Challenging the E-commerce Giants⎜ Mozzafiato ⎜ EP 189

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This is a podcast episode titled, Challenging the E-commerce Giants⎜ Mozzafiato ⎜ EP 189. The summary for this episode is: <p>Ryan Cramer of Crossover Commerce talks with Amy Parsons of Mozzafiato one-on-one as they discuss challenging the eCommerce giants.</p><p>---</p><p>Crossover Commerce is presented by PingPong Payments. PingPong transfers more than 150 million dollars a day for eCommerce sellers just like you. Helping over 1 million customers now, PingPong has processed over 90 BILLION dollars in cross-border payments. Save with a PingPong account <a href="https://usa.pingpongx.com/us/index?inviteCode=ccpodcast" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">today</a>! </p><p>---</p><p><strong>Stay connected with Crossover Commerce and PingPong Payments:</strong></p><p>✅ Crossover Commerce @ <a href="https://www.facebook.com/CrossoverCommerce" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.facebook.com/CrossoverCommerce</a></p><p>✅ YouTube @ <a href="https://www.youtube.com/c/PingPongPayments" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/c/PingPongPayments</a></p><p>✅ LinkedIn @ <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/pingpongglobal/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.linkedin.com/company/pingpongglobal/</a></p><p>---</p><p>You can watch or listen to all episodes of Crossover Commerce at: <a href="https://usa.pingpongx.com/podcast" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://usa.pingpongx.com/podcast</a></p>

Ryan Cramer: What's up everyone. Welcome to my corner of the internet. I'm your host, Ryan Cramer, and this is Crossover Commerce presented by PingPong Payments, the leading global payments provider, helping sellers keep more of their hard earned money. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Crossover Commerce. I'm your host, Ryan Cramer, and this is my corner of the internet called Crossover Commerce, where I bring the best and brightest and the e- commerce in Amazon space. Before we get started on this wonderful, beautiful more wherever you might be listening or watching from, just want to give a quick shout out to our presenting sponsor, PingPong Payments. PingPong Payments is a cross- border payments solution, helping e- commerce brands grow. What does that mean for you? If you have a supplier manufacturer in a different country that you might be in and you want to pay them in localized currency instead of the one that you have available for you, you can do that effectively, efficiently, saving time, money, and effort. You do that by using PingPong Payments. It's free to sign up. You just go to the link and the comment section below if you're listening to this in the show notes, and you can sign up for free today. By starting with PingPong Payments, you're putting more money back to your bottom line and when you start to sell internationally too, you can receive international payments in their localized currency without having Amazon or any other marketplace out there convert it for you. So when you can hold onto your localized currency, you get the power to put money where you need to, whether it's paying your suppliers and manufacturers, or just paying out yourself on a rainy day and when you can convert those funds when you need it. Have control of your funds. Use PingPong Payments today. Again, go ahead and sign up in the link below. Or if you want to go and watch the rest of our episodes, you can go to do that by going to usa. pingpongx. com/ podcast, where the rest of our 188 episodes live as well as the one today will be afterwards we're done today. But if you are watching us live, thank you for tuning in on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. And if you're listening to us on the podcast channel of your favorite choosing, we appreciate you learning and tuning in at your leisure. And that's what this podcast is a whole about. I'm really actually really excited today. People are coming off the highs of the weekend of the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and starting to look through data. There's lots of people who are just trying to figure out, letting the dust settle and see where data points. Lot of different mixed bags, I would say. If you are listening to this, let me know what you think. But if you have seen some data points, a lot of people across the board saw some dips in sales, but it depends on what industry you're in. That being said, I'm excited to talk about the industry and more of the product selections that we're going to be talking about today. If you're a new brand on Amazon, maybe this is the first time you went through a Cyber Monday or a Black Friday and the holiday season is really starting to pick up or you as a brand are just starting out, that's what this podcast is all about, to help other entrepreneurs get a leg up and see what they're doing to help compete against other major brands out there. And that's what this episode is all about today. We've actually titled it competing with other e- comm giants. And what does that mean? We're going to be talking about a brand that just recently, I would say in the last two years or so, launched as an e- commerce brand. They're competing one of the most competitive categories, and that is beauty brands. I have the lucky pleasure to have on the CEO of the brand, Mozzafiato, which is a beauty brand or means breathtaking and Italian, if you're looking for the translation real quickly. But we're going to be talking in why get into e- commerce, why get into a competitive category like this and how they are really navigating and going against brands like Ulta, Sephora, brands that are established in retail setting, but then also how do you stand out as an e- commerce brand. So we're going to be talking about that a little bit today. But I have the pleasure of bringing on Crossover Commerce, without further do, Amy Parsons, CEO of Mozzafiato. Amy, thank you so much for coming on Crossover Commerce today.

Amy Parsons: Hi, Ryan. Good morning. Thanks for having me in your corner of the internet.

Ryan Cramer: You like that, right?

Amy Parsons: I do like that. It's a nice crosstalk.

