Amy Errett – Founder and CEO of Madison Reed
Kara Goldin: Hi everybody, it’s Kara Goldin from Unstoppable, and I’m super excited to have our next guest here, Amy Errett. Hello, Amy, how are you?
Amy Errett: Hi, Kara. Thank you so much for having me. I’m doing well, thanks.
Kara Goldin: So, Amy is the founder and CEO of an amazing, amazing company based also in San Francisco like Hint is, Madison Reed. And, we are actually recording this at the end of May, both of us having been not together, but in the Bay Area in our shelter in place mode. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while with Amy, and so we decided let’s get on Zoom and do this. And I’m very, very excited to hear how this time has been for Madison Reed.
So Amy, just a little bit of information on Amy, really multifaceted career, has ranged from not only founding and operating companies and obviously the founder and CEO of Madison Reed, which is an omnichannel beauty brand that is disrupting really the hair care, hair color space. She’s also a partner at True Ventures, focusing on investments in consumer and e-commerce startups. And she’s been named one of the Bay Area’s most influential women in business by the San Francisco Business Times.
Today, we’re going to talk about what she’s learned in this industry, but just overall as a disruptor. I always say that I think every one of my guests, it’s not just about being an entrepreneur, but it’s also about just being just a great kind person who is also really trying to do things a little bit differently. So, huge admiration for you, Amy. So welcome, welcome, welcome.
Amy Errett: Thank you.
Kara Goldin: So, let’s start with, so you disrupted the $15 billion hair coloring industry with Madison Reed. Can you tell us what’s inspired you to start this company?
Amy Errett: Yeah. So, again, thank you for having me, I have massive adoration back at you. So, I just want to say and I’m always excited when badass women get to be together, so exciting to be here.
Kara Goldin: Thank you.
Amy Errett: You’re welcome. Yeah, so, I saw much like you did in Hint I think there’s some parallels to our story. You saw something that was personal to you that wasn’t working and you just went ahead and disrupted it, and for me, it was somewhat similar to that, which is, I was so interested in my friends telling me about how often they had to get their hair color and how they were increasingly concerned about what was in the hair color and how going to a salon took a lot of money and time. And then the box on the shelf was terrible and highly toxic. And in fact, the instructions in the box, the first thing it says on the instructions, open a window before you start.
So, I thought, geez, somebody could do better than this. I happened to be a VC at the time, and so I had been funding companies that were disrupting large categories in personal care and direct to consumer, and I just started to literally, I did a screen of how big hair color was, just, it came to my mind because I passed on Dollar Shave Club, which is always … Every great investor has the wall of shame as I call it, the ones that got away, and this was one that got away. My partner and I couldn’t see eye to eye about that, and I was just kept thinking about what Mike was doing at Dollar Shave and I said there must be a women’s analog of online disruptor in a category that nobody is paying attention to, that’s massive and has repetitive use. Because, much like drinking water, coloring your hair is one of those things that, and boy, have we learned that during the pandemic, that that stack ranks above a lot of other things for women.
And so, I just decided to look at the size of the prize, as you said, it was $15 billion, the option, there were no options. There was no competition in the market. And so, initially I thought maybe I would fund somebody to do it. And then as I just got deeper and deeper into it, I just realized it was a massive opportunity. And then, I have the good fortune it’s named after my daughter and that is special because it really, the brand is really about empowerment and the brand is about showing women that they can take back their beauty. We don’t retouch any of her models, right? So, we don’t Photoshop our models, our models are primarily all of our customers, it’s what real women look like versus what the media tries to tell us that women should look like. And so, it’s a metaphor for that.
Kara Goldin: That’s awesome. So it’s rare that a venture capitalist actually goes in this direction. And what was it that made you have that itch? I mean, obviously, you mentioned Dollar Shave and seeing some of these, but I mean, why don’t you think more venture capitalists jump into actually operating and founding companies?
Amy Errett: Oh, well, how flippant should I be?
Kara Goldin: Honest Amy over here.
