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This DTC brand grew 500% last year through a partnership with SoulCycle & QVC, with Curie’s Sarah Moret

by Female Startup Club
September 21st 2021
01:03:05
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Today we’re learning from Sarah, the founder of Curie. Launched in 2018, Curie is a female-owned direct-to-consumer brand that sells clean, performance-based body care products. 

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if like me you're fascinated by how really successful people think then there's a podcast you should check out called Secret Leaders. You can learn how top entrepreneurs have built businesses like Manz oh natural cycles last minute dot com. And jo Malone Secret Leaders takes you deep inside the world of these founders and half of them are women. What were their childhoods like? What was the spark for that great idea? What was the worst moment like having to fire your mom? Yeah that really happened to one of their guests. The podcast is called Secret Leaders and I think you're going to love it. This is Sarah morey for female startup club. Hey everyone it's doing here your host and hype girl. Today we are learning from Sarah, the founder of curie Launched in 2018, Curie is a female owned director consumer brand that sells clean performance based body care products. They're on a mission to make clean, safe and effective products for people who move around.

We're chatting through the bootstrap to funding model how to get on Q. V. S tips to getting on Q. V. C. And why you should prioritize building your network which of course is cute for me to mention our private network for CPG entrepreneurs height club. Do come and check us out and if you didn't see that we're giving away $1000 plus nine other epic prizes for small business owners in partnership with Flowy. Um do jump onto Fsc to get in the mix. My hot tip to you is to make sure you spend time referring other entrepreneurs and small business owners go to female startup club dot com forward slash one triple zero hyphen cash. Hyphen giveaway. Let's get into this episode. This is Sarah for female startup club. Mhm. 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. Okay, Sarah.

Hi, welcome to the female startup club podcast. Hello! Thank you for having me. I'm so excited. Me too. I'm so excited for you to be here. I always love to start by getting you to give us the elevator pitch of who you are and what your business is. Okay, well my name is Sarah Morey, I'm the founder and Ceo of curie. We are a clean body care company based in Los Angeles and we sell an assortment of clean body care products with a focus on delicious signature sense. So we have a aluminum free deodorant, aluminum free deodorant spray that you can use on your whole body, not just your pits. We have a hand sanitizer and a underarm clay detox mask. And we actually just launched our latest product last week which is a scented body oil. Oh nice, very nice. It's amazing. I'm wearing it right now in white T. And it's like the perfect amount of subtle fragrance and super moisturizing, absorbed right into your skin.

I'm clearly very excited about this strategy. I love that. I was actually just admiring and sniffing your product. That is the orange, narrowly narrowly deodorant and I love that it's so nice. Really cool. That is one of our top selling fragrances. Amazing. Gosh! Okay, well, so you're from sunny L. A. But you're in wine country told me in a moment ago, what are you up to today this week? Give us a little bit of an overview. Yeah, so I'm currently working remotely um from beautiful Healdsburg California. Um but this week. Um main thing is honestly preparing for my next Q. V. C. Uh segment which I'm going to be doing on Tuesday of next week. Really excited for that. We just launched on Q. V. C. In january of this year. Um So it what this is I think our fifth appearance which is really, really fun.

It's wild filming Q. B. C. During the pandemic has meant turning my living room into like a set. I literally have like mike UBC set up and takes lots of preparation but it's been a huge, we can get into that a little bit more later but that's been a huge needle mover for us. Um And that's become a big part of my role as Ceo is also key Bc on air talent. So preparing for that and we're just about to start fundraising. So also putting together all the fundraising materials, death, all of the fun stuff. So it's a busy week. It is a busy week. I want to ask you some questions about the Q. B. C. Thing, but let's come back to that like towards the end when we get up to where we are today in the picture because I have so many things that I don't know about Q. V. C. Or what it really is actually. But let's go back to the beginning of where this story starts for you and what got you interested in entrepreneurship and what got you thinking about starting a business in the first place.

Yeah, so I started my career I'll give you the full story but try to make it quick, started my career as a C. P. A. Um which is I worked at a big four accounting firm for two years out of college. Absolutely hated it, not the right career for an extra vert and quickly realized. But it really did give me a great foundation in business and finance and most importantly accounting, which is I think one of the most underrated skill sets for a founder to have um is a really good grasp in you know, financial modeling and accounting. Um So I'm happy for that experience although I hated it at the time and left left PWC where I was at and joined early stage venture capital fund. Um That was where I, you know, I joined as a back office accounting higher, but that was really where I got my start in investing. So I ended up working in venture capital for about five years, four years. I'm starting in back office accounting, but then moving my way onto the investing team where I got to meet with hundreds of entrepreneurs as an investment associate.

