Experiential Design (with Guest Craig Min)
I am so excited to introduce you to my next guest this is craig men with ceo of le mille coffee so thank you for joining me today a very changing have there thank you so in this module were actually in module ten everyone uh wow module ten we are going to talk about the importance of the experience and all the details when you're building a brand and I was fortunate enough that I met craig about maybe a year ago through my celebrity chef that I know because craig has a very high end coffee company and also a couple of coffee locations but I want to talk about the background and how you got into the business first and hear your entrepreneur story before we move into that I had the good fortune we interviewed you for the course book that we put together you your dad was in the coffee business and you started visiting the roastery when you were twelve is that it's just you know about family business and you know your twelve year old kids smooth floors and in a large warehouse and I just m...
y first encounter was like sicily this crackling this a roman just a curiosity you walk over and I had some coffee experiences before that but that's just when I fell in love and so that was ages twelve and from that point on it just this continual curiosity of how do you make it better you know just my family's always been very food centric and so throughout the earlier years of my life I just had great experiences with food and so at that at twelve that kind of fell and fell into the hole coffee tub sense and nineteen I took over limit from from my family at age nineteen she took over so I graduated high school ninety six in ninety seven I started wow that's amazing so let's go back to when you were twelve your dad's business at that point you where he was mainly doing more commodity and really just roasting the beans and then selling them to others is that correct right ninety five percent of our business was export private label so we're making widgets another brand for another company and that was kind of that was his business at the time and I think for me over the years you know from nineteen plus that's when you know the questions the natural questions and it's just start coming out like who am I? What do we do it like who are we speaking to it what makes you know what do we want it? And so you know by going through that process of kind of understanding who we are, what we want to do and that kind of that that birthing at that period of time is really kind of what started the journey yeah, so interesting now I have to imagine that so you are taking over the business from your your family, your at the young age of nineteen and so what I'm hearing is that you really started to transform the business at that point you're doing branded unbranded products you're going private label products and you have this vision that you want to create a brand now how did that dialogue go with your dad? Can you tell me about sitting down with him? We're sitting down with your family and saying I want to make a change to the family business very interesting situation at nineteen my dad actually left the family and so I, you know, traditionally a lot of coffee guys, they started retail with the store and they serve customers and then through that they they find appalling I inherited this factory in this machine and a lot of debt at the same time and so from that period on it was just kind of like, starting over wiping clean and, you know, long a lot of long cold nights in the office saying, what are we doing here? Yeah, and what I wanted and what I want and I don't know if I'm reading into this, but that sounds a little scary I mean, you must have been a little overwhelmed it's a very lonely journey, you know? And I think through those from nineteen to twenty one that was really kind of that was my education and english college so right at it right at the high school you kind of jumped right in and and they just kind of figure out how the world spins you know how people working relationships and partnerships and kind of the dynamics of you know, of creating something that was kind of a journey of that was a really difficult part of time but I learned a lot and I wouldn't change a thing okay, so take me back you're sitting in the office you're nineteen twenty you've got this debt and this business that you've inherited and you start thinking to yourself I want to develop a brand how how did that vision come to you at such a young age and what did you do next thing at that point in time it was you know I had we had kind of this entity and at that point in time I I personally wanted to create something that that's just special you know that that is really admired and I wanted to create an experience at that point in time and I wanted to share what I was feeling and what I was experiencing with other people and so through that process that was where the early days of defining who we are and that's when the kind of the brand took motion and direction okay, great. So nineteen twenty you are you're developing this brand you're thinking about experience where were you getting your inspiration? They weren't at college. You're learning from peers from associates tell me a little bit about kind of your community and your support system absolutely number one support was always my mother during that time she mean she's not the best coffee taster but just from from overall from moral support and just values and things that you know create good relationship she had kind of infused into me and you know, for that pretty none I mean, it was just really it was a point in time where I just started to see a lot of food and just the world and how people were enjoying food and experiencing it and that's kind of what I bonded with and I wanted to have my part in that through through, you know, coffee. And so these ideas were you sharing them with your mom saying I think I want to open up a store I want to create a brand that was your mom saying to you, um, well, you know, she's always been really good at just handing me the keys and saying go at it and so part of it was just kind of like, you know, it's it's a journey of necessity for the first few years after we had built a little bit of cushion and stability from that point on it was like ok, what do we need to do how do we get closer to the consumer how do we share our experience and that was obviously through our first retail store, right? Right, right you start I mean it's amazing to me that you were asking such poignant questions of how to get closer to the consumer what do we need to do to, you know, connect with them right without, you know, the formal training? It was just this innate passion that you had to create an experience which is it's kind of a good segue way to what we're going to be talking about before we do that I want to just bring us into the course now obviously craig had a lot of people that were around him and supporting him, but I'm a big believer in in research and using different resources and finding inspiration you were finding a lot of inspiration, probably traveling to get beans meeting people absolutely and like when you really look at our brand today it's very experiential and I think for me it's just a personal value that I have everything matters no matter what it's the cup that you drink in the package that you buy it and it's you know, the check holder that the check comes in I mean just really kind of that is so important to me and so through that I wanted to define what the liminal experience was and that was really kind of a big differentiation upon what we do and what other coffee companies great great. So for those of you that are watching online, we did we in the resource guide we've got lots of places where you can get inspiration about design and experience, but here are just a couple of sites that I wanted to recommend and again, you know, some of these are content sites some of them are companies that are, you know, idea is a design company that does a lot in terms of experience and design, so just different places that you can go because I think it's really important to find inspiration in your category um and to route to surround yourself with people that are putting a value on the details and the experience mint I love what you just said about how the czech holder is a lot of people wouldn't think about that small detail that it actually has an impact. We heard this yesterday too, when we were talking about the subscription models and kind of having a surprise and delight all of those moments are what bring a brand experience toe life so these are just a couple of ideas it's obviously in a very based on what category you're in but find the places that give you inspiration and passion a lot of that comes to travel for me and so as we're fostering relationships with families and cooperatives and corporations depending on the economic layout of each country that produces coffee, we go and we go into people's homes and we go to different restaurants and hotels and for me I'm I'm I'm the biggest consumer to myself like I enjoy everything and if there's something wrong, I know I feel that there's something wrong and so through these experiences we connect with things that we