Episode 11: ThreadWallets, Customer retention is not only about having a great product, but also great service

Podcast Episode 11 Thread Wallets

Join us for this week’s episode as we talk with two incredible co-founders for a very special look into what it's like to be an entrepreneur. We’re joined by McKenzie Bauer, Co-Founder of ThreadWallets, and our very own co-founder and CEO here at Malomo, Yaw Aning. McKenzie and Yaw share their business origin stories (and the names of their companies). P.S. if you haven’t heard these origin stories before, you definitely need to. But as any entrepreneur will tell you, you can’t go about it alone. Yaw and McKenzie share their experiences of working closely with their loved ones and leaning on them for support when starting a business. After joyfully taking a stroll down memory lane, we relate these authentic and real stories to customer retention on a greater level and having a pulse on how your brand is perceived.

TRANSCRIPT

SPEAKERS

Mariah Parsons, Yaw Aning, McKenzie Bauer

Mariah Parsons 00:03

Welcome to Retention Chronicles, a podcast sponsored by Malomo, a shipment tracking platform that helps ecommerce brands turn order tracking from a cost center into a profitable marketing channel. This week on Retention Chronicles, I spoke with two incredible co founders for a very special look into what it's like to be an entrepreneur. We were joined by McKenzie Bauer, co founder of ThreadWallets, and our very own co founder and CEO here at Malomo. Yaw Aning, McKenzie has shared their business origin stories and the names of their companies and where they came from, which is just so fun to hear. PS, if you haven't watched the ThreadWallets, its origin story, this is yet another plug to go watch it on YouTube. But if you haven't heard these origin stories before, you definitely need to. I mean, I was incredibly humbled and honored to be able to hear in the first person about these origin stories, they're so cool. As any entrepreneur will tell you, you can't go about it alone. So Yaw and McKenzie also share their experiences of what it's like to work closely with your loved ones, and to lean on them for support when starting your own business. And I really think that speaks to their character, but also their authenticity that they bring into both their businesses. So after we joyfully take a stroll down memory lane, we relate these authentic and real stories to customer retention on a greater level. And just having a pulse for how your brand is perceived by your customers. I think that's such a cool conversation of where we really tie it all together. Because, you know, being both the consumer and working in this industry, you can just tell when someone is authentic and really cares about their customers before the product. And I think that's such a cool nuance that that we really do a deep dive into on this episode. And as McKenzie so eloquently states during the episode, customer retention isn't so much about the product, but the service. And so with that, we'll get right into it and let you hear it coming from McKenzie herself. Hope you enjoy. So welcome to Retention Chronicles. Today we are joined by two amazing co founders have their own businesses. So welcome McKenzie, she is the co founder of ThreadWallets. And welcome Yaw, who is our co founder and CEO here at Malomo.

McKenzie Bauer 02:34

Hi, so nice to be here. I'm really excited to have this conversation with you guys.

Yaw Aning 02:39

Yes, I'm super pumped. McKenzie, you're- you're a legend in this space.

McKenzie Bauer 02:43

Oh, God, I'm dying to meet you. This is fun. That's, that's hilarious. Um, I'm excited to have a conversation too. Especially, you said that you have two young kids. So I know exactly how that goes, when you're starting a business and you're trying to do things and you're doing a lot at home, like double ear infections. So I feel like we're gonna be able to relate and have a really good conversation.

Yaw Aning 03:10

Yes, absolutely.

Mariah Parsons 03:12

Absolutely. Yeah. And that was actually one of the things McKenzie, you hit it right on head that I would like to talk about, just both of your perspectives with being co founders because I think, you know, in the E commerce space, there's a ton of people who might be listening to this podcast looking to start their own business. So through that I want to touch upon, you know, how you balance that home life and that business life. But what has been some things that you've learned through it all, you know, what would you tell people who are looking to start their own business or just started out founding their own, you know, future.

McKenzie Bauer 03:47

Those are really good questions. Um, the two pieces of advice that we give, like, in terms of just business in general is that you should never compare your beginning to somebody else's middle or end. Because sometimes, like you see all these people who've gained so much success and traction and are raising lots of money, and it can feel very intimidating to be like at the very beginning. So just remember that everyone had to start somewhere. And then the second thing is that you don't have to hit a home run to get a point on the board, right? Like, just get a first base, get a second thing simple and slow, and don't try to always swing for the fences. So those are kind of the two pieces of advice in terms of business in general. But as a co founder starting a business, I think one of the most important things is to figure out what lane you want to be in. And that's something I do business with my husband and we had a lot of conflict at the beginning because we weren't really sure who was going to do what and I didn't go to business school, didn't do marketing, didn't do anything. So I was kind of like what am I going to do like I want to help with the business and I really love this, but where are my responsibilities gonna be? And we soon kind of fell into the spaces where we felt most comfortable. My husband kind of took over like design website operations, and I fell into the marketing and storytelling social media role. So once we figured that out, it made things a lot easier in terms of like the everyday nitty gritty because there was an overlap, and we knew who was getting what done.

