In this first episode I have the pleasure of hanging out with my friend May Lindstrom (@maylindstromskin).
I was deeply inspired by May’s story, as well as her clarity and integrity as a leader. I believe you will learn tremendously from her example. Starting from humble beginnings as a misfit in the Midwest, you’ll hear how May has overcome incredible personal challenges and has gone on to not only change the skincare industry, but create a company adored by its customers for bringing love, connection, and restorative ritual into their lives.
What started for May as a deeply personal struggle with sensitive skin transformed into a passion for plant medicine, and ultimately, the 2012 launch of May Lindstrom Skin. Built around the core idea of delivering love and an intention to restore people’s connection to their skin through the power of touch, May’s formulas combine a total commitment to efficacy with a promise of unparalleled pleasure.
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting May Lindstrom Skin HQ and I can say, you can actually feel that there is something special about the place, and in this conversation May helped me understand where that came from.
Please enjoy this conversation with May Lindstrom.
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- Connect with May
“The goal was to go until I hit the ocean or ran out of money” [0:09:24]
“I can have a can of cold potatoes for dinner if I can finish it with a butterfinger.”
“What I am is an idea manager, and so it is my job to see, to hold the vision and build the space in which we can make that vision into a reality. And that is actually my job.”
“I come from a small town, but I’m not a small woman.”
“This is the first time where the reality far exceeds what I thought I was building…now is when I get to dream again.”
“It’s my responsibility to keep dreaming otherwise we stay here. And here is great, but there is just so much more potential.”
“At the end of the day, we’re a love company”
“What’s expensive is dropping your values”
“What I’m asking of our retailers is that they treat us like milk.”
“Anyone who’s too sure that they’ve got it…they don’t.”
“I knew when I sent that email that there was a chance it could take us under…but I knew there was absolutely no other right call to make.”
“The music in the whitespace… it’s in the space between the notes”
“I can’t have my North Star be love if I’m operating from fear! You can’t do love from fear.”
Why does May’s company have all new employees read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”? [0:03:29]
What does May’s company really do? [0:05:27]
May’s rural upbringing and why she left home [0:07:17]
“The goal was to go until I hit the ocean or ran out of money” [0:09:24]
“I come from a small town, but I’m not a small woman” [0:10:01]
How did an artist end up as a formulator? [0:12:48]
What is the job of the artist? [0:14:16]
Being an idea manager [0:15:32]
The tension between dreams and what can be made real [0:17:21]
The responsibliity of a leader to keep dreaming [0:20:27]
Success, self-sabotage… now what? [0:20:53]
Exploring shame, success, scarcity, and abundance [0:22:54]
Instagram perception vs reality [0:28:23]
Dealing with imposter syndrome [0:29:40]
The Infinite Game [0:34:26]
Intentionally craeting a company culture and environment [0:36:07]
The beauty of having your customers as your investors [0:37:47]
What May Lindstrom skin REALLY does [0:38:23]
The job of the Care Bear — and how to idenify one [0:40:30]
The hardness of “soft” skills [0:43:26]
What’s expensive? Dropping your values [0:45:17]
The beauty of bootstrapping [0:47:51]
Challenges with retail alignment [0:48:24]
May’s north star: delivering love [0:49:57]
Making tough revenue decisions [0:51:21]
Retail inventory management issues [0:52:54]
Walking away from 25% of her business [0:57:59]
Canaries in the retail coal mine [0:58:23]
How do you turn values into behavior in your org? [1:01:53]
“Tells” that indicate a bad patrner fit [1:08:29]
May’s BIG product recall [1:10:55]
The challenge of natural products [1:13:14]
“I knew when I sent that email, there was a chance it could take us under… and it was the right thing to do” [1:19:43]
What enables May to make hard calls that others wouldn’t? [1:27:12]
The cost of knowing what other people are doing [1:28:41]
Fear of boredom – what keeps it interesting? [1:30:31]
Choosing your “top of the mountain” [1:39:24]
Who inspired/inspires May? [1:42:30]
“The music is in the space between the notes” [1:46:08]
What is the change May seeks to make in the world? [1:48:53]
Transcripts may contain typos. With some episodes lasting 2+ hours, it can be difficult to catch minor errors. Enjoy!
Andrew 00:00:58 May, welcome to the show. And I’m so glad you’re here. Thank you for taking the time. It’s really a pleasure. So I actually, where I wanted to start was you have all new team members, re Charlie and the chocolate factory. You can tell me why that, why you love the book so much. Where did that, how did that get in there so deep for you?
May 00:02:01 Oh man, there’s just magic in it. Have you read the book? Not to happy? Have you read the book? I have. It’s been a very long time. Alright, so you need to revisit and, you know, find a good original copy. Cause there’s some like really truncated, like, you know, super kids book versus now that just started as good. You have to get the original, read it and paperback, eat some chocolate while you’re reading it. Um, preferably some, some chocolate that has like nice gold foil wrapping inside of it. Cause that’s the magic. It’s the idea of it’s the idea of ritual is really, really deep in the company. And it starts with little things like this where, you know, Charlie, even as a child, once a year on his birthday would get a chocolate bar and he was super poor. And so he would make that chocolate bar last for ever for weeks upon weeks upon weeks. And he would just like crack open the, and just let just the sound of that be enough for the first day.
May 00:03:07 Maybe three days in he’d like peel back the gold foil and just seeing a flash of that gold foil it’s magic. And you’re not even to the chocolate yet. So
Andrew 00:03:20 How did you connect with that? So detail, like where did that? I mean, I love what you’re saying, but I’m so curious. Like how did, where, where did you encounter this story and what was it about it that spoke to you so much?
May 00:03:31 This has come up over and over in my life actually. Um, I grew up really poor too. So we had, we had some moments like that, where there was these really special things. Um, I just totally flashed back on this is going to be way subject change. But when I first moved to LA, um, I was living in my car for like the first year that I was out here and, you know, sleeping in the streets, living in my car. And um, and at that time there was no overnight women’s shelters in LA and, uh, because there was men’s shelters, but they, the state didn’t want to be liable for the safety of women overnight. And so there was day shelters where you could go and you could shower and you could get a change of clothes and you could have a meal and you could use a computer.
May 00:04:18 Um, and you could come twice a week and get a bag of groceries that had been donated. Um, and so I would do that. And in the bottom of the grocery bag, you’d have this whole bag of like canned potatoes and other, you know, rejected shelf, stable items of the world that end up in, in these places. And, uh, you know, so by dinner would be canned potatoes one night and then the next night, the dinner would be like mixed vegetables in a kid. And then the next night would be Oh, back to canned potatoes. And, but in the very bottom of that bag, there was a butter finger every time there a butter finger in the bottom of, of the donated food bags. And, and I would do the same thing. I’d make that butter finger last all week until the new bag, because I can have a can of cold potatoes, um, for dinner, if I can finish it with a better finger.
Andrew 00:05:21 Wow. That was amazing. Okay. Hold on
May 00:05:26 To my company, like I sell luxury organic skincare, right. But what we really do is we deliver Christmas in a bottle. We deliver love in a bottle. We provide a catalyst for magic in a bottle. And when you open our packages, I want it to feel like when Charlie peeled back the paper and revealed, you know, this metallic gold foil wrapping up the most piece of chocolate in the universe and how much he appreciated it. And if you go on Instagram, like there are so many people who will record their unboxing of our products with the same glee of that child. And it is, and it’s magic. And I have people all the time who will say, you know, I haven’t even touched it yet.
Andrew 00:06:23 Just looking at it, looking at it. Yeah.
May 00:06:26 Touch it. And especially the blue cocoon is, is there a number one selling product in my favorite product? And it’s beautiful. It’s, it’s this gorgeous blue ball. And it’s kind of like having your own like personal Lake in your hands. Like you’re holding the ocean in your hands and people will open it. And it’s like, Oh yeah, I’m not touching that.
Andrew 00:06:46 Wow. Wow.
May 00:06:48 So they’ll just look at it. They’ll smell it in maybe a week or two later, they’ll finally let their skin have some of it. But, um, yeah, it’s, it’s a special thing.
Andrew 00:07:00 So many good things in here and we’re going to come back to all of this and the company a lot more, but I want to just go back really quick because I I’m just captivated right now by this image, this the story you were telling me about when you, when you moved to LA and you’re living in your car. So take us back. When were like, when was this and what ha, where did you move from and what actually had you take that leap?
May 00:07:22 I grew up in Northern Minnesota. Uh, I grew up about an hour at tennis, outside of a town of 800 people. Wow. And down the road one way was a town of 200 something. People down the road, the other way was a town of 300 something people. Um, so I grew up in a really, really small area. The nearest movie theater was an hour away in a town of 13,000 people.
Andrew 00:07:43 Wow. Yeah.
May 00:07:48 Country. So country, I was born in a barn, which was our house. So I was born and raised my first years in a barn on 80 acres of forest and daisies in the middle of nowhere, Northern Minnesota. Wow. So very intentional back to the land. Yeah.
Andrew 00:08:06 Yeah. Did your parents like, did they have a farm or what, what did, what was that situation?
May 00:08:11 We’re very farm adjacent to, we were surrounded by farms, but my parents weren’t farmers. Um, my dad was an electrician who later did only solar power. My mom is a healer massage therapist, physical therapist, um, et cetera, et cetera. Bodyworker um, so I grew up with this really deep appreciation of the land. Um, and all of the surrounding families were all farmers and so a great appreciation for what that means, what it means to grow. Um, everything that our, our people eat, um, was a big deal where, where I’m from. Um, but I also grew up in really very conservative area. So there was my parents and then a very little small community around them in this already infinitely small community. And so I left that town just before I turned 16. I moved to Minneapolis and finished my last two years of high school in a program, um, in arts program there, um, outside of Minneapolis and the second I turned 18, I got in my car and took off headed West. The goal was to go until I hit the ocean or ran out of money. I did both. Simultan
Andrew 00:09:30 Timing was perfect.
