#778 – Fluff’s Erika Geraerts On Brand Voice & Intuition/
- July 2, 2020
Erika Geraerts – Head of Fluff
Erika is the founder of Fluff, a beauty brand for the next generation. Building more than just a beauty brand, Erika has a focus on creating products that highlight that the future of beauty is more than makeup.
Alongside founding Fluff, Erika co-founded frank body, Willow & Blake, and LBSS cafe.
On today’s episode of The Daily Talk Show, we discuss:
– Fluff and where it fits in the market
– What success looks like
– Arriving before the market is ready
– Knowing what products to create
– Capital raising
– Listening to your intuition
– Intellectual Property
– YouTube, makeup and similarities
– Brand impressions
– Tips for copywriting and brand voice
– The psychologist
– Communicating evolution to investors
– Creating a consumer relationship
– Stress and the future
– The next 6 months of Fluff
Erika on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/erikageraerts
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Send us mail: PO BOX 400, Abbotsford VIC 3067
The Daily Talk Show is an Australian talk show and daily podcast by Tommy Jackett and Josh Janssen. Tommy and Josh chat about life, creativity, business, and relationships — big questions and banter. Regularly visited by guests and gronks! If you watch the show or listen to the podcast, you’re part of the Gronk Squad.
This podcast is produced by BIG MEDIA COMPANY. Find out more at https://bigmediacompany.com/
It's the daily Talk Show Episode 778 special guest in the studio, the virtual one, Erica Gerard. How are you? Welcome, welcome. Hello. Hi. Thanks for having me. Man, you may be mistaken as a botanist with the beautiful plants that you have littered around. I mean, I'd love to be able to say that I've got a fleshy title as a botanist. Not a botanist.
But you know, what about what, what's a sheet starting question? What's your title that you give yourself review? Sort of you just adapt in the moment
at fla? Yeah, no, I
just bought too many plants one day now has to live with them. I'm at fluff I call myself head of fluff. So I have an aversion to titles and I think that they don't do anyone any good, especially in a start up. There's
Like a whole thing around title inflation. So as a joke, we'll just call ourselves a head of something. And head of fluff is more like where my head is that it's in the clouds all the time. There's so much shit going on in it.
Yeah, I like that. Because I mean, I think we're the same, JJ. But then there's the also the other side of owning a business that you almost it's legally you have to at least put something on paper. I mean, what is the difference? I mean, you've employed a lot more people that ask, do you have to actually label it as something other than hidden fluff or you legit going head and fluff?
I mean, obviously, in terms of setting up a business, you have to have a managing director. So you could call me that if you like, but my version is more for the people out there who run a blog and call themselves the founder and chief creative director and editor and it's like, it's just you like, what are you kidding? You have on your email signal.
I feel like you've got like an animated GIF where it flick through like about a million titles. Mm hmm. Yeah. So that's sort of my little like taking a piece out of it, which is really just what fluff is trying to do in general, like subtly have deeds of the industry.
Yeah, so there's a few little things that roll through that I do.
And so is it. Beauty cosmetics? How do you describe where fluff fits?
Yeah, it's a really tough one. And I've struggled to tell people what I do, but it's you know, after three years working on flat for a little bit more comfortable in sort of saying that we're a casual cosmetics company, but we really believe beauty so much more than makeup and that's a reason why we exist to discuss that and to challenge the industry and what they've been kind of spinning for however many decades. What's your favourite bullshit that the industry has been spinning?
I'll just say you can reverse the signs of ageing. You mean I can't remove cellulite with it?
Little bit of the screen. sorry to tell you guys, but if you are going to get wrinkles.
I know it's and so, I mean, how are we allowed to steal in 2020? market in this way? I mean, you guys obviously don't do that. But there's obviously a whole market that does prey on people's insecurities play to people's insecurities.
Yeah, and it's rampant on social media and there's so much that we don't say or don't have access to in general, but that are really like preying on minorities.
Which is really hard and frustrating for us. I often say that I need to have blinkers on so that I don't get distracted by the shift that's happening in the industry. But mostly because, you know, there there
are regulations on social and we're sort of cracking down on some areas, but there's so many blurry lines, I guess, and little things that you can get away with it in there's too many businesses out
To try and track them all. What is a beauty or cosmetics company? Do you think? Is it a? Is it a product company? Is that a marketing company?
Well, I think they're really great beauty companies these days are a mix. And we see a lot of them becoming more sort of tech companies like that really have some advanced services or technology and systems like underpinning what they're doing.
But I think it's really around being customer focused, instead of like building a community and sort of listening and responding to what they want. Because there's enough products in the world as it is, I don't really know why anyone is starting a business anymore Just because they weren't they have a product idea. It's really hard to innovate in that area in beauty these days. I mean, some of those products with brands that we're referencing,
ones that are doing really well but obviously they must
They don't have morals, they're just selling to insecure people, you know, like all of us are,
in terms of sort of looking to as a founder of a business, looking to the because you could easily look at one of these companies that is selling bullshit cream that is making a lot of money and thinking, how are they doing that? why they're doing it for you? What has been your version of what a success look like for you in your business even three years ago when you just started flat?
