Ep. #1219 - Simplifying Your Company’s Message
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, Andrew Morgans and Kelley Thornton, Founder & CEO of Tiege, discuss simplifying your company’s message. Hear Kelley and Andrew talk about why sales is vital to any business. Plus, they discuss the importance of finding a voice in brand building and why it is hard yards.
Covered In This Episode
Men’s skincare is a billion-dollar industry, but men don’t have the same needs as women. Tiege makes it simple for men to get the skincare products they need.
Listen to Andrew and Kelley discuss Kelley’s entrepreneurial journey to skin care. They go through Kelley’s career, getting back into entrepreneurship and DTC marketing strategies. Kelley recounts the founding of Tiege, why version one failed, finding a voice and brand building with influencers. The conversation turns to pivoting and developing skincare products for men.
Get insightful marketing tips in this Startup Hustle episode now.
- How did Kelley get into skincare (2:06)
- Corporate jobs and sales (6:29)
- Getting back into entrepreneurship with a global design agency (10:44)
- DTC marketing strategies and consumer psychology (13:11)
- Founding Tiege (17:36)
- Why version one failed (20:14)
- Pivoting and developing their own skincare products (22:04)
- Finding a voice and brand building with influencers (25:13)
- Brand building is hard yards (31:39)
- Entrepreneurship, brand building, and legacy (33:10)
- Where to follow and connect with Kelley (37:29)
I feel like, in this day and age, there’s a universal truth. If people have a problem, they go to Google and they search for it. If Sales is the lifeblood of any company. You can have the best everything, and if you can’t sell that concept, it’s completely worthless.– Kelley Thornton
Pairing yourself up with someone who already had trust, that had a message like you talked about authenticity and trust, and, you know, morality made it much easier to choose what your messaging was as a brand as well.– Andrew Morgans
For anyone listening out there who’s looking to build a brand, probably one of the most successful things you can do is try to find somebody who already has a voice. If you don’t have that voice, I would suggest trying to build a community around a topic first, where the community becomes the voice itself.– Andrew Morgans
Building yourself, building your reputation, and developing a level of expertise around the subject that you’re really interested in before launching a business is brilliant. But it’s hard yards. And no matter what you do, it’s gonna be hard yards, no matter how you approach it.– Kelley Thornton
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Andrew Morgans 0:01
What’s up, Hustlers? Welcome back. This is Andrew Morgans, founder of Marknology, here as today’s host of Startup Hustle. Today we’re gonna be talking about simplifying your company’s message. And before I introduce today’s guest, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult, Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably and has the platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. Kelly Thornton, welcome to the show.
Kelley Thornton 0:28
Thanks for having me. Let’s rock.
Andrew Morgans 0:30
Yeah, guys, we were just chatting. You know, before we got before we got on the show. And we really have a lot in common. I love it when I get brand owners. People have built a brand on the show instead of just service providers. It’s just kind of a different take a different look at at E-commerce and what we’re doing. So I’m really excited to have you on here and hopefully share some of your story with us. One, where are you calling in from?
Kelley Thornton 0:57
Andrew Morgans 0:58
Chicago. I love it. Another Midwesterner if you guys consider yourselves midwest. I do.
Kelley Thornton 1:03
You know, I was born and raised on the East Coast. We were kind of talking a little East Coast minutes ago, but I’ve been in Chicago for over 30 years. And it’s great. It’s a great city. It has great great people here Midwestern attitude people are still, you know, very friendly, still saying hi to each other for the most part on the street. And it’s great. I do like the East Coast, love the East Coast. I love the West Coast., but Chicago is a great home.
Andrew Morgans 1:28
Yeah, I can’t disagree with being in Kansas City. We’re like the little brother of Chicago if anything, but there are a few cities in the Midwest that have any size. So, you know, we’re not really looking to New York. We’re looking to Chicago, as far as calling it the big city. And when it comes to e-commerce, at least Chicago seems to have, like, you know, that’s the city to go to for events and things like that. So, absolutely love Chicago. Hopefully, you’re getting the same weather we’re getting today here in Kansas.
Kelley Thornton 1:56
Thank you know. We’re getting into the cloudy season. I don’t care about the cold, but man, that the dark skies get a little gloomy.
Andrew Morgans 2:03
Where’s my sunshine? Right?
Kelley Thornton 2:05
We’ll be good.
