April 7, 2020
Ep. 33 – Revolutionizing Sustainable Bedding With Innovative Technology With Phoebe Yu

Ep. 33 – Revolutionizing Sustainable Bedding With Innovative Technology With Phoebe Yu

We really use the highest standards. All those
little things in our products. Our team and myself, we all use our products. We want the
best for ourselves, we want the best for our consumers, too. Welcome to Honest Ecommerce where we are dedicated
to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners. I’m your host, Chase Clymer And I’m your host, Annette Grant. And we believe running an online business
does not have to be complicated or a guessing game. If you’re struggling to scale your sales,
Electric Eye is here to help. To apply to work with us. visit electriceye.io/connect
to learn more. And let’s get on with the show. On today’s episode of Honest Ecommerce, we
welcome Phoebe Yu. Phoebe is the founder and CEO of Ettitude, a sustainable bedding brand
that’s helping customers get a better night’s sleep. All right everybody, welcome to another episode
of Honest Ecommerce. I’m Chase Clymer. And today we’re welcoming to the show, Phoebe
Yu the founder and CEO of Ettitude. Ettitude is a sustainable bedding brand that
is helping customers get a better night’s sleep. Welcome to the show. Thank you for having me. Awesome. So, Ettitude is doing amazing stuff
but I want to take it back to a little bit before that when you were testing the product
and building the product and making your fabric. Will you talk about that back in 2014, the
history of what led to this brand? Yeah, sure. So, I have a background in home
textile for over 15 years before I moved to Australia. When I was back in China, my first business
is more (about) helping big international chain stores, sourcing textiles, and home
workers in China. Then I moved to Australia. I got a real education on sustainability and
climate change, these issues. So, I started to think. The old products I helped sourcing
is not really very sustainable. So (after that, I said to myself) I think
I want to start my own brand. So, all the products (of Ettitude) are super healthy,
highly functional, and also sustainable. So that’s where the name Ettitude is coming from.
So basically, it’s “Eco attitude”, putting an E on instead of an A. Then I start to test and also partner with
a few suppliers that have this new technology of turning organic bamboo into a very fine
fiber using a very clean production process, which would recycle water and also recycle
all the solutions within it so there are no harmful chemicals in the process and also
nothing harmful will leak into the environment or the waterways. (We) Pretty much fix the old technology that
still uses a lot of harmful chemicals. So our technology is the latest technology, which
is just way cleaner. So, I took a few years to test an error to
refine the products. I did a lot of prototyping, small run, then finally get the best balance
of the softness and also the durability. We got quite good traction in Australia and
then we saw a lot of demand come from the USA. People would pay $30 – $40 to buy our
products from Australia and shipping to the USA. We think our time is right that we need
to get into the US market. Consumers here also want this product. So
then I moved from Australia to Los Angeles last year to lead also the growth of our USA
market. Awesome. Awesome. So, how long were you working
on building that first product? Oh. That took quite a few years. So it’s hard
to get the combination right. So there’s a lot of trial and error and failures. In the
beginning, it’s softer but it’s too fragile. It’s not strong enough. So we used a different
type of weaving technology. The existing product is soft and silky but
it’s very low maintenance. You can wash it like cotton. It’s also super breathable. So,
yeah. That took time to refine. Also, we gathered feedback from consumers, so they will tell
you what they want. The beauty of a direct-to-consumer brand is
that the feedback loop is very short and we constantly fine-tune our products depending
on what the consumer tells us. (We’re) pretty much just building what they want. So how was… Once you have established the
product, you’ve gone through those trials and errors and you’ve got your first line
ready to go, how was launching the new brand? Tell us about that. So it’s also quite organic at the beginning.
So, back in Australia, we have a small team and the original team is still working in
Melbourne. So it’s just a four people team. So we did a lot of… Social media definitely
helped. Using Facebook and Instagram to constantly
have an open communication channel with your customers. And also word-of-mouth is also
very critical in our early growth because the product works so people will tell their
family and friends. Many are like daughters. (They) bought our sheets and loved it, and
bought as a gift to their mom. Or the moms know our brand. (They) Loved the sheets and
they bought it for their children. There are many new customers (that) acquired us through
those types of their organic, word-of-mouth in the early days. Absolutely. I think that the direct line of
communication you can have between your customers and your business through Social (Media) is
amazing. It’s so much different than it was before.
