Griffin Thall, Co-Founder, Pura Vida
Global Impact Through Customer Engagement
How Griffin Thall partnered with his customers to scale Pura Vida Bracelets, and support dozens of charitable causes.
When Griffin Thall and his friend Paul Goodman first arrived in Costa Rica, they didn’t have much planned beyond surfing and celebrating their recent college graduation. With good waves and good times in mind, they were eager to enjoy their newfound freedom.
Little did they know, the duo would leave just days later with far more than they had arrived with—local contacts, a friendship-turned-partnership, and a new business idea with the potential to change lives.
Eight years later, Thall, Goodman, and their fully realized business Pura Vida Bracelets are going strong, having sold their products to millions of customers around the world, contracting with more than 350 artisans, and partnering with more than 174 charities along the way.
How Pura Vida Came to Life
While hunting for good surfing spots in Costa Rica, Thall and Goodman made friends with a couple of local artisans, Jorge and Joaquin, who were selling handmade bracelets on the beach. They purchased bracelets for themselves, but the next day, they went back for more.
Impressed by their story and talent, Thall and Goodman bought 400 bracelets from the men, with the intention of selling them back home.
“We thought maybe we could put [the bracelets] online or in some surf shops and continue that pura vida spirit into San Diego,” Thall recalls. In Costa Rica, pura vida is a versatile greeting (sort of like aloha in Hawaii), that translates to pure or simple life. It also reflects a certain attitude among locals, a relaxed, grateful way of viewing the world. They would pay homage to that way of life with the name of the company that eventually emerged from their trip—Pura Vida Bracelets.
Only a month out of college, Thall had no job or school to absorb his focus when he arrived back in California. This freedom allowed the two friends to jump right into growing Pura Vida. On the flight home from Costa Rica, the men had written out their story on Goodman’s iPhone, and this became the narrative they told when sharing their business idea.
“After we put our heads down and got to work, we found there was a niche market waiting for Pura Vida,” Thall says.
Between college campuses, trade shows, and local community events, Thall and Goodman worked tirelessly to share the Pura Vida story and firsthand talent of their artisans. Each day, they’d email store buyers and visit with local boutiques and shops. They also focused on growing their organic Facebook fan base and spreading the word on social media.
One by one, they sold the initial batch of polyester, wax-coated bracelets in-person and online. Their initial online sales came from San Diego, and within the following weeks, orders started spreading east, from California to Nevada to New York.
“When we saw the brand naturally grow…we knew that a demand was forming,” Thall says. “From there, it kind of took off.”
The Booming Pura Vida Brand
Over the past eight years, Thall and his team have grown Pura Vida into more than just a successful ecommerce company. They’re also known for their beautiful branding, their brilliant social media marketing strategy, and for financially supporting several charities.
Thall shared a few key aspects of their brand and company mission.
“[Because] our bracelets are handmade, we’re able to continue our mission of providing more jobs to artisans around the world,” Thall says. When he and Goodman met Jorge and Joaquin on their original Costa Rica trip, the artisans were living in a one-room, doorless apartment. Today, the pair of artisans manage over 3,000 artisans who exclusively supply Pura Vida bracelets.
Another important aspect of the company is the Pura Vida Charity Collection, which offers a variety of bracelets that have been designed for specific causes recommended by Pura Vida customers.
Through a feedback page on their website—where over 4,000 comments are added daily—Thall and his team crowdsource ideas for new charities and bracelet designs. Then they donate proceeds from each bracelet to its respective cause.
“Now the Charity Collection is one of the most popular parts of our business,” Thall says. “We’re focusing on the charity, the donation, and promoting causes that are close to millions of people’s hearts.”
But Pura Vida hasn’t been able to make this much impact without a lot of strategic marketing, promotion, and product placement.
When Thall was initially selling the bracelets, his team put equal energy into both wholesale and ecommerce strategies. Neither had priority. Over time, though, the focus has shifted heavily to ecommerce, which now makes up over 80 percent of all Pura Vida sales.
Despite this surge, Pura Vida still has products in thousands of retailers across the country, and the company continues to sell out quicker than they ever imagined. In that sense, Thall has learned that ecommerce and wholesale can go hand in hand.
“Because there’s such a demand on the retail side, it brings traffic to the website,” Thall explained. “By having a little Pura Vida stand [near the register], people are walking in, getting an impression, buying a bracelet, and visiting the website.”
While wholesale contributes to website traffic, nothing has rivaled the social media strategy that Thall and his team have developed.
A portion of the strategy’s success was due to great timing. Pura Vida was born in the early days of the Facebook era, when the network was known for connecting with friends, rather than promoting business. Thall created a Facebook fan page for Pura Vida, and with every post or link, he saw 100 percent reach. In 2010, his organic reach was more than he’d ever see today.
“We found a way to crack the Facebook code before it became a super-competitive, pay-to-play platform,” Thall says. “We’re pretty grateful for that.”
Today, the team invests in paid Facebook advertising to continue to reach their audience. With such a low average order volume (AOV), Pura Vida isn’t able to take a major risk on PPC. They have to walk a fine line where their investment leads to purchases, subscriptions, and return customers.
Thankfully, their other cross-channel marketing efforts and solid brand aesthetic make each paid advertisement even more powerful. “Our Facebook spend is up there with other major ecommerce brands,” Thall says. “Our very high-quality imagery, our direct-response calls-to-action, our copy…we’ve found a way to become a true leader in the paid space. Because we have really strong content and our organic [reach] is so high, a lot of people have already heard of Pura Vida through another channel.”