Yeah. So this is like a daily struggle I have and hence why Sandy blink is because I often get distracted by a lot of these companies that are selling products that are either just shit in terms of their formulas or their packaging, but especially in terms of their messaging, and there's no real reason for them to exist, and yet they are and they're making a lot of money and profiting off impressionable
consumers and especially young people's insecurities. And it's hard because I mean, for me fluff will be successful when it raises enough awareness that those brands or those companies don't have relevance in the industry and that there are less of those. And then the companies that do you have meaning or do have significance, I guess, rise to the top and have more relevance and can penetrate mass audiences and sort of cultivate that awareness or conscious consumption. Do you think that it's a hard thing to create a business before the audience? Say ready for that change? And how do you educate the audience?
Yeah, it's so hard. I think that fluff was probably a couple of years ahead of where consumers were when we launched three years ago. And there's still a lot of conversations that we have that I have
The art landing er is quite polarising for consumers because they're not ready for it.
self awareness, what are some of those conversations that are sort of polarising?
So when we first launched, we started with them just a social platform before we started with our products, and we were trying to have conversations and two of the topics were Why do we even wear makeup? And why do we even take a selfie? And if you try and challenge people on their answers to those questions, you'll find that like, immediately, they're quite defensive. And sort of afterwards, they can't really answer why they participate in these industries or with brands or companies in the way that they do, or what they'll start to do is start sort of unearthing how they part of a system and how we have been in some ways a little bit brainwashed and how we aren't maybe thinking for ourselves when making decisions for ourselves. Hmm. So how I found like a conspiracy
crazy person I know I love it. I mean, honestly, that's like asking my wife why you like wearing that red lipstick? And she says it's for makes me feel good. But then if you were to sort of peel back layers, it's like, is it for you? I don't know. And then you shouldn't be worried about some blog at work.
Yeah, I mean, it's, it's always what's the second third fourth layer to the fourth answer? And so, do you think if you were to ask yourself,
even though you think the answer is it makes me feel good? That might not be the answer for you. But do you think that there is more to us? Like what has been your sort of investigation as a conspiracy? You know, obviously,
I'm, oh, it's fine. I'm definitely crazy.
So I love asking people why or just thing I think I'm a really curious person by nature. So I'm always like, okay, like told Tell me more about that. Where did that come from? Like, why do you think he went that
And I don't think I would be asking people these questions if I hadn't been and still asking myself these questions and I don't have all the answers like I struggle often and so it makes me feel like well if I'm struggling there's probably more people struggling and that we can have these conversations together.
I saw recently some meme on social media and it was exactly what you commented on how so many women in particular man for that they wear makeup for themselves but because it has really shown that maybe that's not true because whenever answers home by themselves, they're just in casual like really bought me clothes and not putting on any makeup. So it's like, that doesn't really make sense in
jeans, why don't we wear jeans? Shouldn't we all just wear tracks that comfy?
So I think when we sort of asked ourselves why or you know, a lot of women even myself included might say that we wear makeup because it makes us feel better or makes us feel more
And there's nothing wrong with that. And so then I might ask, okay, well, why does it make you feel nice? And I could answer, I just feel a little bit more alive or I feel pretty. So then I'll ask, okay, well, what why do you feel like you're not pretty without it? And then people go out? Well, I don't really no, like, I just look worse. And you just keep kind of asking, like trying to peel away the layers and be like, why do you think you look less? Like, where would you have gotten the idea that you without makeup is a worst version of yourself? And that's why people often pause and they're like, Oh, yeah, I don't know. Maybe it's because we're only showing images of people looking their best or wearing makeup. And then when we see images of people not wearing makeup, we're told that they look awful or look at the real them without it and how they tie it like we associate not wearing makeup with looking less. So how do you then work out what product to actually create? Because I guess if you're pushing back on the system, you
could essentially be an ad campaign where it's like, Hey, don't buy anything, bro to buy.
I know it's the most backwards business model or a makeup company to win. And we're also using social media to tell people to get off their phones, and stop spending so much time on Instagram. And that's a challenge for me on gaming. And you know, when you have stakeholders involved, as well as like, how do you tell them how you're going to make money or sell products? So, for me, what I always have to say to people is that fluff is like, I can't really explain it in a 32nd elevator pitch like, I the whole reason we exist is because I want to sit down and spend time with people and tell them what we're trying to do. And that it's because having spent five to seven years in the industry and talking to consumers and founders and influencers and realising this kind of growing sentiment of distrust and dissatisfaction in the industry.
also saying that it's not about completely removing yourself and boycotting products, like we can use makeup and it is okay to feel more in it so long as you don't feel less without it. And that's kind of one of the biggest things that slough is trying to achieve is have products that don't alter your face, or involve covering up too much, but just accentuate what you've got so that when you're not wearing makeup, you feel more comfortable without it.
And also just our messaging that we're putting out there in terms of trying to not rely on sort of typical standards of beauty or traditional sort of very so. So mobile messaging, I know you've done some capital raising for the business, how much has or has there been any shift from the vision from when you started solo? To then getting people investing money into you know, your baby
So I probably look over our original investment deck, I reckon every maybe three to six months just to keep myself on track. And I can sometimes convince myself that I've lost the plot, am I doing something totally different? But every time I come back to it, I'm like, No, either the vision and kind of the original message is still there. And our execution on that vision has just sort of been different or much, probably slower than I expected it would have been, but I can rationalise everything based on some of the decisions that we've made, and then the response from audiences.
