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Slow Down to Grow Fast: Why Springrose Spent 3 Years on Product Development


Understanding your target buyer is the first step to designing a successful product. For entrepreneurs like Nicole Cuervo, the Founder and CEO of Springrose, this meant interviewing over 500 prospects and studying their challenges over three years while designing her Springrose adaptive bra.


In today's episode, she sits down with host Jon LaClare to share her success story with us and reveal tips for launching new products and improving the results of marketing campaigns. As a resourceful entrepreneur, Nicole also shares valuable insights on finding community, embracing optimism, and persisting through the early stages of business. Tune in to discover Nicole's unique approach to solving a genuine problem and be inspired by her dedication to making a positive impact through her innovative products.




 

In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:


  • The importance of getting customer feedback during the development stage.

  • Challenges she faced during the initial stages of the business.

  • The effectiveness of search engine optimization (SEO), Pinterest, and Meta advertising in driving sales.

  • The mindset you need as an entrepreneur to handle unexpected challenges and stay optimistic.

  • And so much more.


 

You can listen to the full interview on your desktop or wherever you choose to listen to your podcasts.



Or, click to watch the full video interview here!


 

Visit www.springrose.co to learn more about their thoughtfully designed bras and intimates tailored to those with pain, limited dexterity, or any form of restricted mobility.


To be a guest on our next Harvest Growth Podcast, contact us today!


Do you have a brand that you’d like to launch or grow? Do you want help from a partner that has successfully launched hundreds of brands that now total over $2 billion in revenues? Set up a free consultation with us today!


 

Prefer reading instead of listening? Read the full transcript here!



Jon LaClare [00:00:00]:

Today's guest explains how she got over 500 people involved in her product development and they helped perfect her product design before she ever launched. The principles she shares can be used for companies launching new products or looking to change their marketing campaigns. Also, if you're familiar with the old site, thegromit.com, but you didn't know how they are currently operating since they shut down and relaunched recently. She walks you through some of the benefits of a website that shares new products with a wide audience of early adopters.


Announcer [00:00:31]:

Are you looking for new ways to make your sales grow? You've tried other podcasts, but they don't seem to know harvest the growth potential of your product or service as we share stories and strategies that'll make your competitors nervous. Now here's the host of the Harvest Growth podcast, Jon LaClare.


Jon LaClare [00:00:52]:

Welcome back to the show. Today I'm excited to be speaking with Nicole Cuervo, who's the founder and CEO of Springrose. You can check them out at Springrose.Co. We're going to talk about her line of products she's developed. You'll get to know it really well and then learn more. Once you finish the podcast, go visit the website, whether you're driving or whether you're watching this on video. But Nicole, first of all, I want to welcome to the show.


Nicole Cuervo [00:01:14]:

Thank you so much for having me, Jon. I appreciate it.


Jon LaClare [00:01:17]:

Absolutely. So can you tell us or tell our audience what is Springrose? What are your products and how did you come up with the original idea?


Nicole Cuervo [00:01:25]:

At Springrose, we design on bras and other intimates for women with limited mobility. So we really focus on giving women back their dignity and their independence. If they have any form of limited dexterity, limited mobility, joint pain, or even if they're just know. So I had the idea maybe eight years ago now. I was spending a lot of time my grandmother Rose, who the company is named after, and noticed that despite her being fully independent, capable and living her life, she still struggled to get dressed in the morning. And it's such a basic, everyday thing to put on your underwear, your bras, your socks and everything else. It felt like an indignity to me that it was something that was causing her pain and difficulty. So I, like most founder stories, tried to find her a better option.


Nicole Cuervo [00:02:14]:

We call it an adaptive bra because it's been adapted in a way that makes it easier to put on and couldn't find anything on the market that worked functionally with her arthritis and her chronic pain. And that also wasn't ugly and size limited, to be kind about it. Everything looked very medical. It looked very plain white, soulless, shapeless. And I really thought, it doesn't matter if you have limited mobility or disability or if you're aging. You should have options that respect your dignity and that you are happy and comfortable to be wearing that don't feel like a compromise just because you can't or struggle with a more traditional closure system.


Jon LaClare [00:02:56]:

That's a great solution for so many people that are in need. What are some of the most common conditions that your customers have that make spring rose the perfect bra for them?