Andrew Morgans 2:06
Well, I love getting the show started just getting to know Kelley a little bit better. Like, you know, how did you I know you’ve been doing this for about eight years, as far as building this brand, but I’m sure your story starts before that. Did you always know you’re gonna be an entrepreneur or business owner? You know, how did you get into the skincare?
Kelley Thornton 2:26
Yeah, got into skincare cuz I’m, I’m starting to look like shit. I’m getting older looking at the self. And I’m wondering what my wife sees in me still, but um, and I, you know, I really did want to start thinking about taking care of myself differently you have, you’ve talked about skincare earlier, and you have like a specific skincare need that you’re trying to address. And I think it’s the same thing for me it started off like understanding anti aging. But there’s a bigger thing going on around self care. That’s generally speaking, we’re more aware of all this stuff, right we and we speak man over here because we do sell the men’s T channel is a is a men’s skincare brand. But you know, it is about like healthy lifestyle, healthy routine eating right? Sleeping, right drinking enough water, you know, going to the doctor’s regularly and we’re just part of a healthy routine. That’s about taking care of your skin. So, you know, I mean, that’s generally how we how we got started as my interest in you know, trying to help guys think about skincare and the importance of it in their health healthy journey, and my personal healthy journey. And the entrepreneur stuff. Yeah, I mean, I was hardwired early on. To be an entrepreneur took me a long time I started a business. In high school in college, I was very fortunate as you know, it was really a necessity to pay my bills. And then I went corporate for 18 years. Then I started my second company and teach Hanley is my third business.
Andrew Morgans 3:55
Okay, hold on a second. You said you went corporate for 18 years? Yeah, for your first venture? Yep. Okay, so let’s just a second. Okay, so, first venture was,
Kelley Thornton 4:06
No, I had I had it was in New England, I had a painting business, okay. And just service business. I want to tell you something, Andrew, I’ve never I’ve never mentioned anybody on any podcasts that I’ve been on but I like just went to every parking lot in town, and particularly all the church parking lots and other all over New England, all types of churches from all walks of life. And I was putting flyers and I was busy for four years. Christmas spring break and all summer and had you know, a team of four or five people painting and it was you know, it was a wonderful time to be outside in the summer. And, and spending time with friends and you know, and doing some pretty good work and charging you know, under market and being able to graduate college debt free. You know, having enough money to buy a car coming out of college chose is a fantastic experience. I’ve really loved it a lot.
Andrew Morgans 5:05
Well, thank you for sharing that. I like the good stuff. Okay, that’s the good stuff. I’m talking about Kelley. Yeah, you got to taste fruit you got to taste for being like, I can go get my own business, right? You may be parking lots wouldn’t have lasted forever, but they weren’t for a long time we stay busy for four years. That’s how I painted. I went to I started school in Hawaii. And we did power washing and painting there. I like worked with a small crew versus landscaping and I moved into painting. And when I moved from Hawaii back to Kansas City, I joined a sort of pro there like a franchise sharing and doing my first job. So I went from painting like walls and houses the first job I just like signed up, okay, God job great. And they had me on a three story Holiday Inn Express, like on a 40 foot ladder, I was barely big enough to move that thing, they definitely don’t need to pull it down and put it back up, right wasted time. So I’m gonna lean over, they’re scared to death of heights. And I just never had to deal with heights. And I was painting before it was it was smaller stuff. So that crew really pushed my limits. But again, I was working, working my way through college, wasn’t running a crew was part of a crew in that in that regard. So I wasn’t an entrepreneur. But I really look back on a lot of those labor service type jobs that I had. And I feel like I gained a lot of experience, I learned a lot. So talk to me about corporate, the next 18 years are in corporate, you’re at one company or you’re jumping around
Kelley Thornton 6:29
One company I remember I mean, I just rode that wave I was in sales the whole time. And I knew graduating college I interviewed for all these sales jobs, and I ended up ended up actually get taking a job where I was going to work in Boston, and and I was like a month between graduating and starting my career. And my father said, hey, you know, you never interviewed and like asked about working in the industry that he was in, which was in this packaging, in store display industry in New York, and I said, you know, I didn’t think of it, they offered me $10,000 more, I think my first job was like 18 five plus, I might make like $1,000 in commission. And they offered me like a $28,000 job. This is you know, 9090 with a car and like, in six months, I was gonna make commission, I’m like, I’ll take that job, you know, and I just stuck with it for a long time. It’s very fortunate because I did you know, people were being paid a lot of money in commission back then on and I’m sure there’s those jobs are still out there today, if you look hard enough for him, but it was a great, you know, is a really dog eat dog. Survival, the fittest, you know, tough customers, grind, eat what you kill type of job, and I was on it for 18 years. But I really liked, I learned every aspect says anybody that’s out there in any type of sales job really learns broadly about, like their organization, right? Because they really need to, they need to understand the technical aspects of the products are selling, they need to understand if they’re shipping if the if they’re producing a product, they need to understand manufacturing, shipping, you know, distribution, all of this stuff. So I felt like that was a pretty good foundation. And then I was able to lead people and develop a team, you know, over the years train people. So I think all that stuff was really was really helpful. Getting out of it was very hard. It’s kind of like, you know, the only thing you need alcohol for a long day to come back to be an entrepreneur. It’s very sobering.