bring things back here and you have infuse him into our brand whether it's you know that whether it's a texture color or you know a package that we're making or you know a flavor that we're tryingto emulate that we tasted in a different reason so you know it's funny when you're saying that it actually reminds me of the first time that we met you had just come back from a trip I think that you had been in asia and you were in japan and you came back to your friends that's right that's right and you you came back and we had a meeting we were talking about branding and design and all sorts of things and what I noticed about you craig was that all of a sudden he opens up the briefcase and he kept taking out all these packages of cookies and biscuits and chocolates but they were all you know, these gorgeous packages and then of course we all started eating and sampling all these socially but you really first it was generosity and it was like a sharing and kind of a collaboration but you were excited about the details of the package and on those foods and the cookies and so we had our own little experience where you brought back some of your travel with you right and that's just that's kind of when I see things that I like, I taste it I want everybody tasted so I didn't bring it back and say check this out yeah, yeah before we get into this, I do need to know did your parents let you drink coffee at age twelve or were you, um, full I earlier than that? And you just kind of you devil around? You see the kind of this black liquid ceo it's much different than the white viscous liquid that you drink at that agent? So, you know, I just I love that you didn't really see anything no, yeah, all right, so that I didn't write all right so let's dive in let's talk about the power of experience, obviously with crais, you can hear the passion that he has for his business, but one thing that I just wanted to talk about is that you know david ogilvy a lot of great people I mean with the brand it really takes a lot of faith and you need to keep, like, focused and really stay true to it to create something that's magical and that's one thing that I've noticed about you that you're you're a purist and I know that you've got a lot of complicated projects right now you're working on a new location with l a x airport but staying true and having integrity and making sure those details matter that's what really counts when you're putting together a brand so one thing that I always recommend and we talked about this a little bit is taking that three hundred sixty degree journey you just were starting to mention and I have a beautiful picture of your of your coffee shop that's in l a so we'll see that but you started to talk about people coming through the experience and you were bringing them in I almost could feel like they were walking into the store all the way to the check what are some of the things that are different about the journey in your experience? Well, you know, I think in any industry in any business there's there's competition there's things that people are doing and I think for me I've always kind of just kept to the things that that speak to me that I believe in rather than things that are going on around me and so when I built the silver lake store in two thousand eight was definitely obvious everything was about the experience and so one thing that I that I believe coffee is its or food is it's a huge bridge cultural exchange it's like when you break bread with somebody when you eat with them a lot of guards go down and there's just kind of this environment where you can kind of talk and get to know them and you know in that we wanted to kind of bring a lot of different cultures into the four walls that we built and so and so my whole concept at this time was you could choose from like a list of seventy eight different coffees and then choose the way of extraction which we were preparing in seven different ways so it's a pretty big experience you know you could have the same coffee prepared in three different ways but that they would all have their own uniqueness so so if you have seven or eight coffees and seven or eight ways to make it that's a pretty complicated service process to keep consistent if you've got you know, in a sixty four different ways to do the coffee well sometimes office they don't like my ideas could logistically don't work so great uh from from but for you know the most part I mean we figured it out you know, and we figured out so it's kind of like this service where there's a lot of equipment was the most expensive coffee bar in the country, I think what we built that way had one hundred eighty thousand dollars worth of equipment just on the table, just in equipment alone, I hope you have insurance way do, but you know, in that it was definitely, you know, it was the program, he was difficult, but again, if you have an idea and you want to execute there's always a way to do it right, right has been a part of our brand now and so that's one thing that we're known for amazing, I love how you've elevated the experience and if people are probably, like dying to see the shop, so I will get to that soon. So one thing in the customer journey in brand that I always think is important is to make sure that the experience exceeds the expectations. Now, obviously, with love mill people that know your brand, they have the expectation that it's going to be, you know, different or better than your average coffee experience because you are taking attention to detail, how are you kind of setting the expectation of this experience? How do people know like, what the mill is about? You know, I think it's just through the exchange that takes place when they walk in and you know when you peel all the layers back what we do and there's a lot of people that do a lot of great things with food for me what the courses hospitality you know, it's serving that person that's coming through the door whatever level of interest they have in what you do whatever it may be it's getting their trust first and then you know, maybe you could start suggesting things that that speak to you you know, myself through that kind of experience is how we've been able to kind of monitor and balance you know, their little experience great great but it's not easy when you know somebody's walking through and they're expecting no right much different experiences right now with your brand, you know, some of the things that I'm hearing and what I know about you is that there's a lot of design integrity that you really are looking at the details, but you're also bringing in kind of this cultural feeling and then there's a very high integrity around quality standards and those are some of the things that you're using as kind of filter what I've been encouraging, people that are online watching and also, you know, in the class here is to think about what is the filter that they used to make decisions and so I'm wondering if there's anything that you know, maybe you considered in terms of cost saving or you know, something that was recommended and you decided no, I'm not going to do that because it doesn't meet my brand do you think that's something that you do so absolutely I mean that happens every day like that I mean example of something that you didn't do because it didn't support your brand right? Well at l a x you know, there we have a project where you know it's five hundred sixty square feet, another four million in plain mints in the north concourse every year and there's a certain style of coffee service at that we wanted to do and you know, just through the sheer nature of volume and things we we know that we cannot execute you know, and so that's an experience that I love to share with people but I'm not confident that we can execute and so within that environment with the constraints that we have because you know, it's a lot of different situations that you get into it as you're growing your business and so, you know, we had taken extraction method actually and not do it that that's something that we really kind of set in my mind for a year and so you know, in a sense I think I'm much more comfortable with knowing that we're going to be able to serve, you know, are our alternate choice you know and be able to stand behind it rather than try toe go out on the limb and execute something that it's gonna be a lot more difficult right right okay so um a couple things that I like to do when you're mapping the customer journey and I'd love to get your thoughts on this but I think about how people are entering the brand we've talked about this a lot over the last couple of days what is exciting people about it how are they going to get passionate about the company and I think of it is kind of doorways in um so you know what do we want them to feel when they're leaving? What are those kind of emotions and the thoughts how do we get them to reconnect if they've left what's happening along the journey and then this is something that I think is important is to think of all the senses from a three hundred sixty degree view point what are they hearing what air they tasting what air they smelling mean already when we were talking about the coffee beans you've mentioned the smell when you were a young kid