Amy Errett: Because you have to work really hard. So, I had been a three time entrepreneur before I became a VC, so a lot of people don’t know that, that I had an operating career before, and I really, the truth was I fell into being investor. It wasn’t a lifelong passion and I loved it and I ran Maveron’s office in the Bay Area where it never existed, Seattle-based firm. Howard Schultz was my partner and it was awesome. I did it for six and a half years, but I actually really at the same time had a longing to get back in this crazy thing that we do, which is creating something from nothing, building teams, doing something that we believe has purpose and mission and accomplishing that. And so, I had that itch going on at the same time that I came up with this idea and then told Maveron that I was going to go do this crazy thing.
Kara Goldin: That’s awesome. And how many years now? When did you start?
Amy Errett: Six. And so, yeah, I remember when I first started telling at the conference that you and I met at, that first year that I was going to go do something like this and all of my venture friends who were at the conference were texting me later, I think it’s a really bad idea. I don’t know why you would be doing this. Who cares about hair color? Are you having a midlife crisis? What is going … Everyone was quite concerned that I was going to do something, because I mean, come on, Kara being a venture capitalist is the pinnacle of … Yeah, so anyway.
Kara Goldin: That’s funny. Have you had conversations with them since?
Amy Errett: Only when they’ve asked if they could invest later on and my response has been no, I don’t think so right now. And we’ve been friends, many of them became angels early on, and so I’m poking fun at it. But … Go ahead.
Kara Goldin: No, no, no, no, I was going to say it’s funny it reminds me, so yesterday was our 15th birthday.
Amy Errett: Congratulations.
Kara Goldin: So, I got our first bottle of Hint on the shelf at Whole Foods in San Francisco on California and Franklin Street. And then, I went and had my fourth child at California [inaudible 00:07:48] at two o’clock in the afternoon.
Amy Errett: Hopefully not in the same 15 minutes or.
Kara Goldin: No, but I had to get this done. This was on my to do list real quick. I got to get the product on the shelf.
Amy Errett: And then get this kid out of me.
Kara Goldin: And then go have a baby.
Amy Errett: Congratulation.
Kara Goldin: And I said to the guy at Whole Foods, I was like, by the way, I won’t be available for the rest of the day, but you can call me tomorrow.
Amy Errett: I’ll be back online, yeah.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, and we sold out of the product, but it was funny because I ended up talking to a venture capitalist who’s never invested in Hint, and he just was calling me yesterday just to catch up. And I told him it was our 15th birthday and he had seen me, or he was thinking about how he had actually met me in a store stocking the shelves. He told me that it was a really bad idea, that Hint was a terrible idea. And so, yesterday was the moment where he said, this is one of those where I look at and I think, wow, I thought this was a really bad idea, and now I would say … I’m kicking myself and-
Amy Errett: Yeah, totally.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, looking at you and the people that you have behind you and people who invested early on, and I always tell people, you got to have a great product, but you also have to be the person that people are going to march behind, right?
Amy Errett: Totally.
Kara Goldin: And I think that’s what I see in you as well, that it’s just, you’ve done an amazing job of building this and not only building, like I said, you got to have a great product, but also culture. I hear from people all the time that work with you and have worked with you and they’re just like, Amy is amazing and she’s just a great leader. And so anyway, it’s always nice to hear that, right? Especially when you’re living and breathing it every single day, and you don’t necessarily hear it.
Amy Errett: Yup. When the bubble in your head is, don’t melt down, don’t melt down, but I appreciate you saying it, I feel the same exact way about you. And, I think in general women go at these things in a slightly different way, right? And so, I’m happy for Hint’s success, you deserve it.
Kara Goldin: I love it. So, so you talked a little bit about this, but diving into the chemicals and Madison Reed’s products have the lowest chemical profile that exists in the market today, and that’s amazing. Can you take us through the process? So, you had this idea, right? And how did you go from this idea to ultimately figuring it out? Did you go to your local CVS and start pulling products and reading the ingredients or what was the big epiphany that you had to say, I’m going to go and figure this out?
