PLH Dana | Female Friendly Furniture

 

Contrary to what many believe, women care about the desks and the chairs that they buy. They want features that no one’s ever thought of before. On today’s show, Dana Bakich joins Tracy Hazzard to discuss the challenges of launching female-friendly furniture. Dana is a nonprofit consultant and the Founder and CEO of herdesk, a desk made by and for women. At the end of the day, women are constantly on the hunt and looking for the right thing. When they find it, they will find money to pay for it because they’ve been looking for it. Be sure you’re able to deliver what they want.

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I know we haven’t done an episode in a while, but this one needed to happen. It’s about time someone went and tackled furniture from a female perspective. I know this better than anyone because I spent a lifetime, a career being the only woman in a room trying to convince buyers and other people that women care about the desks that they buy. They care about the chairs that they buy and they want features that no one’s ever thought of before. Someone finally said enough is enough. She has decided to tackle the desk industry and develop the herdesk.

I’ve got Dana Bakich. She’s an entrepreneur, a digital strategist and a passionate conscious consumer. She founded her business Positive Equation in 2017 with a focus on helping nonprofit marketers cultivate passionate online audiences of donors, partners, and advocates through social media. Her second business, herdesk is a responsibly made desk designed by and for women. It’s not only designed by, it’s also made by, it’s going to be marketed by, the graphics and the website, all of it is done by women.

Her desire is to provide women with a functional and beautiful space to work from home, which is so timely as well. I am excited to bring Dana to you because this is a topic of thinking about tackling an industry that is complex and has more sophisticated systems. The delivery systems are more complex because the products are bigger, the furniture. The weight is heavier. The materials are harder to source in certain regions of the country. She’s taken all of that on. I want you to know about the genesis of creating a business like this.

She’s very early on into it. She’s still doing a crowdfunding round. Things are going successfully and she has funding to build the desks. She’s already in builds. They’re going to be starting to ship pretty soon. There are a lot of things that she’s had to bring together and a lot of complications she’s brought into developing this business and this product line. She’s handled it with a very core sensibility of about what’s important and that’s what I want you to learn from Dana. Let’s talk to Dana Bakich about herdesk.

Dana, thank you so much for joining me. I’m excited to talk about furniture.

Thank you, Tracy. I’m happy to be here.

Furniture designed by women, do you know how rare that is?

It’s very rare.

I thought I was 1 of 100,000.

For somebody who was Google searching it, to try and find a piece of furniture to purchase from a female-owned business or just designed by a woman was very difficult to find.

Let’s talk about the genesis of your concept and your idea. What was going on?

I feel like a lot of this. This was pre-COVID. I was a digital producer on American Idol. For nine months, I was working on a set and I came back. I was running my own business doing digital consulting, and I realized I needed a better desk. It was that simple. I respect conscious products of how they’re built. Also as a female entrepreneur, I wanted to ideally purchase a desk from a female-owned business. It’s two things. I couldn’t find any good features. I couldn’t find a desk from a female-owned business on Google. I was searching everywhere. I ended up buying a desk at Wayfair as a lot of us do. I go to Target, Overstock or whatever. I spent about $450 to $500 on this desk. It came in fourteen different pieces. It was made at a particle board. It had that stamp of like Made in Vietnam. It came broken in two places. It took me about two hours to put together.

That’s low. I’m going to tell you that from having designed ready-to-assemble furniture for many years. Two hours is nothing compared to some of the products out there.

PLH Dana | Female Friendly Furniture

It was a nightmare and all I felt was frustrated after putting it together. The only thing I could think of was there has to be a better solution. That was literally the genesis to thinking about once I sat at the desk, if you think about it, the majority of desks are very masculine and there’s no real functionality besides a top. There might be some drawers, but most of the time some of them are standing now, but most of them that’s about it. You’ve got to have a top to set the stuff on. I started thinking about all the pain points and things that I use on a daily basis. I reached out to a girlfriend of mine who was my college roommate, who is now an interior designer. I was like, “I have this idea.” Originally, it was just going to be for myself and it evolved from there.