Yaw Aning 05:30

I do I mean, I feel like it'd be, it'd be like, both very fun in possibly sometimes frustrated business with your spouse, because I'm sure like, you probably naturally took work home.

McKenzie Bauer 05:45

Yeah, oh, yeah. We started it out of my, we were living with my parents at the time. So we were we started it out of my childhood bedroom. And then, you know, once we got a little apartment of our own, we were doing it out of the second bedroom. So there was no space, it was like work, home life, everything was so intermingled. And it was really hard, like there. And on top of that, like we were newlyweds. Like we started ThreadWallets together when we were dating. And then we are crazy and got married six months later. So it was really, really quick. So we were like starting a business and starting a marriage at the same time, which is like, the most stressful things that you could ever do.

Mariah Parsons 06:31

Yes. Yeah.


McKenzie Bauer 06:34

It's really difficult, like there was a lot of communication and things that we had to work through. But we're really grateful for it. Because once we had kids, a lot of our communication styles and like, I mean, we still have issues, we're not perfect, but we've really kind of learned how to navigate trickier things, and resolve them quicker and like work together as a team, because that's how our relationship has been from the get go, where some people get married, and they go to two separate jobs. And they're away from each other for 10 hours a day. And then they come home, and they have dinner, and then they watch a Netflix show and they go to bed and not that they don't have anything that they need to work out and like they have conflict. But from day one, we were like problem solving together about like really kind of tricky issues. So it's been really beneficial for us in a lot of ways. And I wouldn't change it for anything. Yeah, that's, that's amazing, even when I want to slap my husband.

Mariah Parsons 07:34

We love that, haha.

McKenzie Bauer 07:37

It has happened before it was leading to business. But we got in an argument and I was so mad. Not a proud moment in our marriage. We're very, we're very happily married, we have two beautiful girls, and life is so good. But we've definitely we're both very feisty people.

Mariah Parsons 07:54

So that's probably why it works. You know?

McKenzie Bauer 08:01

We'll say that. That's interesting that you say, you know, once you had your kids that the communication styles seem to match and overlap more, because, you know, my instinct, not having my own kids would be, that's just even more that you have to worry about. So it would it would add on to that stress. And so, too, you know, that's, I think that's it speaks to the culture that ThreadWallets has, or at least what I've seen being a consumer of, you know, the importance of honesty and that like free will that you guys have both in your home life and then take to the business side. Yeah, yeah. I would love to get into that. But I want to hear Yaw- your experience. What is your what is your advice?

Yaw Aning 08:48

Yeah. It's, it's, it's a great question. I mean, I loved your take on that, like not comparing yourself to other others. I think it's so one of the things that I struggled with early on as an entrepreneurs is like imposter syndrome. Like, you know, starting a company, you have to, like you're forced to learn at such a rapid rate in in your team is always looking at you for like having answers to the problems. But the other hard thing is like you hired you hired smart people who should, you know, are naturally typically better than you in the areas that you've hired them for. And so, like balancing that, like empowering others with like, I don't, honestly, I don't have all the answers. Um, you know, I think it's a it's a, it's a good way to figure out like, and be honest with yourself about what you're really great at what you're not. Yeah, um, and then like, as far as like, balancing home and life work. I feel like I've met so many founders who like launch their companies right at the same time that they had kids. Like I I remember, we were I was negotiating the term sheet for swimming around like in days after in the delivery room for the first kid in, in like, and then had the second kid read around, like the second, the second funding around and what what like, what I learned through that experience is just like you also have to get to be really good at managing your time and being present at home and being present at work, like my wife. She's a saint. Like, the only reason I can do this is because like she she supports me in this and supports their family in such a big way. But it's really like having that communication being transparent, we're clear about like, Hey, here's the business that he's like, here's how we're performing. I don't know what tomorrow is gonna look like for next month is gonna look like and you're encouraging me. And I think having those honest conversations about like, just how the business is going, it's probably a lot easier for you, because you're both in it in a day to day.

McKenzie Bauer 11:05

I like that you try to include her in that because she is part of your team, right? Yes, yeah. Not in a traditional sense. But she's just as like she's a key player, you wouldn't be able to do what you're doing without her support and help and a lot of like late night therapy sessions plays a big role in it. And really, that's cool that you do all you can to include her in that. I really admire that.

Yaw Aning 11:32

Yeah, I mean, you're right. Like, I don't I don't know how you start a business without having like, 100% commitment from from your spouse. Yeah, it'll bleed over. Like you can't, it's it's definitely a daily practice to try to. Yeah, you know, not not let your emotions right funneling to. So, yeah, I couldn't agree more.

McKenzie Bauer 11:53

That's cool. Yeah.