Amy Errett: So, yes, I was in Whole Foods at the time, speaking of Whole Foods, I wasn’t pregnant and I had a list from my wife, Clare, about what to get in Whole Foods. She’s very specific, she’s a chef, so you can imagine the list that one gets from professional chefs to go into Whole Foods. And I get a text in the middle of me being at the meat department, I’ll never forget it, and it says, could you buy me some hair color? And I’m like, okay, where? And she said, oh, Whole Foods, that’s probably has better for use stuff, so just … I said, “Well, where is it?” She said, “I don’t know. Maybe where the body soap is and stuff like that, the shampoo.”
So I went into that section in Whole Foods and they’re down at the bottom where these boxes that had dust on them and … And I looked and I said, “Well, what color?” And she said, “Oh, the black or the darkest brown they have.” And I said, “With all due respect, I know who colors your hair now, and it’s 300 bucks a pop.” She had gone completely gray in her 20s, and she has very dark hair. So when you’re in that state, you’re coloring your hair all the time. She said, “I’m just worried about what’s in the hair color. And so, I think if I buy it at Whole Foods, maybe it’s better.” Well, I bought a couple of boxes of the darkest brown that I could find. And the next chore on Saturday morning was Walgreens.
And I can’t make this up. It’s like, I’m sure you have had these synchronistic moments in your life, for no apparent reason these things you connect dots later on. And I happened to be walking down the dreaded hair color aisle on my way to pick up prescriptions. And I just look up and it’s like, it looked like a thousand boxes of terrible stuff that all had little yellow stickers of on sale for 7.99. I randomly bought 60, and I just put them in the cart. And they’re like, what are you doing? Then, I went home, opened them all up and it was just startling to me. Nothing’s recyclable, open a window before you start, horrible componentry. The gloves are these big Frankenstein gloves that are slippery. Only one pair, which you’d have to put back on in the shower after you used them. Terrible.
Everything was just bad. And this epiphany to me just came over me, which was the following, this is supposed to make you beautiful, but I’m going to torture you along the way. And it just was this consumer discourse in my mind. And so, I went on a quest, it sounds bizarre. And the quest took me to find people that knew how to make hair color. And they took me to Italy, and then from there, the rest was like, oh geez, we can find people who would believe in the story and we could take these awful things out.
And so, we have this eight free formula that nobody else has no ammonia, no PPD, no phthalates, no resorcinol, no gluten. People ask me all the time, well, why would gluten matter? If you have a celiac problem and you put gluten in any of your products on your external body, you’re going to break out in allergic hops, right?
Kara Goldin: That’s so interesting.
Amy Errett: And 20 some percent of women have some allergic reaction to hair color, classic hair color. And what in salons, they put Sweet N Low in your hair color to stop you from having the reaction. So, they-
Kara Goldin: I definitely couldn’t have that. So, I don’t like-
Amy Errett: Yeah, exactly. But you have it on your head. So, I found these folks, I tell a funny story that I met 13 manufacturers in Italy, the first 11 thought I’d lost my mind. He was an old Italian guys like, sell hair color technology color matching online? Don’t you have a salon? And they just couldn’t … And you want to take this stuff … One guy looked at me and said, “It’s just easier to leave it in. It works.” And I said, no, you don’t understand. And lucky number 12 is still the partner that we have today, and we are their largest customer by far, and he listened and he listened. We’ve become very close personal friends. And he looked at me and he said, “I don’t know why I’m going to say yes to this.” He said, “But there’s two conditions. You have to pay me all upfront 100% and all in Euro.”
And I paused, then I don’t know why I’d said, “Okay.” And I didn’t have the money raised. I just said, okay. And then he came to the Napa Valley last year and we talked, took him and his wife wine tasting. And we were sitting there having a glass of wine. It’s hilarious. And he said in his broken English, “I was scared when you came in,” he said, “But I was really scared when you agreed to those two ridiculous terms I put in front of you.”
