Building a Natural and Organic Personal Care Brand – Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO
INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 49:59)
PODCAST AUDIO[sc name=”sponsors”]
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO shares her journey of creating natural and organic personal care products using tallow from grass-fed, healthy cows. Their flagship product, the Stank Stop Natural Deodorant, is available in four scents and offers a nourishing solution for skin conditions.
Cassy Burnvoth, founder of natural and organic personal care brand FATCO, shares insights on her business in an interview. The brand, which contains simple formulas that don’t require a complicated scientific formulation, mainly targets those on the paleo, carnivore, and keto diet and adherents of a healthy lifestyle. She discusses the logistics of order fulfilment, the importance of social media and Amazon, and difficulties with finding new marketing strategies. Burnvoth also highlights the brand’s wider range of products than the competition and mentions her plans for future growth, particularly in the direct-to-consumer channel. She also talks about past struggles in finding funding and the importance of hiring those who share her vision.
- 00:00:00 In this section, Cassie Burnvoth, the founder and CEO of FATCO, shares how she got the idea for her natural and organic personal care brand. Back in 2012, Cassie started to clean up her lifestyle by eating a paleo diet and analyzing the ingredients in the skincare products she was using. She couldn’t find anything that fit her criteria and started making her own products. She learned about the benefits of grass-fed tallow, mostly for eating but also for using on skin, and eventually turned her hobby of making skincare products into a business when she realized there weren’t many tallow-based skincare products on the market.
- 00:05:00 In this section, Burnvoth talks about the target demographic for her brand, which includes those on the Paleo, carnivore, and keto diets, as well as those who follow a healthy living lifestyle and seek natural skincare products. She mentions that online sales have been great for their business as it allows them to target specific people based on their interests. Burnvoth also shares that when she first started her business, there was no market validation done, but she had a lot of confidence and pushed forward with her products which have simple formulas that include Tallow fat.
- 00:10:00 In this section, Cassy Burnvoth explains the difference between her natural and organic personal care products and those of large manufacturers. Unlike most lotions, which are emulsified and require stabilizers and preservatives, her products have simple formulas that don’t require complicated scientific formulations. Her baby butter, for example, only has seven ingredients and involves heating them past their melting points. Although Burnvoth outsourced manufacturing shortly after launching in 2014, finding new customers has been more challenging since they have turned off all their Facebook ads because of rising costs. They now rely more on their affiliate program and social media to acquire new customers.
- 00:15:00 In this section, Cassy Burnvoth discusses the importance of repeat customers and nurturing them through effective email and SMS campaigns, a good loyalty and rewards program, and subscription services. She also touches on the challenges of advertising in a niche market and finding new ways to reach potential customers. Burnvoth mentions marketing efforts with Facebook mom groups and cold email outreach campaigns. She also notes the difficulty of utilizing social media, such as TikTok, to market her brand. Burnvoth runs the business with her husband and does all the marketing, sales, and operations herself, including the in-house fulfillment of orders.
- 00:20:00 In this section, Cassy Burnvoth talks about the logistics of fulfilling orders for her natural and organic personal care brand, FATCO. They handle all fulfillment in-house and ship primarily in the US and Canada, with international shipping made easier thanks to the use of Zonos, a tool that allows customers to pay duties and taxes upfront. While their wholesale program is scattered throughout the country with Thrive Market being their largest customer, most of their sales come from D2C, with their website being the biggest revenue driver. They also sell on Amazon, but their products are considered “hazardous” goods, so they can’t use Amazon’s FBA warehouses for storage from April to October.
- 00:25:00 In this section, the founder of FATCO, Cassy Burnvoth discusses her experience using Amazon’s FBA program and how she has transitioned back to doing FBM exclusively. She notes that while FBA is a streamlined and clean way of doing business that takes a lot of fulfillment out of her hands, the margins are better for FBM and taking into account Amazon’s cut for FBA, it isn’t always worth it. Burnvoth also explains that while they do run some generic ads on Amazon, most of their sales are organic as customers are finding out about the brand through social media, and emphasizes the importance of being on Amazon even if the customer acquisition funnel is not as strong as it would be for direct-to-consumer sales. Additionally, Burnvoth talks about competitors in the natural skincare space and how FATCO stands out by offering a wider range of products than other brands which usually only specialize in one or two products.
- 00:30:00 In this section, the interviewer asks Cassy Burnvoth, founder of FATCO, about her thoughts on continuing to pursue her current business versus starting a new one. Burnvoth believes that there is still room for growth in her current business, especially with trends moving towards the use of animal byproducts. Although she is passionate about her brand and the products that they make, she also expresses interest in starting another company, particularly in the field of fulfillment or distribution. Burnvoth believes that there is a need for e-commerce companies to work with someone who cares about them and sees this as a potential niche.
- 00:35:00 In this section, Cassy Burnvoth, founder of natural and organic personal care brand FATCO, discusses the challenges of growing a small business and accessing funding, along with her future vision for the brand. Burnvoth believes that marketing is a key driver for growth and is focused on nurturing the direct-to-consumer channel. She also shares a previous struggle with finding funding at the beginning stages of her business, highlighting how newer tools like QuickBooks Capital and Shopify Capital have helped newer e-commerce businesses more easily access capital that was previously difficult to obtain.
- 00:40:00 In this section, Cassy Burnvoth, founder of the natural and organic personal care brand FATCO, talks about the importance of choosing the right platform for your business and not always assuming that the grass is greener on the other side. She shares her experience of moving her website to various platforms, including Symphony Commerce, which turned out to be unsuccessful and resulted in moving back to Shopify. Cassy also emphasizes that it’s okay to try out new things but notes that building a good product is a prerequisite for a long-term business. She also discusses the potential of selling products on other people’s websites without them carrying inventory, which can be beneficial for boutique owners.
