$19K/Month Building a Personal and Home Fragrances Brand – Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane
INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 1:01:14)
Sponsors & Partners
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane shares the Entrepreneural story of building a personal and home fragrances brand and specifically creating personal use fragrance products in solid form (Solid Perfume) which has multiple use cases. Rafael shares the story of how he grew his brand and product line over a period of 10 years.
Rafael Hernandez, the founder of Alfred Lane, discusses his line of personal and home fragrances, which includes candles, Reed diffusers, incense cones, room sprays, and roll-on and solid cologne. Hernandez started the business ten years ago after discovering the concept of solid perfume and realizing there was no market for men. He began with small batches made by hand and has since expanded into home fragrances to create universal scents that appeal to everyone. The distribution of his products is predominantly direct-to-consumer and retail, with a focus on maintaining quality and customer experience over rapid growth. Hernandez provides advice for entrepreneurs, emphasizing the importance of having a financial platform before committing to their business full-time and being flexible while exploring what works individually.
- 00:00:00 In this section, Rafael Hernandez, founder of Alfred Lane, describes his line of personal and home fragrances. The company creates small batches of products, including candles, Reed diffusers, incense cones, room sprays, and roll-on and solid cologne. He started the business 10 years ago after discovering the concept of solid perfume and realizing they only had this for women. He also encountered problems with broken bottles during travel and items being confiscated from TSA. Hernandez spent three months creating packaging, working on the logo, and testing the market through online and wholesale distribution.
- 00:05:00 In this section of the transcript, the founder of Solid State describes how he leveraged local men’s boutiques to expand his brand. He walked into a men’s boutique and asked if they carried solid colognes. The store didn’t remember him, so he prepared a pitch to sell them on why they should carry his product. Because they didn’t have anything like it for men and it was a small order, he was able to convince them to become his first store to sell his product. He used that store to get into other stores and eventually began reaching out to international stockists to carry his products, resulting in being carried in eight different countries. His business’s distribution is currently 50/50 with direct-to-consumer and retail, with a healthy email list and a good amount of retailers telling his story to their customers.
- 00:10:00 In this section, Rafael Hernandez talks about his upbringing, including the value of understanding the worth of his work and saving money. He also discusses his corporate career and how reading the book “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss inspired him to think differently about his life. Hernandez began traveling and realized he wanted location freedom and to have control over his own time. He now owns a fragrance business that allows him to do just that, but also requires a lot of work and a low level of anxiety to constantly grow and expand. Overall, Hernandez has achieved his goal of being able to travel and own his time.
- 00:15:00 n this section, Rafael Hernandez discusses his team and manufacturing process for his solid cologne products. He currently has a small, efficient team, including a full-time operations specialist and a handful of staff on an as-needed basis. Hernandez and his team make everything in small batches by hand, which allows them to maintain control over quality, processes, and the entire customer experience. He has considered outsourcing to a manufacturing facility in the future, although he prefers having control over these factors. Hernandez started his business with solid cologne products for men, but he later expanded into home fragrances. He began this expansion because there were more options for women in the fragrance market, and he wanted to provide more products for men.
- 00:20:00 In this section, Rafael Hernandez discusses how he has evolved his fragrance brand to focus on creating universal scents that appeal to everyone. While the initial cologne names were focused on how he imagined men feeling, he has since seen that customers also enjoy using room sprays as part of their daily rituals. Hernandez explains that his solid colognes are easy to use and portable, with customers using them as moisturizers, aftershaves, and even beard balms. In a highly competitive landscape, Hernandez believes that the key to building a connection with his brand is to tell a story and create positive experiences for his customers. However, he admits that starting a new fragrance business at this point would be incredibly difficult due to the competition and challenges of the industry.
- 00:25:00 In this section, Rafael Hernandez discusses why customers are drawn to his business, which includes his compelling immigrant story and the fact that they are passionate about the products they make. He also mentions the importance of maintaining quality and customer experience over rapid growth. While he acknowledges the competition and the challenges of marketing, he remains focused on creating great fragrances and unique form factors that his customers will enjoy. In terms of acquiring customers, he attends trade shows to connect with potential retail partners and buyers.
- 00:30:00 In this section of the video, Rafael Hernandez explains how he acquires customers, and his strategies involve attending trade shows, doing markets, and writing blog posts. He shares that at trade shows, he tells his brand’s story, offers samples of his products, and writes purchase orders on the spot. Meanwhile, he attends markets that are more artisanal in nature and tend to advertise unique products. For his blog posts, he tries to pitch ideas that provide value to writers and makes their jobs easier, without solely promoting his products. He also reveals that he doesn’t use paid advertising but relies on email marketing, and his company handles all the fulfillment in-house.
- 00:35:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the channels and markets of Alfred Lane. They do not sell on Amazon as they take pride in owning the relationship with their customers. They sell strictly online through their store, but have also done partnerships with subscription boxes and Birchbox in the past. At present, they are sold at Saks Fifth Avenue. They also sell through wholesale marketplaces like fair.com and bulletin.co. Alfred Lane’s international customers are primarily located in Southeast Asia, where the demand is high due to their clean design and American brand, with a preference for bourbon-based products.
- 00:40:00 In this section, the speaker discusses how their business has been affected by COVID-19 and shipping costs when selling to Southeast Asia and Europe. The speaker notes that shipping costs have been expensive, but since their products are on the lighter side, they haven’t had to change much to address the issue. While their products are not cheap, they are considered mid-tier in terms of pricing and are not among the most expensive on the market. When asked about the future of their business, the speaker expresses their desire to continue creating and expanding their product lines to different form factors. They also note that while they would consider acquisition offers, they would like to continue running the business themselves unless the price was right.
- 00:45:00 In this section, Rafael discusses his interest in products that facilitate experiences through fragrances and sensory items like coffee and Mezcal. He notes that he released a line of coffee two years ago and is currently considering developing Mezcal. Although the coffee business has been slow, he is pleased with the results and hasn’t pushed it too hard since it’s not the main focus of his business. Later, he shares advice for entrepreneurs, emphasizing the importance of taking care of oneself financially, mentally, psychologically, and physically. He also reveals a mistake he made six years ago when he quit his job without sufficient savings.
- 00:50:00 In this section, Rafael Hernandez advises entrepreneurs to have a financial platform before committing to their business full-time. He shares his personal experience of going back to a full-time job while running his business in low power mode due to financial constraints. Rafael suggests that entrepreneurs keep their job and work on their business in the evenings while saving money and building runway before taking the leap. He stresses the importance of being flexible and open to doing other things that may be related to their primary focus. Rafael recommends The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho as a book that provides wisdom for the journey of entrepreneurship. In the rapid fire segment, Rafael mentions the innovative product of chat GPT, which he has been playing with the idea of using.
