Inventing Frozen Superfood Face Mask Popsicles – Lynda Truong and Paul Tran of Love&Pebble

INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 51:41)

PODCAST AUDIO

[sc name=”sponsors”]

Intro

Lynda Truong and Paul Tran of Love&Pebble combined the idea of cryotherapy and face masks to create a unique beauty product.

People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode

Book: Never Split the Difference; 12 months, 1 million.

What You’ll Learn

Interview with Lynda Truong and Paul Tran of Love&Pebble

00:00Introduction
01:10What is the product
03:07Target Market
04:55Prototyping
08:06Is there any science behind the product
11:12Market Validation
16:22Influencer Marketing
18:45Manufacturing
19:39Patents
21:46CopyCats
25:56Paid Advertising
26:48Business Model
29:43Shark Tank Experience
36:26Warehousing and Fulfillment
37:24Urban Outfitters
38:10Sales Channels
39:45Team
42:05Lessons Learned
46:24Rapid Fire Round

Rapid Fire

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

Lynda Truong and Paul Tran of Love&Pebble

  1. One book that you would recommend to entrepreneurs/business professionals in 2021 and why? (Response: Never Split the Difference; 12 months, 1 million)
  2. An innovative product or idea in the current ecommerce, retail, or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: Beauty Pops; Poppi Apple Cider Vinegar)
  3. A business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend (Response: Monday; Zendesk)
  4. A startup or business that you think is currently doing great things (Response: Skin Tea; Poppi)
  5. An entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response: Peiru Kim)
  6. Best business advice you ever received (Response: When you first start, you have to have courage; keep going. Because a lot of people quit too soon)

Interview Transcript

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Hey there entrepreneurs My name is Sushant and welcome to TrepTalks. 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 Paul and Linda Tran to the show. Paul and Linda are the co founders of love and pebble loving Pebble is a skincare company that sells beauty pops. And today I’m going to ask Paul and Linda a few questions about their entrepreneurial journey, and some of the strategies and tactics that they have used to start and grow their business. So thank you so much, Paul, and Linda, for joining the show today.

Lynda Truong  

Jay, thank you for having us. Yeah, thanks.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So can you share a little bit you know what a beauty pop is like anyone who doesn’t know what this product is? Can you share what, what what you have created and what your business is about?

Lynda Truong  

Yeah, so it’s a cryo facial that melts into a skin loving face masks, and leaves you with a beautiful glow. It’s made with all natural superfoods. And all you have to do is mix it with water and freeze it and then just apply it to your face like you wear a face mask.

Paul Tran  

Yeah, so there are beauty tools out there that are like ice rollers that kind of like sculpt your face. But we’re the first to combine that with a face mask. So as you roll and you sculpt your face and get the benefits of a skin icing. It melts into a mask. And the mass is made from like all natural ingredients. And something that we’ve been working on for about two years. And it all started with my wife, Linda, she, she basically does a lot of DIY stuff at home, and she was freezing a banana one day, and she would rub it on her face. And I was like, What are you doing? And she was like, No, this really works. It really works. And I was like, okay, cool. So she tried it on me. And I mean, instantly your skin’s softer. It’s firm, it’s lifted. So you get the benefits of the all natural super fruits. And so then we spent last few years kind of seeing how we could make this into something that we could sell to the consumer and scale up as well. So yeah, we launched in March, and ever since then we’ve been selling, selling out probably those of time now we’ve sold out of inventory. So we’re finally back in stock, you think it is but it’s like the stock game, when you when you do have something that sells really well is very hard to keep up with demand. So

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

so this is something that mostly women use, or because I assume this is more of a start. It’s more of the female market. Is that correct?

Lynda Truong  

Yes. So we most a lot of women do use this product, because you know, just before it’s like they have their nighttime routine or morning, facial, and then you know, we have like a older demographic that appreciates it too. Because they get a lot of hot flashes. People who are they’re teenagers who suffer from acne. But we do get males who use this product too. Yeah.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Do you call do you use it? Is Yeah, of course you’re selling it for you?

Paul Tran  

Yeah, my skin’s not as good as is my wife’s. But you know, I do use it. And I mean, it does work. And I mean, it’s, it’s something that really helped us is with, you know, the pandemic and everything. There’s a lot of businesses that like succeed. And there’s a lot of businesses that kind of suffer from it, we kind of intersect into a market where it’s basically at home facials, right, so not that many people are going into the, you know, skincare clinics, and you know, like the estheticians in the spas. So this is something that you can experience in the comfort of your home, but kind of get that spa like experience. And that’s, that’s what a lot of a lot of our customers were saying and a lot of estheticians that were like oh my gosh, this is something that you know, is amazing, and they want to use it in their clinic as well. So

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

can you share a little bit about the initial prototyping process? So you had this idea that you know, you can create a product like this combining cryotherapy plus, you know, facial mask concept? Yeah, how did you come up with like the the design of the ingredients? Can you share a little bit about that?

