S4 E20: Creating founder-led content and increasing retention marketing with Anthony Ciavirella (Co-Founder of Manmade)


Anthony Ciavirella, Co-Founder of Manmade joins Retention Chronicles for episode 20 of season 4. Anthony and his three other co-founders started Manmade, a leading men’s essentials brand, after starting his career in banking. After a 10-month journey to designing the perfect boxer-brief, Manmade has over 120k orders with 400,000 boxers sold to 90k customers in 2 years.

For all our Shopify brands out there, do you have a sole-founder team or do you have a team of co-founders? Anthony details how their founding team of 4 is able to move at 4x speed with their collaboration.

Does exponential growth come from great product, great marketing, or both? Anthony shares his opinion on developing an incredible product alongside great marketing. With product development, it’s not so much about getting everything right the first time, because you most likely won’t, but it’s about listening to your customer feedback and iterating to make the best product you possibly can.

Content marketing is foundational to the Manmade team- Anthony and his team strive to bring customers along for the journey as they’re learning. The Manmade team believes that ecommerce shoppers like seeing the faces of founders, and they’ve fully embraced that marketing strategy. Also included in their marketing is a ton of attention to organic social growth. Meta is the driver of where Manmade gets new acquisitions, whether it’s through lots of PR and interviews, radio, newspaper articles, or social media. Gorilla marketing is their jam.

Retention marketing is strong at Manmade, 35% come back in 3 months, 50% come back after 12 months. They credit that to their intentional site and post-purchase touchpoints. Listen today to hear more about the details!

Episode timestamps:

Ecommerce brand retention strategies with industry leaders: 0:04

Founding a men's essentials brand with four finance professionals turned entrepreneurs: 1:21

Entrepreneurship, business ideas, and competitive pricing strategies: 6:05

Product quality, marketing, and iteration in business: 11:16

Branding, packaging, and marketing strategies for a men's underwear line: 15:59

Customer acquisition costs, retention, and post-purchase education for a men's apparel brand: 22:18

DTC underwear brand's use of authenticity and transparency in marketing: 26:47

Pinterest marketing for gift-giving season: 34:18

Retention strategies for an underwear brand: 37:36

Building a direct-to-consumer brand with a focus on customer experience: 42:54

Entrepreneurship, business growth, and overcoming challenges:48:08

Did you know that 20% of your website traffic hits the order tracking experience? Turn all of that customer engagement into customer loyalty. Malomo helps you get ahead of shipping issues, brand your order tracking experience, and reconvert shoppers while they wait for their package to arrive.

To see what your custom mockup of branded order tracking and transactional email/SMS would look like, fill out this form & we’ll send your custom design right to your inbox!

Be sure to subscribe to our pod to stay up-to-date and checkout Malomo, the leading order tracking platform for Shopify brands.

Subscribe to Retention Chronicles on Apple Podcasts


This transcript was completed by an automated system, please forgive any grammatical errors.


love, boxer brief, brand, customer, co founders, build, product, good, business, men, podcast, year, marketing, consumer, retention, finance, feel, order, tweaks, day


Mariah Parsons, Anthony Ciavirella

Mariah Parsons 00:04

Hi there, I'm Mariah Parsons, your host of retention Chronicles, ecommerce brands are starting to shift their strategy to focus on retention in the customer experience. And so we've decided to reach out to top DC brands and dive deeper into their tactics and challenges. But here's the thing, we love going on tangents. And so with our guests, you'll often find us talking about the latest trends, as well as any and all things in the Shopify ecosystem. So go ahead and start that workout or go on that walk and tune in as we chat with the leading minds in the space retention Chronicles is sponsored by Malomo. A shipment in order tracking platform, improving the post purchase experience, be sure to subscribe and check out all of our other episodes at go. malomo.com. Hello, everyone, and welcome back to retention Chronicles. Anthony, thank you so much for joining us today. I am so ecstatic and excited to finally get to interview you. You were flexible with the webinar that we ran today. So thank you, I wanted to make sure I share my appreciation. If you could start off with sharing a little bit more about yourself and your brand. That would be amazing.

Anthony Ciavirella 01:20

For sure. Thank you for having me, Mariah. It's one of those. It's a pleasure to talk about our business. And it's a real passion of ours. So here we go. My name is Anthony and one of the core I'm a four co founders of manmade, where we are originally a boxer brief brand and morphed into a men's essentials brand. So I was a banker. I was in finance. I was in retail banking, that I went into corporate banking, aka private banking. And so were my friends. So both Robert Bertel. And Phil were all in finance. Bertels actually a CPA, Rob was an investment banker, and Phil was in real estate. So all in finance, but we had a common a common entrepreneurial itch that needed scratching. So we always kept in touch. And we always knew that we want to start a business but we didn't know what. So long story short, the for the four buddies that we are, we started to think about, you know, different problems that we can solve. And the one problem that we were very passionate about was how boxer briefs in general, were not comfortable. And then very confusing at times when you go online. And let's say you want to make an investment on a good pair of boxer briefs, you didn't know where to start, you didn't know what all these fabrics were. And it was just very overwhelming and confusing. So we decided to go on a 10 month journey to basically produce the best boxer brief. I know we're bias. But you know that you're allowed to, you know, exactly the best boxer brief. It's made of modal fabric, modal fabric when we were actually testing different boxer briefs and in the r&d stages. As soon as I put it on the other three guys, it was like magical. We saw that, for example, that fabric in particular, which sell for 35 to $40 a pair for our competitors. And we're like that's a little steep on the price point and we dug deeper to understand why. And then we understood that okay, we want to build a brand that that we we love in the sense where where it makes sense to us as well as for men. So our brand is rarely focused on function over fast fashion. So we eliminated the prints the colors, we eliminated all the noise and we just built a boxer brief that is quality, comfortable and functional. And then we soon realized once we went the market that there's a need for other products like T shirts socks soap, and this is where our mission is, you know to build a brand to take on the big corporations and build a brand that men need and deserve and how we plan on doing that is you know providing men with the quality essentials they need without the BS they don't love it.

