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Learning: Start & Scale Masterclass with Gretta Van Riel & Nathan Chan

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I’ve been following Foundr for several months and they love Gretta Van Riel. They feature her often on their social media and in ads. I watched Nathan Chan interview Gretta earlier this year (see below) and was impressed by her business acumen. Melbourne, Australia. When I found out that Gretta was the founder of Skinny Me Tea, it hit me that I have seen her work already. I first came across Skinny Me Tea many years ago, on Instagram I think it was.

I saw an ad for this masterclass on my podcast app and voila, here I am.



Gretta’s Story

  • For Drop Bottle she build audience of over 900,000 on Instagram first before launching the product. She believes it’s
  • Common mistake is failure to start. People sometimes overthink and get stuck in planning stage.
  • Go for products under 500g or max 1kg mark unless you’re talking very high mark ups. Warby Parker Razors. Etc.
  • With drop shipping, it’s difficult to create a brand. You are just selling products and it’s like renting a house. When you build a brand, it’s like building a house. You can rent it out and one day sell it.
  • Her watch company, The Fifth, you can only buy the watches on the 5th of each month and the five days after that and that’s created demand. Checked the site – looks like
  • Her boyfriend says sell the sizzle not the sausage.
  • When manufacturing, start local then go global. You can do smaller order quantities with local manufacturers. You can sit and talk with them. You can see the material, touch it and get a better understanding of how it works. It may cost you more per item, but you can make 5 watches instead of committing to 5,000.
  • Their best product was a mistake. She put it on and liked it and they sold it. It took off.
  • With Skinny Me Tea, she was trying to scale too quickly. She focussed on the branding and marketing. Hated logistics and manufacturing. So she thought of ordering a year’s of tea as she had the money. So she placed a HUGE order with the manufacturer in China. US$1,3m of tea.
  • When they opened the tea it was moldy, even had screws and bolts in there and when the quality control tests came back it had all sorts of diseases. They had to throw it all out. They spent $15,000 on dump trucks just to throw away all the tea. All in all it cost her about $1,5m on this order.
  • Your profit margin is your mistake margin. Luckily she had enough money to cover that hit.
  • Lessons: Don’t try to scale too quickly. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Influencer marketing

  • The right place to start is finding the right influencers.
  • Influencer marketing is important because it gives a brand access to someone else’s audience.
  • It sits somewhere between sales and word of mouth marketing.
  • You can work with micro influencers at scale. They don’t expect to be paid so you don’t need a budget. 5k to 50k followers on whatever platform.
  • Instagram and YouTube convert best for her brands
  • Discount code tracking
  • Macro Influencers. People with 50k+ followers. Get paid to promote your brand.
  • She has a course on this.
  • Influencer marketing mistakes: For people who say “I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work” she says “Dipping your toe into a pool isn’t going to create a splash.”


  • Key elements: When you’re launching any product you’re creating about who you are selling to. Create a buyer personna. Actual traits of this person. E.g. traveler, or person with work commute then you break it down.
  • Then make sure your product speaks to this personna
  • Content territories (E.g. for 5th watches it’s Aspire & Inspire, Rest & Relaxation)
  • Brand consistency. Be consistent across platforms. Same message. Same visual story.
  • Tone of voice is a big part of it.


Here’s the interview I mentioned earlier



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About Life Notes

Life Notes is my online notebook; a place to put my digital ‘newspaper’ clippings, bits of my journal, observations, and other stuff all with the ultimate aim of find tools, resources & ideas to help artists thrive.  Read about how it came about here.

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