a screenshot on instagram and I will share it on my page. I would love to give you and your brand a shout out and a little love there too. You can find me at Dune rasheen, which is D W N E R O I S I N. And you can just pop into my DmS if you want to chat. I love to chat. This is Stephanie for female startup club. Yeah. Are you working around the clock to build the business you always imagined? Do you want to communicate with your fast growing list of customers in a personalized way?

But in a way that gives you time to work on the rest of your business. Do you ever wonder how the companies, you admire the ones that redefine their categories do it. Companies like living proof and chubbies. They do it by building relationships with their customers from the very beginning while also evolving in real time as their customers needs change, These companies connect quickly with their customers, collect their information and start creating personalized experiences and offers that inspire rapid purchase, often within minutes of uploading their customer data. Clavijo empowers you to own the most important thing to any business. The relationship between you and your customers and the experiences you deliver from the first email to the last promotion to learn more about how Clavijo helps you own your growth visit. Clavijo dot com slash F S. C. That's K L A V I Y O dot com slash F. S. C. Female startup presence.

Mhm. Stephanie Hi, hello, welcome to the female startup club podcast. Hey, thanks so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here and learn all about your brand. I always get you to start by introducing yourself and telling us a little bit about who you are and what your business actually is for those who don't know. Great. Well, hi everyone, I'm Stephanie morimoto, I'm the owner and ceo of a sutra. So at a sutra, our mission is what we call an active self care. We want to help you take care of yourself on purpose, you can take on anything and we offer over 50 wellness products from natural solutions for pain relief and sleep support to bath body and skin care to help you do just that sounds heavenly. Love it. Where does your entrepreneurial story actually begin? Where did you get the idea for the brand? Let's go back to that time of your life. Yeah, well I'll share a couple of moments in my life, I would say my entrepreneurial spirit started in childhood, I learned from my grandparents.

So my grandfather on my dad's side and my grandmother on my mom's side. Uh my grandfather worked his way through college and medical school and ended up becoming an eye doctor in a town called Joliet, about an hour outside of Chicago. So he really took a chance because at the time Joliet was just corn fields a lot of farms, but it has become a pretty sizable town of about 100,000 people and he built his ophthalmology practice from scratch there and he was such a role model for me, he was truly a hero. It was great to see him build a practice where he could be successful but also help people in the community. He would often go to the local prison for example and provide health care for inmates who wouldn't otherwise have access to that kind of care. And he created jobs for people in a town where they were hard to come by. So he was definitely a model for me when my grandmother on my mom's side had to flee her home country of Indonesia moved to los Angeles California and start all over again and the one still she had was sewing.

So she started as a theme stress and then she worked her way up to build a pattern making business, working with some really large fashion brands including like Donna Karen and so it was really cool to see her do that and she again, both that from the ground up and lived a life where she ran her business but also lived with real joy and love for her family and everybody in her life. So really great examples, two totally different types of businesses and because I really admired my grandparents so much, I wanted to be just like them. So I would say that's really like the driving motivation for my entrepreneurship in terms of a sutra, I actually bought the business from the founders, I did not start it. And so the business was founded in 2015 by two brothers in their garage, like many startups are and I was a customer, I was using the products. So our original product line at a sutra is a line of organic yoga mat cleaning sprays and I'm big into yoga fitness and wellness and I found the cleaning spray online on amazon gave it a shot, really loved it, it has these essential oil blends, that castile soap base, so it's super clean, great for your mat.

And then I realized there were other products from the brand, like a mental pain cream and body scrubs, I tried those products and love them too. And then honestly through serendipity, I met a small business lawyer who helps people buy and sell businesses and he said, you know, I just got this memo that a wellness products company is for sale, would you be interested in taking a look at it and I said, sure, and then I got the details on the brand and I said, oh my gosh, I have this stuff in my house right now, like this pain creams in my medicine cabinet and the yoga mat cleaner is next to my yoga mat. So when I met the two brothers who founded it, they were there serial entrepreneurs, they had started sold failed at a number of businesses and they were already dreaming up there next business, which is why they wanted to sell a sutra. So they were obviously really excited to sell to somebody who had been a passionate customer. And when I did the due diligence, I was really pumped about the great catalog of high quality products, the rave reviews from thousands and thousands of people, but also frankly the opportunity to take things to the next level.

