Great story of figuring out retail marketplaces, getting out at the right time and building an online presence. Do some wholesale, add in some private label and you have have really strong skills. Now create a product and drop in strong relationships and utilize those earned skills. Boom… Instant Success! Ok think 20+ years building out the plan.. not so overnight.
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Transcript: (note- this is a new tool I am trying out so it is not perfect- it does seem to be getting better)
Shirley: [00:00:00] Chinese, Chinese, American, and so in that environment where, you know, Chinese people, right? And I’m not trying to stereotype my own people, but you know, they’re very, um, you know, a business money focus, right? Because it’s about everything is making a living, right? So I grew up in that environment so it wasn’t new.
Cool voice guy: [00:00:24] We focus on the people, the products, and the process of ecommerce selling today, here’s your host, Steven theaters in.
Stephen: [00:00:35] Hey, great opportunity here, right? You’re ready to buy. You’re ready to sell. Uh, if you could look for some cashflow, a now might be a great time to jump back into Ra at OAA. Lots of people do it. There’s some people that that’s all they do. They only work this time of year, sell enough, and then take the rest of the year off. Sipping drinks on a beach in Bali. Well, anyway, though, the outliers, let’s talk about the rest of us, but if you want to have back ran away, then I have a great group for you. It’s through amazing freedom. Our friends at amazing freedom. My friends at amazing freedom and it’s Gaye Lisbey’s specific. She is an unbelievable teacher and so what the deal they offered us through this podcast is two weeks free, so it’s a two week free trial, so there’s no risk to you at all, so it’s amazing.
Stephen: [00:01:18] Freedom.com, forward slash momentum, hyphen arbitrage. That’s it. Okay, you’re going to get two weeks free, but here’s the deal. If you sign up now between now and September 15th, so that’s coming up in less than two weeks by September 15th, if you’re a subscriber and you stick through to black Friday, you’re going to get gaze black gold list. Okay? So the beauty of it, it’s a black Friday list, right? If you’ve ever went out shopping in a black Friday list, when you, we’d send shoppers out, we’d go to a whole bunch of different places and you get those peak items, the great news. Now you can order a bunch of them online too, but you also want to do, but to have a list in your hands, you go in, I buy these three items, boom, I’m out of there. Well, she gives you that list and that is a list they sell.
Stephen: [00:02:02] It’s expensive, however, if you’re a member and you’re a member by September 15th and you stick your way through to black Friday, you automatically get it for free, so you got to act fast. Try the two weeks. It’s completely free. See what you get. Look at those daily finalist and then say, Huh, for the small fee, it is a month. This is worthwhile for me, especially this quarter. Get somebody’s buying for you. Give them this list. This is what you’re going to invest in. This is a simple testing tool for you to see, hey, is this something I can be good at, man? Invest now, take the two weeks free and try it. I love it, love it, love it, and trust her. One hundred percent. She is such a teacher. Go check out our group. Okay, amazing. Freedom.com, forward slash momentum, hyphen arbitrage. Now the other sponsors I want to talk about is sellerlabs scope and we just launched a new product.
Stephen: [00:02:49] I’m very excited about it. It’s wholesale and private label combined for us. Kind of a bundle thing that we do. Um, but I’m very excited because we use scope to help me with the keywords because it’s such a big deal figuring out the keywords. How are you going to rank for this? How do you rank for this? Well, guess what we do? We go like everybody else and we figure out what the top products keywords are and then we use them also. That’s what scope allows you to do. And so it’s such a great, great product for discovering profitable Amazon keywords. You can even use it for finding products to you can with fee, cow sale calculations, all that stuff’s included, right? And it’s you, it’s just a chrome extension simple to use, simple to use. We use it if you could say 50 bucks by entering the code momentum.
Stephen: [00:03:32] So sellerlabs.com, forward slash scope. And enter the code womentum save 50 bucks. That’s real money, save it please. And finally, I don’t want to Miss Karen Locker solution for ecommerce solutions. The number for ecommerce forward slash momentum is our link. I’m a Karen, spent a sponsor, my show, I guess it’s almost three years now and it’s been phenomenal. The people that are still with Karen all those years, including me, I pay the same price you do. It’s because the consistency. Um, so many times I, you know, I get these emails, hey stranded inventory report, boom. You know, I, I look at it but I don’t have to do anything because there’s a member of my team, somebody that we can count on to help my wife and I with our business so we don’t have to pay attention to it. That’s what I like, that’s what I needed.
Stephen: [00:04:17] And so solutions four ecommerce care locker, a, her team, um, I get notes from all the time I launched it. I think I talked about this last time. I launched a ton of products. The same product that I’m using scope for. I sent her, here are the images here. Now we do the key words. We do all that stuff upfront. She does a flat files for me. Boom. They went in. It was perfect. No feedback. I don’t have anything to change because it was done exactly as it was supposed to be, but I didn’t have to mess with it. And it’s not that I can’t, it’s not that I’m above it, it’s just that it allows me now to focus on this other piece. And so when you’re a small company like ours, when you have other people on your team working with you and working for you, it just makes the difference.
Stephen: [00:04:53] And you know, I’ve said it for her three years, again, I look for consistency overtime and Karen’s given me that, um, is it perfect? No, Steve’s never perfect. And so she keeps me on track and really helps us when we need it. And so it’s been a great relationship and I’m just so proud to offer it. I’m very careful about these things and I’m so proud to offer it. So solutions the number for ecommerce forward slash momentum, you’re going to say 50 bucks and it’s real money. Again, that’s real $50 by using my link. You don’t get that link anywhere else to save the 50. And she’s going to do an inventory, health report, storage fees who get hit with storage fees, right? That just happened, right? A longterm storage. He’s now their monthly, right? This quarter they’re going to be monthly would by using Karen and her team, you could get that inventory health done, boom, pull back, which you don’t need or put sales on it, whatever it is. I’m Karen also does work on Ebay. If you want them to bring your listings over to Ebay using joe list or any of the other products. She does that kind of work too, but you got to use my link solutions, the number for ecommerce forward slash momentum. Save the 50 bucks. Tell Karen I sent you
New Speaker: [00:05:58] and make sure that you really understand all the stuff that you can get through her service has been phenomenal. Let’s get into the podcast. Welcome back to the ECOMMERCE momentum podcast. This is episode 335. Surely Tan man. Oh Man. Is she cool? Very, very cool. Very cool story about kickstarter. We’re going to get to. It does take awhile to get there. I apologize. I, I liked the story. I love. I knew a bunch of Shirley story. We’ve hung out. Um, and so I know quite a bit of it. I just, I think it’s very cool how she’s evolved and reinvented herself. She didn’t sit there and I think about when you hear about our retail experience, how many people stay in that business? Too Long. How many products do you have in your warehouse, Steve, that you’ve held on to too long? Or is Dean Akers says you’re dragging around like an ex girlfriend Steve, you know, true.
New Speaker: [00:06:47] I see so much of myself in here, surely is not that way and she’s not as married to that stuff. Not as emotionally tied to it. And I think there’s a big lesson here is that’s why I wanted to get through it. Um, and it, it takes me a while to get through it. And then I mess up two things. One is, um, I get mixed up on the hardware store and the a flower at the mart, so you’ll hear me try to fix that. And then the second thing, and I think it’s fair, I think this is very fair. She corrects me, um, because I kind of make it a big deal about a mom teaching. I’m a business lesson and she’s like, Kinda like Steve, this is common sense. Women, moms teach all the time and she’s right. I didn’t mean it that way, I just meant it.
New Speaker: [00:07:28] It’s just so cool to see it where it used to be just dad’s doing this, now moms are doing this and she’s like, moms teach lessons all the time. She is right. I just see it from the business side where now that moms can be the most dominant. I guess that’s what I meant by that. It’s the roles are reversed and, and let’s face it, they’re probably better at it. They’re smarter at it. They definitely can multitask more than Steve. So anyway, uh, I’m, I’m digging myself out of that hole, but it was, she was right. And so that’s a good, good point. Good correction. And uh, I applaud her on that. It’s a very cool story, which I think there’s a lot of value in and I think this, this lesson of kickstarter is phenomenal and I think there’s something here that if you have figured out something innovative, this could be a very cool opportunity. Let’s get into the podcast. Alright, welcome back to the ECOMMERCE momentum podcast. I’m very, very, very excited about. That’s three varies about today’s guest because we are all going to learn something. We are going to learn something from the master. Surely Tan. Welcome Shirley.
Shirley: [00:08:30] I see then how are you? I’m so happy. Need
New Speaker: [00:08:32] to be here. I’m happy to have you. I’m calling you the master because, and I can say this because you know a, we’re going to talk kickstarter. I’m very, very, very, very excited about that and I can’t wait to learn a lot of cool stuff. But you’ve been doing private label long before they called it private label. You’ve been selling for a long time. You’ve done a whole bunch of launches. Did you have retail too? Yes I did. So you’ve had the full gamut of things for a long time. Not that you’re old, but you’ve been doing this for a long time and, and I mean it. I mean it’s just, it’s very cool how you’ve evolved and adjusted and, and reinvented I guess is a good way to say it. Alright, so let’s go back. So, so Shirley is in school to be what
Shirley: [00:09:22] surely is in school every day to try to be a better person, to try to make even a little bit of difference, however way that shows up.
New Speaker: [00:09:33] Okay. So you’d want it to be. I mean, were you going to, you weren’t going to change the world you wanted to improve the world.