Mariah Parsons 11:55

Yeah. And it reflects to, like I said earlier in the company culture, because I do think, you know, you have to have that balance of business and family. But I think it personally, I see it as they, they bleed into one another, which I feel like you would both agree with as well, like, you just said, you don't want it, you know, to bleed into the time that you're spending with your family. But at the same time, you know, if you have a great day at work, you want to be able to come home and celebrate it with your support system there. And I can say, you know, from working at Malomo, the company culture is phenomenal. And I've never worked a ThreadWallets, but from the, you know, the brand image that is put off through social media and everything, it looks to be very similar of having that, you know, that work family that really supports one another.

McKenzie Bauer 12:49

Yeah, that's awesome. Thanks. I'm glad that you see that. Yeah, yeah.

Mariah Parsons 12:54

Keep doing it.

Yaw Aning 12:55

One, one thing- I think Mariah you were planning to get to this too. But I think I think it's like a good topic, your origin story? Like it's just incredible. Like, I'd love to hear more about like, how that story came to be.


McKenzie Bauer 13:11

Oh, gosh, yeah. For anyone listening. You can type in our I don't know if you guys have seen it, but on, we have a that we just did lunch this past year, if you go to YouTube, you can just type in ThreadWallets origin story, and it will come up. But it's a more entertaining version of what I'm about to tell you.

Mariah Parsons 13:30

It's so cute.


Yaw Aning 13:31

It is it is awesome. Like even the comments on the video, like people are like-

McKenzie Bauer 13:36

No, we're really lovely happy with the response is like, our the biggest expense outside of inventory that we've ever spent money on as a business. It was like super scary for us. And so it's been really, we're just so grateful that it's paid off. It's working really well. Um, anyway, yeah, our origin story, it's kind of, there's a lot of different like facets to it. And things that maybe I'll mention now that aren't necessarily in that video, we had to cut some stuff down. But the video itself was pretty accurate. There's a few things that like maybe we left out, but ultimately my husband, who was I just didn't know him at the time, was out at school in Hawaii, and that's where I graduated from school as well from college. And he like got there and was super excited and eager and jumped into the ocean and forgot that he had his wallet in his pocket. So he lost his wallet. And he went home, you know, like doing the whole replacing credit cards, driver's license, all that stuff and also had to find a new wallet. So he searched online, typed in Google men's wallets. And all that came up were like George Costanza bifolds that you see from Seinfeld, if you're familiar with that reference. So like big, bulky, bifolds brown leather, black. They're very plain. And all he carried with him was his student ID driver's license and credit cards. So he really didn't have a lot with him. And so he didn't want something super big. And then at the same time, he also was the wallets that he saw online, we're missing expression. So there wasn't like any element of style or fashion to it. They weren't seen as a fashion accessory. They were just like, tool like very just functional. And my husband really admired brands like Stan's socks, Net Headwear, Skullcandy headphones, that had taken a simple product and like brought a lot of life to a category that had been really boring. And so he was like, there might be something there, but he was in school. So he grabbed a rubber band off of a broccoli stem at a grocery store and use that as his wallet. And he fell in love. Gosh- guys. That's hilarious. So he was like this is perfect. This works. So all these thoughts were kind of going through his head, like I really like the functionality of this rubberband, like, how come there weren't any more like cooler wallets when I was searching for my wallet. And then he was in, in class and the class was or like a workshop, where these two men came and talked about how to get a Kickstarter up and running within like 24 hours. And so because of that, he started spending a lot of time on Kickstarter. And this was back in 2000, like end of 2013, early 2014. And there were these campaigns projects on Kickstarter that had done like $400,000 for like slim, minimalist wallets like 300,000 40,000 You can look them up. It's like the Crabby wallet. I'm trying to think of what other some other ones were. But my husband saw this and was like, Whoa, like, people obviously want like a minimalist option. But again, there was nothing exciting about these wallets. They were like black elastic, and brown leather. They were minimalist, but they still lacked that style. So my husband had the idea. And he went out to this is when we kind of started dating, and he just went up to a local craft store and bought white elastic, and was like, Okay, how can I get like fun designs on this. And there was a company they were they were on Shark Tank, I can't remember what year they're called Beloved. And they did like really funky shirts like sublimation printing on shirts, and like sweatshirts and jumpsuits and swimsuits. So it'd be like the pepperoni slice it pizza slices, or gummy bears or like a sloth face. So he heard about them. And he was like, this is really interesting. Like they're printing like they do anything. And so he took the white elastic to their warehouse, it was just like, can I try printing on this? And the guy was like, Sure, go for it. So he there's like a heat press and the guy grabbed a design. And so if you don't know what sublimation is, it's a printing like a print process for fabric where you get a design that's on paper. And then you use a heat press to transfer the design onto the fabric. So that's sublimation printing, and this, this factory or that warehouse that you went and they grabbed a piece of paper that had the poop emoji on it. Of course on to the elastic. And then Colby was like so excited. And he came to pick me up for a date. And he was like, showed me the last second he was like this is it and I was like I've been dating for a week. And I guess it's a blessing that I was so enamored with him because I think if I'd seen that like any other time in our relationship, I wasn't like you're crazy but it worked. So we went up to my bedroom. If you watch the video, it's like a the ad that I mentioned earlier, it's a reference to the movie cash ghost, or it's like pottery and some like behind Colby. So I'm helping him sell the wallet. And we both started using them like we both started using these like elastic bands for to hold our cards, and in essence are glorified rubber bands like nothing too crazy. But we threw together or I should say he threw together because he'd been doing that class for a Kickstarter project. So he threw together a Kickstarter campaign got enough money to buy the equipment. So we bought a sublimation printer and a heat press. So then we could start doing them on our own, like any design that we wanted. We have wallets with like Jesus on them and Colbys face like designs that you would never see on our website right now. But we were like this was really cool. So we did this.

