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From Hobby to 6-Figure Businesses with Larissa Loden | EP. #140

July 03, 2024 | Author: Andrew Maff
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Some businesses tend to come together naturally when they're rooted in passion, but that doesn't mean they aren't challenged. On this 140th episode of the E-Comm Show, Andrew Maff interviews Larissa Loden, founder and owner of Larissa Loden.

 

In this episode, Larissa Loden dives into the journey of what it really looks like to be an  entrepreneur. Larissa illustrates the nuances of both e-commerce and live store management, including one Mall of America store location. From mastering the art of managing others to understanding it’s a marathon- not a race, this episode is full of golden nuggets.

Watch the full episode below, or visit TheEcommShow.com for more.

 

If you enjoyed the show, please rate, review, and SUBSCRIBE!


Have an e-commerce marketing question you'd like Andrew to cover in an upcoming episode? Email: hello@theecommshow.com

 

 


 

 

 

 

 



 From Hobby to 6-Figure Businesses with Larissa Loden
 
 

 
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Andrew Maff and Larissa Loden

CONNECT WITH OUR HOST: AndrewMaff.com  |  Twitter: @AndrewMaff | LinkedIn: @AndrewMaff 

 

 

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Larissa Loden

 

 

 

 

 

 

Larissa Loden is the founder and owner of Larissa Loden, a St. Paul-based jewelry company that sells styles which range from effortlessly minimalist to strikingly maximalist. Each Larissa Loden piece sold supports a woman-mother-artist owned business and helps build a growing community of diverse and badass artists and creators. Larissa is a strong believer in putting your money where your mouth is, and has donated over $100,000 to causes important to her. Larissa Loden has been featured in Marie Claire, Refinery29, HuffPost, USA Today, and is sold in over 600 retailers nationwide. Before running her business full-time, Larissa worked as an art teacher in the Minneapolis Public School system for eight years while making jewelry on the side. Fast forward to 2024, Larissa now has a staff of 19 and recently opened her second store at the Mall of America. Larissa is a mom of two little ones and lives in saint Paul, MN.