- 00:55:00 In this section, Rafael Hernandez talks about using chat GPT to aid in content writing for email marketing and blog posts. He also recommends using Evernote and Apple notes for productivity, and highlights a startup called PIRA for their innovative approach to fragrances and technology. Hernandez stresses the importance of taking advice from those who are successfully doing what you aspire to do, and exploring what works for you individually rather than blindly following someone else’s path. He also mentions Alex from Ozzy as an inspirational figure for his practical and genuine approach.
- 01:00:00 In this section, the interviewer and Rafael Hernandez discuss the importance of taking advice from people who are doing what you want to do instead of just buying courses from people who may not be building a successful business themselves. They also mention that aspiring entrepreneurs can waste time and money on these courses and should instead focus on finding successful mentors. Rafael then shares how people can purchase his products on his website, alfredlane.com, or through his Instagram page.
People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode
Book: Atomic Habits by James Clear
What You’ll Learn
Interview with Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane
|[00:00:08] Welcome to Trep Talks with Sushant Misra|
|[00:00:30] Introducing Rafael Hernandez, founder of Alfred Lane|
|[00:01:00] Overview of Alfred Lane’s business and products|
|[00:01:44] Inspiration behind starting the business|
|[00:02:05] Discovering the concept of solid perfume|
|[00:02:38] Experimentation and learning to create the formula|
|[00:03:00] Validation process for the business idea|
|[00:04:27] Packaging, logo, and line sheet creation|
|[00:05:00] Approaching local men’s boutiques and securing the first store|
|[00:06:00] National and international expansion|
|[00:06:29] Distribution breakdown: wholesale and direct-to-consumer|
|[00:06:54] Leveraging bloggers and publications for organic growth|
|[00:08:00] Building an email list and working with retailers|
|[00:08:34] The entrepreneurial mindset and motivation|
|[00:09:31] Personal motivations for starting Alfred Lane|
|[00:10:28] Transitioning from the corporate world to entrepreneurship|
|[00:11:00] Building a lifestyle that aligns with personal goals|
|[00:12:00] Passion for fragrances and exploring other possibilities|
|[00:16:42] Manufacturing in Small Batches by Hand|
|[00:17:32] Focus on Brand Story and Customer Experience|
|[00:19:31] Expanding into Home Fragrance Products|
|[00:20:19] Creating Experiences for Everyone|
|[00:22:21] Future Plans for Traditional Perfumes|
|[00:23:59] Building a Connection with the Brand|
|[00:27:08] Intellectual property and fragrance signature|
|[00:29:19] Wholesale acquisition through trade shows|
|[00:32:00] Blog posts and organic marketing|
|[00:33:01] No paid advertising strategy|
|[00:33:59] Fulfillment strategy and in-house operations|
|[00:36:00] Not selling on Amazon|
|[00:39:43] Impact of the Pandemic on Business|
|[00:40:00] Challenges in Servicing the Southeast Asian Market|
|[00:40:22] Shipping Considerations for International Markets|
|[00:40:38] No Modifications for the Southeast Asian Market|
|[00:41:00] Importance of Shipping in International Trade|
|[00:41:26] Building Long-Term Relationships with Retailers|
|[00:41:37] Shipping Challenges to Europe|
|[00:42:00] Balancing Shipping Costs for Retailers|
|[00:42:08] Keeping Prices Consistent for International Markets|
|[00:42:46] Pricing Strategy for Alfred Lane Products|
|[00:43:00] Positioning Alfred Lane as a Medium-Tier Brand|
|[00:43:35] Expanding Product Lines and Form Factors|
|[00:43:44] Vision for the Future of Alfred Lane|
|[00:46:00] Performance of the Coffee Business|
|[00:46:12] Coffee as an Additional Offering|
|[00:46:37] Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Work-Life Balance|
|[00:48:00] Financial Platform and Having Savings|
|[00:48:29] Flexibility and Diversification in Business Endeavors|
|[00:48:52] Learning from Quitting Job Without Adequate Savings|
|[00:50:00] Importance of Financial Stability and Runway|
|[00:50:32] Balancing Job and Business Commitments|
|[00:50:57] Quitting Corporate Job in 2020 and Dealing with Challenges|
|[00:51:24] Consulting as a Supplementary Source of Income|
|[00:51:45] The Intersection of Business and Consulting|
|[00:52:07] Considering Leaving a Job for Entrepreneurship|
|[00:52:44] Rapid Fire Segment|
In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane
- Book recommendation that you would make to entrepreneurs or business professionals (Response: Atomic Habits by James Clear)
- An innovative product or idea in the current e-commerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: ChatGPT)
- A business or productivity tool that you would recommend (Response: Evernote, Apple Notes )
- Another startup or business that you think is currently doing great things: (Response: Evernote, Apple Notes)
- A peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response: Atomic Habits by James Clear)
- Best business advice you ever received (Response: Only take advice from folks that are doing, what you wanna do and that are hopefully doing it well)
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 Rafael Hernandez to the show. Rafael is the founder of Alfred Lane. Uh, Alfred Lane is a company that creates a line of personal and home handcrafted in small batches outta their Miami studio. And today I’m gonna ask Rafael a few questions about his entrepreneur journey, all strategy that he has used to business.
So Rafael, thank you so much for joining today at Trep Talks. I really appreciate it.
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: Thank you so much for having me.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So interesting business. Um, can you share a little bit about what your business is about, what products you’re selling, and how did you come up with
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: the idea? Yeah. So, uh, as you uh mentioned earlier, uh, we have a line of personal and home fragrances.
Uh, we are making small batches, uh, uh, those entail, uh, candles, re diffusers, incense cones, room sprays. And then on the personal side, we have a line of Roland Cologne and, um, Solid cologne. We started the business 10 years ago. This is actually our 10 year anniversary. Um, I, I started it with, um, this idea of wanting to build a physical, uh, product business.
Um, around the same time, um, I stumbled upon this concept of solid perfume. Essentially it’s like a wax based scented balm, but they only had that for women when I, uh, so I went, walked into this boutique and this boutique had like a few fragrances for women. I asked if they had something like that for men.
They didn’t. And, uh, prior to that experience, I had encounters where my bottles would get, uh, broken during travel, you know, when I wouldn’t, I didn’t know how to travel light back in the day. Um, and then also, you know, things would get confiscated from t s A. Started kind of putting things together and I didn’t see any, any major players doing solid cologne and a little YouTube tutorial.
A couple of, uh, um, you know, got some like very basic equipment to do, like a double boiler and tons of experimentation. Eventually I learned how to create a formula that worked well, and then that was the birth of, uh, Alfred Lane.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Wow, that’s very interesting. And you know, first of all, congratulations on your tenure.
