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How to get on Oprah's Favorites List & bootstrapping a puzzle brand to 250,000 units sold with Jiggy Founder Kaylin Marcotte (Part 1)

by Female Startup Club
February 24th 2023

This is Kaylin Marcotte for Female Startup Club.

Welcome back to the show - if you’re new here! Hi! I’m Doone, your host and hype girl in business. Every week we learn from 7, 8 and 9 fig... More

This is Kalen market for female startup club. Hello, welcome back to the show if you're new here. Hi, I'm dune your host and hype girl in business. Every week we learn from 78 and nine figure female founders to understand their blueprint in business when it comes to money marketing and mistakes. Women like Kaylin Marco, the founder of Jiggy puzzles. And if you've been around Fsc since the very early days, circa beginning of 2020 you might actually remember our first interview together. It's number 10 if you want to go back and check out Caitlyn's story at the very beginning of her journey as we were chatting when she was only a few months into building jiggy and it was actually also the beginning of my journey with building female startup club also only a few months in. So today we're getting up to speed on what's happened in her world since then and we deep dive into the power of her business model when it comes to collaborations with female artists, strategic partnerships with corporate clients and how she managed to get on Oprah's list of favorite things.

And while I've got you here, if you're a founder yourself or you're just getting started with putting together your ideas to launch a business slash side hustle something I've come across that's a problem for every founder at every stage is capital. Every entrepreneur or future founder that I speak to myself included struggles with the money piece. We all need more money. So we've put together a comprehensive list of every grant and accelerator that's live right now and we're keeping it updated weekly. And there's some really good ones that are closing in a couple of weeks time that you should totally jump onto and apply to access the document for free. Go to female startup club dot com forward slash grants to get your copy. Alrighty. Let's jump into today's episode. This is Kaylin for female startup club. If your brand has a social media account, archive can save you three hours a day. UGC is a powerful marketing tool that helps brands promote audience engagement, boost conversion rates and build consumer trust.

But manually monitoring every social media platform is inefficient and costly and there's no way to guarantee you'll catch every post in a busy feed ready to end the daily scroll. I'm excited to introduce you to archive. Archive is your content goldmine it automatically saves and stores the social media post. Your brand is tagged in before they disappear. Instead of checking your feeds, 24 7, Check your archive library whenever you want, easily organize your UGC into custom collections that you can share securely with your team partners or agencies. You can even request usage rights with just two clicks using archive. You'll never miss another post and it's easy to download and repurpose your assets for your brand campaigns. Get started for free today at archive dot com forward slash F. S. C. That's archive dot com forward slash F. S. C. Find your best UGC with archive and say goodbye to the daily Scroll, Kalen. Hi, welcome back to the female startup club podcast. Hi, I'm so happy to be back and yeah, talking years later, it's great to be here again.

I know it's so great to be here again for anyone listening. We had our first interview ever, which was back in early 2020 it was episode number 10 for me. So it was like, seriously early days, but you had actually just launched your business the november before. So it's kind of wild because in those years I've watched from afar, the success that you've had and the growth that you've had and all these exciting things happening and then on our side we're at the 500 ish mark. It's been a journey for both of us and I'm so excited to be back doing Part Two. I'm excited to hear what's been going on. I know I love it, it's been so fun to watch you as well. Um I'm just kind of, yeah, cheerleading from afar and I'm excited to dive back in. Thank you so much for saying that. I feel like I wanna explore, kind of, there's two ways that we could go about this, but I want to, I think the best thing to do is anyone who's listening should go back to the very first episode and kind of hear that early story and why you started and how you started and today we could pick up from where we kind of left off in that early 2020 mark.

Um talk about what's happened since then maybe cover some highs and some lows and then get into a deeper dive discussion around co labs and partnerships and what's been going on. Cool, that sounds great. Let's, let's rewind to early 2020 pandemics hit y'all like in the early days, what was going on? Oh my gosh, it was wild. Yeah, wild times. So, you know, I had been thinking about this idea for, for years at that point and so finally left my job and started really working on jodi and launched november of 2019 and you know, some of the, some of the trends I was already seeing happen that gave me the conviction to even start around, you know, unplugging from technology and kind of wanting to get away from screen self care, mindfulness and this, this appetite for like analog activity. So those were already happening.

