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How to weigh up the pros & cons when choosing your manufacturer with Xenia Chen, Founder of luxury tights brand Threads

by Female Startup Club
May 20th 2021

Today I’m learning from Xenia Chen, the Founder of Threads. 

Threads is a new direct-to-consumer luxury tights brand. By cutting out the middleman and working directly with their Italian fact... 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 Zegna Chen for female startup club. No, hey everyone it's doing here your host and hype girl today I'm learning from Xenia Chen. The founder of threads threads is a new director consumer luxury tights brand by cutting out the middleman and working directly with their italian factory, they are able to offer customers a luxurious and high quality pair of tights at a fraction of the going price. Today we're chatting about the differences between working with a chinese manufacturer, verse, working with an italian manufacturer and how to weigh up the pros and cons of both the importance of doing deep customer research before building your brand and why facebook marketing is key in driving growth.

And while I'm on the topic of facebook and instagram ads, I want to take a moment to shout about our agency partner amplifier. If you're a small business looking to start outsourcing your performance marketing efforts to an agency feel free to shoot me an email at hello at female startup club dot com to book in a free consultation today. I've left my info in the show notes too in case you want to find it there. 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 the show? 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 as well. You can find me at dinner machine, which is D double O N E R O I S I N. You can also slide into my DM anytime just to say hello. I really love meeting you guys. Let's get stuck into this episode.

This is senior for female startup club two sure, customers want more from brands, delivering more means owning the customer experience, taking control over data acquisition analysis, creative and delivery. Clavijo calls this owned marketing and believe it's the best path to growth for more visit Clavijo dot com slash fc. That's claudio dot com slash fsc. And one last thing before we jump into this episode, I want to quickly shout about our course the ads. M. B. A. Although I'm totally biased, I'm told by so many of the hundreds of women who have taken it so far that it's amazing and they've been able to increase their revenue in their business using the methods taught the ads. M. B. A. Is A. D. I. Y. Course to help you master the technical skills needed to run profitable facebook and instagram ads by yourself.

We've partnered with leading performance marketing agency amplifier to create the best online program out there and these guys know a serious thing or two about performance marketing. They have spent more than $100 million dollars in ads during their time. You'll learn everything from winning ad creatives to identifying your target KPI s implementing retargeting funnels and deploying scaling strategies to increase your revenue to upwards of six and seven figures per year. It includes six modules with more than 30 video lessons and you can learn at your own pace. But what we're most proud of is that $30 from every sale is donated towards girls secondary education through the Malala Fund, a charity that champions every girl's right to 12 years of free, safe quality education and is working for a world where every girl can learn and lead to learn more. Head to female startup club.com. Yeah. Female startup Capri since Yeah. Mhm. Sonya. Hi, welcome to the show.

Thanks so much for having me, excited to be here. I'm super excited to dig in and understand your business and how you've been building it so far. Can you start by introducing yourself and what your business actually is? Yeah, so I'm Xenia Chen, I'm the founder of threads, so we are a director consumer hosiery startup and essentially what we do is we provide high quality, comfortable, luxurious, italian hosiery at a fraction of the price that you would usually be paying if you were to go to one of these big box department stores or one of the high end brands. So we streamlined the supply chain, so we go directly from the factory to you. We sell online, were able to cut out all of the mark ups in the middle, then disrupting the industry. Love it. Hopefully where does your entrepreneurial story start? So my background is in finance, I went to school for business and I started my career in investment banking and private equity. So I was wearing a lot of business attire and along with that was wearing a lot of panty hose and tights almost every single day And I felt really frustrated because I found that there was no really brand out there that was both high quality and affordable.

So I felt like I was either going to department store and paying $50, for a really comfortable pair Or you go to the drugstore, you spend $10 for a pair that is just really uncomfortable. That sucks but is more affordable. So it was really tough for me to reconcile like why wasn't there an option in between? So did a lot of research into the industry and basically it's an industry that hasn't really been innovated in decades. So you have a lot of these large retail conglomerates that have these popular brands that is, you know, part of their conglomerate and they're not really motivated to innovate. So as a result, you have this really stuffy old fashioned brand that is not really cater to the modern consumer. Oh totally, I can picture it now, definitely. You know, I just think the experiences you go into the hosiery aisle and you're faced with hundreds of rand's, it's just these legs, right? Like it's there all the brands are really faceless, nameless and I just thought there could be a better, more fun way to do this and on top of that, like why can't we get a really high quality pair of tights at a low price that's more affordable to the average women, right?