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: Um,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: thank you. Looking back, like, do you, um, you know, started out with, you know, something you realized you needed and you couldn’t find it in the market? Yes. Um, you know, but that’s always, not always an indication that, you know, a, a product would, uh, you know, others would be interested in, in buying that product.
Agree. When you start, when you started out with this idea, did you. Go through some sort of an idea validation process, uh, where you know, you’re gonna spend a significant amount of trying, trying to build this product or create this product, uh, to try to test the market to see if other people would be interested in buying this thing.
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: That’s a great question. Yeah. You know, you, you, you’re absolutely right. Just because something, uh, might solve your, uh, your itch, you know, you, you can scratch your itch. You can kind of, you can possibly make the educated guess as someone else is experiencing the same problem, but to what extent is something that you need to validate.
So, um, I spent about three months coming up with some, uh, my background is in design. Graphic design. I created the packaging in the logo, you know, come, came up with the name for the, for the three fragrances. Worked on the packaging. I used my iPhone back then to take pictures of this, uh, of this, um, of this solid cologne.
Created a, a a line sheet. And so my, my idea was, well, there’s two traditional routes that you can go. You can sell it online, which then you have to figure out a way to drive traffic to your website. And then also another form of distribution would be to sell via wholesale, uh, to retailers. So once I had a, um, a, an offering, so I, I designed the, the three fragrances and then, um, also worked with a local, um, Uh, carpenter to put together this point of sale kind of, uh, setup where you can place your, uh, the solid colognes and display it, uh, it’s point of display rather.
Mm-hmm. Uh, so that you can, uh, house it in your store. What we did, what I did was I walked to my local men’s boutiques, uh, in the street where, you know, I was making my solid colognes. And actually the first store that I landed was that initial store where I asked if they had solid colognes. It had been three months since, since the first time I walk, walked in there.
They didn’t remember me. Mm-hmm. I tried to kind of have a little pitch ready for them to sell them on why they should carry this product and how they don’t have anything like that for men and, you know, they should give us a try. And because they didn’t have anything like that for men, and it was a small order.
Um, you know, I just said, Hey, if, if, if it doesn’t sell, you know, you’ll just let me know. They, that became my first, um, my, my first store that, that, uh, picked up the product I used then that store to get into other stores saying, Hey, look, I’m in that store and, you know, they’re doing well with it. And little by little I kind of started leveraging these different accounts against other accounts to start sort of locally first and then regionally, uh, then, uh, nationally.
And eventually I started, uh, carrying, uh, I started reaching out to international stock is to carry my products. So now I also get carried in, um, eight, eight countries.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Wow, that’s really great. So is your business now, is your business more on the wholesale. Bigger on the wholesale side, or is it really, um, you know, what’s the distribution between direct to consumer
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: versus it’s, it’s actually kind of 50 50 because while I was doing that, I also reached out to a lot of bloggers back then, you know, everyone wanted to blog.
That was sort of like the, being the influencer of that time. And I would send bloggers my product in a exchange for a review. And a lot of that kind of got picked up by some of these larger blogs and like, and, and or, and uh, magazines, like Men’s Journal and gq, they, they started featuring me. Uh, and I did it like without me knowing that they were featuring that you just see a bunch of hits on the website and conversions.
Uh, so our traffic a lot largely is attributed to, uh, organic. You know, content that’s been written by bloggers back in the day, or by these larger, um, uh, publications that have decided a feature. They’re like the form factor. They like the story. And, uh, so at this, at this point is, is fairly even. Uh, I do have, um, uh, a healthy email list that I’ve acquired, uh, I have amassed over the years.
And then with that also, uh, a good amount of retailers that care my products and are able to tell that story through, um, throughout their, in their community and with their, with their customers.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So have you always been the entrepreneurial type? Because, I mean, it’s one thing to be able to see an idea and, and think, sure, this could make, potentially make a business because.
You know, if you want to bring something to market there, there has to be a certain passion behind it, right? But you have to have some force behind that idea. So were you, I mean, were you just an entrepreneurial tribe that you said, okay, this, this could be an idea. Let me test it out, and you just moved forward?
Or was, did you have some sort of a passion around the school idea of, you know, uh, fragrances and, and things like that that really, um, help you to, because I mean, I, I see ideas, you know, uh, every day, but because I don’t feel passionate enough about something, I don’t move forward because it, you know, building a business is, you know, your, it’s a commitment.
Like you’re spending what, 16 more hours every day trying to build an, bring an idea to, uh, to fruition. So can you share a little bit about, you know, what, what really motivated you to create a business like this?
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: That’s a great question. Um, it’s got a couple of answers. One, I don’t, when I first started the business, I would’ve not, I wouldn’t have thought of myself as an entrepreneur.
But looking back, uh, at my childhood, my, I would do a lot of like, bartering and trading and like my mom would make food and I didn’t want to eat it. Mm-hmm. So I would sell, I would sell my, uh, my schoolmates, my food in exchange of like money or their food or, so there was this idea of like, I understand the value that I bring to the table and somebody wants it.
Um, if I wanted, you know, to go on a trip or if I wanted something like my mom would help me, Hey, We’re gonna make cupcakes and then you’re gonna sell in school and that money is going to help you want to pay me back cuz I’m buying the, the ingredients. But then two, the remaining of it is gonna be for whatever it is that you want to spend.
And so some of, some of that was, uh, part of my, my upbringing. Uh, same with like the idea of saving. Um, then I joined the corporate world, uh, here in the States. After I graduated college, my goal was to, you know, really kind of rice through the ranks, uh, the corporate ladder, uh, be a successful creative director and, you know, work on amazing brands and with, with, you know, on amazing projects with amazing brands.
Uh, but it came to a point where, you know, I, I read the four Hour Work Week, Tim Ferris very, uh, seminal book for a lot of entrepreneurs. This idea of like, you can leverage your, your location, make more money, um, by living in cheaper places. Or you can, you can have an experience, you can have a life full of experiences by thinking about those experiences in a different way with a different lens.
And, um, then around that time I also started traveling. And, you know, if you want to travel and you’re working in a typical. 9 0 5, looking at only having 15 days, you know, if that 10 days to 15 days of vacation time. So that kind of all merged together in this idea of like, you know what, I, I want to have the, you know, location freedom.
I wanna, I wanna build something of value that would enable me to have the lifestyle that I desire. And the, the passion comes from wanting that. How I get there is more like, it’s just a, uh, a means to an end. Uh, I’m very passionate about the fragrances. I just happen to like it because I grew up wa um, wearing fragrances.
