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EPISODE 072 : 07/28/2022

Savannah D’Orazio

Savannah D’Orazio is the co-founder of Casa de la Luna, a retail marketplace for care down there, guiding women from menarche through menopause. Savannah is a proud Gates Millennium Scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth alum, and a Boys and Girls Club of America former athlete. She chats with us about serving from the heart, using digital touch points to enhance the customer experience, and so much more.

Host: Ashley Coates and Bridgette Herrera Garza
Guest: Savannah D’Orazio

If you’d like to get involved and support Casa de la Luna’s mission, please visit Casadelaluna.

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Topics discussed in this episode

  • Detailed small business insights from Olympia, Washington
  • Small business resiliency and adaptation during COVID
  • Doubling community outreach during the pandemic
  • Opportunities for small business loyalty programs

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Audio Transcript

Ned Hayes [00:00:01] Welcome to Spark Plug, where we talk to smart people working at the intersection of business and technology brought to you by Snowshoe. Your smarter loyalty leader.

Ashley Coates [00:00:12] Sparkplug is excited to welcome Savannah D’Orazio to the podcast today. Savannah is a scientist, educator and entrepreneur. In 2021, she co-founded Casa de la Luna, a retail marketplace for care down there, guiding women from through menopause and all the things in between. Savannah is a proud Gates Millennium Scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Alum, a Boys and Girls Club of America, former athletes and so much more. Welcome, Savannah. 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:00:42] Thank you so much. It’s really a pleasure to be here. I’m very excited to chat with you more about my career and also our business. 

Bridgette Herrera Garza [00:00:49] Yeah, we are so excited to have you here on the podcast today, Savannah, and we can’t wait to dig into Casa de la Luna. But first we’d love to hear and learn more about your path. Leading up until now, you have a B.A. in biology and a master’s in education policy and social analysis. You also have a long career as an educator. What drew you to the world of academics? 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:01:12] Thank you for that question. It’s always funny when I hear about the things I study because in a very non-linear trajectory, I absolutely love school and think education is so important. I think there are fewer places to have all of the luxuries of adulthood without all the responsibilities, which is why I tell people college might feel like something that varies per family for individual, but it might not always feel like you understand exactly why you’re going or what the outcome is. But I do think continuing your education, whether it’s in a formal setting like that or if it’s in an experiential setting or anything else is super paramount. I consider myself an adult learner, and a growth mindset is something that I try to instill in everybody around me because even through my time as an educator, I feel like, Oh my goodness, I learned so much from my kids when I was teaching. I mostly focused on early childhood and I actually did a lot of K through 12. So I was teaching in various settings and that was anywhere from camp in Alaska to a gardening program in the Bronx to sometimes classrooms. And it really depended and was wide ranging. When I would say has been important for me is that some people have asked me, do you use your biology degree? And it’s like tactically I use it every day, right? It’s the skills that I gathered and learned, whether it was those institutions or the spaces that they put me in was really critical. Thinking skills was practicing. A lot of my experiments live basically and being able to learn more about lived environments. So in terms of academia specifically, I would love to continue not just funding that space, but that is a thread that continues in all the things I do, especially with that idea. 

