Dan Demsky: CEO & Co-founder of Unbound Merino

Episode 356

I am thrilled to have Dan Demsky, CEO & Co-founder of Unbound Merino, with us here today. Unbound Merino is a versatile, high performance & sustainable clothing line for men and women made from Merino wool, “nature’s miracle fabric” that holds the capabilities to insulate heat when it’s cold and breathe comfortably when it’s warm. Dan started Unbound Merino from a small crowdfunding campaign and has created an international brand worn by travelers, entrepreneurs and minimalists across the globe. He has taken an idea that he was passionate about and turned it into not only a reality but an exciting business. I can’t wait to hear more about Dan’s entrepreneurial journey and story. His story building this incredible brand is one that you won’t want to miss! On this episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow.

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be I want to be, you just want to make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone and welcome to the Kara Goldin show. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hi, everyone, it’s Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin show. And I am so excited to have my next guest. Here we have Dan Demsky, who is the co founder and CEO of unbound Merino. And I’m thrilled to have him here to talk to us not only about unbound Merino and what they’re doing all the cool stuff that they are doing in this incredible versatile, high performance sustainable clothing line for men and women made from soft merino wool. We’ll talk a little bit more about that, but also just everything that he’s done to really stand apart. One of the things that I remember when he was first getting started with the small crowdfunding campaign that I remember, he had done, I want to talk about that. And he’s also created an incredible virtual Nomad type of company that we’re gonna get into that, too. So without further ado, welcome, Dan. Hey, how are you? Good, good. Very excited to have you here.

Dan Demsky 1:46
Well, it’s great to be here. So thanks for having me. Very excited.

Kara Goldin 1:49
So I’d love for you to share a little bit about first of all about unbound Marino, like, let’s talk about that. How did this idea come about?

Dan Demsky 1:58
Well, you know, I, I’ve been an entrepreneur, my entire, I guess, adult life, you know, ever since I never finished post secondary school, I left to start my first business. And we grew that a little bit. And I felt like I was a prisoner in my own company that had built even though we grew quite a bit, and we had years of success. I felt like I had to work these 1617 hour days. And I just didn’t see an end in sight. And I just felt tired. And I felt like this is not the life I want to live. So I felt like I wanted to create something new. And I knew that I wanted to, I wish I had a product that I could sell to customers. But just wanting to sell product to customers is not enough. Like you can’t just go start a business and have it work. I was just I couldn’t come up with the idea. I would sit there with my now business partners who are best friends. And at least once every one to two weeks, we had just come up with ideas. We have a scrap of paper, we’d say we could, you know, we’d have all these ideas. Some of them are terrible, actually, most are terrible. But we just kept trying. And it wasn’t until I had my own need to pack late, I was just like so so annoyed with the burden of luggage. When I traveled, they thought, You know what I need to figure out how to pack light and carry just to carry on no matter where I’m going. And I was traveling all over the world. And I did read a Reddit post where someone said when I travel, I wear merino wool T shirts, because they’re antibacterial, and they’re odor resistant. So I could pack two or three T shirts instead of packing 10 to 14 If I’m going away for a couple of weeks, because I could rewear them. And even if I can’t hit a laundromat, they’ll stay clean and fresh every day. And I thought, well that sounds awesome. I gotta go find some merino wool T shirts. And I found so and I fell in love with the material because the material performed as promised. But when I didn’t love is the brands that were out there not because they weren’t great good brands, they were great brands. But the clothing was made for going like on a trip like outdoors, you know the babies you’re going hiking or Portage being or you know, maybe a little bit more of an active wear look with or with reflective logo. And I found that when my travels, I did go on hikes. But I also went to nice cocktail bars or a nice restaurant. So I need I was hoping to find a line of clothing that had this miracle fabric, but had the versatility to do like the different things that I did when I traveled and I couldn’t find it. So that was it. I’m like, I want this to exist, and it doesn’t exist. And I’ve been looking to start something I’m like, I’m going to make this and this is gonna go one of two ways. Either there’s gonna be a lot of people out there that are just like me that travel around and this would be a huge problem solving thing for them. Or there aren’t, but either way, I’ll scratch that itch. I’ll see if this works. And worst case scenarios it doesn’t work. I’ll have a box of prototype T shirts that I wanted to exist anyway. And that’s a win for me. So we did it. We scraped together a crowdfunding campaign because that was the only way that we could figure out how to bring this to market. And turns out there were a lot of people just like me, you know, we, we tried to sell $30,000 worth of clothing and our first crowdfunding campaign in that first month, and we ended up selling 400,000. And, and since then has been growing, and now we’re selling in over 100 countries around the world.

