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Today on the podcast, I’m talking to Yanika Cordina, the founder of Cordina Hair, creator of the Flower Curl and Waver Bun, heatless hair curlers and wavers. 

Yanika shares how she developed her products, developing the prototype herself, patenting her design, and moving to manufacture.

Yanika shares the realities of building a business whilst working other jobs, how she has used social media to spread the word about an entirely new product, working with brand ambassadors rather than influencers, and why the pre-order model works so well for her.

There’s lots to take in, including a really interesting behind the scenes on her successful Dragon’s Den appearance. 

  • An introduction to herself and her business (01:10)
  • The inspiration for creating her products (03:02)
  • Creating a prototype (05:31)
  • Creating a product whilst also working two jobs (07:37)
  • Patenting her design (10:45)
  • The advantages of working with a patent attorney (13:02)
  • Finding a factory to manufacture her product (16:38)
  • Launching and marketing an entirely new product (20:43)
  • How Instagram & TikTok have boosted her business (22:29)
  • Why she hasn’t invested in influencers (23:22)
  • Working with brand ambassadors (26:16)
  • The benefits of not checking what your competitors are doing (28:10)
  • Her Dragon’s Den experience (31:29)
  • Using a pre-order model (37:22)
  • The time it takes to build a successful business (43:38)
  • The challenge of keeping up with social media changes (49:22)
  • Her number one piece of advice for product creators (52:38)

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Transcript
Vicki Weinberg:

Welcome to the Bring Your Product Idea to Life podcast. This is the podcast for you if you're getting started selling products, or if you'd like to create your own product to sell. I'm Vicki Weinberg, a product creation coach and Amazon expert. Every week I share friendly, practical advice, as well as inspirational stories from small businesses. Let's get started. Hello. Today on the podcast, I'm talking to Yanika Cordina. Yanika is the founder of Cordina Hair, specializing in product development, intellectual property, retail, and marketing. We have a really great conversation about how Yanika created her very first product. Um, all the work she put into prototyping and manufacturing, which she did herself in the very early days. We talk about copyright issues and how she protects her intellectual property, um, and a whole load of other things too. So I really hope you enjoy this conversation with Yanika. Well, Yanika, thank you so much for being here.

Yanika Cordina:

Thank you for having me. I'm really excited to be talking to you today.

Vicki Weinberg:

Well, me too. I've got so many questions, but can we please start with an introduction to yourself, your business and what you sell?

Yanika Cordina:

Yeah, sure. So my name is Yanika Cordina. I am the founder of Cordina Hair and I invented the flower curl and the waver bun. They are are two heatless hair tools and that I managed to also secure intellectual property on.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you so much. I have so many follow on questions. So I guess let's start with, well, actually, first of all, can you tell us a little bit about your hair curlers? So obviously people will be listening to this. I hope everyone's going to go to your website after and have a look, but do you mind just telling us briefly about what they are and how they work, just so people have got an idea as we go forward.

Yanika Cordina:

Yes. Um, so I've got two products. So the flower curl is a heatless hair curler and the waver barn is a heatless hair waver. They're slightly different from each other. Uh, they're both heatless, but one is used as a hair curler. So the results are quite more like defined heatless curls. And it also looks very different to what you normally find, um, online, um, it's, it sits on the top of your scalp, so the sides of your face are free and you're able to sleep comfortably in it and also wear it during the day and without having the curler kind of get in the way. Um, the waver bun is a, uh, heatless hair tool that kind of sits like a bun. I'm wearing it right now, as you can see, but it sits like, just like a normal bun and, uh, when you remove it, you get these beautiful heatless waves and you don't get the typical kinks like from hair ties from having your hair up so you can wear it like, during activities, we can, we also kind of use it for sports as well, um, and use it overnight. So they're quite handy hair tools to have.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, thank you so much for explaining it because I think it's really good for people to have like a picture of what we're talking about. Obviously I can actually see you so I can see your bun as well. Um, so what inspired you? So your heatless hair curler was your first product and what was your inspiration for creating that? Because I think I'm right in saying that before your products all of the hair curlers at the time were heated. Is that correct?

Yanika Cordina:

Um, there were a few heatless hair tools. Um, some of them like really, really dated and bulky. I feel like the product came around because I was just frustrated with my own kind of trying to style my hair. I'm very bad at styling my hair as well, so I was always trying different hair products to kind of style my hair and I was just finding them, really uncomfortable, like impossible to sleep in. And, uh, I really wanted to cut, to step away from heated hair tools as well. I've got a really fine hair, so I get like hair damage very easily. Um, and, uh, I just couldn't find a suitable product to kind of meet my needs. And that's where the flower curl kind of came up, came about, um, created quite a long list of criteria is that this hair curler needed to meet and that's where this prototyping process started.

Vicki Weinberg:

Well, that's brilliant. Thanks. I'm really interesting. And actually, as you were talking and I was saying, oh, there aren't many heatless products. It suddenly, it did come to mind. Of course there are, but there were things like rollers. I mean, I remember a long time ago, people with the rollers in the hair, but as you say, they're really bulky, quite old fashioned, hard to put in, take out. So. Yeah and I think the reason nothing came to mind for me was because I feel like a lot of those products, people just don't use them anymore because they're not very practical.

