March 24

0 comments

Female Co-Founder Alana Arnold On Selling Luxury Cookies and Utilizing Marketing Trends

By Mimi MacLean

March 24, 2022


Alana Arnold, Co-Founder of Last Crumb

Alana Arnold is the female co-founder and director of operations of Last Crumb, a luxury direct-to-consumer cookie company. Alana has grown her business by utilizing previous marketing experience and trends such as “drop culture” to build hype and popularity around the products. Through these “drops”, Last Crumb has grown a loyal following and an email list of over 125,000 people!

“Just be persistent, really. If you have an idea or an idea, a product that you believe in, I think that you should stick to your guns and do everything you can to make it succeed.” -Alana

Find Alana and Last Crumb:

Episode Contents

How Alana Co-Founded The Luxury Cookie Brand

Photographer: nina avroneva

Mimi MacLean:
Alana, thank you so much for coming on today. I really appreciate it. I'm super excited to hear about your latest venture, Last Crumb. Can you talk a little bit about why you decided to do it. I assume you left your company or your old job to start this.

Alana Arnold:
Yeah, basically. First of all, thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be here. And I have always been in marketing. Prior to this, I worked for a marketing agency. I worked for a private equity firm that owned an eSports company before, and I was doing brand management and marketing there. And that's really what drew me to this whole drop mentality for sneakers, for merch, et cetera. And it just fascinated me, people's dedication to getting something that they can't have. It was everything, the brand affinity. It's not just about the product. It's about the experience and the community and being part of something that's more than just a product. It's emotional, and the drop makes it so much more. It's exciting, something that you anticipate, the hype, you share it with friends, and that's really what drew me to creating Last Crumb the way that we did. It's all encompassing.

 Mimi MacLean:
Right. So tell us for anybody who doesn't or has not been to your website, Last Crumb, what makes your company different than just a typical consumer product?

Alana Arnold:
When you go to our website, you have to be on our email list, and you cannot order anytime. You join our email list, and we then tell you via email when our next drop is. Then you go to the website, let's say it's at 5:30. You go to the website, and you have a chance. It's basically like a lottery. You have a chance to order in the drop at that time. We do a limited amount, and we've been selling out in less than a minute every week. And so that's the only time that you're able to order cookies.

 Mimi MacLean:
And then do you change the flavor each week, or is it the same?

Alana Arnold:
We have one box that we've released so far. It's our core collection. We're doing a Valentine's Day special right now with just our chocolate flavors, but that's limited edition which will end next week. But other than that, we've only released our core collection.

Alana Arnold:
At the end of last year, we did a member's only box, which we sold for $1,000 dollars. And those new members have access this year to our new flavors. And only members are able to try our new flavors. For everybody else, we only have one box, no customization and 12 flavors.

Selling Out and How They Use The Drop Model

Mimi MacLean:
So, wait. Talk to me, because you worked in private equities, you appreciate the investor's point of view. As an investor, I'm sitting here thinking, "Wait, that's great that you sell out, but are you leaving money on the table as far as inventory that you could be selling, because it's just a drop and you can't get more, or you would be selling the same amount in that drop that you would have if you had it open 24/7?"

Alana Arnold:
Yeah, of course. Sometimes I look at the numbers and, as a team, we kind of laugh. And we do see the numbers of add-to-carts and how much that could have been if we would've left the site open for everyone. And it's just a part of the model. We're increasing the number every week in relation to our demand. We increase as much as we can, but it's never going to be just open to the public.

 Mimi MacLean:
Will you ever increase the buy so that you say, "Okay, instead of it selling out in…" How long? You said it was quick? How long was it that it sold out?

Alana Arnold:
Sometimes it's 10 seconds. Sometimes it's a minute. It's really quick.

 Mimi MacLean:
Okay, so say it's in 10 seconds, say it's a minute. "Okay, we're going to make enough so it lasts for an hour." Will you eventually get… At what point will you say, "Okay, this is how long we'll keep it, have enough inventory to fulfill-"

Alana Arnold:
So it's kind of the opposite. We just continue creating more inventory. And the demand's been the same. So as we increase, the numbers still is less than a minute every time, because our email list continues to grow. We have over 125,000 people on our wait list right now wanting to buy cookies, and that's growing every week. So I would assume it's going to continue to grow. We haven't done any marketing yet. We're really [crosstalk 00:06:54].

 Mimi MacLean:
That's crazy.

