Ibraheem Basir: Founder & CEO of A Dozen Cousins

Episode 286

When Ibraheem Basir launched A Dozen Cousins in 2018, retail buyers questioned the marketability of the brand’s first products, a line of premium-positioned cooked beans. Four years later, those buyers are asking a different question: “How do we keep up with consumer demand?” Hear how this former General Mills marketing executive founded A Dozen Cousins to increase accessibility of better-for-you food. Initially within Black and Latino communities, now with greatly expanded distribution into all communities nationwide. Healthy ingredients, authentic seasonings and convenient preparation – this brand is going gangbusters! You will be energized hearing Ibraheem’s story of how A Dozen Cousins has evolved and so much more. You don’t want to miss hearing this incredible episode with Ibraheem Basir. 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. I am absolutely thrilled for you to hear this next episode with Ibraheem Basir, who is the founder and CEO of a dozen cousins, which is a natural food brand that has a few different things that they do in beans, rice, and sauces inspired by the traditional Creole, Caribbean and Latin American dishes that Ibraheem grew up with. And the company started in 2019. It is absolutely a super, super yummy, yummy, yummy, yummy product. You will love this conversation. Ibrahim actually came from General Mills before he decided to start a dozen cousins. And I am just absolutely thrilled to have you learn a lot more about his journey and lessons along the way. So let’s get going. So welcome, Ibraheem.

Ibraheem Basir 1:40
Thank you. Thank you for having me. I’m really excited to have this conversation.

Kara Goldin 1:43
Super excited for you to be here. And I love to start at the beginning. So I’d love to get more of a picture of who was Ibrahim as a child. So were you the creative one. Were you the troublemaker, were you? You know, the one who was always cooking? Who was Ibrahim as a as a young guy?

Ibraheem Basir 2:05
Yeah, you know, they just like personality wise, a few, a few traits that probably stood out most and as a kid and and some, some of which are still very present today. We’re number one is I was very, very shy and introverted. And so I was not outgoing at all. I spent a lot of time you know, reading, imagining daydreaming, you know, I was very comfortable always spending time by myself. I do think I at a younger age that helped me just develop my, I don’t know, my creativity, my sense of imagination. I’ve always been comfortable kind of living living in the future and living in my own head in many ways. So that’s, you know, on the personal side, I would say, you know, as a young young child, I did love cooking, I love food on one of 10 children. So I grew up in a really big family. And so food was very much the glue for us. That was how we got together at the end of the day. It’s how we celebrate holidays. It’s how we marked milestones. And so I’ve always had a connection to food, both as like, just the enjoyment of eating, but also all the emotional things that come with it.

Kara Goldin 3:04
Definitely. And where did you grow up?

Ibraheem Basir 3:06
I grew up in Brooklyn. So I grew up in downtown Brooklyn lived there up until I was, you know, 17 and graduated high school.

Kara Goldin 3:12
So where does the Creole and the Caribbean? I mean, where did that come from? How did you first get exposed to that food?

Ibraheem Basir 3:21
Yeah, so you know, my mother’s from the south. And so kind of, you know, if I had to think about the native cuisine that I ate the most growing up, it was Southern cooking in all of its various forms. So you know, even today, we have a Creole red beans and rice, which is based on my mother’s recipe for ready. And so that, you know, that’s a big part of it, I would say the rest of the palate of the brand, though, it’s really inspired by my childhood growing up in Brooklyn, you know, my mother would often exchange recipes and dishes with our neighbors. And so it was very common for her to like, come back from the laundry mat with a little, you know, scrap of paper that had a recipe that she had, you know, jotted down and so, you know, if you’ve been to Brooklyn, it’s a very unique kind of black and Latino melting pot. You know, you have people from throughout the USL from throughout the Caribbean, Latin America. And so a lot of the foods that we make are just kind of pulled together from, you know, the community and my neighbors that I grew up with

Kara Goldin 4:16
jumping forward a bit. So after you left Brooklyn, what did you do after that?

