Bart Bradshaw: (00:27)
Hey builders. I’ve said this once and I’ll say it again. I believe everyone should have a side hustle. That’s exactly what TomboyX was for Fran Dunaway and her wife Naomi, they just wanted a beautiful button up shirt designed for them but didn’t know the difference between a knit and a woven when they started TomboyX six years later, they have 15 employees and 6 million in yearly revenue. We’re excited to talk with Fran today and learn how she is building TomboyX to stay. Fran, thanks for joining us today.
Fran Dunaway: (00:58)
Hi there. Happy to be here.
Bart Bradshaw: (01:00)
So TomboyX started off as a side project, right?
Fran Dunaway: (01:03)
That’s correct. A little a side project to address an unmet need of mine. And, uh, it was just happening in our one car garage.
Bart Bradshaw: (01:12)
That is very cool. As a, all of a, I think all of our listeners, all our builders know I’m all about side projects, side hustles. I think it’s really good for, um, people across the board to have something on the side of whatever they’re doing full time, even if they’re, you know, driving their own startup. I think a side hustle is still good. So I wanna dive a little bit more into that and, and where you went from there into growing, um, TomboyX into something bigger. But before we get into TomboyX too much, um, can you just give us a little bit of your background Fran and you know, what led you to even doing that side project?
Fran Dunaway: (01:49)
Sure. Well, uh, I have no background in apparel. I actually didn’t know a knit from a woven or a, a balance sheet from a P and L. so I had a very steep learning curve in terms of what, what always, uh, needing to learn to grow and build a business. And it was just really this urge. I had to make a beautiful button up shirt for women that was like a Robert Graham or Ben Sherman that you can find in the men’s department that’s really fine quality and fun attention to detail. And so that was kind of where it began was I wanted a cool shirt and no one was making it. So what does it take to make that happen now? My past life, I, uh, actually this is my third career, my second career before I came into this was producing political ads. And so I am very much a person of yes, that can get done. This is how to make it happen and this is what it will cost you. So I had that kind of unrelenting make it happen attitude, but I didn’t have any idea about how to go about making a shirt.
Bart Bradshaw: (02:56)
Tell us why in political ads you had to that kind of unrelenting attitude.
Fran Dunaway: (03:01)
Well you don’t, the stakes are usually pretty high when you’re doing a us Senate race and, uh, you know, you get an odd request to have come up with a, an Arnold Schwarzenegger doll while you’re in the middle of Utah, for example, shooting. And how do you make that happen? And, uh, it really isn’t an option to not make it happen. It’s just figuring out how you do make it happen.
Bart Bradshaw: (03:22)
Yeah. So you’re used to making stuff happen. Yeah, that’s, that’s good. But not a, not a lot of P and L or balance sheet transactions are, or rather a, um, analysis.
Fran Dunaway: (03:35)
I managed a lot of budgets obviously, you know, um, and I was executive producer, so I had a, a team of editors and producers that were out in the field. So I was familiar with how to kind of watch numbers and staying on budget, but I wasn’t as, uh, familiar with the, kind of the interplay between balance sheets and P and L’s and cashflow statements and all that, which I think are critical components to running your business wisely and efficiently.
Bart Bradshaw: (04:04)
Right, right. Okay. So you were doing political ads when you started TomboyX?
Fran Dunaway: (04:11)
Bart Bradshaw: (04:12)
Okay. And it was a side project. How did it even start? What was the gap in the market that you saw? You said there was, there was a certain type of shirt, but now you’re more of a, an underwear brand, right?
Fran Dunaway: (04:26)
That’s correct. When we started this underwear company, because I wanted a cool shirt and uh, and my then girlfriend, now wife got tired of hearing me complain when we would go shopping, I, I prefer to wear a button up shirt. I don’t wear a lot of knit shirts. And so I just was more comfortable. But at that time I wore a lot of Brooks Brothers and got frustrated because I would, could go into the men’s department and find exactly the type of shirt I want, but of course it didn’t work for my body. And so, uh, I think she just got tired of hearing me complain and one day said, well, how hard can it be to start a clothing line? And so off we jumped into bootstrapping the development of the first shirt. But what was interesting. So we did that for about a year and we got some prototypes made and then we decided as a proof of concept and to also get the shirts into production, uh, was that we would run a Kickstarter campaign.
