The Growth Equation

Leveraging Brand Partnerships to 10X your Growth with Sebastian Hayto

November 29, 2019 Rahul Goel & Greg Leach Season 1 Episode 2
The Growth Equation
Leveraging Brand Partnerships to 10X your Growth with Sebastian Hayto
Chapters
The Growth Equation
Leveraging Brand Partnerships to 10X your Growth with Sebastian Hayto
Nov 29, 2019 Season 1 Episode 2
Rahul Goel & Greg Leach

Leveraging partnerships tends to be the last channel as part of your marketing mix but why is that? In some cases it can unlock massive growth opportunity not just to immediately drive customer growth but to also build a brand.  

In today's episode of the Growth Equation we have brought on Sebastian Hayto who is the brand partnership lead at Harry's.  Sebastian brings a unique perspective of how to partner and work with the right brands that scale organizations.  He has also had a chance to help be part of Harry's hyper grow from their early stages and now part of their exit as it goes into the next phase of growth.  

This is an amazing episode to learn the right way to build brand partnerships for both the short & long-term. 

Show Notes Transcript

Leveraging partnerships tends to be the last channel as part of your marketing mix but why is that? In some cases it can unlock massive growth opportunity not just to immediately drive customer growth but to also build a brand.  

In today's episode of the Growth Equation we have brought on Sebastian Hayto who is the brand partnership lead at Harry's.  Sebastian brings a unique perspective of how to partner and work with the right brands that scale organizations.  He has also had a chance to help be part of Harry's hyper grow from their early stages and now part of their exit as it goes into the next phase of growth.  

This is an amazing episode to learn the right way to build brand partnerships for both the short & long-term. 

Speaker 1:

Welcome to episode two of the growth equation today we had on Sebastian from Harry's and super, super excited for everyone to listen to this podcast episode. It was really amazing kind of bringing someone in from call it a hardware side of things and watching how a company scales and specifically focused on talking about how you leverage brand partnerships. I know it's something that you think about other industries if like software and SAS , it's not something companies think as much. It tends to be like that last channel you leverage to drive growth. But Sebastian had a really, really interesting perspective on how you approach that and just like hearing from the very like New York specific company that has gone through an acquisition and like what changed as they went through like that type of acquisition. So super excited to have you guys listened to Sebastian today and just to bring in all the knowledge he has overall.

Speaker 2:

Hi Sebastian, thanks again and welcome to the growth equation podcast.

Speaker 3:

Hey, how are you ? Great to be here with you guys. How's everything in New York? Yeah, it's good. I suppose here with you guys is not really that appropriate. I'm currently relaxing in my apartment. It's a rainy day and I'm in a house coat, so very happy.

Speaker 2:

Amazing, amazing. I think something would just help with the Lewis centers here or the podcast is , maybe we can just kind of quickly start off and just tell us a little bit about yourself.

Speaker 3:

So I'm Sebastian Canadian from Vancouver originally. Grew up outside a lot. I'm an extrovert. Loved playing in the mud, had a big group of friends at school and the middle of three boys. So my older brother went a little quieter and more reserved. He went off to university in New York at Columbia, studied engineering. I wanted something a little different, a little spicier. So I went to a McGill in Montreal, drinking ages 18 in Montreal. I enjoyed that. Studied psych economics there in my senior year. My younger brother joined there as well. He was another engineer, but the three of us grew up very close to one another. While there, I enjoyed the classes I was taking. I didn't study too hard outside of those classes so my grades weren't best. But usually I busied myself outside of class with, you know, starting my own little things on the side. I grew up a bagpiper and would busk on the side of the street for cash, for beer money. I was the mascot for my university for three years. Okay. Bird in a kilt. So constantly looking for a little ways to kind of expand my social circle and make a few dollars on the side. So studied at McGill for four years and then moved to Toronto where I worked for target. I wasn't one of the first analysts on the ground. Their state had opened up a pilot office in Mississauga. Their headquarters is in Minneapolis and they basically sent up a dozen executives who hired 600 people to launch target Canada. They opened up three distribution centers in the 125 stores within the first kind of year and a half operation . So I was there as an inventory analyst, basically working side by side with a buyer. They would choose the assortment, and then I had the checkbook and would order all the inventory and allocate it accordingly to our distribution centers and stores. So started off in grocery there and then as soon as we opened, we found grocery wasn't that popular. Not a lot of Canadian consumers shop grocery in mass retail. It's something that tends to happens a lot, obviously here in the States, but up in Canada, it's still slightly foreign concept . So grocery was under shopped while apparel and accessories and electronics were overshop . That's really what Canadians know target for . So I quickly moved from grocery to men's apparel. I was the senior analyst of men's bottoms, was my title, which looks kind of funny on a business card, but it was a good role. Learned lots, lots of stress. Target Canada was not doing that well, so I do that. It was kind of inevitable that I was going to have to find something else. So started, I actually got a promotion to a operations role and asked my boss for a week off before I transitioned and flew myself to San Francisco thinking I'm going to move to Silicon Valley and and join a young tech company. Interviewed at a bunch of different places, got a few offers, came back all excited and then got a phone call from New York from a company called quirky that had just raised a bunch of cash. They were both three years in 150 employees doing really well and they were looking for someone to oversee their target business. So naturally there was a fit. I wanted to move to the brand side, kind of lean into my sales background and they were looking for someone with kind of operational expertise on how target worked and kind of some of the backend secrets of target. So I flew down, interviewed, got the job and