I would take my dad’s fragrances all the time and, you know, I would steal it and, uh, wear, wear his stuff. So I, I knew that that was kind of built in. I, I already sort of knew what worked during the summer or versus the winter. But if I didn’t have the fragrance business, I think that I could do other things.
And as long as it helped me get to the, the, the goal of being able to travel and just own my time. Yeah. I think
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: many entrepreneurs, if not all, are driven by this idea of having the control over their own time and, and freedom. Um, have you, you know, since you’ve started the business, have you been able to achieve all that or have you been able to travel more?
Uh, or, I mean, which so often happens that you get so much into the business then you’re working, even though you still have your control
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: of your time. Yeah. You know, I, I have, so I. Achieved the freedom to do, uh, the things that I want to do. Uh, travel, meet really cool people, uh, take on new hobbies, um, and, and, and be able to learn a lot, which is something that, that I’m very passionate about.
Just kind of constantly be challenged and, and grow. Um, but, um, it comes at a very steep price. Yes, you do have to, you know, work, work a lot. Uh, sometimes the business requires more. And, um, and maybe around like year five of me owning the business, I learned that, um, well, I learned that I cannot feel comfortable in the business.
Because the moment that you start feeling too comfortable in the business, I feel like that’s when business kind of goes down. Uh, and it’s been my experience if that’s the case. So I always have this like, just low level anxiety that all right, things are going well, but like I still need to think about, you know, growing or, or expanding or figuring out what it, or, or if I’m just kind of okay with it, where it is being purposeful about it rather than just being reactive to it.
Um, but yeah, I have had the, like last year I got to travel the year before I got to travel even more. And, um, Now I get to choose how to spend my time. Uh, the business does ask or require a lot of my time though, so you know that now I’m getting to a point where it’s like, okay, let’s think about delegating and scaling and automating as much as possible so that I’m wor I’m working less in the business and working more on the business.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Do you have any, uh, team members or
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: are you Yeah. Yeah. So right now I have a full-time, um, operations, uh, specialist. Uh, she runs the, the studio and helps with a day-to-day. And then I have folks on a, um, have a, a handful of folks that are on, um, as needed basis. Um, but because we’re, we’re kind of a small but mighty team of just very efficient, um, Uh, makers, uh, I have the, the part of the, the reason why I opened up a studio was because up until 2020 I was making everything out of my house and I wanted to formalize the business in, in a way that I could grow it.
Um, I also started getting picked up by larger retailers, so I wanna, I wanted to handle that, um, the demand and be able to scale quickly. So, um, that, that’s where we are right now. So
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: you’re still managing all the manufacturing yourself, like you haven’t outsourced that
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: yet? No, we make, we make everything, uh, in small batches by hand.
So we pour everything by hand. Uh, you know, our team does the whole thing end to end. Um, we haven’t, you know, I, I’ve had this debate internally with like, okay, so part of the, the growth might require me eventually handing this off to a, a manufacturing facility. Um, we haven’t hit that critical point yet.
Uh, but also, even if I did, I’ve often thought that maybe what I wanted to do is get more folks, because I would have more control over, um, you know, the quality, uh, the processes, the, the, the whole experience of, um, Uh, making the product, but then also talking about the product and even, you know, the, the, the customer experience.
Uh, once we, you know, decide to ship things to them, making sure that, like, for, for example, fulfillment is something that we still do internally. Uh, we’ve done fulfillment houses or centers that handle our product, and there’s a big gap between how we want the customer to perceive the product and how it gets to them.
And so that brand, we really focus on that brand story and connecting with the customer and providing, you know, impeccable customer service because that’s the thing that I think differentiates us from, from other folks. Okay.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, so you started out with a product that did not exist in the market, which was, you know, predominantly like a male.
Uh, fragrance, uh, uh, what was it called?
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: Um, yeah, it’s a solid cologne. Now. There, there were a few, um, just, you know, super high end, uh, there, there was like one brand that’s still around, that’s high end. They’re, they’re based outta France. Uh, and then one or two others, but none of the fragrances that I would’ve liked.
So there, there were more, this has been around since, you know, Egyptian times now that, uh, I go to markets. Folks that are kind of like older generation, they’re like, oh, I remember this solid cologne back in the seventies. I used to wear that kinda thing. So it’s just that in the form factor that I presented it back in 2013, that there wasn’t that, uh, available at that.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: But now have you moved into the, the, the women’s, um, fragrance market also? Or are you still focused completely on the, the same like men? Uh, men? That’s a
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: good, that’s a good question. Yeah. So we started originally, uh, with a men’s products, and then as, uh, five years ago we released, um, the home fragrance side of, uh, the business.
So we went into room sprays and candles. And the design has been, you know, it’s very clean, minimalist. Um, and initially, uh, the, the reason for moving into that was because also like in the, you know, uh, Beauty, if you will, category. There are more options for women and not as many options for men, especially like grooming.
Grooming has boomed greatly in the last 10 years. Uh, but when I first started Alpha Lane, there was not that much of a, uh, a focus on providing, you know, the male audience with grooming products. And so you, you have your like dollar shape clubs and you have all of these companies doing beard oil, and so it, it happened around that time.
Now it’s, the market’s a lot more saturated and has evolved greatly. And Dollar Shape Club got acquired by, you know, one of the, the, I think it was, um, one of these large shaving companies, but, um, I haven’t. Well, I haven’t come out with fragrances for women. We’ve tried to introduce more universal fragrances that appeal to, to, to everyone.
Um, and that’s more of the ethos of what I’m trying to now, uh, evolve the brand to. Right. So I’m trying to tell a story of, initially the names of the, of the colognes were around how I imagined men feeling, you know, sort of thinking. Positive qualities or, you know, it, it, it makes the, this one particular fragrance can make you feel really good and you feel confident and you feel like you can, you know, do really well in a job interview or you feel like, oh, I’m gonna have this awesome date because I feel great.
And I, so, so that kind of a positive, um, uh, em empowerment on a personal level. Um, but I’ve also have seen customers come to me that like the room sprays and they like making it part of their ritual, of making their bed and doing, using a little room spray to kind of freshen up their, their linens and then getting into, you know, at night getting into under the blankets and it smells nice.
So I, I, I’m definitely thinking more about how I can create experiences, not just for men, but just for everyone in general.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: How does one use this solid clone? It’s basically just to put it on your fingers and, you know, dab it on your neck or something,
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: or, yeah, so you use your finger and, you know, with the warmth of your, you know, of your, uh, your body heat, it kind of warms up the, the wax and you put it in your pulse points.
You know, you can do like neck uh, risks. Um, I even use it whenever I’m traveling for, um, cuz it’s got shea butter and, um, really nice oils. I put it on my beard. Um, I also, you can use it as like a moisturizer as well, like an aftershave. Um, but yeah, it’s super simple, very easy to just throw in a duck kit or your, your, your having your, um, in your desk drawer or you know, even your pocket or gym bag and having something that doesn’t break.