And it just felt like every single co worker I spoke to about this, felt the same frustration and on top of that, even beyond my industry, there are so many women out there that wear tights and pantyhose for work, right? So whether you're in the service industry or you're a flight attendant, there are truly just so many working women out there that could benefit from this. So I had this idea basically since the first year out of school, but I didn't really have the guts, I guess to act on it until a few years later and I just decided one day that I was just thinking about it all the time and I thought, you know what, if I woke up the next morning and someone else started this business, I would be really in order myself. So, um, started working on it when I was still working on my private equity job, I did it at night on the weekends and just started from there and about, you know, nine months in, I launched the beta product and as soon as I launched the beta product, it was pretty clear that there was definitely market interest and uh, I had to either pick, do I want to put all of my energy into my then full time job or do I want to pursue threats?

And I eventually, you know those threads and now I'm about two years into building the business, um like completely full time on it. So that's the story of threads in a nutshell, Love that story in a nutshell, I'm definitely one of those women who has been in the department store, being overwhelmed, bought the product wrecked at the same day that I wore it and been like, why, why this sucks? Like it was expensive and I've worn it once and now I have to go back to the department store and I hate the whole experience, What's the general lifetime, like length of lifetime of a pair of stockings. Like how long should you have a pair of stockings before you wreck them. I mean it really depends on how often you wear them, right? I think for someone like me, I was wearing them almost every day. I'm totally like a dress girl because I like the one piece instead of two pieces like lazy like that. Um So you know in my opinion like if you're wearing them every day, you should have them for at least a month.

And um you know it's, and for me it's not just, oh they rip. So it's the end of the life at the end of the day, it's a very thin material. So even if they don't rip, they lose elasticity, they get kind of gross at the feet, you know, they will. So there definitely is a shelf life totally, but I definitely think that shelf life should be as extended as possible. Um But again, I think it really depends on how often you wear them and how careful you are with them totally. And just to paint the picture for the listeners. So there's the $10 you know, drugstore kind of option and then there's the $60 high end option in, you know, a boutique department store. Where is the price point for you? What does your price point? Sit around? Yeah, so currently are sheer tights go for $13 us, that's around 17. Canadian dollars. And you know a lot of our customers compare our quality to the same quality as like the $60 a pair. Which to me that's like the ultimate compliment validation because that's why we built the business.

So I love it when people say Wow you're saving me like $50 basically every single pair that were buying. So that's a huge saving for the customer. That's incredible. Cool. Okay I want to get into the more of the story back in the very beginning. I just wanted to you know ask a few quick questions there but I want to go back to, what year are we talking when you kind of started actually building the brand in your corporate job. So 2018 January 2018 is when I decided, I actually remember I was in London with my best friend December of 2017 And we were just talking about our goals for 2018 and and we were just you know I actually decided in London that I was going to start trying for you know trying to build this brand? So very full circle moment here. Love it coming in from London. Yeah, okay so you have that moment, you're you're deciding to get started, what are the first steps that you actually have to do to bring this brand to life? Yeah, so I mean I have been talking about this idea for years before.

Right to me it was like every single time I had the conversation with a female coworker about hosiery I would say, oh wouldn't it be great if there was this brand? You know, wouldn't it be great if there was like a subscription company or you know it was idea hating this entire time. But for me, what was really important is I wanted to make sure that there was other interest out there that wasn't just my friends and co workers. Because I think talking about an idea with your friends and co workers is very different from talking about it with a person on the street because your friends and co workers are more likely to be like, oh yeah, that's a good idea, you know, they're definitely more agreeable do. So my first step was I put together this sort of consumer research survey That I wanted to send out to my network but I wanted my network to forward it to their network and really you know, have it be like 2-3° connections. And so really at first I wanted to get as much information as possible from what I thought at that point was my target audience target group which was women working in the corporate world.

