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How an 8-Figure Business Builds its Teams and Culture

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How an 8-Figure Business Builds its Teams and Culture


David Gaylord and Tim Burns started Bushbalm as a side hustle while they both worked at Shopify in 2016. Over the years, the duo grew the company into an 8-figure skincare giant and brought on Rachel Kerr as their first full-time employee. In this final episode of the Bushbalm Miniseries by Shopify Masters, David is joined by Rachel and Tim to chat about all things team and culture. The trio reflects on what they did to build Bushbalm, how they source talent, and craft a company culture they envisioned.

For the full transcript of this episode, click here.

How these cofounders went from friends to business partners

David: For the final episode, we’re going to be chatting through all things team and culture. I brought on my two special guests, Tim and Rachel. Let’s do some introductions, Rachel, why don’t you kind of go first?

Rachel: My name’s Rachel Kerr. I’ve been with Bushbalm for officially a year now. And I look after most of our brand and marketing. Some have paid mostly organic everything from influencers to partnerships, to building a community online. And I’m really happy to be here.

Tim: And I’m Tim and I am one of the co-founders and I guess I’ve given myself an official title of CPO, but I do a lot of different things. So I kind of take care of all things, product and getting products in the hands of our customers. So anywhere from manufacturing to logistics, shipping, that sort of stuff. And then kind of double a little bit into finances and HR and kind of all back of post sort of stuff here at Bushbalm. And there’s some design in there a little bit.

 Rachel Kerr (left), David Gaylord (center), and Tim Burns (right) of Bushbalm.
David Gaylord brings on guests Rachel Kerr and Tim Burns of Bushbalm to chat about all things culture and team building. Jessica Deeks 

David: Tim, you’ve obviously been around the longest out of anyone on the team. So maybe tell us your version of the founding story.

Tim: I guess it depends on how detailed you want me to get here. So I’ll give out some of the finer more intimate details. It’ll be TV or podcast friendly. So I mean, it all started with a bit of a weird fluky discovery on my honeymoon. And I kind of took an interesting idea through self-testing on a bus trip to, I think it was a work conference that we were on our way to, and I pitched it to David and everyone else on the bus, and everyone kind of laughed except for David. He had a kind of a smirk and was like “Okay. Yeah. That could work.”

David: And the idea was scented pubic oil.

Tim: It was. Definitely different than where we’re at today. Definitely a use case. And then fast forward, you jumping in and saying you wanted it in. We ran it very much a side hustle, on the side of our full-time jobs for three years for that case.

David: Three years. And I guess most people watching would know or might not know is that we were at Shopify. So this was starting a business and starting a Shopify source especially was promoting it. They want you to do that, to try it.

Tim: We did it part of a contest actually. It was an internal build a business contest that we lost.

David: We lost. But long term, I think we’ve won. So maybe let’s go into the early days of when it was a serious side hustle. I guess, what was the dynamic that we had back then?

Tim: Back then I wouldn’t say that we had a lot of structure. It was kind of a very much this needs to get done, so let’s do it and who’s going to do it. We co-operated quite a bit of stuff. Shipping was handled by both you and me at one point during Bushbalm. Marketing was all you, I don’t know a lick about marketing. The design was all me, although you were doing some design work for all packaging design. And then the website was split. It’s very much a blended effort early on. But when things started to get a little bit more serious it took a lot of time and a lot of effort on top of our full-time gigs. I think the things that became obvious were manufacturing was a ton of work and effort and time. Then all of a sudden shipping was a ton of effort and your apartment or your house becomes chaos with boxes and packaging material everywhere. I remember a photo of you that you shared. I think you filled your bike basket full of samples that we were shipping out. I think that was the moment we were like, “We can’t do this.” Or you’re filling a candidate post box full. So then you needed to go find another one to fill full and then find another one. And then I think that was like, “We can’t.” 

David: And that was when I remember we got a 3PL. So we got third-party logistics to handle all shipping. And that actually felt we hired two full-time staff to take over shipping, but it was just a partnership that we needed at the time. Well, that’s yeah. That’s the early day. And then we slowly changed as even before Rachel joined the team, we got our first contract manufacturer to help us do a lot of our liquid filling for our products. And then Rachel, you joined what would’ve been about a year ago now.