Ryan Cramer: Yeah. It's right. It's occupied by one, some obviously my guests when I invite them in, so it's always nice to... I had to actually change my desk so that it was almost in a corner of my office. It felt right. So with that being said, no, it's a pleasure to have you on. You said I was your first talk today. So super exciting. Appreciate when we were meeting and conversing for the first time. I'm really excited. This got me really amped to wake up today and talk about, I haven't had a specific brand over, specifically a new brand like yours on the show in a long time. So I'm really excited to talk about that, but also talk about you. First and foremost, who are you? Why are we talking today? And give me a little bit about who you are as a person and how we got to where we are today.

Amy Parsons: Yeah. Well, so I'm Amy Parsons, co- founder and CEO of Mozzafiato, which is one year old this month.

Ryan Cramer: Congratulations.

Amy Parsons: Thank you. It feels great to be here at the one year mark, and we're a multi- brand retailer. So we represent exclusively Italian brands in the beauty and men's grooming space. We import them into the US and sell them through our eCommerce site. But before launching Mozzafiato, had a 20 year career as an attorney and an executive with a university system. I was in- house legal counsel and chief operating officer and had a title that was executive vice chancellor of the university system. And I was in that university for 16 years. And so going from that, managing very large organizations and projects and a sort of giant bureaucracy, if you will, to stepping out and launching an e- commerce business in the beauty space was a pretty big change for me in the last couple of years. But in that time that I was building my career as an attorney and university executive, I got to travel a lot to a lot of different countries. And on the side, I was always studying the beauty business. I was listening to those podcasts, studying those trends, exploring those products. And when I would travel to different countries, I would always seek out and find their heritage brands, stuff that was homegrown there, really unique ingredients and places and stories, and just collected it over time and over lots of different travels. And I've always sort of had a lifelong love of Italy since first went there when I was 15 years old. And so over the years, I also really sort of became aware that, in my opinion, Italy produces a lot of the best stuff in the world. Not just beauty, but wine and fashion and cars and food and you name it. And so I really start started getting into the native Italian beauty brands and exploring those stories and bringing those products back to the US, and never really thinking that I would jump industries and do anything with this. But over time I just started penciling out, what if we created a new we retail experience in the US as sort of a counterpoint, if you will, to some of those other retail giants that we all know of, which is how we experience a lot of beauty retail here in the US and put together an all Italian offering of heritage brands and men's brands. So men are half of our brands, half of our customers, half of our products, because Italy just has this amazing collection of Italian men's grooming products. So what would it look like to create sort of a counterpoint to how we normally experience beauty in the US based on these Italian brands. And yeah, long story short, I guess that's how we ended up here putting the company together and that's why we're here today.

Ryan Cramer: Well, I'm laughing to myself over here for those who are listening and I'm just laughing because you found a passion and you stick with it, which I think a lot of people do get in this industry because of passion and they find it enjoyable to work with. But you found a niche that I don't think a lot of people, they come in a roundabout way to get there. You came in a way of, saw a market. Not just a product, you saw a market of obviously Italian... I've personally been to Italy too. I've only been once. We were talking pre- show. Supposed to go back in 2020 for my fifth year anniversary, potentially will go here in this next year, fingers crossed at this juncture. But Italy is so beautiful and you're right, there's the leather good industry, there's the fashion industry, there's the beauty industry. That's why everyone there looks so darn young, I would say. But the food, the culture, everything like that has a sense of feeling. And when you get into that, it's luxury. A lot of people think it's luxury. It makes you feel a certain way. And that I think is a certain place where you can really live within and start to ebb and flow in a lot of different ways. But why beauty? You can go in those different ways. Why men's beauty specifically and why beauty? Why men's beauty specifically?

Amy Parsons: Yeah. I think it's what you just mentioned, is that Italians really have this authenticity about their products and what they produce and this amazing generational knowhow. I mean, some of the brands that we're representing have been making some of their fragrances for 400 years. Their stories are incredible. The places that they draw their ingredients from are amazing and men's grooming has always been a part of Italian culture. They've got this barbershop culture in Italy where you can go and get the shave and get the haircut. It's where people go for community. It's where men hang out, it's their connection. And over the years they've developed incredible brand. And I'll tell you just one story. So we have brands like Proraso, which is a real staple in Italy that a lot of men are familiar with. We had a customer a few months ago email me and say, I discovered this brand in Milan when I was there years ago called Antica Barbieria Colla. And it's this famous barber shop in Milan. They have the best products I've ever experienced. Can you just please check them out and see if you can get them here? So we were interested. We reach out, we start making friends with them. We have people we know in Italy go into the barber shop, experience it for themselves. They ship us the product and we bought it and we're import it now. And we just launched it on the site in the last week. So people really connect to these stories and this heritage and these products in Italy like really nowhere else, I think. And for me what we're trying to do too at Mozzafiato is whereas a lot of the beauty experience right now in the US is really driven by influencers and celebrities and trends and things like that, I'm in my forties now and me and my peer group, we're not quite so influenced anymore by what we see in that type of beauty culture. And-

Ryan Cramer: crosstalk, right?

