"How to start a side hustle?"
Hear-hear, the self-starters and upcoming go-getters of the DTC startup world! 📣
There can be many excuses, from tiredness,😩 lack of time ⌚ zero motivation 😴 to a lot more erupting ever so often in your life.
But Kara’s story here is your wake-up call for ya’ all!⏰
Did you know Froula, the Founder of BackEmbrace created a successful business in 2 years?
And the best part?
She unlocked this win (and more) on the side while working a demanding day job! 😰 (Accounting, 🥲 you guys!)
This conversation, as part of The DTC Growth Stories, is a revelation of a DTC startup that was born out of the founder’s need. But later became a profitable venture when the products sold out within the first three months!
If you are wondering:
- How to build a profitable DTC business on the side while working a demanding day job?
- How do you strategize to fill a need gap by developing a better product?
Keep scrolling ⬇️ and read on.
The Inspiration Behind BackEmbrace
Kara: I was working long hours, managing accounting and operations that caused muscular strain and tension in my neck and shoulders.
I started physical therapy under a chiropractor with strengthening exercises for my back. But I realized I was physically stagnant, sitting in front of the computer for extended periods leading to chronic aches and pains.
I tried a posture corrector that I found at a local store that helped me pull my shoulders back. It did ease the pain in my neck and alleviated a lot of tension. But it was an intermediary solution.
However, the straps were bulky because of the padding and made me look like a football player.
It also had these buckles at the back that was not cute either.
It was embarrassing.
I began looking for other options on Amazon, and nothing I saw or tried impressed me.
I began dissecting these products and observed that their downfall lay in many missed details. These details included low-quality, cheap chafing, and that led me to try my hands at creating something for myself.
On Christmas, Things Changed...
Kara: I went home for Christmas that year, and with my mother, a great seamstress, we went to the fabric store and picked out some patterns. My mother sewed a cover for the existing one to cover the buckles and straps.
That made me look a little cuter, so I was not embarrassed to wear it in the open.
People began asking me what I was wearing, and when I told them it was a posture corrector, they said they needed one too!
That made me think people don’t have to suffer from severe physical injury. You could suffer from muscular tension and strain, a common ailment since so many people stay glued to their laptops or phone screens for long hours.
There was a need out there, and a better solution was the need of the hour.
Creative Solutions for the Greater Good of all
Kara: A particular story from Sara Blakely’s life always inspired me.
Did you know she would sell fax machines door-to-door, and that was when she came up with the idea of the Spanx because she despised visible panty lines?
She had no experience.
But she had an idea and created a solution that helped people look and feel better.
I knew I had a golden opportunity. So I decided to go for it.
I started prototyping and creating different iterations.
I was not sure if it was going to turn into anything.
But I thought I might as well try it.
Along with a seamstress, who I had met, and my interns, friends and family members who would share their feedback on the latest iterations, I began to work on my project on nights and weekends.
I finally came up with a unique design, and I wanted to test it in the market. So, I began showcasing it at trade shows and medical device trade events.
I was anxious about my creation and whether people are going to like the product or not. But I knew that even if I did fall on my face, I had a full-time job to keep me going.
To my utter surprise, I got an overwhelmingly positive response. Everyone who visited my booth was intrigued.
That gave me the confidence to move forward.
It started as a personal need, and suddenly, I had to scale to so many customers, building a successful business within a short period.
Help Was Around the Corner
Kara: I started with 1 product only.
During my research, I found that there are 60,000 Google searches for posture correctors alone, so I knew people wanted it, and there was a demand for a product like BackEmbrace.
Although I worked on a shoe-string budget for the longest time, for the research work and case studies, I decided to get help from a marketing class at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles).
I pitched BackEmbrace to students in one of the night classes, and they took it as their semester project, giving me phenomenal support that helped me further.
Hello DTC Startup: Here are two things you need to hear today
Kara: Remember, it’s a great advantage to be working as a 1-man army founder as it gives you insights and intel into your product from the ground up.
- Time is valuable. Hire someone who can do the job better than you. Delegate the tasks to experts after the money trickles in while you focus on the other essential things.
- Assume the worst; especially in the post-pandemic world when supplies delivery and material sourcing has become difficult. Always have an alternate person to help you with all aspects of your work.
Networking + PR + Marketing Pushed the Needle for BackEmbrace
Kara: Pre-pandemic, my first few customers came through trade shows, in-person events like fitness events, meditation gatherings and wellness meet-ups to create buzz. That helped as it gave people the chance to experience the product first-hand. Post the pandemic, working with a publicist helped massively.
It brought me massive media exposure in the first year, so I highly recommend it.
Google advertising, online marketplace places on Instagram and Facebook, and Amazon helped during the pandemic.
What Works Best for Early-Stage D2C Brands Like BackEmbrace?
- Online marketplaces
- Small retailers like medical type-stores give people hands-on experience with the product
Quick Wins for D2C Store Conversions:
- Focus on creating quality videos to showcase products, giving a good viewing experience viz-a-viz a static view.
- Make inclusivity a fundamental part of your visual communications strategy (product photography etc.) Show customers how a good product looks on different sizes and people.
🤩 The DTC Growth Series is an essential guide to d2c marketing, helping digital store owners discover advanced strategies for store conversions, and pave their way to success.
🖋️ 📝 To learn about D2C best practices & all things essential to becoming a profitable d2c online store, subscribe to our newsletter: https://getmason.io/feed/