May 00:09:32 Therefore was 18 and homeless in my car in LA for a long time.
Andrew 00:09:37 Wow. Wow. So what how’d you, what, so you’re 16 and you’re like, okay, I’m going to Minneapolis. And then did you already know it was a stepping stone to heading West? Or was it just like I’m, this is the next step. How far out could you see at that time?
May 00:09:55 Well, I knew that I couldn’t stay put
Andrew 00:09:58 How’d, you know,
May 00:10:02 I didn’t fit, I didn’t fit. Um, I got asked this in, in another interview and I think what I said then was, um,
May 00:10:18 You know, I’m, I come from a small town, but I’m not a small woman. And I knew that there was a lot that I needed to do and I wasn’t going to be able to do it there. And, uh, being me every element of me, who, who I am as a person, um, it was just tricky. It’s tricky to be liberal, even just, just that, um, yeah. Uh, politically it was tricky. Uh, you know, I’m, I’m an artist, I’m a thinker I’m, uh, not good at staying in a box and there’s just the way the things are done, where I’m from.
Andrew 00:11:02 That’s not the way you would want us to do things.
May 00:11:04 Um, yeah. And, uh, it’s it, wasn’t the healthiest of places. My, my community where I’m from is very poor. Um, there’s a lot of drug use. Uh, the methamphetamine, um, issue is really, really bad there. Um, and that’s what most of my friends were falling into, um, when you’re, uh, kind of a creative outsider in a conservative community like that, um, that tends to be where you fall, you fall in with kind of the party kids and in my town, the party kids, they die.
Andrew 00:11:42 Wow. Wow. What was incredibly great, like good for you for seeing like, okay, this is, you needed to take a step and set yourself up for, to pursue what you wanted to. That’s amazing.
Andrew 00:11:55 It’s really, really cool. It’s funny. You mentioned you’re an artist. I think you told me once that you don’t do it too much anymore, but you’d like to paint. Is that something that was, was that your art, or do you, when you think of yourself as an artist, do you, how do you, how do you conceive of yourself as an artist? Tell me about that.
May 00:12:13 It’s funny. I said that and I thought, wow, I haven’t self identified in that way in a long time. Um, yeah, I think, I think it is, uh, when I was younger, I definitely, I, I love to paint. Um, and that was, that was funny too. Um, and is related to my world now in that what I learned was I’m actually really allergic to paint cause I’m kind of allergic to a lot of stuff, um, glues and preservatives and formaldehyde, and, um, a lot of the things that are in, in paints and, and so, uh, which is largely what led to me becoming a formulator because I was just reactive to everything and I’d get all these crazy rashes and blisters and my body would just freak out when exposed to anything. And, uh, and so ultimately I had to stop painting. And so I haven’t painted in years outside of, you know, like watercolor here and there with my kids, which is pretty awesome. Um, but it’s been a minute since I’ve like, you know, sat down with intention to do my art. Um, but it’s manifested in, in many ways over the years, um, from, you know, from cooking to formulation to painting, to, uh, just playing in the dirt.
Andrew 00:13:34 Yeah. Just cause it has to be express for sure. So it’s interesting. Cause I, I find myself getting increasingly interested in art, like, so I did, I did not grow up in and doesn’t suffer. I was going to say, I didn’t grow up in an artistic environment. What I mean by that is nobody in my family was, you know, especially into art. Uh, I mean there were certain forms of art that people that were like part of the part of the family, right. You know, music, theater, things like that. But in terms of particularly visual arts, like there was, I had very little exposure on a personal level to that, but, and I find that I’m getting for whatever set of reasons in the last several years, I’m finding myself getting more and more interested in it. And there’s something that I, I, there’s a phrase that I’ve heard, uh, a few peoples few people’s reference, including our, our, uh, our, our dear Seth Godin, which is what we’ll have to go to that story at some point of how we got connected in the first place. Um, but I’ve heard, heard Seth and others say that the job of the artist is to see, you know, not to paint, not to sculpt, nothing like that. What do you, what does that mean to you? What do you, what are you hearing that,
May 00:14:37 Hmm, that’s been coming up a lot lately. I’m, I’ve been exploring what it means, uh, to be a leader, particularly as my team has grown and my company has grown. Um, and what I’m learning is I’m actually a really terrible people manager. I love people, not a good people manager. I love them. I’m not the person who’s going to hold you accountable very well at all. Um, or even give you positive feedback because I just assumed that, you know, how much I love you. And so it’s, it’s tricky for me navigating that one. And then going further down that line of also realized that I’m not even a great product manager, I’m a starter, not a finisher. And, uh, and so that’s been something that I’ve realized. And then, uh, going back further from that, like what I am is an idea manager. And so it is my job to see it is my job to hold the vision and to build the space in which we can make that vision into a reality.
May 00:15:43 And that is actually my job. But what happens in the day to day is I get very buried in the logistics of what it means to run this company that is full of people and all of their hearts and complications and emotions and skills and challenges and, uh, you know, all, all the ups and downs of, of being human. And, uh, yeah, so that’s a sidetrack, but that’s totally where I’m at with that. Like the art is, I think you’re right. The art is the vision and I can do that. That’s when I feel the most free is when I can just dream.
Andrew 00:16:25 Yeah. I I’ve heard a lot of people talk about that. That there’s a, there’s this almost like the space they can go to, whereas like somethings they can just close their eyes and go to this space. And it’s like, they come alive in a new way that they, they sometimes struggle to like anyone, any creative person I think has experienced the, the, it’s like a bittersweet pain of like, you have this beautiful thing in your mind, and then you open your eyes and you, then you have to go and deal with the reality of like making that thing real in the world, which is a reason that I think a lot of people probably never, you know, they never put that. They never put paint to canvas. They never do a formulation. They never start a pot and whatever. They never do the thing because they know on some deep level that it will never quite be as perfect as that vision in their mind is that if you do, I’m curious, like how do you, how do you deal with that? Because I know you, I mean, as you just said, you are, this is idea manager, this visionary, you hold these things in your head. How do you deal with that tension between the, the beautiful thing in your mind? And then the perfectly imperfect reality as it’s unfolding?
May 00:17:27 Well, I’m a good dreamer and I’m a good doer. And it’s everything that happens in between this really challenging for me. So when I was a one man band, which I was for the first few years, no problem, no problem. Other than that, I was by myself and it was the beginning. And then I had my first child and then I was doing it, you know, with the child and that difficult and, uh, but kind of no problem. But now it’s, it’s really, it’s the straddling of all of these different universes. That’s, that’s difficult for me because I can dream it and I can do it. But if I have to delegate in between and then trust that you’re going to do it, that’s much harder for me.
Andrew 00:18:10 Is it the, is it the letting go or is it the following up?
May 00:18:14 Um, it’s all of it. It’s that I, I haven’t figured out how to fully hand off something. Um, and to know that someone’s going to pick it up with as much like Gusto as, as I have, and sometimes they do. Right. Um, but which is glorious and you were talking about, you know, the fear of like putting pen to paper, right. Cause it’s not gonna come out the way you saw in your head. And that’s definitely true. Like I have these grand aspirations of like my ability to paint, but what I see in my head and what hits the paper are totally different things. And I might be satisfied with, with what ends up on the paper, but it will never look like what I imagined in my head with this company. It’s a little bit different when I first started working on the idea for May Lindstrom skin. Like it was just an idea and I definitely dreamed way smaller than the reality of what is here today. I never knew that we would be here. And so this is the first time where, what I imagined the reality far exceeds, um, what, what I thought I was building. And now, now is where I get to dream again and to make space to dream again and go, well, shit, we made it this far
Andrew 00:19:40 Amazing.
May 00:19:41 And it’s kind of like a taking stock thing. And I sure I have, I’m sure I have this funny face on, you know, on my head every time I enter the studio, because I feel like I walk in the door and every time I walk in, I like pause. And I look around, I go,
Andrew 00:19:59 This is so cool. Look at these people.
May 00:20:03 Yeah. And they show up every day and man, they give their whole selves to what they’re doing. And there’s so much love here. And there’s so much commitment to really doing what we do and doing it so well. And, um, I never knew that it could be this good. And I also know that this is the tip of the iceberg. And so there’s like I have to come to terms every time I walk in the door and go, Oh, this is real and super cool. And all right, it’s my responsibility to keep dreaming. Otherwise we stay here and here is great, but there’s just so much more potential.
Andrew 00:20:40 Wow. There’s so many amazing things inside what you just said that I just want to, I want to double click into for your, for a second.
Andrew 00:20:48 So first of all is, um, and I wanna come back to this, but, uh, the, the type of environment you’ve created, so I’ve, I’ve actually had the privilege of coming and getting to hang out at your, at the studio there. Uh, you’re gracious enough to host a few of us there. One, one Sunday, a few months, a few months ago. And I could feel it, I wasn’t walking yet. Right. So like, I didn’t, you know, I don’t know, I’m a guy who doesn’t know anything about like the beauty industry and your skincare and stuff. I walked in and I went like, Whoa, I looked around and I was like, I was just kinda, I was like, I was confused. And I was like, Oh, there’s something different in here. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something different. And so I think there’s something really amazing that we should explore a little bit about.
Andrew 00:21:30 And I want to come really dive into this in a little bit, is, is the environment that you guys have created there and, and what that, how that happened, because I think it’s something actually quite remarkable and really what we need a lot more of in the world. Um, but the second thing that I think is so interesting and we’ll maybe start here and pivot to the environment thing is you were, you were saying that, you know, it’s really, you look around every day and it’s amazing to you that this is real and it’s your job to keep dreaming again, because otherwise we’ll, you know, we’ll stay here. There’s nothing wrong with staying here. And at the same time, you know, you have that like deep in your bones, intuition of how much more there is available to be created, to be explored, to be discovered.