and you're smelling that aroma but music the fabric that you have you know the walls that artwork all of those things make a difference in the experience so here taste smell what what are people hearing and tasting and smelling at windmills well, I think you know, right is you walk in there's just like this kind of beautiful glow of just conversation, you know? And I think that's really kind of the centric part of, you know, a great coffee places. It's community is relationship that's kind of what you hear, and then obviously there's nothing like, you know, the realm of fresh coffee and, you know, there's, a lot of grinding going on in that store. So it's a combination of of equipment noise, but then there's this beautiful no, just a roman that's kind of crazy, the whole dining room. And then as faras, you know, texture and everything that you sit down in the chair is different, you know? The tables feel different, and everything starts to kind of speak in a different way. And I think that experience is kind of what we embrace. And craig, were you able to curate this experience on your own, or did you work with designers, or how did you create the experience? Well, the interior experience there's, the specialty there's of a person that I work with in los angeles as far as injury. But you actually every touch point that we have in our place, there's definitely kind of my source of, you know, adviser on hey, what do you think about this? What do you think about that? And we'll kick it around, will scrub it down and then we'll end up with something that we're really happy with, you know? Okay, great. So eat no writing mediocrity, it's a phrase we've used over the last couple of days but looking at all the details, all the touch points, how can you make them better? Even things like hold music on a business? Or you know what the e mails look like? All those things make a difference on it's obvious that you are doing these things so the sensory on it we just talked about it. How does it smell? How does it sound as a taste? What does it say? There's one restaurant we were just in recently where they had, you know, french language over the loud speaker in the bathroom because it was a french restaurant. So all those little details actually are the things that people are going to talk about, right? It's a complete experience it's the complete experience. So here we are. Here is le mille the big reveal. This looks so amazing and so fun, why don't we? How about some reactions of what you guys think about the the look and feel if it seems like a different kind of experience I really I love coffee and I go to a lot of different coffee shops and I've never seen one that looks like this almost reminds me of like a somewhere you would go to play like that and I don't know just the bright colors and um the you know the exterior and interior it's very friendly and lively that's the feeling that I get from it tracy it reminds me of drinking coffee I'm kind of an addict and there's a symphony of flavors that are when you take a sip and it's all the colors kind of remind me of all the colors that are found in coffee it's so cool it's beautiful right? I mean that's just it's gorgeous it was a lot of fun building the store it was like piece by piece fabric by fabric and it was just just going to say if it was more pinkish purple it would be the virgin lounge but but you know you talked about the complete brand experience about how coffee breaks down barriers and that you want to connect with people and that's a place that you can have some serious connections so congratulations well, tell us a little bit about kind of what you went through to build this out because obviously entrepreneur well, how old were you when we were building this out? I was twenty seven of two thousand seven so six, six years ago twenty nine okay, but doing so twenty nine, so you'd have the business for ten years. By this point, you had taken the generic beans and branded them under a brand render lamell, right? And then you wanted to do the storefront to get more exposure to the customer and to get the brand out there. Absolutely. Ok, so then you decided to launch this just launching a retail storefront in los angeles that alone for young, you know, a young entrepreneur is a challenge to tell us a little bit about that. Absolutely, two thousand six, I decided to open a retail store and just started going from pocket pocket and finding an area and, you know, the demographics that would really kind of that we could connect with, and beverly hills, west hollywood just, you know, and there's risk involved, right? I'm going to finally some, you know, could potentially put other things at risk. So I found this building in two thousand seven in silver lake. My decorator actually was in this building, and he helped me he's, the one that I collaborate with on on interior, and so were we built it in six months in thesixty, nine in six months, and so we started with three pieces of fabric it's kind of the coloring is a little bit off, but these kind of swivel chairs are where poker chairs at my house these are the dining room chairs are made it's all full of material it's alligator and they're the bar stools are sharks skin so I said thes three fabric swatches teo my equipment friends around the world and they and we don't have those pictures here but when you look at the equipment on the table it's all are ail custom colored and so there's a chandelier that we found in a house in montecito is nineteenth century our espresso machine was it's made by a company called lamar's oko in florence and they'd make bentley's so that year was her eightieth anniversary they had hand made a machine at a brass so there's a brass machine that's it's not this table and so you know what? When all the interior kind of when you're sitting in the space you're you know, you're having a beverage engineer kind of just absorbing that's when you really kind of I have the experience in two thousand eight we had a word for congratulations that's great that's great, amazing! So we've got some reaction from the chat room. People are saying that it looks beautiful, bold and exciting clear of ouray says I don't like coffee, but I wouldn't mind hanging out there way gabriel de says that pick makes you want to be there so yeah, a lot of people of great well maybe well, maybe we'll go global and start opening up locations around the globe right kind of part of the experience when you walk into, you know, tow, buy packaged food it's like if you can sell it with your eyes first you've already cross for a circle and then when you actually experience a product and it's good, then that's third part and then, you know, as you're finishing it just kind of like you're going to take home this memory that was just different what you had before, right? And so I think that's when you're reaching somebody emotionally, right? Right? Connecting with right? Well, let's talk about the product a little bit because we, you know, you've told me that you have tried to bring culture into the product, you've got seven or eight different types of product of beans and then also the extracting methods and here I believe what I have is the poor over coffee and then I also have the one of the roasters so we can see how the beans are done. So you're you're roasting your sourcing, the beans international you're bringing them to l a roasting them and then you're actually grinding them at the store and and doing your different methods that's correct and so I mean the coffee supply chain it's there's a lot of steps involved, but pretty simply we travel the world with foster relationships with some of the most renowned families cooperatives, growers, we bring all the coffee that we've developed with those individual groups into los angeles roasted in our workshop in it ships out to about five hundred clients across the country, so restaurants, hotels and then we're starting our retail tree, so we have two stores open today. You have baltimore, we have baltimore maryland's overly, and then in may we have l a x opening. I can't wait for that one I look like just so excited to have a big belly exploited so would be nice to kind of walked into trouble take there's a little bit. Yeah, yeah, very exciting, so consistency. I do have a couple of pages from your book that you used to train your team on kind of being consistent with the experience, but that I think, must be one thing that's really hard is to make sure that the staff is actually delivering to what your expectations are kind of like your set standards. Tell me about that process, you know, that's a very difficult thing. I think you know, there's a certain vision that I have in my mind for certain things, and then, you know, being able to communicate that and create kind of ah comparative is really kind of what I've been trying to do within our team and that at the end of the day it's all of these things that we're talking about they're actually values I think us and it's almost like in nature, you know? So these when we do something this is how we do it the way we do it and there's no other way there's no other option also I've pulled a couple of them out of your materials where you had the rules of hospitality and I think that