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Building a 7 figure beauty brand steeped in Indian rituals with Michelle Ranavat

by Female Startup Club
December 21st 2021

Today we’re learning from Michelle Ranavat, she’s the founder of RANAVAT, a skincare line inspired by Indian beauty rituals. 

With a background in science, 4 years of work at a prestigious fi... More

This is Michelle for female startup club. Mm hmm. Hello and welcome back. It's dune here your host and hype girl. I actually cannot believe we are so close to christmas like where the heck did this year go? I don't know on the show. Today we're learning from Michelle rendezvous that she is the founder of rendezvous, a skincare line inspired by indian beauty rituals with a background in science. four years of work at a prestigious Finance firm on Wall Street and after six years of pharmaceutical sourcing, Michelle fused her expertise with a love and appreciation for artisanal indian tradition. since the launch in 2017, Robot is now sold in department stores such as Neiman Marcus credo beauty and specialty boutiques worldwide. This episode is really, really cool. I got so much out of the six questions at the end and I bet you're going to as well and if you do please do shout about it to someone who will benefit from listening to this episode or share acute post on social media tagging us so we can highlight you on our channels.

Let's get into it. This is Michelle 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 club precincts. Michelle Hi, welcome to the show. What's going on. Well just here in rainy L. A. For once. It's not perfect, but I'm here for it and I'm excited to have a soulful chat with you. Me too. I'm excited for a soulful chat. That sounds pretty nice.

I always like to start by going back to, you know, your origins and the early beginnings before you even started the brand to understand what you were up to. What got you started, what got you thinking about starting a business. And also, I guess like for you in particular, the kind of things that were going on in your life, the rituals that you were having within beauty and skincare that we're getting you excited about starting a brand. So for me it's really interesting. I think the beauty peace came very much at the end and the initial sort of ideas whether to be to start a business or you know, really even my, my background education really came from science and so I think the beauty peace was kind of layered on later. Um, but The humble beginnings were really, you know, my biggest lesson was watching my parents, they immigrated from India to the us in the 70's and they did not have a security blanket or anything in the day that my dad found out.

My parents, you know, my mom was pregnant with me, their oldest, my dad had actually lost his job and so they filed income below the poverty level. They really just didn't have anywhere to turn until my dad decided in that moment because he grew up with a lot of entrepreneurs in his family, he was like I'm going to start a company and of course that's like not really the first thing you think about typically when you get laid off, you're just thinking about security. But I think my dad took it as an opportunity and I feel like that like decision in that moment completely changed the rest of our lives and so he did that and uh you know, I just grew up watching this dream come true just through a lot of hard work. So he started the company in the basement of our home, grew up in a small town of Milwaukee, it's called Milwaukee Wisconsin and you know, instead of fancy summer camps, I was in my dad's warehouse, that was my summer camp picking and packing orders. And I honestly learned a lot through those experiences and I think that was like the sort of baseline how I even came to understand what being an entrepreneur is all about.

And I think some of those lessons have really guided me and stuck with me to this day, wow and when does the beauty peace come into it? And what was that kind of light bulb moment where you were like, I'm also going to take this path, I'm going to do this too. So it's really funny because there's a parallel, so when I say I studied engineering in school and immediately after I got my Master's degree? And at that time, uh finance was super hot. Like everyone that was a very aspirational thing to do, and I was like, oh, I'm gonna work on Wall Street, and I did, and that was the goal of mine and a dream, and I walked into Lehman Brothers feeling really proud of what I had accomplished and, you know, in my four years there, ultimately the company went bankrupt and I got laid off myself. And so that was really interesting parallel to what happened to my dad. Um so in that moment, I actually didn't start my company right away. I ended up working at his company for six years and I actually ended up using my science background a ton.

Your dad's company? My dad's company. Yeah, that's so cool. Yeah, and you know, it was like, it's funny because at that time I was like, oh do you? I thought it was like a favorite. I mean, I had no other job. Um but I just felt like, okay, my dad's been kind of like hinting at, you know, wanting me to come on and help him and I didn't have any other options at that point, so I just kind of thought I would try it out, I had nothing to lose. And it was honestly one of the most rewarding experiences and I, I loved working with my dad and I and my actually, my entire family at some point has worked there. So we all were working together, what were you doing within the business? Like what what like part of the business were you kind of focused on? So I was focused on, well I did a lot of different things but my background is in industrial engineering, so I was focused on process and quality ingredients, sourcing, manufacturing, product development. So what we do is all of the large pharma companies that are building, you know, new building blocks for life and new drugs and they're trying to find new cures.