Andrew Morgans 8:30
Yeah, but there’s a lot of, there’s a lot about sales that feels very entrepreneurial to me. Yeah, even if you’re part of a company because a lot of times you’re having to go out there and get your own business, like not everything, not every company, at least in sales is giving you leads and all that a lot of it is like you’re going out there and figuring it out yourself as a bartender, a long time. You know, work six or seven years, while going through school and playing music, I worked at a retail store, you know, selling stuff, the one the kind, we have to address everyone when they come in, you know, you gotta be silent in that way. And there’s something that just kind of, you can kind of put on this mask and go to work, like, you know, the mask just being like, you gotta be in sell mode. I’m not in sell mode, when I’m not doing that, you know, I’m not trying to push people to buy things or whatever. So it’s like this mode that you get into. And I think that now we’re in E commerce, a lot of those skills translate in regards to like the feeling the approach, you know, just the way you’re doing it, the strategy or the methodology is different. But I think it’s great training for anyone trying to be an entrepreneur get into entrepreneurship to just you need to know how to sell at some level, whether you’re upselling on entering, or you’re upselling the purchase, right or you’re creating relationships. I think that’s a big part of my success has been kind of the relationship building part of sales, and then able to leverage those relationships to grow the business. You know. We have one of those. We have one of those companies here in Kansas City as well. I think it’s called American box just to give them a shout out Um, I’ve been there toured their facility because, you know, I like to know who’s in town who’s doing what someone’s trying to get some packaging done, where do I send them? You know, that kind of thing. And they their main focus was was kind of like displays. And so is it. I mean, this was a, they have a very robust facility that I was just blown away by, you didn’t know cardboard could do that many things. But it was cool. It was really cool getting to see a tour from inside a big one really operating like, you know, at full speed and all the different things they’re doing. They had some like Star Wars type stuff in there. Okay, but So 18 years in, yeah, it was a it was like, you know, really cutting, cutting it off whenever you went back to entrepreneurship. Was that jump into what you’re doing now? Or was there something in between,
Kelley Thornton 10:44
I had an agency for about eight or nine years. So I had a global design agency with that, that business was designing, producing, co-packing and shipping point of purchase displays, temporary corrugated and metal and permanent wire and plastic. And I like the creative side of it. I like the strategy side. So we started just doing design and strategy work and research for big global CPG companies. It was awesome. We worked all around the world, most of our businesses actually overseas with big global CPGs that want to develop an in store strategy. And actually, a lot of that thought process really parlayed well into DTC because it’s, it’s like, you’re what you’re doing in that world, as you’re thinking about how people are shopping in different stores throughout, you know, there’s totally different I mean, you, most consumers don’t realize it, but they’re, they make subconscious decisions about where they go to shop, based on like, their need their mental needs space at the time, sometimes you’re feeling like, you know, I want to go to, you know, I want to go to a larger store, like whatever like a Macy’s or Nordstrom, because you want to explore stuff. And other times you’re like, I just need to get in and out of there. Like I just it just melt that I need. So I’m going to like your local convenience store. Other times, it’s like, you know, I might, you know, I might need milk plus this I’m going to grocery store so you really be like kind of pre select, and then you’re in a mental state about your what you want to buy. And a lot of that translates until, like the digital world, right? Because people are people are shopping in different channels. So you and I were talking about Amazon, you know, there’s there’s a very specific, you know, kind of shopper needs state when they go to Amazon although we know Amazon’s like a lot of search now to Raymond massive search on Amazon. But most people are going there to buy and if they’re coming to our.com they might be coming to learn about our products, they might they might want to understand what makes our skincare unique or look at the science of it and that type of thing. So there’s so there’s a lot of correlation between this and then each channel that we operate in whether or not it’s a micro micro influencer, macro influencer long form content, short form content, SEO, this is all like thinking about how the shopper or the consumer is digesting information about our company on their path to purchase.
