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The BEST (and worst) kind of investors you can have in your biz, with Gemist’s Madeline Fraser

by Female Startup Club
December 4th 2021
00:47:03
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Today we’re learning from Madeline Fraser, the founder behind a brand called Gemist.

Madeline came up with the idea for the brand when she tried to design herself a custom ring and that exper... More

it's been a few months since I joined the hubspot podcast network and I'm so excited about the other shows in there that I'm learning from, especially the gold digger podcast hosted by Gina Kolata Jenna's show helps you discover your dream career with productivity tips, social strategies, business hacks, inspirational stories and so much more. I just finished listening to her recent episode about how she grew her show to 60 million downloads and was blown away by some of the insider tips she shares And here's something else you should know on January three you're going to hear a certain someone in Jenna's show that certain someone being, more make sure you pop it in your diary because I am so beyond excited, I can't wait for you to hear it. Listen to the gold digger podcast wherever you get your podcasts. This is Madeline fraser for female startup club. Yeah, hello and welcome back to the show. It's Dune here, your host and hype girl today we're learning from Madeline fraser. She's the founder behind a brand called Gem ist. Madeline came up with the idea for the brand when she tried to design herself a custom ring and that experience showed her that the custom jewelry process is manual antiquated and in need of a huge refresh.

Her background is in growing tech startups that solve big problems. So she decided to set out to solve this one for herself in this episode. We're talking through her past learnings from her two other ventures, her experience with raising venture capital dollars and the best type of investor you need in your business. But before we get into it, I made a freebie resource for you and linked it in my Tiktok bio at june rasheen, which is D double O N E R O I S I N and it is the most comprehensive marketing template and social media calendar. And I'm positive. It's going to change your life and make your brain less clouded. Go and download it. It's totally free. It's in my Tiktok bio, Let's get into this episode. This is Madeline for female startup Club customers want more from brands, delivering more means owning the customer experience, taking control over data acquisition, analysis, creative and delivery.

Clay vo calls this owned marketing and believe it's the best path to growth for more visit Clay vo dot com slash F S C. That's Clay vo dot com slash F S. C. Female startup presence Madeline. Hi, hello and welcome to the female startup club podcast. Hi, I'm so happy to be here. Thank you for having me. Thank you for joining me. I'm so excited to dig into all things Gem ist. I always love to get you to start by introducing yourself, telling us a little bit about who you are and what chemist is for anyone who might not know just yet. Sure. So I am a three time startup founder. I've been creating a growing startup since I was a sophomore in college. I absolutely love my job. I'm kind of crazy for continuing to do it now. I'm on my third company, which is Jamison and Jamison is actually the first company that I've started completely on my own, which is very empowering and special for me at this time in my life and in my career and James came to me actually when I was going through the process of getting engaged in my, you know, normal life aside from my business life and uh we, you know, I was trying to design jewelry online, I thought that jesus existed, I thought that I could go online design jewelry trying at home before I bought it and it would be this really easy fun experience and I was super, super dumbfounded that that did not exist at all.

Uh and that was in about 2018 and so of course being the entrepreneur that I am that really started kind of getting my wheels turning and I started looking into the market into the jewelry industry as a whole and I was just blown away that not a big part of it was online at all. And so I saw a huge opportunity to really, you know, go into the jewelry industry and change it and make it much more relevant to a younger demographic and so exactly what genesis is is the very first online platform where you can design your own jewelry for any occasion any category online in a very easy, pain free way and then you can actually try on your custom designs at home before making a purchase. So very much de risks the the nerves around this experience. We do both bridal and everyday jewelry. So it's been really fun to sort of just kind of get that idea out there and and learn from the consumer along the way to make it the best that it can be. That's amazing. I love that when people receive the like try on at home box, is that like, have you three D. Printed those or is it like just, you know, styles that you already have pre made based on what's popular or like how does it actually work logistically, yeah, so the category that we do trials on right now our rings, we do really well with rings, but you can also design a lot of other types of jewelry on the website.