This is an interesting thing. We think about this, but are your needs as a woman all that different from a man’s needs now? Because the design of a desk is based on an old-world way of working. It has nothing to do with gender, except that there were just all men in the workplace at the time. The size is outsized. This is what I discovered when we were designing office chairs for instance. Office chairs were designed for the average of a 6-foot male. How many women have reached 6-feet? It’s not even close to the average size for a woman. It was easy to make a change from a functionality standpoint. From a design standpoint, when you realize that the metric of how everything was designed, it was built off a bad premise. Now, we’re built off a bad premise, not just of gender but the fact that the gender dynamics has changed, but the dynamics of how we work has changed.

One hundred percent and even more so now in the past few months.

It definitely changed.

It’s even become more apparent into the different tools, technology, accessories and things that we utilize in our home office spaces or even if you’re in a co-working space. That’s something new since WeWork started, that has come into fruition for people outside of a traditional office space. Technically all of the features of herdesk could also be used by a man. There’s no reason that it couldn’t be.

It’s just a different work style that they maybe didn’t realize could be so great. We used to call this covertly feminine design. This is a design process that my husband and I espoused because we couldn’t tell the researchers that we designed it for women, even though women buy or influence 80% or more of the purchases in the marketplace. Because if we did that, they would never put the product and they would consider it to be too niche. We wouldn’t tell them. The features were covertly feminine, but the product was just a desk at the end of the day or just a chair. That’s how we would get it in but we knew between us and the results were women loved it and men loved it even more than they thought they would. They didn’t know it could be so good.

Tell me a bit about your research. You now get this idea that you want to design a desk. You want to go into an industry that’s a difficult industry to enter. Most people don’t understand. There are lots of close product lines out there. We’ve had discussions on the show about beauty products, which have a lot of chemicals. If you don’t have a chemistry background, those are difficult products, but furniture has a supply chain problem and delivery issues. It’s one of the largest pieces of things you have to deliver so it falls outside the realm. There’s a whole can of worms that you probably had no idea you were going to get into. How did you do your research?

The first thing I did was I was looking at fast furniture and understanding the industry of that. I talked to a few different interior designers throughout the country and I asked them their perspective even on price and where their customers go. I created a survey on Typeform and I sent it out. I was asking friends of mine and I used to live in Los Angeles. I was a part of a bunch of different female entrepreneur communities. I sent out my survey that was asking about features about price, about where they shop for desks, about how often they buy desks, and would it matter if there was a social component to it? It was a list of questions. I got back great responses from everyone for that. From there, I continued to ask the marketplace and I started to do a lot of research in trying to find female-owned manufacturing facilities.

I’m laughing because it’s like, “Do you even know where you could find the manufacturing facilities?” That’s even just as hard.

I honestly went to Instagram and I was searching #WomenWoodworkers and trying to dive into that very niche community of female carpenters and ask them. They didn’t even know of big female manufacturers. I then reached out to a few. I started searching by family-owned. I was trying to get more and more where I wanted to be. Honestly, it wasn’t until I found one female woodworker in Atlanta. Her handle is @WoodenMaven. Her name is Char. She’s like, “You should talk to this woman, April Wilkerson.” I was like, “I don’t know who that is,” because I wasn’t in this space. Apparently, April has one million YouTube subscribers. She’s very well-known on Instagram. She is an influencer there in the space.

I was super fortunate. She had just purchased a manufacturing facility in March. She has three of her own CNC machines for the purpose of creating custom products and she’s in Texas. On a whim, I DM-ed her on Instagram. I thought, “There’s no chance that this girl is going to get back to me.” She messaged me right back and we got into a conversation. I flew to Texas. I saw her shop and the nicest human being and the nicest team, but it was really difficult. I almost didn’t make the product at the beginning when COVID happened because I thought the market was going to be off with COVID happening, not understanding that everyone was going to be working at home so they need a desk.

For those of you who have not been out shopping for furniture now, there is a shortage of fast furniture for three reasons. One, COVID in China where most of the furniture comes from happened right after Chinese New Year. They didn’t come back from Chinese New Year. They shipped all the products which mainly gets sold out through the holidays and January. There’s a shortage always. There’s a downtime, but there’s also a dip in orders from February through April, until spring starts again. It’s when orders normally pick up in the furniture market. They thought, “We’re going to be fine,” but they never came back in February.