Hiring the first full-time employee while Bushbalm was still a side hustle 

David: I guess what was your first impression of the brand, Rachel?

Rachel: The first impression, I was pretty blown away, I still am every day. But it’s super impressive what you two did as a side hustle because it quickly became my full-time hustle. And even that was a lot still is, but it’s really awesome. You learn something new every day and super inspiring to work with people who are super dedicated to making something work so successfully.

David: One thing just so everyone knows is that Rachel joined the team and was our only full-time person. So you ran most of what everything happened for, I guess, it would’ve been at least six months. Or around that last year.

Tim: You and I were still full-time at Shopify at the time.

 An electric trimmer by Bushbalm.
Rachel worked as Bushbalm’s first-ever full-time employee while David and Tim still kept their jobs at Shopify. Bushbalm

David: So what was that like? The first few weeks?

Rachel: It was interesting. I think I’m lucky that David let me visit his apartment a lot where I could squeeze in some questions in between his meetings or at lunch. But one of my favorite ways to learn is kind of to just jump right in and dive in. So it was a great opportunity to see everything that goes on, on a day to day, got to learn a lot about shipping and wholesale. And I think it’s made me a lot better at my role now because you kind of learn how the day-to-day turns and what’s important and what you really need to stay on top of. Really cool experience.

David: And it was to the point where you were doing something and then you’d ask me a question and then I’d answer it. And then you’d hold all your questions for certain times. But yeah. That’s one thing too. And in general, that is one thing that I think has held with us is if you founder breed, you end up doing everything, and then you know what goes into everything. And it can be for me, I think it at times it’s to a fault. Whereas I think for everyone and we’ve brought on, they’ve taken the, “Okay, I’m going to learn customer service. I’m going to look at Instagram. I’m going to understand what goes into it.” And then that way they can make more informed decisions. 

The different team structures of Bushbalm

David:  Rachel, what does the marketing kind of team look?

Rachel: So the marketing team right now, if we’re counting David, which we absolutely have to, there’s three of us where we work really closely together. We have one team member, Emily who kind of handles a lot of our graphic design needs. So any anywhere from inserts, you’d see that go out and press mailers to Facebook ads, to Instagram Stories, and everywhere in between. She’s definitely our big creative brain and thinks long-term brand versus the day-to-day, which is something I think really important when we’re growing. And then another big part of marketing, which may not seem so obvious is our customer service team. When I was onboarding customer service is kind of where I learned the most and got to understand our audience, our customers, and the community that we’re still building. So on that team, we have three members, there’s customer service for our wholesale. There’s customer service that happens on social media. And then there’s customer service that happens for any inquiries we get from people who’ve purchased the products. And we spend a lot of time making sure that’s a seamless experience. We want people to be really comfortable and confident with reaching out to us and obviously make people happy, turn them into repeat purchasers, and help them feel comfortable in this community that we’re building online. 

David: Because one thing we’ve talked about is like it’s a challenging space to be in because people have to ask very personal questions.

 A reflection of a model as she uses Bushbalm’s electric trimmer.
The key part of Bushbalm’s marketing team is to ensure all communication with customers is personal and done in their own voice. Bushbalm

Rachel: Or send in very personal photos. We really want to come off not as like an automated response that you’re getting, but more as a friend you’re talking to about a skin challenge or concern that you have.

David: And then the other piece that you didn’t talk about yourself on press brands working with all kinds of media, and we do a lot of influencer work. And it’s hard to say like, “Oh, they’re the influencer marketing person.” But it really is like, “Oh no, they’re the brand team member who handles so much stuff that varies in all kinds of ways.”

Rachel: The influencer and press outreach kind of feed a lot of a marketing strategy. So if we know we’re launching a product, we look for people that we think would be perfect, whether they’re micro or macro. Same with finding media placement for products that we think would be a great fit. And that’s kind of a job almost in itself, but it’s great that we have this creative team who’s pretty active on social media on their own. So we’re always finding new angles or new people to reach out to and partner with.