Um but right now, rings are the hardest from like a style fit perspective, right? So a lot of times when you put something on your hand, it's gonna feel and look a lot different than maybe you saw on a, on a page on a website. Um and so what we actually do is we've created identical replica pieces, they're just made of fashion materials. So our triumph pieces are made of sterling silver, gold plating and Swarovski crystals. We've matched all of our diamond and gemstone colors. So you end up really with this essentially identical piece to the naked eye, you and I can't really tell the difference um where you can actually see and where you can show your friends and family where it's a lunch, you know, take a minute to digest what this actually is. And then you can go back to the platform, tweet things about the design work with us, We can help you kind of change anything. You want to make it really unique to you and feel like something that you're gonna love forever. It's actually really crazy when you're saying all this, I'm like, how on earth did this not exist before? Because obviously when you're designing a bridle piece of jewelry, it's expensive and like you're going to have it for a really long time. So you want it to be right?

You do, you want you definitely want it to be right. And then it was funny because we started with bridal as like, are you know, thesis when we got into Beta and because that was my pain point. So being a, you know, being a founder, I wanted to be very niche and very clear on what we were doing. So we launched us with engagement rings only into Beta. And then I was like, let's see what people think of this and it was fascinating because a lot of women, well a they love the idea, they loved the process, they loved everything, we were doing. So I was like, great, thank goodness. But then they kept saying like, oh well I'm single, I'm married, like, I want to do this for everything, not just engagement rings. And that was fascinating to me. And so that's when we really started expanding. And so we have a lot of women who do it for stackable rings for wedding bands, for just everyday jewelry as well as bridal, um which is pretty interesting. So it's about 50 50 right now, in terms of, you know, what types of products consumers are actually trying on, wow, that's so interesting, very cool. And it makes so much sense as well. Yeah, it's been fun to figure it out with them.

I mean, like, how would I know that? Like, just because we listen right, Yeah, I love that. Before we jump into more of like the early days of chemist, can you give us a bit of a top line overview of the two companies you founded before, and you know, had you kind of exited those businesses before you started chemist or what, you know, what were they, what was that situation like? Sure, I started my very first company when I was a sophomore in college, I was interior design and architecture major and then I was double majoring in fine art. So I'm a very creative artistic person. Uh never necessarily set out and said I'm going to start companies for a living. I honestly did not think this would do my job, but I think when you're young and in your twenties you kind of just dive into things which is great. And so I was in that program in school and I had actually met my first two co founders at our very first architectural drafting class. So we were kind of this this group of three women who were designed students at George Washington University in D. C. And so you know a lot of our friends were economy majors, policy majors, there weren't a ton of artistic people in that community.

And so we were sort of known as the design kids and a lot of our friends were moving out of their dorm rooms into their first apartments Uh and they needed help furnishing their spaces quickly and affordably. And this was in like 2012 2013 when you know people were saying oh you're crazy to buy a sofa online. I mean like online purchasing wasn't really a thing in in that respect yet. Uh so much has changed right just in the last few years, so much has changed. So crazy. And so yeah so you know we ended up just basically creating the very first online interior design platform and it was called zoom interiors. It worked really well because it was niche for college kids. So we got to expand on you know, all the different college campuses and things like that and basically a client would work with a designer. We pair different designers with with their clients and then they would design all online and then ship everything right to their doorstep. Um, so it was like a simple way to design a more affordable way to get, get furniture that made you feel unique and that you live in a space that you really liked. And then we actually got that on shark tank, which was a fantastically interesting experience as a 23 24 year old.

And we got on the show pretty much right when we graduated from college, which was like a very, very interesting thing. And that really connected us to a ton of different people in the investor world. I mean at the time of growing my first company, I didn't even know you could raise venture capital funding, I don't even think I knew what VC, you know what venture capital meant or was I just thought everyone bootstrap things like from the ground up and we were hustling, we were bartending and waitressing to make ends meet and working our butts off, you know, kind of trying to build this company and so shark tank kind of gave us that burst of, you know, brand awareness and then from there we uh connected to a ton of different people in the venture capital world, one of whom was Sean rad, the founder of Tinder who you know had seen the show facebook message me and sort of said, hey, you know, I love what you're doing, do you guys need help? And of course at that age and having being, you know, young? And it's our first company ever was like, yeah, we need help, that's exactly what we need, we really needed mentorship and that was exactly, you know, where Sean was and so we were able to essentially exit from zoom and create a new type of tech platform around furniture and interior design called hutch.