Ibraheem Basir 4:23
Yeah, so you know, you can fast forward a bit I went to do my undergrad and my grad school, both at the University of Pennsylvania until you know, between undergrad and Business School worked at a number of different startup companies worked abroad for a little while, very much kind of, you know, early career figuring out what you enjoy and what you’re good at. And I would say like the first you know, really big meaningful job I took was after business school. I started my career at General Mills, doing brand management. worked on a number of brands from your large national brands like a gushers fruit roll up and Fruit by the Foot all the way through your you know, more emerging national Organic brands, you know, had the pleasure of working on Larabar Cascadian farm, and he’s organic, which was a very, you know, formative role for me. And so that was, you know, the first maybe five years of my professional career was spent at General Mills.

Kara Goldin 5:13
And how long did you stay there,

Ibraheem Basir 5:16
I stayed there for five years, worked through a number of roles, you know, like, basically a rotational system. So, you know, every 12 to 18 months, you move on to a new business, and it ended up being just a really great learning experience, you know, every time you rotate, it’s like you’re plopped into a new business context, you’re working with a different set of people, different set of competitors, retailers, and so I feel like I was able to learn a lot in a relatively short period of time. So

Kara Goldin 5:41
what was it that made you think, Okay, I’m gonna now leave and go and start a company?

Ibraheem Basir 5:49
Yeah, you know, there was a few things. The first was that I had this just really great experience working on Annie. So General Mills had acquired and he’s and I like, immediately raised my hand, like, Look, I need to work on this business, right? Like, what do I need to do to get out to California and, you know, after a lot of moving and shaking, I was able to move out to Berkeley and I spent just under two years working on the Annie’s business, and really just fell in love with the ethos of the natural products industry, right. And this idea that business can be a force for good, that food should be, you know, helpful for our bodies. And you know, that we should use high quality ingredients like all the all the like big pillar that underpin the industry, I kind of fell in love with them. And the only dilemma that I kept having was that, you know, as I looked around the options, there weren’t any that spoke to me as a consumer, right, in terms of the foods and the flavors that I had grown up with. So it was like, I don’t know, I felt like I was living this weird double life where it was like I was all in on like, organic agriculture better for you, you know, health and wellness. And then at night, I will go home and eat the same types of foods that I had grown up eating, because I had just this nostalgic, kind of emotional connection to them. And so my goal with a dozen cousins was really just to see if I could bring those two worlds together, you know, I want to see if I could create a brand that felt really cultural, really authentic, had all those same feelings of home and the flavor that I love, but to do it and leverage everything that I had learned about health and wellness, sourcing, innovation, etc. And so, once I kind of locked in on that idea or that mission, it was, you know, easy decision to take the leap and tried to do it full time.

Kara Goldin 7:25
So what was your first step? I mean, you’re leaving a big company, you’ve got a very cool job working on Annie’s and, and you’ve got these recipes. And, you know, as I always say, it’s one thing to work on a product, it’s another thing to start a product. I mean, it’s it’s in start a company, I mean, were you scared? Did you worry? I mean, it well, what was sort of going through your head,

Ibraheem Basir 7:52
there’s definitely some nervousness, right. But I would say like, honestly, for me, the excitement outweighed the fear by a lot, you know, and part of it was, you know, my wife and I, we sat down before I left General Mills, we actually just had our first daughter, so my eldest daughter was about two months old. And, you know, we just mapped out a plan, we said, look, you know, we could go one year with no, you know, no salary. At that point, you got to be able to make something right. And then we like, you know, we have two years to prove out the concept and really feel like we’re gaining traction. And so like, I just feel like I had this really clear roadmap where I was, like, look, I’m gonna give this a try. And if in two years, I haven’t done anything, or the market is telling me like, Hey, this is actually not a good idea, then, you know, I was gonna just kind of pack it up and move on, you know what I mean? And so for me, I was like, Look, this is gonna be a fun two year experiment, no matter what happens. And, you know, thankfully, by the time we got to the end of, you know, two years, and really before then, like, we had these really great national customers, you know, I remember when Whole Foods, you know, took us in nationally, that was like, a huge milestone. And, you know, we had a few of those along the way that just, you know, kept giving me confidence that we were on the right track. We were working on the right things. And so yeah, I would say there’s some some nervousness, but certainly none that prevented me from from taking the leap. How hard

