Episode 151

Lessons in Amazon Growth from a Husband & Wife Team - Josh and Becca Hadley

Josh & Becca Hadley - Hadley Designs
February 18, 2021
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This eCommerce power couple is ON FIRE.  They are cranking out AMAZING products on Amazon and growing fast.  More importantly, they’re having fun in the process.  


More surprising and impressive than the growth is that they’re married, work together and, wait for it...still like each other!  


We uncover some really powerful lessons in Amazon growth, business growth, and maintaining healthy work relationships.  I hope you enjoy listening to this as much as I enjoyed recording it!


Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • How to pivot and grow
  • How being in the right role to compliment each other is super important (whether you’re married to your business partner or not)
  • Mistakes in hiring the wrong people and how to get this right
  • How to know when and how to “let it go” and not get your feelings hurt
  • How Tenacity and passion create the ultimate 1-2 punch
  • Learning from your successes - a great tragedy is business is succeeding and not know why you succeeded.  
  • Knowing your super power and using it consistently

Mentioned in this episode:

War Room Mastermind

Relax The Back

“Who Not How” by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy

“Radical Candor” by Kim Scott

Jim Collins

Josh Hadley - CEO at Hadley Designs

Becca Hadley - CCO at Hadley Designs

Hadley Designs

Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. Today on the show, we have a first, a first that I'm really excited about. And also, I don't know how this is going to go. This is going to be really interesting. I think it's all going to be smooth, but there could be some fireworks here because we have a husband and a wife team on the podcast today. We're going to get to hear just a phenomenal success story. This is a rock star eCommerce couple working side-by-side building an amazing business.

Brett:

We first connected in Austin, Texas, at a war room event. We immediately struck up a friendship, had a great chat. I'm delighted to welcome to the show, Josh and Becca Hadley of Hadley Designs. Josh is CEO. Becca is CCO, Chief Creative Officer. I'm just so excited guys, so excited you could be here. Congrats on your success. Congrats on being a power couple in the eCommerce space and thanks for coming on the show.

Josh:

Yeah, thanks for having us here, Brett. We're a longtime listeners, first time caller.

Brett:

Hey, I love to hear that. That's awesome. Tell me, when did you realize that like, "Hey, we could work together in our business," because I know a lot of couples that love each other. They're committed, so awesome, but they would never work with each other. When did you guys first realize that, "Hey, this could work"?

Josh:

I don't know if there was ever a reality point where it was like, "Oh, this could actually work." I think that we just got started and we'll tell our story a little bit more, but we just got started and as we got into it, we both kind of have our own areas of specialty. She doesn't need to touch my work and I don't touch her work. And actually, it works really well, but it's been really fun to work as a couple. And again, if you would have asked me before we started Hadley Designs, "Would you like to work with your spouse?", I probably would say, "No because that could...." you hear all the horror stories.

Brett:

Sure. Sure.

Josh:

But for us-

Brett:

The relationship is too valuable to risk it on a failed business endeavor.

Becca:

Yeah. We actually don't really know it much any other way though because we got started probably a year and a half, two years into our marriage. So honestly it's been more working together than not. So for us it's kind of the only things we've known.

Josh:

That's true.

Brett:

That's amazing. So I want to hear the story. I want to hear the back story because I know it's going to be fascinating. But I'm just curious, do you have any code words? Any code words for, "Hey, let's stop talking about this," or, "Hey, you're not talking to me like you should." We're a couple here. Anything like that that would be helpful for other couples out there?

Becca:

I'm probably the more high strung one that's like, "Okay, we need to..." We have a date night every week and we make sure that at least the majority of that date is spent talking about life and other things. We're very open about it and we have rules, if you call it that. Just having some guidelines to give it a break. I don't think Josh needs a break ever. But I need to talk about other things sometimes.

Brett:

Yeah, that totally makes sense. We have talked about... First, kudos to you guys for doing the once-a-week date night. My wife and I have talked about that a lot. As people know who listen to the podcast, we have eight children. It's not so easy to do date nights. We're like a once-a-month probably date night. But we'll get better at some point. That is awesome, guys. Excited to dive into the story. Let's just start at the beginning. How did this start? And first of all... And this is not a relationship show, per se... But any interesting story on how you guys met?

Becca:

Well, we met on the corner of the street.

Josh:

That's right. Picked her up off the corner of the street. We'll just leave it at that. Let your imaginations run wild. You can go ahead and tell him.

Brett:

Oh man, you guys didn't really meet on the street.

Josh:

We did meet on the street. Go ahead and tell the quick version of this story.

Becca:

We really did. Yes. If you know Josh, it's nothing surprising. He's very friendly, open, confident. We were actually just walking to campus of the college at the same time, crossing the road at the same time. And Josh just struck up conversation. I was confused and tired because it was early in the morning and cold in the winter.

Brett:

Josh, are you a morning person? Were you all excited and loving life and such?

Josh:

It's funny. I'm not really a morning person, but when I see a beautiful girl, sure.

Becca:

So he didn't even get my number, though. He just invited me to his business club, which also fits his personality. Just started talking.

