Lessons from Brenda Mendez on How She Scaled Snow to a 9 Figure Valuation!
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Lessons from Brenda Mendez on How She Scaled Snow to a 9 Figure Valuation!

– [Josh] Are you ready to transform your normal e-commerce business into one that experiences
exponential growth, year after year using online advertising? If so, this show is for you. Me and my guests will show you how YouTube can grow your e-commerce business to seven or even eight figures, so you can go on more luxurious vacations, spoil yourself and your family, say yes to more opportunities
and become financially free, so you never have to
worry about money again. Welcome to The E-commerce
Performance Marketing Show. (upbeat music) What’s going on guys? Josh Marsden here, host of The E-commerce
Performance Marketing Show. And I’ve got Brenda Mendez here. Now Brenda, she is a
phenomenal branding consultant. She’s the former COO of Snow. Snow grew to nine figures,
I believe it was, right? – Eight figures and then nine
figures valuation, for sure. – Okay. See, so she’s got a wealth of experience that she’s going to
share today on the show. I’m really excited to have her. Brenda, welcome to the show. – Yeah, thanks for having me. – Thanks for coming on. This is a gonna be awesome. I’m really excited. So if we could maybe just start off by you telling the audience
a bit about yourself and just your backstory
and how you got started, that would be awesome. – Okay. Well, I won’t take you
guys that far to bore you, but over the, what got me here, so let’s start with a
little bit of my backstory. I am a daughter of two immigrant parents who immigrated here from Mexico, and I want to say I was able to accomplish the American dream and live it up. And I was able to go through
the corporate America, I graduated from college, I did that I did my little check marks. And then I got into
e-commerce, which I love, and I’m so happy that it
wasn’t a straight road. It was a very challenging
journey, but I am here now. And what I really love
to do is help others and really lead entrepreneurs
in growing their business. Creating a brand for themselves and also being able to have options just like we all want, right? So that’s what, that’s
a little bit about me. – That’s awesome. Yeah, that’s awesome. I know you have clients that
call you like mom, right? – They do. I come in, because it’s, I’m
not only coming into a business to help the actual business, I help the actual entrepreneur and everything connects
well with each other and I do have a lot of my
kiddos which younger or older, they call me mom because
I come and I structure and I organize, and I
make their lives easier. – Yeah, yeah. So how did you get started with Snow, could you tell us maybe
the origin of just, the product, the brand,
like how it just came about? – How was it born? Let’s see. – Especially like, especially like your
input and its origins. You know, I’d love to
hear more about that. – Yes, so like I said before
I was in corporate America, I was very analytical. I went into the accounting background. Worked for the largest
accounting firm, Deloitte. And then I figured that
I was a lot more creative than analytical, and I
really wanna pursue that. So I ended up going and
working for a marketing agency. And that’s where I met the founder there, and we were testing our own
internal e-commerce products with the agency, so we’re able to learn
and help our clients out. And so that was a great
learning experience, and that’s how Snow grew. It grew from a pet project to a really fast growing e-commerce brand. And I started, right from the beginning, I ended up doing all the operations. I mean, I started off,
fulfilling the product, doing the customer
service, the fulfillment, and so growing each teams, really delegating every
task that I started, and then seeing the brand
really take off so fast from zero to eight figures
in just three years, I was able to learn so much so fast. So many challenges that I
love hearing these challenges with other e-commerce
entrepreneurs, and I get excited. And they look at me crazy. It’s like, why are you excited? I’m like, because this is
exactly what I went through, and I get to come and just
save you money and time, and allow you to grow faster, avoiding those problems that I went through at the beginning. – Yeah. So how much did you have
to hustle earlier on, like those first, let’s just
say, 12 months, 18 months, how much work, how much time
did you put into the business? – So much time, I would say 16 hours a day or so much time that I sometimes
had to miss family events or occasions just because I knew these growing pains from
an e-commerce business, especially from a physical product, you’re growing so fast, and you have to catch up with that growth. If not, it will make or break a business, and if this is what you signed up for, why are you running away from it, right? So it’s that hustle mentality. I think mentally it’s a
