Finding My Special Sauce
This week marks the 1-year anniversary of deciding to leave my corporate career and launch Coeo (at the time it didn’t have a name!) as a first-time entrepreneur. Coeo is a community that brings together fitness through the heart of the ecosystem – the instructor. Today we are moving toward 1k followers on Instagram and have an incredible cohort of almost 20 evangelist instructors that we’ve profiled on our platform. Most powerful to me though is hearing instructors, fitness enthusiasts, friends and family play back to me what Coeo is all about. I don’t even remember when we came up with the term #positivebadassary , but today it defines everything we do. It’s that concept of being incredible and high achieving, but also being inclusive and kind along the way. It’s the signature of our Coeo brand and defines all that we do.
But as we walked out of the #WINLab finale last week (Yes! Eek! It’s over!) my husband Sam and I chuckled that as Coeo we are building a brand before we have a product. And while I was floored by the incredible products and technologies of my peers in the WINLab program, it is perhaps not surprising that as someone who has built a career on brand strategy and emotional storytelling, this is the way I’ve come out of the gate as an entrepreneur.
Upon putting this in perspective last week my first reaction was to feel like Silly Sally, the character in my daughter Iris’ favorite children’s book who walks backwards and upside down to town. (WHY CAN’T I BE NORMAL AND WALK TO TOWN ON MY FEET AND FORWARDS??!) But then I took a little time to think about it and realized… this is who I AM. And by “pulling my ship away from port” last year I’ve been able to realize what makes me… me. And reminded me of just what IS my Special Sauce. It reminded me that as the child of a psychiatrist (yup!) feelings and emotions, relationships and resonance, brought into the commercial marketplace (that’s all me) are what gets me jazzed. I love products and platforms and experiences that are more than what they appear to be. I’m into brands that start with emotion then have a vehicle or network that carry that message forward.
And when I thought more I recognized that many of my favorite brands started as a voice and a curator of the marketplace before they launched their product platforms as well. There are lessons to be learned from their stories or insights to be gleaned from their experiences. Here are a few:
My #entrepreneurgirlcrush (I’m really digging this hashtag!) Emily Weiss started Glossier in 2010 as a blog about beauty products. Through her interviews and writing she realized there was a huge opportunity to “market a sense of authenticity and belonging rather than repeating the beauty industry’s traditional fictitious glamour story” (Forbes). It wasn’t until 2013 that she moved toward creating a product line, but today that deep market understanding and conviction truly differentiates her incredible brand.
Well+Good partners Alexia Brue and Melisse Gelula took a similar tactic when they started Well+Good in 2001. Particularly cool is Well+Good’s lack of outside funding – they drove content and drove the grind to get their incredible brand off the ground. I love the advice they gave to others via Forbes: “Find ways to test your idea and market receptivity to your product or service before going big.” OK, thanks guys. We’re on it over here at Coeo!
There’s also some great commentary from Gwyneth Paltrow on the early days of hybrid content/commerce platform Goop. Reflecting to the Independent in 2015 she shared, “It’s vulnerable, challenging, wonderful and exciting to put yourself in a situation where you’re laying out your idea.” Check check check. Thanks Gwyneth. Feeling all that!
So in this process and reflection it helped to remind me just WHAT IS my Special Sauce, and that year 1 of Coeo is a beautiful manifestation of it. It also helped me to look to others, like Glossier, Well+Good and Goop as stories and brands that I can look up to. And it made me realize this is a powerful lesson that not just I can benefit from. SO with that in mind…
We will be featuring some of the amazing Coeo instructors on the blog in the upcoming weeks telling their story of their Special Sauce: how they found it, how they sell it, and how it helps them to look forward and set new goals. It’s gonna be awesome.
I’m also THRILLED to announce that on June 12th I’ll be hosting a Webinar on “Selling Your Special Sauce” on BrightTALK. In addition to reflecting a little bit on my own journey, I’ll distill lessons and exercises to get you closer to identifying YOUR Special Sauce, and ways to use it to your advantage to drive greater satisfaction and success. You can sign up here: https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/16591/320201?utm_source=brighttalk-growth&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=thought-leader&utm_content=none&utm_term=Scarlet
And if you’re gone through a similar journey or reflection, I’d love to hear your story. Please shoot me a note or give a call. This is powerful stuff!