And that was a mobile app where you can actually drag and drop and build your room all from scratch by yourself without working with a designer. Um and so that was fascinating because we raised, you know, through series a with that business and really that I call that like my business school time, I mean that was amazing to learn how to raise funding, how to grow a team, how to manage expectations, you know, how to absorb failure and learn from it and then move forward. Uh, and then I ended up leaving about two years before hutch, sort of wrapped up and started chemist. So it's been, it's been a wild ride of sort of, you know, understanding successes and failures and how, how that all works. And like I said, I had a lot of co founders along the way, which was always really interesting and this is my first time doing this, you know, kind of by myself, I have an amazing team, but it's been fascinating, started just learning what what it means to run something and build something from the ground up without co founders, what do you think? Um it sounds like co founders was one of the things you took away from that you're going to do differently ingest.

What are the kind of key things that you were like, okay, I've done these two things, I've moved on to starting Gem ist, What were the things that you were like, I'm going to do this differently or have learned from this particular experience that I'm going to take into chemist. Oh my God, so many things, uh, you know, 11 thing that we came up with when we were running hutch was kind of this mantra and we, the whole team lived by it and it was failed fast, fix fast, learn fast and that was because what kept happening, you know, you're building something out of nothing. So there's no, there's no uh, anything to follow, right? You're just guessing along the way a lot of the time. Um, and so we kept having these little kind of mini failures, but we figured that if we could, you know, have that failure, learn from it, right? And then quickly try to fix it or try to make it better, then it would actually equal success, right? So it allowed us as a company and as a team to not really be afraid of failing and to just kind of move swiftly ahead. Um, and that's really a mentality that I've taken with me into gemma, so that, you know, our team really embodies because there are so many things in this world of being an entrepreneur that are unclear, right and unknown, and we have to be able to face failure head on to find that version of success.

So learning from your failures is the number one thing that we all have to do together and facing them head on. Um and looking back at hutch, we had a lot of failures, you know, looking at what we did wrong, and, you know, the thing that was really fascinating to me was number one, we didn't really listen to the consumer enough being a consumer facing tech platform. We were driven more, I think by the ego of technology and building new tech and and doing it that way versus saying, hey, let's build this and then let's go learn what's working about from the consumer perspective, not from our little bubble universe perspective of building this, but what about this? Makes the consumer excited, and what about it? Can we change to make it even better? Um and so from day one with Dennis, that was like a huge thing for me, I was listening to the consumer, even getting a debate, I was like, let's get this to like 75% it's me good enough, let's then learn and the consumer is going to take us to 100% right. Um and that's been very, a huge success that we've a big win for genesis as we've been growing.

That's been a huge thing we've done. I think the other thing for me is just learning what it means to raise venture capital funding. Um, it was fascinating to do that with hutch alongside people like sean rad and the people that we had as investors, but it was very much a boy's club in a lot of ways, You know, I definitely felt that energy. Um, and I don't think I felt, Or I don't think we as a team felt as close to our investors, meaning when you bring on an investor, just like you bring on a team member, but even more so because they're with you there with you for 5 to 10 plus years, they're really part of your family, like you have to make sure that you really, really like them as people and also as investors. And so I think for me, the main thing I learned is that I'm not going to take money from anybody that I don't actually like and trust and respect in like every single way possible and I think when you're young and you're raising funding, there's this fear factor and mentality that that guides you have no one's going to give me money who would give me money, right?

Like that's crazy if someone person wants to make money, I'm going to take it. But we have to kind of switch that, that dialogue in our head and sort of say, no, no, no, they need me as much as I need them. Right. I have power. I'm building this company, I'm running this, I get to say yes or no also and that was something that I did not understand in my early days of running companies. You know, and so now I have this incredible group of investors that I can call and text and ask a question to and be vulnerable with because nothing about this job is easy. We need people who are not going to belittle us. We need people who are going to support us and help us and give a ship. Um, and so that's the team I've cultivated. That's the team of investors I've cultivated with dramas and I didn't really feel like I had that that as much in my last companies. Yeah, totally. I'd love to use this as like a segue to talk about your funding plan with chemist from the early, early days of getting started. You've obviously bootstrapped in your first business in the beginning, then you went through the VC and you've been through all these experiences, what was your idea launching Gem ist?

Were you going to like how are you financing in the beginning and what was your kind of funding plan moving forward. Yeah. So I mean, honestly like going through what I had gone through raising funding with my last business really taught me how to raise funding. You know, it was very interesting. So I had walked away with an incredible network and with the ability to understand how to sell something. Um, and we have to, we have to say bottom line, this is sales, you know, I think that we forget about that, right? It's sales in psychology is what I'd like to say because you have to be so incredibly blindly passionate about this idea and that charisma and that energy has to come through and hit any investor straight in their chest and they have to feel exactly what you're feeling and you have to be just, you just have to be so headstrong about it and it's tough because you get rejected hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times and you might only get the yes once or twice.