What they do is they start with R. And D. And so they work with a company like ours to provide all the raw materials for their R. And D. Experiments and programs. And so we're really at that early stage of discovery where we're making sure that the quality is right, how do you scale, how do you pick the right manufacturer? Not just for today, but for when you're scaling up, what are the issues that happen when you scale up? And so this was really like a lesson in product development ultimately, which I think you can already see where the link to beauty is coming in. But at that point I just, I really didn't combine the two together, but it was, it was a good six years of traveling to places like Switzerland um where you know biotech and all of that is just so extremely popular and made it such a high level and so what I got to see was exposure to some of the best manufacturing facilities and I think I as a science nerd, I'm actually really quite motivated and inspired by that.

And so that was really exciting for me and it wasn't until I had my two boys that I was on maternity leave and I started to really think about my skin at that time. I was early thirties and I was noticing that there were some changes and I after, you know, going through the, you know, the labor and delivery and just having the entire process, I actually realized that I was turning to a lot of these more holistic approaches as well and I found them to work. And so when I had issues with my skin, I started to think, okay, well you know, my hair is falling out, it's postpartum hair loss, but what did, what is the, you know, the ayurvedic recipe for this or what sort of ingredients go along with it. And I started to really sort of think and discover and use and try and ultimately I realized like, man, this stuff is just so good not available in the US, like there's this opportunity to really share like my personal perspective of what I view, I Aveda or indian traditions or you know, whatever like sort of lends you want to look for me, it was definitely a combination of heritage science, all of that and putting my own brand sort of viewpoint on that and kind of sharing it with the world and I definitely wanted to take like an ingredient first approach because that's what I learned and was very passionate about to begin with.

You must have had like everything in place just to get this brand started, get it out there and kind of like have the blueprint in front of you, but maybe that's a kind of obnoxious point of view. What was it like when you were getting started? Like did you know everything that you needed to do and what were those early days like steps that you needed man. I I still, you know, struggle with so many aspects of the brand and I think as you grow you realize like you just have, it's really just about continuous learning and not about ever needing or trying to learn everything. Um but I think the biggest Hole that I had in my experience was honestly marketing because when I came from a B2B space right, I was in, I was selling to pharma companies like that's very different than selling to consumer. I knew nothing about branding. My mom is actually interior designer, she's very artistic, she's very has her own sense of style.

Um really keen sense of just like whether it's brand brand positioning, like she really likes loves and understands it, she's like a avid consumer and shopper, I will say. Um so maybe it doesn't come from like a professional standpoint, but she loves, she loves shopping. And so, you know, I think just from her, I picked up a little bit, but that was nothing that I studied. And so it's funny, there's an Australian branding agency that I actually called, a ton of people in L. A. Nobody wanted to work with me. I don't know why, but maybe my pitch wasn't great or what, but I basically got turned out from so many L. A. Like agencies and I was like, I have this product and I knew I had a good product um which I'll get to that that also changed, um which is really interesting, but I knew I had a good product and you had a good concept, but I knew nothing about graphics and branding. I knew like I still to this day, you know what I like and what I don't like, but I'm not like I can't go on adobe and start making logos and things.

So I knew that I wanted to invest the visionary. Yeah, yeah, I'm just not like I can say yes or no, but I can't create. And so yeah, I knew that I needed and I knew I wanted to invest in the brand and I think that's like a big tip that I would share, and I think one of the best things that I think the biggest thing that propelled the brand in early days for sure and still is investing in the brand, I didn't have a ton of resources but A lot of those resources I did put you know, after of course having a really good product, it is very important. I see a lot of people skimping on getting a cheapie logo or just so I'm going to revise it later. Like when I have budget, no, like really spend the time if you can't do 50 things from a top designer, do two things from the top, but don't don't change the top designer, like use a good person because that's really what's gonna stick and grow your brand. And so I worked with this agency in Sydney actually and they were like one of the first people to like take on the project.

That's so cool, what's it called? It's called smack bang designs. Oh yeah, I know it, I love it, very cool. They've worked on so many years, so I had a really positive experience working with them and I do think Australia like just kind of what we touched upon earlier, like recall um they have a very keen sense in terms of like holistic and help and so yes, like L. A. Would have been great, but I actually kind of liked that I was turned down by a lot of L. A. People because when you use the same agencies, everything tends to look alike. And so having this like renewed perspective working with someone honestly like in a different country and you know, totally different perspective on branding but very keen sense and they really did understand some of this holistic approach and they had done a couple of skincare brands prior and so I just felt like, you know, I think they understand me and the first mood boards that they even put together, I just like I was in love and even to this day we do get a lot of Australian customers and in my like mind in my heart, I'm always like, yes, because the soul is in Australia because we actually did the brand did come to life there.