Yanika Cordina:

Yeah. It's quite, um, I feel like they're really time consuming as well. Like the traditional heatless hair products are quite time consuming, bulky, and you just can't really multitask in them I feel, and it's really impossible to sleep. And I mean, since I've launched my flower, there's been more heatless hair tools on the market, but there's not nothing quite like the flower curl. It looks completely different. Um, it looks a bit quirky, um, and kind of that's why it's so unique and, and how I managed to secure, um, intellectual property on it.

Vicki Weinberg:

And we'll definitely talk a little bit more about the intellectual property in a moment. I'd love to touch on that and sort of how you went about it and what your experience was. So you mentioned a moment ago that you came up with a list of criteria for the product. And so from there, how did you go about the prototyping process?

Yanika Cordina:

Um, it's, it does start with obviously an idea that I've put on paper. So I had this idea came to mind. I drew it on a piece of paper and took that paper and just started the prototyping process. So that can look different depending on how complex the product is. But what in my case, I had to kind of test different materials, different fabrics, different size. Uh, different sizes and testing the technique as well, um, changing the techniques over time. And that took like three years, it took a long time to actually launch the product. So from idea to launch, it can, you know, everybody can, if I took three years, maybe someone else can, it can take them a year, but the prototyping is quite a lengthy process.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you for sharing that. I think it's really useful for people to know that it did take that long, because I think there's often a perception that things appear out of nowhere and your product comes overnight. So it's really good and thank you for being so honest. Um, and with the prototyping process, was that something you were doing yourself or were you working with a company to support you with that?

Yanika Cordina:

So money was an issue. Um, and I was working two jobs at the time. So I did it all by myself. I had like a little sewing machine. Um, I'm not a seamstress, but I just kind of learned how to use it and was testing it. And probably that's why it took me a bit longer as well, because I was doing it all by myself and didn't have that, um, external help, which, you know, I, I couldn't afford to pay. Um, but I believed in my product and I found a way around the money issue. Um, and I made it happen.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's brilliant. Thank you. And yet that must've taken so much perseverance to actually be doing that. yourself, um, as well as, you know, they're coming up with the ideas and tweaking, but to actually be the person who then has to go and sit at the machine and make the changes and make another round of prototype, that's, yeah, I can see totally why that's so time intensive. Especially when, you know, you have other jobs as well.

Yanika Cordina:

Yeah. And I mean, I used to work like two jobs. One, my main job, like finishing at five. And then I would start my second job in the evening just to get that extra money. Um, which eventually helped fund the initial stages of the flower curl. Um, but I worked on the prototypes whenever I had a moment to myself, like my free time. So it would be evenings, weekends. And, uh, it was, it became almost like a hobby, really, I was really enjoying the process and prototyping can be quite lengthy, but I found it quite fun because I knew there was something special about it. And I knew I was going to get to the final version of it. But the steps, you just need to embrace the process, um, and go from one prototype to the other, like the very first prototype. It looks nothing like what it looks like now. Um, so you'll see lots of versions of the product, um, over time, um, until you get the right one.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really interesting. And I guess that means that you can sort of work out which, what works, what doesn't work. And I imagine that your final version is maybe, is it like an amalgamation of the versions that came before. So the good parts that you, that you took from it. And did you involve anyone else in the process? I'm just wondering, did you have people to test it for you? See if it works in different hair types or back in these very early days was were you sort of keeping the idea to yourself?

Yanika Cordina:

Yeah, it was this big secret that I was, uh, keeping from everyone else, but, um, my family knew about it. So my mum was testing it out, um, I was testing out and then I was like cutting my hair to test it out on shorter hair. And I also bought, um, like a hundred percent human hair mannequins. So testing, testing it on like very thick hair and different hair lengths. So I had to find a way to kind of test it out, but keep it a secret. Um, and, uh, when I was going to my office job, I was getting compliments on my hair. So that was, um, a nice, uh, kind of validation of what I was doing. So I knew I was onto something when I'm getting compliments on how my hair looked and they were asking me what I'm, what I'm using and how I have the time to do it. So these, all these, all these feedback that I was getting just fueled me to continue doing what I was doing.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, thank you. And at which stage did you think about patenting your designs? Let's talk about the intellectual property. Was that once you had your final prototype or was it once you'd started thinking about manufacturing? Which bit comes first, would you say?

Yanika Cordina:

So I feel like straight away, so I think it. And I had an idea and I had to look it up and see if it's actually already out there. I think that is really the first step that I probably recommend. You would Google and just have a look if your idea is already out there. And I couldn't find anything and, um, and I thought this is something that I probably would need to look into protecting. I had no idea about like intellectual property. So I had no knowledge on the subject at all. So it's a lot of research and, uh, there is a lot of information online. It can be quite overwhelming. It's quite a complex subject, but there is a lot of information. And, and from that, I was able to look up existing patents and to see whether my idea has already been protected. Um, and there was nothing like my idea. So that's where I approached a patent attorney to discuss my products and look into protecting it.