Shirley: [00:09:43] Well, I think when you’re young, right? When you, when we were all young, I, you have these idealistic views, right? Uh, how could I, how could, how could we make the world better, you know, you know, that kind of like, we kinda like tease a batter or kind of like
New Speaker: [00:09:57] everybody says it. Yeah, it’s Cliche for a lot of people. Data site
Shirley: [00:10:01] bring world peace. Right? And I know there’s a lot of people who are, so they really hang onto that and they still believe that, you know, and I’m a little bit more pragmatic now, but you know, I still want world peace.
New Speaker: [00:10:13] You still do. So you were going to be part of it. That was you.
Shirley: [00:10:17] Yeah, that was me. I wanted to do that. Yeah.
New Speaker: [00:10:20] And then what happened? I don’t know, they’re still not piece. I’m just going to let you know it didn’t work.
Shirley: [00:10:26] Moved out at 17 and had to get a job.
New Speaker: [00:10:29] Oh darn job. Yeah. There’s a four letter word. Their work. I mean, that four letter word just comes up often. So. Yeah. So is that when, I mean, think about this, think back, is that when the real world smacks you on the button, says, Hey Shirley, you know, starbucks coffees for bucks back then, right? Four bucks. It’s not, you know, dad always paid for it, right? Or whatever. Now it’s expensive. I mean, is that when it smacked in the head?
New Speaker: [00:10:57] I’m a,
Shirley: [00:11:00] I was 17 way before starbucks showed up in the main street down the corner. So I’m a lot older than that, but you know, when you are, um, move out and you have to park yourself in a friend’s couch for a year long. And which I’m so grateful they took me in. Um, you know, you, he taught me how to balance a checkbook. I mean, that’s, that’s a big deal. That’s a big deal, right? A process a system. How to balance your checkbook as a 17 year old, who knows, who knew nothing.
New Speaker: [00:11:32] Yup. And so with that group of friends, right, that are that direction, they started investing into your life and building the life experience kind of thing. Right. Because I think, you know, everybody gets the high school experience, right? Or you know, whatever they teach you history and all that kind of jazz, but they miss or at least they way back then, they didn’t teach you how to balance a checkbook. They didn’t teach you any of the life skills that I think they do now. I think they address some of that stuff now, but they didn’t back then. And so that environment you were, you were started framing life for you.
Shirley: [00:12:11] Yes. Yes. I think, you know, I’m 17 was a pivotal time for me. Right. Um,
New Speaker: [00:12:17] um,
New Speaker: [00:12:18] you’re out of the house.
Shirley: [00:12:20] I, I’m out of the house. I had a, I had a rough childhood. And so I think, I think that that moment where you feel like you better grow up fast.
New Speaker: [00:12:31] Hmm. Yeah. Well you have kids, correct? I have kids. I have three. Okay. So when you think about your kids at 17, were they, were they ready to go out on their own? I mean, knowing your kids?
New Speaker: [00:12:46] Um,
New Speaker: [00:12:48] yeah. Especially if you have daughters.
Shirley: [00:12:50] I do. I had one. And she’s um, she, she’s adorable now and she’s, you know, she moved to New York just like last week. Right. So, um, let’s see, do you think she was ready? I think in their own way. I think, you know, I think they were, they grew up in this entrepreneurial, uh, environment where they’re always seen mom do things and so I’m always, they’ve seen it, right? They’ve seen me work all my life, so all their lives, right? So I think they, they, they pick up on it. I think the kids pick up more than we give them credit for. So, um, so you would say yes, you would say she’s ready. If they had to figure it out, they would, they would be able to. Yeah.
New Speaker: [00:13:33] I think that that’s important to note. So our kids that are growing up in our current environment, those of us who consider themselves entrepreneurs on hopefully everybody here listening is even if you’re a part time like me, right? Those, those who have that you’d, like you said your kids are growing up that environment where it’s like, hey, gotta challenge, got to rise up, tackle the challenge, okay, next day. And then it’s everything’s great. Sales. We would, my son and I were just having this conversation sales yesterday were unbelievable today. Not so good. And it’s like, oh right, it’s up and down. Right? And so what are we going to do about it? So we start some ads and whatever. But, but that is a very healthy environment as opposed to what you described. You grew up in a tough environment so that, that change that you see when you think about the value of you being an entrepreneur and obviously you want to make money and you want to have success and we’re going to talk about creating your own product and launching it and having success so far, knock on wood.
New Speaker: [00:14:32] Um, but do you get what I’m saying with, with the value of that entrepreneur? I knew I had not thought about it until you just said it. The value that we’re teaching our kids could make it all worth it, even if you don’t, even if you’re not successful, but if you teach them how to push through and get through and at the end swept back and say, hey, I lost a little bit of money. Tried it wasn’t for me. But if they’re, if they’re inhaling all that and absorbing all that while you’re living it, you’re preparing them for life,
Shirley: [00:15:04] you know, Steven, that is your, your, your statement there has a literally has really wring more home to me this last month. Right. And, and the reason for that is because, um, my kids have really been more involved in my, this recent adventure, you know, venture of kickstarter launched, like for example, my oldest son is one of my models, right? He initially, he didn’t want to do it, you know, he’s like, ah, I don’t want nothing to do with it. Right? But he really came around and now he’s like, hey mom, why don’t we try this? Hey mom, you want to try that? You know? And, and then my youngest is [6:16], right. So same thing, right? You 16. I don’t want to have anything to do with this. I don’t want to, I don’t even want to pose a picture, right. He’s 16. So he’s embarrassed. He wants to look cool, you know, all those things. But I, I, this week I could see that excitement in them. Um, and, and, and, and, and I almost feel like man, I better follow through because I cannot, I cannot set the example that I just give up.
New Speaker: [00:16:11] They became stakeholders participating. This is, that makes a big deal. And like you said, you now you have to follow through. There’s no backpedaling, right? I mean that’s a, that’s a big. I mean these are the teachable moments and it’s usually dad who teaches this stuff. Surely not mom. Yeah. This is big. I mean it, this is the stigma. That’s the problem. This is it’s dad that has to teach. No mom can teach incredible skills.
Shirley: [00:16:44] I think a lot of moms out there,
New Speaker: [00:16:46] well I don’t mean it that way. I meant with this kind of stuff when you’re in a business and all that kind of jazz. I just. To me it should, it should. Every mom, she’d be sitting there saying, Yep, you know, and I’ve had so many. I think at Teresa Smuggling Ski, I think of different people that have been on Kib we need more. I guess that’s my point. We need more to realize that they are more and then teach their sons, teach their sons that it doesn’t always have to be dad. It can be mom too. And then that changes that generation. So my opinion, and I’m fortunate because my boys think this way is still opened the door for their wives because they realized that they need to value them and I’m always trying to bring that home instead of just thinking that they’re, you know. So anyway, sorry, get enough
Shirley: [00:17:28] for my team. Didn’t really agree. I was just commenting my husband like two weeks ago. I’m so glad you still open doors for me and then I saw my son do it for his girlfriend, so I was very proud.
New Speaker: [00:17:37] Yeah. And this is a, again, this is where I think we have an opportunity as parents and, and uh, um, so very, very cool. Okay. So, so you were changing the world and then the reality to the face, you had to get a job. And what was the job gonna be?
Shirley: [00:17:55] Well, at that time, my very, very first job outside the family business. So when I moved, when I moved myself out, um, uh, I only not moved out, but I lost my job too. So I was going to college, are working the part time, working full time in the family hardware store, got into this big thing with my mother who’s no longer with us and, and um, so I had to go get, get a job too on top of that. Right. So I had a car payment to make, um, yeah, that was super long time ago. But first job was selling shoes in a, um, sort of like a little convenience store,
Stephen: [00:18:37] selling shoes, selling shoes. And you had all this sales experience tell you it’s not nordstrom selling shoes. I wish it was. So you had experience working in a hardware store. How does that make you prepared to sell shoes? Well, well it’s just selling. Right. And you know, so anything you had to. Okay. So you felt pretty good about that. So. So you start selling shoes. Did you have success with it? No, I’m sure I sucked at it. I don’t know. I, I blocked it out. So how did you make these car payments?
Shirley: [00:19:13] I don’t know. I just may do like just don’t know. And I think shortly after that I got to work at a bank. I went to work, I worked, I worked at a bank as a teller, counting other people’s money was great
New Speaker: [00:19:26] when you, you know, that’s interesting you say that because I think about this a lot. So I look at a cashier that’s probably making $14 an hour, $15 an hour at most banks probably. Right? They’ve got to see people that are scraping by. Right. And they see it, but they’ve got to see people that come in and just lop giant wads of cash or checks. What goes through your mind when you see all that stuff?
Shirley: [00:19:52] Let’s see. I have to like a trace back. Um, you know, I learned a long time ago when I was doing that. I kind of remember this phrase in my head, right? And while I would literally counting other people’s money, I tell myself not to count other people’s money, meaning that don’t compare, don’t compare my situation with their suit situation. And um, and in, in a negative way, in a negative comparison, you know what I mean, like more than me, nothing, you know, life, woe is me, you know, that kind of thing. Um, so
New Speaker: [00:20:29] did you also judge a book by its cover and then the net open your eyes, you, you think, uh, that guy looks like a bomb and then he comes in and he’s got like, you know, hey, can you deposit this 10 grand in cash for me? You know, did you see any of that?
Shirley: [00:20:44] So this was a really long time ago in a small island called Guam, so I don’t really remember exactly. You know, I was young, I was impressionable, you know, everybody that had more money than me was impressive.
