EP 15: Building the Perfect Product with Anthony of Manmade

Narrator: (00:01)
Welcome to the Process, to e Eco Profit Podcast, where we know top line sales just isn’t enough to have the business of your dreams learn to run a profitable business online that doesn’t run you.

Robyn: (00:16)
Welcome to the Process, to e eCom profits, where we tell you a little bit more about how you can make a more profitable e-commerce business. Today I have Anthony from Manmade, and he’s got a DTC company that really focuses on men’s underwear and making the, the most comfortable ones in the world. but he’s got a really interesting story and he works with four partners. And so we’re very excited to have him on today to share a little bit about the, the things that they’ve been doing, and some tips that they might have for you to kind of grow your business a little bit better. So, Anthony, thanks so much for coming onto the show.

Anthony: (00:46)
Thank you for having you guys really appreciate it. Can

Robyn: (00:49)
You tell me a little bit more, tell us a little bit more about your business and kind of, like how you ended up as a, as a partnership before and what that’s like a little?

Anthony: (00:58)
Yeah, sure. No problem. so myself and my three best friends, Phillip, Robert, and Burtle, we were all working in the finance industry before we started manmade. make a long story short, we all had problems with our underwear, right? So it would always roll up, bunch up. It wouldn’t feel very comfortable. and we, we knew that at, you know, late twenties, early thirties, if we weren’t gonna make a leap of faith and start our own thing, it was probably never gonna happen. So we packed our stuff, went up north, which in a cabin, and we brainstormed for three whole days. And the same issue was coming up, is that we wanna solve the problem of the underwear. we feel like we could have done that, and we went straight to work. fast forward 10 months after that, we came out with our actual boxer brief.

Anthony: (01:46)
What was really cool about the process is that we tried every boxer brief you can think of, and we came across this fabric called, and that was that Eureka moment where we were like, Well, this fabric’s amazing. Why isn’t everyone wearing it? And we realized the price point was a little, was, was really high for that type of, material, but we figured out a way to make it affordable, and we figured out a way to get it onto more, more guys out there. And, they’re super happy. And that led us to actually start with, you know, solving the issue with socks. And now we’re going into t-shirts and eventually soap far as well.

Cindy: (02:22)
Anthony, what, what sites are you selling on now? Is it your DTC site or are you on Amazon? tell us about your

Anthony: (02:30)
Platforms. so yeah, sure, No problem. For us, it was really important, when we launched our business that we would launch a direct to consumer, and we wanted to create something custom. We wanted to create something clean, easy. the whole process we felt with essential businesses was, excuse me, with men’s underwear, was a little bit broken and a very, very, very confusing. Every time you would walk into a retail shop or you would go on a website, it would get confusing. So we want to keep something really clean. So we have our own website, manmade brand.com, and it’s powered with, AWS as well as our, our backend is, is with, BigCommerce.

Cindy: (03:08)
Okay. And so how long ago did you launch the brand, you know, open up to the public?

Anthony: (03:14)
Yeah, so that’s about August 30th, 2021. So we’re looking about eight months ago, if not nine lost count at this point, even though it’s been, so it’s gonna go. So even though it’s been so short, I don’t even know what date of the week it is today. So anybody listening, if you decide to start a brand or in e-commerce, it’s gonna be a lot of work. But, lots of fun. We started, August 30th, 2021, and, we started the brainstorming. So establish since June, 2020.

Cindy: (03:44)
2020, okay. Yeah. So, so you,

Anthony: (03:47)
yeah. June, 2020. Exactly.

Cindy: (03:49)
So, so about a year and a few months from the brainstorming to when you, you’re actually launching and, making it available. Did you quit your jobs, you know, at the brainstorming stage, or, or waited until see how it went? How did you, when did you leave the, the corporate world?

Anthony: (04:07)
Very good question. So we left a corporate world. I left the corporate world. I left the corporate world, I think it was 2018. and then I went to work in finance, for a brief period in, the payments world, where, I was able to work with a lot of e-commerce businesses, and I got exposed to this whole world of payments, you know, financial technology. I did that, for about a year or a year and a half, and then I transitioned full force with my three friends to get into manmade.

Cindy: (04:42)
So you guys all came together before the actual launch. This wasn’t a side hustle, You made the decision, you cut the cord, you decided to jump in and just, just do it.

Anthony: (04:53)
Yes, of course. For us, it’s like we’re at a certain point where we all kind of knew a little bit about our financial situation. On a personal level, you know, it’s important for us if we’re gonna be four partners, that we kind of have to be transparent. The last thing you want is one partner not being on the same page when it comes to business, or it comes to their personal life. We are, you know, early thirties, late twenties, starting our families. So there’s a lot to consider. So we had those hard talks, made sure everyone was on the same page, and definitely pull off the Band-Aid and jumped right into the pool.

Cindy: (05:22)
So did you, from the beginning assign roles or did you all just sit down every morning and, and have a huddle and go, All right, you tackle this, I’m gonna tackle this. How do you run this with four people?