Andrew Morgans 13:10
Yeah, are we educating? are we comparing? Are we, you know, building trust? Like, what is our are we trying to, you know, as an agency, I’m always thinking about and why am I trying to recruit employees like it’s not just clients that I’m trying to put out content for, I want to be seen as a, you know, a thought leader as a team doing a lot of innovative stuff, some of the content we do is is to recruit you know, most people don’t see that they think that it’s just for getting customers or sales you know, but no, there’s a lot of stuff you’re doing that doesn’t necessarily have an ROI to a sale point. I think about retail stores and how they have you know, color schemes and the music they’re playing and the temperature they keep the place and and you know, the really good ones are thinking through all those things. There’s like energy you get in a store when it’s got you know, like house music on and it’s got like, you know, colors that make you say yes or buy. And then there’s colors that make you kind of like move quick. They got all different kinds of methodologies like I think of IKEA, think about IKEA you know where they’re, I hated it. I hated we have Nebraska Furniture Mart here and we have IKEA and I liked the stuff in IKEA other than having to build it I liked the very simplistic design I grew up overseas abroad. I like some minimalism and simplistic stuff. But you couldn’t hardly drag me into an Ikea certain point I hated that. They were choosing what I looked at that I had to look through everything it was like a rat, a rat maze. Versus Nebraska Furniture Mart was wide open. Okay, and you could just go any department you want. They’re both massive furniture stores as well. I’m kind of bringing them up and I think about in the DTC model you’re exactly right there are like those. There’s those sales funnels that are just like hitting you with all the upsells and cross sells and making you go through these funnels and we do it you know, all of us have done some of those at some point And then there’s the one click buy. So there’s the ones that are like, trying to upsell, you upsell, you upsell, you upsell, cross sell you upsell you. Absolutely. And then there’s the one that’s just like, I want to make it easy. Coming in shop. Something I’ve really learned on the Amazon side is you’re talking about this like mindset people are in and Amazon is direct response, you know, it’s like they’re typing in cooking pan, and like buying a cooking pan, or looking at them at least right or there’s now some people looking at the different brands and doing some shopping like that. But in general, it’s like, they’re not like trying to research where the top 10 cooking pans now read about them, they are like looking to buy, they’re ready to buy. Yeah, and there’s some products that are what I would consider like auxilary, or, you know, it’s not a product, you would go to the store to buy. But if you’re in the store, you would you might buy it, if that makes sense. Like it’s not I wouldn’t go straight to the store to get a blender bottle for the for the gym. But I might go to get pre workout and protein. And then I might also buy blender, right?
Kelley Thornton 16:01
That’s the reason why all those upsells and recommended by with buttons on Amazon are so important to their ecosystem. And the grades on those are huge.
