On this podcast, we talk about how Lindsey’s personal solution became a business, transitioning into retail early on, why OWL Venice chooses to work with influencers who genuinely love their brand, and so much more!
The foundation of OWL Venice is founder, Lindsey Erin’s, personal journey to health. When her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, Lindsey committed to living a healthier lifestyle.
It was this event that began her research on wellness, nutrition, and intuitive eating, and would eventually lead to the creation of OWL Venice.
Initially, Lindsey began experimenting with an organic, plant-based diet that limited meat and processed foods, and found that she was still experiencing constant allergy symptoms, digestive issues, and acne.
In an attempt to resolve these issues, Lindsey began a diet geared to treat GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) which incorporated bone broth as a healing agent.
After struggling to find pre-made broth that was void of common allergens, Lindsey began making her own bone broth with locally-sourced bones and an array of herbs and veggies.
Through months of testing and development, she created a broth recipe that tasted more like a tea than a traditional stock, OWL’s signature flagship product.
OWL currently offers chicken, turkey, beef, bison, and vegan mineral Broth Elixirs that are sold throughout LA county, a 4, 6, and 8 day Reset cleanse program to heal and seal the gut, and an organic, oil-based skincare line.
OWL also offers health coaching services with flexible sessions to fit your schedule and budget.
As more people discover the benefits of using OWL products, Lindsey & the OWL family will continue innovating, exploring, and sharing new ways to live better with those looking to transform their health and overall wellness.
Along with OWL’s mission to heal the body, OWL is also committed to healing the environment.
This is why they maintain a minimal waste policy that requires the mylkshakes are made-to-order and the broths are pressure canned.
All of OWL’s goods are packaged in glass, which is not only 100% recyclable, it is free of chemicals that could negatively impact the flavor and aroma of their products.
In This Conversation We Discuss:
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With Ecommerce, the nature of online technologies is always changing and you have to keep up.
Welcome to Honest Ecommerce, a podcast dedicated to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. And I believe running a direct-to-consumer brand does not have to be complicated or a guessing game.
On this podcast, we interview founders and experts who are putting in the work and creating real results.
I also share my own insights from running our top Shopify consultancy, Electric Eye. We cut the fluff in favor of facts to help you grow your Ecommerce business.
Let's get on with the show.
Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of Honest Ecommerce. I'm your host, Chase Clymer.
And today we're welcoming on the show, Lindsey Wilson, the founder and CEO of OWL Venice, a certified health coach and new mom. Welcome to the show, Lindsay.
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Absolutely. It's gonna be a great conversation. We've been trying to do this for quite some time.
So I know when this was originally scheduled about a year ago, you were a new mom. So I'm assuming that probably struck you a little often.
Yeah. I'm actually about to have my second baby.
Oh! Well, congratulations on that.
Other than the new children, let's dive in a little bit about OWL Venice. This is the company that you have been working for here.
What are the types of products that you guys are bringing to market over there?
We are most well known for our bone broth elixirs and our gut reset program. And then we also have a line of supplements, skincare, and home goods.
Absolutely. So where did the idea to get into building a company founded around all these health supplements and broth come from?
It really started with the broth. I was struggling with my own digestive issues and I couldn't find any broth on the market that did not have garlic and onions. And I was eliminating those from my diet at the time, so I started making my own.
I also didn't love the taste of bone broth. So I started layering in a lot of herbs, vegetables, roots, and created what is now known as our "bone broth elixirs". And they sip more like a tea than your regular broth.
Absolutely. And about what time, what year was it when you were experimenting with these mostly just for your personal needs?
Yeah, initially, it was just for my personal needs. And that started in 2015?
Absolutely, then when did you get the idea to "Maybe there's a market here and maybe I could start to produce products around this?"
Well, I had a friend who had a friend who was struggling with digestive issues as well. And he was seeing a colon doctor, and they recommended that he drink bone broth. So she asked me to make some for him and told me he would pay me. So I made a big batch.
And I put up a post on Facebook, just letting people know I had some extra jars and I got 100 orders in a couple days after this Facebook post. So at that point I went and bought a couple of big stock pots and just got started.
And then the hustle was born.
Yeah. Yeah, it's pretty much grown organically since.
When did you realize that this is going to become a full-time job?
For me, it pretty quickly became a full-time job for me. And I was “private cheffing” at the time. So I really supplemented my income with the freelance work that I was doing, and then worked on the business pretty much full-time from the start.
Absolutely. And how were you... When you first launched the business, was it mostly... Obviously, word of mouth. Facebook helped you get off the ground there.
When did you shift into some more traditional direct-to-consumer models and build out the website and that whole part of the business?
That's really where we had an advantage because I had been doing freelance work with graphic design, web design, photography, all that stuff. So I think I put up the post in maybe like November, December of 2015.
And by February of 2016, I launched the website so there was a couple months that I relied solely on Facebook posts for sales and then after a couple of months, I got the website.
Now I know that there's a lot of entrepreneurs out there and I would say the world these days versus 7 years ago when you were launching this on Facebook is a completely different entity then versus now.
When you were posting on Facebook, I'm sure this was a lot of organic reach, a lot of friends and family.
Was there any tactic or growth strategy that you were doing to start looking beyond that initial group of clientele for the first initial larger batches as you were building the business?
