Transcript: How To Grow A Purpose Driven Brand

With Natalia Michael, from No Nasties

Catherine Langman:

So today on the podcast, I interview a guest, Natalia Michael from No Nasties. But before I welcome her onto the show, I wanted to touch on the concept of building a brand with purpose and what that really means, because this what we are talking about on today’s show. And it is quite close to my heart. It’s a concept that’s close to my heart. And here in our business as Productpreneur Marketing and the Productpreneur Academy, what’s really important to me and what really lights me up and excites me is working with businesses that exist because they have a really important purpose, or a really big vision that they’re trying to achieve that is designed to have a positive impact on the world in some way, shape, or form. And so I really want to bring to light this concept before we dive into the episode.

Catherine Langman:

So a brand with purpose is really… Like the number one most important thing for me is that you’re making your business and your brand… And it should be really authentic to your own values personally as well. And with the acknowledgement that consumers these days really are demanding more and more, not just authenticity, but more clarity and clear communication around the origin of products. And we all want to be a little bit… Typically we are much more conscious in the way that we are making decisions as consumers. So our purchase decisions, we want to put out dollars towards products that are going to have less impact negatively on the environment. But also we want to know the supply chain. We want to understand about the supply chain. We want to choose products that aren’t causing people in third world countries to live in poverty. We want to make sure that we’re not buying from businesses and brands that think it’s okay to really denigrate the environment and all of that sort of stuff.

Catherine Langman:

So building a brand with purpose and building a brand with your values really kind of stitched into the fabric of the business is a really fantastic concept. And I think it’s something that maybe more of us could grab hold of and use that as a means of really motivating us to move forwards in our business. Because if we are having a really positive impact on our community, and on our environment, and on the lives of underprivileged people of any walk of life, then that’s super, super motivating. And I know from a commercial perspective, it can really help us to scale and grow a business, because the bigger the business gets, the bigger the positive impact that we can have. But also, it becomes less about the dollars and more about the relationships and around the community and the impact that we can have on the world around us.

Catherine Langman:

So that’s the concept I wanted to introduce here before we dive into the episode. And my guest today has really taken this to heart. I think it’s the only way she knows how to operate. And so I’m very excited for her to share her story and to impart some of her wisdom learned through her experience in business to date. So without further ado, let’s dive into today’s episode.

Catherine Langman:

Well hello there, and welcome back to another episode of the Productpreneur Success Podcast. And today I’m very excited to welcome a guest to the show, Natalia Michael from No Nasties. Welcome to the show, Natalia.

Natalia Michael:

Thank you. Hello.

Catherine Langman:

How you going?

Natalia Michael:

Good, good. And you?

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. Really, really well. I’m very excited to have you on the show and tell a bit of your story, which is very inspiring I’m sure for many people. And so I guess before we kick off, do you want to just quickly introduce yourself and your business and let people know what you’re all about.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. Sure. So name is Natalia. And I started No Nasties Kids… I keep getting the dates wrong, but I think it’s about five years ago now.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah, five years ago now.

Catherine Langman:

About that. Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

And in my kitchen, which was a play makeup brand for children. And I had one daughter at the time. And it all started off because I was suddenly… Well, not suddenly diagnosed. Well, I was diagnosed. But my body had this very severe, adverse reaction to food all of a sudden. I’d always suffered with allergies and eczema and asthma. And then when I hit 29, it’s like my body just shut down. I thought I was dying.

Catherine Langman:

Oh, my God.

Natalia Michael:

And I remember going to the doctor saying, “I think I’ve got cancer or something. I think I’m actually dying.” It wasn’t a fun time, trust me.

Catherine Langman:

No.

Natalia Michael:

I would eat and vomit. Bloat. I looked as though I was five months pregnant. I’d fall asleep in restaurants on the table.

Catherine Langman:

Oh, my God.

Natalia Michael:

I’d have such severe cramps. I’d be on the floor rocking. It was just really full on, and the onset was very quick.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. And that’s scary.

Natalia Michael:

It was scary. So I was then diagnosed with [inaudible 00:05:40] three medium to high grade allergies.

Catherine Langman:

Oh, my God.

Natalia Michael:

I came away from that saying to my partner, “I’m basically bubble boy, and I need to buy a bubble and move into the bubble, because I’m allergic to-

Catherine Langman:

Everything.

Natalia Michael:

…all of Australia.”

Catherine Langman:

Oh, my goodness.

Natalia Michael:

And that’s what started my interest in natural living and eliminating toxins, and just having a look at what we were consuming as a family, and also what I was consuming. Not just internally via food, but also topically on my skin and body.

Catherine Langman:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. So that must have led to quite a transformation in your life.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. I was always working corporately. And Ivy was rushed to hospital. They thought that she had whooping cough. But she’d contracted bronchiolitis, RSV, and wasn’t breathing.

