Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. And when I got married, I remember, well, I
might tell people about why I got married because I had a problem that I should have thought about. But instead of thinking about it, I thought it was me.
It was my fault. We today’s guest did. That’s just so phenomenal is they said we had a problem here. I bet others have a problem problems, equal opportunities for entrepreneurs. Let’s see if we can take this on. And they S they solved it here. It is. The problem that I had was I thought a lot about my wife’s wedding ring.
I remember spending time at the store, studying diamonds. They gave me a brochure. I understood carrots. There were the color and all that nonsense. Um, I called my brother and talked about pricing, and then when it came time for me to get my wedding band, I don’t know, it just did it a little bit. Before the wedding, we went to a few stores, they felt schlocky and out of touch with me, but I needed something.
I ended up buying something, it felt fine. And I had it on my ring and my ring finger. And. I guess that was it. But I thought that pain was me. I thought there was something wrong with the way that I pick rings. Today’s guest said to, you know what, it’s not just us. It’s the system. We’re going to come up with a better solution.
And they did. It’s called manly bands where men can go and get wedding bands and the process, the site, the whole spirit of it just feels right. It’s created by the two guests who I’m going to be interviewing about how they built their businesses. The first is Jonathan Ruggiero and the second is Michelle Lucchese.
I am so excited to have them on here. Talk about manly bands and about their new brand Rosie Ray. And we can do it. Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first, if you need a website, hosted, go to hostgator.com/mixergy. The second, if you need to do online marketing, don’t we all, I’m going to tell you why SEMrush is going to be your answer, and I’ll let you use it for free at semrush.com/mixergy.
Good to have you here. I’m going to hit you with a question and you told me you’re not going to answer, but I still want to get a sense of it. Revenue, how much revenue you do and give me a ballpark.
John: Well first, Andrew, it’s great to great to be on mixer GME. You it’s great to meet you. And thanks for hitting us with the most difficult question out the gate. The one that we specifically said, we didn’t want to talk about, Well, we’re not allowed to say this is one of those things, but I will say that we are in the healthy eight figures and we are having a blast.
Andrew: outside funding.
Andrew: This is not your first business. You’ve had a few that didn’t work. Give me a sense of like what, before we get into how you got here. Give me a sense of what one of the top sellers is so that I know what you’re selling.
John: just to give you another brief summary, you know, we, we work with men’s wedding bands, uh, primarily, uh, different materials, from your traditional, gold and, platinum palladium, all the way up to more unique styles like dinosaur bone and meteorite and wood antler. Um, and right now, one of our most popular styles is a non traditional version of your standard black ring.
It’s called the cow
Andrew: and Michelle, you’re selling these one time to men. The big issue that I, that I would have thinking about this business is you get all this Goodwill with me. You get me to buy a ring. you don’t get repeat business from me. Right?
Michelle: well, I, mean, maybe right now, Andrew, but we’re hoping to change that because women get anniversary bands all the time. They upgrade the ring all the time. So why can’t a guy have different rings for different occasions? You know, John always says for date night, I want my fancy ring. Now I want a more casual ring when I’m at work or, you know, hanging out.
Andrew: I can’t think of fancy versus casual, like in my head. I don’t, I don’t see that the need for it. Here’s what I do feel like I need. Um, and I didn’t know this when I first got a ring it’s really tough to do certain things with a ring on bike, riding long distance, your finger hurts. Right. Um, I hear weightlifting is a problem.
I’m not a weightlifter. So I don’t know. Right. I imagine that’s an issue. we also, sometimes every few years, my wife and I will go and get our rings cleaned. It looks so good when they come back. Um, I want something on there, so it doesn’t look like I’m taking some time away from the relationship. You know, those I could see those needs and imagine that that’s part of what you’ve got in store for the future.
John: Yeah, well, that’s that’s right. I mean, you know, right now guys are already doing this. Like you said, there’s guys going to the gym, they’re working with their hands. They are riding bikes. They’re doing things where they don’t want to use a precious metal ring. They don’t want to scratch it or dang it because, you know, it’s the most important accessory that they own.
So right now, in a lot of cases, they’re, they’re buying really cool. Silicone rings, whether it’s from us or our friends over at groove life or Kalo, you know, it’s just a different segment of the market. So what we’re saying is, Hey, what about, uh, something in between? What, why can’t you wear something a little more casual to work, or if you’re going out for drinks and then save like a really fancy, uh, ring or your gold ring or your actual wedding ring, perhaps for, um, you know, something along the lines of a date night or just a nicer ring, uh, for like a date night or a formal event.
Andrew: Yeah, I can, I can say it again for me for like nice night out with my wife. My, for some reason, my head wouldn’t go to that, but I’m about to go and do something that’s a little bit more, you know what it is. Go swimming. I worry about some of these lakes. I didn’t know your ring, your finger actually changes in, in thickness based on the temperature.
Right? So if you’re in a cold environment, doesn’t it get smaller and then the Alright, I I see where you’re going with this. I want to know how you got here. And the thing that’s curious that I’m curious about is it seems like you both wanted to be actors. Am I right?
Michelle: no, I did. John was a director producer.
John: We’re both in the entertainment industry. You know, we move out to Hollywood from film school and you’re going to take over the industry. It’s a lot harder than they make it look. And so we ended up with regular day jobs, uh, in the industry, Michelle struggling actors.
She was always auditioning. She got us some really great roles along the way. And I did not end up making my, uh, you know, theater debut of any big movies, but we both worked really hard and, uh, found that the entertainment industry we’re still going to pursue it down the road. But, um, we wanted to take a break from it and that’s kind of where the opportunity to start manly bands started.
Andrew: tell me about actor rated. What was that?
John: Oh, sure. So accurate was One of the uh, one of the first ventures I went into where I was kind of getting into web development and things like that. And I wanted to help solve a problem that was kind of always are. Our entry point into these different entrepreneurial adventures. And so Michelle and I had just started dating as an actor.
There were a lot of different services and schools and photographers that she had to deal with on a regular basis. And, uh, it was always a, you know, a big question of, Hey, who should I go with? What’s the best acting class. What’s the best school and Yelp was around, but it didn’t really feel like a lot of those reviews on there were, were either a real or by actors that are actually in the area.
It seemed like there was just a lot of fraudulent activity. So we, uh, we said, okay, you know, what, what if we were to make a site specific to actors that allowed them to learn and grow with a forum and different networking types of tools, but also to leave reviews and, uh, communicate directly with the different schools and photographers.
So, so it was an opportunity for me to grow as a developer and entrepreneur to kind of create this. And it was a tool that Michelle and her friends could use to really find the best services in town.
Andrew: it’s a great idea. It does make a ton of sense. What happened with it?
John: Well, you know, I, uh, didn’t approach it?
from a business mindset. I approached it from a, let’s just see if we could do it mindset. And, uh, and we did do it. And we ended up with a thousand tens of thousands of businesses listed and we were getting tons of traffic. We just weren’t really in a position to monetize it.
And, uh, and that was really one of my, my big lessons from that, from that project was okay.
Andrew: couldn’t you like, I’m looking at the site, I’m looking at the internet archive version of the site photographers, right? At the very top. It makes a ton of sense, right? It’s not just that you want the best photographer, but you want to get a sense of what the photos look like. Right? What’s the experience of working with the person it’s, it’s writing their acting classes.
I completely understand. Anytime I want to coach, it’s not enough that the coach is good and a lot of coaches are. I’m a little bit shaky about my chess coach right now. Don’t think he’s showing up enough, but you know, and even if he was great, he might be great for me, but not necessarily for someone else, if one has different styles.