Speaker 4:

for a few months off before I started and in that time did a little backpacking in Europe and then moved myself to New York in September of 2014 the day I started we'd also hired a CFO at the same time he had started right away and he basically uncovered a few faulty numbers and our projections weren't quite as pretty as we hoped they were looking and basically I was the last full time hire for , we started to shrink the business, so I started off just being [inaudible]

Speaker 3:

key account manager for target. Quickly picked up staples and best buy as well. And then as the company was dwindling, picked up a few rogue accounts as well. Really we were sitting on a ton of inventory and I had to find buyers for that inventory. So was looking at hotels, was looking at independent stores and was going to conferences with a stack of business cards and just dialing for dollars really by the end of it.

Speaker 4:

And there was a big group of us that was kind of a cohort that was kind of asked to stay to the bitter end to liquidate inventory, but was also given the opportunity to shop around for the next peak that we were looking for. So it was a really, it was a smooth sunset of the business, which was great and not too uncomfortable. Now they had sponsored [inaudible] trick

Speaker 3:

me, so it was a Canadian on a visa. And so the day that my job terminated with the day that I had to leave the country, so I needed to make a decision either to join another startup or another company in the States or take some time back to Canada. Or what I ended up doing was traveling. So I went to Southeast Asia with a small backpack. I really just had a snorkel and a pair of swim shorts. That's kind of all I brought toiletries, my passport, that was it . And spent six months in Southeast Asia, bought a motorcycle, toured Vietnam tour all over Indonesia. And Cambodia is incredible. And while I was there, actually the week before I had left, I had a conversation with a good girlfriend of mine who was in finance looking to join the startup world. So Sandra was a Canadian. I knew from Toronto. She sat with me to chat through what it was like to work at a startup and said, they mentioned that you had a been reached out to you by Harry's amazing company. The guys started Warby Parker and it was doing really well, still early days. And I took a quick look at it. She showed me a sample that they'd sent her and I said, Oh, that seems cool. And it kinda got me thinking. I went off to Asia for six months, grew a beard and it was on LinkedIn or something like that about in November, December of 2015 that she messaged me saying, Hey, the wholesale team just opened up a role . You perfect for it. You should talk to this guy. We Lennox , he's the director of wholesale right now. So I crept him on LinkedIn and I was going away. The guy looked like he was 18 years old. I was like, how this guy director, beautiful blue eyes. This guy looks like he's a, you know, fresh out of high school. So sent her a note saying, yeah, it'd be love to interview. Little did I know Lee Lennox loves to hear that. He looks like a high schooler.

