Join us for VISIONS Summit NYC  - June 11
Season 11 Episode 4
February 2, 2023

[STEP BY STEP] What is the Role of Solid Fundamentals in Scaling My Business?

We’re in Season 11 of Step by Step and this season, we’re focusing on architecting your business for a dream exit. We’ve partnered with OpenStore to bring you stories from real founders who have successfully built and sold their businesses and will equip you with the tools you need to confidently sell your own business. In this episode of Step by Step, Phillip and Brian talk to Manny Estrada, the founder of Wearva, about the role of solid fundamentals in scaling a business. Manny emphasizes the importance of having a strong team and giving them the opportunity to grow, as well as understanding the customer needs and building a strong tech stack that can scale. He also encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to take the steps necessary to build their own businesses, highlighting that it IS possible.

<iframe height="52px" width="100%" frameborder="no" scrolling="no" seamless src=""></iframe>

this episode sponsored by

We’re in Season 11 of Step by Step and this season, we’re focusing on architecting your business for a dream exit. We’ve partnered with OpenStore to bring you stories from real founders who have successfully built and sold their businesses and will equip you with the tools you need to confidently sell your own business.

In this episode of Step by Step, Phillip and Brian talk to Manny Estrada, the founder of Wearva, about the role of solid fundamentals in scaling a business. Manny emphasizes the importance of having a strong team and giving them the opportunity to grow, as well as understanding the customer needs and building a strong tech stack that can scale. He also encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to take the steps necessary to build their own businesses, highlighting that it IS possible.

In this episode:

  • 00:05:38 - The Story Behind Wearva
  • 00:13:11 - Maximizing Revenue Through Influencer Marketing and Tech Enablement
  • 00:15:07 - Exploring the Benefits of Using Virtual Assistants for Business Growth
  • 00:20:19 - Finding Partners to Help Along the Way
  • 00:23:49 - Setting Targets and Knowing When to Sell
  • 00:29:00 - Handing Off and Onboarding Through OpenStore
  • 00:32:45 - Building Longterm Relationships with Influencers to Grow a Business

Associated Links

Have any questions or comments about the show? Let us know on, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. We love hearing from our listeners!

Brian: [00:00:46] Hello and welcome to Step by Step, a podcast by Future Commerce, presented by OpenStore. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:00:51] And I'm Phillip. And this is Season 11, and we're almost here at the end of our Step by Step week. I can't believe we've done this 11 times. Brian. It's kind of an incredible journey. We've learned so much over the years. This is kind of our point in the journey to tell you we've covered a lot on Step by Step over the last few years from demystifying venture capital and private equity to talking about the differences between 3PL, 4PL, and shipping providers. I have learned a lot about this eCommerce industry over the last few years with Step by Step, and this season is no different because we're sitting down with founders who have built and sold eCommerce businesses and architected their dream exit and they're going to teach you how to do that too. And today we're going to sit down and we're going to do it all over again here in this fourth episode of this five part series.

Brian: [00:01:44] And that means that if you're just jumping in, you need to go back to the beginning and listen to Episodes 1-3 because there's a lot we're building on here. This is another inspirational story, an entrepreneur who really was thoughtful about how to build solid fundamentals and be really smart about what kinds of skills to lean into, where to bring in help, how to keep the business in a really, really fundamental place, like a solid, fundamental place, and just really build something that's architected in a smart way so that when someone did go look to buy it, the fundamentals were good and got an awesome offer, an incredible offer from OpenStore who is sponsoring the series. Yet another story of a successful exit. And so if you're listening to this and you are wondering, "Well, I feel like I have the capability of starting my own business, but I just don't even know how to take the next steps and build something that someone would want to buy at some point." This is the right season for you.

Phillip: [00:03:00] That's right. And I think just hearing in founder's own words what made them successful, and it's different for every brand, it's different for every founder, really kind of completes a picture for me and fills in some pieces that have been missing as to what it really, truly takes to build a successful business, not to build a successful online store or a suite of Shopify apps, but to build a successful business. Because at the end of the day, it's the business that's getting bought, not the brand. They're buying the whole thing, inventory and all. And I think that when you hear from Manny Estrada, who founded Wearva, in Manny's own words he tells us that for him it was giving an opportunity to a whole group of people who had helped to build this over time. And he cared about their livelihood and their outcome too, because nobody builds anything alone.