Lynda Truong  

Yeah, so it started in our kitchen and obvious See, you know, I was doing this gears before, but I had to figure out how to, you know, deliver this to customers. So I was like, we can’t ship out fresh fruits because they will go bad or, you know, we send out like frozen pops, it would melt. So we just formulated at home, we bought certain ingredients tested different things out millions. Yeah, it took a really long time. Because, you know, just making sure you have the right ingredients, the percentages, the consistency, the smell, the color, everything. And all Paul is a pharmacist. So he went into his his books and did some research and found out about some of the ingredients that we use in our formula that really do help with acne and inflammation. You know, papaya is another ingredient that we have in there, that’s a natural enzyme that helps exfoliate skin. So, you know, every ingredient serves serves a purpose. And so, yeah, it took us about two years to come up with this. And then we, you know, we designed a mold and, you know, paired it together and tested that just to make sure that that worked well together. And so yeah, two years later, here we are.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

It seems like that’s good.

Paul Tran  

No, I was gonna say, I think what we did was something very unique, and especially unique in the beauty world. And the reason why we knew was unique is not just from the clients kind of feedback. But it was really hard finding a manufacturer that really understood what we were trying to do. I think we went manual, we started at home. But once we had a formula that we knew worked, I mean, we went through, manufacture, manufacture, manufacture, and most of them didn’t know how to make our product. And we finally landed on someone who kind of understood and kind of took direction from us. So I think that’s what something is super unique about our product. And it’s in the beauty beauty industry has been looking for this, because they’ve been doing the same thing over and over. There’s so many serums so many creams, and ours is the first has kind of like, kind of like changed all that. And and that’s why, you know, we’ve sold out like so many times. Yeah, so we’re super excited about that.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So one thing that I am very curious about, and I think this is not necessarily about your product, but necessarily, you know, the beauty category in general. So when you have a product like this, then you know, of course, you know, we you put it on, and hopefully it makes some difference. Is there like some scientific background behind it? Like, is there like any scientific thing that you’ve done, where you can show that, you know, if 100 People use it over like one month period or something, their skin will improve over time or something like that?

Paul Tran  

Yeah, so I mean, that’s something that every company, I think that’s our next step, I mean, those clinical trials, I think that just kind of what you’re getting at is, they’re very costly. And if we do do one, we want to do it the right way. And you know a little bit about my background, I was a lab assistant before doing drug development, back in pharmacy school, so I am familiar with that. And that is something that we do intend to do in the future. However, you know, a lot of our ingredient base that we put in our product is pulled from studies showing effectiveness, right? If we wanted to go a natural route. So you know, there’s tons of like products with like hyaluronic acid, there’s tons of like different Vitamin C serum, stuff like that. But there’s very few companies that are doing this all organic, natural route, you know, preservative free, that’s something that we really pride ourselves in is that we’re product, our product is preservative free, we’ve found a way around that. And that’s very hard to do. Because if you look at a lot of different products, you have to have preservatives, right. And that’s an ongoing debate. Um, but I think for us, we found a way and we maximize the potency of it. And that’s another thing there’s a lot of manufacturers said, Oh, you don’t need this much potency, which we felt we did. Right. Right. And you know, the customers all see the results from it.

Lynda Truong  

And also, I mean, before launch, we do test it on friends and family and we have a number of people that try it out, you know, before we you know, launch to the market. So that’s what we usually do.

Paul Tran  

Yeah, and I you know, really a pharmacy do you do the checks of ingredients and we also work with a chemist and formulator just to make sure that it all makes sense, right? And then once we do that, you know we launch it and You know, we only have our first flavor took off really well, we do plan to launch more flavors this year. And that’s our next step. But you know, somebody that was really kind of like, like, a good thing that we learned when we went on Shark Tank was to like kind of walk before you run. So we’re really want to establish this queue and make sure that this product does well for the customers until we move on. So but I think we’re about to, we’ve established that by now. And so we’re, everyone’s been asking for new flavors anyway. So that’s our next move. So.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So it seems like there was a lot of work that went into creating this this product. And of course, you had started out on this journey, thinking that you know, you’re going to start a business and grow it. I think that’s a dilemma for a lot of business owners, that if you have a business idea, how do you ensure that it’s something that people are actually going to buy? So it seems like you put a lot of effort? Did you actually besides like, sharing it with your friends and family? Did you in any way try to test out the idea that this is actually going to be more of a commercial success.