Amy Parsons: Yeah. I mean, it doesn't feel quite as motivating to us in terms of what we want to buy. And what is motivating is really connecting into those authentic places and people and stories and where they come from. So we're hoping that there is a market for people who want to really connect with their products and know that they come from real places. You can go to Milan, when you get a chance to go over there, walk into the barbershop, meet the family that are owns the company. Those are the products that you're buying and understand their story. You can go to the island of Capri and walk in and know that they've been producing that fragrance from Carthusia for 400 years. Those types of products and experiences, in my opinion, carry a very different feeling when they're sitting on your counter at home than something that you're just going to pick up at Target on the weekend.

Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. Well, yeah, it's a different feel. It's an authentic feel and I totally get that. So to clarify for everyone watching and listening, and again, Amy Parsons of Mozzafiato, you're a brand that just launched, you said in the last year. So when you're doing all this work, correct me if I'm wrong, so the clients that you're representing, the brands that you're buying from are essentially the manufacturers and distributors themselves of these products. You are selling on their behalf or you're becoming this place where you represent all these Italian brands and you are the brand that is selling their product. How does that work? Are they technically your products or are you buying from them wholesale and reselling? What is that dynamic clarification for people?

Amy Parsons: Sure. So we are buying their inventory at wholesale. We are shipping it all to the US. So we own the inventory, everything ships from the US. We have a warehouse in Pennsylvania that it all comes into and then we ship to our US customers. So we are always looking for a new brand to add to the collection. We're looking for brands that A, are authentically Italian, that are made in Italy, have great stories. We're looking for products that have really high end superior performance, whether it's in a fragrance or bath and body or skincare. And we're looking for products that have great style. People expect to have a beautiful package when it comes from Italy, beautiful style in what they buy. And so those are the criteria that we're looking for. And so far we have 22 brands that we're buying out of Italy and importing to the US. And Ryan, it's interesting, when we first started putting together the concept for the company, it was really March of 2020. It was really when COVID was shutting everything down in the US and Italy was already shut down. And Italy was hit harder, as you might remember, by COVID and earlier than we in the US by a few months.

Ryan Cramer: One of the first nationwide lockdowns. Yeah.

Amy Parsons: One of the first nationwide lockdowns. So by the time we in the spring of 2020 started reaching out to these brands with our concept for Mozzafiato and saying, we want to launch you in the US. We want to launch a multi- brand retail store in the US, all Italian brands, you're in there with your peers, those types of things, they had already been home with stores closed, worried about what was going to happen, worried about their futures and their brands. So we actually, I think, came to them at a time that they were really willing to listen to a new idea and listen to going into a new market and potentially going into e- commerce in a big way. And some of them had not been there before. So the timing is such that during COVID, they were all home, they were immediately used to doing business by Zoom. They were forced into this innovation mindset, if you will, of, we better start thinking about new ways to do business. So the months went on and we made these connections and we made these pitches to these Italian brands. And lo and behold, by a year ago, all of them were in the boat with us and ready to go. And-

Ryan Cramer: That's amazing.

Amy Parsons: I have to wonder, if it wasn't COVID, if it was a different time, how long it would've taken us to build the company and launch the company, but because everybody was willing to try something new and do business with people remotely, even though we couldn't sit down face to face, I think it really sped our ability to build and launch the company in a way that might not have otherwise happened.

Ryan Cramer: Well, that leads me to a couple different questions. So how big is the team right now? Is it just you and a couple of logistics people and marketing website people? How big is the team you're working with right now?

Amy Parsons: Yeah. I mean, physically here, so we're here in Downtown Denver. There's four of us here normally, but we've got our PR folks who help us, we've got our social media folks who help us over here, our web development team. Actually, those people are all in Denver, but they're remote. crosstalk through the office, right? Even our CFO team, our finance team is remote, but they can come here and be with us in the office from time to time. We're working with an outside marketing team for our paid advertisements, for our Google, for things like that. So yeah, it's getting to be a rather large team, but in this day and age, everybody is remote. And then once in a while, everybody's here. And then most of the time, everybody inaudible. And our warehouse is remote. Our 3PL is in Pennsylvania. So working with them every day as well is remote. So it's really one of these companies that's born out of COVID, born out of the ability to hire or who you want to hire no matter where they are and make it work remotely.

Ryan Cramer: So again, we talk really high level about brands and you're almost like the real case study that, I have all these questions in my head that I'm just going to fire away. So when you're doing this, did you mean to start direct to consumer first? Because now you said you launched just on Amazon. Literally this last week, you had your first sales, which again, congratulations. Not everyone gets them for sale, let alone can get to the point where you actually can start selling on Amazon. Why start direct to consumer? Because it's a beautiful web website. I'm just going to give a lot of props. So if you haven't gone, obviously we're going to throw up the website for people to find. But beautiful website. You've been featured on publications that are not just small publications. You're talking about, I saw it here on the website, you're being featured on the likes of, gosh, Vogue, Traveling Leisure, Bloomberg. Those are not small publications. So fantastic that you guys are in your first year being featured in that regards. What was that vision that, hey team, we're going to go direct to consumer first and then Amazon and other marketplaces later? What was that conversation like?