New Speaker: [00:21:00] Well, because I always think about that is this is where’s your boundaries get expanded, right? Because all of us have these preconceived notion. We all looked down her nose, oh, that guy’s a bomb. And then they come in like Warren Buffett, right? Him and his driving is or a. no, the guy, Walmart, he was the one with the pickup truck, drove that pickup. Right. And so you will be looking at him like, Oh, who’s that hillbilly? And then all of a sudden he realized that he owns half the world at that time. Um, and so those preconceived notions, they get expanded. So that didn’t happen for you. Okay. All right. So you’re working in a bank and you’re in
Shirley: [00:21:29] Guam. Yeah. And how do you know that? Actually.
New Speaker: [00:21:33] So how do you leave Guam and come to the main states?
Shirley: [00:21:39] No, I left when I was like 19, 20 or so. I knew, I remember that because I remember not being legal to drink yet. That was, you know, I remember that was a pivotal moment. You leave Guam when the islands too small for you and your mother.
New Speaker: [00:21:57] Okay. All right. So that’s where the store was. Okay.
Shirley: [00:21:59] Yeah. Yeah. So in the interest of, you know, I’m helping my dad, uh, have a, uh, be able to sleep at night. I go, mom, Dad, I’m leaving. I got a goal to San Francisco and that way you don’t have to play referee anymore.
New Speaker: [00:22:14] Now when you went to San Francisco, this was pre done,
Shirley: [00:22:18] correct? Yes.
New Speaker: [00:22:22] So you were there before it was cool to be in San Francisco who’s cheap relative. Right.
Shirley: [00:22:29] Relative. Cheap by relative of the time, I guess. Right,
New Speaker: [00:22:33] right, right. And so what were you going to do in San Francisco? How did you, how did you just say, Hey, I’m going to say I’m you. I’m not going to La. I’m not going to vegas. I’m going to San Francisco.
Shirley: [00:22:43] I really just fell in love with the city. You know, I had my first Sushi that I’ve ever had in San Francisco. Um, uh, you know, San Francisco is not big. Like I went to La to Disneyland. I was a navigator, took us two hours from lax to go to, to Anaheim my, my, my friends who were in the car and I was the navigator nearly killed me. So don’t ever ask me for directions. I’m bad, I’m bad at directions.
New Speaker: [00:23:14] So you go to, you go to San Francisco and what did you do?
Shirley: [00:23:18] So I came here with a, a promise of a job, right? So one of our vendors at the hardware store said, hey, come to San Francisco, will hire you. And um, I got here first week. Oh, we changed our mind. We’re not going to. Yeah, yeah. So a lot. A lot of adventure. So what did I do? I went to get a job at a different store
New Speaker: [00:23:43] of course, because that’s what, you know. Right. And so, and so you did that right? And so you, you got by, I got by, I got, would you call your first foray into entrepreneurship? What was it that triggered it? I mean, when, when you look back at your parent’s business, I mean, you saw that were they and they were tied to a retail location and so was that a negative to you or a positive? They had freedom because they own their own thing or it was a noose around your neck because you had to be there and they’re open every Saturday can never take a vacation. That whole thing. Which way were you?
Shirley: [00:24:19] Which way was I? Let me see. Let me know. My parents are interesting, right? They’re interesting example and you know what? Every family business, there’s always these stories, right? You know, that, you know, good and bad, right? All a roller coaster. Um, um,
Shirley: [00:24:36] I, I never thought of. It’s like the freedom thing, uh, in my, in my parent’s business, I saw a lot of struggles, right? And um, so that was a very eye opening. You know, a lot of talk about money at the family dinners and it’s always the business always forefront, right? Um, and in a very typical, at your, some of your audience don’t, don’t know that I’m on Chinese, Chinese, American, and so in that environment where, you know, Chinese people, right? And I’m not trying to stereotype my own people, but you know, they’re very, um, you know, a business money focus, right? Because everything is making a living, right. So, and I grew up in that environment so it wasn’t new. I see that in my, in my own parents and my uncles. Right. You know, my, my, my father had siblings, my mother had a ton of siblings, so eight and eight.
Shirley: [00:25:33] So that’s all I was familiar with EPC for. You will know what I trying to say. So, um, um, yeah, so in my soul, because I didn’t have this promise job anymore, but also the gift that was given right at the same time with those people felt so bad for me for sort of like pulling the rug out under me. They said, hey, here’s the desk and a chair. Park yourself there till you figure out what you want to do. And at the same time I was really lucky and this is how I really got into it, uh, into the retail store. They had a space. So back in the day there was this building called the Gift Center, San Francisco Gift Center in Atlanta. It would be like the Atlantic gift mark, if you want to compare or the or the La Gift Mark, right? So back in the day at the San Francisco Center, they had a showroom and half the room was empty, so they said, surely you think of something, you don’t have to pay rent until you start making money. So I go, okay.
Speaker 6: [00:26:35] And
Shirley: [00:26:36] I started selling silk flowers while I was going to college at night and parking myself at that desk. That’s what I did. And so, so good to be successful. I mean, that was it. That was it. I started making the money for a month and I have to pay them rent. And once you go into that cycle, you’re committed, right? So you found a wholesale account to buy the shoes? Uh, no. Silk Flowers fish back in the mid eighties. Silk Flowers. There was the bomb.
New Speaker: [00:27:08] Okay. So you were, you started there before we choose. Okay. So you got flowers, you found a wholesaler for that. You brought them in. And in San Francisco in a hardware store there was an opportunity to sell flower.
Shirley: [00:27:23] So I quit the San Francisco flower once. I, I, um, I the part time job with the hardware thing, uh, once this other opportunity to open the halfway part of the showroom selling hardware store. Yeah.
New Speaker: [00:27:40] No, it’s not you, it’s me. Gets confused. Everybody’s saying, come on Steve, get hit with this. All right. So that’s when you moved to this like mark, like in Atlanta, Martin. I heard it and it didn’t connect for me because I’m still at the hardware store. Okay. So you go over there and you put up a booth in essence, right? Or a little storefront, whatever. And you’re going to sell. Are you the only person so and so flowers in there.
Shirley: [00:27:59] Yeah.
New Speaker: [00:28:00] So you were the only one cutting edge. This was hot and boom. Did you have success?
Shirley: [00:28:07] Super. Super success. Yeah, it was the time silk flowers at that time the margins were 400 percent. You know, you buy something for, for 10 bucks, you can sell it for $40.
New Speaker: [00:28:19] And where did you learn that? Was that from your parents hardware store?
Shirley: [00:28:22] No, actually my supplier taught me really? I’m one thing about me. Steven, you will ask. I will see your, your uh, yeah, I, I’m a good listener.
New Speaker: [00:28:33] So, so you, you develop this relationship with the supplier somehow and he said hey, we have a product that’s pretty hot. It’s markets coming up. Would you be interested in. Is that kind of the conversation?
Shirley: [00:28:47] Yeah, basically. Basically it was even better than that. You don’t have to pay me until you sell it. Oh, okay. Yeah, it was better, even better.
New Speaker: [00:28:57] And, and was that because they were sitting on them and they didn’t know how to get rid of him at that time because it was new up and coming or they just wanted to have any outlet? They can.
Shirley: [00:29:09] I, I think it was more that it was any outlet they can, they wanted to, you know, it’s just so happened that I, when I moved here, I made this group, I met this group of friends and one of the guys was a silk flower business, so I just got super lucky
New Speaker: [00:29:25] meant to be for sure. Those are the processes. Okay. So you go in there, you have this business. How long did that business last?
Shirley: [00:29:33] That business last one? Uh, 19 years. Holy smokes. That foray into that beginning, right? And then it gets better. Steven after that, after I was selling successfully for a couple of years, my friend who’s supplying me move next door.
New Speaker: [00:29:56] Is that good or bad? That was bad. That was bad. So he’s opening up another, another competitor right now?
Shirley: [00:30:03] Yeah. So not inside the building, but just like around the corner. Right. And therefore I’m going shoot, right. That’s not what I said. I said the other word. I said, shoot, I got to do something. So another, the universe provided again, you know, so another supplier, another vendor in the building said, hey, surely you should sell my stuff and I’ll teach you the business. And at that time it was this guy named Dan Sylvie, and I’m done, you know, gotten me into silver plated gifts and gifts in the gift business
New Speaker: [00:30:39] in the gift business. And now was he, he had his own booth or a little storefront in there.
Shirley: [00:30:43] He was a sales rep. he was a road rep.
New Speaker: [00:30:46] Oh. And he was coming in to service other accounts and he saw you and he said, hey, would you sell my stuff too?
Shirley: [00:30:53] Yes. Basically he had a, uh, he was currently, it was supplying another bill, another person in the building there. The relationship was, you know, a topsy turvy and he just thought, hey, I need another source of revenue.
New Speaker: [00:31:07] Let me ask you that because I think that’s important right there. What you just said that, you know, we assume that every rep who sells is happy with their customers. Right. Then the retailers that are selling, that’s not true because you know, we’ve all met some of those people who are terrible customer service. Well, when you see it on the front end, behind the scenes, they’re probably worse and I think that’s important to pay attention to. So you were nice to this guy. You weren’t buying from them. You guys just got along for whatever reason. Or like you said, you’re a listener. Yeah. Huh? Very cool.
Shirley: [00:31:41] Or at a dreek it was like he goes, Hey Shirley, have a dream. I want to tell you something. And I go, okay. He goes, you know, set you up. And I said, okay. He does all reading done.
