Catch Amy Parsons on the #PirateBroadcast™
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[00:00:00] Introduction: Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.2w
[00:00:10] Russ Johns: Welcome pirates and good morning. Good day. Good afternoon. Whenever you happen to be catching this opportunity to watch the #PirateBroadcast, I love that you're here. Thank you. All the #gratitude in the world. And we're going to be having some fun today because we have somebody that has shifted their entire life, took their side hustle, generated a new, an entirely new business out of it. And we're going to be talking about, let me get this right. Mozzafiato and Amy Parsons. Good morning. How are you?
[00:00:43] Amy Parsons: I'm great. How are you? I'm so excited to be with you today.
[00:00:47] Russ Johns: We're going to have some fun. I just want to remind people that if you have questions, you want to like, comment or just get involved, engaged, just open up the chat window. You'll bring some light to the party. Let's have some fun. So Amy, we were talking before the show, and this is a fantastic, this is a perfect example of the kinds of topics that I want to shine the light on because you have done something that is really extraordinary in a lot of respects because you were in a traditional or a somewhat traditional space and doing your thing or having a good life and moving forward and then all of a sudden there was this thing that we call the pandemic and it took you a moment to say, wait a second, I can do something else. So walk us through what the mindset and the shift was in your life that said, I need to do something else. It's time.
[00:01:51] Amy Parsons: Yeah. I appreciate that. And thanks for the question, you're right. I was in probably the most traditional space you can imagine. I had a 20 year career as an attorney and an executive in higher education in the Colorado state university system. And I was 16 years with CSU and working within those big organizations and the university system that's as traditional as it gets. And I went straight into it from law school and into private practice and then into the university system and probably would still be there right on up into retirement had it not been for the pandemic giving me pause and giving me a little bit of space to think about what I actually wanted to do. And I'm really grateful for that career and it gave me a chance to travel and see a lot of things around the world. But I realized that over time, as I was commuting into that very traditional job, that kind of podcasts and books that I was listening to on the side were all about the beauty industry and that space and the craftsmanship. Learning about what was going on in that industry. And that's what I was doing on the side is going in the stores and discovering things. And when I would travel, I would find like the local brands and the stories behind them and the people. And as the pandemic hit and I was home for the first time, like for the first time in 20 years really gave me the space to start exploring like, what do I really love about it? And what's missing in the market here in the UK. And is this a chance to actually start doing something about it? So I started doing my own zoom calls early in the morning, doing my job all during the day, zoom calls at night and started piecing it all together through really 2020. In May of 2020 and launched the company by Christmas a year ago, right now, quit my job and did this full time. And now we just are celebrating our first year in business just this month.
[00:03:32] Russ Johns: So how are you feeling? How are you feeling about the journey?
[00:03:34] Amy Parsons: I think that it has, I'm super glad that I did it. It still amazes me some days that I did it. Because it's, it's, e-commerce, it's retail, it's beauty, it's all of these new spaces and it just, I feel like it expands my brain so much every single day. I think I've learned more in the last year than I learned in the previous 10 years of my traditional job. Just pushing myself and getting better every day, that sort of bird by bird philosophy of every day you do one more thing to make the company better.
[00:04:09] Whether it's, getting one step better on email, one step, better on product. One step, better on customer service, making the website a little bit better, just every day, getting better. And it's such a challenge and it's just so satisfying. When you see new customers coming in and then they start coming back and you see the repeat customers. It's really incredible to be honest. I'm very grateful.
[00:04:32] Russ Johns: Yes. It's interesting because the journey is an entrepreneur, cause sometimes being an entrepreneurs glorified in lot and and there's a lot of anxiety. There's a lot of tension. There's a lot of, how do I figure this out? And it's really about just taking the time to say, okay, what can I do with what I have and what do I need to, how do I need to move forward? And I think you nailed it because just 1% improvement every day, 2%, 10%, making those little incremental changes have to really make a difference every day. Also fragrance and fashion and the market that's an incredibly competitive market. Has that been your experience or have you had a unique proposition where people are finding you in discovering you in a way that it has been surprising to you.
