Building A Canadian Bone Broth Brand – Diane Huynh of Bo & Marrow

INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 49:35)

PODCAST AUDIO

INTERVIEW VIDEO (ADBRIDGED VERSION) (Length – 18:06)

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Intro

Diane Huynh of Bo & Marrow shares her entrepreneurial story of building a bone broth brand in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) and growing the business in the Canadian market. Notable in her story is her tenacity of going door to door into different grocery/retail stores and asking the buyers to carry her bone broth products. Now her products are carried by large retailers like Whole Foods and others.

Resources Mentioned in the Episode

Book: Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin

What You’ll Learn

Interview with Diane Huynh of Bone and Marrow

  1. Could you please share the startup story of Bo & Marrow? How did you come up with the idea? How did you know there would be a market of this product?
  2. What products are you currently selling and which ones are your best sellers? What are your new products?
  3. What kind of financing was required to get the business started?
  4. Does the business require food manufacturing license?
  5. What is the manufacturing process look like? Where do you get the ingredients? How often are you producing the products?
  6. How did you get some of the initial press? How did you get the word out? Did it help the business?
  7. What are some of the biggest risks with running your business?
  8. What are some of your biggest costs?
  9. What channels are you selling through? What is the division of online sales versus through retail locations?
  10. How often do you have to ship to retail locations? How do you ship the inventory to different stores?
  11. How to fulfill ecommerce order?
  12. What marketing are you using? Which marketing channels work best for you?
  13. Could you share a bit about your social media? How do plan it? How do you take the photos?
  14. What does your team look like right now?
  15. What have been some of your biggest challenges or failures in the process of starting and growing your business?

Rapid Fire

In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.

Diane Huynh of Bone and Marrow

  1. One book that you would recommend to entrepreneurs/business professionals in 2020 and why? (Response: Purple Cow by Seth Godin.)
  2. An innovative product or idea in the current ecommerce, retail, or tech landscape that you feel excited about.(Response: Customizable Vitamins.)
  3. A peer entrepreneur or business-person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response: Sara Blakely.)
  4. A business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend. Response: Asana.)
  5. Best business advice you ever received or you would give.(Response: Make mistakes often. That’s the only way you’ll learn.)

Interview Transcript

Sushant Misra: Hey there entrepreneurs. My name is Sushant and welcome to Trep Talks. This is a show where I interview successful ecommerce 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 businesses. And today I’m really excited to welcome Diane who in to the show, Diane is the co founder and owner of bone marrow. Bone Marrow is an Alberta Canada based company which offers sippable bone broth products that are handcrafted using only the best locally sourced ingredients, bagged in space saving resealable bags for effortless use. And today I want to ask a few questions about her startup story. For the strategies and tactics that she has used to start and grow her business. So thank you so much for joining me today. Trep Talks, Dan.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Hi, thank you so much for reaching out to me. And I’m very excited to be a part of your podcasts.

Sushant Misra: Yeah. And and it’s a really interesting business. And I’m really interested to know, what was your startup story? How did you get the idea for this business? And how did you get started?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Yeah, well, I can tell you that I had zero experience in the food manufacturing business, so I dived pretty much zero knowledge into this business. So a lot of learning curves, a lot of mistakes in the beginning. I grew up drinking bone broth. So when I moved to Canada, about six going on seven years, I wanted to start a business. I was a dental hygienist by trade. So I was practicing for about eight years. So when I moved to Canada, I actually failed the dental hygiene boards exam only because I studied from my books back home because I’m originally from the States. So then when I failed, I was just like, you know what? Forget it. I’m just gonna I want to start my own business. I felt like there was an opportunity to introduce Canadians to bone broth. There wasn’t a lot of competition out there at that time when I first started. So being that I grew up drinking bone broth, and you know, I value the benefits. I wanted to share that with the Canadian market. So that’s how we how we started out but I also have a business partner. So we started we came up with idea we formulated the recipe and we started out at the farmers market, just to prove the concept and validate sales and then on day one, we were super busy. See, that’s how it all started.