Another early breakthrough that led to major success for Pura Vida was collaborating with TV personality and blogger Lauren Conrad. Conrad would post monthly about Pura Vida on her Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Like the Pura Vida pages, Conrad’s posts would see 100 percent reach, leading to a massive boost in sales each month.
“I think we figured out influencer marketing right from the beginning,” Thall says. They had to pay for her posts, but the result was incredible reach and access to millions of followers.
Influencer marketing continues to be a major facet of Pura Vida’s digital marketing strategy. With today’s media noise and hard-to-track ROI, though, the brand altered their strategy to work with a different type of influencer—their very own customers.
They actually view these people as micro-influencers, regardless of whether they have millions of fans or just a few hundred followers.
“The people that are seeing [their content] are their close friends and the people they trust the most,” Thall says. “If we can have 100,000 micro-influencers versus 10 massive influencers or celebrities, there’s a different sense of trust and word-of-mouth.”
To organize and incentivize their customers, Thall and his team developed a unique influencer platform, the Pura Vida Rep Program. This three-tiered program gives influencers a custom coupon code and encourages them to make sales to their friends and followers.
If an influencer were to make one sale a day, they’d get five bracelets and a special sticker. With five sales, they’d get an exclusive rep charm. With 10, they’d receive a Pura Vida staff t-shirt. With over 100,000 people in the program, Thall and his team have mastered a process through which customers turn into reps and then into brand ambassadors and top promoters. It’s a win-win for both parties.
Pura Vida works with a variety of non-customer influencers, too. But instead of targeting influencers based on follower count alone, Thall and his team research people and profiles that match the Pura Vida aesthetic and image.
When they find a good match, the team reaches out and offers free products and paid trips, on which these influencers can create content for Pura Vida. The brand then resurfaces that content on various channels.
“We’re not reaching out to [these influencers] for advertising or sponsored posts. We’re reaching out to them because we like their style of marketing and content,” Thall says. “So it’s kind of like a reverse concept. We don’t give much art direction; we just say, ‘Take photos as you normally would.’”
Depending on an influencer’s reach, Pura Vida might also create a customized bracelet pack for them to wear and and sell. This gives each influencer a sense of creative freedom and ownership that makes their promotions and posts more natural.
With so many moving parts within his influencer strategy, Thall can’t do it all alone. “We use a software called Refersion,” Thall says. It links to Shopify, and when a customer uses an influencer’s code, that code triggers the system to credit the influencer.
It’s Not Always Smooth Sailing
Growth and success are hardly linear, especially in the startup world. Thall has seen this firsthand. Eight years after creating Pura Vida, he and his team have figured a lot of things out—but they’re still facing new and old challenges every day.
One major challenge has been the Pura Vida Monthly Club, the brand’s subscription product. For less than $15 per month, customers receive three exclusive bracelets valued at over $50. This product is the fastest growing part of Pura Vida, and it’s not without its own growing pains.
“In the beginning stages, there were a lot of kinks in terms of predicting how many [bracelet] packs we’d need based on acquisition, churn, quality control, and the potential of underselling or overselling,” Thall says. The Pura Vida Monthly Club is two years old, and Thall still deals with these questions every single day.
But over the years, they’ve determined an average they use to guide purchasing orders. Through months of team collaboration, data analytics and projection, and simple trial and error, Thall and his team have created a subscription funnel that provides consistent revenue and loyal customers.
Some other issues that Thall and Goodman deal with daily involve inventory management, predicting product performance, and general projections. Since the beginning of Pura Vida, the team has dealt with building demand for a product, launching the the product, then selling out. “That give and take is difficult,” Thall shared.
Even eight years in, Thall continues to experience growing pains involved with working with new and different people, establishing long-term relationships, and finding the very best people, such as influencers.
“Lastly, the challenge that every business faces—that you’re not a fad or trend but you’re here for the long haul,” Thall says. “I think that comes down to…not sitting back and saying ‘We’ve created the best products,’ but ‘We’re going to continue to create the best products.’”
- The company’s unique micro-infuencer marketing program that forms the backbone of their promotional marketing campaigns
- The monthly subscription club that is the fastest-growing part of the business
- The strategies behind the company’s high customer engagement
- How Pura Vida creates a culture and lasting experiences that contribute to customer loyalty
Full Transcript of Podcast with Griffin Thall
Nathan: Awesome. All right, well, the first question that I ask everyone that comes on is how did you get your job?
Griffin: So I got my job, you know, right out of college. You know, I went to San Diego State University and when I graduated from there in 2010, me and my business partner, Paul, went on a surf trip to Costa Rica and while we were there, you know, we were just, kind of, in search of good waves and, you know, just cruising and exploring the town.
So since then, you know, we met these two guys on the beach named Jorge and Joaquin and they were making bracelets by hand. We approached them and we fell in love with the bracelets right away. So after we got back to our room that night, we looked down at our wrists and we said, “Hey, these bracelets are awesome.I think we could maybe, you know, put these online or we could put them in some surf shops and, you know, continue that Pura Vida spirit, you know, into San Diego.”
