GraceEleyae.com was born out of a problem – how to keep your hair from drying out and breaking off. 300,000 Slap’s (satin lined cap) later, JD digs in with Angel Eleyae on what’s working now and how to work with family and stay sane.

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Angel: We’re just getting one or two orders a day, and then all of a sudden we got like 50 in an hour.

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JD: What are the actual tactical things that you are doing to attract people?

Announcer: Now, your host, JD Crouse.

JD: Hello, and welcome back to E-Commerce and [inaudible 00:00:23]. I am JD Crouse, and today I have with me Angel Eleyae from Grace Eleyae. Welcome, Angel. How are you today?

Angel: Thank you so much for having me. I am great.

JD: Fantastic.

Angel: Yeah.

JD: Where are you calling in from?

Angel: Chino, California. Just outside of LA County.

JD: Wonderful. Did you guys have any of those fires?

Angel: It came close, but actually in our area we’re really used to fires. It definitely came closer than expected, but it was put out pretty quickly.

JD: Good.

Angel: Yeah.

JD: GraceEleyae.com. Tell me about the origin of your company and your role in GraceEleyae.

Angel: Of course. We started in 2014. We fully launched in September of that year. And like every startup, it’s like okay, we have a product. What do we do with this? So, I just got a list of a bunch of people who I had been watching on YouTube. I didn’t know at the time they were called Influencers. I just sent, “Hey, we have this new product. I think you’d really like it. I love your channel, and let me know what you think. I’d love to send it to you.”
So, we emailed like 150 people like that, and only three responded. One said no, but at least he responded, so I respect that. One said, “Sure, this looks interesting, but I’m moving right now, so send it to me in a couple of months.” I’m like, “Okay, that’s fine.” Then, one was like, “Okay, I’ll try it.” We were like, “Perfect.” We sent it out to her. She was in Canada.
A couple of weeks passed by and we didn’t hear anything from her, we just kept trying to contact more YouTubers. All of a sudden, one day we just got … we were getting maybe one or two sales a day, on a good day, and then mostly like five or seven a week. All of a sudden-

JD: You were killing it, right? You were like crushing it, yes.

Angel: Oh my gosh, it was like once … it was amazing. We would rejoice each time. I actually remember our first sale where a woman ordered seven products. We were jumping for joy. We were so excited. We were like, “We’re doing something that’s working. People like it. It’s exciting.”

JD: Right.

Angel: So then one day, we just all of a sudden get like two or four in an hour, and then we get 10 the next hour. We’re like, “Wait, what is going on?” So, then we looked in the back and my brother, who did operations at the time at GraceEleyae, he looked in the back end of the website and saw a lot of the traffic was coming from this YouTube page … coming from YouTube.
He found the YouTube video that the Canadian YouTuber, [CoddyApples 00:03:16] posted. She raved about the [inaudible 00:03:19], and it was so exciting to see, so he reached out to her again and said, “Hey, will you mind doing another video?” Because that one was more of a favorites video. He asked if she could do using the products so people could understand what it is and how it should be used. She was like, “Sure, why not?”
That took like maybe a week or so, and then we were just getting one or two orders a day, so we went back down. All of a sudden, we got like 50 in an hour. Then 60 the next hour. It was just crazy. So, we found the video that she did again. She didn’t tell us, she didn’t ask for any money, and she just gave an amazing review. It’s still one of the best videos on her channel, actually most-watched video.
That’s kind of how we launched. That’s how we started. As things went on, and time went on, we got more people, more YouTubers to talk about their honest opinion about [The Slap 00:04:19], and that’s how we started. Yeah.

JD: That’s so cool. Well, the product, though … the company started … like, y’all were trying to solve a problem, right? Can you talk about how the product even came to be in existence?