Ashley Coates [00:02:53] That’s fantastic. I know that you’re also very passionate about the environment and combating climate change, and you’ve even worked in environmental policy and conservation. Can you tell us more about your work in this field? 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:03:04] Yeah, but I want to start by just saying that there are few more important things to be working on, in my opinion, than sustainability. And climate action is really tough because right now we’re in a battle with so many global issues. There are problems everywhere. It feels like. And I would say climate change is one in particular that has all of us feeling a little bit of doom and gloom and not really sure where to start, because it seems like these deadlines in these dates are fast approaching for what feel like really insurmountable challenges. But I do want to just say that there are amazing solutions coming and people really diligently working on these things. In terms of my background, I grew up in a family that maybe accidentally always cared about the Earth. My grandparents are all farmers on both sides. My mom grew up in Venezuela, but her parents are Italian. They were farmers their whole lives pretty much until they were in Venezuela. Then they changed trades and then they went back and they’re still farming. Even today they pretty much do sustenance living through permaculture and other various farming techniques. But farm to table has been something that has always been important to us. Of course, we of do that in New York City. Really tough to actually figure that out and do that. And then same on my other side, he’s Puerto Rican. And so his family has a farm in Puerto Rico. And similarly, his family was always involved in those kinds of things. What we did growing up was they always use whether it was napkins, really conservative around or usage, and maybe that was an immigrant mindset in some ways, right? Not wanting to waste, believing that resources aren’t infinite, which is definitely different in a more predominantly American culture. Households do, but we were gardening in our backyard and doing the little things. I was really fortunate to have that experience very early on and it didn’t look what I think some people would think sustainability looks like today. It feels like sustainability is something for people who can afford it. So it’s definitely not how we had it early on, but it has been something that I carry on today. And so sometimes those things look small, like remembering to bring my reusable water bottle everywhere, and sometimes those things are much bigger. So in terms of my experience. I would say I was very fortunate to have particular scholarship opportunities to go travel the world, especially through my biology degree. One of the most beautiful experiences I had was spending several months on an island called Open Air, the Dutch Caribbean, and I loved swimming on the reefs. That’s where I published my first scientific article, and it was really about creating artificial shelter and what that means for community dynamics. And what stuck in my mind and still got me a little bit today is that I was watching the reefs be destroyed right in front of me. I was seeing those communities of fish, communities of lobster really get depleted. I feel a deep urgency and I don’t think it necessarily comes from fear. Now I feel a little bit more empowered around it, but responsibility around what I believe is the impact I want to contribute to and make. And so I would say that those are some main things for me. But I want to get back to what I said in the beginning, which is there are few more important things to be working on today, and that’s not a dig at anybody at all. I think that we all have a responsibility to be interested in that space, investing in that space, making decisions with our dollars that impact that positively. I can’t sit here and pretend I know how to perfectly and responsibly scale. I’m working in a space that is going to have a lot of little people in the sustainability sphere would say is a negative byproduct, but it really is about finding balance. So that’s my answer to the sustainability question is very important to me. 

Ashley Coates [00:06:18] Thank you. Thank you so much. And that and I think so many important reminders for all of us. So thank you for sharing that. Let’s talk about cost to build over to now what you’ve learned in 2021 with your co-founder Alejandro Gates. How did you come about your idea for this business? 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:06:33] GAZETTE In a lot came out of my own struggles with my health. I struggled for a very long time with my national health care, and it was something that for me was very mysterious. It was something that was taboo. Some things were taboo in my family. I would say conversations around intimacy were taboo, conversations around bodily functions, not as taboo. So I had to balance was totally cool to talk about your period and we expected that that was coming and it threw up with mostly girls and two sisters. But when it came to other things, there was a lot of questions for me. I didn’t know I got really sick in 2020. I think part of that was stress coming out of the early pandemic, graduating from grad school at the time, figuring out life, all kinds of things. I think there were a lot of things going on with me generally, but specifically I ended up having a large IUD and it was something that many doctors I visited could not help me resolve. I would tell them, Hey, listen, I’ve got this really terrible pain and it’s not going away. And I’m trying all these different things, whether it was visiting apothecaries and getting herbal consultants to give me advice, whether it was literally going to prestigious hospitals in New York City and talking to top OB-GYNs. And they’re looking at me saying, Well, everything looks fine. And it wasn’t until almost five months in I sneezed and I was in bed and I could not get up. And I literally crawled on my elbows to the bathroom and I was bleeding. And it was just a horrifying experience. And I went to a Planned Parenthood in the South Bronx. That was the only place of all of these many places I’ve gone to that could actually help me resolve. That’s where they told me that I did have a large ID and I had two infections. And that was just such a moment for me where I was like, Look at the position I’m standing in. I’m an educated woman. I have immense privilege. I am from my own apartment in Manhattan. I can afford health care. I got all of these things. Look at how complicated it was for me to get health care. And in the meantime, as I’m talking to other people about it. 