And so, yeah, so we made 19 shades initially. I brought back 15 tubes of, I think, 12 colors and convinced a very famous stylist in San Francisco who’s a good friend. Who’s been helpful, a guy by the name of Alex Chases. He’s a high end stylist. I convinced him on a Friday night to color 10 of my friends here with our product as a focus group. And nine of them went perfectly except the one was my best friend from college who was freaking out and screaming at me, “Amy, I’m meeting my husband in 45. You better fix my goddamn hair.”
So right in that moment, I saw the nine that were flipping their hair around and looking gorgeous and the joy and I saw the agony. And I often tell that story honestly, because what matters most in our business is getting her hair to be perfect, it’s personal. And so, I learned in that moment that the risk of screwing that up, the fact that we needed to have great technology to color match, and we needed a call center with colorist, as I call it the belt and suspenders of Madison Reed. It was all about that you only have one shot and it’s personal and yeah.
Kara Goldin: And is that really that … I think that’s the biggest fear, right, for women? That they just, I mean, they don’t have time for the mess, right? And it’s really getting it right.
Amy Errett: Yeah. And this isn’t darts or horseshoes as I tell my folks all the time, this isn’t close enough as good, right? This is, she’s so weird, this funny business, which is, she comes to Madison Reed with all these dreams and aspirations and wants to be in the brand and loves the empowerment, and the no retouching. And she sees herself in it and the great ingredients, and then she gets to this moment where she has to push the buy button and she’s sitting there and she’s thinking, every woman has at least two or three bad hair stories, right?
Any woman that I’ve ever talked to, I have a terrible, not hair story, I have a terrible eyebrows story where somebody dyed my eyebrows and they didn’t go with the rest of my face, right? They were more like your hair color in my eyebrows, and that didn’t go so well. But my point is that, it’s really interesting because we need to do a lot to get her over that fear. I could talk a little bit about the things we have done. I mean, that’s changed as there’s been more efficacy. I know you’re super focused on quality of Hint. And I just think, again, a lot of direct to consumer businesses can, and I don’t mean this in a bad way, they can throw together a product and it is good enough.
Kara Goldin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Amy Errett: In your business, it either has the stuff in it or it doesn’t, and it either tastes good or it doesn’t.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. And you have one bad experience.
Amy Errett: And you’re done.
Kara Goldin: And then you’re done.
Amy Errett: And for us, I’ve now really altered somebody’s confidence. It’s not just their appearance. Hair is confidence. When your hair looks amazing, you feel incredible, when your hair doesn’t look so good, you’re like, let me put a cap on, let me pull it back. And so, I just think that it’s one of those things where we’re really dealing with the psychological safety and security, and I think we need to earn that every single day.
Kara Goldin: So, one thing that I saw you do a few years ago that I thought was brilliant, was your partnership with Ulta and going in there. And then I know you’ve gone since then into your own stores and which I think is incredible. So, how did the relationship with Ulta come about?
Amy Errett: So, again, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than smart. They came to us, and I think that what had happened was they started to see the resonance of the brand, they too, Ulta is a very interesting partner. So they have 1200 stores, a big Ulta.com business. They started to really pay attention to clean, and they started to pay attention to this category because believe it or not in every Ulta they have their own salon. So, they started to be able to see that in the salon, you could never give somebody a box to take home, right? And they also started to see that we have a strategy to be a premium salon quality product that was accessible to consumers.
I think they also probably looked at their numbers of turn of the other brands. And they had a lot of other brands that were less expensive, and what I think were not as good quality sitting on the shelf forever, that dust that I told you about in Whole Foods. And so I think they just looked at that and they’re like, oh my God, hair color is massive, and I will share this statistic with you, we’ve done as much business in Ulta.com during the pandemic with all Ulta stores closed than we did in any week in 1,200 stores.
Kara Goldin: Amazing.