Vicki Weinberg:

That makes sense. And I think definitely to do it before you start finding someone to work with, because of course you need to know that your idea is safe before.

Yanika Cordina:

100%. And also you wouldn't want to work on something and all of a sudden you realize you're actually copying someone else. Um, you don't want to be in that position because one, you could get into, um, legal complications there and you, you don't want to be wasting a lot of time. Like I spent three years prototyping. So imagine if I spend that much time and then only to realize that my product is, has already been patented. Um, so definitely. research up front, um, I would say, uh, is the key forward.

Vicki Weinberg:

And that was working with a patent attorney helpful because like, like you say, it seems so complicated knowing what sort of protection to get. So was it useful to work with somebody who knew the ins and outs and could recommend it?

Yanika Cordina:

I do recommend working alongside a patent attorney. I feel he was able to answer a lot of my questions, um, and they tend to write a lot of information on the subject as well. So in the beginning, if let's say you don't have a budget towards, um, patents, you can approach a company that can help you with a patent and ask you questions. And often times they would send you links to articles that you can read. And that's what I did. So they've sent me lots of information. I printed all that information out and almost studied it so I can understand what I'm getting myself into. And I think knowing a bit on the subject helps. Um, because it can be quite a costly, uh, way to, you know, lose all your money in the beginning. So, um, I think research and reading through it all can really help the process and make it a bit more cost efficient.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really good advice. Thank you. Um, yeah, I really liked that as well. Because I think the more information that you have as well, you just felt a bit more in control of the process. Of course, so much of this is new and, um, I'm assuming as well, this is the first product that you created. So like the whole thing is very new to you.

Yanika Cordina:

Sorry, I, you need to repeat that again. Sorry.

Vicki Weinberg:

No, don't worry at all. I was saying, am I right in thinking this was the first product you've created? So of course the whole process is very new to you.

Yanika Cordina:

Yes. So, um, it was the first time I've ever created something that I was looking into protecting and also there's like different variations of protection. So you can look at protecting how it looks, you can protect how it actually functions, you can protect the, the, the name of it. Um, so you can get all this kind of help, free online and then if you speak with a patent attorney they can guide you in the right direction as well. So there's like patent protection, design patent, and trademark protection.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really useful, thank you. So I think for anyone looking to do that, a patent attorney sounds like a really good first step.

Yanika Cordina:

Yes and um.

Vicki Weinberg:

Sorry.

Yanika Cordina:

One thing to add on that, I feel in the beginning, obviously I've made lots of mistakes and I approached, um, like an established company where they have like lots of patent attorneys and that is, uh, very costly, um, and that costs me more money than I wanted to spend. And so I feel like if money is an issue and you want to um, find more efficient ways to make it work. Um, finding a patent attorney that's got the experience but is self employed. So that could really help you actually bring the costs down, it can help you save thousands of pounds.

Vicki Weinberg:

That is so useful to know. Thank you so much. That's really, that's really good advice. I think, yeah, because you're right. I think every part of the process can get so expensive. So I think anywhere where we can perhaps save a little is really good. And so speaking of that, so once you have your pattern and you had your prototype and you were happy with the final design, how did you go from making everything yourself on your sewing machine to like bulk manufacturing?

Yanika Cordina:

So having a working prototype is great, but obviously you have to make sure that it's, you need to create an efficient way to produce it. Um, and that's where, where you would be handling the production process to someone else. Um, and that's what I did. I had to find a factory to help me bring the products to life and, um, have a production line set up and, and create a process. So the product has never been done before they needed a process and it can be quite difficult if you have a unique product. Um, I did get a lot of pushback, um, because people, you know, factories want to stick to making a t shirt. They don't want a complex product on their line. Um, but you know, I believed in it and I continued to persevere with it and um, we, we have a production line in place and that took quite a while as well to set up. So, um, it's three years prototyping, trying to set it up. Um, that kind of all goes into setting up before launching. Um, uh, yeah, so that's kind of how the process went.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you. And I think you can't really underestimate, can you, the, like how long the process can take of finding someone to help with the manufacturing, especially as you said, when your products say unique, because you might've done the prototyping and know exactly what you want, but then it's finding someone else who can produce exactly what you want, exactly to your standards. Um, and as you say, want to be collaborative with you as well. I think that's not as, maybe it doesn't sound easy, but it's definitely not as easy as, as it maybe sounds.

Yanika Cordina:

Yeah. I think manufacturing is probably one of the hardest things I've ever done. Um, prototyping and coming up with an idea is like the fun part. But bringing it to life through manufacturing is a whole different ball game. It's, it's really complicated and, you know, there's relationships that you have to kind of deal on a daily basis and, um, communication is key. Um, and yeah, manufacturing can be quite an interesting field to get into. Um, but there's a lot of, you know, factories and manufacturing, you just have to do your research and you might need to approach quite a few. Um, and you might even. It starts with a one and it doesn't work out and you move on to the next one. It's not always going to be easy, especially if you have a unique product.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. Thank you for saying that. I think it's good to hear. And I, I totally agree that finding a manufacturer can be maybe the most daunting part of the process. And sometimes, um, not always, but sometimes the most time consuming because it's such an important piece to get right. Um, and as you said, there were so many manufacturers out there and there will be one, I think there will be one that will work well for everyone, but it's just finding the.