Bridgette Herrera Garza [00:08:21] Everyone else had problems, too. So hold. 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:08:25] On. Hold on. If one in three people I’m talking to is also experiencing a pain point around care below the waist, whether it’s as simple as hygiene and saying, you listen, I’ve got this thing that I don’t know how to handle or more complex, like an infection, the same thread. It was still consistent that people had no idea what to do. They had no idea who to talk to. It was awkward. They didn’t know. And so that’s when I was like, Something has to change. There needs to be a space and a place for people to go and not only to be able to talk about what’s going on and to get a little support there, but also to get access to those products in a judgment, free environment. So cancer, that alone is not a sex shop, it’s not a clinic and it is not a pharmacy, but it has elements. All of those things. 

Bridgette Herrera Garza [00:09:07] I know in our culture, the name behind something holds a lot of meeting. Can you share with us how you came up with the name or your business? 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:09:14] Yeah, which I have been told by maybe three people is a mouthful. I was like, okay, great, we’ll see if I have future issues. I need a name change, but hopefully not. It is very important. Thank you so much for that question. In name alone, first of all, it’s in Spanish, which means House of the Moon. My co-founder and I are both Latino women, so my co-founder is Mexican. She was born in Mexico and then grew up just outside of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania. I’m Latina as well as I. I’m Puerto Rican and Italian, but my mother grew up in Venezuela, so I have that element of culture as well, and that’s part of why it’s in Spanish. The other reason is that actually was a name my father and I were talking about building a space for that name in Puerto Rico. And the idea was a discotheque for LGBTQ communities where they. Come and hang out and it’s judgment free and it would be cool. And so that’s what was initially over time when I came up with this idea, I was like, Can I use the name for this? Because Casa de la Luna is so connected. Luna is used often as a euphemism, not just for vagina, but also for period in many countries all over the world. So women associate their periods, cycles and our bodily rhythms with lunar cycles. And that has been written about and passed down for generations and generations as a thing. It comes both from that the word association and what it means and then also really is a home for vaginal wellness. So we want to say House of the Moon, Casa de la Luna is really that place where you can come and it feels comfortable. It feels like a place where you can have a conversation. There’s mutual respect. There is space for you to explore, for you to better connect with yourself and to others. So it’s really a tone setter and it’s also a beautifully all encompassing name. 

Bridgette Herrera Garza [00:10:57] Amazing. And I know you touched on this, but can you tell us more about your business model and how you work to create a safe space and space in general for women of color within the women’s health industry? 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:11:09] Absolutely. I love this. Casa de la Luna is for everybody because anybody who’s listening, that is something that if we don’t succeed out, then I’m saying I want anybody to feel comfortable walking in. Whether you’re there to buy a baby shower gift for somebody, we should call them mommy showers. I don’t know something else. Or if you’re there to resolve a pain point related to your health and maybe you don’t typically look like somebody who might need vaginal care, and it is really for everyone what I have found and what we speak about, because the point that you said about women of color is very, very important. Historically, women in general have suffered from, I think, this mysterious taboo aspect of care below the waist. There’s so much that we don’t know. The first time I found out that I couldn’t get pregnant at any time in my cycle, that was really in a given number of days. It was much later in my life I was already older. It was after I had been intimate for many years and it was the Why didn’t I know that? Why do I just have this unknown fear? That’s just one example. There are so many things. There’s people who I’ve spoken to, they’re like, I lied and told people that I had a cut on my butt because I had no idea what a period was for my entire first period. So you look at that reflectively and you’re like, Oh yeah, many of us find out about these things from our friends, from our colleagues, from the most bizarre places now, the Internet in families of color or first gen families, families who maybe are much more religious or whose culture does not lend itself to easy conversations around the space, it is paramount that they have an opportunity to not just be informed, but also to have access. And I think that’s the most important piece. And I want to just say our mission is to elevate women socially and economically. We have to do that in all the ways that we can. Sometimes that looks like our customers, sometimes that looks like our partners. It’s these women building innovative brands. Sometimes that looks like our investors. It looks like our collaborators. It can really be people across the spectrum. And so we make sure that our business model reflects that and how we do business. So even if it’s as simple as, Hey, I’m on fiber and I need someone to digitize my logo so I can put it on a shirt, I’m going to try to pick somebody who is a woman. I’m trying to pick people who are excited by what I’m doing who can connect to it. We never operate at the exclusion of men. Good. Many men on our team. We have many men working on this, many men who are like, I’m here for you. This is amazing. My girlfriend is whatever or my mom this and like it’s beautiful in the ways that they’ve connected. And it’s also very clear that there’s an opportunity to uplift those who have had historical in access to these conversations, to these spaces, to these products, and even just to these people. 

