Episode 197: Stephanie Morimoto, CEO and Owner of Asutra

How much of success is composed of luck? Stephanie Morimoto’s luck has certainly been of help, but it is not the only factor in determining success. In the few years that she’s worked with Asutra, she’s managed to secure a celebrity partnership, as well as relaunch the brand and its story – elevating it to another level.

Dan Hodgdon
AnnouncerWelcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty®, hosted by Jodi Katz, founder and creative director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.
Jodi KatzHey everybody, it's Jodi Katz, your host Where Brains Meet Beauty® podcast. This week's episode features Stephanie Morimoto. She's the owner and CEO of Asutra.

And if you missed last week's episode, it featured Evelyn Subramaniam. She's the founder of Bija Essence. Hope you enjoy the shows.
Carey ChanningGood morning, Jodi. How are you?
Jodi KatzI am good. I'm just feeling a little cold in my office, I'm having some tea.
Carey ChanningWell, I can't help but notice that you are drinking out of an absolutely stunning mug. Can you tell our listeners a little bit more about this mug that you're drinking out of?
Jodi KatzWell, it's just some more Where Brains Meet Beauty® swag, and we have so much fun making swag, and Carey actually helps lead the charge, and she made these adorable teal blue gradient mugs with our logo on it. I love them and we've sent them to our team members and our clients. We're often a swag machine here at Where Brains Meet Beauty.
Carey ChanningWell, I want listeners to know that they have an opportunity win a free mug because we do do our giveaways sometimes, and just maybe we'll include this mug as part of the giveaway package. Just a little incentive to check out our giveaways on Instagram.

Today, we are here to celebrate the end of the year, and we actually have back to back to back episodes to finish out the year. So it's not a biweekly launch, it is weekly. You get more Where Brains Meet Beauty. I know everyone's excited about that.
Jodi KatzThat's so cool.
Carey ChanningSo today's episode, you are talking to Stephanie Morimoto, and something super interesting about Stephanie is that she didn't found the brand, but she found it.
Jodi KatzWhat do you mean she found it, Carey?
Carey ChanningI know. I'm a little confused by that one. So in the episode, Stephanie talks about how she was actually looking for a brand as an investment to help out a friend, and she was always a fan of Asutra and she had the opportunity to actually purchase the brand. So she found it like she looked for it. Nice play on words.
Jodi KatzIt's such a great story, and what's fascinating about it to me is that Stephanie's approach is something that a lot of founders really desire, which is after running their brand for a few years, being exhausted and tapped out by it, they're looking for a Stephanie to come and take over the business and grow it in a way that they couldn't.