you had more than this, but I pulled some of the tough ones but you were saying that the guest is always right, and one thing that I noticed is that you actually are using the word guest instead of customer and that's actually a defining thing in terms of how you're seeing this this person it's hospitality, right um and be positive and personal, not negative and stoic treat all guests if they were guests in your home that's lovely that you want to have that kind of community environment but that you're actually you know, teaching your team that that's how you want them to be greet them before they greet you that's great too how did you develop this list? You know these are the things that you know that I want to feel when I walk into a place and, you know, I think no, with restaurants or with any types of places that you used to go into frequently, who doesn't like going to a place that you know, where they're welcoming you, they want you there, and they know your name. And now these are all things that I think creek relationship that ended today, that's, that's are being goal is to create a relationship with our with our guests, right? So for those of you that are watching online and also for the team here in the studio, even if you don't have an experience where people are coming to a story think some of these are really grateful lost cities to think about in terms of your customer base or your guests base, how can you treat them? You know, respectfully so that they feel that they're excited to be part of your business? I just want to say, I love number ten I think that is the best because you go places and you have people being pushy and trying to you start to feel uncomfortable, and you don't want to be there, and I love that that it's not it's, not about sales, it's about customer service, because customer service creates sales and I think that's great. And it kind of goes back to what you're talking about how do you feel to that so like if you're looking through the lens that hey, this is a guest and we're trying to create an experience for them than these types of things naturally flow out you kind of feel like right? And I think even you know, for a photography business, any type of creative business a lot of these things do if something is finer okay, then we've missed the mark you know, you really just you're upping the bar feedback positive of positive or negative is our only measurements so you're learning from everything don't let your problems become the guests problems that's a great one to it if you're having a bad day not have that impact the experience don't bring it toward now for some reason as we're sitting here, I don't know, but I was thinking that maybe some of these values you learned from your mom and my correct absolutely tell me about that how how's your family, your mom, your kind of your cultural upbringing impacting your rules of hospitality? Well, you know, asian asian culture I think we're I would guess come to our house or when we're inviting them somewhere it's it's a much different view and how I learned how to serve the guests and so you know, a tremendous amount of those values have flow into our business and how we how we treat our guests, how we treat our clients and then so that's just kind of part of our dna. Emily I have a question so when I met you during the break, the two things that stuck out to me was that you were really friendly and that you made it maintained eye contact so that I'm assuming that you must have written all of those rules you much so when you're hiring someone, how do you how do you make sure that they're going to be doing the same things and following those rules? We have to look through the same lens? We asked questions based upon the things that that would kind of determine what type of person they are. And so, you know, it's just it's a big part of the process, that company is finding the people that would represent us well and that share the same values because it's only then we're you have an extension of a brand of our brand or, you know, in people well, and I also notice, and we have a little bit of it here that craig did share with me, that he has a ninety seven page training manual that he uses to keep process consistency, you've already you've got the two stores, and I was very impressed that even doing a hand drip coffee you had six steps that you're telling people how to go through and what to do with the different sizes, so there's an attention to detail where you took the time to document and figure out, how am I going to have a kiss consistent experience and make sure that people are trained? Absolutely can you tell me a little bit about the training that people would go through toe learn all of these these steps and and how you make sure people pass the test? Definitely eso before anybody could actually serve coffee in our store, they have to go through a whole trading system and, you know, even going through this and guarantee that they're going to make great brings it really kind of depends on the person coming in, you know, how if they're wanting to do it? And I think at that point, once we kind of bring somebody into our system, there's about probably four weeks of kind of hands on training that maybe to go through and it's, really, what we're creating is a relationship between them and the machine and the coffee. And so as they get to learn that more then aa lot of this steps and a lot of the technical details just become mohr more secondary, but it's just it's the attention to detail that's needed to be able to execute, and so that's great that's great. Um another thing that I found in your book that I thought was amazing was that you actually are recommending nomenclature that people should use and I loved this side by side comparison where you'd say you know instead of hi how are you? Good morning welcome toe le mille so there's also there's to me there's a little bit of not a formality but do you want to pay street versus would you like one of our wonderful pastries there's there's a difference there and so tell me a little bit about what you were trying to accomplish with the nomenclature it's definitely creating an environment that represents our brand will and making sure that the guests feel comfortable and I think you know obviously choice of words is huge and how how that experience flows through is is a part of kind of our our brand value and so when somebody is walking and how we respond to them how we greet them it has everything to do with everything you know and so in this process it just there's always a nicer way to say things and I think you know it's kind of getting the same point across getting the same result in the end but the delivery of the message is a part of the experience, right? I love that I think that is so wise there's always a nicer way to say something I don't know versus I will confirm that with a manager, you're turning it in from a negative too. Let me check what you're saying is important, and I want to confirm an answer so huge difference in terms of how you feel valued, and we talked about that yesterday about valuing people that I think especially because we're in a time of, you know, things moving so fast with technology and moving, moving, moving that people aren't taking that time to say, hey, I value and this is important and it's almost the, you know, the cliche of stopping and smelling the roses, but but that's, what you're offering here, right, exactly right? So l a x obviously trying to replicate that great silver leg store and and figuring out how to do it. Other places, um, I have been able t here about what you're doing with l a x, and this is a designer marc up tell us a little bit about this process that you went through to maintain design, integrity in a location where I know at airports, they have unionization, they've got strict codes of what you can and can't do smaller footprint. So tell us how this came about, just a big, deep breath you think, I mean this is where they put you to test, you know, it's like they're running a business and that this is there's other parties involved there's somebody somebody has a lease and so to get to what you can stand behind is a difficult process and I think you know, obviously they hired us for who we are and you know, just our experience and so you know that there's certain materials that they want to use that they want to replace and the things that also would there's a lot of compromise kind of in that process in the middle of hey, we'll give you this floor but we're not going to give you the ceiling and so I have to then take a step back and say, well, what's more important people are gonna be looking down more buildings about war and so you kind of go through this process and then find what what, what the priorities are you know and then obviously create a situation that you can stand behind do you have any tips for people on how to negotiate through those things? If there's a situation where you feel like the brand was being compromised, it was the flooring like how did you get through that it negotiate well, I think you know to a certain extent there's certain things that are non negotiable, you know, and those are kind of the absolute firm value they couldn't we wouldn't