Ashley Coates [00:13:46] Yeah. And access to education around all of that and resources. That’s just so important. Absolutely. Touching on a couple of other aspects of your business model, I understand that you plan to use digital touchpoints to enhance your customers experience. I believe you also do event collaborations. Can you touch on those aspects of your business as well? 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:14:06] Yes. Digital touchpoints is a really important part of not just us, but also is retail movement. Retailers have been struggling a little bit with workforce and retention, but also with developing technology to actually connect with their customers. So for us, the way we look at digital touchpoints is how are we using these things to educate, inspire, inform? What you can expect from gas is that we are intentionally buying even a little expensive on the front, but literal kiosks where it’s not just about checking out, it’s about connecting with others. It’s got platforms where you can say, All right, hey, I can quickly share this with a friend, or I can take a selfie in this corner against this cool wall that’s got that. And I can share that really quickly on my social media, but it’s also got table tops. Have you ever been to a museum or a place that’s got an interactive map and things like that? So we’ve been working on getting those that we can pull up anatomy. We can pull out products, you can pull up ingredient, and we can really dove in front of people so that when you come in, you can do self-exploration or, you know, I’m talking to you, right? So we talk about our tool belt. And so some of those are products, physical tools, and some of them are digital tools. And I’m like, we can have everyone walking around with an iPad or we can give people puppets or we can give people examples of things, or they can walk you over to the table and say, Hey, look, I’m just going to pull this up. And now you can understand where on the body what is happening is things that are a little bit more dynamic. So we use the digital touchpoints not just to connect people to us and to others, but also really for that education piece. And I want to preface this by saying we do not pretend to be the arbiter of all knowledge below the waist, but we really believe heavily in decentralized education. And the idea is that we’re pointing people to the place that meets them where they’re at, and we’re just providing the basics. That’s the digital touchpoints in terms of our events. My partner is in the events and entertainment world, so he made it very apparent to me early on, he’s like, Savannah, you have to build community around this. We have to do this. So Alejandro and I not that we’re not excited by the events, but it was not immediately obvious to us how all of this work in event planning and building was going to pay off. But my goodness, has it it has been amazing because our events not just build our community, but also give us proof of concept or platform for which to connect with others. It has given us some validity and space that we don’t necessarily get all the time, especially as women, especially as young folks, especially as Latinas. So that has been really helpful and it’s exciting. I mean, we live in a big city, so when people walk through these doors, it’s limitless. And we’ve made awesome connections to people who have proven really useful. Whether that’s an interview about their pain points or that’s a quick brainstorm. I’ve had the most beautiful outcomes. One person came up to me with a piece of paper and was like, Hey, here’s a drawing of what I think the inside of your first store can look like. And it’s like, These are touching things. I can’t make that up. Those are ways that we have moved and motivated people and you’ve caught us so early. This is just the beginning that. 

