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Episode 298
April 7, 2023

TikTok Organic Can Lead Product Innovation

Is it possible to find a gap in the market and find your own creative ways to authentically fill it? What are some ways to leverage social media interaction in ways that really build loyal, longterm relationships with your customers? Listen in to hear Adam Simone share the journey Leaf Shave has been on and where they’re headed next!

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Is it possible to find a gap in the market and find your own creative ways to authentically fill it? What are some ways to leverage social media interaction in ways that really build loyal, longterm relationships with your customers? Listen in to hear Adam Simone share the journey Leaf Shave has been on and where they’re headed next! 

“And then Doja Cat Shaved Her Eyebrows”

  • {00:05:18} When two engineers get together and are grumpy about a hole in the market, you get a pretty cool little piece of machinery that is safe to put on your skin and shave with
  • {00:11:18} Adam loves to engage with customers on social, and after customers asked and asked for a specific product to be developed by Leaf, they finally were able to deliver and launched it recently
  • {00:17:05} It’s easy to use gimmicks to amp up the metrics of an ad or a technique, but it’s important to look at what actually worked and why it did to make sure we don’t get stuck using those gimmicks
  • {00:22:07} “Stop chasing the views, stop chasing virality, and just focus on educating. And that has been my recipe,” because that is what drives noticeable impact
  • {00:26:19} When you do something differently, you naturally have to explain and educate your audience, which is a point that is often overlooked
  • {00:30:36} Why Adam has basically shaved every part of his body and how that has helped the company is so many ways
  • {00:36:35} Adam shares about two interesting moments, one with Mr Beast and another with Doja Cat’s eyebrows, and which one actually drove more impact to their business
  • {00:40:55} Adam and his team have big plans for more incredible innovation-driven products that will be branching out and launching in the near future (and beyond)

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Brian: [00:01:26] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about the next generation of commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:01:31] I'm Phillip, and today we are with Adam Simone, one of the Co-Founders over at Leaf Shave, and here to tell us everything about shaving? I guess. But no building a business from the ground up, Kickstarter, how to shut off the noise in the eCommerce ecosystem and learn things for yourself... All the things we love to talk about here on Future Commerce So welcome to the show, Adam.

Adam: [00:01:52] Yeah, thanks guys for having me on. This is going to be a blast.

Phillip: [00:01:56] Yeah.

Brian: [00:01:56] It is.

Phillip: [00:01:57] It really is. You've been on a campaign to shave every part of your body in an effort to grow TikTok organic recently. It's probably how most people have been tracking the growth in the eCommerce ecosystem. But for those who aren't familiar, tell us a little bit about Leaf and tell us about yourself.

Adam: [00:02:15] Yeah, absolutely. So Leaf, it's really simple. We make really great shaving razors for everybody. We're not a men's grooming company. We're not a women's shaving business. We just make good product if you want to shave hair and remove it. And notably, we have a big focus on sustainability. So all of our products are plastic free. We help people kind of kick the plastic to the curb and a side benefit of a better razor that's eco friendly is it's also like way cheaper over time. And we kind of created a category in this space by combining old school traditional metal razors with modern usability features. And that's our flagship leaf razor. It's a triple blade pivoting head metal razor. It's really neat. And we've since about five years ago when we launched in 2018, we've added a few other products to the pipeline and yeah, now we're just helping a bunch of people shave the world.

Phillip: [00:03:15] Shave the world.

Adam: [00:03:17] I got a ton of them, so don't worry, I'll pepper 'em out. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:03:22] If there's ever a mission I could get behind. Yeah. Shaving the world.

Adam: [00:03:27] A quick overview about the company. Me and my Co-Founder... His name is also Adam, by the way. We only hire Adams to make things easy. We actually incorporated the business in 2012 when we were working at another company. And we developed this tech nights and weekends kind of thing. We did a Kickstarter. Happy to get into that and we kind of launched commercially in 2018. But our focus has always been a bootstrapped brand. We're now at about 13 employees and we're profitable and we just take our time and try to make good product. And that has been what has driven us so far. And I love doing it.