Speaker 4:

He's in his thirties so we tickled pink by my comments and decided to bring me in to interview me. And despite having interviewed 45 or 50 other candidates, I got the role. So that kind of brings me to where I am today. I've been at Harry's now for about three and a half, almost four years. So I've seen and grown in some pretty amazing ways. Now that you've only been at Harry's for almost four years, like when you first joined there, how many employees was the account number and then like what's it now? So I first interviewed in December, we were about 75 in the office. So I interviewed first with Lee , who's running wholesale and then shortly thereafter with Jeff Raider , who's the cofounder along with Andy. I did an interview with Andy Kasmin field. But

Speaker 3:

I remember sitting down with Jeff and you such a passionate guy and I think it's kind of clear within the first few minutes of speaking with him how he's able to conjure such a following and he's been able to raise across both Warby and Harry's nearly a billion dollars in capital . Harry's about half a billion to shy up , but he's just so passionate and emotional when it comes to talking about his brand and in our conversation. It was a funny conversation. I was kind of this laid back bearded , relaxed, completely Zen doubt hippy that just had returned from travels and was kind of like, Hey, listen, you're three, four years in your running a direct consumer business. Retail's not dead. In order to expand, you're either going to have to scale even more, pour even more money into building an email list and digital acquisition or you're going to want to expand to mass retail and kind of there's a fork in the road. It's inevitable. You look at companies like Casper and and Albert and Warby and all these digitally native brands that at some point need to figure out, okay, how do we either increase our brick and mortar presence or do we know wholesale or do we simply sell as a direct to consumer business, look at dollar shave club there, which basically dumped a bunch of money into digital acquisition and then sold to Unilever for $1 billion effectively just as an email list with a dedicated following. So I kind of posed this question to Jeff and I remember him fumbling around a little bit, which was funny. It wasn't until I signed an NDA that they basically said, Hey, we're listening and we're looking to go into target as our first major retail partner. And then it all kind of clicked, my resume made sense and kind of the next several chapters kind of were made very obvious all at once. You know, once you open one retailer, it's only a matter of time before distribution increases further and further and further. So I was excited by the opportunity for expansion and growth early days. So was eager to sign the acceptance letter.

Speaker 2:

In your time in Harry's , have you had, is it had been generally one role or has it been multiple different ones and just expand it?

Speaker 3:

It's been a funny journey because it really has just been one role, but I've pivoted that role in several different ways. I've never, you know, I haven't moved to the distribution team or the digital team or anything like that. Um , I've always remained in this Titan . It's kind of like a wholesale kind of partnerships role from the gecko . But the way was structured early days was so different from kind of what it looks like now, just as the needs for the business have changed and the priorities for the business have changed and the desired outcomes of my role have changed it to focus on different things. So I suppose when I first accepted we had, Lee had built up a kind of an early wholesale business with a few key partners. Barney's was an amazing partner of ours early days, the standard hotel and had started to scale to grow revenue in this wholesale channel. Now when you're selling the standard hotel, a few sets for their three to four locations at the time, it really doesn't make too much of a dent when you have this rampant growth. If digital acquisition where we're acquiring thousands of customers a day, it doesn't really match up. So the wholesale channel was still peanuts compared to the rest of the direct consumer business and Lee, whose role I basically took over to propel him to lead the target expansion. All of a sudden target became the new focus for the business. So when I started, I kind of took over these old accounts and started to add a few of my own accounts to the mix . But very quickly when we launched target about six months later after I started, it became clear that what now call specialty retail or specialty partner fits all these smaller kind of accounts that we were maintaining. We're truly not having an impact at all from a P andL perspective and target and mass retail is where the bulk of our business was going to be. The bulk of our growth was going to b e take place.

Speaker 4:

So we hired a VP of retail to oversee the two different channels of retail that we called at that time, specialty retail, which was kind of where my accounts, my slew of 30 or 40 accounts and last retail, which at that time was just target. Now mass retail was about 30 to 40 times bigger than specialty retail, but Lee and I both reported up to our VP of retail, Tom Ferguson, and so it was an interesting dynamic, kind of my first year in every week reporting my sales numbers and kind of feeling like sales aren't really the thing that I'm contributing to this organization. Barney's we're not in Barney's to , it's you know, massive revenue and to year over year growth on their floor because we're only selling a few units. We're in Barneys to position the brand and to anchor us in this really elevated place while we're in target to drive those units and kind of the point of sale conversion.

Speaker 2:

How do you even approach like evaluating what's the right partnership or how do you build a partnership in this, like call it specialty space that is not about just driving sell through. It's about building and elevating the brand.