Fran Dunaway: (05:22)
And this was in, uh, 2013. So we ran this Kickstarter campaign. We chose the name Tom boy because we thought it was a cute name, TomboyX. It just was, was something that we resonated with. And so about a week into the Kickstarter campaign, and I think that this comes back to my experience in politics, which is kind of how interesting roads lead you to a certain place. But because of the, the experience in, in political campaigns, in the work I been doing, it became really apparent that the name was resonating in a very powerful way. It was, it was just a, a fervor that we had stepped into a white space and there was instant brand recognition. And so that was a really interesting, uh, moment because not only did we acknowledge that there was this, this, uh, enthusiasm as we were hearing from women and girls around the world who are excited that there was finally a brand for them, but also this sense of responsibility for kind of meeting that need for these customers or for these people of a community that we felt were very close to and a certain sense of responsibility.
Fran Dunaway: (06:33)
And then obviously having an execution or mentality of we can make this happen. Uh, just step one foot in front of the other. How do we do it?
Bart Bradshaw: (06:44)
Got it. So was it a surprise on Kickstarter or did you do a lot to like kind of ensure, I know that some people, you know, they get on Kickstarter and they basically have a plan where they’ve put the budget that they have to hit or the, what do you call it, the goal at a reasonable place. They know they can drive that much revenue. You know? Was it like that for you or was it kind of you put it out there and it was a big surprise.
Fran Dunaway: (07:09)
We had set a limit and we had done the research locally of what it would cost us to get our shirts and to production and manufacturer here in Seattle and pay for all the materials. And so that was our goal. We set our goal at 75,000 because we knew that that’s what it would take to make the shirts because again, I just wanted the shirts. Yeah. And, and we did a full size run, um, you know, went up to size 22 at the time. And so it was, it was hard work to, to hit the goal. But it was the lesson and I think the listening that we did, that was the critical component for us. And that was, was that there was something bigger than the shirt that was resonating and palpable in that this instant brand recognition. And so then we started doing some research into, well for if we have a brand, how do we build this brand? And what of other successful brands that have a heart and soul that all these years later that we want to kind of, um, borrow from or, or emulate. And so what was it, it was important to us if we were going to step into this kind of commercial capitalism space that we wanted to make sure that our values were imbued throughout the brand and that that would be something that could last as long as the brand [inaudible]
Bart Bradshaw: (08:32)
that’s interesting. So did you start to kind of dive in and try to understand who this market was that was coming to the table and saying, Hey, we like what you’re offering here from a, not just this one product, but kind of what you seem to stand for perspective?
Fran Dunaway: (08:48)
I think it was much more about recognizing that we were weak. We were expressing and built this company initially because of an unmet need that we personally felt. I think the bigger picture was, Oh, there are lot of us. We knew there were a lot within the LGBTQ community. We weren’t sure how far beyond that it went. We started hearing from firefighters, police officers, people in the military, um, people that wear uniforms to work, scrubs to work, people like that who are looking for functional quality underwear that Victoria secret was never going to address. And so they’d been borrowing their boyfriends or their husbands boxer briefs or, or they’d been shopping in the men’s department and wearing boxer briefs. And in, there are a lot of reasons that boxer briefs, men’s boxer briefs don’t work for women. Some obvious, some not so obvious. And so that was kind of an interesting moment that came, Oh, probably about eight months after we started, uh, after we launched the Kickstarter campaign, which is when we, we started reading every book, you know, we read the pedagogy, a book we read Ben and Jerry’s, we were reading all of these biographies about, um, how brands built themselves and, and, and uh, had that have values like the Nike story, the Phil Knight story.
Fran Dunaway: (10:07)
So just sponges for information, meeting with people, meeting with one of the founders of Tommy Bahama and uh, talking to him and one of that founder when he was one of three founders. But he said to us, you know, you think you’re tapping into a vein and you’ve actually, you’re going to hit an artery because there’s so much unmet need out there that we were able to tap into. And so that was, uh, it was us. It is us and it continues to be us. And so I think that’s the differences that were authentically part of that unmet audience. And so that, that really is, is what’s keeps it real for us.