Sushant Misra: So bone broth and just just because I’m vegetarian a bit and people who are like vegans and vegetarians, can you explain it? Is this more like an if it can consider like an ethnic product that Canadians did not did not know about? Like, was it? Is it like from your cultural background? That that you that it is coming from and you wanted to spread the word in North America?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Yes, yes. Um, well, even Americans, right, like we drink chicken or not drink sorry, we eat chicken noodle soup when we’re feeling sick. I think every culture has their own soup. And they use it as remedies. So in my culture, we would drink a cup of bone broth with our meals to help aid with digestion. So, yeah,

Sushant Misra: so you said that you started in the farmers market. So can you share a little bit about that process? So you said, okay, Brian bone broth seems like an interesting idea. Let’s, you know, test out the idea. Let’s see if anyone buy that. Did you like at that point? Did you just create it at home? And did you still package it? or How did you take it to the farmers market?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: We did not produce it at home, we rented out a commercial kitchen. So we shared like a little space in a commissary kitchen. We would make it, package it ourselves, and then set up our booth at the farmers market.

Sushant Misra: And the first day it was like it felt sold off really quickly. And so you knew that we definitely have a product that we can build a business on.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Yeah, the first day was well, I did well, I think it’s because it’s it was four years ago, and I think a lot of people didn’t know what bone broth was. So we had a lot of interest. And as customers stopped by our booth, it was That educational piece that, you know, got them interested in trying our products and that that was also how we were able to gain, you know, customer repeats from that just like by spending that time to educate our customers on the benefits of bone broth. Then the second, so it was every Saturday. So the second Saturday, we actually had like the news. Global is a global news and CTV News interviewed us because again, bone broth was something that no one has ever heard of, like in Canada. So like it was just a new, unique business everybody was talking about and Edmonton is such a small city too. So it was easy for us to get the word out there.

Sushant Misra: So you didn’t even have to reach out to these news channels. They just, you know, they just got the wind and or they were just there. And your product seemed like an interesting product to interview. Okay, so yeah, can you tell us a little bit about your products right now? How many products do you have? Are you selling? What different kinds of bone broth Are you selling? It’s been four years since you started. So, yeah, I’m interested in what products do you have right now?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Yeah, right now, we only have seven skews, we had a lot more, but because the process of making bone broth is so long and tedious. That was the one thing that we one of our values are to not cut corners. And, you know, we always want to push out a quality product, something that I would drink every single day. So with that being said, the process is about 24 to 36 hours. So we had about, I would say, like 11 to 12 skews when we started but it was just so time consuming. Right. So then we had to like cut down so right now we’re just mainly focused on each chicken bones. So we have like the classic beef, the classic chicken. We made one for kids. So a lot of moms would use bone broth as their base to make baby perrey or just food for their babies. We have one for for pets, which is really cool. And we have a full one. I don’t know if you are familiar with

Sushant Misra: it. I haven’t tried it. But

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: yeah, so we have that. And then we also have Chinese Herbes and fused bone broths. But then we had to, yeah, we just continued that just because of the process. It just took a really long time and the sales weren’t there for us to continue. So which ones

Sushant Misra: are your best sellers? out of be felon?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: The classic chicken? Okay. Yeah. would be our best seller. We just recently launched two soups, so not bone broth. We use the bone broth as the base. So we just launched What is it a Thai coconut curry chicken soup. And then a golden cauliflower soup. So we add a little bit of tumeric into the cauliflower soup so very, very healthy and then we add collagen into it as well.

Sushant Misra: So the idea of these bone broth is that it’s really kind of soup kind of an idea. Does it have like any medicinal benefits? Does it have any? Any health benefits? Or is it more like it’s a filling, you know, mealtime thing that you can just have and it’s a good testing thing.

For the bone broth, is that what you do?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Yeah. doesn’t have any medicinal benefits. I’m sorry. Your conduct Yes. Okay. Um, med medicine, medicinal benefits, or health benefits. Health Benefits. Yeah shirt. The main benefit I would say is the collagen that we draw from the bones. There’s about seven to eight amino acids as well, but I won’t get into that the main benefit would be the collagen. And that has a lot to do with like gut healing. So anybody who suffers from any, you know, digestive issues like say, a leaky gut, or Crohn’s disease, Penny, you know, bloating or anything that you can think of digestion. Bone broth helps to heal the intestines pretty well. Also, high protein level. So I know that you’re a vegetarian or people who can’t process red meat. They could drink the bone broth, as your body’s not having to work as hard to break down the meat. You’re just asleep drinking. Yeah.