Andrew 00:22:10 And what I’m really curious about is that you’re at this place that I think is so interesting for a lot of leaders where if they’ve achieved a level of success, as you said, beyond what they even thought, right? Like this is better. They’re like, wow. I just never thought I would be here. And then there’s the now what question? And at that point, there’s this really tricky thing that seems to happen for some people, uh, which is that it’s almost like a unconscious self sabotaging that can happen where it’s like, this is too good. And then things will just inexplicably start going awry. Right. And you’re not really sure why, but just stuff starts happening. And I’m curious, like, is that something you had to deal with? Is that something you deal with now? Or have you somehow manage to just Dodge that bullet?
May 00:22:55 No, I’ve not dodged that bullet. Um, this year has been an exercise of exploring my own shame around success, which I didn’t know how much of that I had. I didn’t know how much, um, insecurity I had around particularly financial success. And I grew up really poor, like really poor. My parents raised me on $7,000 a year for my entire childhood. Wow. And you know, when I moved out and lived in my car, it was like, well, no big deal. I’m meeting. Candycorn like, it’s like kind of, not a big deal. Cause I have a better figure though about others.
Andrew 00:23:40 I’m good.
May 00:23:42 I didn’t, you know, I didn’t really know a different for a long time. And so that, um, I don’t have a scarcity mentality because I was always fine. Um, but the opposite, you know, this abundance place that we’re in. Um, I’m so lucky. I’m just so lucky to be where we’re at. I have a roof over my head. I have, you know, I have a roof over my head. I have food every meal of the day. I have a normal schedule. I have two beautiful, healthy children. I have the most incredible husband. Who’s my partner in every way. Like we just bought our dream house and I have this incredible business. And like, there’s a piece of me. That’s just waiting for the other shoe to drop all the time. And each of these little pieces has brought out some new element of shame in me where it’s, um,
May 00:24:55 I still, I still don’t tell my family how much revenue my company is making each year. I’ll still downplay what we do in casual conversations with friends who don’t know what we do. Um, and in many ways that’s just how I’m oriented. I’m not, uh, I’m not financially driven when we talk about goals as a company like revenue has never a part of it. Um, no, we have this spoken goal, which is every day we’re going to show up and do better than the day before. And that’s not, that’s not about, you know, doubling our sales. That’s not about, you know, increasing our newsletter list by X amount. Like we don’t, we don’t do that. But every day we make a commitment to do better than before. And so, you know, we get closer to the source on our ingredients over and over and over each time.
May 00:25:56 And we’ve been sourcing the same ingredients, like identical from the beginning for a decade. Um, but there’s always a, there’s always a fresher harvest. There’s always something interesting happening on the planet where, you know, this particular harvest is better than that one and we’re going to get it and we’re going to be first in line and we’re going to get it fresh. And, uh, we, we followed that through, you know, from, from seed to bottle, to what happens in the customer’s hands to our follow up customer service, to our engagement on social. Like it’s so personal and it’s so much about relationship and connection. And we just build on that every single day. And that’s really where we measure where our successes. And so when there’s these really tangible things like last fall, um, we moved into our new work building and that’s where we manufacture all of our products and, you know, store all our fresh ingredients and do all of our shipments and write all the handwritten notes that go out into the world with every box.
May 00:27:06 Like that’s where everything happens. All of the magic, my own little Willy Wonka chocolate factory. It all happens in here. And last year was monumental because we moved into a building that we bought and built from the ground up, like including like water electric and sewers and walls, all the things we put, all the things in there. And, and it was such an awesome process. And there was a part of me throughout the whole thing that was like, I don’t know, like it almost embarrassed that we were able to do that, that we had come this far, that we were able to do that. And the idea that this year, like not only did I somehow find my dream house, but I made it through like the battle rounds of fighting all of LA to, to win the bid and then made it through all, you know, all the inspections and all the things. And now we’re in renovations. Like I posted it, you know, a teeny, tiny little picture of it on Instagram this week. And it was the first time and I’ve, you know, and we closed several months ago and, and it was the first hint that I gave at it. Um, and it was an exercise because I had shame around it. I was like, Oh, what does it mean for me to have like this super pretty high?
May 00:28:27 What will they think? Wow. Which is so funny because, uh, you know, on the other side, like my, my brand is beautiful and it’s all about these beautiful things. And so sometimes there’s this idea that I’m this really fancy lady in this fancy house, in this, you know, fancy life and to everything is just all sparkly. And it’s very much the opposite of who I’ve been as a human and who identify with as a human. And, uh, but if you look at my Instagram, this totally what you would think. And so now that I like have a house that could potentially actually match this perception, I’m not going to show it to you.
Andrew 00:29:09 Wow. Thank you for sharing that. That’s that’s I really appreciate you sharing that with me. It’s, it’s so interesting to me and it’s something I deal with as well in terms of, um, I don’t know whether exactly it’s shame or guilt or exactly the right word to use, but it’s something I’ve noticed a lot. Like I spend most of my time in, in the world technology and one in my background is in engineering and product development. And one of the things that is rampant in that world, and I think it’s rampant, like just generally speaking, but I especially notice it in, in that world, is this sensation of, or this idea of like imposter syndrome, right. This idea of like, Oh man, I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m just waiting for them to figure out that, you know, I don’t know the answer to that question.
Andrew 00:29:58 And, uh, or, or man, I don’t know, you know, I don’t know. And having that humility, I feel like in that vulnerability is it’s so scary in the beginning, but then, but my experience has been so far that when I can get myself to, you know, lean into it to, to embrace it and kind of let go of the control of trying to control how I show up that, uh, I’m generally really like rewarded with a response. Like people are really authentic and generous and I find that to be a really cool thing. So I’m curious if you’ve had a similar experience or what, or what the actual process you said there’s been so many things getting stirred up for you in the last year or two what’s that process? Like, are they releasing, are they letting go or what’s happening for you?
May 00:30:43 It is letting go, but it’s been a really active process. Um, well first it was just realizing that this was even something that was coming up for me. Like I knew that I was feeling uncomfortable, but I understand why. And when we were moving into, you know, the, the new studio for Malin strip skin last year, it was like, this is really exciting. This is exciting for our audience too. Like it’s, it’s just upping what we deliver. It’s providing a safer, cleaner, more efficient space for my team so we can do better work. And, and it’s cool to see behind the scenes, like people love being able to see what we do. And especially because we do actually do it, there’s no outsourcing here. Like everything is actually made here. This is not a marketing story. This is like, it’s real, all of the angry
Andrew 00:31:34 Having been to the spot I can, I can, uh, attest to this. There is like a formulation kitchen and then 30 feet away is like the shipping department. And it’s all like the same space.
May 00:31:46 It’s so cool. It’s my favorite place to be. And I’m so proud of it. Um, but yeah, I don’t know what my deal was. I was just totally in my own way. And I think like I went through, I went through a similar thing. Um, cause I also got a nice car last year, which also I’m totally embarrassed to talk about and I’m still getting over that one. Um, but it’s like if you pull up to a valet right to park and if you’re in like an old, shitty, broken down car, you’re embarrassed to pull up to a valet, right. You’re meeting some friends for dinner, they picked a fancy place you’re showing up in your shitty car. Sure. You probably embarrassed. I wish I could find street parking. I can’t be like apologetic to the valet guy.
Andrew 00:32:31 Take my tickets, please.
May 00:32:34 I lived that world for so long. And then there was this middle piece that was brief. And now there’s this, now I’m on this side where it’s like, Oh wow, like, I’m fine. I’m actually fine. I’m not in survival mode for, you know, one of the only chapters of my life. It feels like. And so I can pull up in my car to a valet. I can walk into this building that houses, my dream job and everybody in it. And this summer I will be pulling up in my nice car to my nice house that I just can’t believe is mine. And inside will be my husband who looks like he was picked out of a romance novel. And my children who are ridiculous.
Andrew 00:33:38 I do have a ridiculously photograph. I have to say like crazy photogenic.
May 00:33:45 Yeah. Yeah. It’s all really weird. Andrew. It’s all super weird for me. It’s very weird and I’m, I’m just really grateful and so grateful, but I feel, um, I don’t know. I feel like a kid, I feel like a kid and I’m just like, what am I doing here?
Andrew 00:34:08 That’s beautiful. You know, are you familiar with, um, curious, are you familiar with, uh, um, what’s his name? Simon Sinek at all. Does that ring a bell? So he has a book. Do you know the book he’s coming out with in a few months? So I feel like, I feel like this book is going to be, I I’ve personally been waiting for this book for like two years and it’s been delayed twice, which is killing me, but it’s called the infinite game. Are you familiar with it, with the ideas there? Cause like you were, you were speaking, like you were speaking to the almost feel like you’re like a case study in this book.
May 00:34:46 There’s a book that my husband references all the time, finite and infinite games. Do you know that one? Almost the same title?
Andrew 00:34:56 Well, that was the one that would be original work that cynic, like they got Simon Sinek going on this thing, read that book and was like, Ooh, there’s something here. Okay. Got it. So they’re related. Yeah. So Simon they’re, what’s called a finite infinite games. The one you were just referencing is when I, when I heard about scientists, the next new book, I was like, okay, well I love his work. So I’m going to go read this like this other one. And I have to say it is difficult to read and it is super short, but it is. I found it to be difficult and I’m a voracious reader, but, um, I could see the seed of what’s there, but I have to, I have three minutes. I’m very excited for a more palatable version. Oh, I hear you.
May 00:35:38 I did not read that book. I just listened to my husband. Talk about it a lot. I let him chew on the undigestible ones for me. And uh,
Andrew 00:35:49 We’ll do the, do the mastication and bring it over.
May 00:35:52 Totally happy to eat his leftovers.