Bart Bradshaw: (10:49)
I think that’s awesome. And you know, to, to kind of create something that’s based on your own needs, but then to find out that there are many, many others who have that need as well. Um, a lot of us, you know, we may have needs, but it’s not necessarily something that everyone needs or wants. You found out through Kickstarter and I’m assuming other ways, it’s just continued to be confirmed. How quickly did you feel like you really had a brand here? Sounds like even from the get go with the Kickstarter campaign, you, you kinda did, but were you pretty sure by then or, or were there more milestones that you hit? Additional confirmations?
Fran Dunaway: (11:31)
You know, it was palpable to us that we had an instant brand. We got lucky with being able to trademark the name and that that’s, that’s very powerful. If you look at any other brands, it takes a long time for the Nike shoes, for example, to become emblematic or iconic. And the cool thing was the timing was right. We had this opportunity, had the name, we had the me too movement, we had gender neutrality, gender equity, that type of stuff that was starting to turn in these zeitgeists of the culture. And so a really, that was just a timing moment. And we spent the first two and a half years, just the two of us, our side hustle was freelancing, uh, so that we could pay our bills. Uh, we didn’t pay ourselves for two and a half years. And so it was just the two of us and, and doing the Shopify backend and doing the fulfillment. And we did hire a contractor to start manufacturing boxer briefs. Um, what, what happened was our customers kept requesting that we make boxer briefs for women. And we didn’t know that no one was doing that. We just presumed that people were. And so I went on to nordstrom.com and typed in boxer briefs for women and up came a pair of spanks. And we were pretty sure that wasn’t what our customer was looking for. So we saw that as an opportunity and we also knew from the research that we’d been doing, that what we needed was a product or, or a category that we could build a brand around and we needed a hero product. And so we thought, well, let’s go for it with these boxer briefs. So about that time, an amazing woman came into our lives that had 30 years of manufacturing and sourcing experience and she had seen our shirts in production nine months earlier in the factory, had remembered us, reached out to see if we were looking for any help. And of course we were bowing in her feet when she first walked in. Um, yeah. And so she’s still with us. Yeah, please, please. And uh, she’s still with us, but she, she took it very seriously. She’s a got incredible attention to detail. She, we are in a hundred percent lockstep around quality and fit. And so she made sure that she worked with the factory and, and did sampling. We use real people. We brought real people in real a full size range. We didn’t just start with one particular size and then grade from there we made sure that all of the different sizes worked on, on multiple types of bodies. And then we got into production. Now we didn’t have enough money to pay for them when they arrived. So we decided to pre-sell them two weeks prior to hoping we’d sell half of them and they sold out before they arrived. Six months later we recognized that we had tripled our revenue and we started scratching our heads and wondering if in fact we might be an underwear company.
Bart Bradshaw: (14:27)
Yeah. This product seems to be doing well. Um, so you say you didn’t have enough money at that time. Had you raised anything?
Fran Dunaway: (14:36)
No, we had not raised any money. We recognized that what we needed to do was a proof of concept. So I would set a daily goal on Facebook ads and once we hit the goal, I’d turn the ads off. That’s how sophisticated we were. And, uh, that was kind of the way that we operated and ran.
Bart Bradshaw: (14:54)
So you did this for two years, two and a half years before you quit your jobs. Is that right?
Fran Dunaway: (14:59)
That’s correct. And actually we didn’t quit our jobs after that. Two and a half years. We would still work weekends, uh, take various freelance jobs. Uh, if it, if it worked out with the other work that we were doing. Uh, Naomi, she was a sports massage therapist, so she would see clients in the morning and then we’d go in into the warehouse and then she would see clients in the evening and on weekends. So we side hustled for really up until the end of 2017, maybe a couple of things even into 18, because you know, we did the typical startup thing, which was, uh, we had racked up some credit card debt. And we were, you know, struggling to make ends meet and so we had to be very careful in and work as hard as we could to keep things afloat.
Bart Bradshaw: (15:45)
Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. And where are you mainly selling direct via Shopify? Yes. And we continue to do that today. You don’t sell on Amazon or through wholesale?
Fran Dunaway: (15:56)
We just started selling on Amazon a couple of months ago. Um, but the bulk of our business is through Shopify and we do not have any wholesale.