let anybody change who we are but in a sense it's always important to kind of keep your mind open on commerce because there's always that fine balance of artistry in commerce you know, in like how do we make it work and how does it make it how does it how are we responsible to the people that are actually building in that are financing and so it's always kind of making sure that that balance that you couldn't live with that balance of that that still falls within the original values, right? Great. Um one thing that we had talked about with the team here was mood boards, style guides obviously you had a lot of design standards that you brought forward where you looked at what you had created already with baltimore and silver leg and gave them to your designer to l a x is a template to show this is what the brand looks like can you just tell me a little bit more about kind of design standards? You know, this looks like part of the artwork that you had in the silver lake store that's watch, but how did you use materials to spec in and keep your brand consistent? Well, once we got the layout of the space I got together with my designer and so what we did basically was we started picking out, you know, the major the major future so flooring countertops and no the's air this watch is that we ended up with and obviously they fall within the liberal colors with a little color palette there's some variation of what we're doing from store to store but still we're kind of still keeping that deal you know and still all the colors to a point where it's still recognize okay great great um location, location location I just wanted to bring this up because obviously the coffee business the restaurant business it's probably very competitive especially now how important was that you were talking about when you pick the silver lake story you were thinking about the target you already had the being business where you were selling to hotels and two other restaurants but did you define the target and then kind of look at is my target in this location absolutely and the like and how we ended up in silver lake I think no for silver lake is kind of east hollywood you know, in a sense if you look at the map you know it's just this very interesting collective off artist of writers and filmmakers and you know, there's just this aware in itself culture that I knew that was there and so when we were thinking, you know, haitian asali what beverly hills or should we go somewhere that people will start to really embrace us understand what we're doing that's kind of what determined you know how to get into that silver lake area and that's kind of where I think a tremendous amount of appreciation has has come about right right great great the next thing that I just wanted to talk about is that we've obviously been focusing a lot on the retail experience but any business these days has the digital storefront I do know that you you know have this great online site but even here I pulled some shots where you've got the photo gallery so you're already pre telling people a little bit about hey this is what it's like come see us and what I've noticed is that just like the coffee that we just were put giving away as gifts there's a lot of detail in describing things so can you tell me a little bit about how you're bringing the experience toe life online? Absolutely I think you know obviously visual you know the visual tool is a big aspect and there's a lot of beautiful things that we that we do present in silver lake so we wanted to kind of take a glimpse of different colors and textures that people could you know that could connect with and so um obviously that that's kind of laid out and you know, a viewable section in our on our site so that people can kind of get an idea of what they're about to walk into great great tell me a little bit more, craig, I know that you guys are starting a digital campaign soon but opening a new retail location how did you get awareness about what was going on? How did you get try a ll and were you doing any advertising to bring people in that re when we open sofa like there was zero advertising zero advertising I think, you know, just nowadays with technology and especially with food, food has changed tremendously over the last ten years because of technology and medians as people are able to bridge, you know, the value of why they're paying for something. Um, now that that exposure is here is shift or traveling to different countries and experiencing different, you know, different ingredients and things of that sort is people are seeing that able to translate that in the value. And so, you know, in our place, I think, you know, there's a good amount of awareness that is already there, and you know, through that under that that understanding of value were able to gonna present well, so it was really the experience speak in the product speaking for itself, and that you probably had a lot of buzz and word of mouth. People are driving by the location, they see this very different, beautiful location, talking about how great the product is, so that probably just kept amplifying absolutely it's it's basically creating an awareness through what we dio actually the last sixteen years there's zero advertise zero advertising how about do you do anything unlike search marketing or buying keywords anything like that? None of that events in the story but you do events in the store? No. No events no no. Ok, well, emily already here waiting one of my favorite sushi restaurants offers classes on how to make sushi yourself and I know that these days a lot of coffee shops are doing the poor over on and I'm very curious about it and I would love to be able tio learn, you know, learned about it. So have you ever thought of offering classes on how to make the different types of styles of coffee you offer? Definitely we have coffee clinics that are going to be coming out too and so I think they have a program that we're going to do something that's overly in the near future and we have a roast re in los angeles that's probably ten minutes away from the silver lake store where way will do coffee clinics for consumers let's explain a lot of consumer requests and so and, you know, there's nothing like kind of a hands on training yeah and kind of an experience, yeah, explaining tell me what are some of the biggest challenges that you face as an entrepreneur capital capital yeah that's one that we all face capital that was you know, is hearing the conversation before about the border. Gosh, I have no board. I built this company since, you know, I've kind of been by myself all this time and it's private and we're kind of just getting into that next phase of growth and so definitely has an entrepreneur there's a lot of risk management involved and then obviously there's always capital concerns. But that depends on the appetite of helping you want to take the business right, right. What keeps you up at night? Just the whole thought of the supply chain then just all the critical control points that go wrong. I think from the time that you know, the coffee is actually cultivated and grown agriculturally to the time it served in the cup, right there's a lot of things that could go right that outright again going balls that we were talking about yeah, yeah, well, there's a couple other examples that I want to bring up, but dan, did you have a question just really quick? First I have to hand it to you congratulate you for entering an area that is extremely competitive and to not be sort of daunted by the starbucks out there in the pete's and all these other big conglomerates and to do something that's unique hats off to you first of all let's wait on with starbucks and peace I mean I admire them they created the space for people like us you know they went out and built all these stores and educated and so like we're kind of taking what they built in foundation that they've laid laid out and just offering a new experience and you know, some people connected with it in some people but yeah yeah but really quick my question is more on sort of the wholesale and then the retail conversion I know jeff is really startinto think about this and go through it more for the longest time you've been doing wholesale and so you have been worrying really too much on the presentation and the taste and the experience of the coffee because he handed off to businesses he handed off to consumers right? And then they do what they want with it right now you're making the shift into retail do you see retail is more of a compliment to your whole sale or do you find that now with more locations that this retail is taking on so much of your business that that's now becoming your focus roar? You know, a very good question and I think you know, in building a brand that's a lot of different ways to kind of go about it I've concluded and not concluded but I've come to a realization that they go hand in hand like if we want to create a brand that that people know and that people can connect with, you have to have both in retail is absolutely it's very capital intensive, right? You're going out leases and just a lot of no operator operations is very difficult to manage, but after we built that this's, the silver lake store at the