My job was to source new deals, bring in new companies um for the partners to take a look at and decide whether we wanted to invest. And so I was kind of not first meeting the first layer, I would get the companies to come in, I would do a one hour call with them and I, like I said, met with hundreds of entrepreneurs and was just so inspired by um, the hustle and you know, we were, this were a seed stage fund, so a lot of the companies that were coming to us, we're early, early, early days, some of them hadn't even started yet and it was so inspiring for me to, to meet these entrepreneurs and frankly, the biggest thing that I learned was like, there's really no difference between, you know, you and me and any entrepreneur out there. I think there's this, this being on the outside of it and not being an entrepreneur yet, you think that these ceos and startup founders are like these special superhumans and I think the biggest thing I learned was like, there are no different than me or you, it's, they just have founders just have the guts to go out there and do it and that is really what separates, you know, the average person from uh, startup founder and I think there was this like, kind of mystique behind it and then I realized, hey, all you have to have is an idea and like the guts to go out there and make it happen.

And that was really, really inspiring for me and that's when I decided to start my journey as a founder and uh, started curie um kind of as a side hustle to be honest, uh started working on curie nights and weekends. Put my own savings into starting it. Built the website myself, designed our branding myself. It was very humble origins, but I'm really happy with the way that I did that I I didn't dive right in, I didn't go raise money. I really found like made sure there was a market for the product before I went all in. Um and you know, running it for running curie as a side hustle for the first year was very challenging. But um it kind of taught me discipline and it taught me to do a lot with pretty scarce resources. So for the first year you were doing it as a side hustle. What led you to personal care in general? And when you were just kind of starting out, how were you actually validating the concept to yourself and getting that customer kind of insight that you were on the right track.

Yeah. So the to answer the first part of your question, when I was at I worked at two different venture capital funds. The second one that I worked for was based in L. A. And we were consumer focused, mostly consumer technology, but we did a little bit of direct to consumer brands as well. And that was where I got really interested in the queen beauty space. It was 2016 2017. Um It was when Moon juice like literally was down the street from us how to line down the block for their adapted jin's and all that beauty counter was just starting Gupta just launched their marketplace. Clean beauty was becoming this like category. I think it used to be seen as kind of a niche category. It was like yeah you could buy natural products that like your whole foods or at the farmer's market but it wasn't super mainstream yet and that was shifting like right in front of me we were seeing so many companies coming and pitching us with clean beauty and wellness brands and companies and I started to get really interested in the science and doing tons of research.

I worked for biotech startup for a hot second. So I got, I got really good at reading research papers and understanding you know the science behind some of these ingredients that were used to putting on our bodies every day. So I learned a lot kind of self educated myself on some of the dangers of these conventional ingredients that we all use um these, I call it drugstore products and I started to make the swamp myself of you know swapping out my products where I could um and deodorant was one of those products where I couldn't find anything that worked for me, it was like when I came to natural aluminum free deodorant like I was better off like wearing nothing like I tried everything out there and I am a sweaty girl so I couldn't find anything and that was where the journey started. I was like I know, I knew that other people were having the same issue as me and um what's team up with a team of chemists that know what they're doing and make something that really, really works.

I think a lot of the other brands at the time were kind of like it was still very much like I made this in my kitchen kind of deodorant formulas and so what I decided to do that, I felt like was something a little bit different than whatever else was doing was I teamed up with this amazing team of chemists that have created, developed some of the most well known, you know skincare in personal care products today and gave them are no no list and things that we didn't want in the products and the ran with it and made our incredible deodorant formula and so it just kind of expanded from there and then I think I was lucky and that I was my first customer like this was a personal problem for me. I think a lot of brands kind of start like that where the founder has a problem and or a need and it's not being met and I think being your own first customer is really powerful because I could test the formulas on myself and I knew if something didn't work for me, what probably was gonna work for other people and that was really helpful because I kind of got to validate the idea with myself.

But then I did I did do a lot of testing. We've iterated on the on the formula several times since we launched. But one of the biggest things that was important to me was the fragrance. I wanted sense that we're unique. I wanted sense that you know everyone, you know how you sometimes I get a whiff of your armpits during the day. Like your deodorant sent is very much part of your personal sense. And so I was sick of like these, a lot of the natural, the natural deodorant. I was testing out. They all smelled like patchouli or like pain trees and I was like that's not the sense that I want to be getting a whiff of throughout my day I want something I do not want to associate with pine trees. Yeah. I was like I love pine trees but I don't want to smell like one. So I paid a lot of attention to those types of details because it mattered a lot to me. And so we developed our signature sense with a scent house. It's been incredible to work with.

They adhered to all of our clean standards and made some really incredible unique sense. We have the white t the orange narrowly, which it sounds like you've been using um in our grapefruit cassis and these scents are really what has set us apart. Um and in terms of validating, going back to your question um how I validated the sense because I knew that that was something that a lot of people are pretty finicky about. People have strong opinions about sense. And so that was something, you know, not only did I test out the product on, you know, probably hundreds of people before we launched, I also went to the mall. This is such a ridiculous story. But when it came time to finalize our signature scent, I was like, I need to get more opinions. I can't just have my friends and family telling me what they like. Like I need real people's opinions. I need people that are going to be my target customer. So I literally went to the mall on a saturday morning with, with I think our top five signature sense options and had little vials of each of the sense and had actually, I think I even had sticks of deodorant that had the scent in them, went to the mall with a clipboard and asked random women that were like walking in and out of Nordstrom to smell the different sense and vote on their favorite and that is how our first signature scent that we ever launched, which was our white tea.