Phillip: [00:04:06] I have a Leaf razor of my own. I bought it with my own money, and I love it.

Adam: [00:04:13] That's right. Which one do you have? Do you have the triple?

Phillip: [00:04:16] The pivoting head triple blade. Yeah.

Adam: [00:04:18] Cool, cool, cool.

Brian: [00:04:20] OG

Phillip: [00:04:20] I think I've bought replacement blades for it maybe once or twice ever. And I've had it for years. It's a very, very good razor. Somehow when we did our survey of the entire landscape of direct to consumer shaving companies a year ago, we missed Leaf, and I don't know how that's possible, but we did. And I think I owe you an apology on air.

Brian: [00:04:44] Got an on-air apology.

Adam: [00:04:46] I accept that apology. Thank you. I've actually been wounded ever since. So this really helps heal some things.

Brian: [00:04:52] It was a real nick. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:04:55] It cuts deep.

Brian: [00:04:57] It cuts deep.

Phillip: [00:05:00] Yeah. Tell us a little bit about the Kickstarter journey and amassing the capital to build something that seems actually quite technically complicated and requires a lot of CAD at the very minimum, but machining. And tell us a little bit about all of that and why you two endeavored on this journey.

Adam: [00:05:18] It's kind of funny So shaving is something that people have been doing for millennia essentially. And the technology is really interesting. The reason why Adam and I, my Co-Founder, were looking at razors in 2012... At that time, we were looking at Harry's and Dollar Shave Club, really kind of doing this. And what really annoyed us because I think I mentioned this pre-record, but we're pretty grumpy people in general, so we get annoyed by everything. We're both engineers, we're mechanical engineers, and these two companies are commercially very successful, selling essentially the same product that has been sold by big shave for decades. It's just like a little bit of a price break by shipping it online. So we saw an opportunity, if we could start a business direct to consumer and make a bit of an innovation in the actual tech, we could carve out a nice little enterprise value for ourselves. So that's what we did when we set out to make the Leaf razor. And this razor has 17 parts to it, so it's a complicated little machinery. My Co-Founder and I came from medical devices. We were designing robots for surgery before this, so we like to overcomplicate things, but we're really used to working on very small device development and we found a hole in the market. You've got classic safety razors, which are those razors that your grandfather might have used. And then you've got like modern razors where you've got multiple blades and a pivoting head, and we just kind of smashed those two things together. And that's where this thing came out. And it gives a great shave with no plastic, but it does take quite a bit of engineering to get to this point. Razors are a very technical skill set to develop from a design perspective because you're putting blades to your skin. You need to be very precise about it, very careful. There are so many metrics to think about with how you're presenting those blades and the geometry around them. And that's why it took us actually 3 or 4 years to really develop the core technology from an engineering perspective and wrap some IP around that bad boy. And then we're like, "Well, we don't have any money, so let's go to Kickstarter, so we can get some money and make the first run."

Brian: [00:07:46] That's so cool. I love the story of a product-focused founder. Actually both of you are product-focused and I would imagine you did the Kickstarter, you got your first round, you built that first model, and got it shipped out. But I imagine the product is still very, very, very close to near and dear to your heart. And it means a lot to you. As you've become merchants now, how has the process of getting feedback and tying product and marketing together... Has that been maybe a core competency for you, given the product background?

