DTC POD #323 - The Brand Whisperer: Revealing the Tactics behind Your Favorite DTC Brands with Emmett Shine
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Yeah. Awesome. Thanks, Blaine. Nice to be on the podcast. I've listened to a number of episodes and what up, Ramon? You know, great guy. We've got the surf together, hanging out together. Love the South Florida podcast, boys. I'm Emmett.
Up in New York, I helped found a digital creative agency a number of years ago called Jillain, and the second half of that run, it was about 12, 12, 13 years. We really focused on what became the startup ecosystem in New York, primarily known for consumer centric branding, positioning, marketing direct to consumer. But we were there when Warby Parker Everlane, which was San Francisco based, the founders spent some time in New York and bonobos were starting this up. And the investors, from Josh Kushner to Kirsten Green and some of the other ones around them, were really taking this consumer first investment lens. And we, alongside a few other shops in New York, became the de facto brand builders before, like a lot of e commerce and to some extent like a consumer centric quote unquote, startup culture, became a lot more quantifiable in terms of its marketing and positioning and paid growth. This was like pre the rise of that. So qualitative efforts, I think were bigger differentiators then, and that played to a strong suit. I had a background in art and fashion and building websites as well.
And so working with smart business founder owner operators who were finding all these cool market opportunities, from razors to sunglasses to healthcare to women's beauty products, it was a really fun time to be spin the bottle, looking at something and saying, hey, let's rethink this or reinvent it. Let's make it more personable, approachable, accessible. And that's what I like. I mean, even doing a lot of work with Sweetgreen, you know, in fast casual and a world around physical, but how digital interfaces with it. And so then later in that era, around 2018, we had this thesis of, we're working with all these brands, especially in direct to consumer, you know, we're getting equity in some of them, which is awesome. We're getting to be financially literate about how venture capital works. There seems like there's an opportunity here to try something different where we could try to maybe build a scaled business that was a hold co of smaller, profitable businesses. So not one category or product would try to have to get to 100 million in revenue, which we saw as unprofitable to kind of get to that scale.
But we saw a lot of profitability in the 1020 30 million revenue us domestic range. And that became something we incubated and ended up doing full time out of ginling called pattern, pattern Brands. And we launched two brands out of that on our own. Then COVID hit in 2020 and everyone had to deal with all that they were dealing with personally and professionally. And for us, ourselves on the professional side, it evolved to opportunistically buying businesses that had founders who had built something great, but maybe weren't sure what to do for the next step, and didn't want to remortgage their house or take in outside capital. They actually preferred to sell it as is, to a group of people that worked in the space for a long time that they trusted and they could get a good financial return from it. And that began the second chapter pattern, which we bought six businesses in the past two years and continue to look and talk with great brands that are out there and are building kind of our original envisionment of a scaled and profitable d two c kind of hold company. And then lately, as Blaine alluded to, I've missed a little bit of the early stage branding and design work that kind of cut my teeth in.
And Heff started a design agency last year that I kind of kicked off the beginning this year called Little Plains. I could talk later more about the names of all these brands, going back to do the zero to one work while still helping and assisting my two partners, Nick and Suzette Patter, who are doing a fantastic job shepherding that. So if anyone's still listening after that ten minute ramp, but at least you have all the context. I could think professionally up.
Ramon Berrios 00:06:13 - 00:06:46
Yeah, no, man. I think what I find really interesting is that you started your career in design, but then when you saw the opportunity and developed the thesis for pattern, what was it like to transition into, like, this more serious operator involved? Like, now it's not just design. There's finances. We're buying businesses. How did you. I mean, what did you even assess whether that that's a risk that was worth taking? Did you learn by osmosis through watching the founders that you got to work with? What was that transition like?
I think we all have, like, different ways of learning. Um, I was always, like, kind of a good student, um, when I, like, applied myself, and when I didn't apply myself, I would just kind of, you know, take a test and get the grade I needed to get and just leave. But if I really liked something, then I would get quite engaged. And I think, you know, it's like a quote unquote autodidactic way of learning, which is, I, like, need to do something to understand it. I'm not really great at, like, monkey see, monkey do learning. Like, if I watch, it could be as simple as you go to a gym, you have a personal trainer, and they're like, okay, like, we're gonna. The left leg's gonna go back. The word a squat, 2 seconds, 45 degrees.