awareness level of our product went up tremendously, I mean, just, you know, people that are coming into town and, you know, they come with friends and yes, what he owns a hotel where he owns an airline or whatever it may be in. So like, as the experience, this then is becomes contagious, and then it starts to kind of speak your message and so kind of our retail business and are a wholesale business has have always gone in and in wholesale, we've actually had it's not easy to to be able to watch and just see how they pick partaking, how they end up with a product. Most of our clients it's a partnership, and so if they're using our product there's a level of a commitment that they have, and so we worked with them, I mean, I write menus for them and write recipes, and we eventually agree on how that beverage is gonna be served, so how do you balance what needs to get done today with the b hag you know the where you want to go and I think the follow up is where do you want to be in ten years? Absolutely um I'm behind any company or brand is just great people in it and that's really I think fifty percent of my time is is spent with my key managers which there are seven and so in that class I mean that's kind of where I make sure that operations daily goals things are things are executed and then the other half is just development for me that's kind of what do we want to do, what we want to go um and what relationships we want to invest in, uh in ten years gosh, but really I'm eating something great thing here is you? Yeah, I did notice one thing that when we've talked before you've told me that a lot of your your partnership, your relationships that you do surround yourself with a lot of people that are in the food business you're with a lot of chefs, a lot of people that are traveling, how has that kind of changed your desire to exceed and to be productive just surround yourself with these these great people? Oh well I think you know that's just it's an appetite and I think as I see kind of just beautiful craft being presented so well and execution being done at a level that's just so admirable he's had two things just inspired me naturally and I think, you know, it creates an appetite within myself and those are the things that kind of fuel me and I aspire to and we work towards right that's great, I'm going to just bring a couple examples that are non le mille ones about experience in a couple of things kind of do's and don'ts said I read about just to talk about, but I think it's important when you're building your experience to figure out like what you want, the experience to be like, and one thing that I read about target and I thought was kind of interesting and you don't even notice a lot of these subtle cues but target, of course, because I grew up in minneapolis that's where target started it's a pretty amazing brand, and I've noticed that they don't have muzak, right? So when you go in there, you're not going to hear that bad like kind of elevator music, they don't sell firearms or tobacco's there's, no pro mo's on the loud speaker and things like that, the things that aren't there, our justice important as the things that are there, and so that was really interesting and what I want you guys to think about are what are the do's and the don'ts of your company and I think that you know you're verticals are all very different but in the fashion business there's probably certain types of fashion that you want to highlight and there's certain things that you're not going to d'oh all of these moments all these things are part of your experience so it is really important once you're doing your you've got your brand filter you probably do your mood board but then you do your values and then you want to think about one of the things that I'm not going to do and where is my integrity so those were just a couple of examples that I thought were interesting um I also think it's really important to figure out kind of those surprise and delight moments we talked about this a little bit yesterday when we were talking about subscriptions but in the restaurant business because I've had the good fortune of thinking about it a little bit more over the past couple of years you do need to think about all those times even if somebody is in line and they're they're waiting what do you do when they're in a queue ah what do you do when a product is back ordered what do you do when the website is down what do you do if you make a mistake how do you surprise and delight people all of these things make a huge difference and so any lessons on something that's gone wrong how you solved a problem anything like that that you can share with us well it's just that there's a long list of those right hold a love and I think it's just it's a basic principle you know what an issue arises it's really well how do you turn that into a positive you know and I think there's always a way to do that and you know you just have to understand you own what you need to own first and then figure out the most constructive solution with you know, the partner or whoever you're working with you know in that sense yep, yeah um the little image here when I was telling you guys yesterday about male chimp giving my daughter at you know, a t shirt that was the surprise and delight and you know those little moments when you're not expecting something and I do remember with amazon the first time I used them I ended up getting a coffee cup from them that I wasn't expecting and there's another company that I ordered something from where they sent a candle as a free gift like sometimes those things you have to make a decision and decide is it worth the cost? But then all of a sudden it's like that might keep a customer for life and jeff you're nodding your head and and I think that probably in your business the free gifts of re t shirt that probably makes a big difference I think it's amazing that the for instance I'm just thinking I just wrote down if we're somebody does a t shirt order that will throw ah hoody and there are t shirt for them as a thank you because it's something they're not expecting and b it actually might be a suggestive sale for next time yeah yeah especially the hoody I love that question sure what do you do if your website goes down? I mean, that was a question up there that I I've had happened where the website goes down and I noticed that um when when I said sorry the website is down and I didn't say we had more traffic to the site than when I didn't say anything at all and just put like a you know something on the front page? What do you guys suggest that we do it in a situation like that? Yeah, I mean, I think that sorry is a good thing I mean, luckily in your in your business because they're coming for content they can come back and it's not that their experience is going to be negative like, you know, airline tickets when you're trying to buy a ticket and people are frustrated then you need to really apologize and probably offer something you know, compensation, but I think in your situation, you know, we're sorry for the outage, we're growing and, you know, improving our site thank you for for your patients and thanks for coming back. Michelle there's, a block that I really like to follow that's been down a lot lately, their site got hacked and they've been communicating with their readers on facebook and twitter, right? Because that's often how I also get their email daily post, but that was how I just felt still acknowledged by them. Great, I love that, and sometimes if you have an email, then you can, you know, send people an email on that, too. But again, always honesty's the best policy. Um one thing that I just want to bring up on day one when we were talking about moving people from a customer into more of a loyal customer and, you know, kind of across the chain game of fication is a buzz word these days and there's different ways to talk about that, but to incent loyalty and I just was wondering, you know, you obviously have a very high and experience what are you doing? Anything, craig to incent multiple trips to the store and and having people come back or is it just the great product in great service? As we start to scale stores so they will have mohr of a loyalty program with more of a give back program but right now it's just yeah just purely based on experience and pierre coming for yeah do there and I would imagine the coffee training program that you were talking about that's a pipe experience that I think some of your probably loyal, loyal guests would really love and feel delighted to do so I think that you have to find things to incent loyalty that are appropriate to the brand right but like thinking about how are you going to move them across the chain? Because as we've all talked about easier to keep the customer than to get the new one and so make sure that you build those strong relationships so we are getting to the end of this section what I wanted to do was open it up for questions and a good dialogue about experience and then maybe we'll brainstorm about one of your businesses fantastic ok porter I'm guessing that after the past two days you know where I'm going to go with this so jesse l says ok many of us within the creative life community are creatives and