Under The Hood:Trinity from Golde
Trinity Mouzon Wofford, CEO and cofounder, of superfood company Golde caught up with 1-800-D2C to discuss building a brand and the importance of telling your story.
Welcome Trinity! How did you get your first 1000 customers?
Our first 1,000 customers were definitely through organic, brand love. When my cofounder and I launched Golde, we didn't have money to hire a branding agency or PR firm. We designed the packaging and shipped every order ourselves.
From the start, we had two distribution channels: wholesale (specifically indie boutiques in Brooklyn and Manhattan) and online. Since we were selling online, it was important to build a social media presence. We focused on growing our Instagram by documenting the process of creating Golde and telling our story. I think the combination of consumers seeing Golde on the shelves of their favorite, indie retailers and also discovering us on social really powered word-of-mouth sales. We never did paid ads/media to get those first 1000 customers.
How did you build your Instagram following? Or was it just posting content that really resonated with consumers?
I think it was the latter. Every day we carved out a bit of time to record the process of making or sharing a bit of our personal story. And people really responded to that.
In the beginning, I didn’t recognize how important it would be to share my story of starting a business at 23-years-old and getting it off the ground. An important part of sharing your story is being authentic. Folks on social media want the opportunity to feel genuinely connected to a person or a brand. The more that you can really express who you are through a social channel, the more engagement you're going to get.
Is TikTok an important channel for you?
It's starting to be! I wouldn't say we were the first movers on that by any means, but it’s been fun to jump on TikTok and create content. Recipe content is what people love to see from us. They love seeing how fun, matcha lattes get made and other superfood treats. TikTok is such a great channel for sharing that type of inspiration.
How have you been solving for retention?
Retention is about being super customer centric. While this sounds simple, it's actually a very complex, multi-layered concept to explore. It requires you to go through this empathic exercise of truly placing yourself in the customer's shoes and understanding the CX when a customer places an order, receives the order, reaches out to customer service, etc. It’s also so important to understand inside and out the actual experience of using the product because. You need to figure out how to ensure the customer has the best possible experience using it.
Ideally what you want - and where Golde has experienced great success - is not just having customers but having loyal, brand evangelists who will show up for you and are excited about anything you do. Those are also the folks who tend to understand the obstacles a young startup faces. For example, there have been moments where we've been flooded with 10x more orders than expected due to a big, press piece that comes out. In these scenarios, “brand evangelists” are always so understanding if their order is delayed because they’ve been with us from the start. They also know they will get their order, and they’re just happy to show support.
I really believe every brand needs to give customers a reason to genuinely care and make them feel like they're along for the ride. It’s so important, and it shouldn’t be overlooked.
What is Golde’s supply chain like?
We’re actually quite unique because we source every single raw material ourselves which isn’t common in the supplement & beauty space. Most brands will work with a contract manufacturer who sources all the raw materials. In some cases, brands don’t even own the product formula.
Golde is a superfood company, and superfoods are at the core of what we do. We're very particular about every ingredient that goes into our products. We’re passionate about deeply understanding the sourcing story behind every single ingredient in our product.
Once we source the ingredients, it’s sent into production at a manufacturing facility. Then it comes to our warehouse, and we ship it out from there. We like being a bit more hands-on with our supply chain.
Many brands are investing in SMS marketing. Has Golde been using SMS?
We’ve been using SMS for less than a year, so it’s newer for us, but I really love it. I think it’s especially a right fit for Golde because it complements our brand tone. We always try to speak to customers like we’re their good friend with superfood recommendations, and SMS lends itself so naturally to that. It feels like SMS provides a bit more of a friendly, conversational opportunity to share lifestyle moments, tips, and recipes.
Sometimes I’ll take over our SMS and send a message like, “Hey it’s Trinity! Here's a tip for you. If you have any more questions just respond back to me and I'll be answering your texts!” It’s always such a fun thing to do. I think our customers are so delighted to have that direct, response channel with the founder and the ability to text back and forth or even just ask a quick question. SMS marketing is a fabulous tool, and it’s not going away.
You do have to be very thoughtful about respecting someone's text inbox because it is very different from email. I think most people are comfortable letting a handful of emails pile up in the promotions tab or something, but that doesn’t apply to text. It’s frustrating to keep getting texts and then seeing it’s some garbage promotion from a brand that you don't care that much about. You need to provide value every time you text customers, and that’s a critical part of retention. We’re always looking for ways to keep our customers engaged and to make them feel like they’re a part of Golde’s journey. That’s something that we definitely don't want to lose sight of even as we scale.
What are some non-paid channels that Golde leverages?
Pinterest has been an amazing, organic channel for us. We share superfood recipes and tips. With Pinterest, we get in front of different customers than we do with Instagram. My advice is to just be very thoughtful about where your brand shows up and create a tailored strategy for each channel. Don’t try to be on every channel just for the sake of it. Be intentional about which channels you’re on.
Are there any unique, unexpected places where Golde has shown up and pleasantly surprised customers?
That's a good question! We were doing an event at Outdoor Voices where we set up a stand outside their SoHo store to give out samples. I was behind the table handing out samples, and someone was walking down the street, did a doubletake, then came up to the table and said, “Is the founder of Golde really just out here serving up superfood samples on the street?!” It made me laugh and I was like, “Yes, of course I am!”
As a founder, it's so valuable to put yourself out there, understand who your customer is, and really connect with them by having a direct conversation. It’s not super scalable, but at Golde, we want to have that personal touch where it matters and where we can.
As far as other “unexpected areas” we’ve appeared, we’ve tried out a few interesting distribution channels. We want to get product into people’s hands when they need it the most. For example, we did a partnership recently with a company called Wanderfuel which put our products into JetBlue’s in-flight service. When you’re sitting on a plane for six hours, our Pineapple Debloat aid will come in handy. We’re also in Foxtrot, and we’re always thinking about unique opportunities where we can tell a superfood story.
What do you think has really contributed to Golde’s success?
I think it comes back to authenticity, but I also feel like it’s an overused term that we all roll our eyes at now. To explain in other words and go one step further, we followed an unconventional business path when building Golde. We didn't start with upfront capital or an extensive social strategy. We weren’t running Facebook ads or trying to build a perfect business that could run off of paid social ads. Golde was literally built by my cofounder and I in our Brooklyn apartment. We tested the superfoods and created the packaging. We put a lot of ourselves into the business, and I think that comes through when you don't have a lot of resources. The best way that you can tell a story isn't with some crazy, expensive video shoot. It’s shooting on your iPhone. The morning of Golde’s launch, I shot the video campaign for our Superwhisk on my mom's dining room table. Our customers got to see that there are real, genuine people behind this brand. I think having that as our foundation has really differentiated us and helped our community to feel a bit more connected to Golde.
Thank you Trinity! Go go go GOLDE!!