Kara Goldin 9:07
was it when you were launching a product into Whole Foods. So just a little bit of background, people listen to my show, know this, my father had created healthy choice and worked inside of armour food company initially, and then they were acquired by ConAgra. And I remember hearing, you know, a long time ago, how he basically was negotiating internally for space for frozen space, right. And in the case with other ConAgra brands, and that was probably the hardest thing was, was actually figuring out you know, how much space he was going to get allocated. But when I actually launched the company, I founded hint, and I said, Hey, how do I get into Safeway? He was like, I have no idea. I mean, it was it was a whole new world and maybe that maybe you relate to that a little bit, but I curious like, how much of a puzzle wasn’t for you?

Ibraheem Basir 10:01
Yeah, I think there’s for sure I saw like a little bit of a detox that needs to happen, right? Where it’s just like you have to unlearn some of the habits of like, you know, when you’re when you place a phone call on behalf of big $17 billion company, like, you’re usually that person’s most important phone call of the day, right? So like, you’re always getting people’s energy attention, priority, prioritization, etc, versus, you know, when I left and started, doesn’t, doesn’t, you know, there was some weeks where it was a win, just to get the person to pick up the telephone or just to get, you know, a buyer to respond to your email. And so that, for me, was one of the biggest shifts that I had to make was just psychologically, that feeling of like, look, that credibility that you have, on behalf of this large billion dollar company is gone, right. And so now you have to kind of go out and earn it yourself. And so it was hard, I think, in the early days to deal with just the sheer level of like, I wouldn’t even call it rejection as much as it was just ambivalence or indifference. Right. And I think once once I got through that it just became a lot more of just a fun journey. And I was able to enjoy like, hey, we heard that from so and so today. Right? So that’s what I would say it’s definitely a shift.

Kara Goldin 11:06
So once you got into Whole Foods, that was your first major retailer.

Ibraheem Basir 11:11
It was yeah, they were first national retailer for sure. We have been in some coops prior to that, like just regionally. But that was our first big customer.

Kara Goldin 11:19
And how many different skews did you have?

Ibraheem Basir 11:21
We have three skews at that time. So we launched with a set of core beans and I guess I haven’t even mentioned with what our products are yet, but you know, our first product was a line of ready to eat beans. So they’re all fully cooked and season made with real vegetables and spices and the three snooze that Whole Foods took in was our Cuban Black Bean or Mexican pinto bean and then a Trinidadian chickpea curry. Those are still, you know, three largest items. You know, today you call it three years later. But yeah, that was our first product.

Kara Goldin 11:49
And they are so so delicious. So did you ever feel like was that the right amount of skews? Like what what would you say to a founder? I mean, if they’re going to launch a line, do you think it’s three is a good amount? Do you think you should have only had one? Should you have had six? I mean, I’m so curious how you think about that?

Ibraheem Basir 12:11
Yeah, I think it’s very category dependent. As I’m sure you know, in beverage, I’m sure there’s a different answer. For me three always felt like a magic number. Because food is so subjective, in terms of the fact like, you might have a flavor that people just don’t wait, right, where it’s like, hey, the product is on point, the positioning is on point, but I don’t eat cilantro, or, you know, this is too spicy, right? Like, there’s always going to be like, just you want to give yourself room for that to happen. And so when I came out with three, it’s the goal, in my mind was, look, at least two of these needs to stick around and be good items. And you know, you don’t want to have just one strong item on shelves, because easy to get lost. Many buyers won’t even take you in at that point, particularly in like the center of the store. So three was the logic in the sense that two is probably the minimum we really needed on shelf. And the third one was just a buffer, just in case, you know, we had a bad flavor in there.

Kara Goldin 13:01
You’ve now founded a company and scale the company, you started in a terrific time in history, just right before the coup Kunis that went on in our life with the pandemic over the last couple of years. You know, what are some of the big things that you’ve learned? That you didn’t realize? I mean, again, obviously, you’re incredibly bright person. You know, you’ve had great experience, but what were like a couple of things that you’re just like, I can’t believe I didn’t know that.