Angel: Yes, my mom, Grace, and I were on a trip to Kenya. It’s a very, very beautiful country. I’m half Kenyan, half [inaudible 00:04:45], so we were going to visit family. We were driving from Nairobi to the Coast of Mumasa. It’s about an eight hour drive, and it’s a very, very dry climate. Very, very warm, on the equator.
So, Grace’s chemically straightened hair was being rubbed up against the car seat. When we got back to the US, she realized she had a big hole in the middle of her head. All of her hair in the middle of her head broke off because of the heat, because it wasn’t protected. She said, “There has to be a way to protect my hair wherever I go.”
So, she took some sewing classes and she realized … she was in her [prayer 00:05:27] closet, she went to her sewing machine, and just sewed the first Slap. She’s like, “I think I got it.” She sewed it, she gave it out to friends and family. We all loved it. We were so amazed by it, so then we actually decided to start selling it.
My brother came in, my mom came in, I was in. We just started selling it, seeing if other people liked it, since our family loved it so much. What the product does is … it’s function and fashion. So, there are a lot of functional products of satin. There are bonnets, and there’s headscarves, but unfortunately, we couldn’t wear that to work, we couldn’t wear that out very often.
She wanted to create something that you can use and wear to protect your hair, but also if you need to just get up and go, or if you need to go to the office and your hair still isn’t done, you can do that. Function and fashion. As people started using it, we saw some of the other amazing benefits and features.
Like, you can do your hair the night before, and wake up and your hair is completely the same. It saved one of our customers from two hours when she had to straighten her hair every day, then she went natural, and went to 30 minutes, and now she spends five minutes in the morning. So, it went from two hours to five minutes.

JD: Oh my gosh.

Angel: Yeah. Exactly.

JD: That’s like getting your life back.

Angel: Exactly. That’s what we say. Take your time back. There’s so many unnecessary issues that we have in the morning. It’s pretty much solved.

JD: So, because Amy and I own [Boulder Band 00:07:09] and we’ve gotten feedback from African American women that certain fabrics actually break the hair. Talk to me about satin, and does it hold the moisture in? Does it … because if you’re wearing this thing through the night so that you wake up and you’re ready to rock and roll after five minutes of prep, what does the product really do? What are the properties of satin that is so special?

Angel: Cotton … we mostly sleep on cotton. We mostly have harsh materials. Cotton is a moisture-absorbing material. So, [inaudible 00:07:50] a cotton pillowcase, or using a cotton beanie or a knit beanie, it typically ends up absorbing all the moisture that it gets, because that’s just what it does. It’s a moisture-absorbing material.
Satin, on the other hand, is not a moisture-absorbing material. The way it’s made … it doesn’t suck any moisture out of your hair. In fact, we’ve seen that it kind of just redistributes the moisture in your hair.

JD: Fantastic. Cool. I’m such a dude, right? Matter of fact, the hair is falling out on the top of my head, so I was so clueless. We moved from Colorado, which is very, very dry to Texas, south central Texas. My daughter has this beautiful brown hair, and in the humidity it gets really curly. She’s been experimenting with new products and things, so I’m going to have to get a Slap so that she can sleep in it. She’s probably going to love it. I’m excited to do that for her.

Angel: Yes, oh my gosh. We have to send her one.

JD: It’ll be fun. So, it’s you and your mom pretty much. You guys own the company and running the company-

Angel: My mom, me, and my sister, Grace.

JD: Okay, fantastic. Your role there is Chief Marketing Officer, probably amongst other things? What all do you do there at the company?

Angel: As the years go on, of course, you have multiple hats. In the beginning you ship, you pretty much do everything. You ship, you do customer service, you do anything that needs to be done, you do. As we’ve gotten bigger, I have finally moved into the role that I think I’m probably best at is marketing, and finding the right fit for the product, and finding the right market fit and making sure that the product sells.

JD: Fantastic. Well, what are you doing right now? You said in the beginning YouTube Influencers are what put you on the map. That’s how you guys launched. How do you attract great customers today, and is it a mix of paid and organic? Are you doing things SEO? What are some of the things that are really working well today as a company that is four years old?

Angel: What we are doing today … I’ll start from kind of … like you said, and I like I talked about earlier, we did Influencers with a lot of YouTubers, which was really great because when it was at it’s peak, which we then later found out that 2014 was the real peak of YouTube Influencers, that’s when everyone was trying to get into that market … the best thing about it … the Slap needs to be explained.
When you see it on the shelf, it’s like, “Okay, it’s a $30.00 beanie. Why would I buy this?” It’s so much more than a beanie. It needed to be explained. So that’s why Influencers were so great. It was like your friend telling you what they have and why they like it, instead of us telling people what it is and why you should buy it, and sell, sell, sell. It was more like a conversation that customers got to have with these Influencers.
They were able to explain it and tell their own experience. So, it was social proof as well as [inaudible 00:11:19], content. It brought people straight into the middle of the funnel onto the website, so we got a lot of warm traffic. Now moving on, I would say that sadly because of new rules, because of legal issues, I would say that that bubble has most likely burst. It doesn’t work for us anymore, not nearly as well as it used to.
So, we’ve moved into social advertising and that’s kind of where we’ve been sitting here until we find the next really big bubble. But, that’s been working from us moving from Influencer marketing to social advertising, and of course, content.

