Building a Sustainable, Plastic Free Bath and Body Products Business – Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products

INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 42:10)

PODCAST AUDIO

[sc name=”sponsors”]

Intro

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products shares her passion for sustainability and the story of building a bathroom products business that replaces single-use plastic bottles by utilizing refillable and re-usable non-plastic bottles.

People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode

Book: Lean product playbook by Eric Ries

What You’ll Learn

Interview with Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products

00:00Introduction
01:05Startup Story
03:00Why bathroom products company
03:59Products
05:24From non-profit to becoming an entrepreneur
06:34Getting Started
07:21Business model
10:23Bootstrapping
11:22Taking risk
13:16Competition
14:29Infrastructure
15:22Getting first customers
16:53Channels
18:30Marketing
20:24Warehousing and Fulfillment
22:50Team
26:48Using Woocommerce
28:56Customers
30:56Mistakes made, lessons learned
33:36Rapid fire round

Rapid Fire

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

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products

  1. One book that you would recommend to entrepreneurs/business professionals in 2021 and why? (Response: Lean product playbook by Eric Ries)
  2. An innovative product or idea and the current eCommerce, retail, or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: Bite Toothpaste Bits)
  3. A business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend (Response: HelpScout)
  4. A startup or business in E-commerce retail or tech that you think is currently doing great things (Response: Poshmark)
  5. A peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response: B LAB)
  6. Best business advice you ever received (Response: Patience and Persistence)

Interview Transcript

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Hey there entrepreneurs My name is Sushant and welcome to Trep talks. This is the show where I interview successful e commerce entrepreneurs, business executives and thought leaders and ask them questions about their business story and also dive deep into some of the strategies and tactics that they have used to start and grow their businesses. And today, I’m really excited to welcome Lindsay McCoy to the show. Let’s see he is the founder of Lean products, when product is a hair and body products company dedicated to ridding the world of single use plastic bottles, one bathroom at a time. And today, I’m going to ask Lindsey a few questions about her entrepreneurial journey and some of the strategies and tactics that she has used to start and grow her business. So thank you so much for joining me today. Trep talks, Lindsay. Hi, thanks

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

so much for having me.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So, let’s get started. Can you share you know what motivated you to start this very sustainability focused company?

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

Yeah, my background is actually in nonprofit management, when I was growing up was in college, you know, business wasn’t considered the field that you went into when you wanted to do good in the world. That was more government or nonprofits. So I went into nonprofit and spent 20 years working for a variety of different nonprofits. Towards the end, I was living in the Bahamas, where my husband’s from, and I got involved with an environmental nonprofit there and saw plastic all over the place as I went to different places with scientists doing beach cleanups. And around that time, was the first report that there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. And seeing the plastic there, you know, in a country that doesn’t have the same infrastructure we have in the US to make things disappear, when you throw them away, I started to understand how that could actually happen. And trying to take steps in my life to use less plastic, and I could not find a solution for all of those plastic bottles in the shower. And around that same time, you know, you started hearing more about social entrepreneurship and be corpse and I thought, maybe there’s a reason, you know, business could be a force for good, maybe this is that opportunity. So decided to try and solve a problem from a business perspective, I saw an opening in the market and

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

took it. Very interesting. So I mean, you’re trying to you are you started out with the mission of, you know, reducing the amount of plastic that have been used from a consumer product point of view? Do you do any research? Like, I’m sure when you started out, you thought about, you know, what are all the different businesses or the different products that you can, you know, pursue where you can make the biggest impact? So why, like, you know, bathroom products, or, you know,

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

for me, it was just an area that wasn’t being addressed. I mean, there’s lots of people making reusable water bottles, reusable bags, you know, I was looking for various solutions for my own life, and I couldn’t find a product that was available at the time for the bathroom. And so that was, you know, where I saw the opportunity, because I looked pretty hard. I did try shampoo bars. And at the time, you know, they didn’t work for my hair, they do work for some people, but I thought, Well, maybe if I can’t find anything, there are others who can’t find anything as well. And we started with shampoo and conditioner, just because you, most people use them, you know, every day or certainly a few times a week, as opposed to other products, which are more seasonal. So we kind of picked some some workhorse products to start out with.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