Speaker 3:

So at this time I guess we were about 150 people. We were seeing amazing growth online

Speaker 4:

that'll be was starting to plateau, especially as we opened up mass retail. So we opened up target, saw amazing success in year one and we basically started to plot out the expansion into Walmart and future. So at that point I kind of realized Lee and I are not really on the same page in terms of what goals we are contributing to for the company. So I had these kind of early conversations about

Speaker 3:

what our KPIs on the specialty team could look like. And at this point I was doing everything from prospecting, pitching, negotiating to entering the orders into Excel printing PDFs and sending them off to our warehouse to make sure orders were making it through manually chasing for tracking numbers. I mean I was doing everything. And so I basically had these early conversations with some of the leadership on our team thinking, you know, how can we reposition this role too ? Rather than simply hitting retail KPIs, how can we reposition it to hit kind of more brand marketing KPIs. So fast forward about another year, two years into my time there, 2016 end of 2016 early 2017 I pivoted to the marketing team first on the innovation team actually. And kind of the justification there was that, you know, if Sebastian's going to be working on generating new partners and potentially launching new products that will fall outside of our regular suite outside of mass retail, it makes sense to sit on the team. That was probably a shortsighted position, but at least got me underneath the marketing umbrella. And now I sit independent from the innovation team kind of directly reporting to our GM pre-tenure. So responsible for now all partnerships and specialty retail. So to get back to your question, how do we select these partners? I really work towards three main objectives now. And that's to elevate the brand, to differentiate ourselves from our competitors and to generate content for the brand. So elevation you can think of, you know, positioning ourselves with the Mr. Porter where we're alongside amazing brands with a much higher price point than you'd find in mass retail, really thoughtfully curated assortments in the grooming space, in the men's care space. You think about differentiating. So our hospitality business, we're leaning into heavily , uh, we're now in about 70 hotels, boutique and luxury hotels in Manhattan. We're in the buck route , which is, you know, you can't find a room for less than $2,000 a night get in and you get your free Harry's razor as part of their amenity program. We're in every Soho house for, and all the standard hotels where all a bunch of w hotels, four seasons, et cetera. So differentiation, massively important. So how do we show up in a place that our competitors just don't have? You're not going to want to bring a brand with the name dollar shave club into a hotel that you're trying to sell as a luxury experience. And in the same vein, there's just not a team or not the resources dedicated for some of our other bigger competitors in that type of space. So always thinking about new and differentiated ways that we can retail the product and then generating content. Once a month, I lead a photo shoot, we pick random spots around the city or random accounts around the city or around other cities. We're constantly, you know, receiving content from our brand partners that we use to fuel, whether it's our social email, et cetera . So although we may be impacting 1% of our retail revenue, we're a much heavier weight of brand content. So when you , you know , first stumble on Harry's, you're more likely to stumble on Harry's in consuming content that involves our partners, then you might be to consume content that involves our mass retail partners.

Speaker 5:

Can you , uh, talk a little bit about, you know, how sort of the growth culture's deferred rather at the various organizations you were at because it seemed like when you were at target it was all about building that Katy and presence quirky I guess some level almost trying to stay alive at some point, but you know, it's a fast paced tech company as opposed to a large retailer and then of course it Harry's the whole challenge that you're describing right now and they all seem distinct in terms of their industries, in terms of their challenges and the channels and technology or lack thereof. What was the culture like and how does it compare to what you're experiencing right now when it comes to just achieving that next level of growth for those organizations?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think Harry's has done a really good job about staying hyper focused on one thing at a time and that was one of the early things that attracted needs with business was that they made one product when I first started and they made it really, really well. They own their factory in Germany, so we're completely vertically integrated. Making millions of blades a day. So quirky was launching a new product every week. Harry's had one product, one flagship product, and a really tight assortment of complimentary products