Yanika Cordina:

Finding the correct one for your product and also like getting the costings, right. Um, and where you'd like to make your products. And there's a lot of things to consider. But it's one thing that you probably need to focus on because that's where you need to like, set your margins, um, your production costs and, um, what you're going to sell it for and all the materials on top of that. Um, so it's very, very important when you're launching a product, getting the manufacturing right.

Vicki Weinberg:

Absolutely. And then could you talk about when you launched your first product to the public and how you went about that? Because obviously you were, you were introducing something very new that people hadn't heard about. Um, can you talk us through that a little bit, please?

Yanika Cordina:

Yeah, sure. So I, so again, like money was an issue. Um, so I didn't have a huge marketing budget. Um, I focused on social media from the get go and, um, I focused on, um, what makes my product different? What are the benefits of using my product? And I've done a lot of the content myself, um, and took the photos myself and the, the before and afters and both my family and friends. Um, that's kind of like how it starts and then you progress from there, but a few social media, from the get go, and it's been my focus from the moment I launched and all the sales have come through organically, um, which is amazing. And I was also scouted online by, uh, the BBC to go on Dragon's Den, um, on Instagram. So Instagram and TikTok social media, it just been amazing for my business.

Vicki Weinberg:

I think that makes total sense as well, because your product is so, um, it's very visual as in you can see a before, you can see an after you can see the results, which I think is great for lots of social media platforms where, you know, everything is visual and it's so, um, it's not instant, but you. Yeah. It's a very easy product to show my hair looked like this. I used a product on my hair looks like that. And I think that's really good. And I, I guess there's also lots of content you can use about how to use it. And yeah, that does make sense. And it's amazing that it's all been organic as well.

Yanika Cordina:

Yeah, it's, it's amazing how much power there is in social media. Um, and I've, Instagram was the very first platform I launched on. And, and, you know, it's like every few years is a new, um, social media app starting. And I joined TikTok a little bit later than I should have. Um, but once I've joined TikTok. Um, the views went up as well there, so we've officially gone over 100 million views on, on both TikTok and Instagram, which is amazing. And, um, whenever we go viral, um, we always sell out, um, which leads us to kind of take on pre orders. Um, so it's all organically. Uh, we haven't had a budget for advertisement. We haven't used any ads at all. It's all organic.

Vicki Weinberg:

I do. I do really think that's amazing. And are you, um, are you, I don't know, but are you using influencers at all to share your products or is it just people that are buying your products, loving your products, and then talking about it online?

Yanika Cordina:

So that, interesting you say that, um, because I never set a budget aside for, um, mark, like adverts marketing. Um, I never really put a, a, a, a budget for influencers. And when I did look into it, the prices that the influencers were giving me were like in the thousands, and it was just too much for like a small business. It's a, it's a bit risky, you just don't know if you're going to get a return from it. Um, so I have, I did not invest in paying influencers, but influencers ended up buying the product anyway and created free content for me. Um, which is amazing. It's a different way to see it. Like I never invested in influencers, but they bought it anyway.

Vicki Weinberg:

That is amazing. Yeah. Well done. Because I guess that shows like the quality of your product, that they're choosing to buy your product and promote it.

Yanika Cordina:

Yeah. I mean, it can go either way, isn't it? Because I'm not paying them to create content. Um, but it's because it's a trend. It's quite trendy and, um, it looks different. It gets people talking. Um, so I think the quirkiness side to it kind of helps. Um, so, um, I think that definitely helps with getting people purchasing. Um, and I've always had celebrities purchasing the hair tools. Um, it's just really interesting how it all evolved. Um, but yeah, social media is a huge part of, uh, Cordina hair.

Vicki Weinberg:

And like you say, though, I mean, obviously it was a bit more of a risk when people, you know, you're not gifting the products or paying for it. So people are giving their very honest opinions. And of course you can't influence what they're saying. Although I would say from a consumer point of view. I definitely prefer to see that type of content. I would much rather someone say, I use this hair tool. I paid for it with my own money and I really like it, than when you see the, you know, the ad hashtag and you know that they're being paid to talk about it. So I think, I think that probably has helped you in, in other ways as well, because I think we can get a bit cynical when every other post appears to be sponsored and, um, it's really nice to see it like kind of organic content. I mean, personally, as a customer, I much prefer seeing like you know, just real people with their influences, whoever they are saying, I like, I found this and I liked it. And I'm much more influenced than that than by someone I know is being paid. And I think a lot of us are getting like that. So I think it's, yeah.

