IN 2016, WE SAW A SHIFT in the market. There was less
venture capital deal activity, so it was crucial that
we control our destiny by getting to profit and
reaccelerating growth. Besides making layo;s,
we reduced the cost of putting together a box of
makeup. We developed machinery from an old
French design we found in one of our factories.
Traditionally, commerce is a pick-and-pack
operation, but you can automate that. We reduced
human touches by more than half. We cut millions
from our monthly expenses.
We also stopped spending on marketing. We
were still working on social media and PR, but we
turned o; television for almost six months. That
was painful, but it was the only way we were going
to learn what was really driving value, so we could
control our investments. The most important thing
for an entrepreneur to know is how much halo
e;ect any marketing e;ort has.
At first, I tried to shelter the team from the things
that were really hard, because I didn’t want them
to be distracted. I underestimated how valuable it is
to have all sta; members feel how important their
decisions are, and to let them share in the bad things.
This maps onto what I believe as a mother. Are
you going to be there every day to comfort your
kids, or are you going to teach them how to comfort
themselves? The reality of pursuing something
exceptional is that it is always hard. There is no other
side of hard. It’s about reframing your perspective
and loving the hard. Last year, we did more than $200
million in revenue, and in January we turned a profit.
Emotionally, it was horrible. The only thing that
keeps you going is that you love the business more
than you love yourself.
along with Harvard
Hayley Barna, in
New York City in
2010. They vaulted
the beauty product
to more than a
and a reported
$485 million valuation, in just under
four years. (Barna
le; in 2015, but
remains a board
member.) In 2016,
to generate pro;ts,
to cut sta; by 25
percent, to about
230, and scale back
plans to open
into the black,
responded, allowing the company
to raise another
$15 million. –As
told to Zoë Henry
Katia Beauchamp | Birchbox → Beauty products sampling service How I made the tough decisions to get into the black • • • •
Hayden Slater opened Pressed Juicery
in 2010 with two friends who shared
his devotion to fresh juice. Each put in
$30,000. They set up in the back of a
Beverly Hills cupcake shop. Just as
the company began to expand, things
got sticky with a visit from the FDA.
–As told to Lindsey Blakely
We got overly ambitious and decided
to start both local delivery and national
shipping. I didn’t do a whole lot of research;
we just started taking orders through our
website. I reached out to the FDA and said
I wanted to make sure we were doing
everything by the book.
At the time, our production was
inconsistent. We learned quickly you can’t
just take a recipe and scale it using the
same proportions. We’d have these crazy
variations in flavor profiles. We didn’t
realize how crucial the cold chain was—from
where you store the fruit to where you
press it to how you deliver the juice. You
need a consistent temperature.
When the FDA inspector arrived, I
assumed that I’d just tell her about
making juice, who I was, the history of the
company, etc. I walked her through the
production line. At every station, she took
notes furiously but didn’t speak. At the
end she said, “What you’re currently doing
requires me to shut you down.”
It was like a bomb had dropped. My plea
was “I called with truly good intent—I want
to make sure that I’m doing everything the
right way.” I asked if she’d be willing to work
with me instead of just forcing us to close.
She agreed to give us 30 days as long as
I kept her in the loop every step of the way.
We addressed the cold chain first. It
was a massive investment, but it allowed
us to stay open. With our savings and
$50,000 from friends and family, we
rented a refrigerated truck until the one
we purchased arrived. We also turned the
entire back of our facility into one huge
refrigerator so we could control the
temperature during the pressing process.
After several months of back-and-forth—
it felt like years—we got word that
everything we had done was acceptable.
I finally felt like we were playing with the
big boys. More important, though, it
changed the way we did business. Every
step in the process became about quality.
Hayden Slater | Pressed Juicery
→ Fresh juice retailer
How an FDA threat made me a great operator
learned the beauty
of being in the black.
HOW I DID IT ; LAUNCH 46 - INC. - JULY/AUGUS T 2017