Andrew Foxwell: Welcome to another episode of the Ecommerce Influence podcast. My name is Andrew Foxwell.
Gracie Foxwell: I'm Gracie Foxwell.
Andrew Foxwell: Hey, special guest host, co-host this time. My wife. Both sharing a mic. Incredibly close next to the mic, actually.
Gracie Foxwell: Very intimate.
Andrew Foxwell: Today's episode. We are interviewing Ed and Amber, owners of Bryan Anthonys. Ed Glassman and Amber Reynolds. Wonderful people, wonderful friends of mine. We kinda get into the story of their business and the things that are working for them and talk about really the explosive growth that they've seen is now a seven-figure ecommerce business.
Gracie Foxwell: Yeah, Ed and Amber's story is really unique in that they're a husband and wife team with a huge commitment to customer loyalty and just their brand story. It's really unique, and they've been longtime friends of ours and we just really think that you'll be able to not only be inspired by their story but also learn from their mistakes and what they've tried and learned from themselves.
Andrew Foxwell: All right, well Ed and Amber, welcome to the show.
Amber Reynolds: Thanks for having us.
Ed Glassman: We're excited to be here.
Andrew Foxwell: Well, I mean, you're just fresh off of being mentioned by Sheryl Sandberg in the Facebook earnings call. No big deal. How are you feeling about that?
Ed Glassman: Surreal.
Amber Reynolds: So surreal. I always looked up to her. I read her books and so for her to just even mention our name is still so crazy.
Andrew Foxwell: It's very, very cool. Well, as podcast listeners know, we have a special guest in the podcast. Special guest co-host today. My business and life partner, Gracie.
Gracie Foxwell: Hi there.
Andrew Foxwell: It's exciting to have us here because we figured, you know, you guys are a couple. We're a couple. We're all in business together, which a lot of people think is maybe crazy. We're going to get into that a little bit today, but right off the bat.
Amber, we've given our guests a little bit of background on you, but if you would just take a minute to give personally kind of like overview of Bryan Anthonys. How you guys got started, and then how you co-direct your business really as like a husband and wife, day in, day out, right? Something that Gracie and I can definitely relate to you. Can you, if you don't mind, giving us that background, that'd be great.
Amber Reynolds: Bryan Anthonys started as an idea to do what we both love and pay tribute to my brother. The company is named after my brother Bryan Anthony Reynolds. He passed away from bacterial meningitis at a young age. Since he passed away so young, he never really got to choose a career path. So I wanted to give something back to him, something that he'll have forever. Ed and I, as you mentioned, are husband and wife and we both wanted our own business and we dabbled in all different ecommerce ventures, but Bryan Anthonys was the first one that we really decided to go all in. We both quit our jobs and moved from New Jersey to Austin, Texas. We actually started Bryan Anthonys out of our one bedroom apartment.
Ed Glassman: Three years ago.
Amber Reynolds: Three years ago, yes. As you mentioned, being husband and wife and partners in business is definitely sometimes difficult. You have to really try and keep those personal and work things separate. We have a disagreement at work. We try not to bring it home and vice versa, but sometimes those little comments come out like, "Why did you make that marketing decision?" I'll be like, "Well why did you mix the whites and the colors in the laundry last night?"
Andrew Foxwell: Totally something I can identify with.
Amber Reynolds: But in all seriousness, I couldn't think of a better person than Ed to have the business with. I think we both have different strengths and weaknesses. He's more of the technical digital guy and I bring more of the creative and design aspect to it. So I think we really compliment each other in that way.
Gracie Foxwell: Building off that Ed, how do you keep a keen eye for opportunity? Andrew and I, I remember when we first heard that you were working in a fire station as an admin assistant and you saw something that you wanted to learn. Could you explain that to our listeners and just dive into how you keep that zest for knowledge and you act on it?