Right. So I understand all this, this makes a ton of sense. And then if you’ve got a place where people are coming and looking for service providers, charging some of the service providers to show up at the top of the list, seems like a natural fit. It feels like you had all the pieces, what was missing,
John: it was my experience. I just didn’t have a lot of sales experience. And it was the kind of thing where I was, uh, more of the technical founder and not the, a, the business sided founder. So that’s something that I’ve learned along the way. And, uh, it’s, it’s, you know, obviously manly bands, I think hit a need that was far greater than, uh, the services and, and whatnot, uh, market available to actors in Los Angeles and New York.
So, so thankfully we’re now solving bigger problems with a lot more
Andrew: speaking of problems, you said that is where you always wanted to start. How did you know that that was what you should be thinking of when you’re thinking of a new business?
John: You know, I don’t know, just kind of a personality trait. It’s just something that I want to feel fulfilled. And I like helping people. So whether it’s mentoring or solving problems for, for friends and family, I just always kind of gravitated towards a problem solver type of personality. So, um, when it came to developing a business, I didn’t just want to make money.
I wanted to do good. And, and that was just kind of part of my approach. It’s like, okay, well, what problems do people have? And what problems can I solve to maybe make their life a little better?
Andrew: Forgive me, but you know what? Your dad ran an Italian restaurant, right? That’s not a business. I have to think about what’s the problem. Obviously there’s the obvious people are hungry, right. But there’s no, there’s a problem in the market.
John: want the best pasta in town.
Andrew: It’s then I think that the leap to say, I’m going to find something, a problem that people have that is a hard one to make, and you keep doing it. We’re going to see it over and over. And both of your careers as entrepreneurs comes up. Is it just you, you needed to do good in the world. That’s is that where that’s come from?
John: I don’t, I don’t know. I, you know, I’ve, I’ve never really thought of it too much. Um, I just like to, to make things better and if it’s just, you know, sometimes it’s not a good thing either because it’s, it comes from
a personality trait, you know, I’m very much a people pleaser too. So I think that it’s just something that feels good to me to help other people.
And that’s just kinda how I approached it for, for better or worse.
Michelle: Well, John has a lot of compassion too, so I think, I think that’s, you know, what fuels him in his life too, like even in the business, always making sure that everyone’s taken care of and cared for and loves their job and that kind of thing.
It’s, that’s all been a big part of us.
Andrew: Is that something that happened before, um, before business, do you have an example of a time in your life where you at that way, where either of you is just looking for a problem? Always there to help people being a people pleaser
John: actor space and, you know, yeah. There were all sorts of other ventures prior to activated and
Andrew: That’s the thing, every one of your business is let’s find a problem. I’m here to help. I’m the guy with the tool belt and we’re going to solve it. All right. Did you end up having to formally close down accelerated actor, actor rated? It doesn’t seem right because it’s
John: Well, we, we did, we it’s, it’s no longer, uh, online. it’s
a, it was the kind of thing where we were just spending a lot of time on it and not, um, not making any money from it. And we wanted to put our resources into, into other ventures.
Andrew: one of the other businesses film, screener, right? That’s one of the other businesses. What was that?
John: So, so film screen here that that was another helping filmmakers, um, this time hoping it was a broader audience of customers, but the goal behind that was similar to, um, to kind of like the Netflix for independent filmmakers. So the idea there was to curate independent, uh, filmmakers and independent films that?
maybe went to Sundance or slam dance, or other film festivals around the world who maybe didn’t get distribution through Netflix or theaters or Amazon or anything like that, and could come to film screener, uh, as a way to distribute their film.
And then our kind of, uh, angle was that they would get a hundred percent of the profits. So somebody would rent the movie. It would just go straight to their PayPal account. We wouldn’t take a fee and instead we would charge a flat fee just to have their movie listed on the site.
Andrew: what happened with that?
John: Well, same thing with accurate rated. It worked great. Look good, but I’m not a business minded person. I wasn’t at the time. And so, uh, I, You know, I got maybe 30 or 40 people on there and, uh, oddly enough, as soon as it came time to start charging, they just weren’t interested so clearly not, not the right customers, but,
Andrew: feel like if you, if you knew how to hustle, if you knew how to sell at the time that you could have made at least one of these businesses thrive, or is it just that it was the bad, the bad
John: Well, I do. I do, uh, you know, these are great questions. I think, uh, you know, maybe on a deeper level, I have trouble perhaps asking for, for money, for the things that that I like to do. And I think that’s just because that my joy comes from, from helping folks and I don’t do it with an expectation. I do it, um, with just a desire to see them succeed.
And that’s that fulfilled me. That was all I needed. Obviously, when you have a business, you have bills to pay and all this other stuff. So you have to ask for money and perhaps that’s just one of the, um, the not so great parts of my personality. Oh, that’s a beautiful Everybody has flaws. No, one’s perfect.
And I think that it’s something that I’m working on. Certainly with manly bands, I did learn a big lesson and that lesson was, um, you don’t do everything yourself. And in a lot of cases, uh, it was just me and Michelle or me and my business partner, Scott. Like it was there weren’t enough people, I think in our, our hemisphere that could, could support every operation.
So while we would focus on the technology side of things, things which really excited us, we really didn’t have the time or the mindset to work perhaps on the business
side of things. And I think that’s, um, that’s where some of those, those situations probably,
Andrew: Michelle. I think you told our producer, you got laid off and you decided you were going to double down on change. You had debt, you had no savings. Right? Why, why did you say, why did you say change? What were you looking for?
Michelle: Um, I, I actually, at the, at the time I wanted to just put like all of my energy into acting. And so I did that for a couple of months and, uh, and I wasn’t getting where I wanted to go. I threw my back out, so I couldn’t do a lot of the things I wanted to do. And John said, Hey, like monkey wrench, instead of, you know, us just getting married in Florida and coming back here to California, what if we just cut and run and like left California for?
Just, just expense. Let’s just see how it goes. Let’s just get outta here and see how it goes. And, uh, and I was kicking and screaming. I did not want to go because to me that was. Utter failure, you know? Cause I had been in LA for over 10 years at that point, you know, and, and they always say, oh, if you get past the 10, the 10 year mark, oh, you know, it’s just rainbows and roses after that.
Um, and it was clear that it wasn’t rainbows and roses, you know, and that I needed to attack it from a different angle. So, you know, we, yeah. We just took off and got married and then started manly bands
Michelle: weeks later. Yeah. Very shortly after.
Andrew: was the idea that you were going to take time away from Hollywood. Take time away from, uh, movies. It was and just go some, start something else you then I guess, John, you got a job at around that time at Getty. Well, you had, I guess you had it the whole time. Didn’t you?
John: I had been at Getty for about, about 10 years almost. Um,
and when I was out in LA and that’s, that’s when Michelle and I met and I had a great time there. I absolutely love the company. There are excellent. Are people, there are just some of the best people I’ve ever known. And, uh, I grew and learned so much during my time there, I was just kind of getting burned out and wanted to, uh, give my entrepreneurial endeavors a chance and they were super supportive about it.
And, uh, Yeah.
it became time for us to get married. And we said, well, Hey, let’s, let’s take a shot. You know, this is a, like a life event. What happens now? What happens on the other side of it? This is a good opportunity to make a change. So we, uh, we left, I gave my notice. And, Uh,
it was, everything went fine and Getty, they were super supportive.
And so we, uh, packed up, left our, uh, we were done with our apartment lease and we said, okay, we’re, we’re driving to Florida. We’re going to get married. And then we need a job to pay the bills. And so the original plan was not to sell start a business after we got married and moved to Florida because that’s crazy who does it?
Yeah. So we said, all right, we’re going to go to Florida. We’re going to become real estate photographers. And we’re going to use all of that creative knowledge and the Hollywood experience to make really amazing real estate videos. There’s an area down by where we moved about 10 minutes south of us along the beach that just had really amazing homes.
