October 21

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Rae Wellness CEO Angie Tebbe On Affordable Wellbeing

By Mimi MacLean

October 21, 2021


Rae Wellness Founder
Angie Tebbe of Rae Wellness

Rae Wellness is one of the hottest wellness brands on the market right now, with everyone from IG to Tik Tok wellness influencers using their products. Angie Tebbe, the co-founder, and CEO built the brand on values of affordability and socially conscious production.

Rae focuses on building health from the inside out, and Angie’s current role focuses on community building and product innovation. She sat down with us to talk about her journey from starting Rae Wellness to their existing brand growth strategies and goals.

“As women entrepreneurs, we need to make sure we are thinking BIG and not taking no for an answer.”- Angie

Find Angie and Rae Wellness

LISTEN TO THE FULL EPISODE HERE

Episode Contents

Creating Rae Wellness – The Inspiration

rae wellness logo

Mimi MacLean:
Angie, thank you so much for coming on today. I really appreciate your time. I wanted to start out with how you decided to leave your Target job. You were there for a long time, which is a big leap, and start your own company in the supplement industry. I would love to just figure out what you were thinking at the beginning of Rae.

Angie Tebbe:
Let me be clear that all of this was planned. I grew up in a really holistic household. So I had a cellular appreciation of wellbeing and wellness my entire life. I was a super weird little 5-year-old meditating on the lawn in Fargo, North Dakota. This is returning to my roots and my upbringing to a certain extent.

I had a moment a little over three years ago where I drove home from work and had to pull off to the side 'cause I got physically ill. It was the sign of my own burnout, women in my life not being well in a number of ways, my friends calling me and saying, "You keep talking about this wellness thing. Are you ever going to do it? Are you just going to stay in your corporate job?

All these signs, all these signs just coming, coming literally in a matter of two weeks. And so I just, I had a moment and I took my time and made sure that this felt right, not knowing what I was going to do. And I left my corporate career in pursuit of something, but I didn't know what.

Mimi MacLean:
Were your family like, "What? Wait, what are you doing? Are you crazy?" Or were they supportive?

Angie Tebbe:
It was one of those situations for me where I needed that physical sign to shock me into seeing. I was so lucky to be able to take time off and figure out what it was for me personally and professionally that I felt I needed to do around wellness. I believe in supplements and don't think there's any amount of avocado that can replenish what we as women put out.

What I wanted to take, right, that was like east meets west and address mind and body was very, very expensive and, to me, felt like it was made for the 1% of affluent women. What existed at mass was either, in my mind, not made with women in mind or largely in gummy format. And so I started sketching out a brand and an idea and wasn't easy, but started to kind of create a business model around what could be in the space.

Working with a Co-Founder and Lessons Learned

range of rae wellness products
Range of Rae Wellness Products

Mimi MacLean:
So I see you're a co-founder so you have a partner. Talk about that. How did you find a partner and how did you decide to just start with a partner versus doing it on your own?

Angie Tebbe:
Yeah. Eric was an amazing co-founder. He's no longer involved in the business. He, about a year and a half ago, is onto different things. He's co-founded a new company since then, but we came together and I have to tell you, it was so great to have someone to go through all of this with, right? It is not easy.

The mind needs to be exceptionally resilient. The journey has been three years and it's been remarkable. It's been ups and downs and I'm happy, happy to talk about all of it.

Mimi MacLean:
That's awesome. Okay, so you started this, you had this idea, you have this partner, where did you begin? I mean did you use the resources that you had and your contacts from Target to find the sourcing and the packaging and all that? Or did you have to start from scratch?

Angie Tebbe:
All from scratch. There is … I mean I had an amazing toolkit, don't get me wrong, creating brands. This was all in the home and apparel spaces so it's-

Mimi MacLean:
Okay, so totally different.