- 00:45:00 In this section, Cassy Burnvoth, the founder of FATCO, recommends using subscriptions and loyalty programs in e-commerce and employing people who support and believe in your vision as an entrepreneur. She also suggests using Shopify connectors to streamline the shipping process and scheduling social media posts. Although she does not name any specific startups or tech businesses, she mentions The New Primal and its founder, Jason Burke, as someone she looks up to. To purchase her product, Burnvoth suggests visiting their website, FATCO.com, or going to Amazon and Thrive Market.
People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode
- The new primal
- Jason Burke
Book: Start Something That Matters
What You’ll Learn
Interview with Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO
|01:07||The business idea|
|19:27||Fulfillment and shipping|
|37:36||Future vision for the business|
|39:41||Mistakes made, lessons learned|
|42:00||Rapid fire round|
In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO
- Book recommendation that you would make to entrepreneurs or business professionals (Response: Start Something That Matters)
- A business or productivity tool that you would recommend (Response: Later)
- A peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response: Jason Burke)
- Best business advice you ever received (Response: Surround yourself with people that have faith and confidence in you and support your vision.)
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Hey there, entrepreneurs. My name is Sushant, and welcome to Trep Talks. This is the show where I interview successful e-commerce entrepreneurs, business executives, and thought leaders, and ask them questions about their business story, and also dive deep into some of the strategies and tactics that they have used to start and grow their business.
And today, I’m really excited to welcome Cassy, be to the. Cassy is the founder and CEO of a company called Fat Co, specializes in making natural and organic personal care products using tall, which is the rendered beef fat, uh, from Grassfed pasture and happy and healthy cows. And today I’m going to ask Kathy a few questions about her entrepreneur journey and some of the strategies and tactics that she has used to start and grow her business.
So thank you so much for joining me today at Cassy. Really, really appreci.
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Yeah. Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here. So
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I’ll, I’ll start with the, the question that I usually start with, um, in my interview. How did you get the idea for your business?
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: This weird, wacky idea, how did it come? Um, so back in 2012, I started, uh, doing, you know, eating more of a paleo diet, started, you know, really cleaning up my lifestyle, eating healthier foods.
And for me, that journey really led to me starting to analyze the skincare products I was using. I was paying a lot of attention to the ingredients and the foods I was eating, and that made me start really reading the ingredients and the skincare products. I was. Couldn’t find anything that I felt comfortable using.
Was learning a lot about the just nasty stuff that’s in a lot of store bought personal care products and I couldn’t find anything that fit my criteria, so I started making my own products. At the same [00:02:00] time. I was learning a lot through the paleos. Space. Um, I started learning a lot through Western, a price foundation about tall and the benefits of grass-fed tall.
Um, mostly around eating it, but also around using it on your skin. So back in the day, a long time ago, we used to use animal fats to moisturize our skin all the time before we were industrialized and we were capable of pulling fats, oils out of. Plants or vegetables. We actually u made use of animal fats a lot from a skincare practice.
Um, and so I started learning about the benefits, how great they work for your skin. Um, making skincare products was for a really long time, just a hobby of mine. My background is engineering. I’m a mechanical engineer by trade and I like to joke that I was a super nerd by. And it was just a creative outlet.
It was something I enjoyed doing in my spare time. So [00:03:00] it was really, you know, making these products was, it was, for me, it was a need at the time because I, I needed my own, the products for my own personal use. But then eventually I started realizing that there weren’t a lot of products out this out on the market that were like this.
Um, not a lot of brands at the time were making tall based skincare products and just from sharing with friends and. You know, these products were incredible, the products I was making in my kitchen, and I decided I’m gonna start this as a business.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: No, that’s great. I mean, it, it almost seems like you made use of your engineering degree.
Like when, when you started were you like working as an engineer and then this started as kind of like a part-time side hustle kind of a thing and. Um, can you share a little bit about, you know, are you, I mean, I’m assuming you’re not working as an engineer
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: anymore, or No. Yeah, it was definitely something I started while I was working.
I mean, in retrospect, I was, I could get my job done that I was getting paid, you know, I was getting my [00:04:00] engineering job done and x number of hours during the day and there was plenty of available time. Hmm. Um, but I did, I started the company when I was, while I was still working, there were a couple months of overlap.
Not years, but like months.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: When, which year did you start your business? How long? Like how long
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: has it been? I, I launched in 2014. April of 2014. So where this April will be nine years.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Wow. So I’ll, I mean, it’s, it’s been a long time. So you must have
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: learned. Yeah, we blew that five year mark. We blew past that five years.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So, so can you share a little bit about what products are you actually selling and how, like, did you start with a specific product first and then you add other products and like how, how has your product portfolio evolved over time?
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Yeah, a lot of our products are, are, were, you know, launched originally in 2014.
A lot of our products have, we’ve carried for a very long time. Um, our deodorant, we originally launched with a cream deodorant, and I’d say about three or four years ago we launched a stick. [00:05:00] So that’s one product edition. We also have some hair care shampoo and conditioner bars that we just launched last year, mid last year.
Um, bar soap as well. We launched last year, but a majority of our products have been around for a really long time. We haven’t. We actually, I can proudly say we’ve never discontinued any product.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Okay. And in terms of your value proposition, of course, your, it seems like your value proposition is based around, uh, you know, a specific ingredient.
And when I speak with a lot of entrepreneurs, and, you know, even in the market, I, I would assume, like in this beauty space, the entrepreneur usually takes a certain approach. Today, you know, I’ve, I’ve interviewed entrepreneurs who are, who are saying, you know, their product is very, you know, completely natural or something like that.