And they just really well-priced. And we said, well, the realtors there would be happy to have like an amazing video and a website and we’ll run Facebook ads and we’ll do a drone and 3d scanning of the house. And it’s going to be the best thing in the world. And they were like, no, we just use our iPhone.
It was like for a $4 million house, you’re taking pictures with your iPhone. They’re like, yeah, it’s easy. Nice. Okay. I think I’m seeing the writing on the wall with real estate photography. I don’t know if this is gonna work. And so we, um, we said, okay, we need a plan B and a, and then we went back to back to that initial kind of thought process of how can we help somebody?
What, what problems did we have an experience that maybe other people are experiencing that
Andrew: Normally sit down and say that formally, say what problems you did.
John: said, I said, we need a plan
Michelle: B and
Andrew: This is where you’re at. Just more brilliant than you realize that the process of doing that. All right. So, Michelle, can you tell me what the experience was of buying a wedding band?
Michelle: of our, our
Andrew: Yes. Your personal experience.
Michelle: Sure. So I knew exactly what I wanted and well, I, I think I, I, I thought I knew what I wanted and I started looking around in stores and nobody had exactly what I wanted. So I was able to do a custom ban and they just were falling all over me like, oh, well, yes. And what do you want in an oh, gorgeous.
Yes, of course. Beautiful.
Michelle: And so then it comes to John because of course they want to sell him a ring too. And they’re like, oh, let’s talk about you for like 30 seconds, you know? Um, let’s grab the sizer and his hands are large, you know, and his fingers are really big. So they’re off the charts on just a normal sizer.
Normally a sizer goes from like, like know size three to 13. And so he was off the charts. They didn’t even know what size he was. And so it became this sort of depressing question of what size are you, and also who can make you a ring because no one had one in store. So everyone was basically telling us, oh, we could do a custom ring for him, but it’s going to be like really boring white, gold domed ring, like, you know, whatever.
Yeah, sure. And it was still just such an afterthought. I mean, nobody cared me. They were like, oh, diamonds, diamonds, gorgeous, gorgeous. You know, and it was so sad. So for us, you know, John’s like, um, I don’t really want white gold. I want something kind of cool. That represents me. Why do I have to have something that everybody has, you know, you’re not getting something that everybody has.
So that’s sort of, when the ideas
Andrew: what did you end up getting? That was cool and special?
Andrew: Uh, yeah, for him. I’m sorry for him. What
John: did you? What did I end up getting? Well, I had no choices, so I ended up just going online to some.
sketchy website and just that they happened to have the larger sizes. And uh, and of course I’m a dude. I didn’t know what size I was. You go to a jeweler. If they don’t have a way to size you, you can’t figure out your size.
So I’m like, okay, well, they couldn’t size me at the store because my fingers were too big. I guess I’m going to 16, 15, maybe a 17. So I’m just going to go to this, this crazy little store and I’m going to buy like five rings. Because my weddings in two weeks and boy, do, I hope one of them fits otherwise, it’s going to be a very embarrassing wedding with a string on my finger.
So, so I, um, I just ordered from this one website I had never heard of. And, uh, thankfully it got there in time, but it arrived in this like loose FedEx mailer. And, uh, there was no ring boxes. So the rings were just kind of flapping around in these little plastic dime bags. I opened it up the thing for the ring flops on the floor and I’m like, okay, this is the ring I’m wearing the rest of my life.
This is awesome. You know, there wasn’t even a receipt in the bag. I mean, it was the kind of thing where if I needed customer service, You know, good luck. So yeah, it was, uh, quite an experience to say the least.
Andrew: you know, you mentioned that about sizing, you guys sell the manly ring sizer. It’s only 13 bucks of that. I feel like does that work for women too? I feel like I should just keep that around the house. It does, right? It’s the same size. I’ve got to find out what my wife’s ring size is. So then whenever I go to buy her something at the last minute, it’s not now I have to go figure out how to sneak a ring out of here.
And is this the ring that really fits her right? Or not? We should just have that. I don’t know how to get it, but I guess that’s what I would, what I would do. Yeah. Um, all right. Do you remember the first time were you a ringer before John
Andrew: can either.
John: just a regular dude didn’t wear jewelry and then it’s like, oh man, I got to put this thing on my finger forever. And not only is that intimidating, but I don’t know what to buy. I don’t know what size I am. I don’t even know what I like. So it was the kind of thing where I was completely in the dark and, and that’s really one of the things we set out to change just to make it easier, faster, and much less stressful than the current process.
Andrew: well, I talked to the founder of kayak just earlier today. And one of the things he told me was you have got to, you have to, as an entrepreneur, be trained to look for problems. When he teaches students, he asks them 24 hours before seeing him to take their phones out and just look for problems, take pictures, and then show it to him.
Don’t spend forever. Don’t go through your camera. Just look for it. And you guys totally, you did it right. Let me take a moment to talk about my first sponsor. Then we’ll come back in here and see what the first step you took to making a ring. Cause that’s not an easy thing to do. And then how you finally got sales.
My first sponsor is a company called SEMrush. You use them, John, can you tell me how you use them? Even if you don’t get into details,
what do you do at
John: is it’s fantastic. We’ve, we’ve been a member of a Sam rush for quite some time, years, and, uh, we use it all the time for keyword research, organic traffic keywords, paid keywords, competitors, keywords. It’s a, it’s a really great resource for all things. Keywords and SEO.
Andrew: you know what it’s keywords, SEO search engine, where you actually pay for it helps you figure out where to buy ads. The thing that I didn’t realize was my previous contact at SEMrush. She worked at a company where she did social media and she wanted her social media to do better. And she wanted some research on what would help her with her posts.
And that’s how she started using. And she said, all right, social media, I know it. I need a little bit of help. She saw the helpless Shaun numbers go up and then she said, oh, maybe I should take a look at all this other online marketing. What should I do with Google? What should I do? Where else? Alright, she did that.
And she ended up liking it and doing so well with it. She started working for some rush Alicia she did until today. And I miss her. All right, but I will say this, the software is still there. It’s still great. And because she gave me this deal before she left, we still have the ability to give everyone who’s listening to us, access to SEMrush for free.
Right now, all you have to do is go to semrush.com/mixergy. S E M R U S h.com/mixergy. If you want to use this for free. All right. Um, what’s the first step you took to find, I guess you found rings. Bye.
John: So, yeah, so, you know, the process, once we figured out what the problem was, then we had to sit down and figure out, okay, how are we going to solve this? And, and that’s really where that career, I think the creative experience that we had had out in Los Angeles and just going to school for that, you know, we really kind of showed up and, uh, I think it was very helpful.
So, so what we did first was try to find rings that we would want to wear. So, you know, we did a bunch of competitive research. We did a bunch of online research and we started coming up with these designs that we could call our own. And then we started doing what any other product developer would do calling around to find manufacturers and, and see, okay, can we get some samples?
Can we see what this would look like? And, uh, and so that’s what we did. And
Andrew: You wanted to make your first ring? I was assuming you were going to tell me when to Alibaba or AliExpress. We bought a handful. We started selling those. Once we sold out of those, we decided to make it. You from the beginning, you had no money. You were in debt. You said we’ve got to go make our own rings to our specimen.
John: well, no, no. We did work with manufacturers, but we were able to come up with our own designs. So we, we worked hard to try to have something a little more unique. And so, so that’s what we did. So we, um, we just use what savings we had left over from the wedding, which wasn’t much credit card. We were going to leave that out.
But number one is don’t use your credit card to finance your business right
Andrew: No, it’s not a good thing.
John: entrepreneurs do.
Andrew: I think you’re not supposed to, but I mean, legally, I think they tell you not to do that, but,
Andrew: yeah. All right.
John: we’re no different than most, but certainly we, uh, we did that. So we started super small. I think we only had 10 or 15 designs on the site. We only had, um, you know, a handful of, of rings available to us. And, you know, we were able to find some manufacturers that would also work on an on-demand basis.