New Speaker: [00:31:54] What happened to the neighbor who used to sell us stuff? They hate you. Oh, they hate me. No, no, no. But it’s not. It’s their fault. They, I’m sure if they look in where they know, they know. I’m sure this isn’t the first time it happened so.
Shirley: [00:32:07] Well it’s, it’s, it’s a small. We’re all in the same building. Right? And that way sometimes, but you know, what can you do?
New Speaker: [00:32:13] Nothing. Nothing good living too. Right. But you didn’t steal them from that guy, they lost them by their behavior, not because you sought that. So that’s, that’s totally fair to me. I mean that’s very reasonable and that’s an honorable thing to do. So. Okay. So now you’re expanding. Now all of a sudden you got flowers and gift where you’re in the gift business.
Shirley: [00:32:34] Yeah, and basically as the. I wind down the silk flower business and I started getting into the gift and the gift business, silver plated piggy banks, you name it. It’s. I used to. The way I just used to describe it, right? People go, what do you sell? And I used to describe it as so in San Francisco, right? Because it was mostly, you know, a local, I would say when you go to the fifth floor in macy’s downtown, I sold all of those things. Table Top giftware. That’s how I used to describe it.
New Speaker: [00:33:04] When, when the soap business, Wayne, I guess that’s what you were telling us, that it was a cycle and now all of a sudden you’re in the giftware cycle. Is that something that you know, relates to today on Amazon? That we see, you know, the, the waxing and waning of things that come and go and not falling in love because, you know, a lot of people surely would have stayed in the silk flower business 30 years too long.
Shirley: [00:33:31] And, and I knew people that did that. Yeah. And uh, and the, a lot of, you know, I, I wasn’t in that travel. I gotten exactly traveled, but in that gift business, right. So you go to trade shows, the trade shows, we used to go to Atlanta, Seattle, La, New York, you know, and we used to go to all those and you see the same people doing the same thing. You go up to their booth. That’s what we always do, right? When you go to these trades, you, hey, show me what’s new? And they go, Oh yeah, we’re just expanded. Here’s another designer on the candle votive, you know, we just put a star on it and last year we put a moon on it and now it’s a star. It’s going to be hard. Yeah. Yeah. So a lot, a lot like that. And I think, you know, that’s the challenge when you, when you basically cannibalize your own product, right?
New Speaker: [00:34:20] And so today with Amazon, this is a real risk when people will create these products, they fall in love with them instead of realizing there is a cycle to everything. Everything has a cycle, right? Uh, one of the challenges we see, right? You put out this product, we’ll talk about a little bit, you’re going to have 100 copies, right? And everyone’s going to do that. You have to execute better, but they’re still going to be a cycle to it, right? I mean, it’s one of those things you have to keep in mind. You want the cycle to stay as long as you can. You want to innovate and keep improving. But if you keep doing the same old thing, you’re going to be disappointed with the results. Fair. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Okay. All right. So this is, this is prelude to shortly Tan, 2018. I mean, this is really, I think this is important that you have the ability not to fall in love with your product and you can move on by developing relationships. I think this is very important. Okay, so fast forward a year selling silver, how’s that go for you?
Shirley: [00:35:18] That’s, that business was really, really, um, you know, um, profitable. It was a very good to me and we migrated into personalization. So us with silver products, you could engrave on that, right? So that opened up that business to a whole new level of uh, um, extra services, add ons that we never thought would be possible, and it really changed the business, right? You’re not just buying a piggy bank, now you putting your, you’re buying a piggy bank with um, you know, baby junior’s name on it, right? And now that makes them get even better, you know, one of the client. So I’m, I’m all about personalization. That’s, that’s the business. I love that.
New Speaker: [00:35:59] Then it opened up weddings at opened up babies that I’ve been up, all those different things. And so again, you reinvented yourself. You became, um, um, you evolved right? So a customer, instead of buying a $100 picture frame, now it’s got Steve’s name on it, now it’s $100 plus. So you get more revenue per customer.
Shirley: [00:36:22] Yeah. Yeah. Peter Peterson family. Right. Okay. Right, right. Yeah, absolutely. And, and uh, and that parlayed into my online business, which really, really changed my life is uh, that business that I built called American Bridle, American bridle that call.
New Speaker: [00:36:39] Yeah. And so American bridle this, do you think it was because you were in California in that tech world? San Francisco, super high tech, right. Super. You were in it then. Everybody had to go online. Everything had to go online. If you were in that same business in Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Miami day are thinking online. I mean they are now, but back then they weren’t, was your whole world. I mean, like I, I remember going there as an executive and back in those days and everybody was there is, oh, he’s got a tech company, he’s got a tech company. They all had tech companies. What was your experience?
Shirley: [00:37:20] Oh, that’s,
New Speaker: [00:37:22] I mean why, why did you decide to go online? Most people wouldn’t.
Shirley: [00:37:25] No, no, it’s true. It’s true. I think, again, I was super lucky. I had this friend and he goes, hey, you should register the name American bridle. So I started off American bridle as a, as a mail order catalog. Let me think of the name. Nobody can
New Speaker: [00:37:40] get that name today. Oh,
Shirley: [00:37:43] right. Even with that, it was a little late to the, uh, domain squatting a day’s already even in 1997. So, um, so, but I got really lucky, you know, I didn’t really think of it as being online as, as it was more like I was in the mail order catalog business for a couple of years. I hated it to be honest. Or what did you learn there? That I learned that I had been like the mail order business. So, no, I’m just joking. I’m only partly, uh, and the reason I hated it was because we had to do all these bulk mail and we’re the ship the mail. We had to Schlep all these catalog and send them out. Cross our fingers. Hope that somebody would place an order by mail and send you a check. Yeah, it was, it was rough. So it, I, I just basically learned that um, there has to be a better way of doing things.
New Speaker: [00:38:42] That was the thing that you got did this, okay, this is a path and people have success with it, but you realize this isn’t for me. And I think that that is very healthy when you could learn what you don’t want to do, the parts of your business that was talking to somebody yesterday, they got this huge warehouse. It’s massive. It’s unbelievable and the guy is going to be successful no matter what he does. My only comment was make sure that that’s what you love because you’re going to be successful, but does that mean you’re going to enjoy it for, you know, for the next, if that’s what you’re missing and you want that. Otherwise, you know, six months later you’re gonna be like, okay, what’s next? You know, and you’re not going to stay with it. So I think learning that is a very healthy thing. Okay. So that’s something we don’t want to do. What did we decide to do?
Shirley: [00:39:25] So because I, it was so painful in a way, right? That pain motivated, need to like figure out how to set up the ECOMMERCE store on Yahoo Platform back in the day. So this. Yeah, this was [inaudible] 96. [inaudible] 97. So I’m,
New Speaker: [00:39:41] you are a nerd. You know what, you’re a nerd. I’m just going to say it right out. You are a nerd. That’s cool.
Shirley: [00:39:47] Way Back. Oh, I don’t know how to do cold except like bracket, bold bracket something. I don’t know. Back in the day, right? That’s all I knew how to do. But you know, that’s, that’s, that’s what we did, you know. And um, we opened our first yahoo store.
New Speaker: [00:40:05] No kidding. And in 96, 97. I mean there was not much going on. What was it? Slow? What was the thought? Yeah, what were you, what were you hoping to get, you know, a little bit of sales each month. A little bit what you’re thinking.
Shirley: [00:40:19] Yeah. So at that time when we opened this, I still had the retail store right? We were doing some in the, somewhere in the realm of like, you know, 700,000 a year or so, you know, each year. Right. So the, the, the website was really like an, an adjunct, right. I will do that too, you know, um, and, and develop the wedding a category and just pick one thing, right. What was the one thing that we could carve out from all the things that we did? Um, because we were really in the personalization business and, and, and um, we struggled with a. So the business, right? We’re not like a retail. We were not like in a retail store even though we, uh, once you’re in our store, we behave like a retail store. So we were limited to the people who are able to walk into the building.
Shirley: [00:41:12] So just like the America mart on it, the or the elderly Gift Mart, you have to have a pass to get in. So you had a resale license, you have to have a business license and slash or you were a designer that had a business license that you can buy wholesale. So we were very limited to the four walls, right. And that’s what really motivated me to do mail order catalog to begin with. Um, and then once that, you know, that migrated to the online store, um, that was the motivation to like, how can we drum up more business outside these four walls that everyday they limit the people who walk in the door. I didn’t control that.
New Speaker: [00:41:52] Well, I think it’s important that you niche down and that’s what you, you, you, you didn’t use that term. But that’s uh, that’s the smart thing. You said, hey, I could do the baby, I could do the picture frame, I could do all these things or we can go after the wedding business because that probably had the most legs. Right. That’s probably the biggest opportunity
Shirley: [00:42:11] we had a lot, you know. And, and again, we listened to the customer when, whenever we were open on Saturdays, we had those brides and bride to be coming in. I’m like, and that’s all they bought, right? I was like, you know, I wonder. Right. And at that time there was really nobody doing it, you know. Um, there was all these magazines and, and even the not was not really on the map the map yet at that time and they were the largest. They’re now the largest wedding portal, right? I’m in the world. I’ve been married 33 years. I have no clue.