Um, how do you. Um, how do you reach your target segment? Or is there a, is there a, a segment of [00:06:00] the market that is, you know, it’s very much into paleo diet and, you know, they’re aligned with the, the ingredient and the message, and so you’re reaching out to that. So can you share a little bit about, you know, yeah.
Who you are selling your product to and how
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: you’re reaching them. Yeah, I think that’s why online sales has been so great for us throughout these years. We’re really able to target our key demographic, which is paleo, carnivore, keto people who, CrossFit people who are part of, he like this healthy living community.
Um, That are seeking out truly natural skincare products. Um, so I think that’s why, you know, online, like we all know that the online space is great because you can target, um, different people based on their interests. And I think that’s been really a key factor for us. And it’s also another reason why our online business continues to grow.
Because we’re able to seek out people who are open to these different types of [00:07:00] products and maybe avoid the vegans or vegetarians who are not gonna be open to these types of products. Yeah.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, when you had started out, can you share a little bit about your, you know, talking about engineering and, and I guess product development, um, your.
Product development process and, and idea validation. Like I think you said you were making these products in your kitchen first. Yep. So at what point did you know that, you know, you’re using this product but other people are also would or would be interested in actually paying for, for this kind of product?
Or was there already a market, like other products that worked all tele bit in the market and you’re kinda like a another, uh, product now Say same.
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Yeah, there were a couple, but they weren’t very large. Um, I’m, my short answer is there was none. There was no product validation or market validation done. Um, my, I laughed because my boyfriend [00:08:00] at the time was like, you should put a business plan together.
And I was like, I’m not gonna do that. No, I’m just gonna start this company and see what happens. Okay. It really very much was, you know, my drive was, I like these products and other people I know like, And I really just had this sense that the paleo community was gonna really be open and receptive to these products that I just, like, I pushed forward, I had a lot of confidence, maybe too much confidence, and I just like pushed forward.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: But I guess, um, I guess maybe it didn’t, didn’t require a huge amount of investment. So like you, because you started small, you know, that, that was kind of your idea of validation. You know, you, you created the product, you put it out there and you. You know, it was sitting.
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Yeah, exactly. You know, I, I didn’t raise money.
I still haven’t raised money to date. Um, but in that beginning I had like $10,000 of my own personal savings and my, my large upfront costs were buying labels, getting labels designed and buying [00:09:00] labels and buying packaging. I built my own website. I was doing all the, fulfill my, myself. I was doing all the marketing myself.
So the. You know, the heaviest costs were, it, it was something that had very low startup costs, let’s say, because I was doing all, all the, you know, all the labor myself.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: How did you learn to create these products? I’m, I’m assuming in the beginning you were, you were creating them yourself. Did you like, I mean, if is the difference really that, I mean, there’s only one way, or, you know, there’s one general way of creating, like, you know, let’s say a.
Whether you use like, uh, cows, soap, uh, fat versus like just a general fat, it doesn’t matter what kinda fat you use. Basically, you, you took the general recipe and just added the, rather than.
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s what people love about our brand and our formulas is that they really are super [00:10:00] simple.
So we are, well, a lot of like, let’s say lotion for instance, a lot of lotions on the market are gonna be an emulsification. So that is when you force oil and water. They wanna separate, but to create a lotion, you have to force them to stay together and be shelf stable. That requires stabilizers, preservatives, it requires a lot of stuff that larger manufacturers use.
But what we are creating is simply, you know, like in our baby butter, for instance, it’s Tao, it’s coconut oil, it’s olive oil, it’s some essential oils. There’s like a total of seven ingredients. And what that requires is heating it down past its melting point, and then pouring it into a jar and letting it solidify or whipping it, and then putting it into a jar.
So our formulas are very simple, like our cleansing oil is just, I mean, it’s literally a mixture of oils in very specific ratios, [00:11:00] but it’s, that’s all it is, is blending oils and then putting them into a packaging container. So it’s something that I. You know, I was def I was able to do, um, I kind of taught myself how to do it, but, but it wasn’t rocket science.
Um, so it was, you know, the one, like the tricky part is once you start making, you know, you’re not making 10 units, you’re making, trying to make a thousand units, you need some specific equipment. We at one point have had like a really large mixer that costs a good amount of money, but. You know, it, it doesn’t require a very complicated scientific formulations what we are making.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Are you, are you still, I mean, given that you’re nine years into your business, are you still making your products yourself or have you like outsourced that to, uh, commercial.
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Yeah, we outsourced, we actually outsourced our manufacturing in our second year. Um, mostly because we were having what felt like really serious conversations with [00:12:00] Whole Foods, and that didn’t end up coming to fruition.
Hmm. Um, but we outsourced our manufacturing around like middle of 2015. Um, but why that was good was because when we launched in Target in 20. 18. Um, we already had our manufacturing like all set and that wasn’t a, a stressor, so that was really good. But yeah, we, we did that kind of early on. We have a really small manufacturer in Austin, Texas right now.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, and when you launched, you really just launched, launched online, direct to consumer, or was it a different strategy?
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: No, in 2014 we launched online our direct to consumer business. Um, I, you know, I’m not really sure. We definitely weren’t on Amazon in the first couple years. I’d say we moved, we opened our Amazon store like maybe our third year.
Um, but we really focused primarily on data c in those first couple. Okay.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: [00:13:00] Um, now you did, you did talk a little bit about your target market. Um, and the way you’re finding them is really through, through your targeted advertising campaigns. It’s very easy, you know, you’re, you’re looking for a specific categories, but then your advertising and, and you find it to convert really well.