So we didn’t have to order stuff, you know, in bulk, in the beginning. And, uh, it worked out really well for us. So we were able to come up with unique designs and, um, just kind of start marketing. And that was really the beginning of the company. Was that marketing and just kind of getting the name out there using Facebook and Google, and then making sure we could back that up with great customer service and, and all the other good stuff that makes a good business.
Michelle: Yeah. I think just to add to that too, there was also this element of how are we going to sell this in a different way? Like, what is manly bands? What is this brand? And so we started to match, try to match guy’s personality with a ring. And so that’s how we started coming up with our names and how we grouped the rings into different personality collections kind of help him get to his collection real fast.
Andrew: Was the original name, manly bands? It was. So I went to the internet archive. The first I know you guys started the company in 2016, the first version of the site wasn’t up until 2017.
John: Hmm. 2017. No, it was up 2016.
Should have been November, November, 2016.
Andrew: archive didn’t have it. All right. And so you grouped it, your first sale came. How soon after you launched the site?
John: three weeks. Four weeks. Yeah, it definitely took a few weeks to get it all, get it all going.
Andrew: All right now, I’ve got some early versions of the site. There is the mountain man, right?
Michelle: huh? Yup. He was our bestseller
Andrew: fit. Um, and it looks like that one is just a stock photo with somebody adding, using Photoshop, adding the ring to it. Okay.
John: I might know something about that
Andrew: Okay. All right. And then you’ve got the architect, the angler, the Aspen, the baller, the conquer. These are a lot of different styles, I guess a year in. You started to expand and I get now the sense of the names and what you’re trying to communicate with this. What worked for you for advertising? Where were you, why were you able to make ads work?
2016? Facebook was already discovered it was already competitive. 2017 was super what’d. You do.
John: It was definitely discovered. Uh, and, um, you know, it, it costs a lot of money to advertise then, although definitely seeing higher CPMs these days. Um, but it was the kind of thing where I think that creativity, we all just look at our competition and we say, okay, what can we do to stand out? How can we be different?
And in this case, you know, Michelle’s marketing and branding genius really played a huge role in, um, in kind of defining our product as not a stuffy jewelry brand. We want it to be something different. We had unique names, we had unique descriptions. Uh, it, it just wasn’t, uh, a normal, you know, Hey, this is a cobalt Chrome ring with some matching on it.
We had, you know, this is the astronaut or this is the cowboy. And, um, and so we, we let that kind of parlay over into the, uh, yeah. Advertising as well. And so we always made sure that our advertising was written in a tone that represented the brand. So we tried to make the marketing funny in different, uh, you know, in a funny way, uh, irreverent.
Kind of dollar shave club slash uh, old spice kind of tonality, which, which people I think resonated with. And we tried to use funny pictures and, and things like that. Just to stop the scroll, as they say,
Andrew: um, and you know, what I realized is that first of all, shipping on, on rings is it’s not super expensive, right? You still want to ensure it. You want to ask for a signature, but return shipping is not super expensive either. So you’ve got some of that Warby Parker, uh, benefits. Where were you finding the men were buying multiple rings, sending them home, and then returning you are.
Michelle: yeah, there was a little bit of it. I wouldn’t say. Um, cause I handled the customer service in the beginning too. And I’d say it was like maybe 20, 30% of people who would buy more than one ring, but generally people were just being really decisive and picking one, which was our goal. So.
Andrew: I would’ve thought that ring sizing would have been an issue right. From the start. Did men know what the ring size was?
John: Nope. And have No. idea like myself, we have No.
idea. Why would you wait? Right.
Michelle: So we came up with that solution of the manly ring sizer, and, you know, we’ll keep, we’ll keep reiterating it and making it perfect until everyone knows the ringside on the, on the planet, on the planet. Yeah.
Andrew: What apple did for watches, they knew that they want, they had those custom, I mean the fixed size watch bands. And so they let you print something like how many people have printers I happen to, but fine. And then, uh, and then based on that, you can do it. Do you ever try that? The print out? Yeah,
Michelle: Yeah, So there are versions like that people do like a string. You can measure a string, the PR the problem is the knuckle and also people’s different sheep fingers. so you have to get the ring over the knuckle and then also it has to be tight behind the knuckle. So it stays on. yeah.
But, but to your point, Andrew, you know we do still get a lot of exchanges.
Sure. And, uh, you know, it’s, it’s a really high percentage and we’ve kind of perfected the, uh, the exchange process. Uh, there’s a tool that we use, uh, called loop returns, which is fantastic. And, um, if you ever have a chance to interview them, they have an amazing story also. And, uh, they, uh, they made it super easy for us.
People can, self-serve exchange has come to the site, punching their order number and their last name, and then they can, uh, do a quick and easy exchange. And then our team here is ready to go. As soon as, uh, as soon as it gets back, they send out another one. So we’ve kind of streamlined that, and it’s been a huge resource for
Andrew: you know what I used them recently. I, I found a hoodie that I like to look great in an ad. I bought it when I came home, my wife didn’t like the way it looked on me. I, I happened to use their site and they, they use loop returns for it. And it really was a great experience. I was getting ready. I said, I don’t know the Shopify store.
And they’re now going to put me through the ringers probably final sale. Nope. The exact opposite. I could print out a label and we’re all good to go.
John: Yeah. And I feel like that’s kind of the way e-commerce is going, you know, certainly a lot of merchants are already doing it. Um, and you know, just keeping that customer experience super simple and streamlined, I think makes for a better experience for everybody,
Andrew: what’d you do about the box, the box when you first got started
for the ring? Yeah.
John: ah, he
Michelle: had so many different iterations of the ring box, so we wanted to do something that was a little different. And so we had these wood boxes, like just, you know, stuff we found on Etsy, different things we found on Ali-Baba. We were really trying to like get somewhere that wasn’t just a traditional ring box.
And then John’s mom actually. Um, saw something on Etsy and she’s like, oh, I could make something like this, but better. And so she started making what we now call the manly Birchbox. And it’s, it’s like a little, uh, a box made of Birchwood that you kind of twist open and it’s got a space for the ring, which is so awesome.
So we saw that as an upsell now, cause there’s only so many she can make. Um, and then we’ve reiterated and made several different ring boxes. The current one that we have kind of emulates like a, a baseball case. And it’s, it’s clear on the top and then has like a little place for the ring to set up. So it kind of looks like a little display paced for oh,
Andrew: oh, dude, this Birchbox. I get it. I S that’s the Birchbox. No,
Michelle: that’s the Birchbox and that’s the little baseball case.
Andrew: see. Yeah, it looks like a baseball, uh, on display on your desk. I’m looking at the Birchbox, ultimately 33 bucks. I feel like you guys undercharged for some of your stuff. Don’t you think the Birchbox should be more excited?
John: Well, you know, gosh, I don’t want to like shoot down my mom here. Cause She does actually make every
Andrew: makes every one of these.
John: she makes.
Andrew: I would just say that what? This is, it looks like a tree stump though. It’s obviously smaller. It’s made from a branch. It right. It’s pretty, it’s pretty thick, thicker than my wrist. And then the top of it slides to the side and then underneath it is where the ring sets.
It’s just, it looks really good.
Michelle: Yeah. And there’s single ones where it just has like one hole in it. And then this one is a double
Andrew: Yeah. What’s the deal with the double. I see one of those two,
John: So, you know, we, we found from our customers that a lot of them like to use the Birchboxes in their weddings, so they’ll give it to their ring Baer and they’ll that person would walk down the, uh,
the aisle with them.
And so they’d want to put both rings in the, uh, yeah,
Andrew: she using a drill press. mom’s using a drill press. She is.
John: a drill, press, a bandsaw sand thing. And then, uh, just some good old fashioned hard work. It’s pretty awesome.