JD: Do you guys have in-house photographers and videographers to produce your content, or do you outsource that? What does your content look like, your content production, content creation?

Angel: We don’t have in-house photographers and videographers. We are now looking to hire more photographers and videographers and bring them in-house. We just really contracted. In order to scale quickly in the first few years, as we’ve moved … everything was at lightening speed. Once you did something, you were already late on another thing. It’s just constant moving.
Since we grew so quickly, we used a lot of contractors. Contractors and freelancers, they have their own team, they have their own equipment, so if we need to scale something from 10% growth to 100% growth, they have their own team to do that. We don’t have to hire in and do that whole hiring process. Now that we’re bringing more in-house, we are starting to look for in-house photographers and videographers, and graphic designers.

JD: It’s nice to keep it contract though because you stay lean, right? You don’t end up having this big overhead and even though I don’t know what your experience has been, but anytime you’re producing content, it doesn’t seem like you can ever produce enough.

Angel: Yeah.

JD: You’ve got your photo shoot, video shoot, and you go post production on everything. You’ve got [ghost 00:13:36] to graphic design, and then you actually get to use it in a blog or on Facebook or Instagram.

Angel: Right, and it’s hard to know what people actually want to hear, want to see, or want to … and you don’t know what will immediately put someone off. So, it could be something that you … that this is a perfect piece of content. You put it out there, and then everyone is like, “What in the world were you thinking?” When it’s good, it’s really good. So, that’s what we’ve seen. When we have a good piece of content, it can definitely produce a great return.

JD: How are you using content right now? Are you creating blog posts and then promoting them through paid social? Talk to me a little bit about how you’re using content today.

Angel: Yes, we create content and pump it through paid socials, really our funnel there. Then, as we move forward, now we also do the whole funnel, top of funnel content, middle of funnel content, and [inaudible 00:14:41] content, which is prospects, things that have very little to do with the company, just stuff that’s more about our market.
Hair ideas, hair tips, all that stuff … and then we use paid advertising to push that through and get it to a wider audience. Of course, we do through email, which I love email. Email marketing is still alive and well, and I’m very happy about it. Then, we use social media to push it through to a bigger audience.

JD: Very cool. What platforms are you using for your email marketing efforts?

Angel: It seems like we’ve used everything. We’ve used so many different programs. We’ve used HubSpot, we’ve used Active Campaign, we’ve used [Keevio 00:15:25]. We landed back on [Keevio 00:15:32]. I do like [Keevio 00:15:32]. It’s very easy to use. It’s not a one-stop shop, but it’s great for marketing.

JD: What are the features in [Keevio 00:15:42] that you like the best?

Angel: I don’t have to go to Google Analytics for my analytics. The other two, I guess HubSpot is the one-stop shop, so you can then create your reports, and you can create your dashboard. It was just simpler. It’s also easier when you bring people in-house. It’s easier for the processes to run smoothly [inaudible 00:16:03] in Grace Eleyae, [Keevio 00:16:06] has fit seamlessly.

JD: Very cool. That’s awesome. So, once you get somebody, you’ve attracted somebody, what’s your best advice, or what’s working now for you guys as far as converting people? I’m going to kind of maybe pre-load the question a little bit with how many touches do you feel, or are you tracking those touches, or have a gut feel for how many times you have to interact with a completely cold prospect in order to get them to finally pull their credit card out of their purse and actually purchase. I’d love to hear what you’re doing to convert both. Are you re-marketing? Email, and then also how long do you feel like you have stay with them to get them back to the site?

Angel: Yeah, great question. When we doing Influencer marketing, it was nice. The touch points were like one point-something.