Since then, you know that audience has expanded so much more but at that time that's who I thought I was mainly selling to. So put together. Pretty detailed but also succinct research survey and sent it out to my network as I'm just ended up to their network? And I just remember sending it out on a friday. And then By the Sunday over 200 people had taken it. Oh my God, that's amazing. Yeah. And at first I was just expecting like, you know, maybe like 40 people respond, I'll be really happy, but I guess people were so fed up with this problem and they found this like a possible solution to be so interesting that they wanted to, you know, get it out as much as possible. So that was, you know, my first sign that okay, there's there's interest in a solution to this problem, so that's sort of, and you know, before I had the idea for threads like what threads is today, I didn't have that solution right off the jump, I just knew that there was a problem that I wanted to solve and I didn't know what the solution was going to look like.

So, you know, I've always wanted to build threads from problem to solution. So, you know, what are people wanting from their host to experience? What type of product do they want? What type of experience do they want? What are their pain points and then build a solution from there. So that initial survey was very valuable in the information that I was getting and eventually, you know, I took that information and built threats to what it is today. That's so cool. I want to dig a little bit deeper into the customer research survey that you sent out to specifically understand. Like what were the questions that you were asking that got you the most answers that were like unexpected things that you didn't know yet and you discovered through the research. Yeah. So I think the number one pain point that I thought people were having was your type, stripping, write your tights ripping and the comfortable ability of it. But when I really drill down into what the real pain points were and what people wanted out of their kites, there were three main buckets and it's not just the ripping.

The ripping is like the tip of the iceberg, but there's so much more to it than that, right? So I found out that the pain points or what people wanted boiled down to number one quality. So that's ripping comfort. The feel of the yarns price, which that's number two. And then third thing is convenience. So price, people don't want to be paying high price for something that they deem is a wardrobe staple and let me explain that a little bit. So, you know, I love shopping, I love going out and buying a cute pair of jeans, nice pursue something that, you know, those things make me feel good, right? Like I, you know, wear a nice dress and I instantly feel better about myself, stockings, unfortunately, just don't fall into that category because it's such a wardrobe, Basic People want something that's comfortable and just works, But they don't want to be spending like $100 prepare, Right? It just seems like such a splurge for something that is just so basic.

Um so that was another big pain point. And then the third thing is convenient. So people, there's two purchasing habits, people either like to buy stock up at the beginning of the season and by maybe like 10 pairs and see how long it lasts them or people will buy one at a time. So you know, I'll go to the drugstore today by a pair and then when that rips all, you know, buy another pair. But the issue is so many people forget to buy a pair. So the most common problem is people will reach into their drawer in the morning and realize that, you know, there's a pantyhose graveyard, there's not a single pair that works. Um, and they don't have a pair that is a backup. So I think people were really looking for a solution that was like, you know, maybe if it could come to my door every month, that would be really useful. Especially like the people that I was polling at the time, they're busy career women, right? They have better things to do with their time than remembering to buy a pair of tights every month.

So when I was building up threads, I was really solving for those three buckets. I thought what is the solution that I can bring to the table that really checks the box for all three buckets that people really care about. Yeah, that's amazing. Love the subscription part of it because that is just so true. I've definitely been in that situation where you're like, I need to wear some tights and then I don't have any because I've ripped them already. Damn it. Yeah. Was the next step finding the manufacturer. And how was that process for you? Yeah. So finding the manufacturer. That is the thing that took the longest, Uh, during 2018. So the first few months, I didn't have any connections or, you know, or anything in the textile world. Actually looking back, I was so naive. Um, I just thought, you know, how, how hard could it be? Like there are people that make all these widgets in the world. But uh well, uh yeah, so naive. But uh, you know, you'll find that it's easy to find someone who makes the thing that you want.

But it's really hard to find someone that you think, okay, this is a person I want to build a long term relationship with. So when I had the first design in my mind of the prototype, I shocked it too, factories all over the world. So in europe and Asia everywhere. So now our factory is in Italy. That's where we make our product. But at the beginning, when I was building a prototype, I actually used a factory in china, they were the ones that were the quickest to Iterate. And so that was where the first prototype was made. But the issue with finding a manufacturer is when you're a small company and your unknown or not even a small company at that point, you're not, you're not a real company or just, you know, one person who is trying to make a product, people don't really take you seriously, right? So it's a lot of like advocating for yourself, selling them on your vision, on the future, getting them to take a chance on you and that, you know, that part I didn't think was going to be tough, but it definitely was tough.

