This is a follow up story for Braxley Bands. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published almost 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
My name is Braxton Manley and I am the creator of Braxley Bands.
In college, I invented a stretchy Apple Watch band for a class project and have since built an international 'cult' customer base on a single simple product. We started the business with literally $20. In 2020 we doubled our revenue profitably and did nearly $2,000,000 in sales.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Since we last talked, we have experimented with many different things and figured out some strategies that make our growth easier to manage. We have also improved on our customer experience and the overall quality of the product. At this point, very customer touchpoint has been completely thought through and I believe we are truly giving people an engaging and inspiring brand experience that you can't find anywhere else.
Fuel your body right and it will fuel your mind. Then you can be a great creator, leader, and thinker effortlessly.
We recently began establishing a presence on Tik Tok. This channel seems to be very promising and their discovery algorithm is incredible. The two main social channels we focus on are Instagram and Tik Tok.
Last summer we built and launched a custom Shopify theme. This was a game-changer for us. It raised our conversion rate 20% over the year prior and we are constantly making updates and improvements to the website. It's a living thing and needs to feel fresh yet familiar.
At the start of this year we brought my younger brother, Zach onto the team to act as the quantitative compliment to my qualitative style of thinking. (Basically, he's a numbers wiz and I'm an eccentric creative.) I am going to begin focusing my efforts on brand experience, creative direction, content, internal team coordination, project management with the agencies we work with, and visualizing the direction we want to steer this ship. Grant (Co-Founder) and I have been taking on every task ourselves for the last 4 years so having someone else on the team is a massive weight off my shoulders. These days, Grant's main focus is managing paid traffic, fulfillment, customer service, and wrist modeling (lol).
I'm incredibly grateful to have these two guys in my life and it makes the business fun when you're grinding it out with your brother and your best friend. We intentionally push each other to set personal goals and be better men. At the core of it, we are there for each other as friends before business partners. This is a big key to our success. Don't take life or business too seriously. Life is entirely meaningless and we are only alive for a flash of time. Keep that in perspective and stop caring about silly stuff.
I think our secret to profitable growth has been through telling our authentic and transparent brand story on any platform we can get on, interactive marketing efforts like giveaways or polls on Instagram (Like asking for feedback on new band designs), hilarious automated email flows, SMS campaigns, and encouraging word of mouth marketing by getting customers to shout us out on their IG story for a repost from our account.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
The toughest lesson learned was probably that we needed to give way deeper into data and stats when it can to buying inventory. For us, it’s quite complex because we have 8 sizes per Apple Watch band style, and certain styles sell out of sizes at an uneven pace. So we sold out of several sizes way too quickly while keeping a massive surplus in other sizes. This leads to customer frustration, loss of potential revenue, and high sunk cost, especially as we scale everything up.
Other than that, the tough lesson was that advertising costs can really add up. Our 2021 focus is to invest way more heavily into organic social and content so that we don't have to pay for the traffic (as much). I think this just comes down to having really amazing and consistent content and getting scrappy with it. Don't overthink it. Especially on a place like Tik Tok, people want to see authenticity.
Ultimately this year I am figuring out how to only work on the aspects of the business I love most. And at the end of the day, all I want is to love my life and love what I do for a living. I started this because it was my dream to own my own fashion-based business. Here we are 4 years in and I sometimes still can't believe I really ended up here. I am almost always being productive or exercising my brain/ creative capacity in some way. If you want to make it as an entrepreneur, you must realize that you are never going to clock out. (But if you're loving what you're doing, you will never clock in either.)
Find cheat codes for life. For me, this includes optimizing my body, mind, and spirit through pretty disciplined health and wellness practices. I cook 90% of the food I eat myself and I only use top-quality paleo ingredients. (If you think buying grass-fed or organic is too expensive, but you eat out or order in all the time, you're playing yourself.) I use float tanks weekly, saunas, high-intensity strength training, and give myself lots of quiet time to think. I'll just say this as well... the biggest cheat code that myself and the successful people around me do is we consume minimal amounts of alcohol but do consume micro to moderate amounts of psilocybin mushrooms on a regular basis. Do some research and open your mind. I think psychedelic research/popularization will define this decade and could legitimately save humanity.
I highly recommend using a journal and stay organized and mindful in the mornings and evenings. I like the Polymath Planner. Create a clear weekly to-do list. I try not to even go on my computer before I put a to-do list together. This keeps me from wasting time and getting distracted or overwhelmed. Identify what needs to be done and then do it. Simple.
Most of this knowledge started from reading and listening to Tim Ferriss and the guests he has on his show. He is without a doubt my greatest mentor.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
This fall we plan to release an elastic belt! This has been in the prototype stage for over a year. We knew the function of the Waist Belt was good but we wanted to absolutely nail the design. (and also there was no rush. We were predominantly focused on growing our watch bands and all our cash flows went to inventory. So I'm pretty excited about that and you should be too cause it's gonna be beautiful.
I have no idea what the next 5 years have in store for us. We are just going to take things day by day and keep having a good time with this project.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
- The Almanac of Naval Ravikant This is my favorite and most impactful thing I've ever read. Naval is one of the greatest life hackers of our time.
- Deep Work In a world full of distractions, those who can focus will be the successful ones.
- 4 Hour Workweek (this is a book that I use as a sort of business bible. I never plan to stop rereading it!)
- Aubrey Marcus Podcast
- Kyle Kingsbury Podcast -Align Podcast -Fundamental Health
- Tim Ferriss Podcast
- Unofficial Shopify Podcast
- Ecommerce Fuel -Kevin Rose Show
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Aggressively monitor your media ‘diet’. My Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter follow/subs consist of great thinkers, founders, and brands that inspire me. Don't be afraid of social media, just be mindful when using it. Just as you are what you eat, your thoughts and ideas revolve around what kind of information you consume and the people you're around. Social media can be an incredible tool for gaining knowledge and networking. Use it as such.
Just focus on being effective. All the time. Being effective can take many forms, but you can feel it when you're in touch with yourself. Do this and life gets easy. Life is a game of compound interest and every day you get 1% better at something, it will add up to insane amounts of skill or knowledge over the medium to long term.
Optimize your physical health first. It all starts there. Make the simple effort to fuel your body right and it will automatically fuel your mind and spirit. Then you can be a great creator, leader, and thinker effortlessly.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We want to work with amazing artists and content creators (Especially for Tik Tok). Also, we may be looking to take on an investor or strategic partner this year, so if you know of anyone that would be a good fit, please let me know!
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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