Mariah Parsons 04:14

You got a jam packed Yeah, very, very helpful. Summary or overview for our audience. i There's a lot a lot of questions that were popping up as you were giving it so I feel like you probably get this all the time, but I'm going to ask it anyways. founding a brand with four of you. Did you naturally find that like each of you had your own strong suit or it was like everything all four of you were trying to tackle together.

Anthony Ciavirella 04:43

So at the beginning it was all four of us tackling everything together. It was definitely a team effort. You know, we don't have any experience in apparel. We did have experience in E COMM When we left the finance world, the banking world we all jumped into another world called payment process. serving primarily for E commerce businesses. We did that as brokers for about a year. And that's another story on its own. But that's where we, that's where we learned a lot of like our skill sets and how we work well together. But yeah, so we had no experience in apparel whatsoever. So we needed to learn from the bottom up, we needed to learn what a tech pack was, what fabrics were, why the fabric is, like, there was a lot of learning. And we did that all together. But then in the process of the r&d and the development and building the brand, and, and building, you know, the visible and visible elements of the brand, we all kind of like, like attracted to parts of the business where our strong suits were, were were best fit. And that's why like for now, like, for example, you have Rob and the media buying side of things, you have vertel technology and finance, you have Phil when it comes to operations. And then you have myself where customer experience PR where we naturally just fit, right. So we always knew we had like skills that complemented one another. And we always knew that we had like skill sets or values and beliefs that were the were the same. So we knew we put the four heads together, we would be able to go four times faster, rather than four times slower. Because if you have four partners that don't see eye to eye, and it's like, it's an always an argument and and you know, there's no one that's pulling things in the right direction, or Northstar that we all have like a vision towards and we're on the same page, you can go four times slower. But we always say you know, we want to go four times faster. And I mean, the proofs in the pudding. It's been two years since we've been in business. We've sold over? Well, that's what we have, like we've done over 120,000 orders. We have about 90,000 customers, we've sold over, I would say 400,000 boxer briefs alone. So we've grown right, we've grown we've we've hit our targets, and we're going in the right directions, and we're very ambitious and bullish on the future.

Mariah Parsons 07:17

I love it. It was a great answer to my question. Do you get asked that a lot? Or yeah, all the time? I love it. That's why it's such a good answer. I knew it. And then you mentioned that for a while, like, while you all were trying to find how you were gonna fill the entrepreneurial itch that you had that there were other ideas that you were looking into or other other things that you were trying to solve. Do you remember? And can you share any of those ideas?

Anthony Ciavirella 07:42

Yeah, so we had a whiteboard. So the story goes that we decided to go three days up north lock ourselves there. We watched a bunch of videos on direct to consumer companies and understanding that marketing or voice, but then we realized, let's build a brand that we love. And I'm sure you know, let's build and then it'll, they will come right let's build and they will come. So we had that whiteboard and we had like hundreds of ideas. And actually, one of the ideas was like a portable tattoo machine that basically like you don't have a permanent tattoo. It's like it lasts for a year. And guess what, there's a company called Ink box and sold for I don't quote me on this, but I think like 100 million not too long ago. So that was like maybe a pretty good idea. And then there was we were really we're really big on chlorophyll but it only comes in liquid form it's very Saini and like you have to drink a lot of water, which is great. But there was a maybe a chlorophyll gummy. And that was another one. Then there was we joked around a lot but like, you know, gloves for when you use like peanuts at the at the bar, right?

Mariah Parsons 08:50

That's hilarious.

Anthony Ciavirella 08:53

There was a bunch I can't really think of them all right now those were a couple. There was a portable ultrasound machine. So I don't know don't ask me why we I guess we're all in the process of having children. So so so this is in the building our families. But yeah, there was a couple of those a lot. There's a lot of Oh, yeah, silicone watches. That was another one. So a nice designer silicone watch. So that you know it's not leather wear, you know, the leather when you sweat it It smells and all that stuff. So a nice watch. But then we always deviated towards the boxer brief because it just makes sense for the four of us. And it was something that we're we're pretty we're very passionate about.

Mariah Parsons 09:32

Yep. Okay. Makes sense. Thank you for sharing all those. I love hearing just different ideas. I was part of a post grad program that was entrepreneurial and spirit and so hearing people's ideas and just seeing what what problems people are trying to solve is always fascinating. And then the other question that I had before we get into all the branding, marketing, customer experience side of things was, you said like during the research while you were looking at into, like your manufacturers, the tech pack all that you were digging deeper into finding out why competitors had a steeper price. And I want I wanted to get to dig into that a little bit like, what what did you find? Why was it because of the patterns like that you that, okay, so like the stylistic reasons was why they were.