Like, do you find that a specific messaging works? With this, uh, with this audience, or like how do you Yeah.
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Um, so how do you acquire any, let’s talk about new customer acquisition. Um, we’re actually, if you look right now, we have all of our Facebook ads turned off. We, I just have a retargeting ad. Um, we are, new Customer acquisition is very hard.
It is expensive. I’ve lost confidence in Facebook being the best avenue for new customer acquisition in the last year. We, [00:14:00] you know, we have, we have a pretty decent affiliate program where we use, you know, we don’t have any like super well-known influencers, but we have a lot of micro, micro influencers.
Um, that’s been really good for new customer acquisition and just always trying to be super, super active on social media. Um, But it is definitely a challenge finding new customers. It’s much more challenging now than it was when I first started the brand. That’s something that I think is incredible, like how that’s evolved throughout the time that I’ve owned this brand.
Um, but yeah, it’s Facebook is incredible because it does give you the capability to do. But they don’t do it for free. Right. It is expensive. Yeah. Um, the other challenge with Facebook is you don’t really, it’s hard to tell where, it’s hard to tell, uh, if a campaign is successful or not. Right. Because the reporting that’s coming from Facebook Ads manager is not very [00:15:00] relevant.
So it’s advertising is, is a tough one.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So does that mean that once you have acquired a customer, Um, they are the repeat customer and so you are really putting a lot of focus in making sure that they’re happy and they’re coming back again, uh, for, uh, buying more and more.
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Yeah, we do a lot of work at nurturing our existing customers.
Through email, through sms. Um, we have a really great loyalty and rewards program. You know, we have, right now we have about a 70% repeat customer purchase rate on our site. Um, and about 25% of our monthly revenue is coming from subscriptions. So that is always our goal is to grow our subscription customers, and that’s been really good over the last year, year, and a.
Um, we put a lot of effort into that in nurturing our existing customers. And,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: um, [00:16:00] I just had a question in mind. It just, uh, slipped. Um, so, um, what, what chance, so you said advertising is difficult. Um, what, um, I’m assuming because it’s, it’s kind of a niche market or targeting a niche, uh, segment of people.
What, what, uh, is it more like, are you trying to, um, target specific communities online like these, you know, as you said, value community and so forth, uh, in other ways rather than advertising? I’m sure there’s like, uh, groups on Facebook or, you know, uh, healthy lifestyle groups or, you know, Workout groups and these kind of things.
Um, are, are you finding other ways to get your product in front of these, uh, these kinda customers?
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Yeah, I mean, one thing I can think of right now is we do, we’ve done some marketing in the past year with like mom groups, Facebook mom groups, um, which we have a lot of moms who use our baby [00:17:00] butter on their little ones with eczema.
Um, so that’s been really good for us. Um, we also have tried some like cold email reach out campaigns. Where they, they basically target you tell them the Instagram influencer that you wanna target, and they have access to those emails and they email those people directly. It’s cold emails, so it’s not always super successful, but it, it was pretty successful.
We ran two recent campaigns with them, so, I don’t know. It’s, I think it’s always just trying to find new and innovative in different ways to like touch, to find, touch points to new customer.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: How, how does, uh, is social media working, uh, for you at all? I mean, I know, I, I don’t know if you’re on, but you know, when I talk to entrepreneurs, it, it’s like, I know works really well.
For some, it’s like nothing like,
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: My problem [00:18:00] is I’m 40 years old and I don’t wanna be on social media, but I have to be cuz I own this company. Right? Like, TikTok feels so overwhelming for me. I had a period of time where I was like doing pretty good and I was posting, but then it, it just, it kind of fell by the wayside right before the holidays.
I don’t know. It’s, I feel like there’s all, it’s a moving target. There’s always, you gotta be doing something different, every single. I can stay consistent on Instagram and that’s what I, that’s what I, that’s my goal is to just stay consistent on Instagram. I, I don’t know, TikTok is really tough cuz it’s like, it requires you to create so much content.
And I don’t have the time to create that much content. Um, I’m also like, I’m an engineer. I’m not the creative, right? Like I’m, I’m more like, give me an Excel spreadsheet and I will flourish. But if TikTok is just not my, it’s not my cup of tea. Um, but I think, you know, you gotta do what you gotta do to get your brand [00:19:00] out there.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I guess you have to find like a creative, uh, counterpart to you. Yeah. I. Like, how are you, are you the only person running your business right now? Like do you have a team? Um,
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: I, I don’t have a team, so we are really small. It’s myself and my husband. My husband does all of our operations and logistics, and I do everything else.
I do our marketing, our sales, our everything else. Oh, cool.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, in terms of fill, uh, fulfillment and shipping. Um, Are you, are you selling mostly in the US right now? Are you selling like internationally, north America? Um, can you share a little bit about, you know, fulfillment and shipment, how you do that?
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Yeah, we do all of our own fulfillment. Um, I prefer it that way. We used a three PL for about two years, a couple years back, and it was a really bad experience. I have been scorn from that experience. Um, I like having [00:20:00] it in-house and having control, um, but. What was the second part of the question? I’m sorry, I lost my thought.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: so you’re, you’re, uh, warehousing it yourself and are you, like, when you get the orders, like are you packing it yourself and shipping it out or, yes.
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Yeah, yeah. Sorry, you asked about international. Um, so yes, we do all the fulfillment in-house for our data c our Amazon, all of our wholesale, everything.
Um, we ship primarily in the US uh, Canada. Is we have a lot of Canadian customers. Um, and then we do ship internationally. We’ve shipped internationally for a long time. Um, one key addition that we made a couple years back was XOs. I don’t know if you’ve, if you, if you have other people who are e-commerce entrepreneurs that are listening to this.