New Speaker: [00:42:46] I’m, I’m, I’m oblivious to that whole world and I had boys so I didn’t even have to pay for it. So yeah. So, so when you think about now you know, that was a pivotal moment, right? Just realizing that the Internet’s going to be real. This is, you know, we are markets limited. I can sit here and cry and complain like everybody else back to that silk flower business, right. Just gave it up, let it go for 20 years, put money into it or I could go out and try to grow my business on my own. And I think that that, again, hence the reason for the kickstarter, you’re not willing to just let things happen to you. Are you Shirley?
Shirley: [00:43:25] Yeah, I have a hard time with surrendering.
New Speaker: [00:43:29] I do. I mean, it just, it’s, you know, it’s moving off of an island at 17 or 19 whatever and just saying, Hey, I’m out, I’m not going to let life happen to me. Life’s not going to happen to Shirley Tan period. You’re going to make it happen. Um, and I think that’s very, very cool. Okay. So the business goes and what do you do with the business?
Shirley: [00:43:48] So I sold that. So, um, so fast forward to 2004, I sold my share of the business to my partner. So somewhere between there I got a partner that sold the retail, started the business to the partner, and it really was because I started American bridle. I dragged into it kicking, screaming, and I go, you didn’t, are you in, are out. And he goes, okay, fine, I’m in. Okay, then let’s go. And then, um, and then I sold the retail side of the business to him and I focused on American bridle and I grew that.
New Speaker: [00:44:24] So you were, you said, hmm, do I want to be here working seven days a week? Probably because they’re probably open on Sundays, maybe not. Whatever. And Limited and I’m stuck with this group of people or I could take the future. Now did the website, was the website getting legs at that point?
Shirley: [00:44:41] So by then in 2004, the website was doing about half a million dollars.
New Speaker: [00:44:45] Okay. So it’s got legs. It’s got real legs. A far surpassed the store, I assume?
Shirley: [00:44:50] No, because the store was still doing nearly a million at that time. No kidding. You can traffic a million dollars. Wow. Yeah. And that’s back in the heyday of the gift center was that was, you know, that was, that was the building to be in. That’s why the exclusivity, right. Like, Hey, you had have a pass, you have to know someone, you have to be connected. We did really, really well. I was very blessed.
New Speaker: [00:45:14] Okay. All right. So he thinks he’s getting the better end of the deal because he’s got a million dollar brick and mortar sort of. And you’re saying, Huh, so you’ve already taken off of my half a million dollar online because the future, I mean, did you really think that it could be as big the online store? I mean, when you think about that now looking back, what do you knew? Do you feel like you were taking a chance?
Shirley: [00:45:40] Well, yeah, because. Wait till I tell you the next part why I thought it was taking a chance. Um, uh, you know what it was this, I, I did that retail store for nearly 19 years. I was in the building for 19 years. I mean, that’s a really long time. I just kinda like, you know, I, I need something beyond just doing this one thing, right? Yeah. Yeah. For sure. You know. And um, so, uh, but the, the day that we, you know, that I officially was the owner and I just remember this very clearly. It was April one, right? So April fools day and our ranking our, our page 11 ranking on Google disappeared page 11, page 11, doing half a million a year and disappeared. Yeah, that was fun. So
New Speaker: [00:46:30] is this, when they really adjusted their algorithm?
Shirley: [00:46:34] It was the Florida update, something like that. Yeah. No. Okay.
New Speaker: [00:46:38] So that doesn’t sound good. That doesn’t sound like, Hey, I hit a home run. That sounds like, Ooh, this is achy. All right, so how do we get through that
Shirley: [00:46:48] called everybody I knew, like a in the Seo world, learned what Seo was, what’s sel did that and um, and taught myself that and I’m climbed out of it and when we climbed out of it, it was, by the time we climbed out of it, it was February 2005. I remember these things were so pivotal each time, right? Um, a milestones and uh, it was February of 2005 and a while we, we, we, uh, got better and went to page three.
New Speaker: [00:47:22] So. And I liked the way you described that you climbed out of it, you just don’t, it’s not like you turn us, we make a right hand and it works. Now it’s a slow, tedious climb. Each thing builds on each other. I think that’s a very visual thing. I think that’s a very healthy way to look at it. So you’re climbing out of these milestones, not, not just making them happen. And so you got to page three. Did sales recover at that point?
Shirley: [00:47:46] Yes. Yes. Okay. So I, by then my, my, my overhead was pretty low, right? Uh, and um, you know, we, we did whatever we had to do. So you were a wholesaler or where you drop shipping at that point? No, know we were, I was strictly online selling, shipping, shipping stuff out.
New Speaker: [00:48:07] Okay. So you would receive it like a ho or either manufacturer or wholesale at whichever distributor, whichever. And then you were selling. Okay. Okay. All right. Absolutely. Yep. Alright. So that’s working a life is good and then what happens?
Shirley: [00:48:23] And then, you know, um, and then it blew up. Next thing you know, we’re ranking number one, number two, a lot of key words. I started part, I parlayed that into different. I, I, I’m. So we have one website, right? And that one website I changed, I niche down even more. I built a groomsman site, I built a bridesmaid site. So I learned that hey guys don’t want to look at American bridle too girly, too many women’s stuff. They just want to do dudes want to see dudes stuff. Right. So,
New Speaker: [00:48:56] so were these standalone sites or were these pages within the existing site?
Shirley: [00:49:00] So, so you, you know, how you have category pages rising. We have a, you know, American by adults that slash groomsmen’s gifts, right? So we actually created a separate on top of that we competed with ourselves and created a separate domain name that strictly focused on that category of just, you know, gruesomeness gift that only guys want to see what 600 skews.
New Speaker: [00:49:24] And everybody today is sitting there like, oh, big deal. Surely this is no big deal. I’ve got, you know, I’ve got 64 domains. No big deal. Back then it was a big deal. Well
Shirley: [00:49:34] yes, because first nobody really was doing it right. And then on top of that there are basically standalone store. There was no, they’re like separate Yahoo. They’re not integrated. You can ensure the same back end everything. Every time you touch one you have to manually touch the other. So it was a big lot, a lot, a lot of work, a lot of work for a small team. So how long did you own those? So from 2004 as I was building, building, building, I owned everything till May, 2009 and I, that’s when I sold everything. You sold everything at five years. I sold, I sold the whole inshallah to the gum.
New Speaker: [00:50:18] Was uh, was your partner that was in the brick and mortar in the mark? Was he still in business at that point? In 2009? Yes. Still. All right, well that’s cool. That’s cool. I mean that, that, that is neat. I’m glad to see that. That didn’t end bed. Okay. All right. So 2009 you say. Okay, I’m selling opportunities here. Life is good. I’m going to sit around and smoke cigars and put my feet up by the pool. Right.
Shirley: [00:50:46] I actually do smoke cigars. Sometimes friends, you know, only it had the timing and the mood is right. Uh, no, no. Well I took some time off. I took some time off and you know, I uh, I, that’s when I started like a lot of health problems and stuff. I know work for the company for a year. I for a year. Did the corporate thing that you know, experience that I never had. So I thought that was fun. Interesting. Lot of learnings as well. Navigating the corporate world,
New Speaker: [00:51:16] easy to make decisions. They were just turned on a dime, right? They’re just nice, you know, no committees, no know, right? That’s easy. No meetings
Shirley: [00:51:23] verse rise on hockey from the corporate world. And then they go into their own thing and I did the reverse because I never been really in a corporate world other than my teller days. Right? Banking teller days, um, and, and I was such a low man on the totem pole. So, uh, but then now you’re like with a, you know, at least mid level management and going, Whoa,
New Speaker: [00:51:44] I was just like, nothing can get done. This is why quite frankly people I have to make happy as a machine. Right. And the machine needs to be fed and, and so it does make you appreciate a little bit more. Um, probably some things you took for granted about being your own boss and making your own decisions. You’d be like, Hey, I just know what to do. Let’s decide and try it. Boom. No, no, you don’t understand. That’s not how we do things here. Surely that’s not great. So. All right, so you learned that. That’s good.
Shirley: [00:52:11] Well, at the same time, there’s a lot of respect to learn from the process as well, right? They have a process, a way of doing things because it also works. So it’s both sides. It’s both sides.
New Speaker: [00:52:26] Well, I think that’s fair. And I think again though, what I like about those experiences when somebody especially coming off a bad experience, I’m always like, look, remember the things that you use to heat, make sure you don’t do that to your staff. Make sure that you don’t do any of those things. Make sure you keep that in mind. The things you didn’t like, meetings and all that. Kind of just make sure you don’t do that stuff because you know, unfortunately you get away from it sometimes and then it creeps into you because you know what you’re doing. Okay. So, so you’re, you work with them and now you’re going to do something again. What were you thinking you were going to do? Where are you going to be? I’m going to do it again. What were you thinking?
Shirley: [00:53:01] So I knew that I didn’t want to do something necessarily in the wedding space anymore. I want it to be beyond the. Oh yeah, you’re the wedding lady, right? So I was the wedding lady. Okay. You know how everybody has back in the day. Oh, Mike runs a guitar store, you know, and so and so runs a chef store. Right. So I was the wedding lady in our group. Yeah. Yahoo friends are yahoo community. Um, so, so at that time I thought, hey, I could always go work for someone or um, I could be consultant. I always wanted to be a consultant. I thought it was so cool.
New Speaker: [00:53:42] Yeah. You look cool. You know, Karen little briefcase flying around the world.
Shirley: [00:53:48] Alright. And you know, everything.
New Speaker: [00:53:50] You’re the expert. Is this the systems coach?
Shirley: [00:53:53] Well, yes. I started off as a ecommerce systems and then I parlayed too, like, hey, why limit to ecommerce? You know, that’s the systems coach. Yeah.