Brian: [00:03:48] Another thing that was just an incredible takeaway for me is that if you're thinking about doing this, you can do this.

Phillip: [00:03:57] It's possible. Yeah.

Brian: [00:03:58] Manny took steps and he just marched right through it. And I just was inspired by that. If you're listening to this and you want to start a business, you can do it.

Phillip: [00:04:09] Yeah. And we typically put founders on this sort of pedestal of they're a certain kind of a person. The thing that's been impressed upon me in this season is everyday people, people that come from all walks of life who all had different challenges, a lot of these businesses were started during the pandemic, and a lot of people discovered and found their way through it and learned the same way that you're learning right now. And they're creating something that will be life-changing for them later on.

Phillip: [00:04:40] And that is true aspiration for me. So without any further ado, we're going to ask the question today to Manny Estrada, the founder of Wearva, "What is the role of solid fundamentals in scaling a business and scaling it to exit?" We're going to learn it from Manny Step by Step. Today, we are continuing our 11th season and our third episode of this season of Step by Step, as we're jumping into hearing about how to build and sell a business and OpenStore is making all of this possible. Here in this third episode, we're talking about the role of building a scalable tech stack and the fundamentals behind it that help you build a business that ultimately you can sell.

Brian: [00:05:24] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:05:25] Yeah. So we're really excited. We're going to hear a story. The first time that it has ever been told. The founder of Wearva is joining us here today, Manny Estrada. Welcome to the show, Manny.

Manny: [00:05:35] Hey, how's it going, guys? Thank you so much for the opportunity of being here.

Phillip: [00:05:38] Yeah, thank you. I think what we often overlook in these success stories is that it's normal, real, everyday people that are behind building brands that actually get to a measure of success. Totally admirable. Really want to hear some of your story. What caused you to say, "Hey, Wearva needs to exist and I need to build it?"

Manny: [00:06:03] So yeah, Wearva is pretty much a brand that represents the Mexican-American culture. My mom, first generation, came over here, had us first generation Mexican-American, me and my wife, we built it up. And the brand kind of just represents Mexican-American culture, stuff that we were passionate about, and the designs that we created, we wanted to share with other people that shared the same interests. And we just wanted to create a bunch of different designs and different stuff that wasn't really seen in our niche specifically.

Brian: [00:06:39] The product is super cool. I encourage everyone to go check out right now, as you're listening if you can. Really cool product.

Phillip: [00:06:55] Yeah, and a lot of it. Do you have a background in apparel production? How did you decide to create an apparel brand and what were the steps that you took? What were the steps that you took to get there?

Manny: [00:07:09] So pretty much my online journey and eCom and all that started back in 2014. So my main strength was marketing. I learned how to run Facebook ads, copywriting, web design... I learned all that stuff. I started the brand in 2020. And all the stuff that I learned since then, 2014 kind of led up to the creation of Wearva and its success and all that. But my main strengths were marketing. And along the way, once I created the brand, I kind of figured out some other strengths I had, which were design and coming up with different designs that people like and testing them out and all that.

Phillip: [00:07:52] So design certainly seems like you have invested quite a bit in having a really diverse selection and quite a bit to choose from. What's it like running an apparel brand these days? How much are you working with designers and how do you orchestrate the various parts of the business?