But then, you know, add in everybody in the world being stuck at home for a puzzle company. You know, it honestly just kind of threw me into this tailspin in some great ways and in some really challenging ways and it's just been like a sprint really, you know, we're, we're catching our breath now, but those next two years, Um, we're really just uh just kind of a days. Um, but you know, back to the beginning of 2020, so we launched, remember 2019 and went right into holiday season. So I knew there would be, you know, some seasonality. A lot of people have great fond memories or traditions around puzzling, you know, to get With their families during the holidays. So that was kind of our first marketing around the holiday season for 2019. And then we had only done one production run to that point. So, you know, we had our vendors, we had our supply chain, but we really only, you know, kind of trouble shot it once.

And so how many units did you have? We have? The the initial order was 10,000 units, but I split it up. So I, you know, basically part of the negotiation with the factories, that was the minimum minimum minimum, they would not accept my business for less than that, I was like, all right, so what if I pay for like the raw materials of that amount? But I don't I don't, you know, I'm just turning out we're going like cold start. I don't think I need that many, you know, in our warehouse and actually at that point in my living room was where I was shipping from. Uh So, you know, I took delivery on the first, let's say a couple of 1000. And so I still had an allocation from that initial, you know, run quantity. Um So as soon as we saw the writing on the wall and going into the new year anyway, you know, we did have some marketing plans around, um, dry january and an activity to do when you're, when you're sober over the weekend and you know, valentine's day, like date night, you know, have a date night in and so we were already starting to sell through that, so I ordered the next batch and then, you know, that mid March um weekend when I was in new york.

So, so it was fairly early that it was just full shut down. Um you know, everyone at home and we saw immediate um, you know, overnight people looking for activities, you know, like media outlets writing about what to do and, and puzzles kind of coming to the forefront. So immediately ordered all the rest in and um and had already gotten out of my living room and had a warehouse that could fulfill much more quickly. But yeah, we immediately went into um re stopping because did end up selling out of that first full run. And so I kind of saw, you know, even with, even with placing as quickly as I could, we were going to be sold out for about two months and so, you know, a six month old company. Yeah, like I'm so early, I'm, I'm a six month old brand and it's like the demand is now, like I'm, I'm missing the moment, you know, I'm missing this window of opportunity.

Um And so we did a couple of things then um, which I think people can, can take some inspiration from. So the first of course, everyone, you know, was moving to gift cards and like how else you can support these small businesses even if they are sold out. So we did a fun spin on, on our gift cards where we made them puzzles. So it was a mini 24 for peace, like postcard sized puzzle. And so on the back of it was where we wrote the redemption code. So you get it in the mail just in an envelope and then you have to put it together, you know, to redeem it. Um, once we were back in stock, so that was kind of just an added layer of fun, fun little surprise and delight um for people, but then really, um, what I, you know, I was just trying to troubleshoot, can we source them elsewhere? Can we um, can we change the packaging to, to at least have something available for sale? And so what I was able to get, you know, just off the shelf were blank white puzzles and so you know, it's a puzzle, but there's nothing printed on it and um, so it's kind of this, you know, necessity is the mother of invention, like, aha moment, whereas like, well, my whole thing is, I have this community of artists and so I got these blank white puzzles and you know, I live in new york and don't have a car.

So I rented a Zipcar fully masked and gloves and everything. And I drove around to our new york based artist and dropped off these blank white puzzles and they hand drew and hand painted on them and you know, essentially created these, one of a kind original pieces of artwork on a puzzle. Um, and so we hosted an auction for them and raised money and it was split between the artist and Covid fundraising efforts for new york city. And so it was really special campaign that ended up, you know, getting, getting media coverage and and actually being not just a quick temporary fix, but um, but actually a really special moment for the brand. So that was kind of our first six months of Covid was trying to restock, quickly scrambling, you know, doing our original hand painted campaign um, and trying to just kind of meet the moment weightless gift cards and, and stay as relevant as we could while being sold out.