Andrew: Was it your family who was, who was taking the rings, put them in, into boxes, shipping them out in the beginning
Michelle: Yes. Yes, it was. So it was my parents, uh, John and I, for the first few months of our marriage, we were living with my parents since we had, you know, just kind of cut and run and had no place to live. So for the first three months, I guess it was, we were living with them. We started manly bands. And so we would all have dinner.
And then right after dinner, we’d start packing boxes and we’d go through and I’d be on Shopify, printing out the labels. And they just had a little assembly line of packing the boxes. It
John: was amazing. Yeah. It was a lot of fun. Yeah. We’ve, we’ve involved our family and pretty much every step of the way and whether that’s good or bad.
I hear, I hear mixed reviews from people giving me advice, but I think for us, it’s been a wonderful experience.
Andrew: I’m hoping to get to one of the bad things. Cause I have a sense that there was a period where it was challenging, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Talk about like January, 2017, you told our producer, you’re sitting at home playing cards with Michelle’s parents and then the phone keeps dinging.
Michelle: Yeah. So we had the little notification on Shopify that would tell you when there was a sale and it’s a touching and it just, it was constantly going off. It was touching, touching, like probably every 10 minutes, which was, you know, crazy at that point. Yeah. We have maybe before that maybe like five sales a day was a great day for us.
And so it just started, it was like 20 sales a day, you know, suddenly, maybe the second week of January. Um, and what we came to know later was that was the start of wedding season. And when people started to buy wedding rings, we didn’t know that at the time, but things were just working, which was amazing.
Andrew: If you could just pause at this point in the story and tell me, what was it that worked? Why did this idea take off?
John: You know, I think, I think we solved our problem. I think the problem, uh, from the beginning was that guys didn’t really have a good choice when it came to cool and interesting wedding ring styles. A lot of guys didn’t know their size and we had kind of streamlined that process a little bit. Um, and larger guys like myself, you know, we didn’t have a lot of choices at a jewelry store and we always made sure because I have big fingers.
I wanted to make sure that other folks with big fingers could solve that problem. So we go from, you know, the super small sizes, like size five or six, uh, for guys all the way up to size 17. Actually we can go to 25 for custom rings. We can go up to 25, but, uh, we, we. Have stuff in stock, then it goes up to size 17.
So, so we just tried to solve every problem that a guy would have every problem that we had. And, uh, I think that really resonated with guys and you know, the other thing too, I don’t think guys like jewelry stores and maybe I’m just speaking for myself. I always feel intimidated going into a jewelry store.
I don’t know what to get. I didn’t wear jewelry before. And, uh, you know, I, I buy stuff on Amazon and online all the time. So it just kind of made sense to be like, all right, I’m going to go online and find something that I really like and give it a shot. And if I don’t like it I’ll return it that’s fine.
But, um, I’d rather do that, then go and do a jewelry.
Andrew: I find that I don’t like going to stores in general. I remember when I was about to have my kid, I went into a store. I said, this is something I need to see the product because we’re going to live with it. Put my kid in the stroller. And I remember saying, can I buy a baby carriage? And the man goes. I don’t know what is a baby carriage.
And I swear, God, this is what he did, what he said. And I remember the look that he gave me. It turns out they’re called strollers, not baby carriages, but come on, the guy should have known. Don’t make me feel bad for it. Yeah. It’s just so uncomfortable to go into stores, right. Versus you go online and you get to look at it.
You get to ask every dopey question you’ve got and chat, if you want to. Right.
John: I think in that just comes from a place of, you know, maybe, maybe some of these stores just don’t understand where their customer is mentally and they just haven’t updated the way they do things in a long time. And I think we’re trying to be a little more modern, innovative, and trying to be with the times.
And, uh, I think we kind of hit it at the right time.
Andrew: at some point you, you, to burnout, you told our producers, you were working 60 hours a week. What was your time spent on.
John: it was just everything. I mean, there weren’t that many, you know, it was Michelle and I, and Yeah.
Two or three other folks working with us mostly are our parents. And, um, you know, there’s, uh, as an entrepreneur, you’re wearing all the hats all the time. And, uh, you know, it was, it’s a lot of work running the website, plus doing all the marketing plus all
Andrew: What you said to you, the other thing you said was it, it was a challenge to delegate. What, what should you have delegated at this point in the story? If you could go back to the point, we’re talking about
John: Oh, at the beginning in 2017 would have been the marketing. That was definitely where I was losing sleep
Andrew: how much were you spending on marketing at the time per
John: oh, we were probably spending 20 or 30 K a month, I would say
Andrew: Yeah. Then you’re at the point where you could hire a good agency and get going. Okay.
we were, and of course, 20 or 30 K is all on the money. And if you’re not making it back and you’re losing it, then you’re, you know, that’s a huge chunk of revenue.
So it was the, uh, the kind of thing where, um, you know, you lose sleep on it. I am not an expert at marketing. I don’t claim to be, I try to be innovative and always be learning. Um, but certainly when it comes to Facebook, I am no expert. So it was, it was challenging, especially with everything changing, uh, back then, you know, the algorithms were changing the way people did things were changing.
Like they were launching different types of ads and it was, um, it was quite a roller coaster. So I
Andrew: you even learn what to do? How’d you learn how to do it, how to do the ads to get you to that point.
John: Sure. Sure. So my, uh, my business partner, Scott and I, we had a little tiny marketing agency, a little boutique thing where I didn’t do the marketing per se. Uh, Scott did, but I would do more of the website development and things like that. And we had a few clients and we just kinda, we, we dabbled in it and did a pretty good job for our clients.
Um, but it gave me an opportunity to, to learn some stuff. So it was, uh, it was a good, good thing.
Andrew: one of the businesses you had was an, an Aiden and agency.
John: Very small one. We had like seven clients. Yeah.
Andrew: Okay. That’s still impressive. How’d you learn how to do marketing at all? Was this something you went online to learn? Is it
John: Yeah. It was just the kind of thing where we were, we were self-taught and we networked and we met, uh, you know, a lot of great, great other entrepreneurs along the way. And it was very much the kind of thing where you just dig deep on YouTube and go to YouTube university for it and just kind of figure it out?
by doing it.
Andrew: you mentioned, uh, your other co-founder Scott. Am I getting his name? right.
I don’t see them on the site. How did Scott fit into the story?
John: So Scott is a big part of the story?
He, uh, he is currently our CTO. Um, we’re actually just launched a new about page. I don’t think it’s up yet, but, um, if, uh, I think it’s got a manly bands.com/about us all one word. I think it’ll come up, but, um, Scott’s our CTO and he, uh, he’s able to, uh, travel around. He lives in an RV, although he’s spending more and more time in Utah, which is awesome.
But, um, we’ve just, uh, he’s one of my best buds and we’ve learned so much together and he just does some amazing stuff here at manly bands. Now from managing our website to launching different apps, uh, like we’re actually innovating with apps. So we have an app called band mate that helps people find what ring that matches their personality.
Michelle: Oh, it’s the coolest thing. It’s, it’s like a dating app. And so you slide. To
John: slide. No, I can’t say swipe.
Andrew: Oh, you can’t say swipe.
John: You can say swipe.
Andrew: Is that right? Tinder’s Tinder owns that.
Michelle: There is
Michelle: affiliation. I don’t know what you’re
John: talking. Don’t know that word. There’s no affiliation between swipe and manly bands,
Andrew: Okay. I know there isn’t but.
John: with your fingers, you can slide the picture left and right.
And that may or may not do something.
Andrew: Wow. Okay. Wait, is this in the app store? I don’t see it.
John: It is, it. is a band mate. One word
Michelle: B a N D M a T E. Yeah. So we have that one and then we also have a ring sizing app as well that, um, Scott’s team created and it’s called the manly bander. Bander. Yeah.