When you never come back, you don’t build up inventory storage. You don’t ship them. They don’t get on the water. By April, there were no products in the marketplace because they burned through the inventory that had been on a retail shelf, but maybe shifted into digital and sold digitally. They were all gone and they didn’t place as many orders because all the buyers panicked. Now, we have a shortage of orders for back to school which wasn’t going to happen. We’d normally have small chairs and smaller desks, which those are the things that most people would want to buy for their homes. Slightly smaller footprints are all not ordered and not in stock. We fast forward all the way to fall and you can barely get anything in stock now.

Women actually care about the desks that they buy. Click To Tweet

Meanwhile, the demand has skyrocketed. I’m a digital marketer first and foremost so the first thing I do is I go to Google Trends. I start looking at what’s happening in the press. The search term desks over the past few months is so low and then it skyrockets up. It’s 100% what you’re saying.

This is the issue. There’s no place to buy in store. There’s no place to buy online and the shipping is always extended on large, heavy furniture. Beds are the same problem now. If you want to buy a brand-new bed, you can forget it now. It’s out of stock everywhere and extended deliveries. When it comes, it will be broken. I guarantee it. I’ve been through three of them so I can say that for sure. You come to this place where it’s a nightmare of supply, of delivery systems that are broken and not able to. How do you look at that from a marketer and say, “I’m going to do this in a different way, and what am I going to do?”

The first thing I did was I flew to Texas. I wanted to see everything and understand what the product is. I’m a very visual learner so I didn’t want anything to be shipped to anybody without me seeing it first. I wanted to test it. I changed things when I went down there. When we’re talking about height, I changed where I wanted specific things. Once I saw the desks, I wanted to make sure the drawers were full-extension and had a soft close. The things that aren’t normal on a desk but more normal on your cabinet in your kitchen, but make a big difference.

From a shipping perspective, the desk has three different colors that you can choose from and different handle colors. I’m having each of the three desks shipped to me separately because I want to QA that process. I want to see, is there a problem with, how long does it take to get to me from Texas to Atlanta? Are there any components with these three different shipments? Is there anything broken? Is there anything damaged? I’m the one receiving an issue and not a consumer receiving an issue.

This is the thing about furniture. It is heavy. When you ship something heavy, things happen in shipping. It’s not just that UPS is dangerous and they throw stuff around. It’s not that at all. This thing is weighted and in its own weight, things can crush. Things can get bumped and you don’t realize that until you ship one. I love that you followed that process of like, “Let’s QA. Let’s make sure that we can quality assure it for the future. We’re not just going to do quality control, we’re going to check it and we’re going to improve it for the next time. We’re going to improve it every time we move forward.” That’s a great process.

That was one of our main conversations when I was down there. It was around how do we want to make sure and I’m also trying to be as sustainable as possible, which is tricky when you’re trying to make sure that you have padding and it’s being crated. Is it foamed like molds to it where you put it in? Is it something that when you’re moving in those boxes, you have those little corners that go on your television if you’re going to move it? What are the pieces? What’s the most sustainable and minimal idea, but will still give the best result at the end of the day. It’s where my brain goes. What I love about the team is even when I was down there, we’re actively troubleshooting and discussing options. They might even ship one desk one way and another desk another way and we can see, is there any difference? Do they both work? Does one work better than the other?

This is the thing. How you pack a box matters. You think that logically, I’m going to pack it from the biggest pieces to the smallest pieces. That seems a logical way. What happens is that when somebody tilts it up on their truck, you created an imbalance. It leans and it shifts. Then they store it the wrong way because it keeps falling over. Now, they’re not following your recommendation of which end is up. This is where stuff goes wrong. Our logic doesn’t always work in the actual process of how something gets delivered. It’s good for you to keep testing. What about scaling? This is a pretty small manufacturing facility and it’s a startup manufacturing facility. There are a lot of risks there. Are you going to be able to handle that?

That was one of the questions that I also asked April and her team. Her answer was, “If you’re bringing in too many orders that I can’t handle, I’m going to get another CNC machine and I’m going to hire more staff.” The dream world to me is a facility where there are women hired in building these desks. There are very few women in the construction space, in the woodworking space and carpenters. The person who built my website, my publicist, marketing and branding, every single person has been a woman that’s been hired. I’m trying to be authentic and true in the process. With scalability, I would honestly stick that April is an expert in what she does and understanding woodworking and building materials.