There's so many founders who love the journey, but are ready for something new, and I use Stephanie as a great example of what kind of success you can create when you step into a business that already has some established customer base and proof of concept, but you're giving the founders a fresh start into a new passion, and then you get to use your talents like Stephanie did to grow the business.
Carey ChanningExactly, and this was a brand that Stephanie was super passionate about as a consumer, so it was kind of a perfect match.
Jodi KatzYeah. We don't get to hear from a lot of people who buy brands. I don't know why. Maybe their publicists don't put them in front of us because they're not founders, but I think this is super interesting. This diamond in the rough and being able to clean it off and make it sparkle.
Carey ChanningAbsolutely, and not everyone has the skills or the vision to create something from the ground up, so this is an excellent episode to listen to if maybe you fall more into the category of Stephanie. Something that she mentions in the episode is that when she got connected with Asutra, it felt more like a collection of products and didn't have that brand story connected, and how can you speak to that as a creative agency, like that hat?
Jodi KatzYeah. I mean, there's so many businesses that the heart of them is so fascinating, but they're just not sure how to talk about the business or how to package it up in a way that's relevant for the industry and the customer and exciting, and that's what she's done here. She looked at and surveyed and audited what she loves about the brand and then brought it to life. So it's a fascinating process to watch.
Carey ChanningYes. I'm thrilled to get into this episode, so let's go ahead and roll episode 197 with Stephanie Morimoto.
Jodi KatzHey everybody. Welcome back to the show. I am so excited to be here with Stephanie Morimoto. She's the owner and CEO of Asutra. Welcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty.
Stephanie MorimotoThanks so much, Jodi. I'm so glad to be here.
Jodi KatzI'm so excited to have you here. I loved getting to know you on our intake call, and we had so much fun talking. So I want to take everybody back in time with you to when you're 11 years old. And since we're a career journey show, this is the perfect question to start with. When you were asked as a kid, what do you want to be when you grow up, what was your response?
Stephanie MorimotoI wanted to be an eye doctor when I was a kid, because my grandfather, who was my total role model and hero, was an eye doctor. So I wanted to be just like him.
Jodi KatzThat's so sweet. Did you go with him to work?
Stephanie MorimotoSometimes I would. Yeah. And he would let me sit up front with his receptionist to meet patients, and sometimes he would even let me in the back and I could see how things were working. But he was an incredible man who worked his way through college and medical school, and then built his own practice in a town called Joliet about an hour outside of Chicago, where he not only served the community through his medical practice, but also created good jobs in a town where they were hard to come by.
Jodi KatzAnd did you pursue that as a career?
Stephanie MorimotoSo I took a year of chemistry in college and then said to myself, "This is probably not for me. I can't see myself focusing on this type of content for the next eight, 12 years in school." And then after that, I really loved the idea of working with people and helping people, but I ended up majoring in sociology instead of chemistry.
Jodi KatzWell, let's go back in time, just not as far as 11 years old, to your career because you did not start your career as an entrepreneur or in the personal care or wellness business. So what were you doing in your career early on?
Stephanie MorimotoI've done a number of things. My first job out of college was teaching English in Japan. I went to Hiroshima, which is actually where my grandfather's family was, and taught English to 600 middle schoolers and high schoolers a week, and it was an incredible experience. And then I actually got into business on the entrepreneurial side. I worked at a large consulting firm called McKinsey where I learned a lot about what it takes to run big companies and realized that big companies weren't quite my thing, but I really liked the aspect of businesses that I learned about. So I took what I learned at McKinsey and went to the opposite end of the business spectrum and worked at an organization where we helped women of color start small businesses. And we ran a loan fund and we provided assistance on things like marketing and business planning and how to take that side hustle out of your kitchen into a commercial kitchen. And it was just a lot of fun.

But one of the things that I realized doing that work is that a lot of the women we worked with were moms and they were building those businesses because they wanted to get their kids a better opportunity educationally. They wanted to be able to afford to send their kids to parochial school or private school or get tutoring. And it made me really reflect on my own educational experiences. I grew up going to public schools in Joliet and they were, I would say, mediocre at best. And then when I got to college I realized, oh wow, there was just a whole different public school experience out there, depending on where you grew up and what zip code you lived in.

And so that made me realize, huh, I think I would really love to take the business and entrepreneurial skills I've learned into the education world. So I worked for two national education nonprofits that trained teachers and principals for high need public schools, and I worked more on the business side if you will. So I did all the fundraising, marketing, and business development, and had to raise half a billion dollars for those two organizations and helped them grow their programs three to four X.
Jodi KatzAnd I would imagine that that type of work takes a lot of time. To raise the capital, but also see the impact. My guess is you have to be pretty patient.
Stephanie MorimotoYes, yes. Education reform is definitely a long term game. I mean, folks have been at it, you could argue, forever. From the founding of the public school system to trying to improve it decade after decade. So it definitely takes a lot of patience and you have to really see the impact of making small changes every year, but also realizing, okay, those small changes are probably impacting thousands or tens of thousands or even millions of kids every year.
Jodi KatzAnd did that feel incredibly rewarding?
Stephanie MorimotoYes, it was incredibly rewarding. It was also at times incredibly frustrating. You talk to a lot of entrepreneurs and leaders and as in any sector, leadership matters, especially in schools. And so the one unfortunate thing in public education is that the superintendents, the people who are the CEOs of the school systems, often turn over in high needs communities every two to three years. And with new leadership often comes a new direction and therefore they would often change a lot of the programs even if they were working because they wanted to put their stamp on the system.