Anthony: (05:35)
Actually, I always say, can I either go four times faster or four times slower, depending how the communication is. luckily for us, it’s been four times faster, but, we all kind of know each other from the past. Right. I’ve known Robert since I was five, Phillips since I was 15, Burtle since I was 18. and I’m 33 now, so we know each other for a little while. Roberto comes from a background, of accounting. He’s a CPA by profession. so we kind of know that, you know, he’s the numbers guy. And then he, he also compliments that with technology. He actually helped build out our whole website, our whole infrastructure when it comes to the online presence. And also our, manmade text concierge service, which you can get into a little bit, more later. and then you have Philip, he’s just a mind for building, and I always knew that, and logistically and operationally, he’s so organized when it comes to digital organization.

Anthony: (06:27)
It’s crazy. We always joke how organized and, o c d he could be sometimes when it comes to being organized, and that’s amazing. It’s exactly what you need for logistics and operations, right? And then you have Robert, who’s, a natural born salesperson, not the sleazy kind, the one that really cares about the customer. You know, like, he, he, he, he took a territory in, in banking that he was in earlier from last place territory to first place, and everyone was telling them it’s never gonna happen. And he did it because of his sales, his sales background, and his, and he’s head of marketing and product development, right? So he’s very, he’s very good at that. And then you have myself, right? Pr. , strategic relationships, customer experience. I always love doing that. And, you know, influencer marketing. So I always love that. I, I feel like, it comes second nature to me and we all compliment each other very well, and we make sure to stay super structured. yeah.

Cindy: (07:26)
Well, I’m kind of curious because when you’re working with partnerships, you’ve got your own, communication styles to work with, but then sometimes you have spouses, in the mix as well. You guys have any rules about how you’re gonna, communicate with spouses, you know, that that can sometimes really break up a partnership?

Anthony: (07:48)
Yeah, a hundred percent. before we got into this, we made sure that all the spouses were board, because obviously it takes away from all the family and personal time, right? So two times a week we’re working till 10, 11 weekends, we come in, our days start at six in the morning, and they end at seven at night. So it’s really hard, to, to, to juggle it all, but we’re very lucky to have spouses that understand what we’re going through and are very supportive. So that’s the first thing. we definitely have like partnership agreements in place as well, but I think everybody has the same North star, and we make sure that we keep that north star very clear, you know, clear as they, every single day. we do things like, weekly meetings, monthly meetings, annual meetings. We’re very big at manifesting our futures.

Anthony: (08:38)
So we wanna make sure that we stay on the right track financially and for the macro level of the business, you know, where is it going on a sales and marketing product operation? Where is it going on a web in tech? You know, like, what, what, what’s, what, what do we wanna accomplish in the next year? And, and, and we make sure to bright it down, We make sure to have a clear understanding and everyone knows their role and what they’re gonna be doing to get these macro goals, you know, accomplished. And, we then take those macro roles that we want to do. Like, you know, for example, I want to hit X amount of million of sales per year. You know, how do you do that? Well, then you have, the four of us and the three of our employees, and we have our roles and responsibilities on how to get those macro roles actually accomplished. So very, very important. And that’s shared with our spouses as well. Like they, well, they, our spouses at this point know what we’re all doing in the business, but at the beginning, yes, you had to kind of, you know, you had to, you had to, you had to not sell, but you had to tell the spouse, This is what we’re doing, You know, and this is the type of, you know, sacrifices we’re gonna have to make. are you in or are you’re not. And, luckily for us, they are all in. That’s

Cindy: (09:49)
Awesome. There’s so many sacrifices, like you mentioned. And if, if the spouses are not understanding, the end game and why you’re doing it, then they start to feel like, what, what do they get out of it except for they don’t see you? And at what point is that just not, tenable anymore? So kudos for all that work on communications. It’s so important.

Robyn: (10:15)
And one of the things that we, Yeah, I’m, one of the things that we see with the people who started as a side hustle is that they struggle with taking payroll and actually taking a paycheck. Do you think that it was, that that was a benefit to you guys? That you guys went all in right away, that you kind of forced selves and this way you kind of, it kind of changed your, Do you think it shifted your paradigm as far as like, considering your time free?

Anthony: (10:38)
Yeah, good question. So for us, remember I said earlier, like for us, we wanted to kind of know all our situations personally. Like obviously we’re best of friends, so we’re the type of people we’re always, you know, keeping, keeping each other, informed about what’s going on and in one another’s lives. And before we got into this, we, we made sure that we were all, you know, had a certain amount of savings, because obviously you’re not pulling out salaries when it comes to starting a business. and you wanna make sure your family is taken care of, you know, what’s your monthly expenses look like, you know, for your personal life, you need to make sure that you’re not overspending, right? You need cash flow, but sometimes you don’t have that cash flow. You need savings to, you know, have a certain time lapse within the next year or two.

Anthony: (11:21)
Are you able to sustain your lifestyle? You know, obviously you’re gonna have to be more frugal and a lot of, a lot more responsible when it comes to spending behaviors, but, that’s, that’s something you have to do. but, but for us, it was that, right? We didn’t want to make sure that we were all okay on that aspect. And then how much are we injecting into this business? And then wanted to make sure that we were all like, had good credit, were able to go in and get some debt financing when it comes to financial institutions for our business and to make sure that those ts were crossed and those eyes were dotted. I think before you start every business, it needs to ask yourself a question. It’s scalable, you know, we knew and know that our business is extremely scalable.