David: And then even behind the scenes, I think you said, or someone said it the other day, you sent out 200 packages that were just gifting last month. That’s a lot of outreach. Someone’s got to ship those boxes.

Rachel: Thank you, Megan.

David: So Tim, so kind of Rachel runs a lot of the marketing side, kind of the brand side, press-side, and then you do tons of the back house. Maybe just explain the dynamic of that team and, and how it’s structured.

Tim: So I think probably the best first hire on my side of the business was bringing in somebody to take care of operations. And so we’ve got an operations person who handles, a very broad category. You’ve got shipping, you’ve got orchestrating purchase orders with manufacturers, making sure we don’t run out of product. So forecasting and all that sort of stuff. So Gabe came in, I think it’s six months ago now, which was fantastic. And then we recently just hired a product development manager. So I was previously doing all this work and we hired a very experienced individual in this area. And so what they are in charge of is basically taking over all of our existing skews, shaping them up and improving as well as building out future products on that side. And early on, I think just before Rachel came on board, we also started working with a consultant who came in and really whipped us into some shape ahead of the growth that we had going into Q4 of 2020. And he came in and took care of kind of operations shipping supply chain. And now we’ve kind of graduated him into a more of a formal business operations and strategy, role director of that sort of stuff. I wear a few hats. So I also take care of the finances and HR and make sure that cash flow is good and people can spend what they need to spend to grow the business.

When to source for external support to complement the team

David: Maybe we dive into is the idea of consultants versus the team structure we have. Because we did bring Pat in as a consultant to help with the supply chain. And at the time it was a hard decision to make to understand. And now he’s really helped us get to a point where we’re not sold out all the time, which is kind of where we were. And then the other ones that we work with, I suppose, Rachel, we just started to work with a PR agency. So maybe just describe that kind of so far.

Rachel: So part of my job was securing press and obviously we love getting it and we see their return on it. So we wanted to do a bigger job, more wide-scale, and tap into more of the states. So the PR agency will help us grow awareness, help strategic retail partnerships. They’re great for all things creative and just helping us give different angles that we wouldn’t actually think about for our products. So I think that’s the second agency that we worked with design as well.

David: So we have the design agency that we kind of work with on a monthly basis. The other ones that we have actually that are kind of smaller and different is we got an audit done from an SEO agency, which we might work with them more in the future. I think all of it is either we don’t have time for something or we need new expertise. So that’s where most of the marketing ones come in is like SEO, we kind of understand it, but we’re not quite there.

 A model sits in the background of a body cream by Bushbalm and a dry brush.
Scaling Bushbalm also required the team to seek external help to complement their skillsets. Bushbalm

David: Even Facebook advertising, we’ve kind of worked with the agency on that just because the expertise is kind of to a different level. One of the hardest things I think is content creation and we’ve brought that inside and done I think a great job of building that, which is a lot of work on its own and kind of building the community that way. And then on the supply chain side, Tim, who would you consider an agency?

Tim: So we just started working with a new regulatory agency. That basically makes sure that everything is up to par for packaging and label claims and makes sure all your translations are accurate and correct. And kind of to the standards of the US and the Canadian markets. If you want to expand into other markets like the UK, they would help with that sort of stuff. I also work, not necessarily an agency, but a contractor in China who does all of our correspondence with any of our manufacturers that are in China. And so she takes care of all of that for two or three years now. 

David: I think that’s rare having a contractor or someone in another country that you work with. And so she works with all of our manufacturers, goes to factories does quality insurance.

Tim: She does site visits and just to make sure that everything is communicated correctly and samples are approved. And so she does a lot of proofing of samples for us and so that we don’t necessarily have to wait for it to be shipped here. She does a lot of negotiating for us to lower prices.

David: And the other agency I think we work with is on the shipping side. So, well there are two parts to it. We have our supply chain 3PL that we work with to do direct-to-consumer shipping and our wholesale shipping. And then on the other side of it, you work with, I believe a broker or an agency to help us.

Tim: So when dealing with overseas freight, anything to do with sea or air, we’ve got a company that we work with that kind of handles all of our paperwork and all of that. And then we have a broker that does all the clearing, anything that’s crossing into any borders. So whether it’s going into Canada or going from Canada to the US.