Andrew Morgans 16:11
That so I’ve tried, I’ve tried through the years I’ve been news 12 years, I’ve tried sending people just to a website to let’s say, buy a blender bottle just as an example. And you want you struggle and you just can’t get the DC model to work and you can’t understand why people you know, aren’t buying from your site, why aren’t Facebook ads working? Why aren’t Google ads were going to do? Well because no one goes to a store just to buy a blender bottle, or at least like you gotta convince somebody to do it is rare, right? Versus this is a thing that everyone goes to the store to buy me, you know, protein, you know, they want to see it they want to read the label, they want to ask the guy in the shop, hey, this is my height, my size, kind of the diet I’m on what do you recommend, you know, you can’t get that on the web, really. So you would go in store to get that and kind of get that vitamin, that GNC guy to kind of tell you what you need. And then you grab a blender bottle on the way out. And I think that thinking about it in that way, that retail way and really learning about those kinds of things and customer behavior and what they’re thinking really does translate it to DTC and EECOM every channel just has its own its own little nuance, I guess, in that way. And, you know, understanding your guys’s brand, I’ve looked at it, I’ve looked at it and understand it very much educational. It’s, you know, it’s educating men. I feel like in a lot of ways Okay, so you had eight or nine years had an agency Yeah, was there an exit there? Was there just kind of a closing the doors was it uh, I just want to switch things up. But yeah, what
Kelley Thornton 17:36
Kind of funny story I was overlapping with T Shanley, I kind of started it as a side hustle. And and you know, there was a college roommate of mine met in high school and went into college with him. And he was very fortunate and he had just kind of a small exit from a software company in Connecticut that he had been with for 20 years. And he was just kind of on the bench and I said hey, would you like to take a look at this executive summary I’ve got written for this business plan and kind of noodle around and he really liked and I said you want to start you know chiseling away at it and he said yeah, and and the business started you know, really coming coming to life with us we actually had a V-one that failed it was so we’re our kind of unique selling proposition is we’re skincare systems for guys and we really help guys, you know, have like a healthy skincare routine, wash your face, put a moisturizer on, you know, repeat at night, wash your face, put a nighttime moisturizer on that, that that basic concept. And he really liked it. So we started you know, he started working on it and Tiege started doing very well for us. Tiege One was a routine concept, but it was other people’s products in the box. And it wasn’t we’re a subscription company. So we kind of chant we really thought the model and decided to put our own brand together the T-Shanley brand, not put other people’s products in the box and do it on a on a 30-day subscription. So that’s kind of, you know, the pivot that we made. We weren’t really launched seven years ago, July. And under this current format, we just shipped our two millions box few weeks ago. nodulation Thank you very excited about that. We hand delivered our two millions box to a customer down in Georgia. Really very exciting myself and my founder and my other two founders went with us with me and got a chance to spend a few minutes with with Godot Blake, who you know, is our 2 million customer so that’s how we got into the business we really saw I saw an opportunity through my global agency to help men think about skincare and and skin health was getting a little older and then we you know, put this thesis together, started working on it failed and then pivoted and re re-launched.
Andrew Morgans 19:58
What do you think? What do you think the version will One failed. Two questions. Why do you think the version one failed? And question two? At first, did you start slowly adding your products to the subscription box? Or do did you go just all your products and made that transition quickly? Yeah.
Kelley Thornton 20:14
First off, first question. So damn good. I was I really wanted to jump on your comment on your comments earlier about, like the importance of sales. I knew it wasn’t in context of, of the DTC business was generally speaking, when we’re talking about my career in sales and your career. You know, having, like having sales, it doesn’t matter what business you’re in, you’re in the agency business. You know, I’m in the product business. Sales is the lifeblood of any company so that you know, the whole, you’re gonna have the best everything. And if you can’t sell that concept, it’s it’s completely worthless, you can have like the best Supply Logistics as people the best. I mean, if you can’t sell it, it’s pretty, it’s pretty worthless. We did. So we didn’t have a voice in the DTC market place, which, again, I think we were talking about this earlier about your project, like having someone and having a voice, how do you get a voice in a crowded marketplace? So I think we didn’t have that in v1. And we were the other problem with that was we were also selling, we were also selling other people’s products, which didn’t make it unique, right? And they were highly curated, but you could search and find them. And they weren’t easy to find, but you could find them. So we there was really no, no reason we didn’t have a voice and we weren’t selling anything unique. That’s the reason why we we failed.
Andrew Morgans 21:38
No, I love it. And then part two, to jump right into all of your own, like, you know, private label brand, like your own private label products, or whatever you want to call that. Or was it like a transition, I see a lot of companies that, you know, maybe they’ve got a store, you know, a store, and it’s 70, 70% other people’s products that they can get volume, and there’s lower margin there. And they’re trying to like build their brand, like within the store
Kelley Thornton 22:04
That was actually part of the original thesis and our Tiege v1, that we would, you know, we would grow into more products and grow into our own brand. It didn’t work because we didn’t have a voice. But we we just for point of clarification, we developed our own formulas. We were not really, we never went down the the white label path. We developed our own formulas with our own chemist who was got an equity share in the business. And then we started sourcing manufacturers to manufacture our proprietary formulas. And to this day, we every product we produce we we own the tech the IP of the of the formulation. I love that. Yeah, I mean to budget does was very specifically answer your question. You know, we started with six products, which is actually kind of a lot out of the gate. We started with six products, three different systems. Those six products go in and we started building, we started building products and our portfolio now is what it’s not huge, but it’s pretty it’s like pretty extensive rights we we do you know body lotion we do below the belt powder. We do bar soaps, three different bar soaps, body washes, deodorant, and then we really focused on the face like faces really where we’re focused on.