Catherine Langman:

Oh, crikey.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. We were in hospital in isolation, and my boss, who’s still a good friend of mine, called and said, “Oh, look. They’re making us all redundant.” And I was four months in on maternity leave.

Catherine Langman:

Excellent.

Natalia Michael:

It was just a perfect storm. Looking at my child being so critically ill and on a ventilator. And then just thinking, there’s more to life than just… Groundhog Day. You know, the corporate Groundhog Day. Getting up at 5:30, being on the train early, being back in time to pick up my daughter from after school care, and just that rigmarole. And I thought, all I want is for my daughter to survive, and I didn’t want to go back to corporate work. And at the time, we have five mortgages.

Catherine Langman:

Oh, my God.

Natalia Michael:

I turned to my husband and I said, “I’m not going back to work.” You can imagine his face.

Catherine Langman:

I bet that went down well.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. Like a lead balloon. I said, “I have to go into business for myself. I don’t want to do this anymore.” And that’s where it all began. And I think originally I wanted to do a natural women’s makeup range. And like many women, I chickened out. I just didn’t trust that I was capable. It was too serious for me. Too in the serious basket.

Catherine Langman:

It probably felt very daunting looking, because that’s such a huge industry, isn’t it?

Natalia Michael:

Huge industry. But I had an idea that was different, and I was ready to go, and I paid for formulas that I was… My toes were in the water, and I just went, “Oh, no, no, no. You can’t do that.” And changed it to kids play makeup after my daughter got her play makeup set that had aluminum in it.

Catherine Langman:

Right. Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

[crosstalk 00:08:13] colors. I thought, I’ll do kids play makeup because it’s not as serious. And in the first year, self manufacturing in my garage and my kitchen, and starting this whole journey, we just blew up. It just became-

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. You went big very quickly, didn’t it?

Natalia Michael:

It went big very quickly, but with a lot of manual work. I was working seven days a week. And I tend to do that to myself. So it went very big very quick. And then several years later, we launched SLiCK KiDS, which is our plant based haircare line, made with native Australian extract, which is a world first.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. Sounds like it.

Natalia Michael:

And then this week, we will formally launch, we’ve already done a soft launch, our No Nasties home solid bar products for home and body and 100% cotton cloth products for home. They’re all Australian made.

Catherine Langman:

Give us some examples of the kinds of products that will be in this range, because that sounds really exciting and new, as well.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. This is my passion project. And it started about the time that we all went into isolation for COVID. And I was reading… I live on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and I’m on a lot of the local pages. And just seeing people say, “Look, I’m a single mother and I work in hospitality.” A lot of the industry here on the coast is tourism and hospitality. And, “I just need work. And, “I just need to find some work.” And I thought, far out. There’s a lot of people here needing work and needing jobs. And I was sitting here in isolation, and my husband was working from home, and I thought, how can I bring about more jobs for the Coast? And how do I help build up other Australian businesses? And not that I’m anti buying products from overseas, because No Nasties purchases… Our containers come in from China. But I just thought… I wanted to do something that was 100% Australian made end to end. So packaging, every ingredient, and that I’m also supporting other local businesses in creating this.

Natalia Michael:

So we’ve released as our starter range, we’ve released dish washing bars, which look like a bar of soap. But it’s solid dish washing block. And we have a big 500 gram cube in a black and a natural color. And they’re locally made. They’re made 10 minutes down the road from me by another family business.

Catherine Langman:

That’s so cool.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah, which is really nice. And they’re just such lovely people. And they’re packed with essential oils. They’re palm oil free. They’re vegan. They’re all natural. So we have the dish washing block. We have body wash bars. Vegan cleanser, which is beautiful.

Catherine Langman:

Wow.

Natalia Michael:

We have a pet wash. And then we have cotton cloth products. So we have reusable paper towels, reusable cloth wipes for like babies, a travel wipe. Facial rounds, which are great for removing eye makeup. They’re very soft. So, yeah. And they’re all made within a 20 minute drive from my home, which is phenomenal.

Catherine Langman:

That is phenomenal. That’s really, really exciting. I have no doubt that it’s going to gain traction really quickly as well, because I mean, not least because I think there’s a lot more consciousness with consumers now around where the products come from that we buy. So, yeah. A lot more thought seems to go into that, which is about time.

Catherine Langman:

So I really wanted to touch on some of the things in your business journey and your story. So for me, one of the things that I really love in my business is being able to work with female business owners and founders, but in particular where the business is really a brand with purpose. And obviously No Nasties, it is a brand with a big purpose. And what I think has been clear when I’ve watched your business journey is how you’ve really led with your values and what’s so important to you, and your beliefs and your values.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

So has that been a conscious thing for you? Or is that just how you operate generally?