Sushant Misra: So take take me Take me to the early Have. So you you tested the idea at the farmers market. And you knew that there is a potential here. Now you wanted to start a business did you have to like, get some financing? Did you have to invest some of your own money? Could you share some of the first steps that you took to actually get the business going?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Yes, we have to use. So my business partner and I both quit our day jobs and we used our savings. And we whatever profit that we generated from the business would just go back. So we always had like a healthy cash flow. But again, if you know with every business as you grow, you need you need a cash injection, right. So we did get a small loan to build out a bigger facility to purchase, you know, equipment to increase efficiency. So yeah, in the beginning, we bootstrapped Everything and then as we grew, we had to have like a little bit of cash injection and we got a small business loan

Sushant Misra: and the business loan was it like a Canadian thing? Or did you get it from the bank? Do you have to write like a business plan to show that you know, this was a business that was generating cash flow, things like that?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: No, we actually raised okay.

Family and friends.

Sushant Misra: Okay. Cool. I know you mentioned a little bit about the manufacturing you had you know, you have your own facility. Can you share a little bit about the manufacturing process right now? What what is involved you know, who who does the manufacturing how many people are there and what does it take to build the bone broth from scratch

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: to build to make the bone broth from scratch. Very intense process again, because we don’t want to you know, Okay, so cutting corners that push out like a let me backtrack that. Let me think about that. Okay, so building up a facility to answer your question hard. We my business partner has family with have he they built it out from scratch. So we found an empty Bay. And we have built everything from scratch from like a piping like a water connection, the gas and electricity. It was a lot of work. Because we grew right we like started in a shared kitchen space. We outgrew that within months and then we have to move into a bigger facility. So the build out I can’t speak on it too much because I wasn’t involved with that.

But basically,

Sushant Misra: basically you had a certain idea of what Demand is going to be. So you had to build a large facility so that you can accommodate the demand that I guess that’s where I’m,

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow:  yeah, we had a little bit of forecasting anything, we’re still so new. So it was all based off of assumptions. So we do employ our own. We have about four right now producing for us. And,

Sushant Misra: and the production occurs every day. Or, or is it like in batches that you produce certain batches? And then

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: yeah, we brought in small batches. Again, we’re all about quality. So small batches, we still make it the traditional way. So with that being said, it’s 24 to 36 hours. So it would be every day because there’s that every day there’s something right so as soon as it’s done, we would have to have like, we have a cool down method and then we have a packaging some gotta pass. In our own who knows about bass and then we got a flash freeze it and then once it’s frozen, then we package it into case lots. And then we ship it out to our distributors because we have two sales channels we distribute throughout Canada. And then we also have an e commerce sales channel. So yeah, the process making bone broth is pretty simple. I mean, I can tell you, it’s not like it doesn’t take a genius to make it quite do is really simmer the animal bones for the 24 to 36 hours you add your Herbes and your vegetables in it. But the one thing that I pride myself are, you know, bone marrow and it’s like us using all organic ingredients and you know, the bones come from trusted sources. And like I said, I would only push a product that I will drink every single day and I and I still do drink microphones, every single So,

Sushant Misra:  so so basically the manufacturing process is not automated. It’s like, you know, you get the ingredients. And there are four people who are actually there’s like manual process involved, where they’re, you know, somebody is, you know, mixing the the broth and things like that. It’s not like there’s an automated machine that is doing the process.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: No, no, we’re not there yet.

Sushant Misra: Okay, but that would be the ideal situation in the future, right? Like in the future, you would want some something that is more automated, where people don’t have to be there all the time. You know, it’s like the machine is doing more of the work and then then people, would that be the idea?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Maybe, maybe, I still like that. We have that tradition attached to it. Okay, because you can taste it and you can feel it in a product. So, I would say maybe, to that question. I don’t know if I want to go for automation with that and mass produce Because, again, our customers strictly for the healing benefits of it right. So once you start to mass produce products

um,

Sushant Misra: I guess it doesn’t have that, that that personal touch to it, I suppose then it’s like,

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: just, yeah, not just a personal touch but then the qualities diminish, right? Because now we have to like scale and things get compromised when you get into mass production.