So once we did that, we put the bracelets online and we put them in a couple boutiques and the brand slowly took off from there. So today we have over 300 artisans that we’ve taken out of poverty and given them full-time jobs, and they’re responsible for making all the Pura Vida bracelets. So from two guys that we initially met on the beach in Costa Rica as just a trip and, kind of, an after college experience turned into, you know, a full-blown business that we really weren’t expecting.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. That’s amazing, man, and how long ago was this?
Griffin: So it was in 2010.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. Okay. So around eight years ago and so, man, like Pura Vida, it’s quite a big, well-known brand. You’ve really tapped into, I think, the youth and especially in the online space. Just so well-known. Like, you know, even the Foundr team here in Melbourne.
Like, everyone was super pumped to hear that I was speaking with you today and I’m really curious. Like, you started with the bracelets, you’re doing, kind of, all sorts of jewelry now, and I think what’s really cool and unique about your model is the charity aspect. So are you able, like, to share with us how exactly that works?
Griffin: Yeah. So our bracelets, they are handmade. So it’s really cool because we’re able to continue our mission of providing more jobs to artisans around the world. So that’s, kind of, one aspect of our brand. The other aspect of the brand is our charity bracelets, where we paired a specific bracelet and a specific colorway with a charity that our fans and our customers recommended for us to work with.
So after taking ideas from our customers and, kind of, crowdsourcing the design, and the concepting, and stuff like that, we created a bracelet for it and now our charity collection is actually one of the most popular parts of our business. So it’s pretty awesome to see that, you know, kind of like two-sided business model where we’re providing jobs to artisans through the sales of the bracelets, but then on a specific collection of bracelets, you know, we’re focusing on, you know, the charity, the donation, and promoting a cause that’s close to, you know, millions of peoples’ hearts.
Nathan: Yeah, wow, and how did you come up with that idea? Like, and was this… this wasn’t one of your first products? You said you crowdsourced the idea?
Griffin: Yeah. I mean, you know, for us, the charity bracelets, we actually have a page on our website that says, like, “What should we create next?” So it’s basically just a, you know, one page on our website. It has, I think, over 4,000 or 5,000 comments on it and basically we just let our customers put notes on there of what we should make next.
So we kind of, you know, pick and choose some ideas from there, whether it’s a bracelet, or a charm, or a charity, and kind of take the ideas from the customers and bring them to life.
Nathan: Yeah, wow, that’s really smart. And, you know, talk to me about the early days, man. So you and your business partner, you come back from a surf trip and you’re really inspired by these bracelets that, you know, you got from San Diego at the beach.
So you decided to put them online and have them in a few boutique surf shops. Like what happened next because this is your first business, right?
Griffin: Yes, it’s our first business. Just out of college. Just, like, you know, pretty much, like, a month after we graduated or so and, you know, from there, you know, we took the bracelets, you know, from the guys we met. We bought 400 bracelets with us and we brought them back to San Diego. So, you know, on our trip from, you know, San Jose airport back to San Diego, we basically just wrote a little story, like I’m talking about right now, on Paul’s iPhone at the time.
And as we were writing down the story, you know, we just documented our trip, and we documented the artisans we met, and we documented how we wanted to help them and, you know, that’s a very similar story that’s still on our website now. Except we have expanded a little bit since then because we’ve grown but basically, you know, from the start we’ve always had a mission to make friends with Jorge and Joaquin, and now we’re business partners.
And I think, you know, to be able to continue to work with these guys and provide jobs for their friends, you know, it really allows, like, a much bigger impact, you know, by working collaboratively on these bracelets.
Nathan: Yeah, amazing, and so you started to, I guess, produce these bracelets and every single bracelet is still to this day produced by hand by artisans all around the world. Right?
Griffin: Correct. Yeah, so the bracelets, you know, all the string bracelets that you see on our website, you know, they’re made by hand. They’re not made in a factory. They’re simple. They’re polyester, wax-coated bracelets and, you know, our team of artisans that make them, they’re in Costa Rica and El Salvador now, as well. You know, they’re still managed by the two guys, Jorge and Joaquin, that we met on the beach in Costa Rica over eight years ago and it’s insane because when we first met these two guys, you know, they were living in poverty.
They had a house…oh, sorry, they had a one bedroom, I guess, house you’d call it. There was no door. There was two beds on the ground, a spilled pot of coffee, and it was very, very warm in there and definitely not the best conditions. And after seeing this, you know, Paul and I really wanted to help these guys and really take their crafts, you know, to a much bigger scale.
And, you know, what we didn’t expect to happen, you know, was the popularity and the demand for these bracelets. So, you know, now today those two artisans, Jorge and Joaquin, now manage a team of 300 artisans handmaking these bracelets for Pura Vida that are now distributed all over the world.
Nathan: Yeah, wow, that’s crazy. So that means you would have your main fulfillment center or only fulfillment center out of Costa Rica. Is that correct?
Griffin: No, the bracelets are manufactured in Costa Rica and El Salvador.
Nathan: Got you, but they get transferred to somewhere in the States and that’s where you have the fulfillment center, right?
Griffin: Correct. Our fulfillment center is in San Diego. That’s where all the product is received and then it’s organized, it’s put into bins and tagged, and basically every time someone places an order it gets shipped from there.
Nathan: Got you. Got you. Okay, so you and Paul, you come up with this amazing idea, and did it take off straight away? Like what happened next?