00:02

She said, business is easy, people are hard,  Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of The E-Comm Show as usual, I'm your host, Andrew Maff, and today I'm joined by the amazing Larissa Loden, who is the CEO and founder of Larissa Loden, Larissa, how are you doing today? You ready for a good show? Yes. Always super excited to have you on the show for everyone who like doesn't watch the podcast on YouTube or on the ecommshow.com, and you're just a listener. Larissa is currently in the back room at a her retail location in Mall of America, which is the way that I want every podcast done, going forward of the realities of owning retail, being an entrepreneur, of like, No, this is our life, and we accept it, and none of this fake background, Bs, like, I've got going on. So, Larissa, I greatly appreciate you joining us right now. Thank you. I know it was funny when I hopped on here and I was like, at first, I was like, Oh, well, maybe I can drive to my office in St Paul. And I was like, this is bananas. Like, we need to show what entrepreneurship looks like way more often. And it is, like, the behind the scenes of your, like, brand new store. And you're like, yeah, there's like, a whole entire mess behind me, and, like, my employees are playing bingo. Apparently, I'm like, What is this? I was like, I've been here in a week. Tell me about this, though. Yeah, the real realities of it, right? It's like, what is it kind of like, influencers in the wild kind of thing, entrepreneurs, you do your videos, and we look all cool and great. And then the reality is, I spend most of my time crying under my desk, and instead, we are here now trying to make it look as lavish as I can. But, uh, literally, I think a Slack message I sent earlier today was I was like, Okay, I think I'm gonna go try to channel this rage into being very productive and like, slashing my email inbox by in half right now. So, yeah, that's the way to do it. Oh, this is gonna be fun. I'm super excited for this. I love interestingly talking about the jewelry space, because I've done a lot of work in it, and I know how wildly complicated and crowded it is, and you, I will obviously allow you to tell the story, because I don't want to butcher it, but I know that you basically had this as a hobby that has now grown into extremely lucrative business where you have beautiful backgrounds in Mall of America, which is awesome, so I'll let you, I will let you tell a story. So give us a little background about yourself and the business of Loris Lowden as well. Yeah, it's kind of a funny story now that's actually come full circle. So how I got introduced into jewelry was my high school art teacher left a necklace for me on my graduation chair that she made for me, and I was always very into the arts and everything. And I was like, Oh, this is so cool. And then I also was like, you've been holding out to me, where was the jewelry lesson my entire high school experience? You know? I was just like, I don't know what I thought, but I was like, okay, jewelry comes from Claire's or something like that. It just like, never made sense for me. And that summer, I was moving, actually, to Minnesota. I followed a boy out here, and like a good person that has is oblivious to everything, I came to the Mall of America and I got a job here. Let me tell you, Minnesotans don't get jobs at the Mall of America. But I had no idea. I was like, yeah, so I got a job at a bead store at the Mall of America, literally, this was 20 years ago, um, and I think I was making like, fuck, like, six, 650, an hour, but you could sell consignment so you could make extra money selling jewelry. Um, and I was like, Okay, well, you are I'm not getting paid enough. So my entrepreneurial, like, background kicked in, and I was like, Okay, I'm going to start making and selling jewelry. And then I think that following that fall, like, literally, I've been making jewelry for like two or three months, that by then, and I did my first, like, Art Fair. I was like, let me at you, world. So yeah, and I think I made like $150 and I was like, I have a. Arrived, they were selling stuff for like, five, $10 like, obviously did not understand margins, or, like, the price of your work or anything like that. I was like, okay, cool. Um, but I was, like, hooked, and I like, loved it, um, funnily enough, uh, I grew up in a small business family they have, they still, to this day, have a gift store in upstate New York. Um, and I saw the entrepreneurial grind, and so I was like, I don't want any of that. I'm going to be an art teacher. Um, so during this entire time, I was making and selling jewelry on the side, but was like, I'm going to be an art teacher, because that looks like an easy life. And I was an art teacher for eight years, but continually, on the side, was making and selling jewelry. It got to a point where I had two part time employees and was still teaching part time. And my assistant principal at the time was, like, you can always come back to this, but you only get like, one shot of entrepreneurism. And I think, like, I just told my self this, like, very much. So, like, entrepreneurial ism is a grind, but I also just told myself that that wasn't the life that I wanted when all I could do, like, it was just so natural in me. It's like, in my DNA, you know, to make something and sell something, and also, like, I only go, like, I am not I'm not manageable. Like, you have to get out of my way and like to do and so I just did that. Yeah, like, what crazy person is? Like, oh yeah, I'm gonna, like, teach. And also, like, have two employees. Like it was just a hilarious life. But yeah, so then I went into really building Larissa Lowden, and it really started like I understood the world of wholesale super well from growing up in my family's fallen business. So primarily, pre pandemic, it was all wholesale and like, in person sales, like, I really didn't understand e com at that moment. Like, kind of dabbled in it, like, but just really didn't have that. I was very much so an in person. Then fast forward, covid comes. You know, let me tell you, what does covid Knock Out? Uh, in person, sales and wholesale, because Wholesale is all retail stores that are in person, brick and mortar. So, like, literally, my business got decimated overnight. But I have, like, a really great team that's super scrappy and entrepreneurial. And I was like, right, we're gonna, like, teach ourselves everything in econ, like we taught ourselves meta, we taught ourselves. Like, you know, how to really set up great flows and email and, like, we just browned it out, and then, yeah, and then about, like, two years after covid, that's when we opened up our first store in St Paul. And then we've been kind of toying with the idea like, brick and mortar post pandemic is really interesting, because it's like, everybody's like, for a while. I think everybody was like, online is the only way. And then it's like, brick and mortar, just like, and you can see it in all of these, like, venture backed brands and everything like that. But like, brick and mortar has a place still. So we very much. So we're like, what do we want to Oh, yeah, yeah. And Minnesota is weird because it's like, unlike some areas, like, if you go to, like, Austin, Texas, there's like, two huge areas. You can go shop, you can go shop in South Congress, or you can go shop in the domain. Minnesota is like, you can have, like, a good street, like, it just isn't, like, these are the big areas. And I was like, well, where's the one place where, if you're a tourist, where do you go? And it's like, the Mall of America. And so we started talking to them literally in January of this year, of like, what would it look like? And then a spa opened up, and they were like, how fast can you store? No one was like, How much time do I have? And they're like, the store will be open, that it will be vacant in 30 days, and then we can give you an additional 30 days. And I was like, All right, so from design to hiring staff and everything, we did it in about 60 days. Like, it was insane, yeah? But I like, I love that though, because I tell you, like, Well, yeah, so it's a challenge, but