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  • Your Number One Resource With Nishal Kumar of No Days Wasted

    "You get out what you put in" is something we all need to remind ourselves of more often. Nishal Kumar, founder of the wellness supplements brand, No Days Wasted, that helps anyone maximize life's moments after a night out, has made a living off of this mantra and his story is an incredible example to emulate. From becoming the sponsor for some of the biggest podcasts in North America, to locking in over 1200  retailer partners, Nish knows a thing or two about making your own opportunities and we got to speak to him to gain some fresh insights that are very applicable for any new founder. Check out the conversation below! Hey Nish! Thanks for taking the time to chat. One of the first things we want to know is how the partnership with Barstool, which was huge for the brand in the early days, got off the ground. Oh ya, that was great! Over 5 years ago, we connected with Paul Bissonnette 'Biz Nasty' who was spending a summer in Vancouver after he retired from the NHL and was working with a couple buddies of mine. There was one night, we're all out, and my buddies told me Biz was going to be there and to come out. I went and I had a couple packets on me and I gave them to him, and that was my first touch point. A couple days later, I saw him at the gym and I gave him a full box of product. He ended up going to an event the next day and calls me, and he tells me he tried the product, had about ten beers and woke up the next day like nothing happened. He mentioned he was joining this podcast called Spittin’ Chiclets and introduced me to Barstool Sports. We started working with them and Spittin’ Chiclets was a home run out of the gate. I asked Barstool if they had any female demo shows and they mentioned Call Her Daddy which was just launching at that time. They were like "it's pretty crazy. It's pretty out there, but it might just work." so we tested with them and saw instant return, like 7-10x right out of the gate. We were the first brand to sponsor Call Her Daddy, which ended up blowing up and becoming the biggest female podcast in North America. The big learning was really, you need to make that investment and take a chance on things early on when and if something works, double down on it. It seems like now there are so many brands doing this? What do you think of the competition? Yes the space got very crowded but in general but between those days and now, my view on competition is very different. Early on, I was actually very averse to competition and I was concerned about what all of our competitors were doing. I would be offended if they did anything too close to us. These days, things have shifted. I really welcome the competition from players that have staying power and are creating a meaningful product and brand. The reason being is because ultimately, this competition drives awareness to a category that's emerging. If we're the only player on shelf, who's going to know about the category? Only the people that know about us. But, if you think about the value that competition provides, it's that they're providing extra eyeballs onto us for free and we are validating a new category together by creating great products with high efficacy, safety and value for consumers. That's a very good attitude to have and regardless of the competition now, it's incredible to hear about how you created that opportunity for yourself. If you're proactive, you're assertive, you are charismatic and personable, good things will happen. That's why I spent quite a bit of time in New York, and continue to do so. It's the epicenter of chaos, and there are a lot of people doing great things out there. My focus is always to meet cool people doing great things. At the very least, I could just make a friend, or on the other end, we could do something meaningful together from a business point of view. If you're not there, if you don't show up, if you're not putting yourself out there, it won't happen. As an emerging brand, use what you have. You may not have tons of capital behind you, but you have your energy that you put out to the world, and the best way to showcase that is by actually going out there and doing it. Would you say that's your big tip for brands, especially ones in the early stage of their business? I have a few tips but the biggest thing is to remember that how you do anything is how you do everything. For me, whether that's going to the gym every day and staying focused or playing ball and putting my best foot forward, I just want to be consistent, I want to care about what I do, and I want to solve problems. That's the same way I treat my business and that's not just work, that's life. Your success and your achievements are going to come from your efforts. So top three things; give a damn about what you do, be consistent and just do it well. We couldn't agree more. Before we finish off, any other advice for new founders? You need to go where you're wanted. For example, maybe you have a dream retailer or dream partner that you want to work with but at the end of the day, make sure it's not a delusion. It's like when you're growing up and there's that girl you see that you're into but turns out they're the most toxic person in the world. You don't want that. You want to go where you're wanted. That's been a big part of our retail strategy. We always want to hear a no from a retailer rather than a maybe, because that will allow us to move on to the yeses and find the places where we're wanted. Make sure to check out No Days Wasted and keep it locked to Pier Five for more founder conversations just like this!