Uh, some folks like more of the. The, the more, um, like stronger form factor. So the rolling colognes are that alternative. And then yeah, in the future we’re, we’re looking to roll out more of the traditional, uh, perfumes and, and colognes. Okay.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, a little bit more on the market. Um, so of course, you know, this category, uh, I think there’s so, so much competition out there, so many different big brands.
And also now, you know, uh, smaller, um, companies that, you know, direct to consumer, kind of brands that have come up. Where do you see your company in this, you know, highly competitive landscape and, you know, what is it that is helping you to carve a niche for your own business? Um, Within all this competition and all these different, I mean, uh, I mean, you know, if I want to buy like a candle, um, there’s, there’s so many options out there, right?
So how, how would someone build a, a connection with your brand and want to, want to purchase your brand rather than like, uh, go for a different option?
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: Yeah, that’s a really great question and, uh, one of an existential nature. Um, you know, I ask myself often if the, if I would start this business in 2023 and cuz you know, I, I’m, I’m looking back a lot.
I’m being very retrospective, uh, introspective and kind of retrospective as well. Um, looking back at the last 10 years, everything that I’ve learned, um, and um, 10 years for a business is like a hundred years in dog years. I feel like, I mean, I, I, I, I know the, I have fought like hell to be here, um, you know, 10 years.
I know that the, the, there’s, you hear statistics thrown around, like, most businesses don’t make it. After year one, the whole thing, I, I, I, this business was not prepared to go through a pandemic and then like inflation and, uh, possible recession. But, um, so I’m not sure that I would start a new fragrance business at this point because it is incredibly hard.
Um, I think that the reason why people have bought for me versus other brands is because they like the story, um, of how I started the business, but then also the fact that. You know, I’m an immigrant. I’m, I was born and raised in Venezuela, came to the United States, learned English here at age 12, uh, went to school and, you know, nothing has been given to me.
Uh, we’ve worked really hard to, you know, become like citizens and then become educated. I paid my way through educa, you know, through college, and then, you know, I bootstrapped through the, I boot bootstrapped the business. I haven’t taken any investment money, you know, and we make, we’re very passionate about the products that we make, so much so that, you know, we, we could be bigger.
But if it’s a, to the detriment of quality or servicing our customers or providing that experience that we, we know we can provide, I’d rather grow more slowly. Um, again, you know, it’s, it’s tough to say that because it’s, you know, the realities of marketing, the, the realities of. The competition, but we have a really compelling story, um, of believing in American ingenuity and making things here in the United States and, you know, uh, create, solving problems in creative ways and coming up with things that enhance people’s lives, right?
So I’m just thinking about the candle. Yes, you can get candles anywhere. You can get su super cheap candles. You can get more, more expensive candles. But our intent is to make sure that you have a very specific experience with this candle. That even if it’s just as simple as lighting it after you get home from work, um, and it’s, it’s something that helps you relax as part of your, your winding down, you know, ritual that we helped you facilitate, we helped you with that, and we facil helped you facilitate that experience.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: such thing as, can you, um, Copyright or have some sort of an intellectual property around, you know, the, the fragrance signature that you’re coming up with. Like, you know, the, the fragrance that you have no one else have. And if somebody really likes it, then they can only get it from your place.
Or is it that, you know, the fragrances that you have, you know, there, are there other options
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: also? Yeah, that’s a, that’s a great question. Um, kind of hard to copyright that. Um, also there’s markets, you know, there, there’s folks that make replicas of, you know, fat, high fashion, perfume. Um, I, I don’t really worry too much about folks copying my, my stuff if they want to, you know?
Yeah, you can get a Louis Vuitton purse or you can get a knockoff. Yeah, that can be a problem if it’s really cutting into your revenue, um, or it’s hurting your, or damaging your brand. But my focus is mainly on just continue to be the original alpha lane creating, you know, really great fragrances and, you know, different form factors that, um, I think my customers will like.
And if folks try to, you know, copy that, you know, I like, I’m, I’m focused on the growth. I don’t wanna focus so much on, it hasn’t been an issue at the moment, I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. Okay. Okay.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, so speaking about, you know, telling, sharing your story with your audience, right? Um, how do you do that?
I mean, you, you said that people find you through, through your organic, uh, you know, s e o. But in terms of other marketing outreach, you know, who is your target market and um, how do you get in front of them so that you’re acquiring customer? Um, and then we can talk more about, you know, what do you do once you have that customer?
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: So the, the few ways that I acquire customers on the wholesale side, I go to trade shows, and that is really helpful to connect with, uh, retail partner, potential retail partners or independent boutique owners or buyers that are interested in sourcing brands. They might, I just came back from, um, a trade show called Shop Object in New York, and I connected with a few, uh, store store owners that are, were interested in, um, giving us a try.
And they might have different price points of the same products or they might not have what we have to offer. And so, The nice thing about those trade shows for me is that I can tell my story, you know, for a, for a specific fee. All of the buyers, you know, come into this trade show. I, I tell ’em what we’re all about.
They can sample the different products and see what they think. Cuz they know their customers better than I know their customers. And, you know, we, we write purchase orders at that, um, in that moment, um, from, uh, From a direct to consumer perspective. I also do markets. So those are not scalable. So I can’t like, do all these markets like, uh, as the only way of, um, acquiring customers.
But I do travel around the country to, uh, specific markets, uh, that are more artisinal in nature that might be curated, you might even have to interview to be accepted into them, uh, to maintain the quality of the market. And those markets also tend to do a really good job of advertising that, hey, these are artisanal unique products, and, and they draw pretty big crowds.
And, and those have been successful. Last, I’ve been doing a lot of, um, uh, blog posts. So I’ll, I’ll reach out to, um, uh, different writers. And what I like to do is come up with ideas for, hey, you know, Uh, and it, because everybody now knows about solid cologne, at least in the fashion industry, it just seems to be like an article about solid cologne as an alternative to spray every couple of days.
But what I might do is like, pitch them an angle and try to give, provide some value as to like, Hey, have you thought about this? And by the way, we might, you know, here’s my product happens to do this, but here’s some, some other brands that you might want to consider. So it’s not, I’m thinking not just about myself, but then I’m also thinking more about how to make the lives of like these writers, uh, easier.
You know, they can, maybe they haven’t heard that story or maybe they can think of that story and put their own spin on it, and that has yielded some really great results. Cold outreach or just simply, and they usually, if you’re, if you keep them in mind, they’ll reply or they’ll keep you, uh, in the loop for future stories.