Angie Tebbe:
The whole supply chain is different. There was no packaging in apparel and so it was all really different. Where I started was thinking about what this looks like in five years? I think brands are platforms and have the ability to do really amazing things. So for me, that five-year view kind of grounded on what is the platform of the company? How do we stand for wellbeing for all?

One of the key parts of our business model from day one was we wanted to be omni channel and that isn't easy, to have a package, to your point, or a brand that is having conversations on Instagram, is super postable and can get through the supply chain for major retailers and look good on the shelf. All of those things kind of compete, right? And so as the example of looking out five years on what we want to do, that made all of those choices really, really the beginning.

Mimi MacLean:
Mm, that's great. Now, where would you say most of your distribution is at this point? Is it direct to consumers or is it through retailers?

Angie Tebbe:
Both. We are currently at Target.

Mimi MacLean:
Okay.

Angie Tebbe:
We have a direct-to-consumer site and we're on Amazon.

A Strong Social Media Presence for Rae Wellness

rae wellness IG
Rae Wellness Instagram

Mimi MacLean:
And then I see you have a strong presence on Instagram. Can you talk about that and how you built that up?

Angie Tebbe:
Yeah. From the beginning, we knew that it was so important to listen to our consumer, understand who she is, how she's feeling. Oh, she's changing and I got to tell you she's changed a lot over the last couple of years given the pandemic and a number of things. And so for us, it was really important to understand that and then try to determine the channels to have a conversation with her.

Instagram is one of them, to your point. TikTok has been an amazing platform for us as well as we've got a Shine Culture Journal that is remote to our site. It's a completely different website that we talk to folks about their wellbeing more holistically on.

For all those reasons, we kind of surrounded her life with not only the channels of conversation but additionally, the channels of distribution, where she shops. All of that kind of got pieced together in terms of a brand identity, the brand voice, the diversity that we wanted to show up with, the authenticity that we wanted to manifest. Then, obviously, Instagram is a channel like you described that we've had amazing, amazing success with in terms of being able to talk to our consumers.

Mimi MacLean:
That's great. Now is there any advice that you would give to anybody who's starting out? I mean it is very hard to get eyeballs. I've had a lot of people who come and look for financing and they're like, "Okay, I have this beautiful website." And then I'm like, "Okay, yeah, but what's your hook?"

How it's so expensive and so difficult to get eyeballs to your website or to your Instagram page. Is there any advice? Did you hire a PR firm? Did you do anything crazy, video to kind of go viral? What was your hook that got people to recognize your name?

Angie Tebbe:
I was always an entrepreneur looking for the silver bullet and what's that one thing, what's that one channel. The one thing I've learned is there are no silver bullets.

Mimi MacLean:
Yep.

Angie Tebbe:
It is a whole host of things that need to come together and work together to make a brand successful. That magic sauce varies so much from brand to brand, right? So the biggest piece of advice I have for entrepreneurs is don't give up. Try a lot of things. There are multiple ways up that mountain.

There are multiple ways to talk to your consumer. Start with the who, start with understanding their lives and then, figure out the strategy to start that conversation with them because it's super variable to your point. We were talking about YouTube earlier, that's a great example of something that we haven't done yet that has been highly successful for other brands.

For all those reasons, I think there are so many variables, but there's no one silver bullet. It's the ecosystem of how it all works-

Mimi MacLean:
I'm in this mastermind group and for some reason, I'm the only one who's not a doctor. And we were away two weekends ago and we were talking about YouTube.

Angie Tebbe:
The power of video, I mean it continues to accelerate, to your point, across multiple channels. That's why we've had so much success on TikTok. That's why Instagram is changing its platform to be more video-focused and especially in a category like this, which requires education.

Mimi MacLean:
Now I know one of the biggest obstacles in starting a company is financing it. Did you find that difficult? I would love it if you could just talk a little bit about that if you feel comfortable.

Angie Tebbe:
There was a little bit of bootstrapping at the beginning and then, there's some friends and family, and some smaller funds came in all the way through. We closed our Series A in December.