Amy Parsons: To be honest, when we first launched, we were pretty committed to... It was COVID first of all, so launching in retail was not an option, in physical retail. So we wanted to launch on e- commerce direct to consumer in a way to test the market almost in our first year of what brands were going to be most popular, what products, who our customers really were. Like I said, we're surprised to find that men are half of our customers. I would not have expected that. To really test our age demographic geographically in the US, where are we the most popular with the idea that then we would go into physical retail in those locations once COVID restrictions let up, the real estate market started to settle down and we could look for opportunities to open physical retail in those places based on what we learned from our e- commerce experience. We still might go in that direction. I think that opening up a small set of physical retail stores is still something that we are committed to do, but we're doing well on e- commerce right now. And going into physical stores is going the clicks to bricks, as they say, route, especially when this market is still really volatile. We're just not sure that the timing is right for that right now. And the way that COVID is going, we're here in Denver. We're starting to see restrictions and mask mandates and things like that all over again. It gives us a little bit of pause about when is the right time to jump into bricks. But it feels really good where we are right now in just the eCommerce space. And we're a Shopify seller. We've been at Shopify for the last year exclusively. And as you said, we just in the last week went into Amazon and made our first sale on Amazon, and that's a TBD strategy, right?

Ryan Cramer: Right. We're going to have to talk after this a little bit of like the questions you have about Amazon, because I have a lot of people I can point you to in that regards, if you need that help and support. Different strategy. So that's my question for you, Amy. When brands come to market, they have one or two choices. A lot of people can try to do both at the same time, but a lot of people, what we've seen as sellers to develop a brand through Amazon and that's where you're starting to see a lot of companies who are rewarding that by this whole aggregation model of, if you've heard of it or not, there's a lot of money pouring in, in terms of operations, acceleration, people helping with everything except inventory. There are brands that people just want to exit and kind of like take what they've started and then other people take over that. But this evolution of a lot of people wanted just Amazon specific brands, but now it's become of, I want a mixture of both. You've gone, not the wrong route. I would say it's actually a different route than a lot of people take. You built this brand. It has, I'm assuming, thousands of followers, international exposure. You actually have sourcing logistics, supply chain that you've already figured out, its own 3PL warehouse. You're also sourcing from a different part of the world that a lot of people don't traditionally do, and it's from Italy. Italy's fantastic, but you're coming from Europe over to the East Coast instead of the Eastern part of the world to the West Coast, which again has benefits in a lot of capacities. Did you think about all that through lockdown and thing of the sorts? Did all that make sense to click and you got to see how the puzzle pieces were starting to align and fit or was it just kind of, this is what we've always wanted to do and I think that's how brands get born is, hey, we've got to build an audience first and then the marketplaces come second.

Amy Parsons: Yeah. It definitely came from, this is what we want to do. This is the country we want. These are the brands we want. We honestly believe we've got the best products in the world coming in and want to make those available to everybody in the US. Now obviously a lot of the shipping logistical challenges that are happening right now are happening from Asia to the West Coast. And so like a lot of people, we didn't see that coming at the time.

Ryan Cramer: If you did, you need to go into a different part of the industry of like forecasting and modeling.

Amy Parsons: Exactly. Yeah. I'd love to say that we had that all figured out when we launched this, but we are feeling pretty fortunate right now that we're not experiencing a lot of the supply chain issues that many people are coming into the West Coast. Now that said, shipping is still really expensive right now because it's just a trickle out effect. We are shipping most of our product by air. That changes all the time. But yeah, by comparison to what a lot of people are dealing with in supply chain, we're feeling pretty good about our situation right now because we're still able to get it. We're still able to fly it in pretty regularly and haven't experienced those severe things. Now with regard to Amazon though, I'll say we're in a very different situation going into Amazon than if we were just a brand, right? If we were just a Proraso launching our 10 products onto Amazon, that's one thing. We aren't producing our own Mozzafiato skincare, Mozzafiato fragrances, right?

Ryan Cramer: Right. They're not buying a Mozzafiato inaudible.

Amy Parsons: Right, product. So we are the umbrella, we're the multi- brand retailer representing all these brands. We have a thousand products on our site. We are not going to go onto Amazon and list our individual products necessarily because that's just fraught with apparel on Amazon. Some of our brands might already have products on the site. There might be others, the price competition, that type of thing.

Ryan Cramer: inaudible, yeah, there's agreements that you have to have with them too. They may not say you can sell on Amazon, or where you can sell, where you can't sell. They might be selling in Italy on Amazon. You may not be able to get that relationship. I've had similar experiences too, where if you represent a brand or you're buying from a brand, there's only certain ways that you can engage with that. If it's on your website, if you're a wholesaler, you can't just resell and undercut them. You have to play by all those rules.