Griffin: I think from there, you know, we just kind of hit the ground running and, you know, this is our first, kind of, project. Our first job outside of college. So we really didn’t have anything better…we didn’t really have anything better that we were doing or had to focus on, so we just thought, you know, why don’t we try to sell bracelets?
And, you know, people laughed at us. They said, “How are you going to sell these bracelets?” You know, “Who’s going to buy these?” Blah blah blah. And, you know, after we, kind of, just put our heads down and got to work, you know, we found that there was a niche market, kind of, waiting for Pura Vida. So, you know, we went on college campuses, we passed out bracelets, we told people our story, we attended trade shows, and we basically did whatever we could to get in front of people, whether it was on social media or in person, just sharing our story.
Nathan: Yeah, got you, and was it explosive growth from the start or was it just, kind of, a slow burn and then just it took a while to build momentum?
Griffin: I think from the beginning the growth was pretty good, just because we, kind of, hit the ground running pretty fast. We really focused on getting a bunch of fans on Facebook when Facebook, you know, was really important for the organic reach. And we just, kind of, hustled. You know? We sent out emails to store buyers everyday, we walked around to the local surf shops and boutiques, and, you know, after a while, you know, just a couple weeks we started seeing people place orders, you know, from San Diego.
Then from L.A. and then from Nevada and then all the way to New York and Florida, and then it kind of expanded from there. So when we saw the brand naturally grow from San Diego to online orders from across the U.S., we know that, you know, a demand was forming. So from there, that’s when it, kind of, took off.
Nathan: Yeah, got you, and, you know, one thing that I’m really excited to speak to you about is around your social media strategy and, you know, how you’ve used influencer marketing. And you guys are fantastic on social. Really, really strong but before we jump into that, I’m just curious, like, you know, how powerful and important has the wholesaling model been for you guys, as well?
Like, are you guys stronger wholesale or what’s been the real driver for growth? Has it been more of the social side or the wholesale side? Because I know some e-commerce businesses, they are massive wholesale and it drives a lot more than you’d think from the social side.
Griffin: Yeah, man. I think for us, you know, right when we started it was wholesale and e-comm, right off the bat. There was no, like, priority and, you know, fast forward 8 years and right now wholesale is about 20% of our sales while e-comm is the other 80%, but we’re still in, you know, thousands of retailers across the U.S. and those retailers are selling out of product, you know, quicker than we’ve ever imagined.
You know, they’re hitting up our reps and they’re saying, “Hey, you know, I need to pre-book for the next two months just so you guys don’t sell out and you could reserve product for me.” So because there’s such a demand on the retail side, as well, you know, with our wholesale accounts, it kind of brings back that traffic to our website. So, you know, by having a little Pura Vida stand front and center on the cash wrap of thousands of stores, you know, people are walking in everyday.
They’re getting the impression, they’re buying a bracelet, and then, in turn, they’re going to go back to the website.
Nathan: Yeah, amazing. Awesome. So you’re telling me that in the early days, Facebook was really a strong channel for you guys. Like organic. You know, the organic side. Foundr wasn’t around long enough for us to really get on, like, you know…to be able to capitalize on that platform, like Facebook, organically, but so, yeah, tell me about that and how things evolved on the social side.
Because you guys, like, you guys are some of the best. I would say one of the best, you know, in terms of e-commerce brands on social just showing how it’s done, really. So, yeah, talk to me about that. I’m really curious.
Griffin: Yeah, man, I think for us, you know, since the beginning, we, kind of, grew up in the Facebook era. Because right when we graduated college, Facebook was just basically a network just for friends and it wasn’t really much of a business platform right off the bat. So after we made our Facebook fan page, you know, me and Paul just, kind of, hustled to get as many fans and as many likes and followers as we could, and when we would put up a post we would say, “Hey, you know, we have a new bracelet in stock” and we’d put the link.
And we would get 100% reach because, you know, if we had 1,000 fans, 10,000 fans, 100,000 fans, this is before paid came into play, so we were getting, once again, 100% reach on any post. So the site traffic was exploding every time we did a post or put up a link. The engagement that we get on those posts, even with, like, 20,000 fans, is almost as much, if not more, engagement we get now because the reach is down to, like, 1%.
So it’s actually pretty crazy. I mean, you know, we found a way to break through and crack the Facebook code early on, before it became a super competitive, you know, pay-to-play platform. And, you know, I think we’re pretty grateful for that. I would say the next big thing is we started working with Lauren Conrad right out of the gates. You know, she was on a pretty big TV show and she was a super popular blogger, so we ended up pairing with her and creating content for her blog.
She would do a Facebook post and a tweet once a month for us for about a year, and our site would just explode with sales. So I think we, kind of, figured out the influencer marketing right from the beginning and she didn’t just have, like, you know, a couple thousand followers. She had millions. So from the beginning, you know, we were able to get into her feed with that 100% organic reach.
Obviously, we had to pay a fee to work with her and her agency, but the reach was 100%. So it was pretty crazy what that did.
Nathan: Yeah, wow, that’s crazy. So you guys were right in on influencer marketing in the early days, because back then…it’s just a different world right now, isn’t it?
Griffin: Yeah, it’s way different now. You know, now there’s a fee for working with any influencer, whether they have, you know, a couple thousand followers or a couple million followers. It’s hard to track the ROI because of all the noise, and all the attribution, and all the different channels funneling in. So when we worked with Lauren Conrad back in the day, it was just one post, one click, and then one conversion.