have service offerings so not tangible products how do we consider the experience for our prospects and customers are spry says how would one use the concept of customer experience and apply it to a complex non tangible business for example a nonprofit community service where your customer maybe your donors so if there is no product if there is no retail store, how do you bring that experience? Sure, those are great questions, but even in the situation where it's a donor relationship, I think some of the ideas that had craig had about no man clay chur and how you're communicating and valuing people those exchanges between the donor and the non profit are going to be really important. So I would look at that journey of what's the relationship between the non profit in the donor and figure out how to elevate it and have it be a cz respectful is as possible right and make a donation experience why not? Why can't it be an experience of don't you know I mean just the process of doing so sometimes the process of doing things is so difficult and so if you take a step back and kind of list out what somebody is going through it, execute and then address how we could make each part nicer that's kind of a it'll be different yeah, and you know I'll give one example of this but might step father he's no longer with us but at one point he had given a donation to the symphony in minneapolis and I remember well everyone remembers that knew him that one day the symphony sent someone to the house with an instrument and they you know, rang the doorbell and they were playing and they basically said thank you for the donation well, do you think he told everybody he knew you know the symphony sent you know that the the bass player to the house so I think that you have to look at, you know, again what's what's a nonprofit about is it environmental like what are you doing? And I think if it's environmental like maybe you you know, give some kind of seedlings on earth day or I don't know what it is but look for the things that reinforce your values and create that great experience and I know that the little things make a difference something that I've learned from the nonprofit stuff that I've done is you're supposed to say that thank you seven times to your donor seven times is the key number and if you say thank you seven times I think it's eighty five percent of the time they donate again and it needs to be a different type of thank you and that's a very creative thing but a note, an email a personal you know, thank you a phone call, you know, you find different ways to to thank your donors, right? I love that and you know what you're thinking about like the photography business is what if you took that idea of thanking you are you know the gas to the person that has just had services and it's not just you know here's your invoice pay the amount but thank you for hiring me and I happen to make this greeting card for you or you know you something special where they're like wow, that really was thoughtful so I know that going the extra mile khun sometimes cost more money, but again what we're talking about is developing brand experiences and on day one we talked about you can either be the priced discounter and you know, discount, discount, discount or provide something that's more of a branded experience said special and different so I really encourage people to look at what could they do that special and different love that just a quick follow up die eminem says I'm a mural artists in my customers environments, homes or businesses so how do I maintain brand integrity and customer experience in such varied situations when you're not in complete control of your environment? Wow ok, well, I love that I would love to see the murals first of all. Well, I think that you have to have, you know, probably a clear understanding of what the person wants to accomplish when you take on the job and make sure that you can execute tio a place that you feel comfortable with where you're delivering a great experience and you know look at that as ah partnership and actually a gift that you can create some art in somebody's house I mean that's that's a very lovely thing if somebody's asking you to do that how to keep that integrity I think probably a lot of thie preproduction conversation about what the goals are and when we were talking about wire frames and mood boards and creative development I think some of those things actually might work for executing creative on that level to that this is the vision this is the mood making sure that you have a lot of clarity absolutely what things were spelled out there clear and you know what what the services or whatever that is going to be exchanges clear it just creates a much it's a nice experience to actually engage or purchase or whatever it is so like wire frames board and you know if you were doing some of your house you kind of want to know what's going on and so I would be a great way to present it that it's a service experience that's much different yeah great won't do we have any questions in the audience or do we want to and one of their business and I was thinking that we could do here is if we wanted to brainstorm about one of your businesses and for some reason dan I'm thinking that your business could have some things that are different I know that we you had some of your first sales with your videos. Dan has a great business where it's called my island my go ahead what do you do describe it? It's ah it's called my online tech guy and so it's a membership video site also offering ala carte ordering where I break down these complex topics technology wise and break them into small bite size chunks so that the average person who is not a techy can get an ipad can get an android device and look at their computer and do these basic tasks with confidence and they can watch me show them how to do it via video that's the base plan right there? Yeah, well a couple of small ideas for you obviously we did hear that you had some of your first sales yesterday, so congratulations to you, but even for those people that were your first customers reaching out and thanking them and letting them know that you appreciate them, I have a girlfriend who makes high end handbags in l a and she told me a story of calling somebody that ordered a bunch of bags where she said hi, this is nancy, I'm the designer of the bag and the woman on the other end of the phone was shocked she was like, I can't believe that somebody called me and thanked me, so you know following up with that are you know, tweeting to them or you know, doing something letting them know that you appreciate it I think things like that make a huge difference tell me about your thought when you do the one on one tech calls which I saw offered on your site how will you make that experience different better yeah that's something I haven't really talked about too much and so beneath every video on every topic there's an opportunity for someone to say, you know, I these videos air great, but I'm still not understanding how it fits for me and so I've done a lot of consulting before and I do a lot of consulting for a lot of people around the united states who can't see me in person and using technology I'm able to look at their computer screen and we talk over the phone and I show them how to do it on their computer and so they can see it in real life right there with their photos with their email program, so they're not just watching a video of me doing it with my stuff and so not only do I provide this very one on one sort of type of experience there talking to dan dan, the guy who creates all these videos so it's getting personal with me they couldn't actually talked to me and see me do my stuff but then I also at the end and I haven't seen this done before is that at the end of the session I provide them with a link and they can create a password and they have access to the whole entire session via video and I record our session basically so it's our back and forth it's the screen that they're seen and then they can go back to that now and they don't have to be worrying about scribbling notes and frantic that I went too fast so they didn't have the question there now they get to see that whole transcript kind of at the end so it's one way that's very personalized that sort of gives them that sort of warm and fuzzy feeling at the end I love that and what I was thinking about and you'll have to figure out what fits with your brand tone ality and kind of you know how far you want to go with it, but you know, in my head, of course I keep thinking about my mom and we've talked about this, but my mom is a perfect target for some of your services because you get so frustrated with technology and there's almost you're you're having these great teaching moments where you're showing people how to be self sufficient in tech things that are hassles and scary for them where if you were actually giving them a like a badge where it was you know, not a certificate but something like you've now past the you know, the digital photography you know how to download your photos course achievements like if you're giving them some kind of achievement where they feel congratulated and then you also are in scenting them to take more