And your products themselves, I think, I believe you said there are beacon products, can you share a little bit about you know, so, you know, plastic bottle feels one aspect of it, but I think your products themselves have some sort of value as to,

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

you know, want to create this environmental package that was reducing waste in the world and then put a bunch of chemicals in it that would just cause problems down the stream. That was part of the research again, into the company. I didn’t realize how many chemicals are in a lot of mainstream products. There’s some pretty harsh detergents, there’s some, you know, indicate endocrine disruptors and potentially cancer causing ingredients. So as I learned more about it, I knew that we didn’t want to include anything like that. And it turns out when you go with a product that’s more natural, it also happens to be vegan. And we also are certified cruelty free. So you know, we really fully embraced sustainability from every aspect so that the products are biodegradable when they washed up the drain. They’re not causing any problems downstream as well as reducing waste in the world.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So did the any of your experience I mean, business is such I guess, our entre renewer ship is kind of a different beast for I guess someone who has worked, who haven’t worked in, you know, business or, you know, doesn’t have experience starting a business? How did you, you know, what, there’s something in your nonprofit world that kind of prepared you for the floor? Or, you know, can you share a little bit about how you transitioned into becoming an entrepreneur?

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

Really, I don’t think there’s as much differences, as many people seem to think between the nonprofit world and the business world, nonprofits are allowed to make money, they just can’t distribute that money to shareholders. You know, that’s, that’s the main difference. So I had a, you know, a background in finance from my years in the nonprofit world, they shouldn’t have to fundraise or have events, you know, we had a system that made money for us. So in some ways, business is more clear cut to me. And the way that we chose to market the products, and the way we’ve chosen to operate is more kind of aligned with nonprofits. I mean, we’ve, we have developed a lot of partnerships with other sustainable businesses, we’ve worked with a lot of influencers in the space. You know, we take customer service very seriously, much like you would treat donors of a nonprofit. So it’s, it’s, in my mind translated very well, from one to the other.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Okay, and so, so can you share, like at the beginning, so you had this idea, and you wanted to create vegan products? Like, where did you start? Did you contact manufacturers, and, you know, you commissioned them to create some sort of a vegan, you know, shampoo product,

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

you know, we were a stress shoestring startup, so we self funded, so we didn’t have the capital to create our own products. So we had to find things off the shelf. So we did a ton of research on existing packaging, we looked at stainless steel, we looked at glass, so we ended up on aluminum. And we researched manufacturers that had, you know, a product that we could, as they say, white label, so something and a formula that already existed, that we were able to tweak a little bit, but didn’t have to pay r&d costs on. So, you know, we went as off the shelf as we could, because that was, that was the budget.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

And basically, so, you know, you took that idea. And so do you consider your company to be mostly a marketing and branding company, like, so, you know,

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

look at us as more of a distribution and bottle washing company. So, yeah, we don’t manufacture we kind of pull everything together and then distribute, sell the shampoo and then bring the bottles back and wash them. So that is really kind of our product, differentiator is that taking responsibility for our packaging, and reusing it?

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

How do you bring the bottle back to bottle aluminum, and you basically,

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

so when somebody orders a product from our website, plain products.com, we send the bottle and we send the pump, and then we encourage them to come back to the website or subscribe. And we said just a refill bottle, not an additional pump, and we send along the return label with that refill bottle. So they when they’re ready, switch the pump over to the refill and then put the empty bottle in the box to refill came in. It comes put the label on the outside and it comes back to us for free and then we wash refill and reuse them

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

well so that’s that’s kind of like an additional cost for you who’s paying for the return levels.