Manny: [00:08:10] When I started Wearva, I just had a few designs that we started with. I didn't really go too big. I did a few. I had these ideas of these designs I wanted to do. Pretty much wrote them down and just found some different designers that I wanted to work with. Kind of shared my vision for the brand and ended up creating all these different designs. I didn't have too much experience in the apparel industry. I just found some actually, when I first started, I reached out to a bunch of different suppliers. I knew when I created Wearva I wanted the quality to be great, so tested from a bunch of different suppliers. Tested them out and finally found a really good supplier. Probably after like the fifth or sixth supplier. I loved the quality and I ended up going with that supplier. And then as far as the designers, my process was pretty much I would reach out to the designer, let them know my vision for this specific design, and would send me back because, I mean, I wasn't obviously good at Photoshop and everything, but the vision, what I wanted the product to be, I knew. And we edited it a bunch of times until I launched each design. I would try to launch a new design every month or two months and each design probably had a bunch of different edits before I finally figured, okay, yeah, this is the one, this is going to work, and put it out into the market.

Brian: [00:09:45] You've created these incredible products. You had a background in marketing and digital marketing, and just looking at your site right now, actively, you've built a strong direct to consumer channel. What other channels are you selling through? Is it just your own site or did you build out through other channels as well?

Manny: [00:10:10] So in the beginning 2020, I started the brand. In August of that first year, those first few months into 2020, I was strictly just using Facebook to get traffic and all that. But during that time, that's when the IOS happened, costs went up. And what happened to even though I was a new brand, I was just selling clothes. Nothing really different than any other brand. But I was getting hit with a lot of like bans on my Facebook page or on my ad account and stuff like that. They would give it back, but it was just like a back and forth thing. And by the time they do the reviews and all that, I really had no traffic for two or three weeks. So that was my strategy in 2020 to grow. We did six figures then even though that was only August, September, October, November, and December. Five months, we hit six figures that year. But the ban came around Christmas time. And I was back and forth. I tried to look at different avenues. I was trying Snapchat ads. Didn't really work too well. Pinterest wasn't that great. Facebook, especially to a lot of marketers, especially in the eCom space, they know that Facebook ads you can scale, it's the cream of the crop in marketing, but when you get hit with these bans that hold you back and everything else, I knew there has to be something different. So in 2021, I started doing influencer marketing about February. It just hit, you know, I had maybe five, ten marketers. I sent them some merch and it just hit. We probably did a five-figure day. Easy. It was a 10,000 day, I remember. And yeah, so I ended up just focusing on that 2021. Finally, Facebook came back and gave me my ad account, and all that, but I was just so focused and dialed in on influencer marketing because not only was the cost per requisition to get a customer, but we acquired a way lower rate, way cheaper. So just focused on that, and the ROAS was way higher and we hit seven figures in 2021, just doing influencer marketing. I think by the time I sold to OpenStore, I probably had about 100 influencers that were doing really good and that would just every time I would do like a launch or anything, I had about 50 that I would pick and then do another 50 the following month and kind of just switch it up. So we did seven figures and only 25% was in paid marketing. The other 75% was from influencer marketing.

Phillip: [00:13:11] Let's actually shift gears then to get into some of the tech enablement. Sounds like there's a real focus, at least from the day-to-day operations in keeping the funnel filled, if you will, so to speak. You're trying to keep demand coming into the store. Once you get a potential customer to the store, what are the kinds of apps or technology choices that you're making that sort of help you to serve your customer, help them find what they're looking for? What would you say are the real difference makers for you in the Shopify ecosystem?

Manny: [00:13:45] If you're brand new, I would 100% recommend starting to build your customer base, like an email list, or an SMS list. There are a bunch of different apps that you can try. But personally, I use Klaviyo to build my email list and then I was using Emotive for my SMS and that was really user-friendly. I mean, it's kind of expensive when you go look at it, but the cost kind of outweighs it because they help you with so much to set up the customer service, everything. They help me with all the setup, all the legal stuff too, when it comes to SMS. And yeah, it was real easy. So I would recommend 100% building up your customer list with Klaviyo email marketing and SMS. And then as far as taking care of your customer and all that. Those are kind of just the real, real important ones for me starting off. I know when you grow a business, you start to get more customer inquiries and different stuff like that. In the beginning, I struggled with that a lot because I was a one man game, but I recommend looking for some VAs and having them because that's very important for your customer.