So there wasn’t all these other channels to create the noise. So I think, you know, fast forward today, our influencer marketing strategy is, you know… it’s pretty unique. We have a couple tiers. One of them is, like, our Pura Vida Rep Program and what that means is people can sign up on the website, they get a rep code, and then they go through these three different tiers to encourage them to promote the brand and make sales.
So the first tier, you know, like I said, they sign up, they get a rep code. Once they make one sale, they get a rep pack, which includes five bracelets and a sticker. Once they make three sales, they get an exclusive rep charm that says Pura Vida rep on it, and then once they make five sales they get a Pura Vida logo staff tee that we pass out to people in our office.
So, you know, it’s this motivating tier program that allows, you know, us to convert customers to reps and then reps to brand ambassadors and our top promoters. So, you know, we’ve had over 110,000 people go through our Pura Vida Rep Program. It’s actually pretty crazy. Whenever we do a post on Instagram, we get between 2,000 and 3,000 people to sign up within 24 hours just from that one post.
Nathan: Yeah, wow, and so you’re finding not just influencers but a lot of customers are becoming reps?
Griffin: Yeah. So we actually look at the customers as micro-influencers because, you know, whether they have millions of fans or whether they just have, you know, 500 followers, the people that are seeing it are their close friends and the people that they trust the most. So if we could have 100,000 micro-influencers versus having, you know, 10 massive influencers or celebrities, there’s a different, kind of, sense of trust and a different sense of word of mouth, where their friends really believe in the products that they’re promoting.
So that’s what’s pretty cool.
Nathan: Yeah, that’s really smart. So when somebody becomes, I guess, an official, like, the next tier you said it was an ambassador?
Griffin: No, so this program is called the Pura Vida Rep Program and this is where, you know, micro-influencers can sign up to become a rep. There’s no minimum and we kind of…you know, we let anyone join and, you know, the different tiers that they’re awarded is based on how many sales they make.
So basically, you know, if they make one sale, three sales, or five sales, you know, they’re given free products based on, you know, their motivation to promote the brand. So that’s, kind of, one program and then go up a little bit higher in the follower count, you know, to people that have, like, 100,000 or 500,000 or 4 million followers. We work with these influencers in a different way.
We send them on different trips to get content. So whether it’s Coachella, whether it’s a music festival, whether it’s, you know, a cool travel location or going to Tulum or Hawaii, we work with influencers on getting content for us and with that content we resurface it through our email marketing, our Facebook and Instagram ads, and we also use it on all of our organic channels, as well.
So it’s, kind of, you know, we work with the larger influencers because they’re experts in creating content and then that content is used to show our brand image on our Instagram and anything that’s customer-facing.
Nathan: Yeah, I think that’s a common misconception that a lot of people have when they want to work with influencers. They just think it’s a transaction and, you know, in the sense of, “Okay, I want to pay this person and then they’re going to post.” But where the real power lies, I believe, is not so much the post but it’s the content that you want, as well.
That’s what’s really powerful because the content does a lot of the heavy lifting, right?
Griffin: Yeah, I mean, for us it’s, you know…for us, if the influencer really likes the brand, they will wear the bracelets, they’ll wear the rings, they’ll wear the different accessories that we sell, and maybe they’ll post and tag us but we’re not reaching out to them just for advertising and sponsored posts. We’re reaching out to them because we like their style of marketing and we like how they create content.
So it’s kind of like a reverse, kind of, concept. Someone might say, “They have 100,000 followers, let’s send them some products.Let’s tell them to post.” We’re like, “Hey, we think you have a really dope brand image. You have very creative photos. We want to send you product and we’re not going to give you much art direction. Just take photos as you normally would, send us the photos, and then we’ll both post them on Instagram.”
Nathan: Yeah, got you. And one thing that is asked, like, what happens if the influencer doesn’t…or, like, do you have a contract? Or do you do anything like that? Like any formalities?
Griffin: It depends on the size of the influencer. You know, if there’s larger ones, you know, we’ll drop a contract and we’ll actually make them an influencer pack, which is a pack of four or five bracelets that we do sell on their website. We give them a commission for the collaborative marketing that we both put in to the sale of that pack, and it actually is pretty cool because, you know, we’re creating a pack of bracelets that you cannot buy anywhere else on the site.
It’s a little bit higher price point, so it raises the AOV for that purchase and it also gives the influencer, kind of, a sense of ownership in the pack that they’ve created. So they’re feeling to wear the pack, promote the pack, and take photos in the pack happens much more organically because we gave them full creative freedom on the design of it.
Nathan: Yeah, no, that’s really cool and then, yeah, that’s something special and unique that they can share with their audience.
Nathan: Got you. And when it comes to, I guess, attribution and, like, you know, this PR, like…so not PR. This PV Rep, you know, Pura Vida Rep Program, it sounds like a really smart idea. Around execution, did you have to build a tool or is there a tool that you use to facilitate that?
Because this is, like, a really powerful idea. Yeah.
Griffin: Yeah. So we use a software called Refersion and basically it’s like an affiliate tracking program but it links with Shopify. So instead of your normal affiliate software where it’s mostly like link-based or tracking-based in that sense, Refersion actually…it does have links, too, but we prefer to use just the coupon code.
So basically there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that has to happen, but on the front end, basically when a customer or when a micro-influencer gives someone their code to use and it’s used on our store on Shopify, that code is also triggered in Refersion and then that Pura Vida rep is given credit for that sale.