Ashley Coates [00:17:01] Is so exciting. And I want to hear more about having tabletop screens in your store. And I think we have asked questions later about melding that online and physical shopping experience. I saw in your LinkedIn profile that one of your personal goals is to reach more people than McDonald’s. And I’m sorry if you could expand on that. 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:17:19] Yes, of course. You’re the first person to ask me that, which I’m so surprised by. It caught my eye right away. Thank you. Don’t I hope that’s the effect. But I think many of us have that brand in our minds where it’s like you’ve seen the billboard that says like 99 billion served. Maybe that’s just me. But I think all the time about impact and scale. When I was teaching in a classroom, I was giving messages and sharing with students one on one, sometimes in small groups. And I think about what would the impact be like if you just have a larger platform? And I think a lot of people have very large platforms and the way you use that is so important. We’ve only got one life to live unless you believe something different, which is cool too. But I’m really conscientious about how I use my voice and what are the messages I’m sharing and sending. And so I think about it. The scholarship that you mentioned earlier is the Melinda Gates Foundation Family Scholarship. It was called the Gates Wanting Scholars. And that was so important to me. It was what got me into college and into grad school. And I think all the time about how Bill Gates developed a software that touches more people than have eaten at McDonald’s on a daily basis all the time. And so when we think about serving people, when we think about putting a product in somebody’s home, when we think about usage, what is the scale and what are you delivering? What is that message? How are you impacting people? So for me personally, I think it’s going to happen in a lot of different ways. What I’m most excited to do is to invest in companies that are going to continue touching people and changing the way the world works, whether that’s through technology, whether that’s through a retail brick and mortar like something I’m building. It’s not something just personal. It’s something that I totally imagine happening in time. But the idea that something somewhere somehow I’ve touched something that is going to help that many more people and more, right. If I can compete on that scale with McDonald’s or the Walton family or anybody else who’s reached that many devices or knows anything about the idea. Well, and for the listeners, I know that my iPhone and I thank you. 

Bridgette Herrera Garza [00:19:17] I’ll make sure to put it in the transcription as well. Okay. That’s amazing and such a great goal to have. And it sounds like you’re super passionate about it, which is making me passionate about it as well. To keep the conversation more into the retail side, you founded your company in the fall of 2021. Can you tell us what the retail landscape was like when you first opened and how you have seen it change? 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:19:42] 2020 was a tough year. In 2020, I was working as a business counselor for mom and pop shops in New York City, mostly in Upper Manhattan, in the Bronx. At that time, the retail landscape was really tough. I would say just in general, the brick and mortar landscape was tough. So we’re including restaurants. Literally anybody who was going into work to serve people direct to consumer. It was really hard, whether it was regulations. Everyone was getting pounded on after. It was really tough. I was in New York City where I still am, and I was watching store after store after store get shuttered. And some of that is still happening. It was tough. Part of that was people couldn’t weather the storm. Part of that was supply chain screwed people and a lot of things in between. Some people just made smart pivots. Others decided, hey, you know what? It’s time to take this up early. I’m going to try something new. So that’s what it was looking at when I started to build this. The reason that I am still very passionate about brick and mortar and really believe in physical with digital is the numbers are still there. More people are still shopping in-store than online, despite what you may feel or think. I also think there’s something particular about our business that it is much more powerful to have that in-person contact. I’m a huge believer in technology. I love data analysis. It made sense to just do it online, maybe a little bit. Point, though, is that it’s human connection. I think human connection really drives a lot of power. If you come into my store and you have a question or you’re dealing with a pain point that is so deeply personal, I’m not going to send you to a chat bot first. We’re not at the stage where that makes sense in order to build deep loyalty and customer trust. And of course, we’re still iterating, right. So what better space than a physical brick and mortar watching our shoppers on a daily basis is there to learn about them. Then that I can look at maybe how long you spent on a screen or whether or not you finalized your purchase through a click. But I’m much more interested in how are you connecting to this? Can I have a conversation with you? That leads me to a deeper insight. So I think having both of those is really important. 

Ashley Coates [00:21:42] To follow that up. Savannah So you chose to have this physical space which you just mentioned, gives you that personal interaction with your customers and also have your online marketplace. Also thinking about today’s retail landscape. How do you approach tying those two experiences together for your customer and why is that important? Maybe you can share your thoughts with all of our other retailers who are listening. I would guess you want to make it a seamless experience for your customer who might visit both your online marketplace and come into your physical store. So how those two work together? 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:22:14] Yeah, great question. And I’m like, here we go. Everyone’s ready for this buzzword optional retail strategy. At this point, listen, this is a little bit crazy because I feel truly that in building this kind of a business, even though there are amazing blueprints out there, it has also been like building a brand new innovation stack. Because let me tell you, there is nobody out there who can tell you. Here’s how you train people to talk about miscarriage. 