  • Playing the Game Better With Drew Stevens of Margin Skincare

    "You're never going to please everyone" is a phrase that set Drew Stevens, founder of the skincare brand Margin, free. In the era of amplified social judgment, and hundreds of new competitors popping up every week, it is more important now than ever to understand what you're in it for, and if that reason is guided by passion, like it is for Drew, then the only way forward is up. Backed by the creative minds of Benjamin Edgar, Chris Black, Ben Sehl (KOTN) and Sam Jayne, Drew has assembled the creative avengers to release what is currently one of the most exciting science-first, aesthetically beautiful skincare brands on the market. We spoke to Drew about his learnings as an entrepreneur, his tips for assembling a great team and how he deals with the competition; good and bad. Scroll down to read! Hey Drew, for those who aren't too familiar with you and Margin, can you tell us how it came together? Hey guys! My name is Drew Stevens and I'm the founder of Margin. I've always been really into skincare, and prior to starting Margin had the chance to spend a lot of time with with the founders of bootstrapped and venture backed businesses both inside and outside the beauty industry through my work in private equity. I was lucky enough to get to know some of the best skin scientists in the world, and in getting to know them had the chance to share (and confirm) a set of beauty industry observations that I thought left a gap serving me effectively and honouring my interest in skin.. Ultimately, Margin was launched as a way for my to offer myself and my peers a skin solution that incorporated  best-in-class-ingredients, logic-driven formulations, and product design that I could be confident using and displaying in my home. The whole process started in 2020 and from there, we’ve put together a great team and had a lot of fun working on what is now Margin (which we launched in 2022). With all of the R&D and trials to get the product to be what you envisioned it to be, how do you know when it's finally right? It's really hard to figure out when it's right. I think a lot of it has to come down to me being really proud of the product. If I can stand behind it, and I really love it, and we put it out in the world and it bricks, I'm fine with that because this was me and the team's decision. I don't think I would sleep well at night if we conceded based on a product to try and make everyone happy and didn't put out what we loved the most. Realistically, you're not going to make everyone happy. If you go to a major beauty website and look at their top trending products, what you'll find is that for virtually every product in the world that's ever been released, reviews are normally distributed on both ends. You'll have 20% of people that say that they are absolutely obsessed, you'll have a bunch of people in the middle saying it's pretty good and then you'll have 20% to 30% of the audience saying "I wouldn't put this on my worst enemy", and yet it's a best selling product. At the end of the day, there is no such thing as universally loved anything, so I just try and put out what we really like and if it works, great. You have some pretty established names on your board/co-founder table. What was your process to getting in touch with them and getting them on board? From a cold calling perspective, you'd be surprised at how easy it is to get in touch with people. Social media has totally changed that over the years. If you have a tweet that bangs and somebody replies to it and they're an interesting person, boom, be in their DMs immediately. Same with Instagram and then if you're doing something interesting, offer somebody a little bit of value and something tangible they can act on. Meeting Chris the first time, I had never interacted with him, not on a social platform, nothing before. I knew who he was and I thought he'd be an interesting partner in a venture like this. It was literally me just sending him an email and saying, "This is what I do now. This is what's interesting about what I do now. This is an insight that I think I have that I think would be compelling and I'd love to know your take on it because I think of you as x, y, and z". The biggest thing though is just come to them with a good idea. I came to him with "Here's my insight about skincare and here's what I think we can do about it. Tell me I'm crazy". It wasn't just like, "hey, bro, skincare is really hot right now. Want to do something?" because that's not really actionable and that's not like a nutritious little bite for them or a hook in the water that they may find interesting. You've mastered skincare and the art of networking. What is on your list of things to master in 2024? I'm really trying to master my energy output in the most efficient way. My default is to try and move 30 footballs an inch up the field every day and then at the end of the week, I look back and the 30 footballs have only moved a few inches and that's not really that noticeable of an improvement. I think the right way to work is actually for me to run one football ten yards down the field for like a half day, run another one five yards down the field for a part of the day, and, be very focused on trying to really make progress on a few tasks in a given time period versus trying to do so many tasks at once. That's very difficult, as I'm sure many people reading can relate to this when you're running your own thing or have a side project that you're working on too. It becomes easy to feel busy and tired and feel like you spent energy, but not really have a lot to show for it. So this is what I'm trying to focus on and master in 2024. The beauty industry, like many others, has a ton of players that seem to care more about making a quick buck than an impactful product. What do you think about those types of brands? This is very true. The reason I'm doing this is because I care about products so much and I want the product to be the best it can be. I have a visceral reaction to the idea that someone would try and enter the market with a product that's trendy but potentially ineffective or harmful, but I also know that the answer isn't just for me to go around and say "hey,, that's not OK." There's a game being played, right? We're on this giant field and the way for me to make a point is to just eat their lunch, right? The way to do it is to play the game better than them. If in five years or ten years or twenty years, we've played the game better, then we will be rewarded for that and if we didn't play the game well or the game changed on us and people actually didn't care what they put on their skin then, you know what, I wasn't playing the right game and I lost. However, I can lose feeling good, right? This is my passion, but at the end of the day, I try to remember that there's an element of sports or gamesmanship to this and any other business as an entrepreneur, and just focus on what I can do to play the game better. I think that's a healthier attitude and so when I hear about competitors like that, it's like, okay, great, you're playing the game well right now. Let me see if I can't outscore you. Make sure to check out Margin and keep it locked to Pier Five for more founder interviews just like this!