That was how that came to be. That was like the clear winner. And was it what you expected when you on the same path? Uh yeah, I mean I loved our, we had five, I could only afford to do one cent because each sent that we did was like a different minimum and I could only afford to do 11 run. And so I had to choose one sense. I wanted something that was light refreshing and would be universally loved and that was really hard to do. And so I figured let's go ask people. Um, that really have no skin in the game. They're not my friends. I'm not gonna be worried about offending me. Um, and see what they like. And because you know, at the end of the day, that's all that really matters. And so there was a clear winner and it was the white tea, which still to this day is our number one top selling fragrance, wow. I love that as a piece of advice. Just like go to the mall, find a store that is going to your current like target in customer in mind and serve them your product outside and ask what people think.

That's amazing. That takes some real guts I feel as well. Mm that is a piece of advice for sure that I give a lot of founders is when you're starting out, if you're trying to get feedback or validation or even validating your idea. Don't ask your friends and family, like your friends and family, it's going to be really hard to get an unbiased answer. So go out and ask strangers and even if you look ridiculous standing at the door of Nordstrom, um it's worth it because strangers are going to give you honest advice and I think that's kind of sometimes hard to get from your family, friends, and family members, wow, amazing. I love that. It kind of leads me into a different topic that I wanted to bring up around. You said just a moment ago that you didn't want to start kind of by going all in and raising money and that kind of thing. You were bootstrapping it in the beginning, but then you were only able to afford one of the sense, what was your kind of initial capital that you invested into getting the brand off the ground?

Right up until around the launch? Yeah, so our initial capital was about $12,000. Most of that. I think our first production run, including like packaging and labels and stuff like that was 10,000. And then the other 2000 was getting our trademark getting incorporated, building the website, which Shopify makes it basically free. So it was $12,000 all in. Got it, got it. And so then getting to, you were obviously boot shopping it, you'd obviously come from a background working in VCU had really crazy insights that other people just might not have. What was your vision in terms of like when you were going to take on additional capital or, or were you even thinking you would ever take on capitol or what was your kind of like future thought on the money piece. I mean, I wish I could say that I had a plan. I really didn't when, when I started I it started as a personal need.

I figured let's make this, let's make this deodorant, let's see what happens. Um, I had no experience in building businesses and selling consumer products. I wasn't sure what was gonna happen. And so I didn't really have a plan to. Everyone asked me that like, what was your business? You know, you have this finance background, but frankly I just started it and figured, let's see what happens and we'll start selling. I didn't quit my day job. I worked on curie basically as a side hustle with a full time job for the first year. And um, during that first year we saw, you know, a ton of growth, all organic at the time we didn't put any money into marketing. It was all organic. Word of mouth, um, influence our social media and that really got the flywheel going and as I saw the company grow and grow, we hit six figures in revenue in that first year. I got to the point where I was like, all right, I'm on to something.

I think we've created something special here. We have customers that were repeat purchaser. They were buying more and more of the products, they were asking for more things. You know, everyone loved the signature sense the white tea and people were like you guys should do a lotion and body wash and all that. And so I started to see the long term vision here which is what we are today, which is kind of a personal care company that is focusing on, you know, not only effective products but these sense that just add some joy to your day. It adds, it makes these personal care products, not just the utility, it makes them something that you know, add some joy, makes you happy. And so that vision I think was crafted over that first year and that was when I decided to go all in, I put my job and raised a couple $100,000 on a convertible note. Right. And what was that? A couple 100,000 like what did that allow you to do? And what was that spent on in that next kind of 12 months? Yes. So the biggest thing first that I did was rebranded the name was curie all along and still is curious, but we are packaging was way different.

Um it was pink and white and very girly and not really um Not really, I think what, what the brand represented to me and it was very female focused and I learned that there were a lot of men that we're using our products too. So we decided to rebrand in, I think that was 2019 and that was what we used a big chunk of that capital for was creating our new packaging, a new website? I finally hired a professional to do our website. I have built our first website myself, so it was very bare bones. So we revamped our website, rebranded the packaging. We launched two new signature sense. So that's our grapefruit cassis and our orange narrowly. So now we have three right now, we're about to launch our fourth. And then we also launched a new product which is are actually no to new products with that capital. We launched our spray deodorant, which was, that was in January of 2020. We launched our spray deodorant and then we also launched our hand sanitizer in May of 2020.

