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Unveiling the Recipe for Entrepreneurial Triumph - GRILLKILT


Yates Dew, the visionary behind GRILLKILT, has gone from bootstrapping a startup to gracing the pages of Forbes, The Men's Journal, and Charleston Magazine in a few years. GRILLKILT, renowned for its comfortable and breathable grilling aprons, has become a sensation, minimizing trips from the kitchen to the grill and earning constant praise on social media.


In this episode, Yates shares insights gained from customer feedback, offering valuable lessons that will ignite your motivation and determination.



 

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


  • How leveraging customer testimonials on social media can elevate your marketing strategies.

  • How purpose-driven networking can accelerate your entrepreneurial success.

  • The impact of mentorship in entrepreneurial journeys.

  • How to enhance productivity and foster business growth by selecting and utilizing the right digital tools

  • 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!


 

Discover more about GRILLKIT's beloved grilling aprons and indulge your passion for grilling or kilts by visiting www.grillkilt.com. Whether for yourself or as a gift, these aprons are sure to impress.


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]:


If you aren't using user generated content or UGC videos in your marketing, you should be. It's one of the most powerful and cost efficient forms of video marketing. And today's guests share some great advice on how to make sure your UGC videos are effective and profitable.


Announcer [00:00:18]:


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 [00:00:39]:


Welcome back to the show. I'm really excited today to have the founder of Grill Kilt, K-I-L-T. You can find them at grillkilt.com. Of course, as always, it's in the show notes super cool product. If you are a griller or have a griller in your life, you're going to love this product and also the stories that go behind it. And the founder of this company is Yates. Do Yates, welcome to the show today.


Yates Dew [00:01:03]:


Thanks, John. It's great to be here. Appreciate you having me on.


Jon LaClare [00:01:06]:


So let's jump in and talk about the product. So, first of all, tell our audience, what is the grill kilt?


Yates Dew [00:01:13]:


Great question. It's really not technically an apron or technically a kilt. Basically, it's a really cool grilling apron. And the name actually didn't come until after I had invented the product. Basically, if you want to hear the story behind it, I grill out like a lot, like tens of millions of Americans and people all around the world. And I found myself going back and forth between the kitchen and the grill a whole lot and wiping my hands on my clothes a whole lot. So obviously, naturally needed an apron. Well, I didn't have an apron in the house, other than one that belongs to my wife.


Yates Dew [00:01:58]:


And it didn't quite look that cool. And it wasn't very functional. So naturally, I went to the Internet and searched Google High and low to just try to find an apron that was functional and good looking and what I envisioned did not exist. And so I really just set out to build one for myself. And that's where the process started of me going to my garage, putting together some old rock climbing gear, going to Lowe's, buying some toolish gear and some belts, clipping them together with a towel and creating a prototype. And that's kind of where the idea came from. That's where it all started. It was just kind of a personal journey to create something better that didn't exist and it turned into a business.


Jon LaClare [00:02:45]:


And I do encourage our audience to check out the website. You'll see the product. He's got some great photos and a couple of good videos on there that really, of course, show you exactly what this is. But for those who can't do that right now, let's talk a little bit more about the product itself. So I think it has. Is it ten pockets on. There's different versions, but is that the normal number of pockets on the grille kilt?


Yates Dew [00:03:04]:


My original Sku, which is now up to 1617 collars. Now with my most recent release, it's all the same design. And that design does have ten pockets, an integrated tool belt. It's got drings, which allow you to clip things to the tool belt that's built into it. It's kind of one size fits all, basically 30 to 60 inch wastes. And it also comes with a hand towel that clips to the drings. So as most grillers know, you're constantly needing to wipe your hands because you're touching all sorts of greasy stuff and coal, charcoal, or wood, or whatever it may be. And it's just part of the accessory is the attachable towel, which obviously can be removed and washed, and the whole thing can be washed as well.



Yates Dew [00:03:54]:


But, yeah, ten pockets, two of which are more just like your classic jeans pockets or shorts pockets to just put your hands in. But they're large, so you can put a whole lot into all the pockets.