Pick up the weight, move it to the right, and you're like, okay. And then you have to actually do it. And you're like, what the. What? Can you do that again? Like, it takes a few times for your body to do it, and then once your body learns it, you're like, okay, I got this. But I could never watch someone do something and figure it out. So to take that back to your question, I think at Ghislaine, we had become really good at crafting and building these launch positions and strategies and brands for businesses that we saw time and time again. We were picking and working with winners. They were building these fantastic, influential, and successful and scaling businesses.
So I think we had seen an opportunity to try to do our version of this where the brands maybe didn't have to be hundreds of millions of revenue, but we could still build an overall substantial business. The way to actually go about it, at least for myself, I was just like, screw it. I got to just kind of jump in and learn as we go. The two business partners I had, Nick and Suze, have their own respective professional backgrounds, but none of us were necessarily owner operators as backgrounds, I had an entrepreneurial background of just starting stuff up left and right. Suze had more of a project manager background working at agencies. Nick was a consultant for BCG after or before Harvard Business School. So we all had to kind of hold hands and jump in and we got a lot wrong, but we knew we were going to that's, we raised some capital, so we had some Runway. This didn't work out how we thought on product or supply chain or team or hiring or work structure or finance management.
But in some ways, like that is really, I think, how you learn. If you are humble and you can take some blows, that's kind of probably the personalities that are attracted to working in startups where they want to learn hands on and they're not afraid of, quote unquote, failing over and over. So I don't have a silver bullet for going into pattern as an operator. Same as with growth marketing, digital marketing, more quantifiable ways that marketing was and is done. I definitely was over my head pretty fast. And you have not a lot to do in those positions except be humble and listen and try to absorb and try to get to a place in the gym where you're holding the weight and you can go through it and baby steps to where after a few reps, then, you know, you feel like you know what you're doing.
Ramon Berrios 00:10:05 - 00:10:38
You mentioned the personality traits of the people you attract and, you know, I've gotten to see you over the years. I mean, you know, I missed most of your career. I wasn't there for it. But one thing I've noticed is like, you have this unbelievable talent of recruiting and like attracting the right people and spotting the talent and people, and you've done this. You know, it's not like you're just recruiting designers. You recruited, you know how to spot a good operator, you know how to spot a good designer. I was watching actually the tick tocks you're doing now. And you mentioned for that wine brand, you knew exactly who the person was for that project.
Ramon Berrios 00:10:38 - 00:10:49
What is it? What is it about, you know, what you have interest of finding talent that, like. Like, what is your superpower there? I guess it's a very vague question.
Yeah, I love that rabbi. Thank you. It's super prescient and thoughtful. I think a few things, like working backwards. I always say you can turn your weaknesses into strength, but be careful. Your strength can also become your weaknesses. And I talked on it before in some podcasty stuff, but I'm definitely special education, learning disability, categorical, whatever kind of guy. And, you know, I don't think that makes me bad or whatever.
I think it makes me a superpower. Like, I have Tourette syndrome and a whole bunch of other things that, as I've gotten older, are not as physical manifestations as extreme as maybe they were when I was younger in the nineties. But my brain is still wired a little bit, quote unquote differently, even though I don't think there is one normal. And you could say this is neurodivergent or that we all have our own weird wirings. And I think, for me, one thing in my wiring that is hard, but I use as. Sometimes a strength is like, I can't control and stop thoughts a lot. And so I have so much stimuli in my head. I've always struggled going to sleep because I'll just sit there and I'm like, everyone's like, okay, good night.
And then they just, like, fall asleep. And my brain is just like, I have to be careful with, like, caffeine and other stuff because I'm already just so wired up to your example, when. When I'm like, oh, this person. I like freestyling, I like, I have a lot of information in my head, and it's just bouncing around. I don't usually know what day it is. I don't know what time it is. I'm very absent minded, but if someone prompts me, I can always pull something out really fast, and I don't know how and I don't know where, but it's just a strength that I've realized. So if I have lots of people I meet and I just try to register in my head, I can use all the spreadsheets I want.
This is Asana, this is notion, this is Google. But it's just in my head to some extent. And if someone's just like, yo, what about this or that? I usually can associatively find people, places or things pretty fast. So I think we all have our different ways. Like, for example, at pattern. More recently, Suze, you know, has been overseeing a lot of our recruiting, and she has her own weird ways of doing that, if nothing with the way I do it. She refuses, usually, to pay recruiters. You know, she goes and, quote, unquote, stalks people on LinkedIn and, you know, figures out just the right person and knows how to message them.
And, you know, within two weeks, all of a sudden, some role that no one else could fill at any other companies, someone shows up the pattern and does it because Snooze's idiosyncrasies, that may be kind of weird for something else or a strength from that. So, I think with recruiting and talent and hiring, it's just having a really large database of whatever people and then just being able to pull from it when ready.