of your courses in your training but rewarding them and saying, hey, you got through this thing that was a hassle, you know, in a in a way that fit with your brand tony that's a great way to give perspective too, because you can a lot of times just focus on have such a narrow point of view, but for me to say, hey, look what you just did you came to me not knowing how to email a photo to your grandchildren into your daughter too, son and now you've put them into your application, you've emailed them, they see it and look how far you've come that's a good, good point so I think you know, acknowledging their success and that's also going to make them feel empowered and good about it. So there may be things like that words taking game ification in more of a validating way I think the fine line that we all have to figure out is there's great things that you can do to add a very personal touch but then imagine if business explodes and you'll listen get really busy. Well, how are you going to sustain that for hundreds maybe thousands of customers where it was great when you had a few and you could really dedicate your time to that. But how do you do it in such a big big sur? Right way? Well, in that when we were listening to mike yesterday about having templates and emails pre written, I think that you will probably need to think about automation where after someone has completed ex task then they get the the email that has their name populated. Intuit congratulations for doing this. You know that kind of things to get to an automated state because you do need to prepare for scaling and growth. Um, I have software for that, right? Yeah, something just their credit card just went through. They need toe give a nice message. Absolutely right. Infusion soft software. I know you can automate all your e mails. Um, I see a lot of good note taking. And jeff, you had some ideas about your business about the hoody. Have any other ofyou had inspiration over the last module about your experience and something that you might want to try or do differently? So this is kind of completely what I'm trying to do is everything that we discussed in this and, um I don't want to say too much because we've already started moving forward and we're not sharing any anything yet but there's definitely things that happened, you know, during this that made me think how I'm going to implement those things and how it's important to keep it and um you know, keeping focused on our readers in fact, I think one of the things that you had on there was, um, you know, making sure you even said it to me making sure we have a certain type of fashion and that's been kind of an issue for us we've just been putting fashion and it hasn't been very specific and it's it wasn't what we wanted and so that's kind of where why we're changing everything we're like this isn't where we wanted to go we want high fashion we want to show what seattle has to offer were not just showing fashion so so really being clear with your curation yes, yes oh very much so that's that's our biggest been our biggest challenge, but I think now we're more focused and I actually talked to my team last night about it after going through all of this and so this is our big thing so great I was just going to say you care and yesterday talked about she's talking about media but you talk about three sixty degree and one of the things as it relates to um, the brand experience, a customer services I'm hearing you talk about that that same, that same idea. And so even as it relates to thank you started think about ways I'd love to hear any more ideas that you may have for us too have that loop happened, for instance, you know, you can say thank you within a survey monkey and get that feedback where you're going to get that feedback, but you're saying thank you within that that's going to help the feed your business because that works, and then perhaps, you know, another idea, maybe is saying social was taking social media much for exactly maybe that'll be the next section, but saying thank you by posting on their site, I'm thinking about, you know, way might of t shirts reproduced for a company we'd posted on their site and say thank you for this great opportunity, which may actually lead to more business, so love to hear any other ideas along some of those three sixty degree approach I mean, well, I loved I mean, I think that just even having the focus on the thank you because again, when we get busy that's all hard and sometimes we forget about that, so keeping that as one of your core values, to have gratitude and appreciating your guests, I think I do tend to like the things that are more personal. I think that the social media, all those things can be great, but like the personal ones really are the ones that are going to, like, come through when we talked about campbell soup ceo writing letters to the employees. Even now, we're in such a culture of texting that people hardly use the phone anymore. Like, what if you even just call people, right? I have seen a lot of value in dinners to and just bringing people together in kind of the vips, smaller events, so creating experiences like that, jeff, with you, I think, because they're so many great designs and collectibles and your products that that almost become something where there could be of vips club, where you have only a certain number of collectibles, of teas that are printed, where people get access to this, you know, this special club, there could be something like that. So think about that as a core asset, this great design in the collectible nature, and you may have access to some of your partners to where maybe you could do something with a band or an event, and behind this behind the scene you, khun bring people to something, though definitely probably be, I think, the things that you, khun d'oh it's always the personal touch right? I think when people are made that when people feel special yeah that's really kind of when they're going to remember you and they're gonna go tell conference yeah, I think that's really kind of that's what we want initiate at the same time it's just a part of so many different businesses here and what it comes down to think about what would for you you know, if I walked away from this service at this moment what could be like the most amazing like while I never expected that yeah, I mean that's kind of yeah, I think in every product or service that I'm hearing if we can create that yeah and gold that's kind of where we're going to really solidify relationship for a long time I want to get to michelle's question, but just quickly craig maybe summarize the three most important things that you think entrepreneurs should think about in terms of experience marketing like three things experience marketing um, you know, I think when when somebody is going to experience something it's definitely we have to make it a memorable one it's like how do we get them to call every single person that they know and say how you know, this was just have you had this? Where have you done this or have you tasted this and I think that's one of the foundational polish is how do we create that memory? Um the second point I think in experience for me is just like, you know, as I am enjoying something or as I am, you know it's just it's all the details that kind of surrounding like what you said before it's all the details that make the experience and I think that's just a huge part of, um, any type of interaction that you have or any type of experience that you that you will take with you out the door as you walk away but I think that's kind of like that for me that would be kind of what I would be looking at and what I would and maybe I would add keeping on brand keeping on brand right? Well, that that's absolutely and I think that the moment you start to steer away from your values and the things that you believe in and it could be a lot of different coming that's when you really start to not only break apart what you're doing but all the people below you and all the people that are working because you're sitting in an inconsistent message chill yeah, nothing that kind of has a ah larger risk in effect michelle um I I had an ah ha moment and that was we were talking before about the value of email addresses and if, um if with the magazine were receiving someone's email, would it be appropriate to begin partnerships and send them? Ah, a promotion for, you know, twenty five percent off something at whole foods or something like that. Or do you think that that initial contact sending a promotion is a bit of, ah, a violation of some point at that early in the relationship? Um, I would that be something that we could use to express our value, I think. It's how it's presented. If you're presenting it as a thank you, I have this special offer for you because I'm so glad you're part of my community and it's a relevant offer that we think that they want the whole foods discount. Then I think it could be a thank you, but I would make sure that it seems like a thank you, not as a offer offer, because you want to establish who you are, what you're doing and establish that relationship before you get into too much of that. Unless it's kind of a thank you, so depends on the value of the thing.