Zon OS is an amazing tool because it allows the customer at checkout to see customs and duties and taxes and to pay for it. So we ship that package via FedEx [00:21:00] or up p s. Um, all those duties and taxes are paid up front, so the customer just receives the package as opposed to, like early on we were shipping international.
But the customer was always responsible for those duties and taxes when it got delivered, and it was just a really messy customer experience. So Zio XOs is a, you know, it’s an integral part of our tech stack cuz I think it is an amazing tool for international business, um, to help make that experience the customer experience just much more streamlined and,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, definitely.
I mean, I, I, I knew about XOs, um, yeah. And the, the whole concept of, uh, what is it called? D, d p and D, D duties, delivery, paid and unpaid. Um, is Zs like, uh, do you, is that a subscription service or like, do you have to pay, uh, do the charge in a different way?
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Oh, that’s a good question. I’m not sure. Okay. I do know that we onboarded a couple years back and now they have some onboarding fees that are [00:22:00] kind of expensive and I think we were like an early adopter, so we got out of those.
Okay. Okay. Um, but I’m not exactly sure how we pay for it. Okay.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So in terms of your channels, um, you have your website, um, I think you said you have your Amazon store, uh, on your website I see you have wholesale program. And you’re also in some retail stores. Um, are those the main channels or do you have other channels as well?
And, and which channels are actually most revenue driving or
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: profitable for you? Yeah, our D two C is definitely our most, our biggest revenue driver. Um, I’d say our business split right now is like 66%, uh, D two C and 33 Amazon. We do, we do the our most sales, D to C. And then, yeah, we have a couple wholesale.
We have, we have now, if you go to our store locator, there’s like a lot of direct wholesale customers of ours, kind of scattered throughout the country. Um, but then Thrive Market is one of [00:23:00] our larger wholesale customers, and we’re also on websites like Handshake and Fair and Abound, which are all these wholesale websites.
Mm-hmm. There’s, there’s a lot of ’em. We’re probably on like five or six or seven of them. Um, but that’s just, I figure why not, like, you don’t get charged to be listed on it. You pay a percentage, a commission on the sale. Um, so we’re list, we have our products listed on all those wholesale websites,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: but, but you don’t see a lot of, uh, traction through those site, or do you find that because your product is kinda, requires maybe a little bit of education that it’s easier to.
Educate the wholesaler or, or the, or the retailer on what is the best way to sell your product or,
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: yeah, and I just, I also think that a lot of people that find out about us reach out directly and then initiate, you know, I initiate the direct wholesale. Um, conversation and that’s just [00:24:00] sometimes the easiest.
Now, unless there’s a wholesale customer who’s using Fair or Abound for other things, then it makes sense for them to use that platform. But a mar, a majority of them reach out to us directly, and then we just set up a direct wholesale account. What
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: is your experience selling with Amazon? Why don’t you use their fulfillment by Amazon Services?
I thought, I mean, some, some entrepreneurs have said that that’s like a very cost effective way to fulfill
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: orders. Yeah. Uh, that’s a great question. So our products are considered meltable by Amazon standards. This is something they Inated last year, I believe was the first year they did it. So if your products can’t withstand, I think it’s like 160 degrees Fahrenheit temperature for extended periods of time, you can’t use their F B A warehouses.
So we, between April and October we can’t have our products in FB in their warehouses. Um, and then around October of last year, [00:25:00] we were having issues. Keeping our inventory levels high enough. Um, and we really wanted to k keep that inventory for our direct to consumer business. So we just never shipped product back into FBA warehouses.
Um, And it’s just also tricky, like from a timing perspective. So I do think that this next October we will start using it again, but for right now, we’re, we’re strictly doing fbm. Um, but it’s also the margins are better on FBM business. Um, you know, Amazon takes their cut when you use fba, but it is a very stream, streamlined and clean way to do business and takes a lot of the fulfillment off.
You know, outta your hands.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Uh, do you do any kind of advertising on Amazon or is it completely organic? You basically just put your products out there and over time people have found it. And, uh, or is it really about SEO optimization on Amazon?
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: No, we [00:26:00] have a couple of ads running, and they’re ads, they’re just kind of like generic, uh, like brand ads that we’ve had running for a long time, and they perform well.
So I just always keep them. Okay,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: but most, most of your sales on Amazon are organic. You’re saying it’s like, I’m, I’m sure you as you or optimize your listing, are people actually searching, like what kind of keywords are people searching on Amazon to find your product? Is it like,
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: To find, to specifically to find our products.
I don’t know that information. I, I’m sure there’s a tool out there that I could use to find out, but, um, I know I think a lot of pe I personally think a lot of people are finding out about it through social media and then people, you know, my thing with Amazon is I don’t care where people buy our products, just buy them.
So if you’re a customer who really likes to shop Amazon, I mean, I’m guilty of it. I’ve done it before. Like I see something on social media and I go to Amazon. I know that it’s an easy transaction, so if people, you know, if [00:27:00] that’s the way that the consumer likes to shop is through Amazon, that’s fine. If you’d rather go direct to our website, that’s fine too.
Um, yeah, you know, I, Amazon is, I think Amazon is a place that you have to be like, you can’t just say, I’m not gonna be on Amazon. Um, you just understand that you’re gonna give them a cut of your business and. But you could potentially sell massive volumes. So,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: and, and you’re not able to basically acquire that customer.
Anybody who buys from Amazon, you don’t, you don’t have a way to connect, contact them again, like no.