Why Tim Burns almost left Bushbalm and why he stayed 

David: We’ve had some challenges back in the day. Let’s talk about one of those biggest challenges you’ve had early on at Bushbalm.

Tim: Like the time I wanted to quit, right? It’s funny as one of the co-founders you want out. No, well, I mean, I think this is as things really started to pick up at Bushbalm and I mean, all the work was becoming a lot of hours. I was working full-time at Shopify. I actually had another company that was running on the side. It was a clothing company. And so here I am running two side hustles and a full-time job and I’m about to have a kid. And so I think things in my mind came to a bit of a head and I was like, “I got to drop something.” And I don’t know why I decided Bushbalm.

David: And to be fair as well, your wife was heavily involved in Bushbalm.

Tim: Yeah, she was. She was taking care of all the shipping at the time for us. She was doing consultation for design for us, doing some creative illustrations and all that. So she was actually a big part of the business. And she said, “I’m done.” She’s like, “I’m about to have a kid in two months.” She’s like, “I’m finished.” And she’s like, “Tim, you got to think about this yourself. I need help.”

David: And it worked out. I remember the conversation vividly. And it ended up, we had a good conversation about dynamics and who’s running what. It did feel like a breakup.

Tim: Yeah. I called you aside. I was like, “David, I got to tell you something.” It felt like a breakup. Literally, I think I actually said that line.

David: And I said, “Give me a chance to prove myself.” And that’s kind of what we did though. So I took on more responsibility around the Bushbalm house per se. And I took on shipping and then manufacturing. I forgot how we changed it but it became a bit easier back then.

Tim: And I think we, soon after we also had a conversation. If this is going to continue to work we need to outsource a bunch of the work. And I think the way we looked at it or the way I approach it with you is like, if we’re breaking even and the company’s still growing, then that’s okay. I don’t want to make a dime from this right now, I just want to grow it. But I also don’t want to be working 10, 15 hours on the side of Bushbalm every few days. It was speaking with manufacturers and all that sort of stuff, you’re up from 9:00 PM until 2:00 AM communicating with them. 

 A body stone along with a towel on top of a white stool.
At one point in the business, Tim almost left Bushbalm as the business grew too quickly while he still maintained his job at Shopify. Bushbalm