Speaker 4:

that surrounded that main one. So that's kind of like from a product perspective, why I joined Harry's . If you look at their goals, they've also been hyper-focused. At first it was about building the brand and building early elevation. And then it was about once they had that brand following and had that amazing product, they wanted to increase distribution. So they really been focused on distribution. However, as you increased distribution, you kind of need to take a small, allocate a small percentage of your resources in the case of Harry's and continue to do cool shit on the side. So I think it's easy to imagine how a fast scaling company can lose its its edge. It's kind of cool factor as everything becomes super corporate. And I think my role, the way that we've kind of repositioned that within Mary's has always been to offset, maybe got the degradation caused by mass retail expansion. But as soon as the product is everywhere, it loses that kind of magic special-ness . And so my role is to really create point in time moments where to remind our current falling and to show new customers, new potential customers that, you know, we're a brand that's constantly thinking of new ways to be merchandised of , of new partners to bring on a new collaborations to launch. And we're just kind of, we're staying with it, we're in the press because we're oftentimes able to kind of create these special moments that other brands might not be able to do. 99% of Harry's is focused on very specific set of initiatives that are mostly around growth, revenue, sustainable brand building. And then I'm the 1% that basically gets to run wild and have fun doing the cool things that act as a kind of flashes in the pan to keep the brand fun and exciting.

Speaker 5:

So where do you think like targeted as you described kind of missed the Mark when it came to say grocery and large retail? I have imagined the brand like target would have a lot of research done in some something like that already before laundry and then obviously that wasn't the end of it. I mean target no longer essentially exists in Canada and then with quirky as well. I mean whether it was, it was this one or two core financial metrics and there , I'm sure they're all great brands, but where do you companies, especially large ones that have a lot of capital, a lot of resources and deploy being in those environments, how do they miss the Mark sometimes so briefly . That's something I think, you know when we talk about growth that always sounds like something positive. It's always, you know , something that we're , especially Harry's as you're describing, it's just, it seems like it's a pop up and obviously there are challenges but it's going well . I am always curious , how do companies miss the, and I know not necessarily directly in a growth mode, but being in those environments, where do you think they might've missed that ?

Speaker 4:

So I think target Canada's collapsed and Quirky's sunsetting I think are two very different , uh , kind of , there were two very different root causes and Harry's even now struggles with both of those things. But like I said, leadership is hyper focused and hyper thoughtful when it comes to every decision they make. So generally we've been able to steer clear of large mistakes. Now, don't get me wrong, we love testing and learning and trying new things and failing is super important in that, but we generally set ourselves up at Harry's to , to fail fast and bounce back pretty quickly when we're trying something new. So I would say target the biggest thing there was just lack of understanding of the consumer. I think a lot of the things that we were doing in target Canada were lifted and landed from the U S business. It's tough not to do that. Although they did do a ton of consumer research. I think what was difficult is they didn't set themselves up to react quickly to being wrong about kind of their consumer expectations. So rather than launching a flagship store and a single distribution center on the East coast, for example, we want 24 stores within the first couple of months of opening and had a pipeline for the rest of the hundred that we were opening in the next year. Three distribution centers were all built at once. All these stores were renovated at once and so it was really difficult to , as soon as we realized there was kind of some miscalculations to impact that with millions of dollars of inventory already purchased. It was just tough. So I think if we could wave a wand, I'm sure that I wouldn't be alone in saying that it probably would have been wise to start with one or two stores, three or four stores, and then expand. Start with one coast, Denmark , another coast. Obviously Quebec with their language requirements on packaging is a whole new kind of set of things that you need to deal with as a retailer. So that was really their challenges . They tried to jump to economies of scale too quickly and weren't able to react to consumer demand appropriately. I think quirky was kind of a different challenge. Corky was a inventing platform where one or 2 million consumers or customers where our members were online contributing inventor and agonist . So think of like a mini shark tanker or dragons down in Canada where basically you have a , an online platform where someone says, I think you make an app enabled bicycle for example, that tells you how fast you're going and records all your rides and all that stuff. And somebody else will say, okay, well we're going to call it cycle fast. And someone else will say, okay, well it's wheels should be this dimension. And each contributor would get a small piece of the pie. 20% of total revenue was then kicked back to the kind of ideator and contributor. So we made a few products that actually took off really well. Arrows was an air conditioner that was app enabled and one of the first, and then we had pivot power was of a power stick, PowerBar with joints in it so we could kind of pivot around furniture and stuff like that. So both of those we sold tens of thousands of units of and we're doing very well. But at the same time we were still every week accepting new ideas and throwing our engineering team and our manufacturing team and our sourcing team at trying to source kitchen appliances and sourcing, you know, audio equipment and sourcing, you know, small cords and court organizers and stuff like that. So it was really just like we were making too many things and with a scoop count of 200 different products, obviously you're not making hundreds of thousands of units of each one's who are low minimums meant high price to acquire these products or to purchase these products from our manufacturers. So it was just difficult to compete in a market in a margin positive way when we were making so many different things and obviously quality was high, but that meant that we couldn't actually afford the margins that retail demanded. So at the end of the day, they really, it was kind of an explosion of an assortment that really was, you know, whenever we found us ourselves looking for new revenue, we'd always just make a new product. And that's not necessarily that the answer. I think something that Harry's has done really well is we've iterated on our core products several times and in order to increase the quality of it, you know, trusting that we've done our market sizing research well enough and we know that if we own a certain percentage of that market, we can expect a certain level of revenue and we just need to iterate on the product, continue to build brand trust until we have that. So that was really something that attracted me to target. I think another thing on the expansion side of things, Harry's expanded very thoughtfully. So with a smaller entailed presence or wholesale presence in our early few accounts. But other than that we were just a digital brand gaining insights in our first piece , years of existence. And only once we proved out success at target, did we approach Walmart or did Walmart approach us and only then have we made the plans to expand further. And I think that thoughtfulness was really something that target was missing early days as they just expanded everywhere.