Alana Arnold:
A new-

 Mimi MacLean:
As an investor, I'd be like, "Okay, you are going to do enough to last you at least an hour," so it drives your sales and you'd still keep it model, right?

Alana Arnold:
It's the same. It would be the same number, whatever X amount that is. If we were to keep it open for an hour… I get what you're saying. And I think it would end up being the same amount people, because the demand just happens so quickly. People are in such a rush to order to try to get these, that it just happens really fast.

 Mimi MacLean:
Right, right, right. So it's interesting. So tell me why you picked cookies. Were you already a baker, or did you see that that was missing?

Alana Arnold:
So I think it was missing, but my co-founder is a really good friend of mine. We've been friends for over a decade, and he's always been an incredible chef and cook. And he makes the best cookies I'd ever had. So he's been making these cookies for years, and I've been eating them for years. And from day one, when I tried them, I thought they were the best cookies I had ever had. And I toyed around and teased him before that he needs to do more, and the world needs to try these cookies.

Alana Arnold:
And about two years ago when the pandemic hit, we kind of got together and just realized now is the best time, and we got together and created this. I think it's a little different. Some people start and they an idea of a product that they want to create, and for us, we already knew we had something really special and a very solid product. And then we created this brand experience around that.

Funding A Company and being a Female Co-Founder

FEMALE CO FOUNDER ALANA ARNOLD QUOTE

Mimi MacLean:
Right. And then how did you go about financing? Did you guys self-finance it for a little bit to get it going, or have you had to go for outside financing?

Alana Arnold:
Yeah, so we self-financed and bootstrapped for a while, and we went back and forth debating if we wanted to raise. We had so many supporters that were with us from the very beginning, and we decided that we wanted to reach out to our network, and we were able to be very selective. And we did this at a point where we already knew what we wanted to do with this money, where we needed it and how this would best help us grow the quickest and most efficient.

Alana Arnold:
So we ended up raising a little over a $1 million in just a few days. It happened really fast. But we were super oversubscribed, and we were really lucky that we were able to be selective as to who we wanted to invest. And it really came down to a combination of who we wanted to be partnered with us in the business and figuring out how we could best deploy that capital to be as impactful as possible to the business.

 Mimi MacLean:
And at what point were you like, "Okay, I can leave my job." Did you leave right away or did you stay around until you started having sales?

Alana Arnold:
So I stopped working for the eSports company, I don't know, maybe six months prior, and I was just doing consulting. And that's when I was doing both at the same time. And I think it was probably around a year ago that things, or maybe it was a year and a half ago now, that I really just focused full in on this. And we have a really small team. So it was a lot of wearing multiple hats. Our team is growing and it's crazy how fast we've grown. But our internal core team is really only, it's a small group of us. We have our defined roles now, but it's still a lot of everyone working together. And we were pretty busy in the very beginning, and I was doing operations and stuff that I wasn't used to. So it came down immediately when we started to being a full-time job.

Growing A Following and Working with a Partner

last crumb campaign
Photographer: nina avroneva

Mimi MacLean:
Right. Now, you accomplished something like having an email list of 125,000 and, having a huge Instagram following. What advice can you give to people, because that's really expensive? Obviously, you marketing background, but hiring and marketing or a PR firm is super expensive, especially for startups. So do you have any advice for bootstrapping startups of how to get their name out there?

Alana Arnold:
I think what we did was really just stay true and authentic to the brand and who we are. And I think a lot of people in the very beginning don't know exactly who they are and their place in the market. And the quicker that you can find that out and really hone in on it, the better, the easier the brand voice. Because if it's not, if you don't know, then your team doesn't know and it doesn't project that way to other people. So I think that's one of the main things that would really advise is make sure that you a 100 percent know who you are and stick to that. Don't be afraid to be like, "This is who we are." And of course, it comes to a time… We're all about the model. Test one thing, and go in 100 percent. Be educated about it, but make sure you're doing that well.

Alana Arnold:
And if things aren't working, we don't have an ego. If something doesn't work, we change directions and we fix it. And I think that's another thing is you have to be kind of malleable and understand that not everything's going to be perfect. And if not, you can't have the ego to spend more money and try to throw more money at something that's not working, because that can put you down a rabbit hole of a wrong direction. And then you just spent a bunch of money, and it's hard. I think with our social, that was one of the main things. We just kept producing authentic content and building this community, and yeah.