Yaw Aning 19:59

Oh, Do you still have like those old like samples of old ones?

McKenzie Bauer 20:03

Oh, yeah, yeah, I sent what I posted one on my Instagram the other day of one of Jesus. And I was like, Man, you really miss the like a mark market here with this? Um, you know, all the really rough Jesus on their wallet. Oh, we, yeah. So we started printing them, I sell them. We threw together a Kickstarter campaign because we bought all this stuff. And then it was, gosh, that was probably like, April May. And it wasn't. I mean, our friends were using them and liking them. But it wasn't anything like crazy. But we're like, There's enough here. Like we've gotten them into a few local shops and I, we've got some good feedback. So when we got married and moved, we moved back to Hawaii for my husband to finish school out there. And we were like, Let's just take, like 1000 wallets and see what happens. We'll try to sell them. And we got married, or we moved out there. The day after we got married, we moved out to Hawaii. And we took all these walls with us. And of course, it's Hawaii. So we were like we're not selling stuff. We're just going to the beach. So we were at the beach, all the time playing riding bikes around. My husband played soccer at the university we attended. So we were really busy and just enjoying ourselves as newlyweds. And then like November came around, we were like we have 1000 wallets we need to sell. So went to some local farmers market and started selling them. And we were both blown away because they were like flying off the shelves like people were so into them. They love the designs, they love the functionality. So when people would buy them, we'd give them a discount if they follow us on social media. So it slowly we kind of started building a little bit of a social media following. And then there was like, a little bit of a hype to like hype culture to it, because there were like really cool, fun designs that were selling out. So we moved back. We're from Utah, we moved back to Utah after my husband graduated. And we were done with in Hawaii after about like five months. And we were kind of at this crossroads like what should we do with our lives, like, my husband had some professional soccer offers on the table and his dad's a financial planner, so he could have gotten taken over that his dad's firm. And we just I was teaching at the time online. So we had some options and things that we were like looking at, but none of them felt like we were super passionate about it. But we had this little wallet, I guess we're like, you know what, we're just living in your parents house. Like I'd mentioned, we were at my parents were like, Let's just give this six months. And if it goes anywhere, we'll keep pursuing it. And if it doesn't, we'll pivot and figure something else out. So Colby called the coaches that he'd been training with for soccer and turn them down and he called his dad and said, Hey, I'm not interested in taking over your firm. Like, I don't think that a financial planning life is for me. So we just went hard we like it between Colby and I we started like designing and sewing and getting the website together and posting on social media and reaching out to influencers and throwing little like local events to just get out free product. I remember standing on the corner of like a local campus and out like a juice bar and just trying to get out as much product as possible to get feedback. And then within those six months, we did another Kickstarter campaign, and raised like 35,000. And then we launched our website and did like 15,000 in two days. And between those two initiatives like the Kickstarter being funded and raising extra on top, and then the website launching and like having a good successful few days, we were like, I think something's here. So we just went with it. We just we had no idea what we were doing. Honestly, we did all the production and fulfillment ourselves for about two years.

Yaw Aning 23:57

And it was just you and just you and Colby.

McKenzie Bauer 24:02

Yeah, it was my husband and I like if we have big orders that we've come through we contracted like other seamstresses to help so, so that was really helpful. But I did all the shipping on like Black Friday and stuff. My cousin and her friends would come help us. But it was like me and Colby and then friends and family affair for the first two years it was my mom cutting the paper before we sublimate, like printed it, and my brother would like would help press out in our garage. Yeah, it was crazy. So many crazy times. There's still like burn marks on the carpet and dents in the desk. In my parents house. We're back living in my parents house right now because they're serving a mission for our church for three years. So we're back where it all started. And it's crazy. You can see like all the reminders of those first years.

Yaw Aning 24:50

Oh my gosh, it's an incredible story.