Andrew 00:35:57 Wait, I’m so curious though, like, did any, do any of the ideas from that book that you’ve heard and talk about? Do they resonate with you or because I want to kind of shift gears a little bit here into talking a little bit about the, um, the environment you’ve created at the company, which I find to be pretty extraordinary. Uh, you know, I, I’m basically someone who’s obsessed with the intersection of, uh, work design or organizational culture in work environments and, um, product development and how you bring all that together to create, you know, these, these enlivening spaces and products for people. And you know, when I visited your, your building and your company, I was like, Oh wow, this is fantastic. I got to, I got to learn more about this. So tell me, tell me about that. Like how did, um, you know, it’s possible that this fantastic environment you’ve created just happened by accident, but I think there was probably a little bit more intentional intentionality to it. And I’m curious when you look back over it, how did you get here as an, as a, as an environment?
May 00:37:01 How did I get here? Well, that’s what I’m wondering. Every time I walk in the door and look, who are these people? Um, I don’t know, Andrew, it’s not, um, it’s not an accident. It’s definitely not an accident. We’ve made some really intentional choices along the way. Uh, a lot of it is, well, you know, I put my head down, I put my head down and I do the work and I operate from, what do I think is the right thing to do and not, you know, what’s going to generate the biggest return. What do I need to do to please X, Y, and Z. We don’t have investors are invested around customers, which has been true from day one. Uh, we don’t have a board of directors. We don’t have anybody that I have to answer to except myself, my own conscience, my husband, now that he’s a part of the team and our customers. And so the guide rails are, are really clear and really clean. There’s no like other motive or anything else that I have to weigh in on. And so it’s really easy to just be really honest about what it is that we want to make great in the world. And when the mission is really clear now where technically a skincare company, but that is not what we do.
Andrew 00:38:26 What do you do?
May 00:38:28 We bought a love. And that sounds, you know, that can sound really cheesy or it can sound kind of trite, but that’s, that is what we do. And if you step into this building and you watch my team work, it’s very clear that that’s what we do. And you see it, you see it from the team in shipping, how they handled the glass, you know, like lovingly shining each bottle, tying these satin ribbons on every box slipping in the handwritten note, our kitchen team, no blending and filling each bottle by hand. So carefully measuring. So precisely these ingredients that we’ve sourced from around the world that we’ve spent years and years and years developing the relationships with the farmers, learning to grow seasons, understanding the potency and nutritional value of each of these ingredients and what they do for the skin on a total plant medicine level. There’s so much magic in this. And if you spent a day with any member of our care team, that’s our customer service crew. When we call the care bears, that’s their job. Their job is to be like a care bear, like shooting light out of their belly buttons.
May 00:39:45 And they take it really seriously. And, you know, we, we get these emails like just hundreds and hundreds of every week from, from clients all over the world who are asking us questions and they’re entrusting us, not just with their largest and most vulnerable, outward facing organ, but also with their hearts, with their vulnerability, with their stories. We are often the first to hear about people’s engagements or their pregnancies or death in the family or somebody’s cancer diagnosis, or, you know, coming to us following some difficult news or challenge, which is causing their whole body to freak out, which in result is creating these skin traumas. And we hear these stories and our job is to hold our hearts open and keep that space for them. And in, in our ability to do that, we also have the opportunity to send them these beautiful presence that help them to love themselves a little bit more. And that’s it. That is what we do. And as a result, their skin also looks beautiful and healthy and pretty and shiny. And the packaging is very Instagramable and everybody loves a good unboxing and I get all of that, but that’s at the end of the day where I love company.
Andrew 00:41:07 That’s fantastic. And it’s, it’s um, I know for sure people listening to this are going to hear that come through like loud and clear in your voice, but since I actually can see you right now, it’s, it’s actually, it’s so enrolling, like as someone who’s a fan already of the company, even if I didn’t know you already, I would be like, cool. How do I, you know, how do I be a part of this thing? How do I help? Um, I love it. And so
Andrew 00:41:34 One of these I’m super curious about is, you know, I think what you just described is not only really beautiful and aspirational, um, but I’d love to get into the tactics of, of, of how you constructed that a little bit more, right. How you built this bit. I know it’s taken 10 years of consistent effort, right. And as you said, you started on your own and then like you have your baby and later down the line, it’s grown, it’s grown bit by bit by bit, but it’s, it’s been a 10 year overnight success. Right. Uh, they all right. So I’d love to hear a little bit about, so let’s talk about the characters, for example, whichever is how, how do you know, like, I’m sure you have lots of people hitting you up wanting a job, wanting to work at, at, at the company. How do you know when someone’s a care bear? Like how do you know the right person for the right role and that they’re a fit for the company?
May 00:42:29 Well, most people aren’t care bears. And so when you meet a care bear, it’s fairly clear. Would you know, if you saw a unicorn?
Andrew 00:42:40 I think I hope I would.
May 00:42:44 Well, I’ve gotten pretty good at identifying your care bear, but it might be a little bit of a magic trick. Um, there’s we hire for heart, for sure. There’s no doubt about that. Um, for better or worse, sometimes that doesn’t work out. Um, but with the care team, especially that’s vital, um, there are hard skills that you can teach and there is, you know, all kinds of training programs and tools to make somebody a more efficient worker at whatever particular skill we’re trying to develop. But teaching somebody to really love when your job is to hold space and to allow somebody on the other end to feel seen and heard from across an email, that is a skillset that is an undeniable skillset. And man, that’s a tough one. It’s a hard one. And it’s so valuable because I really do think that that’s the piece of our business that is truly extraordinary. When you send an email to us, it is received with love. And what we sent back is sent with love and everything that happens in the middle is relationship. We have clients who we email with, you know, every week for years, it’s not just, you know, answering a single question like, Hey, I’m pregnant. Can I use this? Yes, yes, you can. That’s not, that’s not what the email looks like. It’s goes so much deeper than that.
Andrew 00:44:28 Wow. So what is it? Yeah. I love this idea of, because you know, many people I’ve met a lot of people in business who let’s say are not quite as progressive as what you’re describing. And, um, the, one of the common reasons that I’ve heard people’s cite is that, um, you know, it’s, it takes too much time or it’s too expensive to, to provide this level of service for, for people. Um, how do you think about that? Like as someone who ultimately is an owner of the company and, uh, thinks about, has to think about the whole thing, um, how do you think about that? Do you, is that, does that ever even play into your thinking or is this just know this is what we do?
May 00:45:17 No, what’s expensive is dropping your values. Tell me about that. If we did not maintain these promises that we’ve made to ourselves, to each other and to our clients, we’d fail, this company would not exist. There’s no doubt in my mind that if we were following everyone else’s playbook, we would never even have gotten off the ground much less. Would we be soaring? It just wouldn’t have happened. And so that is expensive metaphorically, and literally we just would not have, have taken off. Um, and I am so grateful that we were able to do this slowly and with so much intention where we really could take the profits out of, you know, those first few orders to support the next few orders to support the next few orders, rinse and repeat all down the line from day one until today, without a single penny of outside money coming in, it’s an incredible story.
May 00:46:23 We are 100% funded by our customers. We are only accountable to our customers and that has kept us so true. And it has helped us in so many ways with decision making, where if at any point I had had to answer to anybody else about any of our crazy ideas that some of our customer service emails will take the entire day to write because of what is contained in it. And not because it’s, you know, a year long, but because there might be really sensitive information in there. And when we buy X ingredient, we are many times paying 10 X, 20 X, what other people pay by clicking a button on the wholesale internet supplies button so that we can get it fresh from the source at the time of harvest from a totally respected reputable farmer. And so that we can undergo all the tests that we need to verify that what we have purchased is what it says it is, and that it’s safe and that it’s effective, and that it’s going to actually deliver the result that we’re looking for. So we do so much extra everywhere, everywhere that if I had to explain that to somebody whose money was tied up in the company and explained to them why it is that we are growing slow on purpose. I don’t know. I can’t imagine those conversations going that way.
Andrew 00:48:03 That doesn’t sound that fun.
May 00:48:06 It might be fun for me. I’ve gotten pretty good at these kinds of conversations. Um, and they happen sometimes I’ve, I’ve had a number of pretty heavy conversations with retail partners. Um, and I’ve probably gotten a little bit of a reputation for standing up around that. Um, retail is very difficult for brands like ours, um, particularly with fresh made products that need to be used. You know, we, we invest so much into getting these ingredients fresh and then making everything so efficiently and beautifully at our studio. Every bottle leaves with a birthday stamped on the bottom of the bottle, every single one. It’s so cool. Like if you pick up a jar of the blue cocoon today, it’s going to say that it’s August and it’s August. And when it ships is probably still August, maybe September, and I ask the same of our retail partners, we didn’t pay 10 X, our mutual customer didn’t pay 10 X for this product to sit on the shelf for months,
Andrew 00:49:23 Get the, get the delivery to the customer that it deserves.
May 00:49:28 Exactly. And I, I like to think of our retailers as an extension of our family. And I’m, I’ve learned that that’s a little romantic of me. Um, and so that is an aspiration that I’m still aiming for. Um, but I do at least need them to be teammates and I need them to be on our same team, uh, because I’m on the team of our customer. And so I need them to be on the team of the customer too. And, uh, unfortunately they do have investors stands to answer to, they do have lots and lots and lots of other brands that they manage. They have other agendas. I’ve got one I deliver love. So for me, it continually comes back to that. And does this do that?
Andrew 00:50:17 That’s a great North star.
May 00:50:19 It’s a very clear one. Yeah.
Andrew 00:50:22 That’s so funny, man. This is so great. I would love to hear if there’s an example, you could, you could unpack
Andrew 00:50:28 A little bit about where, but how you took a, like went through this process. Cause I imagine that, you know, some of the people listening to this are, you know, they are also diehard advocates for something they’ve created or been a part of creating, right. They believe in it deeply they’re on the team of the customer. They are out to do to make a meaningful, specific contribution to people. And they are encountering some form of resistance, their own version of the, the retail timing issue that you’ve had to deal with. How would you get, maybe you could, if you could, could you walk us through how you successfully resolve this in the past and then maybe also where it didn’t work and like what you like, what emerged from that, that someone listening to this could actually apply to their own situation?