Oh my gosh! So it was a busy 12 months quite a lot now. But I say that out loud, we did quite a lot with that capital. But another thing was we also, I finally had the cash to be able to start testing marketing channels, specifically digital marketing channels like facebook instagram. So we also use a chunk of that cash to start testing out acquisition channels and how we can reach more customers. Do you think that it was your kind of newness and new products? That was the main contributing factor to kind of your growth from that point on or do you think it was a particular channel like facebook ads, that was the contributing factor because obviously you said in that 1st 12 months things were kind of picking up and word of mouth. But then what was it that kind of tipped it over the edge and gave you that kind of snowball effect if you will. Yeah, that's a great question. I think, I think definitely launching new products is always a great accelerator for a business. I will say though that for other founders like make sure, I think having one product, you know, our soul product was our deodorant stick for the first year plus.

I think it was about 14 months that we just had the stick deodorant and I am really grateful that we did it that way because it let me scale easily. You know, having one product, once you introduce new skews, things get more complicated. So it just made us really lean, really like nimble, we could just make more product when we needed it. We weren't sitting on tons of inventory and it kind of helped us find that product market fit and figure out who our customer is before we started to add fuel to the fire. So I do think that was a really good strategy to start with a really limited number of skews for us. It was one, but I think you see a lot of companies launching with like two or three, you know, a little set of products and I think that is a really smart strategy so that you don't tie up too much cash and inventory and just add too much complexity to yourself. I chain early on, but we did learn, you know, in that in that first year who our customer was the best place to reach them where they're spending their time.

And so as we started to launch new products, you know, we launched the spray deodorant in january 2020 we launched the hand sanitizer in May of 2020. We launched our play detox mask this year and also our body oil. And now as we launch new products, we have this really strong customer base that using our stick deodorant every day, they're opening our emails and it just makes it so much easier to grow quicker once you already have that core customer base and you're just adding on new products that make a lot of sense with the product line and with the brand and so I think definitely launching new products, especially the hand sanitizer helped accelerate a lot of our growth in 2020 we grew 500% last year and I attribute a lot of that, oh my God, that's amazing. Lot of that growth keep in mind keep in mind that I was still doing this as a side hustle the year before, so I went from side hustle to full time and was able to bring on a team as well.

Um so yeah, we had a ton of growth last year and I think the biggest reasons were one launching the hand sanitizer in the middle of a pandemic. Was was um kind of right place, right time, We've sold out of our hand sanitizer four times last year. Um and that really, I think that product really took off in 2020 for obvious reasons, it was just really unique. It was better than any other hand sanitizer. It has hyaluronic acid in it and prickly paris etoile and it just feels like a skincare serum on your hands and it has our signature sense. And so our customers went wild for the hand sanitizer and uh we could not keep that product in stock last year, so definitely attributing a lot of that growth to launching new products and really accelerating our product development cycle. But I think also we unlocked some customer acquisition channels, some ways that we could acquire customers profitably that we didn't have before.

And I think that's the key to really accelerating growth for any company is testing different channels and figuring out what works for you, what works for your brand. And most importantly thinking outside the box, I think a lot of brands fall into this trap of like, oh facebook is all there is like we're going to just spend, spend spend on facebook and honestly right now it's a struggle to acquire customers profitably on facebook, especially for brands like mine where our average order value is, you know, in the high twenties, low thirties, which makes it really challenging. There's a ton of competition on facebook, I mean think about it like Procter and Gamble and Unilever are spending, you know, tons of millions and millions and millions of dollars on these platforms for all their suite of brands and like as a small brand, it's really hard to compete with that facebook is an auction. Um, so I found that early on that the best place for us to go to acquire new customers was the places that were a little more challenging the, you know, off the beaten path that nobody else, especially these big players of the big budgets are looking at and doing it better than then a lot of those companies.

So those channels for us are one influencers and I think, you know, that isn't necessarily off the beaten path, but I think we do have done it really well um, in, in a really high touch, um, you know, relationship focused way that probably, you know, those big legacy brands probably aren't doing, so we're lucky enough to be in Los Angeles, there's a lot of influencers in Los Angeles, so we've done a lot of in person events, we've done digital events. Um, I've taken several influencers out to coffee. Um, I'll treat them to work out and that relationship building like truly becoming, bringing them into the brand and making them feel part of what we're doing has made the biggest difference and is that with you, Like all those, you know, like going to a workout is like they are getting to hang out with you and like you're building that relation directly. It's with me Yeah, those are typically, you know, the bigger influencers that have several 100 or even millions of followers building that relationship and rapport with me directly.

The founder has been really um, really beneficial for us and has made those, those relationships a lot less transactional and I think that is why influencer marketing is, has such a high return for us because these influencers really know us and they care about the brand and when we launch a new product, you know, like the body oil for example, we sent it to those to those, we think of these people, the influencers that are really bought in, we think of them kind of as ambassadors and we're like, all right, let's send the first batch of body oil to these ambassadors, get their opinion and it's working really well for us. So influencer marketing, but I will say figuring out how to make it your own is the key to good influencer marketing. Don't just go out and DM you know, have an intern damning influencers and seating products with no, with no story, you lose a lot of the heart and soul of the brand and I wouldn't be shocked if that isn't very effective two hey, it's doing here, I'm just popping in to bring you a quick message in every episode of the fsc show, you'll hear women who were just like you trying to figure it all out and hustled to grow their business and I would know a lot of you might be sitting there asking yourself, but how do I actually scale my revenue and get to that next level from where I am now.