Andrew Morgans 23:30
Where people would probably notice the aging or, or the, you know, the character most. But I got a couple of questions for you before we do finding expert software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io. We can build a software team quickly and affordably use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs. And then see what available developers testers and leaders are ready to join your team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. The title is simplifying simplifying your company’s message. Okay, so we’re talking about selling and I think this is just an interesting I want to hear your take on this is kind of a broad question. But you know, what do you feel like you didn’t have the voice that you mentioned but you haven’t said that you got a voice either. And when you started trying to sell to men this skincare routine like a system I was part of Ballsy brands exit as a part of it in regards to they hired me to launch them on Amazon and we grew Amazon well and then they had an exit you know they’re already doing well on their own DTC and I love their play and spin on the humor side of below the belt stuff for me and just right niche but talk to me about your own experience with that like finding a voice like once you guys went to your own products just because you went to your own product doesn’t mean you had a voice, right? and so know if I know anything about launching skincare products on Amazon Ballsy brand was a when there’s been eight or nine failures for every Ballsy brand I’ve had on Amazon. They’re just very are difficult to carve out market share, it’s very difficult to get a voice very difficult to convince people, especially men, you know, about your products. What was that messaging? You guys got kind of came with? And did you find a voice early on?
Kelley Thornton 25:13
Yeah, so we did get a voice early on. And what happened was I brought a partner who is talking on YouTube about male grooming. And we were going to work with him to produce paid content for us on his YouTube channel. But then we ended up, we ended up at striking a partnership agreement. This is the transition between our failed version and our, in our revised currentday version. We got the chemist and we started talking to a male grooming influencer, who was really just talking about his people. It was a brilliant, much more brilliant than I even had any, you know, notion of at the time. It was very brilliant because he had a huge audience of guys that were listening to him about the things that we’re we’ve been talking about, about how to take care of yourself and a lot of exercise, right? And things like this, what to wear for the date, and you know, the interview and the wedding and what to say and what not to say so it was like a perfect fit for us. So that gave us a voice, when it came to trust,
Andrew Morgans 26:19
And trust, right, like I think that’s the biggest thing like I’ve really been pushing the influencer launch brands, word of Kevin Hart, Nikita, Dragon Bobbi Parish, big ones and large brands with them. And saw the impact of that you’re just buying like, what what might take you years of reputation building or brand building? You know, by piggybacking with someone else’s already spent that time to build trust and brand and reputation. It’s just an absolute win for brands. I’d be curious, like that move alone might have made version one successful if that, you know, if they’ve been curated by him or something like that, in that regard.
Kelley Thornton 26:56
Yeah, I mean, so I’m speaking with my partner, Aaron Marino and his channels Alpha M. But I think like, all the things you just described are all the intangible things that I didn’t realize. Like, I didn’t realize the power of his network, the power of what he meant to the male grooming and fitness community at that time and still does, you know. And the credibility and then specifically to your question, like, the messaging like his voice became voice, like our, our voice AT Tiege Hanley and what we said and talking about uncomplicated skincare for men and the terms that we would use really resonated or came out of the way Aaron spoke authentic, authentic authenticity, you know, truthfulness, those type of things were all just hallmarks of Aaron.
Andrew Morgans 27:46
What a great what a great matchup. Yeah. And I think, you know, just thinking about your age into entrepreneurship at that time, and thinking about where influencer brand, like that kind of marketing was at that time, eight years ago, or, you know, nine years ago, you guys were early.
Kelley Thornton 28:06
We were really lucky. I, we were we’ve been lucky in many of ways. You know, that was that was one of them, um, finding a chemist at that same time, we just tripped over them. I mean, literally, he was my business partner, Rob and him were, you know, at some dinner event, and they were they kind of trend tangentially knew each other and just talking about skincare. I mean, it’s just really fortuitous how all this came together for awesome. You know, and as you said earlier, I mean, it’s just been, it’s just brutally hard. I mean, you know, this, you talk to entrepreneurs every day, it’s, it’s, you know, brutally hard. So, I’ve been very lucky, we’ve been extremely fortunate. Nail messaging, have a voice in the marketplace, have a great product fit, produce good products that are really, you know, efficacious, you know, be talking about things that are relevant to guys, those things have all been a huge part of our success.