Yeah, it's interesting. How do you hire because I guess if you get people who are just coming from the industry, they might have some of the stuff built in that you're trying to push back on. Have you got certain questions or systems to try and hire the right type of people?
Again, another big challenge for me is that everyone is sort of set in their own ways and how do you tell someone or prepare them for what they're going to go into when there's nothing to compare it to? I keep losing my answer buddy. says you're my version, please.
Well, I reckon
you're saying you've got small ears in your house. So if you got small ear holes, maybe you need to put the bigger I've had a lot of air pod issues. you land on knowing that like, I wouldn't even think about my ear hole size you don't really think about until you get the
Oh, God, really just putting us into a box.
I can try the big try. The bigger the big ones. I reckon that could potentially help. But yeah, so Um, but yeah, the hiring process.
Yes, sorry. Okay. So it's hard to sort of
Sit down with someone because we all lack we lack working off what's familiar, right? That's why everyone's losing the plot right now we've covered because this is unprecedented and no one's black ever been put in this situation, they don't have anything to compare it to, to know what to do.
And with fluff, it's like, how do I say there's nothing that I can say, Oh, we like this brand, or we're like this company. We're really trying to make our own rules up along the way. And each person that we've brought on to I've really tried to involve them in that process and say that life can be whatever they want it to be, or their role within fluff can be whatever they want it to be. And that, you know, we're trying to break like traditional beauty standards and challenge the industry. So they kind of have to forget everything that they know. And that's hard because it involves or my saying that then I have to shut down a lot of ideas that have worked for other companies and working really well for
Other companies, and there are a lot of quick wins or strategies that fluff probably could employ. But because of athletic mission and where we want to go, we just have to sort of stand strong and be like, no, that's not a bad. That's not what we're gonna do. How much is that?
That's is that listening to your internal feeling of what is right like intuition? Is that how you say it? Yeah, I struggle a lot with knowing when to like run towards or run away from my gut feeling. And I think it's something that when you run your own business, it's still long, sort of journey. Maybe some people are better at listening to that earlier on than I am. But I think it's just something that I'll constantly be challenged by, and kind of go in between. I mean, is it a feeling of knowing your own tool winner? I mean, it's like we believe in what we're doing here. The Daily talk show big media company, isn't a matter of like convincing other people
that are a part of your journey, that part of the business that Yeah, no, this is how it is. And this is what we're doing. Are you convincing staff members? And I think the biggest job I have is actually to convince myself, because when I have that conviction, it's like, no one can really stop me and never just sort of like, Do as I say, but when it becomes hard is when I can't convince myself and I'm unsure and I'm sort of stuck in this limbo. And then I can't do that job of say, storytelling or showing my employees like where we're headed and what it is that I want to achieve. Do you have a sense of what success looks like?
For me, I think what I often have to tell our investors or what we sell them on was that fluff was at minimum of five to seven year plan in terms of getting the traction that we would need before we establish ourselves as a company that will hopefully be
for 2030 years,
I really wanted life to be not unlike locally but also internationally as a brand that sort of challenged industry norms and provided an alternative brand and message for consumers. Whereas every other brand or company tells you to buy more and with more UI more, we sort of want to encourage and buying less the feeling more
was on your site. Lovely, bright looking products.
Always noticing though, like and it's something I think we've been thinking about a bunch is the trademarks and the right reserves. And you know, the beauty industry has so much I was in the shower the other day looking at a product My wife has and I was reading the bio of it, and it was like midway through and they'd like having a trademark on a specific word. And then I saw you guys you've got a bunch of trademarks, yeah, shop casual cosmetics and make under what's the difference between the little r symbol and the TM symbol.
The registered and the trademarks. It's really around usage and classifications of industries where you can use them.
And trademarking is a really interesting one, like, we've been through a lot of cash doing that. And I don't know if I would strongly suggest to startups doing such but the hard thing about coming off the back of Frank body and launching a new business was I sort of had all this insight into what would be required, and to all the work that we were trying to do later on to catch up on and so with fluff, I was like, cool. I'm gonna try and do this from the beginning. So when not kind of running, chasing after our tail later on. But yeah, it can feel very unnecessary when you're going slow. I guess just that's like you saying,
act as if it's going to be the big thing. Yeah. Yeah. I think at the same time that it's it can be a bit of a trap. It's like to speaking to a law firm and getting all of these agreements and
Working out the costs and saying okay, well
Yeah, what is it? What's this really doing? Like I think that sometimes we can fall into the trap of going into it with the posture of this is going to be the biggest thing ever. And especially if you've worked at companies where it's like there's been trademark issues or whatever it is but then there's the fact of like, when you have trademarks you then have to fucking protect them and so then it becomes like every trademark you have is essentially a liability in regards to legal costs that you have what's your opinion Erica on? intellectual property in general?
I have many opinions and I sigh because to gauge your state.
And you know what it's like if people are going to probably try and copy and rip off your shit no matter what even if you have trademarks. And it it's again, there's so many sort of blurry lines like what you can get away
within any industry now, in terms of slightly changing product design and in beauty like formulas, it's there's so much it's very similar. So it's like what is worth trademarking? And what could you find and you know, if you are finding it, you just didn't shoot anyway, it wouldn't matter if you had the trademark or not. And I think that unless it's something like very, very specific to your brand and company,
that you really feel like you need to defend then in some cases, it's probably not worthwhile. I mean, in frankly, experience people sort of using similar names and a lot of similar designs. And there was actually wasn't much we could do about it. And we had to have a conversation internally where it was like we can spend all that time and energy and money on trying to find these or we can put that time energy and money just into strengthening our own brand and business. It sort of feels like the Yeah, there's there's two different approaches.