Ashley Coates [00:22:39] Here’s how you train people. 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:22:40] So it’s like, listen, even we’re talking about physical and digital. I’m still learning because I’m sitting at this point where everyone’s making a transition to increasing their digital touchpoints, becoming really tech enabled. And of course, when you’re a big box store and you’re doing it at scale, you’ve got to think about putting iPads in the hands of how many associates do you have on the floor? How are you training these people? It’s really a different ballgame. So I want to preface this by saying that I have both the incredible challenge and the incredible privilege of building at this stage and being able to iterate. Because I will not pretend that anyone can try this in any store. It is capital intensive and you have to be willing to fail in terms of tying the online and the actual physical store. I’m using the physical store first to really understand what are my best products, what are the things that I can really rely on that I can get to people quickly, that there was immediate need around. So some of those that quickly come to mind is like, Listen, if I’m bleeding right now, I need to get this as soon as possible. There’s no waiting, even a day or two on Amazon. As amazing as that delivery service has become, I need to walk and just get it. Then there’s all these other products. For example, postpartum care are things that maybe people aren’t even expecting to need or the hospital sends you home and you don’t have enough of that. And you’re like, Oh, shoot, this is actually going to take two weeks on Amazon because it’s got the quirky sellers. I shouldn’t say quirky, but like it’s really not getting to me. So we want to really focus for our brick and mortar on those categories and those items. Of course, we’re going to have everything, but we’re not relying on those to be our drivers. In terms of online, that’s where we have to be a little bit more worried about trends. We have to think a little bit more about, okay, well, what just blew up on TikTok? It’s really similar to the beauty industry and how they handle inventory in the space. And then of course, we’re in a niche category. So as I’m sure you can imagine, there are some ancillary things when we’re talking about vaginal health care or or health care, but we also kind of preface we’re using the vagina and vaginal colloquially, but we’re also talking about vulva care and general body wellness. So vitamins and supplements, prenatal pills, things like that are also part of the store, even if they’re not necessarily what you’re thinking about right away, though, we’re still building out exactly what that’s going to look like. But that’s what we’re paying attention to in terms of how to build it out. When you’re building a marketplace, too, you have to be a little bit geographic specific. So I am definitely concentrating in New York first and. Our expansion strategy focuses geographically. Eventually and again, time will tell, and our conversations with investors will tell about whether or not we choose to franchise it or continue to open brand build stores between those two. We are still figuring out a little bit of that. The reason we feel really confident about the brick and mortar is that’s our loyalty and it’s. 

Ashley Coates [00:25:19] Also a little. 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:25:19] Bit of a Trojan horse. To be completely honest, it helps establish us in the space. Even if somebody doesn’t ever end up coming through the doors, they know that that’s an option and that is really powerful. If you’re out in Colorado or Oregon or maybe you’re in Canada and you’re like, Hey, I’ve never been there or seen pictures of that, or I understand what that is. Or I would so love to go there and take a picture of myself on the digital touchpoint wall and connect with all these other women who have come here and whatever it is, giving a speech about their book or maybe my favorite herbalist came here and spoke, or whatever it is. I think the connection is much deeper, so it’s really about building community and solving problems. That is the biggest thing, solving problems at every opportunity. I’m not going to sell somebody something they don’t need. I’m totally okay with having them walk out of my store. And the only thing being, hey, I connected them to the care that they need, which was found elsewhere. That has to be okay with me if I’m doing business responsibly. 