lot harder than physically. I mean, there was times
where I was standing up, doing fulfillment orders or I
knew I had to get other people and start outsourcing what I actually did, when I knew I did 1200
customer service emails and then I would wake up the next day, and there were still more, so I knew that I had to
remove myself from that and not become a bottleneck. – Wow, 1200, did you hear that guys, 1200. – It started in Gmail first, so that was customer
service from the start, and then those are the
steps you take as you grow, you take calculated,
affordable steps to grow. So we went from Gmail, from a software, to now a huge software
and customer service. The growth of it, now it’s automated. So just to see that growth on its own. – Yeah, that’s crazy. I bring that up because I know that there’s a lot of
people in the audience are going to see this episode that are pretty new in their
business and their journey and I just want them to
know it takes hustle. It takes discipline. It takes like a lot of
sacrifice, which you mentioned, you sacrificed family events that a lot of people won’t sacrifice to be able to drive the business, hit the business goals,
when you were over at Snow. So that’s why I want to bring that up. So what are you doing currently? – Yeah, so currently, I
recently stepped down. I’m just a partner and
a former CEO of Snow. I stepped down to really
make a bigger impact with helping entrepreneurs, again, skip these
challenges, save them money and really grow and make
a brand for themselves. And I really love working
with entrepreneurs that want to make a huge statement and disrupt their industry. So I love doing that. I have a couple partnerships with agencies that I helped them with
their e-commerce clients. There’s a lot in the works
that I won’t say much but for the time being,
that’s what I’m doing. – That’s awesome. What gives you most energy right now? What gives you the most passion, out of anything you’re
involved with right now? – What gives me the most passion? Personally, I would say
investing in myself. There’s a lot of mental draining and emotional draining when
you’re building a company that I decided to take a step back and really refocus my priority
in taking care of myself, so that way I can serve others better. So what really drives me is, again, taking care of myself first
and then helping others. And I love seeing entrepreneurs
grow in the best way and avoid those problems
that I knew early on, that I wish somebody would have told me when growing this company. – Yeah, what were some of those
problems that you mentioned? – Some of those problems,
in general growing the company?
– Yeah. I just think that the audience, we’re looking at it from
a holistic standpoint, instead of just business
and strategies and growing, and I think that the audience
would definitely value hearing some of these, if
you don’t mind sharing. – Yeah, of course, there’s so many. – This way they can maybe
learn from your experience. – There are so many but the
ones that really come up are one, because it’s a
direct-to-consumer product, you hold a lot of inventory and so there’s an ongoing cash flow issue. But for me, since I worked
on the company day to day, in operations, the biggest challenge when growing this company was making sure you forecast inventory. So one of the biggest
problems that I faced, our product is such a giftable, during the holidays it’s so
special, it’s so hot, trending, it was really hard to really
pinpoint forecasting inventory. And so either we had
too little or too much. And there’s days I, every
single Black Friday, I mean, we generated more than
a million dollars in sales in one day. And so just imagine the
logistics of running that company and those amount of sales
during the whole time, during the holidays. And so if one thing is not
right, it’s a snowball effect, no pun intended. It’s a snowball effect where if you don’t have your
systems right or correctly, whether it’s in fulfillment
or customer service,. Or marketing decides to put a batter out or buy one, get one free kind of thing, you don’t really anticipate for that, and everything has to really communicate in this seamless way, when it seems like you
just can’t get ahold, you can’t have your
systems not work together. You have to communicate. And so inventory was a big
issue during the holidays. It was really hard to forecast that. And then another challenge
that we went through, that I personally went through, growing this business was
taking an e-commerce brand and getting it retail ready. So that was the hardest and
most challenging thing to do to get it retail ready, and there’s so many
things that go into it. But we did it. We have huge brands like
Neiman Marcus, QVC, Target, that really gave us that stamp of approval to be able to be on shelves and to see an e-commerce
brand go on shelves is like that’s when you made it. – Yeah, I can imagine.