David: I guess one approach we took early on, which I think is maybe unique was since it was such a side hustle, our thought process is what can we do to keep it as low maintenance as possible where hopefully the business can run on its own without us being heavily involved. And now as we made deliberate choices to say, “Okay, we’ll outsource shipping as soon as we can. We’ll outsource this as soon as we can.” Even manufacturing we thought, okay, we got to find the right partner to do that. And then wholesale as another example is it was something that you can’t scale quickly automate it or change it. So we chose not to do any wholesale until we were ready. We did all kinds of online advertising because you can scale that pretty quickly. That was a hard time I suppose. Tim: Obviously I stayed. Because you convinced me to stay with you. David: We worked it out. And I guess the other thing that’s maybe important to note is, at the time it was our first time ever delegating or assigning roles. So I took over the shipping and that was my kind of portfolio. And I took over the marketing and that was mine. And you took over the back of the house, all of those tasks. And I think now at Bushbalm as far as dynamics, that is I think something we do quite well. As everyone kind of is in their lane. And there are a few things now that aren’t in a certain lane, like wholesale sales. It’s kind of floating around. It’s like its own department like one single person show but it’s kind of chaos in a good way, I think. Rachel: Because we’re all kind of obsessed with it. We want it to grow. David: We want it to be a success but it doesn’t have a… It has a home, but it’s a very kind of off-the-desk home. How Bushbalm created their culture David: What is the office culture like at Bushbalm? Rachel: It’s obviously a very fun place to go in. It almost doesn’t feel like work. But a lot of work gets done because I think we’re super mission-driven, we all want things to succeed. It’s an open concept so if you hear somebody struggling or wanting to bring in more wholesale accounts, we kind of all jump all over it. There’s usually five or six of us there between Monday to Friday, a lot of creative personalities. I think everyone’s become pretty close friends, which is really good and exciting. I think when you’re growing a team to want to be around the people you work with. David: The office vibe is what Kiana on the team calls it a vibe check. And we would hire people who don’t pass Kiana’s vibe check, but it is one of those things that we do bring into the office. It’s like, “Hey, will you bring the energy up in the office and make everyone kind of move forward in the right way?” Rachel: Yeah. She’s our hype girl. David: So Tim, you work or was fully remotely. With that, working at Shopify and working at Bushbalm now, I think we’ve both seen companies that work fully remote and we worked at Shopify a lot fully remote. So I guess maybe talk a little bit about how you make remote success in kind of that half and half environment. Tim: I mean I’ve been doing remote work for six, seven, eight years now. So I did graphic design as contract work before right from home. And then Shopify was pretty much entirely remote. And so transitioning into Bushbalm remote was really easy. Although I do wish I was in the office more, I’m like in an hour, hour, and a half south of the office. So it doesn’t necessarily work for me to come in every day. But I think the way I’m balancing right now is just like meetings. I enjoy it, especially when we have a boardroom set up in our office, which is great. It looks official. Experience is official. But I get to see everybody there sitting at the table and that I think that’s inclusive for me. I think that’s important. There’s a lot of meetings where it’s one on one David and I or Gabe who I work with closely. And you get a little bit of that in-person experience. But I think the boardroom for whatever reason, I feel like I’m there. But I mean, I guess it’s hard to say how I balance the remote and life just because it’s so natural for me because I’ve been doing it for so long. I’ve made myself a semi soundproof office in my basement. I can’t hear the kids much. I got two young ones under four. So they make a lot of noise. I guess you need to build an environment where you can be productive. And it just works. David: And one other thing that you probably don’t take enough credit for is how organized you are. And how would I say it? Operationally sound, which is bleeds into the rest of the team who’s less organized and kind of less official. But you have taken that and passed it on slowly through. Rachel: You structure us. Tim: There are some days where I don’t feel that way, but I guess you put in certain things in place kind of help with that.

 A collection of sampler body oils from Bushbalm.
Bushbalm recently reopened its office and is crafting the ideal balance of remote and in-office environments for its employees. Bushbalm

David: We were looking to hire someone for product development. R&D, cosmetic background, we weren’t quite sure. So Tim, maybe just describe a little bit about that process.

Tim: I think this experience was incredibly eye-opening for me. We really strived to find somebody who was well-established in the industry. And my perception going into it was that somebody in product development, in the cosmetic and beauty industry, there wouldn’t be very many people available in Canada. That was just my perception going into it. I just didn’t see that. And so early on, I decided that I’m going to work with a headhunter and find ourselves some candidates. Through that process, I mean, it was interesting to find out all the different people that were available, how many companies actually operate within Canada? How many people are in the product manager and development space? So the pool went from, I thought it was going to be very slim because we wanted to hire within Canada. We wanted to hire specifically within Ontario just because of how we’re set up. But what I thought was a very small pool ended up being very large. LinkedIn was a fantastic resource as well I posted on there and that’s actually how I got the applicant who we ended up hiring. We didn’t end up hiring through the recruiter. I wouldn’t say it was difficult, but it was long. When you’re investing and especially, the more senior roles that you get, the more money that is kind of involved. And so you want to make sure you get it right. You don’t take some of the spend lightly and so positions that you hire for in the space, you tend to put a little bit more, maybe don’t put a lot of more effort. Maybe there’s more pressure or I felt more pressured to get it right the first time. And so it was drawn out. Typically we were able to hire roles within the first month or two months of posting. This one took three or four months in total from when I actually posted the role to when we hired.

David: And the one thing with this role too, when we were doing it, we had some amazing candidates. The experience people brought to the table, it’s a unique space where going through the process, I didn’t realize how attractive we are as a company. And people want to join a startup where they have an opportunity to build and do something and start new products. I thought we’re pretty small, I’m not sure people will be interested. But the interest we got was amazing. And then it showed as well one thing that we’ve maybe taken for granted is the fact that we are all go-getters. We do things and things launch, and we make sure they run quickly. If we don’t have things done, like Gable packaged boxes, we’re always doing everything. So that was a hard thing to understand for this role. And I think it feels like we got this specific hire right. Just because there’s so much to do to start up that it’s hard to say, “Just do the high-level things that you need to do.” Right?