Amy Errett: And it’s because hair color, it’s not just a nice to have, it’s a must. And so, yeah, so I think Ulta saw that and they looked around and they’re saying, we’re moving premium in color cosmetics. We’re moving to premium and skincare with a cleaner ingredient. We don’t have anything in hair color, and so they came to us, we were, my head of product is phenomenal. So she and I went to Chicago to talk to them and I walk into the room and I’m like, “No, we don’t go on anybody else’s shelf.” And they’re like, “We’re Ulta.” And I’m like, “No, no, we’re direct to consumer brand.” And she was the head merchant at Sephora before this, so she’s literally kicking me under the table, like shut up founder.
And we just started the conversation about why I founded the brand, what mattered. And they said, “Listen, let’s just do this. Let’s just do a test.” And so, I said, “Okay, well, how many stores is a test?” And they’re like 450 and I’m like, “450 stores? Okay, we’ll do it.” Now, she starts really kicking me under the table because she’s like, you’ve lost your mind because remember, Kara, the difference was, we were sending people a box, a cardboard eco box as a mailer. We had nothing that was shelf ready. We had no packaging that was shelf ready. We had no planograms, we knew nothing about end caps, nothing, right? She knew about it. So I’m the D to C person, I’m like, yeah, no problem, 450.
We get back in the rental car, and she’s like, “Not only were you a jerk in the beginning, but do you understand what it’s going to take to get 450 stores up in four months?” And, we did it, and yeah. And the sales were incredible, and then six months later, they asked us to go into every store and they told us that they’ve exited all other permanent hair color. So, it’s really just us in Ulta, and that’s been fantastic for us. They’re an amazing partner, really, they’re a partner. And yeah, we’ve had a great relationship, so it’s been terrific.
Kara Goldin: It’s interesting. I was talking to an entrepreneur the other day and telling him, when we first launched, we just really want a trial, right? Because we were in stores, we didn’t have direct to consumer when we started, and so we really put all of our marketing dollars that we had into just getting sampling. And that’s how I view Ulta, it’s like paid sampling, I mean people are going in and especially those people that didn’t have trust to actually buy it online, they’re going in and trying it. And it’s the same stuff in Ulta that you’re selling online.
Amy Errett: And it’s the same stuff we put in your hair and the Color Bars, right? So, then the third leg of the stool that you alluded to was our own stores. And so Ulta was second. I had convinced the board a couple of years ago to give us $75,000 to do a popup in New York city, because I-
Kara Goldin: I remember, you were telling me you were doing that.
Amy Errett: And I said, and they’re like, what? You’re a direct to consumer brand. And I said, no, you have to understand that 50% of the market doesn’t want to do their hair themselves, right? So, we were always going to have a total addressable market problem. And I said, and I think, and this was … I just said, I’d been studying the salon market, and here are the three things that I think it’s ours if we can pull it off, one, it’s there is no technology in the market. So anybody who puts an appointment online or has no CRM, no data about customers, you go to a salon now, Kara. I could tell you, Kara walks in she gets an appointment. She has a relationship, she walks out. That’s it, right? There’s no point of sale data. There’s no understanding. There’s an index card that your stylist probably has in the back with this is-
Kara Goldin: Hopefully.
Amy Errett: Yeah, hopefully, right? So I said there was no technology, one. Two, that the price is way expensive compared to the real SLA of getting someone’s hair colored. So we could disrupt on price, we could disrupt on technology. And number three, there’s never been a stylist that’s going to give you the same color they put on your hair. So, the consumer is effectively, the relationship is with the stylist, the relationship is not with the product. So I said, I think if we can disrupt that and just make it be so that she can do it at home, if she wants, there’s consistency.
Imagine this, imagine if you’re in Las Vegas and your roots are showing, you can’t get to your stylist, but you walk into a Madison Reed, and it’s the same color that you had put on in New York city at Madison Reed, or that you happen to take a box home because you didn’t have the time, it’s the same exact consistency. And so, I said, I think if we do those three things, we could actually blow up the entire salon industry. And so, we have 12, we’re reopened with 20 in the next two weeks. It’s been an interesting path as our online business exploded, having to close down the store. So there’s been the interesting path of that. We’ve opened-
Kara Goldin: And they’re just, they’re temporarily closed, right?