Nathan: Got you. Awesome. Yeah, no, thank you for sharing, man, and so, you know, you guys very, very strong on the content creation side. Like, you know, before we chatted a few weeks ago, like, I was looking at some of the videos on your website, dude. Like those are, like, so cool, man. Some of the stuff that you guys are putting out, like, your content.
Like, so like, is that actually, like, you know, how you said you worked with influencers? You actually, like, you know, you’re sending them on a trip and do you supply them with the videographer, as well? And you guys just, kind of, sponsor all that or it’s, kind of, the influencer themselves that, kind of, works with their own videographer and then, yeah, just…
Griffin: Yeah, so it’s kind of a mix. Some of the influencers we work with, you know, we work with them because they are a photographer or videographer, and some of the influencers that we work with, they are the model. They are the face. They are their own brand image. You know what I’m saying? So…
Griffin: When you kind of balance out the two, you know, I mean, it’s a great little combo. So, like, for example, one of our influencers, we just recently sent her to Miami for Ultra Music Festival. So she documented the experience, you know, from her hotel to the festival, inside the festival eating pizza, inside the crowd listening to music, and then on her way out.
So we got to experience Ultra Music Festival first hand from a Pura Vida influencer. So that’s the kind of content that we want to give to our fans because, you know, we have 1.1 million fans on Instagram and not all of them are going to go to Ultra Music Festival, but if we can take them to Ultra through one of our influencers, that’s good content marketing.
Nathan: Yeah, got you. Okay, that makes sense. And one thing I found really interesting, as well, when I go to your site is you have something called the Pura Vida Monthly Club. So you don’t sell, you know, the bracelets or the jewelry, you know, individually as a one-off transaction. As well, people can sign up for a monthly club.
Can you tell us around, you know, how that works and the strategy there, and how effective it is, like, having a subscription model, as well, offering that as part of the service offering to your community?
Griffin: Yeah so, you know, the Pura Vida Monthly Club, it’s actually our subscription product. It’s one of the fastest growing parts of our business and, you know, to this day people have been so excited about becoming a member. They’re given three bracelets that are exclusive only in the club.
You can’t buy them anywhere else on the website. It’s $14.95 per month and they’re valued at up to $50 in retail value. So they’re getting, you know, a huge value proposition there but also getting free shipping. They’re getting exclusive products and they’re part of the Pura Vida Club, so it, kind of, gives them that little edge where, you know, you can’t buy them anywhere else on the site. Like I said, it’s one of our fastest growing parts of the business and, you know, the engagement and the loyalty of club members, you know, is insane in terms of the lifetime value of a normal customer.
So we’re really excited about the club and, you know, we want to continue scaling it up as much as we can.
Nathan: Yeah, wow, and do you have, like, a free Facebook group that people… not a free, a special Facebook group that club members can join? I’m really curious around that. What are the common things that you find around someone that buys, like, a Pura Vida bracelet? Is it mainly female?
Is it mainly male? Like, talk to us around your demographic. Obviously, a lot of the people are young.
Griffin: Yeah, I mean, you know, our customers, it’s mostly female. You know, we do much more marketing to the female audience and we feel that bracelets in general, are more female-focused. You know, we do have a male audience, as well. You know, I think, you know, with Pura Vida anyone can wear it, our products. You know, they’re waterproof. You know, they’re adjustable, one size fits all, and it really allows, you know, anyone to wear our products and, kind of, live that Pura Vida lifestyle that we use in our marketing on Instagram and through our emails.
So it’s pretty cool, you know, how we’ve, kind of, created the brand to encompass everyone. We’re a fully, you know, inclusive brand, so to say, and, yeah, pretty proud of that.
Nathan: Yeah, amazing, man. And, like, when it comes to, I guess, the subscription side of things, is it hard to manage? Like I know you said it’s the fastest part of your business. Is it hard to manage just around, I guess, you know, bounced payments? You know, like, just the logistics of it all?
Is that a challenge or…?
Griffin: Yeah. You know, it’s definitely a little bit difficult. We’ve been doing it for almost two years now. So I think in the beginning stages there was a lot of kinks in terms of predicting how many packs we’re going to need for the future months based on acquisition, based on churn, you know, quality control. Making sure that everyone does get the same pack.
What happens if we oversell? What happens if we undersell? What do we do with the leftover inventory? Those are all questions that, you know, we try to figure out every single day and it’s tough because, you know, we don’t know if a pack’s going to do well or not and we don’t know how many packs we’re going to sell per day, how many new subscribers we’re going to get and then we don’t know how many credit cards will break, but there is an average that we go off of.
There’s a consistent churn, there’s a consistent acquisition, and we’re basing our purchasing orders off of those metrics.
Nathan: Yeah, got you. So you’re working to get it and you’ve worked out the numbers now, but how long has it taken to really get that kind of baseline to manage that?
Griffin: You know, it’s taken a while. We had, kind of…sorry. We have a couple hands in the pot to manage the, you know, monthly club program. We have a couple people that are very smart in terms of the data, the analytics, the projection, the accounting, also the design of the pack. We have great designers that do the custom designs and then also we have people that do the videos each month for the sneak peeks of the pack.