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

We pay for the return labels and you know we have we’ve built that into our model we don’t have to buy another round of bottles. So we just built that built that cost it. Okay.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

And so you know, since you’ve been working in this this thing for some time now and you’re trying to replace the plastic bottles have you find like is there anything out there that is kind of a replacement for plastic or, or nobody has come up with anything yet.

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

A lot of people are working on it. You know, plastic is an amazing material for any number of things. I just don’t think it’s a good fit for something that we use once and throw away you know, one of its main benefits is that it last forever. So for things you know cars, larger products, furniture, you know there are plenty of things for plastic for which plastic is a medical equipment is a great fit. So we have turned to you know, aluminum as something that not only is sturdy enough and safe enough to reuse multiple times, but then when it is recycled can just be turned back into more aluminum. Unfortunately, when plastics recycled, you know, it’s melted down and the chemical makeup changes a little bit. It can only usually be recycled once or twice before it gets thrown away anyway. So while it’s great to recycle it, you know eventually all that plastic is still going to end up in a landfill somewhere or an incinerator or causing problems in the in the environment. So you know the great thing about metal is that it never needs to be thrown away, you can just keep reusing it and then recycling it.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So, so you bootstrapped the company, you you basically started with your own investment? Can you share a little bit, you know, what kind of man went into the business at the beginning? How much product did you have to buy, because a lot of different times manufacturers have like minimum order quantities and things like that, we bought

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

a little as we could. So my sister and I started the business together, we pulled resources, we had both recently sold houses and moved to I moved from the, you know, the Bahamas to the stage, she moved from Colorado to Ohio. So both had made some money on on houses, and started with shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in one cent, and purchased 1200 bottles for each of those products. And that’s how much product we purchased. And then we just grew from there. So you know, as we made money, we purchase more and slowly but steadily,

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

it seems like you both you and your sister definitely took a certain amount of risk. You put your own money? Was it completely for the cause? Or did you know that if you created a product like this, there would be demand? And you would, you know, you’d be able to profitably? Sell it? Yeah, I

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

mean, both, you know, I mean, it was for the cause. But in doing research and and talking to people, I definitely felt like there was desire in the market for more sustainable products. And that happily has proven true. You know, we’re still definitely a niche brand. But I think more and more awareness, or, you know, around climate change around plastic pollution is increasing, you know, not not from us, but just in the mainstream. And so, it is, we our timing was great. You know, I think had we maybe launched a few years earlier, probably not, would have would not have gone as well, but we have, you know, grown and awarenesses has changed as we’ve been growing. So they’ve, we’ve definitely benefited from more attention to these issues.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

And do you have competition in the market? I know, in the sustainable e commerce and businesses in general, and also the consumers are more sustainable or more sustainability, conscious. Now, there are a lot more businesses that are doing or pretty much I mean, these days, most businesses are doing something to at least have that, you know, public facing thing to say, you know, that they’re doing something to support sustainability. I’m sure there’s a lot of other companies also that are, you know, creating shampoos, and these kinds of products more in a sustainable way or in sustainable packaging. Do you have any direct competitors? Who are using you know, your own business model? Or? Or do you feel like, you know, there are other companies out there that that can impact the revenue of your business. You know,

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

it’s interesting, being a sustainable business, you know, you, you want to cheer when other people are doing something similar to you, as a mission based company, we are seeing more people move towards aluminum and metal packaging, and moving away from plastic for sure. We’re not seeing a lot of people then taking them back, I think the only system that I know, that I’m aware of is a company as a conglomerate called Blue, this working with a number of brands, we are also a partner brand with them, that is taking containers back and washing them and using them. But most independent brands are not doing that yet, they’re just sort of experimenting with more sustainable packaging, and we actually would love to see more people doing it. I mean, that is competition that I would welcome. Because I think it also lends credibility to the model, and we’re going to need infrastructure to do this properly, and you need volume to have infrastructure. So, you know, while part of the business I think is, you know, you never like to see competition overall for the mission. More people doing it is is a