You also know that so many of the entrepreneurs I speak to have mentioned facebook and instagram ads as a crucial part of their marketing mix From today onwards, I'm really excited to be able to offer our fsc small business owners and entrepreneurs and no strings attached, our long chat with leading performance marketing agency amplifier, Who you might also remember from our D. I. Y. course, full disclosure amplifier is my husband's business and what's really important to know is that I've been able to witness first hand the transformation of so many businesses going from as low as $10,000 a month all the way To $300,000 a month. And in some cases upwards to seven figures. So if you're listening in and you feel like you're ready to take your business to the next level, jump on a no strings attached call with amplifier where you can ask all the questions you have about performance marketing and whether it's the right time for you and your business to get started, go to female startup club dot com forward slash ads, That's female startup club dot com forward slash A.

D. S. And booking a call today. Mhm. Yeah, so I would say influencer marketing but very high touch influencer marketing has worked really well for us as a channel. Um, and then another one that's an example of kind of an off the beaten path, you know, testing, where can we acquire customers where our customers spending their time? And we started to form partnerships with fitness studios. So one of our biggest partnerships, a Soul Cycle, we just launched uh cool, yeah, we just launched our spray deodorant and all soulcycle locations. So if your Soul Cycle fan and you're listening to go to a studio, you can use our spray deodorant in any of the locker rooms for free, can spritz it on before class, after class and partnership has been huge for us just in terms of getting exposure and getting people to test out our products and if they think it's actually, it's the orange narrowly sent that in soul cycle.

Um, and so people get to use it, get to experience the product and then we can propose people into customers. It's just an example of one of those channels that's like off the beaten path, like how can we get creative here in terms of getting in front of our customers that isn't just running facebook ads and those are two that have been really profitable for us. I love that and congratulations. Obviously that's huge. Thank you. That was super exciting for me. Yeah, I bet. I'm wondering how you organize that kind of partnership? Like obviously that's a huge, huge business, like how do you attract their attention to even have a meeting and to show that like you're relevant to them and all that kind of stuff. Like how does this actually work when it's a big kind of business like that? Yeah, I think this goes back to network. I think having a good network is really, really important as a founder. Um and I've always been really good at networking and maintaining relationships and that's in most cases like when people ask, how did you get into this whole cycle, how did you get into Nordstrom?

Um how did you get on PVC? All of those relationships have been huge for huge needle movers for us, curie and all of them have been the result of an introduction from someone in my network that you know, maybe I haven't seen in a couple of years, reached out, got an intro. Um so I think having a really strong network in building that is, it really just comes down to, you know, going out there and prioritizing networking. I spent years when I was in venture capital, you know, going to events, um, you know, meeting founders, getting introductions to other founders, having coffee with founders and really built my network up over those couple of years so that when I did start curie I had a really great network of entrepreneurs and company builders that I could lean on for various things. And so that is a piece of advice I will give even if you haven't started a company yet, you want to start now building your network because that has been just so critical having, having other entrepreneurs and builders to lean on for advice and introductions.

But basically Soulcycle came about through an introduction. Uh, someone that I knew had worked for Soul Cycle. They introduced me to their, I I had this idea of like using fitness studios as an acquisition channel because we had, I'm a big, I love fitness classes, like I'm a big fitness studio junkie. And so I had this idea while I was while I was taking a class somewhere and was like, what if we just offered the spray deodorant for free? Like people can use it in the bathroom when people smell our products and when they use them, they generally love them. So let's try it. And so we started, we started working on this, this concept actually back in 2019 pre covid um, and Soul Cycle was kind of to me the that studio that I saw, You know, tons of crossover with the customer base. They have such a loyal following. Their amenities is really part of the experience.

So they were top of my list. Um, in terms of partnership, so found an introduction there. Um talked to their amenities team back in 2019. We did a pilot with them um signed the contract and we were supposed to launch in Located April of 2020 and that ended up getting uh delayed due to COVID for obvious reasons. And so we actually waited all year and just lunch with them last month. Oh my gosh! What a journey! That's such a, it's like so exciting but then such a low to follow and then so exciting again when it finally happens, that was so depressing. I mean everyone was going through their, you know, own personal, you know, crises during that time March april and Covid started and then just to add on top of that, like that disappointment of waiting so long for this and then having it not happen. Um was definitely really, really depressing.

Hello for me goodness. I want to talk about your other needle mover. The Q. V. C. Partnership that you mentioned in the beginning and in a few moments ago I'm from Australia. I live in the UK. I don't totally know what Q V C is. Is it like a Tv shopping network? I'm thinking like joy style, like the movie joy where she's like selling her mom. Yes, that is exactly what it is. That is exactly KBc. So Q V C and HSN are the original like home shopping networks. The I think back in the day you could just call in in order things. Um And now now they have a huge digital presence as well. So can buy it on their website, you can you can tune in I think all hours of the day it's running, wow. Q. V. C. Is always on turn on your tv right now and it's it's probably playing. But PVC um was the original home Shopping network, it's all about storytelling.