  • Doing It Yourself With Carol Pak of Makku

    The canned beverage space is increasingly competitive, with hundreds of new startup brands entering every year. So, if you're going to enter, you better have something unique to say. Therein lies Carol Pak, founder of SOOL, a Korean beverages company and owner of canned makgeolli beverage brand MAKKU, who is using her experience at ZX Ventures - ABinBev's VC arm - and passion for Korean rice alcohol to offer something fresh and exciting to the North American market. Although it hasn't come without its ups, downs and dozens of learnings, Carol had some great insights to share that can be applied to any small business owner, and of course anyone looking to dip their toes into the world of CPG. Check out some of the hot topics from the conversation below. In the summer of 2023, we noticed a big shift in the brand's social presence around Korean culture. Can you talk about that? At first, I didn't know how much I wanted to position ourselves as a Korean drink because I didn't want to isolate non Koreans. I wanted to be very welcoming, very approachable, and I didn't want to pigeonhole ourselves as a Korean drink for Korean occasions and for Korean customers. So I was very vanilla when it came to our marketing because I didn't want to sway too much but I felt like that really left us with no voice. Recently we did some consumer surveys and a resounding sentiment was, we would like to see more Korean stuff from Makku, whether it's in your packaging, your story, your marketing or your branding. That really motivated me to focus more on Korean culture in general. For us, the most natural area to focus on was the Korean drinking culture, which is a huge part of Korean culture. Later we can move into other segments like food or holiday traditions and things like that. As you grow, have you made any other big shifts in how the brand operates? When it comes to our sales, before, I was relying on our distributors to get into retailers, and they put us in any account that would take our product. We were growing in revenue, and it was great in the short term, but we were seeing a lot of turnover as we lost shelf space to new brands and other promotions. If you go down to your local bodega and offer a promotion for them to buy the case, a lot of times they'll say, yes, but it doesn't mean that's the right account for us. I recently realized that while distributors are our partners, the onus is still on us to steer direction and ensure execution. Another consideration is that these smaller accounts don't provide data on the national level. So if a large retailer will put our brand into scan data, nothing will show up, even though we're in over a thousand accounts. So the investment into the smaller accounts don’t build us much credibility for the larger chains. Can you talk about scan data? What does that mean? There are national companies like IRI and Nielsen that manage this. For accounts like Whole Foods and Total Wine and these other large retailers; if your brand is selling in these stores, they'll report the sales data to IRI or Nielsen. So, when you're trying to sell to other national retailers, they can  put in your brand and they can track your growth, sales and all this other data about your brand that these retailers are supplying to them. Since we're mostly selling in smaller accounts or Asian chains that are not providing that kind of data, even though we've been in the market for four years, if an Albertsons or Kroger, looked up our brand in Nielsen or IRI, they wouldn’t be able to find much data. So, it just goes to show that an account is not always equal. I’ve learned we need to rely less heavily on our distributors to be selling on our behalf and instead build a sales team and then get into the retailers that we want to by pitching them directly. Is it daunting pitching to these big retailers? I didn't dare dream of trying to pitch national accounts at first. I just thought it wouldn't be possible without any sales data but I've seen a lot of brands launch after me, like years after me, and their first accounts were like Walmart, Target, Costco. There has been a trend of Asian products in stores and product differentiation is probably helpful there, but at the end of the day, you have to pitch them to know whether you get a yes or no. We just never pitched them. That all gave me confidence though. If you get in front of them, you'll at least be on their radar. You can ask them for information on what they're looking for, what data points they need to see for consideration, when to reach out next. Until you talk to them, you never know so just shoot all your shots. We can definitely see the hustle and passion that you have for the brand. I'm sure that helps when you work on growing the brand with partners? Yes, absolutely. If you're not so passionate about what you're doing and you just think of it as a business opportunity, you're not going to last. Undoubtedly, the best entrepreneurs at every level will still have the highest of highs and the lowest of lows and I think the only thing that really keeps you in it is the passion. So, if it's not something that you love and you're happy working 80 hours a week, it's going be really hard. When investors, distributors, retailers and customers are talking to you, they're looking for passion and they can tell if you fake it. That is what makes the difference between the companies that make it and the companies that don't. Make sure to check out Makku's website to find out where you can pick some up and keep it locked to Pier Five for more interviews with entrepreneurs and small business owners coming soon!