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

good thing. So what kind of infrastructure Do you think you need in order to skill skill,

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

you know, very simple, I mean, you know, bottle bottle washing, it would be great to be shipping things around the country less for carbon reasons and costs. So I think as more brands, you know, experiment and try reuse, it would enable us to lower the cost of it and that volume would enable, you know, to have sites around the country. I you know, I mean, take the take the Amazon model, but But use it for for reuse purposes. So, you know, things stay more localized. You don’t have to listings all over the country, you can centralize and do bulk shipments instead of just individual bottles moving around

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

in terms of getting your first customer, so you know, you got your product, how do you did you just create an e commerce website? And you started getting orders? How did you promote your business in the beginning? So you started getting your first few customers?

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

Yeah, well, we did, we did created a website. And then as I mentioned, you know, we learned a lot from sort of, at the time, you know, bloggers, before influencers or influencers, but you know, people with Facebook and Instagram and pages, but that we’re talking about sustainability, we’re talking about clean beauty, talking about zero waste, talking about vegan beauty. And we were asking advice from them as we were getting started. And so once we were started, we said, hey, you know, would you be willing to try this out and let people know what you think about the model and the products and happily, you know, they like both of them. So that was really, you know, how we got started was was word of mouth and then working with influencers in the space?

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Was there a certain point where you, you know, you went from? Okay, this is an experimental business to Okay, yeah, that’s working. And that gives you more confidence. You know,

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

I think the the first I remember is about two weeks in that the first person I didn’t know purchased a product, you know, we would check every day, oh, why know him, or, indirectly, I know, this person, or, you know, I’ve met this person before. And then we’re like, you know, the first person that neither one of us knew purchased abroad and found us and bought something was a very exciting day. And I think is that is that grew, and strangers were buying things. And then coming back for refills, you know, I think that’s when we knew we had something

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

wonderful all the fields general that you’re selling from right now.

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

So we started as a direct to consumer website. And really designed the bottles that way, we actually we, we made some calls about wholesale and didn’t really have any luck. But then we actually had companies, retail stores coming to us because they wanted to offer an alternative packaging in their store. So we ended up having to redesign the bottles to say something about reuse on the bottle if they were going to be put sitting on a shelf, as opposed to just coming from our website. So we did move into wholesale represents about 20 to 25%, now of our sales. And then in 2020, we added three and a half gallon bucket, a bulk option for refill shops that are popping up around the US. So people that want to bring their own containers in and refill them themselves. So that became a third, it’s a wholesale model. But you know, I started different way of

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

selling product. So you’re not selling on Amazon or any of the other.

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

Some of our staff, not everything, but we do sell some products on Amazon Larsa discovery tool, as opposed to being reliant on it to sell all of our things. We work with a few other ecommerce sites as well that are more specific to sustainability. And then about 200 brick and mortar

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

shops. Oh, in terms of marketing your business right now, what are all the marketing channels that you’re using? And what is kind of working the best for you?

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

We continue to use social media a lot. Although I would say that, you know, Facebook and Instagram are getting harder and harder than they were five years ago when we started and even maybe two or three years ago. Just you know, and I think there’s more sustainable products. And I think just in general, it’s it’s more crowded as influencers have become more popular. So exploring other channels, Tik Tok Pinterest, maybe read it, you know, trying to diversify that we have spent a lot of time on SEO. So we, you know, actively work on making sure that we have fresh blogs up and that were featured on other magazines and other blogs and doing partnerships in that way. I mean, our goal is just if somebody’s looking for a sustainable shampoo that we show up search, because we’re certainly not going to be able to afford to get in front of everybody to let them know about us. But if they’re looking for something like us, we just want to make sure that we we are here.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

And that’s really search engine optimization. That also means like Google ads.