Speaker 2:

So this 1% , uh , on the partnership side that , that obviously that you've been, you've been working on, like how do companies define success of those columns are more like those brand partnerships?

Speaker 4:

So I think, and to expand a bit more on what I'm doing today, there's about 50% of my role is overseeing. We now have account managers that are in place taking care of our hospitality accounts, our independence. So all of our little mom and pops and then our key accounts. Oftentimes there are department stores or our biggest accounts. So that part of the business is running smoothly and we still maintain, you know, a positive P. and. L we're still looking for revenue opportunities like a traditional wholesale team would there? I think the other half, and there's definitely like a gray area in the middle of between specialty retail and brand partnerships, but these brand partnerships typically involve either an activation or collaboration and activation being,

Speaker 3:

we were just in London for London design festival doing a pop up within Tom Dickson's convictions, a big UK based designer and within his office we hosted a barbershop . We're giving press and influencers kind of VIP treatments to have beard shaves and trims. We had a myriad of other partners and all the while people could could assemble their own. Tom Dixon designed, Harry's handled all of them were just prototypes and nothing was for sale. It was really just a driving [inaudible] of our audience. So that obviously differs greatly from, you know, our traditional business in urban Outfitters for example, and the goals of our true collaborations or activations are usually around press and awareness. So the fact that we were able to align ourselves with this mega elevated partner that is Tom Dixon, and then access their across their social media, across their email list and really project our brand to their consumers. Now these consumers are exactly who we want. They're the influencers of their friends, the leaders of design amongst their networks.

Speaker 4:

And so it was really like a hyper curated audience that we were able to appeal to. So oftentimes you can't measure and a lot of companies will spend hours and days and weeks and months and millions of dollars on trying to measure that impact. But basically what we go off of is press mentions that include how many readers are reading Esquire too when you're mentioned in it. And then simply email acquisition and impressions, total impressions across social and everything. So those metrics are generally harder to measure the impact of from a revenue perspective. And that's why only such a small percentage of the business is focused on those metrics. It's just important that you don't get lost in data. Trying to say, well, you know, we believe because of our activation in London that we saw an uptick by 2% in awareness that led to, you know, 0.1% in sales growth. It's something that we basically just commit four or five times a year. We're going to have a pulse in specific markets to drive that. You know, I'd rather focus our resources on actually execution. Then specifically measuring each and every little variable.

Speaker 6:

And do you find that that like just from Harry's perspective, like is that like a mindset that the company also has that support?

Speaker 4:

It's a mindset that we've adopted I think and have have realized that everyone a Harry's wears multiple hats. Even though we've grown incredibly, we're now about 350 people in our Soho office. Everyone is still wearing these multiple hats. And if you wanted simply acquire emails, you can do sweepstakes. I'm adamantly against sweepstakes. I think that they cheap a brand. We don't just want emails, we don't want a massive email list that we can, you know, expect

Speaker 3:

true extrapolation of kind of average numbers, how many sales we're going to generate from Eugene Nelson . Uh , we focus truly on building a curated audience. We're hyper on who we call our future fanatic is basically the guy that shops Harry's, someone who leaves a ton of online content, somebody who's comfortable shopping online, and ultimately someone who enjoys their grooming routine. I think that insight is really interesting. Basically, the guy that takes the extra few minutes to enjoy the process every morning or whenever he grooms or cares for himself is generally the guy that's going to look for Harry's to provide their grooming solutions. So it's really building an audience of that guy and a following of that guy rather than simply driving short term revenue. We believe if we start with the right ones and the, the leaders of their friends that eventually through word of mouth, through constant feedback from our customers collected digitally, we'll be able to succeed.