JD: Back in the day, right, whether it was [crosstalk 00:17:17]

Angel: Fresh and new, and really exciting. It was like one point-something, because people when they watched the video, they were either convinced that they wanted it, or didn’t want it. We were getting really warm traffic, really hot traffic. Then, maybe they would sign up for an email list and get a coupon, and then that was pretty much it.
As we’ve moved and elongated the funnel, it’s about three or four touches. So, they see our content, they maybe sign up for something, or sign up for a lead magnet, or sign up for something like that. Then, they get on our email list, they wait for a couple of weeks. They go to our new customer work flow, and our series there, abandoned cart series and all that stuff. Then, they come back, they look and see if they want it. Usually they buy there, or they just wait again … and then they’re entered into another work flow.
Then, they buy after that. So, email has been a big thing in converting customers. I very much so still love email. It’s a lot more personal, it’s the highest converting marketing channel that I think is out there, because it’s already really warm traffic, they already want to know more about you. When they get to the website, they either want to buy, they want to see what’s new, and then they leave, or buy.
If that makes sense. Did that answer your question?

JD: Yeah, absolutely. It’s fantastic. Three or four touches today, I think is … you guys are doing an excellent job in your follow up and abandoned cart sequences, and obviously doing a good job on the first touch, because I know that for cold audiences that we go after, other businesses that I’ve talked to, even on this podcast, it’s not unheard of to have 12 to 16 touches back to the site before somebody actually … and they’re not high dollar carts, either. They’re $30.00 or less, initial cart values. So, you are obviously doing some things right. Good job.

Angel: Thank you. Our goal is really making sure the right content is to the right person. I’m really big at segmentation. Yes, we’ve been very, very blessed.

JD: That’s awesome. I see that you guys … or at least it looked like you have a presence on Amazon. Does Amazon account for very much of your overall business revenue?

Angel: It’s about 10%, and it’s been growing tremendously year over year. It used to be less than 2%. We didn’t really pay much attention to Amazon, because we had our customers, we [owned 00:20:06] our customers. Amazon owns your customers. So, you’re unable to contact them, and email marketing is completely out of the picture, not a thing, with Amazon.
As we got bigger, we were able to hire out and Amazon has now become 10% of our revenue. It’s great. Especially when you have FBA, when you have Prime eligibility … it just gives customers more security. If they like the product, they want to buy the product, but they’re not sure if they’re going to get it on time, they’re not sure about you. There’s a lot of e-commerce companies out there. I would suggest opening an Amazon store.

JD: Do you find … are there any negatives to Amazon? Do they frustrate you ever?

Angel: It’s a love/hate relationship with Amazon.

JD: Me, too. I’m the same way. I was like trying to hold back my bias. Tell me about it.

Angel: They have their own rules, and it’s not always clear what those rules are. But, when you break them, they will let you know for sure. It’s really just making sure that you’re reading any policies that are new that came in, or that they’re emailing you, and making sure that you’re up to code and up to date with what they are requiring.
Thankfully, we have hired and brought in an Amazon expert, so now I no longer have to deal with Amazon [inaudible 00:21:43] with those kind of policies. He’s amazing. He does amazing work, so I’m very happy that it’s not under my belt anymore, but once you get it, it’s definitely worth it.

JD: Are you going to branch off into wholesale, or are you right now? I didn’t see any wholesale opportunities on the site.

Angel: Wholesale is definitely in talks, very, very much so. But, the thing is our products need a lot of explaining until we get a little bit more out there. People knew more about us, if they want to buy on the website, but they can’t try it on, so they go to a brick and mortar. That’s kind of what we were looking for. When it’s on the shelf, it’s just like, “Wait, why would I buy a beanie for $30.00?” We’re like, “No, if we can just explain it to you, it’s so worth it.” Now that we’ve gotten bigger, it’s definitely for sure 100% in the conversation.

JD: Nice. Very cool. Do you guys launch new styles in the fall, in the spring, or are you always rolling out new styles? What does your supply chain kind of look like, and product development and things?

Angel: We do roll out new things. For two years, I think, we’ve just had the Slap. We’ve just had the Slap, we had pillowcases, then we slowly moved into scrunchies. We slowly moved into hats. Now, last year we released, I think, four products. Before, it took like six or seven months to release anything, if that.
We’re getting better, we’re moving forward. The team is growing. Because we focus so much on contractors, and made sure that we were very lean internally, we can produce that many products that quickly. As our team is growing internally, we’re releasing more and more. So, we have a lot of cool stuff coming out this year. I’m very excited about it.