Lynda Truong  

So I actually, when we first launched I was we were both really nervous, and we did BD pop ups. And there’s this one time where, you know, we were, you know, showing it to this lady, we introduced it to this lady, and she looked at us and laughed. And we were both, like, crushed, because they’re like, you know, you know, we felt really bad, like, silly. But you know, we came home and we’re like, you know what, like, we believe in our product, we know that it works, we just need to find the right type of people that can appreciate it. So we just kept going. And, you know, we sent it to an influencer, she did a post, she loved it. And that post is like went viral overnight, we had like over 1 million views, and completely sold out of stock. I mean, we had, I think we started off with like 4000 units sold out of that within like a week. And so that’s where that’s when we were both like, Okay, people like this. And now let’s now let’s really, you know, let’s keep let’s keep moving forward. And the other interesting thing was that, like, when we first started, we weren’t sure if people were gonna love the formula. So when we launched, we call it an MVP. But this actually, people love it. And, you know, we continue to sell the same thing that we started with.

Paul Tran  

Yeah, you know, I think, for every entrepreneur, and this is kind of what I go by when you first, when you first start out, right? You want that confidence that people will buy your product, right? But you don’t know you don’t have the sales approval, you don’t have the people, the returning customers, you don’t have, you know, the the lifetime customers and you don’t have the sales, or the accolades or the reviews, right. So I think for us, I think this is what, you know, I’ve been telling Linda, my wife is that you have to have the courage instead to just go right. And, you know, love and Pebble is a brand, we didn’t start with this, we started in 2018, selling skincare tools that, you know, did pretty good, you know, but it was never market, we can scale. Right. And so, you know, we started that bunch of skincare skincare tools, we just finally sold through one of the skews, that was probably one of our biggest mistakes. I mean, it was a big mistake. But you know, we, we gave enough margin that if we ever had to sell through and discount and just get out and recoup our money. And I think that’s what a lot of companies when you when you do launch products, that’s what you have to kind of add into your business plan. If it does, well, great. If it doesn’t do well, then you have an exit strategy. This product has just changed our business completely. So even to the point where now we have to revamp our website and really go more into the beauty pop side of it. But we kind of knew this was going to be our kind of our hero product. Because it’s just so unique. Every other product that we’re selling was similar, right? There’s tons of other skincare tools like it, so it’d be hard for us to really scale. So I mean, that’s kind of, to your to your question, you know, every entrepreneur starts with this, but, you know, we, you got to start somewhere. And you know, we laugh because actually before we even started with a BD ran we we we started on Amazon, right. And we were selling dog shampoo. Okay, yeah, we’re doing arbitrage. And still to this day, we have a case of dog shampoo in my garage. And that’s as a reminder, and the reason why we can sell is because I didn’t calculate the way I have shipping it, which would actually cause me to be negative per transaction. But it’s just a reminder that you just, you know, you don’t you don’t know until you, you start and then you you learn these things that, hey, shipping weight does matter. And it will cut your profits to negative and, you know, we’re learning along the way. So

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

whether we are you do you do, do you still do pharmacy? Or is this like your full time thing now?

Paul Tran  

So I just put in my notice. Oh, I bet. Yeah, I just saw I’m exiting my company, which had been there for over 10 years. Not quite the same pharmacy. So it is a bittersweet. I did like my, I really love my career as a pharmacist. And, yeah, so I was basically the pharmacists for Delta Airlines. So basically, based in their corporate headquarters, and then all my clientele are patients were the executives for Delta Airlines, which is, you know, probably the dream career job for a pharmacist. But our business got so big that I, you know, basically had to step away and really focus on being a true founder and managing our team and supporting Lynda instead of doing after hours. So

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

I’m curious, the influencer, who made the post was that on Instagram, or

Lynda Truong  

it was on tick tock, tick tock, and yeah, and since then, we’ve actually gone viral five times. And so we started that one video had 1 million views. I posted one with my mom that has 4.7 million views. And then I posted another one of my acne journey, which has like 3 million views. And then you know, it’s just from I mean, we’ve had multiples so it’s been pretty cool. What do ya

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

do so Tick, tick tock is your best sales channel then

Paul Tran  

tick tock is where we are basically. And when I say we, I really just mean Linda, because I will post the video and I’ll get like 200 views. And then she’ll come around and post video and it automatically get like 500k views. And I mean, it basically Tik Tok is showing us a lot of love. We’ve, we’ve been reached out to you by bite Stan to feature us as a small business. I think we did a we did a presentation back in October, to kind of share, you know, our journey as a small business on tick tock, and honestly, I think tick tock is the best first because it’s really organic. Right? In You see, a lot of companies are trying to get on to tick tock and, and do honestly what Lynn has done. But, you know, before we had any of our accolades, like, you know, featured on The Today Show, going on Shark Tank, it was all tick tock first. And that’s how those PR opportunities found us. So yeah, that’s, that’s kind of what we’re going to do. We’re just going to be native to tic tock and show our LP fam there that you know that, you know, we’re here.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

You know, it’s interesting, I talk to business owners, and for some business owners, they try tick tock and nothing happened. And then there are others who go viral on Tiktok. And it’s a, it’s a big revenue generator for them. So it’s tick tock is definitely a good opportunity. So you said that you had to do a lot of work to find the right manufacturer, because a lot of the manufacturers were not producing what you wanted to produce. Can you share a little bit about you know, are you did you start that in the US? Are you still in the US? Are you manufacturing in China?