So when you first started out, were you guys on Shopify right when you started? Were you
on a different platform? How were the technologies and the stuff you were using to get the business
off the ground? In the beginning, we are using BigCommerce.
So at that time, when I was looking for the platform to use or whatever –like a list
of the features that I must have or good to have– at that time, BigCommerce ticked all
the boxes. So, we started with BigCommerce. It was fine.
But after a few years, we start to think “We might need a better platform that’s more customizable
and there are more apps.” And at that time Shopify’s growing really
quick and also I looked at and found that –especially the Shopify Plus– that’s when… At that time their salesperson tried to convince
me and I thought that there are a lot of features that are really suitable for when a brand
starts to grow, especially when you want to grow internationally.
With Shopify Plus, you can have up to 9 stores under 1 account, if you (want to) operate
globally. So I just thought moving to Shopify can open the opportunities to keep growing
the online store. Absolutely. I think Plus is an amazing investment
if it makes sense financially for the brands. Yeah, especially if you would run like two
stores, like the .com and .com.au is 2 stores under one account. So that’s one subscription
fee. Let’s talk about that because actually, you’re
the first guest that’s been on the show that is successfully running a business in two
different markets and using two different domains and two different stores do that.
So what are the differences between the stores in each market? Yeah, great. So interestingly, the bedding
sizes in different countries also differ. Oh! That’s the reason why we have to have two
stores. And at the beginning we also debated, do we use just .com/au or we keep two separate
stores? But after weighing (considering) the customer/UX
(User Experience) part, we think it’s better to have two separate stores. So Australia,
New Zealand, UK, or Hong Kong, Singapore mostly are one size. But in the USA, Canada, North
America, the bedding is a different size. But luckily, the biggest selling –Queen sheets–
is the same size. But then here in (the) US, you have California King or Eastern King and
Australia has their own King size which is different. And Australia also has a Super
King (size). And also the names people call it. Beddings
are different. In Australia we have Double size which equals to US Full size and Single
size in Australia, in the US, people call it Twin. So then that’s also for different product
titles and keywords, all those considerations, that’s why we run two separate stores. They
can also provide a better user experience for the customer in that market. Absolutely. I think speaking your customers’
language, especially even though Australian and American, we all speak English per se. Speaking their language in the sense of describing
the product in the way that they are used to hearing that product described. I’m sure that once you started doubling down
on splitting up those markets and the messages and I’m sure that you’re splitting up the
retargeting and the marketing messages on the back end as well. Yes. Yes. Definitely. When you guys approach a new product launch
or a new marketing campaign, are you building out 2 different funnels almost? For the paid marketing, yes. For Google ads
or Facebook ads, we all have separate accounts. Mm-hmm. (We are) analyzing separately and also run
different campaigns. And also to see seasons are the opposite. Here we are in summer now
but in the US, it’s winter. So, when we promote some summer content or
summer ways they do that but in Australia, it’s the other the opposite season. But social
wise it’s more (of a) united brand image. We don’t separate that much. But of course, we will talk about different
(things) like we just had July the fourth. Of course, we’ll talk about July 4 since it
a public holiday there and Australia has its own public holiday. We will talk (about) both
on social media because you only have one account, you don’t separate that. Mm-hmm. Well, the performance part we did, so we can
really be very efficient in those markets. Support for today’s podcast comes from our
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trial at simplr.ai/honest. So, what are some of the other advantages
that you found? Obviously, before Ettitude, you had found some more traditional sourcing
and manufacturing businesses. What appeals to you about direct to consumer and Ecommerce? Well, I love it. I think that’s the beauty
of it. You can quickly connect to your customers and get those feedback, either good or bad.