Andrew: How do you do
Michelle: pretty cool. You put your hand on it and it helps helps you figure out your
Andrew: And how accurate is that?
John: It’s pretty accurate, 5% accurate. It’s reduced our exchanges, a fair amount. Um, E along with the, the physical ring sizer, it’s definitely helped. So it’s, it’s been a really great, um, great
Michelle: project. One thing we find is that?
customers don’t always know to buy the ring sizer, or they don’t like somebody in their circle is a size 10.
And so they think they’re a size 10, or they think their shoe size matches their ring size, which is so not true.
So there’s just, yeah. Miss there’s so much confusion about ring size. Yeah. So they’ll just guess, you know Um,
Andrew: Yeah. All right. I should talk about my second sponsor. My second sponsor is HostGator for hosting websites. Um, I actually have been thinking about how do I introduce HostGator? I guess most people think about them as a blogging and publishing platform, which they are, but I’ve also talked about them for, um, for e-commerce and I have to acknowledge it.
I interview entrepreneurs all the time who don’t use HostGator or don’t use a WordPress and WooCommerce to, to, uh, to sell online. And I’m thinking like, who is using it? Because I just talked to someone the other day and I said, what’s different about him? And why is he using WordPress and will commerce a song?
What I realized was what he was doing was once he had a concept, he would build a site that’s dedicated to selling the thing. And then. When he had another concept, he built another site to sell that other thing. He was in the business of selling multiple products, seeing what works and maybe every one of them contributes a little bit to his bottom line.
He’s not really creating a brand for each product. And when you’re creating multiple sites, It does get expensive to use Shopify. And if you’re doing it on WooCommerce, it’s basically free because WordPress is free will commerce is free. Hosting is inexpensive. You can keep copying and pasting essentially, and then tweak the design, which is what he’s doing.
And I have to say that for that formula, it just works incredibly well. If anyone out there is looking to experiment, looking to launch lots of different products and you want to sell them will commerce a great way to do it. You can host it for a very little with HostGator. And if you go to hostgator.com/mixergy, you can host it for even less than they usually charge because they’re giving us a special price break.
All you have to do is go to hostgator.com/mixergy. And of course, if all you want to do is host a regular site like I do, you can do it with them to host Gator. Thanks for sponsoring. All right. Um, you know what, one of the things that I saw in your video was that our bodies shrink and expand, right. That our ring finger shrinks and expand.
When I, I got my ring in, um, In Santa Monica, then we moved to Argentina to pretty warm climates. Then we suddenly get to Washington DC. And I remember opening my arms in Washington, DC. And the ring on the train would just fall out. That’s a thing, right?
Michelle: Yep. Yeah. So in the cold, uh, your skin contracts, and so you’re going to have a smaller size. Right. And then, and that would be your
Andrew: Oh, I thought it was the other way. Isn’t it? It does it. Oh yeah. Contracts. Right. And you need a smaller ring size. Yeah, exactly. That’s why it would fall down, right?
Michelle: yeah, if you think of it, like, like he sort of makes you kind of feel bloated a little bit too, so like, it kind of bloats your finger as well.
And also if you gain or lose weight, really like kind of 10 pounds is about the mark. If you go up or down 10 pounds, you’re going to change your ring size typically.
Andrew: Is that an issue that people have dealt with that where you, the, you buy two different rings, one for the warmer climate you do.
John: Well, Yeah,
You know what we do, which, which helps to give the guys, uh, just, you know, one of the things we can say, Hey, we got your back is we give a free silicone ring with every metal.
Right? And so one of the purposes of doing That is so, Hey, I gained 10 pounds of Thanksgiving. I don’t want to buy a brand new ring, but this one’s a little tight. Hey, I’ll just throw on my backup silicone ring, you know, just for a couple of weeks until I lose the weight. Um, also guys are notorious for losing their rings.
Yes, it’s uh, it is a thing, you know, we get emails all the time from folks who, you know, they, they bought her one of our rings for their, uh, their wedding. And then a few weeks later, they go on a honeymoon and, uh, the water it at the, at the beach at Maui, I don’t know where it went. I think a turtle
Andrew: That happened to me, my friend. It’s it. I’ll tell you why. There are two reasons. Number one is that’s when you’re like super excited. We’re finally here. Number two, the water always makes it slick, but actually the third one is the water’s colder. And so I, my body, right. It shrinks up. And so I did wish that I had an alternative for that.
I kind of thought that the ring sizer that you had. Was going to let people address that a little bit by allowing them to take, does it let us take the ring off the sizer to wear it for, for a little bit? It
Michelle: We actually recommend that people wear it all day for that express purpose too, because you might find that you’re a size seven, but then at the end of the day, you know, you’ve worked out and you’re a little, you know, a little more bloated. And so you really want to go with a 7.5. That’s gonna work for you all time,
Andrew: I’m one of the videos. I didn’t S I didn’t realize that on the, on the product page, I’m on the product page. Oh, I see. It’s got a little tab that goes onto the big key ring, right? You’re saying, take it off the key ring. Put it on. Keep the tab on underneath. Anyway. It’s not that inconvenient, but you’ll get a set.
Got it. Okay. I was thinking maybe that had came off and it looked more like a ring. It doesn’t got it because you’re saying, keep the number on it. How do you know all this stuff? What does it all customer service somehow feeding into, into some kind of doc? It is
John: It is, it
Andrew: anytime there’s a problem. Somebody says I lost it at the beach.
You just write it down and you talk about, got it.
Michelle: Yeah. Honestly, in the beginning there was so much listening to the customers and whenever anyone asked me, you know, like what, what’s the thing that helped you grow in the beginning for, for my side and what I did, of course John was doing the marketing, but for me it was always like making little tweaks on the website, making sure the language spoke to exactly what, you know, what they needed to know.
Or if we weren’t covering something in a post-purchase email to cover that in the post-purchase email, you know, help them as much as
Andrew: and just constantly take that back in and change them. Is there one thing that you remember learning that was not obvious, that changed a lot that had a big impact on, on sales.
John: I think for me, from a marketing perspective, we learned that the vast majority of our customers are actually women, which we didn’t at all expect, you know, being named manly bands. Uh, you know, we were, we were very much catering to dudes, you know, man, like guys and, uh, and you know, we, we, to this day, we still get a lot of flack for that, by the way.
But, but really we’re just poking fun with, you know, manly and, uh, it’s um, what we did, we learned that women are buying for their, their other half in a lot of cases. And, uh, so we, we adjusted our messaging just a little bit and I think it made a big difference.
Andrew: How do you mean, how did you change the message or adjust it?
John: Wow. I think we just kind of came to it. You know, when we started doing marketing campaigns, like instead of, Hey, you got a manly ring, you know, it’s, you know, feel like a man or something and we’re trying to be a Reverend. Okay. I know that sounds terrible, but this is why I don’t do marketing anymore. We were trying to be funny.
So we’d come up with some manly thing. Uh, but when we started trying to be funny as if we were joking around with the, the woman, half of the equation, it was more a, Hey, have you been trying to play in your wedding and your dude still hasn’t gotten his wedding ring. Yes. Look here we’ll help. We’ll help you figure it out.
And the comments and the engagement, it just went through the roof because I think people were women were in a particular where identifying what, the fact that they’ve been asking the dude to get a ring, like my beautiful wife did when we were getting married. And I was like, yeah, yeah, I’ll get to it?
I’ll get to it. You know? And then two weeks before the wedding, oh man, I got to get a ring. And I think people just connected with that kind of, uh, the women connected with that kind of advertising and that tweak really made a difference.