also when it's so busy, like, all of the weird fluff just goes away, because you really know what your priorities are. Then you know it's not this, like, oh, is this, like, the next big thing, or like, do I need to do this? It allows you to be because your time is so finite during those moments, like, it gets you really tactical and dialed in. So I kind of like, love those times a little bit that very much fits within real DNA. Like, yeah. Like, give me go from zero to 1000 that is yes in my thriving moment, sometimes absolutely so is the mall America's location number two, I believe, correct. Yep. Number two. So we really wanted to test this A to figure out if we wanted to have multiple locations. So it's smart to kind of test it where we can control several variables, and then this is like a very much so instead of like our first location, which I like, like to call the mothership, which is a really like a retention store, this one was primarily like acquisition. So it's really interesting to kind of have to introduce people to the brand again in an in person capacity. So kind of re teaches you some fundamentals that you forget sometimes. Oh yeah, but I'm sure, I mean, obviously, I know it's still early days, but I would imagine it's got to be a great opportunity to be in a mall like that, especially now that retails really started to get back to where it once was, and it's all tourists. So it's people from all over the country, all over the world, that get to meet your brand. So as long as they leave there and remember you, even if they didn't make a purchase, then you can find ways to kind of target them further down the line. Am I right? Yeah, we have a couple of things. So we have flows set up through Flavio, where we've kind of tagged people, so that way we kind of know, like that they're a new customer, kind of entering the flow and everything. And then at times when we can do some deep date, deep customer cohort analysis, then we'll kind of like understand that, and I'm very curious to kind of understand the flow of it from, like, one time purchasers, and understanding, like, what is it that's going to make these people like repeat purchasers? So, yeah, is retail still the majority of the business, slash, like the wholesale side, or are you starting to cater more to the E commerce side? Um, it's an E commerce so, um, it's actually like the business. Last year, we went with a new meta partner. Like meta had kind of been successful. We kind of like turned it off, turned it on, but never had found that, like, self implemented. And then we found a partner who was like employee number six at ruggable, and he helped us scale our meta ads like nothing. And it truly like, I mean, we went to being a primarily DTC business last year, so we got to see the power of what paid marketing can do in the right hands. And this year's been a little bit more. This year is just real weird, like, it's like, a bit of, like, yeah, like, this is what I mean, of, like, it's kind of fun opening a store because it helps you get really dialed in. Because, like, I'm on some like, D to C slack communities, and it's like, is meta doing stuff? Is it because it's an election year, like, you know, like, you can get real into it, like, a little bit on, like, what it is, like, I would say, like, the something's funky in the air right now, and it could be. And I don't think there's one thing, you know. I just think it's like a whole myriad of things. But yeah, we had a, yeah, yeah. We have a, I don't know if I can swear on this podcast or not, but go for it. Fuck it. Yeah. We have, like, a little stud. That's like a little fuck stud. And it just like, went insane online. It still is, like, our number one, like, I mean, hands down. It's the hero product of the brand. And, like, it was funny, because it's like, technically, like, we have to be very careful with meta around that. But yeah, that's like, the thing that can't stop, won't stop. You know, she's list, yeah, she's the winner of the brand little stud. Everybody loves it. Yeah. Have you? Have you ventured into the Tiktok world yet, just this really weird relationship? Um, I mean, social media and me kind of have this weird relationship. But, um, I've tried. I maybe it's for me I need to hire an employee that maybe, like, loves Tiktok, but then also, like, Okay, I content creators are, like, really fucking hard individuals to, like, manage, because, yeah, yes, and I kind of have had this idea because content creators are interesting, because it's like, they have a lot of entrepreneurial tendencies, but they're not ready to go, like, full blown, like, they're just, like, a couple of things maybe aren't there yet, or they don't have the ideas, you know. So they're extremely difficult to manage, you know. And so Tiktok has been something that we've tested. I'm trying to at the moment. It's just this back burner for me, and I also feel like we kind of missed it, like when Tiktok was going crazy in 2000 literally, like my business was tanking, you know. And I probably should have been on Tiktok a bit more, but I was six months pregnant and pre covid. We decided to do a house Reno. And the idea was that during that that we would just kind of, like, travel around a bit, you know, so the house rental wouldn't be that big of a deal. Little did I know that then I was going to be sequestered to my house, like, literally, we had the a bedroom, and then, like, we had. Like a little sec A bathroom, and then like a little sectioned off, like half area for a kitchen where we had one hot pot in a microwave. It was insane. But yeah, so yeah, that's great. So is that the capacity for Tiktok? Because, literally, I was, like, probably would have loved it. They would have been like, this girl is insane. And I would have been like, I am, but I just didn't have it in me at that moment. So, yeah, I think Tiktok is super powerful. I just, yeah, I haven't had the capacity i i would prefer, like I started a podcast last year, and like, I don't, yeah, I don't know, tick tock. And I like, I'm a millennial, like, I'm an elder millennial, and so, like, I just understand Instagram so much more. So yeah, apparently my soul to Zuckerberg. So yeah, let him have it. Yeah, I was, I was obviously, yeah, exactly, put more of his kids through college. It's ridiculous. Yeah, yeah. Sometimes I look at, like, the amount of money that I've spent over the years on what is now meta, and I'm like, like, it's insane. It's just not nice, like, it's like, man, I've really given you all this money, yeah, and yet I'm stuck looking at your stupid reels all the time, like I was looking at the site, obviously prepping for our interview and stuff, and I was looking at like, so you had, like, the fuck studs, and you had, like, the was it like, tits up studs. And I was like, Oh my God, this has Tiktok written all over it. So I would highly suggest just throwing it out there, giving it I just do, like, influencer marketing, just marketing, just let other people do it. But I know what you're talking about. My I hope she's listening to this. My sister is a I call her self proclaimed, but she's she is considered like a fashion influencer, and no one can manage that girl. She is such a pain. And I'm like, she'll be like, Oh, I got this deal to, like, do this thing on Tiktok. I'm like, Oh, God, I can't stand when you do stuff like this. It's ridiculous. So totally understand it. One of the things I know I'm gonna, I'm gonna sidetrack it before we complain about Tiktok, the the one of the things I know I wanted to ask you, because, like, you are, uh, extremely self made. You didn't buy the business. You, like, built it from the ground up. You literally built the product from the ground up. Yeah. How did you get to a point of, like, how did you get to a point of manufacturing? To me, that's, like, a big jump, like, if you're making it all the time, and, like, clearly you're not still making everything like what happened there? Um, you get to choose what you want to manage. And it came a point where I also was like, What do I want for myself and my business? I want to make it as profitable as humanly possible with as few people as humanly