Amy Errett: Oh yeah, yeah. They’re all temporary. And they’re now, Texas reopened four weeks ago, Texas reopens and for retail only pickup. And that’s been unbelievable. I’ve been shocked about people coming in and wanting to buy boxes out of our stores, that’s about 200% up from what kind of retail. We always sold a good amount of retail, but it’s tremendous. And now we’re going to go to services in Texas next week and then bulk roll out the rest of them as shelter in place gets lifted and stuff. We’re already 95% booked next week in Texas.
Kara Goldin: Wow. That’s amazing. And I heard, actually, my son was telling me that I think, in that governor Newsom opened up California, San Francisco hasn’t quite, is that right?
Amy Errett: Yes. So, it’s only Solano County that is opened, Solano and Napa. Sonoma where I am right now is opened technically, but Sonoma’s had a little bit of a recent outbreak, unfortunately, and so, the county decided not to open. But the rest will open in the next week or so.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. It’s such a crazy time, so for sure. So, I’d love to hear a little bit more about what do you see as entrepreneurs, we have so many people, as I mentioned before who are listening to this who are entrepreneurs, but also thinking about being entrepreneurs, we have investors, et cetera and that we need to ultimately share some of this thinking to people they know or investments that they have. What do you think are the key things for entrepreneurs to think about as we are moving out of shelter and place into reality? I mean, you’ve been on the other side, on the venture side and are still on the venture side, but also you’ve run companies and you’ve seen like me, you’ve seen 2009-
Amy Errett: Cycles, yeah.
Kara Goldin: You saw these cycles along the way. I mean, what would you tell people to really focus on?
Amy Errett: Yeah. So the first thing that I tell everybody is cash is king. So, the first place to start is as long as you have cash to live another day, you’re good. And so, the first place I always start to tell people is really take a look at what you think is essential and make sure in this moment you have 24 months of cash. That’s what I really believe. And it’s not because we may need 24 months of cash, but we don’t know. I think we’re in a very different state than we have ever been in, in my work life, right? And it’s not that this isn’t a cycle that’s going to come back, it will come back. It’s just that so many of the norms that we understand about being together and about physical space and about how comfortable am I walking in physical for wall retail and all of those things.
I mean, if you just look at China and what’s happened post Wuhan and what’s happened there, mall traffic is not back up, right? There’s just a lot of things that are going to take time. And so, in the taking time, you need to have the cash to wait out and watch what’s happening. And you should be looking at, as I say to everybody, every single business has at least 15% of stuff that you’re doing that at the end of the day, if you weren’t doing nothing would change. It’s just the way it is. And so, as the going gets good, the filling, as I say, you give people a glass and the water goes right to the top. You give them a smaller glass and the water goes to the top and nothing really changed between the productivity of the two glasses.
And so, I just think that this is a time to take a hard look, it’s unpleasant. I mean, this is just honest. I will share this with you. We’re doing phenomenal and we’re being hypervigilant about every dollar because you cannot ever prepare for the things you don’t know, right? And nobody knew, so many of my friends have gone through hardship. They didn’t deserve this. How could you blame somebody whose business model got screwed up because of COVID-19? I mean, what kind of insight could anybody have? So, I think the cash is king.
Number two, again, I’m not the best person in the world to talk to about B2B or SAS platform stuff, I understand it, but it’s not where I invest. I’m a consumer person. I think understanding who your customer is and what it is that this change has done in their eyes is really critical. And so, we’re doing a ton of focus groups, right? And, we were six years in and we knew our customer, and then all of a sudden, literally … So, I’ll share this with you, in the last 10 weeks, our business, I’m not making this, our business doubled in the last 10 weeks. So, all of a sudden there is a massive number of new customers that have come to us, and they’re not the same people that were always buying.