Anthony: (12:03)
It’s extremely competitive. It’s, it could be cutthroat sometimes amongst the competition. and it could be really hard to, to get it there cuz you need capital and inventory. I’m sitting in actually one of my, our, our, our, our inventory. And you need, you need, you need capital to buy that inventory. So I would think projecting the next year or two in front of you to make sure that you’re able to sustain, your business and have the right capital injection in your business in order for you to grow your business to where you needed to be in order for you to start taking salaries and start living like, like a life

Cindy: (12:41)
. The business is supporting you and not the other way around. .

Anthony: (12:45)
Yeah. Yeah. A lot of people think you go into business and then you start making money day one. I mean, anybody who’s, we’re eight months out. So anybody who’s looking in is probably, you know, sees a lot that’s going on and we’re very blessed and very happy about how the business is going. But, but it takes a huge investment to get to this point and to the point that we want to, we want to get ourselves into, in order for us not to go through what we’re going through now, whereas we’re sold out of Excels, were sold out of double x excels. You can’t be sold out at these, because at the end of the day, I only have, well, if you have a one skew type of, product and you’re sold out of them, what good is your ad spend, right?

Anthony: (13:25)
That you’re spending ad money? What good is that if you don’t have the, the skews right, in order for you to sell that to the customer. So for example, it costs you 25 bucks to get a customer to purchase an acquisition. Your C is $25, right? And then you’re like, Well, I don’t have any Excels, I don’t have any double XL’s. Well, you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Cuz if he’s in Excel, double xl, he’s gonna leave. And you just spent that money and hopefully you have a pre-orders on, but if you don’t, it diminishes the actual acquisition. chances you, not too sure if I, No,

Robyn: (14:00)
That totally makes sense. We see that a lot on Amazon too, where people, you know, there, there’s dumping this ad spin and they’re like, I don’t know why it’s not converting. That’s, well, you’re out of three sizes, so half the people you’re driving to this traffic, even if they wanted to convert, they couldn’t. So, you know, it inventory plays a huge, people a lot of times think that advertising will fix everything or sales will fix everything. But you know, if you’re not really watching your supply chain, if you’re not looking, integrating your inventory, levels into your ad strategy, then you’re gonna have a huge amount of leakage.

Anthony: (14:32)
Yeah. And, you don’t want that leakage cause that leakage costs you money. And at the end of the month you’re gonna say you’re not making any money. What’s, because you’re not spending your money wisely. I wanna just add, like, a lot of people also do influencer marketing, you know, and a lot of influencers these days they think, oh, 3, 4, 5, $6,000 for a story post or, or for a TikTok or whatever the case is. But you know, if you spend $6,000 and you make $6,000 in gross revenue, you’ve lost money. You’re at you. Yeah. Big time. Big time. So we try to make a rule where any influencer we’re going after it needs to be to or we’re working with, we would like to see a two to one roll as, you know, return on, on advertising. And if that’s the case, then there’s, you know, 50% marketing cost, you have some margin to play with, you know, depending, but you want to see three to one, you know, at least a three to one is good, two to one, that at least three to one, you’re starting to get in a place where it’s starting to make sense.

Anthony: (15:29)
And it’s very hard these days to measure that unless you’re running promo codes and you’re playing that game, which we don’t play. so for us, you know, strategic partnerships when it comes to influencers or it comes to anything to do with advertising, we take very seriously. We don’t want to just shoot at the wall and see what sticks. We’re very strategic on how we spend our money.

Cindy: (15:51)
You guys started this business in the middle of recovery, in this pandemic. were there, were there, I mean, there’s just been supply chain issues during the whole 20 20, 20 21, time period. Has that been a big problem for you all?

Anthony: (16:08)
We don’t know any better, right? So yes, it’s, it’s a problem, but I always, I always joke around or we always joke around saying we don’t know any better guys. So once things start getting really good, if we get out of this and we get out of this alive, we’ll probably strive, you know, that’s what ends up happening. I think we’re going through something very historic right now, when it comes to the economy. I think there’s a lot of uncertainty. And yes, to answer your question, it is extremely difficult. But this is why in a business that we’re in, where you have a product that you need inventory, cuz we can’t drop ship it, right? We need to meet the store inventory. To buy inventory. You need to make the significant investment so that if, you’re well not if, when you’re continuously ordering more product, well then you don’t have to air freight it.