Amy Parsons: Right. So our strategy in entering Amazon was we're listing our custom made bundles of products rather than individual products. So one thing that we do on the site is that we will put together a bundle. We have 10 bundles on the site. So maybe one is called the Italian gentleman bundle. And we have curated this collection of five different brands, five different products, put them all together in a custom made Mozzafiato satin bag. So it is branded Mozzafiato. It is a curated collection that doesn't exist elsewhere. It comes with an explanation of all the brands and the product. That is something that is exclusive to us, that is unique to Mozzafiato. So that's what we're selling on Amazon. We went forward with five of them. There's a skincare Mozzafiato bundle, there's a barbershop bundle, there's a gentleman bundle, there's one called the perfect powder room, which are the diffusers and the hand soap and the hand cream, all from different Italian brands chosen to be together in one curated package. So that becomes our unique product that doesn't exist anywhere else. So that is the way that we're approaching Amazon is what can we put out there that truly is unique to Mozzafiato, to be honest, in the hopes that somebody buys that bundle and they love a couple of the products and a couple of the brands that they discover through us, and then maybe they come directly to our Shopify site to buy that product with us forever because has our long term value at Mozzafiato really is our repeat customers. And we're seeing that already after our first year. Once people discover us, they discover these brands and products that they love. They're regulars with us. They're coming back month over month to buy the products for themselves. They're coming back to buy gifts for others. They're shopping now with us for the holidays. So in our mind, Amazon, we want to use it to get our brand out there. We want to fish where the fish are, be in that market, getting our products in front of them. But hopefully it's also driving awareness for us and the other products that we don't have on Amazon, that they can come and discover with us through our regular website at mozzafiato. com. So like I said, this is brand new. This is our strategy. I'm just laying it out there, what we're hoping is going to happen. crosstalk in a few months and see if it's working. It's an experiment like everything else you do in e- commerce, right?

Ryan Cramer: Well, what I like about that too, obviously, I'm not sure if you and your team maybe built out your own private label brand with some of these suppliers. Maybe that's down the road, you don't have to tell us on here or not. That's something where I think is super fascinating too of, again, if you haven't been on the website and for everyone who's listening, watching this, not your$ 10 face cream or anything like that. These are high brand. I would call it an investment almost of you're investing in yourself. And so by doing that, it's a little bit higher end. I would say that it's something, if you're going with, it's going to be nice gift, a giftable product. It makes sense because if you're putting... It's almost like you can build out a subscription based service if you haven't already done this too because if people get exposed to it, like a Birchbox or things like that of these brands like, oh, I really like this product, maybe not so much that, go back to your website, make repeat purchases and whatnot, or buy it directly through Amazon. Again, everyone wins in that capacity. So with that being said, because you are not a reseller of brands, is that branding concept, is that something where you as a team want to do that as well of you make your own Mozzafiato private label product? Or is that a little bit ways off and you're kind of just happy where this trajectory is going right now?

Amy Parsons: Yeah. Couple things. We would not write off doing a Mozzafiato private label product or two. We know that there's value in that especially as the value of our brand and our name recognition grows. We also don't want to compete with the brands necessarily that we represent. We love them. We're invested in them and invested in their growth and success and bringing them to new audiences in the US, and that relationship with our brands, that's really our highest priority. I will thank you for mentioning subscriptions because we have also recently launched subscriptions. And we're not doing them every month, we're doing them quarterly; winter, spring, summer, fall. And people have started really taking to them, which is encouraging. I think they are great gifts for people to give someone a subscription that they're going to receive four times a year. And what we're able to do is to curate bundles of these great Italian products that are seasonal. We have one that is the four seasons, because we have a lot of home fragrance and candles and diffusers and things like that as well. So each season of the year, you get a different set of fragrances and looks from these Italian brands, depending on the season. We have one for men, one for women. And it's a good push four times a year to try new brands, to try new products and you get it delivered in these great boxes that have scenes of Italy on them and it's sort of an event when you get them. So we're dipping our toe in the water of subscriptions. We've been pleased with the success of those so far and we've just had them for about a month. So we have four different subscription offerings on the site and that's an experiment that we're doing as well. And what we're seeing is they're a great offering for brand discovery. If people don't want to discover brands on their own, say, all right, I'll spend a couple hundred dollars and just send them to me during the year, I'll find my favorites or to give them to somebody else. So that's a strategy that we're trying too, but we're only doing it quarterly to start in this next year, see how it goes. And if people want their deliveries more frequently, then we might start with another offering of once a month.

Ryan Cramer: Got you. So Amy, obviously we talked about, I love the story of all this and it seems like you guys are doing phenomenal, profitable, growing, all those things that every business wants to do. Super competitive category and you didn't shy behind that either. When people are in this space of beauty, health and wellness in that capacity, how do you break through all the clutter when there's tons of money being thrown at, like you said, influencers, marketing, there's big retail brands out there. We mentioned in the intro, Ulta, Sephora, lots of big brands, and then you have influencers creating their own sets of brands and companies and it just kind of like has this huge industry. I guess, how do you compete with something like that as a brand new company trying to break through? Is it just people want to try different things or what's that thought process behind it all, or you're still trying to figure it out.