Lynda Truong  

We are in the US? And yeah, we went through dozens, and it was just really hard because we would, you know, get samples from them. It was just not quite right. And so finally, we found one that that really aligns with our ethos and our mission. And so, so far, you know, we’ve been really happy and the other thing about us is that we are good grades. So a lot of manufacturers, you know, manufacturing companies don’t want to work with food ingredients because they’re not familiar. So kind of hearing, you know, foodgrade with cosmetics, that’s just been kind of an like an, you know, an area that a lot of people don’t want to do.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Interesting. Do you have any patents on this product?

Paul Tran  

Yep. So we as soon as we launched we filed a provisional but which quickly, we you know, we knew we had something after we sold. You know, provisionals are always good because they do is basically a placeholder, but we follow our will utility patent, so it’s under review right now. So that’s, I mean, something that We know that it’s gonna be very important, as we kind of like scale up and get bigger and bigger. But yeah, so we Yeah, utility patent, we might throw in a couple of design patterns as well. And then of course, we have all the trademarks.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Are there any competitors who are creating like similar kinds of product or similar concept of combining cryotherapy with, you know, this face mask kind of thing that you feel that? Are your competitors in the market now?

Lynda Truong  

I wouldn’t, I don’t, I guess there are some other brands that have tools that you could, you know, you’re like a mole that you can put water and freeze that. But what sets us apart is our formula. And then there are other like their skin tool, like the rollers? And, you know, we have there are a lot of like, like natural facemasks out there, which there’s no freezing aspect to that.

Paul Tran  

Yeah. Yeah, I think we, you know, I would imagine that, you know, there will be soon, just from our success, but, you know, I think we’ve, we’ve gotten a head start on everyone, but honestly, it’s our formulation that’s kind of separated us from everyone else, right?

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So what like, what do you think in this kind of situation where you know, that soon, maybe someone will copy your product? Like, do you? Are you thinking about the your next product? Or are you just thinking about focusing on this, and really just pushing it as much as you can in terms of sales? And, and really maximizing the opportunity?

Paul Tran  

I mean, I think we meet when I have, like, kind of like, similar opinions on this. I personally like it, if someone copies me, that means there’s a market for it, right. And I think that’s as a as a brand, you don’t want someone to copy you. But at the same time, there’s a lot of value in seeing that, hey, there’s other, you know, companies that want to do this, because that means that there’s customer demand, right? I think the main thing that we’re focusing on is brand, brand building. So really taking care of our LP fam, that’s where we call every single one of our customers. And I think that’s what separates the successful companies from companies that just rely on just their product, right? If you look at every successful company, it’s the same thing over and over. Now, do you have to deliver on a high quality product? Yes, we do. And I think that’s what we’re really going to focus on. But it’s really taking care of the customer and really, you know, acquiring them and making sure that we they are part of our LP fam. So, you know, that’s a question. I think every entrepreneur asks themselves, like, oh, my gosh, what are some copies me takes, you know, 20% of my sales, and you know, it hurts, right. But I think that’s the wrong way to look at it, I think you really have to, at the end of the day, really bring that customer into your journey. And I think we were super successful with Shark Tank is because we got to share that part of our journey. So at the end of the day, doesn’t it’s not necessarily so much as your product as who you are as a company. And I you know, I 100% believe in that. Will you lose some market share to you know, people who come in and you know, sell your their product for like, 50% off? Yeah, yeah. But at the end of the day, if you have high quality ingredients, high quality product, and really, you know, share that story about your brand, I think you’ll be okay.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So when you say taking care of the customer, is this more referring to like a post purchase experience? Like you’re giving them great shipping experience, return experience, great customer service? Or is it more around like storytelling and engaging them on social media? Those kinds of things?

Paul Tran  

I think it’s both. I think it’s it’s definitely that right, taking care of the customer. If there’s any issues, we definitely take care of them is also sharing our story. And that’s something that that’s why I think some honestly, I think that’s why some companies succeed on tick tock, and that’s why some companies fail on tick tock is because the the people on tick tock really can sense when you’re being authentic. And and when you’re not, right. If you’re just posing, trying to follow trends, trying to like, you know, do it because you want to make a sale, then no, that won’t work. But if you really want to tell your story about how you’re trying to create something that’s going to change your skincare game that is there to help people and even you know, our product named love and Pebble is, is meant so that, you know, we’re a skincare company that cares, you know, all the way down to the packaging, making sure that we align with a value And, and you know, making sure that we are more eco and, and use, you know, sustainable ingredients, sustainable packaging, all of it matters, right? And those are the little minut details, I think that a lot of companies like Miss because they’re they’re trying to like, you know, make sure that their margins are good. But it’s that’s the wrong way of thinking, right.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

In terms of customer acquisition, I know you said social media and organic, like it’s working really great for you. But are you also trying paid paid advertising like Google ads or Facebook ads? Because, you know, the thing would be social media, like they can change their algorithms, and you know, the the posts that are going viral may not go viral again. Are you like, what are other sorts of traffic? That that you have that are more? You would say sustainable?

