Lisa bought the domain name just for fun.
She was nine months pregnant and had been making smoothies throughout the pregnancy to soothe certain symptoms. Swollen ankles? Smoothie. Mood swing? Smoothie. Insomnia?
Well, mix some dark cherries and basil (which both contain natural sources of melatonin), plus some banana, which contains magnesium that can help relax your muscles. Blend it all up, and you’ve got a delicious night-time smoothie.
Don’t take my word for it. Listen to Lisa Mastela, who is a registered dietitian with a master’s in nutrition and public health.
So, at nine months pregnant, after her husband sent her a text mentioning how the smoothies she was blending up to soothe various symptoms were good enough to sell, it sparked an idea.
So much so that on their babymoon, Lisa spent the majority of the time at the spa sitting in her robe writing up a business plan on her laptop for Bumpin Blends (“bumpin” because of the baby bump).
As successful entrepreneurs will tell you, that’s how it starts: with an idea you can’t stop thinking about. But the most important ingredient is the will to try—to make the idea a reality through hard work and perseverance (and, in Lisa’s particular case, a dash of charm and a heaping scoop of authenticity).
So, let’s take a look at the lessons we learned from our conversation with Lisa, Founder and CEO of Bumpin Blends, on our Hit Subscribe podcast. We’ll focus on what it takes to bring an idea to life, the power of having a subscription program from launch, and the impact of social media when combined with authenticity.
Building the airplane as you fly
Lisa remembers strapping her newborn to herself in a baby carrier and blending up smoothie concoctions in her garage. She’d ask moms in the neighborhood to try new smoothies she had whipped up. Researching and tweaking recipes to have a variation of flavors was the goal here.
You have to learn on the fly as an early startup entrepreneur, and one of those early lessons was about SKUs.
Lisa’s initial goal was to start the business with over 50 different recipes of various flavors targeting different symptoms.
“I didn’t really realize that the more SKUs you have, the more challenging it is in every way. I should have just started with like three flavors. But no, we launched with 30 flavors.”
Lisa Mastela, Founder & CEO of Bumpin Blends
That initial launch was targeted at 50 people (a mix of friends, neighbors, and competitor customers and followers). Lisa laid out smoothie samples as well as scorecards so they could take the rating feedback and pare down the initial product menu. From there, they landed on those 30 initial flavors.
The business started six months after Lisa began brewing up recipes in her garage. Every Saturday morning, Lisa would load up the car with smoothie orders, put her six-month-old daughter in the back seat, and drive around Southern California delivering orders.
The benefits to launching your brand with subscriptions
Lisa knew she wanted to launch with her products on subscription. The benefits of recurring revenue and inventory forecasting, and as well the importance of making the smoothies part of an everyday routine for her customers, were key to the business strategy.
“It’s so hard to stick to something that’s good for you. To create that habit. If it wasn’t a subscription, there’s no way we could change people’s lives, because you need the subscription piece in order to stick to the habit.”
Lisa Mastela, Founder & CEO of Bumpin Blends
Lisa knew that subscriptions would make it easier on customers to optimize their health if they were getting them on a regular cadence. No need to remember to place orders when you’re running low. Subscriptions allow for an almost effortless customer experience.
Though Lisa knew her products are priced on the higher end (because she used high quality organic ingredients and real food as opposed to powder like many of her competitors), subscriptions allowed her to create a loyalty program and offer deals that grow as you remain a subscriber to incentivize the program.
The other benefit to subscriptions is that if your product goes viral, the customers that flock to your brand aren’t one-and-done shoppers. They enter the program and remain subscribers.
“That’s huge for us as a small business that’s self-funded… I can’t imagine being a business that’s trying to make out revenue goals every month starting from scratch,” Lisa mentioned during the podcast. She went on to explain the peace of mind that comes from being able to forecast financials with some level of predictability based on subscription orders.
So, what is one of the ways you can get your brand out there in front of new customers? Reach out to influencers.