So I always have like this very sort of soft spot for it, but we actually still to this day work with someone that was that the agency on our graphics as well, so we still have a bit of Australian um you know, blood on our team, which is exciting. Um But no, I think that right, it just gives a kind of a more global holistic picture, I love having like just different opinions, like we all have the same mission and vision for the brand, but I like that we all have different points of view that we kind of Sprinkle in and yeah, so I just, I feel like early days it was investing in that brand and yeah, maybe a lot of people said no to me, But I'm actually kind of happy that that happened because I ended up working with someone that really did uh cement the right brand positioning for us. Mm hmm. Yeah. Absolutely. Branding is so key. Especially in today's world, like everything is saturated. You need to find ways to stand out and that's your billboard.

If someone sees you on a shelf, you have to make sure that that is catching someone's eye. I even think like if people tell me there's two products next to each other and they're like, you know, maybe one's not as good as the other one. I'm still gonna go for the one that looks great. Like I'm just attracted to great packaging and like the look and feel of stuff like obviously we're visual creatures. So important. I'm with you there. I think we all are. It's kind of like when you walk into an interview and if I wore like sweats and my hair was crazy. And I came to this interview to be the ceo of google. I just don't know like how much I could wow them if like they're not seeing like it. But if I dress the part and I look perfect, you know, and then I'm like selling myself. It's just like it matters. Like, you know, you you have to admit like, you can't, there's just certain things that do contribute visually. And I think skincare is very visual any sort of consumer brand. It's selling an emotion as much as and it's more interesting because it's like, that's what they're seeing on the shelf first.

So you have to connect with someone emotionally before they can even, like, that's like, they won't even try your product if you haven't made that emotional connection with the packaging and the story and like, why they're gravitating towards you. So, I think it's like, really, you know, super important. And I think these days, right, like, you need everything, like, you need an amazing product, you need the right packaging, you need a really unique and sort of soul touching story. But I think all of that really is great because it pushes us a bit further because I think we all have that within us. It's just that we have to, you know, now we're a bit more um how do I say this? But I think we just have to pull it out of ourselves a little bit more. Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. You touched on something a moment ago that you said we should come back to? So I want to circle back to that, and that was around the product and how it changed. Can you talk about the product development in those early days and what you mean by that?

Yeah, so, you know, being not a formulate er by nature, so definitely work with lots of chemists and worked on the manufacturing side, and again, I would say, I do have this, like, since I know a good beauty product when I see it experience it created, I had all of those things, but I do think that I did evolve as a formulate er and I think that's really important for people to know that like you don't just start where you start, isn't where you finish, and that's something that I definitely improved upon as I developed the brand. So, first I didn't have a ton of incredible, you know, manufacturing content contacts. I was really just trying my best. And so what I wanted to do was come to market quickly. And so I created this, these masks and there were these beautiful actually their new Zealand Manuka honey masks with ayurvedic botanical ingredients and they honestly, they were incredible. They were really good products. Um I never was in the beauty industry, so I didn't realize that like these like powder mixing, you know, so the idea was to take three different hydro stalls and three different masks and mixed and masks.

So the idea was like, you could kind of take like lavender hydro saul, mix it in with your, you know, detoxifying mask. And they were honestly really good products. But, you know, I didn't realize that like, the whole idea of D I. Y. And mixing and matching wasn't something that people really enjoy or want to do with their ritual. And I found that out over time and I got much more sophisticated with the formulations and what I wanted to do. So ultimately that like mass, like everything in that line that I launched with does not even exist. I there's one product which is the jasmine mist which still, that's our oldest Q. I did originally launched with that one. But everything else kind of came a year later. Like, well the first next thing was my hair oil, which came a year later and then a few months after that was the saffron serum, which is our number one seller and then, you know, more and more sort of sophisticated products. But yeah, I I just I wanted to share that because I started in one place and learned and I wasn't afraid to let go, you know, those are my first things and I yeah, I just continued them and they didn't really resonate as much as I thought they would.

And honestly, that's okay. I think the most important thing is you just take the feedback and you learn and you evolve and I did have people that liked them. So that's kind of the other thing I would say that might be helpful. It's like, you may have people that still, like I had, I also adjusted my packaging. I did a whole rebrand as well after two years and I had a lot of people that were like, your packaging is so beautiful, you should keep it. I mean, my entire trajectory of the company shifted when I adjusted my packaging. So you know, you may get people that encourage you to stay where you are, but I do think it's super important to always learn how to improve and don't be afraid to evolve because where you start, you're going to learn so much that you're gonna want to apply those learnings and make your product or you know, whatever it is that you're selling to be better than it was. Yeah, absolutely, and I think it's so powerful you say that because you can just get so caught up in being paralyzed with like it needs to be perfect and I've worked on this for so long, so I may as well just keep on working until I feel really 100% confident, but until you put something out there and start getting real feedback from people outside of your own network and outside of your kind of community, within your friends and family, you, you just, you're just not gonna know.

