DTC Growth Show

DTC cheese and charcuterie? Yup! That's Boarderie

Episode Summary

In today's world of immediate gratification, it's uncommon to find a brand that takes its time in spinning up an eCommerce site and going DTC. But that's exactly what Boarderie did. Boarderie has spent the past two years sending artisan charcuterie and cheese boards directly to people's homes. Their boards don't require the recipients to unpack them and put them together, they're not baskets. These go straight from the box to your table and are ready to eat.

Episode Notes

In today's world of immediate gratification, it's uncommon to find a brand that takes its time in spinning up an eCommerce site and going DTC.

But that's exactly what Boarderie did.

Boarderie has spent the past two years sending artisan charcuterie and cheese boards directly to people's homes. Their boards don't require the recipients to unpack them and put them together, they're not baskets. These go straight from the box to your table and are ready to eat. ... (READ MORE)


Episode Transcription

DTC growth Show. Welcome to the GGC growth Show presented by banknotes minted by hashtag pay. My name is Ian. Each week you speak with a DTC founder or someone connected to direct to consumer trends. Today I'm speaking with Rachel Solomon partner and CEO Porter. Porter, he allows you to have artisan cheese and charcuterie boards, or Grace boards as Rachel calls them delivered directly to your home. These are baskets you have to unpack and put together, these boards go directly from the box to your table ready to serve. Today we speak to Rachel about how borderfree only recently gotten to ecommerce after first establishing itself across third party distribution channels, and the difficulties that come with shipping perishables around the country. Hi, Rachel, thanks for joining us. Thank you for having me. Yeah, of course. So tell us a little bit about borderfree. And how it got started. And the idea behind it, for sure. So we actually were kind of born out of the pandemic, my partner's Erin and Julie, they ran a pretty robust, high end catering business in South Florida. And then, when the pandemic hit, essentially, all of their events were canceled overnight. And so their most popular item on their catering menus was the spectacular grazing tables that they would make full of all different types of cheeses and meats from around the world. They were really experts in that. And so they decided to kind of figure out a way to make that product deliverable nationwide so that they could save their catering business. And around that time they had started delivering locally in our area. We lived in West Palm Beach, Florida and South Florida. And basically, I was a customer. So I fell in love with the product and the concept I was ordering the boards for local delivery, they were only doing local delivery at the time in our area. And this was during COVID Everybody was stuck quarantined at home. And so essentially what happened is we started talking about this vision that Aaron had to turn it into a nationwide shipping business. And so I joined the team right around when we got our first contract with gold belly, which was our first real break into the nationwide shipping business. And that was a fantastic partnership and has been a fantastic partnership. Within three months, we became one of the highest grossing vendors they'd had since their inception. So we received one of the largest checks they'd ever written a vendor

by December of 2020. And we had launched in October of 2020. So we knew we were onto something. And we actually ran out of inventory so quickly in December 2020, that we basically had to shut down production. And so that's really how it all started. And it's been onwards and upwards since then. Awesome. So cool. So and you're really you guys differentiate in terms of like DTSC charcuterie in that.

And correct me if I'm wrong here indict like, you're not just sending things for people to put together themselves, right? Like this is coming out of the box and ready to serve. Yeah, so we're the only company in the world that's shipping completely pre assembled catering quality cheese and charcuterie boards. So you just open the box, unwrap it, and it's ready to go. And that's, you know, that's what really differentiates us a lot of I think a lot of people are bored of sending these these gift baskets full of chunks of cheese and tubs of me that you know, you're basically asking your recipient to to do all the work to put their gift together. And so you know, cheese and charcuterie is such a big trend. And we've created something that's a real method for producing these at scale where they're really high quality ingredients that we source from all over the world. One of our partners is actually a cheesemonger in Somalia, and he spent, you know, over 10 years working at a three Michelin star restaurant Italy. So he's an expert on cheeses and meats. And so he sources everything from around the world. And it comes to you exactly how you see it in the images on our website. It's totally ready to go. So you mentioned like you said something here, as you're talking about the first time about the company like did you call it? Grace boards? Is that right? Grazing grazing boards? Yeah, that's just a term that people use for cheese and charcuterie. Yeah, that's cool. I've not I've not heard that. So I feel like an even you've even mentioned like, start coutries like definitely having a moment. So yeah, talk about that. Just talking about kind of what it's like to start this company at this time. When, when, like, obviously, you've covered your people probably entertaining a little bit more at home, like definitely taking advantage of being at home. And then also like, everything's Instagrammable right, like, you take a picture of your food first. So like, you're you're you're presenting like, like this is like an artist's work out of the box. That is Instagrammable. So yeah, just talking about like, what it's been like to start this type of company at this moment in time. Yeah. And it's, you know, when we started it. Geez charcuterie was a growing trend on social media. I think everybody was kind of building their own boards at home during COVID