Anthony: (16:56)
You know, you can, you can, you can put it by sea where it makes sense financially. to answer your question, that, you know, one thing that I have to say about Covid is that we had to, we had to air freight a lot of our, a lot of our product, and that’s not fun at all. But for us, we’re building a brand and yes, we’re, we, profit is extremely important. And if without profit, I think you’re not gonna last very long. And, we’re trying to, we’re trying to fix that, right? And that’s the, we’re actually in it right now. So imagine eight months out, we’ve already done fairly well in terms of month over month growth, but we, we we’re stuck air, air freighting it because they tell you 30, 60 days, but it can take 90, 180 days before you get your inventory. And I cannot sit on my hands for 180 days. You ruin your brand, you’re, you’re not relevant anymore. You lose that momentum. So you kind of have to weigh the options and, and do your best, to manage your inventory. And we are, we are. So it’s, we’re gonna see some, some better times, I would say in the next six months from now to a

Robyn: (17:59)
Year. And it does look like you’ve done a really good job on branding. You know, you’re wearing, you’re wearing the branding. You, you have like a significant amount of branding that’s done to your site. you know, you know, I do like webinars, webinars for like score and other places. And sometimes you get people who want to start a DDC company and, they are like, Well, I’m just gonna buy something on Alibaba and I’m gonna sell that. but I think what’s you, you, while it takes more to create a product that really makes a difference in the market, can you talk a little bit about why you chose that path? Because I think that, especially for Amazon, it used to be just put a sticker on a garlic press, but now it is getting more where you do really need to bring something of value to the marketplace. And so there, there’s that shift that’s happening within that our community. Yeah.

Anthony: (18:43)
good point. So for us, we could’ve easily said, Okay, we wanna build this brand, let’s just whitelist, you know, take a bigger product on Alibaba, like you said, whitelist that put manmade and the way we go. But I feel like that’s a little bit more on the direct response, more on the aggressive, just metric focused type of business where, you’re not really building a brand today, you’re there tomorrow, you’re not. And the brand equity, I feel isn’t the same as what we’re trying to do. So for us, we broke our, like, it’s an expression we use, but we broke our faces trying to figure out being four finance guys how to produce an underwear. A lot of people think it’s so, it must be easy. It’s a la garment about this big. Well, no, it’s actually extremely difficult. There’s a lot to consider,

Robyn: (19:28)
A lot of quality issues.

Anthony: (19:30)
You’re working with people over, Yeah, you’re working with, you know, manufacturers overseas. So we chose to go this route because we feel through time, when you’re flourishing this, this plant or this business, it’s gonna, it’s gonna grow What’s salt foundation rather than, not so solid foundation, in my opinion. If you go the, the direct, the direct response route where you’re just aggressively trying to slash sales or do specific flows to get specific sales out of a consumer. For us, we try to do a lot of organic and then paid advertisement that compliments our organic and really focus on the marketing and the behind the scenes and the authenticity of what we’re trying to do, what solve, what problems we’re trying to solve. So for us, it’s really what’s the problem? What are we solving? And we stay true to our mission, which is, you know, to support a man’s wellness by strengthening his foundation.

Anthony: (20:25)
That is our, that is our why, you know? And as our mission is we provide men with the quality essentials they need without the BS that they don’t. And the BS is the slash sales, the aggressive marketing, the unnecessary like, gimmicks that other brands are doing or, or they choose to do. So for us, we’re really straightforward, we’re clean, we’re simple, we’re functional, and, we think that it’s gonna, it’s gonna be the, you know, the next big brand and we, we believe it. You have to believe it. We believe it. So, so far, so good and really happy we’re how things are going.

Robyn: (20:59)
And did you do any like focus testing or focus group work to kind of like, I know that you tried on a lot of, existing products and you went through a lot of quality iterations, but did you, like, how did you make sure that your product was, was hitting the mark for your consumers?

Anthony: (21:14)
Yeah, good question. So when we’ve said to ourselves after coming back from the cabin that what we wanted to do was solve the underwear, boxer brief problem, we actually, interview, survey, excuse me, three to 4,000 North American men of what type of underwear they wear. 70% said boxer brief and what color they wear, 70% said black. So from there we could have easily said to ourselves, Oh, let’s invest in a bunch of different colors, bunch of different skews. We didn’t do that cause imagine the inventory and the cost and just the, the, the, the, the chaos it would’ve cost, it would’ve been. So the BS was there. We said to ourselves, let’s make one color, one cut when, but do it really, really well be super, super niche and just crush that boxer brief. So far we’ve sold over 22,000 pairs of black boxer briefs, right?

Anthony: (22:03)
Just in boxer briefs. Then we have the socks, the low cuts, and the crew socks. so for us, when we first started, we tested and bought any underwear, all the underwear that you can think of. We tried them on multiple ones per day. We took, notes and what we liked and what we disliked about the different types of underwear that we tried. we went back and forth with different manufacturers to see who does the best stitch, who uses the best quality fabric, who’s more you know, who, who’s giving us a, a better product all around. And then from there we went back and forth to make sure that the measure, the measurements and all of the specs are all perfect. And then after that we decided to go into production. The production part, just the add, we, some of us wanted to do a lot more units than we actually did, but we ended up doing 10,000 units to start with.