Anthony Ciavirella 10:21

So a lot, a lot of like so a lot of companies focus on fast fashion. So what happens there is that you have to invest in many different colors, patterns skews. So if you think of a warehouse space, right, you have so much more to invest in, and then whatever fast fashion is, is trending, that quarter doesn't sell well, then you got to discount sales, and you got to do so you got to play that game, where we're like, we're not so down to be these fashionistas where it's like, you know, we want to build like, like men just want. We know that. Men just want give me give me something good quality, super comfortable, and easy. And you they're happy. So that's that's literally the recipe. So we said to ourselves, our competitors are selling it so much higher because of those reasons. Why don't we pass that savings to our customer, and they'll be happy. It'll be a win win and we could still make the business work.

Mariah Parsons 11:15

Gotcha. Okay, cool. Now with you know what you just said with wanting just good quality product. It's very top of mind for me right now. Because do you listen to the limited supply podcast?

Anthony Ciavirella 11:30

I do. I haven't been as religious but I love more use and I love the brand he's built and my partner Berta listens religiously, we actually got about 15 or 20 minute call with boys about six months ago. or more, a little bit more just to ask him a few questions. He's got it. He's done. He's done what we're trying to do. So we asked a few questions. It was very insightful. It was helpful.

Mariah Parsons 11:56

Oh, that's awesome. I'm glad to hear it. You know, I love the EECOM community just being ever so you know, every day it feels like you get smaller, which I personally love, because I thrive in that. And so it's very tough of mine for me right now. Because there I think it's yesterday, yesterday's episode, which note, we're recording this on October 19. But I won't be released for about a month. So I think it's episode 11 of their fifth season, I will fact check that but they're talking about like, when you're just launching a brand, if like having a good product is table stakes, or if it's like good marketing, right? So like kind of like good product versus good marketing versus having both for being able to like launch your brand into really high scale growth. So what's your opinion on that? Do you feel like there is like good product versus good marketing versus both? Or? Yeah, what what's kind of your thoughts? What's your breakdown there?

Anthony Ciavirella 12:54

Kind of cool. You just mentioned that because when we launched, we started with 10,000, Black boxer briefs, and that same design, or that exact same boxer brief that we launched with is not the love boxer brief that we're selling today. Right. Interesting. It's very similar. Like it's similar. It's similar. But But tweaked, I imagine. Yeah, the tweaks Exactly. To make it better. And, and I would say it's a mix of both. I mean, when we launched, we believe that was the best, right? So we spent a year that you have to put things in perspective, it's like a year working on a product, you just can't wait to get to market, right, there's, you're just bleeding month after month, and it's like you need to get to market and we want to make it perfect. And we only come up with one box to prove. So it needs to be sticky. It needs to be good. So, you know, if you know anybody launching, I would say, Make it as best as you can back it up with obviously good marketing, and then and then get that data and then do what you have to do with that data.

Mariah Parsons 13:59

Yeah, so that's iterations. Yeah. Yeah. Like,

Anthony Ciavirella 14:03

they, you know, analysis by paralysis type of thing, you don't want to happen, because then you'll never get anywhere. So you know, you might think something's perfect. But what really matters is what the math thinks. So, you know, get the market like do do your absolute best, get the market and then, you know, if you need to make some tweaks with the data you receive, make the tweaks and just keep on building on that. And eventually, you'll get it where you need it to be. And even for us like we have a super great product at this point. But the reason you know the fact that we don't have multiple SKUs or products allows us to every po make our product 1% better. Right? We don't we don't look at it like okay, we got to where we want with the retentions where we want it, customers are happy it's going well. Now how political costs. That's not, that's not the angle we go, we go more like, okay, great. But now in order for us to keep being competitive, we need to keep gathering that data having a close ear to the ground, which we do very much. So it's literally the reason why I believe we're succeeding. And whatever, whatever data we were receiving, we need to, we need to cater to our customer, right? So at the end of the day, we're building a brand, like I said earlier that we love and we do and that, you know, it's brand new we, we, we see ourselves, we, it's reflective, it's reflective of us, however, we're building a brand for our customers, right? So we need to listen to them in order for us to do that properly. So to answer your question, in short, I would say bolt is important. But, you know, don't get to the point where you're paralyzed with all the analytics that you're doing. Well,

Mariah Parsons 15:54

this is a podcast so we can we can make it as long as answers as we want. And I appreciate you kind of entertaining that thought there. Because it's something that's been very top of mind, I always love talking about just product versus marketing versus the two. And so along with like, the product itself being tweaked and reiterated on I imagine Did you like after listening to consumer data? Did you tweak the packaging? as well?