Ibraheem Basir 13:33
Yeah, you know, one, which might be too esoteric, but like, the, the the up and down the emotional rollercoaster that like entrepreneurs and small business owners are on. It was, it was at a level different than what I expected, you know, that was just working at previous jobs. But I think just the sheer ups and downs that you’ll feel in the course of the day, right? Where it’s like, here’s an event that might injure your company, here’s another event that is gonna, like propel you to the next level of success. Right? And like, those might be back to back meetings, you know what I mean? And so like, I feel like one of the things I’ve had to get good at over the last couple of years is just like, you know, number one, how do you manage those moods, those mood swings, right? So like, you have an even keel for your team, you’re able to think clearly and not be, you know, too reactionary. But also then how do you separate that from like, your home life, right? Because it’s like, I have two young children, I have a wife. I don’t want them going on the same roller coaster that I want every day, either. Right? And so like, I feel like that area of just like compartmentalization, mood control has been probably my biggest learning if I had to point to one.

Kara Goldin 14:38
I can only imagine though, I mean, you’re starting something that you have lived with, right for in many ways, from the time that you were a child, right? And you’re, you’re bringing it to the rest of the world. I mean, that’s an incredible story. It must be an incredible feeling to see, you know, people wanting to buy Something that you that made you so happy, happy enough to, you know, want to launch a product around it, what would you say? Did you ever know what that would feel like?

Ibraheem Basir 15:12
I had a feeling but it’s, it’s been better than I expected. And you know, like, that’s it for me I’d articulate in two ways. The first is that I feel like 100% proud of everything we do as a company and everything we present as a company. And I’ve never, I’ve never been at that level at any other point in my career, right? There’s stuff that I’ve worked on before, that I felt pretty good about, or like, you know, 50 or 50% of this feels good to me. And the other 40% was like a compromise that I had to make with some other people on my team, my boss, whatever the case may be, right. And I think now, the feeling where it’s like, look, you can pick up any one of our products, tear it open, eat it right in front of me, like, I’ll be proud to see you do that the marketing that we put out in the world, the, you know, the images we have on Instagram, the copy that we have on our website, that feeling of just feeling like look, I really stand behind, and I’m proud of the work we do. There’s nothing like it. And you know, I hope that other founders feel the same way. It’s one of the key pieces of advice, honestly, I always give founders is, you know, it’s one thing to just chase an opportunity because you think it could be like profitable in the marketplace. But my perspective is, if you’re going to be living and breathing this thing for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, X number of years, you really want to pick something that you can have that level of like pride and connection to otherwise, I think the pain of the journey is probably like it’s not worth it. You know what I mean? It’s not worth it to do something that you don’t feel that level of pride about.

Kara Goldin 16:33
When I started hint, it was I had four kids under the age of six. And and I always tell people, now they’re a lot older. And you know, what they’ve learned along the way in the journey. And I absolutely have lived through everything that you’re saying the ups and the downs, one day, you have a buyer that says you guys are awesome, you’re wonderful. And then the next day, we’re discontinuing you, and it’s not happening, you know, it’s just, it really is a roller coaster. But I think that the lessons that your family will learn just through the ups and downs and seeing you do something that you really love and investing time into something that has purpose and meaning is really powerful. I also think that I read an article of how, you know, you’re definitely creating a voice for the challenges of bipoc entrepreneurs. And I think I’d love to hear a little bit more about that.

Ibraheem Basir 17:31
Yeah, you know, first and foremost, just to frame the issue, like, you know, about half of the United States identifies as being a person of color, right, depending on the data source, you look at it a little bit higher, a little bit lower, right. So it’s a very diverse country that we live in, as everyone knows. And I think when you think about the CPG industry, it’s unique, in my opinion, in terms of just how democratic it is, right? These are products that everyone uses, sometimes multiple times a day, people are feeding themselves and their family, they’re taking care of their skin, washing their hair, cleaning their clothes, take care of their house, these are like very intimate products that people interact with and put in their body. And so to me, as an industry, you know, we have a responsibility to be reflective and representative of the people that we serve, right, both in terms of like, who leads these companies who gets to make decisions around product design, who promote those products, once they’re in market, right. Like to me it should reflect the users right. And so it’s something that from the moment I started investing substance has been important to me not only just from like the perspective of our brand, right, I want you know, our business is fighting to represent certain foods or flavor that haven’t been on the shelf in natural food stores in particular. But we also have done on behalf of others. And so you know, had a chance to help found a nonprofit a few years ago, Project potluck, our mission is entirely focused on helping people of color build successful companies and careers in the CPG space. I sit on the board alongside you know, are no photos, the CEO of Alter Ego, and Asha, who is the CEO of Mason Dixie foods. And so that’s something that we’re really focused on Kathleen Casanova is our executive director and just to complete the team that’s working on that business, but it’s something that’s very near and dear to my heart. And honestly, it’s been something that I’ve focused on really, every everywhere I’ve gone throughout my life, it’s just making sure that there’s opportunities for people who look like me to do the same things that I’m doing, enjoy some of the same successes that you know, I’ve been blessed with.