You just need to like try and see what happens and iterate as you go and evolve. I totally agree with you and I think evolution is 100% the key and not feeling one, I think like another little, I guess art of, I guess being a founder of creating a brand, it's like you kind of have to know what advice to take and what not to take and I think it's never in either direction. Like you shouldn't take every piece of advice that people give you but you also shouldn't feel that you're so locked into anything, right? Like I think it's it's really on that evolution piece of one. It's okay to improve. And I think that's a good thing and I think people admire that and want you to grow and you know that you're going to evolve as a founder and as a brand. So I think that's completely natural. Um But also to to your point about perfection and seeking that, I think the only way you can get closer to becoming what you want to be is to let go honestly of perfection and just continue improving because by the time you get to that next stage you're already gonna then need to think about, well, great.

Well now how do I improve from there? Like it's just never, it's not a destination. It's a constant process. And that's the same thing with brands. Like I'm everything So I'm crazy because like we literally relaunch our website like every single year. I'm always thinking about brand and how I evolved my brand. What does it mean we're adding different lines and different skews. Like how do we create, how do we improve and make it cohesive? I don't think the everyday customers going to realize that like we're tweaking and building on it. Like. Exactly. But I think subliminally when they see those little little details, they end up making quite a big difference. Mm hmm. Yeah, Absolutely. You said another thing that I just want to touch on quickly before we move into money and marketing, which I love to talk about. You said that when you change your branding after two years, it totally changed the trajectory of your business. How and why? What do you mean? Well, I think the whole impetus and story behind the brand was is really about luxury positioning.

And that's something that I just it's very it's just the way that I create. Like when I'm creating a product, I'm not thinking like, okay, I need a $50 or something. And you know, how do I figure out what ingredients I can use. I'm like, give me the best of the best if Saffron shirt, you know, we got to use, you know, and I just, that's the way that I want to experience a product. And so that's the lens through which I create. And you know, when I was sort of envisioning this luxurious and just what the story was, it just did not fit the packaging. And I think the packaging that I had was great for that moment in time because it was stock packaging. It was this like Myron glass black bottle that we could put a label on. It was in L. A. We could pick it up. And I think it was honestly Very important for me to start that way because I had super-low minimum. So like any time I wanted to change, it was really easy for me to change, I didn't have 10,000 units I was sitting on.

And so I actually think that starting that way was fine. You know, maybe I didn't have them and people did like the packaging. I worked with what made sense for me, but ultimately I had the foresight to say that was great. But as I now grow into these new products and I saw that there was some great traction with the saffron serum and the hair serum. I'm like, okay, this like story and what's inside and the quality that we're creating, like, needs to be represented on outside. So moving from things like labels to silkscreen packaging, going from things like folding cartons to beautiful rigid boxes. Um taking like, you know, clear glass and tint custom tinting the color, you know, these are things that like, you may not be able to do your first around, you know, some people can't do that and that's amazing. Um, but I wasn't and so I knew that I want to elevate and take it another level. And I mean it's crazy because I did get some feedback and it's like, oh, I like your old packaging and I honestly like almost stopped in my tracks.

And I was like, okay, no, I actually really like this direction. I'm going to stay with it. And I'm telling you like people, it just grew like I just think, I don't know if it was like a subliminal thing or what, like I don't think anyone said, oh I like this packaging and now I'm going to buy it, it wasn't like that obvious, it was just you look at the sales and it was like way you know, you could see the difference, yeah, you could see the change. That's so interesting. And I guess that goes back again to this notion of like where you start, isn't where you finish, start with what you can afford, iterate and evolve it and as you can then you can sort of lean into the things that are really important to you and and you have that feedback from customers to even be able to kind of level up and move forward. Yeah, I mean imagine if I got like, you know thousands and thousands of jars that you're mixing masks with that were fully custom. I mean I probably would have had to throw those out not to say that that I'm sure you know, that's happened to many people and you've just got to make those decisions but in a way, you know, it was kind of good that I had packaging, I need to change with the product, I needed to change and it all kind of came together, 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. Let's switch to talk about the money piece of the puzzle. I always love to understand, you know, how much kind of capital did you need to put in the beginning? Like how much did it take to get started and then what is your approach to the kind of working capital and funding plan moving forward?