Anthony: (22:56)
Those 10,000 units that we received. We launched our brand August 30th, 2021. We sold out of 8,000 pairs. like really we sold out the, for the full 10,000 pairs. but the first 8,000 went really, really quickly, just organically imagine like, we got featured on, Montreal Gazette, which was a newspaper, some local, influencers, some local radio stations. And, we were able to sell those out. And then what happened was is that we called 1000 of our customers who first purchased our product. We asked them where are they heard of us, how they like our product and, you know, would they buy from us again? And why? And we hustled and got all that information and it really, really, really, really helped us with the next step, which was making the much more significant order in our inventory to be even more reassured. the inventory we’ll be investing in is good inventory that people want. And then we made the significant investment in our inventory and, we’re about to sell out of that too, and expecting our next shipment, which is much bigger, in the next upcoming months.

Cindy: (24:10)
So did, did you change the product any from the first 10,000 to your second order? Did that result in some product changes

Anthony: (24:20)
A little bit? Yeah. So, we wanted a band that was super soft and it didn’t make any marks at all. But what happened was, is we sacrificed the torque of the band and, some people were complaining that it was sitting a little too low or that they felt like they weren’t getting enough support. So we strengthened the band and we made it super silky soft, but it’s a little bit torque, a lot more torque here, and it stays up nicely. And we’re getting amazing reviews on that band right now. And, on our own little free will, because we’re a little bit on the, crazy side, we’d like to say quote unquote, or, you know, expression. we did, thicken the material that we used just a little bit. So, and we made the stretch in recovery a little bit better. And, we feel like we have a perfect product. And humbly say that we, we have over 405 star Google reviews. I think we’re at 300 product reviews on our page, on our, on our website, and we get emails daily saying how people really love the underwear and it’s literally changed their life. That’s

Cindy: (25:20)

Robyn: (25:21)
And I think the work that you did, I think a lot of people are looking for the shortcut where what the way that you did it was actually faster than spending a bunch of money on Facebook ads and, you know, trying to get people to buy a product that really isn’t any different and just trying to use marketing to, to make it better. but by creating a brand that people actually love, you’re able to get a much better organic reach. You’re able to significantly reduce your costs. And that one skew thing that is Bence, because in garments that is the biggest thing that you know, is, is the number of prints. So, I mean, really wise advice. and I appreciate you sharing that, cuz I think that that will make a difference is it’s crazy how just doing a couple of like reaching out to your customers and finding out some real data and not guessing can make a big difference in your overall strategy.

Anthony: (26:09)
Yeah, and I want just add to that. Thank you for that. And I wanna just add to that, like, you know, everybody listening, I’m sure they understand that the cost of, you know, Facebook ads and any ads on any platform is expensive and you need to have a specific amount or a certain amount of testing, funds or capital to understand, you know, what are my through rates or is my conversion rate look like, my repeat customer, whatever the case is. But at the same time, how do you strengthen that number because it might cost you a little bit more than it did 2000 than it, than it did, excuse me, than it did in 2012 to, convert a customer on Facebook. But what are you doing to make sure that customer comes back and it’s LTV is much longer or much better than someone else is for us, we decide to be very authentic.

Anthony: (26:52)
And we have these cards, right, these inserts that we hand write, you know, on every order, on every order. We come in earlier and we spend an hour or two amongst the four of us and we hand write the card, say, Welcome, Robin, welcome to Ultimate Comfort. you rock Anthony, Phil Burtle, and, fill up and on every single order. And we’ve done thousands of these, of these cards and people are just, are loving it. It’s just a surprise and delight and it makes someone want to come back to your place and not, you know, a competitors because you’re taking the time to, to really cherish and surprise and delight your customer.

Cindy: (27:30)
Is there anything else that you’re doing for your customer journey that, that, that you think really, cements that for, for your clients? For your customers?

Anthony: (27:40)
Yeah. A hundred per, a hundred percent. I think SMS marketing is a good strategy. I think you need to be very careful with SMS marketing, cuz what happens is, is that it’s a little bit more invasive than an email marketing, you know, open rates a couple years ago were much higher on email than they were today, but, they’re super effective and they could be very effective. But, you know, convenient wise, especially for a product like ours, we felt like SMS marketing, if done properly, could work. And it has been, we’ve seen significant improvement on like, significant results when it comes to our SMS campaigns. We treat it with a loyalty program as well as a customer service. add-on. So I’ll, I’ll walk you through it. You purchase from us a bundle, let’s call it the Boxer Brief Crew Sock bundle.

Anthony: (28:28)
You love our products. when you purchase, excuse me, when you purchase, you receive a text message, Welcome to the Mad Made family, we will be sending you, a message with your tracking number shortly, then they get their tracking number and that’s it. And then what happens is, is that if ever they need anything, they can always text us to say, Hey guys, I love your product. Can you send me another bundle, please? And then we don’t have to send them a link to go to our website. They, we can seamlessly have them order, Well, I take their order and we can ship their bundle to their home, to their home by just saying yes. They say, I say, you would like a bundle size, large, same billing and shipping address, Say yes, yes. And then bang, we send it to their home.