JD: Fantastic. Awesome. Talk to me about cross-selling and up-selling and retention, and how you think about with your product mix, and with your buyers, how are you getting back in front of them and selling them something else, or maybe in just a different color, different style of the Slap.

Angel: We’ve been blessed to have a very vocal and very interactive customer base. Our customer base pretty much tells us what they want. They tell us what they want to see, they tell us what they would like to see. So, we just have that conversation with them, and we [inaudible 00:24:41] consumer research as to how we all want to move forward. By we all, us internally, but also our amazing customer base. So, we’re all just kind of growing together in this journey.

JD: I love that.

Angel: It’s been such an amazing experience. So, we bring out a product and already, since there’s so much research that’s done into it, there’s a lot of conversation that’s been behind it, people buy automatically. We release it in certain ways where it’s been a slow seep, where we get more and more beta testing, and more and more testing, so that we’re able to fix any qualms, any issues, get sound bytes, get a great copy that customers themselves have used, and then we push that forward.

JD: That’s fantastic. How do you balance that with a company that’s growing fast? It seems like, I know for us, when Amy got too far removed from the customer … I mean, it’s the beauty of direct to consumer, right? You have a direct communication channel, you have a direct relationship with the user of your product.
There’s no middle man, there’s no retailer in the middle. There’s no Amazon. So, you can get instantaneous feedback if you wanted, but sometimes the sheer volume of feedback and communication can become a little bit overwhelming. How do you guys balance that, or how do you approach that?

Angel: You don’t sleep.

JD: Well, there is that, right?

Angel: It’s a lot of stuff. We actually look through each survey result, and each Facebook comment individually. We look through each individual one. Then, we all sit in a room and we sort them into personas, of course, and then we just Post-It note on our wall, what are the common themes that are being said here, and what needs to be fixed. What are the issues? What are the … really, how we balance is we just set aside one full day. This is everyone … stop your work. Tuesday or Wednesday, or whenever, we are going to go through these, and we’re going to make sure that our customers are being heard.
Otherwise, then we’re just working in a silo, and we’ve done that before, and it doesn’t work. Working to [inaudible 00:27:23] your customers, you release a product and it doesn’t go off the shelves at all. It’s so devastating. You’re like, “We put so much of our heart and soul, we put so much of our money. We knew this would work,” but we actually weren’t actually listening to our customers, so we then did a customer research campaign, we made sure that we would listen to our customers from them on, and that has proved very successful for us.

JD: How many people participate in product development, product research, feedback on product with you guys? Do you have a few hundred, do you have a couple thousand? How do you build that? I think it would be really valuable for other e-commerce retailers who have their own brand that are continually trying to … you’re future-casting right?
I mean, that’s part of the role of the entrepreneur is to predict with a certain level of certainty what your customer is going to want a year or two years from now. It’s wonderful to actually get proof of concept and feedback along that journey. How do you guys structure that, and that communication?

Angel: In terms of externally … people who are submitting?

JD: Well, do you have … let’s talk about tactically. So, do you have a private Facebook group that you actually release beta products to, and there’s a certain level of expectation and also benefits for being a part of that? Or, do you have a segment, do you pull your best buyers and pull them? Is it 30 people, or is 500 or a couple thousand that you’re getting feedback on images of designs.
Like, the tactical … how do you actually go about putting the information out and then actually receiving the feedback back from your customer base? Does that make sense?

Angel: Yeah, totally.

JD: Cool.

Angel: In the beginning when we really didn’t have any customer base, we would just email everyone and say, “Would you be willing to chat? Would you be willing to be on a 30 minute call with the owner and just share your experience with the product?” People took really well to that.

JD: That’s really cool.