Tim: Ultimately that’s what ended up standing up the most in the interview process with the person that we ended up hiring. Was the. “Yeah, I’m ready to start tomorrow. Yep, I’ll do anything you ask. Yep, you want to develop this many products next year, yeah, I’ll do it even though it’s probably way too many.” Our team is a yes, and we’ll find a way type of environment.

Rachel: And everyone’s interested kind of in everything. That role has nothing to do with influencers and she comes with a wealth of knowledge of who we should partner with, who would be interesting for us? So it’s fun that everybody’s genuinely excited about everything that Bushbalm has going on.

David: Any other process even just hiring what I’ve realized in the past, depending on other roles is every person you interview that becomes a potential hire in the future, whether it’s then or later on. And we have a few people, even from that job posting and also other marketing postings where every time we’re hiring now, I think of them. Maybe it wasn’t the time but maybe it could be the time. That’s just one thing I realized is that interviewing isn’t about hiring for the role. It’s building the relationship for the future potentially.

Marketing and sales channels that the Bushbalm team has underestimated

David: Are there things that you’ve underestimated at Bushbalm? One thing I’ve underestimated completely is just the concept of TikTok and how it works. We’ve been all over TikTok lately. But it’s one of those things where I’ve underestimated how important it is to get there early for something. It’s more important to be at the forefront. That’s kind of one thing I’ve underestimated in this industry.

Rachel: And I think being comfortable and confident and being okay with testing things. We try and make as many TikToks as possible now, and have fun with the team doing it. But we’re also not going to be embarrassed if one doesn’t work. We’ll learn something from it or we’ll find another creative way to use it. But going back to the team, just like David said, we’re really in the TikTok right now. So I feel like a lot of the time during the day, somebody will randomly send something and it’s a TikTok that’s going viral. Or how can we do something similar?

Tim: I think for me it’s more around the wholesale and large retail space. And I think going back to the hiring thing you were saying David that you didn’t know how desirable Bushbalm is to work for. I think I’ve always in my mind like, we’ll pitch to the larger retailers when we’re ready. And we’re ready when we’ve done this and this. And maybe we’re more established. Maybe we have our name more out there. And I think I tend to underestimate how many eyes are on us maybe right now. And not how easy it is to get into this large retail because here I am sitting next to Rachel who does all the large retail. But doors open fairly easily right now for us. And we could have said, “Hey, let’s pause for another six months.” And that probably would have been my suggestion, but here we are. Large retail is very much on our doorstep knocking and waiting for a little piece of Bushbalm. So it’s very cool.

  A model applies a body cream while another person captures the process on a smartphone.
Bushbalm is focusing on TikTok’s marketing capabilities and embracing experimenting on the platform. Bushbalm

David: And then even on the retail side, and just for anyone who’s running an ecommerce business, it’s one thing that I’ve underestimated is taking advantage of all the eyes on you and making sure it’s easy for people to reach out. Because some of our retailers now that are the larger ones, they’ve reached out in our contact form. And maybe we should have a large retailing take form or whatever it is. But even the same thing goes for our small wholesale accounts. It’s like having a form for someone to fill out to apply or whatever it is. That opened my eyes because now we could see how many we get a day to apply for our wholesale account. So just seeing that I’m like, “There it is a lot of demand for what we’re doing.” Some days it might not feel like it because the Facebook ads aren’t working well, or whatever’s not working well, but when you break it down over the month and the year, it’s like holy, we’ve got a lot. We’re driving traffic. And the traffic isn’t just the direct-to-consumer person, it’s the buyer from a retailer.

Rachel: And it’s exciting to see that happen as you’re growing a team because we hear different reasons for how people found us all the time. But a big retailer that we just partnered with found us on Instagram and loved how our page worked. So it’s awesome to hear things like that and be like, “Yeah, well we have a dedicated team now who’s looking at that all the time and making sure we’re always present, always looking great and on-brand.” So it’s exciting to have those wins while you’re growing a team.