So if you were to tune in right now, maybe they're selling they sell everything from personal care to jewelry, to clothing, to home goods. Um you can really get anything on KBc and what they do and what they've done that made them so successful. Like multibillion dollar revenue company. What they've done that made them so successful is really focused on the storytelling um And using storytelling to sell products and create, you know this affinity for these brands. So what they how they do it is they bring the founders or sometimes it's just a representative from the company but they bring someone from the company onto the show to help sell the product and tell the story and that's been there kind of bread and butter for. I don't know how long they've been on air. 30, 40 years. Oh my gosh! That's amazing. It's a behemoth. So how did you get on Q. V. C. And what is your advice to other entrepreneurs listening who are like oh my God I want to do that.

Yeah so I actually I've always wanted to be on T. V. C. I had remember meeting, I met with a company when I worked in venture capital that had gone on T. V. C. And I think they told me they had sold like six figures of products like revenue in five minutes or something like that. Oh my God! What? And I was like what? It's huge. I mean they have millions and millions of viewers that are tuning in because they want to discover new things and discovering products. And so it's uh it's a behemoth, I will say that like KBc has done a lot of volume for us this year and they've been an amazing partner and I'm so so grateful to have had that opportunity. Um How it came about was that they actually do this um kind of like shark tank style show called The Big Find where they discover the next big Q.

B. C. Brands and it's an opportunity for startups to come and pitch. Um They pitch judges and then you can either get on or you don't. And if you if you win you get a segment on Q. V. C. Or HSN. And so I auditioned for it because I was like I want to be on T. V. C. Auditioned for it. I actually didn't get on. But through the process I met another founder who was on Q. B. C. Who had kind of helped give me some advice and stuff like that. Um And so I was like, hey like could you just make an introduction for me? And so she made an introduction again. The power of having a network and maintaining a network. It's worth it. It takes time and energy. But you know if I hadn't had that relationship and you know, she helped me out when I was getting ready to pitch on the big find and I sent her a gift, a thank you gift and I thank you note and that goes a long way and when it came time for me to ask for an introduction to to keep the sea, she was there to make it.

So um she made an introduction and and we got on the show, you know I think six months later and what do you think Q. V. C. Are looking for? Like aside from the story, are they looking to make sure that you have, you know the supply chain and the fulfillment potential or is it literally just the story and you figure everything else out if you get on, they don't give you a ton of insight into what makes a product, you know successful in PVC in their eyes. Um I think our for us it was this um this category was starting to grow for them. They were seeing, I think they started their Q. V. C. Clean category two years ago and it was growing really quickly and they didn't really have a queen deodorant company that was doing well on the show. And so it was partially just like right place right time where they all of a sudden were like oh this is a huge growing category for us. Like they were looking for a brand to bring on and we got that introduction like right at the right time.

So I think that that is another lesson here. Just timing is everything I you know, I didn't get on that. I did the big fine pitch them didn't get on the show but it's like you know, that just wasn't the right time for us and no isn't a no forever. Exactly. six months later we got on and the same thing happened to us with Nordstrom. They said no twice until finally they said Yes. So everything is all about timing and when when it comes to retailers there's specifically there's so much that we don't see that goes into merchandising that a lot of it is truly just market driven and trend driven and being at the right place at the right time. Can get you that. Yes, sometimes. So that's what happened with PVC and I think the story was definitely important. I think they look at what category is this? Is this a category that's doing well for us does this product or brand have a compelling, interesting story that our viewers will want to hear.

And then also I think having me feeling comfortable in front of the camera was also important to that decision as well. Since I am the one that's going on and representing curie on the like unit economic side and I'm not sure if you're able to share your specific commission that they take. But is there a kind of ballpark commission that you can share as what they what they take from the sale? Yeah I can't share that. But it is really similar to a normal wholesale commission. So most wholesale commissions are like around 50%. So it's roughly in that ballpark. But keep in mind that when you do go on Q. V. C. You do have to when you go on air There's typically a deal that you're giving people for the 24 hours after you go on air and while you're on air. So from that movie joy you'll remember like there's you know the price of them off and then she's offering it I think like 30% off or something like that and that's what really gets people you know making the purchase that really drives that urgency to make the purchases.

There's a special deal that you offer. So that's something when I talk to companies that are considering doing home shopping networks like abc um definitely need to keep in mind is you have to have pretty good margins in order to make it work. Yes. Great insight on that one. I love that for you. That's so cool. Oh my God, I love that you've got it set up at your house as well. That's amazing. It is so much fun and I think the biggest, like it's been a really surprisingly like great learning lesson for me because you are on, there is so much pressure when you're on like my segments are typically 10 minutes you go on there and you get your 10 minutes they give you a goal that you have to hit a sales goal and it is so much pressure. You have producers talking in your ear, telling you updates on where you are in terms of sales um and you really have to like be nimble and be agile and let the host whenever you go on there, there's always a host and the host kind of drive the conversation and is it the one to ask you the questions and stuff and you have to just listen and you know, listen to their cues, understand where they're going while you're listening to the producer in your ear and keeping a smile on your face and making sure you're holding the products like it is a it's been a really cool experience for me in terms of learning to be present and to sell, to sell Yeah, to sell and to be present and not let that pressure to get the best studio.