Andrew: You went to a three PL eventually that’s not that that’s not that hard. How did I guess you realize, look, we need to send our rings over to someone else. We’ll send our orders to them. Shopify is encouraging people. It makes it easy for, for, for sellers to do that. Right. That was a big move.
it was, um, you know, it was an interesting thing because, uh, you know, we really kind of enjoyed in the beginning doing it from the garage, you know, the sense of pride we’d, you know, put everything in a bag and then we’d haul it out. So call her and we’d go to the post office and then we’d have returned.
So we’d come back with a bag and then we’d processed that. But, but, you know, it gets a little weird when the neighbors are like, what’s going on at that house? Like, what is these giant bags that they’re bringing in? What are these unmarked brown boxes and why are they doing it twice a day, every day? And they leave at weird hours and they’re home all the time.
Like it was, it was just getting a little awkward. So not that we wouldn’t tell them what we did, but, you know, nosy neighbors like to look and come up with ideas of their own. So, um, so for our, our, our reputation in the neighborhood and for our own, uh, our own mental health, we said, you know what? We’re kind of getting to the point where this is becoming a.
Uh, a little, a little more difficult than it needs to be. Let’s see if we can find a solution. And in one that would not only help us with the shipping, but free us up because it was still mostly Michelle and I, and one or two other people free us up to focus on the things that’ll really help grow the business.
So, um, you know, like meet with the marketing and things like that. And Michelle with customer service and the operations. So we were fortunate. Um, well initially we found a company in south Florida that unfortunately didn’t work out. Um, but then we found an amazing company up in Memphis, um, called chips a lot.
And they were absolutely fantastic partners and worked their tails off, helping us grow the first three years that we were with them. And we were just, it just freed up our life to help the business grow.
Michelle: It was fantastic. And we too, like the two companies were kind of growing together. They as a three PL and us, you know, um, on Shopify and it was just really lovely, like learning together, we kind of hit each other at the same stride.
It was nice.
Andrew: What’s the other, what’s the next big thing that you needed to pass on to someone else?
Michelle: customer service. Yeah. We’ve we found a company called influx that we started using, uh, to outsource customer service. And, uh, we found through them one of the biggest things that bothered us about, you know, John’s ring buying experience was the lack of customer service. Because of course I was tasked with having to return the other four rings that he bought that didn’t fit.
And it was a terrible experience to say the least. And so we wanted ours to be very like handheld and make everyone feel, you know, taken care of. We want to make sure you got the best ring that you wanted, what not. And so we really had to sit down and train them, you know, train everybody. And it was sort of a revolving door of different people.
Um, I forgot what they call it, the S something. And it was, it, it’s a kind of service where it’s several different people are sort of on your team. And depending on who, you know, who’s on that, that hour, you know, you have that person, but we had lots of training sessions to make sure that they could. They could really handle it and they were fantastic.
Andrew: You know what I never heard of influx before I’m seeing them. Now, I talked to so many people in my audience who are trying this type of a business. And for some reason, the whole, it just, they kept failing with it. I guess one of the reasons was it’s really hard to understand a company’s product and their voice and everything else that goes into responding.
The response is not just dealing with the issue. Right.
John: Yeah. You know, I think the reason that influx works so well for us, uh, over other companies, because we had tried other companies as well. Um, I think influx works the best because they give you what’s, what’s essentially a dedicated agent and, and maybe it’s not dedicated for somebody who does get to know your business.
And this person sits with you for days and does training and looks at the website and they sit on customer service calls, and then they, their team will do a bunch of emails, but leave them in draft mode so that you can give them feedback and that sort of thing. So they really do take the time to get to know your brand.
And, and let me tell you, it’s a great investment of time because once they can do that, it’s much less expensive than having an in-house team. Um, and it’s scalable, which, which was great in the beginning nowadays, we do have our own team in house, um, which we prefer now, but in the beginning, that was the way
Michelle: to go.
Andrew: they say they can ramp up in a week. I’m doing the math on this. It looks like a thousand dollars, which is the least expensive package. It’s basically based on the number of hours you’re committing to. It’s $31 an hour for customer support, but you’re getting them at all. Well, seven days a week.
Michelle: Yeah. And
Andrew: it’s more than that.
Seven days a week. Eight hours a day, right?
Michelle: Yeah. You could get them long too, which is neat because they have people all over the world. So they really can service like a 24 hour clock, which we did for a while. Yeah.
Because we were, you know, we were finding that customers were, oh, I need my, I need my ring tomorrow.
How do you make this happen? And so we needed that and they’re all
John: native English speakers. So it wasn’t an issue with communication. It was really great.
Andrew: What other resource can you introduce me to it? So the price is much less than I thought it’s much cheaper per hour than I thought. What other, what other research resources? There’s ships a lot. There is
John: Yep. And flux, I’m trying to think what others are
Andrew: Do you ever get a personal assistant,
John: No, we haven’t done that. No, no, no, no. We’ll never have no,
Andrew: Oh, who’s the person who’s off camera. Who helped you get the, Who’s the person off camera that you were sparing to to get the charging cable?
John: Oh, you heard me? Corey. That was Corey. That’s our studio. I was
Andrew: Why do you have a studio?
John: That’s why. Yeah. So why do we have the studio?
John: Oh, that’s a good
Andrew: What are you up to? I’m on your side? I don’t see any, I don’t see video.
John: oh, well we’re working on it. So if you, if you have a chance to look at some of our advertising on YouTube and on Facebook, you know, content is a massive, um, pillar of, of our goal as we grow.
So we want to continue standing out from our competition in, in ways that. Uh, we believe we’ll, we’ll keep us ahead. So there’s not that many companies in our space that are investing in the content creation. So, so we said, okay, we’re going to do that. And we’re going to kind of create a media arm of manly bands, and we’re going to create podcasts.
We’re going to create a YouTube videos that explain, um, you know, explain all of our rings. So you have an unboxing experience. You know, here’s a great example, uh, for the use of, uh, rush. We were going to look at what keywords people are searching for relating to rings, and then we’re going to make videos for each and every one of them.
So it’s, um, it’s kind of a multi-pronged approach. And then the rest of the time the studio is being used to create, um, banner ads and commercials and things like that. So we’re, we’re really heavy on
Andrew: Man operations really growing. So what’s an example of a video that you can create based on what people are searching for right now. You’ve got a lot of unboxing videos and, you know, like showing the ring videos,
what are you working on?
Michelle: Um, so I’m going to do that if you don’t. Uh, so, you know, what’s the difference between tungsten and titanium? Why do I want to tungsten ring versus titanium? You know, things like that, because I think guys hear those buzzword buzzwords and they don’t know what they are, you know? It makes
Andrew: Why? What’s what, what’s the deal with Thai? What titanium? I feel like a lot of guys want titanium.
Michelle: yeah. Uh, titanium is great for somebody who’s never worn a ring before because it’s super light. So especially for guys who are typing all the time or using their hands for work, um, and they don’t want to be bothered by like the weight of something, you know, they want something really light.
That’s really great for them. And tungsten is really heavy. So for someone who, you know, just wants to feel like it’s a significant thing and they won’t feel like it’s valuable unless it has weight to it. Hudson, you know? Yeah. Or cobalt Chrome. Oh yeah. There’s a million other ones too, but just between those two.
Yeah, for sure. Yeah.
Andrew: you mentioned January lot of sales, October, not so many sales. Why and what happened when you first learned that
Michelle: So what happens is, um, October is kind of the end of wedding season. And so we find that typically our customers have bought their ring about ish about a month before they’re winning. And so, because the industry kind of takes a lull from like November through, say like, you, know, the end of January, there’s this weird low for us that ends up being, uh, sort of September and the end of September, uh, through the beginning of January, because people are in January, they’re buying for February weddings.
And so then it just keeps continuing, which is fantastic.
We didn’t know that. No, we did.