So I’m, I’m, I’ve tried that idea of like, Let me add a little value to the conversation or in terms of, in the form of ideas or concepts or, you know, um, potential blog, blog post, uh, angles. And, um, that’s resulted a lot into, uh, blog posts that either get picked up by larger corporate, uh, larger organizations or publications rather.
Um, and those, those are organic, right? So those are that long tail effect, you know, benefits me when people are searching for, you know, whatever products I’m being featured for.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So you’re not doing any paid
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: advertising? No. Um, once I acquire those customers, I do, uh, email marketing. Um, but I don’t, I don’t, I’ve tried paid advertising.
Um, you know, that is a, it’s a big, it’s a really. Um, big undertaking for me and given everything else that I got going on, I haven’t had the time to devote fully into it to know I, I’ve done enough work where I’m like, okay, I just need to either hire someone to do it or I need to hire someone to do it, essentially.
But, but, um, because I have these other avenues that work, uh, fairly well, I have paused those, I put those on, on hold until, you know, further notice.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, in terms of your fulfillment strategy, can you share, is it all in-house? Are you, do you warehouse and ship everything, um, on your own or, um, do you use any third party, uh, companies also?
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: Yeah, no, I, I, we house everything. We house our inventory, we fulfill everything. Um, we, we fulfill both our wholesale and retail. Um, and then the next few months, I’ll, I’ll be hiring a, um, a fulfillment, uh, someone specifically just to do fulfillment, um, because that’s, uh, that’s a, a pretty hefty, uh, time suck.
Um, but a very important one because again, to, to my point earlier, I’d wanna make sure that, um, that brand story experience is, uh, carries through all the way till the end, uh, to, to the delivery of the, the goods to the customer. Um, so we, we do handle everything in our, uh, Miami studio. Okay. Um,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: you did mention that you’re selling in international markets also.
Um, I’m assuming that US is your biggest, biggest market. Uh, and I also saw on your website, I believe you’re using like, uh, marketplaces, like wholesale marketplaces, like fair. Um, can you share a little bit about, um, the channels and markets? Are you also on like Amazon, uh,
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: where you’re selling? Yeah, absolutely.
Uh, we are not on Amazon. Um, a lot of our retail partners have chosen to carry our products because we’ve decided not to, uh, sell on Amazon. Um, you know, we’re, we’re aware of the, uh, potential opportunities that might have been missed. Um, but I think that for the, we, we really. Take pride in owning the relationship with the customer and being able to talk to them if they need to and service them in, you know, whatever way they need to.
When you work with someone like Amazon, you lose that connection with the customer. You don’t get their email addresses, you don’t have that ownership. Um, and so, um, we sell strictly, uh, online, uh, through my, you know, online store. But then also we’ve done partnerships with, um, In the past, we’ve done partnerships with Bespoke Post, which is a subscription box that’s been really nice and, and, and a really cool way to discover our products.
That’s another way that folks have gotten to learn about Alfred Lane. Uh, we did a sampling box with Birchbox, uh, five years ago. Um, and one of the trade shows that we did, we got picked up by Sax Fifth Avenue. So we are now, uh, they are our first large, uh, retailer, and that’s been wonderful to kind of learn that side of, you know, it’s, it’s, It’s different to work with, you know, a, a large retailer like them, uh, than to work with, uh, some of the more independent boutique owners.
Um, and the wholesale front, I do, um, sell through fair.com. It’s probably like the most popular, the largest, uh, wholesale marketplace. I also use bulletin, uh, bulletin.co. Um, and then on the international side of things, I use pba. Uh, most of my, um, international customers are in Southeast Asia, so South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, uh, Singapore.
Um, And I’m thinking I’m missing one or two others. Um, other than that, it’s, um, Canada and I used to sell a little bit more in Europe, um, France and Spain and England. But, uh, regulations there are pretty stringent. So, um, I have, I’ve paused that, um, uh, servicing that market until we kind of make sure that we do things right.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: That’s really interesting. So why Southeast Asia? Do you, were you, are you able to discover what, uh, why, why there is a demand in that region?
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: Yeah, I’ve asked myself that question. I think that it’s a combination of, I think we, people like our sense and they like the design. It’s a very clean design. Um, I also kind of think that because it’s a.
It’s an American brand, and we, we really take pride in the process and in the, you know, sourcing high quality ingredients, and we take pride in the quality of the product. Um, one thing that I’ve learned about, for example, the Japanese market is that they love bourbon. And, and, you know, you can only get bourbon in the United States.
It has to be made in the United States for bourbon. Um, and, uh, a lot of my friends say, yeah, back home, you know, having, you know, maker Smart or Nap Creek or one of these, you know, bourbons. It’s like, oh yeah, that’s, that’s, it’s good stuff. They, they really love those, uh, the products that we produce here and then export to the rest of the world.
So I think that it, they, it is interesting that they, they have found an affinity for the, the things that we offer, and, uh, they. Before the pandemic, they made a large portion of my business. Um, it suffered a lot because, you know, Asia got hit pretty heavily with like the lockdowns and supply chain issues.
So the, the demand has slowed down a little bit, but we still, um, get a lot of our, um, business from, uh, Southeast Asia.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Did you have to do anything to adopt to that market? Like, are you still able to sell at the same price point that you sell in the US or do you, did you have and do anything else to, to cater specifically to that market?
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: No. Um, and I’ve asked that and no, they, the, the folks, when I first started shipping directly to the different stores, Uh, you know, the, the biggest challenge with servicing that market is shipping. It’s incredibly expensive. It’s in, it’s expensive to ship here internally in the United States. Um, but to ship out there is really expensive.
Um, thankfully when I started selling out there, my products tend to be on the lighter side, so a solid cone is 0.5 ounces, not, not too, too heavy. You do a couple of those boxes, you’re looking at, you know, 5, 10, 15 pounds. Um, so I haven’t had the, I haven’t had to change or modify much to address that or to, uh, you know, or the packaging.
That’s the other thing, like they, they haven’t required or asked to for me to do things differently. Um,
But, uh, yeah, the shipping is probably like the, and, and the shipping situation is also kind of tough to, uh, Europe. So it, that’s the, that’s probably the single, the number one factor for, you know, why a retailer might say, Hey, um, can you, can you do a, a deal where you eat up half the cost of shipping? And sometimes I might do it if I see that it might, it might yield a long-term relationship, which is really what I want.
I wanna build these, you know, like long-term relationships with retail.
And so that, that’s something that, uh, that I do, I do keep the prices the same. Um, what they might do on their end is Mark, mark them up a little bit more so that they can recoup some of the, um, the tariffs that get imposed in their country. Um, and, and they usually, I’m fine with it because, um, it, it respects the minimum advertised product, uh, minimum advertised price.