With that said, that has been one of the most challenging parts of the journey. It took 10 years to get women, I know you know these stats, to get women-owned companies to get to 2-1/2% of venture capital funding.

Mimi MacLean:
I know, it's crazy.

Angie Tebbe:
And that was a high water mark in 2019 and it's rescinded since then.

Mimi MacLean:
Yeah, because of the pandemic.

Angie Tebbe:
Because of the pandemic. So for all of those reasons, that for me was one of the pieces of the journey that required the most resilience and the most tenacity because after you get 50 nos, 80 nos, a hundred nos and sometimes, it's you, "Shoot, should've learned how to do that better or could've pitched that better."

And some of it is just finding the cohorts that believe in the same things you do or your business model or are at the right stage to invest and where you're at. And so there's a lot of capital out there, but finding that capital is really, really intensive and for sure, one of the most difficult parts of the journey so far.

You Have To Love The Process

Mimi MacLean:
Well, congratulations. That's exciting. Yeah, it's very time consuming, right? It's the time that you spend doing that, you're taking the eye off the ball of growing your company and people don't realize. It probably took you a lot of time to find. So just can you touch on that a little bit? Is it like a hundred to one? What would you say that ratio is? 'Cause they always say like marketing, it's like someone has to hear something seven times before they actually sinks in, or you have to ask a customer 10 times before one says, yes? What did you find that there was a kind of … I've heard it's like a hundred to one typically.

Angie Tebbe:
Is that what you've heard? It's a hundred to one?

Mimi MacLean:
Yeah.

Angie Tebbe:
I do believe it's different for everyone. I can speak to my own experience. And when you get that first yes, and you get someone fully committed to what you're creating, they have cohorts of other investors, right? And it's almost like a lot of nos and when that first domino falls, then things start to happen.

Mimi MacLean:
Yep-

Angie Tebbe:
And then you start to see the momentum, right? And so I don't know what the right numbers are, but for us, it's probably about that, a hundred to one ratio. But then once that one came-

Mimi MacLean:
Well, no one wants to be the first yes.

Angie Tebbe:
Yeah, exactly, exactly.

Mimi MacLean:
No one ever wants to be that first yes ever.

Angie Tebbe:
Yeah, yeah.

Mimi MacLean:
And they want to see who else is coming in before they go in, correct. So talk about your employees, have you been able to outsource a lot of it? Do you actually have full-time employees, and that managing that aspect of your business?

Angie Tebbe:
Yeah, we have full-time employees. So our team is in the teens and really that has been such a big enabler of our growth. We had a million customers our first year. At $15, you got to work really, really quick and fast to get that amount of consumers and so that required a team and we knew that. We also wanted to make sure that we manifested authenticity. So we didn't use a lot of agencies upfront to kind of create, to your point, media plans and our channel plans. From a marketing perspective, we hired.

Angie Tebbe:
And how we thought about the team and how we continue to think about the team is to be successful and to live a super authentic culture, the first thing you have to do in my mind is make sure that every single human is a mission-aligned person, understands the mission of the company and is super aligned to that. I worked on projects where I wasn't kind of aligned to the end result and I didn't do my best work. And so that is the most important part is that they have a believability around wellbeing for all and what that looks like.

Angie Tebbe:
The second piece is making sure that they have a really good perspective on personal and professional together. And what I mean by that is … I don't like the word balance, work-life balance. I feel like that indicates a math equation, but they understand personally and professionally their why and what's important to them because in a startup, you who can work 150 hours a week. And so we want to make sure that people understand their personal why as much as their professional why so that we can walk the walk around wellbeing with each other and for each other.

Angie Tebbe:
Lastly, of course, experience, right human in the right role, but those first two filters have really allowed us to kind of hit home runs in terms of talent. When you are so critically aligned to the why and everything that the company is doing, people show up and do their best work. That's kind of how we think about talent broadly at Rae.