May 00:51:12 Well, I’ll keep with that example because it’s irrelevant. One that we continue to work with. Uh, twice in the last five years, we’ve let go of our number one retail partner. These are different retail partners, but it was the new, the new number one. Uh, so for context, we have around 50 retail partners throughout the world at this time. And most of our, most of today’s business, which is awesome, um, comes directly through maylindstrom.com customer. So most of it’s direct to customer, which I’m really proud of because our direct experience is really where you get the best of us. And that’s when I get to send you Christmas. That’s when you get to intercept and interact with our care bears and with her magical shipping team and really get our product, you know, fresh from the source, right from us
Andrew 00:52:08 Was also great because it’s more margin into the company that you can turn around to help like do even more
May 00:52:15 Totally. So it’s, it’s the most powerful piece of our business, but we do still have a really strong retail family as well. And most of them are fantastic and I’m proud to have them in our retail family. Um, but there’s challenges with it. And, uh, of those 50 or so currently, um, it was around the same number a couple of years back. Um, and twice in our history, the number one slot, the highest revenue achievers of all of them who were doing kickass sales, really just crushing in everywhere, big advocates for the brand, their customers were buying, not a problem of stagnation on the shelves at all, but they don’t rotate inventory.
May 00:53:02 Nobody follows first in first out practices. And these are fresh made products. You have to treat them the same as you would treat any other fresh made food. This is food for your skin. It’s the same thing. And so it’s not about it going bad on the shelf. It’s what you’ve invested in. So the difference, you know, you can walk into Walgreens now and find Shea butter on the shelf for, you know, a few dollars for like a big jumbo jar, but that Shea butter is not the same thing as the shape out of the bag yet that shave butter is years old before it’s even hit that shelf. And it’s super processed and bleached and deodorized and lacking all of the good stuff. And so this is true across the board for ingredients. So what our customer is investing in why our price point is where it is, is because of what we’ve invested in on the ingredients front and what we’ve done to take care of our team internally with healthcare, with best practices, you know, really creating a good, safe working environment to the customer service experience, which I really deeply believe in.
May 00:54:17 And so you’re investing in all of these things and I need that from our retailers too. And a big part of that comes from managing inventory, which sounds like really dry, but it’s so important if you went to the grocery store and there was milk on the, on the shelf, that was a year old, it would freak you out and there’s systems around it to make sure that doesn’t happen. So in a grocery store, you load from the back. And sometimes if you’re walking by the dairy section, you can see this happening. You’ll see a little hands poking through like behind the wall where the milk is all lined up and you can see them pushing the older units forward and putting new into the back. So if you’re savvy, you probably reach towards the back for your milk, but most people will grab, grab from the front.
May 00:55:10 And the system works because of that because you’re continually turning over. And so what I am asking of our retail partners is that they treat us like milk when new product comes in, it has to go to the back and the older units need to push forward. And those older units are not old. I’m asking you to buy just a handful of weeks of cover when most retailers want to buy for several months up to multiple years of product, which is crazy. And so when the system works, it’s beautiful. And often we break everything. Uh, last year we went into space NK in the UK, and I had said no to that repeatedly, um, because I’d been in and out of big stores like that, I’d been in and out of Barney’s, I’ve pulled myself from most of Neiman Marcus. Like we’ve done that and seen the challenges with managing inventory.
May 00:56:13 So it’s not about product not moving, cause it’s not selling it’s about those first units in the front being sold over and over and over and the ones in the back dying. And to me, that’s unacceptable. Um, but I’ve watched space in K bring us in, go, wow, we are totally not doing this right at all. I don’t know if we can do this properly. We might not be able to, let’s see if we can work it out. And they were so honest with me, uh, about what the challenges would be, because I was equally honest with them that I didn’t think they could
May 00:56:53 We really like, we really took it seriously too, to approach it as, as directly as possible and work through that. And they’re still working out inventory issues, but they’re very dedicated to getting it right. And if they get it right, this is going to be a really fantastically, successful partnership where just under a year in, they’re working really hard at it. There’s still some bumps, but they’re committed to it. So I would say that that is a version of this being successful along with most of the partners that I have that are being successful, otherwise they wouldn’t be active. But the flip side is those two retailers who were our number one, who I let go. And both of those cases where I really thought it would be devastating. I was very scared. One of them was, uh, just a year and a half or two years or so ago. And the other was a year or two before that. And the first time we were a much smaller company and this was a very big account and they totally crushed our other sales.
Andrew 00:57:56 What percent are we talking about here?
May 00:57:59 Um, at that time it was that one. The first time that I let go our number one, uh, it was probably a quarter of our business. They did way more than all of our other retailers put together in their first handful of months with us, had we stayed with them. They would have been, you know, many multiples over any other retail partner. Um, and at this time our retail makeup was much larger than our direct sales in the years, since then, our direct business has grown, um, exceptionally, uh, and would have surpassed that. But at that time it was massive. And, uh, when, when we would do our freshest checks, w it was the same year that we started putting these birthdays on the boxes. Um, it was at the Canary in the coal mine. It was like we put the birth dates on the bottles and it told us so much more than what was happening with inventory management, because what it did was made our products trackable.
May 00:59:05 And so when, when the birth dates went on there, we could then follow up and have manual inventory checks quarterly, and we could see what’s moved what hasn’t moved. So we’d see what products are sitting, where the education gaps are. Um, was their team excited about these products? They’re not excited about them, where people just buying the top sellers, why or why not? But there was so much more that we could learn. And in this particular case, what we learned was, you know, that, that demand in this particular country was really, really high for our brand. Um, but that they were absolutely clueless about inventory management. And so they were selling like crazy, but always only the new stuff and the old stuff would sit for forever. There was no management whatsoever of merchandising and inventory. And I made the decision to cut the account because it started to feel painful.
May 01:00:02 I started to feel, I was having a very personal response to it, where it felt like any client who came to their store and made a purchase with them. And that was the first introduction to our brand. It was worse than if they didn’t know about us at all. And which was tough because they were selling so much. I knew that there was a lot of that happening. And I felt like every sale was like a sting and I felt it. And I’m a very feeling person. I’m a very emotional person. And I take this so personally, and it really did feel personal. It felt like I was lying. I felt like every bottle sold was me breaking a promise. And it was a promise that I felt so firmly was the right way to do business and the right way to build this industry.
May 01:00:58 I’m also, I’m watching so many other brands come up in this natural beauty space that are new since I’ve been here. And there are, there are brands who look to me, they’re, you know, it’s my job to do right for our customer. And it’s also my job to do right for this community and for the beauty industry as a whole, which needs a lot of revision and a lot of shakeup. And if I can’t be accountable for my own product, how is any of this ever going to change? You have to make the hard decisions.
Andrew 01:01:42 I, I, so I so love everything you just said, and I really, um, respect and acknowledge the honesty, the guts it takes just to live, to actually live your values like that. Because I mean, you know, values are one of those things that we all know how important they are, but they, at the same time most people have, you know, we’ve all seen the stupid posters on the wall. It’s like the terrible corporate motivation posters and things like that. But I’m curious, have you, as you, as the company’s grown, you know, you clearly as a founder and a leader of a company, you have such a strong internal compass or what the
Andrew 01:02:20 Right thing to do is, and for how to make these decisions. And, um, you know, one of the, one of the things that I always think about when it comes to, um, that, that some mentors have taught me over the years when it comes to leadership and growing an organization, is that, you know, how do you scale an organization? How do you scale leadership? And a lot of, so much of it is, um, training people like teaching someone to think, not teaching them how to do, but how to think that when you would think so you can go do something else and they would show up just like you would show up. Um, and what I’m really curious about is how, how, what steps have you taken to kind of, uh, externalize these values, right? Like you have this internal compass, um, how do you teach your team about that?
Andrew 01:03:01 And, and specifically, like, when I think about values, the way I, my personal opinion and bias here is that, um, you know, everyone can, anyone could say value like integrity, right? Or honesty. Um, you know, these, these wonderful sounding words, we know how important these concepts are, but I think we’re most value exercises to put air quotes around it break down is that they never tell people what it looks like in action. Like, what is the, like, what does this about? Like, when we say this word, we need, it looks like this in your day to day life. And I’m really curious. Um, if you guys have, if in your experience, you’ve had anything like that as you’ve grown the company, and as you’ve started to transmit these values and this way of thinking about business and operating, not just a company, but really like a living in ethos.
May 01:03:53 Hmm. There’s
May 01:03:58 A lot of that. It really just, I think comes from observation. I am such an open book about everything that’s going on. And so my team has gotten to see me really process all of these things. Um, when, when we let go of our first number one, retailer, for example, the team had been so excited to have an account that was this big. They had seen me through the onboarding process. Well, first they saw me through the contract process, which was very lengthy and complicated, which I also learned if you’re having a lengthy complicated contract process, it’s probably not going to go that well from there. So I’ve learned, I’ve learned a few things, um, but they’ve watched me go through that through all the legal stuff to get set up with his account. And then they watched us launch and nobody really had any idea how big this would be.
May 01:05:04 And then it was really big. And so everybody got to like, get really geared up. And, you know, we moved from like working out like a three or a four, like pretty chill to like, Whoa, we’re working at an 11. And that was really exciting. And I think was inspiring to everybody to see, you know, it felt like we were at the tip of the iceberg and this really proved that we were, because this is just one account and overnight, it was a massive change in what we were doing. And I think that got everybody really fired up. So there was all this energy around this new retailer and everybody was so excited and there was such like good happening on our side that when we’d been with them long enough for us to start doing these freshest checks and seeing the red flags, it was a bummer.