There's the, you look at, say, the taxi industry and Uber and you can look at playing the position of defending your position versus constantly trying to disrupt yourself so that you don't have to worry about sort of, I guess when you go into the defending position, there can be a sense of stagnation that's happening or that you've arrived at the thing that you're going to do. Whereas we know it's continually evolving. What was the first product that you launched with with fluff?
So we launched without bronzing do it which is this zenyk metal compact.
for you guys. I don't know if you know what a bronzing powder is many guys I still laugh at when they're like, what do I do with this? And I just assume that they know. And so it's just a powder obviously gives you the illusion of a suntan. There's no sparkles in it, but our product or the compact it comes in is really beautiful. So it's weighted it's made of metal. It's refillable and
Next is beautiful mirror by cloud shape. This is the liquid which is smaller. So it's not really like traditional beauty packaging, which is obviously plastic and shape and shit and doesn't look nice and doesn't really look like the shimmer that I used to wear when we were younger. So you did shimma shimma still in shimmer thing
is unfortunately, like getting around looking like I was one of those girls.
And you know, they'll always be a place for that. That's actually the beauty of makeup in this industry is that it's a bad expression if you want to look like a disco ball go crazy. But fluff is more that alternative for sort of wanting to look like yourself and letting your sort of your skin and your freckles and everything show through.
Do you think people are better at doing makeup these days based on YouTube and things like that? Oh yeah, it's it's
Amazing what social media and YouTube has done is really challenged like the professional industry in general, whether you are makeup artists, whether you're a photographer, whether you're a filmmaker, these younger generations, and it's why I'm so fascinated by them have access to so much information. And when they want to learn a new skill, they just look it up on YouTube, and they're able to do so. And it's why we have so many incredible makeup artists online like they are teaching themselves and stuff whereas previously we never had access to that information before. Do you think that the Australian market specifically, I don't know where I heard this, but around Australians tend to hide blemishes or things like that they sort of use more makeup to to mask things where places like Europe or other parts, spend more time in fixing those issues. Have you? Have you heard this and are there any culturally specific things you say that the Australian markets doing? That's different today.
Yeah, it is really different
for each market and that but there's also like subsets with a niche market, you know what I mean? So Australia, people would say that we're very much about like a beauty and natural and just focused on skincare and having that golden glowy fresh face look, but there's a huge community of
consumers who prefer and I guess look up to and like the heavy performative makeup. So there's sort of like
yeah, every market has that and just like in America, where you might say that there might be an overwhelming response on market for brands like Kylie Cosmetics. They also have some incredible like leaders in the natural look. So yeah, but then you have sort of obviously like, kay beauty and then there's, you know, people have like 20 step routines, so it's really
Different and what we've really realised is you can't be forever on and and some people ask fluff to be all of that, like they ask if we're going to release a foundation if we are going to have say a toner or 10 different skincare products, but that's not avid and we really have to, I guess stay true to that. And it's really easy to think that you should be pulled in a certain direction and want to do that kind of stuff. But yeah, I have to remind myself and I feel lucky I have people around me to tell me that I promised I'd never do something. Mm hmm. How much I was just gonna say how much of it is marketing? So for instance, how similar is that? The bronzing product to like, remember Thin Lizzy back in the day the thing there was Oh, is it like how much of this stuff is taking the Thin Lizzy
creating a brand around like, don't use so much simplify it cut out a couple of the bad shit if there's anything that sort of harmful redesign the
packaging so that it's not obnoxious and that stylish like how like what is the process? And how is say, a fluff product different to say the other end of the spectrum which is like a, you know, a TV As Seen On TV product. Yeah. And so we get compared to like the formula to Thin Lizzy a lot and I'm fine with that I take it as a compliment and it is just I think products in general are just usually the product of evolution in terms of us being like cool I like this but how can it be better?
the nail on the head with that thing was
How do you even know about saying I just remember it this way? Just like
when I was director I wouldn't have
Jeff Chow with our team boss and stuff. Yeah YouTube video for Thin Lizzy. The original one is like amazing. And one was like a you know everything.
61 you can use it put it on your knees if you
I mean for us at Bronze Age when we we did a lot of research for almost two years before we launched flat form we're really looking to the most frequently used products and sort of the the base products that a woman or a person who use makeup my life and we really like it boiled down to a lip products like a lip balm, a pattern of sorts and mascara. And of those three products that we were developing the bronzing powder was the first one that was ready that we were happy with. But I always say like out there very similar formulas on the market to fluff. There are other brands who use metal get a landline, you get a landline at you'll join the front door. That's my
so yeah, there's nothing there isn't really that much.
