Jeremy Weisz 3:07
And you with with your company, I mean, companies use it internally, to give great stuff to their staff, or they’ll use it for VIP customers too, right?
Becky Feinberg-Galvez 3:18
Absolutely, yes, they can use it. They can use it for anything. I mean, to be to unite the people in your organization, it could be a gift to your donors at universities, it can be for alumni, you’re going to a convention, you have a leadership conference. I mean, we kind of see it all. We see we see it, we see people use our products in every which way,
Jeremy Weisz 3:36
what are some unique ways that have stuck out over the years that people have used you because I’m sure you get a ton of normal requests and strange requests to I mean,
Becky Feinberg-Galvez 3:47
I think out of the blue, you know, I mean, we all know people go to conferences and leadership seminars and really want to stick out. We we did actually Starbucks last year, and they had like a leadership conference in Southern California. And they were like, we all want something that’s fun and to stick out. You know, one of the things I saw once was a high school kid contacted us with a picture of a senior and wanted to put it on a tie. And they wanted 100 Kids in the senior class to buy it. And so we repeated his picture all over a tie and they had 100 kids buy it and we distributed everybody word. I guess the guy was a vending machine bandit. And they put, you know, this little label on the back of the tie, which was pretty hilarious. But I mean, we see it all family reunion, sometimes they’re not the normal, what we see what they want to like, come together and do something creative with their shields or, you know, different family crests on them. So just a lot of different things.
Jeremy Weisz 4:41
And you know, we were talking before you hit record on one of the coolest things you’ve done with ties around a big sporting event. So yeah,
Becky Feinberg-Galvez 4:49
for a couple of years in a row. We did some ties for the Super Bowl. It was not for the fans, but rather for some of the VIP people that were there. They went in a gift bag and also the people who were Tucked in the stadium, so, you know, they they differentiate between silk and polyester higher end. And then you know, just more common and it was really cool, we got to work with really subtle ways to incorporate the different Superbowl logos.
Jeremy Weisz 5:12
I love getting ideas, Becky of products in general and gifting. And so I’d love to hear some of the popular products. And also then I want to hear some of the new things in the pipeline, because you’re probably always thinking of new innovative products that people should be doing. What are some of the most popular ones that you have? Yeah, so
Becky Feinberg-Galvez 5:30
I mean, the company was really founded its corporate textiles. So ties were the foundation of the company, which morphed into bow ties, and then scar was in pockets. Whereas along that line, we introduced Hawaiian shirts back when I started working in the company in 2011. You know, I remember the first year, we sold about five shirts, and last year, there were 53% of our business. So I don’t necessarily think you need to look at it as a Hawaiian shirt. But it’s more of like the buttoned down shirt, you can, it doesn’t have to have Hawaiian patterns all over it, it could have something just really fun, unique, small, repeating, however you envision it, but I think that’s a really popular thing we do. Last year, we incorporate a bunch of new custom apparel products with socks and scrunchies. And Twilio ease and bandanas. Ne we really are trying to be unique custom apparel niche, we’re not going into T shirts, we get requests all the time to do t shirts, and we share with our partners, hey, you know, we have a client for you to do t shirts, but so we’re constantly thinking of ways to be different, different. And then we did performance shirts, which is fun, it’s not like Under Armour or Nike, and then you put a logo on it. It’s just all customized, which is super fun. The final thing we have coming out which we’re really excited about our custom scrubs. So we have done a lot of work with St. Jude in the past. And you know, they do a lot of children’s artwork on different things, ties and scrunchies. And, you know, different products they order. And we had done a prototype to try to work with them, but it didn’t quite work out. And then we were just like, wow, we would love to spark joy in children’s hospitals for kids. And so we have been building out, you know, six or seven iterations of this prototype, I think we finally have the material and we’re gonna get ready to launch pretty soon to to market.