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: To sell them. Okay. That’s, and that’s why I, you know, I prefer D toc because if I can get that customer’s email address, I can nurture that relationship. I can send. I can put them into our welcome series, I can, I can have a much better relationship with that customer directly than that Amazon, which is just, could potentially just be a one-off because you can never [00:28:00] communicate with them again.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah. Do you think about competitors, like are there other brands now since you’ve started your business, other competitors who are creating similar kinda a product and um, how are you? Differentiating or how are you even positioning your product in the market? Like, can you share a little bit about what is your products, uh, place in the overall market of, you know, everybody who sells, uh, skincare products?
Um, and, and how do you, uh, I guess why, why, why does someone buy your product as opposed to, let’s say, a competitor who’s selling the same thing, or, you know, the wide range of other businesses that are selling other, you know, natural ingredients, products, and so forth.
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: So when you say competitors, you [00:29:00] mean competitors in the natural skincare space or in the tall based skincare space?
TT based skincare. Yeah. Um, there are not that many. There are some, um, but they definitely have, don’t have as big of a following as we do on social media and not as, they’re not as established, I’d say a lot of them, I’ve been seeing a lot pop up in the. Two years maybe. Um, we’ve been around for a lot longer and um, also a lot.
From what I see, a lot of those brands are focusing on one or two SKUs, and that’s their complete offering. We have a wide range of products. Our goal is to have you come and buy all of your personal care products from us, except toothpaste. We haven’t done toothpaste yet. Okay? But a majority of your personal care products from us.
Whereas a lot of those, I’m gonna say my competition are offer. Tall bombs, which are a blend of tall and olive [00:30:00] oil and maybe some essential oils. Our products are a bit more complicated with a, a deeper ingredient deck, um, and also just a wider array of products. So I’ll
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: ask a, a more general question, you know, uh, related to entrepreneurship, I guess.
Um, so you started your business as like a first time entrepreneur. You were an engineer and it was kinda like, You wanted to test out entrepreneurship, I guess, and it, it worked out because of, you know, everything that you implemented, your ideas and, you know, work, I think everything, um, nine years down the road.
Like how do you see your business? Do you see it as okay, the, the experiment work? Well, I’ve grown my business, um, but. But you know, maybe the idea that I had, like, you know, it’s not, you know, maybe I should, you know, I have like a different idea that given that all all you’ve learned about business [00:31:00] now, you know, after nine years, I guess, um, do you see that it’ll be much profitable or easier to build a new idea rather than continue to pursue like this business specifically?
Um, Like, do you ever think like that, that, you know, I’ve, I’ve learned what I wanted to learn from this business. Maybe, you know, I should sell this and start something different, like have a new idea or do you, like you’re still completely committed on, on building this? Like, how do you see your
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: business?
Yeah, I think that this business has more room to grow. I think that, um, we’re doing, for the first time ever, we’re doing some SEO work. For the next year, we’ll be doing this work with a, a company called Pure Red Marketing. And, um, We are seeing huge changes int like when you go to look at Google Analytics and the search, you know, what search terms are growing, that there’s a lot of.
Current interest in Tao and Tao Bombs. Um, I think with like, [00:32:00] uh, like the carnivore diet and the keto diet really growing and getting a lot more attention, regenerative agriculture, getting a lot of attention, that animal, the use of animal byproducts is becoming less weird and more interesting and, um, intriguing.
So. I think that over the next couple years will be a really interesting time for this company because of how we see the trends moving around animal, the use of animal byproducts in all things, not skincare, but all things. Um, you know, for me, this company started on a whim and in the first couple years I really drove hard for massive growth.
I now, Have a three and a half year old son. I really like the flexibility that being, uh, you know, self-employed offers. Um, I’ve gotten to spend invaluable [00:33:00] time with my son that I probably would’ve never had if I worked a corporate job. Um, So right now I’m still really passionate about the brand and the products that we make, and I still think there’s massive upscale potential, um, especially with our strong point of differentiation.
And, but like at the same time, I would love to start another company. Like, why can’t you just do both? Do both. Why do you have to choose? No,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: for sure. Yeah. I mean, hey, when you look at Elon Musk like doing those things, like Yeah. You, you say, you know, why can’t you? Um,
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: well, I’ll, I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you that in recent conversations I’ve had with other brand owners, um, you know, I think everyone that starts a brand has one thing that they’re really good at and they enjoy more than anything else.
All the other stuff is just annoying and you have to deal with it. So why can’t you find a way to do that thing more, right? Mm-hmm. Still run your [00:34:00] brand, but also do this thing. And for me, I really love operations and logistics. I love the fulfillment side of things. And I say that that to other people and they’re like, you’re crazy.
That’s the worst part of this business. And I say, I just really enjoy it. I think it’s interest. So my, my recent thoughts have been around like starting a fulfillment or a distribution company. Um, cool. Because there are lots of brands that are similar size to me that could use. That could use fulfillment services.
Um, you know, I think that was one of the mistakes we made when we were with a three PL a couple years ago. It was a massive distribution company. They were humongous. We were a, we were the, you know, the tip of the needle. Like we were nothing to them. Mm-hmm. And we got treated accordingly. But there are lots of really cool e-commerce companies that need fulfillment help.
They need to work with somebody who gives a shit about ’em. Yeah. And that, that I think I see as a niche from being in this [00:35:00] business for so long. So, no, I think, I think
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: that’s a, that’s a great, uh, opportunity for sure. And I think there are also companies that, um, I mean another market are companies that are.
Um, taking the business like yours, I mean, you’re, you’re al already in the international markets. I, I guess, uh, but they are taking businesses like yours and helping them to grow into international markets. I think that’s also another,
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: yeah. Well, I’ll tell you what, everyone I’ve talked to, I, yeah, that is a really interesting conversation to start, but everyone.