Anthony Ciavirella 16:26

The packaging, yes, actually, when we first started, we had a lot of like on our on our apparel bag, not the actual apparel, not that bad, not the apparel bag that the boxer brief is packaged in but more so the apparel bag that we packaged the order in, right, so that was shipped to the customer. That one was a little bit more under like very raw. And it said like words like raw brotherhood respect, like, all our core values, no bullshit, right? So like, very loud, very, very in your face, you know. And now our packaging is like quality essentials without the BS like, it's more clean. It's more man made. But it was more so the the the boxer brief itself, I remember when we launched, I called 1200 customers from the first 10,000 pairs we've launched. And they were either friends or family, strangers, people from out west, east to everywhere. And I would say like 510 minutes on the phone. Now we'll have a few questions. And I'll start off by saying my name is Anthony, one of the co founders just want to say thank you for your support. It means the world to us. We're really trying to build a brand that men men need and deserve. And in order for us to do that, we need to have honest feedback from you. You just recently made an order with us. Can you please you know, give me some information on the product itself, how you heard about us first, what you liked what you want to see different. And they went on, you know, a lot of people said they loved it. But then a lot of people said, oh, maybe the band could be a little tighter, maybe the material could be a little thicker, maybe the pouch could be a little bigger. And then we collected that data so much so that on the next video, we made a little tweaks, and then it was fired from then then after that, that we just really took off. I love that.

Mariah Parsons 18:22

I'm blanking on who kind of has this thought. But just like the fact of once, if you ask people for your help, or if you ask people for their health, usually most are willing to offer it. Especially you know, if you're taking the time to call them. And so yeah, I love that you're hearing directly from your consumers. And that, you know, can you give me feedback and get all those little iterations to develop on? I think that sets us up nicely to talk about branding, as you mentioned, the packaging changing and like the branding, it's still obviously manmade, as a brand, but like tweaking the packaging just to fit better with what you all were going for. So can you tell our audience kind of what is the goal what's what are how are you trying to message to your consumers because I have an impression that I want to share it but I want to hear what you would say first.

Anthony Ciavirella 19:16

So you're saying like with all the packaging and the type of marketing we do, what's the story we're trying to tell? Yeah,

Mariah Parsons 19:22

yeah. Like through your brain if someone were to come across manmade and like, what do you want them to associate, I guess with manmade?

Anthony Ciavirella 19:32

Well, you want to associate that we're for four best friends for four men that you know quit everything. In order for us to build a brand that men men need and deserve and we mean that like, if you look at our products, if you look at our branding, if you look at our packaging, it's really lit it literally screams simplicity, comfort, quality, like from the like when you get the packaging when you feel the material and you put them on, when you go on our website, when you see our content, you can see that rawness, you can see that we are that David and Goliath story. You know, our competitors in the space aren't small. And they haven't. They've been around a long time. So we're up for a very big fight. Right. So in order for us to take some of that market share. So that's the story we want to have, you know, fans, good friend of mine who's building another incredible business. Here in Montreal, his name is Jay Carl's from midday squares. He's his famous quote, and I love it, because it's exactly how I see it to, you know, build fans and our customers. Right? Right, build fans. And that's what that's what that's what we're trying to do we have this rule, where 7% of your total customer base, our fans are like, diehard, you know, they'll be with you forever, as long as you treat them well. And the goal is to get to 18,000 of those, right. And once you're at 18,000 of those customers, we believe you have a business that's healthy enough to take any recession, inflation and economic downturns and you'll be able to survive and build and build that brand. So we're not far from there. But we're not there yet. And anything and we're very, in I think being an entrepreneur, staying paranoid on your toes, and being a bit of a worrywart is, is part of the of the job. Some of us in the group are less like that. But we all carry that DNA. However, it's important because you can't for a second, take your pedal off the gas, because when you do, that's when issues start. So yeah, exactly. So to answer your question, it's that rawness, that brotherhood, that work ethic fun and respect that we want to, we want to always have as core values. And it really speaks to people right, especially with the marketing that we've put out there. It's very different. And, and the customer experience, right? So it's not only about when you acquire the customer, and then you send them the product, and it's it's over. Right. It's all it's all the it's I think I think that's when it starts. Really, right. Yes. Because CAC isn't a customer acquisition costs aren't cheap all the time. And it's rarely cheap, to be honest. And when you have that customer, you need to give them your heart and soul. Because if you don't, well, there's so much competition, why would he stay with you? Right? Yes,

Mariah Parsons 22:49

yeah, yeah, there's actually some crazy stat that our Director of Partnerships loves to share and hope I don't butcher it. But something like I think it was in 2019, or 2013 pack was on average, like, I think $9 a person, and now it's up to like, $29 a person. And so for most people who's a Ovie is an extremely high, you know, you're not really making, it's not making sense to have, you know, acquire customer and then not be putting enough attention or attention to retaining them. Because you're not, you know, making that profit off of a first time buyer a lot of the times. So I love that you called attention to that.

Anthony Ciavirella 23:34

Yeah, so like for us, we definitely want to run a business that is not bleeding. And it's important for us to at least break even when we acquire a new customer. But you are right, like 2015 I guess Don't even 2012 2015 Those days of like 5x realize is over. If you're at if you're at two or three, or you're really good. And that's where we hover around. You know, if you're, if your CAC is anywhere like 50% on your first order of your average order, will you have enough maybe wiggle room for cogs and shipping in there? And then you could probably break even or make a little bit of money. But yeah, regardless, you need to make sure that when you acquire that customer you take good care of them because in especially in our business, it's not you know, it's not a big ticket item where you buy it once and then you forget it. It's literally like every time they need underwear socks T shirts or soap. Where are they going? Right

Mariah Parsons 24:36

literally everyday essentials. Yeah, exactly. So

Anthony Ciavirella 24:39

yes, you need to you need to cater indicator that and you need to nurture that and it's it's an art I believe. Yes.