McKenzie Bauer 24:52

Yeah, it's crazy. It's I don't know how it worked. I mean, even now. We're like how are like this.

Yaw Aning 25:01

This year like you do both know you want to start a business like when you were when you when when he kind of had like this I'm gonna buy this sweater last night and like, Was it like well next step is like okay launch business because it just like-

McKenzie Bauer 25:16

So my husband has always been really entrepreneurial. He in high school he was in a wakeboarding is really an action sport. So you'd been at a wakeboarding camp and he came home and he was on the flight home with his friend. And they were like drawing up designs. And I need to post the designs because we just met up with some of his friends from Arizona that he like had some of these original designs, the brand was called wakeology. And it was a wakeboarding brand. And he was drawing up the designs and like, I'll be so sick if we sold T shirts. And his dad was really awesome. And I think intuitive and was like, Why? Why wouldn't you start selling those and Colby was like, I don't know how to make T shirts, like, I don't know how to sell stuff. And his dad was like, I'll help you. So his dad helped him get like an LLC, and like, helped fund the first round of T shirts. And it didn't obviously go any like were huge, but Colby sold them in like local skate shops, and I think really sparked that entrepreneurial bug inside of him. And then when he was in college, he had a good friend that played on the soccer team with him that started an app that Snapchat bought for 54 million. So my husband saw that and was like, I want to try tech. So my husband spent like a year developing out an app that was kind of like apples to apples, but on the phone on your phone. And he realized very quickly that tech is really expensive, and very time consuming. And there's a lot to it. So he was like I'm not doing this. So he had always had this entrepreneurial bug, like he's a big believer in freedom. And he was very, very creative. And then I've kind of like, always wanted to do something, but never had like anything, like a crazy drive to start my own thing. I graduated in college with a degree in conflict resolution. So I was kind of anticipating maybe maybe going to law school. So a very different route than what we're doing now. But it's awesome. Like, I remember telling my mom when I was growing up, because I saw how much my dad worked as a financial planner. And he was very involved still, but I was like I would so much rather work with my husband than have him be gone. Like we live two separate lives like we're under one roof, but we live two completely different lives. And so it worked out and I'm really glad that it like the timing and everything was perfect.

Mariah Parsons 27:42

That's awesome. Yeah, I'm curious for you your own question, turning it back on you. What about you? What did you always have that entrepreneurial spirit?

Yaw Aning 27:49

Yeah. Yes. So in in, I think Colby made a smart decision not going into tech.

McKenzie Bauer 28:00

You're amazing. Oh, you know what I about?

Yaw Aning 28:05

Yeah, it's it's a grind for sure. But I mean, but yeah, I did. Like I always, I always did want to start a company. From from like, a young age, I just like I had this, I don't know what it was, like. So my parents, they're from Ghana, on the west coast of Africa and came to the to the states. And so like, I always admired them, very specifically immigrants in general, just like the, the, the the confidence that you have to just like leave everything behind and go like started in life in a new place. And so I always felt like that probably that like drive to just like go and explore and create was, was was for my parents. But But yeah, like young age, I always want to start a company and did a lot of things messed up a lot on the way I think I've only worked for somebody for two years of my life. And the rest of them like launching launching different ventures. But But yeah, it's it's like I think it's it's it's really it's really fun because you get to test yourself in different ways and be able to see what what your what your you're capable of. And then I think the other great thing is like you can you can choose the team you get to work with like you can really pick like great people surround yourself with fun, inspiring people and hard to beat that for sure.

McKenzie Bauer 29:37

I I feel like you could probably write a book like I feel like there's so much to like, immigrants who come and like you were saying, like the desire that they implanted in you to like, be creative and explore and try new things. Like that's such a good example of that. And they're so entrepreneurial in their own way. Like they saw a problem they felt like had a need of their own. They fixed it. Like they did what they could to fix it, like provide a better life for, like their kids. Like, there's such a parallel out there. So that you like saw that and recognize that?


Yaw Aning 30:12

Yes, yeah. 100% Yeah,

Mariah Parsons 30:15

I love hearing both of those perspectives, and especially, it's very informative on my part of just being able to put myself in the shoes of someone who has founded their own business and can recognize the difficulties that come along, when you know, you're just kind of exploring and trying something new and being able to say, that didn't work or that did work. And, McKenzie, correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like from the beginning of ThreadWallets, there was that understanding that you guys like could mess up and that was very free and you'd bounce back and just have that I guess that view or that resiliency and I think that ties into exactly your origin story of being able to you know, take that rubber band from the broccoli and turn it into something that is now extremely successful.

McKenzie Bauer 31:05

Yeah, it's been fun. Yeah, it's a it's crazy to look back on that's really crazy. But it we're really grateful, yeah.

Yaw Aning 31:14

McKenzie Where did the name Thread come from?