How She Has Navigated Growing Rae Wellness During the COVID Pandemic

rae wellness products on a counter
Rae Wellness

Mimi MacLean:
I love that. That's great. And then the other thing I was thinking of when I was looking at your brand 'cause it reminds me a lot of like the Goop when she kind of calls her vitamins different whatever, and because of my being in this space a little bit with my other podcast, my Lyme podcast, talking about supplements, especially during COVID is very tricky. There's just a lot of gray space in that. Have you found that difficult as far as like you can't make claims and you can't … There's just a lot of legality to talking about supplements and what it does. And even when I'm writing my articles for my Lyme podcast, it's like you can't make any claims. You can't make any … So how have you kind of navigated that space?

Angie Tebbe:
There's definitely a needle to thread in terms of navigating, while it's not completely FDA regulated, it's FDA enforced. And so, there's a whole host of things to think about legally. We always had a belief from the beginning that our consumers and our reviews and the advocacy we would develop would do that for us. And we have thousands and thousands of reviews. Our average star rating is 4.85.

Mimi MacLean:
That's great.

Angie Tebbe:
And our community doesn't just leave a star rating. They talk about our products.

Mimi MacLean:
That's great.

Angie Tebbe:
This worked really well or this, I would consider this or I took these two together and … And so for us, we knew that that would be the best testimonial. There's only so much you can say as a brand about how amazing our products are and we believe that, but we knew that that would be our trial if you will. And so for all those reasons, that's how we've always thought and that's how we'll continue to think is just listening to the voice of our consumer.

Mimi MacLean:
Yeah, that's great. Is there, what would you say has been the most difficult part of starting this business?

Angie Tebbe:
Oh, my gosh. How much time do you have? I would say there's been so many amazing moments of momentum. And when I think that we've hit like the best moment of momentum, it just keeps getting better. With that said, there have been so many lessons learned, fundraising being one that we just described.

Angie Tebbe:
I think the other biggest lesson for me personally has been the power of patience. It's something I'm continuing to learn every day with myself, with the business, with my own personal life. And to me, what that means is continuing to maintain the confidence and have the confidence to know everything will work out as it should, and that building a business takes time. Good and sustainable movements take time. And so it's so important to breathe and enjoy the journey, although I need to remind myself that all the time because we are so driven to impact lives and we're so driven to get our products and our content in the hands of so many women that we believe we can help feel better. But I would say that that, to me, has been the personal side of the journey that I've had to learn the most about.

Mimi MacLean:
Yeah, 'cause everything takes about twice as much time and twice as much money as you want to take-

Angie Tebbe:
Four times, yeah. I mean we have this thing of like whatever time you think it's going to take, quadruple it. Don't double it, quadruple it.

Mimi MacLean:
Quadruple it, yeah.

Angie Tebbe:
That's what it takes-

Mimi MacLean:
'Cause you're kind of like, "Well, why is it that difficult? Let's just go, let's just go. If everyone just focused at the same time, it would get done." But then it's funny how when things just align and it moves quickly and then sometimes it just doesn't.

Angie Tebbe:
Yep. Yep. That's been our experience for sure.

There Are Multiple Ways Up A Mountain

Angie Tebbe Quote Graphic
Quote from Angie Tebbe

Mimi MacLean:
Yeah. Now is there any kind of, as a woman and growing a company, is there any advice you would give to entrepreneurs? I know you don't like that work-life balance kind of thing, but are there any tricks, apps, things that you've done in your life on a day-to-day basis that helps you manage everything?

Angie Tebbe:
I feel like my entire routine has kind of gone out the window in the last few months. And so for me, being my routine is quite different now, making sure that I have five minutes outside to walk around the block or it just looks different, right? Taking care of myself just looks different and it will for the next few months.

The one thing that I have never given up, regardless of if I'm traveling or what I'm doing, is I practice yoga Nidra at night, which is a form of meditation. And you can do it in five minutes, 10 minutes, that has definitely been kind of my go-to.

Mimi MacLean:
Yep. Yep. Now, is that are you also wearing an Oura ring, too?