Bart Bradshaw: (16:05)
Got it. Do you plan to go that direction at some point or just not sure yet?
Fran Dunaway: (16:09)
Not in the immediate future. We all are very focused on our customer and our customer experience and connecting them with the brand. This is a customer base that has been ignored or unseen in the fashion industry for a very long time. And so they have a lot to say and we want to make sure that we hear it.
Bart Bradshaw: (16:30)
Out of curiosity, you know, a lot of people talk about Amazon as a brand killer. I mean, we all know Amazon is great for many things, but, uh, you know, if you, if you asked someone where they bought something, sometimes they’ll just answer, you know, I bought it on Amazon. Um, they might not refer to the brand name. What got you guys interested in selling on Amazon as well?
Fran Dunaway: (16:52)
Well, you know, it was on is a beast and it’s one to be reckoned with. So we’re using it strategically as a way for us to, um, expand awareness and, and help people get another access point to the brand. So we’re being strategic about what product we put on Amazon.
Bart Bradshaw: (17:10)
Okay. Got it. How long have you been there? About three months. Okay. So you probably don’t have tons of copycats yet, but uh, if you don’t, you probably will. Yeah. Amazon is a beast. It’s a wonderful beast in many ways, but it’s a beast. It can be hard on companies as well. And I have friends that work at Amazon. I have nothing against Amazon. It’s just, you know, pros and cons.
Fran Dunaway: (17:37)
It’s the little guys that have to figure out how to, how to best navigate that? But I think ignoring it is probably not the wisest decision.
Bart Bradshaw: (17:44)
Yeah, I think you’re smart to be strategic about it. So tell us a little bit more about, you know, you got in two and a half years or so. At what point did you start thinking about like raising funds, raising capital, accelerating it?
Fran Dunaway: (17:59)
Well, you know, we had, uh, gone out and were talking to some angel investors and just dipping our toes into the water of what that might look like. And we found a, a, an accelerator program that was looking for female founded companies for the first cohort in their accelerator program. And we thought, gosh, this could be a great experience and we might learn a lot. So we applied and got accepted and uh, it was a very fast process and we actually started that program in, uh, February 1st of 2014. And it was a three month long program based in Boulder. And about a week into the program, the heads of the, uh, accelerator pulled us aside and said, you know, there’s a lot of local interest in funding your company. They feel like there’s a lot of traction and, and you’ve got, uh, something really important here. And so we would like to lead your seed round of funding and help you raise $1 million.
Fran Dunaway: (19:04)
And so that was a big turning point for us obviously. And we jumped at the opportunity and then we closed that round in August or started, it was a rolling close. It was half of it. We needed to have to take the first check. And so it took about eight months to get a half a million dollars committed. And we did, uh, that was the first time that we went on payroll and it was the first time that we hired employees. I’ll be at substantially less than market rate. Everyone came on board because they were excited about the brand. And so took a, a reduced paycheck. And when was that exactly? That was in August of 2015 okay. Oh, I said February of 14. I met February of 15.
Bart Bradshaw: (19:49)
Okay. So that was all in 2015 and then, and you said 2017, what did you say about 2017?
Fran Dunaway: (19:58)
A 2017 what? That we had worked, we had a side hustle until 2017
Bart Bradshaw: (20:05)
even beyond getting some, uh, some funding, you had a side hustle? Yes. You kept it at the side project?
Fran Dunaway: (20:11)
That’s correct. Uh, because well we were working on the company, the business full time, but we needed to side hustle because we were paying ourselves.
Bart Bradshaw: (20:19)
Ah, got it. So it all switched. Yeah. To cover the bills. So tomboy X was now your full time gig, but you needed a side project or two of side gigs to keep the lights on? Correct. Got it. Okay. Now I’ve got my timeline figured out or your timeline figured out. Ah, um, thanks for clarifying. So you got that first seed round and I understand you also have a a then.
Fran Dunaway: (20:48)
Yes. Uh, so we closed the seed round. We ended up raising a total of about 2 million on the seed round. And then, uh, in order to continue to fuel our growth that we knew it was time to do an a, we closed an a in may of 2018 and then, uh, at the end of 2018 we were approached by a venture capital firm in London. We weren’t looking to raise at the time, but they came to us and, uh, we started having conversations with them. So we closed a B round in may of this year.