It's challenging. And especially for, you know, if you're a factory that has been in the business for 50 years and all of a sudden this young woman comes to you and says, hey, I want to, you know, make this product that is going to be really different for the industry like there, you know, not really gonna believe you. So there's definitely a lot of advocating for yourself and pitching involved in that process. And at the end of the day, I ended up going with the italian factory because I felt they were the ones that we're going to take a chance on me, there are the ones who I could see myself being in a long term, you know, 10 year, 20 year partnership with. So um you know, even though they weren't the ones that were the quickest to iterate and you know the most nimble, I felt good about the relationship and you know, to this day, I think it's one of the things that I'm most proud of are you able to share what the minimum order quantities were like for the chinese factory versus the italian factory? Yeah, so the minimum, I think it was around 3000 For the Chinese factory and then for the Italian factory, it's around 1000.

So lower minimums for the italian factory, which is, which is great. But you know the chinese factory, obviously the price of the goods is lower, but at the end of the day I think you know our ethos of being like this high and italian brand, I think what I'm trying to say is as a brand, you have to weigh the pros and cons like do I do this, you know, do I go with this company that has like a lower docs or has a higher minimum order or do I go with this company that has a lower minimum order, but higher costs. And I think the end of the day it all comes down to you know, trusting your gut and following what you believe in as a brand. Mm totally, it's like there's no right or wrong answer, it's for every, every entrepreneur to decide and by the way I just wanted to say sometimes and I didn't know this at the beginning, sometimes these factories will quote you a minimum order quantity and it is for sure, negotiable. Right? So I think the chinese factory originally they quoted me like 9000 or something crazy and I was like I don't even know if this idea is gonna work.

I'm not buying 9000 pairs of tights, right? And I think one of my friends who was also, she was starting a fashion brand at the time, she was the one who told me it's negotiable. Like go back to them and you know tell them that you can't do 9000 and you know like I think everything at the end of the day is negotiable. So and I wish I remember that when I was just starting out that a lot of the times vendors will quote you prices and quantities indefinitely. Go back to them and negotiate. It's actually a really key tip that I forget even you know in today's world like everything is negotiable and you can always go back and and also just see just see what's possible. It doesn't hurt to ask. That's for sure definitely. I always love to chat about the money side of things. Are you able to share what kind of capital you needed to put in to get the brand off the ground place, that first order kind of up until getting ready to launch kind of thing. Yeah. So initially I was around $10,000 is what I put in.

So that was enough to put in my minimum order build the website. Um I was just really focused on at the beginning seeing if this idea head legs or not. So I just wanted to get the product out there, see if there was market uptake and then at that point decide, okay, this idea is not going to work, let's just scrap it like there's there's no interest or I begin to sort of polish the brand and I thought $10,000 is sort of what it takes. I mean obviously it's taken way more since then to build the brand. But I do think like, I think for a lot of people, they think that it takes like $100,000 Like $500,000 to build a brand and that might be true, but I think to validate an idea and see if an idea has legs, you don't have to spend that much money. Mm Yeah, it's an important one to keep note of that's for sure. You can do it on a, on a smaller budget and work within your means. So how did you prove the concept?

How did you get started? What was the launch? Like how did you start spreading the good word about your tights? Yeah. So I think um I guess this is what I call the beta launch, which is what happened in fall of 2018. B so I built the website on my own on Shopify and basically just like set up, you know, subscription only model. I emailed it out to the 200 people who had done the survey and I said okay, the site is live like, let me know if you're interested in, you know, ordering and you know, pass it off to your friends and family and whatever. And my goal for that was just to see if people were interested in the purchase model and you know, this purchase model, the product wanted to seek feedback to see if I should really continue And so really, you know, no marketing dollars spent. I just wanted to see if it was a good offering before, before I did that. Um, and the response was, was really good. And I think up until the fall of 2018 when I was just working on the idea, I think it was pretty easy to do just at nights on the weekends because all the deadlines I had were internal, right?