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  • Home | Pier Five

    Your Number One Resource With Nishal Kumar of No Days Wasted Mastercard x Pier Five Small Business Fund 2023 View Recipients Latest Guests Catch up with our latest conversations. Mar 11 Playing the Game Better With Drew Stevens of Margin Skincare Feb 7 Doing It Yourself With Carol Pak of Makku Jan 9 Creating Your Identity With Jun Arnaiz of Neutria Nov 21, 2023 Ready For Anything With Bimma Williams Nov 8, 2023 Building Your Own Spaces With Monday Girl Oct 9, 2023 Protecting Your Brand With Zak Kurtz of Sneaker Legal Sep 14, 2023 Pier Five x PUMA: Community Court Day 2023 Sep 9, 2023 Embracing Your Community With Sarah Sukumaran of Lilith NYC Aug 25, 2023 A Strong Foundation With Carlo Aragon of Salomonology Aug 11, 2023 Embracing Impermanence With Sandro Petrillo of SSSOAPS Jul 28, 2023 Doing It His Way With Rae Mendoza of ICYT Jul 15, 2023 Slow & Steady with Josh Heares of Porter James Sports Explore All Guests

  • Designer - Tory Van Thompson | Pier Five

    Tory Van Thompson Where: New York, NY What: Designer Tory Van Thompson, aka the workwear-master has been a household name in the world of New York designers for many years. With a decade of experience working with clothing under his belt, Tory has done a little bit of everything, from graphics to Japanese selvedge and now reworking Dickies and vintage denim to create unique silhouettes that you can't find anywhere else. We came across his work a while back and were very excited to get him involved in this project. Following up from our team jackets made last December, we knew Tory would be the perfect person to finish off the fit with his reworked 2Tone Dickies pants using the iconic 'Lincoln Green' colourway. Why are you excited to be a part of the grant project? This project is very unique and not like anything that I have been a part of before. I am excited to be able to help offer young creatives opportunities that I never had when I was coming up as a designer. It doesn't always take a lot to support others. Every bit helps and I know how much of a difference that can make for someone so I had to take advantage of the chance to be a part of this. Can you tell us about the pieces that you've made for the grant? The pairs I made for the grant are done using my original 2Tone shape which swaps out the back of the pants for a secondary colourway. I wanted to keep it simple. We used the Dickies 'Lincoln Green' colourway as the base since that's the Pier Five brand colour and matched it with a classic black to make these pants really stand out but also be subtle at the same time. You can rock these all summer long and also have them as your go-to in the fall and winter. See All Designers Lookbook (Coming Soon) Shop (Coming Soon)