Speaker 2:

Awesome. And then what do you find just from my, like , uh , putting the keys to success needs to be for any type of hardware company in general.

Speaker 4:

I think we're going to mentioned earlier, you got to focus on the product first. That is so vital and something that important to bring to market quickly. Don't drag your feet, but once you get a little bit of feedback, write that down. Iterate on your product. I know that, you know, we started with our without a trimmer blade on [inaudible]

Speaker 3:

the back of our razor at areas and one of our [inaudible]

Speaker 4:

first iterations or updates to the product , uh , included a trimmer blade on the back and we seen all this feedback come in asking for it and we reacted and then made it. So I think like we have a team dedicated to updating our product, just our core shave product and evergreen team. So it's constantly something we're thinking about. We're never kind of happy with where it is. We're constantly improving. So I think product first and the rest will kind of follow. I think then expansion of distribution, I definitely see the value in doing it slowly and thoughtfully learn from one retailer before jumping onto the next. And the biggest thing in retail I would say is setting up the team appropriately to service retail. A lot of folks, you know the CEO goes in and sells into the first three retailers and then leaves the last the rest of the company in shambles trying to figure out how to actually ship them and you know what case pack requirements there are and and whether or not UPC is are required on the labels and random little tidbits like that. I think it's important to set every retail team up with a sales manager who's working directly with the retailers buyer and then an analyst can crunch the numbers and work directly with the retailers analyst and then an operations guy who can make sure that everything's shipping on time and in full . I think that kind of trot effect is so critical for success in CPG, especially as all these brands are launching online and trying to expand to retail. I think that like set up the team before you actually start those conversations.

Speaker 2:

Awesome. Awesome. And then one of the last questions we had was just around obviously, you know, Harry's was, you know, recently acquired his past chair as an example and where do you think Harry's growth trajectory is heading and how do you feel the acquisition and helps accelerate that?

Speaker 3:

So when I started at Harry's , we were 70 people, you know, a hour every week. You knew everyone's name in the office. The more people you add, you know we have five, 10 people starting every two weeks. We have these two week cycles and I'll never know everyone's name in the office anymore. We have our UK office with another 50 it's simply impossible to not pocket off and to kind of see these subgroups start to appear. I think you need a few things. We've done a few, we've started what we call ERG employee resource groups that kind of empower certain leaders across the company to , whether it's the LGBTQ group or it's a group focused on diversity or a group focused on music. It's literally anything we've empowered individuals to kind of create parallels between employees that kind of expand outside of the office. So that is one thing that our culture team has done a really good job at creating so many reasons to socialize with different levels and different people from different teams. But the other thing that you kind of need to just rely on a few key leaders within the company to continue to be vocal and fun and to be the carriers of that culture. I think Harry's has done a good job at investing in those people. I think I'm one of those people. I've been told that, and I hope they meant it because it has empowered me, but I try to show up to work as loud as I can everyday , sometimes superficially loud. Sometimes I come in, I'm in a quiet, introverted mood and I'm out anyway. And that's just kind of like the role I play on our team. And I think that a few folks in the office that can carry that, it's so, so important to support. You know, a lot of the early folks joined a startup because they wanted to work at a startup in a startup community in the middle of Soho and nobody really wants to commute to Edgewell the merging parent company to their office in Connecticut. So I don't think like , we're definitely maintaining that, that lower downtown Manhattan feel. And I think prioritizing, creating tons of fun events and stuff to make sure that we're not losing steam in that department. So much of it's inevitable. And I think like you need to be cognizant of change always as an employee and decide whether you're interested in growing with an organization or whether you want to go back to the employee number one at a new place. And so I think that it's kind of natural selection in that sense.