Ed Glassman: I guess it kind of comes naturally. Growing up, my brother and I, we were always just trying to think of ways we can make money, like knocking on our neighbors' doors to cut their grass and shovel snow or whatever we could do. Then kind of grew up a little bit and got to high school and started ... My mom had told me about eBay because she was trying to sell antiques on there. I just started buying stuff from flea markets and selling it on eBay and that turned into finding Alibaba when I was 17 or 18. Amber and I met shortly after, and we were buying all kinds of stuff off Alibaba and selling it on eBay.
Anything you can think of like, wine bottle openers, poker chips, that's like ... Whatever we thought would sell, we were just buying it. Then I took the job as a fire dispatcher because my whole family's in public service and I thought I was going to go that direction as well. Early on learned that it just wasn't for me and always wanted to have my own company. I kind of just, I don't know. I guess it just kind of comes naturally.
I had like 15 days a week I worked as a fire dispatcher and the other 15 days I was selling stuff on Ebay or thinking the next business venture that Amber and I could whip up. But yeah, I kind of just taught myself. I was building websites on OpenCart mostly. I met a developer in Romania and kinda just went from there and we built all kinds of crazy websites. We were selling punching bags, fish finders. I guess through each one of those we kind of learned how to bring that all together and learn what ... Take the good and the bad from that and put it into Bryan Anthonys.
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. The thing that's interesting, I think, that the listeners should know is, right off the bat ... First of all, you guys are running it. It's a seven-figure business now, right? You hustled really hard. Hustling in the way of, not the "never sleep" hustle, right? But you just were convinced that this is something I can figure out.
The story you told me Ed, that you sat there and you just figured it out, right? You just knew that you could, and I think that that's a really powerful message that a lot of entrepreneurs, ecommerce entrepreneurs can identify with, which is, I didn't know what I was doing. I just started somewhere, right? I think that that's pretty cool.
So, business is going really well obviously. You have a strong partner right now that you're working with on the agency side. What else is really working for your business right now that you want to tell other ecommerce businesses about?
Ed Glassman: So, like you said, social ... That's been the biggest thing for us to this point, is our social efforts on Facebook and Instagram. We recently implemented Snapchat, and it's so early on, but that's doing really well for us. Other channels that we really see success in is our email program. We've started working with an agency early on and we've really developed that program out with them and added some Klayvio flows recently. Email's been a big channel for us and something that we're looking forward to continuing to build out on.
Gracie Foxwell: Conversely, what's failed or what do you feel like has missed the mark or what's not worked at all, frankly? Perhaps some of it surprisingly or not surprisingly.
Amber Reynolds: Well, I think one thing that I can think of that definitely failed is ... We're primarily jewelry right now, but we also tried to test hats and they did not do so well. I think what that really taught us, is that you can't just release product extensions and think, "Oh, because it has my name on it or Bryan Anthonys, it's automatically going to sell." You really have to think of who your customer is and whatever product that you're trying to launch. Does it make sense for the brand? Does it make sense for the customer? And is it going to translate nicely into the portfolio that you already have? So, that was a big lesson for us as we are trying to add different product extensions in the upcoming year, but we're just kind of thinking of it a little bit more strategically now.
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, I think it's interesting obviously what's working is Instagram, Facebook's driving a lot of it for you. Snapchat has been a big part of that incrementally. I know there was even a Snapchat case study done on the work that you've been doing with your agency on that. I think the part about what else is kind of working, I think it's important to mention that you have a really strong brand. You have products that connect with people and they connect with their heart right out of the gate, which is really interesting. I think Amber, that's something that is clearly your big strength in the business, right? Where the products have a message that people connect with and it's things around who's part of your tribe, or you're my soul sister or things like that. What is it about ... Because it's been like this since day one.
Where did you see the gap in the market, right? How do you kind of continue going through that and coming up with these ideas to make sure that the products are really connecting with people?
Amber Reynolds: Yeah, so I personally design every piece of jewelry and write all of the corresponding messages. For me, the gap in the market was there's a lot of cute jewelry out there and there's some that have meaning. But to me, the meaning wasn't really anything that was significant. It was all words that we were taking from like a postcard or something generic.