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

We do use some Google ads we actually had to defensively start buying them other people we didn’t for a long time but then we realized that other people were buying our name so we did have to move into that. But we were relying on organic until that point.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Can you share a little bit about you know how you warehouse your products now, you know and what is your general fulfilling and shipping strategy. I know, it’s kind of a tricky subject, but and even more so for you, because now you have to build your, you know, the, I guess the cost of recycling or bringing the, the back the bottles to you, can you share, like, what was the thought process behind that and how you’re,

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

again, you know, started on a shoestring and my sister’s garage, we decided to do our own fulfillment, because we didn’t want to, again, create this, you know, sustainable system, and then throw it in a box with a bunch of plastic bags and stick plastic tape on it. So we had very clear that we wanted to, you know, build a box to protect the bottles that we wanted to use paper tape, but we didn’t want to put a bunch of fill in, we wanted to have something kind of custom designed for it. So we were able to work towards that early on. And so we were doing all of our unfulfillment, which I think is unusual for a business of our size, but it gave us the ability to be very responsive, ship quickly, pull an order if we had to. And when we looked about two years ago about switching over to a fulfillment center, you know, we actually, our situation was was more was a better cost for us to stay in house. Because we do take, you know, we regardless, we need some staff to help take the bottles back and process those bottles, since we already had that operation going it made sense to just keep the fulfillment in house as well.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So I see, you know, you’re probably in your home office, like your main warehouse, and you know, the whole facility of recycling the bottle and so forth, that like a separate thing or like

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

we’re a little unusual in that. As I mentioned, I started this with my sister, when I moved back to the US, my Bahamian husband did not want to move to the Midwest, and Cincinnati, Ohio where she is. So I’m on the coast of North Carolina, we started in her garage. In 2020, we bought an abandoned building, and happily, my brother in law was, you know, has been a contractor. So he helped us fix it up. And we rehabilitated an old building and turn that into a warehouse and moved out of we had rented some space in the interim, but but we turned that in into our warehouse, and we bought a washing, and then everybody who doesn’t work in the warehouse is remote and has been since we started since I’m remote. So our teams, about half and half half are in Cincinnati, you know, working in the warehouse, and then we have you know, another 10 People that are all remote. And that work around the country? Well around the US and one in Canada.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So you have about 20 people right now. Well, that’s a pretty big, I mean, pretty decent amount team.

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

Not all full time. But you know, one of the things that we have done very well as attract people by offering what everybody’s enjoying now post pandemic, I mean a flexible hours and the ability to work from home. And so we were able to, you know, attract some, some probably talents that more than we deserved, but has benefits

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

and all your marketing have an oath or do you work with like an advertising agency or we

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

been contracting we have done with agencies has been on social ad placement, both for Google, and Facebook, just because it gets trickier all the time. You know, things change quickly. And it’s very easily easy to throw money, a lot of money data down a dark hole. So we have worked with a few different agencies around that, but all of the creative we do

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

in house. So it almost seems like you you know, a regular person or you know, a solopreneur cannot do their own advertising because it has become so complex and technical and so many nuances, so much competition, I would think

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

it would take a very specialized person to be able to do that on their own, you know, maybe maybe five years ago, maybe 10 years ago, but they are making it more. I mean, it’s kind of like taxes. If you’re trying to do maybe one simple thing, and you could do the easy form. But no, I mean, the more you know, the more sophisticated you’re, the better the further your money goes. And that really requires somebody who knows what they’re doing and can be very surgical with it. It’s very easy to spend a lot of money without much results, unless you know what you’re doing and who you’re looking for online.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Yeah. And, you know, because I talk to a lot of founders like yourself, it’s almost like there’s two, two categories of founders one category of more conventional, you know, who goes hired an agency or you know, spending on ads and then I find other category of entrepreneurs who have some way been able to leverage social media like just the organic social media, they can create like tick tock Post and go have like millions of millions of views. And it’s almost like, you know, their personalities suited for those kinds of things. And they’re able to drive a lot of traffic and, and drive sales through that means without spending much on advertising at all.