Ramon Berrios 00:13:41 - 00:13:43
Yeah, I think Blaine and I can relate a lot.
We'll be.
Ramon Berrios 00:13:44 - 00:13:59
We'll tell each other we're cooked at 08:00 p.m. And then just start texting at, like, 11:00 p.m. And call each other and then just keep going till, like, midnight. So I can. I can relate. On the energy side, it just. It just comes when you least expect it. And that's another thing, right? Like, balancing that energy.
Ramon Berrios 00:14:00 - 00:14:39
I want to definitely talk about design before we dive into some of the stuff about little planes. It seems a lot of the products you've worked with, you take this different approach that is in a trendy form of design, and you can sort of see the vision of the product. What is the difference between just good design that is kind of timeless versus a trendy design? Because anyone can just make a brand that is trendy and relevant at that moment. But a lot of the brands that you've worked with, they have sort of non traditional, timeless design that. That strikes and isn't something that is trendy at the moment.
Yeah, I think I'm lucky, per the kind of industry that we're all in, per what I do, because my training and background, I don't think anyone has an in industry training, so. But, like, it's art. It's fine art. My mom is an artist. My mom is a painter. I grew up in the Hamptons on eastern Long island. You know, my dad's, like, landscaper, was, like, fisherman guy. But my mom was a lifelong artist and was surrounded by artists in studios and painting and through osmosis.
In that sense, I do think there is different. So, if I'm learning to paint, I got to actually paint. But through osmosis, I can pick up a lot about how people think about culture, design, visuals, harmony, symmetry. And I remember I went to. I took a year off after high school, I wasn't even going to go to college or anything. And then I went to New Zealand for half a year, saved up money. I'd never left America, barely left Long island. Like, I was just straight up like, yo, I'm going to be a landscaper on Long island.
That's my favorite straight up Billy Joel song, you know. And I got out of there and I got into NYU for photography. I don't totally know how, but sick. And so I showed up and it was like a lot of art history, you know, it was like, yo, art history 101 photography. And I did, I realized, man, I know so much of this already. I know so many of these photographers and artists. I know the rule of thirds and concepts and phrases like Chiaroscuro and I just had picked it up over all these years. So fast forwarding to building brands and doing work with startups.
I think I have an immense library of visual concepts that I try to look at and then, I don't know. I always love being in New York and being downtown New York because you just see so many people and you see sneakers and you see pants and you see dresses and you see hairstyle. Like everyone is in the city showing themselves off and expressing themselves. So I like either kind of hardcore trying to make something work for a very niche group or culture. Like, yeah, I'll do stuff for. It would be Harry's or Warby Parker or hymns or stadium goods. But also I was like designing musicians flyers at the same time and working on an irish bar out in Queens, you know, for someone to hand paint on the window in gold foil. So like, I always am trying to do some culture niche, little things that keep me sharp within those areas and then always surround myself with the history of whatever something is, good design, art.
And I think it's like you've got. I always try to be careful of falling somewhere in the middle. And that's what I think feels trendy sometimes where it's like you, I think I'd always would be like for something specific, trying to make it so it would be hard for the month of the year to time it, if you saw it and be like, oh, that's that month, that year. It doesn't always work. And I definitely think some of the projects we've worked on, you could go back and say, oh, that was that, that time or that place. But there's other things we've done where could be two years ago, could be ten years ago. And I think that wide spectrum of knowledge is important to, like, a musician or a film director or someone kind of does as well.
Well, just one of the things that I'm picking up from the convo is just generally how a creative mind sort of works versus a more operational mind.
Like, when you're thinking with a sort of creative lens, you're bringing in all different sorts of inspiration. You don't necessarily have a direct line to where something's going. And you're using that filter to create, whether you're sampling from, you know, a database of people that you might be pulling into a project or, uh, you know, your swipe file of ideas that you're applying to a project. So one thing I'm really curious about is, you know, through Ginlan, you had the, you know, ability to work with some of the biggest brands, uh, of that sort of era. So who, like, I'd love to hear about maybe, like, one of your favorite projects that you worked on and, like, what it was, like, what you guys implemented and what you made happened and how it came together.