With her leadership, I would say, let’s work on hiring women in Texas or if we notice that New York is a hotspot for herdesk, maybe we say, “Let’s invest in getting a space there and building the desk there.” If it’s in California, figuring out where is the demand for the desk, if it happens to be regionally and being smart because as you mentioned shipping, I include shipping in my price and it is very expensive for a 60-pound 48-inch item. If there is a way to make the shipping more cost-effective and create facilities that are closer, that would be amazing.

I’m going to give you a tip here. There are a couple of people I can introduce you to, but the shipping, putting your facility as close to your shipping, the ideal location matters with furniture. There are a couple of companies that I worked with over the years and they created five different warehouses and five facilities near those warehouses because the shipping made it more efficient to get it out to every single region within the country. It allowed them to be almost Prime or Prime-certified for Amazon in that particular case, which was one of their goals. Not every product can hit that because if you have a large oversized, it does have to still be trucked. A cow king bed has to be trucked. There’s no way about it, but 48 inches and under, you could certainly do that.

They found that there were five ideal locations that would allow you to get to every single region in the country, but these things you wouldn’t know. It’s not your standard ones. If you did research and said, “Where do coffee suppliers do that?” It’s not the same and it has to do with the size of the product and the shipping facilities, and the types of runways at the airport that’s there. It’s a very unusual ask of people to find, research, match something and say, “I’m going to be able to model this.” You took on something that’s hugely difficult to model. That’s the next question I have for you. You’re a marketer first and you have marketing models that work. Go to Kickstarter, go to Indiegogo and do these things. Have they been working for furniture in the way that you expected and the way that they work for other products?

My background is in the nonprofit space, in fundraising. This eCommerce space is very new for me, but I’ve been utilizing the traditional models that I know. I did do a crowdfunding campaign on IFundWomen that’s been predominantly family and friends-backed. Through that, which is interesting is those campaigns open you up before you’re selling a product for marketing opportunities. Through that, I was able to get a speaking gig with Create & Cultivate, which is an organization with a ton of female entrepreneurs. I was speaking on how to create a business during COVID.

It enabled me to be able to have that opportunity. It’s also opened the door where I’ve received interesting requests from Angel investors in the business. I want 100% equity of the company, but it’s good to at least have those inquiries coming my way, which shows there’s an interest in the product. The other angles I’ve gone have been through social media advertising, which I know digital marketing well like Facebook and Instagram. What was amazing about those is when I was trying to gain an email list when I had a wait list, I was able to have an email lead for less than $0.15 per person.

PLH Dana | Female Friendly Furniture

Female Friendly Furniture: If there is a way to make the shipping more cost-effective and create facilities that are closer, that would be amazing.

 

Because it’s a hot topic, number one, you understood how you’re reaching them and who you’re reaching and you were dialed into your market. I’m assuming that those three things came together for you.

I did a lot of work on the target audiences and I went from the female the entrepreneur space, which I know well and the people that they look to. I also went to the media outlet way because I know it’s a hot topic in the media. I actually got sales from that demographic as well, which was interesting.

It’s because we’re all working from home.

I’ve also gone the other route which is the very typical, “I’m searching for a furniture. I’m searching for desk home office.” Entrepreneur, media-driven and then straight like Ikea, Target project-driven. Right now, I’m still running all of those so it’s a learning phase. The other one that’s driving a ton of website traffic is Google Ads, searching for desks, and Pinterest. Women go to Pinterest as more of a search engine versus a social network. They go there for ideas about interior design or home office spaces. I’ve been running targeted pins around those different keywords and that’s driven a ton of new traffic. The channels are working. I’m running the ads and I’m seeing what works and doing a bunch of A/B testing and spending more money into the ones that are proving results.

What’s next? What challenge do you have to fix now?

It’s brand awareness. That’s the largest chunk. I’m working a lot on finding the right collaborations and partners to try and do this as organic as possible without a ton of paid, but it’s a lot of work to make the dent into becoming essentially having a share of voice. I need to make sure that I’m thought of when Ikea, Target, or Wayfair is thought of. I don’t want everyone. I am looking for a very specific consumer that is a woman who wants to feel empowered when they sit down at a desk and believes that it’s more than just a piece of furniture, but this is a piece that somebody has put a lot of love into. I feel positive energy here and I feel creative here. It has all the functionality that I want. Plus, they have a little bit more of a disposable income because it’s in that $800 range. I was looking at our competitors. It’s not over $1,000, but the fast furniture space is in that $500 in less and I didn’t want to be there. It’s finding that niche target demographic that I’m looking for.