So that was the frustrating part. But the inspiring part was walking into classrooms, walking into schools with teachers and principals who were just so committed to their kids and their families, and doing whatever it took to make sure that those kids and families had access to the right academics, to the right extracurriculars, just to a lot of resources that they otherwise wouldn't have had access to were it not for that teacher or that principal.
Jodi KatzAnd was your plan to stay in the public education realm for the rest of your career?
Stephanie MorimotoYou know, it's so funny. My husband and I always joke that when we were in our twenties and first got married, we set this 10 year plan and nothing really in that plan happened.
Jodi KatzOh wait, I need to hear about the plan. Tell us about the plan.
Stephanie MorimotoWe thought we were going to go to business school. Yeah. I thought that I was going to maybe run a nonprofit one day, because that was the environment that I was in. My husband used to work in finance and he thought he was going to do that forever. And what ended up happening is we actually took the GMATs, we visited business schools, and then we both got opportunities to get promoted and build new divisions within the organizations that we were in at a fairly young age. So I got the opportunity to build a whole new department that didn't exist at my education nonprofit. My husband got the opportunity to move from New York where we were at the time to San Francisco and start a new office for his firm.

And we both thought, well, business school will be there however many years from now, so let's just take the chance and see what happens, because these seemed like once in a lifetime opportunities. And we did it. And we never ended up going to business school, and we're both not in the same industry that we were before that we thought we were going to be in forever. So things totally changed, but we're both really happy with where we ended up.
Jodi KatzAnd is there any time where you're like, oh, I do wish I went to business school? Is that a lingering feeling? Or are you like, eh. Every day's business school.
Stephanie MorimotoYeah. Honestly, no. I don't regret that decision. Every day definitely feels like business school. It's so funny you say that, because I literally just said that to somebody yesterday, because I feel like at Asutra, running a small business, you learn something new every day. And for me personally, getting to learn it in real life and then practice it or do it is so much more helpful for the way I learn than sitting in a classroom.
Jodi KatzWell let's talk about Asutra because this is not a brand that you invented, right? This is actually a brand that was created by somebody else that you then purchased. So tell us about the journey to actually finding the brand and then buying it.
Stephanie MorimotoYeah. So like I was saying, I was working in the public education space. I'd been doing that for a dozen years and to be honest, I was getting a little burned out. Both by the slow, incremental progress that we talked about before, and also by the politics, frankly, which were getting at the time in 2016, a little bit worse in public education.

And so I thought, I'd love to do something different but still make a difference for people in the community that I'm serving. And we had been able to help a set of friends through a small investment buy a business from a founder who was ready to retire, but didn't have anybody to turn it over to. And we got to watch their journey and be part of that journey, and there were definitely a lot of ups and downs, but it was also really fun and really rewarding for them to take a business that had been run on paper, all the paperwork was in boxes in the corner of the office, to creating systems and procedures and technology and building a team so that the business could get to the next level that it had never reached before.

And that was actually the thing that I'd always done in my career. I'd always been in places where there was proof of concept and my job was to build the new product, build the new service, build the new department to help take the organization to the next level. So that idea really excited me, and frankly, I know myself and I know that I'm not a startup person. So starting a brand or starting a business was not the path that I wanted to go. So I decided, you know what, let's do this. Let's see if I can find a business that has legs, but needs new leadership to take it to the next level. And at the same time, my husband and I were moving from New York city to Chicago to be closer to my family. So it was an opportunity to also do this in the town I grew up in to really contribute to the economy and to, for me, create good jobs for people who really need them in my hometown of Chicago.