Andrew Morgans 29:00
I think. Pairing yourself up with someone who already had trust that had a message like you talked about authenticity and trust, and you know, morality and made it much easier to choose what your messaging was as a brand as well.
Kelley Thornton 29:14
Yeah, I also got lucky too, because he’s, he’s a good, you know, he’s a good human being really a really does mean, what he says, which is, why he has, you know, whoever it is, I don’t even know, 7 million followers on YouTube or something like that because he does, he is authentic, you know, and he is truthful and trustworthy. So, you know, and I think that that was really important for our business. We really needed that to be part of our culture and and be part of our messaging.
Andrew Morgans 29:44
I love that. And I think it’s brilliant. You know, I’ve had the opposite happen as well. Trying to build a brand with an influencer that had a massive following. And it just goes sideways and I’ve built my my reputation, you know, 10 years now. As an entrepreneur, but I spent a lifetime building my reputation and brand as a person. And, you know, just, I couldn’t cut ties fast enough, you know, we were finding success, but it was just something I didn’t want to be aligned with I, you know, I didn’t, I didn’t like the way that that he was presenting himself to the world in in tied to me in that in that way. And so I can call it luck. But, you know, it’s also fortuitous. You know, I think it’s planning, its opportunity, you know, it’s, it’s swinging and knowing how to judge good people, and who to make partnerships with and those kinds of things. But for anyone listening out there that’s looking to build a brand, probably one of the most successful things you can do is try to find somebody that already has a voice, or else, if you don’t have that voice, I would suggest try building a community around a topic first. Like, if it’s men’s skincare, get some meetups going get it, you know, try to try to get some content go and getting people following and signing up. And starting to create this little community where the community becomes the voice itself, instead of like a leader in that regard, it can just be hosting the events, having meetups, you know, there’s so many people are interested in different stuff, dog training, if you’re doing some dog products, or, you know, ways of being healthy and creating these, like fitness groups, or whatever the case might be in creating that community, and then trying to launch a product through that, you know, you’re gonna stand a lot higher chance or a lot higher chance of success, I think, than just trying to go out there, especially in a category like skincare and just say, Hey, we’re here, and we’re great. And we created a great formula, we want you to try it. I don’t want to I don’t want to get stuck on that too much. But it’s just, I mean, it absolutely seems like to be the winning formula these days.
Kelley Thornton 31:39
Yeah, and there’s a lot of people that have taken that path and been very successful. I couldn’t agree with you more. And one term that we use around here is like hard yards, and meaning, which is a rugby term. We had some New Zealand guys working with us. And, you know, the the point of the term is, is that it just, you know, it takes a lot of effort. And so that is I completely agree with you, Andrew, I mean, building yourself, building your reputation and, and developing a level of expertise around the subject that you’re really interested in before we launch business is brilliant. But it’s hard yards. And no matter what you do, it’s gonna be hard yards, no matter how you approach it.
Andrew Morgans 32:22
When it comes to entrepreneurship and brand building, if it’s easy, it’s probably not the right thing to be doing. So I think hard is the only way when it comes to brand building and entrepreneurship and reputation. No one gets a reputation by doing easy things. Whether you’re a brand or a person, it just, I just don’t think that’s the way that it is not saying you have to do everything the hard way. But just the work that it requires to really carve something out. I think that’s sustainable is is is the hard yards for sure. Okay, as we as we come up on time, yeah, I’m gonna ask you two last questions. One being what’s something that the brand’s working on that you’re excited about something something new coming up? And then question two, something that you’re working on, or you’re excited about, just as Kelley as a person, not the business to wrap up the show?