[00:05:27] Amy Parsons: I'll tell you one thing that's surprising and it comes back to a question that I'd love your opinion on. Actually, as when we launched it, we really assumed that women would be about 80% of our customers and men may be around 20% of our customers because we do carry men's lines. The Italian we carry all Italian and only Italian brands. First of all. So niche, heritage, really high performing high style Italian brands and the Italians, they've nailed men's grooming, right? They've got the barbershop culture, they've got these just amazing men's brands and so we're finding those, importing them and selling them on our site. And it turns out men are half our customers day in and day out. Men are half of our customers and that's been a great surprise. And we love that and we're bringing on even another men's brand. And I think that is really telling us something about the market too, because the beauty space in the U S is huge. Yeah, absolutely massive industry. And it's really dominated by these great big retailers, like the Sephoras and the Ultas. And they keep combining with each other to get even bigger all the time. Like for us going into Kohl's and Ulta's going into target. And so they keep just getting bigger and bigger, and they're really dominated by. Influencers and trends and celebrity, and it's a very big crowded space. So we're coming in with a proposition of, we're not so influenced by trends and influencers and celebrities. We're bringing in brands, some of which are 400 years old, a lot of them are a hundred years old, run by the same families for a hundred years, some of them. These really rich histories tied to place tied to ingredient. Just a complete counterpoint to a lot of what you're getting in those, in the big retailers in the U S and bringing in products for men as well. We realized that men don't really have a place to go with those big retailers with the Sephoras and the Ultas they're not really made for men.
[00:07:27] Russ Johns: Over here in the corner.
[00:07:29] Amy Parsons: Like Target has a little space in the middle of it's okay to come here. So we've stumbled on this men like to have good options and to have multiple brands to choose from their cologne and beard care and all of those different types of things. And they really liked that barbershop culture and that quality that Italy brings. So that's been an amazing surprise. And we just keep expanding our content and our products for men, right along with the women.
[00:07:57] Russ Johns: It's interesting because my son, he he likes very few things, but the things that he likes are very unique and high-end, or at least unusual, there's these like little niche things and he's very particular about what he buys and I have hundreds of dollars on beard care, testing things out, and people have sent me stuff and I've tried it out and the oils and all of the creams and everything else. And it's, you have, it's a process where you have to discover what you love and what you enjoy. And then after you find it, sometimes you stick with that, but it's not always the case, but I would love, I love the idea of the discovery process of unique and unusual items, especially if you're thinking about other people and giving gifts and processing that idea of, it's not something you're going to find in Target. It's not something you have to find in a store. So I just want to, I would just want to give a shout out to some of the people in the crowd today. Michael Baker's in the room from Florida. John. Thank you so much for being here. Elize from South Africa. Jordan, all the way into California. Thank you so much, Andy. You have a fan here. You have a fan in here. Amy is a rockstar #inspiration and leader. Love her. Thank you so much, Gabe. I have to give a shout out to Gabe. Gabe has been doing this. If you haven't noticed what Gabe has been doing online, highlighting livestream items in LinkedIn. Hashtag LinkedIn livestream. I believe it is. Is that what it is? Gabe, let me know. But he's just been highlighting a lot of people and it's really appreciated. And then Tony, I had to give a shout out. Tony is the king of bedding. So if you need high end bedding,he's in Toronto, he's doing some stuff online. He's an awesome individual that you need to connect with if you're not connected with him already. So fantastic. And I think you probably have a connection there, it's good sleep, good smell. Good, good care. Serene is here. Good afternoon from here. Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it. And then also, oh, here. So follow linked, LinkedIn live streams, LinkedIn live stream, hashtag LinkedIn live streams. And if you happen to discover a live stream, send it over to Gabe and let him know so he can put it in the The catalog and the highlights. Fragrance. So give us a range. So it's fragrance, skincare?
