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October 23, 2020 27 min read

This week on the Proudly Made in Canada podcast, Connor chats with Leanne Bounds and her husband from Coco Bean! Coco Bean creates beautiful baby mats to support newborns up to toddlers that allow families to still maintain their individual style and represent personal taste while in the comfort of their own home.

The three chat about what it was like starting both Coco Bean, Leanne's value of manufacturing her baby mats in Canada and supporting communities around her as she grew her business. Connor even shares where the name Local Laundry came from when he was first deciding to create a t-shirt company back when he and his wife were living in Sweden. 

Throughout the episode, Leanne and Connor shed light on the importance of Canadian-made products and their positive effect on the Canadian supply chain. Listen to the full episode, shop Canadian made and give back to local communities and charities! 

Follow Coco Bean: https://www.instagram.com/cocobean.ca/
Shop Coco Bean: www.coco-bean.ca

Listen to the full episode here

Connor:

Live from Studio B, this is Proudly Made in Canada by Local Laundry. We are your co-hosts and co-owners of Local Laundry, Connor Curran and Dustin Paisley.

Connor:

Today, we have a very special guest on Proudly Made in Canada. We have someone that's gone through all the extreme lengths and hurdles to actually produce something very important here in Canada. We are joined by the founders of Coco Bean, Leanne and Craig Bounds. How are yous?

Leanne:

Hi. Good, thanks.

Craig:

How's it going?

Connor:

Good. Thank you so much for being on the show and well, thank you so much for going to all the bother to actually make your stuff here in Canada. It's really important. Thanks for spending the time to tell us a little bit about it.

Leanne:

Yeah. Well, thanks for having us. We're excited to be here.

Connor:

Yeah, absolutely. Well, please introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about what Coco Bean's all about.

Leanne:

Sure. I'm Leanne Bounds. I run Coco Bean with my husband Craig Bounds. We started Coco Bean... Two years ago?

Craig:

The idea was a couple years ago.

Leanne:

Yeah, the idea was a couple of years ago. Well, actually the idea started when my first son was five and I struggled to find a baby mat that was, one, comfy enough that I didn't have to put anything underneath it to lay him on, like on the hardwood floors or tile floors of kitchens. And also one that was pleasing to the eye. All of them were jungle themed and really colorful and I'm quite a modern... I like my monochromes, very black and whites, modern touch to baby items and I was having troubles finding that. But that was, like I said, five years ago and then it rattled in my brain a little bit. And then it wasn't until a very, kind of long drive back from Saskatchewan one Christmas. Very long.

Craig:

Seven hour drives [crosstalk 00:00:01:56].

Leanne:

[crosstalk 00:01:58]

Connor:

Those are where the best ideas come out.

Leanne:

They do. And look, they really do. They do. So...

Craig:

It was -40 at the time as well. We ran out of gas.

Leanne:

Oh yeah. And again, it was right after Christmas. I think, like how most people do too after Christmas, they have their resolutions or they want to make a change or do something. And this wasn't the first time Craig and I talked about doing something on our own. And then I kind of put forward this idea to Craig about the mats and he just loved it. Didn't you? You were just like, "Yeah, let's go for it."

Craig:

It's one of those things you talk about loads of things. You always have ideas and all these things to do and then sometimes you're like, "I'll tell you what. Let's just do it then." [inaudible 00:02:36] back, we thought of a name and then we literally, on Boxing Day, went down to Sewing World in Calgary, grabbed some equipment, went to Fabricland, grabbed a lot of materials.

Leanne:

Brought it all home. So I was 28 at the time and I hadn't sewn since I was 13, Home Ec. So, it was a bit crazy for us just to go buy a sewing machine, put the money down for the fabrics. We put it on our kitchen table and I just started sewing. And, well I got to backtrack a little bit, I guess, because I was trying to find a mat that would suit my needs and I could find nothing in Canada. Seen something...

Connor:

What were some of those needs specifically? Why was it so hard to find what you're looking for?