When I was using a future, it wasn't really a brand, it was a set of products. And so I saw the opportunity to create a real brand around a sutra and reach a wider audience. Oh my gosh! So many cool things! So many questions that I have. First of all, your grandparents, wow, what an inspiration to have those two people in your life and put you on this pathway of entrepreneurship. That's so cool. I want to dig a little deeper into you buying a small business and how that works. So specifically are you able to share where the brand was in terms of revenue and what the asking price was it to be bought for and like what they were looking for kind of thing? Yeah, so, um what I'll share is at the time of the business, they obviously started it from zero, it grew pretty rapidly, but it was still in the like low seven figures And because the business was 99% on Amazon, so I should take a step back and share that. The two brothers who started it, you know, I started making this organic yoga mat cleaner in their garage, they threw it up on Etsy and ebay and then somebody said you should try to sell it on Amazon.

So they did and it was at a time where Amazon was growing so rapidly back in 2015. So between the growth of Amazon itself plus a unique product, it grew pretty significantly in a fairly short amount of time on Amazon. So then the two brothers really focused on optimizing a future for amazon specifically. So they grit to, you know, a good sizable business but 99% on amazon. And so the thing I'll share is that today quote unquote amazon businesses. So brands that sell primarily on amazon have become hotter commodities, but at the time being so focused on amazon was actually somewhat of a liability because the revenue strings were not diversified. So we basically were able to buy it for one times revenue, Whereas in other cases you might be paying, you know, 2-4 times revenue or 5-7 times eat it up. So earnings before interest taxes depreciation. So I think we've got a pretty good deal on it if you will and then the way that we were able to purchase it is we access in the US, there is a government agency called the small business administration, They offer government backed loans to help people buy and sell small businesses.

So we were able to access that loan to purchase the business and then of course by put a down payment on it as well, wow, that's so cool. How interesting. I love that for you when you say and and as as expected you would go through a period of due diligence. What are you looking for in due diligence? And like how long did that timeline take until you kind of felt like oh I'm actually going to do this like I want the brand or I want the business rather. Yeah, so we have been lucky in that uh set of friends had actually done something similar. So I had a friend who was interested in buying a small business, they found one where the sounder was ready to retire but he didn't have anyone to hand it over to. And so they also did the same thing where they took an S. B. A. Back loan, they did the diligence, they bought the business and then they started to take it to the next level and grow it and put better systems into place. So I was able to learn from their experience which was great and understand what they did in the due diligence period.

Typically when you're looking to buy a small business, you first sign what's called a letter of intent. It's a very simple letter that says, you know, my intent, assuming that all the due diligence comes back positively is to purchase this business by X date. And then once both parties, the seller and the perspective buyers signed that L. L. I. Or a letter of intent, then you have a period of exclusivity. So as a perspective buyer, you're the only one that gets to look at all the records and all the information to do due diligence. So you're not competing with somebody else during that process. So typically you signed that letter of intent first and then you have anywhere from, you know, 60-90 days, depending on the business to gather all the information and ask all the questions you want to determine whether you want to buy the business or not. It's also the timeline during which you would line up your loan, paperwork or other financials to make sure that you actually have the cash on hand to buy the business. So that's how that process worked. And during that due diligence period, we looked at everything. I mean, we looked at the formulations of the products, We looked at the financials, we read all the customer reviews, we research amazon, We looked at other opportunities for growing the brand Director consumer on our site, retail distribution.

We really tried to learn every single thing that we could about the business and, you know, based on that, we saw that one, there was a good cost structure. So the products were made with a good gross margin and it seemed like we could probably even improve upon that from the standpoint of systematize ng the production and potentially even working with other manufacturing partners to, you know, as I mentioned before, it was all on amazon. And at the time when we looked at what the products were on offer, we thought, gosh, we could probably rebrand this and actually grow our own community off of amazon, you know, on social, on our site. And then finally, you know, there was at the time, self care wasn't as much of a buzzword, you know, six years ago or five years ago, but we really saw an opportunity to probably be a source and a go to for self care that could resonate in retail long term. And so based on all of those things and based on the strong customer base that already existed on amazon, we thought this was the right risk to take, wow, that's incredible how cool.