You know, we, this past year we did $500,000. We didn’t reach a million dollars. And most of those companies that want to find brands and grow them, they want you to already be making like $2 million a year. Yeah. Which I think it’s funny because those aren’t, those are probably not the brands that need help growing.
Yeah. And there’s a lot more upside potential with a brand like mine. Like, you can get in cheaper, help me grow [00:36:00] and we’ll all win in the end. But, you know, it’s the same thing that I found when I first started the company and I was looking at, uh, I was looking at raising money, uh, and everyone would tell me, well, call me when you call me when you hit $3 million.
And I always thought, how am I gonna, how am I gonna hit 3 million? With access to no capital. Like that’s, that’s crazy. Um, and you know, since then, things like QuickBooks Capital and Shopify Capital, even Amazon, if you have a solid Amazon business, you, they’ll lend you money in a second. All those things have kind of come, you know, come to the forefront now.
And they’re available for e-commerce businesses, but they weren’t around when I started, which I think is really interesting. I
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: think, and I, I would like to know your thoughts on this. I think that these days, Or maybe even five years ago. Um, if you want to get access, like your community-based business funding opportunities and things like that, I think that [00:37:00] certain, certain, um, certain industries or certain kinds of business, it’s easier for them.
To access. I think it’s almost like what’s, what’s popular these days? What’s in the Yeah, general consciousness. Like if it’s a, I find that like, you know, if a, if a woman based business is doing something like in the recycled space or you know, product, recycle based product, I think just because of those two, uh, interaction of those two things, it’s much easier to get funding for that kind of a business than, you know, some, something that’s, uh, uh,
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: a little bit different.
Definitely. I agree. Um,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: what is the, your future vision for your business?
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Such a good question. Um, I, I wanna, I just, I wanna continue to grow. I wanna continue to launch new products. We have a lot of new products in, in the queue, if you will. You know, we had a really tough year this [00:38:00] last year with manufacturing and we’re looking at switching to a new manufacturer.
So I wanna get that done. Um, once we’re in a more comfortable manufacturing position, we can really push marketing and push growth. Um, I don’t, I don’t know, like, I, I wanna say I don’t, I don’t have a goal. I, cause I think sometimes you can have goals. Unless you’re actively, I don’t know. That’s a, it’s a really tough question if I’m being honest.
Um, that’s it to grow. I mean, that’s the only answer is to grow. Okay. Yeah. Um,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I mean, if you were, if you were to take like, um, a gut instinct, hunch off, what would it require to really scale your business? Like, do you, do you get like one or two words? Like, is it retail? Is it, um, you know, really being in like a big chain stores?
Is it something else? Is it really about just spending a lot of marketing dollars? What, what is it that could help you to really [00:39:00] scale your business like 10 x or something
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: like that? I think it’s a lot of marketing dollars. I think re like retail will grow your revenues, but it’s not necessarily gonna grow your profit.
Um, we have very profitable pro products, thankfully. Um, so, you know, again, I’m not, I’m, I would never say like, I don’t wanna be in retail. If a retailer came and wanted to carry our products, we’d make it happen, but it’s not something, something that I’m really proactively going after. I, I really think, like, I just think D two C is a great channel for us, and I want to continue to nurture that.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, in every entrepreneur’s journey, there’s always mistakes made, lessons learned, failures, uh, or the last nine years. Can you think of like one big mistake or a failure or something that really help, you know, you. Thought that you, you could have done without, you know, going through that experience, [00:40:00] what comes to mind?
What did you learn? What can other entrepreneurs learn from your experience?
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Yeah, I think that, uh, so for me, like one big, one big thing was, uh, I forget which year and when it happened exactly, but you know, we, we were, our website was originally on Squarespace, then we moved to Big commerce. And then we signed this contract with this company called Symphony Commerce, and they promised us the sun and the moon and the stars.
And we were under the impression that moving our website to their own dedicated platform, um, and having them do fulfillment for us would like be a game changer. Mm-hmm. And paid them a lot of money. And after that was not successful, we moved back to Shopify. Okay. And I just love Shopify. I cannot say enough good things about Shopify.
I think. You know, in retrospect, if we had just moved to Shopify, we would’ve been totally fine and it would’ve saved us a lot of heartache and a lot of money. Um, you know, I think there’s often times where like you al, you think [00:41:00] the grass is gonna be greener on the other side. Very recently, we switched our subscriptions from Recharge to another platform, and it was, we did that in August and I just finished switching it back.
Um, you think the green, the grass is gonna be greener on the other side and it isn’t always. Um, that, that’s a really tough one though, because like when I made that switch, I thought it would be better and I did all my due diligence and had calls with other people that used it. And, um, It’s just, that’s all.
Like you think the grass is gonna be greener on the other side and it isn’t always. Yeah.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Uh, but, but I think at the same time it’s. Um, it’s, it’s okay to try out new things, I guess, you know, unless you try something you wouldn’t know. I think every, that’s true. Like once and once in 10 times, maybe something is a hit.
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: yeah, you never know. I guess that’s true. There’s probably lots of chances that I took that worked out swimmingly. [00:42:00] Um,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: so now I’m going to move on to our rapid fire segment. And in the segment I’m gonna ask you a few quick questions and you have to answer them maybe in one, uh, a word or two or a. Um, so the first one is one book recommendation for entrepreneurs and why?
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Well, I cheated on this one cuz before we got on you told me about it. I love this book by, um, the guy who started Tom’s Blake. It’s called Start Something That Matters. I love this book.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And what, what did you, what, what do you love the
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: most about? Like what, uh, you know, he just, he started that business with the goal of like really giving back and, um, I, it’s, I, I think that like, In full transparency.