Mariah Parsons 24:45

And with the kind of the picture that you painted with your branding of like the book brotherhood and respect but still having fun. Of course for the podcast have to scour your guys's site um, Yeah, and found the gentleman's club, which is you all, sharing, you know, just like tips and tricks and information around a whole slew of things that men would particularly be interested in learning about. So I wanted to ask, like, why was that important for you all to have on your site? In post purchase? Obviously, we see like education is a big part of what you want your consumers to be looking at, while they're waiting for the product. And while they're getting their product and experiencing it. But what was the thought process behind having it be in your site accessible? And also, like fun as well? To aid in that Britain? Brand awareness?

Anthony Ciavirella 25:41

Yeah, so I would say like, at the beginning stages, we had a year of you're in development, right. So at that time, we were finance guys, we had a lot of learning to do ourselves. So the way we saw it was this blog, or this content, let's do the research. And let's give it to the guys on a silver platter. It's a little bit about a locker room talk, where not everybody is comfortable talking about certain things like chafing, or toenails or hygiene or, or whatever, whatever is on our blog, right? So for us, it's like, okay, whenever we're doing research on fabrics, and whatever, let's put it on on paper so that if ever, someone wants to educate themselves, it's there. And it's easy to read and consume, where an everyday guy can do that the you don't need to have a PhD and an apparel to understand what we're what we're saying. So this way, they know that they're buying a product or into a brand that's done their research for them, right? It's part of the whole thing about providing men with the essentials they need without the BS, they don't. Like do you need all the different colors? Probably not, maybe some people like to express themselves a bit different. But if that's the case, we're not for you. If you're looking for something that makes sense, that's you know, in functional where the brand for you and we want to make sure that we give you as much education as possible. It kind of like also morphed into different things, then, you know, we like to do that Jab, Jab, Right Hook type of mentality jab jab is like give value to the customer. And then right hook is ask for something sale, sale of some sort. We have content constantly being done at the office, we started a YouTube channel, we have a monthly vlog that basically allows customers who are fans or who are rooting for us want to know the development of the brand. They have literally videos and recaps of the month. But before what happened in that month, some things we overcame, some milestones we hit. And all four of the co founders partake in this blog so that you feel something as a consumer to man made you like, I feel like I'm a part of this journey. As co founders when we first started, we had models. Right now we're doing that we're doing the acting that we're doing the modeling, and being frugal co founders and not having an abundance of capital to start, it's an expensive expenditure. So what we did was we decided, You know what, we're gonna go, we're gonna do it ourselves. We're gonna do our own ads, we're gonna do our own modeling. We're for guys, like, why should we pay someone else and in this day and age, someone with a six pack and all that, like, it's just like, whatever. Like, we're not even like, that never attracted me to the underwear, like, you know, I want to look like that guy. That guy wasn't that that's more of, I think, the fashion side of things. It was more like, you know, function comfort. So we ended up starting to do that. And that's when we realized we had something special because the feedback from our consumers from our communities were fantastic. They loved it. Right? They were the co founders. And, you know, we're not hiding behind our product. We're front and center. Right? And if you DM us, if you message us, if you email us, we're answering like, I'm very active on the community. So are the other partners. Obviously, we're growing more and more and more, but I'm always checking, like multiple times a day, the DMS and the emails and just anything that has to do with customer touch points.

Mariah Parsons 29:13

Yeah, yeah. I love it. I think there's a like, I feel like for E commerce in general, having a face to the brand is one of those things that's maybe yeah, it's more specific. I feel like to DTC sales. Because you're exactly right. Like the inaccessibility to relate to wherever you're buying from if it was like department stores like typical retail. Then yeah, you have models, but it's something where you have a founder leading, you know, the marketing initiatives, in addition to there being cost savings. I think consumers like seeing the founders and having a real face to the brand like you said.

Anthony Ciavirella 29:55

They also find it comedic, right. It's like yeah, it's what's the word Are that someone who's not unapologetic? No, they can't remember authentic. Authentic. Yes. But anyway, basically like, like we're putting ourselves out there. Yeah, it's we're putting ourselves out there. We're an underwear. We're grown ass men like, it's we're all married like it's humbling. Yeah. Yeah, it's, it's like, okay, like, if these guys are crazy enough to do that, let's try these things, right? And then you try them. Like holy shit, these are amazing. Like I'm about to go join them in these videos. Yeah, so so. So that's really rewarding. And it really gives us the energy and the and the positivity to continue doing it. Like the dream is to set up the company in the enterprise in a way where it's fully functional, right? There's a difference between being self employed and entrepreneur, business owner, if you're an entrepreneur, if you're self employed, like creating a job for yourself, if you're a business owner, you got to create an entity where it's running, although you're not there yet, but without you being there. So the goal is to build this, this this company to run to run with with upper management and to have, you know, different different segments of the company running smoothly. But you know, as one, but we were the four co founders focused primarily on just content. Like we like brainstorming content, we like shooting content, we like coming up with ideas. And to be frank like, well, we'll for finance guys like they don't seem to be when you look at it from like an outsider's perspective, not now. But maybe then or ourselves even. Right, we'd be like, Are we are we that creative bunch or better with numbers and all that stuff. So we realized that we do have a knack for it. Some can say it's cheesy, corny, whatever it is, but it works. And we find it very natural for us to do what we do, especially with the way we put ourselves out there. So it works. It's easy, we enjoy it, and it doesn't feel like work. So I think I think that's succeeding, right? So at least, you know, every single day you get up and you're doing what you love. So we can ask for better.