Paul Tran  

Yeah, I mean, 100%, you know, like, you can’t wait, you can’t depend on like, a video going viral every single time. Right? So yes, we are, we do have agency that we work with, to we do tick tock ads paid, and then Facebook, Instagram, and then Google, which Google is actually probably one of our biggest drivers. But I think that had a lot to do with our, you know, airing on Shark Tank, and then people booing us. We also are on Amazon. So we will start doing PPC on Amazon. Because it’s just such a powerful, you know, sales channel. So we do understand the importance of that. However, and this is just my belief, and I could be completely wrong in this. That will always be secondary to us kind of like focusing on our brand. Like I like to look at it as like, you know, that will just help further the customer down the funnel journey. And especially, I think it is kind of proven because I think a lot of our successes in the retargeting ads. But we want people to understand our story first. I think that’s, that’s what’s worked for us. And you know, obviously scale, I’m pretty sure we’re gonna have to adapt and adjust. But for now, where we are in our business, I think that’s, that’s where we are. And it’s worth, it’s working for us.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So your business is more of like, printer and ink kind of a business. Right? So once a person has purchased this mold that they use, if the wants the, the material or the natural product that they put on that it runs out there, we’ll have to reorder it. Do you see a lot of like your customers reordering that? Or?

Lynda Truong  

Oh, yeah, yeah, we actually have a lot of subscriptions. reorders. So some people even buy like two or three at a time for like their salons or just to use with family and friends.

Paul Tran  

Except for the fact that we don’t charge like crazy, regular, ridiculous refill amounts. Were very reasonable, right, like, the printer and ink cartridge that like they will give you a printer just so that they can but they can, you know, get you on the refill. But I think we’re really reasonable in our pricing. I think our masks come to like about $2 or less per mask, which is totally reasonable, especially with ingredients that we’re using. So we wanted to keep it affordable. And not make it so like exclusive to a certain type of buyer. But that being said, we also wanted to be sustainable. So that’s why we have the refill. So they don’t have to, you know, buy a new mask every time and you know, increase that like carbon footprint on Earth and, you know, waste a bunch of masks that just go into landfills. Right? Yeah, we

Lynda Truong  

were, you know, debating if we wanted to do single use and, or not. And so we decided that you know, us having a reusable tray would be the best thing for as far as like sustainability.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So I know I know you were on Shark Tank. Can you share a little bit about your experience going there making the pitch? Of course I think you know, I think sharks did not come through with with an offer. Can you share a little bit about your your whole experience what you know, what kind of preparation went into that? And then and then when you return? What are you disappointed? I’m sure the episode itself drove a lot of traffic to your site and maybe sales also.

Paul Tran  

Yeah, I mean, I’ll start off like so I think it was like we launched this product in March. And in April. We’re in Kendra Scott’s door, and she’s one of the guest sharks, right? So I remember looking over my wife and I was like, You know what? We’re going to be on Shark Tank. You know, we’re entrepreneurs. So we’re a big kind of fan of the show. So I looked over, I was like, you know, we are going to be on Shark Tank. And she’s like, What? Yeah, whatever. So two weeks go by, and then we get a call from Shark Tank. So we didn’t apply. We didn’t, we didn’t any. Like, you know, we weren’t even thinking about getting on the show. And at first, I was like, Okay, someone heard me in the store. And they’re trying to, you know, steal my Social Security and, and scandalous, right. And I was like, this, this is not like, this is not real. And so then we googled it, and we’re like, Oh, my God, this is real. So that even they were like, Okay, well, we’re probably not even gonna get on, you know. So we did an application in which the application process is very, very long. The Sony producers and the ABC producers, they really get into your numbers, and you have to go through like, even where we’re at, we had to go like three or four rounds of auditions, right? So they keep narrowing down. And then we’re like, Okay, we got to like the last one where, you know, we’re in front of the executive producers, and we’re talking to him, and, and then, you know, they’re prepping us and like, Okay, well, we’re still not gonna get it until they give us tickets to fly out to California. And we’re like, oh, my god, we’re really going. So then, you know, we go out there, and you can tell about the experience?