So I had, you know worked at Lehman Brothers, so I had a bit of savings from that. So I had, I think I invested about, I want to say $70,000 in the first year just to kind of get the product by the packaging, make the labels pay smack bang designs, um that was like a decent chunk of it and just kind of like, yeah, I didn't hire anyone. I mean I literally hired my first person november 1st like a month ago, so this is four years ago, so I no way, wow, that's crazy. I swear, I mean I worked with a lot of contractors, I can, like, I'm telling you, I do feel like I do a lot with a little and I'm not saying that's always a good thing because ultimately I feel like, you know, you are paying for that in timing. Like I think I could grow faster if I had more people, but my mentality is always to prove something out and so I've just been very sort of slow and cautious and I found a lot of leverage with working with a ton of contractors, so I just didn't really feel the need to hire anyone and then now I'm like, I, I went from my first hire and I hope that, you know, I'm hiring someone is starting in january and then hopefully we have two more um within the first quarter of 2022 so I'm going from 0-4, hopefully, is that to find them?

That's crazy, but it's crazy. I mean begin and I think if anyone needs a job, anyone needs a job, we're hiring social media and actually creative directors, the other role that I'm looking to fill, which I'm super excited about both fun things that goes back to my investing brand. Absolutely. Oh yeah, so okay. I had $100,000 that I put into. So it was like 70 in the first year or something like that. And then I wasn't profitable until the third year, but I also wasn't like bleeding a lot of money. Like I was still making money. So it's just like, uh, I don't know, tend to $20,000, I just would have to put into the business at the end of the year. And honestly those years are really hard because I already, you know, spent my Lehman Brothers savings. I wasn't making a salary and on top of it, I was putting more money into it and, and you just like, there was like a subset of time where it's like I had my old packaging, I had a product that didn't have a great market fit still for some reason I kept going on and evolving and, and then in that like third year, like things completely changed and I am, and then I was profitable.

And, and the reason that I went from like A $20,000, like loss or investment to profitability so quickly, it was because I didn't have a ton of overhead that I was like needing to go. But like as soon as I got a bit of traction with retailers coming on board, like it all just showed up in profitability really quickly because I already had created a business infrastructure that was not super, it was already very lean and so it allowed me to get from investment to profitability very quickly. So as soon as things like started to move, I was able to see that um, in the bottom line quickly and I think that also set the stage for, you know, 2021 which was a great year for us knock on wood. Um, but also again, because I just was very lean and still am very lean and I think that's important because you need to build a sustainable business. You can't, you know, if you're building something where you're paying too paying, um, customers to take your product or you're not building a profitable or sustainable business, whether you're hiring too many employees, whatever it is.

You know, it's important to make sure that you're solving that problem on a small scale. So that as you grow, you're not multiplying that problem more and more. Mm hmm, wow, that's crazy. Go you Holy moly love this. I read that in the beginning, I don't know if this was recently or I think this was probably closer to when you launched like 2017, I read that you launched early on into Neiman Marcus and you were basically like forced to figure everything out and you were kind of facing a lot of challenges in those early days, what, what were those challenges and what were the things that you were having to figure out and I'm asking you because I know there are a lot of women who are listening who are in that beauty industry and they are wanting to launch into retailers and so I'd love to kind of like see if we can talk through any of the pitfalls that could potentially be avoided. Yes, Well, I don't know about avoiding because I do feel like part of the journey is experiencing these like difficult pain points of growth and I think that I experienced those in early days with Neiman Marcus and I think even now we're experiencing a lot of that too, but I think what it is, it's like, it's just preparation for knowing how to scale and learning how to grow your business and so early days, right?

Like Neiman Marcus, like they, you know, for me it's just even funny thinking about like, I just like look back at like the order and I'm like, I don't know why that took me like two weeks to fulfill. Like it just like that's something that we would do in a day here and not even in a day, right? Like it's just something that now we're so set up to do these things, but you have to, you know, I didn't have like six people in our warehouse that we're picking packing shipping all day, like I just had one person part time that was helping me. And I remember my dad and my mom, like, I feel so, I feel so bad for them, although they like love to do this. Like they would like come on to L. A. For a vacation and I'd be like, okay, so just sit right here, we need to put labels on all these bottles and pack these boxes and, and they would do it for me. Um and so it was just like really honestly like super just had to, there was just a lot of elbow grease needed to like move things around because I just didn't have the scale and the people and the process and now, you know, three years later, I'm still feeling those same things.

Like we're really struggling on order volumes right now. Like we just had a huge spike in orders for holidays, which I just like didn't honestly anticipate, which in some ways it's nice because, you know, you like being surprised to the upside, but you also care deeply about your customer and their experience and you don't want it to be negative and it's like such a push and pull between those two. And so I'm already like feeling growing pains now and we're thinking of, we've got to move to fulfillment center and we've got to figure out how to scale and grow. So I would say that whatever people are feeling at this stage, you know, if it's an earlier stage, like what I was experienced at Neiman Marcus or what I'm kind of going through now, it's like those are all just, it's just a skill that you learn and it's something that you just have to keep doing because I'm sure again, hopefully if I'm lucky enough I'll have another pain point of growth and I'll have to figure out once again, how do we make this happen?