Yanika Cordina:

Um, I feel the same as well. Um, it does, it feels like you're being sold to all the time, sold to all the time and, um, the content that we tend to create. Um, I try not to do that, and I think it worked in our favour. Um, just being helpful, like, why would you use the product? Um, well, how is it going to make your life better? Why is it, why, you know, why is it better than another product? I think the benefits, so how, how is it going to benefit you? I think that's quite important rather than trying to sell a product. Um, but yeah, I do get like the ads a bit, isn't it? You see like commission based, um, selling products, but we have as well worked with like customers. So anyone who's purchased a product, um, and they love it. We work with them to, um, so they can promote the products. So we, we call them brand ambassadors. So, um, and they get like an exclusive coupon code and whenever someone uses the code they get commissioned through it, but again, they're kind of managing their own content, um, and they're already existing customers. So they already love the product.

Vicki Weinberg:

I think that's really nice. And as you say, it's about their existing customers, the people who've chosen to buy it and love it, and they're choosing to talk about it. And of course they maybe get a little incentive if they share their code, but you know, they're doing it because that's what they want to do. And I think that is more powerful because yeah, I think we're all more likely to buy something if a friend recommends it or someone you know. So I think that's really, that's really good. And it shows, I guess, as well, that you're building up really loyal customers, which is also so important.

Yanika Cordina:

Yes. I feel like I'm doing things slightly different from the typical kind of hair and beauty business. And I think that's quite important to me. Um, uh, competition doesn't really phase me. I want to be in my own path. Um, I don't want to, sometimes I'm like so focused on what I'm doing. I don't even check what my competitors are doing, but I feel like that's quite good because you get to do what's true to you. Um. And I do, I enjoy being in my own path. This is what we do and kind of ignoring what everybody else is doing. Um, and it has worked for us. So, um, being true to yourself is important.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really refreshing because that's not usually what people say. So that's really, that's really interesting. And I think that's really good. And I guess it shows also the confidence you have in your product as well, because I think if you know you have a good product and you have the belief in that you can do things your way because you know that what you have is unique.

Yanika Cordina:

Exactly. I feel you're going to, I got lots of pushback in the beginning, just so many no's. And, um, before I got into manufacturing, I was looking into licensing. So manufacturing seemed like, uh, like an impossible task, is a very, it looks very expensive and all the research that I was looking into was very expensive. So licensing came up and it was, um, a good way to get your products out, but having someone else do the manufacturing side of it, and then you get royalties from it. And I had this meeting with a big haircare brand and they loved it. So that was my kind of, uh, first validation. Um, then we were like discussing licensing deals and eventually they decided not to go ahead. So I got lots of um, pushback, I got lots of positivity and I'm pushed back and it's like, you know, you have to, I had to believe in my product so much that I had to make it work somehow. Um, and I think that that has shown through my journey, um, believing in my, my products and what I do and doing things differently and not really caring, um, what the norm is. Um, and just doing it my way.

Vicki Weinberg:

I think that's really good. And I think part of the reason for having your own business is that you can do things your own way. So I think it's really good that you've stuck to that and you're not, you know, trying to do the same as everyone else and you are doing what works for you.

Yanika Cordina:

Yes, definitely. So I highly recommend to like, um, look at what you really enjoy, what you're all about and focusing on your own path. Sometimes when you're comparing, it's so easy to just feel a bit deflated and, um, almost copying what other people are doing and people who are on social media. It's like they know what they, what to expect when they're scrolling through, um, being different makes you stand out.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you. And you mentioned Dragons Den earlier and I haven't forgotten. I, I didn't write it down, but I put a pin in my brain to come back to this because you mentioned that you were approached by the BBC after they saw you on Instagram. So I would love to hear a little bit about your experience in Dragons Den. Um, you know, what it was like and perhaps anything you learned from it as well.

Yanika Cordina:

So Dragon's Den was quite an interesting, um, journey to go through. It was a very positive experience for me. Um, there was a lot of preparation that took months to actually go on the show. It was during the pandemic as well. So the actual recording kept getting delayed. Um, I had a newborn as well. So, uh, it was quite interesting to handle the two. Um, but, uh, I feel like lots of preparation we had to go into it and memorizing the financials was, you know, something that I struggled with because probably memorizing figures is not my forte. Um, but I did a lot of preparation in terms of speaking in front of a camera. Um, and, uh, how to breathe properly, which, um, I, I've struggled with, um, so I think Dragon's Den has really helped me, um, try, get on to public speaking and getting comfortable in front of the camera, um, and also be able to like handle, uh, feedback that you don't necessarily want to hear and be able to respond in a way where it protects you, your brand and your product, but not being aggressive about it. So there's a lot of, um, things that I've learned through it. And it's been quite positive as well in terms of, um, press and media. I've been able to make lots of connections through Dragon's Den, which has been amazing and been able to land on, uh, lots of, uh, like news outlets. And, uh, it's been really good overall.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's very interesting. And do they, um, well, I'll ask you actually, because for anyone who hasn't watched it, can you tell us what the outcome was? Because obviously you're episode, came out a long time now.