– To make that happen, to have a team that was able
to do that happen was amazing. – No, that’s awesome. Lots of experience there, I’m sure. So were those, was that
getting into stores? Was that like one of your
growth strategies at Snow, or was that just something
that just came up as you had success? – So in learning to take an
e-commerce brand into retailer, now looking back at it reflecting, I would say it’s a branding strategy and a branding positioning. Because these stores
don’t automatically say, here’s a PO for 10,000 orders. No. They say, here’s the PO for
500, depending on the store, depending on the
strategy, the partnership, the POs are so low and knowing the power that you have online where
you can generate 10,000 orders in a couple days, you have that power, and we’re very grateful and we take that for
granted as e-commerce, but when you get a PO for this low amount, the strategy is not volume,
is not sales in that way, it’s more of a branding positioning, saying, wow, Snow is now
in Neiman Marcus shelves, it’s at Target. And so that is the strategy there. – Gotcha, they help each other basically, they cross pollinate basically. Gotcha, okay. So basically just to
summarize what you said, it’s you get more profit
probably selling directly, right? – Oh, yeah.
– Absolutely. Because I’ve heard that about retail that you don’t make a
big percent of profit, but it’s good for your brand, especially when you’re
out there marketing online and you could say like, as seen
in Neiman Marcus and Target, I believe you mentioned, right, so that helped each other, it sounds like? – It did. It was an amazing brand strategy to help us elevate the brand. So that is when you get
to elevate the brand, it all connects together
online and offline. It’s almost the perfect marriage. It was really hard. I would suggest, going into retail or not, it’s an iffy point but
I would do it 100 times even though it’s the
hardest thing I had to do. – Why was it so hard though? – Because they have so many, it’s so many hurdles and
challenges you go through. They gave me a packet
this big to go through, it’s like I was back in accounting school. Every single detail, it’s like the barcode has to be on the right side, 10 millimeters or whatever
it is, from the borderline. You have to have this type of packaging, you have to have a sticker that says, this is choking hazard, you have to have this size of bag, you have to have these clarifications, things that you don’t think of when you’re selling direct to consumer, we’re just like sending
it off, sending it off. And when you’re dealing with retailers, they have a hundred, millions of rules that you have to abide by and you don’t, because they’re covering,
pardon my French, but they’re covering their ass because they’re selling
something to their consumers. And so that’s their brand as well. They can’t sell something
to their own consumers because isn’t going to hit them. They’re taking that risk upfront. – Yeah, totally. They got to back themselves up basically, is what you’re getting at. So I gotcha. So I assume there’s
probably lots of challenges and meeting those requirements, because now you’re like, having to customize the box, right? Customize the product,
maybe, a little bit. You probably have to go
out and get certain maybe certifications or write
validations and stuff like that to meet those requirements, right? – Yep, and claims. So you know how you get to
be very creative in marketing and these Facebook ads
and this is what it does, and these are all the things, you actually have to back it up when you’re going to retailers
and saying all these claims. It’s like okay, let me see
your third party testing to make sure those claims are legitimate. And so having to go
through all those steps, even though we did have them, is like now they have to be three types of different third party. And sometimes these retailers
have specific people that they want you to go through and so that’s another money upfront that you’re investing into that. So there’s all these rules that you have to go through there. – Yeah. So, wow. Well, seems like that
would be very overwhelming. Going through all those steps and making sure that you
check off all those boxes. You said it was like a
packet that big, right? – It was this much of
everything you had to, and even for the fulfillment, it’s like now you have to
put them in this type of box and that box has to be sealed by the US cardboard manufacturer, instead of trying to outsource it and save money through overseas. Every single thing, your
claims, your packaging, redesign the packaging, the fulfillment, every single box has it’s packages, one box inside another box
with this type of tape, like that type of detail. – Jeez, wow. – But I am the best person to do it because I’m detail-oriented
and so it was a good challenge. – Yeah, that’s good, good. And then how did that help, after you started to make
headway into department stores, how did that help the overall business? What was some of the residual impacts? After that first domino fell,
what happened after that? – I would say overall is
it’s the brand elevation, to be able to now use those
claims into your Facebook ads or wherever it’s at. And now there’s a higher
authority and validation from these big retailers. And so now the perception
from the customers is saying, this company’s legitimate now. Because when you make
such a big impact online and as a brand, then you
start getting a lot of people that start copying you and
there’s so many things online. Now there’s all these resellers on Amazon. And so now, when you’re able to have those seals of validation, as
a customer, as other vendors, and now when Neiman Marcus gets you, now Bloomingdale’s knocking
on your door and saying, oh, Neiman Marcus carried
you, we want to carry you. So it elevates your brand. – That’s awesome. And social proves everything
when it comes to Facebook ads. – Yeah.