Jeremy Weisz 7:19
But you talk speaks to that part about how do you decide whether to take on a new project or not, like you said, if someone wants shirts, just normal shirts, you’ll say, we don’t do that. I think it’s just
Becky Feinberg-Galvez 7:33
super competitive. Like, if you look around and see who your competitors are in a T shirt world, everybody, you know, screen printing, and they have the machinery and most people could do that. And so what’s gonna set us apart what’s going to differentiate us, we’re really looking for ways to be different, unique, and then still really ignite connection. And so when we look at a product, if it’s something that everybody is doing, it’s kind of like, you know, how successful are we going to be with that when when x person already has that footprint? So we really, you know, scrubs is a huge market as we look at it, but no one’s really doing custom scrubs. So or if they are, you know, it’s not very popular right now. Yeah,
Jeremy Weisz 8:13
no, I love that discipline, because I can see a slippery slope of well, if you heard they already trust you, right? They couldn’t get shirts anywhere. But they already did ties, they did, you know, Hawaiian shirts, and they’ve done multiple things with you. So like, Becky, like, you’re our people, like we want you to do these shirts, but you have a discipline to say, we’re not the best vendor for that.
Becky Feinberg-Galvez 8:36
Because we totally aren’t. And I think it’s just owning and knowing your capabilities and what you can and can’t do. And sometimes look, sometimes we think we’re going to be able to do a certain product with our supplier and we go and it takes three or four times and we’re like, alright, if you can find this elsewhere, please go on look for it. Because it doesn’t seem like it’s going well, you know, and we’ll work really hard. I mean, we’ve looked at doing custom Blazers for one of our customers or, you know, custom people had Hawaiian shirts. It was a Princeton reunion years ago. And then they had the Straw Hats and they wanted the little thing, the band that goes across the hat. And we’re like, I mean, that’s just cotton, it’s apparel, we can definitely do that, you know, we just need sizing. And so we kind of learn more or less what we can and can’t do, and we’re figuring it out as we move forward.
Jeremy Weisz 9:22
You know, we will talk about your crazy COVID journey. Okay, because when I think of COVID journeys, I think of your story as really a crazy path. But I want to back up and talk about the path to you running Candor Threads because you weren’t always in the business. No, no.
Becky Feinberg-Galvez 9:41
I came out of college and went to grad school and became a Spanish teacher. So I actually taught middle school Spanish up on the north shore of Chicago and then I decided after a couple of years that I was going to move back to Chile because I’d studied abroad there and I had a group of friends and I felt like When I was young and wanting more experience internationally, so I moved back there, got a job at the International School, which was amazing. So all the ambassador or foreign company, children would come, you know, and they it was a school that followed the American calendar. So I taught Spanish to same way, but I did elementary school there. And while I was there, I also kind of had this entrepreneurial spirit spirit. And I was like, Hey, maybe I should import silk ties, build a website and see if I could sell them. Amazon was a big thing in the US. And I didn’t really understand what it meant to study your market and know, you know, when it was going to be a successful product or not. So my stepdad had on corporate textiles, and I said, Hey, would you help me and so we imported you know, we designed some silk ties, imported 10,000 ties. At the time, my husband, I was living with him, he wasn’t my husband, but we his apartment looked like a storage room with just boxes of cell ties. Everywhere, I built a website, it was called soap sensation, I launched it, and I was like, great, everybody’s gonna start buying now. And it was an epic failure. Nobody was buying online back in, I don’t know, 2006 or seven. And Chile was not like the Amazon craze in the US. So there, I was stuck with 10,000 ties. And I would go to stores and try to sell them to the stores. It worked a couple times, or you know, at my husband’s company for their Christmas party, they bought 200 soul ties for me for all the engineers. And it was not a great story. I actually ended up doing a couple of custom tie orders while I was down there, but the bureaucracy and the paperwork, and it’s a whole different animal to be there and try to run a business. So you know, when we were moving back here, I was like, Okay, we’re going to shut down stoke sensation are going to close out all the paperwork, it was not very profitable. Fortunately, I was able to make enough money to pay my stepdad back the loan he had given me to just buy those soul ties. And then I closed that down and moved home after that, but I went from being a Spanish teacher to kind of asking Arnie, who was my stepfather, hey, do you think that I can have an opportunity to work with you? And he was like, What are you going to do? And I was like, I don’t know, learn the business, try it out. And he said, Sure. Why you can’t move when you move home, I’ll pay you $3,000 a month, and you can just sit next to me at the time, he was a solopreneur. So I sat next to him. And my first job was he gave me probably about 2000 trifold papers that we were going to send out in a mailing and he said, Now fold these and send them out. But they didn’t tell me that staples on the street trifold it for like, two cents each. So I loved it. It was like a direct mail we were doing to try to get more customers. So that was my first experience. But I spent a lot of time just next to him and learning the business.