Adam: [00:08:31] Yeah, that's a great question. So my founder and I split the duties in the company basically up and downstream. So I'm a mechanical engineer by training, but I did join the dark side and I became a marketer at this medtech company. So the way we think about our responsibilities at Leaf, we're both very involved in the ideation and the concept of our pipeline. It's something that we focus an undue amount of time on. But I leave the core engineering to Adam, So engineering, quality, manufacturing, and then I take everything from once it hits the shelf. Customer service, marketing, fulfillment, sales, and so forth. So yeah, that is where I really enjoy my skill set. I like being out there. I like having my stupid face be the face of the brand, and I like telling the story and being one of those very hands-on founders from a commercialization perspective. Other Adam doesn't love that. He likes finance. So it's great. We got our own little separate seats, but we take product development really seriously. And I think one of the... There are two things that illustrate that. One is the product looks very similar today as it did on the day of the Kickstarter five years ago. But it has undergone tremendous evolution. As any good engineer would know, you have to continue to tweak these things. And it's really quite, quite an interesting beast where it's ended up now despite it not looking that way. But one thing that we were doing from a customer listening perspective was we take in... I'm hands-on with our social and I hear everything from our customers. I used to be hands-on on customer service too. We were able to hire someone to do that, thank gosh, because I don't have the temperament for it, but I love being on social and all the feedback is fantastic. The number one requested item from us after this product was a dermaplaner, which is a little bit out of our wheelhouse. It's not really a razor, it's more of a skincare beauty tool. But we took that in and it went on a sticky note on the wall and we just thought about it for a while, and then we were able to figure out a way to make a zero waste plastic free dermaplaner that fit our ethos, uses the same blades we use but delivers like a beautiful skincare routine. And that is this guy. And that launched just like a month ago. And it is the direct result... We would have never done this without customers being like, "You should do this," and most of the time the customers can be a little bit like they don't really understand what we should do or why we do things, but we always listen to them. And when you get that nugget, it leads to, oh my gosh, such great things.

Phillip: [00:11:13] One of the things that we've been talking about recently is that, eCommerce in particular, and folks who call themselves marketers and eCommerce in particular weren't really marketers by trade and they're not really merchants by trade either. They've acquired both skills along the way and with questionable efficacy. I'm not sure that we're all doing our jobs as well as we could because people don't spend generations learning and honing the skills of being in retail or there's no like apprenticeships anymore. This is a trade, but people don't treat it as such. But you have this accelerated timeline, especially with a career shift. I would love to hear from you about the challenges that you've gone through in building the tech of eCommerce, learning the skills of a merchant, and where you feel like you are along that journey. How are you learning today? Are you in eCommerce forums and groups that are teaching you the tips and tricks?

Brian: [00:12:15] Going to Baymard Institute?

Adam: [00:12:18] Oh my gosh. Okay. I'm a newborn baby as far as like skill set is concerned. Yeah, I mean, I did marketing in my previous life, but it was very much B2B essentially, or like very tactical hands-on. I'm going to spend eight months getting a surgeon to understand the technology, one single guy, and train him. So it's a completely different skill set. I think the most transferable thing from my previous life as a marketer in the medical world to this world is that I've always been a little quirky and willing to try different things. And I like storytelling. I mean, storytelling is the core of everything that I've ever tried to do, whether it's deploying it on very tactical things or really esoteric things. So that was probably the most useful skill set. But other than that, I knew absolutely nothing and I continued to know essentially nothing. Our marketing stack at Leaf is really straightforward. We have two key organic channels, TikTok and Instagram, and then we have our paid channels through Meta, Google, and TikTok. So like we play there and we own our email list and SMS list and we're always trying things there, but it's not like we're going out and putting things on the side of trucks and throwing up billboards and doing all these fancy things, because honestly, I just don't know that we need to be there yet or ever need to be there. I think I like not understanding what we're doing now for a little bit longer and hopefully developing something there. I am a big Twitter lurker. I like to understand what some of the people who are the loudest in this industry are doing. Just because they're loud doesn't mean that you're right though. And honestly, I don't even think "right" is a thing, but I will try almost anything for the brand. So if the hot thing right now is landing pages, I'll go to town. I'll try a bunch of landing pages and I will try to deploy our assets, spend money where we shortcut that learning curve. I can try to build landing pages, but instead, let me go to like the best landing page builder that is consensus, and let's have them try to build a landing page and then see. That way I can check it off my list. Okay, It kind of works or it doesn't really make sense for us. What I have found most frustrating as a marketer in this world is every time we try to test things, we just come up with more questions instead of answers. And so my partner and I are very analytical people, and so we're generally relatively unsatisfied with testing on paid channels, A/B testing, and different results. And it's just such a convoluted machinery when you're at the small scale that we are that there are so many things happening in a customer's journey that there's no single silver bullet. And oftentimes I'm just like, let's just set a budget, forget about it, and let's get back to storytelling. So I don't know, that's my high level. Does that make sense at all?