May 01:05:58 And it was, you know, a little, like a shock to the system. It was like, Oh, you know, falling. Yeah. Shattered that a little bit. And then we worked so hard to try and correct that, um, because it was a relatively new thing for us. These birthdays on the bottles were new that year. And so we hadn’t had much experience in what does it mean to really support our retailer in this too. We’re asking them to break the box. And so I can’t just ask you to change everything about how you’ve managed inventory through all history, um, overnight and expect you to succeed. And so I really took it seriously to give my best effort to, and to be as supportive and give the best tools. And we bought back so much product in order to be in support of this effort together. Um, but it wasn’t met it, wasn’t met and the communication wasn’t great. And they weren’t as gung ho about our belief system as we were. And I really do need that from our partners. You can’t share our story. If you don’t believe in our story,
Speaker 5 01:07:08 You don’t need to believe to be a, to be the right partner for you
May 01:07:13 Was that our customer is worth it. Like it’s, it’s so simple when it comes back to that, our customer is worth it. Our job is to deliver love. Our job is to hold that space and make sure that they feel seen and heard. And there was nothing in, Oh, it’s totally okay to sell you this product. That’s two years old, that rang true in any of that. What that says to me is you don’t think that the customer is worth it, that you think that, that, you know, saving that sale is more important. It says, I don’t hear you. And that you are trying to invest in a brand that’s known for fresh ingredients. I don’t see you coming to me and entrusting me with your skin. Um, and with your financial investment, it’s saying, I don’t give a shit about you. It’s saying I’m running a business and this is how I’m running a business. And it’s about the bottom line. And that just hurts my heart.
Andrew 01:08:19 So do you, have you evolved any, um, any ways of telling in advance? Like, are there any things, are there any things you notice now early in the conversations with a potential partner that, you know, you can, you can actually pick up on and say, this is a little thing that maybe you missed in the past, but now you notice it and you know, it’s not going to work.
May 01:08:37 Yeah. Anyone who says, Oh yeah, that’s not gonna be a problem at all. Anyone who goes, Oh, totally. Of course we rotate our products. Of course, anyone who’s too sure that they’ve got it. They don’t, they absolutely did not. Uh, it’s a good sign for me when people go, you know, I think that we’re doing that, but let me check on that and find out exactly what we’re doing and I’ll get back to you because that’s at least on the right track.
Andrew 01:09:09 And they have, it seems like they also, there’s a, there’s a level of, um, she ability and openness there to at least a willingness to look at what they’re doing is maybe what’s behind that. Right. So you’re saying, I’m not going to sit here. And just state that everything we’re doing is it’s of course the perfect, right. You know,
May 01:09:26 It’s a sales, it’s a sales thing. And it’s kind of like a first date, like when we receive an inquiry from a new retailer and they’re trying to sell themselves, you know, they’re gonna tell us how excellent their customer services, they’re going to tell us how beautiful their packaging is. They’re going to tell us that our customers are in good hands and we’re going to want to believe them because they also started a business hopefully based on caring about something. And, and I am such a sucker. You send me a nice email and I am just a wide open heart. So it’s really hard for me. But, um, there are a few things that we ask and, you know, 99 times out of a hundred, if you’re like, Oh yeah, totally. We’re great at that.
Andrew 01:10:16 Usually not,
May 01:10:19 You’re not. And, and I’m okay with you not being good at it, or even saying, you know, we’ve never done that before. How do we do it? That’s okay. I will meet you where you are, but I have to know where you are to meet you there.
Andrew 01:10:35 Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. You know, it reminds me of a story. I think you mentioned when I, when I got a chance to visit the company and this just, I think is another, another thing that would speak to, um, sort of the, the very intentional way that I think you, you run the company, uh, you, you mentioned telling the story about the product recall,
May 01:11:00 So that’s a juicy one. Um, yeah. Well, my promise is to get it right, you know, and, uh, there was a day when we didn’t get it right. What we learned was this product, the honeymoon, which was our number two bestseller. Uh, we had sold, you know, hundreds of thousands of units over a course of several years and, uh, always been totally stable, solid formula, great. Like never a complaint. This is a universal. Everybody loves this product. Everybody loves this. There was no like, Oh, you know, these ones are great, but then anybody not so much, no, it was exactly, it was, it was a surefire win and it was a great introductory product for that reason. It was how a lot of people came to be introduced to the line. So it was definitely like good gateway drug, so very established product. And, and then, uh, it started getting emails from a handful of clients who were experiencing mold in their jars.
May 01:12:19 And at first it just seemed like a really freak thing because we undergo testing. We sell in the EU there’s, there are so many things that we have to do to make sure that not only do our formulas look good and smell good and make our skin feel good, but that they’re safe and that they’re staple and that they’re gonna remain stable. Um, not just for like the amount of time in which I want you to use them, which is as quickly as possible so that they are fresh and potent and full of nutrition. But also they are designed to be shelf stable for like a long time, much longer than I want it to take for you to use it. So I got these emails and we started tracing batches, which is great because we track everything. And so we could look back and we can say, all right, well, you know, the, the challenge with naturals is we use fresh ingredients.
May 01:13:19 And that means with every single ingredient, there’s a new batch, there’s a new harvest. So, you know, I can, I can be importing, you know, Rose powder, for example, uh, a new, a new harvest every handful of months for years, but it’s not going to be the same this month as it was six months ago or six years ago, because it comes from a different literal flower, right? It’s literally a different plant. So like it’s technically the same genus species, not the same thing. And that’s true across the board. And so with every single micro batch that we make, there is something new. We’re not changing the recipe. We’re not changing the formula, but it’s inherently new every time. And so when this started happening, it was all the same batch. And so we went, okay, like what in here has changed since the time before, or what’s showing up differently. And we thought we had it pinpointed to a batch of honey. And so we started testing our honey and honey is also inherently alive and ours is raw so that it retains all the good enzymes and, you know, life activity in it, which, which is the point. You don’t want to heat your honey and kill all the good stuff. Uh, but that comes as challenges because how much life is too much life.
May 01:15:02 Well, that’s what we had to learn is where is this threshold for what is too active? And historically we’d apparently been under that baseline. And then, and then one day we weren’t. And so we thought it was the honey, but we weren’t really a hundred percent sure cause he can’t be a hundred percent sure until everything you can retest. But then that takes incubation time. But because the activity that’s testable in a honey was showing high for the remaining honey that we had from that batch that we were able to test that honey and those numbers came back high. We thought we’d solved the problem. And so we said, all right, well, let’s limit it to these new ones. That’s really unfortunate, but this should be a weird fluky, went off thing and went back to normal and it was months until it happened again.
May 01:16:01 But then it happened again. And when we saw that it was happening again, we pulled it because I didn’t have the answer because I had thought that I had the answer and I was wrong. So what happened then I sent a really fun email to thousands and thousands of people, um, that said, Hey, something’s not right. And I’m not going to sell you the honeymoon, um, until I can make it right. And I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m going to find out. And when I do this will be back better than ever. But in the meantime, don’t use your honey mud because there is a chance that it could go wrong and like wrong is relative, right? It’s like going to the grocery store, you buy a loaf of bread and that particular loaf get smelled on it earlier than you would expect. It’s not a reason to never buy bread again, or to ever eat bread. Again, you don’t totally distrust bread now because you had a piece of bread with mold on it. Um, but it should not happen in skincare. It should not have happened in this formula. We are very careful. This was a formula that has been proven stable for years and years and years. And this was a really unfortunate.
Andrew 01:17:30 So what happened after the email? Did you, did you do a recall or what was the next step?
May 01:17:36 Cause we did, we did a cease of sales, which is not, which is not a formal term. Um, but that’s what I called it. We stopped selling it. We told all of our retailers to stop selling it. We bought back any remaining units from our retailers. Um, anyone who wanted a refund to got one, anyone who, um, you know, still today and it’s been several months since then, but if somebody emails us and they just found out, like I’m giving them a refund or I’m sending them another product or, um, we’re gonna make it right. So for people who did make this investment and deeply committed to making sure that we do good by them. Um, and for our retail partners too, who also invested in the product that became unsellable or that resulted in returns, that’s a big hit for everybody. Um, but there was only one day way to do that. Uh, there wasn’t, um, there wasn’t a more official recall. This was not like an FDA generated thing. This was a, uh,
Andrew 01:18:33 Morals
May 01:18:35 For me. It was a, it was totally an ethically driven thing. And, um, yeah, my husband and I just, when these emails, the second round of them showed up, uh, we just stayed up one night and went, alright, so here’s clearly only one thing to do here. So what are we going to do? And that night we sent an email both to our direct audience and to our retail partners so that they were in sync together with, uh, hearing this decision. And, and it was, it was funny because I, I definitely held my breath, um, sending that it was very scary, were still a small business. Um, there’s a lot of distrust in the natural sector of beauty, um, around safety, around formulation, um, and for good reason. And, uh, and it’s also our number two product financially. We really do count on every sale.
May 01:19:35 Um, that’s part of our customers, our investors, we need our customers to be a sustainable business. And so I knew when I sent that, that email, that there was a chance that it could take us under. I also knew that there was absolutely no other right call to make. If even one person receives a product, that’s not the best of us. I did not do my job. So for me, that, that was the only action to take. And then there was a sense of relief. Uh, it was, um, I was very anxious to send it, uh, but then an overwhelmingly response, it is, are responsive,
Speaker 6 01:20:21 Overwhelmingly
May 01:20:22 Positive response from, from our audience. We received so much love and support, um, for, for having done that, which, which was funny too, because even at retailers where we’re surprised and, and I was surprised by their surprise because it seems so obvious. Um, but it was interesting how many stories were shared with me of, um, other brands who’d had products go bad or have had issues come up, um, in formulas where it was never talked about where it wasn’t a public topic where it wasn’t something that ever got expressed in a newsletter or, uh, a social blast of any kind. It’s not something that founders talk about or formulators talk about, um, ever publicly. Um, you might hear about a recall if it was FDA mandated, um, but like a little bit, and then it’s buried on those brand’s website. There’s no mention of it anywhere.