[00:10:33] Amy Parsons: Yeah. So skincare for men and women, a lot of amazing companies and in Italy have been doing skincare for a very long time. Bath and body is probably our biggest category. So all the lotions and bath creams and bath salts, and, we've got a couple of companies that are taking their bath salts from these Sicilian salt caves, that are 3000 years old and it's just amazing stuff. And yeah, fragrance for men and women and home fragrance as well as really popular. I didn't know that much about home fragrance when we started this business and these Italian perfume houses, they take home fragrances, seriously personal fragrance and different fragrances for the front of the house and the bathroom and the bedroom. And they just generate these beautiful fragrancesfor different places in the home.
[00:11:21] Russ Johns: How do they deliver the fragrances?
[00:11:24] Amy Parsons: So delivery mechanism, a lot of them are diffusers. So they have the oils in the glass vessels and you put the diffuser sticks in. So it's a continuous scent, but we have candles. We have crystals. There's stones, there's traditional potpourri, there's sprays. All different kinds of vessels for different scents. And then, yeah, the men's line kind of everything top to bottom for men's and we're in holidays now. So we are bundling together a lot of these products, so people can get four or five brands together for home or for, we have, holiday scents and we have men's grooming. And women's fragrance and the Italian bath, and we've got one called the powder room, which has everything you need to fit out your pattern room. So making it easy for people because we have a thousand products right now on our side. So always trying to make it like really easy and accessible for people to figure out what they want. So we put these bundles together and you can discover, discover brands and whatnot that way.
[00:12:20] Russ Johns: Do you have a top brand? Do you have something that surprised you that is selling really well? That kind of huh? That's interesting.
[00:12:28] Amy Parsons: The question. I think there's a brand, there's a brand called Perlier and they're like a legendary brand in Italy. And a lot of people in the U S actually know them cause they've been around for a long time. There's stuff, it's bath and body, it's lotions, it's things like that. It smells better than anything in the world. And that was a discovery to, as we're all addicted to smelling it all around the office. And so we, we smell a lot of stuff around the office all the time. So once people discover how good it smells, then they buy it for their kids, their mothers, they buy it for, a lot of people around them. And we're always just discovering these new brands, new products, bringing them on, seeing what works. And then we, go deep in the products that work cause like you said, launching a new business and being an entrepreneur, it's, 1% better every day. So much of that for us, because we're representing all these different heritage. Italian brands is just listening very closely every day to the numbers, listening. To the customer input, listening to the sales, and in e-commerce it's all numbers, exactly at the end of the day, how you did every day, which is terrifying, right? The numbers don't lie in e-commerce, it's all there, where people are coming from, exactly what they're buying, what pages they're going to. And yeah. You, they don't lie and every number is telling you a story and it's learning to listen to that story and understand what it is. And, you might think that it's the greatest product in the world, but if nobody's buying it, then it's not. And if people are crazy about this brand over here, that's where you need to go. And always listening to those numbers every single day. And trying to see the stories that are in the numbers of just where to double down and where to pull back and how to get better. That's really the trick.
[00:14:12] Russ Johns: How do you go through the selection process? What's the selection process that you go through to decide, okay, I want to bring this on. I want to bring this product on. I want to curate this to the site. I want to be able to see what goes on what's that life cycle look like for you at a year?
[00:14:30] Amy Parsons: We start out by doing our own research on the brands, and what's interesting too. And especially men have done this more than women. People will find our site and then they'll email me directly and say, Hey. I found this brand when I was in Milan one time called you know, XYZ, like Antica Barbie, Arie Cola is this little brand out of Milan that does men's barbershop. I never would have found them, but somebody found the site emailed me and was like, you should check these guys out there, reached out to them. They shipped product over to me. We did just like this on zoom. We went through it, we smelled it, we got customer reviews and we just decided to bring them on to the site. So some of it is word of mouth people telling us these brands that they've discovered in. We've worked with the Italian trade commission in New York. We reach out to them and they represent, Italian businesses, especially in beauty and fashion. We say, who do we need to know? Who wants to come into the U S who's ready for this market? And so they've done a fair amount of matchmaking with us and so we look at the products...