We send our Monthly Club pack to all of our main influencers. They’re taking photos of the pack so we could use it on our Facebook and Instagram ads for acquisition purposes. So we’ve created a really good funnel in terms of, you know, what the pack looks like, when the pack is going live, how many packs to order, and basically how we’re going to be marketing that pack for that month.
Nathan: Yeah, got you, and you mentioned, like, we’ve talked about, you know, Facebook and Instagram on the organic side but from the sounds of things, you guys go pretty hard, as well, on the paid acquisition side, as well. I know, like, you know, with your bracelets they are, kind of, like in terms of, like the cost, like, they’re not that expensive, man.
So, you know, one thing I’ve learned is people that do, you know, the PPC stuff and the paid acquisition side on the e-commerce side, because, like, you know, the items are not, like, you know, $200,000, $300,000, $400,000, $500,000, like, you know, they’re not really expensive items, people that run Facebook ads on…or Facebook ads or do any paid acquistion on the e-commerce side, they are some of the best.
Because they have, you know, not like…they have smaller margins than most, right?
Griffin: Yeah, I mean, I think for us, you know, the one setback we have is we have such a low AOV. So we’re not able to take as big of a risk as companies are, you know, with the higher AOVs. So whether it’s like, you know, a mattress brand or, you know…
Nathan: SaaS products.
Griffin: …sunglasses, watches… exactly. Where, you know, just kind of for us, you know, we’re selling, you know, between, like, $5 and $30 items. So, you know, you’ve got to respect, you know, the profit, as well. So I think for us it’s really important because there’s a fine line of, like, how much can we spend? Will the customer come back a second time? Will they sign up for the club?
So, you know, between our Facebook team, between how much they’re spending, between how much we’re growing organically, between how many emails we’re getting per day that we can market to, we have a lot of cross-channel marketing that really allows us to have that lower AOV and with our Pura Vida Rep Program and our micro ambassadors, it really allows us to lower that AOV because they’re also, you know, producing sales on our website.
Nathan: Got you. So just out of curiosity, sounds like you still guys can make paid…like, the paid side work. Obviously like, you know, I think any brand, any company should be doing retargeting, especially like, you know, a brand that’s very big on audience building and they’re a B2C play.
They’ve got to be doing retargeting, but I’m really curious, like, are you guys still doing…it sounds like you guys are pretty still heavy on the acquisition side even though, yeah, you don’t have as…like, you know, you have thinner margins than most because your items, like, you know, the jewelry and the bracelets are not that expensive. You guys still can make it work?
Griffin: Yeah, for us, I mean, we’re very heavy on the paid side. You know, our Facebook and Instagram spend is definitely up there with some of the larger e-commerce brands and I think for us, you know, we’ve just found a way through our very high-quality imagery, you know, our direct response call to actions, our offer, our copy, you know, we found a way to, kind of, break through the noise and become a true leader in the paid space.
Like I said, I think it is because we have really strong content and also because the organic is so high that a lot of people that we could be marketing to may have heard about Pura Vida from some other channel. So it allows them to have that, kind of, second touch already before they make a purchase.
Nathan: Yeah, got you. Let’s see, so talk to me around your team. Are you guys distributed? Are you just fully all local in San Diego or are you a bit of a hybrid, and how has that evolved as time has gone on and you guys have experienced the growth that you have with Pura Vida?
Griffin: Yeah, I mean, I think for us, you know, we really focused on creating a really strong company culture at our office in La Jolla, San Diego but we do have a lot of people that do work for the brand. You know, whether they’re contractors, contract work, or whether they’re, you know, independent parties or agencies or people of that nature, but, you know, the brand that we’ve created and the people that do work for Pura Vida, you know, they’re so excited to come in the office every day.
You know, like our office, there’s dogs running around, we’re right on the water in San Diego in La Jolla, so everyone has an ocean view. There’s music playing. You know, we have a cold brew coffee thing here. It’s just like that fun, you know, kind of start up vibe that we wanted to create, you know, between the look and feel of the office and the people that work for the brand in terms of the content strategy, the influencers, you know, everyone that is putting in 110%, you know, on their job at Pura Vida, you know, we’re seeing just great returns from that.
Nathan: Yeah, no, I’m all about the team building and all about the culture, man, and that’s awesome, dude. So talk to me, you know, we have to work towards wrapping up, but I’m sure it hasn’t been this easy, Griffin. Like talk to me around the hard times, man. Like you’ve got it going on. You know this space very, very well. You guys got some next level strategies.
Like, you know, the stuff you’re doing is amazing, and the product is just so cool, and the vision and the mission, and everything you guys are doing. It’s so amazing what you’re doing. So I’m just curious, like, how did you work all this out? Tell me about the hard times, man. Tell me about, you know, the struggles and, yeah.
Griffin: I think for us, you know, every business has the ups and downs. I think for us, you know, a big factor was, you know, inventory management. You know, how do we predict what products are going to hit? Which ones are not going to sell? Which product’s going to become a best seller? Which one we have to discontinue? Doing projections on an annual basis.
You know, trying to make sure that, you know, if we are going to order X amount of units, can we sell that over three to four months? Or what happens if we don’t sell it? You know, how do we, kind of, convert that inventory back into cash so we can create something different? So I think since day one, you know, every time we come out with a new product it sells out really quickly, so we, kind of, build up the hype, build up the demand, launch the product, and then it sells out. So we, kind of, have those, like, waves of, like, you know, a lot of orders come in for that product and then it kind of has to wait for a couple months until we can bring it back in stock.