Um, and so it's really tough because you have to have this grow this like very thick skin. Um and so anyway, I knew withdraw missed if I was going to disrupt an industry and change the way behavior look to change what consumer behavior looks like in this industry. I needed venture capital funding to do that. I did not, I was not naive and thinking, oh, I can fund this myself for all of a sudden this is just gonna take off. I knew that I had to build technology, I knew that I had to build an exceptional team of people way smarter than me. Uh and I knew that I needed to have marketing dollars to back this up and so that's what I that was the first thing I did. I built in the early days of Gemma's. I built with a friend of mine I think I paid him like you know minimum wage to help me because he was my friend. So it was nothing but we designed the app uh and then put it on envision so you could click through it but it wasn't coded and then I probably put a small amount of money into prototyping the jewelry right?

So here's I wanted to know here's a real ring, here's the fake here's the triumph ring here's the rebel covering right. I needed to know I could do certain things that I needed to understand the manufacturing side of the jeweler industry which I had known nothing about. So it was really about building a version of the apps so that people could just see what it would look like and feel like understanding what try on looked like right having a few samples and then I was like put a deck together and started pitching it a real M. V. P. Yeah like seriously and real minimal. Love it straight up just pitching a literal idea that's it but you know what that's all it takes and if you have the passion and honestly the persistence you can do it you know and it took me, you know, probably seven months to close our first round of funding, we closed a million two and I ended up getting two beers, diamonds involved. I got amazing VCS in L. A. Involved, you know, it was like, it was a scary scary thing, but you know, in that first round of funding, you can also raise on a rolling basis so you can get checks in the bank and keep fundraising while growing the business.

So it's not like you have to like compartmentalize everything and just be like, I'm gonna go raise funding for seven months and do nothing with my company. No, you can like raise funding because you're doing it on a, on a convertible note on the safe or whatever you're doing. Usually in that first round, it's, it's easier right to just kind of just go with it and all. You know, you're constantly, oh my God, we have no more money. Okay, gotta get more money, Right? And you're just, you're, that hustle is so intense and so real. Um whereas now we're raising our second round of funding, our seed round of funding and that's gonna be, you know, a $3 million round and that's very much, you know, by the book, I have to get my lead investors involved. Like it's very, you know, one, you know, A plus B equals C situation, but in the early days you can, you can really hustle it uh, you know, if you do it right? So that's why I tell founders, I'm like just put a depth together, get that basic mvP together pitched your friends and family first, get it down, talk to consumers, make sure you have a really good pitch and then just go just hit the ground running because the worst that anyone can say is no and you're right back where you were anyway.

Right. 100% congrats on the dubious thing. By the way. That's such a cool partnership to have them, you know, giving you that huge credibility um, boost and being part of it. That's amazing for like in those early days obviously had experience already. But like how did you determine what equity you would give up and what the valuation would be when it was such early M V P minimum viable product. Okay, well that's the beauty of convertible notes and safe. I mean, these these are the these are the documents that have been put in place for that exact reason. How on earth can you value an idea, right? I mean, so, um, so you know, that's, that's the point of, of those. There's no evaluation. Um, there's usually evaluation cap. So you kind of know to an extent what you're giving up and then the next round of funding really dictates the value of the business and that's really when you're going to know what, what equity is going to be taken away from you. And you know, I think obviously you have to talk to the right people, You have to do the right research and understand what valuation caps make sense to you.

You don't want to go too high because then it's really hard. You don't want to have something you can't beat right or something that's unrealistic to get to. You don't want to go too low because then you're going to be giving away too much. So it's really about talking to the investors that are interested in. You, usually an investor that comes in will help set those terms. So it's not like you're, you know, in the dark doing it on your own. Um, but you know, if you find the right investors that you trust, right, that have integrity, that have a good reputation and I can't stress this enough. Interview your investors just like they interview you never blindly say yes to anything. Um, I can't tell you I've done that before out of fear and it has led me into very, very, you know, tumultuous circumstances where I wish I hadn't have done that, right. Um, so, you know, listen to your instincts, trust your gut and make sure that you're finding the right investors to guide you in that if you find the right people, they're going to be kind, they're going to be nicer to be fair, right. And so you together with them can set those terms for your round of funding. It's doing here back to hype you up about all things Crm with a little message from our friends at hubspot.

