First of all, let me just say, when Ted shared with me that a 30 year-old female entrepreneur in Charlotte had raised $11,000 on her Kickstarter campaign for a shower cap… yes, that’s right folks, a shower cap… and not only that, but she had exceeded her original goal of $1,500 by 750% AND her celeb style crush was Gwen Stefani, I just knew I had to meet her.
Here was someone who had created a product to maximize the life of her hairstyle with minimal effort. So I’m thinking, (1) clearly she’s a badass and (2) maybe, just maybe, she could invent a cap to keep my crazy head of hair looking pretty when I ride my Vespa – apparently the wind-blown-helmet-head-look is not a thing? As Ted would say, anyways…
L.T. Brady has at least one or two new product ideas a week that she jots down in her big book of sketches and concepts. Her background is in digital content marketing but she became an entrepreneur and small business owner when she launched PISTOL polish in 2012. Having success with that line, and after watching one too many Shark Tanks, she knew she wanted to introduce a totally new product to the beauty care space.
She’s a self described “lazy beauty fanatic” so it’s no surprise that her next concept was an improved shower cap design that actually works. She feels strongly that “no woman has the patience or time to do glamour everyday.” Turns out she’s not the only one. When she received such positive feedback from her friends, she realized she was onto something.
So she took to Kickstarter to see if the demand was real and raise funds to get it made. In just 30 days she exceeded her original campaign goal of $1,500 by 750%, raising $11,352 from 200 backers.
L.T. claims she got lucky, but after speaking with her, it’s very clear she worked her ass off. This is her story and her tips for what it takes to make a successful Kickstarter Campaign.
The campaign: Style Saver: The best shower cap on Earth
Never blow a blowout again with Style Saver. Our neoprene-trimmed PEVA cap protects your hairline from water & preserves your blowout!
Dates: April 27th – May 28th // 30 days
Original goal: $1500
Results: 200 backers pledged $11,352
Why do Kickstarter?
Kickstarter, a digital platform connecting entrepreneurs and funders, has brought to life over 86,000 creative projects since 2009. L.T. explains, “The glory of Kickstarter is it’s a natural way to test the market. My friends may say it’s a great idea, but are they just being nice to me? Will they actually pay money for it? The worst-case scenario is no one participates and nothing’s lost. Best-case, you get money to produce a product that you didn’t have to personally fund.”
Give yourself the permission to go for it
“Nothing can be weirder than a shower cap with a wet suit attached,” she joked and then confessed she was scared to put herself out there in a public way where people could judge her success or failure. “What if I failed and someone Googled me and saw I tried to make a shower cap and only raised $50?! It’s embarrassing.” Giving herself the permission to go for it was the game changer.
Get the word out
At 6am on the day her campaign went live, she sent an email to “everyone I’ve ever had contact with in my entire life.” She segmented the lists i.e. close friends, co-workers, people I’ve met once, high school field hockey team, etc., etc. Two hours later at 8am, she had blown through her original goal of $1,500. After the first week she started getting money from people she didn’t know, proving that there was a market for her product.
Reach beyond your friends + family
Each day she tweeted at “every beauty editor that ever existed” as well as female entrepreneurs outside of the beauty field. She was shocked by the supportive response she received. Some people retweeted, some asked for samples, not everyone responded, but it only takes one. A beauty editor at Elle.com asked for a sample and the next thing she knew, she received a Google Alert with a link to her Kickstarter campaign on the homepage of Elle.com.
“Retweets are valuable and what do you have to lose? So I tweet at someone and they don’t respond, who cares?” Those that did act can rest assured L.T. has your back forever. She carefully tracked everyone she reached out to and who did and did not respond. “I hope I’m in a place of success one day and can return the favors.”
Put your pride away
“You can’t have any pride in this game. You have to ask people directly for their support. “In the South people are all “please” and “thank you” but I had to tap into my inner New Yorker and be direct, “I think I have a great idea and I would love for you to support me. Please and thank you. But do it. Seriously.”
Do it 10,000%
“Do it 10,000%. Do it in every realm you can think of.” L.T. was shocked with the people who were giving her support. On the last day of funding, she wanted just one more backer and posted on Facebook. Of all people her old middle school gym teacher came through for the win.
Be reasonable with your goal
L.T. thinks people set huge, lofty funding goals because they don’t believe in their idea. If they don’t reach their goal, they won’t be on the hook to produce. “Set a goal that is reasonable but enough to deliver on your promise. It always takes more money and time, but be real with yourself about the costs and time investment.”
Timing is important
She claims 30 days is the perfect amount of time for a Kickstarter campaign. “Short enough so it doesn’t drag on, yet long enough to make it happen. Every day of those 30 days was super stressful, constantly tracking what you sold, why it sold, why it didn’t sell. I don’t think I could mentally handle anything longer than that.”
Make a Great Video
L.T. worked with videographer Mike D’Avaria and friend Dowd Simpson (wife of professional golfer Webb Simpson) to create a product video. They did it on a shoestring budget with “grit, determination, hopefulness and excitement.”
Her angle: “We’re making a shower cap here – which is pretty ridiculous, so we wanted the video to be funny, like we were in on the joke, but not have the product come across as a joke.”
It helps to live in Charlotte
“Charlotte has been such a great place to start a business – both for Pistol Polish and now Style Saver. People are so supportive and want to see you do well. As a New Yorker this was something I couldn’t wrap my head around. People here support you emotionally and financially and want you to succeed. That’s not normal, that just doesn’t happen anywhere else. “
L.T. now has to “manufacture these suckers” and deliver on her promise. Bigger picture, she wants to sell to salons and spas and eventually get into big retailers like Alta, Sephora, and Rite Aid.