Brett:

Yeah, that's smooth man. It's subtle, like, "Hey, come to the business club," so you're not really sticking your neck out there like, "Hey, I'm totally into you." But it's like, "Hey, you want to learn business?" And then... Yeah, I'm impressed, Josh. That's a good move.

Josh:

Yeah.

Becca:

I guess it's an ironic start, given where we are now.

Josh:

It is true.

Brett:

Exactly. It's like it was destined that this was the way it was supposed to be. You guys met at a business club and run a business together. And by the way, before I forget, this is a sign that you have achieved success in your business. And also this is a quick plug if anybody's watching the video because I know most people listen. But hey, check this out on YouTube or on Facebook if all you do is listen. You guys have some special chairs. They're... Becca, could you lean to the side and tell me about the chair. There you go. There you go. Look at that. Those are fancy white chairs with a black H on the back. It's super cool. I'm jealous. I've just got a normal chair here. So what's the story behind the chair?

Becca:

We finally upgraded and got a grownup chair.

Josh:

Well, we had our old... Yeah, when we first-

Becca:

College chairs-

Josh:

Our old college chairs. And then they were literally breaking. My back was hurting. Basically I got old, Brett. So thanks for calling that out. I lost my hair and my back started to hurt. And so we got, what, orthopedic-

Becca:

Yeah, they were like chairs.

Brett:

Orthopedic chairs, there you go.

Becca:

Yeah. And I love monograms so we added the H because-

Josh:

They are very soft.

Becca:

Business name, our name, it's great.

Brett:

Now can you recommend the specific brand? I know this is-

Josh:

Yeah, it's a Relax the Back.

Brett:

Relax the Back, okay. I will definitely check it out. I like it. I like it a lot.

Josh:

They're really really good chairs.

Brett:

Awesome. So business club, going back to business club, that's going way back to the beginning, how did this business start?

Josh:

Let's fast... That was in college. And Becca... We'll go quick story here. I was doing my MBA. This is at the University of Utah. I was finishing up my MBA and she was finishing up her undergrad in early childhood education. We got married our...

Becca:

We had one year left.

Josh:

We had one year left when we had got married. So we got married. Finished up college. At that point, I had got a job with American Airlines in their MBA Leadership Development Program. That brought us down to Dallas, Texas. At that point, Becca, the conversation was like, "Well I know what I'm going to be doing during the day. What are you going to be doing during the day?" And you had... Why don't you tell the story of how you had always had an interest in graphic design. That's when you started actually exploring it.

Becca:

Yeah. In college, I just had a lot of people who told me that an art degree would be a waste of time and money. And that it would be a waste of my-

Brett:

Good path to become a barista or someone like that if you really love coffee.

Becca:

Yeah, I'd never get a job. I'd waste my scholarship, all those things.

Brett:

And nothing wrong with being a barista, by the way. Quick shout out to all my barista friends. I love you and you know that I support you. But anyway, go ahead, sorry.

Becca:

Yeah, so I tried to find a job or a career, a degree that would allow me to still be creative, which I love. I've been creative since birth. I love to design and do art and all these things. I decided to try and study early education because it allowed me to create lesson plans. And I'm social and friendly so I get to be around people. I thought it would be a good path, possibly, if I wasn't going to do an art degree, even though I knew that's what I really wanted to do. When we came out to Dallas, I started looking around to work at pre-schools and stuff. I just don't love other people's kids that much.

Brett:

My wife has said the same exact thing. Yeah, it's true.

Becca:

Well, it's a passion. I love creating the lessons and that was about it. I didn't really want to participate. I just knew it just wasn't right. It was something I would watch the clock and wait for the time to be over. It just wasn't the right fit. So when we moved out here, we were fortunate enough that I didn't have to get a job right away. So I started teaching myself graphic design. I watched hours and hours of YouTube videos and online courses. I'm totally self-taught in graphic design and Photoshop.

Brett:

Amazing.

Becca:

I spent that whole first year doing hundreds of free Christmas cards and-

Josh:

Wedding invitations-

Becca:

Literally everything under the sun, yeah. And we did have a good friend that was out in Dallas. He was getting married and so she asked me to do her wedding invitations. That's where I was like, "This is it. This is so fun." I loved doing wedding invitations and that's where everything started beginning of Josh and I working together. We started doing custom wedding invitations. And Josh handled all of the business, the sales side, the pricing. Because I'm terrible. I'd be like, "Oh, I don't know. I'll do it for free. I love it. It's great." Josh helped me turn it into a business, which that's part of the reason we work so well together, is he can more handle that business side and realistic expectations and money and all those things. And I get to be creative and come up with products and all those things. So we work really well together. That's how it all initially began.

Brett:

I love that where you've got those complementary skill sets where if the roles were reversed, if each of you had to take the other's role, it wouldn't work. Right? That's the makings of a great partnership whether you're married to your business partner or not. Having that complementary skill set which is super cool. Using that graphic design ability... And by the way, your stuff is amazing. I'm a fan.

Becca:

Well thank you.

Brett:

But then combining that with some business savvy and Josh's skill set. So Josh maybe you want to add to the origin story there.

