Emily Merrell 00:04
Welcome to the sixth degree Podcast, the podcast where we grill our guests about the things that make them tick, and find out how human connection plays a role in their life. I’m your host, Emily Merrell. I’m your host, Emily Merrell. And today I’ve got a wonderful guest, the co founder and CEO of her brand and CO as our guests. We’ve got Jessica courthouse. Jessica, welcome to our show.
Hi, Emily. Thanks for having me.
And I have to apologize to you and to our listeners today, if I sound like less sparkly than I typically do. I had a flight that was six hours delayed last night, I have really learned the ins and out of the Phoenix airport. And surprisingly, not nothing that I was planning to do, and hope to never do again.
Sure, such as life totally fine. My favorite part of flying is when you show up to the counter and you’re like, Hey, I’m so and so here’s my ticket that I purchased and they’re like, cool, have no space for you. And you’re like, wait, but like, I purchased the ticket. That’s the whole point of the reservation is to buy the seat. But wait, no, sorry. We don’t have any space for you on our flight.
And you’re like, but you see right here it says nine a like, eat that I have like no, no, they just get their their original gaslighter I think
is wild. What is happening with airline industry right now. Absolutely. Bananas crazy. Yeah,
I actually had a compliment the girl who was at the front desk, a woman, the young lady, because people were losing their shit on her. And I just sat back, I was like, I know, there’s nothing I’m going to do. I looked on the app, there’s no other flights, like, I’m going to just have to sit and wait it out unless I want to go on a flight tomorrow. And people were like reaming her out, like I want to refund on this ticket, I want to take my business elsewhere. And she’s like, I have one job. And this is the job that I’m trying to do. If you want to get a refund, you can call this one 800 Number, which I get like, I think I would probably be the pissed off on the other end too. But you think about like, you think about the patience of those individuals who are working behind those desks, and how much battery they must receive every single day.
Yet the airline system in general is not setting them up for success. The people at the top and suits who are making the decisions have no direct correlation, they do not feel the impact of those who work on the ground. Right, which is typical of most large business entities,
which is a great transition Jessica into your background. Did you ever work in a corporate job before you started her brand? And CO
Oh, yeah, many I worked for a corporate, pretty large corporate conglomerate, on their PR team. And that was actually my first ever experience really, like hitting a ceiling. You know, I was raised by single mom, I didn’t like I knew nothing about being an entrepreneur, I knew nothing about owning a business. It was not on my radar, it was not something that like, my mom trained me, you know, growing up to be able to do. And so, you know, the plan was go to college, get a job, like get a salary, you know, get the benefits, all the stuff. I did all that stuff. And then the corporation I was working for it just completely downsized, and they just removed my position. Yeah, like just, you know, sorry, all of your dreams and like the years of hard work you’ve put into getting here is just completely gone now, you know, good forth, and you know, Godspeed. So that was I was very young at the time, I think I was 2425. And that was probably
like the worst breakup of your entire life.
Jessica Korthuis 03:45
It was catastrophic. I mean, that was the first time I had ever really felt that like the power is at bay, if you will have so much influence over my direct life. And a lot of people say that entrepreneurship is risky, which it is. But working for someone else is just as risky in a lot of ways. So it’s, you got to pick pick your battles, pick your risk, pick what feels good to you. But that’s actually how I became an entrepreneur is because my job was eliminated on a Friday. And I had no backup plan. my now husband, but we were just dating at the time we were living together was pre kids, of course, you know, so I was much more risk, you know, or risk oriented. Exactly. Right. Yeah. You
had no mouths to feed besides your own.
Exactly, exactly. And so we jumped up our first business that weekend. And then we were in business Monday morning, and I’ve been an entrepreneur ever since. Whoa. So you’re I was like over 10 years ago.