Brian: [00:15:25] Oh, yeah.

Phillip: [00:15:25] Yeah.

Brian: [00:16:17] One thing I'm hearing that's loud and clear coming through loud and clear for you, Adam, is that you care about the why, not just what. Because you've had success in different channels. You've had success, but you're like, why? Why did that happen? What about that actually made it work?

Adam: [00:16:40] I had a rep the other day from one of the big companies. We were talking about the timing of our ads. We just launched this product. It went great. It sold out immediately. [00:16:50] We're waiting for more inventory so we can restock and relaunch to our waitlist. And I was explaining how I'm going to hold off on starting ads on this Dermaplaner for a little bit. We're going to get through our relaunch. We've got a big waitlist. We know we're going to sell these things. And the rep was like, "Well, the most effective time to run an ad is when you've got a huge waitlist and there's a lot of excitement." I'm like, "Of course that's going to look like the most effective time because your ad is going to take credit for my huge waitlist. Yeah, I want your ad to work. I want my ad on your platform to work when I have got the valleys, not the peaks." [00:17:27]

Brian: [00:17:27] Oh, my gosh, that's so true. I was talking to someone the other day just here at eTail West, actually in Palm Springs right now. And we were laughing about live stream. And as I'm sure everyone knows, Phillip's been like, "No. Live stream is not going to work."

Phillip: [00:17:44] Very anti live stream.

Brian: [00:17:45] Very anti live stream. But she was like, "Yeah, and when people do claim it works it's because they're throwing insane discounts." So people are coming to the live stream because they're going to get this crazy discount and then live stream saying, "See, it works."

Adam: [00:18:03] Yes. Exactly.

Brian: [00:18:03] It's like, no, no, that doesn't work. You're just throwing crazy discounts at things and people are coming because they know that if they come, they're going to get the discount. It's not the same thing.

Adam: [00:18:14] Oh man, that drives me so crazy.

Phillip: [00:18:17] And some people will line up and dig through dumpsters for the Kanye hoodie. You know, people do irrational things in this world, right?

Brian: [00:18:27] I mean that works. That gets me. {laughter} Not Kanye anymore.

Adam: [00:18:31] But people are not rational. That is for certain. Long ago I've given up trying to apply how I interact with things to how I think our customers might because it just never makes any sense to me.

Phillip: [00:18:46] I sometimes feel like I'm the old man in the room because I'm like yelling at the cloud. I'm like, you know, 20 year olds on Twitter that your brand isn't what other 20 year olds on marketing Twitter think of you, right? That's not your brand. Your brand is built by real customers who show up in your TikTok comments and yell at you and tell you that you're a fraud because you have a beard. That's who your brand is.

Adam: [00:19:15] No one is meaner than a Generation Z TikTok-er in the comment section to a late 30s, man.

Phillip: [00:19:24] All right. So say more about that, because I know that you've been on this journey of creating organic content every day on TikTok. Tell us what spurred that and tell us a little bit about how that's been working from your perspective.

Adam: [00:19:34] Yeah, like I said, I'm always willing to try anything. So about a year ago, I was very late to the party, but had noticed that some friends in the eCommerce space, particularly actually Jon Shanahan with Stryx, I mean, the guy crushes it. He was seeing some success on TikTok. And I am pretty conservative with how I spend my money. So if there's an organic channel that can drive traffic that is valuable to us, we're going to explore it because it costs nothing but my time. And I started playing with it and a couple weeks in I wasn't really understanding it. And then honestly, everything changed with one viral video. I took some time, made a fairly produced video where I kind of like exploded a bunch of plastic razors and showed people what you're shaving with and then use that to kind of like cross walk into what we're doing because what we're doing is a little bit different. So it does take some explanation. And that went kind of viral. A few million, 5 million views maybe, and that kind of catapulted our channel. So from there it was just consistency. And I'm terrible with consistency. I'm running a business. It's hard for me to jump in front of TikTok and make something. So I probably averaged like a video a week, give or take, for the next ten months, and we were able to grow the channel to about a quarter of a million followers, but most notably is we could look at the virality of any particular video and see the impact on our revenue and what we noticed was v [00:21:17]iral doesn't equal revenue. We could go viral for various reasons, but it's the quality of the views that matter the most. So a nice A/B thing here is we had, I made a kind of an ASMR, not even like a kind of an ASMR video. I don't know all the lingo. It had side effects. It was like really, you know, 15 seconds long. It was kind of catchy. And that one got like 20 million views and it drove like no noticeable incremental, like zero, essentially. And then you can comp that against more of an educational that might get like 500, 700 million, and that will have a noticeable impact. So that was an unlock for me. Stop chasing the views, stop chasing virality, and just focus on educating. And that has been my recipe. [00:22:06] I can't say that that's going to work for anyone else. I have no idea what works for anyone. But for us, we just tell people about the product, we explain the differences and we don't get cute with it because I don't know how to get cute, so I can explain things. And education works on the channel.