Angel: Yeah, I mean, it was really, really great for us. Imagine a product that you’ve just purchased. You have no idea if it’s going to work for you, and then you try it. You like it or you don’t like it. Then, the owner himself, or herself, wants to talk to you and see how you’re doing with that and get your opinion on it.
We thought internally, “Who woulds want to talk to us? Why would they want to spend time out of their day to talk to us?” The exact opposite happened. It was like, “Thank you so much for wanting to hear me.” They want to be heard, especially from owners, and especially from CEOs, CMOs and the [C-Suite 00:30:31] of things that they view. So, that’s how we did that in the very beginning when we had like 60 customers.
Now, we do surveys, we do secondary research, which is people who haver never used, and also people who have never used our product, just people in our market. We just wanted to get feedback. So, we do surveys, and we send that via our email list. We also use programs like Survey Monkey and Poll Fish to get … [inaudible 00:31:03] see results, to get people who haven’t heard of us, haven’t talked about us, haven’t been around us at all to get very unbiased information and results, and kind of slightly biased on our end. That’s that. We get thousands and thousands of results now that we’ve moved from first year to fourth year now.

JD: Talk to me about the placebo results. I’m not familiar with Poll Fish, so how do you … are you just looking for just completely cold traffic viewing your product and giving you feedback just kind of online? What the first impression is there, and does Poll Fish allow you to easily just quickly capture thumbs up, thumbs down, here’s why, or whatever? What is that?

Angel: Yeah, it’s a like a testing group. You create the survey, you send it to Poll Fish. Poll Fish then sends it out to their base. They respond. Sometimes you can get responses in seconds, it depends on how long the survey is, of course, but you can get it immediately. Sometimes it takes a day, and they’re really great if you don’t get to … you pay per … and there’s a lot of programs like this, but we use Poll Fish. You pay per response, and you also can break it down into demographics, that’s social, economical, ethnicity. You can break it down pretty much in any way.

JD: Any way you want to slice it?

Angel: Any way you want to slice it.

JD: Cool, so there’s actually companies out there that will look at your UX, the user experience on your site, and record their screen and say, “This doesn’t make sense to me. This is cool, but I don’t know what that means. I can’t find the place to search. Where is your search bar?” But it’s really focused on kind of your brand and your brand messaging and products, more so, the Poll Fish thing is?

Angel: Yes. Poll Fish doesn’t do that. There are companies that do that. You definitely can have that done. This one is just solely surveys.

JD: Okay.

Angel: Have you heard of GraceEleyae, Inc. before? What do you think when you see? What do you think when you hear of this? Similar questions as to what we would ask our customer base, but completely cold.

JD: Completely cold.

Angel: Like, we have [inaudible 00:33:47], and so we can get very valid feedback. They’re not trying to please us in any way.

JD: Very candid. Very candid feedback. Very cool. Well, in doing a little bit of snooping around on the Internet, and I told you about this earlier, but I saw a video of you singing. Maybe that was quite a while ago. I love business, I love e-commerce, I love your brand, by the way. Such a cool brand. Talk to me about how music has influenced your life.

Angel: It’s so funny that you found that. I thought [inaudible 00:34:28] completely. It’s been very much so a journey, and music has been very much so a part of my life and my family. I love music. It’s just the concept of music, just the melody. Everything about it, I’ve loved music. But, I never actually wanted to be on stage, so I’ve never really sang in front of people or anything like that, but my mom is a songwriter, so she wanted us to sing her songs, so we did.
We love her songs. Yeah, we did that, so, that’s what you found. Please don’t go and Google it again. I’m sure she wouldn’t love me saying that. I mean, they’re great songs. They’re really, really great. But, I love business. I love marketing. I’m most likely going to keep that occupation [inaudible 00:35:26], but-

JD: I thought you sounded great. I thought you sounded great, and it actually warmed my heart, the songs and the music that you were singing.

Angel: Thank you.

JD: It’s important to me, and my faith and everything, so it was really cool.

Angel: Yeah.

JD: Being in business with your family, and we’re just about done … it’s been so good to talk to you, by the way.

Angel: Same here. It was fun.

JD: Being in business with your family, there’s definite positives, and I am sure that there are some negatives. What advice would you have for somebody who is looking to go into business with family, whether it be their spouse or mother, sister, brother, etc. after being in business with them for 3 1/2, 4 years?

Angel: Ugh.

JD: Kind of a loaded question, right?

Angel: Yeah. [inaudible 00:36:23] whole other hour. So, my brother put it excellently. When you’re working with your family, the highs are really high. When you are successful, the highs are high. But, the lows are lower than when you’re in a job with people you’ve never met, or-

JD: Why is that? I’m going to press into that a little bit.