Kelley Thornton 33:10
Yeah, you know, we’ve, so our R&D roadmap is almost like two years in the making. So the things that we’re working on, you know, in 2023, will be, you know, that we’re working on Q4 now, will come out like late 24, in the 25. We just launched on Tuesday. So we’re on September 20/28, if I can say that, and if you don’t mind, on this on the show today, we just launched a couple days ago, a Retinol stick, which is Retinol is a product that has profound impact on your skin. Like it’s kind of like the go to product for any issues. It can be from an acne standpoint, it can be from anti-aging, it can be from, you know, having very spotty skin pigmentation issues in your skin. And Retinol is a great product we just launched into first ever any any brand in the men space, a stick format of Retinol is awesome. And I’m very excited about that we’ve we’ve got another similar launch next year, which is going to be super premium, really innovative product. So I’m very, very excited about that we’re working on, you know, our acting line as well reformulating that so a lot of great things on the product development standpoint. personal standpoint, it’s really interesting ask this question the other, like kind of thinking about three things in my life. And, and the three things that I’m really thinking about are, you know, making sure that I’ve, I’ve had a good family like that my kids are given them 150%. My marriage I’ve given 150%. And then I’m doing my best to contribute to society by putting good people in society. Bucket one, bucket two is, you know, career wise, getting to a certain level of, you know, financial independence and having a company that is successful, and that will live on beyond me. And, and then potentially, you know, it was a lucrative, you know, life changing event for me at some point. So that’s kind of two, and I’m kind of close to where that is, for me. So now I’m thinking about like, the next and last, like 20 to 30 years of my life. And I’ve really been thinking about and I was, I was really thinking about business because I have all these incredible business ideas, I actually have some patents that are just that are wonderful that are that I’m not using. So, there’s all this stuff that’s going on in my mind about business. And I was for the last five years, I was thinking about the next thing I’m going to do. And I’ve actually rethinking that, and I while I do some projects, I really want to think about how much good I can do. And then the next 20 years, assuming that I reach a certain level of financial freedom that I that I hope to, and then so what does that look like? And it’s not, I want to think about it now because I want to make the biggest impact I can. And so like, what exactly is that I want to be really focused on something. So, that’s kind of what I’m thinking about right now.
Andrew Morgans 36:28
I love that answer. I’ve kind of coined my, where I’m at currently as the legacy chapter, you know, and really thinking about legacy and just thinking about, you know, what that looks like for me and my family. You know, we all have our own version of that I think in it’s not just what we do while we’re here, you know, but what impact did we leave. And I think as a business person, it can be so easy to just think about business, business, business, business because that’s where we get a lot of our validation, it’s where we get, you know, any been any anyone even knowing I exist, sometimes is probably just from the business, you know, some of these things that at the end of the day, if all that’s removed, it doesn’t make you feel one way or another, right? About what you’ve loved. So I love those answers, Kelley. Thank you again for being on the show and sharing your story with us. And thank you if anyone needs skincare. We all do. So they need to look you up. Where can people come in contact with you, follow along on your story, and connect?
Kelley Thornton 37:29
Yeah, you know, follow me or connect with me on LinkedIn. I really do like to connect with people there. I do put some weekly information on LinkedIn that I think is helpful for careers. If you want to try our product, there’s, you know, we have great products, and there’s a lot of great companies out there Kiehl’s, for instance, is a great company. You know, I strongly suggest you have a healthy skincare routine. Protect your skin with an SPF, moisturizer with SPF, regardless of whether it’s ours or someone else’s, it is really important. You can go to tiege.com/Startup Hustle, the Startup Hustle, and we’ve got like a really sweet deal for you there. I think our best deal ever is on that landing page Tiege.com/Startup Hustle. But, you know, get yourself a healthy skincare routine, and you’ll appreciate it today and 15 years from now.
Andrew Morgans 38:23
As a redhead who grew up in Africa, I can very much confirm that having an SPF in your life is a must. Yeah, it’s something that I would be, you know, it was more visible where like, the sun could literally put me in the hospital. Versus for a lot of other people. It’s something that takes a lot longer before any kind of like, you know, effects are seen, or damage is done. You know, he’s not something you see every single day. So, you know, in the day we’re living in, it’s something it’s just something very, very important. Protect your skin, at least. Thanks again for being on the show, Kelley. And thanks again to our sponsor, Full Scale.io. They have the people in the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts if you’re looking for software engineers, testers, or leaders. When you visit FullScale.io, all you need to do is answer a few questions and let the platform match you up with a fully vetted, highly experienced team of software engineers, testers, and leaders. At Full Scale, they specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you. Learn more when you visit FullScale.io. Kelley, thanks for being on the show. And Hustlers, thanks again for tuning in. We’ll see you next time.