It's interesting because I feel like for you, you're really leaning into at that stage, the bootstrap founder, everything was kind of the word of mouth, like you every day hitting the internet pavement trying to get your story out there. But actually what's come out of that is how you've kind of, you've really went for that grassroots approach and that inherently built that word of mouth marketing moment for you, which it seems like such an obvious thing, but I feel like it's actually often forgotten people shouldn't be turning straight to launching paid media ads or, or you know, blowing thousands of dollars to get things happening. You should be organically trying to find these ways to reach your target audience through innovative campaigns and through kind of just getting your story out there, which is exactly what you did. Yeah, absolutely. I think for me, it's just, especially for my experience at the startup before the skin that I was at before gigi, you know, we took a very kind of grassroots and community driven approach as well.

And so I think um, in some ways it just felt so organic and just much more authentic of a way to build a brand to me, but also, you know, strategically, I think it's just so much, you know, it's a longer play, but I think it's what actually makes a business like defensible, especially if you have a product that can be knocked off and you know, and, and competitors will pop up. I think, um, I think ultimately it's what makes you stand out, what gives you, you know, longer legs and gives longevity to the idea, um, and what makes it a more defensive business. So, um, both kind of just from my, my core, what I had experienced already and what I was comfortable with and felt more authentic, but then, um, also certainly I think it's in the best interests of the brand too and it is so easy, I think there was certainly you know a period of time where like everything was you know, D.

D. C. Facebook ad machine just you know come up with some products, even drop ship a product from you know don't even make it yourself pump money into ads and like there you go, you have you know you have your e commerce business. Um and I think that model uh you know just kind of ran its course and it is a bit tired, I think consumers do you want to know what's behind it and you know if you're really just selling a product buying ads and paying for acquisition a moment when you're sold out or they're you know something goes wrong, like there's not that much to fall back on. Um So I think when you when you approach it from a bigger from a y you know what is the why behind the brand then? Um it was you have you know coming up with campaigns of one like it was because we had this community of artists and this mission around it like it was that's what allowed you know being able to meet the moment in an authentic way um versus this, I think just having a product that you push out exactly, I feel like from that moment for the blank kind of puzzle with new york artists moment that must have been a guiding moment as well, where you were like, okay, this actually works, this is something that we can build into our strategy ongoing, what was your approach from then on with collaborations and partnerships, whether it was strategic or whether it was the female artists that you were working with, what was your kind of guiding strategy moving forward.

Yeah, it definitely kind of proved this hypothesis that um people, you know, would see puzzles as art and I think that was, you know, the premise in the beginning was okay, puzzles, there's this product, I think it can be a more fun experience um and you know, be differentiated if it's not just cheesy stock photography, but it's actually beautiful pieces of art. Um so let's start there and then, you know, really having, you know, we auction these and they went for 3, 400 like $8500 was the highest, you know, so someone came over $4000 for, you know, yes, an original, a hand, hand on original on a puzzle. And really, that was kind of a proof of concept, if you will, that this idea of being the vehicle, but for a piece of art had traction and and that there was interest there, so from there, you know, definitely saw this concept of collaborations and more kind of limited runs, um, as as having a lot of potential, so working with um both larger artists, you have an artist partner who she um you know a couple million instagram followers and just shares um shares her art there and does drops of her prints and stuff.

And so we do a rotating collection with her that's that's swapped out on a seasonal and then working with brands to especially brands with you know, really strong visual identities and really, you know fun in house creative and assets. And so that's been a great part of growing and and just getting in front of like minded audiences through those partnerships has been a great growth channel. Yeah, absolutely. It's genius on all levels. Like you're reaching their audience, you're coming new, exciting things for your audience. It's a really pr worthy moment. It's kind of like the dream business model in so many ways totally I think get fresh product which you know, you're always trying to um to launch new skews and just keep it interesting and dynamic for your existing, you know, customers and then getting in front of new customers in a way that um that feels, you know, that feels like a like a fun original idea and not um not too heavy handed or or to uh kind of forced down their throat.