So the day that you get the keys to the castle, everything is yours. What actually happens when you're like, okay, so now I own a warehouse or not, maybe you don't own the warehouse, but there's a warehouse full of stuff that I now own and what do I do now? Yeah, so the business had been founded by the two brothers in Texas. But as I mentioned before, I'm from Illinois and we live in Chicago And it was really important for me to build the business in Chicago so that I could create good jobs for people who need them here in my hometown and contribute to the economy here. So we got the keys to the castle figuratively speaking because we did not take over the facility or the warehouse in texas. We actually stood it up from scratch in Chicago. So we do rent our facility. I had to find a great space and a great landlord. He was awesome in refurbishing it for our needs And then we did everything from the ground up. I mean, we, I made many trips to home depot to get shelves and tables and different types of equipment and we set it up from scratch.

We also had to build a team from scratch. So I was really lucky to partner with a couple of nonprofits who work with people who have been kind of down on their luck and out of the workforce full time. They are looking to get back in and through those nonprofits. I found a woman who had done a similar role but in a smaller company and was looking for a change and she was one of the best tires I made, She's incredible. So she came on, took a risk, came on, you know, she walked into an empty warehouse and shared my vision and said, oh yeah, we can do this together and help me build the team and the operation from there. Oh, I love that. So cool. When you have a brand that exists purely on amazon, my guess is you didn't own any of the customer data. You needed to figure out a way to bring these people into the new space and the new world of your DDC store or potentially through retail partners and things like that. What was your launch strategy to try and start getting to know these customers and get them to your site?

Yeah, great question. You're absolutely correct. So we're what's called a third party seller on amazon, which means that we don't own our customer data. We can only see order data on sales and things like that for us. The first step was really to define the brand. So like I mentioned before there was this really great catalog of products and passionate users who had written amazing reviews, but there wasn't a real brand that hung together. So the first time we took is we invested in deep market research. We worked with an agency that partnered with emerging brains like ours and they helped us do hundreds and hundreds of interviews with people who would be in our target demographic to understand what did they want from a brand like the Sutra. And what was cool is we were actually able to find people who were users of the product already as well as people who weren't, but kind of fit the profile we were targeting. And what came out of that research was that people really loved the idea of a go to brand.

They could trust to curate the right ingredients and formulations to help them with their self care. And the even more important point was that they were folks who were working moms or um students with side hustle businesses, people who are just doing all these different things in their lives and they understood the importance of setting aside time to take care of themselves well. So they could be their best in their day to day life. They were really intentional about it and they resonated with that message of active self care, taking care of yourself on purpose. So we thought, okay, that's our hook, that's the story we really want to tell both in terms of our products and how they help you write this isn't about escaping your stresses, this is about leaning into your self care and leaning into your life. And then we also wanted to make sure that we could provide the types of content to help folks with those routines that they could incorporate into their lives to take care of themselves. Well. So that was step one. We then used that brain positioning to completely overhaul the look and feel of the brain.

So we redid the logo, the packaging, the color palette and we built a new website that felt energetic and joyful and you know, that would really attract people and we re launched. So I purchased especially for in 2018 We did all of that market research work while continuing to sell on Amazon and then we relaunched the brand in 2019 And in terms of attracting people, you know, one, I think we obviously invested in digital advertising and that sort of thing. So google, we established a social media presence, We had an email list that we inherited that. We really tried to engage and clean and see how many of these people are truly engaged. And of course we email those folks and we also reached out to family and friends and said, hey, you know, we're relaunching our brand, we're relaunching our site, we love for you to come check it out and support. And we had really amazing first months when we launched the site, it was really cool to see the energy of people who had been part of the future family or part of my network come check it out by support and then that really started the momentum rolling, wow.

We, that must have been an exciting first month, I'm sure. Yes, I was checking our sales daily on Shopify, your hourly even oh my gosh, having the little notification on your phone or it's like being thinking, I love that sound. Do you think that when you re launched the brand on amazon that then inspired people to come and check out your website to be like, oh, you know, this is changing, something's going on here. Yeah, I do think it did because one of the things we really pride ourselves on is really great customer service. So we often get people actually emailing us directly to our customer service line saying I found you on amazon and then I didn't realize you had all these other products and I found your website and you know, I'm checking you out and I just wanted to let you know. So we've had those kinds of inbound communications that tell us, okay, there is probably a chunk of people who are on amazon that got curious when they saw the new packaging. We also obviously put, you know, our website or social handle and things like that on the new packaging.