Um, but um, yeah, does that answer your, your question? Yeah, yeah,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: definitely. I mean, do you, um, you, you, you consider your product, I mean, it is, I would consider it more, more of a luxury item, right? Like this, uh, the price, price point. Of course, I’m, I’m sure you’ve done testing and, and thought about your pricing, things like that.
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: Yeah. It’s like it’s medium tier. Um, ok. It, it’s not, they’re definitely not, um, Cheap. Uh, you know, you can find things a lot cheaper in some of the big box stores. Um, I’ve seen some of the more expensive, you know, uh, more luxurious brands that might sell a candle for 80, 90, a hundred dollars, $120 we’re, we’re in sort of that middle range, um, especially for the form factor that we offer.
Uh, yeah. So I would say that mid tier is kind of where we, we land on the price points. Okay. Um,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: looking into the future, what, you know, where do you see your business? I mean, to, to me it seems like you’ve come, uh, 10 years and now you’re getting into like the bigger retailers, likes and so forth. Um, looking ahead five years down the road, do, do you still want to be doing this business?
Do you want to be. Having other people running your business, you know, how do, how do you see your business evolving and, um, yeah, what, what’s your vision for the future?
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: Yeah, that’s a really great, great question. I would like to still do the business, um, unless someone decided that they wanted a, you know, acquire the company or buy it.
Um, I think that for the right price, you know, that’s, that’s, those are conversations that are worth having. Um, but five years from now, um, I’d like to continue to create, part of the reason why I love doing what I do is cuz I get to create and, um, um, design products. Um, I’d like to expand the product lines to different form factors.
Um, you know, there’s some interesting, uh, companies out there that can take your, uh, your oils and then use. You know, sell those oils, you know, as like cartridges essentially for their diffusers that are electronic. Um, and then you can use your iPhone, uh, an iPhone app or a mobile app to control the strength intensity, uh, schedule it when you want it to turn on or turn off.
Uh, something like that really interests me. Um, also just, um, looking at, for example, two years ago I released a line of coffee and that was in partnership with, um, a, uh, uh, uh, coffee roaster based out of Tallahassee, uh, called Lucky Goat Coffee Company. Mm-hmm. And essentially I said to them, Hey, I would love to do a collaboration.
Um, I love coffee, I love scent. I feel like the, the home side of things is all about experience. I also think that coffee is about experience. Waking up in the morning, bringing your beans and creating like, you know, wearing the water and doing a French press or whatever, and having a cup of coffee as part of like that morning routine.
It’s very appealing to me. So I like to continue to do that. I have this dream of like someday maybe doing like a collaboration with, um, Mecal brand and do like an Alfred Lane collaboration. Um, I love Mecal. Um, I could do bourbon too. I don’t know, i’s just, I think that the, the nice thing about building Alfred Lane is that it’s, um, I don’t just see it as a fragrance company.
I see it as a company that’s facilities experiences through fragrances or hopefully through some other sensory, um, you know, Experiences, like, or, or items like coffee or, um, mecal or whatever.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: How is, how is the coffee business going? Is is it like, uh,
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: is it, is it, is it working? Everyone, everyone loves it.
Uh, the nice thing about the arrangement that I have with Lucky Goat is that, um, you know, the minimum order quantities are, are, are manageable for me. Um, the folks, I have a few folks that are in a subs subscription, uh, so I offer it as a subs subscription. They can get those in a recurring basis and they get, um, a price point, uh, price break on those.
Uh, it’s been slow to, to be honest with with you, it’s been slow, but everyone that has tasted it, they have found the one that they like and then they, they’re reorder. So that’s been, that’s been nice. I haven’t pushed it as hard because that’s not the main focus of the business. Mm-hmm. It’s sort of like a nice.
It’s something that, it’s a secondary item. Um, that’s also like, for example, you know, in the, in the future I’m gonna release, um, wake cutters. So when you burn your candle, you let it cool off and then every time that you’re gonna light it, you wanna make sure that you, um, trim your candle so that it burns cleanly.
So that’s like an ancillary side, uh, item that only helps, helps increase average order value. It also helps it so that folks have the what, what you experience, what, what your desired experience is, uh, for them. So awesome.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Now, in every business’s, um, uh, history, there’s always some mistake made, lessons learned, failures, you know, what is like one, uh, big mistake or, you know, failure that.
You think you endured during the last 10 years that really comes to mind. What did you learn from it? And what can other entrepreneurs learn,
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: uh, from your mistakes? Yeah. Um, take care of the house. Um, and by that I mean in every sense. So financially, mentally, psychologically, physically take care of the house, you gotta take care of yourself.
Hmm. So the way that I would rec, I would say that is, or the way that I would explain that is, um, you gotta take care of your mental health. You can’t just run yourself down to the ground thinking that you’re gonna, you know, be optimal to run a business and make sound decisions if you don’t take care of yourself.
Same thing with eating, exercising your health. If you don’t take care of your health, your body’s not gonna be able to. Take care of the business, uh, financially. You, you know, the one mistake that I had was to, uh, maybe you wanna say like five years ago, no, probably six years ago, a little bit more, um, quit my job without having savings.
Uh, because I thought, well, you know, I can, I’m just gonna grind it out. I’m gonna be able to just grind so much that I don’t eat savings. And I had debt at the time and I didn’t have the financial platform to be able to withstand the, the, the, the, um, The heavy back and forth, or the slacking, if you will, of the, uh, business and markets and recessions and, you know, that whole dynamic.
Um, and then, uh, yeah, so have a financial platform for yourself. Have runway, have savings before you commit to the thing full-time. Um, because what might happen, which is what happened to me, I had to then go back to get a, a full-time job and still kinda run Alfred Lane in low power mode until I could get myself to a, a position where, um, I could quit my job.
So I quit my job in 2020, um, my full, my corporate gig, and then the pandemic happened. Well, I’ve been able to withstand all of that. More or less because of the savings that I, um, had for myself and that I didn’t have any debt. Um, but yeah, also be flexible with the idea of like, maybe, maybe you can do your full-time business, uh, or you can do your business and focus on that.
But, um, like I also do consulting for businesses doing, um, mobile app design, right? So, um, that’s not my primary focus. My focus is Alfred Lane. But at the same time, those are those kind of intertwined because they’re both focusing on product design. One, it’s digital, one of ’em is fo uh, physical. Mm-hmm.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I think that’s, that’s really key.
You know, it’s, you can’t, you know, someone going hundred percent in the business, it’s, it’s probably going to work for like very few people. So I think it, it’s, it’s a key thing for any entrepreneur. If you have a job, keep your job, keep your full-time job and work on the. Hopefully, uh,
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: it works out. Yeah. If it’s succinct to you after a while, then I think that, you know, then you can have a conversation with yourself and say, am I willing to leave the stability of a, of a job because I’ve seen that this business has a good enough track record of consistently, you know, performing the way that I wanted to.