Yanika Cordina:

So I did walk out with a deal with Sarah Davies and, uh, but a lot of due diligence takes place after the show. Um, and we decided not to go ahead in the end. So, um, but I did walk out with a deal, so that was quite good to kind of walk out there. Um, but I did walk out crying, I think, um, I think I was just overwhelmed. And I also agreed to give away half of my business on the show. Which, uh, was shocking to me, um, but I think, yeah, I felt like I needed to get out there with, with, uh, with a deal rather than empty handed. And, uh, I think what people don't realize is like after the show, there's so much due diligence that takes place. Uh, you'd be surprised that most of the deals don't actually go through. Um, and that's, was one of them.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really interesting. But it does sound like overall it was positive of you that first fights are going through. That sounds, it sounds really good. And in terms of sort of the preparation and what you have to learn about your business, and do you get support from the production team on that, or are you on your own to figure it out?

Yanika Cordina:

I got a lot of help with the actual setup. So, um, the pitch, they did see my pitch as well. They kind of help you out a little bit as well. Um, so they were really helpful. I think, you know, they have, um, they want you to look a certain way, they want your stand to look a certain way, so they definitely help you out throughout the process, which was quite interesting, but it just dragged for months for me because of the pandemic. Um, I don't know how long it usually takes, but mine was like, um, about, about seven, eight months of preparation, which is a long time.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yes, I'm trying to think because I had another guest on who was on Dragon's Den and I'm trying to think whether their process was that long. And I want to say no, although I do know it was a long time between recording and then actually being shown.

Yanika Cordina:

Yeah. Yeah. Um, so they approached me in January and I think I went on the show, uh, so it went live in October, so that's like 10 months.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, yeah, that's quite a long time. And of course you can't talk about it in between then, can you? Because you can't talk of.

Yanika Cordina:

No, it's all a secret.

Vicki Weinberg:

What happens. Oh, well, I'm glad it was a positive experience and as you said, you've managed to get press and things off the back of it as well. So it, I guess, I guess it continues to be, um, really worthwhile having done.

Yanika Cordina:

Thank you. Yes, it's been, it's been positive. Um, and I do recommend it. You get your product out there. You get your name out there. And, uh, I mean, Sarah liked it. Um, so you get like validation as well. If you're, I was quite early on in my journey. So I just launched. And I was definitely in the first stages of my business. I probably went there too early. Um, but I felt, I felt like I needed more validation at that point. Um, and I, I got it. And then like two months after I went on the show, um, I had my first viral video. Um, and that we got, we had a, we sold out and then that's how it kind of started with my first viral video and then it continued from there.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. And you mentioned then about selling out and something I, we spoke about before we started recording was the fact that quite often you're in a position where you need to take pre orders for your products. And I was explaining, I think that's really like a smart way of doing things because you can continue to take orders. Um, is that a deliberate decision you took or is that impacted by the stock and how quickly the manufacturing process takes. As in, yeah. Was that a decision you'd made or have you made that decision based on the circumstances?

Yanika Cordina:

So it's interesting you ask that. So the first video that went viral, um, we, I had so many orders that I went into panic mode and the orders kept coming in and I didn't know how to handle them. So I closed the store, um, after like a certain amount, and that was a very poor decision that I made and from then on, I thought pre orders is the way to go. Um, so definitely I sell out all the time. If a video goes viral, the products just sell out and then the pre order button goes on. Um, that's just standard now and orders still come in and you'd be surprised. People are willing to wait. Um, we, we have thousands of orders on pre orders. And people are willing to wait. Maybe you get three, five people cancelling because they don't want to wait anymore. But, um, people are willing to wait, they, they pay up front and as long as you keep them updated with the timelines, um, when they should expect the product, um, then I don't see any issues with taking pre orders at all.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really interesting. Thank you for sharing that because my impression when I went to your site and I saw that you were taking pre orders was, wow, this is, you know, so popular and it, I, I felt that it was a really positive thing. And obviously you can see I have curly hair, but if I was, you know, looking for one, I feel like the fact that it was on pre order would possibly entice me to buy it more because I think, oh gosh, if I don't order soon, maybe they'll all, you know, maybe I won't get one. And I think it's, I think it's really smart. And as you say, it keeps orders coming in, keeps the money coming in. Um, yeah, I, and that's why I was curious about how it came about because a lot of sites that I see don't seem to do that. You can maybe be notified when something comes in stock. Um, but I actually really liked the pre order. And I assume that from like a technical point of view is something that's easy to set up?

Yanika Cordina:

Yeah. Um, I think the site that, the server that I use, they have, uh, recently uh, launched like a pre-order button, which is something I've asked them to do. And in the beginning that wasn't there, but I put as much information on the site as possible so people know that they are pre ordering. But I think there are, like, uh, things in place with, like, website service to be able to have, like, a pre order button. Um, yeah, definitely, like, why would you want to stop the money coming in? I think when I did that, um, there was a huge dip in sales and obviously the money stopped coming in. Um, and I, I said to myself, I would never do that again. And pre orders helps, you know, keep the momentum going, the money coming in. Um, and you know, exactly as well, how many orders are coming in and what to expect if you need to up the stock levels. Pre orders is a great way to kind of guide you, um, on the numbers. Um, I'm hope we keep putting the stock levels up and then exceed that. Um, but I think pre orders help you predict numbers as well.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's a really good point because especially as I mean, I'm not going to ask what your production times are, but especially when you have a production time, it can be really hard to predict how many you need to cover the next period, whether it's the next quarter or the next weeks or months, that can be really tricky. And it's easy to over over order or under order. So I guess, as you say, having pre orders just helps you give you an idea of what kind of levels you're looking at.