So to have we've done, you know, really fun um like a like a non alcoholic drink and so really fun scenes of you know a puzzle party um with the beverage and even winky lux. And my friend actually runs a cosmetics brand winky lux which was blown up and targeted for an all over. And they have really strong prints like packaging prints there no kind of iconic prints on all their packaging. And so doing something that recognizable for their customers on a puzzle was really fun. Um And then you know even really making it more of a almost a marketing vehicle for the partner as well. So for example we worked with the music artist Kacey Musgraves who was releasing her new album. And so along with you know the vinyl and stuff for the album we put the cover art onto a puzzle and she sold that alongside the album release.

So it's one not only way to just you know add another monetize the audience more but to have it be much more interactive and you know people would get a Q. R. Code leading to the album and a message from her on the puzzle. So you know to be listening to her music while while piecing this puzzle together and then get get a fun like multimedia experience was something totally new to her fan base. Um And so using using puzzles as an engagement tool and you know the fact that yeah maybe they could have bought a poster and put it up on the wall. But um you know people spend 8 10 hours doing a puzzle like the you know the time of engagement on really just like an advertising, you know, people wait tens of thousands, millions of dollars for 30 seconds of a customer's attention, 10 seconds maybe. Um and so the fact that, you know, partners can put their branded imagery on a puzzle and people would spend 10 hours with it, you know, it was a real kind of value add for them as well.

So definitely a win win that we plan to continue and has become really core to the business and for something like that, when it's kind of like a brand branded partnership that could have also been a white label moment, but you've leaned more into the collaboration side of it. How does the actual, like how does that work in terms of the model for numbers? Like is it like a commission or they pay upfront or what's the back end of that? Typically we do a Yeah, like a royalty split. So because we are, you know, a lot of much bigger players is it's essentially licensing, you know, they would um you know, Disney or something would be looking at licensing out their characters and everything, but since we've really tried to approach it as, as, you know, people who are aligned with our audience that we can create a real, you know, win win moment for, and the fact that we're still small, you know, self funded bootstrapping business, we've just by necessity done most of our deals on the, like the back end of sales, So it's essentially a rev share, um, that we split on the back end depending on the party, you know, if it's an artist and a partner and jiggy, then we'll do like a three way split.

So figuring that out. And there are some partners who I totally understand, bring a lot of value themselves and are like looking for like a minimum guarantee. So you can factor that in if, um, if there's, you know, you want a little more uh, security with a minimum guarantee on their end. Um, so I think it's, it's getting creative and, and ultimately of course finding what works for you, but a rev share has, has definitely worked for us and, and been, you know, most partners have been open to that and when it comes to the like the artists and even the brand partners to, are you going out and actively pitching them or are they coming to you? Or what's the process of, of finding the artist and then kind of that approach moment and getting them on board, definitely both. And, and in the beginning it was certainly much more outbound on my side. Um, you know, on the artist side going to fare art fairs and shows and galleries and, you know, diving into these like illustrator communities online and go, yeah, so fun and still is probably the most fun part of of my day today.

Um, so yeah, it started with me curating and going out to them and sharing this idea and what we're working on since we've launched and been live and um and certainly, you know, big press moments, anything that really kind of puts the brand on the map, We start getting a lot of inbound as well. And so we have essentially like an open submission um process and so artists can submit their work, you know, tell us a bit about them. Um and then when we're making selections, we we go through those. So it's it's pretty 50 50 at this point between Um, partners I find and then our inbound submissions. And then we have done open calls for art. And um and we actually did a community-driven selection process where we did an open call for art. We have 500 artists submit their work and then our community, you know, our customers, our puzzlers voted on which ones they wanted to do next.