Kara Goldin 19:26
I love it. Well, I love the idea to have really going and starting your own thing, because I think more and more people think that there is one path in order to do that, right, that maybe you get out of school and you go start a company and I always tell people, not necessarily in fact, you could go and do a totally different career. You didn’t have to work in food but had an idea and you just figure out how to go make that happen. I think that you’re a great example of that, too, that you’ve been able to demonstrate that it’s not a straight line along the way to and being able to be a voice and start to nonprofit and do all of those things that you’re doing also is just really, really critical. And it’s something that I think is really, really inspiring as well. So, yeah, really, really great. So what do you think is the greatest thing about being an entrepreneur for you? What has made you the most proud you’ve worked with? Incredible you and I were talking about John, who was actually not the founder of Annie’s, but ran Annie’s for many, many years. And, obviously, you’ve, you’ve worked with people that have either been founders at General Mills as well. But now you’re at, right, like, what? What do you feel is the I mean, it’s sometimes it’s scary, right? Like the buck kind of stops with you?

Ibraheem Basir 20:45
Yeah, you know, I have to say, the two things that I enjoy the most about being an entrepreneur, number one is the ability to only work with and spend time around people that I really respect and enjoy. You know, I think that that is something that stands out to me about my current work life versus roles and jobs that I’ve had in the past where, you know, sometimes you have to just deal with an aihole, for lack of a better term, you know, what I mean? Or just somebody who’s like, I really rather not be talking to you right now. But I got to do it, right, my job requires it. And now, that’s just not the case. You know, like our employees, I’m able to spend a lot of time interviewing and getting to know people being really clear about our values and how we want to operate together as a team. You know, before we even start working together, once we start working together, I’m able to hold them accountable to that, right, like, Hey, here’s what we said we were gonna do, and situations like this arise, right? And same thing with our partners, our vendors, there’s a clear shot clock on anybody who is, you know, again, and they owe for lack of a better term, but the viewers and listeners will know what I’m talking about, right? It’s like, it’s only a certain amount of time that we’re going to deal with that before we move on and find an alternative. And I would say like, that’s the number one thing I enjoy, like spending time with people you respect.

Kara Goldin 21:59
You’ve gained success, right? You’re, as you described yourself, you’re quieter, more introverted, and you’ve done amazing things, including won awards, and now are scaling a company and get doing the impossible you get your product into Whole Foods, it’s working. All of these things. What do you think makes you successful? Or if you don’t like that word, it’s who you are. Right? And and what do you think it is?

Ibraheem Basir 22:33
Obviously, but as you can imagine, like a little hesitant to like, praise myself, I appreciate the kind words of course, you know, if I had to say one attribute that has contributed to my success the most it is a certain relentlessness to how I approach everything, right? Like there’s, you know, there’s there’s not a lot of things that will make me quit something that I feel like there could be one, right if it’s, if I feel like the task was no longer worth it, right, or there’s not a path to success, for sure. There’s times you have to kind of, you know, cut your losses and move on. But to me, if I can see that, if I can see the cracks, I’m willing to put in the work for it. And to me, it’s just day by day, right. And, you know, part of what enables that is what we just talked about is like, if I’m on a journey that I enjoy, with people I respect, it’s like my energy is limitless to keep to stay on that journey. Right? And so fast the point the one thing, I think that’ll be it, I just kind of keep keep keep banging, keep banging at the goal.