Phillip: [00:22:24] Does it take a toll on you to see people sort of criticize you and what you're doing? People have been generally pretty salty in some of the comments, as I've witnessed in following your brand on TikTok. It seems like you're answering some of those head-on, right?

Adam: [00:24:16] Yeah. First of all, I don't like to let any comment lie, whether it's good or bad or ugly. So we make sure every comment on ads or comments is responded to, and every comment on organic is responded to. I think we do a pretty good job unless they go nuts and we can't keep up. And yeah, I think it's just as important to address the haters. We're not afraid to block and delete people. If it's really negative and it's not productive or if they're being mean in a way, in a way that isn't just funny mean, I don't need that in my life. That used to keep me up. Like when I was particularly early in this thing, I would get viscerally angry. Like, why? I'm just trying to live my life, man. And so now I just block those people. But yeah, so the biggest complaints we get are the cost of the product and that's funny because one of the best types of video that we make on TikTok is a cost explanation video. I'll make those till the cows come home. I can keep remaking them and they always do great because this is an $80 razor up front. And that's shocking to a lot of people. The true cost of shaving isn't what you pay on day one. It's what you continue to pay every day for the rest of your life. So it's actually the cost of refills that matters more than day one. And when you shave with a razor like this, your refills are pennies. Like you said, Phillip, you spend $10 on a pack of blades and it'll last two years. And so explaining that is really useful. And I don't hate those hate comments on the cost of it because I just respond to those with new videos and it's a forever fuel. That's how I approach that. If people are mean to me as a person, I just block them.

Phillip: [00:26:10] Your hatred only fuels me. It makes me stronger. {laughter}

Adam: [00:26:16] I just don't get it.

Brian: [00:26:19] There's something you said that I thought was really right on point, which is we do something a little bit different, so naturally, that requires some explanation. And I think that's actually really a lost statement in their current environment. People are always like, "Oh we'll just make something that doesn't require any explaining." It's like, "Well, if you make something new or different or innovative, it is going to require some explaining because people aren't going to get it.

Adam: [00:26:50] Yeah.

Brian: [00:26:50] And I think that actually, that statement led right into the education component and what actually performs. It makes sense that that's what performs because you're doing something different and that requires people to have a mindset shift. They have to understand why. And so I think that's really cool that you said that and then it just naturally led right into your performing content.

Adam: [00:27:17] Cool. Yeah. Thank you. I think about this a lot. It keeps me up at night in a lot of ways. And honestly, if maybe I'll ask you gentlemen this, maybe you have some ideas for me. It is a blessing and a curse. One, it helps create a moat because we create a lot of educational content. And once people understand it, they like lock in and they get it and they're ours for life. And they'll buy multiple razors and they'll shop with us with our blades even though they're not proprietary, you can get them cheaper elsewhere. They just like us. They like us. But it is confining from an addressable market perspective. So our best customers are eco-conscious people, number one, and then shaving nerds, number two. There are a lot of both of those people. But they're also a vast minority compared to just your average everyday Joe and my friends walking around here in Connecticut. They don't care as much about those two things. They'll buy the razor because they like me. So our challenge is how do we break out of that? I don't know if you... I mean, what do you... I don't know. Do you have any thoughts on that? {laughter}