Yeah, and that was fantastic. But the reality of it is like, we're like, oh, is this gonna be kind of just a trend, it has not been a trend, it has only continued to increase in popularity. And we've just seen our business grow significantly over the past two years. And I think, you know, the trend is continuing, people are now trying to create all different types of boards, something we've seen a lot of recently is butter boards. And we've had a lot of people reach out to ask us to comment on, you know, like, What is your thought on the butter board trend? Like, is it going to replace the cheese and charcuterie board and we're like, it's just kind of funny, because we're like, well, it's just butter on a board. You know, it's a great complement to a cheese and charcuterie board. But, you know, there's always a new trend out there that everybody's interested in. And I think she's in charcuterie boards are really the classic. And if you think about the food, shipping space, and how much not only how much it's growing, but what edible gifts are available on the market, it's really just boxes and baskets. And the one major player that has become dominant not only in the US, but across the world for edible gifting is edible arrangements. And I think what makes them unique, right, is they're sending you an arrangement, something that's already ready to serve.

That's fun, beautiful, kind of, you know,

it has it has that like kind of gimmicky feel to it, right, where like you're getting a bouquet of fruit. And, you know, we don't like to hate on any other companies, right. But like we, we think people will be more interested in eating a

word of cheese and charcuterie as opposed to a bouquet of fruit. So our goal really is like we admire their models very different. They're not they're not shipping they, they have a franchise model, which is really smart. But

you know, we we do see ourselves as kind of in that same space and kind of becoming the next edible arrangements of cheese and charcuterie. That's our goal. Super cool. So a couple of things that you mentioned that I want to unpack, but I guess starting with, you know, talking about Instagrammable, moments and trends and all that. So talk about like, how are you utilizing social media as a channel to promote order? Yeah. Are you actually asking your customers to post their boards? Are you looking for inspiration on what boards should should look like in the future? How does that work? So a lot of times, and we post pretty often, it's something that's actually a little bit of a challenge for us, because I think, especially now that we started our own direct to consumer platform, and we're selling through our website, which is really our focus moving forward, social media has become that much more important.

One thing that I've been really cognizant of from day one is that followers do not equal sales.

And I think that's something I've always kept in mind as we've grown the business over the past couple of years, because we, you know, we, we are trying to conserve our funds in the best ways possible and not spend money on things that aren't revenue generating. And so, from the beginning, we always posted on social media, our first brand was actually cheese border, which is exclusive to gold belly and gold belly has been an absolutely fantastic partner. So they have exclusivity on the cheese border brand. Border, it was actually our second brand. So

we post a lot for for cheese border for gold Valley, because they care a lot about social media. But really, it goes back to the way that we approached our strategy. So we started only wholesaling two big online retailers. So basically, companies like William Sonoma, and

you know, we're on door dashes nationwide shipping platform, one of 30 vendors for their pilot program, we now sell through costco.com. And I mean, the list goes on. We're now on Neiman Marcus, all these different online vendors. And the reason for that was because we didn't want to approach we wanted to build a profitable and solid foundation for our business where we were actually making money from the start, and not having to spend a bunch of money on advertising,

to really get the word out there and start to acquire customers. And so that was kind of the first phase of our growth. And that didn't really require us to do a lot of our own marketing. It was essentially bringing on these big contracts with third party vendors that we can dropship for online. And that has worked really, really well for us. And I'm happy that we took that approach because the way that a lot of startups, I think get themselves into muddy water is they they spend a ton of money on advertising out the gate, and then they basically dilute their funds pretty quickly

before they have enough volume to support their overhead and whatnot. And so we built a profitable business first where we're supporting the overhead of production facility that can produce over 3000 boards per day. And now that we're in year you know, we're we're about two years in now now is when we're really starting to push for our own direct to consumer because we want