Josh:

Yeah. We started doing the custom wedding invitations and I was still working my full time job with American Airlines. I worked there for five years while we were basically building Hadley Designs. I consider it my venture funding, if you will because it was... We would stay up until 2:00 a.m. every single day. In fact, we still often do that, way too often.

Brett:

Do you do it now just because you love what you do and you're interested? Or it's just too much on your hands?

Josh:

Yeah, we love it.

Becca:

Yeah.

Josh:

We just love what we do.

Becca:

We love it. And it's a fun time together. We can talk more about that. It's been a huge blessing. It's been fun.

Josh:

Yeah. Anyways, we'd built up the custom wedding invitation business to a point where if we wanted to bring on more clients, Becca was already maxed out. There was no additional room for clients. They'd have to wait six months just to even get on our schedule. That's when I'd heard about Amazon and people selling on Amazon. So that's where we dipped our toe in the water because it was like, "Hey, we're not able to scale this business any further unless we want to start hiring more graphic designers and go that route." But I decided, "Hey, let's see if we can do something just here on Amazon." We launched our first product on Amazon. It was recipe cards. Ironically enough-

Brett:

Super fun.

Josh:

The product category isn't amazing in and of itself but we launched it in Q Four of 2016 and recipe cards do very well in Q Four of any year. All of a sudden I saw this huge spike and I was like, "Oh my gosh, this is it." It wasn't the silver bullet that I thought it was.

Brett:

Because then in Q One sales went way down, I would assume.

Josh:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was definitely a peak. But anyways, it got the idea started of, "Hey, maybe there's something to mass producing products instead of doing custom projects, one off for everybody." So again, that was a few years and we've still been on Amazon. We've been launching hundreds of products on Amazon in the stationary and gifts niche. And then from there, Becca also created some printables that we have available on our website to help people celebrate holidays, birthdays, and baby showers and all that stuff. That's the culminating point of our business. I was able to quit my job last year with American Airlines.

Brett:

Congratulations, that's awesome.

Josh:

We launched our own website on Shopify and we're just continuing to go all in and new product design. It's a lot of fun.

Becca:

Yeah.

Brett:

Yeah, that's fantastic. One thing I think would kind of fun... This is a couple's show... Is let's, I love to hear people's super power. What makes you unique? I think we all have them, in business, to a certain degree. We have some super power. But not everybody likes to brag on themselves. We're so humble in this industry, some of us. Can you explain to the audience the other's super power? Becca can you go first and explain to us what is Josh's super power? Other than being charming and handsome and all those things.

Becca:

I was going to say, I have a hard time picking just one. I would say Josh has a couple. For one, I think he's one of the most driven people in the world. I think he's able to create more talents just from-

Brett:

And by the way, just a quick question. Do you guys do the enneagram test? Are you guys enneagram people?

Josh:

We have not taken it. I've heard of it. I need to.

Brett:

I was going to try to guess what Josh is. I'm not, oddly enough, I'm not very good at guessing. I think I connect with people well, but I'm not that great at guessing. I'm a three, for those enneagram people. I'm a three, achiever. I wonder, Josh, I bet you're a three.

Josh:

I'll have to follow up. We'll have to follow up.

Brett:

I guess so. Let me know.

Becca:

I'll have to know your bet on me too so then we can take it and find out.

Brett:

I'm thinking you're maybe a four, individualist. Any who, okay, all right, I totally interrupted you.

Becca:

Oh that's fine. Yeah, I would say Josh is extremely driven. Like with Amazon, he knew nothing about it when we were doing custom brides, custom wedding invitations. And he put in all the time and effort to just completely kill it on Amazon. And that's the case with anything that he wants to learn: putting up our Shopify store, figuring out marketing. He's become super great at figuring out how to hire people. He's just really good at learning and then applying what he's learned and being able to then teach and manage other people to do it as well, to grow our team, to manage our team. He's an extremely great leader. I would also say that he's very creative in a business sense. I think people sometimes only associate creativity with art work. Whereas Josh is a very creative entrepreneur, whether that be figuring out the best way to launch a product or to reach a certain audience or to hire someone. He'll come up with very creative ways to do it and execute. And so I think he's super driven, a great leader, and very creative in a business sense.

Brett:

I love that. I'm so glad you pointed that out because there is definitely a creativity, an ingenuity, being innovative. And that doesn't necessarily mean art. It can. Art's fantastic.

Josh:

I'm terrible at art.

Brett:

But you can be innovative in a business space. What's that?

Josh:

I'm terrible at art.

Becca:

I will say, though, I have been genuinely impressed with how much his perspective of what looks good and what doesn't look good has improved over the years. He's pretty good at being like, "Yeah, this has no potential."

Brett:

Your taste is being refined right before our eyes, Josh. This is great.

Josh:

Yeah it is.

Becca:

It's very important.

Brett:

Okay, awesome. That was fantastic. So now roles are reversed here. So, Josh, what is Becca's super powers? What are her super powers?

Josh:

Yeah, well, Becca-

Becca:

Compliment me.

Josh:

She is just-

Brett:

I'm ready. I'm ready. Soak in it. Lay it on me. Here we go.

Josh:

This is good, yeah. Apparently we need to do this more often.