Sushant Misra: So the food business, because if I would assume it’s kind of like, you know, people are eating the health thing. Do you have to get like some sort of a license to do manufacturer manufacturer food items? Do you have to get that and what was the process like for that?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Yes, you do have to get like your food handler’s permit certification through the province that you’re working And also the city level. But because we distribute our price Canada why we have to work with the Canadian, the CFA, the Canadian Food Inspection Association, so we have to deal with them because it’s more on a federal level. Okay. So yeah, having to because we’re also an animal based product, so shifting from province to another requires a lot more certifications.

Sushant Misra: And when you were starting the business, like I would assume without those certification, you wouldn’t be able to sell in even in your province. So was there like a whole broad like, what was there a waiting time to get funds like that? Or did you have to show certain documents that you’re qualified to do this kind of manufacturing?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Yeah, so the first two years, we didn’t know that we have to deal with the CSS by a meaning like on the federal level so we were only producing for our province of Alberta so we weren’t shipping outside of it once we decided that we were growing and we were getting demand from other provinces there was no waitlist we just had to do a lot of like lab testing and you know showing the percentage of new product that we word but no to answer your question there were no weightless it was a pretty seamless process.

Sushant Misra: Okay, so to me it seems like you know, because this was an interesting product and you got got initial traction and then you got some funding and you know, the you started producing the products did you actually have to work much on the marketing side or getting press or things like that to get the word out to generate demand or word like pretty simple. for you that you didn’t have to worry too much about marketing and every place that you went, it was like, okay, you know, either there was demand from the consumer side or you know, if you went to a store, they said, I will carry your products.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: I would say now, I’m spending time and budget on marketing for years later, when we first started, it was we took the grassroot marketing approach. It was pretty I want to say like, easy but I did focus on building a community around my brand. So I went out there and I did a lot of pop ups and partnered up with a lot of fitness studios. Yeah, a lot of word of mouth. We did a lot of influencer marketing in the beginning And the farmers market helped a lot. Right? So yeah, it was more of like an organic growth in the beginning now four years later because we’re Canada why we just have to work a little bit harder when it comes to marketing. Also, there are more competition now versus when we started four years ago,

Sushant Misra: or more companies now that are producing bone broth,

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: but in the beginning, I took that organic approach, I just like went out there and and I gave my products away a lot. Just to say knew that they will like it so much and that it truly does work. So you know, back then until this day, I truly believe in word of mouth marketing. So

Sushant Misra: now when we talk about like from a business perspective, what are some of your biggest costs is that the cost of the facility itself that is producing the, the bone broth or are the ingredients? What are some of your biggest costs for running this kind of business?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Now, I think you said it is the facility. We have to be open. Pretty much. We have to be running all the time, right? Because we’re allowing the bone broth to simmer overnight. So you always have to have employees there.

Sushant Misra: So the facility runs 24 seven,

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: pretty much yeah. I mean, our products are seasonal. So in the summertime is our is our full time downtime. So we do get a little break. So I want to say like 24, seven 365 days a year, but for the most part Canada’s. We have like seven to eight months of winter. So yeah, for most of the year we’re running. But I was in the highest costs overhead is our facility. Because it’s running, and 24 seven and then we also have like employees and life insurance. You know, it’s just a higher liability because we own a facility.

Sushant Misra: So is this kind of a business that is more hands off like once now that you have built these processes, so you have the facility of people building it, you know, you have the whole system of you know, shipping it out to the people that are selling it. So is it at this point now, is it more like a hands off kind of a thing for you, you’re mostly just looking, you know, spending maybe a few few hours every week, just managing and overseeing everything, or are you spending more time now on marketing? What is your impression of your overall business right now?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: The first two years, I was working 12 to 14 hours a day doing my own sales. So I with you know, go door to door and get my product. into the grocery stores. And yeah, that was my only I was the only sales team. So it was a lot of hours involved. Now we have our own sales team. So we have an East Coast and West Coast. And we have two distributors for one in BC and one in Ontario. So I would say that things are running more efficiently. So I do furbo amera I do only work a few hours a day, whether it’s like customer relations or marketing. But yeah, I would say I don’t work as I wouldn’t say as much but my hours are decreased. So I