Anthony: (29:13)
So it’s very convenient. We just did a campaign today for Father’s Day last day, a bundle that we created for Father’s Day. And, people love that because, you know, we give them a, an image, a jpeg, it’s a nice little graphic. we tell them the bundle and then they, they say yes, and we ship it to their door, right? So it’s very convenient. It’s one of those things that’s not top of mind, but if you give them value when they’re opening their text message, they will reply. But if you think you’re gonna spam them and just annoy them on a daily basis, it is not gonna work. In the contrary, they’re gonna get turned off. So you need to be very strategic on when you’re SMSing a customer. Cuz if you do it too often or you don’t do it where they open it and they see value, it might do bad for your brand rather than good. That was,

Cindy: (29:58)
That’s awesome. So you, so you’re like tying it to a holiday that’s a, a man’s holiday. makes sense. do you do anything like, you know, this, the average person will need to reorder in two months or do you have any data like that that you go off of or,

Anthony: (30:16)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure. So we collect all our data through different platforms and we pull it through our crm, in order for us to have, make sure that our LTV on a customer or for example, a customer is returning. And right now our data’s telling us that a customer returns 35 to 40% right within the first six, within the first six months, which is pretty good when someone’s purchasing from us. They purchase on average 2.2 pairs of boxer briefs. and  an average customer, that’s initial buy that’s initial purchase and a custom, one of our customer on average holds about six pairs of our boxer briefs so far, which is pretty good. and, and for us, really, like when it comes to, our email flows, we like to keep it light, but we like to keep it funny and cheeky.

Anthony: (31:09)
So, within the, you know, if you haven’t made an order within four months, you might receive an email for us from us with a pretty funny info, you know, picture of the four of us, you know, getting, we, we put the, that app where you, you get, you look a little older than you actually are and it says it’s been a while, would you like to replenish some of your goods? And it does pretty well. It does pretty well. So, so the emails is one thing, text message is another. and just coming out with new products, right? So right now we have the underwears and the socks. We’re coming out with our t-shirts and our soap bar, and we want to keep innovating new products for men and just be the core for the guy. We don’t want to be a fashion brand. We want to be a function brand. That’s our fashion. Being functional and being easy and being, simple. So anything, you won’t see any fancy colors with us, it’s always gonna be, very core based. That’s

Robyn: (32:04)
Awesome. I think you’ve done a really good job building a customer forward brand in like every aspect. So in the way that you market and the product that you develop in the fulfillment process, making sure that your customer forward and that makes you different among a com what would normally be considered a commodity. And I think it’s a great example of how you can take a commodity and make it a real brand that actually brings value to the marketplace. And it makes customers that are really excited. And I wish we had like 10 more minutes with you, but I know you had a hard stop and I wanna be respectful of that hard stop. So

Anthony: (32:34)
Actually I’m having so much fun. My call’s at four, if you want to stay another five minutes I can. If not we can. Yeah, that would be, if you have another

Cindy: (32:41)
Question, that would be awesome. Yeah, yeah.

Anthony: (32:42)
I’m having fun,

Cindy: (32:44)
. Well, I love what you’re sharing. You know, the, one of the things that Robin and I were talking about earlier is inflation and how that’s driving, a lot of, decisions for, for businesses right now. And the idea that you, you’re focusing on one, one color, one style, and super niche focus, that that really, takes out a lot of complexity. How did, how did you, how did you arrive at this is the way you wanted to do it? I mean, four people sitting in a room deciding to, to go with something that narrow. How did you get to that point?

Anthony: (33:19)
I want to give, my partners are smart guys, really smart guys. we all compliment each other really well. And when it came to coming out with this product, we could have easily got lost in the sauce, like the expression that we say, but we decided to make sure, like I said, you know, stay niche, stay very, very, stay very, very focused on what you’re starting to solve. And if they come with that one product, which they have been, and we’ve been being asked to come out with a different color, eventually we might, but we decided to say to ourselves, Well, let’s do this properly. Let’s see if it works with this one color, one cut. It has. And we’re continuing to do that simply because we don’t wanna, take the box debris, for example, and do different colors right away. We want to come out with different products.

Anthony: (34:06)
So we remove the complexity out of one aspect, but we’re adding it with another because you have no choice if, you know, for us being able to have just one product, the price point of $24, yes. You know, our average order value is pretty decent. It’s pretty good. We’re looking at like, cuz of our bundles 60, $70, which is great, but how many pairs of black boxers does customer need right after they have seven or 12 or 15? You want to give them other, other options. And we wanna solve that problem, which is support Amanda’s, we wanna be true to our why. We support of man’s wellness by strengthening his foundation. And in the morning he needs underwear, he needs socks, he needs a t-shirt, he might need the odorant, a soap bar, you know, moisturizing cream, razors, whatever the case is. we want to be able to cater to that. So right now, as a startup, it was important for us to stay super focused and to make sure that our numbers and our metrics made sense. And then you build off that through time, experience and obviously more capital.

Cindy: (35:07)
Well, several things you said makes me, this is kind of music to my ears. You, you guys are data focused. You, you know, so much about your customer and, and the key metrics with your customer in addition to your order times and quantities. is that, it sounds like one of your partners is really focused on that aspect of it.