Mariah Parsons 32:15

Yeah, yeah, I mean, I would say it's working just based off the numbers that you dropped at the top of the call. And then as well, yeah, being able to create like funny ads and content so that you all can show off man made. And I so in addition to like those ads, and the videos that you all are creating with your blog, and YouTube. How else are you all getting in front of customers? Like social media? Is it Yeah,

Anthony Ciavirella 32:44

so? Yeah, so So primarily, we scale our business using Facebook, Instagram. So meta is definitely like driver of, of where we get our new acquisitions. However, it's it's it's hand in hand with a lot of PR, hand in hand, with with, with interviews and say on CTV on global news all across Canada, US. radio hosts, newspaper, news, sorry, newspaper articles, like we tried to at the beginning, in order for us to sell those first 10,000 pairs. We didn't use Facebook, like it was no acquisitions by by paid media. It was really like Guerilla Marketing getting out there. Social media, but like organic. It was it was really trying to try to make sure that we don't we don't put ourselves in a hole before even starting right. And in the end, and throughout that process. We're testing certain ads. We're seeing what's working, what's not working, what's our cat, you know, scalable? Is it not scalable? Before before putting the pedal to the metal on that front? But yeah, so I would say like 90% is Facebook meta, and then the other is like PR, PR base, which goes hand in hand, you have Google as well. We're trying other other like tick tock Pinterest. Like there's, there's a couple of other platforms that we're always looking on, on trying to see if there's something there. But I would say primarily, it's Facebook. Yeah.

Mariah Parsons 34:17

Yeah. Have you found just it might be preliminary, but we haven't had many brands on this podcast, kind of bring up Pinterest as an area of interest. Are there any like early learnings or anything you can share with our audience of you know what that's looking like for you all?

Anthony Ciavirella 34:35

We're just getting started. So I can't really give you I can't give you data on that. However, you didn't mention limited supply. That's something we learned on that podcast. Where did really well for movies, and I can see why many people get inspired to go by especially for gift giving right right on the corner. So people like to get inspired on that. And and why not be there? And if, if the no return on investment is, is good? Well, it's a great, you know, it's a great place to go and acquire new customers. So definitely, we're giving it a shot. And maybe the next time we speak, I can give you more data on that.

Mariah Parsons 35:17

I was gonna say we'll have you back on and he'll give us an update all about vendors and other things that are going on. That's that yeah, I was, I was curious if you heard it from there from somewhere else. And like gift giving, especially around the holidays, because we're obviously approaching Black Friday, Cyber Monday. Super Bowl econ. So I feel like with gift giving, like as you were speaking, a lot of people, you know, typical, it's like, oh, what do you get for Christmas, like in my stocking, it's like socks and underwear, right. But if it's like your typical pair, or your traditional pair versus a manmade pair, we're like, oh, this is like really good quality. I see a lot of opportunity in that. So it makes sense that you all would want to be popping up on Pinterest, to maybe get those inspiration boards. Definitely.

Anthony Ciavirella 36:10

I mean, gift giving is, you know, q4 is where we make most of our year. And q4 is where 90% of our sales is from, from women, women, women buyers. So we know it's going as a gift. And we also learned we would we would think at the beginning, you know, I'm sure women are annoyed having to buy underwear for their men, their sons or whatever, they actually enjoy it. We did a we did a survey. And we surveyed quite a bit of people. And it's like their way of like showing their love and affection taking care of the people in their life, the men in their life. So they actually really, really enjoy it. So when it comes to targeting on marketing side, definitely, there's many times we speak to women rather than only to men. So so there's there's that to the way we do things also on that front is really like raw, like he it's rare, you're going to see a polished, a polished ad, I mean, now we're just kind of starting the kind of work some of them depending, but it's more like bottom of funnel, top of funnel, you're looking at like something like a funny comedic skit of some sorts where we're solving the problem, but it's less on the sales side. And what's also working as their story, our story is pretty compelling, you know, for Best Friends will leave the finance world to start another company like with us that it kind of draws people in. And then when they look into our site and our our products, they give us a shot. And I'm very happy to say like they don't regret it. And that's really rewarding, I would be having a different sentiment about my business if customers were not happy with it. Very proud to say that. Most if not all, like I rarely very rarely do I have customers tell me, it doesn't work out. And if it doesn't, it's for reasons that are out of our control, right, that you can't make everybody happy. That's something that we learned pretty early in the game. But as long as like 90 plus 95 plus are happy, I think you're doing a good job. And, you know, if you look at your retention, and how many people come back, you know, that's a good measure for us to also see if we are our product, this is a good product, it's a product that is, you know, part of the household brands that are being consumed every day. And we're very happy to say that, that it is right. So you want some numbers on that you know, are first time buyer. So as a first time buyer 35% come back within three months, and also a little over 50% comeback after 12 months. We want to get those numbers as high as possible. But in the grand scheme of things, we have a pretty healthy business and it works. Many times people don't buy underwear every year either right? So it could be they make a bigger purchase and then they come back a year and a half later or someone bought it for a gift and it's now not being purchased by Mariah anymore Mariah has significant others buying it right. So you don't have exactly the same people coming back because sometimes like I sent you for its gift giving but it's really good ran. We're really happy about that.