Leanne:

Because I could find only really thin mats.

Connor:

I understand.

Leanne:

Really thin, small as well. So they'd outgrow it quite quickly. And again, just the hideous colors, which just drove me crazy. So, I turned to the internet to try to find one that I could purchase and I couldn't find any in Canada. There were the odd out of Canada, but again, they weren't hitting the comfort factor that I was looking for. The really high sides that ours offer. We have inch thick foam on ours. So then, that's when I got all the material that I thought we needed and that's when I started just sewing and just prototype after prototype and just learning as I went and learning through my mistakes, because like I said, I hadn't sewn since I was 13.

Craig:

So, that's really it in a nutshell.

Leanne:

Yeah. [crosstalk 00:04:13] And then we just, I just perfected the mat over a year, probably, just trying different materials. And then we felt like we were ready to launch, ready to go with our first Coco Bean mat.

Connor:

How many prototypes did you go through before you started selling one?

Craig:

There were definitely lots. Probably... We must have gone through at least 10, 15 different kind of attempts. The first one looked horrendous and I felt bad for you.

Leanne:

We kept it. We kept it because we were like, "We need to frame this in some big shadow box [crosstalk 00:04:43] thing." But yeah, probably...

Craig:

Probably 10 to 15.

Leanne:

Yeah, 10 to 15, including the covers that go onto it. So, I probably nailed down the base, I think, after probably five attempts. But then the covers too, and getting the zips in how I wanted and the little corners that hold the bars and stuff.

Connor:

Good for you. I mean, kudos to you because I mean so many people, and we've all had them where we're driving back or sitting at the bar and we come up with a great idea. We're like, "Oh, I got the best idea in the world." And it's like, "Oh great." And then, "Well, what are you going to do with it?" And you're like, "Ah, I could never do it." It's a great idea. Someone else is probably going to do it.

Connor:

But just to have that gumption and not let it sit because sometimes so many people, they just leave things as ideas and they're like, "I'm going to do it one day. I'm going to do it eventually." But you guys are like, no, came up with the idea and the next day you were after it. And it was exact same with me when I started Local Laundry. I had the idea of Calgary Community shirts and that's how Local Laundry started and I didn't sit on it. I didn't wait and poll a bunch of people like, "Oh, you think this is a good idea?" I just went out and did it and started the creation process. And, so many people don't think like that. They have a good idea and they just kind of just sit on it or wait or do a bunch of market research rather than just like, "Let's get after it." And it's like, "How do we do it? I don't know, but let's figure it out. Let's go through 15 prototypes till we get something."

Leanne:

I think that was the "aha moment" I think for us because too, like Craig has said, we had kind of talked about other things but this was the difference from that to this. We just, if we're going to do it, we just to have to take that step forward, not knowing what the next step after that is going to be and we just...

Connor:

And it's a very empowering feeling because then you're like, "Well, if I can do this, then what else can I do?" And then you start to realize you can literally do anything if you just put your mind to it and actually go do it. There's no limits to your will. And so you just unlock a superpower and you're like, "I can do anything."

Craig:

Well, I think it's for us, if you think about the end goal, and you think about where you want to be, then you can never get there because it's all the different steps. You start thinking, "What about this? Oh what...? So you're just, "Right, let's make a mat." Okay, let's just make a mat. "Let's just make a website." So then we made a website. "Right, let's just..." Every step and then before you know it you're at the stage to launch but if you thought about, let's just say you planned it all out, you did a big business proposal and you did all this stuff, you'd go, "I can't do that."

Connor:

That seems like a lot of work. I love that. That's exactly what you did. You just take it one step at a time. Let's make a mat. Let's make a website and start selling them. And what was the decision to actually make them yourself? I mean, did you think about manufacturing, going to a manufacturer and pitching it to them? What was the thought process of making it yourself?