Amy Parsons: Oh yeah. We're definitely still trying to figure that out. You're right. It is such a massive industry in the US. It's a bigger market for beauty than anywhere in the world and the number of new brands coming online all the time, the influencer, all that. And as you probably know too, a lot of the big beauty retailers are combining with each other to become even bigger. So Credo is going into Ulta, Ulta is going into Target, and Sephora is going into Kohl's, and it's just becoming this, in my opinion, very massive, almost homogenized market and these just massive retailers that are joining together to become even larger and even larger spaces. And so for us telling story about why we believe really the counterpoint to that of step away from the clutter and the trends and the influencers and the culture of what's new and now and next all the time and that heritage and authenticity are the new new. Come back to places that have true connections and stories and places. You can travel there and visit them. You can walk in and make those connections, understand the family. So we're trying to compete by telling those stories. We provide really rich content on our site. We tell all the brand's stories. You see their family pictures. We publish really rich blogs on the site about the culture, about the place where the ingredients comes from, about beauty rituals in Italy that you can adopt, about how men embrace the barbershop culture, those types of things. And for us, it's a fight for visibility of saying, hey, there's something different over here. We have a different type of brand, we have a different type of offering. We welcome men, which men don't always feel so welcome in a Sephora or Ulta or a place like that. It's not obviously crosstalk.

Ryan Cramer: I'll say, it's not my favorite place to walk in. But yeah, it's a different feeling, right? I mean, it's not a bad thing. I would say, those companies know their target audience and who they're going after and make it comfortable for that. But again, that's a feel thing. That's a retail thing. Online, it's almost a different ballgame of it's all done through visual cues, storytelling, emotional appeal, tug and pull concepts and you have to tell the story a little bit differently, but we're very visual medium as humans, both men and women. We like those differentiating factors. I mean, late last night at 2:00 in the morning, I think I found myself on Buzzfeed again of like the things that you can buy that are different than every other thing. You try to find those weird, unique, quirky things that stand out, whether it be product or service or whatever it looks like, and people want to feel different. They won't want to be put in a box. So I think that's really cool.

Amy Parsons: I completely agree with that. I mean, our customers are people who want something a little bit better and different, and most of our price points on our products are not that much different from what you find in those stores. So it's just going a little bit the extra mile to discover it and to bring it into your life and to gift it. So I know that we're not going to compete and we're not going to try to compete with Ulta and Sephora on things like color cosmetics. They have all the color cosmetics. They have a teenage market coming in following the new influencer brands and all those types of things. We're not going to try to compete there, but I do think that we can compete with men. I think we can compete with bath and body. I think we can compete with fragrance and can compete with gifts and home and that overall experience that you want to have and bring into your life. So that's really where our battle is. And as you said, it's a battle for visibility. It's just trying to get that first customer in the door, because what we're finding is once they come, they come back. So it's all about that visibility, that first customer acquisition, and then continuing to curate that relationship with the customer through really high quality content, through blogs, through interesting, through new brands, through new stories and just keeping them as close to us as possible.

Ryan Cramer: I was going to say, what's been the success for you as a new venture out there for... You have maybe like a story or a success story that you didn't think would happen with your brand, but then obviously it trickled into big business or a lot of people, they're trying to figure out ways to get the product in front of people, whether it be on Amazon, there's a lot of different tactics that used to be of like find your core group, have a bunch of rebates like cash back, but that's not allowed anymore and try to manipulate Amazon's algorithm. That's on the table for a different discussion another time. But now it's a, hey, find your clientele, drive people to Amazon, have that establishment outside. Amazon likes those kinds of outside traffics from like Pinterest, from the likes of Google, having their own D2C website, almost an establishment of a brand and that's what they're trying to curate moving forward. That being said, what success do you find maybe is surprising that you didn't expect to in the first year operating?

Amy Parsons: This probably isn't the answer that you're looking for, but what surprised me is that there aren't really any surprises in that you have to plug away at all of the different strategies all of the time. And I was new to e- commerce coming into this. And so I would think, oh, we would have this person talk about us. It would be huge. We got listed in Vogue. I thought that that would be huge. It was okay.

Ryan Cramer: It's okay. I like that quote, it's okay.

Amy Parsons: It was okay. But it didn't result in like a huge flood. And what we're seeing now is after being a year in business, what's really working for us is that we're seeing the repeat customers come back and back and back. So all of the different things that we've done to acquire customers over time, we're now seeing the payoff on that because we can count on a regular number of that sort of magic number of a quarter to a third repeat and all the rest are new every day. We're really hitting that ratio and both of those raw numbers are growing. And they're coming in through Google and Facebook. We're developing a pretty robust affiliate network as well, which is a slow burn on the affiliate side, but you get 10 or 12 good affiliates who are producing good content for you and working hard, and it's steady. It's steadily knocking in more and more people. I will say there was one surprise early on and it sort of opened our eyes to that we have a good market for men in this space, and it was that the Robb Report did an article on us. And the Robb Report is a luxury men's publication. I was not familiar with the Robb Report before that. The Robb Report does a story on Mozzafiato that says, hey guys, love Italian luxury and great products? Now you can get it in the US at mozzafiato. com, and it was amazing to us how many men saw it, clicked through, made a purchase. Just straight in based on the recommendation from the Robb Report. And it was informative to us that we're able to cut through a lot of the clutter to get to male customers easier than female customers. That you can be listed in some of the best women's magazines, but because there's so much clutter there and there's just so much information out there, it's much harder to compete. You really get to men where they are and trusted, like Travel + Leisure and Robb Report and places that men read and they really trust, they will come right it through the clutter, come right onto the site, find their products, communicate with us, talk to us about what they like. They just come into the fold. It almost seems an easier and clearer path. So that was a surprise to us early on and something that we've just been building on ever since.