So I started networking like crazy. I looked at all types of businesses. I mean, everything from an ice cream made out of bananas to the brass gaskets that they put on Weber gas grills. And then it was a little bit of serendipity. I met a small business lawyer who handles transactions like this, and he said, "I just got this memo across my desk for a wellness products company, and this might be right up your alley." And I thought, oh, this sounds cool. I'm really into healthy eating, fitness, healthy lifestyle in general. And I got the details, got the brand name and said, "Oh my gosh, I have this stuff in my house right now. I have these products in my gym, in my medicine cabinet."

It was Asutra, and Asutra's first product line is a line of organic yoga mat cleaning sprays that I had been buying online for a couple of years. They were right there next to my yoga mat. And then I had seen that the brand had other products that I wanted to try, like a natural pain relief cream with menthol and arnica, body scrubs. And it was so crazy to me that that was the memo that this guy sent to me to consider. So I got in touch with the sellers. It was two brothers who founded the company in 2015. They're serial entrepreneurs, so they had started, sold, failed at a whole host of different types of businesses, and they were already building their next business, so they wanted to sell this one a couple years in and then move on to the next one.

They loved the idea of selling the business to somebody who'd been a loyal customer. And when I did the due diligence, I loved the product catalog. There were these super passionate reviews and thousands of them. And there was also an opportunity to build a real brand. It was a collect of products, but it wasn't really a brand with a story. And so I thought, huh, we could take this and really make it into something. So in 2018, I bought the business. Relocated it from Texas, where they had built it, to Chicago. And we stood up a warehouse and a team and we've been growing ever since.
Jodi KatzI love listening to you. I mean, I love your voice. Also I feel like you can do radio stuff, because your voice is so beautiful to listen to. But I also love Stephanie, the confidence that you have in this journey. I mean, I've always been somebody who kind of moved through the world with a lot of fear and self-doubt, so it's so exciting to hear somebody in their journey just be okay with each step and satisfied and confident with each step. And I'm sure they're not easy, but it sounds like you moved through this journey with ease. So I'm so curious to know why? Why do you think you're able to do that?
Stephanie MorimotoYeah. Well I will say, it's not always easy for sure. I do think that, for whatever reason, I was born with a very high risk tolerance, so I'm very happy to take risks and I understand that sometimes there's an equal chance of success and failure and that's okay. I do think the ability to accept failure is something that I did learn though. So the entrepreneurial spirit, the risk taking, I was lucky to like I said have my grandfather as a role model. I mean, he took a chance. He worked his way through college and med school, got a call from a retiring eye doctor in Joliet, which at the time was a bunch of corn fields. He was living in Chicago. And he took a chance and moved his family to Joliet to build this practice in a town that he'd never been to. And I think that really taught me, okay, you can take this chance and you can do what you love and be successful, and it all kind of works out. If you do what you love, you can be successful.

And similarly, my grandmother on my mother's side, she immigrated here to the U.S. from Indonesia. She kind of had to leave behind everything and she started as a seamstress in LA and she ended up building a pattern making business that worked with brands like Donna Karan. So I was lucky to have those examples and realize that you can build something from nothing. But I definitely suffered from perfectionism early on in my career. I felt like everything had to be perfect and I had to have everything just the right way, otherwise it wasn't acceptable. And it really took a lot of reflection, therapy, really thinking about and feeling, who do I want to be in this world, and what's the impact I want to have? And recognizing that failing along the way is going to be part of that journey, and that's okay.