Brett:

Are you counting? I'm an eCommerce show host. I do some YouTube ads. I do some marriage counseling as well. I mean, you don't need counseling, but anyway.

Josh:

No, yeah, Becca's super power is definitely her creativity and her eye for design is unmatched. I tell her this. I would throw her, I would put her up against any other graphic designer in the world. Becca will come out ahead. She is that good.

Brett:

I've seen the stuff. You're not lying. This is good stuff, for sure.

Becca:

Thank you.

Josh:

Yeah. She is just incredible. And everybody that sees her stuff is like, "You did this? You actually created this?" And even myself, I'm like, "Wait, you did this yourself?" I'm always, every day, impressed. I mean that's her super power. But it's not that she's just a designer only. She also understands the business side as well, which is very important. So it's not this frivolous, "Let's go produce blankets just because I want to produce blankets and I'm just passionate about blankets." She's smart enough to trust me and to also have a conversation to say, "Hey, here's the next product that we're going to launch." Because of that, again, we're very complementary to each other in our skill sets and that's what's allowed us to succeed as a business but also succeed working together as a couple. And it's just fun.

Brett:

Yeah, that is phenomenal, you know, really cool. I want to key in something because I think there's some good business lessons here. Becca, you mentioned it about Josh that Josh is really good about learning what it takes to succeed in something and then goes really deep on that. As an example, what does it take to build a great team? And how do you hire people? How do you people on? I think that's such an important skill set.

Brett:

I'll make a quick sports analogy. I coach basketball but I also love football. I like sports in general. I coached at the varsity level, basketball for a while and had a great athlete who played for me who was a pretty good basketball player. He was a phenomenal football player, though. I remember just talking to him about, "Hey, I'm going to try to connect these things here for you that how important is foot work in football?" "Oh, super important." "Foot work is really important in basketball too. But they're very different." This guy was trying to make football moves on the basketball court and that doesn't work. But just understanding okay, foot work is important but it's going to look different in these different scenarios.

Brett:

So I think that's key, understanding what are the elements that make up success in this piece of the business. How do they relate? How do I master them? Can you elaborate on that, Josh? What's your approach to learning a new thing? And do you like to go deep on something and do it yourself? Do you like to understand something and then hire someone our outsource it? Or elaborate on that a little bit. I know it's a long winded question.

Josh:

Yeah, you're going back to personality assessments, if you will. I took the Colby Assessment. That one has me listed as a really high quick start, which basically means I'm really good at seeing a vision and being able to help it come to fruition. More on the quick start of I can think very creatively and generate new ideas. And that's one of the key aspects is being able to take an idea and then, for me, I get very bored as soon as I figure it out. So as soon as I figure it out, I'm like, "Oh, that's boring."

Brett:

You figure it out and then get someone else to do it for you. Right?

Josh:

Exactly. That's exactly it.

Becca:

That's his life story.

Josh:

So every month, I have... And this is my plans for 2021... Every month or per quarter, who is it that I'm going to bring onto the team? Because the way that I'm approaching it and the way that I've done it thus far is go dive all in on something I'm learning. Right now, it's email marketing. Go all in on email marketing.

Brett:

Good choice. That's going to be an endeavor that really pays off, no doubt. I'm sure it already has.

Josh:

Well, it hasn't yet because I haven't really put in too much time and effort. It's been half baked thus far. But hopefully it does pay off. But go all in learning the best tips and practices. Create some SOP's around it. Hire somebody that, again, is even smarter than I am. Then they're able to take the SOP's I've created, expound on them a lot more and then we just keep layering on. That's how our business has been able to succeed so quickly, I think, is that I'm able to find the right people and plug them into the right spot in the business with very high likelihood of success.

Brett:

Yeah, that's awesome. Have you guys heard of the book, Who, not How? It was actually mentioned at the war room event. That's where I first heard about it.

Josh:

That's because I'm the one who mentioned it.

Brett:

You were the one who mentioned it, okay. That's tremendous. It's such a good book. And I think that is a great way to approach business and life, is thinking about who, not how do I solve this problem. I think what you described, though, is a slight variation of that. And I think a lot of people will work better doing this the way you do it. I know I do, in a lot of cases. Where you want to go all in on something and understand it so you can see how it fits in with the business and so you can know how to better coach and help someone. But then don't do that forever. I then find your who. Find the who to get the how done, which I think is super smart.

Brett:

Can you guys share, what are some lessons you learned from failures? I think we all learn from good stories. Sometimes we only want to talk about successes. But a lot of times, I know, for me, I learn a lot from failures. Can you guys think of any specific ones, maybe, that are not too revealing or too embarrassing? But have free rein to talk about whatever you want to talk about.

Josh:

Yeah, I'll go first.

Becca:

Okay, because I'm still thinking.

Josh:

I'll go. I have some ideas. This goes along that same thread of hiring really good people. That's definitely been, I'd say, now we have a good high likelihood of somebody succeeding whereas before that definitely was not the case. We hired, last year, in fact, we hired three new people, full time, full fledged employees. And very quickly we realized, "Yeah, this isn't going to work out." What we've learned-

Brett:

All three? None of the three worked out?