So you were 24 when this happened, you were knocked on your bum by like, display off that you had no idea what’s gonna happen. But instead of wallowing and taking your resume and dusting it off and going to other corporations, you there was something inside of you that gave you the hutzpah to go and To do something on your own. So what how did you do that? Like, what? What were the steps that it took to actually go from ideating? To Action? You know,
okay, I get asked this question a lot. And I think that there’s such an interesting sequence of events and personality traits that lead up to that moment that I think are worth exploring. I’ve been really into astrology lately. I’m learning a lot about it. And I think it’s fascinating. And I have recently learned that of course, you know, my son side is a Scorpio, right? So everyone’s always like, oh, you know, scared of the Scorpios. But I’ve, you know, fun fact, I’ve recently learned that that’s actually the way that you communicate, it’s not your identity of who you are. It’s your communication style. So I thought that was very interesting side note, but my ascending sign is a Pisces, and my Pisces sign is ruled by Jupiter. And what I’ve learned about that is, Jupiter is the planet of optimism, and silver lining. And that is so prevalent in my life. Like through various forms and entities, I’m, I’ve just naturally I’m not a wall lower than me, I don’t get sad, I don’t feel feelings, I am a Scorpio. So I do feel those feelings very deeply. But I don’t sit in them for too long. And one can chalk that up to a little bit of astrological curiosity. But also, as I mentioned, I was raised by a single mom. So I had to learn to do things very early on, I had to learn to put myself through college, I had to navigate the scholarship that I won by myself, I had to do the applications by myself, like it was just a very different upbringing, I had to put myself through school, and just a lot of things I had to do independently. So all of those things sort of like ruminate to this point where I lose my job. Oh, and on top of that, I’m extremely competitive. I was, I was a soccer player, I was an athlete my whole life. So you, you miss smash all that together. And you get a situation where kind of like this. I don’t know. Like, Go screw yourself world, I’m going to do what I’m going to do type of scenario. And I also knew in those corporate environments, I was always like getting my hand slapped. And I never knew why. A great team member, I just said that I was an athlete, like, I’m a great team member, I can play well with others. I’m super collaborative. But I’m also naturally very efficient. So like, why are we doing it in 12 steps, and we can do it in nine or less. Here are one two quick ways that we could change this and the other, I always got my hand slapped. And I never knew, until I became an entrepreneur, that all of those things about me that were liabilities. And these large entities were really great assets, an entrepreneurial setting, but because I had never experienced that I didn’t know. And so it was really this beautiful, full circle moment, whenever I launched my first business where I was like, oh, so like my ability to like, communicate very directly is actually very beneficial in this way. And this is why or Oh, my ability to solve a problem nine different ways isn’t a hindrance anymore. It’s a benefit. And this is how, so it’s yeah, it was just a wild, wild journey. And also, lastly, kind of cherry on top, I didn’t really have that many options. You know, I was very young in my career. I did not have really any mentors at the time, or anyone I could like lean on or count on. To help me navigate this. I felt very alone. And on my own, with the exception of my partner, of course, which very much helped. So with his support, we were just like, Oh, why not? You know,
why don’t you lose?
What do we have to lose? Like he, you know, he had a job that was relatively stable. I mean, you know, we weren’t like rolling in cash. But I mean, we could pay our rent. And, you know, again, we had no children to take care of at the time. And we figured between him and I, we have extremely marketable skill sets, someone will buy something from us, someone will engage with us. And so we just put one foot in front of the
other. And I like what you were talking about the sheds that growing up, you had a lot of sheds or like a hat or had to I had to figure out how to do a scholarship I had to which you didn’t have to but to get to where you wanted to go, you had to do it. But then you reach this level, where you’re like, I don’t have to go back to corporate. No one’s forcing me to do something. It sounds like an opportunity in your life where you had a moment to decide what you wanted to do versus something that you had to do. You didn’t have to be an entrepreneur, you chose to be
I did not have to be an entrepreneur. It is not for the faint of heart, for sure.
For sure, it always cracks me up when people are like, I’m gonna give myself four months to make a million dollars. And I don’t like Instagram. I don’t like Facebook, I don’t like sending emails, and I’m a private person. I’m like, okay, best of luck to you. Where’s your hustle and grit and determination? Okay, so you said you started one business, you didn’t say, this wasn’t? This isn’t your business, this isn’t her brand and go?
No, this is a boutique writing a design agency. We had it for five years. So my background, of course, was in sales, PR marketing. That’s where I had worked in the corporate Corporation I was working for. And I also have a design background and an art background. So I have been a creative director before, had worked with clients, project management sales. And then my husband, also a super creative, but has a very diverse, deep tech background. And so we were like, what, what do we really want to do? You know, what would bring what would bring us joy? What kind of projects do we really want to work on? And you know, this is Gosh, I don’t know, this is 12 years ago now. So entrepreneurship looks a lot different back then. And we just started out by building websites for people and just helping them with their branding and brand storytelling. And it was awesome. And we worked with, you know, a small little boutique PR company where we were living at the time, we got really involved with the entrepreneurial community where we were living, which was Orlando, Florida, which was a rich, really beautiful small hub of entrepreneurs and creatives that we were able to support. So it was very much like boots on the ground, going out participating in networking events. And just really putting ourselves out there and really learning a lot about the customer we wanted to serve and why we wanted to serve that customer. So yeah, so we had the agency for about five years, we grew from a team of two to a team of 12. Wow. Yeah, we ended up working with small small businesses all the way up to we did some work with Stanford University, TEDx women, girls who code and some other big brands. And it was really rewarding to bootstrap the agency build it from scratch. I mean, it was built out of our home office, we would have interns come to our home office, and work out of there. And my husband would always make them coffee and lunch, he loves to cook. And so it was a nice, very family oriented agency feel for a while we did end up getting an office. But in the early days, we didn’t have one, and he was still working full time at his corporate job. No, he ended up leaving and we both jumped in headfirst. So you’re
not even married. You’re living. You’re living with this person who is your boyfriend? And you’re like, Yeah, let’s, let’s start a business together.