Leveraging influencers for subscriber growth
Lisa is very transparent when talking about influencers. “I have never paid a celebrity or influencer to talk about our product,” she says.
To uphold the authenticity of herself and Bumpin Blends it’s important to Lisa that anyone who speaks about the brand does so because they genuinely like the product instead of being paid for their endorsement.
So what Lisa does is send a gift bundle of smoothies to an influencer to try (and never mention sharing the products on their feed) with an accompanying note that says something like, “You’re an inspiration to me. I’d love your feedback to improve these smoothies. If you have any advice, I’d love to hear it.” And that’s it.
The results, and Lisa’s smoothies, speak for themselves. Influencers like Amanda Kloots, Miranda Kerr, and Chrissy Teigen (who has over 38 million followers) have shared Bumpin Blends with their followers.
It’s a great lesson for any self-funded brands to learn from. You don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars to dedicate to an influencer marketing budget to get eyes on your product. Instead, focus on having a great product and sharing it with people you respect who align with your own values. The worst thing that can happen is you never hear from that person. The best thing? They share your products with their followers and new customers flock to your brand.
Remember here, with the power of these spikes in sales triggered by a viral moment, if you have your product on subscription those aren’t one-and-done spikes in growth. If you’ve got a great product and a smooth customer experience, those new orders become subscribers who will stick around in your program.
Another opportunity to consider: Be your own influencer.
Share your own journey behind the scenes (
influencer entrepreneur marketing)
The trend couldn’t be ignored when Lisa started looking at her social media engagement for Bumpin Blends and consulted with experts.
“Every person I’ve consulted with on social media is like, ‘Funny. Every time you post a photo or video of yourself, or your family, or your behind the scenes stuff, engagement is through the roof.
And every time you post some beautiful flat lay smoothie bowl, engagement is in the trash.’”
Lisa Mastela, Founder & CEO of Bumpin Blends
Trash is a harsh word (we love a good flat lay), but you can’t argue with the numbers and with the relatability of authentic content.
More and more, social media users are desiring and interacting with content that is less polished and more vulnerable. Customers love seeing what happens behind the scenes and the faces behind the brand. Adding a face to your business, showing your personality, sharing your values, and giving people a glimpse of the day-to-day life (and occasional struggles) are great ways to boost brand awareness.
Consider this real-life example that Lisa shared on the Bumping Blends Instagram. She shared a quick video montage of her getting ready for a business dinner in the warehouse bathroom after hauling dirty pallets around all afternoon.
You don’t have to have a team of professionals with cinema quality cameras or studio lights to make well performing content. Instead, use what you have. Lean your phone on a cup, hit record, and share with your audience a behind the scenes moment.
Another way to consider it, from a customer psychology perspective, is adding another layer of churn protection. It can be easy as a customer to churn from a faceless brand. But to hit cancel on a subscription program where you’ve followed the founder’s journey from the start? That’s tough when you’ve seen behind the scenes how hard they work and how caring they are to their customers and to their family.
Saying goodbye to a face is a lot harder than canceling your subscription to a logo.
The perfect blend—authenticity & subscriptions
What stood out most from the conversation with Lisa was her genuineness and her passion for offering the best product to her subscribers. From the start, Lisa wanted to make a product that helps people, whether it was through their overall wellness, their skin health, or sleep quality. Bumpin Blends was founded on creating organic smoothie cubes designed for your body and lifestyle.
From waking up pre-dawn to hand deliver orders herself with a newborn to selling smoothies across the country, Lisa’s journey is a lesson in learning on the fly, staying true to your values, and giving yourself the freedom to try.
With subscriptions, Lisa was able to help her customers achieve their goals by making it as easy as possible for Bumpin Blends to be a part of their everyday routine. By sharing her own entrepreneurial journey and staying true to her values, Lisa was able to form long lasting customer relationships and continue to scale the business to new heights.