Nicole Cuervo [00:03:06]:

We say we serve over 50 different conditions. When I first started, it was, I think I had, like, five in mind. And the more people I talked to, the more we started opening the aperture and learning about who we could support. But right now, our main customers tend to be people with limited shoulder mobility. So they have a shoulder injury or they're post surgery, and they need something they can put on one handed. It's also people with different types of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, or osteoarthritis. And then we have some people who have hemoplegia, so stroke, cerebral palsy, or amputations. So our bra, what makes it special, I should have probably mentioned that, is you can put it on eight different ways.


Nicole Cuervo [00:03:46]:

So you can put it on one handed, you can step into it, you can pull it on overhead. It's really flexible in how you get dressed. So it works for all these people. But those are the three groups we tend to serve best right now.


Jon LaClare [00:04:00]:

So I have to admit, I've never worn a bra, but a regular bra looks so complicated to put on. But after watching the videos on your website, I feel like even I could put this on, which I know, obviously, at women who have been doing it for years, if you've got full dexterity right, you probably get used to it. Right. But as you age, things get more difficult. You mentioned arthritis or limited mobility, or even being able to get your arms around back or whatever it might be. I think there's so many conditions that this could make life so much easier for. And we talked before we started this interview about how you co created or co developed the product, along with a lot of other people. So I think you mentioned 500 women were involved and over 35 occupational therapists as well.


Jon LaClare [00:04:44]:

Can you describe that process? So how did you get so many people involved in making this product work so well?


Nicole Cuervo [00:04:51]:

Yeah. Apologies. I'm also in Brooklyn, New York, so there's some fun background noise. My background is in design thinking, human centered design and strategy. So I really wanted to make sure as I was developing the product, that we were incorporating as much input and feedback from people experiencing the challenge as possible. To that end, I started by interviewing women one on one. So I interviewed, I believe, about 100 at this point that I just had a 30 minutes or hour conversation with to talk about their needs and what they wanted in a bra. And a lot of those people started off as the more people I told about my business and my ideas, the more they connected me with their mom, their aunt, their cousin, their friend.


Nicole Cuervo [00:05:31]:

I had one friend's mom who very kindly sent an email to her book club, her church group, and another group of hers. And so a lot of women reached out to me for that. But it was a lot of word of mouth because this was also 2020 in the pandemic. So we're all staying right at home. There was no way to go meet somebody for coffee. Everything was virtual from there. We actually opened up a landing page so people could sign up to stay updated. And through that, as people signed up, they would get an email asking them if they were willing to fill out a survey for us to just let us know what they wanted and what they needed, what interested them.


Nicole Cuervo [00:06:05]:

From that, we got a lot of responses. People told us, here's what I care about, here's what I want, here's who I'm buying it for myself, somebody else. And then I got lucky. And a friend of mine is a physical therapist, and she mentioned, she was like, oh, this would be really great for my patients. So she connected me to friends of hers. And again, word of mouth and just talking to people and asking them to refer me to others. I ended up talking to a lot of physical and occupational therapists who work with these patient populations, which was a great way of not only getting with the individual people, I was able to get their individual stories, but with the PTs and the OTS, I could get a wider understanding of needs and different mobility limitations and what we needed to solve for. And those groups of people are the ones that we sent prototypes to.


Nicole Cuervo [00:06:48]:

We sent samples to and got their feedback. So we kept on iterating on the product for almost three years until we launched it.


Jon LaClare [00:06:56]:

I love how you tested so much and so in depthly in the beginning of the launch process, and especially given the constraints of COVID back at the time, right in 2020, how hard it was, but you still pushed through a lot of our clients that might be listening. At my agency, harvest growth, we virtually always do market research in preparation for a launch. Right. So they've developed the product. They come to us, we test and get things answered on how to market it. But I always talk to them sometimes I should say I wish I could have talked to them earlier on in the process and that they had done market research before we ever meet them. Right. I love that you started so early.


Jon LaClare [00:07:35]:

There's so much value in getting your potential customers involved in the process of development, because a lot of inventors, we come up with ideas, we go through iterations ourselves, what we like, but we're different from our customers, potentially, or at least have some differences. So it's so valuable to get them involved really early on in the process. What are some of the learnings that you had because of that along the way? So maybe adjustments or changes to the design that you may not have thought of on your own?