Yeah. I mean, we were definitely you know, we knew for sure that we were committed to this relationship. Like at that point, we were newly engaged planning our wedding. So we definitely knew that we were kind of in it to win it. You know, we had, we had both decided we were in for this relationship personally. But yeah, the business relationship was was interesting to differentiate those two things. I can only
imagine my husband always jokes, well, he doesn’t jump, he’s serious. He’s like, I would fire you. If we work together like this. Our personalities, I think, would not be complementary to one another, I would be probably on a pip like the first day,
or took a lot. It took a lot of work. I mean, my my husband is a Capricorn. So go back to astrology. So he’s very
high end, he’s very gentle, incredibly intelligent, but very different communication style than I have. So what we did is we just really sat down and we were like, Okay, what are you really good at? What are your unique skill sets? What are my unique skill sets? Of course, we’re going to have overlap. That’s with any business partnership, my co founder, and I did the same thing when we launched her branding co where’s our overlap? And where do we both uniquely thrive? And let’s both stay in those areas as much as possible and support the other person every way that we can. And we, as I mentioned, we had a home office and so we actually had French doors. And so we made rules for ourselves because we we noticed very soon that like work was bleeding into our family life. And so we were just like, okay, Friday at I think it was like 3pm We were like door shut computers in the office shut it down. And we had to create a physical separation for us. We had a no working rule on the couch, like no working rule. Like if one of us is just like lounging, you know, outside or like in bed or just hanging out like no computers on the bed. We had to really set these rules for ourselves because we had to create that distinction, or else we would just be all work all the time. And it was it was not going to be beneficial for us.
Oh, I like that. I like hearing that you were able to be clear about it because it is such, we all experienced that I feel like during the pandemic, just like the murkiness of always working in every room is now your office. So I love the visual of closing in the French doors. So at five years, you what happened to the business? And what stage of life were you at? Yeah.
So we decided we wanted to have a family wanted to try starting having a family, my daughter who turned seven yesterday, actually, by the time we thank you of us recording this podcast, it had been yesterday, May 9. So yeah, we decided we wanted to embark on this new journey of being parents, and we got pregnant and baby was on the way, and I was just feeling really burnt out. You know, agency life is intense. No matter how many guardrails you put up with clients, and how many great, you’re how great your clients are, there’s always like the client texting you on the weekend, there’s always someone trying to get to you after hours, it’s just the nature of the business, you know, especially when you’re working with big brands, like Stanford, for example, or some other big brands. So and you want to support those clients as much as possible. So we just kind of got to a place where the agency either had to go big or go home, you know, we were on a half a million in revenue, which for us was a very big deal at the time, not having any background and business or mentors or funding or anything like that. And so we really needed to stretch that 1 million mark and beyond. And we just didn’t want to truly, we knew what the business required of us. And we didn’t have any more in the tank to give it. And also do this family thing the way that we wanted as well. So we chose to unfold the business, we have some great partners that we had developed over time, we handed off our clients one by one, it was a very slow, methodical process. And I actually had a really wonderful opportunity. One of my former clients with agency, she then joined a nonprofit, which is a global nonprofit, that bill, they’re still around to this day that at the time I was there, they have been around for like 25 years they were on for a long time. And they build entrepreneurial ecosystems around the globe. So essentially, like, how does one in Birmingham, Alabama, for example, build a really rich entrepreneurial community, when they don’t have the resources as a Boston, San Francisco or New York? What do you need in that community to make that happen? And so organizations will go to this nonprofit to learn how to do that. And so my former client joined this nonprofit as the CEO. She was like, hey, so we’ve been around for 25 years, our sales are declining, our brand is very stale. And I don’t have a global director of marketing, and I need one. And I need one who can understand how to basically move this titanic, like where we are now becoming a obsolete dinosaur. Basically, the entrepreneurial space is moving too fast for us. And our brand has not kept up. And we need help making this switch. So it was an awesome opportunity for me. And so I said, Great. Do you have health insurance and kind of my baby to work? And etc, etc, etc? And she said, Yes. And so I joined the nonprofit, and I was there for a few years, I absolutely loved it. We got to do some really great projects with in partnership with the European Union, the US Department of State, we would bring entrepreneurs back and forth between various countries and help them softly land if you will, into the US and vice versa. And so my role as the Global Director of Marketing was to make sure a our brand was relevant globally. Be I was supporting all the other functions, functions of the nonprofits that included community development that included education, all of our programs. It was a really interesting role. I got to build a team from scratch, which was wonderful to do that. You know, there were many, many moments where I’ll never forget, I was literally pumping under my desk on a call with the European Union.