Angie Tebbe:
I am, I am.

Mimi MacLean:
Yes, I have mine on, too.

Angie Tebbe:
I love that.

Mimi MacLean:
I was going to say, is that one of your …

Angie Tebbe:
It is. I love it. I love it so much. And it's a blessing and a curse sometimes, right, with a 16-week-old baby.

Mimi MacLean:
I know. You wake up and it's like, "Go back to bed. You're not ready for the day." And you're like "I don't have a choice."

Angie Tebbe:
Or you think you feel rested, yeah, and it tells you you're not.

Mimi MacLean:
Yes, it's true. When do you actually, my dilemma is when do you actually charge it? 'Cause you-

Angie Tebbe:
I agree. 'Cause you like the data so much that it's hard to take it off. Yeah. Yeah.

Mimi MacLean:
You're like, "Wait, when am I … I guess I can charge it when I'm sitting at my desk. I don't know. It's one of those. And then I never remember to charge it unless it's at night, but then I'm like, but I want the sleep data so it's kind of complicated.

Angie Tebbe:
So good. I love it so much.

Mimi MacLean:
Yeah. That's great. Well, this has been amazing. Is there anything else that we haven't covered that you would like to cover, especially for women who are thinking about doing this journey or are on this journey and how to support them?

Angie Tebbe:
Such a good question. The biggest thing I've learned is to be successful, you have to love the process and be motivated by the challenges and the building blocks because starting a company requires.

Building a team, mobilizing investors, moving through incredible uncertainty, and you're not always going to have the answers. You're certainly not always going to have the results that you anticipated. And so you really have to enjoy the process and learning experience.

There are multiple ways to the top of the mountain. And so when you're on a different road or you need to jump lanes, just make sure that you appreciate the process and learning because nothing ever happens how you think, but that's part of the ride.

Mimi MacLean:
It's interesting 'cause I like to look at the question, only 1.7% of women ever reach a million dollars in sales in their business, and you did that the first year, which is kind of unheard of, right? Also, only 5% of women ever make it to C-suite. So why is that?

What makes a company or an entrepreneur super successful and not? For you, it's the tenacity and it's the determination.

I think that's another big thing that women don't think big enough and you, right off the bat, are like I'm going to change women's lives, right?

Bootstrapping and Not Taking No For An Answer

Angie Tebbe:
A lot of women bootstrap and access to capital's more difficult. Even that 2-1/2% of the venture capital that we talked about, the valuations are lower and the amount of capital deployed is less, right? There is an institutional challenge to continue to overcome there around funding. Some of it, to your point, is making sure that we're thinking big enough and that we're not taking no for an answer. I'm so excited about the conversations that are being had. Every moment that I can pay it forward and spend time with folks 'cause I think it's really important to continue to support each other.

Mimi MacLean:
Having just gone through the whole capital raise for the Series A, is there anything, in particular, you think that stands out that made you get the financing? Was it your background or was it your idea? Was there anything in particular that people kind of like, okay, this is why I'm going to invest in you versus somebody else starting a supplement company?

Angie Tebbe:
Yeah. I think it goes back to the same silver bullet answers.

Mimi MacLean:
Yes.

Angie Tebbe:
I wish there was like one thing, but having a million customers our very first, results, investors are about financials and results. And that in addition to all those other things that you mentioned, I think it's a blend of a number of things, not just one particular silver bullet aspect of it.

Mimi MacLean:
Yep. That's great. Well, congratulations. So, anybody who wants to go buy their Rae vitamins and supplements and change their life, you can go to raewellness.com!

This has been amazing. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time and I can't wait to see you continue growing and changing the world.

Angie Tebbe:
Thank you. Great to meet you.

Mimi MacLean:
Thank you for joining us as the Badass CEO. To get your copy of the top 10 tips every entrepreneur should know, go to badassceo.com/tips. Also, please leave a review as it helps others find us. If you've 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.

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