Kara Goldin 5:28
That’s, that’s wild. So merino wool, I think a lot of people hear the word wool, and they’re like, oh, that’s going to be very itchy. So what? Just describe it to people how it’s different than than that because it clearly is not itchy?

Dan Demsky 5:46
Well, that’s what I thought to have a wolf, do you mean like a beanie? Or a big heavy scarf? Like? How could that how’s that comfortable clothing that you can wear, you know, out for a walk. But the Merino fiber is super fine. So if you the superfine merino wool garments feel closer to like a cotton t shirt than it does to like a wool sweater. So, you know, it’s shocking to some people, but it’s really light. It’s It’s softer than cotton, it is more temperature regulating. So it’s like the most comfortable t shirt. So everywhere, which is weird when you when you put it on, you’re like, This is wool. That’s strange.

Kara Goldin 6:23
Yeah. And do you have to describe that is that probably one of the biggest hurdles, when people to actually buying the product? Is the education?

Dan Demsky 6:33
Not so much. I mean, when you see it, you can tell what it is. Yeah, you know, you look at people wearing a t shirt like this looks like a, it looks like a nice t shirt. It doesn’t look like well, it doesn’t look fuzzy doesn’t look itchy. We do have that language to tell people like it’s not it’s not. It’s not I think people get it. And I think, you know, there are a lot of great brands that do merino wool for different purposes. And I think as more people are discovering just how great of a fabric it is like the there’s a word of mouth aspect of people discovering this. And I found when we first started this business, there are basically just two camps of people. There are people who already knew and love merino wool, and they loved it. They had tons of Merino wool, like oh, yeah, it’s all I buy, and other people who didn’t know it existed. And I think the I think the camps are people who know and love merino wool, but it’s really expanding rapidly over the years go by.

Kara Goldin 7:29
It’s very cool. So it’s been very much word of mouth when your company and the growth and people seeing you wearing the product. And then other people are saying, Hey, what is that shirts and and so do you find like, that’s really how you got the word out about the product?

Dan Demsky 7:47
Well, we’re good at marketing, so that that helps, right, but the word of mouth is far more powerful than even our best marketing. And I would say we’re pretty good at it. I always noticed this every year because a lot of people in the holiday season, obviously, they’re doing a lot of shopping and a lot of gift giving. And in my previous businesses, I would always feel this low is business come end of January into February. But in this business is different, we get this huge uptick. And what we’ve realized is there’s so much gift giving, and there’s so much there’s so much consumerism through the holiday season that people buy a lot of our stuff. And when they try it, and they see that it works, and they go on that trip with it. They start telling their friends about it. So every single, you know, every single time at this time of year, right in January to February, there’s a swell of new people coming in. And we’re feel that sort of word about so word of mouth has been the biggest thing for us beyond our marketing, because, you know, it’s not a cheap product. But it really, really is an unbelievable product, as far as its performance goes. Right? So people feel the need they want to justify to their friends, if you go and buy the shirt, and you’re like this shirt has changed literally changed the way I travel and pack it No, I’ll never check luggage again. People like to share that story with their friends and say like when you’re traveling, you have to try this you have to try this is there’s a good story in it. So word of mouth has been huge for us.

Kara Goldin 9:11
That’s huge. And how many products did you actually start with?