New Speaker: [00:54:01] But because systems. I mean, if you think back, and I think, I think either on our precall or during this conversation, one of the things that does ring true is you are very organized and you are methodical a system person, right? I mean, that’s just your nature.
Shirley: [00:54:18] I try, I try really, really hard.
New Speaker: [00:54:21] Alright, so you’re going to coach. How did that go for you?
Shirley: [00:54:25] You know, I did it for, I can’t remember how long I’ve done it, two, three years maybe, and I really enjoyed it. You know, what is, what I love about, um, business is business. I love my business. I love other people’s business. I’m fascinated. Like you right when you are, you know, how you interview people. I’m just fascinated by how do other people do their business? How do they run their business? Uh, what did they, what did they, what did they do? Right? What did they do wrong? What, what was, what was the vision? I just love everything about that.
New Speaker: [00:55:03] I do too. Of course, as you could tell to me, every time I talked to somebody, I learned something and I think that that’s a maturity thing that we get to that place where I could say, Steve doesn’t know everything and do you know what? Then I listened to Shirley and I’m like, oh, I get it. I understand it might not be for me, but I get it. And to me that’s what’s powerful. All right. So how does, how does Amazon private label come into your life?
Shirley: [00:55:30] So, so, so after the consulting thing, I, um, and this was really only like the start of 2016. I actually, so I was sharing with you that I was a yahoo store and one of my deep fascinate a fantasy at that time, even for really long time, right? Because I knew the Yahoo people really, really well. I knew the marketing people. I knew the small business group and uh, I always had this fantasy that I was going to, I want it to work for Yahoo. And then the day showed up or that the, there was this thing that was happening over there. Right? And so the, the GM, the VP, that time he goes, you want to come work for us? And I go, yes, let’s go, let’s do it. And I stopped the whole consulting thing to go work for them.
New Speaker: [00:56:26] So you, um, and who was the CEO at that time? Do you remember
Shirley: [00:56:31] the CEO of Yahoo that time was Marissa Meyers.
New Speaker: [00:56:34] Ah, so she was dynamo, right? She was going to change things. She was going to undo a lot of the things that were wrong. Right. Because Yahoo was good and bad, right? They didn’t sell. There was a whole year
Shirley: [00:56:44] fear of missing for sure.
New Speaker: [00:56:46] Right. And she was going to fix things. And so is that part of the attraction too?
New Speaker: [00:56:52] Well, I’m,
Shirley: [00:56:53] you know, I have a soft spot for Yahoo, right? Because that’s how I got my start in the online world. So I’ve always will have a soft spot for them. I love those people. I still know a lot of the people who are there that are in that group.
New Speaker: [00:57:05] Um, you know,
Shirley: [00:57:08] you know, my, my particular attraction was really to the people who I knew in that group, a small business group, the Yahoo store owners that are still to this day, good friends with. So, um, yeah, um,
New Speaker: [00:57:23] you’re definitely a relationship person listened back your relationship person. I could see that.
Shirley: [00:57:29] Yeah. And, and really what, what they brought me into was basically to be that business owner on the inside, tell us how business owners think, tell us what, what drives them, how do you, how do we build more products to relate to business owners that they want. You speak their language, you know, what they go through, you’ve done it, right, you live in that world day in, day out from developing products to marketing to fulfillment or delivery. You did all of those things. So I, I understand, I understand the world,
New Speaker: [00:57:59] you know, one of the things we talked about precall where we’re talking about your kickstarter campaign and in my comments about how professional and how, you know, it’s, it’s really impressive. I mean it really is. Where did, when you think, I mean, and you said you know it, you’re hobbled it together, I think was your phrase,
Shirley: [00:58:17] but we’ll cobble. Yeah,
New Speaker: [00:58:19] that corporate experience, right? That, that ability to get into that environment. I’m sure their professionalism, like you said, you got to respect the fact that they have an approach and a process. Um, it sounds like you won something. They are knowledge wise.
Shirley: [00:58:37] I’m sorry.
New Speaker: [00:58:38] Okay. It sounds like you won something knowledge wise. They’re like, you, you picked up something and published it or something. I don’t know. I mean it’s just, I think some people don’t have a good experience. It sounds like you had a good experience and it made you even better. Um, what you knew. That’s what, that’s just my little simple observation from the outside.
New Speaker: [00:58:56] Well, I’m,
Shirley: [00:58:57] so I was only there for a short time, uh, when yoga was going through their sale to verizon. Right. Our group, our group got laid off, so that was not fun. I mean, it’s like, in my mind I was like, Hey, I just got here, the party can end yet. Um, but, um, you know, what I learned if I had to do any, you know, my, my advice for people getting into the corporate world, especially with companies that are establish, um, you have to be patient, you have to be patient, they have a process and you have to grow through the process is a step by step. It’s hard to just say, hey, why don’t we just jump in and jump and skip the step. It’s very difficult for people who are established right to do that too. Actually.
New Speaker: [00:59:45] Patient. Yeah. I’m impatient and that’s very difficult for me. So I get that.
Shirley: [00:59:49] It was hard for me that was, you know, I’m an entrepreneur. I’m like, when did this, I should have been done yesterday. So, um, it was difficult. But you know,
New Speaker: [00:59:58] when you look at your kickstarter, I mean I’m looking at all these moving pieces I’m seeing. I mean, I guess we should just jump right in there. I’m seeing so many moving pieces to this. I mean a, the product be the, you know, the campaign is unbelievable and this just didn’t happen. How long, how long have you been working on this product?
Shirley: [01:00:19] So I would say um, so I had the idea back in 2014, but I sat on it, right? Um, I didn’t think that people wanted it. I think that I would get some pushback and I, and I understand you’re gonna always get pushback back no matter how great your stuff is. Um, so I, I didn’t do anything about it till a February of 2017 and it was because I met my friend, my really good friend Perry Belcher said you should talk to Kevin Harrington. He’s one of the original shark tank guys. Right. You need to talk to Kevin. And it so happened. That environment was there. I was in ward room. I’m part of war room. People who don’t know about war room. We got to go check it out. Um, what’s it called? War Room. War Room. What Room? It’s a r, r o n m. yeah.
Shirley: [01:01:09] It’s a private mastermind for entrepreneurs doing a million dollars or more, a, a really amazing group of people. I just, I love, love, love those people. And um, so, so we were in advance, Kevin Harrington was, you know, is a member and he goes, you got to talk to Kevin. So I had met him in the past because he’s been at their team there had been at traffic and conversion in San Diego, one of the largest marketing events right in the country. And uh, so I met him before, but you know, Kevin Harrington, right know celebrity. So I, you know, I just said hi, it’d be polite kind of thing, can I take, can I get a Selfie, you know, that kind of thing. But now I get a chance to talk to him because my friend goes, Kevin talked to her so and I, I drew it up for him.
Shirley: [01:01:56] He goes, show me, show me your prototype. I did a video facebook video that I’d never done before, you know, that I did a little video thing to send it to him. He goes, I get this. He goes. And basically my question to him was, if you think it’s stupid, tell me now because you would save me so much. He seems all of product, right? Everybody’s throwing products out in all day long and I’m, and I’m like, if you think it’s dumb, just tell me because then you’ll save me so much time in grief not to mention money and said, do it, do it. Get your provisional now. Um, and before you even talk to anybody else, get your provisional start filing. And that’s basically, like I said, I’m a good listener. That was exactly what I did.
New Speaker: [01:02:48] And again, we’re back to relationships. You said somebody introduced you to him. Somebody got you pushed past your comfort level. Like you said, you wouldn’t have approached him. You might’ve been that you’re not a shrinking violet though, surely. So I’m not sure. I think you would have.
Shirley: [01:03:04] When people think that I’m kinda shy at the same time. It’s, it’s, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a weird mix. It’s, it,
New Speaker: [01:03:11] it. I’m shy on the inside. I always say that. That’s true. All right, so you, uh, you put it, you get it vetted by somebody who really, because I always say this with those invention companies, you can send them anything. Hey, I’ve got this pencil and it’s going to be Green Shirley. It’s amazing. And you send that in to them and they’re like, yeah, I think you’re onto something. Steve, send us $1,997 and we’re going to give you this outline. That’s going to be phenomenal, right? This is real. He had no vested interest. He didn’t try to get a piece of it. He didn’t know.
Shirley: [01:03:42] Oh, very, very cool. He was, well, he didn’t know me right. But because he’s good friends with my friend. Right. You know, he, he gave, he gave him that. Hey, you know, that’s very cool. See? Sure. I’ll talk to you because you’re my friend’s friend, right? So he’s cool that way. Kevin Harrington. Super Nice.
New Speaker: [01:04:00] Very cool. Okay, so he says is this, there’s, there’s probably legs to this idea. Get your provisional patent. That’s what you’re talking about. Provisional. Get your provisional patent filed. Get that stuff started now and this was 2017. Well here we are in 2018 and you decide, hey, rather than just create this product and launch it. Right? Because that’s what a lot of people do on Amazon, right? You know, do your private label, just launch it yourself and give away and do some coupons and have somebody in some country create a bunch of fake reviews and all the kind of junk that people do. You say, no, I’m going to go to kickstarter. What made you think that kickstarter was the one
Shirley: [01:04:36] way? So, um, and I, I didn’t like roll out of bed and decided that, right? Yeah,
New Speaker: [01:04:44] I do, but it’s a big deal. It’s like most people don’t think of it. So what is it?