– And Instagram ads. I mean, just social media,
they want to see that it’s a reputable product, and if you have big
brands behind the product, that obviously elevates
how the brand’s seen and in your post and your advertisements. – Yeah, yeah.
– Yeah. So what other strategies, would you mind sharing, when it comes to growing Snow further during your tenure there, like what are some other strategies, maybe you could share with the audience that they could possibly apply to their own e-commerce
businesses to have success? – So I have two really big ones that really helped grow this brand and on a bigger overview, and also from the day to day, one of the biggest ones that a
lot of entrepreneurs oversee, it’s the customer experience journey, and what that looks like. And I say that they oversee that because a lot of entrepreneurs also aren’t their own customers. And so when I talk to them it’s like, well, you’re looking at a
way of how you would buy, how you would see this ad, how you would see this packaging, and you really have to take a step back. And what I really love is putting myself in the customers’ shoes, and really going through
that whole experience. And that whole experience
has to be very consistent. And it’s your brand, it’s your messaging. And so it goes all the way, I do this audit at the
beginning where it’s like, let me see your Facebook
ads and what that looks like and go into the website and what that experience
on the website looks like. But what I really loved and what I really accomplished at Snow was creating this amazing
unboxing experience for the customer that
I’m very well known for, even though I’m not in
front saying I did this, it was a team effort, but I really took pride in
developing the best experience for the customers through their packaging. And so when they receive that packaging, it’s like Christmas every day of the year, because it’s a Snow product. You open it up, I mean, I’m so branded and invested so much time
that customers were like, I can’t open it, I
can’t use this packaging because it’s beautiful, and it’s right next to my Apple products. The boxes that we never throw, it’s such an Apple-esque,
aesthetically pleasing experience. So I have a branded
envelope, you open it up, I have the branded tissue
paper with the sticker. You open it up, it’s like
an apple, it’s so soft. I mean, the whole nine yards with that. And I went a little
overboard, but I love it. And that’s–
– Yeah, yeah, yeah. – That was a great
experience for the customers. So companies should look
at the customer experience and there’s always ways to improve it. – Totally, totally. Well, the experience that you
give customers is everything in any type of business. And guys, she’s brilliant
at that stuff too. You should follow her on Instagram. She’s always like giving,
basically giving tips and your life, basically,
as you see brands and you see brand placement, you’re basically making
huge recommendations. They should be watching it. So anyway, I just thought
I would mention that because you guys should definitely
follow her on Instagram. – Thank you. – So you said there was another strategy you wanted to share? – The other strategy is not
focusing on one traffic source. So what I really emphasize is diversifying your distribution channels. And so a lot of challenges that we face is we’re at the mercy of,
I’m just going to say, Facebook ads. Or yes, that’s a great traffic
source, sales is amazing, but that CPA increases so high,
especially during seasonal, where everybody’s trying to
pay for that same placement, where the best thing to
do is diversify that. And so what we did really well, and this applies to every e-comm business, is for us, let’s just
say, we did wholesalers, so putting your product in spas, dentists, that’s going to give you
a fixed CPA, a cause, you know your cause right
away, right, doesn’t fluctuate. So having that then we went
on to retailers offline, then we did partnerships. So with brands that really make sense. So a partnership with the
wine subscription business, it makes sense because
wine stains your teeth or a coffee business. So those partnerships are
really going to help out. And it can also be as deep as creating your product with them or just switching your
products with each other, an email swap, or even an actual
postcard in each shipment. So there’s different types of
way to do that partnership. And then there’s also
an ambassador program, affiliate program. – So a lot of these, I know
what all that stuff is, but can you explain some of that stuff? Like, email swap, for example. What strategies you put
into your affiliate program that you felt really worked
well to get affiliates on board and help affiliates
generate sales for Snow? Can you maybe explain those
aspects a little bit further? – Yes. So these different channels of sales. So the email swap would be like, you have this email
list of your customers, I have mine, how many
customers do you have in your email list. Let’s create this really nice, aesthetically pleasing
to the customer email, where it’s like, get
20% off with this code, and you can track that code