Natalia Michael:

Well I’m definitely a moralistic person, which lands me in hot water sometimes, because I can’t keep my mouth shut. And I do stick to my values. And I was raised that way. And I’m definitely raising my daughters that way. And I do like to partner with distributors and stockists that are similar in that respect. Just in how we treat each other and that particularly with my distributors, they become like family to me. And when they don’t, when they don’t feel that way, it just doesn’t work. So, yeah. I guess it is conscious in one respect. So I do have to sometimes make decisions that don’t really help me. But if something doesn’t align with my values, I won’t do it. And then obviously the way in which we treat our customers, which is always paramount. And I think that started for me very young. I had my own little business when I was 12 or 13. We were down at Bondi Market doing hair wraps, my sister and I.

Catherine Langman:

How cool is that?

Natalia Michael:

And raised with parents who were very much the hard worker. So we do value our customers first and foremost. And I treat them like friends. And we treat them the way we would want to be treated by a brand. And that’s something that I still get at least two emails a week from customers going, “That was just an awesome experience and thank you so much.” Just the communication side. But it does come at a price, I think. And that’s something I’m trying to still find my footing around. And that’s being able to switch off. Because customers will message us through Facebook at 11 o’clock at night, and if I’m awake, I’m responding.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. Yeah. That’s a tough one, isn’t it?

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. As we’re getting so big now, I’m finding that I don’t have the capacity to do that.

Catherine Langman:

No.

Natalia Michael:

So that’s where I’m trying to find that balance.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. And we do need to have that energy to bring to our business, otherwise we’re no use to anyone, are we?

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. Yeah. Which is why I’m falling asleep at 8:30 every night now. My husband’s like, “Are you serious? You’re going to bed at 8:30?” But I’m so tired. Oh, yeah. So we value customers and the relationship first and foremost. That comes before anything for us.

Catherine Langman:

How do you demonstrate to your customers? Is there any sort of tips that you could suggest for people?

Natalia Michael:

Yeah, look. When you value the relationship first, and that’s every relationship. Every customer and every relationship first, you will make decisions not based on the dollars. You’ll make decisions based on how that person feels at the end of the day. And so for example, if we’ve shipped something out to a customer, and it arrives, and for example, we’ve had it happen… A pack’s arrived and an eye shadow’s opened up all over the other items. And they’re like, “This item’s okay, and this item’s okay, and this item’s okay, but these are damaged.” Or, “This one’s been ruined.”

Catherine Langman:

And it happens, right?

Natalia Michael:

It happens.

Catherine Langman:

You can’t control the posties sometimes.

Natalia Michael:

No. And we’re a handmade product. We literally hand fill every item. So things happen. And we just say to that customer, “You keep it. We’ll send you a new one. No problem.” We’re not going to go, and I’ve seen businesses do this, they’re like, “Do I have to ship a whole new thing, or do I just sent the one thing that’s?” It’s like-

Catherine Langman:

Send the thing.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. I always look at it if you’re the customer, what would you like to see happen? You know?

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

And we receive a lot of positive feedback for that. We try to communicate a lot with our customer. We ship orders within 48 hours; 48 business hours every order is shipped. We send out notifications when the order’s packed, when the order’s shipped, tracking numbers. We’re good at communicating with the customer. So the relationship always comes first above the dollars.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. But then they pay that forward, right? The customers.

Natalia Michael:

Of course.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah, of course. And just seeing how quickly our social media grows, and the types of feedback that we get, is huge. And I’ve had customers that have purchasing from me since day one that are still purchasing from me now. So for me, that’s a testament to the fact that we’ve cared for that relationship.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. And they feel wanted and welcomed.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. Absolutely.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. Yeah. So I think that’s how we demonstrate that first and foremost. And with our distributors as well. We have had issues with distributors too. But particularly when they’re not in line with our values and our ethos of working together. When it becomes more of a, “What can I get from you?” relationship versus, “We’re partnering.” But we’ve had great success too with our distributors, and our licensee in Canada who manufactures in Canada now and services for us all of the US and Canada. So I think that’s the core value for No Nasties as a whole is just valuing the relationships. And then secondary to that is the quality of the products, the beauty of the products, which I’m all about the branding and the look.

Catherine Langman:

You are. You’ve done a wonderful job with that.

Natalia Michael:

And then just being real.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. Just showing the customer who I am, because I think people like to buy from people. And I have been in business with people before who’d say, “Business is business. And you just treat it like that.” And I just don’t work that way.

Catherine Langman:

No.