Phillip: [00:15:07] Let's talk more about that. What are the kinds... So VA for those not familiar is virtual assistant. So it's sort of contractual hourly hires that you're making and you're finding to what I'm going to guess, Manny, is complete discrete tasks that you give them or potentially do a lot of repetitive work for you. How did you find virtual assistants and how did you make sure that you were giving them things and tasks in a way to make them successful for your business?

Manny: [00:15:39] Okay, so I mean, is a good website to look at. You can find some pretty good VAs there, and good customer support too. The ones that I use, it's a third-party. I actually found out from these VAs, they're really great and really smart. They do everything: graphic design, customer service... I actually found this from a friend of mine and ended up purchasing his store one of his stores on a different niche, and he introduced me to this VA company. They do amazing work. Customer service, everything on time, updating all the tracking numbers, real, real good stuff. I don't mind sharing that if you guys want to reach out, I don't mind sharing that company. They do great work too because I know sometimes it's kind of hard to find a VA because first of all, they're really expensive. And especially if your brand is small, you can't really pay 500, 1000 when you could spend that on marketing and different stuff like that. There's a bunch of different VA, you know, you can Google virtual assistants and different stuff like that but these VAs are a fair price and everything and they do amazing work. So if you want to reach out to me or I'll share that info, of course.

Phillip: [00:17:00] Yeah, send it to us after. I'd love to hear more about it. I think there is a strategy that a lot of folks overlook where building a business, especially getting something up off the ground that they feel like they have to do everything themselves. And I once heard, Brian, a long time ago that the role of a COO in a company is to insert yourself into a business process and know it so intimately that you now know how to improve it and train others how to take it, and how they can grow it and improve it themselves. And that is the role of a founder. The role of a founder is problem-solving, understanding the problem space very intimately, and then handing it off to other people to sustain it. Manny, it sounds like that's what you've done. You've done a very like sort of digital-first, digital native way. So what are those tasks? I'm assuming it's design?

Manny: [00:19:04] Yeah. So graphic designers now in the new businesses that I own. We do like a lot of custom work, so we'll have the same design, but it'll be like a different name or a custom name or something like that, and they'll just have to edit the name. But we'll have like 50 to 100 orders per day. So that's kind of just his job is just to update them, upload them, and then a customer service tool, we get a bunch of emails daily. They'll handle all the email and customer support and the other one just uploading the tracking numbers and just different stuff like that. So little tasks, but they all add up because even that's one thing that I learned from Wearva because, at that brand, we fulfilled everything. We fulfilled everything. I just had my family helping me, but we were a seven figure brand. I was ready before I sold to OpenStore. I was ready to purchase land, get a warehouse, and start hiring employees. I had an accountant already to handle all that stuff, but I ended up selling to OpenStore. But that's one thing I learned just all that stuff adds up. Even if you do customer service, that could take all day.

Phillip: [00:20:19] And it's not just, you know, it is time that you'll never get back, but it's also the lack of focus when you're having to context switch all the time. Let's actually switch gears a little bit. I think one thing to just sum up that section, Manny, it sounds like you didn't sort of follow this pattern that I see a lot in the Shopify ecosystem of installing 25, 30 apps, always sampling them, uninstalling them, posting on Twitter about how smart you are, about which apps are the best. You really kept it focused on the product it sounds like.

Manny: [00:20:53] Before I installed an app, honestly, I would kind of look at YouTube videos, and research different stuff. And for example, I knew I needed a good review app. Researched which ones were pretty good and was the best one, and I use that for all my brands now. That's another review app. For email, I use Klaviyo, and then for SMS, I use Emotive. And what else do I use that's really important? Yeah, just those mean things. But yeah, before I ever installed an app, I was always researching on YouTube and if it worked, I kept it. If not, uninstalled it, and researched another one. That's what I did for SMS before I even got with Emotive, I did try a few. I don't remember the names, but I did try two different ones. They didn't work. And then I got with the Emotive and it just it worked out great.

Brian: [00:21:50] I think there's another theme running through here, on the same theme as the VA, which is find partners that can help you along the way. They're not just going to sell you a piece of software, they're going to get in there and help you set up. And yeah, maybe you pay a little bit more. But if they provide the added value by being a true partner and not just handing over a piece of software...