A Crm Platform takes any customer interaction and transforms that data into valuable insights as the world's leading crm platform. Hubspot has rolled out over 50 plus integrations over the past year to help businesses connect with customers like never before. The latest suite of customer centric tools to help your business show your customers A whole lot of love includes seamless payment tools, Crm powered CMS, customer portals and feedback surveys. Seamless payment tools mean payment links and recurring payments can be directly embedded into hubspot is quoting tools and emails for easy delivery and collection from customers and Crm powered CMS means both your marketers and developers can personalize the customer experience and ensure all engagements are timely and relevant. Learn more about how a hubspot Crm platform can help build, maintain and grow your customer relationships at hubspot dot com. When you say like you're interviewing them in return, what are the kinds of things that you're actually asking them? What do you want to know from these potential investors?

You want to know how they work with founders, you want to know what kind of time they're gonna be expecting of you? What kind of information you have to give them on X, Y Z timeline. So do they need quarterly updates? Do they need monthly updates? How involved are they going to be And you might, by the way, want certain investors to not be that involved? You might want certain investors to be more involved. That all matters based on how much money they're putting in and who they are, right and how they work. But you know, if you're a young founder and you need that mentorship for that advice, you're going to probably want to find investors that are a little bit more hands on. But it's a fine line because if they're a little bit more hands on, that kind of being really annoying, right? Or, or two over married. Um, and it just depends. Like, and that's why I think it really comes down to like, is this a good person? That's what I always ask myself, do. I want to be friends with these people in the next 5 to 10 years. Would I have them over to my house to have a glass one? You know, and like a chat, right? Like really think about that because it's same thing when you're hiring a team, right? But a team is easier because you can, it's, it's hard to fire people, but you can't really fire your investors.

You can fire your team, I guess. So it's, is such an intimate thing to enter into an agreement with an investor because they're just with you from day one. So you just, you want to, you want to make sure that you like them and then get references right, go look look them up, do your due diligence on them, who do they know in your network, go to linkedin, find out how what their reputation is in the industry, right? Find other founders who have worked with them, ask if you can learn what their experience has been like, you know, I think that you don't just have to ask them, we can't take everything for face value, We do have to do some digging and figure it out also for ourselves. So do that too. Have you ever had someone, you know, want to invest in your business and you actually then turned around and be like, oh, you know what, I don't think that's the right fit, We're not going to go ahead. Yeah, I've definitely done that. Oh yeah, because, you know, it's either either. I'm usually it's like it's an instinct and I think it's really hard to trust your gut in general, but especially as a younger person, I mean now I'm 30 I'm like, I'm so excited for my thirties because I'm just like, hell yeah, no more wishy washy, you know, B.

S. I'm gonna own this and I'm going to really trust my gut and what my instincts are telling me every time I've ever just for a minute, wavered on, is this the right person? I'm always right, I am always right. And so whether that's a feeling and then I go and I look into it and I find out that they're kind of like, you know, not the right person or whatever it is. I usually try to trust that. And it's hard because you're trying to hit a certain number and it's exhausting and you're working so hard and you're constantly getting rejected and then you finally have a few people that like you, but then you do have to make sure that they're the right people. And when I've done that, it's been totally for the best. And now I'm just surrounded by like, really amazing individuals who are so kind and nice and just, I feel very lucky that I'm learning to trust myself more. I've had a few women on the show before talk about, you know, horror stories of things that investors have. You know, male investors have said two female investors. Are there any situations that come to your mind where you're like, and not to not to name and shame at all?

But are there any situations where someone has said something to you that you're like, I'm gonna walk out of the room. This is crazy. Yes. I mean, of course I've had, I've had investors verbally abused me emotionally abused me. I've experienced all of it. Um, I've, you know, I've been belittled, I've been told off, I've been the list goes on and you know, it's, and I think that that that is a dynamic between a man and a woman or a man who's older and a person who is young and who, you know, is naive in a lot of ways and, and that I think that dynamic comes when that's happening, right, where it's like, I'm like, I don't know what I'm doing and like, I need help and I need mentorship, that can also be a little bit of a weakness, right? In a lot of ways, so, but it's okay to be there, but you just need the right people, right. You know, it's, it's really important to find people with integrity and I promise they're out there. Um, but you know, they're also, there are also a lot of people who are slimy and who will tell you anything you want to kind of just get in and so that's when you sort of have to trust your gut, you know, and, and yeah, it's hard, it's a hard thing and I think you kind of have to go through the bad relationships to understand what I'm even talking about you, I don't think there's any founder ever who has only had perfect investors, like, I don't, that's not a thing, so if that's happening to you right now or you've experienced that, like, don't, it's not your fault, right?