So they knew where to find us outside of amazon. So I think there is definitely some of that you know, I will also share. I think it's important as entrepreneurs to share the places we failed. I think, yes, please please tell me. Yeah. I think one thing we didn't really realize is I was so focused on getting this new brand in this new energy out there that I didn't quite realize how many people on amazon didn't necessarily know the brand of a sutra, but instead recognized the packaging, right? Or recognize the product name and their loyalty was perhaps more to the product name than to the brand. So I do think we lost a chunk of customers on amazon who like literally just couldn't find us anymore because they remember what the packaging looks like, not what the brand name was and I didn't, you know, we sort of learned that lesson by doing it and then realizing, oh, we got some people coming to our site and coming directly, but we also probably lost some people who didn't realize that it was a packaging change, not a completely new product or set of products.

That's really interesting. How would you in hindsight, how would you get around that challenge? Yeah, I thought about that a lot. I mean, you know, I think one thing we could have done was phase the rebrand on amazon. We really wanted at the time when we talked about it as a team, we really wanted consistency because from an operational standpoint it would have been really difficult to have, you know, some of our products in the old packaging and some of our products and the new packaging and for people who did come to our site, we didn't want them to see one thing on amazon and then come to our site and be like, wait, this is totally different. I'm confused. So we did make the call to just make it consistent. So in retrospect, you know, we could have faced it in, but I'm not sure that would have made sense for a brand standpoint. I think probably the bigger thing that I should have realized her, that I would advise if anybody's going through something similar is just to recognize, like to better understand, do people really know the brand or do they know a specific product and with any rebrand?

I think you will probably lose them people because they're used to the old thing or, you know, a lot of folks just see new packaging and they assume something has changed with the product, even if you communicate with them, that that's not the case. And so if you expect that you'll lose some small percentage of people, you know, what are the things that you can do to try to make up for that in other channels. Got it, got it, wow, goodness, Thanks for sharing that. Yeah, of course, When you look back since you re launched in 2018, what have been the key moments of growth, that sort of leapt you forward. So one is definitely our site, I mean, like I mentioned when I bought a sutra, we had almost no sales on our website, it wasn't very easy to navigate. You know, it was just not a great shopping experience. So we've been able to grow that pretty rapidly over the past couple of years, which has been awesome and the great thing is I think we've also built a very loyal and engaged customer base on our site, which has been great.

One of the key milestones that has been awesome for groups in our site is we've been very lucky to be featured on Good Morning America a couple of times and the Today Show and uh, we've done the Good Morning America deals and steals segment. And what's great about that is it's a great way to introduce a very large audience to your brand in your products. They can go on to the good morning America deals and steals site and buy your product, you know, at 50% off for example. Um, so it's a great way to trial to get people to trial and then you also get their emails and so what's so awesome about that is that you can communicate with them directly. And what we've seen with people who found us on Good Morning America is they try our products because they're getting a great deal. The first time they read our emails at a much higher rate than our total customer base and they've actually come back and bought a lot more um, than our average customer as well. So they're like a really great customer base where they discover us in that way.

They try it. They love it and then they're repeat purchasing at a, at a really good read the second moment I would say are the second thing that has catapulted our growth is retail distribution. So also when I bought a sutra there was zero retail distribution. It was all again on amazon for the most part. And yet we really thought there was a great opportunity for retail. One of our values that the future is accessibility. We want to provide great natural ingredients, formulations that worked at an accessible price. And part of accessibility is also just literally being able to see it and buy it right. And so being in bricks and mortar retail stores was something that we always wanted to do and had in mind when we did the rebrand. So when we did our rebrand, we did it with the goal of getting into Target. We thought our brand could be perfect for Target and we designed it so that it could look great on the shelf in the Target. It took us two years, which many people say you're impatient.