Ryan Cramer: Well, I was going to say, I can't speak for all men, but I think we're a little bit more simple minded. If you ask my wifi, we focus on one thing. We don't get pulled in a lot of different directions. And if we do, it's probably much like a, yep, that sounds good. But that's the thing in this industry, right? We talked about like the direct to consumership area, that affiliate model. I'm very well versed in having ran multiple different segments in that arena. And both in SaaS, both in fintech where I'm at right now and I've done direct to consumership. There's been a lot of surprising ones. You'll find the 80, 20 rule very apparent of 80% of your business comes from 20% of your connections. But a lot of them were surprising for me when I was doing that were like the deal sites or the places where people would be like introduced to just new products in general, of like a bradsdeals. com or Slickdeals. Or it's Rakuten now, but it was Ebates back then of people want to feel like they're getting a good deal, but again, it's different mentalities of where you be shopping. Obviously, I saw, I think you guys are with Honey and a bunch of different programs and things like that. See, I do my homework before I hop on these podcasts. I'll compete with everyone who says otherwise that's come out on this podcast. I do my homework. But with the things of those natures is people shop in different mentalities. Like the Robb Report, they might have an actual very strong, like you said, readership. They trust that publication. They haven't steered them wrong. They're going to jump when they say jump, or they might ask how high if they say jump, and each ones have those different markets and you have to find those as a brand. So it's interesting. Is that something where you and your PR team are going to have to find different publications or different consumer groups and kind of like find those comfy ones that do reward you like the Robb Report or what do you do with that information moving forward?

Amy Parsons: Yeah. I mean, we're always trying to find our niche markets and it's very counterintuitive a lot of times, as you know, that it really is quality over quantity in terms of numbers. And we're not a deep discounter. We can't be with our brand and our products. So it's difficult for us to compete with all those sites and whatnot. That's not our thing, right? So we're going for affiliates. For example, we're working with a woman named Kathy McCabe, who has the PBS show, Dream of Italy. She has a magazine called Dream of Italy, and she has been working it, building her list of subscribers on email, subscribers to her magazine for two decades. And she put out an email about us, about discovering Mozzafiato and whatnot and her people just absolutely took to us. And it was that quality of her list. Where as you go on one of those deal sites, they might have a million people, it's not going to work. You might get a lot of traffic. It's not converting, it's not right. So yeah, it's not easy to try to find the right affiliate, the right niche, the right group. And then when you find them, you study everything you can about who they are, why they love you, where they came from, how do we find five more of those markets just like it. But it's an everyday learning game. But like I said, it's hitting every single day on affiliates on Facebook, on Instagram shopping, on all of these different things that combined gets you to that magic ratio of good returning and new customers day in and day out. So I can't tell you one year under our belts that we have figured it all out, Ryan. We definitely have not, but every day we learn something new.

Ryan Cramer: Well, you're in the right area too. I think, like you said, being able to support Italian businesses, but then also expose them to bigger markets like the United States. I guess for you in year two, what are those top priorities for you and your team? Is it finding new markets to jump into, whether it be international markets like in Canada or Mexico or somewhere else, or is it really honing in and figuring out Amazon, well, what are those top priorities for 2022 for Mozzafiato?

Amy Parsons: Yeah. I mean, one of my top priorities is we're always building and refining our brand offerings. So I'm exploring right now about six different brands to see if they are right for us to bring them into the collection. And even in the brands that we're representing, we're always looking at, do we have their very best products, the best offerings from them? So a lot of our time really goes into building the quality of the catalog, if you will, of the brands. Who is our next brand coming in, refining brands that are in there so that we just have the best offering. Once people find us, there's everything that they need, but it's not overwhelming, that they can really count on that, that quality and authenticity of everything in the site. So that's our number one priority. We are looking at expanding to Canada and Mexico hopefully in quarter one. We're right on the verge of that right now and then maybe further out than that. And we'll continue to explore marketplaces, not just Amazon, but other marketplaces potentially as well, the Macy's and Target and places like that that have their own marketplaces out there. We'll be exploring those with our own bundles, our own products and just testing the waters to find our markets there. So it's a deeper and a wider strategy, but it's definitely a very deliberate one because we're committed to staying in our space here of just Italian and just these products and that importation channel that we've established with them and really growing within that channel.

