#23 Zig Zag
Last week, we announced we were closing our online store.
We’ve had an overwhelming response. It seems like a lot of you agree or share a similar sentiment: frustration or fatigue, whether you’re a founder, employee, or consumer about the beauty industry or direct to consumer space. But with these feelings has also been a shared motivation and inspiration — to do things differently. To question our systems, our motives, and our future actions.
I have had texts and calls with various feedback — some being concerned, asking if I was ok, most being excited, friends and business owners telling me they wished they could do the same.
I wish they could too. But I know this isn’t straightforward or easy. We are in a fortunate position, we’re at a size where we can do this. Not everyone can.
We need to re-assess our business model. We’re constantly balancing capital and stock levels. Every dollar we get goes straight back into the business. It’s been 12 months since our Bronzing Powder compacts were available.They’re on their way, but by the time we pay their balance, customs duties, and fulfil our preorder postage costs, along with general operating expenses, we’ll be back to square one. We didn’t want to have another sale, so we’re looking at ways of cutting back our outgoings, rather than just looking at ways of increasing our income.
As a team of two we’re under resourced. We simply cannot do everything that we need to do (and grow) on our own. Ellen and I need more time to focus on what we’re good at: community and connection, and have the right people looking after other elements of the business, particularly supply chain, forecasting, and operations and growth. We need to double down on marketing channels where we haven’t before, but I refuse to put myself on Tik Tok — not just because of my ego but because I know someone else can do it better than me. I feel lucky that we’ve found that person, and am excited to see what they create.
I’m tired and bored. I think customers are too. Daily sales targets, daily ROAS goals, month on month acquisitions, bounce rates, likes, shares, follows. Discounts every day, product messaging all the time. There’s a constant pressure that every single day our online store keeps grinding out the numbers. It’s exhausting. And it feels inevitable.
Everything’s moving so fast. We thought, why does it have to?
Our business model wasn’t working at its best. Or I wasn’t feeling good about it. We could have kept going as we were, hoping for things to change, or we could change things ourselves. Like most ideas, this one — closing our store — came to me after a few wines and whines with my friend Tash (thanks, by the way). I pitched it to Ellen and Charl.
Like always, I feel something and let other people think about it. Pretty soon they came back to me.
As always, we started with questions:
Is there really a reason we’re open (selling) every day?
What if we could make our monthly revenue target in the first two weeks? And then spend the rest creating content we care about, working on the business, not in it? What if we could use this time to focus on our customer without either them or us feeling like we’re solely pushing sales?
Do we think our customers will understand the decision we’ve made?
Ellen had heaps of questions, and this time I had answers that felt right both on paper and overwhelmingly in my gut. Last year really felt like a battle with using my voice, but the resistance here was minimal.
Slower is faster. Take a break from sales. Reset the model. Catch up. Do what we’re best at: talk to our customers. Ask questions. Look back on why we started, and see what feels good and true, and what needs to be looked at anew. Create more content we’re proud of. Less sales posts on the feed. More art that starts conversation.
It means that for a little while, it will be customers’ last chance to refill, try Fluff if they haven’t before, or buy Fluff as a gift.
What does this mean for Fluff? To be clear, we’re not going on holiday. A few people have wished us well on our break, lol. We’re catching up on all current orders. On manufacturing & new products. On talking to our customers. On deepening our connection to community. On content that makes them feel and think. We’re looking to try new things and looking forward to having space to do this.
Change. To move our business model to one based on supply and demand (for new customers), and then offering our loyal customers a subscription service, so they never feel like they’ll run out.
To bring someone on who can help us grow fluff. Whether that’s through investment or acquisition, I don’t mind. This is beyond me now.
All this happened amongst a pretty turbulent start to my year. I thought my theme was persistence but perhaps as I write this I’m realising it’s honesty.
I had to be honest with myself, and in turn — my core relationships and my work. It’s meant walking away from really important people and things that I deeply care about to discover what I’ve deeply ignored. It’s meant questioning and changing our current business model and company structure. It’s meant doing what I love, this: writing, and submitting the first draft of my book to a publisher. It’s meant actioning my anxiety.
As creators it’s so important for us to be fuelled by and connected to our work. If and when this drive fades, everything around it does too — I refuse to let that happen.
There’s a foundational calmness to what we’re doing. We’re excited to share our learnings along the way. This might not be something for everyone but it could be everything to someone.
All this reminds me of an advertising campaign that Ellen shared with me a few years back:
BBH’s motto is “when the world’ zigs, zag.” It was created as a slogan for Levi’s to launch its black denim range. The ad saw a single black sheep facing right, in a flock of white sheep facing left.
While everyone else in the industry is going one way, we’re going to go the other.
Fluff’s online store will be open until midnight Tuesday, February 8th AEST. We’d love if you supported us by sharing Fluff with a friend, buying a Lip Oil for a pal or just stocking up for yourself.
You can use this code at checkout for a final, further 20% off: MEDIUM
We don’t have an exact re-opening date for the next product drop of our Bronzing Powders. But you can sign up to our mailing list on our website to be the first to know. With the current overwhelming demand for our Bronzing Powders, we will be releasing them as preorders.
I am genuinely interested in how you think we can have deeper, more challenging conversations, and make more people see themselves in Fluff. We have so many thoughts but we’re here for yours.
Please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org