Sushant Misra: guess I guess that that’s like everyone, every business owner is green, right? So you built your business and now you can relax and you know, you have your own time to do your own thing. So

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: I’m gonna say relax. But just working more efficiently

Sushant Misra: Okay, now you did mention that you’re you’re selling through different channels e commerce and also retail. I’m very interested to know and I’m going to ask you about e commerce but I’m very interested to know about the retail side of things. So initially you said that you were very involved in it you were going out yourself trying to get your product out in the retail market. So I want to know a little bit about that sales process because you definitely have to be this you know, salesperson kind of mindset to go out there and put yourself out there and your product out there and, and ask people to to carry it. Can you share some of that experience? Because I think that is a part that comes in every business’s every new business where you have to go out and do the sales. So can you share your experience and how you did it?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Yeah, yes, I didn’t really have a plan of action. To get honest with you, I didn’t know what I was doing, I truly I just mustered up the courage to go into a grocery store that I felt that would be a good fit for our products. And I just asked for the buyer. And if I could speak to him, or her, and I would pitch my product.

Sushant Misra: And we’re the were the generally forthcoming, like, you would go in there and you would say, you know, can I talk to the buyer? And they would be like, would they come out? Or? Or they would say, you know, no, they’re not here, come back again. Like, did you challenge

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: some of the smaller stores, the buyers were there, I was able to speak to them. The bigger like grocery stores like whole foods are like blah, blah, simple just like that. You would have to go through corporate for that, but I didn’t have a sales pitch or anything. I just went in there and I talked about my products and why Believe it would sell in their grocery store and the value of carrying or bone broth, because then again, like I said, when we first started, there wasn’t a lot of competition. Maybe there was one or two. So like, it was easy to get through the door because we’re such a unique item at that time. Um, I can’t really tell you I didn’t have like, any,

Sushant Misra: like, did you? Did you offer any incentive? Like, there was the education process of sharing, like, you know, this is my bone broth? These are the benefits, things like that. Did you did you have to offer like some incentive that, you know, carry 2020 packets of my or 200 packets of my bone broth? And, you know, if you if you don’t sell, I’ll buy it back or something like that?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: No, no, we did not have any incentive. The only thing that I offered was to do Devil’s store demos to help increase the brand awareness And sales. So we did a lot of that in the beginning. It’s like set up a table. Give us samples samples. Yeah. So no

part of me

Sushant Misra: and the one thing that you were saying that going into some of the bigger stores now are you which big stores are you in? Are you in everywhere? Are you in Whole Foods and all these big grocery stores now or?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Yeah, we are in pulses and we are in save on foods. We are finalizing the contract for loblaws Martino’s and superstore

Sushant Misra:  so I would assume that would give you like a huge volume. So your production facility must should should have to be like really huge to produce like this kind of volume throughout Canada, or you’re just in Canada right now. Correct. Okay and and to go to some of these big stores. Can you share a little bit about? What was the process of getting into some of these bigger stores?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow:  these bigger stores, I would have to give credit to my sales team. I was hands off. We had goals to get into these stores and they already aren’t my sales team. The broker who we work with have been in the industry for over 10 years. So they already have relationships built with these buyers. also going to trade shows was key for us. So we went to I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the CH fa. The Canadian health food Association trade show that happens twice a year. So one of the East Coast Toronto usually takes place in September, and then the west coast in Vancouver takes place placed in February. So the trade shows helped us tremendously because the buyers, these are this is the chase show where all the buyers from all over Canada will come to. So that is where we would do our pitch to the bigger stores.

Sushant Misra:  So when you say the sales team, are these is this like the distributor or this is your These are your own people employed by your company.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: They’re not employed through our company, we hire them. They’re like our middleman to our distribution.

Sushant Misra: Okay. So you feel you are selling. So basically you had to sell to the distributor and once you sold to the distributor, they they can get your product out on all the different big stores.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Our sales team would go to these grocery stores and they would pitch and let’s throw it out there like blessing Whole Foods. Our sales team would speak to the buyers that whole foods get us through the door. So then once we get approved by Whole Foods, Whole Foods with directly order from our distributor distributor would purchase directly from us. We would ship pallets to them

Sushant Misra: for you had to get the sales contract first, and then and then the second part of that was that for only when you had the sales contract with these bigger companies, then the distributor would buy from you.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Right? So yes, as soon as the grocery store approves us, they would not order directly from us, they will order directly from a distributor

Sushant Misra: was up.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: That’s just the way that the retail grocery retail market works. So they would have their specific distributors that they work with and they would purchase it directly from their catalogue.

