Season 1 Episode 4
July 12, 2023

The Way of the Outlaw

The Outlaw defies, disrupts, and brings change by paving their own way. They challenge established ways of thinking, by pioneering and innovating fearlessly. The Outlaw represents the world of possibility that comes when coloring outside the lines. Meet our Outlaw, TUSHY Founder Miki Agarwal, and hear how she is taking the world by [sh*t]storm and will not apologize for it.

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The Outlaw defies, disrupts, and brings change by paving their own way. They challenge established ways of thinking, by pioneering and innovating fearlessly. The Outlaw represents the world of possibility that comes when coloring outside the lines. Meet our Outlaw, TUSHY Founder Miki Agarwal, and hear how she is taking the world by [sh*t]storm and will not apologize for it.

No Butts About It

  • {00:04:52} “The more you talk about something, the less taboo it becomes, the more normalized it becomes. And that's actually the whole point is to make this be something where people aren't saying, "Did they take it too far?" - Miki
  • {00:07:20} “I've heard you say throughout the course of this chat, "The things that we do aren't just for the sake of them. It's to open up a broader conversation.” It's not just about the thing itself. It's about what it inspires afterward.” - Brian
  • {00:09:11} “When we show humanity, which includes humor, levity, fun, and authentic people sharing who they are through the brand, I think that has given a lot of affinity for us.” - Miki
  • {00:10:17} “A lot of our industry, especially in trade, eCommerce trade, and digital retail trade media, try to do is they try to convince you of the validity of their argument with data and logical explanation. And very few are trying to connect with an emotional response through art and demonstration.” - Phillip
  • {00:12:25} “The second part is can this product seemingly be an opening, a gateway to questioning everything else in our life? Can we question, "Why am I doing this in my life?" "Why am I using dry paper?" That's crazy. “What else am I doing in my life that's not actually true for me, but I'm just following the pack.’” - Miki

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  • Learn more about Miki Agrawal and TUSHY
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Miki: [00:00:00] And also kind of really shed light on why. Why are we doing it this way? Why are we allowing indoctrination to just roll over us without us questioning anything? It is the most incredible part of our body. And yet we've somehow made it taboo and wrong.

Kristen: [00:00:26] Welcome to Archetypes, a podcast by Future Commerce. I'm Kristen Vencel. Even with just a glance over the course of history, it's easy to see how important and powerful story has been throughout time. We humans thrive on story, whether we are the storytellers or the listeners. We feel connected to others through story. Archetypes is an exploration of the roles that we play in the story of a brand and features interviews with people who create the brands and experiences that are changing our world. It's an investigation into how we as people take part in these stories, ultimately making them our own. No matter who you are in this world, you engage in commerce. Commerce touches every living soul. We all have a role to play. We all have a story to tell. Archetypes is the story of commerce. Outlaw: a defiant rebel with conviction, not content with the status quo. The Outlaw defies society's expectations and challenges established ways of thinking. They are highly effective at disrupting norms and bringing about change. Being pioneers and innovators, they are willing to take chances and make changes that others fear. The Outlaw represents possibility. What happens when you combine a niche best in class product and artful design with accessible, relatable, and perhaps even edgy language? You get TUSHY. This brand certainly paints a picture of what the Outlaw can look like, and founder Miki Agarwal helps us see why. Welcome to this episode of Archetypes.

Phillip: [00:02:22] You caught us talking sh*t about you, actually, in our newsletter, in regards to a recent campaign that you did. You have such an amazing way of creating a buzz in the industry. You seem very recognizable as far as your tone and your brand voice. Tell us about that campaign. I want to hear more about sort of the genesis of the campaign and maybe explain it for those who may not have heard about the Super Bowel Monday.

Miki: [00:02:51] Yeah, well, one of our sort of big, hairy, audacious goals is to be in the Super Bowl, and to like really have a Super Bowl ad, I mean, that's when you know you've arrived. So we're like, okay it's something that we really want to do. But in the meantime, it's got the word bowl in it. So we're like "toilet bowl." One of our marketing people said "Super Bowel," and we're like, "That's it." And so we're like, okay, the Super Bowel movement because it's literally a bowel movement and will be a campaign where we can now kind of attach ourselves to the Super Bowl campaign but not be in kind of copyright infringement because we said Super Bowel and not Super Bowl. And it's really about... The idea was basically everyone eats so much shit on Super Bowl. You eat like greasy fries and the chicken and the chicken wings and the thing and you'll take the biggest shit of your life the next day on Super Bowl Monday, right? So we're like Super Bowel Monday, which is you're going to take the biggest shit of your life. Let's do a campaign where the person who submits their biggest shit will have a chance to win $10,000.