Anthony: (35:30)
Yes. So, we all are. We have what we call a forecasting spreadsheet. We forecast not only our inventory, but we’re forecasting our sales, our projections. and we’re very happy to say that we’ve hit every single one this year so far. and you know, we’re hitting this one in June and we’re only eight months out. So, yes, my partners Roberto was a cpa. So when it comes to, those spreadsheets, let me tell you every financial statement under a son we have prepared. And then my other partner, Robert, he’s a finance guy and he was in investments in mutual funds, so he can read a financial statement pretty well. And, and he, he has really good direction and a really good insight, and he’s very sound, on, on where we need to go and what needs to be done in order to get there.

Anthony: (36:19)
we’re all learning, right? So you can’t be, you can’t be perfect at everything. So when it comes to these things personally, you know, yes, you rely on a CPA and a finance major to be able to, to, to understand things. But it, when you look at the, when you look at the big picture, it’s pretty freaking, it’s simple. You have, you know, you have your gross, you have your gross revenue, you have your gross expenses, you know, your cogs, your marketing and your shipping, right? So I have my product, how do I get my product sold? I need marketing costs. How do I get my product? I need a cog. I need to pay my manufacturer, right? My, my cost to good sold, and then I need, my shipping cost. Cause I need to get, I need to get it to my customer, right?

Anthony: (37:01)
So for us, we, we wanna make sure that we keep those metrics in line and then whatever’s left over, well, you need to pay your, your other expenses, your rent, your payroll, your employees, your legal expenses, your accounting expenses, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So it’s very, very, very, very important that we stay, focused on improving our marketing costs and our shipping costs and our cost of good sold. And, if you want to do that, you need to be really, really, really, you know, in the business because your marketing costs aren’t gonna get better if you don’t get creative, right? So for us, when it comes to marketing, yes, we’re on every platform, you know, like Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, we post organically, all four partners are posting about the journey on LinkedIn, on their own talks, on their own Instagrams.

Anthony: (37:50)
then on top of that, it compliments itself with our ads. And our ads aren’t those, they aren’t polished. And like that ad that you just swiped through it, it’s one of those things where we’re very authentic and we’re behind the ad. The owner of the business, the co-founders, all of us, we’re the ones doing them, we’re the ones behind it. So it says something about a brand, you stand behind your product and you’re not hiding. You know, like that wasn’t, that wasn’t the route we wanted to take, wanted to take where we stand behind the brand and you need to be kind of scrappy and kind of creative in order to get it out there. So those costs, you know, are significantly lower. And we try to make sure to test, test, test, everything is worth a test, is what we like to say in the office.

Anthony: (38:31)
And then when it comes to shipping, you need to be, you need to be, on top of your couriers, you need to be on top of whoever you’re using, making sure you’re getting those discounts where you could, because it’s extremely expensive. And with inflation, all those costs, I just said they skyrocketed. So you need to count for that. And, you know, fortunately, not fortunately, luckily enough for us, we didn’t have to, we didn’t have to, increase our prices right now, right? So, we are able to make it work with the prices that we have it on. our staple product is the boxer brief, but our other products coming out will help us increase our average order value and, become more profitable over

Cindy: (39:14)
Time. And you’re in Canada shipping to the US that

Anthony: (39:19)
Yes. So organically we market to the US and Canada. So we are open to the US market, yes, but we aren’t putting any marketing dollars into our Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn and Twitter ads right now. We’re focusing low, right here in our backyard. We figure eight months out, let’s be super focused on our, you know, on Canada, make sure we get to the point where we want to get to and then transition into the US once we’re good and ready because it is a different beast. and we did the same philosophy when it came, when we first started, you know, we stayed local, we wanted to be the Montreal focused, and we were right. We made a huge bang. So that’s what helped us organically sell 8,000 units. and then we moved out west, just yesterday I did an interview with Church Morning Live there on, in Hamilton, Niagara Falls, Greater Toronto area. and yeah, so you need to focus, you know, lo you need to be focused and that snowball needs to get bigger and bigger through time. That

Robyn: (40:20)
Sounds awesome. That’s awesome. And if people wanna get ahold of you or they wanna follow you on your social media, what is the best way? I mean, I’m like, it might be a little closer Father’s Day, but I think I’m gonna place an order for my husband. but what’s the best way for people to kind of follow you and, and your growth?

Anthony: (40:36)
Yes, so, we document everything, via Instagram, manmade dot official, and also on TikTok, manmade do official Facebook, manmade dot brand, and LinkedIn manmade. So you can follow that. And we document a lot of behind the scenes, there’s a lot of video. We feel like video is one of those things that, is, is very, very, very effective. so, so, you gotta keep it short. You gotta keep it sweet. You have three seconds to get someone’s attention, and then you have, and then you have the rest to, to make an impact. So, that’s my advice on,

Robyn: (41:14)
On, yeah, I think it’s great. And I think those behind the scene videos can definitely help consumers connect to your brand and feel more ownership within the brand, like they’re a part of the story. So, it, it creates a relationship and so it’s, it’s smart marketing for sure. So

Anthony: (41:29)
Thank you. So working so far, you know, we always say it, the creative is the delta. Yes, the creative is the delta. You know, you need to those days of, those days of, you know, that perfect picture, polished, no mistakes, photoshopped, we don’t do it for us. It’s, we have that for the branding for let’s say website and all the high end and high res, but a lot of it is done with our iPhones. It’s not, it’s not a, you don’t need major budgets and marketing to be effective. I think you need a clear message and a clear way to communicate that with your audience. and you need to be responsive. Last thing, you know, like the same way we call the thousand customers to grow our Instagram following, at the beginning and even today, anybody who follows us, we send them a 15 second.