Phillip: [00:22:18] I would even jump in and say partner is an overused word that is really nebulous. In this case, it sounds like Manny was like, "I'm going to go get real honest feedback from real-life people who have used this piece of software before and see what the deal is."

Brian: [00:22:32] Right. Doing research, but also with Emotive in particular, earlier, Manny said that they helped him set things up, think through legal, and that's the work of support. That's the work of not just software, but providing not empty software, but software that you can actually use and set up for you to actually leverage as opposed to a lot of other pieces of software out there that are like, "Oh, just install this and you're good to go."

Phillip: [00:23:02] Fixes everything. Yeah, it does everything. It fixes everything. And by the way, it costs everything too. Yeah. Manny, let's talk about what was the decision point for you when you said, "Maybe the next phase for Wearva is to find a partner to help us enable the next phase of growth. I might sell this business." Let's talk about that mindset first before we talk about how you did it.

Manny: [00:23:26] Okay. Definitely. Yeah. So when I started Wearva, actually I had that goal in mind. I knew I wanted to sell it. I wanted to exit out of the brand.

Phillip: [00:23:36] From the beginning?

Manny: [00:23:38] Yeah, from the beginning I always had that kind of plan and I knew to get a great offer I had to hit those seven figure marks, have good margins

Brian: [00:23:49]

Manny: [00:23:56]

Brian: [00:25:10]  So is it your recommendation that founders set targets on revenue before they sell? And also, I'm sure it was probably tempting, as you were going along, you were seeing growth. You went from 6 to 7 figures. How did you know it was the right time to sell the business as opposed to trying and grow it further before you sold it?

Manny: [00:25:37] So I was hired on the crossroads, like I was about to buy land, about to buy this warehouse. And then in 2022 January, that's when I saw my first ad for OpenStore. I saw the ad, I did research on them, and saw all the articles that they were on. Researched a little bit about the founders and just saw they were legit and submitted my site, and got an offer. I thought about it for about a week and ended up accepting the offer. But the reason I did it too was because I was on that ride, kind of didn't want to go into, you know, getting all these employees and doing all this stuff because the businesses I own now, I ended up starting three different eCom stores, all in different niches, but they're all set up to where I don't have to hire new employees. Different stuff like that. Right now I just have those three VAs. My wife helps me and everything's online, so it's great now, but that's where I was at. And then OpenStore had the funds. They raised so much money. I don't even know where they're at now, but they raised so much money. I knew that it was going to go in good hands. They had the logistics, they had the team, and they had the money for funding for advertising. Huge, huge budget. So I knew it was going in great hands.

Brian: [00:26:58] And what was that post-purchase experience like once you sold? How was it letting go of your brand that you built?

Phillip: [00:27:09] I'd like to hit on the sort of the emotional, how did it feel for you first?

Brian: [00:27:15] Yeah. Yeah.

Manny: [00:27:16] I mean, in the beginning, when I first started, it was my baby, the brand. I started it and grew it. It was amazing. But it was kind of sad to let it go in the beginning, but the offer was good, and I knew it was going in good hands. And I knew that this money that I got was going to help me, not only my family but these new brands that I've invested in and growing them.

Phillip: [00:27:47] Tell me a little bit about the process for you. You connect your store right to OpenStore, they give you an offer. And did you sit on that offer for a little while? How long did it take you to sort of consider the process?

Manny: [00:28:06] So, yeah, you connect your store. They asked for different ad accounts and all that. They ask for a PnL statement too, profit and loss statement month to month. They checked all that stuff out. And so it was about, I think about a week before they gave me an offer. And then I got the email and showed it to my wife. We kind of sat on it for about a week as well, too. And then I reached out to the rep that was on it. And yeah, we took the offer, but yeah, we sat on it for about a week. I kind of still was thinking of if I wanted to go that route or just take this money and go a different route. And I'm happy where I'm at now because I don't have the employees and all that in the land and all that stuff.