under your desk was just wild. Yeah,
just under my desk, because I had nowhere else to go. I mean, there wasn’t a nursing you know, station or anything like that. And you know, it was just wasn’t really set up for a working parents. So, yeah, I did that a lot.
All the time. Just even the size of the pumps back then to like, I remember my coworkers when corporate would it looked like they were carrying a French horn into the office every single day.
That’s exactly what it felt like I had a bag and like it was just as big as my backpack. And yeah, it was wild. But I was I was committed to it and I wanted to make it work and I had an office with a lock on it. So whatever. Like that’s what’s going to be you know, so here I am.
On the bathroom. I think that’s great. am I sad how many women have to go to the bathroom and like sit on the toilet? I’m pumped nowadays.
I have done that many times. And in fact, I also horrifyingly, had to pump one time on a trip on a work trip, actually, in a kind of retired bathroom that they had made it to a dumpster. Oh, no, I had to sit on the floor. Now. In that scenario, yes, yes. Oh, seven years ago, so a lot has changed. By about seven years. It was not that long ago.
Not that long ago. I mean, I think one of the things that’s so cool are like the LVDS, and like the ones that you can just slip into your bras, but love those. Yeah, I would love to see more women using and taking advantage of that. And hopefully they are in the corporate world. They feel comfortable pumping. So you’re at this, you’re at this nonprofit, you have health insurance, you’re doing amazing things. You’re creating educational programs, you’re building teams from scratch. At what point did you get hit with the entrepreneurial seizure? Again? Yeah,
about two and a half years. And so about two and a half years in, I talked to my then CEO, and I was like, Hey, I’m, you know, I’m getting the itch again, like I’m really. And I knew, at that point, I had been consulting as well off and on for various different projects along the way. And I’d sat on several boards and was participating in various different things. And I knew that I wanted to build something next. But I knew that I didn’t want to be a consultant, I was not going to build a consultancy. And I did not want to build an agency because I had done that already. And I already knew kind of what that looked like. So that led me to really think through what does my next venture really mean? What does it represent, during the stage in our family, how can I have my cake and eat it too, because I was not going to sacrifice what I wanted for our family, as well. That’s just an area I wasn’t willing to move around on. And so this then is about 2015 2016. He hasn’t 16 This is for everyone. This is before everyone and like their mom had an online course about something, you know what I mean? Like right at the precipice, of course, creation. And really how it happened was, I had been asked to travel and teach a lot of workshops and classes, which I love to do. So above all, of all the roles that I’ve had, educating is a big part of what I love to educate, and I love to write, those are my two really like first loves. And I had found myself really speaking to one particular customer, which is female founders, particularly early stage. And we define early stages, usually under 100,000, in revenue, sometimes 250, but it’s about 100,000 is really that that real early stage, and I love that customer and still love that customer because there isn’t an option for her, that customer, she cannot afford an agency. And even if she could, she wouldn’t know how to manage one. And she definitely can’t afford an expert. And if she has paid for an expert, that expert usually has led her astray. Or she’s had her he or she has had her invest in other areas of the business blindly without her knowing why she needs to invest in that area of the business. So like, you know how a lot of business mentors will say you got to know the numbers, you got to know the numbers. This is really high for at the time and what we’ve carried over into her branding CO which is you have to know the marketing, that doesn’t mean you do the marketing, it means you know what to do. For the marketing, you have to know your customer, you have to know where they hang out how to acquire them, you have to know the basic jargon and vernacular, you have to know these things in order to move the business forward. And so I was getting asked a lot of these questions pretty repeatedly. And I’m like, okay, there should be no reason why I’m, I’m doing this, this workshop live all the time, etc. So I started to create my first version of an online course. And it’s funny to go back to, you know, that entrepreneurial moment at the very beginning where I got fired, and it just jumped off the cliff. That’s very much what happened this time as well. But just in a different way. I didn’t have the technology, I had no idea if I was what LMS I was going to use, I didn’t even have the course created. But I’ve been trained in Lean Startup for and I’ve used it for years and years and years. We teach it at her burnco. And one of the one of the frameworks of lean startup is this idea called validated learning, which basically validated learning and leap of faith assumptions was which basically summarizes to, you need to validate or invalidate all your hypotheses in the business before you make anything like so like everything in your business is a hypothesis until proven otherwise. And so in my mind, I’m like, Okay, I think my customer wants this course about brand strategy or like whatever it was at the time, but I don’t actually know. I