Nicole Cuervo [00:08:06]:

Everything. So every part of the product, every little piece, was as a result of somebody's input or feedback. So, for example, I have one on hand, so I can just show it to the camera. But for everybody who's listening, the bra has two front velcro straps that make up the underband, and that's how the closure system works. The front straps that have Velcro on the tip are tipped. They're not flat. So the original prototype had it flat, and I handed it to somebody to try on who I didn't realize had hand trimmers. It was very difficult for her to get it into the closure system with a flat tip, and so we ended up making it into a tip for easy insertion.


Nicole Cuervo [00:08:45]:

Or we surveyed our customers and said, do you want a front adjusting shoulder strap or a back adjusting shoulder strap? 75% said front. So it's a front one. Every piece of the product is built on other people's experiences and feedback, because to your point, when you design a product for yourself, that is a single narrative as a single point, a single experience, and you might not be representative of what everybody else wants. What I did find interesting about the process is people become very invested, which is really nice, because then they support you later on. And I've had women for who the bra didn't work. It wasn't their perfect solution. We're developing other things, too, but this first attempt was not it. They're still really big supporters of us.


Nicole Cuervo [00:09:25]:

They still champion us. They still believe in us. They still reach out. And it's because they have that trust that we are looking out for them and care about their opinion genuinely. And so I think, to your point, it's very important for people to put their idea out there and pressure test it before trying to launch something to market.


Jon LaClare [00:09:40]:

Absolutely. So let's fast forward a little bit. You've developed the product, come up with a concept that now works, and it's ready to go to market. What was the first big success, or what you consider success that you had?


Nicole Cuervo [00:09:53]:

Just getting to launch is really difficult. But other than that, we stumbled upon a platform called Grommet pretty early on and maybe two weeks after launching and we applied, got accepted. So Grommet is a platform where consumer brands can launch physical products. It's kind of like a product hunt, but for physical product, and then you can go buy it. And that was our biggest sales day when we launched on Grommet. And so that was very encouraging to see that if you do raise awareness about the product, people will come, people will try it, people will buy it and people are excited about it. We weren't just like shouting into the void of like, this is important. It actually spoke to consumers and that was early on validation financially that this was going to work and we had built the right solution.


Nicole Cuervo [00:10:43]:

So I would say that was our biggest one at the beginning.


Jon LaClare [00:10:47]:

And I bet a lot of our, some of our audience, at least, that they've been in the product space for a while. You may recognize the grommet that was around until, I don't know, maybe a year ago or so, where they completely changed. They used to operate as a wholesale operation. They'd buy inventory from you, create marketing videos all on their own platform, almost like a catalog type website. They went away, which was really sad because they have always been a fantastic vehicle to launch and grow brand new products, especially people go to that site, as you said, to find new and different things and great ideas. So I'm so glad they came storming back in a little different way, but still really effective. And I couldn't recommend them more as well. So I'm glad you brought them up.


Jon LaClare [00:11:30]:

It's the grommetwithtwoms.com, just for our listeners. You can go check that out and of course, look up spring rose and see their listing on the grommet as well. Upboat us, of course. Yes, please. Now, what do you see? Now fast forward a little bit further. What drives most of your revenues or most of your business?


Nicole Cuervo [00:11:48]:

Now we have a good mix right now of organic and paid. So on the organic side, we're really focused on search engine optimization, on Google, and we do Pinterest as well. And that Google, we've been working on for a year. We've been very successful. I think we've grown over 800. Was it 800 or 8000? It was a big number. We've grown like many percentage points where we were a year ago through really focused efforts on SEO, Pinterest was just, let's see what happens. And it turned out to be great because we do develop a lot of valuable content on our blog.


Nicole Cuervo [00:12:23]:

So we get, I would say almost all of our organic sales come from them or referrals from friends, like people said, my friend recommended this to me and they came on the paid side. We are focused right now on meta. Obviously the changes that happened the last two years are not fortunate for us in our timing, but we're still doing really well actually on our paid CAC on that platform versus what the market made it seem it would, it looked very dire until we actually started testing and realized it was resonating pretty well with people. So we already, I can't give specific numbers, but I will say when we advertise on meta, we make back our CAC with every purchase. So at least that. And then oftentimes we can cover the cost of the product cogs too.