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

I would say we’re kind of the maybe a third version of that, I would say, our, certainly our growth has been much more organic based, but it has not been on the back of my personality, I think it’s been on the back of having a good story to tell and an actual problem to solve. That provides for good stories that other people tell about us, and reasons why people like us and something different to say about the products.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

And I went on your tick tock channel, and I believe it was someone you know, the plates of techtarget someone else for your company? Can you share a little bit? You know how you’re doing?

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

I mean, I, you will find me on there a few times. But certainly we have a social team. And certainly there are people on that team, who are much more talented than I am at tick tock and who enjoy it a lot more. So my sister and I are on there, some I’m on there some but yes, a lot of our team. And then we also again, feature a lot of our customers and influencers that we work with, because we think people want to hear what others have to say about the product and why they’re choosing to use the product. So as I said, our growth is certainly not on the force of my personality. But what other people have to say about it, which is, which is a good thing.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

No, I did read somewhere that your platform you’re using WooCommerce. Is that correct?

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

We are using WooCommerce? I know that makes us a little bit different that we’re not on Shopify? Yeah, that

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

was my question. Do you have any plans of moving to Shopify or you’re completely?

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

Again, it’s interesting, we started working with a friend, I had some WooCommerce experience with some of the groups I’d worked with, he had WooCommerce experience. So it was a you know, Shopify really wasn’t what it is. Now, when we were getting started 16 years ago. Certainly, we’re keeping an eye on it. You know, it’s like anything else. Once you once you go pretty far down a road, sometimes it’s hard to switch horses, so they have a lot of really slick things that they have designed for it. I’m certainly jealous of some of our competitors, websites and functionality. So, you know, it’s it continues to be an open question. But appreciate I will say, though, but But what pushed us to WooCommerce. And what my web guy keeps telling me, there’s a lot more flexibility and some of the things that we do with the, you know, not sending you the pump a second time, or adding in the return label, or, you know, some some variety that we do would be harder on a Shopify template than it is, in WooCommerce, we have a little bit more flexibility to mix and match a little bit more and sort of shape the product to what we you know, nobody else was taking back when we started and still very few people are. So so all of that is hard to do on a

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

on a tablet. So while sustainability is a great product, I’m sure you know. And there are people who care about sustainability a lot. I’m sure not everybody has, you know, buying sustainable products. Can you share a little bit about your customers, you know, who one of like the general characteristics of the kind of people who buy from you. And, you know, the messaging that you send, send out through through your website marketing advertising, you know, how does that connect with that target market?

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

You know, I do think you’re right, not everybody cares about sustainability. I also think that for a sustainable product to be successful, it has to work. I think that environmental products, you know, got a bad rap in the 90s and early 2000s, because they just weren’t high quality. They just didn’t measure up, you know, I would say that our products are still on quality, you know that I would stack them up against any other product. So, you know, our message is complicated, because we certainly talk about our packaging, we also talk about our products and the fact that they are safe for the entire family that they’re not going to cause any problems downstream. They are an actual ingredients. They’re Aloe based, instead of water based, super dense and nutrient rich, and they they do a good job. So you know, we certainly have people that are there for the packaging, but I think then we also have people that are there because you know, they trust us they feel like the ingredient list. We’re pretty transparent. We answer a lot of questions you know Oh, we have a very active customer service team. And then we engage with people on social media to as they ask questions, you know, I mean, pretty much if you see a comment anywhere on any of our channels, there’s a response to it. Or if somebody sends us a message, you know, we get back to them. So, I think that has really helped as well.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

In every founder, Journey entrepreneurs journey, there’s always you know, some mistakes, man, lessons learn. failures, can you share maybe since you started this entrepreneurial, entrepreneurial journey? What are like one or one or two big mistakes or failures that come to your mind? What did you learn from them? And what can other entrepreneurs learn from them?