Yeah. Blaine, it's a great question. And I think to address the first part, to loop back to some of the stuff I was saying, I think, like, nature, nurture, we all have our own kind of superpowers, you know, who we are. And I think with pattern of stepping more into the operator role, I don't think that's what, like, quote unquote, God put me on earth professionally to do. I think, luckily, my two partners that we started in, Nick and Suze. I mean, Suze, I think, like, God did put her on earth to operate. And I think Nick is somewhat naturally a CEO type or personality. And I think I was almost more better suited in the leading and agency setup from a creative perspective, where people are just putting stuff in front of me all the time and saying, this is a riddle.
How do I solve it? Going back to how do I think of someone or a talent? I love stimuli. I'm really great with, like, online feed stimuli. That also being said, I think, like, some of my special needs kind of stuff from growing up is I learned to work in team settings from an early age. You know, if I had weird vocalizations and I'm on elementary school, I would try to make sure that I would be friends to everyone, so I wouldn't get beat up in third grade all the time because I'm making weird noises. I don't even know why. And some kids would be like, yo, what the hell are you laughing at me for? I'm like, I'm not laughing, like, why you keep making that noise? And so I think I developed defense mechanisms pretty early of, like, making friends with different people and working in team settings. I'm like a skater in terms of my DNA, but I'm also, I would say culturally, but I'm a jock. Like, I play every sport there is because I love team camaraderie and I love team building and fast forwarding to, like, building startups, it's like, you have to know your lane and don't get in other people's lanes as much, which I have struggled with sometimes when you're entrepreneurial.
But for some of the products we worked on that were successful, it was finding great people that worked very complimentary with myself and our team. And I think some of the ones where it was so fantastic were, again, like, Josh Kushner as an investor, Kirsten Green. I always loved working with them because they were. They honestly, they were really kind to me. They were really empowering, and they said, hey, you're really great. I trust you. I have something really fun and exciting for you to work on. It was very nurturing, and I think I do very well when it's very competent alpha personalities, but they present stuff very gently.
And then from an operator perspective, I would say, like, hims, stadium goods, Harrys, and Sweetgreen, all those groups had operators that were so, like, driven. They move really fast. They don't second guess everything. Like, they're harder on themselves than they are on others. And they're about motion. They're like, dark's not in the business sense, but in the, like, thing where, like, a shark's got to keep moving or else it'll, like, whatever. And, you know, like, Andrew from hims, I always just admired how fast the guy moved in a non chaotic way. He's just like, okay, on to next.
On to next. Like, when you move that fast, like, you gotta delegate and you gotta trust. And so for us, as a creative agency, for myself, for our team, like, there's, like, eight people from Juliana patter that work at hymns now. Because I think Andrew has that special energy of trusting creatives. That's a great. For an operator to trust creatives, that's really special, because it's also they're confident in themselves versus they're trying to get in the swim lane. Yo. It should be this pixel ratio, it should be these colors, or this is the font.
It's like, kind of give your feedback, give your brief, and then go focus on CEO or executive problems. And on the creative side, similarly, you have to respect that as well, and not. I try to. You know, I've learned a lot over the last few years. It's like if I have opinions or ideas on business stuff, like, sometimes I have to temper them of, like, I may not know what I'm saying. Here's just an idea. Take with it as you may. I trust you.
Absolutely. And then moving on to pattern. Right. Like, what was the first brand that you launched?
What was.
What was the conviction behind it? How'd you launch it?
Yeah, we launched two brands concurrently. One was called equal parts, one was called open spaces. Equal parts was in the cooking category, and we had a premise. A lot of this was based on, like, millennials, which we were and are on, you know, socioeconomic narratives post great recession. You know, people had a lot of debt from going to college, and they were in cities where you could earn more money and information, knowledge, kind of careers, but they were also expensive. And, you know, you're getting your own house, like, your, you know, boomer parents or maybe your Gen x older siblings a little bit later, and you're also, like, learning some of these life skills. If you were this cohort of, quote unquote, pre remote knowledge information workers that are living in New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, some of the Texas cities, Miami, so on and so forth, you weren't as great as cooking, as organizing, as cleaning, because you just been kind of working. And so we're like, oh, people are kind of starting later.
Let's apply some of these branding and personification lenses to these everyday homemaking, home economics type categories, which we concepted out. And we thought cooking would be a great one to start with. It took us, like, two years to launch it because we bundled the raise into raising for pattern as a concept. And by the time we came out, there was about eight other great entrepreneurial groups that had the same idea. So we came out, there was a lot of different businesses doing something similar with us. And we, shortly after that, launched open spaces, which was, let's look at Scandinavia, let's look at Japan, Korea, Taiwan, parts of the east, and parts of, like, the northern Europe. Areas that had smaller spaces with cultures that had passed down how to think about coziness in the home for generations. And there was design sensibilities.