May 01:21:26 You can’t find it. And, and I asked a couple of my retailers like pool, when that happens, when somebody does pull a product and bring it back with a new formula, what, you know, what, what does that look like? And they said, you know, look at a product and it’ll have Molden or something, and maybe they’ll replace it, or maybe they won’t, and maybe they changed the formula and maybe they won’t, but it’s not something that’s talked about at all, total hush hush. And this is no different to me than anything else that I’ve stood for. And so for me, me talking about it just seemed so obviously the right thing to do the same as standing up and like really starting a fight about proper inventory management. These things go hand in hand. And so as much as I am like the girl on the mission for what it means to really manage fresh, made beauty products, I’m in the industry as a whole, I guess I’m also now poster girl for, you know, just do it right. And if you make a mistake or run into a challenge, you know, I’m, I’m working with nature and nature is wild. And I remember that every time there’s, there’s something so sacred about the work that I’m doing, it feels like to me, and I feel like I have a real responsibility to get it right, but I can’t get it right. Every time nature is my boss. And she’s a little unreal
Andrew 01:23:11 As a minor Verona.
May 01:23:14 Yeah. But it’s my job to keep trying. And, uh, I’m reworking the formula, um, not just to solve this one particular moment, um, but to prevent against it in the future, because what I’ve learned is that there was a possibility for this to happen. And prior to this happening, we had years of history telling us that there was no possibility of this. Wow.
Andrew 01:23:43 So is this, is this, uh, so what is the story finished yet? Or is the story still still in flight? Are you still investigating the
May 01:23:50 So I’m fine. Um, yeah, I, I still don’t know fully why that happened and I’m learning that I don’t have to know fully why it happened to understand that I need to do something to make it sure. It never happens again. And so I’m just approaching this differently and, uh, and what it’s making is for a much more interesting formula. It’s allowed me to be creative. It’s allowed me to really think outside the box because I’m deeply committed to natural, but I’m also deeply committed to making sure that every customer ever always has the best experience of us and this wasn’t it. So when the honey mud comes back, which it will, it will truly be better than ever. And I’m really excited for that. And the emails that we still get every single day with people asking when it’s coming back. That was really, that was the kind of coolest surprise. I really thought there would be, I don’t know, some big backlash
Andrew 01:24:59 It’s the opposite.
May 01:25:01 It wasn’t, it was, there was just so much love. And there was so many people who were just like, well, I’m just heartbroken that I’m not going to get to have it for a while. And that was the most rewarding thing that I could possibly hear, because it was really scary. It was the right thing to do. And it was also really scary. And knowing that everyone who has brought us to where we are today is going to still be here with us tomorrow. And that I get to keep showing up and my team gets to keep showing up and doing what we do best, uh, across the board, not just for the honey mud, but for the full collection and for this full mission that we have, that we get to keep doing our jobs is, is just so huge. And I just have so much gratitude for that.
May 01:25:51 So the honeymoon will be back, I’m hoping end of this year or early next, but this is not something I’m going to rush. The testing takes time. Incubation periods literally take time there times tests, like I cannot speed up a three month test. It’s a three month test. And if there are tweaks that happen, following that three months has the, well, there it goes again, another three month test. So that’s just where we are. And so it’s been a really big lesson in patience for me, but I am far more committed to getting it right than I am to getting it quickly. And that’s how I’m wired.
Andrew 01:26:28 I love it. I love it. And, you know, I think what really stands out to me, there’s so many really great things that jump out to me about that story. Jump out to me about that story. Um, but, um, I’m just so, uh, you’re, you’re such a great example of someone who’s actually making the hard calls and not doing the easy thing and taking the risks, right? Like, you know, let’s look at three different things that you’ve come up in this conversation, right? Twice you fired your number one vendor, and then you had to like, stop selling your number two product, which represented, I’m guessing a pretty substantial percentage of, uh, of your revenue at the time of your direct business, right? Like three concrete examples of you making a real w I think for a lot of people would be a really tough call. Like how does a better entrepreneur, that is a hard call to say, I’m going to walk away from a whole bunch of revenue that my company depends on. And what I’m so curious about it. What do you think it is that enables you to make those calls that sometimes other people wouldn’t have made?
May 01:27:30 Well, it’s that baseline that we talked about when, when the question comes back to, what would the customer want? Does this deliver it? It’s there’s no, maybe in here there’s no gray area. There’s no middle of the line. That answer is super clear. So you can play dumb and act like you don’t know the right thing to do, but you know, the right thing to do. And if there were other options on the table, if we had a different baseline, if we had a different, you know, North star, it would be very easy to make a different call on any of the things that I make a call on. But I don’t, I have one very clear North star.
May 01:28:21 So there’s no decision making where the decisions made my job is to then just act on the decision that’s already made. You know, I think that that’s been part of the saving grace actually is, I don’t know what other people do. I don’t know what they do. I don’t know how they do it. And I think that there’s been a lot of times over the years where like having some insight into some other people’s processes probably could have helped us to be more efficient, to, you know, move a little quicker, to grow a little faster, like just in terms of like equipment and technology, for sure. Like, there’s so many things that if we weren’t just like forcing strengthening our way, like would have been very different. Um, but for as many benefits that could come from that, there’s a cost. And for me, the distraction of going, Oh, they’re doing it like that. That’s super expensive to me. Cause then I get into comparison mode. I get competitive. I get like all these things that aren’t naturally that much a part of who I am as a human and I’m in business, especially I need to stay focused because if I’m thinking about all of that, then I start being fearful. And if I’m operating from fear, I can’t have my Northern star be love. If I’m operating from fear, you can’t do love from fear.
Andrew 01:30:00 So obvious, but like, yeah, he says, you say it, I’m like, yep. That’s there you go.
May 01:30:06 Like you can do my job is to increase revenue by 80% from fear. Sure. You can rally behind that in all kinds of fearful ways, but like that’s not my North star. So, you know, like the entire company is built around some very out of the box, kind of what defines our success,
Andrew 01:30:31 When what you’re doing is so stable, right? Like you’ve been on this mission for 10 years. What I’d be afraid of is I’d be afraid of getting bored, right. That like that is like, Whoa, what’s that? What’s that like for you? Because clearly you’re not bored. What is it that keeps it like motivating, challenging, stimulating, interesting for you.
May 01:30:56 Well, Andrew, once you think you’ve got it all figured out, you’re going to have to fire your number one retailer, and then do that again. And then this thing that you thought you really had figured out, that’s like making you millions of dollars. You’re going to have to pull it and explain it. And yeah. And then you’re probably going to outgrow your space. You’ll have to buy a new building and build it. That’s a whole new, you ever been a contractor for like building a commercial zone built, you know? So, no, like in theory, I’m doing the same thing. I was doing 10 years ago, but I am not, I am not. And it’s like, you know, trying to catch snowflakes or something like you just can’t, you can’t, you can’t, you can’t catch one and hold it much less, like all of that that’s coming.
May 01:31:49 So, um, yeah, I never would have thought, I mean, really, like I thought that this was going to be something that I did, like on the side while like my new baby napped. Cause I thought she would. And I thought that that would be enough. So yeah, that it turned into this whole other thing and I’m responsible for all these people. Like both my own people internally, but all the retailers that we affect and like the thousands and thousands of customers that we have that are trusting me to show up and do my job. There’s there’s like not a way to be bored. There’s too much to do. And so it’s more just like it happened and you look up and you go, Oh, it’s been 10 years.
Andrew 01:32:40 Wow.
May 01:32:43 That was quick. That was quick. And it was slow. And in that 10 year period, like I met my husband, I had two kids. I thought my whole life changed. When I started working on this company, I was 25 years old. I’m 36. I had no idea where I would be in any of those things. If you had told 25 year old with me, with this idea, living in like my ex boyfriend’s super shitty apartment, like being like kind of depressed and pretty clueless. And like at the end of my rope, from all the other random jobs that I was doing, Hey, just look 11 years into the future and imagine your own Willy Wonka factory with like super cute husband and like the sweetest kids you’ve ever seen. And like your dream house, financial flexibility, everyone’s healthy, everyone’s fed. Oh. And all of your employees get like not only fair pay and benefits. And they also get like massages twice a month. And like a bunch of really over the top stuff is totally unnecessary, but awesome. That’s going to be your life and 11 years, it would have been unbelievable. It’s unbelievable. Now. So certainly in my 25 year old self had no clue.
Andrew 01:34:12 Thank you. No, this is really, I’m so glad I asked that question because this is exactly the kind of thing I need to hear because I’m like, I could see this, this, uh, I can see that this has been like something holding me back in my life. And so it’s really, I really appreciate hearing that because I’m like, okay, I know that that is a, that’s a fucked up piece of psychology that isn’t serving me. And I don’t know exactly where it came from. I don’t really care. I just want to handle it.
May 01:34:36 Yeah, no, it’s, it’s one step at a time, right? Like if you’re going to climb a mountain, you can’t go, I’m going to climb that mountain. You go, I’m going to take that step. I want to take that step. Did it. And then all of a sudden you’re at the top of the mountain and you’re looking around, you’re going, Whoa, how how’d I get up here? Like when I walk into the studio, it’s that it’s me standing on the top of the mountain going, wait, I thought I just put my shoes on. Like, what do you mean I’m at the top of the mountain? Like, I don’t get how this happened.
Andrew 01:35:13 And you can’t
May 01:35:16 For that. Like I’ve never had a business plan.
Andrew 01:35:19 Yeah, no, it’s interesting because the climate is not mountain thing. I feel like as, as somebody creative and entrepreneurial, I, I live in the tension between the mountaintop and the step. So I used to think that my job as a leader was to be like really good at stuff. Then I thought my job as a leader was to know all the things I said, okay, well, if my job isn’t to like, surely my job is to like, have the answers, right? Like I’m supposed to be the guy who got the question, the answer like, are really good at doing that. And then I discovered, Holy shit, that’s not my job either. So then I was at this place where I’m like, well, fuck. If my job is to do the things and my job is to know the answers, what’s my job. And I was like a thing for me for awhile.