It's just it's an insane amount of pressure. Yeah, that sounds so stressful but I can see why it would be just the ultimate kind of, it's an adrenaline rush. Honestly throw you in the deep end and you become like quick smart good at selling girls. You've got no more opportunity there. Yeah it's an adrenaline rush. It is for sure. It's like I feel like sometimes when I go when I go on air I I prepare like I joke like I prepare like athletes going to the olympics. Like I like when I have to go on Q. V. C. Like I know I have to be on so like I don't drink any alcohol for the week before I like to cut down on carbs and sugar so that my mind is like you know the best it can possibly be shop laser focus Yeah laser I am laser focused and I think you kind of have to do that but it's been fun honestly to have like that kind of that kind of experience that I've never done before. Oh gosh I bet at the end of every episode I asked a series of six quick questions, some of which we may have covered, some of which we may not but I always ask them nonetheless.

But before we jump into that is there anything exciting you want to shout about upcoming in the future? That is your, you know the thing that you want to plug Oh gosh I mean we are launching some new products this year. There's the body oil which we launched last week that we sold out of that. We will be restocking in a couple of weeks, so definitely go out and try the body oil. But we're launching another product that we've been working on, you know, I think we started developing this product like two years ago, like we've been working on this for a long time um and we are launching that in october, so sign up for our email list and um so you get notified when that launches? Oh my gosh, very exciting. I can't wait to see what it is. And then also go follow us on social media at your ipod on instagram. Yes, perfect. Love your instagram. Okay, six quick questions. Question number one. What's your, why? Why are you doing what you're doing?

Great question. I've been asked this before and I think um my why is connection? Like I love connecting with people as I mentioned about networking and um and kind of how I've done influencer marketing. Um I love connecting with other humans and hearing people's stories and having conversations and and having you know that that deep level of connection with another person and I think with curie, why I've absolutely love what I'm doing is because our customers are cool. Like our customers are, you know around my age, our demographic is mostly females. Again, super, typically really active people and I think the most rewarding part of running my company has been getting to connect with those people and hearing our customers stories, having them email us. I do calls with our customers every quarter.

We're all all email a handful of customers and set up um 15 minute calls with them just to get feedback and pitch ideas to them and stuff. And that is my favorite part of my job is getting to connect with people and meet new people and um see the impact that we're having on their lives. That is so cool. I love that. Thank you. Question number two, this is one we may have covered, but what has been the number one marketing moment that made the business pop? I think uh hand sanitizer launch was was our biggest marketing moment. We launched our hand sanitizer in May of 2020. There was a huge hand sanitizer shortage. Everyone was, you were seeing memes on instagram and stuff about how hand sanitizer also, like all the hand sanitizers all of a sudden smells like tequila for some reason. Um so we came out with a product that was better and it was really, really special and in a time that people really needed it and it blew up, We sold through like 150,000 units in six or 7 months, um which was more product than we had ever sold um in the history of the business.

So it was a huge moment for us and we, we donated um, half of our first batch actually to frontline workers and we allowed people to nominee frontline workers, front line workers, not just, you know, hospital workers, but also delivery men and women and restaurants and people that were, you know, still having to out of necessity be on the front lines. And we, we donated half of the first batch, which was really awesome and important for me to kind of get back to the community at the time that people really needed it totally. I can imagine that would be so fulfilling. Yeah, it was, it was just really exciting to see the product takeoff and to have that like rewarding feeling of being able to get back in a time of need. So that was the highlight of the business for me was that he and Sanitizer launch. That's so cool. Question # three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading or listening to or subscribing to that other founders need to know about twitter honestly is a huge, a huge place for me to learn and connect with other founders.

There's like this whole network on twitter of direct to consumer brand founders and investors. Um, and people who are just really interested in the space that are, are constantly tweeting tips. Um, I do the same. Like I'll tweet, you know, we did a pricing survey a couple months ago and I tweeted, you know, the results and how that whole thing worked, how I did it. Um And so twitter has been really great for meeting other founders, expanding my network and also learning new things. Um also in terms of newsletters, I read 22 PM um which is a paid newsletter, I think it's like $50 a year but it's chock full of really really um cool articles and insights about what trends. Um the authors web smith and he just, he researches is super plugged in and knows every consumer brand and the whole newsletters for ddC brands and he does, you know, he'll summarize what, what trends that he's seeing and he'll do these really cool in depth analysis of different companies and strategies.