Dan Demsky 9:15
We started with just two. So we had two styles of T shirts. And each t shirt had two colors. And we had a pair of boxer briefs and a pair of socks. And that was it. That’s wild. Yeah. Now we’ve expanded a lot you know, we have I don’t know exactly how many different products off top my head but 400 SKUs you know, for the different sizes, which is for a clothing brand that’s still small, but you know, it’s a drastically larger than when we started but it was what we had to start with. It was all built on this premise of what are the items of clothing that you could put in your luggage that would reduce the most amount of other stuff. So how do you get it from that luggage that you need to check to a carry on and T shirts was the biggest one, because 14 T shirts, that’s a lot of space that will fill up a whole carry on. But three T shirts won’t. And you need to have room for your pants and your underwear and everything else. So the whole premise was how could we reduce the most amount of stuff? How could we have the most versatile stuff, but keeping it into that carry on, and serving people who travel so they could travel well and travel late, but have everything they need to not feel like they don’t have enough stuff?

Kara Goldin 10:28
So what were you doing exactly? Before you were talking about? Do you want to share a little bit about that? I mean, what knowledge did you have about direct to consumer and prior to launching a physical goods company?

Dan Demsky 10:42
Well, I had a video production agency, and we worked with large brands. So we had some video production and photography abilities, which did help us in our marketing, but not so much. I mean, as far as direct consumer, I cut my teeth a little bit with some of my friends, companies helping them out. So I became a partner in a in a vinyl skins company and the vinyl skins, its skins that you’d put on smartphones, laptops, gaming consoles, and I was not the founder of that, but it became a partner to help build it and then got bought out. And that was a really, really epic journey to sort of get a little bit of an understanding of the world of E commerce and that company just absolutely took off. And I started a funky sock company, which didn’t really get it off the ground, we had a little bit of traction at first, but we ended up doing more wholesale. So I was doing a little bit of product stuff. But this was completely new to me and getting into the apparel business. I had no business getting into this business, I had no idea what I was doing. Like there’s a way to do things. And we didn’t do any of that. So there’s you know, when you when you produce clothing, you have a tech pack and you make paper patterns. And there’s it’s a it’s a method of how you work with manufacturers to get the clothing done. What we did is we went to stores we liked like h&m and Zara gap, and we bought shirts. And we’re like, you know, me and my two business partners, we all wear a size medium, but we all have different body types. So, Andrew, he’s the fit, athletic body guy in the company. Dima was the lanky one. And at the time, I was about 20 pounds heavier, and it was not, you know, it wasn’t muscle mass. So it’s just you know, it was a spare tire. But we all were mediums. So we had, we had three different body types. And we went on to the stores and we each get a medium t shirt from let’s say h&m, and we’d all try it on. And we’d look at it and say like, what, you know what, the sleeves look good on all of us as legacies. But the body doesn’t really fit me well, if it’s Android, but like, we like the sleeves. So we bought that shirt. And we stapled a post it note and said the sleeves on this one we like. And then we went to gap or like we liked the neck and we staple the post know that. And we shipped it off to a manufacturer and we had them Frankenstein together our first prototype, which fit awful. And we would then go back and forth with them and say can you make the sleeves a little bit tighter make the body a little bit less boxy, just like explaining it until we kept getting our prototype back by tell if it was good. And that was it. That was how we made our first prototype. That’s probably the most inefficient and not industry standard way of doing what we do. But it got us there. And that’s how we started. And as we started to grow and sell, we were able to figure out, oh, this is how things are supposed to be done. So I wouldn’t have done it differently. But we didn’t need to go to like fashion school to learn how things are done. We just we just we just got moving and it worked.

Kara Goldin 13:43
Yeah, well, I think you spoke about you know, you had worked with other startups and other industries i As I’ve always said, like the biggest competition for any company out there are the people that are willing to go and take the risk and do the crazy stuff, as you just described, that typically come from outside of an industry that have an idea. And they’re just gonna go figure it out, right? They just, yeah, throw it