And it's just pulling on that same like, okay, like you just you did it one time now, we just have to honestly think super smart. Like for example when it was like Neiman Marcus days, I just need to think of like how do I get a number? I need people need people to move this process along now. It's like, but you could like stay all night and you could finish it, there's just, you just need to have like two days of really intense work to it now. It's like the problems that I have, like I can't just like throw people at it. I actually need to come up with the efficiencies and processes on better ways to do it. Otherwise like nothing happens. So it's, it's interesting, it's like the problems actually get more complicated. It's just that maybe you've been around the block a little bit so you're able to solve it a little bit better or you might have people in your network that might be able to help you, but it's just a skill that you learn and I imagine it's also probably like you need to solve it now because next week or next month or next quarter, you're going to face the same problem 100%.

And it's going to happen again so you want to sort it out now so you don't have to go through that, you know, hassle all over again when you get a bigger order or a more complicated order or whatever it is, you need your procedures and processes all knotted out. I totally I totally feel that one that's that's I hear so many founders talked about the struggles of like that operational side and those growing pains. I know it's like that was like a problem that I was like dying to have, I was like, oh my God, I would love to have so many orders and like I'm not going to what I mean, I do feel like so blessed that it it did exceed my expectation. I when it happened to me though, I wasn't as happy as I thought I would be because honestly like you worked so hard to get the customer and the last thing you want to do is disappoint them. You know? Like that was that's hard and I just feel so bad because it's like I care so deeply about every person's interaction but it's like when you only have so many people, you can only get so many orders out and you also can't reduce the quality of the experience because like okay great, I can get all these like untrained people to do a bunch of work but then I'm gonna have like wrong things going out and that's gonna be worse.

But what I found the lesson here that I learned is like we weren't perfect on like being I mean it took us weeks to get orders out from our event that we had, that was like the thing that caused all the spikes, but I sent out personal emails to like everyone that was affected like every week and I think there were so many, what I realized is like people actually just loved the communication and they were totally understanding that like okay this is the founder reaching out, this person actually cares about my order, I get that they're going through like you know I get that this is what has happened to them and they're working really hard, that makes me really happy and I want to support this person and I actually feel like of course there's gonna be people here and there but really like everyone that I connected with was super super understanding so that's what I would say is like a good lesson learned, just communicate. I mean like 100% anytime I'm frustrated at a brand for a customer service experience, it could have been resolved or like avoided by just having communication clear communication, clear updates, whatever it might be because then you're like, yeah, cool.

I understand like now I know what's going on. Like no big deal, whatever. But when you don't hear from someone or you're emailing and you don't hear back for weeks and you're like, what the heck? Like what's going on? That's when people get frustrated and then they want to event and tell their friends or speak on social media and that's when you know, you can have a huge nightmare on your hands. I know. So I think it's super important to always be honest. Always be there for open communication. Like there are things that are going to go wrong. Like, I mean shipping is crazy. Logistics is tough. Um you know, finding people to ship and pack orders is impossible. So yeah, of course. Like there's going to be problems but just trying your best to communicate and do right by the customer. Like we really like try to go above and beyond and you know, not perfect but really like came to be and I take a pretty active role in a lot of that. So it's like if something has gone wrong, like I'll just take the time out of my day to be like, okay, maybe we didn't, you know, do the best.

Like maybe this package got lost somewhere. But like, let me just tell you how much I care and we'll ship you a new one. Mm hmm. 100%. I'm conscious of time. So I want to switch to talk about specifically your marketing over the past few years and how you've kind of approached it. What you think when you look back in hindsight, is it that was working really well for you in acquiring new customers and finding people who connected with and loved your brand. So marketing has been really interesting. I think when it starts off with creating a good brand, so kind of tying back to what we had said right? Like really identifiable if you are a luxury positioning well your brand branding and your marketing should sort of take that into consideration. Um So really making sure that everything you're putting out really represents the brand brand positioning um and ties really well into marketing. So number one that I think that consistency that we had um where the positioning matched the voice was huge.

And then I think honestly the the growth and the connection really came. I think from the authenticity and the way that we share. I mean I think we did see a lot of growth on social media. We do get a lot of like organic searches as well on google as a lot of our leads. So I think people are finding us and seeking us out and I think the reason for that is that we yeah, I just think we're luxury positioning and the product itself really does live up and tie back. So it's like the product is really good. The brand itself is like tying into the luxury positioning, the marketing and the voice, like all of it is like coming together. But then I also do make a big effort on social to really sort of share authentically as a founder and I think when people connect to someone that's behind the brand as awkward as it was for me too, put myself out there on instagram reels or Tiktok and do things that are a bit out of my comfort zone there truly authentic to me.