So I think both of those experiences have helped me have the confidence to do what I do. I would say the third thing that I am blessed with is a short memory. So when things go badly, I just don't really remember them or hold onto them. Sometimes my husband laughs at me. He's like, you just really don't hold onto anything traumatic. I'm like, yeah, I guess it's a survival mechanism that I have.
Jodi KatzThat's so hilarious to me because of course when in my self doubt mode, I linger and sit in the things that go wrong, and I forget about all the good, amazing things. I'm the opposite. I am recovering in this. But I think it's so awesome that it doesn't stick, these things don't stick in your brain. You just move on to the next thing, and that's probably a really great gift for a journey of building a business in this competitive market.
Stephanie MorimotoYes, yes. I think it's necessary. You got to really hold onto the positives and the successes and celebrate those, and I'm lucky to have an awesome team who helps me do that too, and that's also their orientation. And then as much as you can, forget this stuff that goes awry.
Jodi KatzWell, let's talk about this awesome phone call. So you got a note or phone call one day from Joe. So this is such a crazy story. Tell us the whole story. I don't want to reveal anything. I want you to do it in your own words.
Stephanie MorimotoYeah. So it's the first year after I bought Asutra, and at that stage, I was doing everything. I mean, I was checking the customer service email, I was sometimes assembling products, I was running to the post office to ship orders from the website, and setting the vision and strategy and budget the business and trying to open retail relationships and the whole bit.

So one day I'm sitting at my desk and I'm checking the support@asuture.com customer service email, and there's this email from a guy named Joe. Joe's signature shows that he works at the largest talent agency in the world, IMG WME. And he reaches out and says, "Hey, I found your brand online. It sounds really awesome. I would love to learn more." And I thought, oh, is this a cold call? Is this a sales call? Like, what is this? And I talked actually about it to my husband who now works in the sports industry, and he said, "They're the largest talent agency in the world. Just take the call. 30 minutes, take the call. You never know." And it was the best advice.

I took the call, get on the phone. Joe's super nice. He's asking me all these questions about the brand. So I'm telling him about our mission, which is all about active self-care, right? We want to help you take care of yourself on purpose so you can take on anything. The fact that we focus on natural clean formulation and products, and that were women owned, women led with a social mission. We want to create good jobs for people who need them in Chicago and pay a living wage and full benefits and the whole bit. And he's like, "Wow, this is super inspiring. I just love what you stand for. I love the brand story." And I said, "Well, Joe, this has been a great chat, but I'd love to know, how did you find us?" And sort of like, "Why are you calling?" And he says, "Well, you're not going to believe this, but Venus Williams uses your products and asked me to call you and find out more." And my jaw just dropped on the phone.

I mean, mind you I'm like sitting in this warehouse while people are shrink wrappings stuff outside my window. And he says, Venus Williams, the global tennis icon and champion. And I said, "Oh my gosh, I can't believe it." And he said, "Yeah. Her trainer found your pain relief products online. She uses them as a part of her training regimen, and she really likes it, and she never heard of you. So she wanted to discover more."

Well, fast forward, a few months, conversations ensued with Joe and his boss. And then it turns out Venus was really interested in learning more. So she sat down with us for an in-person meeting for over an hour, right before the U.S. opened, which apparently she never does, to learn more about Asutra. And it was crazy. We actually walked her through a deck on where we were and where we wanted to be and where we wanted to take the brand. She asked super smart questions. See, she's an entrepreneur herself. She runs two businesses. So she knew some details about digital advertising and e-commerce that I was really surprised that she knew. And she said, "I don't really get involved with a lot of brands," because at the time she was really just focused on her two companies. She said, "But I really love what you're about. You seem like somebody who wants to win. I like to win. I love this idea of active self-care. I would love to get involved and help you grow the brand and the business."

So in the spring of 2019, about a year after I bought Asutra, Venus Williams joined team Asutra as our part-owner and chief brand officer, and she's been an amazing partner ever since.