For me, when I write these things, I think about my own life experiences and what I've been through and I think of my friends and my sister and kind of think of all of those things, whether it's friendship or something difficult, like my brother passing away. Or I've had friends who've had eating disorders. So all of those things really translate into the pieces.
What has been super rewarding is our customers, because they're so open and they share their stories with us. That really helps me from a design perspective because I look at their stories and it inspires me. The next piece that could resonate with them. I think having these meanings, it's kind of a tri-fold effect that the customers help us, but also we are able to help the customers and connect with them on a profound level by giving them these meanings.
Gracie Foxwell: Amber, that's just so ... I just have to say, from a consumer standpoint, that's so rare and I think you play the role of both designer and storyteller in so many ways. With that in mind, do you really feel like you'll ever run out of ideas or is there always gonna be something that you can glean from?
Amber Reynolds: That's funny that you say. There are some days where you definitely panic and you're like, "Oh my gosh, am I going to be able to keep coming up with ideas?" Some days I do worry about that. But then when I sit back and I think about it and I'm like, "No, I think that the possibilities are endless." Because there's just so many things that I haven't written about that people have been through that. I think that there's an opportunity that people can relate to and so, I do struggle with that, but every time I do sit down and design, it kind of just flows out of me.
Andrew Foxwell: I think that's totally true. It's been impressive to see talking about getting your previous customers to buy again, right? Bringing that in and I think that that's obviously a secret to winning in 2019, is making sure that you're spending more time and energy talking to the people that have previously bought from you, and in different ways. We've talked about that on this podcast before.
How do you approach it from a paid standpoint and from an organic standpoint of bringing people back in? I know that you guys spend time on Instagram stories a lot, making that case. I know that Ed, you talked about email flows, maybe some of the win back stuff that you're doing, et cetera. I'd be interested to hear your take on that of how you kind of deepened and improve that customer loyalty.
Ed Glassman: Yeah, sure. So like you mentioned, email's a huge channel for us and something that we're going to continue to build out. We also do a loyalty program where customers earn reward points. For every dollar that they spend, they get a point. Every 10 points is $1 to spend with us. That's something that we've had in the past, but we really started to focus on it this year and we're going to build that program out and try to bring those customers back. Another really, really important thing for us is customer service just as a whole. I think that we're really known for our customer service. If our customers ever have an issue, whether it be a shipment or an issue with their product, we're right on top of it I think people recognize that and it really wants to ... It keeps bringing them back for more.
Amber Reynolds: I also think the other thing too is not just with a product, but also on our social media channels is also making sure that the brand is relatable. I think that's key. All the images that we use, they're rarely studio shot. They're not high-end models. They're everyday girls. We strive with our images to kind of convey a lifestyle. I think that really helps bring the customer back too because you're buying so much more than just jewelry. It's a way of life. It's empowerment, it's positivity, it's a story.
Andrew Foxwell: I think one tidbit ... We gave some of your products to some of our friends and we still have a friend that wears one of the necklaces that we gave her every day because she said it's something she puts on and it empowers her. It's the move mountains necklace. I think that that's something that very few people have and is important to get into, just developing that brand story. Absolutely.
Gracie Foxwell: Amber, more specifically, can you just talk about the decision of having the products made in the U.S., packed and shipped in the U.S., and sticking with that decision? I feel like that's a bold choice in e-com, but it can also be really profitable if it's done the right way and it obviously has set your brand apart. So, if you could just kind of dive more into that and why that was important to you.
Amber Reynolds: From the very beginning, we've always wanted to invest in the people, talents, and resources right here in America. Our products are so meaningful to our customers. We didn't want it to just be meaningful for them, but also to the communities that are around us. It's been really rewarding to see the impact that our company has had on the other businesses. It's the relationships that we have dealt with all the vendors.