McKenzie Bauer 31:16

So not much thought went into that. Where's the cooler story I was just like, we've so our wallets they're made out of like most wallets nowadays. They're like, in before ours were leather. And our were more of like a woven like material with fabric and that elastic application. So like our logo, my husband was just looking at his pants one time and saw the like cross stitch of the threads, the fibers coming together. So that's kind of where we got like the logo. And then it was just like, oh, thread like sweet. Yes. Very. That's awesome, though. What about Malomo?

Yaw Aning 32:00

Yeah, um, yeah, it's so my, my mom, she she battled cancer for a long time. And so she, she, she's actually very entrepreneurial herself. So she, she, when she, when she contracted it, she had to stop working and moved home and then got really into soapmaking. And so like, I'd go home, like, between, like semesters from school, and like, our kitchen will just be filled with this little bit. Yeah, I'm sure like your house is just like, filled with like, fabric and stuff for wallets. But she yeah, so she was always just like making these different, like batches, and concoctions. And when like when she was going through treatments, people would come in, visit her at home, and she'd give them her latest like bar so and she'd like almost like similar surgery, usually take them to farmers markets and sell them and like you could just see the joy that she got from, like connecting with people. Like it wasn't about the soul. It was like just the ability to like, be able to connect with people in a time that she was like experiencing a lot of a lot of stress and anxiety. And so she named that company Malomo. And she so she passed in her battle and I really wanted to kind of keep her name and legacy alive. So we named the company back because I mean, it's a lot like I get inspired by people like you who are you know, they're, they're launching things that mean a lot more to them than just the product itself. And like it's that story in that relationship that you get to have with your really your supporters that I think is like really fascinating and, and yeah, they may was a little bit of a way to keep that that energy and spirit alive.

McKenzie Bauer 33:45

That's cool. Yeah, you need to write a book. I would read it if you want too. I'm so sorry about your mom's passing, but it sounds like she made lemon lemonade out of lemons.

Yaw Aning 33:58

Yeah, thank you. Thank you. She's a big inspiration for sure.

McKenzie Bauer 34:03

That's awesome. Well, I love I love it. I mean, like kind of we haven't hit on retention and I know that that's kind of what this is about. But tying like you just explained the name of your product what and you saying like it's more your mom, it wasn't so much about the soap as it was about connecting with people. What's cool about products like yours and my interactions with your team. That same mentality has been present like it's not so much about like the product as it is about helping businesses get the most out of this your service right like it's really really helped our business and has been a really powerful way to like keep that retention like keep rotate to retain our customers. To give them I mean we like look at the statistics and I wish I had them right on the top of my head. But people who just purchased an order like they just bought something. The what we're seeing is they open your emails from Malomo. You know, like our post purchase email flows from you guys, the landing page, and they purchase again and we're like, Why? Why are you buying another wallet?

Mariah Parsons 35:10

Don't question it!

McKenzie Bauer 35:13

So it's cool. It's good that mentality like you're, you know, you're in the service of helping small businesses not just creating a cool way to track someone's product.

Yaw Aning 35:22

Yeah, yeah, no, I appreciate that. But like, I feel like our successes like it's, it's like, only driven by by your success like you, like you guys have built that relationship with the consumer like you've delivered, like, on your brand promise and experience that they even feel compelled enough to actually buy another product in that moment again, like, what do you what do you think you guys are doing to like to, like, build that relationship? Like, why do you think people love Threads so much?

McKenzie Bauer 35:56

You know, that's a really good question. And in some ways, I feel like, we used to do a better job at it. Like, I feel like when we started out, and I think just the landscape has changed in general. But when it it was just us. We were like more on social media, we did more like local events, like we did more things. Because there wasn't all the other nitty gritty like it was just us. But as we've added team members, and we've added different software's, and we've added different channels like Amazon and wholesale, like there's so many moving pieces now that sometimes that like relationship focused, message gets lost. So I really like one of our goals for 2020 to like, each word each year, we have like a word that drives the year. So like, in the past, we've done like, optimize. So everything that we do that year is meant to like optimize, and 2022 the word we're looking at is loyalty. And just really, really diving back into that the customer relationship we have with the customer and making sure that they they are loyal to us, but we're very loyal to them as well that they can contact us when they have questions that they get fast and accurate information about their packages, like what Malomo does. Um, so that's, that's what we're looking at. And I think that to answer your question, like, I think people resonate with the brand for many different reasons. But I wish and my goal for 2022 is that it resonates more like I hope that like, despite all the algorithm changes with social media, despite iOS updates that we can maintain like growth and connection with our customers.

Yaw Aning 37:46

Yeah, yeah. I mean, like, legit, if you for the for the audience, everybody needs to go watch their origin story on YouTube. Because I think that's like such a great example. It's so it's again, even in the comments, people are like, I didn't really realize that this was an ad like it was just like you telling your story in such an authentic way that like I think it resonated with people.