Jodi KatzThis is such a crazy story, Stephanie.
Stephanie MorimotoI know, I know. And it's so bizarre because obviously we weren't setting out to establish a celebrity partnership, but the fact that she had such an authentic connection to the brand, and also what we do. I mean, she is a products geek. She always jokes about how she cannot close her bathroom drawers because she has so many essential oils and lotions and potions that she herself has concocted, and she just really loves ingredients. She really loves using natural ingredients to help with skin, with hair, with overall pain relief and exercise recovery and mood. And so she was just such a perfect partner for us, and she's been super sharp. I mean, she knows everything from like I said, e-commerce stuff to retail, and has been able to provide not just a great... Not just serve as a great spokesperson, but also provide great advice.
Jodi KatzThis is crazy because there's certainly of course celebrities and notable people who love brands, they reach out, they want to partner, but the partnership is not actually running the business partnership. It's like, pay me for a post on social media, that kind of stuff. So the fact that you found somebody who, or somebody found you, who's authentically invested in the product because she loves it and it helps her perform and win, and then says that she wants to be part of growing or running the business with you is like... This doesn't happen. This is a movie. We have to add in a romantic comedy aspect of it to make it a fully-fledged Hollywood blockbuster, but this is a movie.
Stephanie MorimotoYeah. It kind of feels... I mean, I guess when I say it out loud, it's funny to reflect on this part of our conversation and then reflect on your comment earlier about what gives you the confidence to just walk this walk and believe that it's all going to turn out well, and it's funny to recount this because of course for us, it's become such a normal part of our day to day. But you're right. I mean, we've been very fortunate and sometimes it does feel like a movie to see the response and the excitement to what Asutra offers. But I think it also shows that people are hungry for things that will help them take care of themselves well.

We did a lot of market research. We did deep conversations with hundreds and hundreds of people before we relaunched the Asutra brand in 2019. I mean, we redid the whole thing. We redid the logo, the packaging, the website, the color palette, the story. And the resounding theme that came out of those hundreds and hundreds of interviews was people who are trying to be their best in life, whether that's the best leader or entrepreneur, the best teacher, the best mother, daughter, sister, partner, whatever. They understand the importance of taking care of themselves proactively, on purpose. Setting aside that time with intention so that they can rest and rejuvenate and be their best selves, so they can be their best mentally, physically, spiritually. And they loved the idea of a brand they could trust to curate for them the right ingredients, the right formulations, to help them do just that.

And they could pick and choose. You can use Asutra pain relief products with magnesium, you can use Asutra skin care, you can use Asutra sleep aids, depending on what you're trying to do to better your self-care and really be your best every day. And so being able to offer that to people has been amazing. And I think we obviously feel very lucky and I think a lot of success in entrepreneurship that we don't talk about is luck. But I think it's also really understand what the market needs are out there, how you fit those needs, and putting yourself in a position to accept and welcome that luck as well.
Jodi KatzSo let's talk about this because I'm sure there's some founders listening to this right now thinking, oh my God, when I, or if I get a partner like Venus and all of my business problems disappear magically, all the challenges of running and growing a business disappear. My guess is it's still work, right? It's still hard.
Stephanie MorimotoYeah. I mean, there's no doubt. Just because we have Venus Williams on our team does not mean our problems disappear. I mean, we deal with all sorts of things, big and small, every day. And frankly, even just having Venus does doesn't do anything unless we are prepared to activate Venus. Again, she runs two of her own businesses. She's still playing tennis on the global stage. She has a lot going on. So although she does provide great business advice and counsel, and really is a partner to us at Asutra, it's obviously not like she's spending all day every day thinking about Asutra and how to grow it. So we have to do our job in giving her the right information and ideas to react to so that she can be value added in the right ways and at the right time and provide the advice or provide the boost when we need it.