Natalia Michael:

And I think that is probably why our business has grown so quickly.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. Yeah. And if anyone listening has not come across No Nasties on particularly Instagram, I would say, but on social media generally, you really need go and jump on there and check out what you do, because I think these days a lot of people do find it really difficult to gain traction on social media. But you have managed to do a really wonderful job of it. I think part of it is the way that you visually represent your brand, because you are educating people as well about natural products, and the effects of different ingredients, and being conscious about what you consume, and all of that sort of stuff. But you’re also, like you said before, you’re connecting personally with your audience as well. What do you think you’ve done that’s helped you to actually gain such fast traction on social media, without necessarily dropping a ton of cash on paid ads?

Natalia Michael:

Well a couple of things. I have no issue jumping on and doing a video without makeup on my hair and my face. I just think so many times, people are seeing such a polished view of a person in business. And I just want to show people that I’m just a mom like everybody else. I’m up early driving my kids to school and trying to keep a household up and running. And then remembering, oh, crap. I’ve forgotten to do whatever. I’m very open. I don’t hide anything from my customers either. We received our very first negative feedback several months ago, and I was sitting at my desk like almost in tears going… I was most upset, not because I believed what the feedback was, but I was most upset because I can no longer say, “We’ve never had negative feedback.” She took that from me.

Catherine Langman:

It was a pretty good run.

Natalia Michael:

We had a really good run. But I went online. I said, “Look, I’m just going to share this with you.” The customer said that the product was too expensive, and I wanted to outline why the product costs what it costs. Natural ingredients cost more. Being handmade costs more. Being Australian made costs more. Recycled cardboard costs more. So I just wanted to kind of outline that. And the support that we got from our customer base was just huge. It really highlighted to me that even though people aren’t always commenting or liking or reaching out, they’re watching. So just the feedback from that one post was massive. But number one, I love good quality photography, and I pay a lot of money for my photography. So photography for me is huge.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. It is so worthwhile though, isn’t it?

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Catherine Langman:

You get what you pay for and you do get your money’s worth when you have images that really tell the right story and connect with the right person.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah, absolutely. Photography is a big one for me. Doing what we say we’re going to do. So we will sometimes do posts just around educating new customers about our ethics and our timelines, and just being very transparent with how we work. Who the team is. So just letting them in to the business more so than just what they see on the website. So that’s something else that we do. I don’t really know. I don’t treat my business Instagram too differently to my personal. I will still have an opinion. And a few people have asked me, “You know, you’ve got to keep everything on brand, on brand, on brand.” And I say, “Yes, to a degree. But people also want to see the real you.” Not too many personal things, but they do want to see the real you too. So we kind of mix the two together.

Catherine Langman:

Get the balance in there.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. And I’m goofy. Like, I’m really goofy. And you’ve known me for a while, so you.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

I will just go off on a tangent and have a laugh. And I want customers to see that too, that it’s not just about this polished pretty brand. When they see the product, the products are polished and pretty, but we’re real people behind that brand. So that’s what we try to convey.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. I think it’s like that striking the balance between being aspirational, but not too far ahead to be coming across as unattainable.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

So, yeah. Being able to really show that personality and just be just where it’s like a step forward, but not a leap, from where people are right now.

Natalia Michael:

That’s right. Yeah. Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. And I know that there are many introverts out there who find it very scary at the thought of jumping on a video without having done their hair, or thought up a script, or all of that kind of stuff. But it doesn’t need to be like that. It really doesn’t.

Natalia Michael:

No. Look, my daughter does acting, and the other day was one of the first times she had to get onstage with just one partner to do a scene in front of a crowd. And she was really nervous. And I said to her, “You know, when I do my videos and I go live…” Sometimes I just go live, because then you can’t change it. “I just think, what’s the worst that can happen?” Like, really what’s the worst? Someone’s going to say, “Oh, look at her hair.”

Catherine Langman:

Better not.

Natalia Michael:

Like how often do you look at somebody else and go, “Oh, look at them.” You just don’t.

Catherine Langman:

No.

Natalia Michael:

We’re so much more self critical than we are critical of others.

Catherine Langman:

100%. Exactly.

Natalia Michael:

So if someone says, “Oh, her hair’s messy,” I couldn’t care less.

Catherine Langman:

No.

Natalia Michael:

Like, yeah. I just woke up and I didn’t brush my hair. I did a video this morning where I didn’t brush my hair. And I looked at it and I said, “Oh, sorry. Excuse the bed head. YOLO.” Like, oh well. I didn’t have time. I just wanted to whack this video out before the kinds get up.

Catherine Langman:

And it’s so relatable for other moms.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Your audience. So there we go.

Natalia Michael:

That’s right. I’m not going to get on there with a full face of makeup and hair perfectly done and pretend that this is how I am every morning. That’s not the case.

Catherine Langman:

No. Sit there with your coffee instead.

Natalia Michael:

That’s right. And my bed hair.

Catherine Langman:

And your bed hair.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

I hope you had pajamas on.