Bart Bradshaw: (21:24)
Oh, okay. Congratulations. So let’s dive into a little bit, uh, the challenges. What were some of the challenges that you guys had other than maybe keeping up with the capital raising needs?
Fran Dunaway: (21:36)
Yeah, that’s, that’s actually the biggest challenge. Um, I, I’m sure you’ve read, uh, the abysmal stats on women being funded by venture capital. It’s just hard to raise as a female founder. And so not saying that as a complaint, saying that more is it, it, it was a challenge. So we had to be persistent and we had to be deliberate. Uh, on our seed round for example, 90% of our investors were female and even with the a round 85% more female. And so, uh, that presents challenges because women are slower to write checks and they re tend to write smaller checks. Um, but that being said, at the end of the day, we have a very loyal and and amazing, uh, group of investors that were with us, uh, most of them through to, uh, to the B round. Some of them stuck around still. Um, other challenges are really around growth and learning and moving through the next phase of growth so that you, you can’t look at the end game.
Fran Dunaway: (22:37)
You have to just bite off today what, what you need to get through til tomorrow and ongoing. And you know, especially in the early phases of startup, it’s, it’s really fly by the seat of your pants and it’s just in time now we’re faced with how do we scale just in time, no longer is acceptable and obviously not, not scalable. And so building systems and processes and getting the right team in place. Uh, because if you look at the fact that in August of 2015 we hired our first employees and at the end of 18 we had 15 employees and today we have 38. So, uh, certain challenges that come with that, that rapid of growth.
Bart Bradshaw: (23:24)
Okay. So you have hired, since 2018 you’ve doubled the size of your company and these are full time employees? That’s correct. That’s fantastic. And does it feel like, I mean at this point I guess you all have a big office space.
Fran Dunaway: (23:42)
Oh, it’s about 4,500 feet. Yeah. Yeah. We are in based in Seattle, Washington and we’ve got an open floor plan of, it’s a nice space above a crispy cream. So we like to say we have the sweetest underwear in town. So yeah, we love our space
Bart Bradshaw: (24:00)
and all of the manufacturing. Is it done in the us? Is it done overseas or
Fran Dunaway: (24:05)
in different places? It’s all done overseas. In China. We perfected our project at a woman owned factory up in Canada, which is nearby in Vancouver, Canada. So we could get up there and keep an eye on things, but we all grew them pretty rapidly. And then it was time to, to scale and move to factories that could work with us. We tried to find manufacturers in the U S that could handle, uh, not only our capacity but had the type of machinery and workers, skilled workers that we need because again, our focus on fit and quality is so important to us and we just weren’t able to find that in the United States. So we have been scaling with, uh, women owned factories in China. We make sure that they offer a living wage and operate with sustainable eco-friendly fabrics and in practices.
Bart Bradshaw: (24:57)
Has that been a challenge at all with the kind of moving from factory to factory and scaling up to bigger manufacturers even farther abroad?
Fran Dunaway: (25:08)
You know, we have really incredible partners, uh, that the factory that, that we do a bulk of our work with was affiliated with the factory in, in, uh, in Vancouver. And so that has been a really great relationship. They come see us once a year. We go see them while our, our, our, someone from our team goes to see them multiple times a year. We have an employee in their factory every day, our employee. And so they’re really a, a very strong partner that I think that was a real blessing for us because, uh, they’ve, they’ve been there and they’ve grown and scaled with us now as we’re expanding and in growing even more and bringing in other factories into the fold. We work with about four different factories right now, all, all based in China. But, uh, obviously we’re looking at ways that we can expand the capacities in other, other ways in other places.
Fran Dunaway: (26:02)
But the only real challenge we had with the factory in China and was, uh, a few years ago, we had one particular factory that was kind of the old school, uh, uh, stereotypical in what you have in your mind for a stereotypical Chinese factory where they just want to focus on quality and not, or quantity and not quality and kept being very proud of the low price point in regard, regardless of of the cost of the quality. And we kept saying price point isn’t as important, isn’t as important to us as quality, and they just couldn’t ever kind of get that concept. That was just a completely concept. So we ended up, uh, kind of firing that factory and, uh, just working with factories that understand our commitment to [inaudible].