Phillip: [00:28:19] I actually could wax poetic on this. I have the same issue. Because in our ecosystem, there are different kinds of trade media outlets. There are ones that do pure journalism. There are ones that do sort of the tips and tricks. We're going to tell you nine ways to make the landing page for the flavored water brand that I grew one time. And then you'll have us, we're sort of esoteric and that we're trying to inspire people to think for themselves, to stop taking the tips and tricks and remember the fact that everyone's context is unique to them. And you can't duplicate someone else's context. You also can't duplicate other people's audience or customers' context. It is uniquely theirs and it's unique to you. You can take these things as inspiration, but you can't repeat and run back a playbook. And that's a really hard message to sell into an ecosystem that doesn't know how to search for, "How to think about e-commerce differently." So we have a challenge as well in that we're trying to carve out a different kind of a niche for a business media content consumer who is bored to death and is out of ideas and they are devoid of life in their jobs and they're looking for that next bit of inspiration to take them on to the next path in either their brand or in their career path. I don't know if that makes great TikTok educational content from the Future Commerce brand, but... It's a long-winded mission.

Adam: [00:29:57] That's a very similar problem. I totally... When you articulate it like that, I understand. Wow. Okay. I understand what you're doing better now. Okay. This is great. Thank you.

Phillip: [00:30:10] Thanks. Do you want to come make some TikToks for us?

Brian: [00:30:12] Yeah. Please. Come educate our audience. We don't know how to do it.

Phillip: [00:30:16] I would shave every part of my body in trade.

Brian: [00:30:20] Oh, my gosh. Adam, do you just shave a hair for every dollar that you earn? I'm actually just curious about that. It's like, just every time you sell a razor, you're just like, you shave more...

Phillip: [00:30:32] The haters.

Brian: [00:30:33] Yeah. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:30:34] You're just like, shaving.

Adam: [00:30:36] Well, you know, look, this is funny because I have a team of 13 and I've got, you know, I've got 4 or 5 people on my marketing team. And most of our customers are actually women. And none of the women in our team want to show their face on TikTok, which I totally understand and respect. So now it falls to this guy to demonstrate because demonstrably you want to see a razor works demonstrate that. And that's why I end up having to shave everywhere. I mean, I've shaved everything and what turned out as like a necessity for content reasons actually turned into one of the best things that I could do for the business because I really got to get into the mindset of the challenges and successes of what leg shaving is with our product. And I now truly better understand and can articulate what the differences are between products because I had never shaved my leg before we made this product. It turned out to be a great body and leg shaver, but I had never done it before. And now starting this TikTok journey, I've done it tons of times. And now, you know, I know the ups and downs, and that helps us in our R&D journey too. We can ask people all day long for their feedback, and we do. But when Adam and I get ourselves into a room we hold very strong opinions about where product should go. And so now I have like really a better base for those strong opinions. So I don't know, it's good thing.

Brian: [00:32:07] I mean, I'm actually really curious. Do you have a strong opinion? Do you prefer your legs shaved and smooth or do you prefer them hairy?

Adam: [00:32:15] So the first time I did this, probably for real on Instagram and the comments blew up with like two things. One is, "Oh, enjoy your itchy legs when it grows back." And then number two is, "When you slide into your sheets tonight, feel it." Because apparently, that's like a thing. First fresh leg shave, you slide into your sheets and it's like, "Oh, yeah." And I was very conscious about it and tried to live in the moment. And I got into bed at night and I was like, okay, all right, I dig it.

Brian: [00:32:50] Oh, this turned into a whole cycle of purchasing because I bet you're like, "Man, I wonder what it'd be like if I upped my thread count." {laughter}

Phillip: [00:32:57] Yeah.

Adam: [00:32:59] Oh, yeah. Get that silk in there.

Phillip: [00:33:03] Yeah. Oh, that's great. Yeah. Leaf X Parachute win.

Brian: [00:33:07] No, really, I love this. I'm in on this.