Sushant Misra: Okay, and it’s, to me this is this seems very interesting. So when you are negotiating with some of these, like bigger stores, is this negotiation different from, you know, when you go out and talk to some of these smaller stores do like what kind of, of course, you know, these bigger stores are providing with your large volume. So I would assume that they would have a lot more power in terms of negotiation. So I’m very interested in knowing what was that negotiation process like, Did you say, you know, this is my price that I want to sell sell to you for this volume? And they were like, did the counteroffer or can you share a little bit about that negotiation process?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Yeah, we do have wholesale prices set. They’re all the same for every grocery store. So the only negotiations that we would do with the kicker grocery chains, is you know, giving them like incentives as far as like cell campaigns so like say back to school, they want to be able to give You know, their customers 15% off. So we would have to do.

So just

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: planning my sales and promotions with them.

Sushant Misra: But they will provide you the calendar for the whole sales and promotion, I think at the beginning of the year or something,

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: yeah. And then we on our end would approve it to say we want to be in their flyer, you know, in September, then we would have to pay, you know, for us to have a spot on the front page, for example, but as far as like negotiation, negotiation, negotiation or hold wholesale costs, there is no we don’t do that.

Sushant Misra: Okay, so one more question that comes to mind just because you know, when I shop in grocery stores, these kind of questions always come to mind is what happens when, let’s say wholesale, Whole Foods bought, you know, a million units of your product for Example. And and they, I would assume they put it in different retail stores where they see the different demand for this this item. What happens at the end of, you know, the life of this product, they’re not able to sell a certain number of units? Is it that they’re going to bear the cost of the unsold items? Or do they? Do you have certain things in your contract that say that you will have to take the item back or you have to share some of that cost?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: No, there’s no buy back on our end. The good thing about our products is that they’re frozen and the shelf life is about a year. Like for example, save on food safety, like freezer category review every six months. So that’s like the one thing that we always have to lookout for and making sure that we direct our customers to like, save us, because if they do a category review and the sales are not, does not meet their expectation they can pull us from their feet.

Sushant Misra: Okay? And, but you don’t really have any say in that, like if the demand goes down, there’s not much that you can do from your side, apart from like giving sales or discounts and things like that.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Right? So it’s really important to make sure that you case your products in, you know, save on I’m just throwing it out there if it’s one of the biggest grocery stores in the right demographics, right. So making sure that you know, we don’t pay for shelf space in an area where, you know, none of our target audience is located because then that would not translate into sales. So we also have to just teach people Pick the locations where you know, your target audience is located.

Sushant Misra: And you have the say in picking those locations. Are you

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: yes or no we suggest,

Sushant Misra: okay. Okay. Now your e commerce channel, given that retail probably has, you know, it’s probably most of your sales is ecommerce channel like what kind of? Is it more like a public front for people to see like for your brand or do you actually sell a lot of products through your ecommerce channel also?

Yeah, that’s not only

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: accomplices by 30% of our sales, it’s mainly through distribution. I wanted an e commerce as a platform just to increase brand awareness and to offer convenience for people but this year, we are trying to lose 30 pounds. For sure, but in the beginning, we didn’t want to go that route because it was like the shipping logistics, right? Because our products are perishable. And the shipping cost is insane in Canada, so we had to like, figure out the sweet spot. When it came to like the shipping the price because of like the packaging, insulators and everything. It all adds up so

Sushant Misra: and you do the fulfillment yourself or do you are you using like a third party? would you

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: use it ourselves? Okay, yeah. So about in the beginning, we didn’t push commerce because for that reason. Right now, the Tina and I are trying to figure out a more efficient and cost effective strategy.