Leanne:

Yeah, I don't actually think that crossed our mind to get it manufactured. I think, because our roots for Coco Bean too, is we wanted it Canadian made. We wanted to build and support community, as well, as we grew. Obviously, when you're small to start it's really hard to do that. But again, there was that end goal that we wanted, right?

Connor:

Right.

Leanne:

We thought by building it up here in Canada, local, like Cochran, Calgary, we had the vision to eventually be able to employ Canadians, as well, and have them working for Coco Bean as well.

Craig:

I think the vision we had when we owned a business was to be a Canadian business. It's always been important. And as you said before, making stuff in Canada is more expensive, it's more difficult. It's much easier to get a company overseas to make it in bulk and get it sent here. Logistically, we're... So, the product, it may require a simple product but by the time you get all the materials and the foam and the arms and the inserts and this and that, it's getting loads of different suppliers and things in, so it's much more complex than just getting started and shipped in but it is difficult, but I think you've got to try to remember why you're doing it and stick to it. It is hard, but I think it's something that's important. And I think people are price sensitive so that's a reason to go off shores. I think people are starting to move towards an appreciation for local things.

Connor:

No, 100%. And that's what I really love about your approach because most people would just look at that bottom line and be like, "I have this idea, I have this prototype. Now, how can I make it for as cheap as possible?" And that's not what you've done. That's not what we're all about. It's about quality and what everything represents and that thought of what you actually want to get out of it. And it's not to make millions and millions and millions of dollars and produce a product for as cheap as possible. It's the thought and intention that's behind it all. And so where did the name Coco Bean come from?

Leanne:

Well, I think we actually, we thought of it, again, in that drive back from Saskatchewan. We just like, "Hey, what should we call it? And just start throwing out some names and I liked Coco. Our son's name is Cohen and his nickname is Coco. And then I thought of Bean just because even with when Cohen, our first sonogram photo of him you sometimes, and maybe other mums do too, but they refer to him as like, "Oh, look at my little Bean or little seed" or whatever. And so, I just combined the two. I said, "How about Coco Bean?" And it was actually just that. We didn't pass around any ideas. Craig's like, "I love it." I was like, "Okay. It's Coco Bean. Hey, so we have our name."

Connor:

One thing done.

Leanne:

Yeah exactly.

Craig:

I think some of the best brands are kind of off the cuff. I know Virgin Airlines and everything was written on a napkin in 30 seconds and that's a huge brand. I think you can take all this time to get experts to look at it and review it and what does it mean? And all this stuff. And sometimes you can just say, "Right, this is it. Let's move on to the next task."

Connor:

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. My wife came up with the name for Local Laundry while she was half asleep. She literally... We were living in Sweden at the time and we had this nightmare of a laundry machine that would dance all over the bathroom tiles when we'd turn it on. So doing laundry was the bane of our existence. And I think she just came off on the losing side of a battle with the laundry that evening and she was just wrecked and passed out. And I told her about this amazing idea that I wanted to have and about local and community. I was like, "What should I call it?" And she's like, "I don't know. Call it Local Laundry, I guess." It's like...

Leanne:

Perfect.

Connor:

That is amazing. It was genius.

Connor:

So, I love that. It's a great name, Coco Bean. And again, most people would just, they would spend ages trying to come up with a name. But it's just like, "What's the name? Let's get it. Done. Move on." I love it. So, you guys did all the prototypes, you built it. And then what? What did you guys do from there? You get the website. Now what?

Craig:

I think from there, we kind of obviously did all the background stuff. Me being an eternal optimist, hoarded loads and loads of materials. I'm thinking the day when we launch a website it's going to go crazy.

Connor:

No, you're just tapping into those economies of scale. You just get [inaudible 00:11:32] for a better price, that's all.