Be able to acquire own customers and remarket to them q1 through q3 Because right now, q4 is by far our heaviest time of year. And so that was a long winded way of getting into now social media is becoming very important. So, where, as I said before, I don't believe that followers necessarily

translate to sales, I think that social media, advertising, all those different things are becoming a much bigger part of what we do every day. And it's something we're actually in a transitional phase of right now, which I'm struggling with a little bit just because, you know, we everybody on our team, we all contribute really unique skill sets to the group, and it really makes a perfect combination of teammates. And, and the one thing that we really need to add is someone who is fantastic at social media. It's something that, you know, it takes a lot of time, it really is a full time job when you're trying to build,

you know, an E commerce brand. And so, I do all of our social media now in my free time, but you know, it's it's limited free time when you're also doing lots of other things related to the business. And we've started doing social media, advertising, Google advertising, all that different type of stuff. And it's been a couple months now, since we launched our direct to consumer, it's going really well so far. But that's kind of the transitional phase, we're in of learning, learning how to approach tick tock and in, you know, making reels now and all that stuff's a lot more time consuming than just posting a photo, you know. So before we Yeah, for sure. So before we get into, like, the difficulties and everything that comes with, you know, running a DTC food brand, sending perishables? I mean, I think what you just talked about is so interesting, in that you, you're kind of the reverse of how a lot of startups are acting right now in terms of, like DTC first and then figuring out, okay, that's not profitable. What other channels Can we can we dive into? So what's the what's the background of the leadership team and yourself that was really showed a lot of maturity there to know, like, hey, let's get into these other dropship channels. First, though, that, you know, can support what we ultimately want to grow as a brand on the DTC side. So what are some of the background of the leadership team that really led you guys to kind of take that that tactic first? Yeah, So Aaron, Aaron, and Julie actually ran, like I said, before, a high end Catering Company in South Florida for about 20 years. And they were really, really successful at that they had, you know, some of the most spectacular events all the time, they had amazing celebrity clients, they really, really ran a high end operation, and they had hundreds of employees. And it was, it was a really

amazing thing that they did, and it was always custom events. So they I think they really just had a good business sense for it from the beginning. And I think that a lot of good advice, you know, so my background is actually finance. So, you know, I kind of had the same approach, I always look at it from the numbers, right? Like, is this going to be profitable are we going to lose money, I never want to do something that's not going to be profitable from the start, because in the beginning, right, I don't want to put us in a position where we're just burning cash. And we don't raise we haven't raised money from Venture anything. So it's all our own money all everybody invested in the business, it's their own money. So you know, we're obviously very conscious of, of not wasting our own money, right, and building a solid profit business first before we start and using those profits to then pursue the direct to consumer and so I think that's where it really came from our fourth partner is

an investor and he's also a real estate developer. So he has been a fantastic advisor for us and has he actually helped us build out our state of the art SQF which is like the highest level of food safety certification production facility, which is

you know, we have 8000 square feet of refrigeration and all the capacity to really produce these at scale and he was a huge part of that. So you know, everybody brings their own skill set I think none of us had background any commerce is probably the best way to explain it. Right. So what the way we approached it felt more natural to all of us and and, you know, I guess the whole goal was let's make money from the start.

Yeah, that's a good goal, probably a goal that for businesses should

plan explosive, very fast growth, which is fantastic and a lot of times necessary when you're trying to when you have venture funds and you know, you have the right approach and but we've we've really been learning as we go and I think it's really benefited us to approach it this way. Right. So it but it doesn't mean that both avenues are not necessary. So like really, the channel strategy selling

through third parties is something that helps us a lot, it's profitable, but it's not going to bring us to the level that we need to be at. And that's where the E commerce side of it comes in. So we have high overhead, like I said, we have a big production facility and you know, all the requirements of, of keeping it in tip top shape, because it is the highest level of food safety certification, there's a lot that goes into that. So we do have very high overhead. And the great thing is our wholesale business covers that overhead. And that's really the goal, but the explosive growth that we're looking for, to really get our brand out there and start to start to become that household name. And she's in charcuterie because nobody owns that space is that's gonna come from the direct to consumer that we have to now that we've now started to build.