And so, all of a sudden our mindset is not the same bag of tricks may not work. And so, know the customer. I know this sounds bizarre, but time is your friend. And, this just comes as one gets more mature, I think that means old, Kara, in life. What you start realizing is that you’re in a rush for a lot of things and the lessons learned, or what I call the pattern recognition is really your friend, right? Paying attention, being thoughtful, not rushing to really crazy decisions, because here’s the thing, there was no shelter in place, then in one day there was massive shelter in place. And now 10 weeks later, everyone’s like, is there shelter in place? I don’t think there’s shelter in place. Is it coming back? I’m not sure it’s coming back.
So you feel these waves of things and the way media exists in the world, they happen in five minute increments. And so, it’s hard for us to sort out what’s really true. And so, what I keep telling our folks is time is our friend. In our Color Bars, good example start at retail only, do it for four weeks. Let’s see what happens. Is there demand, oh, demand. Did anybody get sick? No one got sick. Can we control the customer wearing a mask? This is a big thing in our business, we’re not reopening our Color Bars without our team members and our clients wearing mask. Let’s see for four weeks, whether we say to them, you cannot come in the store without a mask, whether we have a riot outside, I don’t know.
So we’ve needed to learn what it’s like to, we need our hygiene in place, right? We need all these things. And so, we’re only going to two chairs next week for the first four weeks, because again, time is … Look, you’re the perfect example. You have built an iconic brand. I know sometimes it doesn’t feel that way when you’re in the thick of it, but you say Hint Water to anybody and they know. So, I’ll let you have that sink in. It’s an iconic brand, it’s 15 years, iconic brands don’t get built in five minutes. They get built because you took the care to build them brick by brick by brick. And sometimes, you lay 20 and 18 fall down. Sometimes you lay 20 and you get lucky and only three fall down.
And so, for us, what I would tell everybody is breathe, there will be life on the other side, don’t make harsh decisions, have plenty of cash to last it out. And I suspect if most people took a 10% rule, they could stop doing 10% of the things they’re doing and it would only get … Smaller groups do better together. I’ve convinced them that.
Kara Goldin: I think that’s so true. I mean, I have my own … I’ll remember this time really well. I was in New York actually the week of March 9th and my book is coming out in October and I was shooting the cover for my book with this photographer, and I was like, I’ve got to get it done, I’m going to screw up the deadlines. And so, it was on March 13th and I kept thinking, it was Friday, March 13th, and I kept thinking that he was going to cancel on me and I called him the day before. And I said, “Hey, are you going to cancel?” And he said, “No, no, no, we’re going to do it. And then I’m going to get out of town.” Because New York was really [crosstalk 00:35:35]-
Amy Errett: Yeah totally.
Kara Goldin: That week. I mean, it was interesting. And I remember going back to my office and there was just a different feeling in the office than what was in San Francisco. And I was like, hey, what’s going on? And somebody said to me, and we have about 15 people that work in our office in New York, and one of the guys that works in supply chain said, “I’m just a little nervous. I’m on the subway. I love my job. I love coming here, but I’m starting to really feel I’m making … I’m not sure I’m making the right decisions to actually get here to work.” And I’m like, “Is it about Hint?” “No, no, no, love it here. It’s all great.”
And so we made the decision on March 12th to actually shut down our office in New York before anything else. And I had to explain it to people in San Francisco what I was feeling, I was saying, it’s just different out here and I can’t even give you the visual. I remember going to my local diner right next door and Bloomberg was in there, and he was like, almost one of the only people in the diner, he was just sitting there and I mean, it was just weird that no one was there. And anyway, I remember coming back, going into Target store. One of my kids said, hey, can you stop at target on the way home from the airport on March 13th. And, I walked in and our shelves were bare in Target and the auto replenishment system wasn’t working properly and they were out of stock on our product.