Yanika Cordina:

It's still quite difficult. Like we haven't, uh, every time we put the the product stock levels up, um, we think it's enough and then we exceed that and then we're back to preorders again. Like, in my ideal world, I don't want to put preorder on. I want the stock to be there and people can purchase and, you know, they have the product, um, but predicting stock levels can be a really difficult task, especially when you're growing. You just don't know, um, you know, when a viral video is, is gaining momentum online, you just don't know like how much, how many sales you're going to get from it. Sometimes you might get X amount. And the next time you, you get a viral video might get more or less. So it can vary. Um, I guess that's the, you know, the nature of organic content going viral. You just don't know exactly how much, um, how many orders you're going to get from that.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's a really good point actually, because if you were running paid advertising, or you were working with a certain influencer, you could probably predict there'll be a spike because this promotion is going on or this ad's getting turned on, but when it's purely organic, you're right, you, I guess there's no way of knowing what's going to go viral because I don't think any of us can predict that.

Yanika Cordina:

Yeah. Yeah. Um, I mean, it's worked for us, but it fluctuates. So the last video that went really viral. This has been the best viral video ever. Um, and I thought the previous one was amazing and this one was even better. So it's, it's an interesting one. You think, you know your numbers and you don't, um, until you, you sell out. So, um, I think knowing your stock levels is just an ongoing thing and, and you have to adjust as you go along.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. That makes sense. Thank you. And you mentioned earlier, of course, that your business is growing and continues to grow. So how has, um, and from the outside, it looks like quite rapid growth as well. I don't know whether that's the reality, but that's, you know, how it appears, um, how has that changed you and how you run your business, um, as it is you know, growing. It's only been a few years really since you launched and it feels like you've done a lot in that time.

Yanika Cordina:

It's been a long, wild journey. Um, it hasn't gone crazy overnight, like this has taken years. I incorporated the business in 2017, launched the first product in 2018, and, uh, it went viral like two months after going on Dragon's Den. So it's. It's been, it wasn't an overnight thing, um, not at all. It has taken me a long time to actually get to where I am now. And, you know, we're still growing, we're still quite a small business really. Um, but, you know, it's not an overnight thing. I feel like Instagram as well. Um, We've reached now about, I can't remember how many followers, but over 60k. Um, that's like not a lot compared to these bigger brands, but it has taken me years to get to that. Um, but you know, you don't have, you don't have to have a huge following to make money online. Um, And I'm proof really, I don't have like a huge following.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really interesting. I like, you know, you've been very honest about the fact that it hasn't been rapid. I think that that's often a misconception, isn't it? When someone comes on your radar new, it can feel like they've come out of nowhere because of course you don't know about the years when you didn't know about them when they were a smaller brand and didn't have the followers, weren't as well known. I think, so I think it's, it's, yeah, it's quite a common thing to think, oh, you've, you know, you've grown so quickly. Um, although I will say though, I still think five years is actually relatively short amount of time to get to where you've got to. So I do, I do think it's very impressive.

Yanika Cordina:

Oh, thank you so much. Appreciate it. But people didn't get to see me prototyping in my shed. And then going to pet sitting, I was doing pet sitting as my little side hustle to get extra money. Um, you know, it was, it was really hard in the beginning, um, and launching as well to nobody. You're launching to your friends and your family right in the beginning and then trying to get people to see you, it's, the beginning is really hard.

Vicki Weinberg:

It is, but I think it's really interesting and really useful for other people to hear that you were in that position, you know, when you first launched that you didn't have a big following and like you say, felt like you were launching to nobody, because I think that's all of us, or at least most of us with a first product, it does feel like, is anybody out there? Does anyone know I exist? So I do think it's, it is inspirational to know that, okay, if you, okay, it might be more than a few years, but you know, it's not that long to, you know, have the following that you have and, you know, selling out regularly. So I do still think it is an achievement and it is inspirational because I think it can be very easy in the early days to feel like you're constantly talking to nobody that you're not on anyone's radar, the sales aren't where you want them to be. And it can be tough those first few years because you don't know how long it will be until you start to see things grow. And it can be quite a few years until people start noticing you. I think a good, uh, kind of little story that happened to me when I first launched, um, I launched a product and I put like a code on it so people can get it like, uh, like discounted and I put the code wrong. And I, the product was a penny. And someone said to me, like a friend said, do you know that your product is being sold for a penny? I'm like, what? And I looked at it and nobody bought it because nobody knew about it. Nobody saw it. So marketing is, is, you know, what's going to sell your products. And even if you think you're not selling it, like nobody's seeing it, you need to keep at it. Like that meant to me that there were no, nobody looking at it. Nobody knew about it. Um, and that's why there were no sales. But I like what you said there about that really makes sense about sort of keeping on, on there, because I think it is the consistency that helps with growth because you know, you've mentioned that all you've been doing is social media, nothing paid or organic social media. But I think that where you've seen the growth in, I would guess is that you've been consistently promoting your products on social media over the years. Because I think there's nothing more frustrating than when someone posts a little bit, stops, goes away for six months, comes back and then every time it's like, you're starting from scratch. And I think there's a lot to be said from just showing up and talking about your products consistently. And I'm sure that helps with the algorithms, with people seeing you and just with people also having faith in you, that you're there and you're not going away. If that makes sense? Like you are a real business, your, yeah, I think that really helps because sometimes, yeah, I think it doesn't always look as good if, if you're very patchy with when, when, or how you're showing up, you know, if you go to a website and you can see it hasn't been updated since 2019 and then you think, okay, they're still in business. You lose your trust in someone.

