Under The Hood: Ande from L'Amarue
Under The Hood with the inspiring Ande, founder of L'AMARUE
Welcome Ande! Tell me about the growth of L’AMARUE since launch.
My mom and I decided to go into business together and started L’AMARUE in 2018. We spent about a year doing research into our miracle patent-pending natural ingredient (our Heart to Heart Complex®), which is used across our range of products for everything from general skin health and anti-aging to skin manifestations of autoimmune and genetic disorders.
Once we saw what the ingredient could really do, we went for it. We took a shot! Neither of us had significant e-commerce experience, so we truly started from zero.
It’s been a wild rise and we’re learning every day!
That's incredible. And is it still just the two of you on the team?
Yup. It's just the two of us + a friend who's been helping on the customer service front. Though, we are actively looking for people to join the team, so to anyone reading this: feel free to reach out!
On the acquisition side of things, what were you able to crack along the way?
We started on Facebook and Instagram paid, leveraging a super broad audience and just throwing stuff on the wall to see what might stick. We really didn’t lean into organic because we didn’t feel we had the content resources to keep it consistent (but that is changing soon, so keep an eye out).
On the creative side, we didn’t push as much of brand play - it was more focused on our key ingredient and the broad applications of our range on all types of skin issues. Our Heart to Heart Complex® is bright pink, so it’s super eye-catching and scroll-stopping, so starting with this “breakthrough product” and backing it up with tons of social proof has been working well.
Google Shopping is also a good avenue, because we were able to target very niche keywords for highly specific skin concerns.
As a whole, we’ve been applying pretty standard playbooks on acquisition so far because we started from scratch and have been learning along the way. The one channel that’s been more experimental and unique is our affiliate “Practitioner Program”.
We’re leveraging practitioners essentially as influencers: Masseuses, health clinic owners, dermatologists, etc. Many came to us organically saying they loved recommending the product for their customers/patients – so we’ve been leaning into them quite a bit and we also hope to tap into the health practitioner Tik Tok ecosystem, too.
Let's talk a little bit about retention. How have you been able to extend it?
At a high-level, there is retention built into the product because our products work for such a broad range of skin concerns: Poison ivy? It works. Daily hydration? It works. Anti-aging? It works. Auto-immune concerns with skin manifestations? It works.
And on top of all that, the product is universal in the sense that it can be used by infants just as much as customers in their 90s. So we’re able to extend LTV quite easily through a household or across a range of applications.
On top of that, we have a really strong emphasis on great customer service. We really take every opportunity to turn customers into lifelong advocates, and try to look at our customer service as a proactive channel instead of a reactive one. We have a lot of people who were initially on the fence about the product, who end up becoming loyal customers because we always go above and beyond, and they love talking to us and the tips we’ve provided them with.
Another no-brainer retention strategy has been subscription. Our program just recently launched and it’s been going great.
Oh, and I almost forgot: Octane AI & Klaviyo have been hugely successful for us. We have an in-depth quiz on the site which gets us a ton of data on every person, and we use that + make educated inferences about their lives to build a very full picture of our customer.
That gives us plenty of opportunities to cross-sell, upsell, and expand our presence in their world. For ex: If a customer is female and in their 30s, they might have young children & parents in their 70s, so that gives us opportunities to suggest an “eye cream for your mom” or an “eczema product for your child”.
How are you using Klaviyo in all this?
We’re passing the Octane AI data into Klaviyo as custom properties. And we use Alloy Automation to auto-tag customers inside Shopify based on all the data that comes in via Octane and other channels.
For instance if a customer has X or Y condition, we’re going to auto-tag them and target them for relevant products across different channels, including inside Gorgias for customer support. Those automations are all powered by Alloy, which is an absolute must for all brands in my opinion.
Let’s chat operations: What have been some of the learnings along the way?
I definitely credit my co-founder/mom on this side of things, because she brought a lot of experience from her previous apparel brand.
We took a holistic look at operations from the beginning and went with a 3PL from day one. We got in with ShipBob (before they had SKU minimums). We were really lucky for that. We’ve just recently switched strategy and are now with Airhouse, and love them so far.
It just didn’t make sense for us to be packing and shipping everything. Technically when you start you can definitely do things by yourself, but if sales explode overnight – you’re totally screwed.
From a production standpoint, we were initially doing everything ourselves in our mini-lab. But since then we’ve graduated to our own contracted manufacturing that ships pallets to Airhouse on a set cadence.
Let’s talk about the team: How are you running this store so efficiently? Any other resources you had?
We've been really strategic in who we've picked to work with and how we're working with them. That goes for the tech partners we work with, down to the individual people we work with.
So, for instance – massive shout out to Shogun, the page builder on Shopify. God bless them! I had zero web experience really when we started this at all and they’ve made it so much easier to get to where we are now with the site, all without any agency help.
We also use Storetasker for dev help – we love them. They’re incredibly worthwhile for anyone who doesn’t have dev resources on their team. They’re basically a 3rd member of our team.
Any thoughts to share on fundraising / bootstrapping?
We started this with a teeny tiny amount of capital that we were able to pick up from friends and family. That paid for our small run of initial inventory. We then took out a loan from Shopify Capital which was super useful and easy to handle. It’s a little bit more expensive than other solutions, but because they have all the data directly inside Shopify it’s super easy to get approved if you meet their criteria, and they will grow with you.
We ended up closing another small round of investment in September last year because we couldn’t fulfill demand and were dealing with supply chain bottlenecks. And today we’re now raising a proper seed round which is super exciting!
Super exciting indeed! Last question: What’s been the key to success so far on L’AMARUE?
Speed of learning and being willing to learn anything. At the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to.
The other thing is that we're really lucky as a mother-daughter duo, because we know each other so well. We didn’t have to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses (we already knew them), and we communicate incredibly well. My mom has been a single mother since I was teeny tiny, and she’s my hero in life. So the two of us get along so well and know each other so completely – that’s a real advantage.
Ande, what a pleasure to speak with you! Congratulations on the growth and can’t wait to keep track of what’s next! Go go go L’AMARUE!