So yeah, so let's, I guess let's let's kind of transition to the E commerce piece in that. So the E commerce site has been live not very long now. Right? How long? About three months? Okay. So three months in, and you're about to get into what you just said, is the busiest season for you guys. So let's talk about some of the pain points you're seeing with E commerce and what's worked well, in the first three months, and maybe what you're immediately seeing as like, Yeah, we're gonna have to tweak that, or this is something that didn't work as expected. Yeah, for sure. So

I was really, really fortunate in finding somebody who I trust and who has been absolutely fantastic working kind of hand in hand with me to as a freelancer to help me build the the direct consumer advertising strategy. And I worked with a freelance web developer who was also great to get our website up. And we're still kind of, you know, making tweaks to that and adding on as we go. But I, we've had a lot of success in the first couple of months. And I think it's the same thing that we've seen on platforms with our product, right? Like, we, I think the other thing also, too, was that selling through channels helped us prove demand for the product. And so we knew it was there. And that gave us confidence, going to direct to consumer and starting to spend money on advertising. But we and we really did see the same impact that we've seen through our channels, right? People see this when they're looking for a gift, it's kind of a no brainer, because it's so much more unique than all the other options on the market, when you're when you're advertising something that is truly the one and only version, right, it becomes, I think, a lot easier. In a sense, I think it's difficult to advertise more difficult to advertise in spaces where there's tons and tons of very direct competition. And so, you know, we've we've been fortunate in that sense, I think from out the gate. I mean, we were very happy with the results. And we've just continued to drive our customer acquisition costs down since we started three months ago. And and that's really the goal, right is to get repeat customers, my whole strategy is not to lose money on the first sale.

And for the first couple of months, we did, and I think that's pretty normal. But now that we're in month three, we're really approaching not losing money on any sales, which I'm really happy about. And I just want to continue moving in that direction. Yeah, I think, you know, and obviously, we invite our listeners to check out borderfree.com. But I mean, I think that the site, I mean, just like your guys's business model is, is it looks more mature than three months. I mean, I think like the, the HOW TO THE how it arrives, the, you know, the GIFs that are kind of the unboxing. I mean, I think it's all very mature and really speaks to like, what, what the, like, what a new ecommerce site should look like in this space.

And but you're dealing with an additional kind of headache of having to schedule deliveries. And

I used to be in the furniture side of E commerce and like, I hated sending dining room tables, like it was absolutely the worst, because I just like knew 95% of time, they're gonna arrive damaged. And it cost like $600 to send a table unless you're dealing with perishables. So like, talk me through, like, the scheduling and dealing with different, you know, shipping companies and all that like, yeah, I just can't imagine how maybe frustrating that could be at times. Yeah, no, I mean, it's something where shipping rates are the biggest pain point in our business, right? So we ship overnight nationwide, we don't charge customers for shipping. So we bake that into our product cost. It's it's something that right now, like when we sell through third party vendors, they pay for shipping and because they're the Costco is of the world and the William Sonoma and the Neiman Marcus is they have fantastic shipping rates overnight. Whereas you know, we're the small new brand and we don't have the shipping rates, and so that's something we're working towards.

I love ups. I'm a huge fan of UPS. I'm a huge fan of our UPS rep

and she has

has worked with me every step of the way to make sure that we're able to get rates that work for us and that are a, you know, we're able to build a business where the margins make sense. And over time, as we continue to ship more, those rates will continue to go down. And so that's really what we're betting on. Now, the more we shipped, the better our rates will be. But that's the biggest pain point is overnight shipping rates. And the reason we do that is because it is a perishable product. So

we have refrigerants, and custom made insulated packaging that lasts keeps the board at 40 degrees for 48 hours, and we ship in 24 hours. So the reason for that is we don't want it to sit on somebody's doorstep. You know, if we were to ship today, and then it sits on someone's doorstep, and then it you know, gets below temperature, we're very, very cautious about making sure that it stays at 40 degrees. And that's really for the customer experience. I mean, if the product were to, you're supposed to eat a cheese and charcuterie board at room temperature, so it's not really about people worrying about people getting sick or whatever. It's more just like, we want people to receive the product and get the sense and understand that it's fresh, and it was made the day before. So

all of our boards are made, they're made the morning, they're shipped. So we don't we don't stock inventory of anything, we if we wake up in the morning, if we have 3000 orders, those 3000 orders are produced that day fresh and shipped out to arrive to the customer the next day, which you know it that's definitely an operation. But we've we've gotten it down that was the production process was the most difficult thing to figure out. And angel on our team is absolutely amazing. He's an engineer, as well as a Somali and a cheese monger and all these other things, but he's like the perfect addition to our team. And he worked with Aaron and Julie before

and their catering business for a while. But, you know, his engineering expertise and his ability to really figure out the best processes to make this happen in an efficient and quality way have been really exceptional. And so that's something that we the production process is something we really have figured out. And then in terms of

actual customer issues and returns, you know, we do have, there are some times where like, there's a delay, right, and the package sits on someone's doorstep for 24 or 48 hours. And, you know, they're like it spoiled, but it does happen very, very infrequently. Our our reship rate actually is 0.24%.