Sushant Misra: Now you did mention about marketing that now you’re focusing more of your time on the marketing activity than previously you also mentioned you did like some influencer marketing and things like that. So I’m very curious to know at this point that you’re all in retail in the retail this part of the marketing for us, I guess what? How are you getting the word out on your site? What efforts are you doing from the marketing side? To get the word out.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow:   

Right now we’re still very much focused on influencer marketing, and community marketing. Like I said, I am a firm believer of organic, grassroots marketing and love taking the community approach and word of mouth and so still doing that. But maybe in the next quarter, we’ll dive into the digital marketing. Once we figure out the shipping logistics, then we’ll spend a little bit more of our budget on whether it’s Google ads or Instagram Facebook ads.

Sushant Misra: So when you say influencer marketing Is it is it like online influencer? Are these people in the community who would be considered influencers in the community and they are trying to spread the word? Yeah. community.

Sushant Misra: So there would be like, health fitness people who are these people and how do you pitch?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Mom bloggers, health and wellness anyone? fitness as well?

Yeah, they’re not paid.

Sushant Misra: Oh, really?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Yeah. I’m pretty good in the community in Edmonton anyways, so I’m sure as soon as we want to scale in DC in Toronto, that might be a different story. But I always had community in mind from day one. So since we started bone marrow that was like always my motivation and secret To build a community following from day one, so I do feel like we have a loyal customer base in Edmonton. So yeah, if I asked a mom blogger, for example, Hey, can you share this on your stories or your Instagram? Can you cook with it? I get an immediate Yes. I’m just because I have implemented that community approach from day one. Okay.

Sushant Misra: What does your team look like right now? I know you’ve mentioned there for people who are doing the manufacturing side. You mentioned your salespeople. What does your team look like right now apart from that?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: We have about four sales people in West Coast. We have about around the same amount of number of three to four in the east coast of Maine. With a lot of the marketing, I still handle customer service. I like to call and message and email my customers myself. My business partner takes care of like the operations and we have an in house accountant in house creative director, copywriter in house everything in house marketing, so copywriter, graphic artist.

Sushant Misra: So your marketing team, how many people are in there? Okay. And your social media posts and things like that there’s all of that like photo photography and copy everything is done in house. Okay, and do you? So right now you’re in Canada, Do you have plans to like, go to a much bigger market in the US in the future? I’m sure that that must be in the plans.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Yes. So when I moved to Canada, I didn’t realize it. years ago that Canada’s very small, it’s a big countries spread out that population is just not comparable to where I’m from the states in order to scale that is, you know, top of mind right now. We would like to infiltrate the stage slowly and bring it down. So and given that heat from here, that would be a dream of mine. So yeah, that is the plan of moving bone marrow down to six.

Sushant Misra: But I’m, I’m sure that in the States, that’s all already bone broth products, and it’s already competitive. So I think it might be a little bit more challenging for you, do you think or

Oh, 100%.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Yeah, yeah. It is more of a saturated market for sure. There’s always gonna be competition. I think that it all again comes down to your values, and your differentiator and

Community.

Sushant Misra:  So one thing that I’m always very interested to know is like, you know, as a business owner, there’s always challenges. You know, in business, there’s something one thing or another is coming almost every day. I’m very interested to know throughout your four year of the business history, what are one or two biggest challenges or failures that come up for you? That you thought, Okay, that was a big mistake that I made and then you learn something from that. Can you share one or two of those things that come up for you?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow:  Yeah, one or two is I think I’ll be grew too fast. Hmm. Instead of focusing on just one product, I want it to go Canada, why the first two years that hindered our cash flow because the more you grow, the more money you need, right? The more cash injection you need, because getting into these grocery stores is not free, you have to pay for shelf space and then you know, you got to give incentives and hey, I do believe that I don’t mean credit but I wish that I took my time to learn a little bit more about a burn up just Alberta the market and learn it very well before I replicate buy into a new market such as BC because it’s entirely different, right and Ontario is different than BC and Alberta. So I would say like I grew a little too fast. The other challenge is not thinking about the seasonality My product, um, we are very slow in the summertime. So, you know, now we have to evolve, what products could we produce that we could sell year round? and balance out that, you know, slow time for us. So

Sushant Misra: are you thinking like, Do you already have some candidate products that fit the bill or you’re working towards that? Okay. Okay, um, I think we’re going to move on now to the rapid fire round where I’m going to ask you a few questions and you have to answer them in one or two words or one or two sentences. Okay, so the first question is, do you recommend any book for entrepreneurs or business executives in 2020? And why are you a big book reader?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow:  I read I try to read two books a month.