possible. I, as a good friend of mine, once said, who is a business consultant, she is our EOS implementer, and she said, business is easy, people are hard. And I was like, yeah, yeah. And I love the people that I have employed, but Oh, not right fit employee can just derail you and your time, like, nothing else, um, that being said, like, usually, actually, my production staff was usually easier to manage stuff because they're like, I'm just gonna sit here and, like, listen to a podcast and make stuff. And I was like, true, um, but it's not bringing in revenue, you know, um, and there also became a point where I started having a lot of ideas for stuff that was outside of what my production capabilities were, um, and so I just really started looking at, like, what would it look like to manufacture the majority of our products? And it has been an education over the past two years. But one I wouldn't change, because the thing about production is, is that it's a whole nother area of the business that you have to manage in this very detailed way, from like you have to get raw components to make them into, like inventory, you know, like made items, like, made inventory. So you have to, like, track two different inventories. It just is, like, kind of non stop. You have to have all the people it you have to have two different buying cycles. Then, like, it just is complicating a business when it can be uncomplicated, you know, and there's just really, especially in jewelry, kind of in any space, like manufacturing, is just really a lot easier, and there's companies that are built to do just this and, like, make my life easier so that I can go and adopt Tiktok at some point in time. So, yeah, that's why I made the switch. Is really like those couple of things, but I think it's a really important. And thing of reminding yourself as a business owner is, like, you get to choose what you want to manage. Like, that's a choice, you know. And I made a very like, I've been, over time, making this very serious choices of, I'm like, What do I want this business to look like, and how would it serve me? And it was, it really is, is like to try to make it as profitable as possible with as few as people. I always like, Oh, God, why am I blanking on his true classic? He was on a podcast, and I was like, This guy is like the goat, I think he said something that they were able to scale to 10 mil. It was 100 million. It was something insane, like literally, and they had like, 40 employees. I was like, what, like, I think was like 50 million with 40 employees. And I was like, That is insane. Like, that's truly, like, that's, that's masterful. So I was, you know, which stores are not, I'm not going to be able to scale to that with that few by adding on stores. But I just think that that's cool, like, I think that you can be really good with your resources. And we've really started working with a lot of like, contractors as well for various parts of the business, like domestic and overseas, and that's been a huge unlock for us, too. So, yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, you know, it's a very interesting point, because, like, from an entrepreneurship side, there's sometimes you'll get people to ask you, like, how big is your business? And the third, the first thing that a lot of people say is like, Oh, I have X amount of employees. And that's like, the KPI that they look at in their head of like, that's how big I am. But to your point, you have the other side of it, which is like, why bother having that many employees? It's that much more of a headache. But then it comes down to like, okay, you've got to really vet the agencies and third party vendors and three PLS, and all that fun stuff that you're working with, because if you don't want to have that much control over the process, then you've got to make sure that you're truly vetting those areas. So, I mean, it can be really lucrative, and to your point, it reduces the headaches. I think it's worth sometimes, the money you got to spend for certain elements, like I when I was in house years ago, we went back and forth on, do we get rid of the warehouse and go to a three PL? And the cost of the three PL was so much higher. But the headache of dealing with warehouse employees, and you know, who, someone's not coming in and it's q4 like, what are we doing? Like, it was issues like that, where it's like, ah, do you really want to deal with that kind of stuff? No, I mean, and that's like, one thing that we're very much so having, because we, at the moment, do our own fulfillment, and we've kind of been like, what would it look like to go to the three, pls, kind of the next one. Because it is. It's very true. It's like you get to choose what you want to manage. And like, you know, we're at the moment now where we aren't going to probably make it in time to switch for this year. And, like, already now we're like, Okay, now we have to hire these temp employees and, like, bring them in, because I don't need you in January, you know, so it is. It's like, you get to choose what you're managing. Something might look like it's more, but there's all the hidden costs of like having employees. And I think it's Yeah, and really great employees are additive. It was like a I love listening to podcasts, but it was like a podcast where it was like, if you aren't getting like, an employee should be able to come in and, like, literally, like, take it and like, it should be so additive, like, if you're getting it done, like, we've had to be strategic this year, and we've had to let go of a couple of people in areas because, like, we were just like, people are constantly being like, I need work for these people. And then at some point I was like, we don't, we're not manufacturing work for people, you guys. And it was interesting to me because, like, this year compared to last year, we're technically five less people adding in a store, but we're still getting the same amount of work done. That math is very interesting to me, and that's because it's like a couple of people were running around managing, like, not right fit employees, you know, yeah. So, yeah, yeah. I mean, it's, it's, you know, that's where that conversation of like, because obviously, we're a service based company, so yeah, that's all I deal with all day long. And that's where you start to question, of like, recruiters, all of a sudden, start to really seem like they're worth it, because they're spending all the time vetting, really looking for what you want, for what you want. And then it really becomes that, you know that typical saying of higher, slow fire, fast, if they're not working out, because they can drag you down like you're you're just looking at it in your singular lens of here's what they should be working on. But what about all of the other elements that they're touching that are now slowing down and they can just be a hindrance to the entire business and good employees? Man, they they're awesome. They're great. Bad ones can't stand them. Yeah, I mean, and I think that's. The thing too, is, like, a bad employee somewhere could be a great employee somewhere else. And I always think it's like, it's a disservice to both of us. I think that's like people remind themselves is that it's a disservice to both of us, if it's not working, just like, let it go. Like, you know, yeah, I think that's just interesting, that the stories that entrepreneurs can tell themselves around it, for sure, I've seen so many business owners go in like, loops for a very long time around and be like, Oh yeah, you know, you know what good is. And just like, let it go. It's okay. Like, it will all be okay at the end. So, yeah, yeah, I completely agree. But Larissa, I don't want to take up too much of your time. I know you're super slammed because you're in a very busy retail store right now. I really appreciate you sitting here. I know we'll end up venting on Tiktok and getting into employees. It's gonna happen all day long. Thank you so much for being on the show. I would love to give you the opportunity, obviously, let everyone know where they can find out more about you, and, of course, more about the business that is Larissa Loden. Yeah.