Natalia Michael:

I did have UGGs on. But threw a jumper on.

Catherine Langman:

Oh, funny. No, that’s really good advice for people who are kind of getting going and really needing to try and find your audience and connect with your audience. I guess at the end of the day, social media, it’s a social platform. And people are looking for that sort of connection, and probably a little bit of inspiration and entertainment and all of that sort of stuff. So, yeah. That’s what we need to give them, and not just an expensive ad campaign.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. Exactly. Well I think particularly the new brands, so the No Nasties Home brand, I went very much against the grain with that. So when you look online at your all natural, waste free, packaging free type product, you’re generally looking at very subdued coloring. Wood, stone, very soft. And I’m like, “That’s just not my personality type.”

Catherine Langman:

Subdued? No. I don’t think so.

Natalia Michael:

[inaudible 00:26:00]? Subdued? Beige and wood? No.

Catherine Langman:

Not at all.

Natalia Michael:

So I thought, I want this brand to be all about my personality. So even my kitchen has black and white tile. I love pops of color. This is what I’m about. And I did the creative writing, and the black and the white, and the really bright colors, because that speaks to me. And even though yes, I’m natural living and I love waste free products and trying to minimize the amount of plastics we add into our household, I’m not-

Catherine Langman:

Doesn’t mean you have to be subdued though, does it? Muted.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. But that’s generally the look.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

That’s generally the look. And I just think sometimes you’ve just got to follow your heart and put a product out that speaks to you, and it’s not just about what ticks the box for branding guidelines across the world.

Catherine Langman:

No. No. No.

Natalia Michael:

Because then you just end up looking like everybody else, and doing the same thing as everybody else, versus being a leader, you end up-

Catherine Langman:

And how are you going to cut through and stand out from your competition if you look the same as everybody else?

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. Exactly. But I think subconsciously, a lot of people don’t think about being different.

Catherine Langman:

No, because that’s scary.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. Or they think being different, but within the same look as everybody else.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. Yeah. Following trends, I suppose.

Natalia Michael:

What’s on trend versus what really speaks to me.

Catherine Langman:

What with stand out.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. Yeah. Or what’s going to really speak to your customer. So our products definitely are outside the square in this industry. And I love them.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. So then they’ll appeal to certain people. Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. And that’ something I’ve really only taken on board, well, in the last 12 months, is just we’re never going to check everybody’s box.

Catherine Langman:

No. We all need to learn that lesson as fast as we can, I think.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

I had people coming to me about No Nasties and saying, “Why don’t you do refillable eyeshadows?” And, “Why do you have almond oil in your lip balm?” And I said, “Well, because I do. There’s thousands of products out there that don’t. But I do. And I don’t do refillable eyeshadows, because I don’t think children need to refill their eyeshadow.”

Catherine Langman:

No. They’re not going to use it up that fast, are they?

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. Or, “Why don’t you have bamboo eyeshadow containers that are more eco friendly and not the plastic?” I’m like, “Well are you happy to pay $26 for a kids eyeshadow? Because I’m not.”

Catherine Langman:

No.

Natalia Michael:

But that would be the cost of a bamboo kids eyeshadow. There is a commercial reality here, and I’m okay with not checking everybody’s box. And instead of trying to make excuses, I just go, “Because that’s just what we are. We’ve never claimed to be that for that business. We’ve looked for alternatives and it hasn’t worked.” I’m very open with my customer base about that. We’ve looked for alternatives, and the price is always too high. And we’ve not yet found… I would love to find an alternative, but I haven’t yet found one.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. Absolutely.

Natalia Michael:

And I’m okay with that. We are what we are.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. Yeah. Being comfortable in your own skin, I guess.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Now with No Nasties Kids, I’m pretty sure you really built that up initially through mainly wholesale.

Natalia Michael:

Yes, I did.

Catherine Langman:

And I’m pretty sure that a lot of the wholesalers really came onto your radar because you were so successful with the social media and the really building up the brand that way. But maybe share some of… Because you’re really good at that sort of sales. Share some tips with the listeners, if they’re really keen to-

Natalia Michael:

For wholesale?

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. Because I mean, it is one side of building a brand is wholesale. Not everybody does it. But a lot of people do or want to, and don’t know how to do it.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. So first and foremost, back to the relationship building. Wholesale for me is about a relationship. It’s not transactional. It’s about getting to know their business. And just as much as we ride the wave when they’re doing fantastically well and buying lots of products from us, we’re there to support them when they’re not. Or when they want to do something with it, we support them with that.

Catherine Langman:

So like if they have a promotional idea and they want to work with you on it, you help them?