If you look at Japan, if you look at Scandinavia, that we felt in America as a really young country that is full of immigrants from all over, there wasn't a unified design language of America, and we could impart some of these learnings around home organization storage so that you could display things or have things versus like, buying crappy pieces of plastic and hiding stuff that didn't have ten other people doing it. It just had Marie Kondo. And so that business open spaces picked up and was a more cost effective brand for us to manage and run versus equal parts, which cost us a lot more to acquire customers because we were competing versus a lot of other businesses and brands. And so that brand has then work organic in terms of how it's operated, whereas open spaces we can continue to put paid effectively behind it, which set a foundation for how when we started acquiring other brands, we could apply the playbook we learned from open spaces of what was working onto those brands.
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Ramon Berrios 00:26:58 - 00:27:37
PodcastNetwork yeah, and it was good timing because COVID, like, people were just stuck at their house, so they were like, might as well just make, you know, feel good in my house and make it look nice and just make my environment better. So there's a lot of opinions out there about studios and like, oh, we don't. Like, we don't. We don't mix resources between our companies and our brands and everything. Like, what are your guys, like, operating principles? And, you know, were those developed at time, over time, or was it always like, okay, we're going to share all resources with all the brands, or we're absolutely not. Each one is going to operate differently. How did that come about?
Well, I guess a few chapters in Ginlain, when we incubated pattern, we had a select team that was focused on concepting, researching different brands or different categories to work on and then building the branding, working on, you know, the physical products supply chain, the positioning. But we would share what we're working on with the rest of the company. And some of those team members were still doing agency work at the same time. So this was again like recovered open office era. Most people were in their twenties into early thirties. It was a specific time and place and way of working. And I think we really leaned into that openness where we would show every Wednesday and sometimes on Monday morning, the whole company, the projects we were working on, and everyone could raise their hand and give feedback. And we just felt that that was like those socratic seminars, open crit, were like, you know, they do that at Apple.
I have a lot of friends that have worked there and design and creative teams at executive levels, and, like, they'll get a room and they're like, you know, everyone has freedom to be pretty brutal if it's from a constructive place. And that, like, it really beats up the work. So that if it is leaving a studio or office, it has been seen and battle tested by a good amount of people. Internally. On the pattern side, once we got that picked up with multiple businesses, we've tried to be steadfast about having each person work across all of the brands. And that skill set going horizontal, I think, was something unique to our architecture in the early days. Now, in 2024, about five years later, we're at a different scale. Some of our businesses are at a different scale, that one to one doesn't apply as a rule, across the business, there are still some individuals that lead or work across all seven, eight brands in the portfolio.
There are others which just deep dive on one or two. So there's a variety of, like, specializations for that. If you're an executive across operations, you know, you should be looking at all the different, you know, brands and making sure they're laddering up cohesively. If you're CX, maybe you value wise are just handling on the front lines one or two businesses.
Emmett, one question that I have that I think you guys have done a really great job with pattern and all of the brands that live within pattern is sometimes when you're launching brands, it's tough because every new brand, you're like, launching from scratch. It doesn't have brand equity. You're starting from zero every single time. So it's like, when you're starting side projects, you know, you go to start it, okay, like, I'm launching a new domain. No one knows what this is. Um, you're building your own traffic for that. But, like, what you guys have done, I just like for you to talk to me about how you, like, actually launch brands, right? Cause the way that I interpret it, you've got pattern brands, which is like the whole family of brands. So if you land on the pattern brand site, you're able to go through all the different brands.
But at the brand level, if someone knows and is familiar with a singular brand, they're just going to land on the site and they're going to have that whole unique brand experience, and then they can also discover the other brands within pattern. So, um, I guess my question is sort of like, how do you think about, like, like you were saying, building this, like, horizontal platform, but like, then also being able to go vertical and attack each specific problem with its own brand?
Yeah, I think there's a lot of, like, lessons I've learned from this process where some of my ways of thinking, again, I think work in specific settings and maybe don't work as well in other settings. For example, like, I've been pretty obsessed with, like, cross brand loyalty membership from day one, and we haven't really cracked that nut one to one yet. But in ways that, like, in hindsight, I more understand. And part of that is like, you gotta eat your vegetables before you have dessert. And I think sometimes as a creative person, you can have ideas, but you don't always know the scale or priority of them. And I think that is more to your earlier question. Blaine. An operator's mindset and a requirement to be an effective operator.