based on how many sales you get. When you exchange those emails, it’s like, create an email for your brand, I’ll send it to my list, and I’ll create an email for our brand and we’ll send it to your list. And then the ambassador program is really, it’s a difference between
an ambassador program and an influencer marketing campaign. Because I would say we were very lucky to be on that trend early on, to ride that influencer marketing campaign that did extremely well for us. But now that it’s very
diluted in social media, transitioning that to
an ambassador program. And that ambassador
program is going to be more for your brand and how they speak. So investing in them and
making sure they speak well about your brand and to their followers, what type of followers do they have, making sure they’re very engaging, that it’s going to work out, a better ROI rather than. Now, for me, what I look at is if you’re going to have
an influencer campaign, it’s more for the content. Now it’s for the content. So I have a structure where
it’s like micro influencers all the way to the top
of major influencers where it’s really going to drive that ROI, but I’m not looking for that ROI down here because it’s more for getting
my brand name out there and getting that content. So it’s a different strategy and that could be a whole other episode. – Yeah, sounds like it. So it sounds like, though, that
reaching out to other brands to cross pollinate audiences and basically email each other’s audiences and come up with affiliate offers that you can promote to
each other’s audiences, this way the affiliate, the partner that you’re
partnering up with, gets rewarded for
agreeing to that with you, it sounds like that that was
worth your company’s time because that’s business development. – Yep.
– Right? So it definitely paid off. So that’s a good channel that an e-commerce brand watching this can really chase after, is they can start to cultivate
some of those relationships, reach out to brands that
have that potential, right. – So understand where your customer’s at and try to have different
sources of distribution channel. And the bigger question
to ask yourself is, if this channel was to go down, how much would it impact my business? The question’s not if it’s going to, it’s going to affect your business, it’s what percentage
of that are you relying that if this channel was
to go down for a day, or just go away, even
like, let’s just say, Amazon was to die tomorrow, and your sales were all on Amazon, the question is, how much
is it going to impact you? And so it’s decreasing that relying on it and increase the other different channels. So you level the playing field. – Yeah, yeah. When you’re at that level of sales, you do have to diversify your channels. Otherwise, you can cost
yourself a lot of money if you’re too focused on one channel. – Oh, yeah. – Yeah, yeah, that’s awesome. So what were some of the challenges that you experienced in growing Snow? And I’d love to hear what
those challenges were, what did you learn from those challenges? And how did you overcome those challenges and what was the outcome? – Yeah, I think I spoke a
little bit about the challenges and I can speak more in detail. One of the biggest
challenges was the inventory that I talked about during the holidays, especially Black Friday, where
sometimes we started getting so much coverage during that time that our sales increased,
which is an amazing thing, but you can’t really forecast that. If, let’s say, when we were
on Wendy Williams Show, and she put us on air and
it was a last minute thing, and she loved us and
they keep putting us on. And so you don’t really forecast for, now that we’re offline,
those inventory processes and forecasting that, that
was the biggest challenge. What I learned from
that is it’s better to, I guess, have more inventory, which is a double-edged sword in a way because it’s a lot of cash upfront. But the way I ended up finding a solution is either renting temporary
spaces for warehouses or working with other
people that had extra space during that time, and
putting that extra inventory, knowing that we can sell it again, having the power online
to drive those sales. But for the holidays, for us especially, we knew that it was better to
have more inventory than less, especially during last minute sales, or now offline partnerships. – Yeah, yeah, gotcha. That’s awesome. Let’s talk about your
consulting experience now. I know you work with very successful e-commerce companies and agencies, what are some of the common
challenges you’re seeing with, especially e-commerce companies that you’re working with? – Yeah, I mean, apart from
the actual entrepreneur that is going crazy and
not getting enough sleep, and I tell them how important it is because I was in that exact same moment, I tend to meditate and after that, the biggest challenge that I do see is again, they’re not, they’re having a challenge
in building a brand. And so it’s a very instant
gratification of seeing sales, especially volumes driving
so much traffic and sales that I come in, and I say, I mean, there’s a specific