Natalia Michael:

Yes.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

You know, five, six… A lot of them have become friends. Genuine friends. And they’ll reach out to me, “How you going?” And we have a chitchat. “How’s business?” “A bit quiet this week.” And I’ll say, “You know what? I’ll gift you 12 packs. Do a giveaway.” They don’t even have to ask, because I value the relationship more than I value the dollars. So I think if you really want to be serious about wholesale, you have to go in with that view. It’s too easy for people to chop and change between brands. And they’ll always be a copycat brand coming out.

Catherine Langman:

True.

Natalia Michael:

I mean, we’ve already had that. And they haven’t had to cut through with my stockists, because I’ve built relationships with my stockists.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. And they’re going to favor your brand because of it, aren’t they?

Natalia Michael:

Right. Because we’re friends. It’s not transactional. It’s not about if they try and undercut me, they’re going to jump ship. They’re not, because it’s not about the transaction. It’s about the relationship. So I think if you really want to be serious about wholesale, you have to think about them as a friend, and they’re also running a business and they’re also trying to make money, and they’re also trying to spread a word and have their own look, and you have to be willing to work with them to create that. And give them the time and space to get to know you and for you to get to know them, to create that kind of relationship. And I’m not saying now we’re shipping… Well worldwide, we’d be over 1000 stockists, easy. So I can’t get to know all of them.

Catherine Langman:

No. But you-

Natalia Michael:

But when they stop… Yeah. It’s impossible. But when there’s-

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. But I guess you’ve got distributors handling a lot of your international stockists.

Natalia Michael:

I do. Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

So you’ve got the relationship with the distributor. Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

And hopefully, do they kind of follow suit? Do they kind of operate in a similar way to you with that?

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. I’ve spent so much time with my distributors. Most of them. And I’ve already been invited to their homes, and, “Come and stay. I’ve got a condo. Come and stay here.” We’re genuinely friends. So they do. They have that same ethos as me. Otherwise I wouldn’t continue to work with them.

Catherine Langman:

No.

Natalia Michael:

It wouldn’t work, because I can’t work in that manner. So I think wholesale, I started off by… It was relationship building. It was really hard. It’s not easy.

Catherine Langman:

No.

Natalia Michael:

At one point, I remember when I met you, I was sending 50 emails a day.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. You gunned it.

Natalia Michael:

Oh I gunned it. But it was like crickets. It was like those old Western movies when that little ball of hay is just rolling the street. It was like, God, what’s going on?

Catherine Langman:

But I think you flipped the script at some point then.

Natalia Michael:

I did.

Catherine Langman:

To really focus on building the brand and the imagery and the visuals and the storytelling and the education. All of that stuff. And that’s when they came to you, really, didn’t they?

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. And I stopped contacting people. And to this day, we don’t contact people, because I just thought, I need to put my energy where I think I’m going to get better results. And I was wearing myself thin. And so I started really focusing on the brand presence via social media. And I invested money in photography and just putting more of myself out on the pages. And then the brands that had seen me before I’d contacted were then seeing me again and again on social media, and then they contact us.

Catherine Langman:

And they’d be seeing the engagement with your customers, too. So it was quite obvious the customers really wanted the products.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. So we’re at a turning point with No Nasties Home where I’ll be starting this entire process again.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. Absolutely.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. So now I’m looking at who are these potential stockists that I’ve never even spoken to before, because their brand is all about waste free and reusable and not just the natural side. Play makeup isn’t for everybody.

Catherine Langman:

No. Totally.

Natalia Michael:

So, yeah. So we’ll be starting this whole process again. And I’m very, very fortunate that there is a good cross section of my stockists’ space that… We went out to a couple of our closest retailers, and we sold our entire first batch of No Nasties Home. Gone.

Catherine Langman:

Holy gosh.

Natalia Michael:

I’m like, “Eek. I need to order some more.”

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. It’s exciting.

Natalia Michael:

And that was three retailers. So we are very fortunate in that respect. We’re not starting from scratch-

Catherine Langman:

Completely from scratch.

Natalia Michael:

… where nobody even knows who we are.

Catherine Langman:

No.

Natalia Michael:

But I’ll be doing this same process again. So I will be looking to build relationships. And I will be looking to meet some new people in some of these brands. And just get the brand out there.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. I remember a few years ago, in terms of successful sales tactics that you should aim to become the flame, not the moth. Which I think is kind of a funny way of putting way of putting it.

Natalia Michael:

It’s true, though.

Catherine Langman:

Really, if you can be that flame and you are attracting people to you, I mean, that’s like the easiest sale in the world, really, if we’re talking commercial tactics here. So yeah, you’ve done that. And I’m sure that you’ll replicate it. Well it’s already underway by the sounds of things, with No Nasties Home. So that’s incredibly exciting.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. The products are so good, though.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

I have to send you some.

Catherine Langman:

Oh, I can’t wait.