So much more than just a product or service exchange. It's about growing both of our companies together, and it's creating jobs and helping to provide a better future for others and for people in our country. It's difficult sometimes when you compare, even with like some of the wholesalers and they'll be like, "You know, your prices are way higher than we're used to seeing." But we're like, "Well that's because the minimum wage in the United States is higher." So, there are difficulties and challenges to that but they definitely outweigh anything. It's just been so rewarding to be able to see how our company has really helped other people, like our manufacturers and meeting their families and seeing how everything kind of just-
Ed Glassman: How their lives have changed as well.
Amber Reynolds: Yeah.
Gracie Foxwell: I'm curious, do you ... Would there even be a ballpark that you could share with our listeners of either the number of jobs you've helped create or direct impact with your vendors? How do you kind of a measure that if you can at all?
Amber Reynolds: Yeah. It's hard to give an exact number, but I know jewelry making in the United States is very rare. Our manufacturer that we work with now, I know that we are one of their main clients and they have around, I think-
Ed Glassman: 120 employees.
Amber Reynolds: 120 employees.
Ed Glassman: That's more than double what they had when we started with them. Companies like the plating company that they use, they've grown since we started with them. I wish I could put a number on how many jobs it's generated but between us and those three and the packaging companies that we work with ... Which I don't even know.
Amber Reynolds: Yeah, I don't know the exact number.
Ed Glassman: They've definitely grown though. Yeah.
Gracie Foxwell: That's fantastic. I think to have ecommerce business owners hear that it's possible to do that and still be profitable while positively impacting hundreds and hundreds of families. I think that's just really noteworthy.
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, it's pretty cool. I think that's one of the things that we at Foxwell Digital have been doing a lot of thinking about too, which is how do we raise the profile of those that are creating jobs, right? What do we, ecommerce business owners, and I think Facebook and Instagram advertising kind of took a beating in 2018 from a press standpoint. Not to say that some of those things weren't warranted, but I do think that it's important to mention just how many people's jobs are supported by companies like yours that are growing, right? You have people that are continuing to buy more necklaces, continuing to buy more things. It's really making them feel good. It's creating jobs. It's just creating a lot of positive impacts, which I think is pretty cool.
One thing I'm curious about is you've really dedicated ... Even early on when I met you guys and you were spending very little on Facebook and Instagram advertising, which is totally fine. You said one of the first things was, "our customer service is the biggest deal to us."
We kind of touched on it a little bit earlier, but can you talk about the system for customer service? Who are the people that you have in place? What do you use to help go through customer service? What's the promise that you give people? Right? Talk about some recent examples there would be cool as well.
Ed Glassman: Yeah, sure. We look at it as like a first ... So if we were in the customer's shoes, how would we want to be treated? All of our employees that are in customer service have the power to do what whatever they have to do to make sure that the customer's happy at the end of the day. We have our whole customer service team in-house. That's very important to us. Something that we never want to outsource.
Right now we migrated to a platform called Gorgias, and that pulls in our content from every channel. It's email, Facebook, Instagram, and we monitor pretty much anybody who's talking about us or has questions. It comes into one platform. We aim to answer everybody within 24 hours, whether they have an issue with their product or shipping.
We always fix it. If their package is lost, rather than tell them to call the postal service and figure it out, we ship them a new one and then our team in-house takes them on and we figured out what went on. I just think that's something that's always going to be very important to us just because we've been there where packages go missing and the companies are no help and you never hear from them again. So, we just don't want anyone to ever feel lost.
Amber Reynolds: Especially because the products mean so much.
Ed Glassman: Yeah, the products mean so much to them that it would be such a horrible thing for them to not get it or whether it arrives broken or whatever the issue may be. We want to make sure that we get that product in their hands and keep them a part of our company.
Gracie Foxwell: Yeah. I'll never forget a couple of years ago, it was an amazing, amazing story. A longtime customer shared a photo that she had purchased a necklace that she had been on the waiting list for and then it got trampled by her neighbor. She wasn't home and she shared the photo of the box and how she was just destroyed because now it's sold out again and she's already waited. I'll never forget that you guys immediately replied to her and sent her more, over and above than what she had even ordered, and just said thank you for being part of our family. She's clearly a customer for life just because she got really treated like family. I'll never forget that story and I really hold that as the gold standard of customer service from here on out.