McKenzie Bauer 38:12

Yeah, I think that word authentic is so important. I think that sometimes, like I said, when you get big, and you've got so many, and we're still like, we're bigger than we were, but we still have a long ways to go before we get what you know, get to where we want to be. Um, but they're just there's so many things that you start thinking about and things that you add to your plate. So sometimes that authenticity, I think gets lost. And I what was really fun about that video. And I think that really helped us this year. Like what you were saying with your question is that it brought back that like authenticity, it was like, here are the founders, this is how it happened. Here's their story. Like, and I think we're gonna try to get back to more of that.

Yaw Aning 38:54

Yeah, yeah. I love it. I like to I love the just juxtaposition. Like you start with models. Like yeah, like no, that's,

McKenzie Bauer 39:02

That's not me. Yeah, yeah, totally. I think I think that's authenticity that people want. They don't always want to just like picture perfect stuff. They want to see the behind the scenes, they want to see who founded the company, they want to see the employees like, and I think that it's we're getting there. We've just hired new people to take over like so, um, social media and influencer. So there's more specific like people to those areas where I think we're going to be able to like TikTok, I'm sorry. I'm like, probably not really making sense. TikTok came along. We didn't tackle it for a while because we didn't have anyone who was like specific to TikTok. But now we've hired a social media manager who understands tic tock and that platform is such a great way to remain authentic because you're not going for this like perfectly curated 100% of the time content. It's a lot more fun and like authentic and real and just show kind of as you are, and so it'll be cool to see how that does as we continue to dive into that platform. Yes. Yeah.

Mariah Parsons 40:09

That's interesting you say that because from my perspective, I do think Thread is one of those very authentic brands that is able to convey that. Like even, yes, the origin story, of course, we keep coming back to it. That's one of the things but even you know, like the blogs that you guys have on your website, I think it's a lot of the time, if you go looking for it, it's there. So I know, like, there's lighthearted topics on there, as well as really important topics such as mental health, and having ambassadors that are able to speak to the importance of Thread and the what's the word I'm looking for the not accountability, but the, the accessibility factor that you could have with, you know, everyone's living a fast paced life nowadays, you have this minimalistic wallet, that yes, it is a product, but it just speaks to so much more than that, when it adds to the convenience of your life. And you know, you're taking away just like one added stress to it.

McKenzie Bauer 41:09

So I love that perspective. Yeah, that's what you see, from an outsider's perspective. I think from the inside, it's sometimes you- yeah, it's like, is that how people perceive us? I hope that, you know, I hope that we're getting this across the right way. That's cool.

Yaw Aning 41:35

But that's, I mean, that's a great point, McKenzie, like, how do you this is, as a founder, I think about this all the time, like what is how do people perceive our brand? Like, what does our brand reputation market? And like, it's really hard to know that and have a pulse on that, like, have you? Do you do anything in that Thread to like, get an understanding of like, how your brand is perceived? Or how people?

McKenzie Bauer 41:57

Yeah, yeah, we do. Like we do surveying. And I think we could do more of that. There's things like post purchase questions that we asked, like, where did you hear about us all that stuff. I think one of the biggest and best things for us has been in person events, which has been hard with COVID, but going to go pro Mountain Games, or the do tour or even our wholesale like Surf Expo, retail kind of convention, I guess you'd say we're, we're in front of a lot of buyers, because then you hear people's feedback directly. And it's a lot different than the feedback you get when someone's been using the product for a week or one day or whatever. So it's just like having the feedback of reviews and dialogue with customers online with our customer service team. But then mixing it with this in person, like oh my gosh, I've seen you guys like I saw you at that surf shop, or oh my gosh, like my friends have talked about your I've seen your ads, hearing that feedback face to face is so crucial has been so crucial to us from the get go. When we first started doing those farmers markets. And now to when we go to surf expo or outdoor retailer or anything like that. It are they're such powerful ways to get feedback and hear what people are saying about the brand and how they perceive it.

Yaw Aning 43:18

Yeah, that's, I mean, like, I love that you guys, you guys do those events too. Like you go out and you're you are in front of the customer. Creating that that relationship with them because it is like it's so easy. I feel like one of the one of the things I was going to ask you was, you know, I think someone once told me, If you want to understand how a company is succeeding, don't focus on the things that they've changed or that they're doing differently focus on the things that have stayed consistent over time. Just saying, in that that's where you'll find like, what the real strategy is. And then everything else is just kind of tactics against that. But like, like your company started that way, like in farmer's markets. And like, as the market has evolved and gotten more digital, it's like easier to invest in these channels, because you can elevate this story more broadly, but like still sticking to that part of your roots. Right, those events, I think it's really, it's really cool.

McKenzie Bauer 44:18

I love that. That quote or that idea that you showed that's really cool. I'm gonna have to pass that along.