Craig:

And then you launch and it goes quiet. And then you start thinking, "Okay, now what?" It's the two journeys. The journey of the excitement of getting it all done and all the hard work to get it ready. And then you forget about, actually, now I've got to do the second half is hard work, which is get it to market, get people interested in it, [crosstalk 00:11:55] get people talking about it. So then, after we first launched, after the first four weeks I was pretty down because it wasn't really [inaudible 00:12:04] and luckily Leanne took the reigns and got us some social media followings and started to build up a bit of, I suppose, conviction there.

Leanne:

And then we started doing some markets, as well, to get us out there.

Craig:

That's where we first met you Connor.

Leanne:

Yeah, it's where we first met you.

Connor:

Yeah.

Craig:

I was the weird guy walking around in circles with a baby.

Connor:

No, I remember that and I was like, "This guy is looking at me like he knows me. I think I know him. I think we might know each other." And I was like, "Well, if I don't, I should probably introduce myself because he's done a couple of laps." But no, that was great. And then we connected and yeah, kind of fell in love with the product.

Connor:

So, and I think that's the nature of our business as well. You get immediate feedback from the market, right? You know if you have a good idea or not because you're either selling stuff or not. And it was the same with us. I mean, we started with Calgary Community shirts. And we would do different designs of different communities. And I got feedback pretty quickly that people didn't want Calgary Community shirts. They were not selling that well. No one wants a shirt from Bridgeland. You know what I mean?

Connor:

And so it's like, okay, well you get that immediate feedback and how do you adjust and how do you...? And in your case, it's get on that social media and push and talk about. And maybe you could walk us through what are some of the key differentiators in your mats? What are some of the benefits of your mats compared to other mats?

Leanne:

Sure. So it's quite larger. So, it's about 38 by 38 inches. And it's got an inch thick foam on the bottom so you can lay your baby down on hardwood floors, which many houses are nowadays, without having to put anything underneath it. Like I said, with my first one I had to put towels underneath the mats I got for my first son. So, I wanted to make sure it was thick enough so the baby's comfy on it.

Leanne:

The sides are raised as well. So, to keep baby inside of it. And then, it's a good, comfy place for tummy time as well, which is such a good thing for developing babies' back and neck strength. And that's why too, you can also get a tummy time pillow with the mats that match whatever fabric you have to support the early days of tummy time. And really, I think too, which I think maybe first looking at the mat, you think like, "Oh, this is a good product for baby from zero to six months right?" Until they start moving. But, as we've been using it ourselves and seeing our customers use it, it's actually being used right until toddler stage, a year and further because the bars come off and we used it for our son. You can plunk him in the middle of it, when they're just learning to sit and you feel more confident that they can learn to sit on their own without anything really around them. But if they do topple over, they have a cushy knee pillow to fall on.

Leanne:

And two, just because it's so modern looking and trendy, you don't have to tuck it away and hide it when visitors come. That was one of the [inaudible 00:15:06] "Tidy up for our visitors."

Connor:

It looks good.

Leanne:

And tuck away the baby toys. We wanted this to be something that you're proud of and you want as part of your home decor when you have little ones. But now I'm seeing them used with those little tents even, that you make for playrooms and they're the base of that for your playroom.

Leanne:

So, I think it's very versatile versus some of the other ones that you just use for the first zero to six months before they start moving.

Connor:

Yeah, I think that's the big benefit of the quality that comes with making stuff here in Canada. You make it to last. You don't make it for six months. And yes, it's a little bit of a higher price point, but people have to start seeing these things as investments. This is a piece that you're going to have for your child for the first couple of years and maybe even further and that's going to do for multiple children. It's not going to be just something you throw out after six months. And then we always kind of think of it, comparing it to our sweaters, that if you break it down per cost, per use over its lifetime, it actually ends up being cheaper for each time you use it compared to the cheap one that you get that's not Canadian made.

Connor:

So how do you guys split who does what? I mean, who is in charge? I'm always fascinated by couple owners.

Leanne:

To be honest, especially over this last three months, with COVID happening. It's been, okay, pockets of time, right? Especially between working, both working full-time jobs as well, and with our two kids, it's finding time to do little things. I was doing most of the sewing and the creating. I kind of got the creative [crosstalk 00:16:47].