Andrew: let go of your mom? Because, because of the, because of an October experience
We had to lay off Michelle’s mom and aunt. And that was probably some of the worst days of our life. It was not,
Andrew: Did you think you were going to, you’re going to fail at that point? Did you think? Oh no. Here we go again. You did
John: we were, we were heavily concerned that that was the direction we were going in yet. We didn’t know what was happening. Honestly, we thought, oh my gosh, like something’s going on with Facebook?
And the ad, the cost for the ads are going up and the sales are going down and, you know, it was, um, a real cash crunch. And then, yeah, it was just well, and
Michelle: what happens too, is that, um, and correct me if I’m wrong because marketing’s more your bag, but you know, the, it costs more to advertise in November, you know, as you’re going into black Friday And we just like couldn’t afford that either.
It was just massive and just crazy.
Andrew: And you know what? It does still seem like, again, I’m looking at SEMrush and my sponsor, but I use them all the time to see where people are as traffic has come from, your traffic just keeps coming from its search engines and ad networks. So it’s duck, duck go, which I’m seeing a lot. You guys do anything on duck, duck go, or are they just being used more?
Because I’m seeing them more and more in people’s search.
John: We are not using them. I don’t, I don’t know too much about that. I know who they are. They’re running billboards here in Utah. So, I mean, maybe they’re just really marketing themselves and more people are using them.
Andrew: maybe that’s what it is. I’m seeing them
John: look at it. I don’t know if they even do ads. I don’t even know
Michelle: if they do
Andrew: Uh, I’m pretty sure they do do ads. They’re they’re just, um, keyword ads. Um, and I’m seeing them for you guys. Well, I was going to say they’re higher than Yahoo, but they’re not higher than search.yahoo.com. They’re they’re climbing up in people’s search results.
So I see that. I see MSN. I see google.ca I see cn.being.com, cn.bing.com. Yeah, et cetera. You’re basically, it’s all ads. You haven’t gotten really big on content, right? People are not coming to your site to, to read content, to get prepared for their wedding and all that. Right.
John: That’s right. And they’re, they’re not really no, it’s, um, it’s mostly our paid ads and our video, uh, commercials that are driving the traffic. We’ve had millions of use on that commercial that you mentioned earlier that we shot a few years
Andrew: That commercial is great.
John: Thank you. Yeah, it was a lot of fun and, um, and we’re still investing in video content, but yeah, primarily our traffic driver is paid.
Um, our organic traffic is up though, for sure. It’s, it’s probably at least 30 or 40% of our overall. And, uh, we have, um, just a great.
SEO team. That’s done an amazing job getting us high rankings for, for the keywords that that’s for our website. So yeah, it’s kind of a combination of everything,
Andrew: Uh, damn bro. You’ve re you’ve risen in the search results for that phrase and horse wedding ring. Is that a thing?
John: sweating. Wow.
I do not know what that is, but we are going to
Andrew: You’re in position 17 on that one.
John: oh my gosh.
Andrew: let me close it out with this. You, you mentioned your CTO in an RV. He’s actually living in an RV, living the van life type of thing.
John: He sure is.
Yeah. So, so Scott is a dear friend. He was best man at my wedding and is.
just an amazing human being and a super smart, and, you know, we had an opportunity a couple of years after we started mainly bands to, um, to really kind of grow the team a little bit. And we said, you know, we need a really good technical person, a good CTO to kind of come in and help us overhaul the website and all this other amazing technology, crazy ideas that we had.
So I called them up and I said, Hey, listen, I know you’re not super happy at your current job. He was out in Palm Springs at the time melting every day. And he goes, I’d love to work for you. I just have one question. I said, well, what’s that? He goes, I’m thinking of, uh, moving into an RV and traveling the country.
Do you think. Do you think that would work? And I kind of hesitated for a minute cause I’m like, what is exactly does that mean for somebody working in a company? You know, this was pre COVID, you know, I didn’t know, you know, how
John: would. I mean, we had people working remotely, but, but never in like a moving vehicle.
So I’m like, okay, so what does this mean for like internet access? Is he going to be able to be on meetings? Is it going to be reliable and you know, is he going to be available when we need him? And um, and like everything I said, Yeah.
sure. Let’s do it. So gave it a shot and um, and we actually decided to go on that journey with him.
So when he came on, uh, we said, we’ll do it. We think we can do this. Let’s uh, let’s hire you onboard, but can we come with you
Andrew: Did you go into his RV or did you get
Michelle: No, no. So
John: let me rephrase it.
Andrew: too close.
John: We would’ve killed each other, but we said, let’s, let’s get our own RV. Our lease was up in Florida and we said, uh, we kind of want to figure out where we want to live.
Like, you know, Florida is great, but it’s hot and I’m melting every day. Why don’t we drive around together? And we’ll, you know, let’s say we can do the, the RV thing. And so we did, um, we got a, like a, a beat up RV and, uh, it was so beat up that after a month we had a traded in for a new one because it wouldn’t run anymore.
So it was quite an experience. But so we did it for four months. We drove around the country and, uh, he certainly proved that he could work remotely in an RV as, could we even not a problem. As long as you have internet access and this a big Hawkin antenna that. you can put on top of your RV,
Andrew: I want
to do that. I want to do that to just travel
around. It’s it’s harder with two young kids who need to be in school, but people were doing it over to the, over the pandemic. They were doing the zoom classes out of, uh, out of a van or out of an RV. Did you end up in Utah was thinking, where did we want to end up?
John: yeah, we, we, um, we have some manufacturing partners here that we work with and, uh, we said, okay, let’s, uh, we gotta take some meetings. We wanted to shoot our commercial. And there are some amazing commercial production companies here that we worked with. And, um, we were just hanging out here for like a month doing all these meetings.
And we were like, you know, this is kind of cool. This is a beautiful place. The mountains lakes, uh, there was snow on the mountains at the time. The people here are just the kindest, nicest, supportive people we’ve met and certainly different from Los Angeles.
Michelle: I’m very entrepreneurial too, which was nice to be around
John: the energy there’s, um, silicone slopes, which has kind of like the, uh, the bay area of Utah.
And, um, We just said, this place is amazing and it’s beautiful. And honestly, working on the phone 12 hours a day in an RV next to each other makes us want to kill each other. So let’s take a break from the RV life and get an office or a house or something where we have some space. So we got both. yeah.
Andrew: please looks great. I feel like you guys have, you’ve always had really good design. Um, but it takes a lot of, um, I dunno, guts and discipline to be as reserved with your design. As you are, like, look at you, you clearly put your logo and your company name over your shoulder, but it’s not, it’s not blaring.
It’s not giant. It’s not in your face. What do you do? You put the logo in, in inside of ring too, right?
Michelle: we do. Yeah,
Andrew: But is it, is it the logo or the company name also?
Michelle: no, just the logo.
Andrew: Yeah, that takes a lot of discipline because you got to believe that guys are not going to remember what it was. It was manly bands. You have to just also accept that you’re not going to be prominent on their finger forever, even though, you know, you could allow yourself to do it.
I dig that about, about the way you were. All right. The website for everyone wants to go check it out is manly bands. We didn’t even get into the new site that you’ve got. What’s the new site.
Michelle: Oh, sure. It’s called Rosie Ray. Um, R O S I E R a Y. And it’s a unique, uh, unique brings for women radical brings for the modern bride. Is that our
Andrew: sense. Makes sense. I mean, I imagine that one is going to feed customers into the other two. Right?
John: it’s been working well.
Andrew: All right. Congratulate. More than 20 million in revenue.
John: Oh man. I can’t say
Andrew: trapped. Yeah. John, I almost got ya. All right. All right. Thanks so much for doing this interview. I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen in the first.
If you need a website hosted, go to hostgator.com/mixergy. And the second, if you want to sign up for SEM, rush, go use them for free and see if you really love them. Like I do. And you can do that at SCM, R U S h.com/mixergy. Thank you.