So and I think the reason for that, I think the reason for that is really that we we take the extra step of shipping 24 hours when our packaging lasts for 48. And so if there is a one day delay by UPS, then you know, usually it's fine when it arrives to the customer, but it is it does cost us you know, so that's the downside, right? If we were to ship today, it would be a lot less expensive, but right now, we're just so focused on the customer experience that we're kind of eating that cost.

I feel like cheesemonger and Somalia is like not something you go to indeed to look for when you have to.

And Engineer Engineer just as difficult probably

more specific for what we need, right? We cheesemonger engineer

seriously Yeah, yeah, I'm an expert slash

English Spanish and Italian which in Florida when you know a lot of people speak Spanish and so I'm I grew up in Florida and Aaron and Julie also have lived in Florida for for their entire careers. But none of us are highly fluent in Spanish, but having Angel be fluent in Spanish helps a lot because we hire a lot of people who their primary language Spanish and you know, he's able to really work with those people. I'm learning so that I can, you know, everybody feels like we're all part of the same team, you know? Yeah, for sure. That's great. Yeah. Um, so as we wind down I mean, I guess

I'd be remiss if I didn't ask like you're, you're the boss on charcuterie. So like, what trends should we be looking out for like what's hot? What? For those who are wanting to order or those who are trying to do this at home themselves? Like what you talked about? butter butter trays, which I hadn't heard about, so like what trend what's what's trending? What's the what's unique and different and charcuterie. Like what's up and coming? Yeah, so I would say, you know, the, the great thing about cheese and charcuterie boards is that, you know, it's always about classic Right? Like people love the classics. What we've actually tried to do, which I think is trending and has become a trend is

give people an experience. That's not something they may have had before. So we're not sourcing like your average white chatter or

you know any any type of

cheese that you can get at your your local grocery store we're trying to source interesting flavor pairings interesting.

You know like I'll give you an example cranberry Chipotle cheddar or here I even have one of our board maps in front of me.

We you know use expresso cheese and blueberry Wensleydale cheese or Apple smoked cheddar or Madagascar, bourbon vanilla or, you know blueberry, vanilla goat cheese, we have like wine infused cheeses and just stuff. That's like an interesting pairing. That's not your average cheese. And I think that's something people really enjoy. And it's a fun experience. So every time someone orders one of our RMA boards, we always get reviews that like it was the star of the party, because everybody sat around and was tasting everything. And you know, it was something that they hadn't had before, which I think is really unique now, because the most things are really readily available to people. But when you have a board of 35 different ingredients that are all really unique. It's fun for people and it's an experience. So that's something we encourage people to do, you know, go online and try different cheeses that you haven't heard of before that may be interesting or unique. And then on the charcuterie side, we're actually huge fans of this one company called smoking goose. That's where we get a lot of our charcuterie from. They're a small batch producer. And they have a really, really interesting flavor. So like they have gin and juice salami, or spruce candy salami, just like really interesting artists in flavors that you wouldn't expect. And I think that's always fun and interesting, too. And I'm going to like, tell everyone how ridiculously silly I am. And I literally just learned during this conversation that it's cheese and charcuterie. Like I thought Strokkur jewelry was all encompassing. So I learned something

charcuteries the meat and the cheese, the cheese? So yeah, so it's interesting. Like we have this running joke in our office where it's like, who can spell charcuterie can say it? Yeah, yeah. And we go and we like, you know, we make jokes. Like before you worked here, did you know how to spell charcuterie. And it's just funny, because, you know, we had one employee, he was like, I still don't know how to spell charcuterie. And everybody was laughing. So it's definitely we, we always say we're not going to stop until everybody knows how to spell. Nice. Awesome. So tell us, you know, this has been great. Thank you tell us where everyone can find borderfree. Yeah, so our website is the best place now to find porterie You can order and schedule deliveries up to 365 days in advance, which is something we're really proud of. So you can select,

you know, choose the date that you want it to arrive to your recipient or to your own home for an event.

And it's just www.borderfree.com and it's B o a r d e r IE. Awesome. Well, thanks for taking the time. Rachel, this has been really interesting. Of course. Thank you so much for having me.