Phillip: [00:04:05] First of all, it's incredibly creative and I think sort of ingenious. And it fits with your brand voice. You're saying things in a less guarded, more matter of fact and sort of like you're hip to the joke in a way that other brands aren't. Do you think that that's sort of a defining factor that allows you to do something like this that connects with the audience like they're expecting this of you? This wouldn't be unexpected from TUSHY. It's exactly what we expect you to do.

Miki: [00:04:35] Our team is so hip to the joke and at this point, we're a team that's just like, "You know, I would take that poop emoji and move it a little bit to the left and shrink it down." That's what we talk about all day long. So it's like it's so desensitized to us now that it's not even... It's funny. [00:04:52] The more you talk about something, the less taboo it becomes, the more normalized it becomes. And that's actually the whole point is to make this be something where people aren't saying, "Did they take it too far?" [00:05:03] But then it creates conversation, which is what we want, right? We want that like, "Oh, gross."

Phillip: [00:05:10] So one thing to just out ourselves in the original position that we sort of took is that the performative nature and the sort of competition around giving away a prize around the Super Bowel Monday, I think it's incredibly clever. I think only TUSHY could do it. It fits in so many ways. It also makes me wonder, is this reaching a certain audience or is it sort of digging a bit of a ditch? And that's the thing that I start to wonder is, if every brand did this, is that a net positive for society? Does that create more opportunity for more frank conversation and being more authentic? Or is that somehow what I would frame as almost like late capitalistic? It's something that's devolving and demeaning to some degree. But I think you would see it very differently. And I'm not saying that that's necessarily how we look at it. It's asking the question.

Miki: [00:06:11] Why do people feel that it's disgusting? Why do people feel like we've gone too far? Why do people feel like this is amazing, I feel liberated? It creates that conversation, which is what we care about. We just have to put out a fun contest. Someone won $10,000. We don't overthink it too much and get too heady because the minute you get way too heady and start asking way too many questions is when you kind of don't take the instinctive like, let's go for it and just be like, "Oh, maybe it's too much. Maybe we're trying to go to Middle America and it's going to be too much for them. And we got the early adopters already, but we want..." And that's when it becomes inauthentic actually. Actually, the more authentic it is to me is actually more like, "Oh my God, this is a fun idea. We think it'll spark conversation. It might be a little out there for some people, but it might be a freedom for others. Let's just see what happens and let's not overthink it."

Brian: [00:07:03] What I see you doing is you're entering into this almost performative art side of marketing that we've seen such a push into the past few years where it's like, "We're going to do things for the sake of making a statement." That's one of the things that [00:07:20] I've heard you say throughout the course of this chat that we've had is, "The things that we do aren't just for the sake of them. It's to open up a broader conversation. I'm not doing these marketing efforts just for the sake of making a purchase or just for the sake of making conversion or just for the sake of my brand. But I'm actually doing it to open up a conversation among communities and friends and people." [00:07:56]

Miki: [00:07:56]  [00:07:56]An authentic conversation. Yeah. [00:07:57]

Brian: [00:07:57]  [00:07:58]It's not just about the thing itself. It's about what it inspires afterwards. [00:08:03]

Miki: [00:08:03] I think ultimately for us, we support Big T Truth and I think across all the brands that's the thing that speaks to people is true authenticity. And I think people are always talking about the buzzword of authenticity and talk authentically, But meanwhile, they're still asking themselves, "I wonder what the customer wants me to say and how am I going to position it so the customer can click and convert," versus, "What do I so deep inside of my being want to share? What is so authentically true for me that will come out in a way that people will be like, "Oh, thank you for saying it that way, because that's true. That feels true. And it feels true for me too.'" We're not trying to censor our social media team by talking a certain way. We're like, "Go buck wild, have a ball, be yourself." My team talks about they are communications majors as though they're people representing the brand, which they are versus like, "Oh, here's how the brand should be seen, and here's how we should be represented. And we can only talk in this one particular way that's on brand." Meanwhile, it's just so again, inauthentic. And so I think for us [00:09:11] when we show humanity, which includes humor, levity, fun, and authentic people sharing who they are through the brand, I think has given a lot of affinity for us. [00:09:27]

Brian: [00:09:27] Well, I think also it results in customers being matched up with products that actually make sense for them. So that's the other side of it is the slick, the slickness and the tips and tricks and the marketing gurus and so on. The point of all that is to get someone to buy something, not necessarily to match someone up with a product that is actually what they need.

