Add Creative - Episode 1 - Show Notes

Introducing our new podcast - ADD CREATIVE! 

Here is the transcript from our amazing interview with Angela Caglia Skincare Co-Founder, Rob Carliner. If you'd like to listen to our conversation in detail, feel free here.

Our favorites from Rob:

  1. Half the battle is like getting to that, like where are the customers and how do I stay in front of the customers? And and that speaks to the sort of distribution question and what model, whether it's DTC or a wholesale model not cross anyway, locking into one channel exclusively. But being open to where the opportunity is, and not being afraid to like experiment in different non traditional lanes.
  2. Really gen X women, for example, who didn't grow up in and around, like it digitalized like world who didn't have the ability to see, a thousand videos on YouTube about how to apply moisturizer or do your own makeup.
  3. Like our generation skipped all that. So these women have money and time and genuinely missed the boat in terms of. Getting the education. So that's another subgroup that again, we found an identified not out of the gate. Like I should, we'd be so lucky, but like over time, right.
  4. The more consistent you are in terms of your messaging, then in a perfect world, like your tribe finds you, right? As opposed to if again, the reverse engineer approach and even now you see this in the beauty space, like everybody chasing like a millennial beauty.
  5. (How Rob finds his best ideas) Talking to people who are smarter than you in the trenches, like who are in it, all the time. You guys, right? Like where you're covering so much more ground, then I can cover as a one-off operator. And you're really smart. And you create a great product so that you guys have been a tremendous resource, right? Because I can ask you a question and have the benefit of somebody who's like literally seeing it all in real time and being able to quantifiably identify what's working, not working.

Rob: [00:00:00] half the battle is like getting to that, like where are the customers and how do I stay in front of the customers? And and that speaks to the sort of distribution question and what model, whether it's DTC or a wholesale model not cross anyway, locking into one channel exclusively.

But being open to. Where the opportunity is, and not being afraid to like experiment in different non traditional lanes

Chase: Welcome to ad creative. A show about the unexpected ideas, the change, the game for DTC, founders and operators. And how you can leverage them to grow your own business.

I'm chase Mohseni from pencil. Thanks for joining us. My guest today is Rob Carliner. Co-founder and COO of Angela skincare.

Chase: And we talk about a wide range of topics.

What's your in for is. What he learned from producing films with Robert Duvall. What it's like [00:01:00] betting it all on your bootstrap business idea. And how staying current and opens new technology without any bias has delivered massive wins for the business.

Rob has a jam. I hope you enjoy it. I'm happy to have Rob Carliner on the podcast today.

which is Angela calculator, which he founded with his wife.

I'm really excited to have you here, Rob. Thanks for joining


Rob: My pleasure. Thanks for having me as I'm a big fan of what you're doing at pencil and the platform and staying relevant. Which is I think a nice segue into the conversation, right? As a D to C founder, constantly looking out for things that.

Add value, right? Apropos the name of the podcast. Because really everything that we do as founders falls into one of two camps, it's really either additive or subtractive. And that goes across the board in relationships, but definitely in, in, in business as well. And it's figuring out [00:02:00] how quickly the, you can answer that question is the key, I think, to your success, both in the short term and the longterm, does this ad and like how can we maximize the additive value that whatever we're looking at in that moment?

Chase: Absolutely. Absolutely. So before we jump into all these questions and fun stuff that everyone is going to want to dive into. I'm really doodle meet Phil nerd. We come from the same world. So I'm just going to list off some of some of the things that Rob has done.

So he was the Emmy winning producer of broken trail in 2006,

Rob: right? Correct. That, which was the first AMC original production. That was literally their first foray into original programming. And it turned out really well.

Chase: So you're the AMC O G is what you're telling

Rob: me. Definitely. I'm proud to say it.

Chase: And so you worked with Robert Duvall where you guys production partners, or what was the relationship there? Cause [00:03:00] I'd love, I'm going to be just that guy and call him the bottle.

Rob: So I was really fortunate to have started off my career. One of my very first jobs in the business was working for Robert Duvall initially as his assistant. Which was obviously not glamorous, but for those of you out there who are starting out in your careers, it still can be a viable path. Entry-level rung, in the food chain of the movie business or the TV business now more but when I was coming up the movie business, and so I started out as his personal assistant on a couple of movies and really got to know him personally, and really a full understanding of how movies were made from the inside out and over the course of, the initial couple of years, we really developed.

A meaningful experience, friendship, mentorship. And he's just been, north [00:04:00] star for me, for most of my career, both personally and professionally, I ended up, starting out, not knowing to at the time as his personal assistant and then really spent the better part of my adult career in show business, which turned out to be over 20 years working with him and ultimately like very early on become his producing partner at a very young age, much younger than most people have the kind of opportunity that I was able to get because of that trust and that personal relationship we had together.

Chase: Yeah. That's great. I'm excited to hear as we go later on through the, through our session what you learned specifically from him, that's taken, flight with the beauty brand. And I think that the last one, I excited about people hearing about is that you produced Jeff Bridges academy, award-winning film crazy heart, which I love.

Rob: Yeah. And again, another personal highlight of my career in the movie business you toil ad it long enough and people have careers that AB and flow and, you [00:05:00] really hope when you're in it that you can have at least one, if you're lucky more than one. And for that rarefied field at the very top dozens, but for most people, right?

You're hoping you get a taste of that kind of success and it's not necessarily monetary success. Cause I think people that go into the movie business, go into it for all sorts of reasons, but ultimately you're a storyteller or get excited about the process of storytelling and taking something.

That's just a seed of an idea. And then. Nurturing it throughout that creative process, which is really something that I loved about my particular role in, in that movie in particular. But overall, the kind of producer that I was really focusing on story, and then ultimately figuring out how to put all the pieces together, financing, hiring directors, actors, right?

Like conducting behind the scenes, which sort of blends both the creative and the [00:06:00] business side of things. And so that really, proved to be a very fertile training ground for skills that really have served me well, as I transitioned out of the movie business into a like consumer product, good beauty brand focused venture with my now.

Chase: Yeah, that's great. I love that. I love that context. I think I was really excited to have this segue here because I think it's such an interesting path. And I think in DDC a lot of times, we were just talking about how you see how everyone's doing, and it's a lot of hype is the wrong word, know, you don't get a lot of, I came from this place and it's a nonlinear path and it's still okay.