And I think people really like that connection and they really feel like they want to support you and try it and then when they try the product, it's like, whoa, the product really sort of speaks for itself and people, you know, buy it again and again. Um, so I just think it's, it's like a combination, but I do think showing up on social media was a big part of the brand growth. Yeah. You really need to take that leap and like lead, lead with, you know, your authentic self, but also you have the confidence to show up every day, even when you feel really awkward or embarrassed. Like I still get that even though it's like inherently part of what I do and it's, it's sadly for people who don't like social media, it's the world that we live in now. Like people want to see the faces behind the brands, they're buying, people want to know who they're buying from and like what they care about and what their, you know outlook on the world is. Um and people connect with people over brand so it's super important.

I'm I'm 100% with you there. What do you think is your most important piece of advice for entrepreneurs in the beauty industry coming into 2022. Most important advice I would say is I would say pinpointing or using what makes you unique as your superpower because I feel like one of the big things that we're seeing in the industry is like one things tend to start looking very similar to one another. So number one is like you've got to differentiate yourself and you yourself by virtue of being you are unique to the world. You're the only person of you that exist. So by doing that one, you're just opening the door to making something that's authentic to you two, you're going to make it unique because you are unique And three I think it just gives you that personal connection. And so I think a lot of times what I see is people being like I want to be like that brand or I like they're packed and it's okay to to seek inspiration in some ways or look at benchmarks or do your research but I think some of that can be distracting and I think it's really super important to just lean into you your authenticity and have a point of view.

Like don't just like I see so many prints like a mishmash of like, oh, it's the font of this brand and the color of this other brand and the product of another. And I just think you're not doing service to anyone if you're just recreating something that exists. And I think there's so much out there in terms of innovation that we should all just push ourselves a bit more to innovate, push the industry forward. And I think that will pay off pretty well. Such great advice. I love that. Thank you for sharing. At the end of every episode, we wrap up with 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? Why am I doing what I'm doing? I mean it sounds like a very simple question, but I'm doing what I'm doing because I, I truly feel that it's in my blood and I think that being in business and starting this company is so much of what my, my dad has has taught me and instilled in me.

And so I just feel like it's sort of my mission in a way to kind of follow his footsteps. Oh, I love that. That's so cute. Question. Number two is what's been the number one marketing moment that's made the business pop. Oh my God. Well I just immediately thought about Hailey Bieber sharing our cream cleanser on her Youtube channel, like as a super surprise, it was like her first post. I know she used it in her am routine, I'm like, what? This is nuts. Oh my God, and you didn't know she was going to do That. I didn't know. Um I will say though to like that is Christmas there, it was Christmas, it was, it was like Christmas and Hanukkah and the Valley in one. It was amazing holy moly that, so that was really good, but you know, I just have to preface all of that with like if you're a small brand, like, I mean I'm a small brand too, but it's like 11 moment does not make you and I like, I'm very grateful for this Hailey Bieber moment and we've had so many moments like that that are super exciting and revolutionary, but it's like if you have a bad product or like you just have to be doing everything like that's not just like you don't get this one moment and then you just like sit back and relax forever, like it's, it's awesome that these things happen and they propel you and inspire you to continue to push, but it just, if that hasn't happened for someone yet, like that's okay.

It doesn't need to happen. It's actually really all the other work that probably um is overall more impactful over time. Yeah, the consistency and the compound effect of one tiny step after the other every single day, every year. Absolutely. Question #3 is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading or listening to at the moment? That's a great resource. Well, I do love NPR how I built this, which I'm sure everyone listening also loves that as well. Um in addition to that's so, but I would say my friend circle is honestly what, where, what I would do and I think a big part of joining a new industry, like for me, the beauty industry was really knew a lot of that was creating and building a network and doing it super authentically, it wasn't like, oh, I'm trying to be friends with so and so so that I can get this piece of information, it's never like that. Sometimes you're helping people, sometimes people help you, but building a genuine network of people that are smarter than you, they might know something more than you do.

They inspire you, They might be just kind souls, you know, whatever their role is. Um you may not know that initially, but I do think building a network of friends mutually, will you share that mutual passion for the industry and you trust their opinion I think is super key and important. So I do feel like I get smarter with my friends, I love that I do to okay, we're on the same page, we're on the same page. Yes, Question number four is, how do you win the day? What are your AM or PM rituals and habits that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated? Oh my God, winning the day is like my vibes. Um so I like winning the day early on, like any, I truly feel like, and I think there is a science to this, like if you accomplish something even as simple as making your bed, which I never do, I'll be honest um or what I do is also like working out, um you are just like set with this like sense of accomplishment already and when you like do something early on that like feels really good for you early in the morning, you're just setting yourself up for a really super positive day and I think that that truly does help set the stage for like an incredible rest of the day because I felt like I've won the morning, I felt like, wow, I've already so accomplished.