Dan Demsky 14:10
out. But you have to have the you have to have the drive to think that you can do something and almost sometimes being naive helps in our in our situation. We were naive, getting into the clothing business to a lot of people I know who are in the clothing industry, when they hear this story. They’re thinking it’s a miracle that you made it like because you had no idea what you’re doing. But the thing that when I look back on my experience that really worked for us, and the thing that made me confident that we should go through this idea was the feeling of at the time it was right. I told you about the vital skins company. My friend started that business and that’s a very, very big company now, but he started when he someone commented on his pa these Beats by Dre headphones and He, this was what Beats by Dre first came out, they were the coolest thing in the world that he was on his university campus. And he just spent $400 on these headphones. And he thought they were so cool. And when he was on his campus, he knows everyone had the same headphones. And he thought, oh my god, everyone has these. And he didn’t think they were so cool anymore. So he had a pocket knife and hockey tape. And he cut the hockey tape. And he perfectly skinned these headphones. So they looked entirely matte black. And someone went up, and they looked really cool. Like he did a perfect job. And someone went up to him and said, Wow, were those are Beats by Dre headphones. So yeah, he’s like, where do you get the skin? For those? He’s like skin. What are you talking about? He’s like, Yeah, is that like a vinyl skin? And he didn’t even know what skins were that he discovered. Wow, there are companies that sell these. So he went online and he bought a skin for his phone, he bought a skin a different skins for his Beats by Dre headphones. And he thought they were terrible. These like, how are these so bad if I made ones that were so good with hockey tape, and a pocket knife, so he started buying for all the companies that made skins and you realize everyone that sells skins does a terribly, because like I got to start a business. And so he did it. And now it’s the biggest in the world that what he does. And my other friends, they had a similar story with hair extensions, when they had a terrible experience buying hair extensions for their destination wedding. My friends, now wife wanted to have hair extensions, the customer service of inventory, the whole process of buying them online, were terrible. So just thought we could do this, but have great stock and great selection and great customer service, we could do this in a way that other people aren’t doing it. And that became a very successful company. So the pattern I saw with those two was like everyone else was doing it poorly or not in the way that they wanted it to be done. So when I had that experience with the merino wool T shirts, that was the the green light for me, it’s like I felt like this is just like D brand skins, or Luxy Hair. It’s that moment where I’m like, no people aren’t doing it the way I want it to be done. No one’s shipping, you know, versatile, simple, breathable T shirts that I can wear out to a cocktail bar, but also on that hike, I got to do it. And I’ve had this sense of urgency of like, I need to do it, I need to do it now. It was the timing window. So I think that’s the one thing that worked out the best for us is, is is just in that moment, we were able to solve that problem. And we went right for it.

Kara Goldin 17:30
Yeah. And I you’re touching on this, but I think that when you actually have all the right experience, you’ve learned the way that things are done. And you won’t do things out there other ways. Right? So and fair. And that is, you know, that’s why innovation is so hard within companies, because you’re you’re just you’re almost brainwashed into thinking that things are done that way when I developed tent, nobody was doing a water with fruit net, without putting preservatives in the product. They were putting sugar and lots of other stuff in it. But I didn’t want to use preservatives and the product. So I kept, you know, looking at other things like coffee and things that we’re not using preservatives. And could I use heat. In order to get that same kind of feel for a preservative I had no idea what I was doing. I was in direct to consumer for years at America Online and media, CNN, like no experience and beverage, but I wanted this product. And so I just kept plugging away. And today. Hint is still the largest unsweetened flavored water we use, you know, real stuff in it. And it’s

Dan Demsky 18:50
amazing. Yeah, well, that’s exactly that’s exactly the you had the same experience in a different industry or the different products I had is the similarity is you just wanted that thing to exist. Yeah, totally. That’s it. It’s sometimes it’s that simple. It’s like you want it’s like wanting to have a successful business is it doesn’t, there’s no reason to think that you’re the there’s nothing there. You have to want something like something that needs to exist for the sake of people will actually want this. And if you really want it your people, I’m people I’m so much. It’s amazing, because when I when I travel, I often go to a city I look up the town to see had people ordered our product in that city that was in Bogota in Colombia. I just type in Bogota into the back end of our e commerce Store. And I see the people that have bought and I’ll email and say, Hey, I’m the founder, CEO of Dan Marino and I’m in town. Do you want to go get a coffee or lunch or something? And typically that they love it. That sounds great. Yeah, what an interesting thing. I take about treat them and I’ve done it a handful of times and Every single time I love these people, like not because they’re my customers, but because they’re like me, yeah, like I’m this, it’s like, I like me, I am me. But I’ve made this product and a lot of the branding and the marketing is kind of was designed to appeal to myself and my business partners, because we feel like we’re actually the core customer. And yeah, it’s an interesting, there’s a lot of people who are like me, apparently, and I think there’s a lot of people have similar problems and similar struggles. So that’s a great sign. If you feel like you want something as this is, like, how many other people are like you? Yeah, it’s probably a lot. Not exactly. But enough,

