Partners in business and love 💙
This week, DTCX's Chris Meade sat down with Mackenzie Bauer, co-founder of Thread Wallets, to chat about the growth and challenges of running a successful business with her partner. Check out the full episode below ⤵
Mackenzie & Colby Bauer know a thing or two about mixing business with pleasure.
After jumping into the ocean and losing his wallet, Colby embarked on an adventure that would ultimately lead him and Mackenzie towards starting Thread Wallets. Scrolling through endless options of bulky, boring wallets, and using a rubber band from a bundle of veggies to temporarily hold his cards sparked a desire to create a minimalist, yet expressive and fun take on the traditional wallet.
Their mission? To simplify what people have to carry with a good-looking, minimalistic wallet. They kicked off Thread (and their relationship!) in 2015 by sewing wallets in Mackenzie's childhood bedroom, creating different iterations and prototypes for friends and family to test out and provide feedback. Once they had validation on what worked and what didn't, they made their way into a local boutique, and their brand began to bloom.
Chris and Mackenzie both agree that there are several lessons to be learned not only running a business, but doing so with someone you love.
Working with your partner in crime 👮
The good, the bad, and the ugly — the Bauer's have been through it all. Though starting and running a successful business with a loved one can be quite the challenge, it can also be extremely rewarding for both the brand and your relationship.
Mackenzie's experience is no different than most others who jump into business with a significant other — arguments and challenges galore — but the key difference and biggest lesson she's learned is the importance of communication. She notes that there needs to be a level of humility, over-the-top communication, and accountability within your working relationship to sail smoothly through any conflict.
Your first hire is key 🔑
Mackenzie explains that one of the most important aspects of scaling a business is to understand the advertising landscape, especially in the post-iOS changes era.
With these detrimental changes affecting ads on Facebook and Instagram, they've relied on someone who's an expert in Google, YouTube, TikTok, and all other channels, which has been super beneficial for Thread. Given this, Mackenzie's first hire from the start would have been an advertising specialist to help grow and diversify these channels.
Utilizing sales reps 📈
For Thread, getting into retail was a big step in expanding their DTC brand, and to combat any losses from the iOS changes. Over the past couple of years, they've onboarded a team of 6-8 sales reps across the country to get their products into smaller-scale retailers, playing it slow and small.
Having this small team of sales reps that know the brand and product has been extremely beneficial, as they have established relationships with retailers and can get products onto shelves quicker.
Balancing DTC & wholesale ⚖️
Having a cohesive customer experience is a top priority for Mackenzie and Thread. While they've seen an uptick in wholesale, as a DTC brand, they're focused on taking an omnichannel approach going forward.
A great example Mackenzie discusses is the kiosks they opened in 2020. They were placed near or in front of retailers that sold their products inside as well, but instead of tanking the sales indoors, the kiosk created a brand touchpoint that got consumers interested in the product outside the store, and brought them to purchase when they saw Thread Wallets on the shelves inside.
Know your numbers 🔢
When taking the omnichannel approach, knowing your numbers (daily, weekly, monthly, and beyond!) and what they mean for growth is extremely important. With Thread, Mackenzie notes the importance of balance — since they sell DTC, wholesale, retail, and other channels, sometimes the scales might look off, but understanding the patterns of all channels, including why and when there are ups and downs, will aid in helping you find that all-important balance, and ultimately, growth and success.
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