Like if I didn't meet a deadline, it was completely just like, oh, okay, I guess it will be pushed onto next week next week. Yeah, but once you have paying customers, it's really hard to do that. And I think from then on, I didn't, I didn't realize this again, so naive when I first launched this. Um, but once I pressed launch, it was really just such a treadmill environment for me, I remember just working at my day job, Which at the time was working a lot of hours, so I would get home at like eight or 9 pm, do stuff for threads, work on threads for just the entire weekend, and then, you know, go back to work on monday, and I realized pretty quick into it that a there was market interest in the offering and the product, which is awesome, but then, like, well I guess I have to choose between my full time job or this. I can't really, like, I almost didn't expect this sort of response, which, you know, obviously good, but I don't think I was really prepared for it.

So to be honest, at that point, I was, I was, I think I was a little bit burnt out, I was just really tired and, you know, threads was the thing that was giving me a life and I was really excited to work on it, but I was really tired, so I had to make the decision, do I want to pursue this and give it a chance or do I want to keep working my full time job, there's no doing both. So I think at that time I just decided, you know what, I'm going to give this a go, I was 26 at the time, I thought, you know, if this doesn't work, I'm gonna go back to finance, right, at least I gave it a go. So I thought I did and left that job in March 2019, so it's about just over two years now that I've been full time on it. Love it. Great decision for you. Yeah, great decision. But it was definitely tough at the beginning just, you know, coming from a corporate world where there is structured to everything and there's uh there's hurdles and you know, benchmarks and you know, exactly like am I doing a good job by not doing a good job to completely just going off the deep end and going, you know, treading water, setting your own goal, setting your own benchmarks, it was definitely a tricky transition and like I think it probably took me like, I mean I'm still to this day figuring out like what works for me, how do I set reasonable goals and expectations for myself and just, I guess devised more of like a framework for myself, it can be just different coming from the corporate world.

Yeah. Gosh, absolutely. And especially given the last year where there's a lot of alone time, working alone, working at home, it's been tough having to set those specific routines and you know, keeping keeping motivated inside all the, all the mess that's been going on. Yeah, failure Ophelia Yeah. And also I think setting boundaries for just not working all the time, I think, you know when you're running your own business, you're obviously just thinking about it all the time, even when you're not working or even when I'm in the shower, I'm thinking about, you know this like what do I do with this customer or what am I? You know, just employees like everything. So you're never really taking a break and I think just setting those boundaries is really important. And again, it's something that I'm still working on and I think to some extent as an entrepreneur, you never are wearing just your at home hat. Right? So totally, yeah, absolutely. In the beginning, when you originally sent it out to 200 people, you've got a great response, how did you then start to keep that momentum going and keep finding new customers and getting the word outside of those that pool of 200 people.

Yeah. So I think once I decided, okay, this is a great product, like the bones of the product are good and you know, the structure of the houses sound, that's when I felt more comfortable to spend marketing dollars in, you know, paid ads, paid partnerships because I knew that, You know, the people who are coming in, we're going to be happy with the product and I think something that has been really helpful for us has been Facebook ads, you know, you're almost like, you know, you put in a dollar, you get back at least two and not only that, but facebook is really smart, right? They'll find customers that are actually interested in your product and the more you spend the smarter they get. So I think not only has it been a really good return for us, but it's also helped me find customer groups that I wouldn't have thought at the beginning that we're interested in our tights. And something that's a customer group that has been really interesting for us is men who wear tights. No way. Yeah. So cool.

So they are a huge Customer segment. And um, it's been really interesting. There's just, you know, there's a lot of men out there who like to wear them under their pants or at home just for comfort for warmth. And a lot of them have been wearing tights for like 40, 50 years and this hasn't been, you know, this is not on my radar at the beginning, but to be honest, during the pandemic, especially at the early stages where you know, women were not getting dressed up and not going to work. Men were like every other order for us was a man. So yeah, very interesting. Facebook is it was very valuable for us to to find that demographic. How do you tweak your content then to market to them specifically? Because I imagine, you know, you would have had your chutes and your content all kind of focused around women. Yeah. Where is we're men responding to that female lead content or did you need to change the content? Yeah, That's a great question. So I think men who buy tights are generally used to a lot of the marketing materials being geared towards women.