And then you can say, okay, I, I can live off of this. Or at least not have to put my, my own money into it.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Definitely. Now we’re going to move on to our RA Rapid Fire segment. In this segment, I’m going to ask you a few quick questions and you have to answer them maybe in a couple of words or a sentence or so.
The first one is one book recommendation for entrepreneurs.
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: Uh, and why,
um, I was gonna say Atomic Habits by James Clear. Okay. Um, But I’m gonna switch it. Uh, so, uh, I would recommend one that I read a couple times, a, a year, at least twice a year, is, uh, the Alchemist, uh, by Paul Coio. Uh, reason being is that, um, it, it has a lot of little nuggets of wisdom that I kind of like, and that journey of entrepreneurship is really, really, uh, difficult, um, and long and arduous.
And you could easily settle for something that is slightly less because it’s nice, but it’s not the ultimate goal that you wanted. That book is a nice reminder of like, yes, you could settle for something that’s a little bit easier or more comfortable than what your desired goal is, but when you are in your deathbed, are you gonna be happy that you did that?
Or are you gonna be happy that you went for the thing that you wanted? And even if you failed, you at least tried. So, uh, the, that book for me,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Uh, um, anyone who likes The Alchemist, uh, there’s another book, um, called The Heroes Journey by Joseph Campbell. Uh, so he was, I think the, the, the original author who kind of came up with this whole idea of, you know, he, he was like, I think, uh,
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: uh, anthropologist or something, and he had
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: looked at all the different, you know, religions and mythologies and, you know, and, and, and come up with this pattern of like, this hero’s journey.
Uh, that’s very interesting. And I think Paul’s book kind follows that pattern also. Mm-hmm. An innovative product or idea in the current e-commerce retail or tech landscape that you feel
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: excited about. Uh, chat g pt. Oh yeah.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Have you used it in any way or.
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: I’m, I’ve been kind of playing with the idea of, um, uh, con uh, writing content.
Okay. Uh, you know, for email marketing or for blog posts, um, we were working on releasing a blog post, uh, like a blog section to our website, um, for not just, we wanna be a source of like, good information and, and also obviously the good for seo, but the, the proposition of chat G p t as, uh, not maybe get us to a hundred percent there, but enough to, you know, have something to then draft down and pair down is really interesting.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: G p the, is exciting and scary at the same time, I guess. Yeah. Oh yeah. A business. A business or productivity to the software that you would recommend or a productivity tool?
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: Uh, the one that I use all the time and folks have a hate. Uh, love hate relationship with it, and I understand why, but I still mostly love it.
Is Evernote, uh, I house everything there, swipe files, uh, music, um, uh, links, bookmarks, the whole thing. And I use that in combination with just regular Apple Notes. Um, apple Notes feels a little bit snappier and quick to sync across iCloud every notes more for like a repository. So I use, I use those two.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: A startup or business, an e-commerce retailer tech that you think is currently doing great things.
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: Yeah, so, uh, I, I mentioned sort of the concept earlier. Uh, there’s a business called pira. And I really like what they’re doing. Essentially, they, uh, they work with small brands like myself, and they come up with, they create these cartridges based on the fragrances that these small brands have, these small fragrance companies have.
And then they provide the diffuser. They sell the re the, the diffuser that you can connect to the, to, um, to, um, the socket. And it comes with two tanks. So you can kind of alternate between both, uh, fragrances. They have a large his, uh, uh, large bank or library of fragrances that you can choose from. Um, and then you can control it.
It has a little light, which you can control the color, and it has a, a mobile app that you can set the intensity, the schedule. I think it’s a really interesting, uh, business that is part technology part, uh, physical product part. Uh, you know, experiential. It’s, it’s an intersection that, that is really interesting to me.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Uh, a peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: who inspires you? Um, Alex from Ozi, um, I really like, uh, the things that he says. Um, very practical, very pragmatic, very, you know, I don’t feel like I’m getting preached at by him. Um, I think that he’s just sharing his experience and, and in a very meaningful and real way.
And he’s very vocal about, uh, telling you that what works for him might not work for you, but like he’s open about sharing. So I, I really appreciate that. Great.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And final question, uh, best business advice you ever received or, or you would give to other entrepreneurs?
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: Yeah, absolutely. Um, the one that has been, Uh, constant across my career.
And I could easily say that this also applies to life is only take advice from folks that are doing, uh, what you wanna do and that are hopefully doing it well. Um, and you know, even if you decide to do some of the things that they’re doing or how they got there, you try to emulate those, you know, those key steps or what, what have you realize that what worked for them may not work for you.
And that’s okay. Like there’s an element of exploration that has to happen and anything that you do, uh, but you want to, at, at least from a frame, uh, frame of reference, you wanna look at them and say, okay. Is the person that’s giving advice trying to get something from me, or are they genuinely giving advice because they want to share their, their experience?
And, um, you know, one should, like, the way that I take those pieces of advice is like, let me see if it works for me. And if it works for me, great. If it doesn’t work for me, then that’s okay. But at least having that healthy relationship of expectation versus reality of like, oh, I’m doing exactly what this person said and it’s not working for me.
Well, of course, because you’re not that person and different journeys and different walks of life. But, um, taking advice from folks that are doing, um, the, the kinds of things that you wanna do, I feel like it’s, it’s a good way of at least helping you visualize, uh, a better tomorrow for yourself and for your business.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I think yeah, that’s, that’s so, so important. I think these days you also find, you know, a, an aspiring entrepreneur can get into this, uh, uh, this negative cycle of, you know, buying courses or consuming courses from people who’s, who are selling courses at their main sort of revenue. And they may be teaching you about building a business or something.
They’re not like really building those business. And I think that’s the, that’s kinda like, uh, that’s probably you’re justt your time and money there,
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: right.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So, well, Rafa, those were all the questions that I had. Um, thank you so much for your time. Thanks. Thanks for sharing your story. If anybody watching this, uh, video wants to get in touch, uh, and purchase your I products, what’s the best
Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: way they can.
Yeah, you can go to alfred lane.com, A L f r e d l a n e.com. Uh, you can, uh, have access to all of our personal home fragrances and our coffee, and you can also find us on Instagram at Alfred Lane, fully spelled out.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Awesome. Well, thank you Rafael. Again, really appreciate your time for sharing your story and, uh, wish you all the very best, uh, in your business.
So thanks again for joining me Rafael Hernandez of Alfred Lane: today at Thank you so much. Appreciate your time.
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