Shirley: [01:04:48] So what it was, was I, I started putting together a plan. If I did an Amazon, this is what the business plan would look like if I didn’t have a kickstarter, this is what the business plan would look like if I did an in shopify, let’s say, right, just launch our own website store, what would that look like? And really it all came back to this one thing is like how do you get the word out? And I felt like I’m going to have to climb out of it. I have to do all same thing that I’m going to have to do. Maybe, maybe not as not as a expensive video navy. Right, but I have to do all of the pieces. I have to do facebook ads, I have to get all the work. I have to do all the same elements of marketing, so why not remove some of that risk and not carry the inventory till I knew that people wanted to buy it.
New Speaker: [01:05:43] Okay, so I’m going to pause here for a second because I think. I think this is a big idea. It’s, it’s new to a lot of people. They’re afraid of starting a campaign. They’ve all been done. People are gonna steal your product right soon as. Because we know people that source private label products right off at kickstarter. We’ve all heard those stories, right? Kickstarter and whatever the other one is, I forget what the name of the other one is and that’s where they source their private label products. They just try to get them in before the other one gets launched and then that way they can say they were there first and Blahblahblahblahblah, indiegogo, indiegogo. That’s it, yeah. Yeah. And this is very common people that teach that stuff. Right. And that’s crazy. So what pushed you past that fear of doing that?
Shirley: [01:06:22] And you know, Steven, I had the exact same fears, right? So, uh, uh, you know, well, people have copied the idea of because, you know, you’ve seen all the stories where I’ve listened to all podcasts. People talk about, I’ve read all this stuff online, so, you know, there was a point where I just had to like get over that fear and um, but it’ll also, he was tiny, like, how do you, how do you do facebook ads without giving up the, you know, giving out the product, how do we rebuild all that marketing email list without, um, without being, you’re putting it out there but not putting it out there. It was a, it was a dance that we had.
New Speaker: [01:07:02] It has to be the Kevin Harrington thing, right. His advice to get the provisional patent first because that’s a process. That’s not a fast process. That’s a machine, right? That piece of advice and his confidence I could see that would push me forward because he’s saying it’s a good idea. That’s a big deal, right? Because he’s done how many products? Thousands of products, right?
Shirley: [01:07:22] I’ve seen on TV. It’s all a lot of his stuff.
New Speaker: [01:07:24] Right? Right. And so he’s saying this is good, this is great. You then follow through, get the provisional patent. That would give me confidence to. I, I could see that. I think the other thing that’s really smart here is that, you know, launching, we all knew one way to launch, guess what? There everybody knows that way there’s no secrets anymore, right? That stuff’s all out there, right? In matter of fact, it’s a lot of it’s data driven and there’s tools that people are using to skirt the system, right? That’s why they get rid of all these crazy reviews half the time because if somebody writes this piece of software that says, Ooh, I can pretend to be people and I can make these things, this is another way to do it. Um, and I just don’t know many people who are using it. I know it was hot for a long time, but it really hasn’t gone away.
New Speaker: [01:08:08] Um, when you look at a lot of the products that are on facebook specific, a lot of them started in kickstarter, um, which I think is very, very cool. All right, so you got your product. You’re out there. Who Develops this campaign? Because, um, we’re going to have to tell people what the product is. We can say it because nobody’s going to know it. So it’s called posture keeper. Okay. So go to kickstarter and search posture keeper and you’re going to see a, you’re going to see famous, surely Tan. She created this, but you’re going to see a commercial that she does and she demonstrates and you look professional. I mean, it’s so well done.
Shirley: [01:08:43] I mean scared and nervous. That was, that was
New Speaker: [01:08:46] versus a big deal though. I mean most people. How much does it cost to hire a company to do this, would you think?
Shirley: [01:08:52] Uh, San Francisco Ray was about five grand,
New Speaker: [01:08:55] five grand to put together this campaign and you get to keep your. I’m sure you still spent some money, but you then were able to.
Shirley: [01:09:03] That’s just the videos.
New Speaker: [01:09:05] Oh whoa. That’s just the video I’m talking about all this. How much would it cost to do all of it? Because there’s tons of graphic, there’s tons of videos, there’s tons of graphics and stuff. Who would have, how much would this have cost?
Shirley: [01:09:16] Uh, I don’t know, don’t tell my husband
New Speaker: [01:09:20] my bed is, I’m, I’m getting. If you would have used an agency or something like that, it’d probably be 50 grand. I’m not exaggerating because it’s
Shirley: [01:09:27] so. I’ve shopped the agency, they’re all in the range of 35,000 to 50,000 and um, and I just didn’t have that kind of capital to do that.
New Speaker: [01:09:37] So, so think about this. You’re launching a new product, you can hire this and they’ll do it right and it’s 35 to $50,000 that, that means you’re not spending it on inventory. And I’m sure you spent still quite a bit of money for this, but nowhere near it’s unbelievable you, you hit you, you set a goal of $10,000. And is that, is that kind of a, a number to help you see if there is a market there? Is that what that number does? Because if I could sell 10 grand, I know I can sell a million. Um, you know, you don’t want to set it too low, you don’t want to set it too high. What’d you come up with? A 10,000,
Shirley: [01:10:11] you know? Um, I really just looked at all the different best practices. I looked at the people who are in the same category. What were their numbers? I’ve studied all the successful ones, the ones that didn’t know how this gigantic spreadsheet. Right? And, and just really looking at, it seems like the number 10 grand was the overwhelming number that, that reached her goal. She quickly. So, so this’ll just balancing of what the factory wants you to order a enough demand to get the inventory going and then the number that needs to be achieved quickly. So. So that’s, that was how we came up with that.
New Speaker: [01:10:52] Okay. Alright. And if you hit it quickly, because that’s the key is you gotta hit it quickly. Well, there’s still 35 days to go and you hit your $10,000. How long did it take you to hit your goal?
Shirley: [01:11:02] Eighteen hours. Now we need to,
New Speaker: [01:11:06] when you sit back and think [inaudible], that’s gotta be the scariest thing in the world. Nobody’s going to like me, Shirley, right? I’m going to fail. Nobody’s going to buy one. Maybe my mom up. Maybe. Maybe somebody we know we’ll buy one, but 18 hours. Proof of concept, check, check
Shirley: [01:11:25] and, and, um, Steven, I have a, I almost lost it. I lost my train of thought. I was going to say in that 18 hours, you know, I was nervous. I was, I was really just, you know, just really just working my list, right? What can I do? What can I do? And um, uh, it was amazing. It’s really, I’m so, I’m so grateful and that we hit that number first. I didn’t even set out to do that, right? I was thinking, oh, this is a good goal. But when I, when we got to like $7,000 by, I can’t even remember now. This is just a blurred the last few days, uh, I think it might’ve been like [5:00], you know, I was going, hey, wait a minute, we could do this, so if you got, if you follow my, if you’re, you’re my facebook, you’ll see this is my friend. Rob’s now as I was going to pay five to go and it just blew up.
New Speaker: [01:12:19] I blew up. Yeah. That feeling that you can do that I know know how to start something spinning and I can keep it spinning has got to be a phenomenal thing because in the past, right. I mean there’s a mystery around launching a product on Amazon. Let’s just stay on Amazon specific. Right? We’re on shopify and trying to drive traffic, right? There’s a, you know, you had to take courses, you’ve got to do all these things.
Shirley: [01:12:45] Even I, I took courses from you guys.
New Speaker: [01:12:48] Oh yeah. You were in the Andes class about private label and that’s all valuable for this. Of course it is. But did you take kickstarter courses?
Shirley: [01:12:57] I took two kickstarter courses.
New Speaker: [01:13:00] You did? Yeah. When you think about your success, would you credit them with some of that success, knowing the little switches to make sure you do a little things to think about?
Shirley: [01:13:10] Absolutely. I did all of that before I made the decision to do kickstarter. I wanted to see what was, what would look like, what would life be doing that and understanding that before you go in, right. That decision process of like, okay, now I know sort of right. Most of the risks what I got to do, how do I have to. How do I prepare? I like to prepare. I’m, I’m all, I’m a worry wart, so how I make up for that is by being prepared.
New Speaker: [01:13:35] Well, your process, I mean you’re back to the process coach, right? That’s you. Okay, so we launched a campaign. It hits the funding. What’s next? I mean, how, what? Because now it’s real, hey, you got to make these things. You got to get them in and you got to meet these requirements. Right? What’s the plan as you start to think, because it, you know, hey, you’ve already had the endorsement of Kevin Harrington saying this is probably a product that has some legs. You now have a whole bunch of people that agree and say, I want one.
Shirley: [01:14:02] Yup. And I’m, I’m super surprised by, uh, the worldwide because we’re, we offered it, right? So we’re seeing all the orders come in from other countries. It’s so cool. Singapore, Malaysia, India, super, super cool. France, Italy. Well, what’s next? So what’s next for posture? Cheaper. Well, um, we’re, we’re not going to put this on Amazon, uh, until, until we deliver on all our kickstarter promises. So we’re going to ship everybody. Everybody’s going to get their stuff and then we won’t be on Amazon till next year, so it’s going to be on Amazon and shopify, but not until after we wrap up. Um, and deliberate in all of the kickstarter a orders.
New Speaker: [01:14:53] I think that patients, that, again, you’re back to learning that your whole way through that, that’s what it takes because a lot of people would be like, I got to get the money as fast as I can. I got to take advantage. I gotta it it. And then you don’t do things right. So I think this is very powerful.