Adam: [00:33:10] Oh, I would do that collab. No one ever wants to collab with us. I don't know why.

Phillip: [00:33:14] So, yeah, let's actually talk about that.

Phillip: [00:33:16] What's happening on the creator side and sort of the co-creation of content or the sharing of audience with other brands? Is that something you've explored? And to what degree has it worked for you so far?

Adam: [00:33:29] Okay. Big question. Let me tackle that creator side first. So in the last 8 or 10 months, we've really tried to kick into gear our affiliate program. It's good for us to try to diversify where our traffic comes and revenue streams. So we started flipping a bunch of our creators that we had worked with into affiliate partners, and then we joined ShareASale, actually, we were on GRIN first and didn't love it and then we went to ShareASale. So anyways, so we've been hammering home there on building that and then our affiliate and our creators and influencers that all that is now managed by someone in-house who's been learning it on the go. We love training in-house. I hate/dislike agency outsourcing stuff. So [00:34:10] I'm always willing to move slower if we can build the competency in-house. The most authentic creators that we work with are people who bought the product anyways without even whatever and love it and then approach us or we build relationships with them. So we love our deep creative partners that we've had for years who we can keep going back to, who are really authentic and know the product. [00:34:32] They're really good to help mix in content across all of our channels. But our creator content never does as good as the content we make in-house. And honestly, I wish I knew why. I don't know, I could make a test for it, but I won't the results of the test. So I don't. And yeah, so that's the creator side. What was the second half of your question? Yeah. The brand partners.

Phillip: [00:34:57] Yeah.

Adam: [00:34:58] Okay. So you used to be able to grow your Instagram audience through these giveaways, brand partnership giveaways, like really light brand partnerships. And now it's not a very effective way to grow your audience. But we still like to do giveaways because I love giving stuff away to our followers. In fact, we'll just like not partner with someone and just give razors away. I don't know. It makes me feel good and could make someone happy. So we've seen a big drop off in efficacy of that kind of partnership and then a deeper partnership where we do some bundling and stuff like that, I've tried to kick those off a couple times with partners I thought would be fantastic fits. But yeah, I don't know. They've just never taken off. It seems like a very low leverage way to grow in my opinion. So it's not been a big focus of ours, but I would love to do it. If anyone's listening that has got a complementary brand, reach out to me.

Brian: [00:35:54] Love that. I think you did a pretty big creator collab recently with Shopify and Mr. Beast.

Phillip: [00:36:09] Adam, you have to take the clues as we're like dropping them for you. Great segue.

Brian: [00:36:16] How did that go? {laughter}

Adam: [00:36:18] You're going to need to ask the question. Yeah, this was like, really random. A few weeks ago, maybe a month ago or whatever, Mr. Beast, he's got that partnership with Shopify, which I like vaguely understood they were in some sort of partnership. I don't know what the deal is, but he tweeted the other day, "Pitch your brand in six words or less and we'll pick some people and we'll do something with you." And total whim I dropped because I don't know, I'm again, I'm pretty grumpy. I don't think anyone wins that stuff. So I went in there, I think I said like, "We're saving and shaving the world," and that was it. And Phillip, maybe you were the only person that liked my response. So thank you very much. But yeah, like two weeks later, Mr. Beast follows me on Twitter. The last time I tweeted was like three years ago or something. So I have no idea why he would be following me. I totally forgot I did this thing and then his team jumps in my DM and yeah, they're like, "We picked you. You got to like answer all these questions." And there were a bunch of qualifications that they needed to follow up on. And then two days later, we're going to buy $5,000 worth of product from you, and then we're going to donate it to people in need, refugees, unhoused people, things like that. And yeah, so my initial reaction was like, "Holy crap, Mr. Beast." And the office, we were all like, "Whoa, this is crazy." And I didn't even read the rules of the thing when I entered it. So I didn't really understand what was going to happen. But like in my mind, I start spinning out. I'm like, "Oh, great, we're going to be in a Mr. Beast video. This is great. They're going to give it away. Oh, this is exposure, baby." And it turns out that they weren't going to make a video. They were just going to give all this money away. So that's fine. Whatever. My expectations came back down to earth, but when they said they were donating them, I told his team we would match their donation. So they bought 50 kits and then I matched it with 50 kits. So we sent them 100 kits that they're going to give away. And giving is just ingrained in Leaf. Every earth month in April we pick a partner. Last year it was the Pollinator Partnership to help the bees. The year before it was the Coral Restoration Foundation to help restore and science around... We try to pick a science focused. This year it's going to be the whales. We'll announce that soon, and then we raise money throughout the month through sales. We do a portion of our sales and we make the donation. It can be anywhere from 10,000 to I think we've donated 40,000 in the past. So pretty good sized numbers that we feel my partner and I, Adam, we feel like really good. It's just like us giving back. And notably because our team is on, we do profit sharing with our team. So our success is shared through all of our colleagues. And making a donation kind of comes from that bottom line. And so it's like everybody is giving, so everyone in the whole Leaf Shave team is giving something away and we pick the groups together and everyone feels good about it. So I don't know. So anyways, giving is part of our DNA. And so we matched the Mr. Beast thing.