You know, that that's on them for not being the best the best people, right? But you learn from it and that's the whole thing fail fast fixed fast, learn fast, figure out what that failure looks like, right? And, and, and own it and hold that and look at it and learn from it. And then, you know what, you're probably not going to do it again if you do that, if you go through that sequence, if you're sweeping things under the rug and you're sort of just trying to focus on the future, you're not going to grow. Um, and so, you know, all of this is hard. None of this is easy. It's such a thing that I have so much empathy and compassion for every founder going through this men and women alike. It's not easy for anyone. Um, and so we have to remember that when we're going through it and investors should remember that too. You know that some of the hardys have never even started a company before. That's another interesting thing. Trying to find investors that know either what it means to be an operator in a business or a founder of a company. That's the best type of investor because they know how to do stuff.

They know what you're going through. There are a lot of VCS out there. That, that's just, this is just their day job. They just work for a huge VC company. They're just trying to source deals that they got this job, the second or third job out of college, whatever. Right? That's common. It's really common, especially with the bigger VC firms. So, you know, it's tough. But its power through. I think that's like a really key piece of advice and that, that hasn't actually come up on the show before. But of course it makes so much sense. So thank you so much for sharing that little piece of gold. I'd love to move on to talking about marketing, especially in the beginning, like when you were just getting started proving out that product market fit and finding your first customers. What were you doing? What was the launch plan? What was working? What wasn't working? All that good stuff. Yeah, I mean, well in beta, okay, fun, talked about premise, we launched digital, like at Covid. It was crazy.

Oh no. Covid. That was, that was hard. That was really hard. But before Covid we were in beta and we were iterating and learning literally from the consumer. So I put the platform out there as a V one. It was by no means perfect. And we just started getting consumer feedback. We were doing a ton of user testing a ton of in person events where we could actually get people's feedback. Like, right then and there we did. You know, user groups. I mean, all of it, we were just trying to figure out like what was wrong with the jewelry industry for them, what they wanted to see change what they liked about Gemma's what they didn't like about Gemma's how we could change them is to make it easier for them, right? So really trying to get the, understand the pain point to then figure out the solution and by the time we launched digital, we really did have a very simple, clear and easy to use solution that consumers honestly very much loved. Uh and so we were lucky because we had a value add also for people who could not leave their homes actually with home, try on and being digital and hey, designer Julia online try it at home, like kind of a simple thing for people in quarantine.

Right? Um and so that was good. But also you're dealing with launching a brand new company during the pandemic. You're dealing with people who are not thinking about buying stuff really. Um yeah, like jewelry sales did kind of grow a little bit because travel sales went down so much, but it was still just a very interesting time to be a new brand, like a brand new brand. Uh and so for us it was really about like how can we be authentic in our messaging? How can we get our users to talk about the brand. We did a lot of UGC user generated content. We did, you know, a lot of user testing and just consistently be iterating and tweaking. And it was funny actually, we started with just rings and then all of our consumers were like, we really want earrings and necklaces and bracelets and everything else. But hearings was the number one most asked for a category because they're on zoom. Exactly. So then that was our second category and that's now our number one category. It's even doing better than writing switch, like who knew. Um and so it's like we're learning not only how, why do you like this and what works for you from like a UFC I perspective, but also what products you want to see now and in the future.

Like what, what do you like about the pieces that are here now? What's missing? Um we had a lot of clients who really are customers who really wanted us to start partnering with with other brands and designers and things like that. So that's our next huge plan for 2022 is really to create more of a marketplace of collaborations where you can then take capsule collections and then design your hearts and dreams, take this person's uh, you know, X, Y, Z design and then add your own stamp of uniqueness to it through our design experience things like that. That is super cool, wow, I love that. So it's like, it's really just, I think been about learning and, and listening and, and kind of keeping an open mind and ditching ego in a lot of ways and sort of just hang, you know, this is not perfect and it might never be perfect, but we're going to try our best to make this exactly what our consumer wants. That's been our mantra from day one. What's your kind of like key marketing mix for like what's really working for you now when you're acquiring new customers and looking at that like different channel spread.