Lynda Truong  

Yeah, I mean, it was just, it was, it was so surreal for us. And we prepped a lot. And, you know, like, even when we were working with the producers, that, you know, we they helped us with our pitch and all that we practice our numbers, but when we got there, I mean, we were just so nervous and full of energy. But, you know, we gave it our best shot. And, you know, when, when you’re in front of the sharks, there’s just so much going on, they’re talking over each other, you know, it’s moving fast. So we had to, you know, answer on our like, answer on our feet, like, we just tried our best. But ultimately, you know, we didn’t get a deal. And we were really crushed. But looking back, I think that it was a blessing in the skies. I think we were pretty happy with the outcome, because we realized that we have a lot a lot of work to do. And we just got so much love and support from airing that, you know, we don’t we didn’t really need the sharks after all.

Paul Tran  

Yeah, I mean, cash flow. Well, we went in there, we I think we, you know, gave our valuation at a pretty fair valuation, we, we didn’t really need the cash flow, we really wanted the partnership, right. The connections. And so, you know, we’re kind of bummed about that we really want to Laurie and we’re like, Oh, please, Laurie and the thing that they don’t show you there i think that like when the air it’s only like, what 12 minutes or something like that. But you’re in there for like hours like we are in your in you know, the good thing about that was we learned a lot from all the different shards, right? So they gave us a lot of ice. He showed us a lot of love. Like Mark Cuban was really supportive. Mr. Wonderful, even though he was like, kind of like mean, he was like, he couldn’t really say anything about our numbers. The only thing that I think they said really, is we were too young, which we are, you know, we just launched in March, and then we aired in June. So, you know, the thing that I think they kind of thought also is like, our viral posts, the one that Linda did it for a mom. I mean, we sold all of our inventory, it was like 100k in like four days sold. And so they were kind of like reluctant to that and kind of like to your point of what you said, like, Hey, you can’t rely on violinists all the time, which we understand but it doesn’t hurt right? And especially if you go more than once it’s you know, it’s like lightning doesn’t strike more than once but it does for us so so we’re really confident and definitely after shark tank we were we were so nervous because they don’t give you they don’t prepare you for when you air until like I think a week or two so we’re like scrambling to get inventory ready. We’re you know, we’re scrambling to make sure our website doesn’t crash we’re trying to set everything up you know, do you know you know capture the leads and all that stuff and I think we did a pretty good job on it. I think the only you know the that we had a hiccup us was like it just so many orders came in and not every shark tank airing does that but I mean we were fortunate enough to like basically we aired the day before Black Friday before the Friday before Black Friday, which was like the perfect time and then we went straight to Black Friday. And that’s so crazy crazy all over the Christmas.

Lynda Truong  

The holidays. That was crazy. Yeah, you know with shipping and all that that was

Paul Tran  

yeah sure. Crazy shipping delays. So we you know we, in this case, important kind of like what we’re talking about with taking care of our cars. So it’s like, we missed some shipping dates for Christmas gifts. Right. And, you know, that’s a big bummer. But you know, it’s kind of out of control when it’s, um, you know, UPS or USPS, which we will never use again, we’ll probably only stick with UPS because it’s so bad. But, you know, we took care of every single customer that we, you know, didn’t fulfill on our promise. And I think that’s all you can do as a brand, right? Even though it sucks, and it hurts. But, yeah, I mean, Shark Tank really blew us up, put us on the map, I think. And actually, the funny thing is before, before that we aired on the Today Show. And that kind of goes up to you. So, you know, a lot of good PR opportunities. But you know, I think with all these kind of like pie in the sky, like big promotions and opportunities, I keep telling Linda that we need to get back down to just take care of one customer at a time. And I think that’s kind of our motto, and that’s what’s going to succeed help us succeed. And when these big opportunities come great, it’s just, you know, an extra icing on the cake, right? But it all starts with, you know, taking care of like each customer.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

What is your warehousing fulfillment? Strategy? Is this something that you’re doing yourself? Or do you have like a third party logistics that helps you with this?

Paul Tran  

Yeah, so when we first launched in March, we were fulfilling ourselves out of our house. But that got all very quickly. So I think we were selling like 2030. And then we scaled to 100 a day, and then we’re just like, Okay, this is too much. So right now we have like, two, three pills. And then also our, you know, HQ here, which we can fulfill some orders. But we really want to make sure that we go through the three peels, and also, we just are about to onboard with Amazon fulfillment, which, you know, it’s way quicker, you know, way faster, and a lot cheaper. So it’ll be built to pass those savings on to the customer.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

I know that you’ve built a relationship with Urban Outfitters. Can you share how you? How did you reach out to them? And what helped you to build a relationship with them?

Lynda Truong  

Yes, so they actually reached out to us. And the same thing where we thought that it was a scam. But after doing some research, I checked on LinkedIn, and I was like, Oh, this is a real buyer. Urban Outfitters, and so we were really excited about that. And they started small, I think they only ordered like, a couple 100 At first, and then slowly built up from there. And it’s been a great partnership thus far.

Paul Tran  

Yeah, for sure.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

That makes me curious, like, in terms of your channel, is your website or Amazon? A better seller of your products?