Kara Goldin 23:28
So what keeps you up at night? Hmm,

Ibraheem Basir 23:31
man, so many.

Kara Goldin 23:33
Besides having a two year old or almost three year old, right?

Ibraheem Basir 23:37
Well now have a one year old. So she definitely keeps us on my second daughter last year, she was actually just about to turn one. You know, I would say our team, I think I spent a lot of time as you think about our team internally, I think when you’re working on a fast growing business, you know, every two or three months, you have to really take stock of who are the people that you have on the team? What do you need to add? What changes do you need to make? Is everyone in the right role? Is everyone is everyone excited and happy and energized. Right? So if I had to say like, that’s one thing I think a lot about is like, just how’s the culture of the team? And do we have all the right talent and resources in the right place at the right time? That’s one thing I think about a lot. You know, in current environments, supply chain is something I think about a lot as well, you know, fingers crossed, I hope we are emerging from you know, some of what we’ve dealt with over the last two years. But you know, there have been three or four mini sagas within the last two years, right? Whether that is like the port’s are backed up and you know, ingredients are delayed or logistics costs are spiking because of a shortage of truckers to you know, now we’re dealing with fuel prices and the impact of that. So that’s something that has been like very fascinating evolving, particularly in these last two years because of you know, the macroblock Nora and so, those are probably the two things that keep me up the most at night. You But you know, your former or, you know, Founder CEO, you know, there’s about like, there’s a million things I could list out here that, you know, that kind of constantly flowing through my mind.

Kara Goldin 25:08
Yeah, constantly. And I think the beauty of, you know, the founder is, is always kind of seeing around the corner, and being able to, you know, just go figure it out, right? Because you have a passion for it and an interest in curiosity. And, and most of the time, you are able to go figure stuff like that out. So I think that it’s, unfortunately, it does keep you up at night at times trying to figure out those those pieces along the way. So I’ve, I’ve definitely been there for sure. So people always think that, you know, people who go start a company or have had successful roles as you have have it super easy. They just snap their fingers, and they’ve made it work. They’re lucky, however you want to view the world. I’d love to hear kind of a story where maybe you encountered something where you were like, Okay, it’s over. Now, we’re not we’re not doing this company anymore. But you got back up. You said, Ah, we we figured it out? Maybe you didn’t think it was actually gonna go that way. But then you figured out another way, and maybe some lessons learned along the way?

Ibraheem Basir 26:21
Yeah, it’s a great question. You know, there are two there are two that stand out. So I’ll maybe give two brief ones, you know, the first was our first big fundraise, it wasn’t the first money that we raised, it was like maybe the first time we went out and raised like a big chunk of outside capital. And, you know, we had raised a small amount prior, and like, just a few weeks, honestly, where it was like, it all came together really easily, there was a lot of excitement, we had even extra, you know, a few people, we have to turn away. So you know, you’re not for this next one race thinking that, okay, this is going to be pretty smooth, we’ll bang it out in a couple of weeks and kind of get back to it. And, you know, we raised kind of a seed round that ended up taking, I don’t know, close to nine months, you know, we raised it on a as a convertible note. So it’s, it’s kind of on a rolling basis, and it was probably encompass some of just the worst weeks of my life time as the founder and CEO of that, because it’s because there’s an emotional element to it as well, right? Where it’s like, you know, you might be on a phone call with, you know, 10 or 20 people in the course of a week. And 19 of them say no, and one of them says maybe, right? And it’s like, you know, each person that says he just articulates hey, here’s all the reasons why I think you’re gonna fail, right in the most polite way possible, most respectful way possible, I understand is part of their job, but it’s like, Man to just listen to that for two, three months at a time when the business is already, you know, such a tenuous position, and you’re still trying to prove it to yourself, to your customers, to your you know, to your partners. And so, that was definitely a tough time never reached the point where I felt like, I was gonna hang it up, but it definitely was like, Man, this is much harder than I thought. So that’s one. And then the second one, I would say, we’re actually emerging from maybe right now, you know, this past spring, we had our first employees that, you know, the part of the company. And so, you know, it’s such a, you know, such a young team, and you have, you know, we had a group of like, I want to say five people who, you know, all started at the same time, they were kind of that first cohort of employees, they started, you know, very similar to one another. And so, you know, we had two of those folks leave, you know, for great opportunities and, you know, things that they’re excited about, and you know, we wish them well, but it definitely was just a moment to like reevaluate, reassess, okay, are we doing everything we need for the people who are still here, right? Like, Are they enjoying getting, you know, the growth and experience that they want out of the company. And so, in many ways, I actually think of it ended up being like a net benefit for our business, just in terms of what I think has been a reminder to me to not neglect human resources, if you will, right. And just really making sure I’m pouring as much into the team as I need to, but for sure, that was a tough, you know, tough month when those guys left. Those that do that stand out to me the most.