Phillip: [00:29:00] Yeah, so that you have seed capital for the next phase of your own growth as a founder. What is the process? If there are others out there that are listening, that are thinking about going down the same path and the same journey, it sounds like you had a mindset from the very beginning of architecting for an exit. That was a multi-year journey for you. So it sounds like you've given some homework to some potential listeners of what they're going to have to do to get themselves to that same point. Let's say you made the decision to sell. What was the process like in handing off and sort of onboarding through OpenStore? What is that process like? And was it fairly simple or was it its own next set of challenges that you had to sort of adapt to?

Manny: [00:29:52] No, it was great. It was a real easy process. So I ended up accepting the offer. Two weeks later, I don't remember if it was 20% or 30% down first. And then four weeks later I got the other full 60, 70% of what it was. So the full amount. And then four weeks later I got the rest of my money for the inventory. They ended up purchasing all my inventory, which was another about $91,000. So it took all that inventory too. Got that paycheck. And then for the first two months, you stay on helping them kind of make sure everything's good. I helped them a little bit with the marketing and they reimbursed me for that. Got that payment about a couple of months later and it was great. It was a good process. The team, they have a real good customer service team, marketing team, and Brian Quimby, a great guy, great guy, real helpful. Any questions I had he was there. And he made it really easy to and yeah, it was a good process. It wasn't really hard at all. They have just a great team, so I know anyone that ends up selling the store, it's just going to be an easy process for sure.

Phillip: [00:31:05] Let's kind of shift into it sounds like you're on to the next thing. So you're heading into this next phase of growth as an entrepreneur. Sounds like you have a team of people who have been around you to rally and support you in your endeavors for years now. Do they come along with you to the next phase or do they stay behind to help Wearva? What does that sort of look like for the team post-exit for you?

Manny: [00:31:33] So yeah, when I had Wearva it was just mainly my family helping me with the logistics, like shipping, handling, stuff like that. As far as the digital side, I did have some VAs, but I brought them here with me. They still help me with all the different stuff. It just depends. Each brand situation. I would say if you own land and machines and your business required those machines or required that place, I think they price end up staying, but they pretty much have everything like their customer support. They have their own marketing team, they have all that. But as far as my mind, I was still in the smaller phase. I just had the VAs, and I brought them over here with my new brand.

Brian: [00:32:26] So cool. Is there any decision along the way that if you had made that decision a different direction, you would pick something else, you feel like you would have not ended up where you were like it would have blocked you from getting to where you are?

Manny: [00:32:45] As far as not selling my store?

Brian: [00:32:48] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. You wouldn't have been able to hit that level of growth. I'm thinking about how you pivoted to influencers. How did you go after those influencers? How did you scale from just a few to over 100?

Manny: [00:33:00] It was all handpicked. I didn't really use a software agency or anything like that. I did research some, but no, I just kind of handpicked it and picked them all and grew it along the way. Started with 5 to 10 middle of the year, and had probably about 50 end of the year, and in 2021 had about 100. And yeah, I just hadn't picked them or reached out to them. A lot of micro-influencers, I know a lot of people might shy away, but definitely use micro-influencers even if they don't have 100,000 or a million. Even if they have 1000, 5000, reach out to them, and send them your product. You can also get some user-generated content from them that you could use in ads. And yeah, it works great. And then the thing is too, once I grew that list of all those influencers, maybe they had 1000. 5000, but I had 50 of them all at the same time posting. And yeah, it was just a snowball effect.

Phillip: [00:34:07] The strategy of you keeping the relationship with those influencers means that you can work with them in your next endeavor too, where you've already identified and built the skill of how do we find creators that are aligned well with the brand that we're trying to build? And you've now built an internal capability in the business as opposed to just basically hiring a piece of software or an agency to do so for you.

Manny: [00:34:32] Influencer marketing, 10x'd my ROAS, my return on ad spend, you would say, because I did spend for the advertising for the influencers, but it lowered my cost per acquisition for a customer and hired my margins for sure because my acquisition was lower so my margins were better at the end each day. So I would highly recommend if you're thinking of selling, try influencer marketing 100%, that will lower your cost a lot and then help your margin too at the end so you can get a better offer. I feel like if I wouldn't have done influencer marketing and let's say I'd gone to even TikTok ads, I know a lot of people are saying that the CPMs are really low there, but you're still paying to acquire customers even if it's at 10, 20 bucks per person, that's still 20 bucks. That's off your margin, right? I believe my offer would have been lower. Definitely.