don’t actually know. So how can I test and validate that hypothesis before I build the course. Before I make the curriculum, before I go into the tech, and you know, go down that rabbit hole and figure all that out. So what I did is I spent $100. And again, this is a long time ago, I don’t think people can do this now, I spent 200 hours on Instagram, I boosted a very shitty looking at basic customer, like early stage founders who are interested in entrepreneurship, blah, blah, blah. And then I built a landing page that basically said, here’s this idea of this of this program, here’s how long it might be. Put your email here, if you’re interested in joining. And part of validated learning is, you have to know ahead of time what you want to measure. So you have to know what your KPI is, before you start the experiment in order for it to be a real experiment. So my KPI was 25. That was like personal KPI. If I get 25 people to sign up for this thing that doesn’t exist yet. That’s my cue to continue with, like phase two of exploring this idea. And within a few days, I had over 100 people signed up, oh my god.
So your KPIs, you’re like, Okay, so the next one 200. Right, right.
Well, at that point, I, that’s really all I needed. So like that was that was what I was testing. It wasn’t really about the quantity at the time, it was about the validity of the idea. Do does this customer want this thing that I might build? And according to the landing page, she did. And so at that point, I’m like, Oh, shit, no, I have to make it to know what to do next. So at that point, from that moment on, it took me about seven months. And in between all of that we had relocated from Florida to Atlanta, where we live. Now, a lot of life changes had happened during that time. But it took me about seven months, I was going real slow. And I was working, I was consulting with a few clients kind of here and there to kind of keep the lights on and just keep the business kind of moving as much as I could, was not making significant revenue at the time at all. And I mean, periodically, I would send emails, hey, so excited. This is what’s happening with the program. Right now. I’m working on this, this and this thing, just to kind of keep everybody, you know, aware that it was coming. And then I launched a I think there’s about four weeks, like, okay, beta is here, can’t wait for you to join. I did a free beta. By the way, I didn’t charge anybody for this. I did a free beta. Because I wanted to know, is the program good? Is the information helpful? Where do they fall off? Were they confused, etc. And it’s so crazy, coming full circle now several years later, because that program has since evolved into our flagship accelerator at her Brendon co called the Lucy lab. So it’s like that was my first baby that ever got made. And then we’ve had I don’t even know at this point, like 15 cohorts go through the program. And we’ve reiterated it every time we’ve improved it every time we figured out what’s working, what’s not working. And now you know, that’s a $3,000 accelerator that we have a waitlist
for. And this was all, so I’m trying to do the math. You started her branding toasts seven years ago, five years ago,
so it was under a new name. It was under a name called Soho House. And it was just me. Yeah, it was so hot. It was just me. And yes, that was the original kind of beginnings of her branding co fast forward a few years, one of my original interns from my agency, okay. So relationships are key, right? Relationships are critical to all stage of life. You’re saying one of one of my original interns was like, Hey, I’m working with this woman a Mari I’m on her team. She works at this university, which is, quite sadly the university that I that I graduated from, but that’s a complete coincidence. She was like I’ve been telling her about interning with you again, because Nicole work who is now mine, Nicole horseless now which is wild. So She interned for me with my agency, then left for a while, got her bachelor’s, went off, did some stuff came back and wanted to intern for me again, under soy house as she was getting her Master’s. And then that’s how she was working with Mari. So she says to me, Hey, there’s this really cool chick named Mari you should meet her I think you guys will get along. Great. I meet Mari Mari at the time has a very stable job, like very stable career. But she’s feeling what’s the word? uninspired. So she was like, I really love what you’re doing. It’s so house I’d love to participate. And that was like, amazing, cool. We don’t have revenue to pay you. So if you want to just help out here and there would love that. But I was very open and honest with her from the very beginning. And she was like, Yes, I love that. And so she started working on Lucy lab. Actually, she would help me with the programming. She would help me with some of the emails and very quickly into our working relationship. I was like, oh, Marie would be like an amazing partner. And so
did you ask her out? Did you give her
she did and I asked her out. I did. It was so funny. Um I did I asked her to marry me it probably around the six month mark of us working together. So we have been dating for around six months or so. And yeah, just our values really aligned. She has very comparable skill sets. So Marie is very tactical, like I can. Mari is a great dreamer as well, but I have the you know, I’ve got Jupiter right. So like, I can dream these big visions. And Mars it yeah, cool, cool. Cool. Okay, like, let’s, let’s bring it down. Like, let’s bring it down to actual logistics, okay. Like, who cares about the details? And Mars like, no, no details are important.