Jon LaClare [00:13:12]:

That's fantastic. And I'll second that. I think there's always warnings that come up where Facebook makes a change or Google changes their algorithm or whatever it might be. There's always a solution too. Right? On the other side of these websites is a customer that is looking for solutions that you are bringing to market. Right, whether it's spring roads or our listeners. And we found that same thing. So we've been doing this long enough that this isn't the first big meta change or Facebook change that we've come across.


Jon LaClare [00:13:39]:

And it still puts a pit in your stomach like, oh no, they took away our primary way of doing this and it just means we need to adjust. But we've seen that, to be honest, you say unlucky to start after the change, but we've gotten to the point where the results today are really about the same level they were before the change. It took a lot of tweaking and changes and it's just different. It's just a different way of doing it. But the platform still can be very profitable. So I'm glad it's working well for you as well. So along the way, you mentioned before, again, before this interview, I talked about challenges and you talked about how you had a lot of unexpected and tiny challenges, a lot of which are hard to predict. And it's hard a question to answer or ask for the benefit of our audience, because their challenges are going to be completely different from yours.


Jon LaClare [00:14:24]:

And you can't always predict what the challenges are going to be. That's why they're challenges. Otherwise it'd be easy, right? You just follow the same procedure the next guy did. But what has helped you to overcome these unexpected challenges in your business?


Nicole Cuervo [00:14:38]:

Personally, it's a few things, and they might be more personality driven. I think on one hand I'm overly optimistic, and so it doesn't mean the challenges don't stress me or don't worry me. It just means that I'm worried the day of, and then the next day or the following day, it's like, smoothed away. And I almost don't feel it as it doesn't sting as much. I'm not as stressed about it. I also do have an attitude of, if I can't fix it, if it's something out of my control, I'm not going to stress about it, I'm not going to worry about it because there's literally nothing I can do. So it would just be wasted energy. And I know that's really difficult depending on the challenge.


Nicole Cuervo [00:15:18]:

But, for example, our first shipment of product was delayed by a few days because of some label challenges out of my hands. I'm not at my manufacturers, I'm not printing the labels. I can't control USPs or DHL or whatever. So when it's things like that, it's frustrating. But there's nothing in my power, and so I'm not going to worry about it. When there are other challenges that are within my control, I do everything I can to fix it as quickly as possible. So, for example, we had trouble finding a good manufacturer. Our current manufacturer was our fourth partner.


Nicole Cuervo [00:15:54]:

It took us a really long time to find somebody who has the technical expertise, who understands our product and believes in us as a company, and who can also execute within reasonable timelines and uphold our ethical, fair labor standards, all those things are difficult to find, especially again, during the pandemic where you couldn't travel anywhere. And for us, the second it seemed like a manufacturer wasn't going to work out, I immediately reached out to my contacts to try and find others, or I had some in reserve that I could reach out to. I was always on the look for, okay, if this doesn't work out, what's my solution for it? Hoping it would work out. But if it didn't, I had some plan in the back of my mind, or I knew who I could reach out to, for support, I have to.


Jon LaClare [00:16:38]:

Bring up for audience sake. You taught me a new word before we started this interview of overly optimistic being quixotic, which I love. I've heard that word before, but I've never really understood what it meant or whatever. And probably our whole audience does. I don't know. But for me, it was something I so thanks for teaching me that. And I think that's a common trait with entrepreneurs. Frankly, I think without being quicksodic, it would be hard to make it through a lot of the tiny challenges that constantly happen in any business.


Jon LaClare [00:17:04]:

You got to figure things out along the way. But staying optimistic is part of the solution, right? So it doesn't mean clouded over and ignoring challenges, but it does mean looking ahead and seeing a path to get through it and staying happy and optimistic throughout that tough process. Sometimes, yeah.


Nicole Cuervo [00:17:22]:

If you're starting a business, you're going to have small little challenges every week. None of them, but they're likely not going to break you. They're not going to destroy your business. But there's always something. Every single day or a few times a week, there's always something. And if those things hold you back, you're just never going to make forward progress.