Josh:

Yeah, all three.

Becca:

Struck out.

Josh:

Yes, it was real bad.

Brett:

I have found, though, just as a side note. To get really good at building a team, I don't know any other way around it. You're going to have at least a few hires that you're like, "Oh, that was terrible. Why did I hire this person?" I think you just have to. You have to go through that. I know almost no one who is like, "Oh, no, every hire I've had is good." It just doesn't happen.

Josh:

Yeah. And in addition, there's preparation on the business side as well. Are you ready? Do you know exactly the role they're going to be playing? That's why I like to do a deep dive myself. To be like, "Okay, these are the KPI's that they should be meeting on a monthly basis." And again, that's what we learned from our first experience. We have this pie in the sky idea of, "Ooh, we just want more product designs." Well, okay. Or, "We want to just blow up the marketing." Well, okay. How?

Brett:

Job description: blow up marketing.

Josh:

Yeah, blow up the marketing. Anyways, one thing that I think that your audience can take away from this, we found a lot of success working with overseas contractors. That they do a very good job with us. Number one, we've seen that their work ethic is just as good, if not sometimes even better than any of our U.S. based workforce. And they're just hungry to work and they're just as capable and smart as others. But it allows us to identify people. Very quickly bring them into the business without much risk on our side. Because that was a whole big mess when it was like, all right, we now had to register and do all this paperwork in all these three states that we'd hired different people from. Then unwinding all that was a mess in and of itself. So hiring a contractor is quick wins. Or if it doesn't work out, it's easy-

Brett:

Just get another contractor. You don't work again. Yeah, I think there's several lessons there. And this is something that we've really gotten pretty good at as a company, is onboarding new team... Finding and attracting the right team members. Onboarding them for success. And I will say, and I'm super proud of this from our team's perspective is that we've had a lot of really good hires over the last year and a half or so. When you make a great hire, someone that fits your culture and they fit the role, it's jus a beautiful thing. There's almost nothing more fulfilling as a leader to see someone you've brought on really succeed in what they're doing. I'll piggyback on a couple of things you said there, Josh.

Brett:

One, we've used the contractor turned employee approach a lot, especially with a specialist. We need a Google ad specialist, an Amazon ad specialist, a YouTube specialist. We've got a vetting process. We've got an interview process. We do a personality test, all kinds of stuff. Then we'll say, "Hey, let's work on this project together. Here's the project. Here's exactly what we want you to do. Here's what success looks like." We'll do a couple of those. And if that goes really well, and the team likes this person, then we'll make them an offer.

Brett:

What's so cool is now we're a team of about to be 44. We just hired three new people starting this month. The team really protects the culture. The team is pretty passionate. They'll interview and say, "I don't think this person's going to fit. I don't think they're going to cut it here." That's an awesome thing. So I love that, going from contractor to employee, or maybe someone just stays a contractor.

Brett:

I think one of the things... And we haven't done... We have not done much with hiring people overseas. But I know a lot of people that do. I think it's a great approach. I think what a lot of people do when they hire someone overseas, is they really spell things out clearly what they want done. These are the tasks. This is how I need it done. This is what success looks like. But I don't think people necessarily do that when they hire a full time U.S. employee. They don't take as much time to explain what they want. Or at least that's just been my observation.

Brett:

I think success, however, you go, is the same. Clearly map it out. Make sure you're ready as a company to really set someone up for success.

Becca:

The nice thing about that too, is if something happens to them or they get sick or they take a different opportunity, at that point, you've laid out the process. So that part of it is done. You just need to plug in the right person. So we have, that's been really nice for us. You put in that time up front to figure out that process, to figure out their tasks. Then if something comes up, it's not as stressful to replace them.

Brett:

Really good. So Becca, did you think of lessons learned from failure?

Becca:

For sure, yeah. I think one of the biggest things I've learned as our business has continued to develop and change is being able to let something go regardless of how much time you've put into it.

Brett:

That's a good one.

Becca:

For me, that could be a number of things, whether it's a photo shoot or a product design. It can apply across the board. But I know there have been times with designs where whether we put it out to our audience and they don't like it, or the product fails on Amazon, or I just need to take the time to redo something, I need to be able to let myself and let it go. And it doesn't matter that you spent all this time doing this XYZ. It's not the right fit. That can be hard to do. It can be hard to let go of something that you feel like, "Well I like it. I put all this time in." Or once you take a step back and you're like, "Oh, it's not really quite what I think is going to work." But making myself be like, "All right, then we're going to start over. We're going to scratch it. We're going to let it go." That can come in a lot of different ways: creative ways, business, so yeah.

Brett:

Yeah, I totally... First of all, that's a fantastic point. I think this is very clearly illustrated with an art project or something like a design that you create. But this totally applies to other things too. It's just not as clear. You've got refined taste. Right? And you're helping Josh refine as well. But you know what looks good from a design standpoint. You may pour your heart and soul into a new design and think, "Man, this is good. This is really good." But then it sounds like you maybe had a couple of those where people are like, "Eh, I don't like it." Or the marketplace just doesn't care for it. That hurts. I think you may have a tendency... Have you ever had this thought where like, "Oh, people are just wrong. They're just wrong. Because this is good. I know this is good."