And so um six winners were ultimately what we made for our next collection. Um so like, fun like that. Yeah, I have been um have been great. And then on the partnership side also, I'd say pretty, you know, even evenly split. Um but always, you know, looking connecting with like minded brands and networking with other founders and a lot of that has led to opportunities as well. Oh my gosh, I love that. I don't know if you feel the same as me, but today's mainstream news is not engaging, not unbiased and not enjoyable. The Donut Newsletter is all these things. It's also 100% free and hilariously witty, join 85,000 daily readers and get news that lets you make up your own mind at the donut dot co forward slash hype. That's T H E D O N U T dot C O forward slash hype to sign up for free today.

I feel like it comes across that you really lean into customer feedback when you're kind of developing new product or developing new ideas and and something that I came across was really that community choice moment that you just spoke of. Are there any other examples of things like that where you really loop in the community for their feedback? Yeah, we've had a few actually last year we had two product launches, three even um that were very community driven and um so first was our frame pairings because of course we include puzzle blue with each one. Um and so, you know, the whole concept is these puzzles are pieces of art and you can display them afterwards. So we have been including the puzzle glue and then started getting a lot of questions around framing suggestions and we made the puzzles match standard frame sizes so that it would be easier to source, but we ended up, you know, asking like would you, would you want to just get it all in one?

Would you want to bundle it, pick puzzle, pick your frame, you know, easy, easy gifting, easy bundling. Um And that was was definitely very positive the backs and we developed our jiggy frame pairings and then we also you know started getting a lot of the pieces are a bit too small for my kid and I want to make it a whole family, you know, a fair and activity and a lot of the benefits of puzzles um really can be for early childhood development and for for adults it's a lot of improved memory and sleep and just kind of overall brain health and stimulation. Um reduce stress and even studies using them. PTSD patients and grief communities. Um and for kids it's a lot of fine motor skills and like spatial recognition and shape and pattern matching and uh and even I talked to this pediatric O. T. Occupational therapist and she's saying even especially now with like social media and um you know youtube and everything just like persistence like with our attention spans.

She uses puzzles with her kids to just teach like sticking with a task and and delayed gratification and you know, there aren't really in many ways to like cut quarters with a puzzle and so just that skill that that um that muscle and just persistence and then you know get into delayed gratification. And so we ended up developing jiggy Junior which is our kid line of puzzles. Same model where each of the designs is by a female artist who we do profit sharing with but you know bigger piece sizes instead of glue adhesive sheets. So a little more kid friendly. So we launched Ricky JR off of that. And then lastly we are kind of piloting a new model called Shaggy Studio where the feedback and the conversation we were having with both our communities, our artist community. You know, we just started getting so much interest in so many artists who wanted to turn their artwork into puzzles. But our model of releasing six at a time and these very curated collections just didn't allow us, you know, to work with that money.

Um and then on the customer side, you know, there we just started getting You know, could we could you do more photography or could you do more watercolor or cartoon or anime or whatever it was. I just wanted more styles because we had a pretty specific kind of aesthetic for what we were curating for the collections. So on the artist side there were 10 more artists wanting to work together. And then on the customer side they were looking for more options and kind of different um different styles especially when they were thinking of it as art and what they want to hang. And so um last just a few months ago in october we started experimenting with what we call G studio which is where artists can come on create a profile. You know, we still review their art and approve it, but essentially it's, you know, more of a marketplace. So it's a platform where they come on, create their profile, upload their work and, and then um customers can shop and you know, when an order is placed, we, of course, we make the puzzle, It's jig equality in our packaging, everything you'd expect from us.

Um but it's much more of a, you know, not quite an X. C or T spring, but more of a platform marketplace. Yeah, and it's print on demand, right? So no waste, everyone can kind of get what they want, but without kind of having a million 1000 skews on your. Exactly. Exactly, yeah. Oh my God, I love that. I'm really excited about that. And how has that been going, like since, since it launched so far? So good. We have 40 artists live and we've gone through, you know, just operationally, we've all just been testing how it works, you know, onboarding them, making sure that they're set up because I do do a lot of their own marketing or have their own site currently where they sell prints and originals and want to plug into their site. So we've had a lot of kind of on our back end of plugging into their existing point of sale. Um, ironing out the whole print on demand. How quickly can we get those orders out?