And so I called our head of sales and he’s like, I don’t know. I mean, it’s this auto replenishment. I don’t know what to say. I went into Mollie Stone’s and Whole Foods, a few other stores, same thing. We were almost out of stock. And so, I went into OverDrive that weekend and I have not really been involved in the day to day sales of Hint in a few years. And I went into OverDrive trying to figure out, not only what my customer was doing, they were loading up and I could see it, whether they shopped at Target or Whole Foods or any of these other stores. But I also was thinking about how stressful this was for our buyers, right? And how they were out, and how annoying would it be for me as a supplier to go to them and say, “Ah, can you fix this problem about getting our product in stock?”
Obviously that was a huge issue, but I said instead, can I just send a truckload in on Monday morning and we’ll figure out the invoicing later, but I just want to fix this problem. And so, that was like that, that weekend for us. And obviously we’re an essential product, so we have other things that we have to do in order to be an essential product and we use fruit in our product too. So, we’re regulated by the FDA and et cetera, et cetera. So that was a whole, we had done just a lot of things right in terms of, we don’t have any people in the actual bottling facility when our products are getting filled and all these things. So, we had done a lot of things right there.
But then I came back to the people in San Francisco and we started thinking, okay, is it actually safe for our teams to go out and be in these doors? And, that’s when my scrappiness and I heard a lot of that in you too, where it was just like, I was just thinking, I was putting myself back in their shoes. Not that I didn’t normally do that, but I mean, I was really willing. And through this whole thing, I’ve been helping out the sales team in Marin County and jumping in, but I think it’s really, those are the entrepreneurs that ultimately don’t forget how to actually do every single job, which is what I think you very clearly in your description were describing that as well.
Amy Errett: Yeah, we make our hair color in the Lombardy region of Italy, so we had to get pretty scrappy. So, it’s been an interesting thing and it’s almost like muscle memory, right? It just comes back to you.
Kara Goldin: That’s crazy. So, this year, what are you thinking about moving forward? I mean, what is the exciting thing for Madison Reed and for Amy this year?
Amy Errett: Well, lots of different things. You’ll see a number of new stores, so we’ll open with 20, we closed with 12. You’ll see us introducing a new set of products that are different and meaning all in hair color, but some different products. The company doubled, and so we’re now in a very different stage of profitability and massive growth and investing in infrastructure now, because as I say to everybody, one cannot know what you don’t have until it’s too late to know you didn’t have it. Yeah, so we’re supply chain and bringing a factory to the US and blah, blah, blah. So, lots of fun stuff.
Look, I’m blessed, and so I’m very grateful. I’m humbled by how hard this has been for a lot of people, our team members, and thank goodness no one has gotten sick, but the anxiety of kids at home and kids trying to go to school and people managing time. I mean, it’s unprecedented. I’m excited to get back to life, although I think life’s going to be different for a while, but the core issue is that love always wins. The core issue is that taking care of our customers is always the core pinnacle thing. And if you take care of your team members, the rest works out. So, we’re just two X bigger, but the same humble folks, just trying to get some hair color to people.
Kara Goldin: I love it. So, on a different topic, favorite flavor of Hint?
Amy Errett: Pineapple [inaudible 00:42:32].
Kara Goldin: Right, oh, I love the pineapple too, it’s awesome. What makes you unstoppable? The question of the hour.
Amy Errett: I am not flexible, I am resilient and agile.
Kara Goldin: I love it. I love it, it’s awesome. So, where do people find you Amy? Obviously, madisonreed.com, but also on social?
Amy Errett: Their social is just super easy, it’s @Amyerrett, so one word Amy Errett, capital A, and you can just find me on Facebook social. I have a public email which is [email protected] I always welcome feedback from customers, that’s how we stay on top of our game, so keep it coming.
Kara Goldin: I love it. I love it, love it. So, take care.
Amy Errett: Thank you, you too.
Kara Goldin: Thank you so much for coming on and I love it, love it, and Madison Reed and Amy Errett.
Amy Errett: Thank you, Kara. Okay, love you. Take care, sweetie.
Kara Goldin: You too. Have a great afternoon.
Amy Errett: Thanks, you too, bye.
Kara Goldin: Okay. Bye, bye.
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