And you guys just a few weeks ago sold out, a whole QVC run. The Angela did where she went on, correct.

Rob: Yeah. And again, like I always look at things just because I spent the better part of my adult life in the movie business, through the lens of the prism of like how the movie business works, because there are so many lessons that are [00:07:00] applicable in the GDC businesses in particular.

And that one, we can get into it, you look for opportunities, right? When you're in it and you in the sort of nonlinear way, it is so fitting because, in your mind, when you start out as a D C founder, like at least I know I was guilty of this myself, you hear about the sort of one in a million success stories, right?

Everybody points to the one that went from starting in their garage to selling for a hundred million dollars. That becomes the lore around any business. It was definitely the lore in the movie business when I was coming up in the nineties, the independent film scene was like, you could hear about these movies, whether it was Blair witch project or Slingblade, or my first movie, the apostle, where you could make a movie independently, take it to a film festival, end up in a bidding war. And then the movie goes on to like these, huge box office success. [00:08:00] The dirty little secret is that for every one of those, there are 10,000 others that fall by the wayside. And I'm sure the numbers are analogous, like whatever the industry is like D to C the restaurant business but the lure that draws people into it, isn't really the reality.

When you look at the numbers and, or how long things really take, not the glamorized, but like quick version, that is an easy hook that everybody points to as the reason why, they're into it, or one of the reasons why, or because somebody else did it, it's possible that you can do it.

And it's just not the case. It's hard. To achieve that level of success, whatever the medium is. Like those movies that I mentioned, or the DTC, like unicorn brands, like most of us are not going to be those necessarily. And so figuring out like [00:09:00] how to try for that. Cause like we all aspire to be that, but at the same time, like there's a really satisfying and lucrative path. If you don't make it to that pinnacle of success, if you want to call that success.

Chase: Yeah, absolutely. It's incredibly salient that you talk about that today, considering all the macro factors that are, that people are dealing with, with the economy, with inflation, with with supply chain, You focusing on growing a profitable business has never been more important than it is today.

And so the idea is rightsizing, what success looks like to you because trying to become a 1 million annual revenue company is incredibly difficult and that's that's a plateau you get to, and then you move on to the next plateau that you want to work towards.

So I guess moving into kind of some of our bigger questions here how did you and Angela get the idea to start this business? I'm really curious about that. Yeah,

Rob: so [00:10:00] I was basically toiling as I did for many years, like making independent movies. Which is a sort of very specific. Area within the greater entertainment business.

And so I consider myself a dinosaur, in the sense that like I started out at the height of the independent film, madness, Miramax was a thing Sundance, like the confluence of like really cool and interesting edgy films getting made and lots of money pouring into the space. And then sometimes when you're in something you don't see the sort of macro trends that are happening around you now over time, as we all know what ended up happening and very subtly at first, right?

The sort of Trojan horse of like when Netflix first arrive on scene and it was like, the studios were like, oh my God, this is like the white night Netflix. It's perfect. Because the studios had all this content and Netflix had all this money and they needed content. So what did they do? They gave the [00:11:00] studios tons of money to license their con their content.

Cause they needed a program. And then all of a sudden, like the studios were lulled into this stupor, collecting all this money, from Netflix without really having to do much of anything new or innovate or stay relevant. And then at some point overnight, even though it wasn't overnight, Netflix decided, Hey, wait a minute.

Why are we paying these guys all this money for licensing content when we can do it ourselves and then own it, and then really exploited and look what happened, right? So the business completely morphed into something that looked totally different from when I started out. So you have now essentially like a few companies that are controlled.

The industry, whether it's apple or Netflix or Amazon. So I it was

Chase: they've essentially come direct to consumer themselves, right?

Rob: Yeah, that's right. They have all the data, right? Like they're data companies at the end of the day. Some people's like, why does Adam Sandler have a 25 picture deal at Netflix?

And the simple answer is because [00:12:00] Netflix can tell you anytime they have an original Adam Sandler movie and they flip the switch and beam it into Madagascar and, Montana and all parts of the world. I know their viewership spikes their subscription spike. And they can't lose because they know.

Certain actors are not like it's all data driven, so they're not, they've taken the guesswork out of it. And so that's a huge advantage, right? If you control all the data, it's like the same advantage that up until recently Facebook hat, controlling all the data. That's a huge, competitive advantage, like in the marketplace when you have the data and no one else does.

So over time, like I was still in it thinking wait a minute, if I stay in it long enough, I can figure out how to beat the system or make a living or continue to make movies and, make great content and sell it for way more than I made it. And it turns out like, at least as I [00:13:00] saw it, the system is rigged against you.

Cause at a certain point you can make the content. But if there are only three places to sell it, like whether it's Amazon or Netflix or Amazon, like they control the pricing and they don't care. It costs you to make something and the economics and the accounting is all very opaque. So along your story shorter, I was making a movie here in LA low budget, independent film, where Sharon Stone and I met my now wife, Angela, and she had her own thriving practice as a celebrity esthetician with gray clients in a spa in Beverly Hills.

And I was coming back from the set every day, just absolutely miserable, like going, I'm not making any money producing this movie. It's really a pain. Everybody's bitter and angry for the most part because they're not making their full rate. And anyway, and I was over it. Sometimes you reach a point in life in [00:14:00] your career where you just.

I can't really keep doing this. It's just, something, the light goes off and it's just a struggle. And that's, I had reached that point in my career in show business where it was just a struggle and I couldn't see a way out and I couldn't necessarily even see how to keep it going.

At a certain point too, you have a family and kids and like bills and you have to get real. So I was having one of those moments and then I met my now wife and the more she told me about her business and like what her goal was. She had a skincare line, she was experimenting with products like she, herself had worked for other people, most of her career up until that point.

And then she had mentioned like that she had been on QVC before one of her clients had started a skincare brand and was afraid to go on and asked Angela, can you go on. And she did, and she absolutely crushed it on air. Angela did like hugely successful. And so [00:15:00] I started when wheels started turning, obviously I didn't set out to start a beauty brand.