Craig:

I like to call it technical things Leanne does. [inaudible 00:16:51] brained, Leanne does. And then for me, it's cutting all materials because you have to cut all the base mats, cut for the arms and all those things, [inaudible 00:17:01] the mats. For me, ordering all the materials. I'm an accountant by trade so doing all the year-end numbers is kind of where I come in.

Connor:

You're really handy to have, by the way.

Leanne:

That is, yeah.

Connor:

Leanne, you don't know how lucky you are...

Leanne:

I know, I know.

Connor:

To have an accountant in the family.

Craig:

So, I suppose more the back end things. Behind the scenes is where I like to be. And then Leanne [inaudible 00:17:24]. She does social media, she does all the choosing materials and things because I've just accepted in life that when it comes to choosing any kind of decor, it's not my strong point. I get things in my head that looks amazing [crosstalk 00:17:38]. I've learned my lesson and Leanne does all the choosing the materials and what kind of material she wants and comfort levels. And just the design and all the intricacy around making the mats.

Leanne:

I get Craig doing a lot of the cutting and stuffing and the stuff I don't like to do as much. He takes on.

Connor:

Yeah. But then there's that trust in there, right? Craig completely trusts your judgment Leanne, on what looks good. He doesn't have to worry about that but you also trust him on the fact that he's going to make sure that we have enough money and that our taxes are going to get done. So, there's that trust in there that I'm going to let you do what you're good at and you just let me do what I'm good at. And that's, I think, key to any kind of partnerships. If you were trying to do each other's jobs, that's where the partnership really breaks down.

Leanne:

Yeah. I think we have a good balance. We each know where each other's roles are.

Craig:

And I think, if one's down the other one's up so we don't have to see those hard days and weeks when things are not great. It seems like everyone always picks everyone up. [Inaudible 00:18:34] as well. It's quality time because in the evenings we don't sit down and watch TV because we don't have time. The kids are in bed, we've developed the basement or workshop kind of office area. So we're just down there, music on, chatting away, just getting stuff done. So it's kind of improved things because we have that common goal and drive together. So, it's made things pretty good. We don't have time to just sit down, watch TV as much. Sometimes you want to...

Leanne:

Oh yeah. And we do. We do try to find time but that's why we'll stay up till 1:00 sometimes. We just need an hour to switch off. Watch some trashy TV or something.

Connor:

That's important too. So, you guys are building this, you both have full-time jobs, you have two young children and another one on the way. And again, congratulations Leanne.

Leanne:

Thank you.

Connor:

I hope that you've made it public and I just didn't...

Leanne:

Yeah.

Connor:

I hope it's not a secret. So, you're balancing all this what minimal time that you have to build this business and then we're struck by a global pandemic. How has things affected and changed your business? Because now you have to both work from home, you have no daycare, no school, no nothing. Walk us through how that changed your business and lives.

Craig:

I think we've been pretty fortunate with where we both work at the moment. It's kind of... Leanne's a teacher, I work for a local company and we're doing fine. So, that's one stress we haven't had. We've had that stability of working so that's one thing we can be thankful for. And then work from home, the first few weeks was just absolutely crazy because the kids need attention so you feel like you're neglecting them. They're getting bored and restless. You're trying to juggle, Leanne's got classes [crosstalk 00:20:12]...

Leanne:

I'm doing Zoom calls twice a day.

Craig:

It just becomes, that's a stressful element. Then obviously there's a real good side of it. And we get to be home with our 20 month year old, we get to see them every morning and pick him up [inaudible 00:20:25] his milk. So, there's loads of really good points and there's loads of very stressful points. You have to balance it.