Natalia Michael:

I’ll look. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this brand. It’s like, play makeup, people say, “I bet your kids wear makeup all the time.” I’m like, “Not really, because-“

Catherine Langman:

No, because you don’t want them-

Natalia Michael:

Well they’ve been around it for so long. I’ve given them a pack, and then what? They don’t need a pack every week.

Catherine Langman:

No. That’s right.

Natalia Michael:

They kind of playing with it a bit and they were over it. But this for me, I’m just like… All of my friends are like… I want to get them to try this. You have to try the [inaudible 00:36:16]. You have to try the dish washing bar.

Catherine Langman:

Exactly. We all need to use something for these purposes, so it might as well be something natural and organic and safe for the environment. Why not? Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. So I am so excited. I’m like a fat kid eating cake, I tell you.

Catherine Langman:

A kid in a candy store.

Natalia Michael:

I just love this brand so much.

Catherine Langman:

Sensational.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Just maybe to kind of finish us up for the audience, so you have definitely that creative streak in you where you’re often having new ideas and things like that. But you’ve kind of selected a few products, and you’ve gone through that whole product development and brand development and launch stage. So if somebody came to you for advice, which I know people do, and they were looking for guidance around how do I know it’s the right product? How do I get to launch? So, yeah. What would some tips that you’d pass on to that person?

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. There’s probably a couple of tips. As you know, I had a local business coach when I started, and then I coached with you. And I think we all need to lean on people who know more than us throughout our business journey.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. Someone who’s gone through it.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. When I actually tallied up… I almost cried. When I actually tallied up the money I’d wasted on just errors and not having the right team, it was upwards of $55,000.

Catherine Langman:

Ouch.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. And I was so worried about paying a business coach $1,000 a month, or $1,200 a month, or whatever it was. And they could have saved me so much money at the time. And I think knowing your audience really well. I understand my customer really well. The products that I put out, they just do well, because I know who my customer is.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. There’s no guesswork.

Natalia Michael:

Intrinsically, I know who they are now. There’s no guesswork. So I think you really need to understand who your customer is. I think you need to look at what’s on the market. And just because somebody else has a really good product, and you think, oh, I can do that too. That’s okay. Do it. But make it really different. There’s a lot of brands on the market that I look at in lots of industries where you just look at the two brands and you think, it’s just the same thing.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. You’ve got to give people a reason to choose you over the other person, right?

Natalia Michael:

Right.

Catherine Langman:

Exactly. Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

You’ve got to look to be different. And not just different by different packaging, but be different. Make your values something different. Just be different. I always seek to look for the niche market. I always seek to look for what is really something unique to bring to the market? So with No Nasties Home, definitely bar products and not something that’s out a lot. I mean, there are some spectacular brands like ATIK. I love ATIK brand. But I’m not trying to be ATIK.

Catherine Langman:

No. No.

Natalia Michael:

We are something different. Our look is different. Our values do cross over in some respects, but we’re just a very different brand. I love LUSH. I love LUSH. The whole look and feel and what they’re about. But they’re not all natural.

Catherine Langman:

No.

Natalia Michael:

So I feel confident where I stand that our brand has a place, and I think that’s really important. Find your place within the market. Carve out where you are different. Can be similar, but carve out where you are different so that when you’re putting your brand out there, you have a message that’s different. You have a brand that looks different. You have a product that is innovative. And I’m all about innovation. But I promise you, I will not be releasing any new brands in the near future. It is such a costly exercise. Why do I do this to myself? It’s so expensive.

Catherine Langman:

Let’s make this one. Make some money with this one before you go again, hey?

Natalia Michael:

Oh, I know. My husband’s like, “You’ve really got to stop doing this.” I said, “I promise I will after [inaudible 00:40:43].” So, yeah. And don’t be afraid to spend the money on things like really good quality photography.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

Natalia Michael:

I see a lot of people shopping out for the cheapest photography they can get, and I’m like, “Why would you do that?”

Catherine Langman:

Well especially when it does literally cost a lot of money to bring a product to market, and you put all of that time and investment into that, and then you let yourself down at the last minute. I mean, yeah. You’re just shooting yourself in the foot. I mean, yeah.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. Something I’ve been known to get my head whacked over is branding and graphic design are two different things. And a lot of people don’t understand that concept.

Catherine Langman:

No. Your brand is not just your logo design.

Natalia Michael:

Right. But a lot of people go, “I need someone to do my branding. I need a logo.” It’s like, no. Branding is not your logo. Your logo is one portion of a brand, and a brand should speak to the tone in which you speak, to speak through the font and how the font speaks to that tone. How your overall aesthetic represents your values and your ethos and your nature. It all has to tie together, which is your brand. And then you pay someone who’s a professional in branding to do your brand, and then you take that to a graphic designer and say, “Hey, this is my brand document. Can you create from this?” And a lot of people skip that whole step, and then bring things to market, and I think-

Catherine Langman:

You have to reverse engineer it. It’s hard.