Jon LaClare [00:04:08]:


I imagine some of our audience might thinking like, what the heck am I going to put in all these pockets? Because me personally, every time I grill, I'm like, I only need one thing. I'll bring my spatula out, and then I bring my thermometer out, and then my sauce and then my brush. It's always trips back in and out, like you mentioned. Right? Like it's that constant back and forth inside the house and back outside again. So what do you find are maybe some of the most interesting things that in your own usage of the product or other customers that have talked to you that they've now brought out to the grill that they might otherwise not.



Yates Dew [00:04:39]:


Yeah, so it's a great question. I often find that my grill kilt kind of eats things of mine. I'm like, where did I put my phone? Or where did I put my rub or my sauce or my knife? It tends to just hold a lot of stuff without really looking cumbersome or feeling cumbersome, because the pockets are designed specifically to carry the tools and utensils that people already have in their houses. Right? So, like, on the sides are some deep cargo pockets, and those are really just like a catch all for most people are familiar with the large spatulas that may or may not get used, but those cargo pockets can hold them. Those cargo pockets could hold several beverages, could hold flashlights, but typically, what I keep in mind is a really good folding pocket knife, a really good thermometer, my phone. I typically put a couple of towels, maybe even sometimes three, to the waist belt. And then depending on what I'm cooking, it's going to be some sauces, some rubs, a couple of other knickknacks here and there. But it'll hold it all, and it'll actually hold way too much than you need.



Yates Dew [00:06:00]:


But the pockets are designed very specifically with different sizes. Once you see it or have one, you'll kind of understand pretty quickly that, oh, this is the pocket that was designed for the bottle opener thermometer, or this is the pocket that's designed for my hands. But I could also put my phone in there. So, yeah, it's kind of obvious once you put it on, but you can't really tell necessarily that it's big and bulky. It's not big and bulky at all. It's very kind of sleek and made specifically to hold those utensils that most everybody has who's grilling at home.



Jon LaClare [00:06:40]:


I almost think of it as like a cooking accessory. Right? Like, there's so many things we can buy for our grill to grill or cook better to make the end result better. And it's not intuitive, I don't think. But for me, I know every time I leave my grill because I forgot something, I have to run back inside or whatever. That extra minute or two minutes can turn a great steak into an overdone one, for example. Right. Or dry out your meat or whatever. It's so important to stay out there to attend your meats, to be with them, et cetera.



Jon LaClare [00:07:08]:


Whatever you're grilling on your grill. I think for me, I love the concept that it helps you stay there. You got everything you need with it. You can really focus on the grilling itself to make the end result that much better.



Yates Dew [00:07:20]:


Yeah, you're exactly right. Which is why a lot of the users people have bought my product and use it, the content they create, which you can find on my social media page or sometimes anywhere on my product reviews or whatnot, you'll see that people are actually talking about how much they can fit in there comfortably, which is different than putting a bunch of stuff in your jeans or your shorts or whatever and stuffing it. It's made to carry all the things that you need. And I understand the pain point that you're talking about of overcooking your stay because you ran inside and you forgot something. For me, just one little anecdote is that I kept leaving my door open and flies were getting in my house because I was going back and forth, and I was like, why am I going back and forth between the kitchen and the girls so much and letting all these flies in my house and forgetting this and that? So it did solve that problem. It's an apron. But in many ways, you had mentioned grilling accessory. It's really an accessory because, yes, it's an apron.



Yates Dew [00:08:29]:


You can wipe your hands on it, but it also has towels. It has all these other functions. So I sometimes almost hesitate it getting classified in the apron category, because I didn't really necessarily like aprons to begin with. I wanted to create something that was very functional and sharp looking so that while I was in grilling, while I was grilling, I didn't necessarily have this silly looking smock wrapped around my neck. It's something that was functional and good looking.



Jon LaClare [00:08:56]:


Yeah. And it really is. I mean, again, I encourage our audience to check out the website. You can see the different designs that are done. There are some very unique ones, patterns, et cetera. And that brings me to a question. My understanding is it's not like you have experience in developing textiles or clothing items, accessories, et cetera, or frankly, even in launching products. When you had this idea, this is all brand new to you.



Jon LaClare [00:09:18]:


So how did you overcome the hurdles of not to say it this way, but really not knowing what you're doing with textiles or with launching products and turning that into a success? How did you start the learning process?