That being said, one of the biggest pieces of feedback from them is, you know, I wish there were more images online that portrayed men wearing tights, you know, lifestyle images and just ways that men can style tights. So we've been slowly shifting our marketing to cater towards that. And I say slowly not because we want to do it slowly, but because of Covid where, you know, it's there's like so many lockdown restrictions and it's been hard for us to do a traditional photo shoot. But yeah, you'll see in our social media and our our website and even in our reviews, there's like a ton of men and there's, you know, representation there. So yeah, it's been it's been really cool. It's amazing. I saw a bunch of your reviews from men. But I also saw a review that really made me laugh and be like, wow, that's such a genius idea. It was the one of the person who works in the bush all day and they started wearing tights because a friend told them that that would stop tick bites and I was like, what? This is genius. That's amazing.

Love a good review. I know I read that and I was like, wow, this is I would not have thought that this is a use case for tights, but I'm so glad that it's helping you. Yeah, that's really cool. It's been so interesting and like just, you know, talking through with you, what are you initial target audience was and looking at it today like it's expanded so much and it's a lot of it is due to facebook. Oh gosh, it's pretty crazy what you can do with facebook ads really, when you think about, you know what people did before facebook ads when it was traditional media, like on a billboard or it was an ad in a newspaper and I don't know, you look at it today, it's just so crazy. Love it. Yeah, it's crazy in a way it levels the playing field right for a young brand versus a brand that's been there for 20 years and has a multi million dollar marketing budget. Like I think the beauty of facebook ads, you can literally have a $10 budget and you can get results from it, which is obviously not the case for a billboard or newspaper ad.

Mm totally. When you look back over the last couple of years, what have been the key tipping points or moments of significant growth. Um I think for us, So we started working with the pr consultant earned media has been a very beautifully executed and working piece of our marketing strategy, I think for many reasons, I think obviously, you know helps with, you know, S. E. O and all that. But at the end of the day, our product is stockings, which is not the most exciting sexy product out there. And I think it's when we're able to tell our story and explain why we started the company and what's awesome about our tights compared to, you know, the average bear out there. I think many people resonate with that story and I think earned media has allowed us to really tell that story, you know, across many different outlets directed at many different audiences. So that's definitely been a piece of media that has had pretty high ri can you share the results of, you know what it looks like when you hit a really key piece of media, like what kind of traffic comes to the website or what kind of orders can you do from a serious piece of media.

So I think media, when a piece comes out, whether it's on online or on tv you can see the spike in traffic, right? So, so what it does is really feeds the top of the funnel traffic or you know, um marketing and then after that you're able to retarget them from facebook ads and there's been pieces of media where you think, oh this is going to be great for us, but then it ends up just being like more of an awareness traffic play. And there's been other pieces of media where you're like, oh I'm not, you know, not that I'm not excited because you're excited about all pieces of coverage, but you don't expect it to be a huge converted, it ends up being a huge converter. Um, so it's very, I guess Unexpected. Sometimes you'll find that a piece that, you know, maybe you as a millennial don't really tune into yourself ends up being like a huge win for the, you know, 45 plus crowd. That's so interesting. Where is the business today? And what does the future look like say over the next 12 months?

How big is the team? What's going on? What kind of partnerships are you up to shout about all the things? Yes, for sure. So we have four people on our team, me one other full time and then we have to part time remote employees. So we're pretty lean team And it's been a pretty high growth year 2020 and we're working on a few new products, um, one specifically geared towards our male customers, which I'm really excited about. Um they just feel like there's such an underserved segment and there's so many of them around the world and you know, especially in Europe would love to expand distribution. The european countries. Currently we're just in the US and Canada And one thing that we haven't really talked about is the pandemic. Um you know, 2020 has been a pretty crazy year, I think, you know, you leaving your full time stable job to go pursue something like this, you really don't expect there to be a global pandemic and you know, I think the fact that we were able to grow a lot during the pandemic just gave me so much more confidence into just the future of the business and where we're headed.