Yet you can draw parallels and I remember
When I went to a beauty expos, and it's just like so much of it is the same. It's just tiny little tweaks that they people make. But that's why I think brand is so much more than just your product or your logo. It's everything coming together. I think it's what is the obviously the first thing that people interact with flashing is either on social or hearing about it from a friend like they are messages resonating because our message is quite different. Because a lot of people have enough makeup as it is but then they're choosing to align their purchases with their values. So you have something like Thin Lizzy that's probably been around and done a lot of sales over its time. And then as someone starting a business you can see that as like there's success or not for for your brand you sort of honed in on it's like what people think when they see it, which can dictate how much you can charge for it. What is the number one thing you're going for when people see the brand fluff, what do you want them to see?
I would like them to say that there's an alternative message in the industry and an alternative you from a company and that it's a brand probably wanting to support, I guess their awareness or just their
view of themselves as opposed to just going straight for their wallet. I think if I wanted to stay just in the game of making money, I probably would have stayed it, Frank, or there's many other things that I could do or go and work at L'Oreal or a big company. But fluff is so much more for me than that. And when we say that the feedback we get from customers about how our conversations are changing the way they see themselves in the industry, like that's what makes us want to keep going and we just want more people to see that. You seem like you're a craftsperson around copy. What some tips for a small business that's wanting to write a copy for their website.
What are the most common things that they get wrong? And what what tips would you have?
I mean, I think it depends what industry you're in and what you're doing. But I think for startups and small companies, I think that
it's a really good idea to everyone's always like, how do I find out what my voice is? But it's like you just said that they don't just start writing. And I would say, if you want to be yourself, just do that. Like why would you employ someone else to be you start with you maybe then get someone to look over it?
Yeah, what about the cliches like Frank body's obviously got a very specific tone. So he foster Blake with goto has a very specific tone, and then I see it peppered around you see other people picking up bits and pieces. How do you steer clear of cliches, and or when the cliches actually serve you
I think cliches and puns were really in for a while. And I think Frank body was sort of the peak of that. And then everyone started using them and doing the same thing. And then once something sort of gets saturated and hits that critical mass, it's no longer cool or no longer funny. And I would think that consumers are very wary and sceptical now of cliches and they know that it's just a marketing strategy. I think for someone like Zoe go to like her voices, how she speaks sort of, anyway to part of her and her life and even her family like that sort of humour. So who she is, and that's why it feels genuine and true. But if someone was quite serious in real life, and then tried to put that across, it doesn't.
It doesn't come across in the same way. And of course, there's there's enough people in the world and consumers that it will resonate with them and those tactics still do work, but we especially with the younger generation,
We're trying to talk to with our brand they're like very sceptical of that and they just want to know straight away like who people are. We can take one of the pods out if it's easier for you to because I think it sounds fine if you pick a better ear
well I'm sorry
in terms of so Frank had the the persona you know, we people sort of dug into the brand understand the founding personalities behind it. I mean for you, do you think it would your advice be to go the persona route so you can take yourself out as a you know, a founder that has to be you know, the one speaking on the brand, I'm just like, I've I've thought about it a lot study my own business of do I put myself out there or do I try and build it beyond me from the get go? What's your advice to found young founders?
Again, it depends on like your product and your service. It's not necessary for all but
For others, I think people really want to know who is behind a business, especially saying the beauty industry because there's so many brands, it's like, Who am I buying this from? Like, what do they care about? What are their values? What do they stand for? am I buying something that's just being dropped from time? Or am I buying something that someone has worked on and like, hold on for years and, and for reasons other than just making themselves rich, which is why I think like founding stories or
personal life context, or lack profiles are more important than ever.
And it just is what differentiates content now,
with all the COVID stuff. I can imagine that if you've got a product business, it can be hard working out, you know, supply chain issues, things like that. Is there a move to make products in Australia, do you think that that's going to change now after the pandemic
Something that we kept asking ourselves in the like first few months of COVID was like, we hope people learn lessons, or we hope there is change. And unfortunately, I feel like it's been a temporary change. But consumers and businesses are sort of just going back to have it was I mean, we're yet to see the full effects of what's going to happen to the economy and businesses and at fluff. We did feel a lot in terms of some of our operations and processes. I think that were possible, like businesses should try and produce locally. But I also understand that if you are producing on mass to meet a demand, you can, there are limitations for doing it here.
And a lot of people when they start businesses sort of set themselves up without thinking about or realising where they going to be in 510 years time and if the decisions I make in the beginning are going to come back to hurt themselves five or 10 years from
down the track in relation to say like Margins and Columns and everything. So yeah, I think it's this balance of being reactive but also proactive and plan
as a founder, mental health, you know, the hustle culture has been a big, big thing that I think is a counter to mental health. What is your approach been to mental health running your own business?
I like to think that I have a nice balance of
wine and therapy and
going for walks and having gone to a really good communities, people to talk to. And I as a founder, though, like something I'm really passionate about in the last probably 12 months is therapy and having someone external to talk to and I don't think that therapy should be something that anyone is ashamed of, or
Feels like easy to do topic. As a founder, you have so much pressure whether you are working on your own whether you have a team of five or a team of 100 and whether you have investors or not, there's just so many things that you're trying to balance as well and with your personal life, and it's so good I think an investment in yourself and your business to have someone to be able to talk to you to get yourself out of your own head because without will for me personally without having a psychologist to meet up with and talk to you, you really can start to the left here and shit. And sometimes that's good to have wings on but other times it's really good to be cold on some stuff and try and think about why you make some of the decisions you do a why you respond to events or situations in specific ways. And so that's been really important for me and then it's about obviously just prioritising and knowing what's important.