Yates Dew [00:09:32]:


Great question. No, I had no experience in developing a product. I didn't know where to begin. I didn't even know if I should begin overseas or USA made. I reached out to friends and just asked a lot of questions. This is a product of COVID times. So I had a lot of time on my hands that summer, and I was grilling out a lot that summer. So it just kind of made sense to allow myself the time to create something new.



Yates Dew [00:10:06]:


I happened to have a high school friend who had developed backpacks, life jackets, shoes before and has been very successful with his company, Astral Designs. And so I reached out to him, and he helped me figure out sourcing, actually. And also right before COVID hit, I was starting to wonder what is my next project? And I happened upon a trade show in Las Vegas that had textiles there. And so I just kind of walked around and looked at all these things and had to figure out, okay, if I'm going to make a product. I was starting to think about other ideas other than grilling products. And so it just kind of made sense for me to go to this trade show, so to speak. And that's where I kind of tried to figure out, am I going to do this stateside or overseas? And just during COVID it turned out that it was impossible to do anything overseas anyway. So basically, networking decided to create this, do a small run of this product and see if it could work.



Yates Dew [00:11:17]:


And, yeah, here I am three years later.



Jon LaClare [00:11:21]:


I think that's a great example of, we've worked with a lot of product marketers over the years where we're in the business of launching products. We don't create them, though. We're a marketing agency. So I've heard a lot of stories in talking to our clients over the years, and many are in similar shoes to what you were, where this is their first time, right. At least making a product that's unique and different. Right. That they've had no experience with specifically. And I think, as you mentioned, trade shows or anything you can do to make those connections, just realizing that you don't have to be alone.



Jon LaClare [00:11:52]:


Right. You don't have to figure everything out on your own. You have to do a lot. You have to wear a lot of hats when you're inventing a product, when you're creating a new business. But find the right resources. Trade shows are a great way to do that. Of course, LinkedIn online, you can do searches as well. But meeting people face to face at those unique events like that can save you a lot of time and energy and just simply answering questions that you have to get a couple of steps ahead to avoid mistakes that they may have made previously with their own careers.



Jon LaClare [00:12:23]:


They learned along the way. So, yeah, making those connections can be so vital in the early success of a product.



Yates Dew [00:12:29]:


So true. I still don't really even know how to sew on a button, but I was able to network with a couple of friends. I also have a good friend in town that helped me very much. She was a wedding dress designer, and she knew how to design. So I actually took this clunky thing that I created out of my garage and some leftover backpack parts and took it to her. And she was the one who said, okay, this is a cool idea, and I can help you create the design. And it was my other friend who helped me find a seamstress so that I could start prototyping it. So just asking a lot of questions and talking to people and people that they recommended I speak to is kind of how this whole thing got rolling.



Jon LaClare [00:13:15]:


Let's fast forward a little bit. Once you had your product you were happy with, now it comes time to market it, turn it into revenues. So what would you consider your first success for this? Were you like, oh, we've got something here. It's selling what worked well as your first marketing.



Yates Dew [00:13:34]:


Mean. Basically when I got started, it was all just an idea. I didn't raise any money, it was completely bootstrapped. I was like, well, I need to launch on Facebook. I need know, launch on Instagram and create a Twitter account. And so I grabbed all of those things and that's really kind of how I got started, was just total grassroots social media. And from there I started to really had to dig into how to build a website. And I started out with the wrong platform and was very lucky to wind up with Shopify.



Yates Dew [00:14:10]:


That has really helped me. There have been a ton of resources with Shopify. Just know they're really good at helping to launch brands, helping you to understand how to have a very quickly updated website, how to get email addresses so that you can continue to stay in touch with your customers. So, yeah, without social media and shopify, I don't know where I'd be. Great place.



Jon LaClare [00:14:38]:


I'm glad you brought up Shopify. I think for our listeners sake, those that might be earlier stage, trying to figure out what channels to market on what website, platforms to use, et cetera. I would say probably 90 95% of our product launches we do are on the Shopify platform. And what I found over the years, it's not the easiest to use. There are some that are easier to just create a website. It takes a little bit of work, but you can do it and there's resources there to help. But it by far is the best. Right? There's just so much.