Anthony: (42:19)
Hey, Robin, thank you so much. Hey Cindy, thank you so much for your follow, enjoy the ride with our journey. We really appreciate you being part of our community. Like it isn’t doesn’t cost anything, just you, but it’s, but you, but you, you, you just, you, you just need to be genuine and authentic and, and you know what, why would somebody wanna follow you or want to look at your stuff when there’s so many other things going on around them? There needs to be a reason. And when they do decide to do that, I think you should be thankful for it. It’s, it’s one of those things where, you know, the attention of someone today is, is something, it’s a commodity that, you should be very grateful for.

Robyn: (42:57)
Yeah. And I think sometimes try to, people try to pretend to be more professional and big and corporate because they think that that will create consumer trust. But I don’t think, depending on who you’re marketing to, there’s, there’s an audience for that, but there’s a big audience that really wanna feel that connection to the brands, or they wanna feel the connection to the social good or sustainability or, or whatever the, the why is they wanna be connected to that.

Anthony: (43:19)
Correct. I, I totally

Robyn: (43:21)
Agree. Well, thank you so much for coming on today. I know you’ve gotta run, but, we really thank you for your time. You’ve shared a lot of great stuff. and with that we’ll go ahead and go to our five minute fix. This is Robin Johnson with your five minute fix. See, I wanna talk to you a little bit about forecasting. Forecasting can make or break your Q4 and the work that you do right now in summer to predict the inventory levels that you have for Christmas is going to be vital when you’re looking at forecasting. There’s a lot of different spreadsheets and formulas that you can do that basically take into account past performance and look at that to try to identify how you can expect your future performance to go as far as the amount of inventory that you’ll need to be in stock for this next, peak season.

Robyn: (44:01)
You might wanna, you wanna make sure that you’re considering anything that might have been an anomaly. So for example, if you’re looking at forecasting year over year, and you’re noticing that, you know, you are down, from 2020, but 2021 and 2021 have had significant growth, some for some companies throwing out that 2020 data might give you a more accurate expectation for what to see going forward. And looking at those two years, not only do we wanna look at kind of how you did the last two years, but you wanna look at how you’ve been performing over the last few months, how has your Amazon performance been? How has your advertising performance been? And then the other thing that we wanna look at is, you know, if you look like you’re starting to gain ground organically, so you’re seeing that your tacos, or your ad advertise cost of sale over, even considering your organic sales is getting better and better, then that might mean that you might need to have some extra inventory Now if things are tight cash flow.

Robyn: (44:58)
One thing that I would really like you to take a look at before you place your orders is are there skews that maybe it’s time to let go of or not carry for this particular season because of the increased cost of containers and just the overall cost of, of due to inflation of the rises that we’re seeing? And you know, the, that there is a little bit of a shaken, the con consumer confidence has been shaken slightly. You might wanna consider reducing your overall number of SKUs in order to make sure that you have more money to spend on advertising, cover operating costs like payroll and just make sure you’re in a good place sound place financially. Now that doesn’t mean we wanna be short on stock, but sometimes simply not carrying one or two skews could make it the difference between you having a very tight and stressful Q4 versus having all the inventory you need on your most profitable skews, but maybe having some extra feet of cash flow to deal with unexpected costs or even some changes in advertising that may or may not occur.

Robyn: (45:53)
So as you’re watching you looking at your forecast, not only, look, we wanna look at the last couple years performance. We wanna see how your ads have been performance re performing recently and what the trends are those, in that area. But we also wanna look at if there’s any time, if it now is the time to maybe potentially, scale down the number of skews, looking at the ones that have the best profitability, the best sell through focusing on those and maybe letting go of a few variations that maybe don’t sell as well, or maybe a SKU that has losses profitability because of the increased cost of shipments. Be really honest with yourself. Even if ship if shipment costs go down, will there still be the same demand or will you rebound profitability for this product? Sometimes it really is better to let go versus trying to hold onto product because it might have some nostalgia or because it just seems like it’s good. It’s, it’s a good product that gives you some top line revenue. But we wanna make sure you’re, as you’re looking at those forecasts, we’re not just looking at increasing overall sales, but really looking at profitability and making sure that you ensure that you have a good positive cash flow throughout the season. I hope that helps. Have a great day.

Narrator: (47:01)
Thank you for listening to the Process to e-Comm Profits podcast. Make sure you subscribe to get updates for new episodes. Leave a review and one lucky winner. Each month we’ll win a one hour call with your choice of our hosts, a value of over $300. Keep listening to Hear the Winner Announce on the first show of the month. You can contact our hosts by using the Contact us form at process to e-comm profits.com. You can also find the contact information of our hosts and show guests in the show notes for each episode.

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