Mariah Parsons 39:18

Yeah, I love it. Thank you for sharing the numbers always love to hear about retention. Obviously this podcast is called retention Chronicles. So Ken, that's a perfect segue to dive into like what you all specifically are doing for retention. So like post purchase. I know we you had said at some point during this call, like that's so important the interactions between your customer while they're waiting for their product and while they have it. So if we could touch upon that and then anything else you all are doing to get those impressive. Numbers for retention would be amazing. Love to hear about it.

Anthony Ciavirella 39:53

Yeah, so when somebody purchases first, first things first we get on our site that's super easy to navigate. To the point. And that's, that's really important for us, when we first started, our customer that we thought was going to be our main, like our age demo was going to be like 30 ish. And then the being that it's a bit on the 4550 Plus where the majority meat and potatoes come from. And that being said, a lot of that generation is comfortable purchasing online, however, from Amazon, right, so if they're purchasing from you, and you're using a courier that is not as recognized, well, that's a little weird. And then for example, if it's taking more than one business day to get to their home, where they used to do with Amazon, well, they're going to write into you, and they're going to clog your customer service. Emails and channels. So what we did was we have like, post purchase, checkpoints, your orders being Thank you, thank you for your order, you have an order confirmation email, your order is being packed, or your order just left the warehouse, it's in transit, you know, and it's arrived, and you have emails throughout. And customers love that. When they receive it, it's well packaged, premium packaging. Obviously, the materials is premium, everything feels and is nice. You get a handwritten card, depending on if it's your first, second, third, fourth, and you know, it's always different. It's handwritten, specific with a little specifically to the customer. They we have an email campaign that basically keeps the customer educated on the brand, like I said earlier, the behind the scenes, you know, and what how we're growing our brand, how we're taking on the big corporations, and also you have myself, that will reach out, you know, couple of weeks after you purchase to ask how you like the product. And I read pretty much every email to make sure that our customers are happy, or I try to I mean, now at this point, it's gotten to a point where it's really, it's really overwhelming.

Mariah Parsons 42:08

But emails, I'm sure.

Anthony Ciavirella 42:11

So so so yeah, so we do that. Whenever somebody reaches out on any of our platforms, it's sometimes will write to you sometimes I'll take my phone, hey, it's Anthony hope all as well, thank you so much for your interest. If you want to mix your seven pack with different sizes or colors, make your order and email us and we'll take care of the rest. We're very hands on on that we have a customer service line you can call, right so it's not just by email, you can call in and speak to a co founder, you can call in and speak to our customer experience, Agent writes that is well trained and that understands the brand and always wants to find the solution for the customer rather than get them off the phone. From the top of my head, that's that's a lot of them. But it all falls on, you know, I don't want to quote him, you know, like, I love the four four seasons Is he is he sharp, the owner, four seasons and, you know, the golden rule, you know, do by others how you'd want things to be done for yourself. So that's how I enjoy, you know, dealing with different brands, dealing with different different services. I, I enjoy good service, good service, right, I enjoy a good experience, I think that is lacking in today's world. And one thing that when we started this brand is we want to be direct to consumer, we don't want to go into retail. However, we want that retail experience, you know, to be felt on an online world. So that is something we hold dear to our hearts is something that I hold dear to my heart. And we will continue doing that at scale.

Mariah Parsons 43:57

Yeah, I love that. I think it's also very specific to know like, retail is not where you all want to go. I I would assume as a founder, you could try and be pulled in different directions or try and pursue both. And then that, you know, from what I've heard from other founders who have both just seems like a even bigger whirlwind to try and tackle both and have two different strategies.

Anthony Ciavirella 44:22

We have we we've been approached by by big, big players. And we've we've Saturday we've sat in a room and said look, we could we could probably move a lot more product. We can grow faster, but that's a business and a beast on its own. So for us staying focused on our gameplan and being able to give our all on the direct to consumer side of things is first, let's build that well like the best. Then we'll worry about cars Look, retail sales, physical retail sales is 80% of consumer behavior, like, customers go into shops still. Yes, COVID you know, swayed the numbers a little man, you can go out No kidding, you're gonna start shopping online. But now that things are opening up again, I think it's still 80% Or somewhere really ridiculously high. Still shop physically in retail shops, but but we can build a pretty healthy business, right online. And it also helps us control the customer experience. I don't have control over how certain salespeople or people that work in retail shops, you know, treat our brands or talk about our brand. And definitely the day that we do start because it's we're not oblivious, it might come a day that we're gonna have to maybe start our own have our own stores, which would be the dream later on. But if we do end up going into retail stores, we would need to do the proper training, we need to have, you know, make people you know, I will visit a lot of the places that are holding our product, I want to make sure that you know, the perception is the same online as it is offline. And that's the challenge. And it's a business on its own. And when retailers are asking for 50 60% margin, or split, it doesn't make any sense, right? So why would we do that? Right? So especially in the business model that we have. So we've just, we've we've almost went into a pretty large one. And we pulled out last minute because we said we're not doing ourselves like we're looking too short. We need to be patient. And we need to build this the way we said we were going to build it from day one. Wow.