You need that you need that Ying, ying and yang energy when you’re doing a partnership, but you’re both big dreamers to get done? Totally,
totally. So yeah, Marie is definitely keeps, she keeps us on the ground, she’s much, much more detail oriented than I am. And yeah, we started working together. And then it took us about at that point, another four or five months to formalize our partnership. And that was one thing that I told her, because you have to remember, you know, having co founded my agency with my husband, that’s a very deep relationship on top of working together. So the communication has to be stellar, it has to be really open, it has to be non judgmental, it has to be reciprocal. So I told Mary, I was like, We are literally entering into a marriage by doing this. And if that’s the case, I want to be able to show up 100% myself all the time, as such, and I don’t want to have to hide parts of who I am in this relationship. And I don’t want that for you either. So I want us to always be open with our communication, even if it’s hard. And Murray is a very direct communicator as well. So that one would think that those things would clash. But they don’t and are a partnership, because we both made basically like a soft agreement early on that like, we will always have each other’s interest at heart first, and then the business. And Marie and I have had lots of disagreements through our partnership. But we’ve never had a blowout or a situation where we just totally are missing each other. Because we really remember like, we’re both trying to swim to the same goal. It’s just how we get there. One might be different. And so we just need to communicate about that and be open and honest about how we’re feeling in that process. And I’ve mentored lots of entrepreneurs over the years, and those that have partnerships, those are where they fall is the trust and the communication is not there.
Yeah, I think that’s a really good reminder for people who are thinking of jumping into bed with a co founder. Yes. So tell us more about her branding. How what is it? You guys offer? What do you do?
Yeah, thanks for asking. So it’s actually a great segue into Mari, you know, coming on board as a former partner. So it was actually my idea wildly. So I approached her she loved the brand. So house, she was in it to win it. She was like, Yes, I love it. I’m all for it. And so I approached her one day, and I was like, Hey, listen, I think we need to rebrand change the whole company. And she’s like, What? Yeah, why don’t you wait, you know, her brain is like, like computing. And I said, this is why. So house at the time, it was related to my last name, it was my thing that I started for me early, early in motherhood, I was like, This now has evolved into something else. And I don’t think this brand is going to support the vision that we are wanting, and it doesn’t speak to our customer. It doesn’t speak to the community we want to tap into, I just don’t think it’s going to help us reach our vision. And she was like, okay, so then we embarked on this like, amazing, fun, incredible, rebrand, process. And so we really came up with this idea of our branding co you know, it’s her brand and company, it is about all the female identifying entrepreneurs that are early stage that don’t have the resources. So our whole mission is to democratize access to marketing. And what I mean by that is, marketing is the second reason small businesses fail, which is wild, the first reason is access to capital. Marketing is a huge problem. And for this customer in that early stage, like I said before, she doesn’t have a lot of resources, so that so and also there’s a lot of self limiting beliefs around. I’m not a good marketer. I’m not good at writing copy. I don’t know anything about email marketing. A lot of female founders are taught incorrectly. That marketing is just Facebook ads or dancing on Tik Tok, and it is so much more than that. It is so you got to have the fundamentals. And so that’s our whole concept around her brand new CCO is democratizing access for this customer so that she gets access to the tools, the education frameworks, information that she needs to really feel like she can drive the bus. It’s really about helping her feel grounded, that she is the one who can come up with the strategies. And again, that doesn’t mean she has to do the strategies or execute them all the time. But having her understand the basics of how to grow her marketing infrastructure is critical.
So that’s what we do. And it’s more self guided courses, accelerators, masterminds.