Yeah. So you have to play and everything right. You have to diversify and you have to have the right type of growth people on your team to really dig into the data. And the thing that's interesting about genesis, we're not really like a straight direct to consumer because it's not like look at a product, add it to your car, check out its look at a product to tweak the product design it, make it your own, maybe try it on, maybe don't and then check out right. It's like a different kind of flow and experience. And so that's been fascinating to just learn. But you have to know the data and you have to understand exactly where every consumer is in that funnel, where they're falling off where what's working. Okay, so it's a complicated puzzle that is digital performance marketing. Um so when it comes to, I'd say number one, know your data right? Have a one person or a team of people who can analyze the data. I think that that person should be in house. I I really do. I'm not a huge believer in agencies. I never have been. And so if you have the data and you're tracking the data appropriately, then you can actually understand what's working, what's not working, you need to know that first before you spend any money because if you can't actually see what's working and not working, then you're just blindly spending is the title for the person that you're talking about.

Like a growth engineer or a growth marketer. Just like that's the title. Yeah. There could be a performance marketer um you know, ahead of growth. Somebody who understands you don't really need like a data scientist. I mean unless you're like a bigger company but somebody who isn't actually that creative, I think that it's really hard in the world of marketing where you need creative people because you need people to create the content and the messaging and the voice and the brand etcetera. But you also need the data driven people who made it like 10% creative and are still like sweet and nice and can work with the creative people but are really interested in data and data analytics. Like those are the people that are gonna help you, I say the most when you have problems right? Why is this not working? Why did this not perform? Why did rose drop? Why is our cap growing whatever it is? Because we all have growing pains as we're trying to get things moving. Um and then that person can also help you when it comes to diversification of where you're putting your advertising dollars right?

Um So obviously you have to play on facebook and google youtube all the big Pinterest, whatever all that stuff. But you have to have a strategy around it, right? So you need to make sure that that person understands what the strategy is along with your creative team and then you have to have, you know, experiential channels in my opinion. Right? So how do we get brand awareness? How do we partner with the right people? What does that look like? We've had a lot of success with affiliate marketing, which a lot of people I feel like don't talk enough about in my opinion, it's very focused on paid advertising. I love affiliate because it's it's making money together, right? So it's basically a C. P. A. It's a percentage rev share essentially right on whatever you're selling together. So we've partnered with a ton of different editorial companies and we work with share a sale and skin lengths and basically just partnered with all these great people who write about us, um, and tell people about us. And then when they, the link basically tracks, right. And then when that person buys, they get a kickback on that sale. I like that because it's not just throwing money at the wall and hoping it sticks every sale is a meaningful sale that everyone who works to make that sale happen.

Makes money. That's really cool. I love that. So I think, you know, look into affiliate marketing, look into pr um don't pay a ship ton of money for pr get a consultant and someone scrappy in house, like, you know, it's like there there's certain things that you can just bleed money really fast and I think that it's important for people to recognize that you can't just throw money and stuff and then it's gonna work. That's why you have to understand the data, you don't understand the data, you're not going to know you know anything. And then your investors are gonna come to you and say, what the hell is going on and say, I don't know, right? I don't know, I can't tell you exactly with all Of this in mind, what would you say is your top piece of advice for entrepreneurs coming into, 2022. Oh my God, I have so many things to tell. All these beautiful people. I I think one thing I like to say a lot, which took me a while to figure out, and this is just an emotional journey. You're all gonna have to go on yourselves, but nothing is as good or as bad as you think it's going to be.

And and that is really important to remember because when you're fundraising or when you're growing your company, especially when you're a new founder, all of this is so raw and new and so everything feels like an extreme of whatever it is, right? So when I was running my first few companies, I remember I would like drive home crying or I would drive home at the end of the night listening to music and like the happiest person in the entire world and that's what you're going to feel a lot when you're a first time founder and I still feel that way by the way, but it's it's more intense when you're a first time founder because you've never gone through it before. What always happens though is the really bad thing that happened in your crying and you think it's the end of the world, it's usually not as bad as you thought it was gonna be and then the great thing that happened usually didn't even pan out or ended up not working out or wasn't as fantastic as you thought anyway, so usually what happens is things level themselves out. So remember to stay in the middle, try your best to just stay in the middle, just bring it down, level it out because you're gonna drive yourself crazy going through that emotional turmoil of yes or no or this crazy high and low situation.