I did another podcast earlier today and, um, I just think if you make a quality product that it will be successful. If you make something that’s good, if you build it, they will come. And if you make a quality product, you’re gonna have longevity because it’s a good [00:43:00] product.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: That’s, that’s very interesting.
Um, Uh, I, I mean, I, I’ll push back a little bit on this one because I think, I, I think, I think, you know, you need to like, that’s a prerequisite, like having a good product. Like if you really want to have a long term nice good business where customers are coming back. But I think you definitely need marketing to.
I guess to grow that, grow that business, or
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Definitely to grow. Yeah. Yeah,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: because I’m sure there’s a lot of good products out there that never succeeded cause they couldn’t get the marketing right. Yeah, that’s true. Yeah. I may be wrong. I mean, but, but you definitely need a good product. That’s, that’s kinda like a prerequisite, uh, one innovative product or idea on the current e-commerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about.
I know you mentioned Zs, but do you have anything else, folks?
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: [00:44:00] Um, oh, geez, that’s a lot. So, like in any industry really, um, e-commerce, retail or tech, um, I, I’m really like, I’m trying to learn a lot about all these platforms. You can, let’s say you’re a boutique owner and you want to sell an online boutique owner and you wanna sell lots of different products, so you’re, you don’t wanna carry inventory, you just wanna have it listed on your website.
One is Carro. There’s another one that I recently heard about, but I haven’t, I don’t know that I implemented it. I think I put, got put on like the test list. Um, but the ability to like sell your products on other people’s websites without them carrying inventory and you’re just doing the fulfillment. Um, drop shipping kinda a thing.
Yeah. Uh, kind of, yeah. Okay. But it’s funny cuz when, when I first started this company, there were a lot of people that wanted to do drop shipping. And I said, well, how are you gonna communicate the order information to me? And [00:45:00] they were like, I’m gonna email you a P D F. And I thought, no. Like I don’t. That is messy.
So for every order I have to like put it into my shipping software. That sounds horrible. But this, I think all of these, um, there’s just some really innovative solutions using Shopify and Shopify. Shopify Connect. To really make that a streamlined and easy process. Yeah.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: A business or productivity tool or software, um, that you would recommend or a productivity tool?
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Um, I like, I wanna say using, using something like later for all your social media, but like at this point I feel like everyone’s using those tools. If you’re not scheduling your social media, you’re a crazy person.
I’m trying to think of like there’s, there’s so many apps that we use. I think if you are a con, like if you were a C PPG brand or like a consumable product and you’re not using [00:46:00] subscriptions as well as a loyalty program, you’re missing out. Like you gotta have a loyalty program. Keep your it. It’ll keep your customers coming back.
I think today I read like. Some crazy statistic about like people that are members of your loyalty program are shopping like 70% more than other people or something. I don’t know. It’s some crazy stat, but you need to be offering subscriptions and have a loyalty program in place, and I’m sure
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: it’s really easy to implement using Shopify.
Also, like I’m sure you just implement like uh, another app or
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: something. Yes. Super easy.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Uh, a startup or business, an e-commerce retailer tech that you think is currently doing great things?
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Satco, no, I don’t know. Maybe I don’t pay attention to other brands as much as I should. Um, okay. Yeah, I don’t really know. Okay.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, a peer [00:47:00] entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you?
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Um, the company that first reached out to me when I first launched it was called The New Primal.
They’re based out of South Carolina, I think. Um, founder’s name is Jason Burke. He’s a really great standup dude. Um, they have experienced significant growth. I see them being bought one day, but they make. Sauces. Um, they’re in a lot of retail distribution. Um, but I really look up to him. He is a really, he is a friend.
He is a really incredible founder, and I, I, I love the, the team that he’s
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: built. Awesome. Final question, best business advice that you ever received or you would give to other entrepreneurs?
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: Um, For me it is surround yourself with people that have faith and confidence in you and support your vision. Um, being around people, especially in the [00:48:00] beginning that don’t support your vision, um, is just, it’s gonna kill everything and it’s really hard, I think.
In like relationships with an entrepreneur, right? Like, I don’t, I don’t know if you’re married or what your relationship status is, but it’s hard, it’s hard to support someone in all of their dreams. Um, but it’s really important to surround yourself with people that believe in you and support your entrepreneurship journey.
Yeah, that’s, uh, that’s
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: very interesting. I mean, um, Yeah, I guess, you know, having a relationship with an entrepreneur is probably really difficult because, you know, you, they’re probably not able to spend as much time as, you know, you would want to. So, yeah. Um, but I guess, you know, that that’s true of many other industry.
Like, I guess, you know, being, having a relationship with like a nurse or a, like a ER doctor or something [00:49:00] like that, that’s probably very challenging also.
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: So That’s true. That’s.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Well, Kathy, thank you so much. Those were all the questions that I had. Um, thank you so much for sharing your story. If anybody listening to this podcast wants to buy your product, what is the best way
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: to do that?
Um, the preferences direct on our website. So our website is faco.com. You can find our products on Amazon. You can also find them on Thrive Market. Um, and then our social media channels. We are at Faco on Instagram, we’re also on Facebook and Pinterest and TikTok, but I mean, I’m not very active on TikTok, but, um, yeah, fat code.com is our.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Awesome. Well, Kathy, thank you so much for your time today, for sharing your story, for sharing a little bit about how you grew your business, so really appreciated your time. Thank you so much again for joining me at best.
Cassy Burnvoth of FATCO: All right. Thank you so much.
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