Working with her in and of itself obviously takes a lot of effort, time and energy. And then, look, in today's world, it's a crowded marketplace out there. There's a lot of wellness and beauty brands. Lots of different things are vying for people's attention digitally, and we started as a direct to consumer e-commerce brand. We've now expanded into retail across the country, but you really have to fight for that attention and that awareness. And we're a small brand, we've bootstrapped, and so we have to allocate our resources, both time and money, as well as talent in the best ways possible. And all of that definitely takes a lot of work.
Jodi KatzSo let's spend the last few moments that we have together talking about that scale because that's what... I mean, I meet so many people and founders at every stage and they're excited for scale and they're terrified of it. I think you told me, you tested in 400 CVS stores and now you're in 4,000. So you hear these horror stories about businesses actually going down the drain because they signed on to work with huge retail partners and they just weren't prepared for it, like the costs of doing business. What kind of advice could you give our listeners who are considering taking that next leap?
Stephanie MorimotoYeah. I would say a couple things. One big picture, more self-reflective piece of advice, and then a couple more tactical pieces of advice. On the big picture side, I do think you have to really reflect on who you are as an entrepreneur and leader, and therefore what type of business you want to build. Some people want to raise a lot of capital and grow super fast and sell the business. Like build a brand that grows hundreds of percent year over year and sell the business. Other people want to build a nice, sustainable business that they can perhaps hang on to forever, pass along to future generations. So I think it's really important to reflect on that. Who you are, what type of business you want to build, and also how you want to spend your time, because raising money and growing the business that you can sell one day means you spend your day to day very differently than bootstrapping a business that you grow at a more modest pace every day, every year. So I would say that's the first piece.
Jodi KatzAnd which direction are you in? Is this a rapid growth or is this a take your time, legacy company?
Stephanie MorimotoYeah. So far it's been the latter. Take our time, build something that's lasting. Like I said, we wanted to create good jobs for people who need them in Chicago, and it's been great to be able to sustainably and measurably grow our team every year, add new members and really provide great opportunities for people.

Just one quick story, there's a guy named Torrance on our team who, before joining Asutra, was an overnight security guard making minimum wage, and he joined our team on the production line. Did that for a couple of years, has progressed to now supervise our entire warehouse operation. And he's been amazing, just amazing. And because of his progression with Asutra and what he earns now versus what he did before, he just got pre-approved for his first mortgage. He's closing on his first house ever in two weeks, and it's something he never thought he would be able to do. So to be able to create a business and an environment where people can do things like that has also been incredibly rewarding. So for now, our goal is to grow sustainably, grow measurably, pursue the right opportunities to build a business that can last.

And then, I think on the technical side, I do think it's important to have a good financial partner, whether that's an accountant type person that is a service provider to you, or somebody on your team who really understands financial modeling. It is important to look at, okay, if I expand with CVS, or... Now we're in all 1900 Target stores across the country, right? So before we launched with Target, we did a financial model to say, okay, if we sell these products at this rate and it's going to cost us this upfront, how much do we have to sell to break even in the first year or to start making money, and are we okay with that? And it's really important to run those numbers so that you can plan accordingly, get your line of credit lined up, whatever it is that you need to do, because you're going to have to float that inventory for some time before retailers pay you.

And then the second thing I would say, is definitely having your operational ducks in a row. I think a lot founders get into the brand because they are solving a problem that they faced or that people they know faced, and they're really passionate about the product telling the story, the marketing side, maybe even the sales side. But most entrepreneurs, I would guess, aren't so much into the operation side. You know, how do we make sure we have enough inventory? How do we make sure that it's shipped on time to the right places? How do we make sure that it's all tracked the right way? And if you are not that person, making sure that you have hired somebody who can really help you with that before you scale.
Jodi KatzWell, Stephanie, your advice is so amazing and this story is incredible. I love listening to you. I could listen to you all day. But thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with our listeners.
Stephanie MorimotoYeah, absolutely. Thanks so much for having me, Jodi. This was an awesome conversation.
Jodi KatzAnd for our listeners, I hope you enjoy this interview with Stephanie. Please subscribe to our series on iTunes and for updates about the show, follow us on Instagram at @wherebrainsmeetbeautypodcast.
AnnouncerThanks for listening to Where Brains Meet Beauty® with Jodi Katz. Tune in again for more authentic conversations with beauty leaders.

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