Like I was happily ensconced, like making movies and successfully and often, but I was like, wait a minute. I think like I can apply the same skillset of producing, right? Assuming like most people fall into one of two categories of either producing or consuming. And I was producing at like the really highest level.

So why can't I apply the same skillset and storytelling that I learned throughout my 20 plus years in the movie business and see if I can help Angela. A skincare line essentially, right? Not necessarily knowing, like having ever started a brand per se or a product focused venture. I just thought, what, like producing, right?

There's certain fundamentals that like are the same regardless. And so the more we started talking and the more the wheels started turning and I was like, you know what, it's now? Or never like [00:16:00] to essentially try to bet on myself, but bet on myself in a way that if we're successful, there's really a path to like real freedom and ownership in a way that doesn't exist in the movie business because everybody's working for somebody else.

And the only people that own anything are Netflix and Amazon, like you can't say an artist own anything. So I thought just how refreshing would it be to like go all in and bet on ourselves knowing that if we. Take the risk. Like we'll never know. So that was the catalyst behind it. Now at the time I thought, oh, this will be a piece of cake.

I way underestimated, like the amount of investment that I thought it would take to launch a skincare line and clearly underestimated, like what I thought in my mind, time-wise it would take to build something successful, like two big lessons out of the gate, looking back, I was like, [00:17:00] oh, you were so naive.

But the fact is you have to be naive because if you got about everything that could go wrong and all the reasons not to start something, then you would never do it.

Chase: I have so many questions that dovetail off of that. I think the first one comes from the last thing that you just said, which is.

If you're not naive, you will never start because it is so hard. Any of this stuff, I guess my father-in-law told me he took a class at his work and he's, you're not supposed to say things are hard or that you have problems just that you have challenges. Cause you can unlock challenges. Just all the challenges that you are going to face. Cause it's essentially my story, I produced a movie when I was 25 that I direct. And if you had told me how hard it was going to be, when I started, I would never have done it. But you just say, okay, I'm going to do this. You plant your feet in the ground.

You go raise money, you go get actors, you go to this yoga industry, et cetera. And you just move on. I have found myself doing exactly what you said since then, which is anytime you have an [00:18:00] idea, you just talk yourself out of it because you're like, okay, I know how hard this shit is. I'm going to just take a step back.

So that's the first thing I think I'm curious. 'cause I think there's two things you brought up that are really important for people to recognize whether they want to start something they're working somewhere. They have a great idea, is that betting on yourself and also not being afraid to take a risk.

And I think this is, we all live in a, in an Instagram Tik TOK world where everyone is a CEO of a company and everyone's on Ferrari's and Dubai, and that's the actual real, that's not the actual real world. And these things are scary. People have, overhead with their lives. Think about what kind of, you said it was just you're burned out, how would

Rob: you.

Chase: Like framework wise, give, a younger person or someone who's thinking about taking a risk. How would you have them think about it? So that they feel confident like you did, obviously you had a partner in Angela that said, okay, she's got the goods.

I know that we [00:19:00] can do this. It's more about, like you said, producing this product and this brand, but what would you say to those people?

Rob: Look, I think you said it where a lot of it depends on where you are in the cycle of life, right? Taking a risk in your early twenties. If you don't have amount of debt is a lot different and ultimately less risky overall, then taking a risk and betting it all when you're like 50 right or later.

So I think everybody has to answer that for themselves, depending on where they are. Like, I can only speak to my experience as someone who. At the mid point of life and you do the calculations both the financial calculations and the moral and mental and the fortitude like calculations, like if I fail, would I rather go down having [00:20:00] tried than not like attempted or risk at all.

And that's just a deeply personal decision and it's really what I think ultimately determines how much drive you have to succeed. And that's a big part of it is just and most entrepreneurs when we meet each other, like we sense that sort of relentless, drive to figure it out, to be successful, to stay alive in the game a little bit longer.

And that's not something you necessarily can teach someone. It comes from living and like looking over the edge, looking into the abyss and like seeing the risk and like going, yeah, I get it. But I'm going to go for it anyway.

Chase: Yeah. That's we should frame that one looking into the best and saying, I'm going to go get it anyway.

That is the foundation of life. I'd love that.

Rob: Yeah, because [00:21:00] it's so again, like we said, it's just so hard, like most of the time you're getting knocked down and you just hope that you stay in the game long enough to achieve those moments that you can celebrate. And take a step and enjoy the success.

So like for us, getting an opportunity to launch, on Erik QVC was one of those moments. We'd been like full accelerator mode, like for four years and it's whoa, this is what you play for it. Like you're hoping like to get these opportunities when you can see it like there and you have to execute, not only do you have to get the opportunity, but which is half the battle only you actually have to deliver.

Like it's like actors, you know what separates the great actors from like the ones you've never heard of is like, when the cameras are rolling, when the director says action, you better come up with something. And the really great actors like that, it's the moment that they live for.

And I think [00:22:00] for entrepreneurs too, it's that's the allure, right? Those moments of like, when you get your shot and like you can deliver it's. So it's it's so satisfying and rewarding, but the journey is painfully excruciating at times. Yeah,

Chase: for sure. You and I have wax poetic on this on many previous calls we're sitting there and we're looking and we're digging through everything, I guess this kind of dovetails into my next question, which what's been hard that you didn't expect to be hard and then what's been easier than you expected.

Rob: So I think like on a superficial level, like people always will say like, when they hear you're doing something in, I would assume like any field, but like I've noticed it in, especially with the movie business and like in the beauty space, like on the surface, people are like, wow, isn't that so competitive?

Like, how do you. I would never pick that [00:23:00] particular arena because it's just so highly competitive. And it's I look at it again, having been through the movie business, like surviving that nothing seems as competitive. So I wasn't scared off by the competition. Even though it's fierce and it, it takes up like anybody can start a brand just like anybody can make a movie, these days on your phone or, people, but like that isn't really, the hard part is starting. It's actually like scaling it and not running out of money and, like being cashflow positive and so those challenges obviously are very real. I think the time it actually takes to measure and see your success is again, a lot longer than you ever anticipate necessarily like starting out.

If you really knew the answer to how long something would take, or if you knew in advance, whether or not you going to be successful, like nobody would go for it. So the naivete can [00:24:00] work to your advantage, but it's hard. Like day to day can be hard. And the financial piece is very real, right?