Jeremy Weisz 13:00
Talk about So who are you sending those to? So you were you were saying those trifold out direct mail to let them know about your services
Becky Feinberg-Galvez 13:07
as schools and Catholic and private schools were always a big, you know, vertical for us for the ties, a lot of them have it just as part of their uniform or dress code. So I remember at that time, we had bought a list and created a mailer and you know, printed out little eight by 11 pieces of paper. And we’re just sharing about our products sending a direct mailer to schools and private and Catholic schools.
Jeremy Weisz 13:36
What do you do today? To get the word out? Do you still do direct mail? We have done
Becky Feinberg-Galvez 13:43
it COVID was tough. Actually, we we decided we’ll do like some cool postcards. And we got a lot of Return to Sender because people weren’t in the office. But I mean, we do a huge combination of you know, digital marketing online Google AdWords and then a lot of our business is relationship building, just building out our networks and our relationships and really connecting with people, referrals, repeat customers. You know, we we do we we do email our campaigns I think we do at all we look at and we’re like, okay, what is our marketing strategy and you know, most successful is always a referral and someone you’ve worked with and comes back to you and you know, has more people like themselves who want what they had gotten. And then probably least successful are these email campaigns or direct mailers. But once in a while you get, you know, a customer or two,
Jeremy Weisz 14:34
but he talks about the evolution of the staff. So it’s Arnie in his basement. Right? And then it’s you and Arnie
Becky Feinberg-Galvez 14:42
was upstairs office. And my mom at times would just to help out with accounts receivable or something like that a lot. It was they would eat lunch together and she would do something, you know, nice for the business. And then it was Arne and I in an office together for a couple of years, and, you know, it was it was an amazing learning experience learn from the business. He taught me incredible lessons. And there was also a lot of conflict. I mean, it was antiquated. And I remember that he wanted to it was Microsoft Works, I think. And he kept every time we tried to do something different. He put this disc, he was like, we have to stick with the Microsoft Works, even though you couldn’t even get it anymore, right? Like, the computers had phased out of it. And he was like, I have it on a disk, we’re gonna insert it and we’re gonna keep because it was working. And it was working for him. And I think, you know, he said, I grew this business, I evolved it and you’re gonna take it kind of to the next level. So we had a couple great. I mean, they were tough, actually, you know, I started working with him. Unfortunately, he got diagnosed with cancer a couple months. And we spent a lot of time at his at his bedside and kind of working through that he went into remission, I had a kid, got pregnant, had a second kid got re diagnosed. And he ended up actually passing away two months, or sorry, two days before my second son was born. So you know, watch the funeral from my heart to hear that. Thank you. It was it was a wild ride. But I will say in the times we had together, I learned a lot from him. And if there’s one thing I could say is that he was an extreme relationship builder. Like, I would remember sitting next to him. And he would be on the call for 45 minutes. I was like, What are you doing, like 45 minutes? It’s the grandkids the dog? And I was like, oh, yeah, I get it. It’s kind of in our nature to just, you know, my employees say the same thing about me all the time. I’m like, Hey, you got to find ways to really, really connect with the customers, you know. And then like, we try and I’m like, first, you can talk about the weather. I know, it’s super cheesy. But everybody wants to talk about the 40 degrees in the snow in Chicago today. And then it goes into spirals into something else and something else. And somehow there’s just this like connected element that Arnie had. And I feel like, you know, I have as well. So it feels very kind of like a natural. Synergy.