Kara Goldin 20:39
and having that connection with consumers to sort of leads to you know, my next point, I’m sure you heard, you’re not going to be able to build this, you don’t have any experience. You know, there’s a ton of highs and lows being an entrepreneur along the way. A lot of people, in my case, people, you know, sized up whether or not I had come from the industry, whether or not I was going to be able to be successful or not, and they wouldn’t run the product. So I don’t know, if you’ve had situations like that dealing with manufacturers along the way that, you know, they want it to figure out like, Oh, these guys don’t really know what they’re doing. How do you get through those hard days?

Dan Demsky 21:20
Yeah, that’s a good question. So I had a few. So when we were starting the brand, two of my greatest mentors actually didn’t believe in it. One of them was a business coach who I admire. And he’s like, I told him the whole idea. This is right before we even started anything. He said, Dan, I get it, I love it. But you’re not the guy to do this. And I was like, why? And he said, Because I told you how to sock company, I was starting. Like, you know, it was a it was, it couldn’t really get it off the ground. But I was also had my video production agency. So I had my time split out between these two businesses. And I was not doing either of them too well. And he’s like, now you want to add a third. It’s like, you have to pick one or the other. Like, you have to put your energy into something and he was right. But I remember going to sleep that night, and I was dwelling on that timing thing I was talking about, you know, I’m like, if I don’t do this, I will regret this for the rest of my life. Like I need to figure out how I could do this. And that’s why the crowdfunding thing happened. But I’m glad I ignored him. Another one was a friend of mine, who he’s 10 years my senior. He’s really transitioned in his business from being like the founder to like a real CEO of his own company and larger company. And he’s like, what’s proprietary bowl your salad? Like nothing? It’s just a brand. It’s a it’s a way we’re solving the problem. He’s like, Yeah, don’t like it. Don’t think you should do it. This is the these are the two people I admire the most both told me don’t do this thing. And I was just like, Dad, I don’t get it. And I don’t know, I don’t know why I had that I just like, but also I’m just like, I had nothing to lose. I’m like, I’m going to make this thing. The process of building has fun. You know, I think that helped. You know, we could have just sat there like, on our own trying to make this business work. But we didn’t me and my two business partners, we’d meet up every weekend, we’d order a pizza, we drink some whiskey, we give each other homework that we bring from the next week. And over a course of a year and a half. We built out this crowdfunding campaign source manufacturers built the brand did photography, but it was all built around these what we call them work parties. It was like we were like partying together. Going out on a Friday night we got went out on a Friday night, we drink some whiskey had some pizza, we worked until midnight, or one or two, or whatever we were, you know, had maybe one or two, too many whiskies. And it wasn’t good work anymore. And it was fun, then we put it out to the world and it worked. So glad I ignored those people. But that was just this, like, what else am I going to do? And I didn’t believe in myself. And then yeah, you get that with suppliers too. You know, when we started this business I was in my early 30s. And some suppliers didn’t quite take us seriously at first but like what am I gonna do? Yeah, be offended. I don’t know. I we pay. We pay cash on delivery. So over time they’ve grew to take us seriously. And we built really great relationships. But I think building a relationship with these people, even the ones that were apprehensive by us at first, it’s like, have an open mind and open heart with them. Be good at business, treat them well pay your bills. And over time. We became like amazing friends, like most suppliers are like good friends. I got invited to family weddings and things like that. So over time we got through it.

Kara Goldin 24:56
I love it. Obviously, people’s lives changed. during the pandemic over the last couple years, I think a lot more people are are choosing to travel and kind of live virtually, jobs are not necessarily forcing people to come into an office anymore. Have you seen a lot of your consumers kind of talking about that? Or do you feel like you really saw an uplift in how people were living?