Speaker 5:

Amazing. No, I think that's actually a good way to wrap this up. I think that's super applicable for once you hear something. How does a culture change as you grow? Right. So really loved that answer. I did have one question I guess as a final one to kind of lend his plan a little, which is um, you know we talked a lot about Harry's, we talked a lot about kind of your professional experience, but I think one of the most interesting things for me in this conversation was at the beginning is as well, like just your personal journey. You're definitely a lot more adventurous than the average person and you've done a lot. And I just be curious and I'm sure the listeners would be as well, like as Sebastian , your, your philosophy on, you know, just personal growth overall, whether it's in your career or it's developing your skillset, your network or whatever it is. Like what do you have to do to kind of reach that level of diversity and that ambition and just the drive to keep pushing and being so passionate about, you know, where you work and what you do. I think it's fantastic and I love to hear if you have any personal philosophy when it comes to something like that .

Speaker 4:

I think the biggest thing is to lean into your strengths. And that's not something that I've always truly understood or believed, but that has become so apparent and imperative in my day to day. I was never great at math. And oftentimes somebody who you know is slower at Excel in a sales role and knows that it's kind of like a necessary part of a sales role. We'll go and take an Excel crash course as a micro example. And for me, I've realized that if it's not something that I'm already at least good at, why not pivot to something that I'm great at? And that kind of speaks to how I changed from the wholesale team where 50% of my role was reporting on sales every week in Excel building models, crunching numbers, and now on the partnerships team, it's much more about relationship building and networking with PR teams and, and schmoozing with designers, trying to build a family around the Harry's brand to continue to kind of create opportunities for ourselves to elevate, differentiate, and create content for the brand. And so I think the way that I've kind of defined success in a new role was much due to the fact that I simply wasn't great at or didn't enjoy or didn't see the necessarily the same level of value in kind of the initial KPIs that I was working towards. So that's like a micro example. Another example, three years ago, four years ago, I started an events business on the side, it's called city lodge and it was a result of my roommate and I throwing an amazing party. A lot of people came, too many people came. We lived in a, not a huge apartment in downtown Manhattan and had about a hundred people spilling out onto our balcony, you know, we moved the furniture into the bed and we realized, wow, there's demand for this type of thing. A ton of Canadians in the city that want to find a house party style event for next thing we did was rent a boat and had a huge boat party. That was a big success in our walking in Soho. We rented and had a Halloween Christmas party, then a st Patrick's day party last year that had 600 people open bar and bouncy castle in the middle of it and we donated $12,000 to planned Parenthood funds raised from the event. And it's been this like growing passion of mine to really like host and create excitement around, you know, people coming together. And I mean, what's so much fun is that I've been able to combine that organic passion and side project with my day to day at Harry's. Just like I mentioned in London, you know we created barbershop activation in a core design district in downtown London, in Kings cross and kind of I was able to organize a week of parties and events and logistics that didn't involve razors at all but rather involved supplying cans of beer and services that we brought in. And so it's been really interesting and really rewarding to be able to take a natural organic passion for hosting and integrate that with what you can think of. You know, four years ago I started at Harris crunching numbers and selling razors, and now I'm able to fold in the hosting of events into my days a day at her . So I think following your strengths, following my strengths has certainly enabled me to succeed. And when I'm in my element hosting an event, whether it's for Harry's or outside of Harris , the fulfillment I get from that causes me to want to stick around and really to double down on that kind of thing. So definitely not one to follow a strict set of cookie cutter rules in the job that I'm doing.

Speaker 2:

Awesome. Well that was a fantastic answer and thank you for that. One last thing is just for the listeners would have on the podcast , you have any sort of social media that they can come and find you or follow you and get more of your thoughts. We'd love to , you have a champion out just to kind of, I'm not sure if you're available on those platforms or how people come and find you or an invitation to one of those.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Well for the events, you can visit city lodge.co CIT, Y, L, O, D, E . dot. C, O. And those are kind of bespoke underground events in New York city. And we donate proceeds to primarily to planned Parenthood, who is , uh, has been under fire with today's U S administration. And then for Harry's , feel free to out and reach out just first name dot last name and Harry's dot com and be happy to have any conversations with any listeners

Speaker 2:

you want to say. Thanks again for giving us a chance to have a conversation with you. It's been super insightful on our end.

Speaker 7:

[inaudible] .