Jon LaClare [00:17:41]:

Agreed. Well, I want to ask you, are there any resources that you recommend that have been helpful for you, that may be helpful for some of our audience as well?


Nicole Cuervo [00:17:51]:

I really like newsletters and podcasts. One of the newsletters I tend to read as much as I can whenever it comes into my inbox and then search for the stories is modern retail. They're a publication that focuses on retail direct to consumer. So obviously it fits for our type of business. They're fantastic. I'd say finding community wherever you can. So I'm part of several different founder communities, and I've made a point of trying to join those. Even if they cost $10 a month, you might not know what value you're going to get out of it in the short term.


Nicole Cuervo [00:18:23]:

But long term, having people who've been through it before who know how to, who've been basically in your shoes, they can give you really tactical advice, which is not to say you shouldn't have mentors or advisors, but those people tend to be far removed from where you are. They've exited a company, and so the last few years of operation are very different from where you are at the beginning. So I would say just having community and founder friends who are in a similar space to you but are not competitors is really helpful. And podcasts, obviously, like this one I also like some specific female entrepreneurship ones like female founder world that speak to, again, founders that I identify with.


Jon LaClare [00:19:05]:

Absolutely. Thanks for sharing that. Is there anything I didn't ask that you think could be helpful for our audience?


Nicole Cuervo [00:19:13]:

I don't know if it's. You didn't ask it. I think you did. We touched upon it at least, which is to me, the core of entrepreneurship should be about solving a problem and solving a real problem for a person. So I know you have a very diverse audience, but I would say if you are looking to start a business or you're right at the beginning, make sure that you are talking about your idea to everybody that you can. Nobody's going to steal your idea, which I think is something that is perpetuated. People are too afraid of it. But instead it's going to strengthen your idea because people give you feedback, people will connect you to others, and by sharing what you're doing, you're going to gain that support and that momentum that you never know when it's going to come in handy.


Nicole Cuervo [00:19:59]:

And it'll then help connect you to people who need a solution like yours so you can further refine it and build something that will actually solve a problem. Because when you have product market fit, I'm not going to say you don't have problems. You still need capital and other things, but it makes everything way easier going forward.


Jon LaClare [00:20:17]:

That's great advice. And we do a lot of product launches as well as grow existing businesses. But the early stage, I've had a few conversations over the years where someone calls us up and says, hey, can you give me some marketing advice? Like, how do I launch my product? I'm like, well, what is it? Well, I can't tell you. It's confidential. And sometimes it's to the point where they won't even tell me the category. I'm like, I don't need to know anything on the first call, like confidential. But is it a kitchen gadget? They're so hesitant to share with anybody. And really, I would venture to guess most of these I never talk to again because they probably don't do anything with it.


Jon LaClare [00:20:49]:

I think it just sits on the shelf because they're scared to push it forward. But it's so rare that you get copied at an early stage like that. And frankly, copies do happen, right? They get taken from factories and things like, but no matter how careful you are, it's going to happen. Once you go to market these early stage, though, before, like in your launch phase, it doesn't happen as you said, it's not something to worry about, and you're going to get a lot more value by getting people involved than the potential tiny risk of somebody taking your idea or whatever. It just doesn't happen. So thanks for bringing that up. I agree. So I do want to encourage our audience.


Jon LaClare [00:21:20]:

Please check out springrose.com or sorry Co. Springrose Co. I knew I was going to do that. I wrote it down big on here as Springrose Co. To check out Nicole's great line of products. You can see some of the videos they put on there and understand what the product is and does. And if you know anybody that has any kind of limited mobility, please share with them. It's something that could certainly change their life for the better.


Jon LaClare [00:21:44]:

Nicole, thank you so much for the time. I really appreciate it today.


Nicole Cuervo [00:21:47]:

Thank you so much for having me, Jon. I appreciate it.


Jon LaClare [00:21:50]:

Did you know you can meet with a member of my team absolutely free for a 30 minutes strategy consultation? We've launched and grown hundreds of products since 2007 and learned some of our strategies while growing OxiClean back in the Billy Mays days. We're here to help, so please go to harvestgrowth.com and set up a call if you'd like to discuss further.

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