Beauty scale

Radical Bootstrapping: Why This Founder Is Saying No To Major Deals

It was about a year after leading her superfood startup, Golde, that Trinity Mouzon Wofford started getting calls from investors. She had started the business in 2017 at the age of 23, with her own funding and with just a hand from her high school sweetheart, who had become her partner in life and business.

“By then I had already run the business entirely on our own terms for over a year. It still didn’t quite make sense to me…to be in charge of the millions of dollars of someone else,” Mouzon Wofford said. Inc.it is What I know Podcast.

Once she got used to saying no, it got easier. Meanwhile, Golde began to scale slowly, finding customers in local New York stores, cafes and spas, who then returned to the company’s website to find the products they liked – a turmeric latte mix or a superfood face mask – and buy them direct. It was almost as if the founder had supported a successful DTC business.

“We had no marketing budget,” says Mouzon Wofford. “And frankly, if we had it, we wouldn’t have known what to do with it. But we had this profitable channel where our products sat on these incredible shelves. We had the good eyes on us.”

Before long, the big retailers started calling. But with a small staff and limited production capabilities, Mouzon Wofford knew that jumping on a big deal could overwhelm the company’s capabilities. “It’s a big business!” she says. “There’s no harm in telling a retailer, ‘Not now’ and making sure you’re ready.”

For example, when Mouzon Wofford started meeting with Target shoppers, she took her time. She wanted to know what pricing structure, packaging and products would work best for the national chain. She followed Target’s accelerator program and redesigned a product line specifically to fit ideal retail pricing. (A price of $14.99 was its target.)

Mouzon Wofford says taking his time not only allowed him to think through product assortment, pricing and strategy – but also gave him confidence that the retailer was committed to its new superfood category. and beauty products, find out how shelf space has been allocated, then determine what its commitments should be.

Even today, Mouzon Wofford says no much more than she says yes to partnerships, both in retail and in terms of venture capital investment. “I think that really set Golde apart and continues to set him apart from a lot of other players in the space,” she says.

To listen to my full interview with Trinity Mouzon Wofford about how she created and developed Golde, click here or on the player above. For more episodes of What I knowincluding interviews with author Jim Collins, Eventbrite founder Julia Hartz and investor Garry Tan, find out What I know on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen to audio.