And what makes d two C brands in the US kind of hum and work is that kind of deep tea specialization. So a brand, for example, in our portfolio, like a Gear G I R, an acronym for get it right. It's like a unibody silicone spatulas and cooking baking ware. They have been around for ten years, or one of the brands we bought, and they have tons of like wire cutter reviews, you know, chefs that are famous use of all time at home. There's a credentialization within communities that is authentic. They were more retail based and b two C based, but they still had great search optimization around their brand. And so when we set up an optimized Amazon or need more, set up the pixels for d two c, you know, there is a credentialization and a specialization. If someone is searching and looking for a spatula or a spoonula, you want that specificity, which is in part what has worked for d two C.
There's all these specialization niche businesses and brands. For me, at the beginning, I was looking at like, Muji, you know, like, yo can pattern be like Muji? Where we have this philosophy that extends from slippers to humidifiers to toilet paper to backpacks to beds. Ikea and Muji are these top down power brands for the home that extend across everything, us knowing how to operate within d two c in the US Shopify ecosystem based, we knew more specialization. And so that's where we said, let's try to have an aggregate portfolio for this millennial centric customer. But each brand is specific because that's how we know how to market and that's how we know how to sell. And that's really been our kind of thesis. I do think in the years ahead that cross brand retention and benefits and upselling and loyalty, like, I know that that's like this holy grail that when we crack, it's gonna be so powerful, but you have to eat the vegetables first. We could have an effective cross brand strategy, but not be marketing the businesses prudently and it wouldn't matter.
And so we have to set up the single channels prudently and properly first. And then you can start thinking about these other. Like, we were not even thinking about that because then we had to set up retail, then we had to set up Amazon. And these are just other effective channels that drive fundamentals of business in 20, 222-023-2024 loyalty, membership, all that. Like, we'll get to it and I think it'll be a powerful unlock as we continue this five year journey of becoming better operators.
Ramon Berrios 00:34:52 - 00:35:32
Yeah, I mean, inevitably brands are going to have their own DNA and inevitably they're going to take a life of their own and you can't suppress that or control that. And that's, you know, what makes each brand different. I remember I went to your poquetto store launch, and, like, that's a different approach than maybe, like, for the other brands. Some of the brands you work with, you do like, dope parties in the hamptons and, like, you know, you have a certain crew around. And so I just think, like, each brand just will have its own DNA and then just pairing it to sort of, like, the loyalty of, like, the people that buy from pattern is the ultimate, you know, you just got to get there somehow.
I think it takes, yeah, I think it takes time. Like, the stamped on the back, like a pattern brand. Like, we kind of realized fast that that's something that could mean a lot in like, ten years, but it wasn't really going to be why someone would buy a brand or not buy a brand in two years or one year if we had to sell. Now, it better be that that main business stands alone on its own, too.
Ramon Berrios 00:35:52 - 00:36:11
Yeah. So let's talk about little planes. So I know you're into, you know, you're going back to your creative juices, your creative roots, you're into software games. What's. What's piquing your interest right now? You know, Little Plains is a creative sandbox. What, what's interesting at the moment there?
Yeah, I think again, like, for these type of talks and stuff, you know, and for people listening, like, I always just try to be as honest as possible about like, vulnerabilities or lessons learned because I find it when I listen to other people talk, it's like success stuff. I like, get like, I'm like, oh, that's so cool, like, you're so successful. Awesome. But I'm like, man, fuck you. You know, sometimes. But I think it's like when they talk about stuff that they had to overcome or vulnerabilities, and I'm like, oh, I can relate. I can relate. I see how they solve that, or they went about that that's courageous or that's smart or that's different.
And I think that's how I would frame this to some extent, was pattern is doing really well and, and I'm super proud as a kid that was not even going to go to college and he was just going to landscape to be part of a business that is generating millions and millions and millions and millions of dollars of revenue and doing it profitably and has a good culture and great products. I think I was missing for me personally a little bit some of just knowing who I was, which is crazy, and just stimuli, creativity. I'm not a great manager. I think I'm a good leader, but there's a difference. And I think in our organization there's a lot of management that's required to run a lean, cost effective. We're also now like global, decentralized, asynchronous team members all over. There's a lot of organizational operational chops to effectively operate in that capacity. I dropped out of college to go just hustle full time, so.