Like cashflow is everything. And again, we have the unique perspective of using our own money, which really is even more challenging and heightens the risk. And I'm assuming like most entrepreneurs like start out or use whatever resources and money. And we really try to keep it going as long as we could using our own money.

And that's again, ratchets up like the stress and the challenges. So the competition, isn't what scared me in terms of challenges, but It was the sort of like time it takes to like, get there is the hard part. Yeah, that's really

Chase: interesting. I think what I take from that is it takes a long time for a brand to actually impact customers.

Even if you have superior products, I'm curious how what's been the difference, say from years, [00:25:00] zero to two to four, in terms of how your brand impacts people.

Rob: So for me, like I'm not an idiot in a sense that I didn't like partner or try to start any random business, like in the same way that when I put a movie together or you find the right actor for the right role at the right time, like I just knew in my gut that like Angela, if given the opportunity could really.

I don't know, 30 inner space a, in a space that really is lacking authoritative figures. Because it's, everybody that knew now you see it with the proliferation of every celebrity seemingly has started a beauty brand, right? But what you can't manufacturer or reverse engineer, which is what, like, all these celebrities seem to be doing right.

Is capitalizing on a trend and money to be made and you see it, every industry, but beauty now in particular is, having a spotlight with the sort of celebrities. And it's [00:26:00] what you can't manufacture in the test tube is the experience like that comes with having. 28 years, the way Angela did learning and honing our craft.

So already, like the, if you can focus on that and I'm a firm believer, right? That's the storytelling piece. That's what you would, what I looked at and thought we could bring to the table that peop that would resonate with people like, who are chasing all sorts of like miracle cures or celebrity brand.

Like how about putting a real value on expertise. Like somebody who's dedicated their life to skincare and working on skin and shouldn't that message like went out, at the end of the day, assuming you can tell it and get to the right people. And that's been the north star to that sort of guides everything that we do or try to do, like just lean into what's our advantage over a celebrity brand or an influencer brand or a, and whatever the answer to that is really just hammering it, hammering the [00:27:00] messaging over time, because it's just so much noise out there that it takes time.

And if your message is resonating, those fans that find you are going to really be loyal and stick with you. And then that's, you're you build from there.

Chase: Have you found those customers that understand what Angela is bringing to the table in terms of her expertise really help sell the brand for you?

Do you get a lot of extra customers that are through referrals?

Rob: Definitely. Definitely. You know what I mean? It's like that core group that of the early adopters still drives like a significant portion of our revenue. And I think that's true most, right? Like you want to find for us, it's all about the replenishable. It's like getting people hooked on the product. So they come back in and buy for more. That's one advantage. If you can do it right in the beauty space and you're selling product is like, when you make a movie, it's like you buy a ticket and then it's over like the [00:28:00] beauty of having, a product focused business that like people, if they like it, we'll buy it multiple times.

It's you don't have to be right. Telling the story. Like you just have to be consistent. I always like, in back in the day, I, the analogy of surviving in the movie business is every time you're making a movie and you'll appreciate this chase, right? It's like its own new startup.

So like the same amount of energy effort, like intensity that goes into making one movie. Once that movie's done. You're like, oh, now I've got to focus on creating a new startup. That's exhausting. As, whereas when you have a good idea, a great product and like you're all in, you really only have to be right once.

So that to me was like already like way more appealing in terms of the odds. Then having to like keep, starting over again. Like every time I made it.

Chase: I'm curious going to the next portion of this. Cause that was all of, that was incredibly valuable.

Talking about the [00:29:00] business of the business on a micro level, I'm looking at all of your guys' products and I'm curious what product. Gets people in. And then how do you cross sell these products? Cause you have a wide array of of costs, all the way down from 70,000 and right.

Weekly, the margins on the 70 are probably really slim versus, the $2,000 mask. So I'm curious, how you guys structure that to get people in and do you bring them on replenishable and then try to cross sell what's the strategy?

Rob: So I wish I could say looking back that we have a very clear strategy and I'll just be totally honest with you.

Like initially what the strategy was. Yes. We knew that skincare and replenishment, replenishable is where it's at. But at the same time wait a minute, Instagram was like becoming a huge thing. And we needed something visual, like right to catch people's eyes. If you're leaning on your ability or with a moisturizer to sub house cook [00:30:00] somebody like with essentially like a white cream in a tic talk and, or this was pre ticked off, but even in Instagram and it's it's really hard.

So we thought okay how do we use something that could be visually catchy? That's also authentic to Angela's practice as a facialist. So we settled upon okay, what if we could mix the tools that are a part of her facials with the replenishable, just to give ourselves a visual, like compelling advantage, like stylistically.

And that proved to be both a blessing and a curse in the sense that the tools really sell themselves, right? Like selling a pre rose quartz roller when you were one of the first selling that it was like, Ooh, everybody was like, I want the new shiny thing in the beauty space. And which was great.

Especially as a cell phone, a brand, because we were more concerned about surviving then like establishing Hey, let's, we're just gonna focus on margins and replenishable. It wasn't like, no, we were just like, [00:31:00] Hey, we've got to make money here. We've got to survive. So the tools really drove a lot of revenue initially.

And then, we figured okay, we need to pivot and transition and make the tools less of a thing and more about the skincare. But as a skincare brand, if you don't have a lot of money to give people the sample, it you're, people are loyal to whatever products they use. So it's really hard to convert somebody.

And so that challenge, I think we meet with Angela, just being relentless in terms of educating directly to the consumer on Instagram, as often as she can, realistically contribute something new and fresh, but consistency. So it's the education and the authenticity that is the driving force.

And to get people over that hurdle of spending like a decent amount of money, like we're not an impulse buy brand. So they have to really believe in Angela as a trusted source for the best [00:32:00] skincare information and the best products. And so that is takes a little bit longer, but it's proven to be, our winning formula, just keeping it focused on her, into looking at the camera and educating people.

Chase: What's that structure look like. I think every brand has their Genesis Iqua there's a company called obvi, which sells collagen and they have a Facebook group has 50,000 people.

And that's like their secret weapon learning from their customers. People, really into the brand. I'm curious how often you guys are doing those educational videos and how often Angela is one-to-one interacting with the customers that you have.

Rob: I, it feels like daily or, like at least a check-in or, cause I think people in addition to getting the education piece and we try to structure it, cause there's subgroups of like people that follow us. Our actual practicing estheticians, right? Who look up to Angela as someone who's made it to the pinnacle of the esthetician hierarchy, [00:33:00] like working out celebrities and having her online. And so we have those people, then there are people who are just right, really gen X women, for example, who didn't grow up in and around, like it digitalized like world who didn't have the ability to see, a thousand videos on YouTube about how to apply moisturizer or do your own makeup.

Like our generation skipped all that. So these women have money and time and genuinely missed the boat in terms of. Getting the education. So that's another subgroup that again, we found an identified not out of the gate. Like I should, we'd be so lucky, but like over time, right?

The more consistent you are in terms of your messaging, then in a perfect world, like your tribe finds you, right? As opposed to if again, the reverse engineer approach and even now you see this in the beauty space, like everybody chasing like a millennial beauty [00:34:00] consumer with super like poppy packaging, it's but I don't know.

I think like it's much harder like to become a legacy brand. And if your messaging isn't unique and authentic, like people just tire of it. And so we lean into like our core strength, which is really Angelo.

Chase: The Rob, I think our next business venture together is going to be doing like Elan's version of the boring company for like boring beauty, brown box. We don't say anything. We just say, it's good for you. And just all it is just an Instagram with facts about,

Rob: why. Yeah. And, they're like companies that like are in that space, that it's like, SU like super transparency, right? Like to an extreme, this is how much and there's room for that. Cause so it's just about finding your niche, like in all of it, whatever it is. But to your point about starting another company, dude I don't know. I need some like time off after this one. I don't know about you, but it just, and God blasts like [00:35:00] serial entrepreneurs, I get it.

But I'm just like, wow, this is going to be like, if we can get to that point and exit and sell. Walk away with enough money to live comfortably. Like I want to enjoy that. I don't know about you rather than jumping back into something right away again.

Chase: Oh no I imagine you at least for a year on a beach in Greece.


Rob: exactly. Anywhere. Yeah,

Chase: absolutely. So I'm going to get into some of these kinds of more metrics driven stuff. I think it's really interesting. So out of the customers that you have and how what's the percentage of recurring customers that you have on a monthly basis.

Rob: So I would say like 40% are returning, so it's split like 60 new, 40 returning.

And it fluctuates like the goal is right, at least 50, 50 or higher, or, just keeping that, keeping that going. The returning customers are every.

Chase: Yeah, for sure. And are you guys using any sort of like email drips or SMS to re-engage them or have they [00:36:00] just after they've gotten their first purchase, hit the subscribe and it just rolls

Rob: over, me, like I'm constantly like surveying the landscape of what new software exists to take a lot of the guesswork out of these critically important, make or break kind of decision.

Yes, like the answer is we do all of the above that you can do to both attract new customers and retain the ones that we already have and like really maximizing cart value and all the things like upselling. And cross-selling it's three-dimensional chess. And you're constantly like second guessing yourself.

Like whether it's. There's something else out there that like, could improve it more than what you're already doing. It's like that that nagging like fear, what's the other guy doing and are we doing enough?

Chase: So then what tools are you using right now that you're excited about?

Obviously, besides

Rob: pencil, [00:37:00] definitely. Pencil in a way for me was like started at all. Because so much of being an entrepreneur and using your own money. It's just it's a PR it's like going to graduate school, right? Like you're teaching yourself along the way and hoping you don't make a big enough mistake that torpedoes the whole thing.

So when you're spending your money, you're really careful about it. And then you have a nose for it. So again, pencil for me, it was one of those wait a minute, there's gotta be a tool out there. Cause what are the pain points? Like content is everything paid ads like messaging, as a sort of mom and pop operation that could give me a competitive advantage against people with bigger teams and a lot more money. So like that, to me, it was one of the huge advantages of pencil, but similarly it's also what draws me to other software or people who are in the space who are easily able to solve, like add value, and value can be [00:38:00] right. Like direct like sales and revenue or right. It could be something that saves time or in the case of the pencil, like both, right? Like the two most precious resources we have as entrepreneurs are time and money. So the platforms that are most appealing to me check both of those boxes.

They're saving me time and making.

Chase: Yeah. So outside of pencil, maybe what are one or two that have done a kind of tick, both of the check, both of those

Rob: boxes for you, and again, these, some of these I found like just randomly or like by accident. So we're hosted on Shopify and I had some like technical issue with the store and getting on with customer support on Shopify.

And, if you get the right one, everyone's trying to be super helpful. In that sense, if you talked about like people genuinely help each other out. So just as a do, if I said to whoever the random person on the other end at Shopify was like, is there anything you can [00:39:00] see in my store that you think I'm not doing that I could be doing to make more money, cause you're in it and you don't necessarily know it when you're in it, all the tools. And so Shopify said, have you tried. The frequently bought together app, which uses the algorithm and takes all of your data sales data. And basically then like pairs products together, bundles them and just creates like a very simple way that now on product pages, you can add two products together that the algorithms that are frequently bought together or just one okay, so what do I have to lose?

Like not thinking like that would necessarily do anything. And boom. And this is like the beauty of you get the right app. I set it up. It was super easy. I turn it on. And then at the end of the month, I'm seeing there's an extra 15,000 in revenue for something that I never would have discovered on my own, or even thought to try that is yielding like real revenue.

[00:40:00] Same thing goes now for postscript and SMS. Like we started out, it was just email marketing, just so you know, marketing. And all of a sudden I was like, oh, wait, people are talking about acid, mass marketing. Is that really a thing? We better just capture these phone numbers early on because maybe it's a thing.

And it doesn't hurt to get an email and a phone number, all things being equal. Sure enough, you get hooked up. Like postscript has been great. All of a sudden, Hey, there's an extra $30,000 from SMS marketing that I didn't even know was a thing up until stumbling upon it. These are like really make or break, like additive things that like.

We only are finding recently and then maybe that's cause again I'm not steeped in it, but like it's part of the fun and the joy of being in the trenches and or Twitter right now, it's UGC, we talked about that briefly before, right? Like now you paid UGC is a thing that's like really, maybe I should do it.

Like I'm not doing pay. And then you do get into Twitter and okay, here are the people like, right? So [00:41:00] part of the excitement, of being an entrepreneur or thinking like that is like finding those little like nuggets, those treasures, that are exciting to find it and actually make you money.

Chase: Those are really meaningful bumps in revenue. I think SMS is such an interesting one because obviously we've all been, and I know a lot of people are doing it already, but we've all been taught to write an email drip. We also know that emails are all of our emails are so flooded.

I wrote the other day about how I'm so sick of getting a 10% off. Pop-up the minute I'd want the site before I even get to experience the site. Like I get to the site within three seconds. It's that it's dude, 10% is not meaningful enough for me to do this at $30 shirt. Let me just surf. And maybe we can talk about it if I get to the checkout, but they want my email, but SMS finding cuts through really well.

I've seen it with B2B companies and D to C companies. And I think it's it's going to be more and more prevalent because it's that thing go where your [00:42:00] customers are and they're all they're on their phones. They're not looking at their email. I look at my business email all day. I look at my personally.

Maybe once a day and I filtered it so that, all the promotions and stuff go to one folder and maybe the brands that I like it will show it, like the algorithm will show it. So that's really yeah, that's really interesting,

Rob: and then you go down the rabbit hole of trivia, where everybody seemingly has got like a formula that beats everybody else's formula for squeezing every potential nickel of revenue. But you have to do it their way with their flow. And there's this proven and like the 20,000 other solicitations you get are all like be asked. Yeah, that's

Chase: annoying.

Oh it's really annoying. What I have learned again, we talked to thousands of customers at this point for penciling context in all businesses paramount. And so I can paint with [00:43:00] an 80% wide, here's a framework brush, but the 20% of context that, you know, and you will know better than I ever will about your business and how it runs is going to dictate all the success that you have because frameworks are just at their frameworks, your body, as a person, can't stand without a bones and muscle and tissue.

And so maybe I can give you the bones of it, but if there's not muscle and tissue and blood and all of the other things, which is what the actual founder or operator would do, there's no way for it to actually stand up and work for the business. Because for you, you have a high margin, you have a high margin, but also probably high CAC business.

And so we, I can see it as oh you should, know, you should run all of these ads and you should run it for the $70 product because you'll get more. If you get more conversions, it's yeah, but I'm going to pay for that same. I'm gonna pay the same CPA for that customer essentially, or maybe 30% less, but I'm losing out on say, quadrupled the amount of revenue on first purchase.

And so that doesn't make sense. So yeah, I think it's really paramount to make sure that we have [00:44:00] all the contexts then. And I think that's something for all entrepreneurs or anyone listening to this to think about, you're going to be on Twitter, you're going to be online and everyone's going to tell you that they know everything and they know a lot, lot of smart people out there, but remember that only, you know, about your business.


Rob: And, I think complimentary to that, it's no one cares as much about your business as you do. So all these people selling all these, get rich, quick schemes and algorithms, don't care about your business, the way you will care about your business. And that gets lost in all the hype and the frenzy around, like what, what happens on Twitter?

Other places,

Chase: For sure. Yeah. No one will ever care about your business, the way you care about your business, that is number center. So I'm curious what channels are working best for you. And like what methods you're using on the channels to acquire customers.

Rob: So [00:45:00] again, through a lot of sort of trial and error of different approaches again, it's like for us, it's Angela just doing lives, right?

And talking about what she knows best skincare. And then that's, that's the gateway to any and all of our success, even in terms of right. Say, look we're doing paid media on Instagram and Facebook and Google, and we've tried on Pinterest and Tik TOK and all these places.

But. Again, I think the channel that seems to be working or scalable is just, Facebook and Instagram lives, right? Like we haven't cracked the tick-tock code yet by far. And I may or may not even be the right channel for us, we're always experimenting too. Cause like maybe there is a pool on a pocket, like we just haven't figured out how to get to them yet.

So that's also part of the challenge.

Chase: So Facebook lives and Instagram lives. [00:46:00] I'm curious, what the viewership looks like there because I found, I've done these in the past with other brands and you get them, but a lot of times you do the celebrity ones and it's just people saying, Hey, what's up, I'm wanting to see what's going on.

What's the catch in response. Rate between the people who join and Angela, when she's on there,

Rob: I probably don't have the right tool to measure that like effectively. But again I feel like one of the professional estheticians are really like responding as like consistent and loyal followers and super fans and proselytizers and pulling their other, so that is a big part.

And again, gen X women too, who are genuinely interested in hearing about things that they never, no one ever taught them. So those two audiences right now, or seem to be our most loyal and [00:47:00] most consistent, like whenever she'll jump on, it doesn't require like a lot of, forethought or planning or doing a thing.

But they're always there when Angela says.

Chase: Yeah, it's incredibly, I don't know what's the best word, incredibly refreshing to hear someone say that gen X is actually their core demo. That's working because everyone is millennial gen Z gen Y really focused in every DTC business. So hearing the gen X is actually making a name for itself for years.

Rob: And you know why? Like we've been in talks at Sephora and the it's just an underserved and deep pocketed subset that, isn't like overwhelmed or bombarded, like by newness, like in a way that Mo you know, millennial focused gen Z focused brands aren't right. Because those areas are already over-saturated, like the idea that, and you get the trap, right?

Is that's what VC, like that seems to be where smart money is oh, you will, in order to [00:48:00] get the a hundred million return, you gotta be, you gotta get on a data as in it's got to go viral and all this other stuff, but it's it's just they're already over-saturated they are in beauty, millennial brand and that's thankfully, organically, not our niche.

So believe me, you can do really well focusing on gen X women and absolutely crushing it. So it's like finding out who's your audience, right? Like that part's really important for survivability. And our audience is less, served than millennials are like buy makeup brands or, nail Polish brands.

Like good luck, like trying to break through there without. Millie tens of millions of dollars to get your message through.

Chase: Yeah, that's really fascinating. I think, like you said, most of us essentially mirror what we see rather than, Hey, there's this underserved market. Like you said, that [00:49:00] frankly of all of them is the farthest along in their financial lives.

So they have deep pockets and they want those things. I think the other one thing that's a really hidden hidden gem from that group. They didn't grow up with phones in their hands. And like innate and loyalty to brands once they find something. For instance I'm sure you do this.

I like four brands of things that I use. And once I find I've maybe experiment a little bit and then once I find one, it never change. And so they, they put it, set it and forget it subscription. And so it's the same thing I find, because, once you get closer to the phone generation, it's just, they're so bombarded by different products and different things.

Like you'll just try anything. You don't care what my wife, she'll just, she's trying so continuously and. It's she'll find something and then keep it, but she's always looking for the next thing. And I don't see that with the generation that came before. Yeah, for sure. get into something and just that be their thing.

So that's a really interesting kind of [00:50:00] super power for your business actually.

Rob: Yeah, no question. And by the way, like that's why I'm sure no surprise, like we absolutely crushed it. Or Angela did on QVC, right? The average QVC watcher shopper is not digitally native either. So like they're happy to pick up the phone call in, make an order, there's something satisfying about, the people who fundamentally watch that keep, are our loyal, regular Watchers, feel connected to the host of the shows and like it's an experience and it's definitely not.

Millennials and gen Z are used to, and their business is better than it's ever been. On QVC.

Chase: So on a nurse, on a nerdy note, cause I have no idea. What is the D QVC take rate when they, when you do something like that? Cause obviously you're supplying the products. You're, you're buying the space to be, beyond QVC.

Rob: The quid pro quo essentially is you get the airtime and you have to on [00:51:00] consignment, provide everything else. And then there's a split, right? Any retailer split, like in their favor. But so they have no upfront financial risk and then you have to provide all the product at whatever in a numbers they request.

And obviously it's like everybody's incentivized to make it work. And then whether or not. The second chance is all based on how much you're selling per minute. It's like really black and white. It's super cut, cutthroat. There's a minimum threshold that they make per minute. And if you don't make it, then there's no going back.

The flip side is if you do make it, the growth is exponential, right? Because as long as you can keep going back and keep making your numbers, what starts out as like a one-off experience like that becomes once a month, that becomes [00:52:00] bi-monthly, that becomes weekly. And then you start looking at that, the exponential success that kind of volume brings, and it, that's like winning the lottery.

If you're able to achieve that level of success in that form, in that, in that channel.

Chase: I would assume there's a bit of osmosis also in the DTC funnel from there. People see you on there, they go check out your website, they see other products, and they're sure there has to be some sort of halo effect that comes with that.

Cause I think this is something we're seeing more and more is everyone had, for the last 10 years, all of the digital channels, you didn't have to do any of the old methods of. Of making, making money or acquiring customers. And now what you're seeing is people are trying to get on connected TV.

People are doing mailers again. QVC is having its best year ever. And it's because these things didn't, they just weren't paused. They didn't go out. They went out of style. They didn't go out of effectiveness. These things all still work. Yeah. And

Rob: by the way, like [00:53:00] for me, like I still have, like spectrum cable, I'm not like my daughter is like, what's cable? It's like such a foreign concept, but I'm still like like a cable box, like cables. And I see like still like local, produced like ads that like are so like amateurish, but because of the way the FTC rules in the local area, like there's a certain percentage of air time, like on cable that they have to dedicate.

To like local ad space. And I'm seeing I've probably seen a local TV ad on CNN for a rug shop in the valley. But I probably seen that had like 10,000 times. And I'm so curious about that's another one of those random I wouldn't even be through experimenting with like local TV ad spots just because I clearly like they can't give away the space, but so many people like me are home and happen to watch it it's like finding ways maybe that aren't always at the cutting edge of the latest Tik TOK [00:54:00] hook trend set, algorithm chasing kind of thing that you have to compete against.

Chase: Yeah. I'm sure that would work for you guys have the local salon, so I'm sure lots would actually be pretty, pretty powerful.

Okay. That's great. I'm going to transition to the next little batch of fun stuff. I guess the good transition question we have here that I love is what's your big idea for where the business goes next? You just had QVC, you've got some that

Rob: is the big idea, like we're there. So the idea is right, is finding a channel that works and executing it flawlessly, right?

Because half the battle is like getting to that, like where are the customers and how do I stay in front of the customers? And and that speaks to the sort of distribution question and what model, whether it's D to C or a wholesale model or a 360 not cross anyway, locking into one channel exclusively.

But being open [00:55:00] to. Where the opportunity is, and not being afraid to like experiment in different non traditional lanes. So QVC being a perfect example.

Chase: My next one is a set of rapid fire fun questions, because I think you, you summed that up perfectly and how I would sum it up is where are your customers, right?

Where do you get a positive signal that things are working and then build adjacent channels and experiments, but make sure that channel you execute flawless. And just have things in the backlog that you're testing to make sure that you don't have to be entirely reliant on that channel, which is essentially what people have been saying.

Oh, Facebook has been our winner. So we don't want to be really dependent on that. I think it's never being afraid of the fact that there are channels that you perform better on, for instance, you said what we do for digital, we do Facebook, Instagram, Google, and we are experimenting with the other ones, but we haven't hit it.

It's the same thing here. QVC is the place where you're going to go down the path and then having [00:56:00] these continuously moving. Yeah, that's really great. So where do you get your best ideas?

Rob: Talking to people who are smarter than you in the trenches, like who are in it, all the time.

You guys, right? Like where you're covering so much more ground, then I can cover as a one-off operator. And you're really smart. And you create a great product so that you guys have been a tremendous resource, right? Because I can ask you a question and have the benefit of somebody who's like literally seeing it all in real time and being able to quantifiably identify what's working, not working.

So finding the right resources and people like that really know their shit is huge in terms of like how I think, we're successful and are able to stay successful. So I tremendously value like always like having conversations with you learning, [00:57:00] not being afraid to ask or, admit that you don't know things.

So much of my knowledge has been, self-taught it's very tempting. To get lured by somebody who's Hey, we're an agency. We'll take all the headache off your hands and guarantee you a 10 X return. Does that sound good here? Sign up. It's thousands of dollars every month. Like that appeal has worked on me like a few times.

And then I got to the point where I was like, whoa, wait a minute. Before I throw in the towel. Let me see if I can, like it at a bare minimum. Do as good as these other guys who are purported to be experts in this space and just not pay the like huge fee that's is getting me nowhere anyway, that I can maybe use in, for actual like ads.

So thankfully, like I found you I find another program that the magic's has in terms of Automatic automizing the budget and the spend in a way that that was really challenging for me to [00:58:00] try to do the creative obviously is its own animal, but then okay, now I'm spending all this money on ads.

Like, how do I manage this? Like in a way that like both prevents heavy losses, but at the same time, is able to scale and make decisions in a way that I might not be able to either because I'm a rookie or, sometimes human error is like a real thing and you're too close to something and you're not seeing trends.

And so I find that sometimes the, like with budget automatic optimization that they have, like that can be a really effective tool for somebody like me. Who's juggling multiple hats and can't afford to hire agencies for every channel.

Chase: I think the heart of what you're saying, which is talk to people who are smarter than you is always my number one thing.

There are so many people out there and they can just share, so much just sitting here, listening to you share your story about this. I'm going to go to some more fun questions than that one.[00:59:00] What's your favorite place to travel? So if you, for instance, you exit off this business, where would you guys want to go?

Rob: We love Paris. Angeles speaks French. Like I have cousins there so that, holds a special place in our hearts and it's parents. It's. When you're in the beauty and the aesthetics, like space, it's hard not to like, want to be, go to Paris because that's, sensory overload in the best, in all the best possible way.

So that would be a good, and then I'm also down for, just a cabin in the woods and like no other distractions.

Chase: Yeah. I love both of those maybe cap woods a few hours. What is it? A few hours north of Paris. Few hours

Rob: normally. Yeah. Like someplace. Yeah.

Chase: First of all, when was the last time you went to Paris?

Rob: It's been four years. One of those areas as we all know, there's really not a lot of time to vacation or take time off. And obviously with the pandemic, no one did in any way, but [01:00:00] even now that's the trap you fall into of working all the time, not pumping the brakes every so often to just appreciate both like what you've accomplished, hopefully.

And to prevent like real burnout, mental and physical.

Chase: Yeah. I'm hoping you get to enjoy some travel and tell me what your favorite meal is when you travel. I hope it's something like a restaurant, you and Angela Love in Paris. Yeah,

Rob: for sure. We do love to eat and yeah, definitely. Okay. So

Chase: what's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

Rob: I guess it would go back to a lot of the time and the lessons that I learned from Robert Duvall, having spent so many years working with him and together, and, I would say, and it's what informed him as an actor. And it really, I think informs me as an entrepreneur and, daily life.

And it's not his quote, but it's a quote of [01:01:00] his mentor and acting teacher, Sanford Meisner, who he studied under, who would have on the Blackboard at the neighborhood Playhouse in front of the class, like again, specifically about acting, but you'll see it can apply and does in so many different areas of life, but essentially the quote is there was no such thing as right or wrong.

There's re. Truthful and untruthful. So really living a truthful existence. And it can mean different things for different people, but I just try to live by that philosophy of just being truthful.

Chase: Yeah. That's incredible. Sent Sandy Meisner. I haven't heard that name in a bit. It's a legend.


This is my last one. What would you tell a younger founder operator starting out that maybe you didn't know beforehand? And I think your experience starting in [01:02:00] the film industry and transitioning to the DDC founder is really interesting here.

Rob: Wow. It's a bunch of things come to mind

one is pay your dues, right? There's, there shouldn't really be like an overnight success. Yes, they exist and we all read them, but don't be afraid to pay your dues. Like it's okay to start at the bottom and learn a craft and learn from people who are smarter than you. Hopefully right.

Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you initially and figure out what it is that makes you tick. Maybe not something that was planted by a friend, a parent or something else, but really listening to your inner voice and gut and figuring out what it is that excites you. That doesn't feel like work and leaning into the head as a path, and you just can't go wrong.

And, that will save a lot of years [01:03:00] of zigging and zagging. And I wish somebody had really told me pursue your path. Like whatever that is, whatever that little spark is that gets you excited is the answer. And sometimes you don't pay attention or you don't realize that's a thing when you're just starting out.

Cause there's so many other factors that have gotten you to that point. And that's when you just transition and start to think independently, don't be afraid to listen at that age and follow that voice.

Chase: Follow your spark and listen, I think that's something that a.

I dunno. I don't want to say it's beat out of us at a young age. There's a lot of practicalities that are involved and to grow as a person growing up. I would say one thing funny, you'll I've been talking to a lot of young people, which is a funny thing to say in the DDC space and they are so dialed in, it is amazing to see that they [01:04:00] understand their spark as you it again.

And they're rigorously focused on following that. And I'm, I don't want to say I'm not jealous. I'm inspired by their ability to have a north star at such a young age, because that happened before this generation who had so much access.

Rob: Yeah, no, for sure. It didn't happen for me, obviously. It sounds like it did happen for you, right?

We're being guided by all these other forces that we're not really aware of at that stage in the game that are more in control than we are.

Chase: This is been amazing. I learned so much. I think it's so interesting hearing about cross training that people go through. I, yeah, nonlinear paths are my favorite considering I have a very nonlinear path to you and I speaking here today as well.

Rob: Yeah, no, exactly. That's why we're kindred spirits that way. And we appreciate like the journey more now. Because we've been on it for a lot longer and had our zigs and zags and [01:05:00] appreciate it in a way that never would have, like when I was younger. So how

Chase: can people follow you or get in contact with you if they wanted the chat?

Rob: So I'm available on LinkedIn, which, thinking of random channels. Like I didn't really get into how significant LinkedIn actually was for me as somebody who bypassed Facebook. For the most part as I was in it as a channel that really grew my business. So LinkedIn, for sure, Rob Carliner on LinkedIn is to get to me personally.

And then the skincare line is Angela Kalia, skincare, and that's on, Instagram probably ideally and Facebook too. So either of those channels.

Chase: Thank you for joining us for the pod today, hopefully we can do it

Rob: again soon.

Sounds good. Thanks guys. Keep up the great work by the way.

Thanks for listening to this episode of ad creative from pencil. We hope you enjoyed our chat and learn a thing or two, they can help you grow [01:06:00] your business and think more creatively. If you have someone that you think we should interview hit me up on Twitter. We want to have the most amazing line of possible.

Also, if you could please share and review this, we want to help as many people as we can. Until next time, add some creativity into your life. Thanks.


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