Amber Reynolds: Something else that we forgot to mention that our customer service team does, which I think is wonderful. Since a lot of the time, our customers will send emails in before they purchase a product about why it means so much to them.
I know one example is one girl bought I think "drop a hope" and she had cancer. So obviously we shipped out the necklace, but our customer service team, we sent her a gift basket in addition to that. So it's just giving those other personal touches that we can do that just not only shows them support from our company but just even like as a human being. That you're not going through whatever you're going through alone and thank you for sharing your story with us. It's just been super powerful to get those in and to be able to connect with them on a different level like that.
Andrew Foxwell: I think that that goes to a couple different things. One is I think that speaks directly to what we've really been going through thematically this whole time, which is, you dedicated from the beginning about the story and the brand of the products and less about how do we scale this, how do we grow this, right? You said our products will speak for themselves.
I think another thing it goes to is that you've empowered your staff to be able to make those decisions, which is a big deal, right? You've said, "Look, if it makes sense, go for it, right? If these people need to be taken care of, here's what we've seen, go for it." That's a big deal because you know that that's gonna pay off in the long run, even if it doesn't make sense right out of the gate.
Switching to tactical questions again, I know obviously, we've talked about Facebook and Instagram ads. I'm curious about other channels. I know that you've done some work with influencers. I know that you've also done some text message remarketing. Can you talk about some of those things that you've tested and kind of where you stand on them?
Ed Glassman: We still do text message marketing through a company called Retention Rocket and we saw some success early on and it still continues to be a good map revenue channel for us. So we're going to continue doing that.
Andrew Foxwell: How does that work by the way? Do they put in their phone number and then it sends them a text message? How often and within what recent window?
Ed Glassman: Right now we have set up as an abandoned cart. So, if they get to their cart page, kind of just like an email, if they opt into text messages, we'll send them an abandoned cart within 24 hours if they don't purchase, with a coupon code. We see a lot of them come back and use that code and purchase. You can also build up your list to send out marketing messages. So, if you're having a sale, and you have X number of people in your SMS list, you can push that out to all of them. That was something that was really important for us, especially around the holidays this year. We had a fairly large SMS list and we saw some really good results from that.
Some other things we do is recently we've been partnering with just local charitable organizations. We'll design a product or pick a product that fits that particular organization and we'll have an event where we give a portion of sales from that product back to their charity. Just as far as putting our local presence, we've seen a lot of success with that and getting our name out locally. So that's something that we're going to continue to do in 2019 and maybe take it a little further and reach out to some more space.
Andrew Foxwell: That's awesome. Have influencers anything for you? I kind of touched on that a little bit, but have they done anything incrementally? I know you've done a little bit of work there but not a ton.
Ed Glassman: In the past, we haven't done much at all with influencers, but that's one of our big goals in 2019. We on-boarded a new influencer platform that makes it easier to kind of go after that micro influencer, less than 100,000 followers. Just makes it a lot easier to manage our shipments going out so we don't have inventory issues and all the communication's on one dashboard. So that's super new to us. We've been in there for like two weeks. We're starting to get some content and see results. But it's still early on, but we're hopeful for 2019, that that's going to be a big one for us.
Gracie Foxwell: What about traditional PR, making the "best of" lists and the "best gifts of 2018" ... I'm thinking Oprah-type magazine lists. Do you feel like that's not really for your brand or do you feel like you started that or just had some unexpected wins or not at all?
Ed Glassman: We don't necessarily think that it's not right for our brand. We just haven't invested any time or money into that channel. Again, that's something that we know we're lacking and something that we want to try and build on, whether it be this year or in the distant future. But I think there's the opportunity there for us. We don't have a PR team. We've looked at some PR agencies and they didn't all align with our brand and brand messaging so it's something that's on our mind every day and something that we think we can have some wins with. But yeah, we haven't done really any traditional PR, I don't think. Right? Nothing.