Craig:

And then for us, the business with Coco Bean, it's been gradually every kind of months getting busier and busier and busier. And we haven't really felt much change during the pandemic. We weren't a massive volume company. We're just kind of building and building obviously on the side and it's been going fine. Leanne [inaudible 00:20:50] and really well with getting the product out there and getting people to see the product. And then our US orders have picked up and everything. So, I think people are still buying and customers are still there. And because we've always been online it hasn't been the stress that this has to be our full income coming in and all these things. It's just continued just to kind of move along and just keep building. So, from the business aspects, we haven't felt a massive impact at the moment, but I think the next six, 12 months is going to be key.

Connor:

That's really great to hear because I mean your product, like our product, we're a premium product, right? We're [crosstalk 00:21:26], we're high quality, we're a little bit pricier than... We're in the upper echelons of, in terms of the price scale. So, to hear that you guys have weathered it and you haven't seen any kind of detrimental effect, that's absolutely terrific to hear. And I think what this pandemic has really showed us is that people want to support a, local businesses, now more than ever. And they also are really looking for Canadian made. I think it's really opened people's eyes to be like, "Oh man." Not making stuff here is kind of a big deal. It's become an issue for us and do you see an uptick in online sales or just kind of the same as before?

Craig:

I think it's just kind of stayed pretty consistent. We've been at a consistent level into this year. It was a bit slow, January out of the blocks and then we kind of stayed consistent up until now. And we definitely haven't seen any dip at the moment. We seem to be doing okay. So yeah, we're fortunate there.

Craig:

I think, as I say, Leanne's managed to do well on the social media and reached out, so a couple of good influencers have helped us kind of stay. So, I think because we've been so proactive I think that even though if we hadn't had done these moves to get it out there, get in touch with these influencers and really got our product to be seen, maybe would have been a bit slower. But it's been pretty good.

Connor:

That's great. So what is next for Coco Bean now, given COVID and everything? Where do you guys see yourselves going and taking this?

Leanne:

We just want to just continue growing, really. We just want to continue getting ourselves out there. I think that was kind of the hardest thing, right? So it's going back to what Craig said, when you launch something you think, "Oh, so we're going to get 1000 sales, right?" But realistically, no, people don't know you're there, right? So, I think obviously we just want to keep sharing our products, keep growing. Eventually we want to bring in new products, as well. Again, keeping Canadian made and using good quality of products and materials.

Connor:

What kind of stuff are you thinking? You don't have to say, if you want to keep it secret.

Leanne:

No, no, no.

Craig:

We got a few ideas in mind. We're just kind of toying around with some nice, comfy blankets, some new materials, just some bamboo material and stuff like that. Just some simple products because the products we currently do is a very time consuming product. To take all the materials into a full mat, it's time consuming. And obviously, the time consuming [inaudible 00:23:40] made in Canada the margin to squeeze so we're just like if we have a product that's a bit more simple, potentially we can outsource it. Because at the moment we're fully doing everything ourselves. But a blanket we can outsource to local seamstresses. So, obviously then, it's providing that extra income to people locally and also it's meaning a product where we don't have to make it because realize now we've got a few, quite a few ideas but we can't physically make it ourselves, everything. So, we have to think about how we can have a few more products which keep our core values, but then now we can outsource some of it locally to get [crosstalk 00:24:12].

Leanne:

And that's where our next step is too. We're already in touch with some of the local seamstresses...

Connor:

Amazing.

Leanne:

To help take on the work for me. Because yeah, Craig does some of the cutting and stuff for me, but I'm the sole sewer. So, if we happen to get three orders over the weekend and we want to be prompt and get those out within a good time, it can be tricky. So, we're already looking to employ...

Connor:

So wait, is everything created and made to order or do you have inventory?

Craig:

We'd like to have inventory.

Leanne:

But we're having trouble keeping up.

Connor:

Really?

Leanne:

Yeah. So, right now everything is made to order.

Connor:

That's amazing.

Leanne:

Even though it's not even really advertised at that, but just because we can't get... I would love to have a big shelf downstairs with all of my base mats, right? Ready to go. But just like when we get to the last mats going out the door, we get some more orders, right? So it's kind of a good thing to be...