Natalia Michael:

Oh, and I think, wow. What an amazing product. And what is that branding?

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. And then it lets them down. I like to use the analogy of the Marvel Universe here, because I think everybody… Of course, I’ve got sons. Maybe mothers of daughters don’t have to sit through so many superhero movies. I don’t know. But you can recognize the Marvel Universe anywhere in any movie, and it’s the ultimate lesson in branding, I think, because it’s the characters. It’s the visuals. It’s the look and feel. It’s the tone of voice. It’s the language. It’s the imagery, as well as the logo. That’s one part of the identity. But, yeah. So think about the whole universe of your brand and how your customers are going to interact within, and I think you’ll have a little bit more luck hitting the right note.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. Yeah. Well No Nasties Home is the first time I haven’t gone through a branding specialist. But I’ve done this several times over. And so I sort of sat back and mapped it all out. And I love what we’ve created. If you have a look at the brand No Nasties Home, my font is really flowy and fun. It’s not so serious. The little house that is the logo doesn’t have any straight lines. Even the cleanser has all these faces all over it, and men with beards, and all these characters. And it’s about being for everyone. So every single element has to tie together. I see brands that, it might be socks or something, and has like a… I was discussing with one of my coaching clients the other day. And she was saying, “I saw this candle company that had… Everything was beach related.” Which is great, because the woman loved the beach. Okay. Fabulous. But the scents aren’t beachy scents.

Catherine Langman:

Okay. Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

So when a customer is looking at that candle with beach things on it… You have to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. The customer thinks, a beach candle.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. It should smell like the ocean.

Natalia Michael:

A big candle with a beachy [inaudible 00:44:24]. But it wasn’t that. And so, yeah. I think that portion of it is really important.

Catherine Langman:

Slightly missed the mark. Yeah. Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

What does it look like, sound like, taste like, feel like. All of those things.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

And who are you? Are you tongue in cheek? Like me, I’m a smarty pants. And I love to have fun. And I’ll say things that other people wouldn’t say. As you know.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Natalia Michael:

That’s just my character. So would I try to pretend to be something that I’m not?

Catherine Langman:

No. Exactly. Yeah. Totally. I love it.

Natalia Michael:

I’m not subdued and elegant, and that’s just not me.

Catherine Langman:

No.

Natalia Michael:

I’m just not that person. So my brands reflect who I am.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. And I think the lesson that everyone else can take from this is it’s okay to be different. We can celebrate all our own differences. And to have confidence that you can go forward and people will connect with that and they’ll love it and they’ll buy it.

Natalia Michael:

That’s right. And you don’t need to have 50,000 followers to have a successful business.

Catherine Langman:

No.

Natalia Michael:

That’s the other thing I wish I learned early. For so long I was like, “How many followers do I have?”

Catherine Langman:

No, that’s just an ego metric.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. And it took me so long to understand that I don’t need to be at every networking event, and I don’t need to have 50,000 followers, and I have a perfectly successful business just doing what I do and staying in my lane. I’m taking that even further now where I’m just… I just want to hide away in my home. Stay with my beautiful family and my friends, and enjoy life, and work on this business that I love so much. But everything else is secondary.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. And how good is that?

Natalia Michael:

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have a lot of followers. It doesn’t matter.

Catherine Langman:

No.

Natalia Michael:

It doesn’t matter at all.

Catherine Langman:

No. That’s awesome. You have a very successful lifestyle business. It fits in exactly with the life that you want to live.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Which is what we should all aim for, I think, at the end of the day.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. Fantastic. So for the listeners who want to find out more about No Nasties, either No Nasties Kids or No Nasties Home, I will obviously link to all of your pages and websites on our show notes.

Natalia Michael:

Thank you.

Catherine Langman:

But just give yourself a shout-out here.

Natalia Michael:

Yeah. So you can find us on Instagram and Facebook under No Nasties Kids and No Nasties Home.

Catherine Langman:

Wonderful.

Natalia Michael:

It’s really hard.

Catherine Langman:

No, totally. Awesome. Well we are really excited to watch your success with your new venture.

Natalia Michael:

Thank you.

Catherine Langman:

And it’s been wonderful to watch your journey with No Nasties Kids as well. So thank you so much for joining us on the podcast this week.

Natalia Michael:

Thank you.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. And just to quickly finish up before I sign off for this episode, if you are not already in our rock star Productpreneur Facebook group, it is the place to hang out if you are a product business like Natalia. And so I will link to that in our show notes as well. If you’re not in there, get your bum in there and network with other people who are all working on building a product based business. That’s it from me this week and I look forward to being in your ears again next week. Bye for now.