Becca:

Yeah.

Brett:

Yeah. Having that ability to say, "Hey, it's cool. This just didn't connect for whatever reason. I'm not going to get... Even though I put my heart and soul into it to try and make it good, it didn't work. I'm going to move on. I'm not going to be emotionally attached."

Brett:

We do the same thing. It's not as clear, I think this way. We do the same thing with business ideas. Either processes or procedures or this is the way we've always done things or whatever. "No, this was my business idea. This was whatever, so I'm going to stick with it."

Brett:

I love the way... I heard this quote about Steve Jobs one time. It's actually from the book Radical Candor, which is a fantastic book. Highly recommend it. The author was having a conversation with another tech superstar. I'm drawing a blank on who it was now. But they were like, "Man, Steve Jobs always gets it right." And the author was like, "What do you mean Steve Jobs is always right? No one's always right." And the guy said, "No, no, no. I didn't say Steve Jobs is always right. I said he always gets it right." And he would sometimes take credit for ideas that weren't his and what not, if you ever like to read his biography. It's interesting. He was very willing to say, "Oh, you're right. That's a bad idea. We're going to do this other thing."

Brett:

Even there's a story with the Apple stores where super close to when they were going to launch the first Apple store. Ron Johnson, famously came to him and said, "Hey, I just thought about this. We need to redo the whole concept." And I heard that Steve Job threw a bit of a temper tantrum, got angry, and then was like, "You know what? You're right. We're going to redo the whole thing." And they were both right. Apple stores are amazing. So having this quest to get it right but not necessarily to be right, I think, is key in business, for sure.

Becca:

Yeah, and starting out with that fresh perspective when you do need to change and pivot. Letting, totally letting it go and pivot and be all in and pivoting, for sure.

Brett:

Yeah, and not let in any bitterness or whatever. Just, "Hey, it's okay. This didn't work. It didn't come through for a reason. No problem, next. Let's move onto the next thing."

Josh:

And that's one thing that we've tried to embed in our culture at Hadley Designs, is we A, we want to fail fast. I'd rather just create a product idea or whatever idea it is or initiative. Let's try to get some wheels under it sooner than later, rather than, "Oh, let's sit and refine this process and make sure it's perfect." Just to kind of proof of concept. But then secondly, going back to your point of I'm not always right. Becca's not always right. With our team, it's, I've told them and I'll jump on our phone calls and I'm like, "I want you to don't just take what I tell you and say, 'Okay, I'll go to it because Josh said so. He's the CEO.' I want you to think through and be like, 'Why does it have to be done this way? Or 'Why are we doing?'

Becca:

Is that the best way?

Josh:

'It like this? What about this?'" And every single one of our team members has, just in the last week, has come back to me and said, "Well, have you considered this?" Or, "Why does it have to be this way? What about if we did it XYZ?" Anyways, it's been so powerful because that's where Becca and I, again, going back to us working complementary to one another. It's like I can bring a product idea to her and it will be a decent product idea. But then she goes and takes it to the next level and I'm like, "Ooh, that's a lot better." That is where the secret sauce is for us. It's all in the team members. It's all in-

Becca:

Collaboration.

Josh:

The collaboration and people being able to speak up.

Brett:

Yeah, I love that. One of the things we talk about internally is, let's encourage some disagreement. If we're always agreeing about everything, then some of us are unnecessary or somebody's not really speaking their mind. One of the things that I did just recently, a newer team member, one of our account managers, called something out on a client's Slack channel. She had noticed this and this just doesn't look right to me. She asked some really tough questions. Some questions that maybe other people would be afraid to ask because it might make a team member look bad. Or it might hurt someone's feelings. I just went on and on complimenting her for doing that. I called it out in the channel. That was awesome. At our next Monday morning meeting with the whole team together, I called it out specifically and said, "Hey, this is what we need. This is why we need it."

Brett:

It turns out there was actually a great answer that she was looking for. But that wasn't the point. The point was that she posed the question and she brought it up. I think I mentioned this on a podcast before. We adopted a line from the T.S.A. where if you see something, say something. And also you will not be appreciated... You can never say after the fact, after something's failed, "Oh, I thought that was going to fail." No, no, no, if you think something's going to fail, say something then. Don't wait. So, anyway.

Josh:

I like that. See something, say something.

Brett:

See something, say something.

Josh:

You have to. It's an anthem.

Brett:

Yeah, it's catchy.

Josh:

Get some of the T.S.A. posts and put them up around the office.

Brett:

It's the only thing I would probably recommend you swipe from the T.S.A. to put in your business is that motto. Cool. So what about some lessons from successes? So, Becca, some lessons you guys have learned recently from successes? Because there's also this great principle, and I hear Jim Collins talking about this, where it's actually one of the greatest tragedies in business is succeeding and not knowing why you succeeded. Because then you can't duplicate it and then you can't build upon it. And then it's, "I don't know how this happened. It just did." Any lessons learned recently from successes?

