On a 2010 surfing trip to Costa Rica, Paul Goodman and Griffin Thall met some local artisans selling handmade bracelets. On a whim, they purchased 400 to take home to sell to friends. Within a week of returning home, every bracelet had sold. Six months later, the duo was in the bracelet business. In the early days, they reinvested virtually every penny they had back into La Jolla, California-based Pura Vida and pored over how each returned. They tried various trade shows and returned to the ones that worked best. They found that handing out free samples at colleges and universities led to more purchases by those students and their friends, so they did more campus visits. They tinker with their website copy and promotional offers to get better search results and spur more sales. If something isn’t working, it gets dropped from the mix, pronto.
“The biggest challenge has been learning how to scale our marketing as we grow quickly. With that, comes more printing needs, more shipping needs, more logistics, more systems, and more employees,” Goodman says.
To help manage that growth, Pura Vida relies heavily on The UPS Store. Goodman says when the duo started, they “had never shipped a package.” So, they brought everything to The UPS Store for fulfillment. The team there handled everything from packaging and packing slips to labeling and shipping. Each package typically has two to three inserts, which often inspire additional sales. The UPS Store team manages all of the company’s printing, including catalogs, then keeps those items on-site, ensuring that the proper promotional items are shipped with the order.
That’s no small feat. Pura Vida ships approximately 500 orders a day through The UPS Store in addition to shipping their product and promotional materials to trade shows and other events.
“The UPS Store owner provides the greatest customer service I’ve ever had. Anything I need, I can call on [the owner]. It has really helped everything run smoothly,” Goodman says.
And by allowing the founders to focus on their business without the distraction of shipping, Pura Vida continues to grow. Today, they have 11 employees and work with 75 artisans in Costa Rica. Their bracelets are now being sold in more than 2,500 surf shops, boutiques, college book stores, and large chain stores around the world. But they’re still committed to managing their investments, especially marketing activities, as frugally and carefully as they did when they started out.
“A lot of people will see what other brands are doing and just copy them, not really thinking about what will help their brand. You have to experiment and track results. You have to know what works for your brand,” he says.