Sushant Misra: Oh, well.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: love reading the number one book that I would buy for everyone who is interested in starting their own business is by Seth golden. It’s called the purple cow. Have you heard of it? I have you. Okay. Yes. Remarkable. So that’s the number one book that I would recommend

Sushant Misra: an innovative product or idea and the current ecommerce retail or tech landscape that you’re excited about.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: In the tech, space,

Sushant Misra: ecommerce, retail tech, any any idea or product that you think is interesting that you find it it doesn’t have to be in the food industry, but something that you find interesting that you personally buy or you find that it’s like an interesting

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: yeah, I think the customizable vitamins to be honest with you.

Sushant Misra: customizable vitamins.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Yeah, like retro. That’s a good friend. I thought that was a pretty cool innovation because

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Don’t take them. Well, I thought it was cool.

Sushant Misra: What’s wrong with that? I just thought it was

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: cool that you’re able to customize like, depending on like what you’re deficient in, or like you’re stressed and anxiety. So it just they will customize a certain, like, a specific formula

Sushant Misra: for you. That sounds really interesting. So basically, there’s like a questionnaire that are filled, you’re more stressed, you feel this. You can’t sleep and then basically they’ll give you a form a customized bottle of wine. Wow, very interesting.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Yeah. Interesting, very innovative. I don’t, I don’t, I thought it was pretty cool.

Sushant Misra: I wonder like, if it is like 90% marketing like I don’t know. A productivity tool or software that you’re using.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: I like Asana. Asana. Okay. Cool, really good project management tool,

Sushant Misra: a startup or business in ecommerce retailer tech that you think is doing great things right now.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: I think anything in the health and wellness industry to be honest with you just because of COVID too, so I do believe that health is top of mind.

Sushant Misra: By the way, did COVID have any any impact on your business increase or decrease positive? Okay, okay, cool. appear entrepreneur or business person who inspires you?

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Sara Blakely,

Sushant Misra: Sara Blakely. Okay, cool. And finally, the best business advice that you have ever received or that you would give to other entrepreneurs

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: make offers mistakes. That’s the only way you’ll learn.

Sushant Misra: Perfect. Thank you so much, Dan. Those were all the questions that I had. It was a really interesting topic for me because I had never, I didn’t know anything about the any food industry products. So it was a really cool experience for me to learn about this. So thank you so much for sharing your startup story and, and sharing all the strategies and tactics that you have used to start and grow your business. Now is your chance if you want to share any products, your website, how people can get in touch with you, please, please go ahead.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Yeah, no, I want to thank you for this opportunity. And it was really fun chatting with you had amazing questions. I hope that I asked him and correctly anyways.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Yeah, we recently just launched in Ontario. I know that’s where you’re based off of so you can find us there’s a store listing on our website, but we’re excited to have entered the most recently so Like Whole Foods for Tinos, like the grocery stores that you can find this in website or Instagram handles bow and arrow, and website. And yeah, I actually respond to direct messages on Instagram. So if anyone doesn’t have any questions

Sushant Misra: Perfect, thank you so much, Diane again for for coming on Trep Talks and sharing your story. I really appreciate it.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Thank you. Okay, fine.

Sushant Misra: So was it Okay, was it so yeah

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: I’m just not like nervous about the video but like, the audio

Sushant Misra: No, the video video would be great. So you could hear me okay, right. Now, can you hear me? I could. I could. Yeah, so I think it should be good. So you’re you just entered Ontario so that must be a pretty big I think should give you a big boost. Your business because Ontario three Ontario, you just entered Ontario right? So it must give your business a big boost.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: So it’s gonna take quite some time to build that brand awareness for sure. And then COVID hit so. Um Yeah, we haven’t gained traction in sales yet.

Sushant Misra: Okay, okay. I will be publishing this maybe in the next two, three weeks. So I will send you a quick message. I think I think it would be great. So yeah, thank you. Thank you so much again, and yeah, if, if I can help in any way please feel free to reach out anytime and I wish you all the best in growing your business.

Diane Huynh of Bo & Morrow: Thank you so much, and good evening. Bye.

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