That’s pretty challenging to put your name up there against someone who’s probably half the price point of where you are. The problem for you is that there aren’t competitors at that higher-end. There isn’t anyone doing what you’re doing in that space at a higher-end making it work and that you’re coming in that mid-point. You have this very odd place of trying to find your brand voice amid someone who’s never considered that this is value. The audience has, but the brands and the marketing haven’t appeared before.

I would say that I look to a lot are Joybird. I have a Joybird loveseat. Burrow with their couches, which is New York made. Our Joybird is California made. They are sustainable. You get to customize your fabrics and your chair legs. Those are two brands that I look to that are in that above $1,000 range and Joybird has desks that are $800 and above. It’s going for essentially like me. I’m willing to spend a little bit more for something that’s made well and has a social purpose behind it.

We’re getting to a place where people are starting to get a sense of the devastation of fast furniture. There’s a great documentary on Netflix called Broken. It’s a series and the first one on cosmetics will scare the crap out of you. You’ll never be able to buy another product without scrutinizing every single piece of the packaging wondering if it’s a counterfeit cosmetic or not. You can’t buy online without worrying about this. I think it’s the second or third one that is on furniture. It talks about the problem of deforestation and a whole bunch of things that are coming in and the rise of Ikea, which inarguably there are all kinds of banking, fraud, and laws that they’re being investigated under and have been for decades.

International banking rules that they are violating in addition to all kinds of sustainability issues that they claim they don’t have, but they do. The scary part is kids dying because their products are collapsing on top of them. That’s what this whole series is about in this particular episode is about fast furniture. As I was watching that coming from the furniture industry and understanding what’s happened here, I think they miss the big mark here. What they missed is that love and care that you were talking about, that you put into the design of your furniture. It has completely disappeared over the years that I’ve been working in the industry. When I first started, there were designers, there were people spending time thinking about the ergonomic needs of their consumer base, thinking about how things were being sold and how things were being shipped. We were considering all of that.

The majority of furniture was built in North Carolina.

It was built in North Carolina and South Carolina. Virginia is another good place. They talk about that. They talk about Bassett as being a big wood pit manufacturer, but there are also other places that have different types of woods around the country and around the world where they were making. It was very diverse in terms of where you could buy furniture from. I worked out of the furniture industry in Michigan. I got to work on Aeron Chairs and contract furniture out of Herman Miller, which was very sustainably focused as well. We were building furniture for a lifetime. We weren’t building fast furniture.

There’s one thing about making something easy to assemble because we want to lower our package size. We want to make it easier for people to buy products and receive them in their home and put them together. That didn’t mean we had to go and make something that didn’t last a lifetime. That’s the mistake that happened. Somewhere in that process they decided, “If the consumer puts it together, then we don’t have to care about it lasting.” Where did that mindset come from? When did that happen? I don’t think that it was what any designer would have been on the outset. We were always concerned with cradle to grave and what was going to happen to products.

Your logic doesn't always work in the actual process of how something gets delivered. Click To Tweet

What happened over time is as the sourcing moved overseas and we did that. We went overseas. We worked with those factories. We did that for fifteen years and help transition lots of products and lots of companies to being able to do that, but we were involved in the process along the way. Over time, what happened is OfficeMax would go direct, and Target would go direct, and Wayfair would pop out. All they did was buy furniture designed by a factory. There was no care, no love, and what I call styling happened. That’s where you may get an interior designer or a stylist at the company who goes, “We want it in blue. We want it in black. We want it in espresso,” but that’s about the extent of what they did. They said, “We want three drawers instead of two.” It was just that thing.

It wasn’t a real care at, “How does this work with the way that people are working now?” There was no industrial or product design happening anymore. We recognize that, which is why we moved out of the industry at a time at which we moved into other things. That’s why I have a podcast business now instead of a design business. My products are still selling on the market so I still keep in touch. I know how things are working, but this is where it’s disappeared. You’re bringing back full circle, Dana. You’re bringing back love and design into the process. You’re bringing back consideration for the entire cycle of the product like how it gets shipped. Who’s making it? Where it’s made from? What materials go into it? It’s time again. I think that you’re about to start riding a wave of that consideration happening on products all over the place. We cannot continue to make wood products and deforest in the way that we have. It’s not possible.