Yaw Aning 44:24

Yeah, yeah. Well, yeah. What are we doing? Like we've always done every year like,

McKenzie Bauer 44:30

Yeah, seems, it seems I think the to like the authenticity and stuff, it's and even retention, if you want to go like that granular. I think it's important for companies and customer companies to stay very niche so that it continues to resonate with your customer like i Oh, they're like, Oh, we're doing this but then we're gonna do this and this and this and this and it's like, why would you do all those things when you're succeeding at this So like for you guys, like, I think that speaks to the authenticity, but then it just keeps customers coming back more and more because they're, they're coming to you because you're not competing with all these other people for their attention for that item. It's like, yeah, yay. Yeah, I don't know if that's a tangent or not, but I think no niching down. Like, if you're starting a business, like, make sure you're really focused and that you know, the problem you're trying to solve, and then continue to solve that problem and refine the way you're solving that problem instead of finding other problems to solve that distract you.

Yaw Aning 45:33

Yes, yeah, that's it. I love that little lot. Like I think it's called wisdom. We love it.

McKenzie Bauer 45:42

That's exactly what we want here. Yes, yeah. I loved it. I didn't send you guys over my hourly rates.

Yaw Aning 45:53

Send invoice.

Mariah Parsons 45:57

That's amazing. Yeah. And that is such a great perspective. And like you said, like having those events that you're hearing the feedback from your customers, it really does tie into that authenticity to have, you really do care about what your consumers are saying. And even drew, the difference between people who have had the product for a week versus people who have had it for longer. And just being aware of the value in different types of feedback, I think is so crucial. And you know, what is made Thread wildly successful is storytelling, I know, we've been sharing all our fun quotes and origin stories. And I think that's awesome. And it really does tie back to that retention. And that thought leadership is, you know, why we're all doing what we're doing. And I think that just speaks very highly of, you know, brands who are taking it upon themselves to make sure that they're doing everything they can to care about the customer and meeting their customer through their business, but their first priority is their customer.

McKenzie Bauer 46:56

Yeah, I think over the years, like in the future, the brands that stick around, and the brands that are going to be here for a long time are going to be the brands that make their customers the priority, that they're very cuts. I mean, I don't know if you guys have read the book Delivering Happiness by Tony Shea, the founder of Zappos, it's a phenomenal book and a great read. But it's just all they sell shoes, but they are a customer company. And their whole thing is like we could start selling airplanes tomorrow, and people would get it because it's all about the customer. Like whatever we're going to do. We're a customer company, not a shoe company. Like we're a people we are about the people. And so I think that the brands that are around whether it's tech or consumer goods, or beauty, whatever it is, the brands that stick around are going to be the ones that really made their customers a priority.

Mariah Parsons 47:50

We usually like to end the podcast with a recommendation of a resource, but you jumped the gun on that one. Got that recommendation. So I'll have to add that to my to my wish list for this holiday.

McKenzie Bauer 48:02

That and Tony Shay's Delivering Happiness, and then No Rules, Rules by gosh, by my blanking on his name, the CEO at Netflix. It's wonderful, but no Rules, Rules.

Yaw Aning 48:16

It's somebody, somebody, I just I just saw a recommendation. I'm forgetting who it was recently on that book. Yeah, that's the universe told me I got to read that.

Mariah Parsons 48:25

Yeah, yeah. Ask Santa for it. Yeah,

Yaw Aning 48:29

Yes. Okay. Awesome. Reed Hastings. Yes.

McKenzie Bauer 48:33

Reed Hastings. Yep.

Mariah Parsons 48:34

No, we'll have to make sure to read those. But this has been so amazing. Everything that both of you have shared. I know. I've learned so much. And I can't wait to hear what other people have heard. And I hope I hope it's been a great experience to share perspectives, and hopefully continue to share your great quotes.

McKenzie Bauer 48:54

Yes. Oh, it's been wonderful. Thanks for having me.

Yaw Aning 48:57

Yeah, McKenzie. Thanks a ton.

Mariah Parsons 49:03

For this episode, that check, we've really only had three things which was so exciting, but I think that speaks to you know, we had a lot of storytelling on this episode of the podcast, so I thought it'd be fun. I looked up when ThreadWallets was founded and that was in 2015. And Malomo, was founded in 2018. McKenzie also shares two of her book recommendations, which I just wanted to state again in the fact check which are Delivering Happiness, which is Tony Shay's book, and No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings. I know I added those to my wish list. So I'm excited to read those and if anyone does, please feel free to share your feedback. With that. We hope you enjoyed this episode. And it truly is one of my favorites so far, and if you couldn't tell I am such a fan of ThreadWallets. I use their products, and I just love working at Malomo So it was like it was a triple delight for me to get an insider perspective on both and just get to meet them on a greater level hopefully you know the drill by now but if you don't but in case you don't don't forget to like and subscribe and share your feedback thanks for listening