Andrew Foxwell: That's interesting. I think one thing it would be interesting for you to touch on just briefly before we kind of start to wrap up here is, can you just speak to the power of having a good agency? Kind of, it's like a good partner. You have outsourced that part of it and knew that you had reached your limit on understanding and working on things. I'm curious about how you feel about that as a business owner. Because I feel like that's something that you ... When we work together, you had said, "I trust you." And I know the agency you're working with now, it's the same thing. Can you just talk about the power of that partnership and what that's really done for you?
Ed Glassman: It's invaluable. I feel like from early on, Amber and I had always said if there's somebody out there who can do it better than us, whether it be an employee or an agency, then we wanted it to pass it on to them because ... But passing our social advertising onto an agency, from early on in the company has been one of the if not the most important things that we've done. I know just from my minimal dabbling in our advertising account and just what I knew, I could never take the company to where it is today by myself. Just the agencies in general and especially if you find a good one, they're invaluable to our company and I think if to any other ecommerce company out there, if they think somebody can do it better than them, then definitely look into an agency to give them a hand.
Amber Reynolds: But also, right, don't be afraid. Because we've also tested other agencies that weren't necessarily the right fit either. I think it's important to make sure that when you find the right one and you know, don't be afraid just because of that-
Ed Glassman: Don't discredit them because one didn't work. There's just with everything, there are good and bad ones out there and if you don't hit it out of the park on the first one-
Amber Reynolds: Keep trying.
Ed Glassman: Yeah, keep going.
Gracie Foxwell: It just speaks so much of who you both are, both personally and professionally, that you're willing to invest in those relationships, and know where you're ... Like you said earlier, Amber, know where your strengths and your weaknesses may lie.
So keeping that in mind, strengths and weaknesses, what's next? Where do you hope to see the business a year from now or five years from now? Andrew and I kind of joke. We have a hundred-year vision. What would be a Bryan Anthonys legacy, in that vein?
Amber Reynolds: We have a lot of fun projects that we're working on right now and excited to release. We just launched our canvas prints and our customers are so connected to the words and the meaning of the jewelry, so this will give them a way to display those words in another setting. We're also working on another really cool jewelry product launch in April. I can't say too much about it, but it will give our customers a further way to customize their jewelry.
I guess further on, our goal is to really have our own actual physical retail store. I think it would be really cool to be able to give the Bryan Anthonys customers somewhere they can really experience the brand in person. We have a lot of ideas about how we can translate the brand and it's messaging offline to give them a different experience. It's really just continuing to grow our team, to grow the local charities that we work with. That's a big part of something that we're trying to do this year and within the next couple of years. Really just continue to do our core vision, which is successfully to blend fashion with purpose and really just help our customers and hopefully have the brand grow not just as a jewelry brand but as a lifestyle brand.
Andrew Foxwell: I love it. If people are curious about getting in touch with you, where can they connect with you? You don't have to share your email. I mean, you can if you want. Or your phone number. But where can people get in touch with you if they have further questions?
Ed Glassman: Facebook and Instagram. We're on there all day with the brand as is.
Andrew Foxwell: That's you running the account on Instagram and Facebook is ... I'm saying?
Ed Glassman: It is.
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah.
Ed Glassman: It is. You can find us there.
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. I remember the first time Bryan Anthonys as the brand commented on a photo I took of my dog and I was like, "Ed? Is this thing on?"
Yeah, B-r-y-a-n Anthonys is the name. Well, thank you so much to both of you for joining us and sharing your story. It's really interesting to hear and I think people get a lot of value out of it.
Gracie Foxwell: Thank you both, really. It was a pleasure to chat and we just miss you and hopefully, we can do this again. Honestly, Andrew and I don't say this about everyone we work with, but we can just relate so much to you on so many levels, not only in running a business together and running a life together but also just trying to look forward and have a long vision. I just really, really respect you both. Thank you both.
Amber Reynolds: Thank you so much for having us.
Ed Glassman: Yeah, thanks. That means the world to us. Yeah. Thanks for having us on, guys.