Bart Bradshaw: (26:50)
Yeah, that’s interesting. I’ve actually had to do the same,
Fran Dunaway: (26:53)
which does make it for more expensive, but we don’t want our stuff ending up in landfills in a few months. So it’s all about sustainability and not quality.
Bart Bradshaw: (27:03)
Yeah, absolutely. Um, my wife and I have done the same with one of our side hustles and uh, yeah, it’s, it can be a challenge. Um, tell me more about the actual brand. Tomboy X. You’ve, you started with a shirt that you wanted, and by the way, I mean, what was even different about the shirts? I, I, I don’t have a good feel for how, you know, men’s shirts are different from women’s shirts.
Fran Dunaway: (27:29)
If you’re familiar with the Ben Sherman or Robert Graham shirts today, first of all, they start with really, really high quality fabrics and ads. That’s a pretty rare to find in, um, women’s sharing. Especially just kind of off the rack.
Bart Bradshaw: (27:46)
You mentioned Brooks brothers, I’m familiar with Brooks brothers. Is it similar to them?
Fran Dunaway: (27:50)
Yeah, a little bit. They have a little bit fun or quality, but what they lacked as the personality of a Robert Graham or VIN. Okay. So I’m sure you’ve seen guys that wear the shirts that have the fun details under the collar kind of contrasting patterns under the cuff and a nice ribbon piping down the button with contrasting threads. They just have personality. And so that is very rare to find in a, especially then I am seeing more, uh, coming in from different, Robert Graham is in fact expanded their women’s collection. I’m happy to say, but that was what the impetus was. And then there were issues around button up shirts not closing. Um, there, there’s the gap issue and so we, we built a hidden buttons in so that it would keep the stay closed. So you weren’t sitting in a meeting and gaping open and in your bra showing.
Bart Bradshaw: (28:47)
So it takes longer to, to button up your shirt. But it’s worth it. That’s correct. That’s nice and buttoned up. Um, okay. And then tell us how that kind of made its way into the underwear category as well. Like you said that a, it was very clear up front, you know, there was a whole brand here. Describe the brand that was there early on and how it now is throughout all the underwear that you sell.
Fran Dunaway: (29:16)
Well, I think it was really the brand recognition in that people saw the name and thought, Oh, there’s a brand that’s going to address what my needs are. And I think that was more from a product. But then what was important to me in Naomi was this, this notion of our values that become embedded in the brand as we further develop what that voice was and what that look and feel was. Because really we just wanted it to be about positivity and about making the world a better place and being inclusive of different kinds of people. We wanted to celebrate people being unapologetic about who they are and owning that from a place of feeling good in your own skin, feeling comfortable in your own skin. And so we were looking in a lot of brands that uh, subtly and not so subtly or shaming in that they want to tell you how to be cool.
Fran Dunaway: (30:13)
They want to tell you if you, you know, join our tribe. And we wanted to kind of flip that. It’s who we are to flip that on its head and say, I think you’re cool. Just the way you are. Own it, feel good about it and express yourself and express your individuality. You don’t have the jump on, on board. We want this to be about you. And so I think that that’s just who we are and, and the brand work that we did to kind of create our voice and our messaging has, has evolved in that because we weren’t marketing people, we didn’t have any experience with building a brand. So we were able to work with a branding agency to, to help kind of make that real. But it’s really who we are. And what we think is valuable and important.
Bart Bradshaw: (31:02)
So it sounds like the name that you guys selected, tomboy X was really the start of that, or at least it, it kind of helped to carry that message farther than you maybe originally intended.
Fran Dunaway: (31:17)
Absolutely. I think that’s, that’s exactly right.
Bart Bradshaw: (31:20)
So some people are like, don’t worry about a name, don’t, you know, just start something. You might have different advice.
Fran Dunaway: (31:27)
I would say that, you know, I like to call them our rainbow unicorn moments. I think it was just, it just happened that way. Um, knowing more about branding and know more about marketing, absolutely. It, you know, thinking about how you name things and what you named them. Uh, S if you have a vision for the future and where you want to go, I think spending some time to make sure that that name encompasses and encapsulates what, what the brand that you’re building. But if you’re just trying to sell a product or it’s just about the product, you know, you can name it one, 800 flowers. So, you know, that’s a, that’s a great brand as well.