one where it’s like, what’s your biggest challenge? Let’s look at it holistically. And one of the biggest challenge for them, it was like we have a
really high return rate. And so that’s a story for me, it’s like let’s go down and
see why that rate is so big. Why is that return rate so big that the chargeback gets high? Then you have a lot of
challenges with the merchant, with everything, everything correlates. And so I was able to
find out the challenge and find a solution is like, what is the customer experience? It goes back there. So building the brand,
the customer experience, what is it and why is
there so many returns. Well, I found out that there
was a lack of education and because they weren’t able to really step into what the customer needed, and so I ended up helping
them develop a sheet of the customer service and ask them, why are they returning, we
need to ask those questions, we need to get down to the problem. And so it was a lack of education. So I developed their
whole branding experience, their customer experience,
from the website to the way the videos
from the Facebook ads, to the packaging where they
get now a different set of educational postcards where
it’s like visit our videos, now we’re going to create
a whole educational videos, so then it decreases the return rate. – Gotcha, gotcha. So basically, people didn’t know everything about the product leading up to the
purchase, it sounds like. – They didn’t know how to use it. So that was the lack of education. And so they would get frustrated again. We are in an age where we need to find out how things work quickly. And then so instead of
looking at this lengthy manual it’s like we have to get to
the customer of how they learn and how they digest
information in different ways. So that’s going to be through videos, that’s going to be
through a follow-up email. And that’s going to be
in a physical postcard on showing them an infographic digital way of how to use the product. And so now there’s no excuses. But with that said, making
sure that the product works, and always working with the manufacturer, making sure that you can
always improve your product to make sure it works, and it’s
the best product out there, and then the rest should just work out. And if you have the best product, and it’s not working out for you, and you still have those return rates, then there’s a bigger problem,
which is the education. – So it sounds like businesses
have to have a balance between the efforts behind selling and the efforts behind the
actual branding experience because they actually impact each other. Because you could get the sale, but if they’re just returning
the product at a high rate, then what’s the point? Then you’re basically losing money. – Yeah, and the brand loyalty, and customers are complaining,
everything goes hand in hand, but let’s not put money into a black hole, where this system and
this packaging experience, this customer experience
is not well put out. – And this affects return rates, affects customer lifetime
value, which in my opinion, is the number one metric of any business. So that’s why that aspect of a business is so vital and so important. And sounds like you have
like an instrumental impact on your clients, especially on that aspect of their business. And I’m sure operationally
because of all your experience. That’s cool, awesome. Well, cool. Well, this is kind of like a
fun little bonus round we do here on the show. So here’s how it works. So I’m going to ask you just
a series of simple questions. But the challenge is you
have to answer each question with only one word. – With one word, okay. This is going to be a
challenge, but I’ll do my best. – Okay, okay. So what caused your biggest
e-comm success to date? – Branding. – Okay. What advice do you have for other e-commerce business owners? – Long-term? So looking at it long-term. – Okay. How would you describe yourself? – That’s the hardest question on here. How would I describe myself with one word? Empathetic. – Okay. And what do you see in your future? – Possibilities and opportunities. – That’s two, that’s three words! – It’s the same, it’s two! Okay, opportunities. – Okay, sounds good, awesome. Well, how can the
audience reach out to you, follow you, get to know
you, and possibly hire you to help them with their
operations, their brand and just help them scale
and grow their business? – Social media is the
way, I’m always on it. I look at my Instagram faster than I look at my text messages. So you can find me at
brendamendezx on Instagram and Facebook. – Simple, okay. Awesome, alright. Sounds good. Well, thank you so much
for being on the show. – Thank you for having me. – It’s been an awesome
opportunity to have you on here. – Yeah, thank you. – Awesome. – Thank you for tuning into The E-commerce Performance Marketing Show. If you enjoyed this episode,
be sure to subscribe, like, and comment with a
timestamp of your favorite part and share with a friend. Until our next episode, here’s to you and the success of your
e-commerce business. (upbeat music)

About Ralph Robinson

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