David: And then the one thing I’m poor at probably with building a team is the question I’ll ask is, “How do you guys perceive celebration at Bushbalm? And how much more should we be celebrating? Because I’m not much of a celebrator. I struggle. I really do.

Rachel: I think we do a pretty good job. As I said, everyone’s so excited that’s on our team, which is the best feeling. But I think we’ve hit a lucky, not lucky street. We work really hard, but we’ve had some really, really good news the past month. So sometimes I think we need to not slow down, but take a second and be like, “It’s been two weeks. And these four amazing things have happened that weren’t even on our radar for this year.”

Tim: From a remote point of view, I actually feel like it’s pretty good. So we have specific channels that are set up for things. We’ve got a PR channel, we’ve got an influencer channel, we’ve got a manufacturing, wholesale, and all that sort of stuff. And I do appreciate from you guys that things are posted there. So like, hey, we just got this PR press, or hey, we’re now working with this influencer or Emily just posted this morning, hey, we reached 10,000 followers on TikTok. I wouldn’t have known that if that conversation just had have happened in the office, but here it is shared with everyone. So from my point of view, I actually think it’s fairly solid. And we just hired somebody who else is primarily remote. So now we’ve got two remote employees of the nine that we have. I think it’s a pretty good job. Give yourselves more credit. 

Making big decisions with two cofounders

David: So, Tim, why don’t you tell me a little bit about kind of what actually made this a success in the early days? What about us and Mel that gave us the edge to get Bushbalm where it is?

Tim: Other than just you being a likable person. So you think that’s important. I mean, we didn’t partner together because I knew this, but we have very complementary skills. Where I lack like in marketing, all that sort of stuff, you pick up, you own that. Where you lacked in the beginning in design, I was able to pick up. Although, you’re fantastic at that now just out of the necessity of having to do it. But our communication is top-notch. From our days at Shopify, we used Slack as a platform for communication. We’re very heavy in Slack and we’re always talking through ideas and pitching things back and forth posting what other people are doing. I mean, and we carried that over into Bushbalm. We got our own Bushbalm Slack and all that sort of stuff. But I think we’re always talking, we’re always chit-chatting through and there was no real limit. We’re both ideas guys. We just toss things around and it just works that way. From your point of view, was I a likable guy or?

David: It was really the speed of how we do things, which I think is why it’s been such a success. Because we could do something, say something and then we make it happen. And we are okay to say something as an idea, and everyone would be like, “That’s probably not going to work.” And then we’re like, “Okay, what’s the next idea then? Let’s just keep going.” So I think that’s one reason, and especially in a startup is you get going and any roadblock, you just have to get by it and do whatever you can do to make it work. So that’s kind of between us, it’s always been that way. We do something, we try something, we try something else, we scrap something, we go ahead. And probably the other thing is just your ability to do all the things that I can’t do or I don’t have time for it. I don’t understand manufacturing and how we actually get all that done, that’s the part where your background and just very operationally minded goes a long way. Whereas if I was just doing marketing and I didn’t have that on the other side, I don’t know if Bushbalm would stand chance. I would just sell everything and then it’d be sold out and there’d be nothing to sell, right?

Tim: When we’re talking a little bit about the founding story and how it was about smell and all that sort of stuff, we pivoted quickly away from that once we knew that did not hit for marketing. The audience we were targeting was just not interested. And we pivoted quickly. And we weren’t afraid to pivot the entire basis of the business in order to meet the need and the need that we were getting feedback on even from our customers and the reviews. But I think pivoting, I don’t know whether it’s underrated or what it might be but we’ve positioned ourselves and even today, the business is in a position to be flexible and agile and pivot quickly when we need to and everybody stops and let’s do a hustle on this. I think we’re doing that tomorrow for sales, right?

David: And then we pivot for so many things like we recently pivoted for supply chain issues. We’re changing our launch schedule and how we do it just out of necessity that we have to. And people are seeing Facebook iOS changes, so we’re pivoting how we spend and what we do. And I think that is one of the reasons we move so quickly. It changes kind of the output we get at the end.