And what I need to be at the top of my game and if that means sometimes taking a night off and having one that's so fun and if that means sometimes working really late and cancelling plans with everyone, that's also good.
Yeah, you were talking about being allergic to admin before the show.
I haven't seen a therapist and part of it is the annoyance of admin having to book the shitty and having to go there having to speak to the reception person having to book ahead, all that sort of stuff.
How have you found the therapist? What's the experience been like? What's the biggest takeaway from that? What's the biggest change that you've seen? Personally by doing it?
So I remember the day I was like, I think I do want to see a psychologist and I have like a really good network of luck on official mentors and friends and I can talk to my family so I don't think I was ever short of people.
To talk to but it felt like I was missing, say the right person to talk to in someone that didn't have any emotional investment or connection to my life. And the morning I said, I need to see a psychologist. I got a referral from a friend. And then another counsellor literally walked into our store at fluff and bought our product. And we just happened to ask what she does. And she told us she was a psychologist. So we were like, great, I'll book an appointment. And I if she ever listens to this, she really should give me commission because I've got about 10 or 15 of my friends saying her now and people who are in businesses and everyone says they have benefited Justin.
I think what it does is it shortens your
whoring sorry, it gives space to your response, so your reactions to certain events, whereas something might happen to me and I'd usually either get angry or really emotional or upset. I give myself the time to either way
And speak to her. And then what she's taught myself about my life patterns of behaviour and what I've learned from my family, and from the significant events in my life, like how much that defines me and my response to certain events. And I've been able to now have that sort of awareness and space between it to make sort of more meaningful decisions going forward. So it strengthened like, my personal relationships, my business relationships, and just my relationship with myself. And as a byproduct of that. I think I'm more creative and more probably emotionally intelligent when it comes to making decisions, especially around interactions with other people. I heard I think, yeah,
I was just gonna say I was very, I think, in a similar way to you, where you have the admin involved in getting a mental health plan and just setting up in the same thing with seeing a receptionist and being in a way that
But it's so amazing now and like very I think if we remove the stigma and just think about it as someone to talk to, like, we've covered, I've been do I do all my calls via zoom now and it's great, like I probably feel more comfortable in my home, talking to my psychologist and
I think that, you know, you it's very easy to get a mental health plan. But then there are also counsellors that are probably cheaper than traditional psychologists that are the same price if you were on a mental health plan. So there's just options and just the more you ask around, the more you're amazed at how there are people out there who are like, yep, I'm saying one, and then you just try there is a little bit of work that you have to get through because if you don't gel with a psychologist straightaway, you want to say someone you want to try someone new and not feel like you're stuck to it.
And that's just a bit of time. Do it. Do all those friends that you're afraid go to the same counsellor like is she she got all the secrets on you guys, building
the biggest window to my life.
Yeah 360 reviews
but if you trust in like, obviously her left Judy, with like privacy, I think it's fine. And I always say it's probably the best investment that you can spend, like in terms of yourself and the benefit that it has for the people around you.
It's It's amazing, but it definitely brings up Shay, you've kind of got to go through pain, get to the other side. Yeah, I mean, I think that's part of the it's not always just the admin because you do a lot of admin. It's also an admin.
Oh, Iran. Yeah, you are living and you pay rent and breathe pays rent Jase, I'm gonna lift off.
No, but I mean, like, knowing it's it's my aversion to watching a sad movie at times. I'm like, why do I know what's gonna fucking
taper on blu ray I didn't realise it was a sad film. That was the dumbest thing I've ever done. Like it's a very sad film that we try and we move with packets.
form of pain to go through personal shame. And so obviously it makes sense that we're trying to avoid it at all cost. Yeah. Yeah. But the other option is that it just stays in you. And that feels weird. Yeah, that's not good. Yeah, I heard on a founder podcast that you did you were talking about the sort of a caveat that you've said around, you know, the founder that I am today or co founder I am today is very different to the one when you started, Frank. And I just thought it was it was interesting around as you evolve as you have these experiences as you have these aha moments, as you see the cycles or some of the, you may go to a psychologist and then look back at other things and like, Ah, that was actually like, yeah, this person fucked up here and here, but also like, all these patterns that I have contributed to it. How do you find reconciling old shit? Like do you sit down with people and say, Hey, I realise he
Now that I was a contributor to this, or do you just sort of like let it go and look forward?
I think the biggest reconciliation has to come with yourself, like understanding what you did in it. Say if you have wronged someone or cause someone pain, unintentionally or intentionally, that you'll never be able to control. They're responsible, their forgiveness, like it has to be you first reconciling that. And
I think that, I mean, I hope that I'm a very different business owner in 10 years and in 20 years than I am now, in compared to when I was 25, or 21. And that's just a matter of accepting that we have a lot to learn. And I know that sounds really obvious, but I think a lot of people go about their lives as if they don't have anything more to learn. And that's the biggest mistake I think any founder can make. You know, there is with every person that we made and every decision we make there sort of flow on effects that you know what
Just as the world evolves, we want to kind of operate in it differently. So I think I can look back on decisions I made at Frank and at Willow. And even when I was working for someone else when I first finished uni, and I just have more understanding of the,
the mind frame that I was in, and why I chose to do the things that I do, and now I hope that I'm making some better decisions or more informed decisions, and that in 10 years, it'll be even the next level of that. Yeah, you talk about storytelling. Being a natural storyteller, I think can have a lot of benefits, especially when you're working on brands. When it comes to creating narratives and stories that arrange a life I guess it can be destructive. Tommy says that I create some pretty good stories. Some of the best Yes. Not true.