Bart Bradshaw: (32:11)
It’s very clear. Yeah, exactly. All right. So what’s next for you guys for, you know, Fran for you and Naomi and tomboy X?
Fran Dunaway: (32:23)
We are scaling and really working on brand awareness and getting the message out. We are finally for the first time in the history of the company, we have the resources to really start building out some of the content that we’ve been longing to do for the, that history of the company and really put systems and processes in place so that we can continue to grow and expand. Uh, we were looking for ways that we can introduce new product line and, uh, and just really, uh, celebrate our community in, in a big way.
Bart Bradshaw: (32:58)
That’s exciting. And Seattle’s getting a little more expensive. So I’m hoping your runway will last. And I hear you just, um, it looks like you just a soldier 1 million, the pair of underwear, is that right?
Fran Dunaway: (33:14)
We did. It’s actually our 1 million unit of clothing a, so it includes bras, underwears everything that we sell, but yeah.
Bart Bradshaw: (33:23)
Okay. 1 million units. That’s amazing. Uh, I’m sure, uh, I, myself and many of our listeners would love to hit that milestone. So it’s fantastic to see you do it and hear from your, and all of this story. Last question I asked you, what’s next? I guess I do want to just revisit, like, you know, you’re clearly building to stay, you want to accelerate things and make it a bigger company. You’re talking about systems and processes, but I guess if you could go back now, you know, go back to 2014, 20, 15, 2016 timeframe, is there something that you would do differently knowing everything you know now to kind of set yourself up even better for the kind of success that you are working toward?
Fran Dunaway: (34:11)
I think that it would have been good for us to have someone with specific eCommerce experience onboard sooner and it was hard to find. Obviously when you’re paying less than the going rate and you’re competing with the Amazons of the world, that’s hard to do in a place like Seattle. Uh, but I, I, but I know, I mean I’m proud of where we got to the revenues that we got to without anyone with any experience on the team. But, uh, I can see now looking back how having had that lens more specifically involved early on could have, could have, uh, made a big difference because we’re having to kind of scramble to, to re establish or establish better processes around other funnel, mid funnel, lower funnel, kind of strict strategic thinking.
Bart Bradshaw: (35:06)
Right? We’ve actually heard that from a number of people. Um, I think it’s good advice. It’s always hard though to know exactly when the right time is to bring in, you know, that type of, um, person. On one hand it’s actually great for you guys to kind of learn and do it yourself first. But on the other it’s like, well, we could have accelerated things earlier.
Fran Dunaway: (35:27)
No, I, I think you’re right. And we had an interesting experience in that, you know, we brought someone in and quickly realized that we actually had outgrown knowledge much more quickly than they had. And so we were then beyond and recognizing we needed someone to take us to the next level.
Bart Bradshaw: (35:47)
Yeah. Wow. Any last advice that you haven’t yet given to our builders before we, uh, finish this episode?
Fran Dunaway: (35:56)
Oh, you know, I just want to commend anyone and everyone that has a side hustle or that is out there trying to build something new and different. It’s not easy. It’s, it’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. But I think that it’s incredibly rewarding and empowering and you know, who knew I would love, uh, being a business owner, but I think it’s, it’s a really cool way to engage with the world and uh, I think it makes, makes a life all the more interesting and I find entrepreneurs to be the most interesting people to break some bread with.
Bart Bradshaw: (36:33)
I couldn’t agree more. Thank you very much Fran, for taking some time to chat with us.
Fran Dunaway: (36:37)
Thank you so much for doing this
Speaker 3: (36:39)
builder’s. Be sure to check out, built to stay.com for links to tomboy X as well as exclusive content and show names next week on Built to Stay. I built a, a team of contractors on the cheap. We shipped a very inelegant but shippable 1.0. And it was, uh, profitable within the first month. And then, um, ended up growing that, like you said, and the introduction to over a million users and was eventually acquired by a public company as the short version. Read and review built to stay wherever you listen to your podcasts. [inaudible].