Mariah Parsons 46:43

Yeah. And I'm sure it's flattering as all hell to be approached by bigger retail brands, but I think it's Yeah, to have the wherewithal to sit back and say, you know, we're gonna finish out the goal. It

Anthony Ciavirella 46:56

gave us a listen and gave us that confidence where it's like, Okay, we have something. So now it's a question of, let's not get too excited when times are good. And not too low when times are bad. I mean, that's another quote from one of my favorite actors, Robert De Niro. But definitely, that's the truth, right? We've had highs where we celebrate, but like, we don't go on a three day Bender celebration. It's like, it's like 15 minutes, half an hour, maybe an hour, we'll were like, bring some like cookies into the office. Yeah, more or, less more now that we're a team of 16 Seven team, but less when it was just the four of us, right? Because it's like, like, we had a long way to go. So like if we got to start like, obviously, it's nice to pat ourselves on the back. But I think what we do most than which is great isn't to say one of the team members, or co founders does something well, the others will compliment them do a good job. Like we appreciate that. But it's less about it's less about individualism and more about like a team spirit. And we try to create that every single day at the office like we don't, we don't hire anybody remote. We do have some restaurant employees. They're just remote workers because they their contractual, you know, but anybody that's employed from a maid works in the office, we have an environment where it's opened, where it's contributing it, where it's like it, there's a vibe, like when you walk into our office, if there's a vibe, there's something being built. And it's something about having that human touch or that human person next to you. That is so balance. Yeah, in the in the beginning, right, you need you need that you need that unless you're like a software engineer, or a tech company that, you know, just let your software engineers working together. I guess you could have your Slack channels open and just full concentration. But there's a lot of there's a lot happening throughout the day, where if we would have to like message every single time things happen. And then one guy is not in his computer at that moment. It just creates that. It's too slow to work. We're big on We're big on on working collaboratively together. Yeah,

Mariah Parsons 49:10

yeah. I love that. I think that's a great note to end on. Just being you know, there's never too little appreciation to share with teammates, especially when you're in that. In that mindset of you know, you are grinding it out making things happen. I do always love to open up the space. If there's anything you want to share like an exciting promotion or exciting marketing initiative that you all have coming up. You know when this episode will be airing in late November. Love to do that before we sign off. Yeah,

Anthony Ciavirella 49:48

I mean, we do have like a gift. A gift box that's coming out in the new year. Sorry in the hall like soon the next couple of days. Yeah for the holidays. But I know that most of your listeners are probably entrepreneurs or business owners or someone who's aspiring to open their own business. And I was there once upon a time listening to different podcasts and getting inspired or understanding how things are done or how how other entrepreneurs did it to get to the point where they got because it is a very high, high like a high mountain to climb. And I'm not done climbing by all means, however, the getting to zero to one, in my opinion is harder than doing the one to 100. Right. So that's really hard. And what helped us and it still helps us is being aligned, you know, twice a year at the beginning of the year, or the middle of the year, we do offsites, the co founders, we revisit our goals, we reverse engineer say, Okay, we want to get to this point on sales, for example. Okay, how are we going to hit this, who's doing what, and then we we mark that down, and then we go into tech and finance, and then company culture, and so on and so forth, operations, and so on and so forth. Forecasting. And then from all those big goals, well, then we put quadrants, Anthony takes care of this fertile, that, Phil this, rob this, and all the employees have their own quadrant, so everyone knows what they are responsible for. And that's revisited once a month. And then twice a week of the four co founders, the four of us, we work late, we work on the business instead of in the business. So what I'm trying to say is, there's no tricks, there's no, it's just, it's just hard work organization being disciplined and consistent. So mark it down, write it down, visualize, and just keep pushing forward and keep going and keep going. And you are going to get kicked in the nuts, no pun intended. But once once that happens, you just got to be able to take it and keep going because anything is possible. And as long as you have the will to do it, you can get it done. So anybody listening, that's thinking about an idea, you know, just do it. Like, we spoke about this in the earlier parts of this podcast, you know, get the product to a point where you feel is really good. Get your marketing down, packed, and just get the market and then get gather that data and keep tweaking until you build something where, okay, I'm at a point where I can scale and now you put marketing dollars behind it, to scale it to where you need to be. And then and then you get there.

Mariah Parsons 52:35

Yeah, I love it. And when you do get kicked, you know, you'll have your manmade boxer briefs on to protect you to help you through it. So you'll be all good, but I love that advice. Seriously. It's been an absolute joy to get to learn and just get to chat with you through this podcast. Anthony. So thank you for making the time. It's the best part of my day. Thank

Anthony Ciavirella 52:53

you. I really appreciate being on this podcast and your vibes and your your your your your positivity. Your smile is contagious. So thank you.

Mariah Parsons 53:02

Thank you. Oh my gosh, that's gonna make me blush. So I'll pause the recording. Thank you again. Thank you