I think people are caring more especially Gen Z and the younger generations that are coming up. They care more about what they’re buying, where they’re buying it from, and how the materials are created. Speaking of documentaries, I watched one on Netflix as well that was on fast fashion.

That’s why I never worked in fashion because it scared me because of how disposable it was.

Essentially, it scared me so much about what I was wearing and how it was treated that I now read the tags on my clothing like I do with my food.

It’s time. Things are changing. We’re starting to pay attention to that. This is the thing. When you start to take on a company like this though and you start to take on a task that is big and broad, how do you surround yourself with people, research and advice? What do you do to make sure that this isn’t all on you because this is where a lot have failed?

I reach out to people who are smarter than me in different elements and use their expertise. All I’m doing is going out. I have been so fortunate with finding people like Char who make the recommendation for someone like April. April who says yes, which makes the recommendation for this person. April and Char said it. When you find somebody and if there’s a good concept who’s a good person, you want them to succeed. Everyone’s willing to open those doors to make those relationships happen or else I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you right now. I think that’s it. I feel that if you’re a good person and you’re trying to do something good, people want to help. It’s finding the right people who are skilled at what they do and saying, “Yes, I want you to help with this. Yes, I need you to help with this,” and bringing them into those conversations when you need their help.

Are you already starting to hear ideas for your next product?

Yes.

You’re getting requests already, aren’t you?

We want to build a chair. We want to build different styles of desks. There are plenty of ideas out there.

I’m going to put in a request for kids’ desks because I don’t believe that our virtual classroom will go away. It’s not just because of COVID. I think that once you go virtual, there’s going to be a significant amount of students that stay virtual for at least a segment of their education. I think our junior high school students are going to stay virtual because it’s more cost-efficient for the school systems that are running out of budget. The students are responding well to it. At the end, we’re going to need some students-size desking. Let’s add that one to the list. With 25 years of doing chairs, this is a challenge. Chairs are the biggest liability out of all furniture pieces. You’re now taking on something even scarier.

Bring it on. One of the best quotes is from Sara Blakely. It’s about when you’re naive, you’re not afraid to mess anything up because you don’t know. You go at it trying and then you figure it out as you go versus if you go into it with the fear, you’re never going to attempt in the first place.

PLH Dana | Female Friendly Furniture

Female Friendly Furniture: Be willing to spend a little bit more for something that’s made well and has a social purpose behind it.

 

Tell us how is your Kickstarter? How did it go for you?

There are 23 funders and I’m at almost $3,000. My goal is $10,000 and I have ten days left. It’s the hardest part to ask people for money so I need to be diligent about making my very strategic ask to fund the rest of it. To me, if I could get $7,500, $8,000, it would be a success for me.

Here’s the thing. You haven’t asked Kickstarter yet. They’re notorious for being bad for women products in general. I did a whole study and I did an article about it about an eyelash curler and a razor that came out at the same exact moment. The razor was nothing special. It had this sustainable wood handle. It was luxury and it overfunded. The eyelash curler which was cool. It was 3D printed to fit your eye. It had all kinds of cool things to it. It didn’t fund at all by a significant difference. It is because the funding base that makes the Kickstarter kick off and get noticed and picked up by the Kickstarter organization and giving that boost is all male. If you can’t get to that male audience first, you will never get the boost, and they’re very criticized under it. I had to put a little kick in there for this last one to say, “This is just yet another example of why your base is all male and not working.”

The platform that I’m fundraising on is IFundWomen. They are all funded by women and the fees that you pay on your end, they reinvest into grants for the female-owned businesses on their site. It’s a unique platform. They do mentoring and coaching to help you succeed. I have a direct contact with somebody to ask them about, “Are there more things I should be doing? Do you have recommendations? Are there grants available?” I purposely went with them instead of Indiegogo, and a lot of other crowdfunding platforms won’t give you the payout until the very end or if you don’t raise your goal, then you don’t get any of it. With IFundWomen, I’ve been getting payments weekly which is amazing. That way, I can continue to grow and scale my business without waiting for 27 days to go by.