Yep, great question. So we’ve evolved a lot over the years, we started out by building a membership, and then Marie, and I quickly realized, Oh, we really suck at that. And we hate that. Community Development is beautiful work, but it’s not the work for us. And we’ve actually found that communities like yours and communities like, you know, the 10th house, and the Riveter and all of these amazing communities, they do community really well. What we do really well is education. And so we have found a beautiful, like product market fit there, where we will come in as the educators for those communities. So that’s kind of a sidebar. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it’s a sidebar, but it’s, but it’s important. I think that it’s interesting for people to hear that if they are thinking about entrepreneurship is where you think you’re going to find your customer might not be where they actually are. And it’s just trial and error and experimentation along the way. And so we do have two formal programs, we have our loose lab accelerator, which I just mentioned. And the way I love to explain this is if your marketing and growth engine is like a solar system, right, your brand and all the you know gooey, mushy, emotional things about your business, your who, what, when, where why of your brand, right is the sun, that’s the center of your solar system. And then the planets you can think of as the actual channels. So like email would be a planet podcasting would be a planet paid ads would be a planet socials, a planet you could imagine, right? There’s endless planets. What happens is, most founders don’t understand that system. They don’t understand what their sun is. And they sure as hell have a really hard time understanding what their planets are. And they typically do one of these things, they typically put all their marketing eggs in one planet, right? You can’t have a functioning system with one planet. Or they try to do too many planets at the same time, and the whole system comes crashing down to the floor. So all of our education and programs is around helping them figure that out. So the Lucy lab is the sun. And then we have a formal Mark marketing mastermind, which are the planets. And you don’t have to go through our accelerator to do the mastermind, but a lot of founders do. But you don’t have to. Those particular programs are vetted and application focused. For those reasons. We want to make sure that they get to the right program, we are actually going to be opening up our platform free for everyone pretty soon, which is really exciting. We’ve never done that before. So we have a platform very similar, like masterclass, but it’s for female entrepreneurs, early stage, all related to branding and marketing. So we have amazing courses on there. Tons of education, tons of workshops, tons of resources. So we’re going to open that up for free, we’re happy to share that, you know, with your community. And then we just recently launched what’s called our branding co blueprint, this is our low activation offer, if you will, we work with an advisor, just like many other founders work with us. And over the years, we realized, Oh, my God, our cheapest product was like $400, like, what are we doing? Like, we’re going against our own mission, a lot of founders cannot, you know, afford that. Or if they can, many founders who come to us are very jaded, because they’ve spent money on marketing before and they’ve completely wasted money. And they’re like, I am not spending another dime until I know that this is going to work. And so we interviewed over 150 of our founders, a couple, I think was last summer, as I mentioned before it last summer. And we were like tell us, like customer discovery all day long. And what we heard from them pretty consistently was, I love the platform, I love the courses, I can kind of do those whenever I can. But what I really need is a marketing plan. I do not know how to make a marketing plan, what goes in it, how to say KPIs, how much should I be spending on marketing, like I just don’t even know how to make a basic plan. And Mark and I are like, Oh, okay, like super easy. So this is really following that lean framework of like, don’t create products and services that people don’t need to create the stuff that they want and that they’re asking for. So we launched our hub right and CO blueprint, which is 49 bucks, and it’s a 90 minute class, and it has a template, and it’s like plug and play. Here’s how you make a marketing plan. Here’s what goes in it. We have them do exercises. It’s super actionable. And we recently launched that last year and people are loving that because it just cuts through all the noise, you know, cuts through all the junk and they can get right to really the specific strategies that they need for their business.
That’s amazing. So I love that you’re able to service a client who is just getting their feet wet or feet wet trying to figure out what they’re doing. And then you’re also able to hold space for them with accelerator, and then really, really, really, like, support them and grow with them with the mastermind. Is that right? Like, and then also, you were so generous. I was looking at the website earlier with all of the incredible free classes you have, like, oh, Google, oh, understanding your Google Analytics. That’d be a good one for me to go to. Absolutely. I think I understand them. But do I understand that most likely, I do not. So this is awesome. This is so cool to see all of it come full circle. And I also love, I love the trajectory of your path. It all started with a 24 year old, who felt like she was on her bum, not knowing what she was going to do with her life. And yet, here she is, 12 years later, changing lives on the reg, like, daily.