Angel: Yeah, of course. Because, you’re around it all the time. When you’re at dinner, when you’re on an outing, you’re constantly around it. When you succeed, everyone is succeeding. It’s so exciting. Everyone is just in this communal excitement, and it’s so exciting. But, when there is a low, everyone is at a low. So, it’s like, “Okay, we have to figure out how to get out of this. We have to figure out how …” but what’s so amazing, and I think our family has been through so much, which made us so much stronger, we’re so much closer than we have ever been, I would say.
You’d have to ask my mom, or my sister or my brother, or my dad. All of us, even my nephews. It’s made us stronger. I would say as advice for all family-owned businesses, is always come back to the table. Never let your anger be so much that you want to get out of this, or bring it to another event, or let the other person feel how angry you are. Always come back to the table, because when you reach that high, and when you reach communal success, it’s higher than any other job you would have had anywhere else.

JD: Yeah, you know, Amy and I have been through high highs, and low lows. Not just in the business, but just in life. One of the things that in retrospect, I lost my mom back in September 2016, and when she got sick, I pretty much unplugged from the business, day to day strategic marketing decisions, and even operations and stuff. So, the business had to kind of run on its own, and Amy did a fantastic job actually filling in where I was leaving gaps of attention. She did an amazing job.
But, one of the things I would add is that it’s interesting when you go through real world, not just business, but life challenges: losing a loved one, just personal struggles, like the important things in life, like the things that are really important, not that business isn’t, but that … one of the things that I didn’t realize is that it really … when you’re running a business with your wife, or your family, and everybody is impacted by this thing that’s outside, that’s external, outside of the business, how that also can actually really negatively or positively, but we experienced it kind of negatively.
I wouldn’t trade it, I got to spend a lot of time with my mom, and I would not trade it for anything. But, when you are in it together, my whole family was going through this sorrow. I was away a lot, and it just made the strain on actually running that family business, that we had been focusing on an enormous amount of our energy every single day for three years. The weight of it got heavy. Some of the things that I think people, couples, family members really don’t think about, and you really don’t know … and I probably wouldn’t have listened when we started, but I guarantee you I think about it a lot more now when I talk to other business owners, other entrepreneurs, it’s something that you need to consider. It’s almost the same thing you’re saying, right? Just a different perspective.

Angel: I agree 1,000%. If something happens personally, and the whole family is going through it, it 100% transcends into the business. It’s just a different dynamic. Yeah, that’s so very right. I’m so glad you said that because it’s true. You would never believe it when you go into it. You don’t think about these things, but it’s true. Then, employees are like, “What’s happening?” Because there’s like this communal sorrow or something. Something that’s moved into the business, and I agree.

JD: Yeah, it can impact a culture positively or negatively, for sure.

Angel: Yes.

JD: Angel, thank you so much. If people wanted to get in touch with you, or Grace Eleyae, what would be the best way to connect with you guys?

Angel: You know what’s great? We, of course … if it’s business-wise, yeah, definitely let me know. Of course, if you want to buy a product, GraceEleyae.com is there. We’re also on Instagram, Facebook, it’s really where we are available, especially our Grace Eleyae business account. We see everything. Twitter is also something. We’re not on SnapChat yet. A lot of people in the office is like, “What in the world? Why haven’t you [inaudible 00:42:13] SnapChat?” Well, I’m sorry. I’m just figuring out Instagram.

JD: It’s kind of like … man, there’s only so many hours in the day, only so much attention we can, you know?

Angel: Exactly.

JD: Yeah. Spell your website so people will hear it on the podcast, please.

Angel: Yes, it is G-R-A-C-E-E-L-E-Y-A-E.com. Grace Eleyae.

JD: Very cool. Well, I will be getting Avery one of your Slaps.

Angel: Yes, please.

JD: Great. Thanks again, Angel. I look forward to talking to you again in the future. I’m going to be in San Diego at Traffic and Conversion Summit, and I would love to shake your hand and meet you in person sometime. For now, we have been at it for almost 45 minutes. I’m going to sign off, and I really appreciate you coming on.

Angel: Thank you, JD.

JD: Okay, bye-bye.

Angel: Bye.

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