Brian: [00:39:39] Did it have any... I mean, I saw the tweet. Did it have any ancillary impact on your business?

Adam: [00:39:47] No, it didn't. Honestly, the thing that had the biggest impact in the last six months was Doja Cat woke up one day and decided to shave her eyebrows and it turns out she had a Leaf razor. We had no idea. So she went live and shaved her eyebrows off with a Leaf razor. And we woke up the next day like, "What the heck, man?" And so, yeah, we leveraged that and that had a way bigger impact than this Mr. Beast thing. But so it was, I think Mr. Beast ended up just being it's going to be a fun anecdote and story and we got to do a little good.

Phillip: [00:40:18] That's so rad. Oh, my gosh.

Brian: [00:40:21] That's awesome.

Phillip: [00:40:22] Well, you know, at the risk of asking you to be prescriptive and giving people advice.

Brian: [00:40:28] Oh. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:40:29] If you had to sort of sum up the journey that you've been on and sort of what the next year looks like, what does the future of commerce look like for Leaf Razor? And you don't have to predict the future of the next five years. But this TikTok journey seems to be fairly recent and working for you in a bunch of ways. You're learning a lot about the business, but what is the next year look like in building the business? Not necessarily the marketing, but the business.

Adam: [00:40:55]  [00:40:57]It's going to be focused on product because we always are. I think a good product is the best marketing. [00:41:04] And so with the introduction of this new major product line, the Dermaplaner, we've got a few others in the pipeline, so for us, it's building and launching things. We also are incubating a sister brand to Leaf, which hasn't launched yet. It's not going to be under the Leaf Shave umbrella. It's still in the eco space and body care now. And so really excited about that. Our test will be... We have all this infrastructure, we own our fulfillment. We do everything in-house. Essentially. We have maybe one agency. And so we want to see if we can leverage that with some new... Because we have product ideas out the wazoo. So we're like, "Let's focus on one. Let's make it. We're very close to production and we're going to launch that." And if it exists and successfully on top of our infrastructure, we'll have to grow the infrastructure a little bit. But that is our blueprint. The future of Leaf Shave isn't just razors, it is actually building out a bit of a suite of interesting products that are really innovation-driven.

Brian: [00:42:09] I love that. Adam, I am so excited to follow this now. You've whet my appetite. This is exciting.

Phillip: [00:42:19] Excitement.

Brian: [00:42:20] You've given me the pre shave. The pre shave is strong.

Adam: [00:42:24] Oh yeah. Just wait till that post shave hits.

Phillip: [00:42:27] Oh wow. It's been so great to have you. Thank you so much for coming on the show and thank you all for listening. Adam Simone, Co-Founder at Leaf Shave and potentially a sister brand, but a TikTok superstar in his own right. So glad to have had you. Thanks so much for coming on Future Commerce.

Adam: [00:42:45] You guys are awesome. Thank you.

Brian: [00:42:45] Well, thank you.

Phillip: [00:42:46] Thank you, brother. Thank you all for listening to Future Commerce.

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