 Mimi MacLean:
I think another aspect that making partnerships work and figuring out whose role is what, and if it's an equitable split, or… Do you have any advice to that, having a partner and staying in a good relationship with that partner?

Alana Arnold:
I think you have to be as clear as possible from day one. I talked to a lot of other founders and friends who get in sticky predicaments with their partners, because one assumed this and one thought maybe that. And I am a very on-paper, this is how it should be, and I'm like this with every relationship in my life. And I think the more clear and precise and really just setting the expectations of knowing… Things change of course, but the more that you can do that ahead of time to set expectations, I think it really helps in the future for your relationship. And it comes down to common respect for each other and there's things that you can work out and figure out as you go along. But I think most of the basics and a partnership agreement you can have laid out and figured out prior.

Staying Focused and Disciplined

Mimi MacLean:
Right, right. Now, what would you say has been the hardest part so far of your journey?

Alana Arnold:
For me, I think it's staying focused and disciplined on what we're doing right now. I'm the type where I want to go do a partnership, and I want to explore all these creative avenues that we've had so many great people that have come to us and want to partner with us, and our team has so many ideas that I want to bring to fruition. And it's hard because right now, we've only been selling for eight months, and we need to continue to just do one thing really well. And I think that's been the hardest part is just learning anything that we do… We've kind of learned as a team that anytime that we steer away from that, it's taking away time and effort and money where we could just be continuing to sell our product to the people who want it, and doing that better and better.

 Mimi MacLean:
That's great. I don't know if you know the statistic or not, but 1.7% of female founders companies hit $1 million dollars in sales. So I was wondering from your experience from working with other companies and from your company, what either are entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs doing wrong, or what are the ones who are successful doing right?

Alana Arnold:
I think that sometimes women are just afraid to ask for help and don't utilize and tap into their network as much as they can. I truly believe, especially now, there's always someone who's willing to help you. And I think women need to feel more confident in themselves and really own what they believe in. Don't be afraid to ask for help, and pros and cons of their business. And I think that there's so many people, especially with social media and different blogs and all these outlets that people are really wanting and willing to help. And I think that's something that guys just do a little bit more naturally than women.

Alana Arnold:
It's funny. A quote popped up this morning, actually, which has always resonated with me. It was a William Golding post, and he had said a quote, and he said, "I think women are foolish to pretend they're equal to men. They are far superior and always have been." And I love that. And I think now I look at women, and I think that they're really persistent and don't take no for an answer. And if you put yourself in a position to succeed, even if we are working against the odds, you really just have to put yourself on the same playing field, and realize that we can do just as much, if not more than men.

 Mimi MacLean:
It's true because, I don't know the exact percentage, but I think it's like 79% of men have mentors, and only like 40% of women. It's almost half. Why is that?And just dissecting that and figuring out it is. I think, as women, tend to feel like they have to shoulder it all themselves, and they don't want to show their cards, and they don't want to look weak. But if you talk to men, they're using their network, like you said, to just ask for who knows who, who can help them, or if they can't help them, who else that can help them. And I think tapping and building that network is super important.

Alana Arnold:
Yeah. And I think it's just really empowering. I look at women founders all the time and they just inspire me to be better. And I listen to some of their stories, and it helps me want to ask these different types of questions and find different resources. And I think it's really helpful.

The Process of Starting A Company Is Long But That’s Okay

FEMALE CO-FOUNDER QUOTE

Mimi MacLean:
Is there anything you wish you knew in the beginning that you know now since you've started your business?

Alana Arnold:
There's a ton of stuff that I wish I would've known back then, that would've just helped optimize our process and go through the motions a little bit easier then. But it's growing pains. There's not really one thing. Like most founders, when you start a company, I think you're wearing multiple hats, and you're doing things. And if it was easy enough for everyone to just say, "Okay, we're going to have… You do this, and you do this, and you do this," and everything worked out perfectly, it just doesn't work like that.

Alana Arnold:
And I think if I were to know something now, it would've been just asking different types of questions and understanding how long the process might take. Derek's the kitchen expert, but when I'm in the kitchen and working with operations, I had no idea. I didn't know how long things took. I didn't know with operations and shipping logistics, how long is it going to take? And of course we're amidst in a pandemic, so it's a little bit harder to really realize what's going on. But I think there was just stuff like that we could have prepared ourselves a little bit better for if I would've known a few of the right questions back then.