Paul Tran  

So we plant so you know, we, my background into E commerce is we started on Amazon, right? So, you know, that’s the space that I’m very comfortable with. That being said, every Amazon seller wants to get off of Amazon and start their own brand, right, your Shopify. So we started that we launched the BD pops off of Amazon first. And we’ve sort of so many times, I haven’t had the chance to send in any inventory into Amazon. Until we did, I think we only sold send a small amount, like 500 units back in November, in preparation for Shark Tank. But that sold out really quickly. So we That’s our big push this year, is we should be in stock in Amazon like no we couldn’t have which, you know that there’s so many benefits to selling on Amazon. There’s also a lot of cons and a lot of you know, Amazon sellers. You know, there’s an ongoing debate, but, you know, they do have value and we’re gonna start using them for fulfillment. So, you know, I think it’ll, it’ll be beneficial for both, but as of date most 90% of our sales on Shopify.

Lynda Truong  

Yeah, we have like a love hate relationship with Amazon. And so we were like, Let’s try it without Amazon, but so many of our customers wanted us on Amazon. So that’s what brought us back on there.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

What does your team look like?

Paul Tran  

Right now? So, so it’s, it’s actually three co founders. So we’re like kind of like the face of it like Paul kinda loves Linda and Paul love and pebble. That’s kind of where the name and we have a team of about five people. Um, and you know, a couple of years that work remote. So, you know, pure ecommerce company, you know, and then as we scale up, then, you know, we do partner with a lot of agencies, and then we’ll start bringing them in house. But I think, you know, this is the way we want to really maximize our profits. And so hiring, you know, just random people. We don’t need, you know, a board of, you know, C execs or whatever yet, and I probably won’t ever want that. And that’s also another reason why I’m kind of glad we didn’t get a deal. Because I’m pretty sure once you get investment, it’s just it changes your business. So we are a small but mighty team this way you call right? And we like, so we can be nimble and adapt.

Lynda Truong  

Sorry. I think we would be open to investments, but not so much for the capital, but more for like, offering value. So yeah, we like I mean, I like the idea of having investors as long as they can, like help open doors. Yeah, open doors, or give

Paul Tran  

inside? Yeah, yeah.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Your third co founder is just a family member or a friend.

Lynda Truong  

Yeah. family member, but also, he’s taking the lead on, we have some Asian like Asia ventures that we’re looking into. So we’re gonna take it expanding? And

Paul Tran  

yeah, yeah. into Asia.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So this question asked every entrepreneur, you know, in every entrepreneurs, journey, startup journey, business journey, there’s always, you know, mistakes made failures, and lessons learn. Would you be able to share like, one or two of your biggest mistakes, failures? And what did you learn? What can other entrepreneurs learn from it? You start

Paul Tran  

first, okay, there’s a lot. What I always will tell people, and this is kind of like, the motivational thing is, all your successes are stacked upon a pile of failures. So I have like a ton, right? I think the biggest ones that we had, was staying with an agency that isn’t performing too long. You know, like, which really hurt us in terms of cash flow, right. I think our first agency, it was the most. I mean, they were, were a beauty brand. I think one of the posts, their ads was like, Happy National cheeseburger day. And I’m like, You gotta be kidding me. Yes.

Lynda Truong  

So irrelevant.

Paul Tran  

I’m serious. Like we, we even archive, we didn’t delete it off of our Instagram. We’re like, we’re saving this. Because when we make it, and we look back, we’re gonna, we’re gonna remember that. So? I mean, it was just blatant. Like, I mean, you mean, it’s just, you don’t even know what to say at that point. Right. So we should have cut them up earlier. So that way you can like, you know, move on to the next. I mean, that’s the biggest one. And I think the second one is to really launch MVPs quicker. And this is me, you know, I think, Linda, I have like different opinions on this. But I am one of those people who are more like, ready. Ready, fire, aim, rain. So I launch really quick. So I will say that that’s good. But then also, taking a step back. I think that’s why when I work so well together, but it’s also why we kind of get in sometimes heated arguments, because she likes to take a step back and like really analyze things. So I think balancing that out is the second thing that entrepreneurs will always face whether they go or stop. So those are my two. What do you think?

Lynda Truong  

Yeah, I agree. I would just echo more on like, the failure part is, I at first, you know, I would take it to heart, but I realized that you just it’s failure is part of the journey. And it’s just, it’s just part of it. And the more you fail, the sooner you get to, you know, getting up on top, and it’s kind of like riding a bike bike, right? Like, you’re going to fall so many times, but you’re going to learn how to ride that bike the more times you you practice and get back on the road. I totally agree with that. And yeah, it’s, you know, like one of the biggest things for us it’s also partnering with companies that weren’t able to scale with us like We grew really fast. So just kind of thinking in the future and kind of preparing for that, knowing that hey, if you know, like, right now we, you know, we’re partnering with a company do do they have scalability? Are they, you know, prepared for that, because before we, we only had cost in mind, but now we know that, you know, we’re gonna have to pay a little bit more. But But yeah, but we’re gonna, you know, we need to find a company that that can grow with us.