What's the turnaround time, but it's been great. We have, we have 40 artists live, you know, they each have three plus, so we have like 100 100 and 50 designs. Um so before where we were releasing six at a time, you know, to be able to kind of overnight have 100 new pieces. Art was really exciting for us to be able to offer that and for customers, I mean the puzzles are addicting, right? And we really do want to lean into this kind of habit and ritual where it's not just a one time, you know, toy or game, but it's really this practice that you do to disconnect to get away from the screens to take some some time time for yourself and be, you know, be more present and mindful. And so um we see very strong repeat rates and so to have um to have that amount of new designs to offer, just really helps when, you know, we have our puzzle club there puzzling with us every month. So so always looking for for new designs.

Um, so it's been great so far and is that a custom piece of tech that you've built on the side or what's the like back end of that now scrappy scrappy small team, we run on Shopify and we've just kind of packed together, there are some apps and plug ins that we use for different functionality that shop finds an offer, but I know essentially it's just an addition to, to our site, but set up set up differently, you know, it comes from the print on demand is a different, um, production and fulfillment partner. And so, um, the back end ops is different, but the customer facing experience is still, you know, on our dot com and kind of same same shopping and checkout that they would expect right, got it, got it, got it. I'd love to switch gears a little bit and talk about the money piece of your story for the last couple of years.

In the beginning you're bootstrapped, I don't know where you are now. I know you've been on shark tank. So I feel like I'd love to sit in this space for a bit and understand how you're approaching working capital to this and then if you've raised or what that approach to fundraising is? Yeah, that's been a really interesting part of the journey for me just, you know, going in kind of blind, didn't have, you know, had friends in VC and stuff, but personally, um, not, not a ton of experience on running a business on the financial side. And so, um, started out just fully self funded and, and actually, you know, three years in have remained that way. So I decided there was one point in time, decided, you know, should I raise now, is this the right time to bring on a partner and um, and did go instructing and ultimately, you know, I think because we are doing, trying to do things differently. And I really wanted to make sure that we could continue growing in an authentic way and make sure that, you know, we do profit sharing with our artists and, you know, I think a lot of investors will be looking for, you know, ways to save on the bottom line that wasn't really aligned with um, with what we were trying to do and so ultimately decided to continue bootstrapping.

So we run on cash flow. Um, there are definitely pros and cons to that and huge challenges to that, especially when you have some seasonality in your business. So we have a couple other, you know, some of the collapse and some of our more B two B so, you know, doing custom puzzles for, for corporate gifting will have, you know, big tech company, you know, doing an employee conference or everyone's working from home, they want to do an employee engagement activity, but everyone's at home. So we've made custom puzzles for partners like that. So that helps, um, kind of even out some of the, the seasonality of the year. But um, yeah, I mean anyone, I'll tell you when you have, you know, most of your revenue coming in Q four to make those dollars last, you know, for, for the rest of the year for 3/4 of the year, um, can definitely be a challenge and just have to have, be so, so mindful of what costs you're taking on. And so um for our third episode check in, I can give you posted, I am starting to explore options of what that looks like.

And I do, I'm looking at all options and that's what I think a lot of, you know, people, if I could advise to make sure, you know, what is out there and I to not just assume it has to be, you know, VC um equity raise um that there are a lot of working capital, whether especially now, so many have popped up kind of these more creative, you know, either going to bank and getting alone or um you know, much more um some run off your purchase orders. So, you know, if your wholesale business and you have to fund your purchase orders. Um but you know, it's not sixties, you don't get paid for 60 days until after you deliver. Um there are, are there options to, to fund that? So kind of inventory funding um is one option and uh and then some, you know, that run directly off even Shopify offers capital now and they just pull from your sales. So a little less, you know, um ultimately you still have to know what running into, but a little less kind of risky that's pulled out of out of sales if you're confident you can cover that.