Jeremy Weisz 16:57
What, Becky was another big lesson that you remember or learn from from Arnie? I think
Becky Feinberg-Galvez 17:04
probably just to keep going through the tough times, like I wasn’t in the business, but I know they went through some tough times in the recession. And I remember him maybe looking at a you know, when you ask is a product work or not. I remember him looking at a blanket business. And they maybe tried it and it was like, oh, no, that’s not our forte didn’t work out. But I think, you know, resilience, to keep moving forward to really do what you love to do. He spent a lot of time just talking to people on the phone, you know, and he was super jazzed about it. And I have that same sensation. So just relationships, connectedness,
Jeremy Weisz 17:41
your journey, it the beginning of COVID. What’s kind of crazy, what’s very crazy. I
Becky Feinberg-Galvez 17:50
got interviewed by I remember a reporter called me and I got interviewed by 2020 I think it was end of February. They’re like, hey, you know, what are you experiencing? Our suppliers are in China, we have a great relationship. We’ve had, you know, a two decade long relationship with them. And they call me they’re like, hey, we want to interview you. And so they were in Chicago, and they had me do this whole thing. They went to the office, they walked around my whole office, I remember them asking me like, are you worried because COVID was obviously happening in China. We just weren’t experiencing it here yet. And so I was seeing what was happening there. But they kept being like, it’ll be a couple of weeks, you know, and we’ll be back online. And so they ended up coming back online. And so I felt like, we’re good, like, everything’s gonna be good. And I had this whole interview, and it errored. And then I remember I was driving, I have a mentor, who I got through EO and he’s in Columbus, Ohio, and I’m driving out to visit him, goes May, it was May 11, maybe, or 10. And I’m getting calls in my car, like, hey, Becky, we’re gonna have to cancel our order, hey, it looks like things are freezing up. And I was like, oh, man, this is not good. And so his cancellation call after cancellation call for cancellation call. And when I spoke to him, we had a long conversation. He shared with me his experience about the recession and having to let a lot of his employees go and that it was a really tough time. And, you know, at first I came back thinking I was going to hang on to my employees. And then, you know, in the next days that were coming, it was more cancellation. Everything just started to shut down, shut down, shut down. And I said, Oh, man, there’s no need for our product. Our product is about people coming together and connecting and being in a space together. And every everybody was going into isolation. So really quickly, we lost probably about 95% of our business. And I sat on calls with my EO forum, about my cash runway about what I could do. And, you know, it took it took a couple of weeks when we decided, you know, I let my employees go, I held on to two of them. And at that point, we decided, hey, we’re gonna we have these Chicago themed Hawaiian shirts in the office. We’re going to I am hearing about all my friends in the restaurant industry who are just also suffering. Locally, we’re going to sell these Hawaiian shirts, and we’re just going to donate all of this to buy food for the frontline workers. So for a couple of weeks, we had this, probably a month, we had this great campaign going, I had a bunch of friends who are nurses and doctors just being burnt out friends who are in the restaurant industry. And we had these Hawaiian shirts that we had made that were awesome. They were just Chicago themed. And we’re like, well, rally people together, we’ll sell them, put them in the mail, you know, and everything we get from that will use to buy at a local restaurant and deliver to nurses and doctors or people on the frontlines. Policemen, anybody we knew that we could help. So we did that I spent a lot of time going around to different places. And it was about April 3, when la came or fourth and La came out with this mandate, and they’re like, we’re gonna have everybody start wearing cloth face coverings, and they should be made of cotton material. And I looked and I was like, Is this is this where we’re going? And it was that night that I said, Hey, we make sure it’s in continuity, if this is what they’re saying, why don’t we do if everybody’s gonna have to start wearing these masks? And what we’re used to is doing something customized, why don’t we do customize masks. So it was probably a about two days of back and forth conversations with my supplier, showing prototypes, what it would look like, and he had sent me his first iteration of it, and I was like, This is great. Let’s run with it. And so I just opened up the floodgates, I said, Hey, we can make customize masks, in bulk for b2b organizations. And it was just the craziest thing. I mean, within about three weeks, I had to hire everybody back and start hiring more people. And I worked more than I’ve ever worked in my life during COVID. I mean, I spent probably about 16 to 18 hours a day in my office, because I needed to be there and just navigating everything that was going on. But we had we ended up having in 2020, the best year in business that we had ever had going from being down 95%. So it was definitely crazy. Also scary. Because all we were selling wear masks. That was it. So as soon as the masks started to like, kind of come down at the end of 2020. Like, do we even have a business left? Was 2021 going to be like, and I think there was a lot of fear around that and uncertainty and you know, not knowing we just saw like the mask orders tank. And we’re like, is anybody going to come back? Does anybody want anything else? So we got stuck in this in this place of like the high the like, Oh, should we be cautious now?