So the ways that I do that number one um is honestly mostly working out and also I do drop my kids off to school in the morning a few days a week and that also feels really nice because you know, you just get to like spend a bit of time um with the kids and then I'll take a call on the way back, but it just feels nice to have like a little bit of family time in the morning before starting the craziness. But I love that I love winning the day. That's like my, the thing that I say to myself, me too, I love to win the day, question number five is if you were given $1000 of no strings attached grant money, where would you spend that in the business? And it's kind of to highlight the most important spending a dollar because I know it's not a lot of money. Okay, so not, I was gonna say decide foundation because we partner with them to give back and we do a percentage of proceeds. But if I were to think about outside of something charitable and if it's something that's like my business, what would I spend $1000 on?

I mean if I'm, if I'm saying honestly right now, in terms of what I need, it's on images, I need, I literally need like beautiful product, images and content. Like I would spend it on content and I think content is how people discover you. And if you can share the right content and it goes a long way. Mhm. 100% so true. So important at this time, especially with, you know, everything changing and the paid performance landscape, it's like content now that hooks people in and you've got to, you've got to be there. You just like showing up on instagram, you've got to be out there putting that content and finding people that way. So I will say you touched upon paid content. So we did launch paid content of course, like in a time where people are seeing it, um not be as profitable as prior. And we launched a number of different ads and the ads that performed the best were all the ones where I'm talking and it's like a before and after kind of vibe and it's really just like my authentic founder story and things that legitimately happened to me.

Um, and why I created the product. And so that's just something that I would put out there is like, yes, there might be decreased like we're just inundated with too much information, but I think that just encourages all of us to just put the right information out there to really share that. That's just, you know, even seconds. The importance of creating authentic good content and connecting with your customer in a very genuine way. And that's like still works. Yeah, absolutely. And question # six, last question is how do you deal with failure? What's your mindset and approach when things don't go to plan? Um I definitely try to think about how to fix the problem. There are a lot of times where, I mean I think I experienced failure all the time, whether it's in the form of rejection, whether it's the form of um, you know, messing something up and doing something wrong, making the wrong decision, But I don't know, I'm gonna be honest.

Like, I just, of course, like, we have some part of us that feels bad about that or upset or sad or whatever that emotion is, but I think one just knowing that whatever that was wasn't for you in that moment I think is like a key, right? Like, okay, so maybe X retailer doesn't want to bring me on. Okay, well, that's, that's tough news, but maybe maybe it's not the right time and maybe if I were to be there, maybe it wouldn't have gone. Well, I don't know. It's just not for me right now, but knowing that you can revisit that opportunity and know that no, is not never. I think sometimes keeps me going because I did experience in my history. Many things that were a note ultimately became a guess. Not that it was like, and then there's some things that were known are still unknown and I guess that's okay. And there's something to be worried. Yes, that I was like, oh man, I didn't know that this experience would be this way and I wouldn't have wished for this experience.

So I think you just have to have faith that like, don't worry if you really want it. No, it's not never. So you could still get it. Um, if it's a, no, maybe it's not right for you and maybe you need to improve and that's okay too. Maybe you need to take a lesson and learn, hey what's the feedback instead of being so down about that opportunity? What's the feedback, how can I improve and do better next time and use this as a growth opportunity? I just think you have to kind of separate the mental blow a bit from using it as an opportunity and so I think that's kind of key, but of course easier said than done, but it's again, it's a skill, so the more you see it and the more you thrive from those experiences you realize like, alright, it's okay. It's another, it's another rejection that might might work out, it might work out in another way, there might be a silver lining. There always is Michelle. This was so, so cool. I'm so grateful to have had you on the show to share your story and your learnings and what you're building and I'm excited to see what happens next.

Thank you so much for having me. This was so much fun and I feel like you just provide so many incredible nuggets of insight and I'm just really grateful to be your guest today. Oh, thank you so much. Hey, it's Doom here. Thanks for listening to this episode of the female startup club podcast. If you're a fan of the show? I'd recommend checking out female startup Club dot com where you can subscribe to our newsletter and learn more about our D. I. Y. Course the ads, N. 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 other heirs 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.

Building a 7 figure beauty brand steeped in Indian rituals with Michelle Ranavat
Building a 7 figure beauty brand steeped in Indian rituals with Michelle Ranavat
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