But luckily most are good. One of my favorite activities does reading customer reviews. So that also gives us… Also the team loves
it during our weekly all-hands (meeting). The first is to pick a review of the week
and the whole team will just read the review of the week to see what our customers are
happy about our products in which gives us a lot of motivation. It’s more than money, more than fame. But
the customers love your products thinking your products just help them have a better
sleep, which has been better for their health. It’s a really good feeling. Absolutely. So the opposite of that. Growing
a direct-to-consumer business, there are a lot of hurdles that people run into as they’re
growing. Are there any that stick out to you? Problems or just issues that you guys had
to overcome there? Building this connection with your customers or just building the brand
in general. Yeah, there’s always different stages. You
probably will have different problems (than everyone else). I think in the early days,
it’s always… You want to do more marketing but then you’re also restrained by how much
fund you have, how much you know the money you have. So there’s also trying to use a lot of growth
hacking ways because you are restrained by the budget you have. When we branched into
the USA, we grew super quick. And we have another problem. The “out of stock problem” because we sell
so so our supply chain has also to catch up. That also took a couple of months. They’re
caught up now so we solved that problem. Most things that are bad just stopped. But
that is a good problem to solve. And then the next problem is when you start to run
two teams across the continent. How to make them work seamlessly and conquer
the timezone, use tools to help –there are a lot of tools to help to make that– and
also keep growing a team then, as I said, how to make the team work. Work close together while growing the team
and that will be the next type of problem. And also how to keep making the paid channel
efficient. Keep standing in but result in CPA growth. So that’s also what… Right now
we work very hard and keep close eyes (sight) on (costs per acquisition). I think that those are fantastic answers.
Just because… I don’t think that some people have it register that once you get the sales,
and once you get the brand off the ground, and it’s doing its thing, it’s not easy after
that. There are just new problems. Yeah. There (will be) new problems and but
different problems. So as I say each stage, you will have different problems. Absolutely. I think that it’s funny though.
The hiring, and keeping, and scaling the team, we’re experiencing that. But as an agency,
it’s different. So it’s just funny to draw parallels between where people are in growing
their businesses. Yeah. People are super important. I think they’re the most important part of
the team. But the most important piece of the puzzle is making sure that everyone on
the team is the right fit for the team and the right culture for the team. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Awesome. So I do want to give you a moment
to talk about the product because I am a huge fan of bamboo sheets. Actually, we were talking
about that before the show. But yeah, just give a little background on
the product themselves. I think we kind of skipped over that a bit. And I apologize for
that. No. I think I did talk about it a little bit
when I talked about how I started. So, yeah. Well personally, I’m a fan of bamboo. It’s
my Chinese heritage. We had been using bamboo for all sorts of
stuff for thousands of years. It’s pretty much the most sustainable plant in the world.
There is an organization called Project Drawdown. So it did a lot of research and listed 100
things that you can do to tackle climate change and also how (you deal with) carbon emission
to stop. That’s why it’s called Drawdown to draw down
carbon emissions. So, bamboo was listed on number 35. If you plant more bamboo, it will help also
store the carbon from the air back to the soil. So, as I also mentioned before, our
process to make the bamboo into a fiber –able to make (bamboo) into textile– is also super
clean and sustainable. So, we recycle water and we recycle the solution
with it. There are no harmful things (that could) leak out of it. (In fact), we have
a patent on that. That’s the latest technology. The old technology, there are bamboo rayon
viscose out there. The processing is not as clean as ours. We
are quite happy about that part. From the name of a brand everything we do we try to
do our best with the existing technology available. And also not just our fabric. Even with all the accessories we use including
packaging, we’re also very mindful. We use color fabric as our packaging so it also saves
waste and also actually cut costs. So there are ways (for) you to design your
product smartly. It does not necessarily (mean that) being sustainable/eco-friendly, you
have to pay more. So, just the rules in our brand where we design
or develop products is always, “Can we upcycle? Can we recycle? Can we reuse? Or if people
can reuse our packaging as their gym bag or just restore their sheets?” Even with all the buttons and threads we use,
we also try to find more and more sustainable options. And they all have OEKO(-TEX) certification
(which means) that there’s no harmful dyes on it. We really use the highest standards, over
those little things in our products because our team and myself, we already use our products.
We want the best for ourselves. We want the best for our consumers, too. That’s amazing. So yeah. During the show notes,
actually Phoebe is sharing with all the listeners a fantastic deal. If you use the code ELECTRICEYE,
you can get 15% off your order at Ettitude.com or for any Australian listeners, it’d be Ettitude.com.au.
I’ll make sure that’s in the show notes as well. And that’s… Thank you so much for
that. That’s amazing. Yeah. If anyone tried our product and love
it and welcome to leave us some feedback, too. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being
on the show. Thank you for having me. We can’t thank our guests enough for coming
on the show and sharing the truth. links and more will be available in the show notes.
If you found any actionable advice in this podcast that you’d like to apply to your business,
please reach out at electriceye.io/connect. Please make sure to subscribe to Apple Podcasts,
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