Yanika Cordina:

Um, but yeah, I feel like I have been consistent, um, what, and good point about like, if you take a break. Your Instagram takes your, your social media takes a break. So you do see a bit of a dip in your engagement and you almost need to start again, every time you take a bit of a break. And we, I did that when, um, the video went crazy and we had lots of sales from it, and we had to take a step back from social media to catch up. Um. And I noticed immediately like, um, you know, a dip in, in engagement and also, uh, new, um, buttons to create a video. So I was like, oh my gosh, I have to relearn how to upload a video here or edit it. It's amazing how quickly social media moves. There's like lots of new things that they're constantly, um, adding to the apps. So, um, took a bit of a break and all of a sudden the, the buttons moved. And I had to re learn how to post again. It's just interesting that once you take that bit of a break, it can be quite daunting to start again as well. Um, and you know, sometimes a social media break is, is it helps, uh, but maybe having help with that, someone who enjoys posting on social media for you, for your business that could help keep the, um, the posts up and the momentum going. So you keep the algorithm in your favour.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really good advice, or even scheduling posts to cover the time you're not around. I think you're right though. It's, it's always harder to start again, almost harder than it is to start in the first place. Because we were talking before we recorded, weren't we, about Amazon and how every time you go out of stock, it feels like you're starting again because you have to again, start getting people to notice you and know you're there. And I think it's, that applies to so many things where, um, and it's a shame in a way because we should all be allowed to take a break and step away from things. But it feels like when you do that, you have to consider, am I willing to then start afresh afterwards.

Yanika Cordina:

Yeah, I find it a little bit daunting because things move about within the app and you have to relearn certain elements of the app again. But what we do here is we schedule quite a lot of content. So in advance, and I try to schedule content at least a month in advance. So if I need to take a break, I can and the content is still going out. Um, and I think that's, uh, that's, uh, something that I probably recommend. So you're not constantly, you know, on social media waiting for a certain time to post. It can be done automatically.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. That makes sense. And thank you so much for everything you've shared with us this afternoon. Well, it might not be the afternoon for people listening, but thank you so much for all you shared with me this afternoon. Um, it's been really fascinating to hear about your journey and all the advice you've given. And I have one more question before we finish, if that's okay, which is what would your number one piece of advice be? Your top tip for other product creators?

Yanika Cordina:

I think when it comes to product development, you have to be patient. You must be patient, and you must be able to persevere through the ups and downs, um, of developing a product. Uh, you're going to get a lot of pushback, um, and knows, but if you believe in your idea, nothing should stop you from actually making it happen. Um, I also think that if money is an issue, which it is for many when you're just starting out or you're starting a new product, you will find ways to make it work like I did, um, you know, you find more efficient ways to actually make it happen. You don't have to spend a lot of money to, to bring a product to life. Um, you'd be, you'd be amazed at how you can be creative around it and spend less and still be able to launch a product.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really interesting. Thank you. And I totally agree with you. I think there are the areas you need to spend money, but there are definitely ways of cutting back in others, especially at the beginning when you don't, very unlikely to have the money for everything. I think sometimes you have to know that it's better to get it done and you can improve as you go forward, as you said, I think if you have the idea and you're passionate about it, then yeah, I think moving ahead with it is really important.

Yanika Cordina:

And I think if you have like a lot of money just sitting there, you, you, and you want to spend it, you will spend it. You'll find lots of ways to spend it and it goes fast. So I feel like when money is a bit limited then you're going to be clever about it, you're going to be really like thinking where each pound is going to go. Um, so I think it shouldn't work against you, uh, it should work like really well for you if money is a bit of an issue, you can be creative and around it and still make it happen.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really good advice. Thank you so much.

Yanika Cordina:

Thank you, Vicki. I've really enjoyed this. Thank you so much for listening right to the end of this episode. Do remember that you can get the full back catalogue and lots of free resources on my website, vickiweinberg. com. Please do remember to rate and review this episode if you've enjoyed it and also share it with a friend who you think might find it useful. Thank you again and see you next week.