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Voices: A Route Interview Series Feat. Jordynn Wynn

Nov 4, 2021

Building A Premium Brand From Scratch (and disrupting a whole industry at the same time)

Headhsot of Jordynn Wynn, co-founder of INH Hair.

The beauty industry is, in a nutshell, massive. It’s expansive, fiercely competitive, deep-rooted, and tough to elbow in through the few huge players in the space. As daunting as all of that sounds, it wasn’t enough to stop Jordynn Wynn, co-founder of Insert Name Here (INH) Hair.

Since 2018, INH has been making waves in haircare. From extensions and wigs to hair color and tools of the trade, the brand promises “no more bad hair days” will be had. Based in Los Angeles, California, Wynn and brand partner Sharon Pak have been innovating a stagnant space, disrupting an industry, and embodying the best customer experience this side of the Mississippi all in the face of learning on the fly and an uncertain pandemic.

Read on for more insights and how-tos with with ecommerce expert!

Q: What’s one thing you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago? 

A:  That’s such a big question! There are many things I have learned even in the last two years, but I think the one thing I wish I had known is what key metrics I needed to consider for building successful businesses.

Breaking it down with questions such as: what kind of LTV are you looking at, how are you going to even achieve that LTV,  and are these repeat purchase products? Also, what does your CPA need to be and what do your margins need to be? 

When I launched INH, which is my first brand, my team and I felt it was an amazing product. We loved it, launched it, and we were picking prices out of the sky. Now, two-and-a-half years in, we’re finding other ways to go about this. Now I’m on the board of a lot of different brands and I realized that I was definitely not the only one who didn’t know of a strategic approach when getting started. 

I think it would be so helpful and save people a lot of pain down the road when they’re trying to later optimize. Of course your own experience is a good one, but it’d be great to create a resource center for brands that are looking for answers to those questions. I feel like you could make a page of things to keep in mind when building a brand. Things that really helped you as far as the trajectory of the products that you like.

Q: What does the future of ecommerce look like in your mind?

A: Personalization is going to be big. For ecommerce, that means making more custom landing pages and more custom web experiences. While overseeing marketing at INH, you can just see the impact of a personalized email flow that sends messages to shoppers regarding products that they’re literally interested in and that they’ve viewed.

Personalization and interaction are going to be huge. I think the ability to have on-site chatbots, visually trying on a product, and all of those resources that help make it easier to shop online are going to be the game-changers.  

I’ve been in the beauty and cosmetic space for a while, and the really difficult products are complexion items like foundation and concealer. It’s so difficult to color match, and hair colors factor into that challenge also. I think things like that are applicable to a ton of SKUs and even seeing the progress that’s being made now is great. 

The future is solving and answering some of those questions online that currently you can only do in store with a touch and feel. 

– Jordynn Wynn

There are so many DTC brands that originated online that are showing only a small portion of their assortment in stores for the first time. I think there is a big hype factor because people say things like “Oh my gosh, now I can finally touch and feel this stuff even if it’s not the full assortment.” It gives shoppers the ability to go in and see it for themselves, then they can go back to the website and make a wider purchase. 

Q: What is your best failure? 

A: We launched a new product category with INH and it was a product direction we wanted to go into even before we launched the brand. This was at the beginning when we weren’t thinking holistically about the brand. We weren’t thinking about how all these products that we were envisioning would play all together. It took such a long time to develop it, but once we actually launched it, we realized  it literally had nothing to do with any of our existing hero SKUs or top products. 

Our brand is all about transformation and DIY, and this was not a DIY product. It was a pretty serious professional product and it was a pretty big flop saleswise, which was unfortunate because we had really been excited about the individual SKU and bought a ton of inventory. It was definitely a painful lesson.

I think that was one of the launches that recalibrated us as far as questioning “Who is INH?” You are building a brand, which is a house of some key products that need to have a purpose. I think that was one of the first times that I realized we need to get way more strategic when we’re thinking about a product pipeline and how all these things go together. Even the things I mentioned earlier about LTV, if you launch a product that has nothing to do with your existing SKUs or even your existing customers, you’re not helping LTV. You’re actually dividing up your efforts because now you have to go find this entirely new customer.

I think that was definitely a tough lesson to learn for a startup, but I’m glad it happened early on because it really was able to help restructure and set us on a new path. Focusing on exactly who we are and not getting distracted by other fun, colorful things that aren’t necessarily in the longer brand pipeline is crucial to scaling. Just focus on what actually moves the needle.

Q: How have you pivoted strategy during the pandemic?

A: Early on, when the pandemic began, we had a bunch of content in the pipeline and it wasn’t applicable to what was going on. Changing content to be relatable as a DTC brand was big on social media. It’s so important that your content is relevant and relatable to what’s happening now, even if it’s not what was slated.  

Before, it was all about being fun and having a big, bold personality. I think it was really easy for us to connect, but this was a good transition for us to get on a personal level. We asked questions like “how are you?” and even added some kind words of encouragement. We put together a few different  groups, one with our VIP customers, who loved certain product categories. There were meet-and-greets or meetups on Facebook groups or Zoom calls. Helping people connect with other people who are similar to them and going through the same thing in a virtual space was really great for our community building.

We started a Facebook group called INH Babes. Originally, it was meant to be for our VIP customers and it really took off because they were all these people who are really into beauty and cosmetics.

They bought these products and now they’re sharing their looks. That was a starting point, but then we also did a lot of Zoom calls where you could opt in to discuss a topic or hear about a topic, and that was helpful, too. It was all about pivoting our content and community efforts to reflect what was most important to people at the moment, even if it wasn’t what we had planned.

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