Bridgette Herrera Garza [00:26:10] And you touched on this next question in your last answer. What is your outlook on the state of independent retail right now? So smaller businesses, mom and pop shops, and how are smaller retailers competing with the big box stores? 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:26:25] I have to be mindful of the cap that I wear and I want the audience to know that, too. As somebody who is building out the early stages, a CEO is not even an inclusive title for all the things that I do. So I rely on a big group of people, a big knowledge base, in order to answer all these questions. When I think about retail insights, because I haven’t personally been in that industry super long. I speak to other people in the space and our advisors, and then I also pay attention to what some of the consulting firms research is. So when they think about industry analysis and honestly general trends, what has resonated with me in terms of what we’re looking at is future of work, thinking about how our retail employees going to be treated differently this next round, because a lot of what has been happening is getting old and people are really tired and it’s very expensive to retrain employees, especially when you’ve got something that is a little bit more complex to have people jump into. So that’s something that’s really important, figuring out how to pay people better, how to be flexible around their needs, and this digital connection. Maybe they’re not just working for you in the store, but maybe they’re also on your online portals. I don’t know. That’s one of the approaches that we’re taking. Flexible work schedules. Another thing is there’s a big focus on experiential opportunities. You’ll notice that the big box stores first, when the pandemic hit, a lot of them were all of a sudden reducing the number of stores that they were opening. And the next year there was a big panic. Then what happened was that they said, no, we’re still going to keep opening them and we’re going to open more, but we’re going to do it a little bit differently. So you’re seeing some of the ones that are really, really big downsized. You can see it when you walk into a target. So has the visual merchandizing changed? Shout out to one of my friends who actually is one of the leads on some of their visual merchandizing teams. A very cool person and creating a different experience for people when they walk into your store is really important for us. What that looks like is having a fun and exciting experience. When we talked a little bit about brand loyalty earlier and the physical digital space. A lot of the conversations I’ve been having lately are around gamification, so we’re talking to me in there saying, Look, smart. An investor asked me recently like, How expensive is your digital touchpoint stuff? And I was like way cheaper than building an app. Right. And interesting because I think people, the way they think about what has been happening is not really looking at the future of retail. Now, I’m not worried as much about creating an app necessarily, but I am thinking about, okay, how am I using VR? How am I using gamification? How am I engaging you? And of course, I have to be super conscientious of my next most important target market, which is really little girls from the ages of right now 10 to 19, because those are the people who, as my business grows, are going to be looking for these products or needing them at the end of the day. We can guarantee that people will be intimate, bleeding and needing these things. So it’s a business that is recession proof, which is interesting, too. But the point really in the focus is we want to engage this next customer base through that experiential component. So if we can drive, whether it’s sales or whether it’s an expansion of knowledge through these fun, interactive things, that’s another thing I’d expect. So yeah, I think the most growth is going to be in digital innovation. 

Ashley Coates [00:29:35] Very cool to just dig even further into something which is customer loyalty. What role does loyalty play in your business? Do you have a formal loyalty program? How do you approach that? 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:29:47] Okay, so this is so timely. Last week, my co-founder and I went to an event where the moderator asked exactly that. The question actually was, what is your favorite store loyalty program and why? And I was. And answer it because I had jammed my finger playing basketball and my favorite one is CVS. Everybody knows that. The long tickets. Everybody knows about that. So funny. And it doesn’t matter where you are. The long, long receipt. The reason that I love their loyalty program is because there is a discount on everything. I went for a finger injury. I got a splint on sale. I got the ibuprofen on sale. I went to any given category and there was a sale on something. People totally different approaches because you’re a direct consumer. If that’s the type of retail you’re doing, you might not have an A, B and C pricing category. You might just have. These are all luxury goods. So it’s like the conversation might not be as relevant to you, but for me, I’m dealing with something that’s so universal. I have to have different price points. I cannot just expect everybody to be able to afford the same things. Of course, some of it’s differences in brand, some of it’s differences in ingredients. We have a vetting process, so we’re not giving anything, quote unquote bad to people. But the point is that’s consumer choice at the end of the day. And I can’t place a value on not that’s an individual’s decision ultimately. And so that was my favorite loyalty program because the opportunities are abundant. So for us, we’re building ours out. And we’ve talked a lot about not just that, just having continual rewards, the things that people are really excited over and then also play to earn. So how are you interacting with us? Is it this quick game that you play? Is it that you spin a wheel? I love winning things. That’s just a personal thing that I enjoy and it’s something that I would love to have, not just in store for people to earn or participate in, but also online. 

Bridgette Herrera Garza [00:31:22] It’s in the process of being built, which is great. And I can’t wait to see. 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:31:25] Thank you. Yeah. And if there’s any listeners or even either of you who want to participate. Opportunities abound for support in this area. I think for us there are infinite ways to improve and deliver solutions. So the more customers that we talk to, the more people who have pain points they want to eliminate and share and or help develop solutions for the better. So we’re very open to that. 