And I kind of always, like, worked for myself because I probably am like unhirrble even like in this last chapter, what I'm discussing, it's like I talked to people at Apple, Airbnb, all the coolest places that I love design and value design, and politely, I'm like borderline unhirable, you know, because it's like, where are you going to put me? I'm just crazy. And I'm not, I don't. I'm like, I'm not classically working or trained or any of this type of stuff. Like, if I don't make my own money, I feel like I'm going to be homeless. It's either like I'm going back home and I'm living in a van or something, or I got to go build my own businesses. And I think little plains for me, which is the name of a beach, and off Gin Lane, which is the name of a road in my hometown in Little Plains, one of our conference rooms. I wanted this vehicle to be as creative and expressive for solving problems creatively that I was maybe five years ago, ten years ago, when that's all I was doing nonstop. And I think I got to a place of being pretty world class at it with the team that I hired.
And I think wanting to be an operator, wanting to build a significant business, like having to be autodidactic to do that and learn that I have done it. And I've also learned some parts where I'm not great at this thing, but I'm great at that, or I'm okay at this, but I want to go back to what I am world class, at which I think is being a craftsman and solving problems. And so, to your point, Ramon, like, I've been reengaging with a lot of the VC's that I loved, working with some of the serial entrepreneurs that I've worked with that have sold businesses that I built with them. And there's a cohort of people that started the same era that I did, that I've had some exits that have had some success. You know, they've done their earn outs or they've been in a larger company or they spent time with family, and they just got the same itch that I got, which is going back to the zero to one thing and just taking ideas. It's like, for people listening, me and Ramon, we'll just be texting around the clock late at night, crazy ideas. I'll be in the desert in Arizona. He's, you know, in freaking the mountains in Colorado.
Probably maybe one out of every 50 ideas we talk about will come to fruition. But every single one, I'm like, fuck it. That's it. I'm quitting. What I'm doing right now, I'm getting in a car. The desert of Darazon. I'm driving back to LA. I got to do this insane idea.
And then a week later, I don't remember what it is or was, but sometimes they catch and you're just like, I got to do it. I got to do it. And I'm addicted to that. I really love taking ideas and turning them into reality and maybe building and setting them up for Jablian's. Again, great point operators. Great operators. I think that's when somebody's. I've.
I've helped do with pattern is like, Nick and Suze are fantastic operators. The executive team they built up are phenomenal at the job they're doing. And I can still contribute and help out, but I think I did a lot of the work for this chapter. There'll be more chapters where I can be more an individual contributor. And with little planes, like, I want to do design. I want to do creative, and I want to just build startups and businesses nonstop, all day long, because that's what I love doing. And I turn 40, and I'm like, I'm gonna have kids soon. You know, like, I want to do a lot of crazy stuff professionally, and I want to just start doing it now, and I don't want to wait because I don't need to.
You know? And it's like, if you're broke and you're younger, you know, like, it's hard because you. You're like, I can't do this. But sometimes that same scarcity mindset, it sticks with you later, and you're like, I can't do this. I shouldn't do this. And you have to just sometimes be like, I can. I can. I can do it. I can.
I can. I can believe in myself, and that's something that I think a lot of entrepreneurs are motivated with but also struggle. We, everyone doubts us, and so we have to prove everyone wrong, but secretly, we down ourselves, and no one else.
Ramon Berrios 00:41:45 - 00:42:03
Actually doubts us, man. Well, it's inspiring to hear that. Like, there's just, if you stay in a certain environment for too long, you'll. You almost forget, like, wait a minute. This is, like, this is what I'm world class at. This is what I love. This is what doesn't feel like work to me. You know, I actually asked pharrell, like, I had a chance to ask him one question.
Ramon Berrios 00:42:03 - 00:42:35
I was like, how do you, like, do all this work across all these different, like, so creatively, he's like, I only do the things that just don't feel like work to me. And he's like, whatever that is, just double down on that. And it sounds like this is exactly the creative sandbox. And so I'm really excited for, like, everything that's going to come out of that. It seems like you guys are also, you know, reading the website of little plains. Growth is involved in that. So is it just not designed? Like, what is it? Hands on? Um, what does little planes do? Hands on?
Yeah. I mean, like, if there was someone listening to this podcast, that was a pattern on the growth side. They're like, emmett doesn't know shit about growth and, but I do a lot more now than I did. And what I would be doing is working with a lot of the specialists that team in to our ecosystem. And I think what I'm great at, really, I will call myself a designer because I understand design, but I think I'm a great creative director, general contractor. That's what I think I'm really great at. So comes to me and they say, I've got an idea, I've got a product, I've got a piece of software. I want to market it, I want to get it out.