So it's going to work out, stay the course, stay in the middle, surround yourself with love, surround yourself with people who care about you and do self care, work out eat well, you know meditate, do take the weekend off, we have to remember that. Yeah, exactly. Like this job is a part of us, it does not define us, so you still have to take care of yourself and be a happy person that creates a good leader, right? If you're happy, if you're centered, if you're feeling good in your life and your self aware enough to understand what's going on around you. That's the person who's going to wake up every morning and lead a team to something that equals success. Mhm. I love that. Thank you so much. At the end of every episode, we asked a series of six quick questions, some of which we might have covered, some of which we might not have, but I asked them all the same. So, question number one is, what's your, why? Why are you doing what you're doing? I'm really creating Gemma's to change consumer behavior around what it means to buy jewelry online.

That's the line. Love it. Question number two is, what do you think has been the number one marketing moment that's made the business pop? I would say after our first a round of funding, when we got to actually scream from the rooftops that de beers invested in us. That was a huge, exciting thing. It really, I think solidify the company as a real company uh, and gave us, you know, that stamp of approval from a lot of different perspectives. So that was very exciting. Yeah, that's such a big one, Congrats again, it's such a good one. Thank you. Question # three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading or listening to or subscribing to that is worth mentioning for other founders, let's see. Um, I, well I love podcasts, I love how I built this. I listened to that regularly. I think it's really important for, you know, there's a lot of things you guys can read. It gets smarter, but I also think we need to get emotionally smarter to write, not, not just here are the facts, but here are other people who have been through this journey and, and you're not alone.

I think that if I didn't have a podcast like that, you know, for the last five or six years, growing going through what I've gone through. I don't know if I would have been able to do it, just hearing what other people have gone through it, that they figured it out, that they made it work. Those are the inspirational stories that keep me going. 100% Love Guy Raz is amazing. I know you so amusing, he is so amazing. Question number four is how do you win the day? What are your am or PM rituals and habits that keep you feeling happy and motivated and successful? Well, I got a peloton during covid And that has saved my life. I get up and I ride that bike for at least half an hour every morning and then I do meditate, I meditate for at least 15-20 minutes just to clear my head center myself. Uh, you know, make sure that I'm ready to take on the day? And I think that paired with the exercise, it just gets out all the anxiety. Um so that you're a lot more calm and centered.

You know? And so those, that's my ritual every morning. Love it. I've just started doing some spin classes at this place called One Rebel and it's like going to like a nightclub or something. It's so loud and so many lights and all these things and it is so fun. I had to switch because I hurt my knee and it's like the best thing ever. I'm like, oh my gosh, I can't believe I've never done this before. Yeah, it's awesome. I love it. I love it. It's it's nice. It gets all the, all the jitters out of you. Yeah. Without injuring yourself. Which I love. Yes, exactly. That's exactly Question number Five is if you were given $1,000 of no strings attached grant money, where would you spend that in the business? And it's not a lot of money, but it's to highlight where your most important spending a dollar is. I would go into user testing and uh, understanding my consumer as best as possible and probably if I could stretch that 1000 bucks, you know, getting some user generated content out of it. Some testimonials, Some feedback on where we are with the company and how we can improve.

Mm I love it And last question, how do you deal with failure? What's your mindset and approach when things don't go to plan. I look it straight in the face and I don't let it scare me. You know, I think failure is a part of this journey. It's something that, you know, it's always gonna be with you as a founder. It's something that you can't allow, you know, to bring you down. You can't allow it to stereo because you're going to fail. You just literally are, you're gonna feel a lot by the way and whether a failure is a no from an investor or really screwing up and hiring the wrong person or whatever it looks like, it can be little, it can be bigger. But the idea here is that you have, you have the power to change that failure and learn from it and make it a success. So remember that. Thank you so much Madeline. Thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing all these juicy insights and amazing tips and tricks. Thank you so much.

Thank you for having me. That was really fun. Hey, it's doing 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. Mm hmm. Yeah.

The BEST (and worst) kind of investors you can have in your biz, with Gemist’s Madeline Fraser
The BEST (and worst) kind of investors you can have in your biz, with Gemist’s Madeline Fraser
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