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

Oh, gosh, lot. Um, we originally ordered stainless steel jars, not limit them. And a lot of well, you know, the same amount 3000, from China, and we got them and then they rested. So, you know, we didn’t do enough testing upfront, we didn’t ask enough questions, we should have been a little bit more patient, when we did get something to wait it out a little bit longer and see how it turned out. So I was very expensive, big mistake early on. I think exactly what we were talking about around advertising, I think that I thought that I could figure it out. And I learned very quickly that I would need to do nothing else. And so we definitely wasted some money on some advertising. And certainly also wasted some money partnering with influencers, who we were, you know, dazzled by how many followers they have, but they were not a good fit for us. So, you know, just because somebody has a few million followers doesn’t mean that their followers care about your message. So learn that, you know, that it doesn’t matter how big they are, what really matters is you know, what their followers care about and why they’re following them. You know, I mean, lots of lots of lots of small and big decisions along the way, you know, managing inventory carefully. Building capacity to grow, adding stuff, you know, we added some, because we were suggested add some customer service software, I didn’t think we needed it, a friend finally said, you really do and it was too much at first, and then I don’t know how we live without it, just to help us get organized. So sometimes you do have to kind of make those jumps to build up your capacity before you’re ready. But you’re grateful that you did.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Or you or you, I mean, seems like you had a poor experience working with Chinese suppliers. Are you still working in China? Or do you

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

we went to a distributor instead of trying to do it ourselves after that first experience. And then once we had a higher minimum order quantity, we did switch over to the US. Mainly, you know, just so we didn’t have to worry about the shipping, and the time to cut that a little bit. And just again, those closer relationships for us that were more manageable.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Now we’re going to move on to our rapid fire round. And in this round, I’m going to ask you a few quick questions and you have to answer them maybe one word or two word or one sentence. A book recommendation that you would give to entrepreneurs or business professionals in 2022. And why?

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

Yeah, I would recommend the Lean product playbook by Eric Ries. I’m happy to talk about why but I don’t want to mess up your rapid fire questions.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

No, no, please go ahead. Sure.

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

No, I mean it’s just it talks about sort of getting a product out into the environment and then testing it so not waiting until you have the perfect product but but what is the minimally viable product that you can get out to get feedback and I think it’s it’s important to listen to customers and I think it’s important to not have something in your head that that can never be changed but be willing to evolve and and learn as you go

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

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

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

I’m excited by the toothpaste bites. It’s a completely different take on toothpaste instead of it in the tube. There’s little tablets that you kind of crunch and then add water and they they foam up in your mouth but I think it’s just a you know an innovative solution to a tricky packaging problem. That I’d love to see a web and watch it grow.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Well, that builds on Sustainability also. So you know, you don’t have,

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

you know, toothpaste tubes are almost impossible to recycle, because there’s such mixed materials. And then you know, some of the toothpaste, they, they don’t want you to swallow it, because there’s stuff in it you shouldn’t have in your body, which seems concerning to me, since you’re still putting in your mouth. So it’s both the health and the sustainability, you know, they’re able to package it and reusable metal tins and put some different products into it just because it’s not the same squeezable requirement that it isn’t a to

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

a business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend or productivity. I know you were talking about the customer service, too.

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

Yeah, so we use HelpScout for customer service, but you know, a lot of them are good, especially with a remote team to be able to keep track of, you know, who hasn’t hasn’t been helped and what the history is. We use Slack again, as a remote team, just to kind of stay in touch. Those are probably the two that we use the most

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

of startup or business and E commerce retail or tech that you think is going to be great, thanks. I’m sorry, I thought I was done. It’s currently doing great things, startup or business. Um,

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

there are a lot doing great things. Um, so my, my, I mean, you know, again, I favor sustainability companies. But who do I like there’s too many, sorry, you can edit this down, right. Um, there are a lot of clothing companies that are doing great work and are starting to take clothes back. The Poshmark and thread up that are now you can buy, you know, used and vintage clothing online, you still get to shop but you can shop for use clothes, I think those are very exciting.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Appear entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to, or someone who inspires you, or you know, like a mentor kind of person. Um,