So that kind of give-and-take has been a little bit difficult. I would also say just, kind of, the learning curve of working with different people and agencies and, you know, who is the best person for the job and, you know, how can you make sure that the partnerships that you have, you want to have for the long run. You know, also just, you know, working with people that you really enjoy working with and making sure that the influencers that we choose, they’re strategic.
They can produce quality content and also just, you know, the challenge that any business faces is how you make sure you’re not a fad, you’re not a trend, but you’re here for the long haul. And I think that, kind of, comes down to with quality marketing, quality products, great imagery, and just, kind of, continuing to innovate and not just sitting back and saying, “We’ve created the best products.” But saying, “Hey, we’re going to continue to create the best products. We’re going to continue to innovate and make our fans excited.”
So that’s kind of the problem that I think is ongoing and I’m excited to just deal with it every single day.
Nathan: Yeah. Yeah, I really like the, “What should we make next?” page. I think that’s very, very smart and I’m going to guess that a lot…like not all, but some of your really powerful, you know, innovations around product or around marketing have come from that page, right?
Griffin: Yeah, I mean, we definitely draw inspo from it. It definitely shows a good way where what our customers want, what our fans want. It’s, kind of, like an ongoing survey. As opposed to saying, “Hey, we’re going to send out a survey,” but just says, you know, “What should we make next?” And it’s very vague. It could be a charity. It could be a bracelet.
It could be a ring. It could be whatever they want and if you look on that page, I think there’s over 5,000 comments. People are posting pictures, they’re writing stories, they’re completely engaged with the brand, and, you know, we don’t really message that page that much. We don’t do a bunch of emails about it but people are finding that page, they’re sharing it with friends, and they’re writing down, you know, their suggestions. So it’s really cool to see that ongoing, kind of, idea creation from our fans.
Nathan: Yeah, because I’m on your site right now, man, and I can’t find it. I probably could Google it, but, yeah, I can’t find it. So it doesn’t look like you’re actively asking so much very heavily. So that’s when you know, right?
Griffin: So if you… Yeah, if you go to the footer to submit an idea.
Nathan: Ah, submit an idea. There you go. Yeah, submit an idea. Yeah, okay. Wow. This is awesome, man. So, yeah, you’ve got the, “Here at Pura Vida customers always come first.”
Griffin: And if you look at the time stamps on their comments…
Nathan: Yeah, you’re getting, like, 5 to 10…yeah, about 5 a day. Not even. Yeah, 10…sometimes even you have more than 5 and, yeah, people are just letting you know what they want and how much they love the brand. That’s crazy.
Griffin: Pretty crazy, huh?
Nathan: Yeah, yeah. That’s incredible, dude. Awesome, man. Well, look, I’m super mindful of your time and we have to work towards wrapping up. So, like, obviously, you guys are killing it. You’ve got such an incredible brand. You really know how to build just something, like, just so amazing and really just impact the world.
So I guess the last and final question is…well, two more questions, is what’s next? What are you most excited about? And where’s the best place people can find out more about yourself and your work?
Griffin: Yeah, I mean, I think for us, you know, what’s next is just continue to evolve the brand. You know, continue to work with more artisans and more influencers. Come up with new product categories that our fans are really excited about. Right now, like, our jewelry category is really booming so, you know, we’re kind of focusing on that, as well, along with creating new bracelet styles.
And I think, you know, for us it’s really important to continue to promoting our charity collection. You know, making the donations more and more every single year and I think for us, you know, to stay up to date with Pura Vida, our Instagram is very popular. We have 1.1 million followers, growing between 1,000 and 2,000 followers per day. That’s where we post, you know, what’s happening at Pura Vida, behind the scenes of our office, and some sneak peeks of new stuff to come.
So we’re really excited about, you know, what’s going on and what products we’re dropping in 2018, and, you know, I don’t see any end of sight.
Nathan: Yeah, amazing, and I’ve actually got to ask another question and that’s, like, you seem pretty focused on Pura Vida. Some people would be, like, you know, I understand…one thing I’ve noticed is a lot of people that really get to understand, you know, building an online brand and especially in the e-commerce space, they tend to have other e-commerce brands and they tend to apply their learnings to another brand.
Just as, you know, founders and entrepreneurs sometimes, you know, we’ve got so many different ideas. Do you have any other brands that you’re working on or 100%focused on Pura Vida?
Griffin: Yeah, I mean, for me, I mean, it keeps me more than busy. A ton of emails every day. You know, a ton of excitement every day I come into the office. You know, no day is ever the same, that’s for sure. So I think for us, I mean, I enjoy the people that work at Pura Vida. I enjoy the work that I do for Pura Vida and I’m continuing to see, you know, new, different creative avenues that we can just take the brand into.
So for me, I mean, I would be way too distracted with anything else but Pura Vida.
Nathan: Yeah, amazing. And where’s the best place people can go out and check out more around Pura Vida?
Griffin: I think for us, you know, the best place, you know, is check out our website, puravidabracelets.com. I would also say check out or Instagram, which is just @puravidabracelets. That’s the best place to stay up to date with what’s going on behind the scenes, new product launches, and basically anything you want to know. So definitely take a look.
Nathan: Amazing, man. Well, look, thank you so much for your time, Griffin, and it’s been an absolute pleasure, dude.
Griffin: Awesome, man. I really appreciate that.