May 01:36:05 Am I relevant? Yeah,
Andrew 01:36:08 My job wasn’t to do all the things. But it was to ensure that like the right things got done. It wasn’t to know all the right. It wasn’t to know all the answers to the questions, but it was the aspects or the right questions got asked. And then it was like, okay, so what is it that I’m really supposed to be doing? And the answer I’ve come to so far was to hold the vision while it was being fulfilled, to keep it alive, to keep it present, to keep it real while we’re on the journey, sort of like keep the mountain top present, even on step two.
May 01:36:39 Yep. So that’s like, I could have said those same words verbatim, which has been like the learning of like, my job is not to manage the people or even the projects it is to manage the idea. Yeah. And I think that that’s like essentially the same idea, but yeah, that’s a challenging one. And then the other part of that, the imagining the mountain, top thing, that’s a great piece. But if at 25 I had set my mountain top vision. I would have undershot.
Andrew 01:37:15 Right. Because you’re right, right. You can imagine what not on top. And this is why a lot of really ambitious and successful people get super depressed. Right? Like they hit there, they hit the mountain top, they get it. And then right. And then either can’t think of a new thing that’s exciting to them. Or they will usually, they can’t think it’s exciting to them as this thing they’ve built up for decades. Right. And then it’s really hard switch from chasing an end to pursuing a path. I think that’s a tough switch for people.
May 01:37:53 Well, and also getting that mountain top and going this isn’t. Yeah,
Andrew 01:37:57 Sure.
May 01:37:59 I got here. And so what, yeah, you can’t make your end. You can’t envision your end. That’s weird. That’s where you’re going to die. Like if you don’t have anything happening after you reached that mountain, like really, that’s a weird thing to have projected for yourself. And also what if you’re thinking small and that mountain is like super not actually your thing. I think, you know, like find something that serves you today and then do that again tomorrow. And then do that again the next day, without so much thinking about what the future has to look like, because it doesn’t matter what you think the future is going to look like. It won’t like, when have you ever predicted your future accurately?
Andrew 01:38:45 Almost never.
May 01:38:47 Right. So like, why do we spend all this time?
Andrew 01:38:51 You’re trying to predict the future.
May 01:38:53 Kind of predict it. No, like, and that’s not saying like, you know, don’t have goals or like aspirations or allow the vision of like this thing you really want. Um, you know, that’s good. That’s a good energy to foster, but like getting caught up on like exactly what it’s supposed to look like and when it’s supposed to happen, like again, like you’ll, you might totally undershoot doing that too, because you know, we have a tendency to do that. Like, Oh man, I’m never even going to get that. Like, I’m never going to make it to the top of the mountain. Well, turns out you could easily make it to the top of the mountain. And you could probably get there 10 times faster than you think that you’re going to. And it’s going to be like, way more fun along the way. Potentially, if you don’t think that that’s the end all be all. But like, if you think that that is the unachievable thing,
Andrew 01:39:44 You’re right. You’re right. It’s like, if, if when, if I make that thing so significant and like it’s the end all be all, it’s everything. Then that’s exactly what it’ll be. But if I just allow it to be part and it can be a great part of the path, but still a part of the path.
May 01:40:01 Yeah. Right. And you might, you know, spend five years getting to the top of that mountain and it turns out you’re a five minute walk down that path to the most beautiful crystal right next to it that you didn’t even know was there this like full of like deer and bunny rabbits and shooting stars and like all the magic. And you would just be like, I’m getting to the top of the mountain. It’s like, no, no, no. Five feet to the left is like the best thing you’ve ever seen. The thing that you never would have thought to imagine who knew that you wanted sparkling pool and bunny rabbits and deer. Now you’re just picturing this pokey mountaintop,
Andrew 01:40:48 Like a North face. People are cold. That’s what the North face ass.
May 01:40:57 Some like shitty, super sweet chewy thing. That’s supposed to be a meal.
Andrew 01:41:04 Hello?
May 01:41:05 Oh, that, I don’t know, go five feet down. And there’s this warm, perfect blue water waiting for you.
Andrew 01:41:14 Yeah. It’s such a good tip. Thank you. That’s it’s it’s funny. Cause it’s actually kind of what the podcast, that’s how the podcast thing started was like, I had this kind of crazy longterm, big vision that just sort of came to me in the beginning of the year. I’m really captivated by this vision of a world full of enlivening organizations. Right. I’m like that. Then I was like, okay, wow. If I really spent my dedicated, like all my energy towards that end, like I don’t want to ever get there, but that would be sweet. Like that’d be a dope path to walk down. And I feel good about that. And I was like, all right, well what’s the first step and talking a lot of new things. I was like, well, shit, I know I’m going to already go. And I already nerd out and go on these learning journeys anyway. And I was like, well, shit, just record and do it out loud. And that’s how the podcast idea came about. I was like, I’m going to do this stuff anyway. So why not just record it and share with people. And that’s kind of like my game plan right now.
May 01:42:02 And if it, and if it stopped today, it doesn’t take away that today’s conversation or any that came before it. We’re good.
Andrew 01:42:12 Very true. Wow. I love it. I love it. So I wanted to start to just wrap up here in a couple of, couple of questions, um, that, uh, they’re brief questions, your, your response doesn’t have to be brief. You can take, you know, answers, but hopefully the question itself, uh, is, is fairly short since I have a tendency to ramble sometimes. Um, but you know, you have such an inspiring story who inspired you or continues to inspire you?
May 01:42:42 Well, I know that I’m a product of my parents, as we all are in ways. My mother always told me not to dim my star. And that’s something when we were talking about shame and success that came up for me, um, because I still have to tell myself that no, don’t be too big and don’t be too too much. Um, still, still gets in the way a little bit. And so that reminder is very necessary and has served me well. Um, to know that I am my best self when I let my light shine, no apologies. Um, and uh, being raised in the way that I was being raised. So, so connected to, to our planet, to community, to know where we come from, um, and really honoring this earth that holds us and feeds us and nourishes us. It’s a gift. We forget that we are a piece of this. We are just a little in this puzzle. That’s, that’s an important thing for me to come back to. I am made of earth.
Andrew 01:43:59 Wow. That’s beautiful. Thank you. Um, you know, you mentioned the reminder, you give yourself that your mom taught you as a little girl to not dinner star. Are there any other, uh, whether it’s practices or maybe quotes or things like that, that you lean on to keep doing your work and keep creating the environment you’re creating
May 01:44:26 New ones come up here and there, but not really. I think finding, finding your own guiding star is really important. Having those, those set values to come back to, um, there’s a return to home and it’s not home. You know, my home state of Minnesota, it’s not, it’s home here, it’s home, it’s home inside of me, which is sometimes challenging for me to access. I get very much in my head and I’m working and I’m distracted and there’s so much stimulus going on. But, uh, finding, finding that white space where you can think, um, sometimes at the studio, they joke that I should have a shower as my office because that’s when all of my best ideas happen. So I probably, all of my formulas came to me while showering, um, which is really inconvenient. Uh, because then I have to remember when I get out what, what all went into that.
Andrew 01:45:34 Um, I used to have this thing with the same problem and I swear I bought a, uh,
May 01:45:43 Okay, excellent. I will expect it on my desk,
Andrew 01:45:46 Major benefactors of beneficiaries of that, all the future customers you’re welcome and advanced for the brilliance that it will come out of her mind and will come to your skin.
May 01:45:57 But it is true. I think that we just need to leave enough space. The there’s a quote, and I forget who it’s by and I’m gonna butcher it anyway. So I’m not going to try, but it’s about the, the music is in the white space. It’s in the space between the notes. And there’s a couple of variations of that quote. Um, and I have learned repeatedly that my magic happens in the white space. It’s not where I sit on the org chart. It’s not the things that I’m saying. It’s not, you know, these like structured places where you see me show up, it’s, it’s everything in between. It’s there.
Andrew 01:46:40 I love that. And so when you think about like the idea of, you know, kind of going all the way back to the beginning of this conversation, you know, a few of the, a few, the recurring themes that are woven throughout this, throughout our conversation, and also are clearly just in the ethos and the air over there, right? Ritual, magic, um, connection. Uh, I’m curious, what are the, what are those rituals that you have for yourself at like individually as well as just for yourself? And then also as like a, as a leader of a company and for your environment, what are the rituals that you lean on to enliven yourself? So you can keep showing up the way you want to
May 01:47:19 I’m working on how I do that professionally, because I am challenged with it because I do do my most creative work solo. And when there’s white space and the world has gotten really full around me and the white space has been very limited. And so I do need a shower in my office, probably on a recycled water system. So I’m not using the whole planet’s waters to fuel all my inspiration. I’m cleansing on a personal level really is, has become a ritual for me that is sacred and there’s something in, in the power of touch. And we forget that we can get that from ourselves and through all of history, we’ve come together, um, in community as well as solo to cleanse, to rinse with water, to wash away the day to anoint, with oils, to massage, to feel the texture of our fingertips, the warmth of our skin, that’s really special. And we forget, we cleanse to remove dirt. We moisturize to prevent wrinkles. We look in the mirror to throw hate at ourself, and I want to shift that.
Andrew 01:48:53 Yeah. And that sort of brings me to my last question, which is what is that shift and the change that you want to seek in the world that you seek to make,
May 01:49:03 We deliver love. I want you to accept it
Andrew 01:49:09 Beautifully said, beautifully said, well, may I just want to say, thank you so much for just being so open and sharing your story. I’m totally inspired by everything that you’ve traded and everything you’re going to create. Uh, you know, just listening to you and getting a chance to get to know you better. I can, I can, it’s such a cool through line, right? I can see, I can see the little girl like pulling blood out of the river in Minnesota and the formations with her, you know, with her community there. And then like seeing the through line all the way through where you are now running this fantastic company based out of LA living, living your dream is it’s just super exciting. So, uh, thanks so much for being willing to spend some time with me and sharing your story. I love it. It’s great.
May 01:49:52 Truly my pleasure and my honor. Thank you, Andrew.