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

you know, it is interesting to me in the sustainability world. There are a lot of other women founders, which I don’t think is true in the startup world in general, it certainly seems to be true in this niche that I’m in. There is a group of women B Corp. CEOs that we all analysts serve together. And I am continually impressed by not only, you know, the success they’re having with our company, but you know, how much they live their values. So the B Corp CEO, which is which is a tough thing to do, it’s you’re graded on your care for the environments, you care for your employees, your governance, you know, a ton of different things, and you have to get an 80 or higher on that scale. Every person that I’ve worked with through B Corp has just been super impressive to me

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

to B Corp, if an organization or

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

it is it’s the it’s the think their B LAB maybe is their website, but they are a certification organization. And it’s worldwide, you can voluntarily goes through kind of an assessment. But then once you’ve been in business for a year, you can properly be assessed and they grade you, like I said on everything, and you have to provide, you know, information to backup all of your claims. And it was incredibly helpful for me as a startup to go through that assessment and say, Oh, these are all the things I should be doing. And I should be counting and I should be aware of, and I should be putting in place, you know, many different policies that they recommend. You have employee handbooks, governance, you know, waste management, tracking all of these pieces, it was like, you know, a little mini MBA for me to go through their assessment. And continually every three years, you have to be reassessed. And so I always know, okay, well, because I’m making this choice. And in two years, I’m gonna have to answer to be quick about why I did this, or, you know, what my justification was, or how this is gonna affect my, my score. And it’s very helpful to me.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

It’s almost like, you know, it’s kind of like a, you want to be in the exclusive group, and you have to do certain things to be part of that

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

group. Yeah, no, it is. I mean, you know, if you see a B Corp logo, that’s, that’s a real deal. I mean, there are a lot of companies, as you said out there that are at least talking about sustainability or trying to pretend like they’re doing it and it’s not just sustainability. I mean, you know, these groups are also proving that they’re treating their employees well, but they’re paying a living wage that they, you know, are keeping an eye on their manufacturing. So it’s a really holistic certification.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

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

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

I think the best advice is, you know, patience, persistence, patience and persistence. I mean, things take longer than you want. But you have to keep working at them don’t, you know, give up at the first sign of a problem, because there’s gonna be a lot of problems, a lot of stumbling blocks. So stick with it. Don’t sit back and wait for it. I mean, be actively persistent, but you also have to be a little bit patient and be kind to yourself, you’re going to make mistakes. Nobody can know everything. And as long as you learn from those mistakes, you

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

know, okay. And what is next for you? Is this. The is going to be your life’s work is that, you know, you’re planning to do it long term? Um,

Lindsey McCoy of Plaine Products  

good question. My very interested right now and what we were talking about earlier, to kind of an infrastructure piece, and how to support other brands who are interested in doing this. And make it more viable. In a large scale. You know, as I said, I think we are kind of a niche product at this point, partially because of the price point. And that price point is partially due to the fact that, you know, there isn’t an infrastructure, we’re creating this all by ourselves, and that makes for higher costs, and no economies of scale. So I’m very interested in that larger piece of how do we move more people in this direction? And how do we make it a part of daily consumption? So I don’t know that printing products will necessarily be my life’s work, but I do hope that maybe being a part of, you know, changing consumer habits could be

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

good. Well, those were all the questions I had Lindsay really, really appreciate your time today. Share for sharing your story, your startup story, and also the decisions you’ve made in your business, some of the strategies and tactics and advice for other entrepreneurs. So really, really appreciate your time today. And thank you again for joining. Thanks. Thank you for talking. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Also, get inspired to Create a Profitable Online Business with Dinesh Tadepalli – Bringing Edible Spoons to Market to Reduce Single-Use Plastics


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.