Ryan Cramer: I love that. Well, I think you guys are doing something really cool. And just like looking through your website in the past couple days, doing some research, I think it's a really cool concept and I think there's a lot of good things ahead of you and I can't wait to see... When we check in, I always call people when they're done with the podcast friends of the show. It's almost like I send them back out after they come into my corner of the internet, I see them grow and I get to see what cool things they get to do. So I'm excited for Mozzafiato. I think there's a lot of cool things for you and your team out there, and I wish you nothing but the best. And we'll have to have you on and kind of check in of what's going on in midway through year two and go from there for sure. So is there anything that you're kind of expecting for the rest of Q4? Was cyber weekend good for you? What are kind of those initial findings for you and the team?

Amy Parsons: Yeah. Thanks. Cyber weekend was great for us. When we launched a year ago, we didn't know what we were doing, so we were not really prepared for the whole Black Friday, Cyber Monday a year ago. crosstalk.

Ryan Cramer: Lots of traffic. Lots of traffic.

Amy Parsons: Yeah. We were much better prepared. We didn't do a deep discount. We only did a sitewide 15% and free shipping and that was enough.

Ryan Cramer: It's all it needs. Yeah.

Amy Parsons: I mean, we had our best month by far that we've ever had, a lot driven by the last four days. Black Friday and the weekend were better for us than Cyber Monday. It really came in hot on that Thursday, Friday. And so lot of good lessons in there that we can carry forward through next year. So now it's really a matter of really trying to inspire people to do their holiday shopping in the next couple of weeks. We like everybody else is worried about what's going to happen when it gets closer to Christmas.

Ryan Cramer: And I'll tell you the strategy-

Amy Parsons: crosstalk the US and fulfillment and whatnot. So the name of the game now is like front load December.

Ryan Cramer: I was going to say, yeah, the strategy is I've always told people of, it's never wrong to promote gift cards. It's not lazy. It's if you want your gift and you know that they're going to shop there, gift cards are always great to push. And then also, like you said, earlier the better and make sure that they're aware of shipping timelines. However many times you have to tell them, always be aware of, if you need it there by Christmas, you must be guaranteed and you have to pay for the shipping and it will be guaranteed, but don't expect it to be guaranteed if you go by the deep economy shipping crosstalk.

Amy Parsons: We can just see it coming now. I think it's going to get really snarled up here in the next couple weeks. And you're right. We'll be really promoting our bundles and our products for the next couple weeks and then we'll kind of flip us switch and start promoting gift cards, subscriptions, those types of things going crosstalk.

Ryan Cramer: Yeah. People can print them out and put them in a box and call it a day. We're on the same page here so, exactly. Feel free to use any of those traits and tell me how they go. But Amy, thank you so much. It's been such a pleasure to talk with you today. If people want connect with you, they just want to talk to your business, they might be either a small business owner that are trying to get off the ground, or if they want to find out, hey, how do I work with Italian importing and just across the board, how do they get in touch with you and what are the best ways to do that?

Amy Parsons: Yeah. I'm easy to find on LinkedIn and I'm just amy @ mozzafiato.com is my email. You can email the email that's listed on the website. That comes directly to me as well. So I'm really easy to find. Happy to talk to anybody. And I'm always happy when people recommend new brands that they've experienced in Italy that they want us to check out and explore. So email us. We actually have a inaudible link on our site so people can sign up and get 15 minutes on Zoom time with me to talk about products or pitch what they do or anything at all. So we put that up on the site recently. People can just go on and book time with me face to face, and that's been working great.

Ryan Cramer: Very accessible CEO. I love that. Well, congratulations on the success again. It sounds fantastic what you guys are doing. I think what you guys are doing is very cool and nothing looks of place from what I glance at. Not to say I'm the end all be all, but I'm really excited to see inaudible like this kind of emerge in times like this and can't wait to see how the success continues for you all. So again, now friend of the show, Amy Parsons of Mozzafiato. Thanks so much for dropping on Crossover Commerce.

Amy Parsons: Thanks so much, Ryan. It's been great being in your corner today.

Ryan Cramer: I appreciate it. Thank you so much. Everyone else who you tuned in on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or if you're listening to this on your favorite podcast destination, thank you so much for listening to the entire 189 episode of Crossover Commerce. Again, my corner of the internet. I've never had someone say my corner of the internet so many times in this specific episode, but I'm always surprised every episode I do this as well. But that being said, again, this week is nonstop. We have two more episodes continuing this week. There's lots of fantastic companies that are coming on to talk about their stories. We're talking shipping and logistics tomorrow with a company called Zee. So if you have questions about how do I work with new shipping and logistics partner and how do I help build on my e- commerce platform? Definitely go ahead and subscribe. You can get notified by following us on YouTube, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and get notified every episode that we put out there. Or you can just follow myself on social media as well. You could follow inaudible on LinkedIn, both the content gets put out there and re- shared as well. That being said, I'm Ryan Cramer, and this has been Crossover Commerce episode 189. We'll catch you guys next time. Take care.

DESCRIPTION

Ryan Cramer of Crossover Commerce talks with Amy Parsons of Mozzafiato one-on-one as they discuss challenging the eCommerce giants.

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Today's Host

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🎙 Ryan Cramer - Host

|Partnership & Influencer Marketing Manager

Today's Guests

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Amy Parsons

|Owner of Mozzafiato