So cool. What's your key piece of advice for women who have a big idea and want to start their own business? So I would say, you know, it's important to validate your idea first. I think a lot of businesses don't work out because the founders assume that their product is something that's really wanted in the market, but in reality it's a cool idea, but people aren't really going to pay for it and I think that validating it is so, so important and as I mentioned before, not just talking about it with your friends and family because they're obviously going to be more agreeable about it. I think it's like talking about it with anyone who will listen, like if you're, you know, target audiences, females 25-35, like, you know, go to a party post coded and you know, talk about it with, you know that idea with people and actually just almost like strangers on the street who have nothing to lose if they actually tell you the truth about, I'm not going to pay for it, right, so unbiased opinion.

Yeah, totally. I think that's really important. And also I think, you know, don't be too precious with your idea, I think being more focused on the, on solving the problem versus just coming up with a solution is really important. I think there have been so many iterations of threads as product, but also our business model and all that and I think just being very open to learning and open to iterating, I think that's gonna get you really far. Amazing. Thank you. At the end of every episode, I asked a series of six quick questions, some of which we might have already covered, but I asked them all the same. So question # one is, what's your, why, why are you doing what you're doing? Um yeah, that's a really great question. I think ultimately when I think about my, why I think about, you know, what are the moments that have made me feel really like good or you know, have that warm, fuzzy feeling and I think whenever I'm empowering people to, you know, do their best or feel their best, that's when I feel the greatest about myself to write.

So whether it's, you know, receiving emails from our male customers who have said your types of empowered me to just be more of who I am to, you know, doing podcasts like these, where I'm able to inspire other women to start businesses, I think any time I'm doing that is I feel like that that's my wife, that's so cool question number two is what has been the number one marketing moment that made the business pop? Um I think, you know, in terms of conversions like for sure facebook ads, that has been a really strong channel for us, but I think in terms of like more like putting us on the map, especially in Canada, I think it's been, we were one of the first companies to pivot to launch reasonable masks in Early 2020, I think this is like before, I mean everyone's making masks now, but I think we were, you know, truly like one of the first companies to do so and you know, we've got a lot of national Canadian coverage and that was a really great awareness play, although at the time we didn't mean for it to be, you know, a marketing thing, we thought we were just going to launch the masks help our existing community, but it ended up being really good from a brand awareness perspective.

That's so cool. Question # three is where do you hang out to get smarter, what are you reading or listening to that others would benefit from knowing about. Um I love reading, I love podcasts, I, you know, I used to listen to a lot of business podcasts and business books but I realized that I can't just be, you know doing businesses stuff all the time. It's, you know, it's a lot and I think recently in the past year I've been focused more on personal development and in mindset podcasts and books and that has actually, I feel like made me a more stronger business professional. I'm such a firm believer in, you know, you can't grow your business until you grow yourself and you focus on yourself, especially as an early stage founder. So much of the business relies on you that I think so important to get your mind right and healthy. Mm So true on that same note about self help and development, if there was one kind of key resource or book or course that you think would change people's lives or change your own life, what would that be the go to?

Um you know, I go to therapy and um it's been life changing for me. At first I started going because I just thought, you know, it's nice to talk to someone about just what's going on like a third party unbiased person and it has like not to, you know, make everything in into numbers, but it's just like the highest R O I in terms of, you know, my personal happiness and that flows back into the business. So I think if you can, you know, go to therapy, if it's covered by insurance or if you can afford it or even group therapy? I think that is I think that is the ultimate at self care mm love it. Cool. Thanks Question # four is how do you win the day? Where are you hanging out in the mornings or the evenings? What are you up to that? Keep you feeling happy and motivated and successful. So I think in the morning having a nice routine, even if it's just short, that is really helpful for me. I love the journal. Um usually journal and do like a quick meditation.

I feel like it really just like helps me get my mind right for the day ahead and then, you know, just being realistic about my two DUIs and priorities. Like writing down like three things that I want to accomplish in that day. Like, you know, taking three things out of the long to do list and making sure that, you know, this is what I focus on and my mind doesn't wander. I think that's super helpful. And another tactic that I've been doing is when I have committed to ending my work day, Just writing down the tasks that I'm going to do tomorrow helps a lot. Just in terms of like, you know, then the next day you start off your day, you don't think about what am I doing? Like you just, you know, you have things right there. And then another thing is putting your phone away at the end of the day. I think at the end of last year, I remember just like spending so much time on my phone, like I would take it everywhere with me, right? Like I would move from like the kitchen to the living room and I have my phone strapped to me and I'm just like, that's just not necessary. So I think just like setting boundaries with your phone really helps me get into that unwinding and relaxing mindset.