 

26:03

We are a jewelry based business, and you can find us all over the internet. My ads will come and find you, so if you just Google us. So it's larissaloden.com Yeah. And we are a brand that very much so is cute with a big side of a reverence on the side. So yeah, and we are actually starting some lifestyle goods, so that's kind of the thing that I will preach pretty excitedly here. So yeah, we're starting to watch socks and hats. So I'm really excited. So my favorite four letter word is going to be on a really sweet black dad baseball hat, and then it'll be in black embroidery. So it still is very secretive. And that's like kind of my vibe. Otherwise, we have a foodie collection coming out. And my favorite hat out of that one is, like a mustard yellow hat, but it says al dente on it because it's a little spiky. So yeah, I feel like I'm a little al dente sometimes. So yeah,

 

26:57

I love it. Larissa, thank you so much for being on the show. Obviously, everyone that tuned in thank you as well. Please make sure you do the usual thing, rate review, subscribe all that fun stuff, or on whichever podcast platform you prefer, or head over to theecommshow.com to check out all of our previous episodes. But as usual, thank you all for joining us, and we'll see you all next time.

 

27:18

Thank you for tuning in to The E-Comm Show head over to theecommshow.com to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform or on the BlueTuskr YouTube channel. The E-Comm Show is brought to you by BlueTuskr, a full service digital marketing company specifically for e-commerce sellers looking to accelerate their growth. Go to bluetuskr.com Now for more information. Make sure to tune in next week for another amazing episode of The E-Comm Show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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