We don't know yet do
you do create stories and connect dots and do you have any mechanism around when that serves
And when it doesn't?
Yeah, I think it's a challenge. If you are a creative trying to wear, say like business or logistics, boots or a hat, because you sort of feel torn or they feel counterintuitive, but storytelling is like where I started or as a writer or copywriter, and I still enjoy it the most in my job. It's a funny one of my staff challenged me yesterday, she said, When was the last time you wrote something?
And I was like, very like good point. And you know, you can get so caught up in the business side of business that you forget sort of why people are buying from you and why you have a business as usual because you've created a story that people are interested in.
But it is really hard sort of day on day to be creative, to tell a story and then you're on your own.
That's the biggest challenge and especially when you see people repurposing or re crafting the stories that you've created, and it would be foolish for us to think that the story we came up with three years ago for fluff wouldn't need revisiting or wouldn't need tweaking. Do you think investors get that? Do you think like if you tell a story at the start, so this is what it's going to be you have your deck, you do your presentation, and then you evolve? How do you communicate that evolution to investors?
Um, I think that it does involve constant communication and communication is the biggest thing for me in any relationship, whether it's business or personal.
And it sometimes feels really hard when business is slower than you might have expected it to, or the journey that you first sold people on is taking longer to really stand by that story and that vision, but it is you
Usually what investors first go for, they want to speak to you and to the person who created it. Because when you think about it, they have the money. And if there wasn't a store involved, they'd probably just go and do it themselves. Like the product is the easiest part. It's how you sell the product.
So, you know, we spend a lot of one on one time with a few of our investors who are more involved in who probably need that reassurance or to understand a market that they're not that familiar with. And then there's others who just, I think, trust us completely with what we're doing. And the investment spaces really tricky. It depends on what type of investor they are and what experience they have. You mentioned earlier about explaining what fluffy is in the elevator pitch is one that's a bit harder to do for a brand like this. I mean, is that sort of counter to the investment space? How do you navigate if that is the answer?
Yeah and I mean we had an elevator pitch like when we wrote out decks too I had like a 95 page deck a 30 page deck and a full page deck and the thing is that when you first tell someone like I have a beauty brand they go to a few places there are the lack cool you sell it a few markets are cool you're another Instagram brand or unless it's just like a name next right away No. Which is why sort of some people are like what's your point of difference? I have to be like, well, how long have you got like our brand is our difference but if it was that obvious, well, that easy for you to see straightaway. They're probably a lot more people doing it like there's layers and depth which is fluffs whole reason to exist to kind of peel away these layers and to spend time with consumers. We like to say that customer intimacy is fluffs thing, and that's the next evolution of customer experience. But and it's what so many brands don't get right. How do you create depth on day one?
You can, to be honest, if that's like, can you it's very rare that you can make someone fall in love with you on a first date.
that it's cycle they might based on you your exterior and a few little lack charming lines that you have. But then after a while, it will begin to sort of you'll see some cracks, we'll start to get to know you and be like, oh, okay, and that's what fluff is about. It's sort of accepting us as a whole, like, we're not perfect, we'd be lying to you, if we were like, We have flaws. We have imperfections like just as every human does, but we hope that people understand take the good with the bad, and that were evolving and learning just as as consumers and we want them to be around for that journey with us. So you got to know it's just gonna say, I mean, the love thing. It's, it's got so many other elements involved, right? It's like, trust people, seeing enough sort of touch points with the brand where they're being used.
giving them the opportunity to fall in love. You see?
It's a hard one.
And so I'm not gonna get bored like love comes in waves. Mm hmm. It's all very date in. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, yeah. Do you love? Yeah. I love my wife. It's our wedding anniversary tomorrow. So, yeah. Love it.
Shout out. Yeah, it's, it's a funny one. Because when you start out, you want it to be this thing that you think will be in the future. But it's it's how do you go with? Because I could imagine you're taught to get frustrated that you're not two years ahead when you've just started but you've got to start somewhere.
Yes, actually, just my business partner. In frank, I read somewhere she wrote like stress is this idea of knowing where you want to be and then try to reconcile that with where you are now. And I think that's really kind of
And it's when you have that, I think lack vision that is clear. And it's, I mean, I think that fluff has been a really humbling experience for me. And it's probably a business journey that most people or older generations would have experienced. So we were incredibly fortunate with Frank and yes, we did work very hard, but it was a perfect storm of right time, right place, right product. Right price. And that's, it's rare to have that not every business has that. So this is sort of a chance for me to, I guess, go slower and take time to know what it is that I'm doing and who I'm doing it for. And to experience like that growth like not to feel like just one day I wake up and I'm like, how did I get here? What have you learned about yourself doing all the COVID and ISO stuff.