Jon LaClare [00:15:05]:


It's robust on the back end, on the tools you can use to market, and the communication between Shopify and other platforms like Facebook, et cetera, are phenomenal. So it's not much more expensive than most options and a little bit of a learning curve to get started, but well worth it. There's a reason that most product launches from our, we've got clients that start off there and it's their first dollar of revenue on up to some that are selling tens of millions of dollars or more in revenue per year. Still using the Shopify platform. It's very robust. It grows with you. I got to second that. If you think back to so that was kind of like the first start of your success.



Jon LaClare [00:15:41]:


Over the years since then, what really has worked best in terms of marketing strategies to grow your sales from that point forward.



Yates Dew [00:15:52]:


User generated content is extremely helpful. It just gives that validation to the product. I have had a really good time getting to know people that love my product and I stay in touch with them. They continue to talk about my product. I'm not asking them to. I don't have to pay them to. They have championed my product and I'm very grateful for my ambassadors and just users that took to this thing. This product is to me, it's very obvious what it is and what it does, and I personally believe there's a need for the product.



Yates Dew [00:16:37]:


And when I hear other people talk about how it's changed their experience grilling, not only does that make me proud, but it also validates the product for other people that are considering buying it. I realize that most people are used to if they have an apron, it was given to them or it says something on the front. It's not very functional and it probably isn't a $20 price point. This is an engineered product that costs more about like a pair of shoes or a backpack. But there's a reason behind that and the people that understand that and have either gotten this as a gift or taken the leap to make the purchase for this product and they fall in love with it. Those are the people that speak volumes, which I think have really helped me with more sales and I just hope that that continues to build upon itself because I don't personally love telling people that they have to have this product and it's going to change their life. I would rather the product speak for itself and for the people that are enjoying it to take the time, which a lot of them do, to talk about what they love about the product. So my job really is I wear a lot of hats because it's a small business, but my favorite part of the job is creating new products for my fans to enjoy.



Yates Dew [00:18:03]:


I don't really know if my fans are the right word, but the people who love my product, I want to keep stimulating them with new colors and new versions and new products that help them have a good time when they're grilling.



Jon LaClare [00:18:18]:


I love that you brought up user generated content and the way you described it, it's a common tool because it's a very effective tool and there's a couple of ways to do it. And kind of the most common way, I think, is that people pay for that content. And in the early days of a new campaign, it can be relatively inexpensive. It's a great way to get initial content. And you send samples, people send you videos. And some are good, some are not. You use the good ones, and that's good. I love how you talked about a little different approach.



Jon LaClare [00:18:44]:


That is, I think, great advice for our listeners where that's good, right. We have to have content in the very beginning. But once we start to have people actually buy this and use the product and become fans, connect with your audience, right? Connect with your customers, and that's going to be the best content to come back. That's real user generated content or as you call it, ambassadors, right? Because they bought it with their own money. They love it. They've got a real story they can share. And that's going to make such a difference in not only the type of content because you can feel how genuine it is, but also that they really share with their own audience. Right.



Jon LaClare [00:19:21]:


Their friends, family, followers, et cetera. So I think it's a great way to describe that. Good advice for our audience, too. Well, Yates, is there anything I didn't ask you that you think would be helpful for our audience?



Yates Dew [00:19:34]:


Well, I just would love to point out that I recently just got my first patent, so I'm really excited about that. I have been a student of Shark Tank forever, and oftentimes that's a question that they ask. I originally, initially just had to get the name trademarked. That was quite easy to do. Getting a patent was much more difficult and took a lot more time and a little more expense. But yeah, that's just one thing that's happened as of late. That's quite exciting here at Grill kilt, and I wanted to share it with you. That's it.



Jon LaClare [00:20:16]:


Congratulations. That's not easy. It takes a lot of work and it's not a guarantee that you'll get a patent issued. So congratulations on making or taking that step, too. I do want to tell our audience, be sure to go visit grillkiltkilt.com to learn more about this product. You can see again some cool videos that Yates has put together and images, but a great product as well. But Yates, I really want to say thank you and really appreciate you joining the show today.



Yates Dew [00:20:43]:


John, it's a pleasure. Thanks for your time. Thanks for having me. Best of luck and all your endeavors.



Jon LaClare [00:20:48]:


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 to set up a call if you'd like to discuss further.

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