So I'm in that process. Again, it's what, what is the next stage of look like and what are the resources we need to get there? Because I think they're, they're great things and maintaining the ownership and control and being able to grow mindfully and in your own way, when, when, as we do, you have such a purpose driven brand, but there are limitations and you know, to not have bigger budgets to make bigger bets, you know, on, on marketing are on now, you know, the world's opening and events and and some of the really fun and the fun branded marketing exactly that, you know, it's just hard to justify when every dollar pulled out is, you know, affects the day to day running of the business. So yes, I will. You know, we'll see what, what the right decision is this year, but but still 33, almost 3.5 years in and and self funding.

It, wow, I love that for you though. That's so cool. It really fits like the mission of what you're trying to build. I'm excited to see what comes next for you on that front. And the part three of this episode, me too, I'll have to give you posted what's shifting the needle for you now in terms of marketing, you know, 2023 it's a very different landscape. 2020 2021 even last year. Really? So I'm wondering like, are you, you know, what's working in terms of Tiktok? Is it pr is it ambassador programs, is it amazon? Is it something else? What's kind of your focus at the moment? Yeah, we just launched on amazon. So we actually, so we were selected for Oprah's favorite things list. Um Oh my God, that's so cool. Yeah, thank you. Very big, big moment for us. Um, always, you know, such um, I'm honored to be included.

No, unfortunately not. She doesn't think when she still have a show, I think, um, you, you got to meet her and go on the show, but, but now she's, you know, the magazine still has an incredible um, audience around it, but we, so, you know, their preferences, but you're also live on amazon to be kind of spun up quickly to go live on amazon to participate in the list. And so now that we're there were like, all right, let's, you know, let's see what we can do with this channel. So, um, we're still fresh, but it's starting to grow on amazon this year. And then, um, yeah, ours, you know, it's still, it still is really heavy on board of mouth, both on customers. So that's, you know, how do you incentivize your customers with ambassadors or kind of a loyalty program made the loyalty program where, you know, they get um, you can, you can accumulate points for sharing on social media and leaving reviews and so programs like that, loyalty and ambassadors can still be really powerful?

Um, you know, ads, facebook instagram um youtube, like there's really, really at least for us very um, hit or miss, so so can be powerful, can also be very unpredictable. Um so, you know, we're experimenting with the creative but it's kind of a necessary evil, you know, to to continue to just have a presence there, but not definitely not something we're putting all our eggs in the facebook ad bucket. Um Pr I would say definitely, you know, if you have a product, if there are solid hooks or if it's a crime for gifting, then, you know, getting on hiring agency or even a freelancers just be pitching commerce editors to be getting on, you know, gift guides, product lists, roundups, all of these very commerce driven pr can be powerful and also kind of be, you know, it can convert on its own and then kind of, the other halo effect of it is adding a lot of link backs for your brand for SEO purposes.

Um and so that can be helpful to um to just start to rise in the rankings and be more discoverable in search. So we're still continuing that and then, you know, our artists as well, since they are really the partners in this and they get a percentage of sales and so are incentivized to drive their own sales. Um We do have kind of this built in marketing force of the artists themselves who are doing, you know, have their own audiences and email lists and followers. Um, and I would say email, you know, it's uh, it's it seems just like table stakes, but if you can be, you know, creative and constantly innovating and making sure you're, you know, you have strong flows and welcome and, you know, browse abandoned cart abandoned and all of the make sure you're not leaving anything on the table. Um, and that you're really covering bases with email as well. Right? Absolutely. Just as I go back to the Oprah thing, how do you get on the radar of being on Oprah's favorite things list?