Two years is not that long. We launched we launched nationwide in all target stores about six weeks ago. Oh my goodness! With our pain relief and sleep support collections. So we're really psyched about that. But we actually started with CBS. So we started with 400 CVS stores in the test. They then launched us in 4000 CVS stores. Now we're in Target. Oh my God. And then we work with them. Some other smaller retailers as well. So now you literally are everywhere. Well not quite everywhere yet. But yes, we're we're in a couple of the big ones that we really wanted to be in your, in all the places. I want to cycle back quickly to the Good Morning America segments that you've been on? How does one get on? Good Morning America deals and steals? Is it a paid placement? Do you have to have a particular type of pr person? Do they come to you? How does that work? Yeah, so we've been really fortunate at a sutra. A lot of things have come to us like CVS came to us and actually Good Morning America came to us as well. So I'll back up for a second.

We do have a pr agency who's amazing, they work with health and beauty brands, they have a lot of relationships and so that was one investment we also made early on is earned media. So we don't pay for the placements, but they pitch us our brand story and our new product launches two different publications. They have done a great job of getting us a lot of great coverage, especially with new product launches in everything from people magazine and in style to you know, mind, Body Green, which is a wellness website and bustle. And I think because of all that coverage and then because, you know, people can scrape the data on amazon they saw, we had a lot of reviews which translates probably into a lot of sales on amazon. We got an outreach from the team that does Good Morning America's deals and steals. So there's a woman named Tori johnson who hosts those deals on the show and she has a team that scouts for brands that they think could be great for the segment.

So we actually got an inbound request from them and said, hey, we've seen your brand, we love it. We think you could be a great fit. Would you ever want to do something with us? So we actually started on the view, which has a slightly smaller audience. It was a, it was a great test run for us if you will, and we actually did like incredibly well. And then they also do they do both the view and the Good Morning America segments. So based on how the view went, we then talk to them about doing Good Morning America and that worked really well. Oh my gosh, that must have been such an exciting moment. Seeing that email pop into your inbox. What? Yes, We've got a lot of those. Actually, I want to talk about another really exciting moment in your history of the brand Over the last couple of years, venus, Williams joining your company as a partner in the business and as chief brand officer, is that right? Yes, correct. How did that come about? And what is she like? Okay, you and your listeners are going to think I'm just so crazy because that was also a cold email.

I know it's like you're hitting on all of the highlights. Yeah. So you know, as I'm sure a lot of your listeners can relate to when I first bought the brand. I was doing everything. I mean I was sometimes assembling our sleep masks. That's I was checking our customer service emails. I was, you know, doing everything. David, I was running to the post office to ship customer orders. Well, I was also doing our budget and our strategy and our brand. So one day I check our customer service in box. I mean literally support at a sutra dot com and I see this email from a guy named joe joe good old joe joe signature says that he works at I M G W M E, which is the largest sports and fashion talent agency in the world. And I thought is this like, is this a sales thing? I can't tell. But I looked him up and we had a couple of mutual connections that actually talked to my husband about it. I said I got this email from this guy, joe do you think I should do the call?

And he's like, I am jeez, the biggest talent agency in the world. Just take the gall who knows subject the call. And he's asking me all about a Sutra and I'm sharing with them our mission of active self care that were women owned, that we're creating good jobs for people in Chicago and that we're all about these natural products to help people be their best at accessible prices and he says this is so inspiring, I really love what you're all about. And I said joe, I loved this conversation but I'm just curious how did you find out about us? And he said, well you're probably not gonna believe this, but um venus Williams uses your products and she asked us to find out more about you. My jaw just dropped. I was like, what a couple, right? He said her trainer found your pain relief creams online on amazon actually and she's been using them as a part of her training regimen and she had never heard of a sutra. So she said, hey, so I know more about this brand, I'm kind of curious. So anyway, fast forward conversations ensued with joe and his team and it turns out venus was interested in getting involved.

So she took a in person meeting with us, we sat down with her for over an hour right before the U. S. Open, which apparently she never does. We walked her through a presentation about where the brand was and where we wanted to take it and she said, you know, I don't get involved with a lot of brands, but I love what you stand for. I have to live active self care every day of my life to stay at the top of my game, she runs two of her own businesses as well. So she's an entrepreneur and she said I really love to get involved. And she wanted a real like she wanted a real role. So we named her our chief brand officer in spring of 2019 she joined us a part owner and our CBO and she's our main spokesperson so she does press interviews, she announces new news on social and she's just a great stock partner. I mean because she runs her own businesses and because you're probably not surprised he's very goal oriented. She likes to win right, she likes to set goals for herself for the business and she likes to provide insight and advice based on her own experience.