Dan Demsky 25:26
Our customers had been doing this before the pandemic, I think there are more people who just now become our customers. You know, because there are a lot of people who are traveling more than, you know, when you look for those travel hacks, and you go on Reddit, and you do some Googling, like, a lot of times, you’ll come to products and brands that are that are brand or similar brands. So that market is definitely growing. And I noticed that my own travels, you know, I work at different co working spaces when I travel. And it’s, you know, it was a little quieter at one point, once upon a time, and now there’s just people from all over, you know, I’m like, you meet someone from England and some from DC and all over the world, just, there’s just seems to be i The feeling I get anyway, there’s more of an abundance of travelers, which is, which has definitely been great for our business is as problems with it, though. It’s kind of like, you know, the world is changing as a result of this people’s desires of how they want to work is changing. It’s changing the landscape of cities, like I were talking about Mexico City before this call, that whole city is changing, because there’s so many people that have come there and are able to work remote, they’re like, why would I go back to New York or Toronto or San Francisco, and pay $8,000 a month in rent when I could be here and save all that money? So it’s changing the world? And I? Yeah, we’re catering to a much larger audience of nomadic people and travelers for sure.

Kara Goldin 27:02
How many people are in your company now?

Dan Demsky 27:06
Full time, there’s 15 of us 15.

Kara Goldin 27:08
And all over there based all over the place.

Dan Demsky 27:13
Yeah, I mean, we just like we built it that way. I mean, it’s our name unbound is like, it means a lot more than just like the promise of the customers the way we wanted to live to my business partner, Andrew, he, I told you were in Toronto. And he’s like, I’m not doing this winter again. So he’s often siloed. And he’s working full time from there. And he leaves every day at 4pm to go surfing. And we all try to do that. I mean, we have a warehouse here in Toronto. But aside from that, we’re fully remote.

Kara Goldin 27:42
I love it. So what’s been the biggest challenge for you in building this company? I mean, you’ve touched on kind of figuring out a lot of things. But what’s been really the hardest stuff that maybe you spent the most time trying to figure out?

Dan Demsky 27:58
Well, the first hard thing was finding product market fit. But once we got through that the brand work that people loved it is that it became operating a business. And I mean, there’s operating a business is hard in every corner and challenging and fun and every corner. If there’s one thing I would say is the hardest to figure out for us. It’s inventory planning, because you have, you know, with lead times, depending on we manufacture all over the world. So we do a lot of stuff locally in Canada, but we also do Portugal, Italy, China, Vietnam, South Korea all over. And if you have to anticipate your growth, and we’ve had pretty rapid growth, right when we started all the way until till right now that in the pandemic, the lead times got longer. So we had to say, well, we’re growing at this rate now, where are we going to be in eight months? Are we ordering enough stuff? And are we going to have enough cash to afford like, it’s always thinking like, what do we need eight months? And the lines are expanding? So then you added in a sweater and then we added the women’s line? And how’s that going to sort of cannibalize sales or other products. So it’s always this like juggling act of trying to figure out like, what’s the right amount to stock, you always want to make sure you have enough in. But having too much is more dangerous than not having enough. So I feel like that’s a challenge. It’s like that will never stop. They will never fully figure it out. They’ll just get better and better and better at controlling and refining. But that’s the hardest one that’s takes constant constant work and thinking and planning and yeah, but it’s fun. It’s

Kara Goldin 29:34
fun doing it now. That’s great. Do you feel like there’s a lot of seasonality with your products or? I mean, I feel like you’re shipping all over the world with all different temperatures. So it’s probably you kind of have to keep everything in stock, right?

Dan Demsky 29:49
Yeah, a little bit. But we have less seasonality, the average apparel brand because we are a brand for travel, and a lot of people when they travel. Like we’re not making In this stuff for your skiing trip, right, much as we are, like, our core products tend to be our T shirts or our lighter layers. So people when they travel, I mean, I’m from Canada, it gets cold here. When I’m traveling in January, February, I’m not going to Winnipeg, el Winnipeg, Manitoba, right, I’m going to Mexico, I’m going to Argentina. So I think that that breaks down seasonality for us a little bit, because we’re catering to the people who are getting away somewhere and people tend to pick the sun. Yeah, there is a little bit of seasonality we have, we have some winter products that come out just in the winter.