Mm Actually just put one of those like automatic do not disturb on my phone. That starts from about nine o'clock every night. And it's so great because it basically blocks any calls and all that kind of things coming on and I would never do it myself if I had to manually do that every day. But because it happens automatically then I'm like, oh well, you know, that's already on now. So I should just leave it or if I need to check it briefly, it's more of an effort to do it. So that's actually been quite helpful to break the obsession with the phone, which I'm sure lots of people have at the moment, especially after Covid. It's been crazy. Yeah. I almost felt like I was addicted to my phone. You know, like I was always just like reaching for it and it's like, why am I reaching for it? And I don't, I'm not checking anything. I'm just totally, you know, so it's yeah, it's, it's bad. I even found like I would reach for my phone, I would do the round, you know, like go on instagram, scroll exit, Go into whatever it was Tiktok's girl exit, put my phone down and then literally 20 seconds later do the same thing and be like what? Like catch myself in the moment and be like, I just did this a second ago.

Like I have a problem. Yeah. You know, I always joke that like going into your phone now is the new walking to your kitchen and opening your fridge. Like sometimes I'm like, oh, I'm going to just take a photo of like, you know, my dog or something. But I ended up picking up my phone and like going on instagram going on email and I'm like, wait, why was I here? Oh yeah, I just wanted to open up a camera. Yeah. Gosh, I feel you question number five, if you were given $1000 grant, no strings attached, what would you do with it? Where would you put those dollars? Um, I think, you know, email marketing is, is a great one. I think just, it is the lowest cost, highest return. When you think of it, it's just plug and play. It's working with the background. You don't need to do anything. And then with the remainder of the dollars I would use an office pockets. Nice. And last question question # six is, how do you deal with failure? What's your mindset and approach when things don't go to plan. I think I, you know, now I don't really have a negative view about failure as I, as I once used to, I think, you know, if you were to talk to me like five years ago, it would have just been like, oh I'll do anything to avoid failure, right?

But now I think I have a way more healthy approach, I am such a believer in like the more times you fail, like the more likely you are to succeed, right? And you know, I think a lot of the times when you fail those are the times when the biggest lessons are taught to you, even though at the time you don't think that right? You're just like uh this sucks, you know, why am I going through this? But um you know when I think about the times when we've had like the biggest breakthroughs or um the times where I felt the most success, it's because like failure led to it and you know, it's really, it's really hard to remind you in the moment, but something that really helps me is is journaling and I give this tip to everyone who is looking to start a business, like write stuff down. Like when you're going through a hard time, write it down right? Exactly. Like why? Like what you're feeling, why you're feeling the way you're feeling and then You know, let's just say six months later you're stuck in a similar situation, you go back to six months before and you read about, you know, once upon a time you're feeling really terrible about something but then you remember I got through it, I was stronger because of it.

And I think just that reminder really helps you manage what you're dealing with at the current moment. I, I know for sure it helps me. I've been journaling since, you know, I was 16 years old and you know now when I'm going through a test patch, I just literally flipped through and I say okay, you know when I was 22 when I was 23 when you know when I was like 25 like here are the rough patches or here with the challenges that I thought were the biggest challenges that I've ever had to deal with. But here I am stronger because of it, right? And I think just that reminder really, really helps you, especially as an entrepreneur when you know it's such a roller coaster and there are so many ups and downs, that sounds like a really impactful habit. I love it. Xenia thank you so much for taking the time to come on the show today and share your story and how you've been building your brand threads. I really love chatting with you, thank you for having me. It was yeah, it was so much fun. I hope you know, your listeners can at least you know, take a thing or two and help them build their own business, 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 weigh up the pros & cons when choosing your manufacturer with Xenia Chen, Founder of luxury tights brand Threads
How to weigh up the pros & cons when choosing your manufacturer with Xenia Chen, Founder of luxury tights brand Threads
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