 Mimi MacLean:
Right, right. It's almost like building a house, everything takes longer and more money. Take whatever number, multiply times two, your sales cut by half, the time double it or triple. It's always, no matter what, it seems easy on paper, but it's just not.

Alana Arnold:
Exactly. And kind of having these plans like, well… We learned this quickly, what else can we be working on in the meantime to help make our experience better while we're waiting for this, or while this isn't happening yet?

 Mimi MacLean:
It's true. Okay. So this has been amazing. Is there anything, any words of advice that you have for fellow entrepreneurs or female CEOs to help them in their process of being more successful or climbing through the ranks of their corporation?

Alana Arnold:
I think just be persistent, really. If you have an idea or an idea, a product that you believe in, I think that you should stick to your guns and do everything you can to make it succeed. Ask questions, don't have an ego if you need to change something, and really listen. I think that if you're talking to a bunch of people and you're getting feedback a certain way, although I wouldn't listen to everyone, but I would get a general consensus of if most people are saying this, then maybe you should look at things a different way and really just continue to reach out to other people and try to connect, use your network.

 Mimi MacLean:
What's your favorite flavor?

Alana Arnold:
Donkey Kong.

 Mimi MacLean:
Donkey Kong.

Alana Arnold:
It's the banana cream pie, but blueberry is a close second.

 Mimi MacLean:
Wow. What's your partner's favorite?

Alana Arnold:
I don't actually know. I think… I'm not sure what his favorite flavor is.

 Mimi MacLean:
The chocolate one, gooey one looked really good when I was looking on the website.

Alana Arnold:
Laura's Lava. It's like a lava cake.

 Mimi MacLean:
Yeah. It looked like it. I was like, "Ooh, that one looks really good." Very good.

Alana Arnold:
Ask him all the time. I'm like, "You're not sick of cookies yet?" And every time he just comes up with a better flavor. Some of our new flavors I know are going to be top favorite.

 Mimi MacLean:
Really? And does he come up with the flavors, or does he find ideas from elsewhere?

Alana Arnold:
Yeah, he comes up with all the flavors, and we have 100 flavors ready to go, which we may or may not release at any point in the next few years.

 Mimi MacLean:
Wow. That's amazing. And do you guys make this stuff in house or do you have a-

Alana Arnold:
Yeah.

 Mimi MacLean:
You do, you have a kitchen in house now?

Alana Arnold:
Yeah. So we make everything in house. It's a three day proprietary process. We have a secret butter. The way that we… Everything's combined is perfectly, so when you take a bite, it's the right amount of sweet and salty and gooey, but crunchy. And it's honestly the best cookie that you'll ever have.

 Mimi MacLean:
Wow. And the drops are always different days.

Alana Arnold:
Yeah. Mostly, yeah.

 Mimi MacLean:
So you don't find out about the drop until you sign up for the email list.

Alana Arnold:
Yeah. You have to sign up for our email list, and we tell you when the drop is. You get a reminder email that day to let you know to log onto the website at a certain time.

 Mimi MacLean:
That's awesome. Well, this has been amazing, and I wish you the best of luck. I know it's going to keep growing and growing, so I'm really excited for you. And thank you so much for your time, Alana.

Alana Arnold:
Yeah. Thank you.

 Mimi MacLean:
Thank you for joining us on The Badass CEO. To get your copy of the top 10 tips every entrepreneur should know, go to TheBadassCEO.com/tips. Also please leave a review as it helps others find us. If you have any ideas or suggestions, I would love to hear them. So email me at Mimi@TheBadassCEO.com. See you next week, and thank you for listening.

Episode Sponsor

Now that you have your personal and business accounts separate, let's take it a step further and really get organized with your “Books.” Even though I am an accountant, the thought of doing my own books made me want to throw up, so I found the PERFECT solution, Bench. It is easy, user-friendly, and super reasonably priced! I am so in love that I have become a Bench Ambassador. I can now sleep at night knowing my books and taxes are up to date and in order! You have to do it today! I promise you it will be cheaper than any accountant you use for bookkeeping and your tax return, and you will feel in control of your own books. Bench helps you keep everything in one place, so you are all set to file quickly and smoothly when it comes time for tax season. The best part is that you get a personalized bench employee to work with you one on one. To try out Bench, click HERE, and you will get a free trial and 30% of your first three months with Bench!

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Top 10 Tips For Every Entrepreneur

>