Sure. First, it was all organic. I was mostly posting in women's Facebook groups that were local to LA. So my consumer base was mostly like 25 to 55 year old women in LA that were interested in health, in various women's groups.
So after that, when it went online, that was really just like an easier way to facilitate orders. But it was still that same demographic, and I moved into retail and doing wholesale pretty quickly.
Once I got going enough to have enough customers where I had some income coming in consistently, then I started taking the product to stores.
Within a year of starting, I was in retail locations. So that happened pretty quickly. And the first way we really started doing any other marketing really, besides word of mouth or having the product out there on shelves was we did influencer partnerships on social media.
So we've gifted free products to local influencers --again, we work with mostly local LA women-- gave them a product, so [they] tried it and they posted about us.
And that really is what got us started online, picking up sales.
You're not the first to be on the podcast that mentioned that you found your customer demographic, what that avatar was, and then you found places online that they already existed to get the word out around your product.
And I just wanted to highlight that part of your story just for all of our listeners. That is a great piece of advice to pick up on if you're, if you're struggling with getting those initial sales, find out where your customers already are and what commonalities that they have.
And it's a fantastic jumping off point to get new customers and feedback about your product.
Our customers, in the beginning, were super important to how our product developed and the different flavors and the packaging and all of that because we were in stores, demoing products, giving out samples and gauging customer reactions and started doing farmers markets. So the first couple years were really like...
Getting in stores was just a way for us to connect with our customers and learn what they wanted and what they liked about the product.
Now looking back on that journey, is there any sort of experience...
Or maybe you think you consider it as a mistake or a learning curve, something that you can point out to our listeners and [e] like, "You know what, I made this mistake for you and let you learn from that."
I don't know if I made any mistakes again. Every mistake is a learning opportunity. And mistakes are just bound to happen and will happen at every stage.
And as long as you take those experiences and grow from them and use them as learning opportunities.
And I wouldn't say that they're really mistakes because they get you to where you are. But I will say the way that I got started in the beginning was pretty much just like jumping headfirst in and going for it with no idea what I was doing.
I didn't have any background in working in a commercial kitchen or like what a CPG company even was. I didn't even know what CPG meant when I was starting a CPG brand.
So there were tons of things that I learned along the way about certifications I needed, and labeling requirements, and food safety and sanitation...
It doesn't even skim the surface of what I've learned in the last 6 years about the wellness industry and the food industry, launching a CPG brand.
So again, as you mentioned, the landscape has really changed with online and how you're able to reach new customers on Facebook or social media like we were 6 - 7 years ago.
So I think if I were to do it again, now, I would do it a lot differently. And I would do more research,talk to people that had done this before, maybe diving in headfirst, having a budget, having a business plan.
I didn't start out with any of those basic foundational things that I think now it would be very difficult to grow the way we did in the current landscape today.
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Well, let's kind of fast forward a bit in the story. And now I'm assuming...
You alluded to it. Things are a little bit different now than they were when you were first getting started.
Is there anything that you can share along how you're still reaching out and acquiring new customers or keeping your current customers engaged?
Yeah, so since the landscape has changed, and it's a lot harder to reach people organically. We're also not out there in person like we were in the beginning and we're not at store sampling.
And COVID completely changed the way we've been able to act with our customer, interact with our customers in a personal capacity.
We have moved to doing a lot of online marketing. And that just within the last 3 years is when we really started doing more with paid advertising on Instagram, on Facebook, on Google...
Google's been more recent for us. In the beginning we relied a lot on retargeting existing customers using those channels. Now it's a lot harder for us to reach our recurring customers. So we do a lot more with our cold audiences and reaching out to cold audiences.
We still do a lot of influencer partnerships and brand partnerships. But there's a lot less unpaid opportunities. A lot more...
We're doing a lot more paid partnerships which is tricky because for us, the way that we got started was really working with people that authentically loved our brand and wanted to talk about it.
And we still do that but it's a lot more difficult to navigate that and ensure that you're only working with people that really love your brand, when there's so many opportunities and just so many different paid opportunities.
For us, we really try to give people our products and have them try it and make sure they like it before we engage in a paid partnership, but not every person that we come across will do that. So I don't know. It's just...
I think, with Ecommerce, the nature of online technology is always changing and you have to keep up. Algorithms are always changing.
And next year, we probably will have a totally different strategy than we have in place right now.
It is always having to try new things, do new things and really just staying in touch with who your customer is, what your product is, what your values are...
It's important as you continue to navigate and test and try new training methods.
Absolutely. We talked so much about this amazing broth that you have brought to market. And now if I want to check it out, where do I go?
Our broth is available online. Owlvenice.com. And then if you're in California, we also sell it to over 50 retailers in California such as Erewhon, Mother's Market, Lazy Acres, Jimbo's... So yeah. Thank you.
Awesome. Lindsey, thank you so much for coming on the show today.
Yeah, thank you for having me.
I cannot thank our guests enough for coming on the show and sharing their journey and knowledge with us today. We've got a lot to think about and potentially add to our businesses. Links and more information will be available in the show notes as well.
If anything in this podcast resonated with you and your business, feel free to reach out and learn more at electriceye.io/connect. Also, make sure you subscribe and leave an amazing review. Thank you!