I have learnt that I
Really like routine, and that our office and store provided a routine or a structure for me that I miss. And I have learned that my minimum lachelle my ideal seeing people is just once a fortnight that actually do love being alone. And I love people, but I reckon I can do two weeks without saying anyone get my fix of like a small dinner and then go away on my own for another two weeks. Um, but it has been interesting for me to just think about online and offline and what we rely on and what it is that we sort of want to do going forward. I think that COVID gave everyone the chance to sort of either get off this treadmill that we've all been on and or just slow down the pace completely and taking kind of off. And where where do you see on the treadmill scale?
on you, I'm on it, I'm still on it. Um, but I reckon that I have taken the incline off and yet, sort of
I reckon I'm doing sort of sprint. So going fast for a bit and then slowing down fartlek training.
And so what's what's on the horizon over the next sort of six months? What can people expect from fluff?
So we have a lot of product development for the next six months, which I'm excited about.
We are revisiting a lot of our sort of packaging and branding decisions, because we sort of had that chance to do that. And then try to just, I think we sort of paused a bit of our messaging on social or we're a bit scared to be ourselves like we need to take fluff message ourselves sometimes.
So it's more about just being who we are and not being afraid to say what we think and even doubling down on our transparency in India.
guiding people into fluffs world and what we do and who we are. Because that really is our point of difference. There's not many beauty brands, I think that give you this much of this sort of insight into the people behind the business and the process in the business and invite users to be a part of that journey. Where does listening fit in for you? So listening to consumers or listening to culture and what's happening right now?
Oh, it's everything. And I think that's because a lot of people listen, but not actively. And they're, they're dead on here. What people say, you know, they're in the room. They're just like, yep, you spoke my ears picked up on noise, but I didn't hear like what you were trying to say to me, or the emotion behind it or the needs behind it. So we really, it's a big thing of us always trying to check out ego at the door and just when people pass on constructive or non constructive criticism being like what's going on.
What's behind this? Like? What are they trying to say? What? What position? Are they in? Where are they coming from? And then how can we provide a solution? Or be better each time and just anytime someone passes on feedback for fluff, we try and be like, cool. fairpoint. Like, we will, let's see what we can do in that regard. And I just don't think many brands listen. I mean, it's hard. When you scale. I don't. And, you know, we experienced that at Franklin. We went from like, five of us to like a team of 30. You know, that was hard enough. I can't imagine what it would be like, trying to listen, when you're a company of 300 500,000 employees. It's really difficult. Well, and also when it's really really working, I guess, you know, Frank, selling so much product, and it being this thing that is working from the outset. When do you listen? And then when do you go, I'm not listening to that because over here, we know it's working. And what we're doing is right
Yeah, and because if we, you know, you sort of like anything could change one day. So do we need to be listening and trying to have like a crystal ball to know if something could go wrong, but even when things are going right, that presents itself with a series of problems, especially around growth, and you can sort of lose sight of where you started, or think that there's one reason why it's doing right as opposed to something else. It's tricky, which is why I think it's really good to have a few people sort of in your close circle who can go advantage challenge you who dare to play devil's advocate.
Yeah, devils annoying sometimes I was. I was gonna say,
I love I would love if I could just not listen to anyone, but I know that that's not right. Yeah, yeah.
I feel like I would. If I want my cup. I'd be a fluff guy. I went on, like going on the website. The design, you can still be I could be the main guy.
Would I bet what's sort of the if I'm not a makeup guy and I want to be a bit of a poser if I was to buy one thing, lip what would I buy?
That's a great so I would say that with oil or the face oil. I've got my guy friends onto that or just a hoodie, but I love
I want guys to love fluff not because they're guys who wear makeup but just because they support their friends or their girlfriends wearing fluffle just think it's a cool brand. And you know, with our store we have guys coming in. They're not just sitting on the board boyfriend couch like they're talking to us too. They think our products are cool and they a lot of them want their girlfriends or their friends to wear less makeup and they think that they're beautiful without and so they're like this is a brand that I want to support in terms of their messaging. I had some
concealer or just like powder. When I was younger, I had acne and I really wanted to this was probably 2022. And then I met my wife, and she stayed at my place. And she found when I was at work some, some sort of bronzer or whatever it was. And she was convinced that it wasn't mine. She's like, wouldn't believe.
But not mine.
So, a lots changed since then. And now it's a lot more accepted for men to wear makeup and to care about or to put effort into their appearance. So yeah, what I'm hearing is that I was ahead of the curve. Yeah, that was why as a kid I just had bad skin. I just didn't want to fucking have bad skin. Yeah.
Definitely it was, you know, my skin couldn't breathe. It was Thin Lizzy.
The whole thing about Thin Lizzy is it's just like a anyway, often talk about offer. Erica, thanks for coming on.
Really, they went real hard on the TV stuff. I just think it was a New Zealand company and yeah, they Yeah, yeah. Thank you for coming on on the podcast and yeah pumped to see that I'm definitely gonna get a hoodie. I'll be around Collingwood just I don't know like so is it a calm and you've got your Gertrude, have you got an actual store on Gertrude street? Yes. So we have a store which is obviously been closed during COVID and when she's deciding on the next best steps for us and probably relocating, but I do think sort of the future and sort of for businesses is a mixture of online and offline we wouldn't do traditional wholesaling to your bigger
kind of friends. But having our own stores is a really nice sort of addition and we figure if we have to have an office we may as well have a shop front. Definitely love it. Awesome. Thanks for the chat and Erica to daily talk show if you want to send us in
An email hi at the daily talk show.com Otherwise, we'll see you tomorrow guys have a good one. Take care.