Yeah, I so it started two years ago, I went to my first and only actually trade show. So if you're a very wholesale heavy business, then, um, certainly trade shows can be powerful. You know, we've really, I did one, we've really focused especially during Covid on the direct to consumer side of things. But I was at a trade show, you know, with a booth displaying jiggy and um, a an editor from her magazine, um came up and and had the chance to meet him and, and show you touch and feel the product and explain what we were all about. So, originally got on the radar a couple of years ago, they ended up kind of changing the focus of that list um, in that year. And so, you know, just every once a quarter, every three months follow up follow up. Um and, and then ultimately I kind of tag teamed, I would follow up with him, you know, my Pr team would track down any other back channel they could find.

Um and then this year we, we were put up for it again. Um actually funny we, you know, okay, you made it through this round, okay, you made it through this round. The final round was the photo shoot, and so it's not guaranteed, you know, they do the full photo shoot and then they do the layout and make final selections, so it wasn't guaranteed, but like, you're really close at that point. And so I got the email on like a Tuesday at 10 a.m. That um okay, we need your, we need your product and the photo shoot is this thursday, like in 48 hours in Portland Oregon across the country from where I was sitting in new york, and we need, you know, whatever, four of the puzzles in their packaging and then we need completed one framed to show how it looks completed and framed, and I had none of that with me in new york. So, you know, okay, I'm from human center can send the ones in the packaging, you know, they can just send the samples, but how am I gonna, you know, I can't even if I overnighted to me, can I speed puzzle this in 24 hours, complete it, frame it and ship it back overnight.

So I ended up, you know, taking to our community, which was incredible. But I posted on instagram like we have an insane opportunity, has any customer who bought this puzzle and kept it and framed it like DM me and we have multiple customers who had it framed on the wall and pulled it down off their wall and bubble, wrapped it up and sent it to Portland Oregon for me. So, so that's how we ended up pulling it off. Yeah. To make the photo shoot. That is so cool. That means that their puzzle there on Oprah's favorite list of things. Their puzzle is like the trophy. Oh my God. That's so cool. I love that. So much power of community. It was a very Yeah. Total power of community. That is so cool. Before we jump into the six cook questions.

My last question for you is what is just your key piece of advice for female founders in 2023 who want to grow their business? Mm You know, we've, we've talked about a community a lot. I would definitely kind of sit down and think about what that means to you and and think about it a bit more kind of open. And did. We are reminded me of what, you know the first thing. Everything that was their customers. You know. Okay, so you have your customer community. But what does that really mean? And what does that look like? Are you engaging with them in in all the ways you can activating them. Um And then I think what are the other communities for us? You know our artists and our brand partners and these collaborations. Um and where is their opportunity to have that work for you a bit more? Um So I think again on kind of the long term, if you're not just quick win, you know sell a product but really want to go through the exercise of brand building and really creating something with lasting power Um than understanding, you know what differentiates you and what your community is definitely be talking to them, surveying um you know, understanding who your you know your avid, your 1% um kind of hype engaged people are and what what they're attracted to your brand about and really making sure that you're making the most of that and kind of not leaving opportunity on the table to have more of a community than just customers.

I love that. That's a great reminder for everyone myself included. Hey it's dune here. Thanks for listening to this amazing episode of the female startup club podcast. If you're a fan of the show and want even more of the good stuff. I'd recommend checking out female startup club dot com, where you can subscribe to our free newsletter. We send it out weekly covering female founder business news insights and learnings in D. C. And interesting business resources. And if you're a founder building an e commerce brand, you can join our private network of entrepreneurs called hype club at female startup club dot com forward slash hype club. We have guests from the show joining us for intimate. Ask me Anythings, expert workshops and a group of totally amazing like minded women building the future of DTC brands. As always, please do subscribe, rate and review the show and post your favorite episodes to instagram stories. I am beyond grateful when you do that.

How to get on Oprah's Favorites List & bootstrapping a puzzle brand to 250,000 units sold with Jiggy Founder Kaylin Marcotte (Part 1)
How to get on Oprah's Favorites List & bootstrapping a puzzle brand to 250,000 units sold with Jiggy Founder Kaylin Marcotte (Part 1)
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