Becca:

I think it probably sounds simple but taking just customer feedback and client feedback, especially when it does come to designs. We've seen how powerful it is to put multiple ideas out there, to have people feel like they're a part of the creation process, that their opinion's been heard. And that can be getting them excited before a product launches along with steps of design. Having them pick this color set, versus this color set. Having them put-

Brett:

How do you facilitate this? That's a super interesting concept. I hear you guys talk about getting feedback and stuff. Do you do that through a Facebook group? Or what do you use to facilitate that?

Becca:

Yeah, kind of all across the board. We have a Facebook group. I'll do it on social media. We've done it with email surveys, with mini-chat. So just all across the board. Because you're going to get different people that use different platforms. So kind of trying to hit in all the different things to help people be a part of it. But they're the ones that are buying the products. Their opinion is, obviously, super valuable. But they also just, people like to be heard. It's been, we get great numbers of feedback, of response percentages. And then their feedback is really helpful. Oftentimes we'll get ideas of, "Hey, you guys should do this." Or, "What if you made this?" Or, "I really like this." So just really being open to that, I think, has helped us be successful. Again, you have to take their opinions and understand them and appreciate them and then implement it. I think that's been a good success for us.

Brett:

Yeah, it's so good. It is simple but most businesses don't do it. I think one, you've got to ask. You've got to take the time and energy to build these communities where you can ask. Then you need to really listen to what people say. I think this is something valuable, and you mentioned it. People want to be heard. You ask for someone's opinion and then they give it, that's satisfaction right there to a certain degree. People love that part. But then if they actually see that thing being created, they're very likely to buy. And they feel like, "Wow, I'm connected to this business." They're also more likely to share it if they feel like they had some say in it being created. It's just a super powerful approach, for sure.

Becca:

Yeah, they had a part in it. I don't always love changing every single color of something to approach with a different color pattern. "Oh, do you like this color versus this color?" It can be tedious and annoying. But like you said, I think people then feel like they have some ownership and they're excited.

Brett:

Yeah, I love that. Josh, what about you, lessons from successes? These could recent successes. These could be successes from the early days, back when you didn't have fancy chairs. It could be whatever.

Josh:

Back when we didn't have fancy chairs, a month ago? Yeah.

Becca:

So true.

Brett:

In internet years or internet time, that was a long time ago.

Josh:

Yeah, it was, definitely was. So we'll take it back to pre-Corona which feels like ages ago.

Brett:

That feels like another life time, for sure.

Josh:

For real. A lesson that we've learned in a success was we were primarily... If you would've asked us pre-Corona, "Oh, what business are you in?" "Oh, we're in the party goods, helping people celebrate birthdays, baby showers, bridal showers, etc." Well with COVID, that just blew it up our spot in a bad way. I said blow it up with marketing, in a good way. So, it blew it up-

Brett:

Negatively.

Josh:

In a negative way. It was really really scary. We were going back to revenue numbers that were when we first started our business.

Brett:

Yeah, when you're locked in your house, you're not buying party favors and special wedding invitations. You're not getting married right now.

Josh:

It was a really scary time. But one thing I would say that we did do, is we stuck out our neck, in a way. It forced us to go compete in what I previously would have considered a more competitive market in Amazon. There's lots of players. There's tons of reviews on those competitor's products. Definitely I would've tended to shy away from that before. But it was home-school related.

Brett:

We're all home-schoolers now.

Josh:

We knew that was the trend was everybody's coming home. Because we were able to say, "Okay, we see this trend. This is only going to pick up. And we see some people that are not actually serving customers on those key words of home-school specific key words." Yeah, the main category is super competitive. But if we can get out start in some of this niche, home-school related category, then we can explode. Well, long story short, we went ahead. It was a lot of money to invest into this new product. It was our best. It still is our best selling product right now. We launched it without advertising and it started to sell hundred a day.

Brett:

That's crazy.

Josh:

I was like, "Oh my." I've never seen that happen.

Brett:

Yeah, I know. I almost never hear... I don't think I've ever heard of that, specifically. And what's great about this is your core business, all those products are going to come back. We're all going to have birthday parties again. We live in the Midwest. There are people in Texas and Missouri who are like, "Hey, forget it. I'm having a birthday party anyway." Some of that's probably coming back. But it's going to be back to normal at some point in time in the future. But now you've got this whole other product that's in a very competitive niche that's exploding. I love hearing those stories where pandemic forces us to pivot and think about something new. I think that's always going to be the case in business. Hopefully, there won't be another global pandemic but there'll be something that will disrupt or create an opportunity, the perfect chance to pivot into something new.

Brett:

Let's do this. We're up against it. We're about out of time. Any other final tips you would share? These are a few of the nuggets we've learned from building this business that you would want to share with other eCommerce entrepreneurs.

Josh:

I'll go first and then you have some ideas?

Becca:

Sure, yeah.

Josh:

Okay. I'm always, I'm never the one shy to talk. But she's like, "Go ahead."

Brett:

You were the one, when we met in Austin, you were the first one that spoke, which is cool. I'm pretty outgoing. I say, "Hi," pretty quickly. But you were the first one that spoke so that was cool.

Becca:

That's why I said the corner of the street doesn't come as a surprise to anyone. "Oh, okay."