Shirley: [01:15:08] Yeah, yeah. No, I, I need, I need and want everyone on kickstarter to be happy. They’re going to tell all their friends. That’s the whole point of social proof, right? So if I can’t even deliver on that, then you know, I got no business adding more things to my plate. So. And I’m, I’m, I’m not in it for the money per se. And don’t get me wrong, I want to make a profit, right? But, uh, but there’s a, there’s a timeline and I, I believe that I need to get this stuff to them. They’re going to be happy. They’ll tell everybody I can have, I can put my hand to my heart knowing that I can say look at all the positive comments. So online, and that’s going to help me on my Amazon reviews that helped me on my shopify launched. So, so if I can make every, if I can keep all those people happy, that’s only gonna help me and not hurt me.
New Speaker: [01:16:02] That is a, I think the social proof, the ambassadors for your product is one of the coolest parts of kickstarter or an indiegogo is you have a whole bunch of people singing their praises because assuming the product’s good, right? Assuming that’s a risk, right? But, but assuming you can really meet the expectations, um, you then have all these people and am I correct? Do you get access to that information? So when I buy one, you know, my email and my address and all that kind of jazz that you get to market to eventually.
Shirley: [01:16:35] Yes, I do. Right now I don’t see anything, any of that till we wrap up. I believe so this is my first kickstarter, so I don’t really know. I guess I’m going to get that email list, right. So, um, and eventually, you know, I can now have a list that people who, who have tried my product, you know, they say in marketing, right, when people buy something from you, they’re more likely to buy something again from you provided that you did all the right things and the first, the first time around.
New Speaker: [01:17:04] So when you think about next product, and I know you thinking of your next product or next opportunity, is this kind of a direction you’ll go in again based on the experience you’ve had?
Shirley: [01:17:19] I think so. I think so. I really, I think that for products that are truly innovative, that is not a, I think there’s a criteria, right? If people do us a me too product. How about my water
New Speaker: [01:17:34] bottle? You’re not thinking my water bottle, which is just a generic water bottles sitting on my desk. There’s not much innovation here. That’s something that you wouldn’t do.
Shirley: [01:17:42] Oh, you know the canton fair last October. I’ve see so many water bottles. I couldn’t even differentiate any of the water bottles anymore. The idea man, I gotta kill my water bottle. It’s the, you’re my friend. I’m going to talk you out of it.
New Speaker: [01:17:56] Oh Man. How about gloves? Can I do my barbecue gloves? Okay. So, so innovation is really the key. You got to make you. I mean, when you think about, you know, your product to posture keeper immune, it really is. It’s really a new category to me as I sit and think about it because I’m leaning forward in my chair. My back is bugging me a uh, we were doing a whole bunch of stuff in the warehouse. I’m getting ready to go to the gym and my back is bugging me and I’m literally leaning forward in my chair and I’m thinking to myself, I’m probably your target candidate. It’s a new category. I’m not paying attention to it.
Shirley: [01:18:32] It’s a new category. There’s a lot of people who has now come up with posture correctors, trainers. Right? And one thing that makes posture keeper different is that it attaches to your chair and not on you. Right? So I, I, and I’ve tried all of the other ones for my own medical, you know, a pain and aches and pain. How do I make my posture better? And the one thing I didn’t like about the ones that I have to wear on my body and my person is that it cuts, you know, it hurts me on by, on their arm, you know, it’s very, um, you know, I need help to like strap on the velcro because I can’t reach it. So I just like, I like posher keeper for the fact that it stays on your chair
New Speaker: [01:19:16] and, and it just slipped right out of it, but it looks like a backpack and it’s so cool because, but you slip right out of it so you can function in life. But when you’re back there and your focus, you know, the other thing I think it would do would, would help me focus. I could tell that if I’m strapping myself in like that now, and it’s not really strapping in, but it’s, you slide yourself in, it kind of puts you in a mode ready to work. I could see that, you know, as I look at it, I’m like, ah, it’s, it’s very cool. And again, you have to everybody listening to this, please go out and look at this kickstarter campaign. This is what it takes to be successful. This is not an easy path. Shirley, I’ll have her contact information. If somebody is interested in this, this is not an easy path.
New Speaker: [01:19:55] This is an enormous amount of work. Every one of these things, I can see the blood, sweat and tears and I can see how well thought out, how well designed everything is phenomenal, phenomenal. I mean, I mean it, you know, and I love, I love the, uh, you know, the accolades in here, um, uh, the things that other, uh, other people have said. Um, I, I just think all that stuff is just so important and you get to see Shirley doing a commercial, which is pretty cool too. All right, so this is now a new, uh, a new plan for you. You can do this again. All right? So give advice to people who were sitting in kind of your same place. They took courses, they have product ideas. They’re thinking maybe they have an innovative idea. Is this a path that’s worth pursuing? Um, to really get that proof of concept and really potentially build it out,
Shirley: [01:20:50] you know, I think um, it’s, it’s worth pursuing if you have the comfort level for it. Right? So I have a really supportive husband. I call him Mr. Finance Manager. Ah, and um, and um, I think, you know, there’s a lot of things too in everybody’s life that, that they have to navigate, right? I think if the things are there for me, what made me decide to do this, it’s like I’m saying to myself, I got a supportive family. I have some of the finances in place. If I don’t do it now, when will I do it? The decision for me, right? I don’t want to look back in life and go, hey, you know, I wish I did that kickstarter thing, you know, it would have been great. You know, I, I, for me, I didn’t want to look back in the rear view mirror wishing that I did that
New Speaker: [01:21:44] he did. But here’s the thing though, I want to say this because I think of you as a safe with all the, you know, turn the left 50 degrees, turn to the right, you have aligned a lot of things. You said things were good in your life that just didn’t happen. It was all these things, all these learnings, all this investing of time, you know, even taking the udemy courses for kickstarter first, just to make sure this is really what I want, that stuff, that intentional lining up of stuff. Allow this to happen. And that’s you. So I don’t want to just say the world, the universe aligned for you. No, no, no, no, no, no. You steered in the right direction and I applaud that.
Shirley: [01:22:21] Well, I, I also kind of believed that God helps those who help themselves. Right? So you got to put things in place so that you know, it, it, it can be. You can be ready to accept and receive.
New Speaker: [01:22:33] No. Very, very cool. All right, so if somebody has a follow up question, what’s the best way that they can get in touch with you?
Shirley: [01:22:41] It can reach me at surely at posture keeper that calm. Don’t tell everybody Shirley and posture keeper that get to it as soon as I can.
New Speaker: [01:22:54] Okay. I think it’s very, very cool. All right, so the goal of the podcast is to help people move past the point of stuck and I think you’ve given us, you’ve expanded our boundaries. I’m back to that example. Getting your boundaries expanded. Um, this is a good example where that happened because you’re exposing a whole bunch of us who are not really familiar with this. What the opportunities can be. What would you say to somebody who, who is stuck who can’t push past that? What’s your advice?
Shirley: [01:23:25] You just have to decide to. It’s a button decision.
New Speaker: [01:23:29] That’s it. It’s just a simple, I’m ready. Move
Shirley: [01:23:33] really may not be completely ready, but you will be if you decide to be.
New Speaker: [01:23:40] So you have to, you have to accept that. Well, and I guess I go back to you. You have all that experience, all that opportunity that you’ve taken advantage of all that time. When are you going to be ready? Right? Are you going to. Do you want to live with regrets? Surely Gimme the tingles on that one. They gave me tingles on that one because that’s really good.
Shirley: [01:23:58] And, and I actually went through that process. It’s kind of like everybody goes, hey, she’d be a slum dunk for you. It was not a slam dunk. I had my own anxiety, my own fears that I just basically tell myself every day you got to do it. You just got to get over yourself, you know, and you already decided. Now you gotta make you gotTa make lemonade lemonade, right?
New Speaker: [01:24:19] You get those kids watching. You remember that
Shirley: [01:24:21] and you’ve got like kids, right? So watching. Yeah, exactly. And they’re watching me and now you know, they’re Kinda like my accountability partner, right?
New Speaker: [01:24:31] Well they have some stake in it. They’re in the, they’re in the pictures. They, they put themselves out there. You gotta deliver. Charlene is awesome. I’m so impressed. Again, when you look at this, I realize this was not done by some professional. This was done by the surely Tan Agency. Very, very cool. Don’t say that you’re going back to consulting. Hey, I wish you nothing but success. Thank you so much.
Shirley: [01:24:56] I’d be happy to help people just, just, you know, email me or reach out to me. There’s so many different ways to reach out to these things. Right? Everybody’s resourceful. Take care. Thank you, Steven.
New Speaker: [01:25:07] Very cool lady. Huh? And again, I apologize for making those little mistakes. My Mayor Kulpa, but I appreciate what she does. She pushes through it and when you meet her, she’s dynamic. I mean she sounds it through their phones, meter in, face to face, and she is just as dynamic, just as energetic, just as just as inquisitive. I like the fact that she’s listening, she’s paying attention, she knows how to ask questions. A very, very strong, a lot of good lessons here. Reach out to her if you’re interested in doing this with this innovative product. I think it’s a, I think it’s a very, very cool way. Um, she is definitely leading the way in our world right now. ECOMMERCE, momentum.com, ecommerce momentum.com. Take care.
Cool voice guy: [01:25:49] Thanks for listening to the ECOMMERCE momentum podcast. All the links mentioned today can be found at incomers. Momentum dot come under this episode number. Please remember to subscribe and the lake us on it.