[00:15:31] Russ Johns: And who can support it.
[00:15:33] Amy Parsons: And who can support the supply chain. Because the very small niche brands might not be able to supply enough to us. And yeah, we look at, we really look at their story first because we're looking for authenticity. So we're looking for brands that have great stories. Families behind them tied to place in Italy because yeah, we want to transport people to Italy, through beauty. We want people through the products to really feel like they're traveling to Tuscany or Sicily or wherever these brands are from and the products are made. So we're looking for those stories. We're looking for quality of the products and we're looking for great style because we are going to be the Italian style and the product. It looks better. It smells better than anything. You're going to get on the shelves at mass market. So that passes all those tests and we import it into the U S put it up on our site and see how it does.
[00:16:27] Russ Johns: It has to pass the sniff test.
[00:16:29] Amy Parsons: Absolutely. It does pass the sniff test. Yeah.
[00:16:34] Russ Johns: Catherine from Finland regards. Thank you so much. Jenny Gold is in the house. She says, good morning, Amy and Russ. She's in your neck of the woods. She's up in Colorado, near Denver. They're numbers. I have to ask you when you start something, especially an online business, there's a lot of misconceptions about what it takes and there's, it takes a lot of effort, a lot of moving parts, so what's the biggest surprise that you had in your journey in the last year about just bringing it all together. That took a lot more time than you anticipated you expected?
[00:17:11] Amy Parsons: Yeah, definitely visibility and translating visibility and just say. Is really hard conversion converting all the way into a sale. We were fortunate to be mentioned in Vogue magazines father's day gift guide, and you think, hey, we're in Vogue, open the door, we're going to sell out. This is amazing. And you see a few sales from it, really, but it's, you put it on your website, you've got that credibility. They have vetted you, I mean that, that lives on, to really see that boy, this is amazing, but will it translate to sales immediately? Now it'll take some time and you're in there and people will find you. And so it's really learning that. There's absolutely no magic. And a lot of people sell magic bullets in this industry, do this. And you're going to triple your conversion rate, do this. And you're gonna, quadruple your email opt-ins and all these things. I don't believe any of it anymore with the truth in all of them but I don't believe that there's any magic bullet like that. And it's pushing 10 buttons every day, to be honest. And it's that old fashioned notion of good to great of turning the flywheel. And eventually when it goes and sales are picking up and things are moving, you're not going to know whether it was that Vogue article or whether it was that great email or whether that was, improving the button on your checkout page to get better at conversion. It's just all of it working together, day by day until it's really turning. Learn that lesson every time because you get excited, like this is the thing that's gonna, and it does a little bit. And then you do the next thing and it does a little bit, and it is just relentless energy toward pushing that flywheel every day and it's going to do it.
[00:19:00] Russ Johns: So how do you find joy? I want to give a shout out to Diane. Russ, finally able to catch the show, create content, and Amy is awesome. Thank you, Diana. How do you stay inspired, motivated and avoid burnout?
[00:19:15] Amy Parsons: Yeah, that's a good question. Burnout is real for sure in this, because you can do it all day long every day, every single. And to be honest, I love it so much. And I'm so excited about the company that I want to, and, I want to get up on Saturday and be here. And do I want to get up on Sunday and be. I have a husband and two teenage daughters at home, and I'm grateful for that because that forces me to say, all right, I've got to prioritize that just as much as the business and to help me balance out between the two of them. If I didn't have them at home, I would do nothing, but this truthfully all the time. So I really grateful for my daughters, for my dogs, for my husband at home that really forces me to take a break, but it's also a joy for me to involve them in the business. And, I bring products home and I tested on them and I have them go through the website and I have them review advertising. Watch the show with me in the morning and things like that. So it brings me joy to bring those two sides together and really helps me be better at both, but I'm definitely no expert in it. I will burn myself out. Absolutely. Unless. I really forced myself to stop. Do you have any advice for me on that Russ?