Josh:

"Does that guy shut up?" Anyways, now I forgot what I was going to say. What was it? What was the question?

Brett:

The question was any final tidbits, lessons learned that you would share with other eCommerce entrepreneurs?

Josh:

Yeah, going back to where we started, even though I would say I was a born entrepreneur, if you will. I was the one with the candy stand on the corner of the street at a young age. Always knew I was going to be in business. But I had no idea where I would actually fall in business. I would say I'm a risk taker but not at the same time. I was never willing to be, "All right, Becca, we just graduated school. Let's go build our own business and live off of food stamps for the next year or two." Not that type of risky entrepreneur. More of that safe bet. So that's why I had my job with American Airlines. It allowed us to very comfortably continue to reinvest into the business. For the first, I would say the first three years, all the money we made just went straight back into the business.

Brett:

Amazing.

Josh:

Back into the business. I mean, we did six figures our first year doing custom wedding invitations. It wasn't a small amount of money. It wasn't like, "Oh, yeah, we made a thousand bucks." It was a good chunk of money.

Brett:

A lot of people would be wanting to take a piece of that.

Josh:

Yeah and it would've been fun. But we knew that our vision was always much bigger. It allowed us, again, a lot of people aren't, don't have that amount of savings. We had a lot of savings, eventually, to go in and go into all these really competitive product categories like I just shared and be like, "All right, we've built our war chest. We're ready to go to battle now." But that took a long time to build up. And always having a bigger vision than what you just see right in front of your face today.

Brett:

Love it. Know what you're working towards and what that vision is. That really helps guide decisions. Makes it much easier. "Hey, do we spend this or do we save this? Well, we're going to save it because we're going to do this thing next." Awesome. Becca, what about you? Any closing thoughts, final tidbits for the audience?

Becca:

Yeah. I think, again, it sounds simple, but being able to put in the time and the effort. We work very hard and we have ever since we began. I strongly believe that I will... I'm not afraid of whoever comes along because I know how much harder I'll work than the other person. But I think a big part of that comes from the fact that we're both very passionate about what we do. For us, it doesn't always feel like working. Sure, sometimes there's stuff we don't want to do that's tedious or whatever. But we work harder. We're always going to work harder than the next person. We're going to put in the hours. We're going to stay up 'til 2:00 a.m. working. I'm going to keep putting, we're going to keep grinding. We always have. That's been a huge thing that I feel like has set us apart from a lot of people.

Becca:

We are willing to sacrifice, to put in the time, to work hard. But again, it's a passion. Making sure that whatever you are doing, you do need to be passionate about it or that grind is going to feel like a grind. For us it doesn't always feel like a grind, although we don't take as many breaks as sometimes you'd like. Finding that passion and then just going all in and working as hard as you absolutely can and it really will get you ahead.

Josh:

Yeah, I love that. I want to just piggyback on that real quick. That is one thing that I would say is both our our super powers, is just hard work. We will outwork anybody. I mean, like I said, we're staying up 'til 2:00 a.m. and raising a family. We just have it on all day but we also enjoy what we're doing by the same token. So it's funny, during the pandemic, everybody was watching Tiger King and everybody's like, "Oh, have you seen it?" It's like, "No." We don't spend any of our time-

Brett:

We're building something here.

Becca:

We're a little busy.

Josh:

Anyways, there's one quote that I have in our office that I had Becca put on a picture of a lion. She was like, "This is turning into just a man cave over here." Anyways, but it says, "It's not about who has more talent. It's about who is hungrier." I love it. That's what I love. Come into work with each day. It doesn't matter if the other competitor might be a little bit smarter than I am. I'll work a lot harder.

Brett:

Yep, that's something you can always control. You may not be... You can't control whether you're smarter than someone else. But you can always control who's going to work the hardest. I think, also, a couple things you talked about. You talked about tenacity, Becca, and having passions. Those are the things that I think make business fun. Yes, financial success, seeing the growth, dominating a new category, getting those wins, that's super fun too. But if that's all you're going for, some of that fades. But if you enjoy the process and enjoy what you're doing, that, combined with financial success, that's the ticket right there. That's the winning element.

Brett:

So, man, Josh and Becca, you guys nailed it. I know you've already talked about this. This is going to feel like new news to the audience, not to me. You guys should start a podcast. You guys should do some podcasting here.

Josh:

I know.

Becca:

We would like to.

Josh:

That is an idea that we have that we would like to create.

Brett:

There you go. You heard it here first, unless you guys said it somewhere else, then maybe you didn't hear it here first.

Josh:

No, right here on the OMG.

Brett:

Josh and Becca, the Josh and Becca Show, coming to an iTunes app store near you. Awesome. Guys, thank you so much for coming on. This has been fantastic. Appreciate you sharing the time.

Josh:

Yeah, thank you, Brett.

Becca:

Yeah, thank you.

Josh:

It's been a lot of fun.

Brett:

Awesome. And as always, thank you for tuning in. We couldn't do this without you, obviously. We would love to hear feedback from you. What would you like to hear more of on this show? Also, if you have not done it, we'd love to get that five-star review on iTunes. And so with that, until next time, thank you for listening.


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