That's where I think I'm world class. I'm not coming up with the business idea, I'm not building the product, I'm not building the software. But I can connect people with it by understanding what the founder's impetus is, that they were crazy enough to want to do this and spend time, quit their job, talk to their husband and say, I'm going to go do this. What is the thing that is driving them to do it? And then I go out and I try to understand who the customers are. I don't always listen to what the founder says as the customer. I go out and I try to figure out who it is. And then to your point is it's a party here or marketing there. You gotta understand the audience and you gotta understand what they're looking for.
What's the problem that either they want solved or they don't know that they need solved. And then how do you communicate and articulate that? That's where branding comes in. Positioning, design, building websites, building application and growth. And where, how I'm looking at growth marketing while is I'm not doing it. I don't, I'm not going into dashboard for meta or doing ads with Google or whatever. I'm working with other specialists that I've worked with that I think are world class at their specific piece. And then I try to keep it consistent from end to end. And I'm trying to run these in like sprint cycles where it's cheaper and more cost effective even than work that we did at Julian, which is also stuff I learned at patter, where when you're operating, you don't have the time, you don't have the budget, you can't always make things perfect.
You just got to get it out, you got to get the data back in, you got to evolve. And so I'm trying to pull a little bit from both worlds. I do want to do excellent work. I do want to aim Lexus, the relentless pursuit of perfection, of being that craftsman. But I also now have a lot of real world knowledge of what it takes to actually operate something. And that is being progress over perfection. So that's how I'm kind of trying to look at these engagements. It's like sprint cycles and I was talking to someone yesterday and they're like, you got to meet the market where it's at.
Like, I think the market is at a place from creative agencies style where the best and the brightest aren't hiring big waterfall contracts. They're hiring sprint cycling leaders and teams that are small, nimble, that can kind of come in or kind of partner to be one with the founders or the internal leadership.
Ramon Berrios 00:45:27 - 00:45:41
So for anyone listening, what are the types of brands that you're looking to work with? Is it consumer brands? Is software involved? Is there a specific size of company which, what is a good fit for little planes?
Yeah, I'm trying to be pretty like category agnostic right now. I really am trying to challenge myself. Obviously I have a good network for consumer brands direct to consumer e commerce. I'm working on a few different software products, few different AI enabled or built on top of AI products. Um, a few different hospitality businesses that are using a mixture of tech, technology and like experience design, as well as just like buying or owning or managing physical properties. So it's pretty diverse, but they're all kind of in the zero to 10 to two phase. So the only ones that I would kind of want to do that are above that where if it's like a brand wants a rebranding or like building a new app or website or whatever irish bar is, if it's like, it's, if it's decoupled from the stuff that is like, I want clean slates. I want to just move forward and I don't want to have to be legacy caught up because I actually think that's the hardest work to do and that it has the lowest percentage of like reward and success.
I think one interesting thing, Emmett, is being agnostic and picking the right stage I think is really important, especially for you, because you can come in and as a creative director. Right, like, typically creative direction is just like one very specific thing. But I think what you're identifying is no, creative direction has impacts on all these channels. It's positioning which touches. Sure, like physical design, but it also touches communication, execution, growth.
Like there's so many different elements to it. So I think that's why, like, it's, it's not like, oh, I only know how to, like, do the package design of this one particular type of brand. It's like, no. These skill sets of operating companies are transferable across sector and getting the positioning right. Knowing how to communicate, knowing how to market and grow are awesome. So I think what you guys are working on a little plains is sweet for anyone who's tuned in and is trying to connect, learn maybe more about little planes or connect with you. Where do we find you?
Jeff? Yeah, and I think just adding one thing that brings you like, I think I have a lot of business experience and I think that's what I try to infuse into the creative conversations, you know? And I think that's where, to your point, I think I'm focusing on a part of the marketplace, not a category. And I'm trying to have what I think is something that I can offer that's different, which is end to end creative direction. General contracting, where I founded six businesses, we've raised over $100 million. Across all them. I've bought businesses, sold businesses. So I understand, I think more than most, quote unquote creatives would do. But I also respect my lanes that I'm not trying to be the business person in terms of, like, reaching. I'm my name is Emmett Shine, so it's pretty google able.
But there's emmetshine.com, there's Littleplanes Co. If you're interested to learn more pattern, it's patternbrands.com on Instagram at Emmett, on Twitter at emmetshine. So relatively, luckily, I have a good search name in that sense. So Google away or Bing or ask Jeeves, retroactive, or Chad, CBT, whatever.
The one and only. I love that. Well, thanks for coming on the show, Emmett. This was a blast and we can't wait to see what other great businesses come out of. Come out of little planes.
Thank you, Blaine. Thank you, Ramon. Thank you all DTC podcast listeners.
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