Kara Goldin 30:40
So what do you wish you would have known when you were launching the company that you just, you know, sort of hit yourself on the head? Say, if I or if I did this all over again, I would have a lot of people have said, you know, hired faster, fired faster, raised more capital, didn’t have as many skews had more skews? What do you think it would be?

Dan Demsky 31:07
I always have a hard time with that question, because the only way I learn things is by messing them up. Yeah. You know? I wish I had I wish I was prepared with a better answer. Honestly, no, you know, there’s a million things that we could do that are better, a million things we could do that are better. It would have been nice to know that there was going to be a global travel ban in this pandemic, we know you’re building a travel brand that sort of caught us off guard a little bit. And we had to change our brand for a little bit. But for the most part, nothing. Yeah, nothing. I just think it’s like it’s like, because what, if I can go back and do it all over again, I have all this knowledge I’ve accumulated. And I probably do a lot of things better. But it’s like, I didn’t know the whole thing is just fun. And every single day, I’m truly grateful that I, I get to do hard things and solve hard problems with my best friends. Because my two best buy two business partners, as I mentioned, are my my lifelong best friends. And I love it. It works. It works. So and like I don’t know, isn’t it fun that we run into walls? And when you know, my business partner is getting mad at me if I’m not making a smart decision. And it’s like, cool. It’s all it’s like we were all of this together. Like, we have this healthy ability to like, debate with each other? And I don’t know, I don’t think I would I probably do everything differently if I had the what the knowledge I have now when I started but I would I wouldn’t change the path or the journey. It’s fun. And the build is,

Kara Goldin 32:42
how do you guys divide your, your responsibilities,

Dan Demsky 32:47
we we go back to the drawing board every quarter. And we talk about what needs to get done, who’s the right person for the job. So it switched, like we’ve all had our hands. When I started, I did custom I did the customer service myself, then my one business, other business partner did it. And then my other business partner now that business partner leads the customer service team that we have. And it’s it is it’s in his jurisdiction, but we every quarter, we shuffle around who’s going to do what and it’s based on what our needs are. And our needs tend to be very marketing focus. So yeah, we just decided, look, what are our goals, who’s going to do them how we’re going to divide and conquer who’s going to be responsible for what direct reports, things like that. And it’s a constantly evolving thing.

Kara Goldin 33:34
What success to you.

Dan Demsky 33:39
Success is having the time to focus on all of the things that you need to grow in the direction you want to grow. It’s not I mean, finances is a tiniest piece of it. To me, it’s not a big deal. I having time to focus on the parts of the business, I love not putting out fires, but on the cool, interesting, challenging business developing aspects of them if I get to work on that, but I also have time to focus on my health, focus on my relationships, focus on learning and growing and exploring the world. If I have a good balance of that, and of getting the things done. I feel successful.

Kara Goldin 34:23
I love that. So last question. So best advice you’ve ever received.

Dan Demsky 34:30
So this is a cliche. You’ve probably heard this a million times, but you are the average of the five people closest to you. I live and die by that I take it very seriously and I make a concerted effort to hang around with people who, whose lives i i I want to emulate in ways be if they have amazing family lives or they’ve been really successful in business or they do really cool adventurous things when they travel or they’re Great leaders in their company or they spend lots of time reading books around these people, and that sets the benchmark for how you want to live. And that’s that’s it for me. If, if there’s one thing I think is important is to surround yourself with people who do great things that you admire, and everything else falls into place.

Kara Goldin 35:20
I love that. Thank you so much Dan Dembski, CEO and co founder of unbound Marino.

Dan Demsky 35:27
Thanks for having me.

Kara Goldin 35:29
Thanks again for listening to the Kara Goldin show. If you would, please give us a review. And feel free to share this podcast with others who would benefit and of course, feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode of our podcast. Just a reminder that I can be found on all platforms at Kara Goldin. And if you want to hear more about my journey, I hope you will have a listen. Or pick up a copy of my book on daunted which I share my journey, including founding and building hint. We are here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And thanks everyone for listening. Have a great rest of the week, and 2023 and goodbye for now. Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the book.com and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin. Thanks for listening