Phillip: [00:10:16] It's one thing that [00:10:17] a lot of our industry, especially in trade, eCommerce trade and digital retail trade media, try to do is they try to convince you of the validity of their argument with data and logical explanation. And very few are trying to connect with an emotional response through art and demonstration. [00:10:34] And so I think that you have a really tough challenge. You're not in a regulated industry, I don't believe, to some degree. Oh, is it? Oh, I'd love to hear a little bit about that.

Miki: [00:10:47] A lot of our ads are banned because we couldn't say "bum" or "butt" or "poop."

Brian: [00:10:55] You couldn't say "butt?"

Miki: [00:10:55] We can't say those things on Facebook and Instagram. So we have to say certain things in certain ways and it depends. Sometimes they're banned, sometimes they're not. We can't be in the subways because they're like, "TUSHY is a sexual product." No, no, that's the other TUSHY. We're the Bidet company. It's like toilet paper. And they're like, "No, you can't advertise in the subways." There are so many still ridiculous restrictions because it has to do with down there. And it is just that part of our body created all of us. That part of the body creates pleasure. That part of our body excretes the things our body doesn't need and holds on to things it needs. Wow, that part expels children. It is the most incredible part of our body. And yet we've somehow made it taboo and wrong. And I think that's been the quest of our team. How do we use innovation, use this product that has existed globally but not in this country, and kind of put a focus on sort of elevating the human experience, solving planetary issues, not cutting down 15 million trees every year, which is what it takes to make toilet paper. And also kind of really shed light on why. Why are we doing it this way? Why are we allowing indoctrination to just roll over us without us questioning anything? And I think it's sort of the first part is like, let's use innovation. But [00:12:25] the second part is like, oh wow, can this product seemingly be an opening, a gateway to questioning everything else in our life? Can we question, "Why am I doing this in my life?" "Why am I using dry paper?" That's crazy. And so like, oh, what else am I doing in my life that's not actually true for me, but I'm just following the pack. [00:12:49]

Phillip: [00:12:50] What's the strategy? Because you're having to teach and inspire and educate a customer at the same time as create a best in class product that competes against knockoff or white label products in the marketplace. I'm curious how you build the business around that. And then you said your big goal is right to become the number one bidet brand. What do you need to do to put into place to be able to reach that goal?

Miki: [00:13:16] I think it's, again, educating the masses, really having some more wins in sort of the Middle America conversation, where how do we stir up the pot in a way that kind of supports the questioning. And I think the pandemic actually helped us a ton, too, because when the toilet paper shortage happened, everyone turned to TUSHY. And that was some of the greatest spikes in business that we've ever had ever. And we didn't ask for it. It just kind of happened. But our strategy, we've now kind of formalized. We brought in this epic CMO. She is a dog with a bone. She's just an absolute badass, comes from Procter and Gamble pedigree, but has that sort of out of box thinking as well. And so my CMO, coupled with my CEO strategist, Amazon executive of ten years, has worked in startups, disruptive companies. My COO is lawyer by trade, fine print guy, looks at everything, over thinks things like a thousand times more than we do, which is important.

Phillip: [00:14:23] I have to wonder, how do you hire for culture in a company like TUSHY?

Miki: [00:14:28] I say like we hire... It's always mostly people who come to us and they're like, "I'm this. I've done this for these brands. I'm sick of the shackles and the limitations of what I can do. I want to come and I'm so inspired by your brand because I feel free just reading your stuff. I feel like I can shine in my own freedom." And I think that's the kind of people we attract. And I'm so proud to say our team is the most diverse team ever. And every age across four generations. We've got every gender, we've got every race, we've got every... We run the gamut, I think, because of that. And everyone is authentically themselves. I think it lends a strategy that is holistic.

Kristen: [00:15:20] Want to hear more? You can read more of Miki's TUSHY story by getting your copy of The Archetypes Journal at ArchetypesJournal.com. Archetypes is brought to you by Future Commerce. Discover the world of Archetypes, take the Archetypes quiz, and get the Archetypes Journal at ArchetypesJournal.com. You can find more episodes of this podcast and all Future Commerce properties at FutureCommerce.com.

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