Jeremy Weisz 22:34
So what happened after you know, because in hindsight is 2020, right, I mean, at that point, we didn’t know if masks was gonna be like a mainstream thing. You took a risk of saying, Listen, this is our option right now. And you You went all in on that? And, you know, obviously we saw Yes, it just continued. But so what did you start to do as you saw the masks? Okay. I mean, in one sense, I guess it’s a good sign of people are coming back to normal. But I the company’s trail that too. So the new normal is different from what the old normal is. So what did you see from okay, we laid everyone off. And then what you did what I thought was really interesting what you did Becky’s, like you thought of it is how can I help? How can I give like at that point, it wasn’t, even though you’re in survival. At that point. It’s amazing that you just band together and you’re like, we’re gonna sell these and donate it.
Becky Feinberg-Galvez 23:34
I think as an entrepreneur, we’re used to being so busy, right? And, and just so active, I don’t like the word busy, I’m gonna say active, that’s been my thing for the last like two years, so active every day that all of a sudden, you’re like, no emails are coming in, I have nothing to do you know, and that’s scary. And so I think I always go into how can I help just from a teacher’s mentality I had, I feel like, our company is very much like that one of our core values is have fun, help out and have fun. And we’re always looking for ways to help, whether it be, you know, to the community or to our customers or with each other. I think we really take that for value and take it to heart. So yeah, it was like, What can we do? What can we do right now? Because there’s we can’t control we can’t control right. And last week, I went to a yo event and they were actually talking about predicting revenue and uncertain times. And they said you have a locus of control and what’s outside of your locus of control, you know, they talked about the war now and inflation and labor shortage and tough job market but what is in your locus of control? So I feel like that what was in that is what was in our Locus of Control was what how could we help helping?
Jeremy Weisz 24:45
So when that started to hit, you started to see so masks peeked. And then you saw it kind of slowly go down. Then what were you thinking what was next that you had to do?
Becky Feinberg-Galvez 24:57
I think it was like, Hey, are people can we now put Shout out. Nobody was looking at our regular price. We totally stopped every advertisement we did for him. And then it looked like oh, people want to come together and there were celebrations happening. So we’re like, okay, now how do we message out that this is what’s going to unify people, we’re going to reignite connections, we’re, you know, and so I think we saw mass kind of started to tank around September, October of 2020. And when we looked at our numbers, in 2020 86%, of our sales were masks. In 2021, I think it was about 11%. It totally flipped, we saw. So I think people then wanted something fun and exciting. And they wanted to feel this sense of coming togetherness. So then the Hawaiian Aloha fun shirt, whatever you want to call it came back. And it was like, we want that, that that and it was just order after order. And we’re like, wow, okay, so that’s happening now, you know. And so we looked at like, Okay, this is a product that everybody’s wanting, and again, it’s a little bit niche, because people do it. But I think we do it best. And it’s not a super saturated market. So it’s like, wow, we have all of these untapped customers, plus, all of our previous customers, like, let’s reengage with them, like, we’re gonna start re engaging and sending out new messaging of like, we can probably put our masks away. And mask was the thing that, you know, we got in on it early on, but everybody wasn’t doing it. Like it felt like every company was, you know, making masks. So everybody had their mask supplier, you know, we were some people than somebody else, do some somewhere else, and you liked the masks you liked. And so yeah, that was kind of our trajectory.