So she's been great to work with oh my goodness! What a story that is. One for the grandkids, holy molly love that for you and for her. Where is the business today? And what does say the next 12 months look like for you? Yeah so you know today we continue to have a strong business on Amazon, our site is growing you know in 2020, even with the pandemic Our site in 2020 grew two X over 2019 and we continue to see strong growth in 2021. On the retail front we're in like I said 4000 CVS stores 1900 Target Stores. We also sell globally with a retail partner called I heard, which is a natural products online retailer that sells wellness products across the world and we're gonna be launching with some new retail partners here in the U. S. As well? Grove Collaborative which is also an online retailer focused on clean natural products and some specialty natural grocery store chains like natural grocers.

So we're just really excited to get ourselves in front of an audience of people who like natural solutions who want something different than just popping a pill to relieve their pain or get a good night's sleep for us. I think our big goal is really to just continue to grow sustainably. You know, we have not raised outside capital, so we bootstrapped the business and we don't plan to in the near future. We want to continue reaching and engaging the audience that loves what we stand for, loves to be a part of the suture family and you know, grow girl that family. So for us this year the big focus is making target of success. You know, we're off to a great start but we have to continue growing that continuing to grow in niche markets and retailers like natural grocery store chains where we can get in front of that consumer that's looking for natural solutions and potentially also think about more global expansion. You know, we're already with I heard we get a lot of requests from people who want to buy our product in Indonesia or the Philippines or closer to home in Canada or in the Eu.

And so we're also looking at opportunities to do that. Oh well I'll cross my fingers. Are you still in touch with the two guys who started the business? Great question. Not really. They must be so proud. Yeah, I'm sure they're like building seven other businesses as we speak right now. I mean, they really are the most entrepreneurial guys I've ever met. They were great in being advisors in the first year. So they were especially, I would say the first three months when we were still learning everything and they were there to help us answer any and all questions. But you know, as time goes on, we obviously took the brand in a new direction. They, like I said, we're probably building a bunch of other businesses already, so we're not in touch anymore. How exciting. What advice do you have for women who have a big idea and want to start their own business or buy a business? Well, for me, I bought a business because I knew I wasn't a startup person. Everything I've done in my career has been taking something with promise to the next level.

So I do think probably the first thing I always tell people is no yourself, really reflect on what type of leader, What type of entrepreneur are you and where are you best suited To do the things you want to do and think about that. So maybe it is buying a business because you don't like the 0 to 10 stage, right? You like the 10-50 stage or maybe that is the things you love, like you love taking a concept to reality, but then once it's going like the brothers who sold me a sutra, you want to move on to the next thing. So I think really knowing yourself and understanding what stage of business you want is key. The other thing, I mean this is sort of common sense, but I've heard this advice a lot and I think really doing it can be harder than you think, make sure they're really is markets it right? How big is the market for the thing that you're offering? What do they really need? And are you offering something that really meets that need early on in the future?

I got the chance to talk to the guy who founded our X bar, a big protein bar business here that you know, grew from nothing and got sold to Unilever for for lots of money and he said as an entrepreneur, it's really easy to believe your own bullshit, like it's really easy to believe that what you're offering everybody loves? You know, but you really have to keep pushing yourself on that question. Are you growing against your, you know, are you hitting your KPI S or your goals? Are you truly growing? Are you really reaching an ever widening audience who loves what you're offering? And if not, you know, do you have the right idea or do you perhaps have the right idea? But the execution isn't quite what it needs to be. So I think those are probably the two biggest things I would focus on again, you know yourself, and then really make sure there's that market set. Yeah, that's so true. Love that. Great advice. At the end of every episode we asked a series of six quick questions, some of it we might have already covered, but I asked them all the same.

So, question number one is, what's your why? Why do you do what you do? I really care about people being well. I think during the pandemic, what makes me hopeful is that a lot more people started to pay attention to their health and wellness and realized it wasn't something to take for granted. So that's really my wife, I truly want to help people make time for more wellness in their lives and to achieve those goals. Absolutely. We all need to take a lot of self care, especially after the last year. Goodness yes, Yes. Question number two is what's been the number one marketing moment that made the business pop? That's a tougher question. I feel like it's really been more of a series of marketing moments. I think obviously bringing venus onto the team was a huge lover just because she's on our team doesn't mean we get to sit back and relax, but I do think having venus on board at such an early stage of the business was a real stamp of credibility, people felt like, well Xena's is signing on to this then this is worth looking at.