Craig:

It's a good problem to have.

Leanne:

Good problem to have.

Craig:

I think [inaudible 00:25:11] the first year or something it's kind of a soft launch and just see how it goes and everything. And then we've wanted to revamp the website and we wanted to do a full-on photo shoots, all these different things. So, we took our foot off the gas for social media advertising over the past eight weeks, because our day jobs are crazy busy and we wanted to get to a stage where we could get the website looking perfect and all these things, but it just hasn't happened because when we try and kind of [inaudible 00:25:38]. It's a great problem to have, but it's just, in our heads we know that our website isn't as nice as we want it to look, our photos aren't as good as they need to be. And the website's your storefront so you need to be really happy with it and we're just not there yet.

Connor:

Well, just to give you some reassuring, every small business owner feels the same way. We feel the exact same way about our website. Nobody likes their website. Nobody's ever happy with it. So you're not the only one. We feel the exact same way.

Leanne:

It'll get better.

Connor:

So, how long does it usually take to make a mat then?

Leanne:

I get this question a lot and I don't think I've actually sat down and done it from start to finish. I've always...

Connor:

Oh you break it up in different [crosstalk 00:26:17].

Leanne:

Yeah. So, especially if I have a couple of hours on the go, I'll do two of the base mats. But I think, probably...

Craig:

I've costed in four hours, so four hours is what it needs to be taken...

Leanne:

Mr. Accountant [crosstalk 00:26:33] But no, I think about four to five hours if I were to sit down from scratch to do one.

Connor:

That's great. You guys don't understand how clever it is, the way that you set up the business because most people... Not having inventory is a great thing because most people, they go out and they start a business and they buy 100 or they invest in 200 of a piece. And you don't know if that's going to sell. You guys have $0 just sitting there not making any money. We carry inventory now. I mean, we were drop shipping and did on-demand to start. And now, as we have inventory, it's just cash sitting there that's not doing anything. So it's a really good problem to have.

Craig:

The raw materials we've got, we have got that cost of that raw materials [crosstalk 00:27:10].

Connor:

Oh yeah. That's true. Yeah.

Craig:

And we've got a few designs, mainly the one that I picked which doesn't sell [crosstalk 00:27:13]

Leanne:

And this is why I do the designing. I actually told him, "Oh, I don't know if that's going to work" but I wanted to give him something.

Connor:

You wanted to be supportive.

Craig:

[crosstalk 00:27:29].

Connor:

Yeah. And now it's just like, "No, Craig that's terrible. Go back and stick with the numbers."

Leanne:

Yeah. [crosstalk 00:27:35]

Connor:

We all have our roles. There's a lot of things I'm not very good at. So, what advice would you give to people? Someone comes up to you and says, "I want to start my own business. I want to start my own Canadian made business." What are some advice that you would give them or maybe give yourselves two years ago now knowing what you know, with everything you've learned?

Craig:

Okay. So, I think the first thing is you've just got to start somewhere. So, as I said earlier, take the first step to say, "Okay, what do we need to do?" If it's a product, okay, let's just make one product. What's it look like? Let's start somewhere. And then for us, it's takes yourself seriously. So you want to set up a company, you want to set up a bank account. What are all the steps so you actually have that? "Okay, I'm actually a company owner now. I've got a prototype, I've got a bank account, which says the company name on it. I've got a company." These bits that actually makes you feel that, yeah you're part of something and then you hold yourself to it. You're like, "I've just spent X amount on setting up a company, doing all this stuff so I should do something now."

Craig:

And then yeah, it's difficult. I think for me, I've learned I was too optimistic at first with ordering materials. [inaudible 00:28:38] website. So, be realistic and be prepared to spend more money getting materials in smaller quantities, even if you're potentially break even for the first few months on your site [inaudible 00:28:49]. But then you know you've tested the product and there's a demand for it. Then go and look for the cheaper prices and then go and order 1,000, 10,000 or whatever. But, start with a smaller amount so then at least you know, "Okay, it's kind of working. You haven't made much money here, but now I'm prepared to risk investing more money."