That’s pretty. It’s pretty amazing. You know? And, yeah, I never thought that my life would take this this path. But that’s really what living is about, you know, just following your heart and following your gut instinct, and really just following your gifts, you know, and I think that’s the big thing is a lot of, of course, I’m going to speak broadly. A lot of women don’t even really understand what their gifts are. Because to us, it feels normal. To me, I’m like, Oh, I just write this way. And people are like, no, no, like, You’re a really good writer. And I’m like, Oh, am I? Okay,
you know, yeah, yeah, thanks for that. Well, so that’s good. How can people find out more about her brand and go, be stay up to date on hearing when things turn into the masterclass? Learn about the next mastermind accelerator? All the things? Yeah,
thanks for that. Yeah. So just go to Brandon koat.com, you can sign up right on our website, join our newsletter, on our email list. That’s really our number one primary channel. Of course, we’re on Instagram, but Instagram for us is really just a nice, like community tool. Really, the bulk of our value is delivered via email. So I would absolutely suggest signing up to our email list. And we do free monthly classes every month, we’ve got tons of really great content to share and actionable things
that they can do. Okay, amazing. And before we end our call, I want to hear more about you. And I love doing this and asking entrepreneurs, six fast questions about themselves. So are you ready to play a little game with me? I’m ready. Okay, first, first question. Tell us an unknown fun fact about you.
An unknown Fun fact, I teach our I teach oh my gosh, I take weekly French lessons from a tutor. Because I’m learning French. Yeah, I keep that pretty close to heart. But it’s pretty unknown. It is fun. So I wanted to try like that. Not Dutch classes. No. Which is funny. Funny enough, my husband being Dutch. Now the Dutch language is super hard for me. It just doesn’t click. And I took French in high school and was relatively good at it actually. And then I didn’t speak it for 10 years, and then I just completely lost it. So yes, my goal is to be you know, like, intermediate eat intermediately. Blue, and hopefully by the end of this year,
I think that’s a wonderful goal. Who would be a dream person to be connected with
that or, Oh, I would love to be connected to Michelle Obama. I would just lose my mind to
Obama. It’d be fun to do a workout class with her.
Yes. I just was want to ask her all the things. Bestow all of your knowledge onto me and let me just soak it up. Yeah, let me
talk to you. I’m gonna just historic Ryan, your friends. I loved watching the documentary and like everyone just looked at her and broke into tears, or burst into tears.
What a presence or energy is just right. Yeah, amazing.
Yeah, yeah, I can’t say that about all the first ladies. That’s for sure. What show are you currently watching?
Oh, okay, watching a few but my husband has gotten me into Picard. I have not ever been a Star Trek like person simply because I just had no interest or like it wasn’t around. But I really love the Picard series right now. So finishing that up. And then of course, have lasso is just my absolute jam right now.
I was the whole time we’ve been talking about your husband being Dutch I’m like, Oh my god. I’m so curious how this plotline is gonna go with the Dutch man. That’s literally what was in the back of my head about dead last. So what book are you reading? Or have you read recently? Hmm,
well, I just finished channeling Nichols book on astrology for subjects self acceptance. So really just learning about astrology as I mentioned before, and like mapping out your natal chart and just really kind of understanding more about that. I read a really awesome book a while ago. Oh, I’m currently going to start reading you are a badass at making money. I love that book. I haven’t read it yet. I’m really excited. And then I’m also currently reading leaders eat last night Simon Sinek that one okay. All right. Leadership and yeah, what does it take to be a leader? What does it mean to be a leader, etc?
You fall on your sword for everything that you do.
Not self sacrificing. Okay. Um, but yeah, it’s been interesting so far.
Okay, cool. Those are great ones. What is your favorite emoji?
Oh, my heart is emoji a lot.
It’s funny when you when I think about this question, you reflect in your phone, you’re like, wow, I do a lot of the same emojis over and over and over again. And then I say the heart eye emoji heart I heard is a good one. It never goes out of style. I think hopefully, Gen Z can’t make fun of us for that one. And then my final question for you is Who gave you permission or inspired you to do the thing that you wanted to do with your life?
Hmm, I don’t know if it’s just one person. You know, there’s been so many people in my, in my life throughout my, my journey. I mean, my mom, of course, was the first person to inspire me to dream big. And you know, just dream wildly. I was in, I was born in a very small unremarkable town, and I just didn’t fit in. And so my mom was really the first person to plant that seed of like, you don’t have to be here. You could live anywhere, do anything. So I would say she would be a big one for me. And then you know, my husband, my partner, Thomas. I mean, we’ve he’s been an incredible ally, a feminist advocate for me, and then my girls have also given me permission and inspired me to do various different things in my life that I would have made very different decisions if I didn’t have two daughters to look after to race.
Oh, I love that they’re very lucky to have such an inspirational mom. Well, Jessica, thank you so much for joining today’s podcast and letting us hear your story I loved I loved hearing again, the theme thrills me more than just like seeing what makes people tick and hearing the threads that lead to where you are at this point in your life. So thank you again, in showing up. And listeners. If you like today’s show, make sure to subscribe. Give us five stars and we’ll see you the next time on the sixth degree with Emily Merrell. Have a wonderful day.