And that really helped us both reach a broader audience direct to consumer and have that credibility off the bat. But I think also get press, getting the door with retailers and then start that flywheel going Absolutely Question # three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading or listening to or subscribing to at the moment? I love this email newsletter by, it's called the D. T. C. Newsletter and I think it's run by an agency called pilothouse but they just have really good nuggets every week, whether it's how to make the most of tic tac or how to deal with the new bios opt out opt in roll out on facebook to, you know, deep dives on email marketing and literally the copy and the creative that works. I need to check it out. I know what you're talking about because my husband reads it and I actually haven't signed up myself. So I'm going to sign up after this question number four is how do you win the day?

What are your AM or PM rituals and habits that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated? I would say two things. Yeah, exactly, exactly. I love that question. Uh for me to things sleep. Number one sleep is so important. I think we live in a culture that almost makes you a hero, if you don't need a lot of sleep and yet most of us are sleep deprived, you're a better leader, entrepreneur person, you're more patient, you're more creative if you get enough sleep. So I get 8 to 9 hours of sleep a day and then movement. I think movement, whether it's doing a weight workout, doing yoga, taking a walk even is also so important for getting your body moving and being healthy. Yeah, I agree so much on both of those have really been trying to make such a big effort with my sleep and going to bed earlier so I can wake up feeling refreshed versus waking up being like, oh my God, I can't get out of bed right now. This sucks. Exactly. A tough one though to change that habit to go to bed earlier.

I actually struggled for the first few weeks. Well, you know, she was a tip if you can make yourself to it actually force yourself to wake up at the same time every day, even the weekends because even if you end up going to bed at one in the morning, but you're forcing yourself to get up at six or seven, then eventually you will just be tired and us that you will go to bed earlier. Mm interesting. Great. Thanks love that. I'll give that a try. six a.m. On a saturday doesn't feel great, but I can try. I know, you know, give it a couple of weeks question number five is if you were given $1000 no strings attached grant today, where would you spend it? I think I would spend it on product development for us. The right products and the formulations that work and being sort of at the right part in the trend line has been a real driver of growth for us. I would say our customers are not the edgiest, right. They're not the ones looking for like the brand new wellness trend or the brand new skincare trend, but they're definitely willing to try new ingredients or new formulations and then incorporate them into their routines.

So being able to research like what would be the next thing that really helps people with their skincare routine or recovering faster after exercise would be great. Got it. And question # six, last question is how do you deal with failure? What's your mindset and approach when things don't go to plan? Yeah, I think I'm blessed with a very short memory when things don't go well. So I do have to say that I think that is important as an entrepreneur because you do fail a lot and you've just got to be able to take yourself up and move on for me. It's all about learning like what did we learn from that and how do we incorporate that into the future? And how do we ideally not make if it was a mistake, you know, how do we not make that same mistake again? And I really do think if you aren't blessed with a short memory naturally, I think training yourself to do that because you can't spend a lot of energy and time beating yourself up over the failure. You really just have to learn about, learn from it and then move on. Yeah, I love that. I have a short term memory in general, so that works just fine.

We got to remember the good stuff, you know, that's what keeps you going. That's true, that's true, Stephanie, thank you so much for taking the time to come on the show today and share your story and what you've been building with a sutra. It sounds super cool and I can't wait for it to launch into London and the UK us too. Well thank you so much for having me. This is such a fun conversation. Hey, it's Doom here. Thanks for listening to this episode of the female startup Club podcast. If you're a fan of the show, I'd recommend checking out female startup club dot com, where you can subscribe to our newsletter and learn more about our D I Y course the ads, M B A. I also truly appreciate each and every review that comes our way. It might seem like such a small thing, but reviews help others find us. So please do jump on and subscribe rate and review the show. And finally, if you know someone who would benefit from hearing these inspiring stories, please do share it with them and empower the women in your network. See you soon. Mhm. Yeah.

How to buy a business (& have Venus Williams as a part owner!), with Asutra’s Owner & CEO Stephanie Morimoto
How to buy a business (& have Venus Williams as a part owner!), with Asutra’s Owner & CEO Stephanie Morimoto
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