Craig:

And again, for us, it always costs more than you think. I was, "Oh, a baby mat." Throw a couple of grand at it. That'll get you started". No. I think that's just it. You just have to do it sometimes and if you're prepared to take the risk, give it a go, what's the worst that happens? It doesn't work. If you're prepared to just invest some money, potentially lose it, then back yourself and give it a go pretty much.

Leanne:

Yeah. And I'll just add, definitely take that first step. I'm just thinking if we did not just wake up the next day and go buy a sewing machine, we probably wouldn't be where we are right now, right?

Connor:

Yeah.

Leanne:

We would have talked ourselves down. We would have talked ourselves out of it. So that, I think that just take that first step as scary as that may be, just do it and also just know it's a roller coaster. You're going to have the highs of highs and the lows of lows. But you know what, embrace them and laugh about them because some of the best moments we actually... I remember from the earlier days, is like, when I was just so overwhelmed and upset and crying and Craig takes a photo of me. He's like, "We're going to document this."

Connor:

That's amazing. My wife would kill me.

Leanne:

[crosstalk 00:30:15] time, when we look back in 10 years, 20 years, whatever right? So, just know that it's not going to be smooth sailing. It's going to kick you down sometimes. But if it's important to you just keep going.

Connor:

Absolutely. And Leanne, do you have any advice for companies starting out that are looking to get themselves out there on social media and that kind of thing? Any tips or tricks that you've learned along the way?

Leanne:

Just to communicate and engage, and I'm still learning that. We've launched just over a year ago and I'm still trying to learn and grow from that. But I think it is just genuinely engage with people and try to make connections and just be authentic, I think.

Connor:

Man, I love that. I think you've hit the nail right on the head because I think a lot of people get so caught up in likes and followers and they forget that it takes real people to actually buy your product.

Leanne:

It does. Yeah. Like when I say, "Oh Craig, we just lost two followers." "[crosstalk 00:31:11] follow us Leanne." The people who are there, are there because they want to follow you. And I'd rather have 1800 genuine followers than 10,000 who don't actually don't even know our name or what we do.

Connor:

Right. Yeah. 100%. And then, so last question, where can people go to find Coco Bean and how can people support Coco Bean?

Leanne:

For sure. Yeah. So our Instagram handle is cocobean.ca and you can get to our website on our Instagram or go to www.coco-bean.ca. And just to continue supporting us would just be how I said, follow us, share us, talk about us. If you know of anyone who's having babies and they want a really cool, comfy mat, give them our name. And just continue, support local where you can because definitely small business owners they appreciate it.

Connor:

Absolutely. Yes, we do. 100%. Well, thank you so much, you two, for taking the time to chat. I really, really appreciate it. I think you guys have a fascinating story, just what you've achieved in such a small amount of time and the way you set up your business. You've done a really, really great job and yeah, just like Craig always says, remember, looking back in 10, 15, 20 years, these are the good old days. We're living in the good old days. So, keep enjoying them as if you're living the good old days and remember them. So, I think that's the very important thing to remember.

Connor:

Well, with that, I'll leave you guys to it. We'll sign off here and we'll get you on your way. So, thank you everyone for listening and yeah, thank you so much Leanne and Craig for having us... Or for coming on the show.

Leanne:

Thanks for having us.

Connor:

I forget who's hosting who here.

Connor:

Thank you so much for tuning in to Proudly Made in Canada by Local Laundry. We are your co-hosts and co-owners Connor Curran and Dustin Paisley. You can find us anywhere, anytime at www.locallaundry.ca for all of our Canadian made garments. You can find out what we're up to in the community at local laundry and all social channels. Sign up for our newsletter, sign up for our e-blast and you can find all previous episodes of the podcast wherever you stream your podcasts from. Until next time.

 

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