[00:20:33] Russ Johns: Having started many businesses and experienced burnout on occasion I think you're doing everything the right way. You don't pace yourself, take time out for yourself and make sure that you actually just disconnect on occasion. This weekend I had a lot to do, and I thought I'm at that edge, where I'm recognizing I need to Take a break. So I just unplugged a little bit and take those moments for yourself and cherish them, allow yourself to think about what it is that you are doing, things that you can improve, areas that you need to remove because half a business is not necessarily doing more, it's what can I no longer do? What can I stop doing? Sure. Yeah, how can I delegate it or delete it from my inventory of things I have to get done. And it's so important for us to all recognize that it is a journey. It is, you have to enjoy the day. You have to enjoy the moment and find a little bit of pleasure in the process because it's not a magic bullet. There's not a lever that you can pull and all of a sudden everything is just magic. It's not that way. And sometimes people want to paint it that way, but it's.
[00:21:41] Amy Parsons: I think you're, I think you absolutely hit on something really important there about relentlessly eliminating the things that you don't have to do. That's really hard. And I was in like I was at a 20 year career in something completely different. I was serving on a lot of boards. I was involved in a lot of social activities, going to a lot of events, all of those things. And to really make that shift of coming into this business and saying, I don't have to do any of that. And to save my sanity, I have to really be relentless about pushing that aside, at least in the first couple of years. And I have to do two things really well. I have to run this company and I have to be good for my family. That's it? Everything else is a super distant second and it's okay to just relentlessly ruthlessly say no to those things. So you can be successful. And the two things that really matter, that's not, it's not.
[00:22:31] Russ Johns: On a episode last week with Erika Warfield, she says the first three things you do in the morning are revenue generating. It's like that stuck with me. It's okay, I gotta do that. So I, we have to actually apply some of these techniques and these processes and I just really, I really applaud you. Shifting out of, a 20 year career being something completely different and finding something that you enjoy and you can thrive in. And no matter what happens in the end, the experience that you have right now is priceless. And I just can't express that enough. And even people in my own family don't always understand what I do or why. And it's just the process of getting out there highlighting. And my mission is to help more people. So it's pretty simple equation. And I do that with video. I do that with, creating content and highlighting and sharing that in that information with other people and sharing fragrance and curating these little craft focused individual. Created something amazing. And then putting it out to the larger audiences is equally amazing. So hats off to you.
[00:23:51] Amy Parsons: Thank you. Yeah. And you've created something from scratch, right? Something from your head and your heart that you brought into existence and that's it's a big leap of faith that takes a lot of courage to do that. That's what I'm trying to learn, how to do here too. It starts with an idea and your. And to bring that all the way to the point where people are going on the website and buying something is it's amazing, right? It's an amazing journey to go on, to create something from scratch and to put in the work to see it actually exist in the world is very tough, very satisfying.
[00:24:21] Russ Johns: You're probably two inches taller than you started.
[00:24:24] Amy Parsons: Two inches shorter.
[00:24:30] Russ Johns: Oh yeah. Beat up. Yeah. Jenny says Russ much break lasted a few days.
[00:24:39] Howard Kaufman, Howard Kaufman, somebody you should probably talk to. He does ORL Organic health care, mouth care, awesome individual, just great business owner. And I just really appreciate all this stuff that he's brought to the table as well. So it'd be a great introduction. So that's the other benefit of the show. That's the other benefit of the show is you get to meet new people. Thank you, Amy so much for being here. I wish you the very best in all your adventures. And if there's any way I can add value or help or support you please feel free to reach out. Everyone, go connect with Amy, let her know that you're a pirate and make sure that you know where to find her, where to find her products and services. And that's what this is all about. Helping more people help more.
[00:25:22] Amy Parsons: Thank you, Russ. It's been a joy, that really flew by. I could spend a lot more time with you, but I appreciate being with you this morning. It's been great.
[00:25:29] Russ Johns: Call anytime. Everyone, thank you so much for being here. If you like, share all the social shenanigans that take place that help us grow and also know that we do this because #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree and you #enjoytheday. See you tomorrow
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