Ashley Coates [00:31:51] Marcel, as you said, you’re just getting started. Yeah, well, just start to wrap things up, Savannah. I’m curious what you see for the future of retail in the US. You looked into a crystal ball. What do you see in the next 5 to 10 years either for your business or even the retail industry as a whole? 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:32:09] Yeah, that’s such an interesting question. Honestly, I think what we touched on before about the future of work being something that’s on people’s mind and pressing and this digital transformation, I think those two things are going to continue to grow. I imagine that there will be a lot more automation in the shopping process. I think people will continue to go into stores that more to seek the experiential aspects. I think personalized shopping is going to be very important anticipatory service, which, you know, that’s a universal that’s been true for forever. I love to have a glass of water before I’m even thirsty. I think over time we will start to know more and more about people. I think it will be more convenient. It will be faster. You know, Amazon just built its first physical retail store and it was for clothing in L.A.. If I’m wrong about that, somebody feel free to correct me in the notes, but I’m pretty sure that was there first, and I can’t wait to visit it right now later for that. You’ll notice that a lot of brands, especially ones that started as e-commerce or were e-commerce for a while and are building a brick and mortar later, it’s important whether you choose to do that in the beginning or later on is fine. I think it really depends on what and who you’re serving and what your approach is, but I anticipate a lot more of it will have digital automation and a more personalized shopping experience, for sure. 

Bridgette Herrera Garza [00:33:27] Definitely. Into the last question of our interview, and it’s kind of a heavy one, but I love hearing the answers every week. What do you want your legacy to be and what do you want to be remembered for? 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:33:39] There’s three main things that I care about and that I always want to continue investing in. One is women’s health care. I believe people should have access to the things that they need. And women have been a subgroup of humans that in particular have historically not necessarily had the access that I think would make the world a better place. And so that’s one. A second is sustainability and climate change that we mentioned earlier. So I’m glad we dug into that. That is really important to me. I am worried for what the world will look like in ten years, five years, ten years today and again, that is on a various scales. I do also want to put a twist of optimism there, and I do not believe that we are doomed. I think that we need to double down and overcommit to resolving a lot of the damage that we have done to the environment. So I sort of put that note in there. And then the third is educational opportunity for low income youth. I grew up in a family that did not have a lot of money. I would say I grew up with a ton of opportunities due to scholarships. And so for me, being able to see the world like that made all the difference in my life. I don’t know that I would be in these shoes or in this space or building something like this if it hadn’t been for all of the intervention that got me here. So if I can do that for others, I would really love to do that. So I would like to be remembered. For my grit, my commitment to building something that is going to impact many, many people, and then also my willingness to invest in others. I think kindness is everything, and I also think business is as much of an art as a science. And some people believe that it’s not for them or they can’t do it. I argue quite the opposite. There’s an infinite amount of people in the world. One of my really good friends, Ibrahim Hollander, says that all the time he’s like, there’s literally an infinite amount of people out there. So if you just go out there and you’re trying to look for something or look for someone or build something new or do anything, you can find it and you can do it. I want people to feel confident or know that I believe that about them and I believe that about myself. And I would love to support people on that journey. 

Ashley Coates [00:35:39] Thank you so much for sharing that. It’s just been such a pleasure to chat with you today. Savannah Thank you. 

Savannah D’Orazio [00:35:44] Thank you. I was so excited to be invited to this again. I know we’re still early, but we are so serious. So even if I have to bootstrap it myself, I take it really serious that I’m planning to be a job optional CEO. I do every single thing because I really care and I really believe in it. And that’s true for our whole team. It’s not just me. I want to be really careful and my co-founder has three jobs right now and she still gets up every day to work on this diligently and lovingly. And sometimes it’s so hard and we cry about it, and other times the world is ours. I do want to put a note about that. So thank you. Thank you for finding us and helping us build a platform. I hope we get to stay connected. 

Ashley Coates [00:36:19] Absolutely will. Where we hang you all the success, the future. 

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