So two PM has been great. Also lean lux is another newsletter that's really similar. It's kind of a daily digest of what's going on in in directing consumer. Um so lean lux and two p.m. Like any time we hire somebody, I signed them up for lean lux and two p.m. And tell them to read it every day. Like it's it's just kind of that deep dive way to get in and get really knowledgeable fast. I love that. Getting your team to sign up to them as well. So they're across it. That's really clever. Thank you for that. I'm excited to go and check you out on twitter, I'm gonna link your account as well in the show notes for anyone else who wants to check you out there. Question number four is how do you win the day? What are your am mpm rituals that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated? I wish I could say I was one of those founders that has a strong morning ritual, but I don't, I'm working on it, it's a goal of mine. Um I love to sleep and you know, even though I love what I do, it doesn't make getting out of bed in the morning any easier.

So I have a hard time still with the morning routine thing. I'm not, not a morning person. Um definitely drinking a cup of coffee is the first thing I do when I wake up, I've been starting to meditate um for like five minutes in the morning. Um that's a new ritual for me that's uh so far I've really enjoyed so the coffee, the meditation and then usually I just get right to work. I really should have a better morning routine. But getting out of bed man, it's tough. Sometime with you, I want to be that person that gets up at five or six, but I'm not, I know anytime I read articles that of these people that have these amazing elaborate morning routines and before seven a.m. They've already exercise meditated journal. Read a book and I'm like God, I don't think that will ever be me. Question number five is if you were given $1000 of no strings attached grant money, where would you spend that in the business if no strings attached money?

I'm right now a lot of our capitals going towards product development um, in inventory. So it realistically would probably go there. But what's working right now that we're starting, we started testing two months ago and we're starting to allocate more of our budget two is Tiktok like ads, yep, we've been doing Tiktok ads and you know, sealing products to talk influencers and creators and um, I think last month, like 30% of our revenue or something came from from Tiktok. So what? That's crazy. Yeah, my God, it's taken off. So we're putting a lot of our ad spend into Tiktok right now, a lot of our energy into Tiktok. Um, but mostly product development, making new products and you know, ultimately we want to be, you know, the, I sometimes use Bath and Body works as an example of what I aspire to be in terms of size and breath of product line.

Um, Bath and Body works, but clean, cooler and mostly direct to consumer. Um, and so that's really where the direction that we're trying to go is launching more products in the clean body care space. Um, and focusing on our, our signature sense, developing, keeping it fresh, always creating new sense and new products for our customers to enjoy lovely love in heaven? 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? Oh my God. Well as a founder, you better get used to dealing with failure because you have, I think that that has been one of the biggest like personal learnings and journeys that I've been on over these last like 2.5 years is learning to get comfortable with failure, learning to take rejection and not let it derail you. I used to have a really, really hard time with that.

I used to look at our product reviews from customers and if we ever got a bad review, it would ruin my day or if I ever got to know from, you know, a retailer in the early days, like it would ruin my day and I would get so down um and I think that's been my biggest area of growth, is learning to not let that failure and rejection derail you um because as a founder, like you need to protect your energy and nothing drains your energy like taking reduction and being, you know, pouting for weeks about it. Um you need to keep your energy and you need to keep that momentum and always be moving forward and so I've learned to just let that stuff slide and roll off my back, you know, I'll get disappointed, we got to know recently from a major retailer that I huge goal of mine to get into this retail. I got to know recently and you know, I got I got upset about it.

I was disappointed for a day, maybe, maybe even like a couple hours and then was like, you know what I know is never know forever. Like I said, we've gotten knows from everyone, you know, PVC started with a no Nordstrom started with a no and now look, it's it's all about timing and so I think letting those things just roll off your back, keep moving forward. No, is never know forever and keep pushing forward. That's just so, so important to get to that place where you can do that one book actually, recommendation that has helped me grow in terms of dealing with rejection and dealing with failure is um Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. Um I downloaded the audio book, my my fiancee Now Fiance when when we first started dating, he recommended the book to me because I was dealing with I think a reduction, you know, that was that had me really down and he was like, you should read Untethered Soul, like it's a really great book, download the audio book.

So I downloaded the audiobook, listened to it and I have probably listened to this book 15 times over the last 2.5 years. Sometimes I just put my headphones in and go for a walk around the neighborhood and like listen to random chapters because it's that good. Um and it really helped me. Yeah, it's really helped me get that mindset of just, you know, protecting my energy and not letting anything ruffle my feathers because I need to be moving forward. I can never stop. And that book has really changed me. That's so awesome. Thank you for the recommendation. I'm also gonna link in the show notes for anyone else who wants to check it out. I know I definitely will be. It sounds great, Sarah, thank you so much for taking the time to be on the show and share all of your learnings and you're off the beaten path marketing approach. And I'm excited to see what you come out with next. What the next product is. Thank you.

This was so much fun. Let's just flew by. But thanks for all the great questions and you clearly did your research. Thank you. Hey, it's done 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. Mhm. Yeah.

This DTC brand grew 500% last year through a partnership with SoulCycle & QVC, with Curie’s Sarah Moret
This DTC brand grew 500% last year through a partnership with SoulCycle & QVC, with Curie’s Sarah Moret
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