Kara Goldin 28:58
It’s tough. I think it’s it’s a very prior to founding can’t I remember, I worked for definitely bigger companies, but they started out smaller. And, you know, I wasn’t the founder. So you have just a different lens into when people leave, you think, okay, they’re leaving, and they’re going and doing whatever, when you’re the founder. It’s very personal. I mean, you’re like, What did I do? You know, you know, why God did were we not managing properly, whatever that was, and so expecially those first couple you know, people that leave I mean, you’re you want to know if your baby’s ugly. I mean, what they’re saying to you and I think it’s, it’s you have to sort of reframe it for yourself and know that I mean, it sounds like you have but it’s all good, right? That it’s like they’re gonna go and do what they need to do and you need to to

Ibraheem Basir 29:52
Yeah, for sure. I think you articulated well, right. Like your Objective Mind kind of knows that people join your company. People leave your company everyone’s careers like You know, it’s a journey, right, that they’re on. And it’s not sometimes you’re just, you know, you’re just the character on that journey. But you know, to other points, I it is personal, right? It feels very personal. I think the reality is when you, when you pour so much of yourself into a company into a business, you know, it’s hard not to take it that way. So, but in any event, like you said, oh, good lessons. And you know, we’re looking forward.

Kara Goldin 30:21
Last question, if when you think about a dozen cousins, and sort of, what do you need to do in the next, like, when you get up in the morning, and you think, Okay, what do I, I know, it’s a mix of kind of dealing with the day to day and and trying to put out fires and grow the business and all that, but what do you think you need to do to really get to the place that you want to be? Yeah, that’s

Ibraheem Basir 30:47
a great question. And I think the next if I had to, if I isolated to a single thing, you know, I would say it’s really around like our brand building, and more specifically, just introducing our product to more people, right. You know, I think for the first few years of our business, we’ve taken a very product and distribution first approach, you know, so like, my number one focus has been, is our product world class? Is our packaging clear? Is it telling the story of the brand? Are we at the right price? Are we available in all the retailers where people want to find us and, you know, thankfully, I think we’ve had really good success in those areas, right, like our product is well rated. It’s very well liked by everyone who tries it. We have a really great network of retail partners from Target Walmart, Kroger, Whole Foods kind of down the list. And I think the next big opportunity for us is to make sure that we are, you know, sufficiently promoting and introducing the product to new people. And so that’s something that I think about a lot in terms of just the next, you know, the next phase of the business, you know, how do we get our brand in front of more people just so that, you know, we’re better known and more people can share the experience.

Kara Goldin 31:53
Super great. Well, Ibraheem, this has been such an amazing interview, you are just like an incredible entrepreneur, and just a wealth of experience and lessons that you’ve shared with us. So where’s the best place for people to try your product and get a hold of some of a dozen cousins?

Ibraheem Basir 32:12
Yeah, visit our website, www dot doesn’t cousins.com There’s a store locator where you’ll be able to find a retailer that’s nearby. Or you can order some products online and save yourself a trip to the store. But that’s definitely the place to begin.

Kara Goldin 32:26
Thanks all for listening to this episode. We hope you enjoyed it. And I want to thank all of our guests and our sponsors. And finally, our listeners, keep the great comments coming in. And one final plug. If you have not read or listened to my book undaunted, please do so you will hear all about my journey, including founding, scaling and building the company that I founded. Hint we are here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Thanks everyone for listening, 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 Pentwater 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