Jeremy Weisz 26:39
It’s amazing. It is a wild ride. You know why like, is even serious professions. You make fun with the Hawaiian shirt. So I love to talk about the military a little bit. Yeah,
Becky Feinberg-Galvez 26:53
so we work with so many squadrons. I mean, one of our biggest verticals for these fun shirts are squadrons. And really, they come on their own, a lot of it is just referral base, because a lot of them know each other. A lot of actually, like fighter pilots, squadrons, helicopters, like aviation. And so they give us their logo, or their crest or their squadron patch. And we build these fun shirts for them, you know, we, we give them artwork, and then they buy them. And we always get these super fun pictures that they send us like, we had this event, or we could, you know, we’re deploying, and we want to celebrate something together. And it’s just so nice to see, I’m like with these big smiles on their face. And you know, for all the service that they do for our country, that giving them a moment to like feel connected in a way that’s not in their regular daily military uniform is pretty cool. Plus, they have so much fun with them, like they’re always sending us just these super fun pictures that we get to look at and talking about how big of a difference it made for their squadron. So that has been a huge vertical for us. And we’re looking to really explore more of that and understand, you know, how to reach more squadrons, as well as looking at some partnerships. How can we give back, you know, they have a military discount, but also, again, we took a 1% pledge. So whether it’s time service, or product or money, product or service, we always want to find ways to give back.
Jeremy Weisz 28:16
Yeah, there was one of the events we did with Bunker Labs, I don’t know if you’ve heard of them was to introduce you to them. They’re kind of a veteran, entrepreneur organization. So that’s a fun one. So shout out to Bunker Labs and what they do over there and wants to introduce you to Becky. Becky have one last question. And before I do I just want to point people to CcandorThreads.com, so everyone should check it out. It’s Candorthreads.com. Are there any other places on your website or online we should we should point people towards?
Becky Feinberg-Galvez 28:55
I mean, I think you got it. One thing I did want to add was when I think about fun groups a lot, we’ve seen a lot of increase in the aerospace groups for us. So you know, all the people trying to go to space, like it’s a fun fun shirt to make. So they’ve, we’ve done a lot of work with them, as well as the Googles, and the Facebook’s and Ubers. Like some, like a lot of the tech companies are really big into like trying to have fun. So that’s been a super fun journey to kind of go on and, you know, they all operate in their own silos. So if you work with, you know, Google in California, you’re not working with Google in Chicago, it’s kind of interesting to see how none of them know they’ve worked with the same vendor, but yet they’re all kind of producing similar products or they’re thinking similarly. But as far as finding us, I mean, just at Candorthreads.com. I’m on LinkedIn connect with me I always really honestly enjoy meeting anybody and I love talking to other entrepreneurs like it’s super that is EO has been my place you know, that’s where you and I met Jeremy but it’s there truly like my tribe of people and connecting with other entrepreneurs and just, you know, Having that energy flow between you is something like I haven’t experienced in other places.
Jeremy Weisz 30:05
So Becky, my last question is about that, which is mentors. And that can be of recent years of late years. You know, any mentors you’ve had and some of that advice. They’ve, they’ve given you that sticks out.
Becky Feinberg-Galvez 30:20
Yeah, I mean, I have had my mentor, and he’s in Columbus, Ohio, and he, you know, took a brand public and sold it and is a retail brand. And he’s been incredible for my journey, I think, just from a very, whether you’re a billion dollar company, or a million dollar company, or $200,000 company, you know, we all experience very similar things. And I think he’s really brought that back for me, and helped me understand that nobody likes to fire anybody, you know, on the day, I have to fire somebody, it’s, it’s horrible. But on the day, he had to fire somebody, even though we had 1000s of employees, it was it was a horrible day for him as well uncomfortable. And, you know, so I think that’s been really awesome for me. And he’s really had me here, when you talk about how do you know what you want to invest in or build out, he’s really had me avoid the shiny object syndrome. If I take an idea to him, let’s really work that through Let’s talk it through, you know, financially, let’s look at it. And so it’s been really awesome to work with someone who’s been there done that multiple times for different companies and can really just focus helped me focus on not the shiny object syndrome, but what’s working really well let’s keep doing what’s working really well. And are there other ideas that could work well, well, let’s talk about them before we just kind of launch in and
Jeremy Weisz 31:33
Love it. Becky, I want to be the first one to thank you everyone and check out candor. threads.com more episodes of the podcast and thanks everyone. Thanks, Becky.
Becky Feinberg-Galvez 31:43
Thank you Jeremy and appreciate it.