Phillip: [00:35:24] When it's critical to your business is success having the capability of not just understanding how to pull certain growth levers in your business, Brian. It's so important to have that internally if it's a key channel for your success.

Brian: [00:35:40] Totally agree.

Phillip: [00:35:40] Yeah. When you've outsourced everything, I really start to question how much you truly understand what it takes to make your company successful. Having worked in it for so long, back when eCommerce was very dev heavy and you had to have devs on staff, by and large, the businesses that struggled with growth were the ones that outsourced things that were pivotal for them to be able to build in scale. And back then it was developers. Today it's demand gen and I think that this is a really valuable lesson to have heard, especially when you're trying to build an architect specifically for an exit. Brian, I'll let you bring us home.

Brian: [00:36:18] Oh, no. I think we should let Manny bring us home. Manny, what's your final piece of advice for those listening in that are looking to make an exit in the not so distant future?

Manny: [00:36:32] Yeah. So if you're brand new, you want to have funds for a brand, definitely pick a niche, go niche specific, and then once you grow it, get success, bring some revenue in, and start adding different stuff. I was very niche specific in my brand. It was just hoodies. But it was in that Mexican-American niche. Hoodies and later I added jerseys and other different types of sweatshirts and slides and just a variety of different stuff. But I really niched down in the beginning. After that, things are going to happen for sure, ad accounts, competitors, different stuff. But don't let it bring you down. Even though like my wife was telling me, he said like, "Yeah, if that would happen to a lot of people, even me, and I'll probably what I gave up, with the ad account bans," and different stuff like that. But I hope this advice helps some people that are listening. Try influencer marketing. If you haven't definitely put that in your arsenal for marketing. I guarantee you that it would definitely, you know, give it a shot. Definitely help and increase your margins.

Phillip: [00:37:42] Amazing. You've been so wonderful. Very candid on this.

Brian: [00:37:48] Yes, thank you.

Phillip: [00:37:48] I really appreciate it. Very few people can tell their story, I think, with as much humility as Manny here, but also with sort of the level of depth and insight of, "Hey, we're going to be focused from the beginning. We're going to keep it simple, but really invest in the important areas for growth." Very few business operators at your level are as disciplined, and I think that is an amazing takeaway. What an amazing time to have built a business. Congrats on all of your success, Manny.

Manny: [00:38:23] And I thank you guys so much for the opportunity to be on here. Thank you. It was a great journey.

Phillip: [00:38:28] And thank you all for listening. You can find more episodes of this podcast and all Future Commerce properties at, and we'd love for you to subscribe to our newsletter so you never miss a new episode of Step by Step or Future Commerce. You can get that at Thanks for listening. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Step By Step. You can find more episodes of this podcast and other seasons of Step by Step at And Brian, we've covered a lot over the years on Step by Step. What are some of the other topics that our listeners can dive into to learn a little bit more?

Brian: [00:39:09] You can learn about how to compete or not compete with Amazon. You can learn about funding for retail and commerce and learn about shipping and all the intricacies that come with shipping and the opportunities that come with shipping. You can learn about customer experience and how it's so different from customer service and how to turn that into a revenue-generating center. It's so, so much more.

Phillip: [00:39:36] Oh my gosh. And this is the 11th season. If you're not on our mailing list, the best way to stay up to date with everything that we're doing is to go to, and of course, visit OpenStore. We have a special offer for you in maximizing the valuation for your dream exit. If you were to sell your business through OpenStore, it takes just a couple of minutes to get a valuation and hey, maybe the next phase and the success of the growth of your business is to sell it to OpenStore. Hundreds of brands have done so. Maybe yours is the next one. Thank you to OpenStore for giving us their support and trust here on this 11th season of Step by Step.

Recent episodes

By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.