The most important rituals at an 8-figure ecommerce company

David: So one thing I see a lot is other founders and companies asking, how do you operate or how does the team run? So why don’t you Rachel and Tim talk a little bit about our weeks and how we schedule them.

Rachel: You want me to go first? So I think one of the most important meetings and calls we have is Monday Kickoff kind of gets everybody on track for the week ahead. We look at things that happened last week. We talk about priorities that need to get done this week that are kind of the non-negotiables. And then obviously try and share a few what did you do on the weekend? Just get everybody in the right mindset. We have a lot of weekly one-on-ones with relevant team members. I think specifically for marketing, I try and talk to the team members individually to see what’s taking up their time, where I can jump in, where we maybe need to involve David or other team members.

 A jar of body scrub by Bushablm held by a hand model.
Setting up the week with ritual calls allows Bushbalm to have a structure to planning and problem solving. Bushbalm

David: Going back to the Monday Call, we do it at 9:00 AM on Monday, which is kind of a weird time. It’s so early. But it really is the casual catch-up from the weekend. And it sets the tone for what coming up the week. It’s a good call just be honest with people. Because people are like, “If there’s a let down on shipping of some sorts, we know.” And we’re like, “Yeah, we’re going to talk about it first thing in the week and figure out what to do next. It’s totally fine.” 

Rachel: It’s your time to ask for help if you already need it. 

Tim: The other one that, I mean David and I have our weekly that we’ve got set up by Tuesday morning at 9:00. I think it was at 8:00. I don’t remember it being that early, but because we used to have other jobs. We had to get the meetings before the other meetings. That kicks off the week pretty well for me as well. We kind of update each other on what’s going on and on different sides of the operations of the business. And we do a lot of brainstorming. We talk about a lot of things. I mean, yesterday in our meeting, the majority of what we’re talking about is kits and bundles. It’s not necessarily our everyday work. So nothing’s really off the table. It’s just it’s very much just a conversation, some strategy. We also have a strategy meeting on Wednesdays where we meet with one of our consultants for that. And I mean, all other meetings for me are just one-on-ones with the operations folks, talking with Gabe and Amanda, product development. And then everything’s just ad-hoc from there.

David: And some of the other meetings that we do that are, I think, critical, so the Monday kickoff kicks everything into gear, everyone gets rolling. Sometimes it kicks work into people, I would say. And then we have a Tuesday morning call with a consultant for advertising. So Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, all these different places, which that is for our designer, a real big kickoff for all kinds of work. Where it’s like, don’t book for the rest of the day or the next day like designs are coming. We need these done quickly and you’re on it. So those calls really do start the week. Right now we’re doing a new website with an agency. And those meetings and how they run them is so useful for us because they give us deadlines and they tell us when they’re coming and then what to bring to each meeting. So that’s just one thing from kind of an agency side, working with a startup. Organizing us that way is excellent. But I think you do need to have very unstructured casual calls because that builds the team dynamic. And also, it lets people be open with issues they’re experiencing or ask for help. So that’s what our Monday Calls for are sure doing.

Rachel: Wholesale meeting. It’s a really good one.

David: We just started that, the wholesale meeting. That’s very structured let’s report on how we did, how many more wholesale accounts we got. And that’s a really quick turnaround cadence. And I think that’s great for we’re building this new thing and we all want to be involved and we all want to kind of hear about it. So yeah, now that’s one of my new favorite meetings of the weekend, I’d say.

Rachel: One thing I love about our meetings other than the Monday that’s a bit more casual, they’re kind of like working meetings, all of them. They’re either a brainstorm session or you’re leaving immediately doing something or we do it right in the meeting to get it done, which I think is awesome.

David: We’re not afraid of doing an hour meeting in seven minutes and then going and doing work.

Rachel: We don’t just book meetings to have meetings. If we have a meeting it’s because something has to get done and probably pretty quickly.

David: And the other thing of kind of the individual side, I think everyone on the team kind of has one-on-ones here and there to kind of stay connected and stay updated. And I think Rachel, you, and I have more one-on-one working sessions. Which like other people, are like more one-on-ones where we kind of talk through things or help with other things, but yeah, you and I, we work on things together and that’s kind of how we use our time, which I appreciate too. 



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