Paul Tran  

Yeah, and I think a lot of like entrepreneurs. He, you focus on like the weight of failure, but there’s also weight of success, too, right. So as you sell a lot actually brings up more issues and more problems. And so I think that’s kind of, I think a tagline that I like to use is the, all my failures make have made me strong enough to handle the weight of success. And success is actually it’s really heavy, it’s really hard. When you’re starting to scale up, and you’re starting to do, you know, inventory, you know, costs of like, six figures or whatever. And, or, you know, five figures, six feet, whatever, it gets scary, right. So I think that’s kind of like, words of wisdom that I would give to new entrepreneurs starting out, is that just wait, just a way to handle all your failures, because the access is going to be even more scary.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Good advice. Now, we’re going to move on to the rapid fire round. And in this round, I’m going to ask you have a few questions, and you have to answer them in maybe one or two words. And both of you can answer. So the first one is a book recommendation that you would give to entrepreneurs or business people.

Lynda Truong  

Oh, um, I really like it’s never split the difference? Yeah, it’s really good. And

Paul Tran  

I would say 12 months, 1 million, it’s literally every entrepreneur should read a book and I recommend to all my friends

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

an innovative product or idea in the current ecommerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about.

Lynda Truong  

Can I see beauty pops?

Paul Tran  

Yeah. I actually like beer was a poppy it’s another drink Poppy it’s a apple cider vinegar we, which we saw on on Shark Tank, and we just like, bought it. So that’s top of mind. Yeah.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

A business or product productivity tool or software that you would recommend or a productivity tip.

Lynda Truong  

Monday, Monday app, I love that it helps us organize.

Paul Tran  

And then for me, I’ll be say Zendesk, because that’s what’s handling all our customer service. So it’s crucial.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Another startup or business that you think is doing great things right now.

Lynda Truong  

Skin tea, they are doing really good right now.

Paul Tran  

Yeah. I would say I can’t even think of anything.

Lynda Truong  

Honestly, drink. Poppy was pretty good, too.

Paul Tran  

Yeah, drink. poverties get you there. They’re mean they’re killing it. Yeah.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Okay, you know, you don’t have to have an answer to everything. Appear entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you.

Lynda Truong  

Hey, ru Kim, and she is pretty much our mentor, friend. And she actually hooked us up.

Paul Tran  

Yeah. So she’s a little business. She’s a local business owner here in Atlanta. She has her company’s name is sugarcoat it, she has like seven salons. But she’s the reason she introduced us but I mean, she’s a very, very kind and giving entrepreneur and, and has inspired us a lot. So,

Lynda Truong  

absolutely.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So her company is sugarcoat What is her name again?

Paul Tran  

Pay route him.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Okay. And the final question, best business advice you have ever received, or you would give to other entrepreneurs?

Paul Tran  

You think I talked about this a little bit earlier. But I mean, you really when you first start, you have to have courage, right? Because you’re gonna fail so much time. And I think everyone says that, you know, you see all these signs, like the little kitten hanging there, whatever. But you have to have a lot of courage because you won’t have confidence when you start, because the confidence doesn’t come until you start succeeding. So courage. Overconfidence is what I always tell entrepreneurs when they start, because you’re gonna need it to get through all the fail. yours. And once you get through all the failures and you have the confidence, or success, then you leave the confidence.

Lynda Truong  

Yeah, for me, it’s keep going. Because a lot of people quit too soon. So that’s the same way it was with tick tock for us, like we would get 100 views. And there were so many times I’m like, Okay, this is not for us, I want to quit. But if you keep going, you may just get that viral post. And, you know, we after what, six months, we are now at 80,000 followers. So just keep going.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Perfect. So those were all the questions that I had today. Thank you so much, Paul, and Linda, for joining us today. Where can people find you people want to buy your products? Where is the website? And if they want to connect with you? What’s the best way?

Lynda Truong  

Yeah, so loving pebble.com. And we are both on Instagram. It’s love and pebble and tic tock as well.

Paul Tran  

Yep. And yeah, so you can go to our website. We’re also available on urban outfitters.com. And then soon to be released on Amazon as well.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Perfect. Thank you so much for joining us today for sharing your story for sharing your business successes and failures and yeah, for inspiring entrepreneurs. So thank you again for joining us today talks. Thanks

Lynda Truong & Paul Tran of Love & Pebble  

for having me. All right. Yeah. Thanks. That’s great. That

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

was great. Thank you. Thank you so much. Yeah. Any? Any anything? I’m starting to ask this question to entrepreneurs, anything, any feedback for me anything I can improve in terms of the show?

Also, get inspired to Create a Profitable Online Business with Becca Davison – Inventing a Kids Car Seat Buckle Release Tool


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *