This Vegan Soap Making Company can't keep anything in stock.
Quinton Lewis sells soap. A lot of soap. So much soap that customers wait weeks for their order to be produced. And he only started in the last few years.
Quinton is the co founder of Herb'N Eden. He is currently the head of Marketing & Operations at Herb'N Eden.
In this episode, we'll walk through his journey, including a detailed overview of their content marketing strategy.
The Unofficial Shopify Podcast
Kurt Elster: Today on The Unofficial Shopify Podcast, we are talking about a topic near and dear to my heart, soap! Yes, who does not love soap? What is more exciting than soap? I’m serious. I’m not even kidding with this, because during the pandemic, one of the little luxuries, the niceties, the things I like to do for myself in the shower… Wait, that didn’t sound good. So, one of the things I like to do for myself is just buy nice soap. Cheap soap is a dollar a bar. Decent soap is $8 to $10. You can get good soap, and that’s just such a wonderful luxury to have in the shower to start your day with.
And so, I’m gonna talk to a man whose soap looks so good, you’d swear you could eat it. The stuff looks like brownies and it performs well, it smells great, it is a phenomenal product. Joining me today to discuss soap is Quinton Lewis from Herb’N Eden. Mr. Lewis, how are you doing today?
Quinton Lewis: I’m doing well, how about yourself?
Kurt Elster: Pretty good. You know, I get to work from home. I show up, roll out of bed, for some reason I still get showered and go through my routine every day, and then just make the commute from the kitchen to here.
Quinton Lewis: Hey, man. Stuck in a little bit of traffic and everything.
Kurt Elster: Yes. Yeah, I had to step over the cat in the traffic job in the hallway.
Quinton Lewis: Right, right.
Kurt Elster: Because he’s not moving for anybody.
Quinton Lewis: Right. But yeah, I’m doing well. I’m here. I’m in the office in the warehouse right now. We have a big warehouse right now, so I just had to step away and take this interview. I’m happy to be here, though.
Kurt Elster: When you say you’ve got a warehouse, so you… You’re handling everything, like you manufacture, you design the product. Design. Design your soap, manufacture your soap, store it, ship it, or pack it, ship it, everything start to finish happens with you.
Quinton Lewis: Absolutely. Absolutely. The whole thing.
Kurt Elster: And you said warehouse. How many people you got there now?
Quinton Lewis: We have 20 employees, and we’re continuing to hire. Only reason why we’re continuing to hire, we’re just going through this kind of being backed up a little bit, so I kind of need some temps and things right now, but it’s a good time to really train and get prepared for Q4.
Kurt Elster: And when you say you’re backed up, how… At its worst this year, what was your backlog? How far back were you on orders?
Quinton Lewis: Like right now, about a month. Like a month.
Kurt Elster: Whoa. That’s quite the backlog.
Quinton Lewis: That is the backlog. We’re about 6,600 orders backordered, like backed up, but I’m pretty sure we’ll get into all of that, but you’ll see the reason why we’re so backed up and what happened. Just the massive growth over the past few months.
Kurt Elster: All right, so you’re right. 10,000-foot view. Let’s back up. Let’s zoom out. What the heck is Herb’N Eden?
Quinton Lewis: So, Herb’N Eden is a natural products business. We specialize in bar soap. Bar soap was like our… In our restaurant, it’s our burger. It’s our foundation. It is what we started with, but we did bar soaps for about two, two-and-a-half years without introducing any other type of product, because we told ourselves we just want to establish ourselves in the market with just bar soap and just kind of focus on that. And you know, when you start adding on a lot of other products, you do add on a lot more overhead and a lot more responsibility, so we were just kind of taking it slow and just said, “Hey, just bar soap.”
But now we do a lot of other natural body care products, like body butter, body oil, natural deodorant, scrubs, things in the bathroom. Our goal is the bathroom right now.
Kurt Elster: I like that. And as you’re expanding, it makes sense to expand into things that are adjacent to what you’re doing, like all the products sound like there’s probably a ton of overlap in ingredients between everything.
Quinton Lewis: Oh, yeah.
Kurt Elster: And then it’s all self-care, it’s all cleaning. It’s everything that occurs within the shower or 10 feet of it.
Quinton Lewis: Absolutely.
Kurt Elster: So, when did… How long have you been doing this?
Quinton Lewis: So, we unofficially… My wife, actually she’s my business partner, she’s actually the founder, like it started with her. She was just looking for a skill, ran across soapmaking in a craft book and was like, “Okay, I’m gonna give this a stab.” So, she started out with melt and pour. After she showed it to me I was like, “Well, you gotta learn how to make this from scratch.” So, she learned how to make it from scratch, and that was around the end of 2014, like December-ish, 2014.
We didn’t really officially on paper file our business until January 1st, 2016. We were just selling to friends, we were going to a congregation, you know how you sell to people in your church afterwards, when people leave. We were just doing that, and she was posting it on social media just a little bit. People were like, “Hey, I want some.” We’d sell it like that.
We didn’t get on Shopify until July of 2015.
Kurt Elster: Okay, so it was like December, and she melts down some soap, starts making her own soap based on a craft book, and you immediately… It sounds like you pretty quickly were like, “Well, all right. You gotta take this a step further. Make your own soap.” And when did… From there, when did you go, “Well, shit. We can sell this.”
Quinton Lewis: Really, because at the time I had another business. I had a landscape design business. And I’m really, really into business, but when I saw that she made the product, and I thought to myself, “Wow. You can ship this.” And then with soap, it doesn’t spoil, so I was like, “Okay, well, this has the opportunity to really scale.” Because you know, I was into landscaping and landscape design. I knew that you can scale that, but you can’t really scale that like how you can do an eCom brand, with selling soap. So, I was like-
Kurt Elster: Yeah, you’re in a professional service business. It’s dependent on hands and time.
Quinton Lewis: Right, right. So, when I saw that this could be sold online, I knew from that point like, “Okay, this could really do something.” That’s why in July of 2015 we got on Shopify. And then I don’t know why there was such a gap, but we didn’t officially file the business until January 1st, 2016.
Kurt Elster: Okay. And so, neither of you had any background in soap or soapmaking. It was just a thing you went like, “All right. Well, we can figure this out.”
Quinton Lewis: No. No background. I mean, my wife literally, she’s really heavy into books. She stays buying books. She’s getting shipments every other day of just books, so she’s just been flooding it with the books. For me, I was at the same time she was learning soap, I was learning the internet marketing, digital marketing world, because I was applying that to my landscaping… Excuse me. I was applying that to my landscaping business. Learning about blogging, learning about creating content, so I was really diving really deep into that world.
I remember, we was in a one-bedroom apartment. She would be in the kitchen learning about the soap and I would be in the other room learning about the marketing aspect.
Kurt Elster: It’s a good team where early on you define those roles and you know like, “Okay. This is what you’re doing. This is what I’m doing. And we’re both just gonna research the hell out of it and educate ourselves.” That sounds like that’s what you both did.
Quinton Lewis: And that’s what it is even to today. She’s over all of the product, the product creation, and then I’m that marketing side and content, and that’s what I was doing from day one. Now, I have a small team around me, but from day one, product, marketing.
Kurt Elster: So, the early… I mean, early on it’s just like, “All right. Well, why not me?” And you already had that entrepreneurial mindset and you recognized like there is a definite opportunity here. From there, you start, you validated it by selling it to your local community, to your congregation, and then to friends and family. So, you knew right away, like that validated it. And so, you knew, “All right. We can get this on. If it’ll sell locally, we can get it to sell on Shopify. We can sell it over the internet to strangers. That’s the next step.”
You’ve mentioned like, “All right, I was researching marketing, and blogging, and content.” Talk to me about that marketing strategy. Because when you… It’s like one thing to show up in person and sell to people. Way easier, actually, than it is to sell as a stranger to strangers on the internet. How do you get this thing off the ground? How do you get anyone to pay attention to the Shopify store?
Quinton Lewis: Well, early on, when you’re first starting, you have literally no money. You don’t really have any money to run ads. You don’t have any money to do that. So, really all you have is just consistency. So, one of the biggest things we did was we just documented what we already were doing, and soapmaking is honestly a very cool thing to look at. I don’t know if you… The ASMR type things that people have today and all that, where people love the sounds?
Kurt Elster: I love it, but for people who don’t know, explain ASMR and this ASMR YouTube subculture that’s come up.
Quinton Lewis: Yeah, ASMR, even I’m trying to even learn it, but ASMR to me is like the sounds, the crunching, the satisfaction people get. It calms peoples anxiety, honestly. That’s what I see. But people really like that, so early on we really took advantage of just going live, showing us making soap, just documenting what we were doing, like when I’m talking, like every step of our way we were just documenting our journeys. We kind of… I listen to Gary Vee. We were kind of taking his approach-
Kurt Elster: Love Gary Vee.
Quinton Lewis: Yeah, we were taking his approach of just document and don’t create. Because a lot of people I run into now, they’re trying to figure out what type of content do I create? And I’m like, “Well, you’re a business owner. You do so many things in your business daily. Just capture a little bit of that and just kind of have that magnifying glass on it and show it to the world” Through distributing through YouTube, through Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, whatever. So, that’s what we did early on. Just documented. And we kept it very, very simple. So, people knew what we were doing.
Kurt Elster: I love this idea of… Well, A, I love that you were following Gary Vee’s lead, because I don’t think there’s anyone quite as consistent or prolific at business content marketing than Mr. Vaynerchuk.
Quinton Lewis: Yeah. He’s the GOAT.
Kurt Elster: That guy is just wild. And then on top of it, it’s like yeah, he’s got a team behind him, but every time you see him speak, you know that that guy is just pure hustle, energy, in human form.
Quinton Lewis: Right. Absolutely.
Kurt Elster: And so, we’ve plugged the hell out of Gary Vee. Gary, you’re welcome. And I tried to get him on the podcast once, and I got as close as his assistant being like, “All right, I know he wants to do more eCommerce stuff. I’ll take this to him.”
Quinton Lewis: What? He should definitely be on here.
Kurt Elster: All right, well, let Gary know.
Quinton Lewis: Absolutely.
Kurt Elster: We’ll see if he jumps on. Let’s see. So, you said two things that I think were critical to that early content marketing. You said number one, consistency. And two, work in public. Document, don’t create. I mean, I’ve had people ask me, “Hey, how are you… What’s your social media strategy? What’s your content strategy?” The sole strategy is if I’m doing… In my professional life, if I see something that is interesting to me, I screenshot it, write up why that’s interesting, and put it in my social media tool, Buffer, and it posts once a day everywhere. That’s it.
Quinton Lewis: See? Yeah.
Kurt Elster: It’s not that complicated.
Quinton Lewis: Not complicated.
Kurt Elster: When you say consistency, how often were you posting?
Quinton Lewis: Well, you know, for me, we were trying to post daily. At least five days a week. And the thing is, if I didn’t post, and just to back up a little bit, I didn’t come on full-time until 2017, like the end of 2016. I was involved a little bit, but not fully. I stopped my landscaping business the end of 2016, and then we ended up getting this huge order that made me come on. So, I started taking on the digital marketing aspects of our company. So, again, pretty consistently five days a week. If I did fall off a day, it was okay, I’d just jump back on the next day.
But video. Heavy, heavy video. That was the thing, because I was always reading about how video was gonna take over. Video was gonna take over in 2017. It’s gonna take over in 2018. And as you know, now video is probably the cream of the crop when it comes to all forms of content. So, heavy, heavy video, and it wasn’t like high-quality video. It was with my phone. We didn’t have the money at the time to hire videographers like we do now. So, heavy… All on my phone, and quick distribution. That’s why I like it on the phone, because I take it on my phone, distribute it very, very quickly.
Kurt Elster: I love this. I think for a lot of people, they need to give themselves permission to just suck at something before they’re good at it. And if you’re gonna suck at something, at least do it with the gear you have. Whatever the camera you have is, is the one you’re gonna use. Like truthfully, I’ve got this gigantic… I got this big, expensive DSLR camera.
Quinton Lewis: Oh, that’s nice.
Kurt Elster: This thing’s such… Oh, it’s so nice, and honestly, of the cameras I own, I use this one the least.
Quinton Lewis: Oh, yeah.
Kurt Elster: My iPhone is the one in my pocket. I use that for almost everything. I even edit the videos on my phone.
Quinton Lewis: Right, right.
Kurt Elster: Because you’re right, it’s like it’s quick distribution. It’s the easiest form. It’s so… It’s what you got. It’s quick and easy to do.
Quinton Lewis: Yep. Volume.
Kurt Elster: Or even like I’ll use a micro four thirds camera because it’s easy, but it’s like a point-and-shoot camera I bought used for 200 bucks. That’s cheaper than my phone.
Quinton Lewis: Right, right. I have the same… I have a point-and-shoot camera, as well. So, it’s all about volume. That was the biggest thing for us is just volume. Especially in the internet today, it’s hard to stick out. How are you gonna stick out?
Kurt Elster: A lot of noise.
Quinton Lewis: Yeah, so you have to be coming with the volume. This is… And I’m talking about before you run the ads or whatnot, if people are just talking about organic strategy, volume. That’s gonna be your best friend.
Kurt Elster: Okay, so you’re posting five out of seven days a week at least once a day. You’re documenting soap creation with your phone. And you’re doing this largely on Instagram?
Quinton Lewis: Yeah. Early for us was Instagram and Facebook. And really, a lot of… Very early was our personal page on Facebook, because you know, that’s like our network. It’s like our personal network.
Kurt Elster: Right.
Quinton Lewis: So, we’re doing a lot of that. Like I said, going live and just documenting the journeys of the business, as well. Like we got this huge order, so we’re telling people, “Hey, we got this huge 4,000-bar order that we gotta get to Cali.” It was a point in time where we needed to raise money to get us to Cali, to get this order to ship. We ran out of money, so we… Since we were so transparent through our journey, people already knew that we were working on this huge order, so when we asked for the money, it was like, “Oh, yeah. I know you guys are working on this big order, because you’ve been documenting your journeys.” So, that made it easy to do that.
Kurt Elster: I think it creates… There’s implicit trust.
Quinton Lewis: Trust.
Kurt Elster: Because there’s total transparency there, where people who’ve been following along the whole time saw where it started, like they made soap in their kitchen and then saw it grow. And it’s cool. You get invested in someone’s journey when you watch it that way. So, you had mentioned like early on, you don’t have money to spend on ads, you gotta do everything organic. Over time, how has that marketing… How has your marketing strategy evolved? What’s it look like today versus three years ago?
Quinton Lewis: Wow. It’s definitely evolved, and I didn’t even mention our email marketing. We’re very heavy email. We’ve been building our email list since the beginning, since the 2015, and we were using Mailchimp for four years, and then last year we switched to Klaviyo. That was probably to my friend, Isaiah, and then also you as well. You talked about Klaviyo a lot on the podcast, so when I was hearing about Klaviyo and just the segmentation, that’s really good. But it’s evolved from the standpoint of, like I said, from Mailchimp to Klaviyo.
Ads. We still take the document approach. We’re still very transparent. The way we communicate, literally, we tell our videographer, “Hey, let’s just… We’re gonna talk directly to the customer.” And we’re just gonna tell them, like for example when we’re backed up right now, we’re very transparent as to why we’re backed up. We just recently released a video on how we’re improving the shipping times, and we’re running that as a retargeting ad. So, another thing that has evolved is our ads and the ad spend.
This year, in 2020, is the first year that we have consistently committed to a monthly budget with ads. In the past, we’ve ran ads. I’ve had the pixel installed like way early in the game. I wasn’t very knowledgeable about custom audiences and lookalike audiences earlier, but now we’re taking advantage of all of that type of stuff. So, I think that also contributes to our growth this year, is really committing to a budget, a solid budget every month, and we’re scaling it up every single month.
Kurt Elster: When you talk about ads, I assume you’re talking about Facebook and Instagram paid ads, right?
Quinton Lewis: Yeah. Facebook and Instagram ads. Yeah. And YouTube ads.
Kurt Elster: Have you ever… Oh, you do YouTube ads?
Quinton Lewis: We do YouTube ads.
Kurt Elster: How does that go? I have not played with YouTube ads. That’s why I ask.
Quinton Lewis: YouTube ads is really, really well. I think the last time I talked to my ads guy he said we’re getting a 7X return on the YouTube ads right now.
Kurt Elster: Whoa! How’s that compare to Facebook or Instagram for ROAS?
Quinton Lewis: Well, as far as… A few of our ads have had that 7X, 7-8X return. We have had months when we’ve had that 7, 8X return. But Facebook and Instagram ads is the majority of our budget. The majority of our budget, we actually just recently added the YouTube ads. Probably like two months ago. It was my ads guy was like, “Hey, let’s add YouTube. I think it’s a good time to do it.” As we were scaling and going through all of this growth, he was like, “Hey, let’s add this other channel now.” And now he’s about to add TikTok ads as another channel coming up here shortly.
Kurt Elster: Oh, that could be big.
Quinton Lewis: That could be.
Kurt Elster: I got a client who does candles and bath bombs, and TikTok, it was a good business before. Nothing to sneeze at. And now, 2020 with TikTok ads, this one, it went from it’s just an average, good store, to like top 2% kind of thing. I mean, just wild stuff.
Quinton Lewis: Wow.
Kurt Elster: Because so few people are taking advantage of TikTok ads. It’s still like a blue ocean, where you can get a lot of value for your money.
Quinton Lewis: Oh yeah, we’re about to attack it, because my brother actually is the one that’s over our TikTok. He’s had such a talent on creating TikTok content that I just told him, “Hey, just control our TikTok.” We grew from like a thousand followers to like 15, literally, when I say overnight. He shot a video, it went up to like 230,000 views overnight, and our followers increased that much overnight, and we ended up having like our best day ever as an eCom store because of the help of TikTok. Of course, we’re running Facebook ads and everything like that, but TikTok was where all the traffic was coming from.
Kurt Elster: It’s funny you say that, like I just mentioned that other client with the bath bombs with TikTok, and it was a very similar story. Like you’re not alone in this, and the people who have been willing to experiment with TikTok and put the time in, the payoff you get with it if something… If their algorithm decides, “Okay, this is viral.” Oh my God.
Quinton Lewis: Wow. Yeah.
Kurt Elster: The amount of traffic it drives. Does the traffic convert? You said, “Hey, we had our best day ever.” It sounds like it does.
Quinton Lewis: Yes. It definitely converts and it was a very simple video. It was just a video of us showing how we make our facial wash. All we did was just showing the facial wash and my wife did a little voiceover on it. So, it wasn’t even-
Kurt Elster: That’s interesting.
Quinton Lewis: That’s all. It was just a voiceover and it was just us showing us how we make it. We put the turmeric in and you know, turmeric has a nice color, things like that. And it just went crazy, and then when I went back to Shopify and just seeing where the traffic was coming from, everyone was just buying the facial wash. Like we had the most facial washes sold that day and I know it was because of that video. We were getting emails and DMs like, “Hey, I saw you on TikTok.” And it was just crazy.
Kurt Elster: Do you think there’s… Is there like a social proof element to when a TikTok video goes viral, that people are like, “I want to get in on this.”
Quinton Lewis: Man, I think so. I think… Because even when I’m on TikTok consuming content, when I see a video has a lot of views and it’s kind of got a lot of comments, I’m gonna check it out and see it, and I’m gonna go through the comments to just see what people are… What’s the feedback like? That’s just how I am even with content, and my brother’s the same way. He’s always looking at the trends and what’s popular, what challenges are really popular on there, and try to incorporate it into our business, and how we do things here.
Kurt Elster: So, you gotta be on trend to hit success with TikTok.
Quinton Lewis: I mean, you don’t have to be on trend. You can set trends. You can… All the trends that we see, someone has set that as a trend, so honestly, with him, funny, comical things are very good. Humor. Humor is very great. It breaks the ice. It’s not always just trying to sell, but for him, he’s just… The type of content we produce on TikTok, again, it’s kind of going back to that documenting type of thing. We’re just showing what we’re doing.
Kurt Elster: Well, and fundamentally, really I asked, “Oh, what kind of content works?” And you went, “Interesting or funny content.” All right. Well, when you phrase it like that, it’s like, “Well, duh. Of course.” But you know, it’s not that easy, and it genuinely is tough to create interesting or funny content, and there’s nothing more painful than someone who’s not funny trying to be funny, so if you just suspect that about yourself, go with the documenting approach. From doing this show, when I meet someone who does something unusual or does something I’m not familiar with, I’ll always ask them like, “What’s something that would surprise me about that? About whatever work you do?”
And they almost always tell me something that I’m like, “Oh, that is really interesting.” And I know I’ll pull that out two years later at a dinner party, right? And be like, “Actually…” So, I completely derailed myself and lost my train of thought.
Quinton Lewis: Oh, no. You’re good.
Kurt Elster: All right, so if you’ve got… If you can’t do funny, or funny’s scary, don’t make yourself crazy with it. Go with the interesting content, but ask yourself like, “All right, because I’m in a niche. I’m waist deep in this niche or I’m in an unusual industry,” what’s something that when people… When you talk to people who aren’t in it about it, what do they always get wrong? Ah, all right. There you go. Now, that means you know what’s gonna surprise those people, because you know what they already think about you, so now try and make a video that explains, that peels back the curtain and try and explain something different and interesting.
I think if I were trying to intentionally trying make viral content, I think that’s the way to do it is make the content that’s truthful, educational, and surprising.
Quinton Lewis: Yeah. Absolutely.
Kurt Elster: I’m riffing out loud here, but I like where I’m going with this if I pat myself on the back.
Quinton Lewis: No, you’re making total sense, like even for us, like what’s super interesting that people don’t even know is that soap has to cure for a few weeks, like three to four weeks.
Kurt Elster: I didn’t know that.
Quinton Lewis: Yeah, so that’s another thing that backs us up, is the curing time, so we explain that through videos and people are like, “Oh. Okay. I didn’t know cold processed soap has to sit for three to four weeks.” And it just gets better with time.
Kurt Elster: You know, and I had not… I hadn’t realized that. And at the same time, it’s kind of cool if I’m buying soap, but then I also know the story behind like this thing that I’m using every day intimately, I want to know how that’s made, right?
Quinton Lewis: Right.
Kurt Elster: That’s gonna be top of mind. And then if it ever comes up, if somebody’s looking for a recommendation, like you’re gonna remember that story, so not only are you gonna recommend this soap that you love, you’re gonna tell them like, “Well, yeah. They have to cure it for three weeks and it’s all handmade in Georgia.” That’s cool. That’s part of the advantage to sharing that story and working in public that way.
Quinton Lewis: Absolutely. If people, especially like we’re on eCom, people have products. These are all product-based businesses a lot. Show the product being made. If you can, if you want to, but I highly recommend to show that behind the scenes.
Kurt Elster: Well, and especially with you, where it’s like, “Okay, this is handmade, all natural, organic, artisanal, whatever you want to call it, seeing it made that way gives it complete credibility. So many things claim to be all natural organic, and are they?
Quinton Lewis: Right, right.
Kurt Elster: Are they, though? Right? Whereas when I see the video of you making it, like okay, now I… There’s no more doubt. I know.
Quinton Lewis: Right.
Kurt Elster: All right, so I’m still on content here. I love content. What kind of… Are there any other formats or themes, or content or ad types that you think work? Like funny stuff works, educational behind-the-scenes stuff works. Video is the way to go, because it’s very engaging and professional, but you don’t have to get crazy with it. Anything else?
Quinton Lewis: I think… Well, as far as everything that you just said, I think you kind of nailed everything that we do, honestly. And we kind of just recirculate that. I mean, the volume aspect, we’re always testing different type of ads, just with different types of content. Honestly, that’s our whole strategy. The educational, the informing them, funny, to answer your question I think previous about how we’ve evolved is by adding the funny, the comical.
Kurt Elster: Okay.
Quinton Lewis: We didn’t used to do that. And that actually has worked as a good top of the funnel type of content for when we run ads, like if we run some funny stuff, that performs really, really well, because it breaks this ice. And then we can go into trying to tell them about the soap and selling it or whatnot, because if we’re making them laugh, that for the top of the funnel has performed extremely well.
Kurt Elster: Well, yeah, and it’s like think about when you meet someone. If you meet someone and the first time you meet them they genuinely make you laugh.
Quinton Lewis: Oh, man. Yeah.
Kurt Elster: That’s a good sign.
Quinton Lewis: A good start.
Kurt Elster: And actually, we were talking about that in the pre-interview before we started recording. You were like, “Man, Paul’s really funny.”
Quinton Lewis: Funny.
Kurt Elster: I said yeah, I remember when I first started working with him, we’d go out to lunch and I have this… I have a vivid memory of one of the first times he was working with us and we were walking to lunch. We were going to Potbelly’s or Panera’s or something, and he said something. I had to stop in the middle of the street because I was laughing so hard. And that… I mean, that makes an impression. I ended up making the guy my business partner.
Quinton Lewis: Right, right.
Kurt Elster: I can’t say it’s 100% because he’s funny, but it didn’t hurt.
Quinton Lewis: Right, right. I’m trying to think of just some… I mean, did we talk about YouTube? YouTube, we are posting-
Kurt Elster: Well, yeah. What kind of ad, like when I watch YouTube videos, the ads that I don’t necessarily immediately, violently click through and skip are the ones that look like TV commercials. I don’t know why, like those are the ones that stop me. What have you found is a reasonable format for YouTube ads? Because you’re getting a great ROAS.
Quinton Lewis: Yeah, and I’ll be specific. We’re running… I think we’re only running two pieces of content for the YouTube. The first one, which is performing the best… Oh, actually let me hurry up and plug this computer in, actually, because it’s saying it’s dying. But the best one is the… It’s our brand story video. And the way that our brand story video starts, it’s kind of like a… You have to see it. I wish I could have it, but you’d have to see it, but that’s the one that’s performing the best. That’s going into our story. And it’s like a three-minute-
Kurt Elster: I’ll put it in the show notes.
Quinton Lewis: Yeah, it’s a three-minute video. That’s what we’re running as our YouTube ad, and it’s performing amazing, because it starts off like this story, like this dope story, and then it just goes into it. And I think that he’s saying that a lot of people are watching it through.
Kurt Elster: That’s what I was gonna ask, like what about length? And normally the advice is like, “Oh, shorter’s better, shorter’s better. Nobody watches.” Three minutes for an ad and people are watching it, that’s good.
Quinton Lewis: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, three minutes, and that’s another thing about our YouTube channel. People watch our videos. That was something that we did early in the days, is that we would post like hour-long videos on our YouTube.
Kurt Elster: I was gonna say, you have an hour-long… I just, I Googled YouTube Herb’N Eden, and… All right, so I got your channel. Second result is a video uploaded by Herb’N Eden entitled Washing Your Lady Parts, and the third… I mean, if that’s a common question, make the video for it.
Quinton Lewis: Yeah. Absolutely.
Kurt Elster: The third result is Herb’N Eden documentary, episode one. It’s an hour-long video.
Quinton Lewis: People love to just sit there and just see us in our element, like literally, we would tell our videographer, “Hey, just capture us.” We’re in our natural, we’re just doing what we do, and he’s just there for an hour just filming. For hours.
Kurt Elster: When did you… What made you hire a videographer? When did you like, “This is a thing we should do.”
Quinton Lewis: 2018. I said to myself, I was like, “Man, I really…” Because I was doing a lot of the content myself, so I was like as things started to pick up, and you know, having content on your phone, and it’s taking over your phone, and just the space, I was like, “Man, I need a videographer.” I really wanted to film like a documentary type of thing, so honestly, just capturing more. I wanted more. And again, I know we’re gonna plug Gary in, but listening to him-
Kurt Elster: You needed your D Rock.
Quinton Lewis: Right! There you go. There you go. I needed a D Rock, and that actually helped out a lot, just… And now I have several creatives on the team that do different things. One for TikTok, one that’s kind of capturing the long form, YouTube type of content, and another one that’s filming the polished type of brand story video.
Kurt Elster: Man, that’s gotta feel good when you’re making this content, it’s pivotal or critical to your success, and then you’re able to delegate it and have other people do it better than you were doing it.
Quinton Lewis: Oh, absolutely.
Kurt Elster: Do you ever just look at your own content and be like, “Damn, this sweet.”
Quinton Lewis: Yeah. Honestly, I want to go back and look at all our early, early, early days, like I love going back looking at the early days, man. Because so much has happened, you know?
Kurt Elster: Oh! I do that too, and it’s nostalgic, but also cringey. Like not along ago, earlier this year I listened to episode one of this podcast. Holy crap, it’s so bad.
Quinton Lewis: Right.
Kurt Elster: But you know, if I listened to it and I was like, “This is pretty good.” That’s the red flag, right? Like if the content you made back in 2015 is pretty much on par with what you’re making now, well, then you’re not evolving.
Quinton Lewis: Right, you’re not evolving. Right. And I love to see that evolution. It’s just something about it, but then I use that. I repurpose that into new content, because people now, they get to see where we started. So, I’m pulling old content from 2016 and posting it like, “Hey,” like for example before we wrap this, how you see the soaps now, we used to wrap them in tissue paper and write on that the soap. And we posted that one day and people just went crazy, like, “Wow! You guys have come a long way. I want my stuff to come just like that.” And I’m like, “We don’t do it like that anymore,” but just kind of just showing them that journey.
Kurt Elster: Okay, you mentioned brand story several times. For people who don’t know, what the heck is brand story?
Quinton Lewis: Your brand story is honestly just your inception story, like how you got started. Like for us, just really, really quick, we got started because we were interning at an urban farm earlier in our careers, like probably right after college. We didn’t finish. And we were just in the environment of planting, and growing food, and things like that. That producer mindset. So, my wife was just like, “Hey, I really want to get into this farmer’s market culture. I want to sell a product at the farmer’s market.”
So, then she started, she found soapmaking. So, that video is just detailing that whole journey, and then it’s showing us as we’re going through our journey up until now. So, that’s all the brand story is. It’s just introducing people to the brand, your story. I mean, your story is literally everything, just like it’s how you build rapport with people. People, you can break that ice, and because people, especially on the internet, if they can get to know you, they get an opportunity to like you, and then once they can get an opportunity to like you, then if you can get that trust, I mean you just kind of checked all the boxes and they will at least listen to what you have to offer.
Kurt Elster: That’s brilliant, and I think one of the things that really merchants absolutely hamstring themselves doing is not sharing their story. And even like not having a great about page, not having those brand story videos, not being willing to get in front of the camera. That’s rough. That really limits your success. And so, my clients, the merchants I’ve spoken to, the ones that share their journey, and their story, and who they are, and do it proudly and consistently the way you have for the last five years, those are the ones that really see a lot of success. Because people relate to you and what you’re doing and then are willing to risk trying your product.
Quinton Lewis: Absolutely.
Kurt Elster: If you’re like, “Man, I’m struggling with my store,” and you don’t have a really great about page that tells your life story, try. Start there. Do that first.
Quinton Lewis: Do that.
Kurt Elster: Okay, so I don’t know if you watch the news, but there’s a pandemic going on.
Quinton Lewis: Oh yeah, I forgot about that.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, you’ve heard about that?
Quinton Lewis: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: Okay, good. So, what impact has that had on your business?
Quinton Lewis: Oh my goodness, like… I mean, should we… Oh, man. Okay, so just the macro answer, it has had a massive impact. Mostly good. A little bit of bad. I’ll just go into the bad. The bad is only just supply chains. I think everyone’s dealing with that. Delayed shipping times. Really the supply chains, they’re just slower. It just takes longer for you to get things.
Kurt Elster: Everything.
Quinton Lewis: Yeah, so-
Kurt Elster: Everything you do is slower.
Quinton Lewis: It’s slower, so just now, just trying to order way more than you’re used to ordering. That’s a big thing. But overall, like I said, it has massively impacted. I mean, just think about when we first got into COVID, it was around beginning of March, mid March, people were stocking up on everything. We had soap. We were advertising a lot that tea tree is antiviral, antibacterial, so it’s really, really good for just keeping yourself protected, and your immune system, things like that. So-
Kurt Elster: I love tea tree.
Quinton Lewis: And eucalyptus. Oh yeah. Tea tree is amazing. So, we were really pushing that message, so people were just stocking up, and it’s soap. It’s soap. You know how the stores were very crazy? So, we have a brick and mortar, as well, so people were coming to our brick and mortar, and also ordering online, as well, but our brick and mortar definitely saw an uptick at the beginning of COVID. At the beginning. Of course, now we have temporarily closed it, and it’s only for pickups, because we pretty much overtook our store. Had to move to a warehouse and things like that. But we’re getting it renovated now.
But overall, it has impacted. I don’t know if you want us to go into the specific growth and the numbers-
Kurt Elster: Sure. Oh yeah, please do.
Quinton Lewis: Well, an average month for us at the beginning of the year, we were doing about 30,000 in January, 30,000 a month in January. About 900 orders. And that, we were happy. We were ecstatic. We were like, “We’re starting off January doing 30,000.” We were projected to do like 600,000 this year, so we were like, “We’re starting off good.” Then in February, we increased 30% to 38,000. I think we did maybe a little under 1,000 orders. So, we were like, “Okay.” We were pumped. We were like, “Okay, this year’s starting off great. If we can grow 30% every month, which is very hard to do, but if we could do that, then we’re gonna have an amazing year. We’re gonna hit our goal.”
And then in March, we ended up booming up to 63,000 from the 38,000, and then after that, to April, we went to 110,000, and then in May, we did 225,000. And then in last month, we did 325,000. So, we were just month, after month, after month, just the growth was just… It was a combination of COVID, I think it was also a combination of just maybe some of the protests that were going on. Just being a Black-owned business. I think also… And then also us increasing our ad spend.
We were talking with a Facebook manager, a Facebook guy at Facebook, and he was just telling us, “Hey, if you could…” It was in March. He was like, “Hey, if you can increase your ad spend right now, do it. Because more people are online.” I listen to your podcast and you were… I was listening to it very closely, especially around COVID, and you were talking about your clients and you were just saying how a lot of them were seeing increases. I think it was like a half and half. I think some were, some weren’t.
But I was like, “Okay, let’s increase that ad spend.” More people were at home. They’re ordering online. So yeah, that was the combination. I think it was the perfect storm, and just having that product, the soap, it was just like perfect. And there was so many times I wanted to close the store down because we were just experiencing just massive growth, and I’m just like, “Yo, this is becoming too much.” But I never would close it. I just would continue to just take this in, because I just felt like this was a window of opportunity. And who knows when we would ever see this again?
Because COVID had so much uncertainty, you didn’t know if next month they were gonna tell you everyone had to completely shutdown. Postal Service was gonna shutdown. Everything’s gonna shutdown. So, it was just like, can’t-
Kurt Elster: It was scary.
Quinton Lewis: Yeah, it was just scary.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. It was the unknown. We didn’t… In March, it was like I woke up every… It felt like every day I woke up and went, “Oh, all right. It’s a nice day.” And then 30 seconds later I went, “Oh shit, this again.”
Quinton Lewis: Right.
Kurt Elster: Where you remember everything.
Quinton Lewis: Right. We did not know.
Kurt Elster: Because we didn’t know what was gonna happen, how it was gonna play out. It was scary stuff.
Quinton Lewis: Very scary, so that’s why I was just like, “Okay, I’m not gonna shut it down.” Because again, I don’t know if the next month we’re gonna have zero revenue just because of us shutting down, like out of our control. So, I just kept it going and man-
Kurt Elster: Make hay while the sun shines.
Quinton Lewis: Yeah, so-
Kurt Elster: You could sell, so keep selling while you can.
Quinton Lewis: Right, so honestly just kind of understanding the essential businesses and what that was for each state. Each state was very different, but I think eCom businesses, every time I was looking at the essential list, like we were good. We were totally fine. And honestly, we rode that wave, man.
Kurt Elster: Oh, you certainly did. And it worked out, because… So, I’ve always bought online, but I buy way more stuff online now.
Quinton Lewis: Right. Yep.
Kurt Elster: Because A, I got more disposable income, because we’re not going on vacation, not going out, not really… There’s just a lot of reduced expenses that created more discretionary income, so a lot of people are spending because of that. And then on top of it, like if I can avoid it, I’m not going to the damn store.
Quinton Lewis: Right.
Kurt Elster: I’m not going, making a quick run to Best Buy. I’ll just buy the stuff online if I can.
Quinton Lewis: Convenient.
Kurt Elster: So then, at the same time, you’ve got everybody is online before. Well, ad marketplaces work off supply and demand, so you’ve got more supply of eyeballs and a lot of people in a panic cut spend.
Quinton Lewis: Yes.
Kurt Elster: And so, it reduced demand. Well, in March you had this perfect storm, like end of March, April, we saw return on ad spend numbers just crazy stuff, and so for the people like you who went, “You know what? I’m gonna gamble on this.” It really paid off.
Quinton Lewis: It really did. I mean, just to break down just kind of our ad spend, I told you, I don’t know if I mentioned it. In January, we started off spending like $2,400 for our ad spend, and then we increased to I think $2,800 in February, then I think we doubled it, to like $5,000 in March, and then fast forward to I think last month, we did like $20,000 in ad spend. So, and honestly, my ads guy had gave me a heart attack a little bit once I saw the final numbers, but I didn’t really trip, because I was just like, “Wow. You spent that much, huh?”
But it was perfect. We gained so much data. Our pixel was getting worked and it… Just a perfect storm, man. And I’m really looking forward to that Q4 as to what is Q4 gonna look like?
Kurt Elster: Well, let’s ask that. So, you’ve got Q4 is coming down the pipe, and I think there’s a lot of anxiety around like, “Well, what’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, what’s that going to look like this year?” Is it gonna be bigger than ever? Because you’ve got like Target, and Walmart, and a lot of these places are closing on Thanksgiving now. Where they hadn’t in the past, and it’s just not realistic to do doorbuster sales right now.
Or do we gotta pay the piper and people aren’t gonna be spending nearly as much? What’s… It’s either, I think it’s either gonna go one way or the other. It’s gonna drop 10% and we’re all gonna have a heart attack, or it’s gonna explode 10% and just shift almost entirely to online sales. Obviously, I hope the optimistic. I want the positive. But I think that’s the fear right now, is we don’t know what’s gonna happen. So, I think the solution is invest as heavily in building your audience and growing your lists now leading up to it to prepare. And then that way, no matter what it is, you’re gonna have the best Black Friday that you could have given the situation.
Quinton Lewis: I totally agree. I mean, I agree. Like I said, I think that even if I think for worldwide, if it goes down 10%, I do see an increase in eCommerce still. I do see that. And I see actually, what I predict, I see people purchasing their gifts way earlier. Because of the wait. Because eCom took a huge hit. I mean, we all grew, but at the same time, the delays in shipping, just from just all across the board, I think a lot of people, they didn’t like that. Especially just from the feedback we got from our customers, that they’re gonna go, they’re gonna do their holiday shopping way earlier. That’s what we saw.
Kurt Elster: Interesting. Okay, that’s good. That’s a good thing. Yeah, if we start with the audience building now, and then maybe run… Do back-to-school sale in September. Run something in October. And then do November and of course Black Friday at the end, look for every opportunity and then also try and put yourself in the best possible position instead of worrying about what could happen. Let’s just rock the damn thing.
Quinton Lewis: Right.
Kurt Elster: On shipping, and we’re coming to the end of our time together, we’ll wrap it up soon, but what carrier do you use primarily for shipping?
Quinton Lewis: Right now, we’re using USPS. That’s who we’re using.
Kurt Elster: Have you noticed… I mean, all right, so we’re recording this July 29th. Have you noticed that USPS seems to be really struggling in the last month?
Quinton Lewis: Absolutely. We had a situation where they picked up all of our packages from the warehouse one day, and they marked them all as delivered, and that was a nightmare. That was a complete nightmare.
Kurt Elster: Whoa.
Quinton Lewis: And the thing is, I talk to them all the time. They’re overwhelmed. And I even have a guy that works here, he works at UPS, he’s even telling me behind the scenes what’s going on there. They’re so overwhelmed, like they have packages in there just stacked up, because even during COVID, a lot of businesses closed, so they were still getting packages in from those businesses, and they just had to store them. So, they’re so overwhelmed, man.
Kurt Elster: No, it’s rough. Hey, do you ever buy anything international?
Quinton Lewis: Did I buy anything international? I didn’t buy anything international, but I do know of the vendors, some of the vendors I buy from buy from international, and it took forever for them.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, like things just sit in customs for like two to four weeks now. It’s nuts.
Quinton Lewis: Oh yeah. That’s what my friend literally just told me two days ago, that his packages from China are just sitting in customs. Because I think they’re… I think they just have a backlog of processing.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. Well, yeah, because things were… Because of the rise in eCommerce, they were already at the edge before the pandemic, and now with 2020’s eCommerce boom, one of the very few good things to come out of 2020, they are just pushed absolutely beyond their capacity.
If you had to switch away from USPS, who would you go with? UPS, FedEx, DHL?
Quinton Lewis: Yeah, probably-
Kurt Elster: DHL has the cool logo.
Quinton Lewis: Oh yeah, DHL… Probably, I’d probably end up switching either between FedEx and UPS. I mean, honestly, it seems like easier. I use Shopify’s fulfillment, so it seems like it would just be easy to use them.
Kurt Elster: As a connoisseur of just receiving packages daily, FedEx is just phenomenally good.
Quinton Lewis: FedEx. Yeah, I get a lot of packages from FedEx, so yeah, I can really see that. I mean, honestly, we might have to make a switch, honestly, because USPS, it’s a lot of times where people are like, “Hey, my order says delivered, but it’s not there.” They throw your stuff, like we have glass, and we put fragile stickers on there, and they just… We’re always getting that email back of, “My bottle broke.” And it’s gonna happen. It’s gonna happen. It’s just the cost of business, but it happens-
Kurt Elster: I’m really into fountain pens, and I buy… The cool part about fountain pens is being able to change the color willy nilly. And sometimes, like the fountain pen ink comes in glass bottles.
Quinton Lewis: Oh, man.
Kurt Elster: I had one break once. Oh!
Quinton Lewis: Oh my God.
Kurt Elster: So, you just get just this box shows up dripping, and I’m like, “No.” I knew, like immediately you know what happened, like it’s going straight into the garbage.
Quinton Lewis: Yeah. We see that a lot.
Kurt Elster: That one’s rough. All right, lightning round. I got my last three questions here. You had mentioned Klaviyo. You love the Klaviyo flows. Of your Klaviyo flows, your Klaviyo emails, what’s your favorite Klaviyo email flow?
Quinton Lewis: My favorite Klaviyo email flow, I’m gonna pick between two. The first one, and I think you helped me out with that just a few weeks ago, with the long order fulfillment flow. So, I implemented that.
Kurt Elster: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Quinton Lewis: And that actually has been very, very great, because I have it going out I think two days after they order, seven days, I think 21 days. Because we’re on a three-to-four-week fulfillment, and people really love the updates. They genuinely love these updates, because they’re like… A lot of brands don’t give people updates.
Kurt Elster: Yes.
Quinton Lewis: And then the other one is probably the product review. I’ve really seen a huge uptick in our reviews on our website since we’ve implemented that. And honestly, Klaviyo did it itself. I didn’t even have to do it, like Klaviyo, once I hooked it up to Shopify, it created the product review flow for me automatically, and that has-
Kurt Elster: That’s awesome.
Quinton Lewis: That has increased the reviews.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, so the… For listeners’ benefit, we were talking about the delayed fulfillment flow that is built into Klaviyo. You just gotta add it, and the rule it sets up is like if order has been placed but left unfulfilled for five days, and you can change it to whatever, but let’s say it five days, then it automatically sends out a plain text email from your account to the customer that says, “Hey, we’re really… We have not forgotten about your order. We’re still gonna ship it. We’re just experiencing unreal volume and we’re backed up and that’s all.”
And then, so like that alone, just the bar for customer service is extremely low, unfortunately. But the advantage there is like just that one little thing, like you said, immediately people are like, “Oh, thank you. Thank you for the update. I really appreciate it.”
Quinton Lewis: They love that.
Kurt Elster: Because otherwise, you’re like, “Where’d my stuff go?”
Quinton Lewis: Right. They love that. And they honestly think that you sent it to them personally.
Kurt Elster: Plain text emails. They’re so underutilized. Okay, that’s my lightning question number one. I got two more. If you had to, if you could do one thing differently when you started, let’s say you could go back to 2015, give yourself one piece of advice, what is it?
Quinton Lewis: I kind of have like a 1A, 1B. The first one, it’s a good question, is I would have tried to incorporate shipping into my pricing. That’s something that I would have done early. And then the other one is probably run ads a bit earlier, because like I said, it wasn’t until this year, and we could have. I analyzed our numbers. I’m like, “Man, we could have seen some growth even earlier, like way more growth earlier if we would have ran ads earlier.” At least retargeting ads. At least ran retargeting ads from the beginning.
Kurt Elster: They’re very safe.
Quinton Lewis: Yeah, like I should have been running retargeting ads from the beginning. I even had the… I don’t know what got into me. I had the pixel installed from the beginning, as well. I don’t know why I did it. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I just did it. I could have been running retargeting ads for so much earlier.
Kurt Elster: You know, at the same time though, you can’t beat yourself up over it.
Quinton Lewis: Right, right.
Kurt Elster: Because number one, that’s survivorship bias. You made it here and you’re successful, so it’s really easy for you to go like, “Well, I know what I did to be more successful. I wish I would have done all of that on day one and everyone else should do that too.” Right?
Quinton Lewis: Right, right.
Kurt Elster: For me, I’m like, “Well, why didn’t I do all this?” Like my business, I spent five years just screwing around, really, and then suddenly figured out and started doing it consistently, and then took several years, and now I’m here. But yeah. No, it’s you can’t beat yourself up about it.
Quinton Lewis: True.
Kurt Elster: But you’re right. It’s like just take the plunge, and with PPC ads, remarketing ads are about as safe as it gets.
Quinton Lewis: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: So, final question here. If you were to give one piece of advice to listeners, you’re like, “Look, you got a Shopify store. Here’s the one thing I wish you would do.” What is it? Is it spend money on… Just get over the fear and spend the money on the ads?
Quinton Lewis: You know, for me, the first thing I’m even talking with people is your content production. You have to. You gotta produce some type of content. We live in a digital world now. You have to create something. And it’s gonna have to be video or something, like at least video. Even here, you creating this, just how I even found your podcast and began working with you, and you guys did the work for us with our website, and that whole thing… It’s like I trusted you. I trusted you. The ice was broken. I already knew who you were. I listened to tons of episodes.
So, if a person can just produce content, and volume of content, honestly. That’s my biggest advice for people. And then from there, you kind of can do whatever you want. You can do whatever you want to do from there, because you have a voice. It’s like your mouthpiece, you know?
Kurt Elster: No, that’s fabulous advice, and I know from experience it’s true. Not just because it worked for me, but because when we look at our portfolio of clients, the ones who are the most successful have a single thing in common, and it’s they all produce a tremendous volume of video content. Yourself included. Because your business is quite tremendous and successful.
All right, I will leave it there, but if people want to check out this soap and they want to learn more about you, where do they go?
Quinton Lewis: They can go to first, you can go to our website, which is Herb’N Eden. It’s spelled like herb, H-E-R-B-N-E-D-E-N, and I’m sure you probably put it in the show notes. HerbnEden.com. You can find us on Instagram @HerbnEden. YouTube at @HerbnEden. TikTok. Facebook. All HerbnEden.
Kurt Elster: I will include that stuff in the show notes and 100%, just check out Herb’N Eden’s soap. It looks so good. If you just look at it, you will… Just on its appearance alone, you’re like, “I probably want to buy it”
Quinton Lewis: Right. I’m amazed every time I use it, honestly.
Kurt Elster: Well, that’s gotta feel great, because it’s like it’s your product, it’s a thing you’ve spent five years working on with your wife. Really. You must feel… Occasionally look down at the soap and go like, “I’m proud of this.”
Quinton Lewis: Yeah. Honestly, before we leave, it was a time when we ran out of soap at the house and we didn’t have any of our soap at the house, and I was just like, “What? How does this even make sense?” But man, I love using our soap. I really, really do. And you guys, try it out, check it out. You’ll love it.
Kurt Elster: Very good. All right, we’ll leave it there. Quinton, thank you. This has been great.
Quinton Lewis: Thank you, Kurt, and you have a good one.