  • A Conversation With Blume

    A Conversation With Blume Bunny & Taran Ghatrora are the founders of Blume, a Canadian self care and period products brand that is building a safe space for young women to "learn, grow and become their badass selves." Bunny & Taran are experts in fundraising and brand building and are recipients of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Award. ​ @blume // @bunny.ghatrora & @taran_smiles Whether for a teen or parents of a teen, what are 5 pieces of advice you’d give to young females as they embark on their journey with puberty? Remember that you're not going through this alone! Everyone has or will go through puberty and what you're experiencing is *normal*!! Keep doing the things that make you feel good, whether this be painting, running, playing sports or riding horses. If you have hobbies you love, keep doing them! Make time for self care! Prioritize it! Keep away from things that don't make you feel good. This could be friends that make you feel bad, social media or other. If it doesn't make you feel good, you don't need it! If you have questions about the changes your body is going through, ask a friend, family member, guardian, teacher, doctor or other adult you feel comfortable speaking to! ​ Many siblings are great friends but you have taken it one step further! What are 5 tips/tricks for running a business with your sibling? Communicate often & clearly. Sometimes it's easy to assume the other person *knows* what you're thinking, and sometimes that is totally the case (one of the benefits of running a biz with a sibling) BUT that's not always the case and can get you into trouble if you lean on short hand communication too often. Prioritize your meetings the same way you would with someone else on your team. Show up on time, be attentive, have an agenda, etc… Set time aside to hang as just siblings! Keep that time separate from work time. Always remember that you're on the same team when it comes the business. You always have each other's backs and you're both rowing in the same direction. Be mindful of the other person's schedule: Running a biz with a sibling can often feel like the two of you do *everything* together, so when/if ever one person has plans or is doing something else, or taking some much needed time off, be sure not to bombard them with work related questions. ​ You have raised some serious money for Blume over the years. What are 5 tips you'd share to someone looking to raise money for their startup? You have to raise money FULL TIME. Tightly pack your meetings into a concentrated period of time and devote all of your energy to this. You ideally will have a co-founder/employee who will keep things running while you're devoting your time to this. Otherwise, this can drag on and diminish your sense of urgency. Ask for a yes or a no! Investors will always say maybe, because they don't want to say no. They want to keep the conversation open and might change their mind. They want to see if someone else invests or something changes. But saying, kindly but firmly, that "I really need a decision from you so I can move on" forces people to make a decision. Create a sense of scarcity. Say up front that you have "X" amount committed (only if you have, of course!) and that there's only this much left in the round. Blume specifically was only looking to raise about 1.5K, and through creating the sense of scarcity, ended up raising more! Be very clear about what impact that money is going to have your business. i.e. "I am doing "X" amount of revenue now, and with this much invested, I'm going to do "Y" amount. It is going to come from these specific channels and my team is going to be this big." Don't just say "I'm going to use the money to grow my business", be hyper-specific! Find a lead investor. People are going to ask you who your lead is, and they want someone to take the lead and start the trend. Tier 1 or Tier 2 investor is best, but also make certain that there's value alignment, that you've checked their references and - if it makes sense for you - ensured that they have follow up capital.​​ What are 5 must-see/try spots when visiting Vancouver? Bike or rollerblade the seawall (a must!) Day trip to Whistler Whytecliff Park or Jericho Beach for a picnic and views! Earnest Ice Cream & Miku Sushi are both amazing Brunch at Jam Cafe! Last but not least, which one of you fits each of the 5 following categories? The Partier - Bunny The Dancer - Both The Clumsy one - Taran The Bookworm - Taran The Foodie. - Both

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