Go out, reach and ask. It doesn’t hurt. Be that voice of contrast because it is a big contrast what you’re doing to what exists in the marketplace. You’ve got to live in that differentiation because people are out there looking for it. The last thing that I want to say to all of you out there reading is that women are not loyal consumers. That’s a mistake. They are not loyal to one product. They’re not loyal to a brand. That doesn’t exist anymore. It hasn’t existed for at least the last twenty years. They’re loyal to what they want and to someone who solves their problem. They are constantly on the hunt and constantly looking for the right thing. When they find it, they will find money to pay for it because they’ve been looking for it.

They may have bought disposable things along the way because they had to fill a need. I call it buying under duress. You buy something because you have to have something to fill this spot, so you’ll spend as little as possible to do that. That still doesn’t mean you’re not out there looking for the right thing and when the right thing shows up, you will buy it because you don’t want to miss out on it. Dana, I think you’ve got the right product at the right time and I wish you luck and making sure that the market gets it, tears it and sees it.

Thank you so much. I appreciate that.

I told you that was going to be complex and interesting to think about all these working features and functions. Often we can get into mistakes and into dangerous territory that derails us and we don’t solve ourselves out of. Reaching out to the people that she’s working with, the collaborators that she’s in and solving those problems is exactly the way she should be doing that. By saying, “I now have a problem of how do we package this and how do we ship this?” She’s working in concert with her manufacturing facility, shipping it to herself, checking this out and staying involved in that process. One of the things that I found in my career of product design and development is that we were more successful if I stayed involved from the ideation stage all the way through to the first run, first ship, and into probably them starting the second run.

When we did that in the process, the product improved tremendously all along the way, but more importantly, the decisions that get made along the way, don’t derail the bigger vision for the product. That’s where Dana’s involvement is essential. Some people will criticize and say, “She’s heading a company. She’s a CEO. She should step back and let other people do this.” This is her vision. This is her expertise and her differentiator in the market. Her staying involved in making sure that this happens and that it achieves that vision is essential to putting that love that she keeps talking about into her product and into the line. At the end of the day, this is building great brand value for herself, for how the market is going to perceive that, and for the consumers that receive it, love it and rave about that.

This actually used to be our tagline when we had our business before. HazzDesign’s tagline was that we wanted to get products that were bought and used again and again and raved about. If we did that, if we designed that, then we succeeded. The used again and again was our way of saying sustainability, but the fact that people love them and raved about them, that was that tipping point of saying, “This isn’t just something I bought and I used it and I’m happy with it. I loved it so much. I had to tell everybody how great my experience was with it.” That experience extends beyond the product into how it’s received. The fact that it’s not broken and it’s easy to assemble at the end of the day. It doesn’t take you an excruciating amount of hours to put together.

This is all a part of the process and I love that Dana said, “I’m going to reinvent and look at this from a new perspective from this naive viewpoint, but actually from a concerted viewpoint about a very specific goal that I’m trying to achieve.” As long as those things are in place, having a naive viewpoint doesn’t matter because you have a goal of what you want to fix and how you want to fix that. I’m excited for Dana and to see how this goes. I’m also interested to see product line expansion and other things happen because that’s where businesses have a lot of hiccups. As you go from that first flagship product into more, it gets harder and harder to sustain principles and do things.

I look forward to following her journey and see how she does this because I have a feeling she’s not going to let go of those principles too easily. I wish Dana luck. Check out herdesk. I’ll be back next time. I’ll find a cool and interesting product story to bring you. If you have a great product story you’d like to share with me, you know how to find me. You can find me @HazzDesign on social media. Thanks, everyone, for reading.

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About Dana Bakich

PLH Dana | Female Friendly FurnitureDana Bakich is the Founder of herdesk and Positive Equation.

Herdesk is a responsibly-made desk designed by and for women built in the U.S. For partnerships, wholesale pricing, and any other questions please email dana@herdesk.co.

Positive Equation is a social media consultancy where I focus on equipping nonprofit organizations with the tools and resources to build impactful digital strategies.

Looking for a keynote speaker, panelist or webinar guest to get REAL about how social media can generate impact for your business? Shoot me a note! dana@positiveequation.com.


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