Curious to know what it’s like to create a supplement line in your biz?
Ayla Barmmer, founder of FullWell, knows a thing or two about that.
Ayla created a high-quality prenatal supplement line from scratch, and she sat down with me to chat about her experience.
In this episode, Ayla shares:
- What the big picture process is like for creating your own supplement
- Pros and cons of creating a product from the ground up versus white labeling
- Why she believes more RD’s should be entering the supplement space
- Some of the biggest lessons learned and mistakes that she made while growing her company
- What the typical profit margins are like in the supplement industry
- How she grew and expanded over time from just one prenatal vitamin product in 2018 to now five products under her brand and $5 million in annual revenue today
Tune in to hear her inspirational story.
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More about Ayla Barmmer
Ayla Barmmer, MS, RDN, LDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist, functional medicine practitioner, herbalist, and the founder, and CEO, of FullWell, a fertility wellness and education brand. Her entire career focus has been to advance the health and empowerment of practitioners, patients and families through nutritional science, functional medicine and evidence-based holistic solutions. Barmmer launched FullWell to provide all families access to the same evidence-based, effective, high-quality prenatal and fertility supplements that she successfully uses with her own patients. Barmmer earned her undergraduate degree in dietetics and completed her dietetic internship at the University of Connecticut; a Master of Science in Health Communications from Boston University and has additional training in clinical nutrition, functional medicine, women’s health, herbal medicine and holistic and integrative therapies.
Connect with Ayla
- Website: fullwellfertility.com
- Instagram: @fullwellfertility
- Facebook: FullWell
- LinkedIn: Ayla Barmmer, MS, RD, LDN and FullWell
- Twitter: @aylabarmmer_rd
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Erica Julson: Raise your hand, if you’ve ever thought about creating a supplement line in your business, but haven’t even gotten past square one because it sounds super intimidating. creating and selling a supplement is a topic that comes up from time to time in my Facebook group, the unconventional RD. Community on Facebook. So I knew I just had to invite today’s guest on the show and I am so pumped that she accepted the invitation today. I’m chatting with Ayla Barmmer, founder of full well fertility about her experiences, creating a high quality prenatal supplement line from scratch.
Ayla shares with us. What the big picture processes like for creating your own supplement. Pros and cons of creating a product from the ground up versus white labeling. Why she believes more RDS should be entering the supplement space. Some of the biggest lessons learned and mistakes that she made while growing her company.
What the typical profit margins are like in the supplement industry and how she grew and expanded over time from just one prenatal vitamin product in 2018 to now five products under her brand and $5 million in annual revenue today. This is an incredible story and a great example of someone who knew what she wanted to see in the world and set out to create it. Despite the obstacles that may have appeared in
So if you want to be sure to get all the latest episodes and inspirational interviews that are coming out on this podcast, be sure to subscribe wherever you’re listening. And if you’re enjoying what I’m putting down here, I always appreciate any ratings and or reviews that you can leave for the podcast as well. All right. Let’s get into the interview with Ayla.
Erica Julson: Well, hello. Thank you so much for being on the podcast today. I know you have a very busy schedule and I’m very excited to talk to you about starting your supplement line. Thank you for your time today.
Ayla Barmmer: Oh, thanks for having me on Erica. I’m I’m I’m excited to be on. I’ve always enjoyed your podcast so much. I’ve listened to most of the episode was probably at this point. , I think you’re brilliant. So this is exciting for me too.
Erica Julson: Oh, thank you. That’s that’s really big honor. yeah, I, I mean, I’ve never had anyone on to talk about supplements or creating your own supplement line, but I have seen the topic come up quite a few times in my Facebook community.
So for anyone listening, who’s not in there yet. It’s the unconventional RD community on Facebook. It’s free and I’ve seen people, there’s like a handful of dietitians that I’ve seen that have lines. But I have so many questions and I feel like there’s a difference between maybe like white labeling something, or actually coming up with your own supplement from scratch.
So I’d love to get into those types of details with you. So anyone listening, who might have been thinking about doing something similar could. Understand what they’re getting into. Yes . so I know I introduced you a little bit in before we started this conversation, but can we get into a little more details about where you were at your career when you came up with the idea of starting a supplement line?
Ayla Barmmer: Yeah. So let’s see, where did it all start? I . Mean, I, I mean, I’m really a registered dietitian trained in functional medicine, integrative, therapies. I’m an herbalist, you know, that a health practitioner first, you know, and I’ve had, I’ve gone through, I’ve had a number of different, you know, places my career has taken me, but I’ve predominantly, always had a private practice.
You know, for really over 15 years, I’ve had some type type of private practice in recent years. It became a full time, multi clinician, you know, private practice focused on, infertility and women’s health. And so I’ve been really deep in the clinical side of things, the, science research, One on one kind of work mentoring education.
And that that’s been, that was where I’ve always felt most comfortable. And I’ve enjoyed, you know, the most, when the supplement lines so full. Well, how this came about was really when I was digging into the research behind the formulas that I was trying to use and practice, I was surprised by how.
Few formulas felt like they matched the actual evidence, you know, matched the research. So I had a problem with a lot of the formulas on the market, but beyond that, I mean, I’m just, I’m a curious person and I’m also like an entrepreneur at heart, but I’m really like someone who likes to just kind of take control of it.
So like I fully understand something, you know? And so that’s, that’s how I got into this because, and I, and I joke a little bit that I’m glad that I was as naive as I was about how much work it was actually going to be like what was involved. and I have this sort of attitude, like I could do it, usually, and that hasn’t totally extinguished.
Right. but, before I got into it, because it has been a lot, but really, And I think probably listeners would, and, and you two may relate to this. I just, I wanted to get behind the curtain, you know, I wanted to see, okay, I know what these brands are telling me. And, but, but I don’t see what’s actually happening.
What does the manufacturing process look like? What are the quality control measures in place? Why aren’t they sharing testing, you know, and third party testing. I don’t want just your internal testing results. So, so, you know, I’m being a little long winded here, but those were my main drivers. So one I really wanted first and foremost to develop a formula that I had full control over the quality of and the actual ingredients, the forms, the doses I felt was evidence based would be effective, you know, for my practice clients and for myself, you know, something that I felt like, okay, without a doubt, I would take this myself.
I would give this to a family member. I would use it with all of my clients in this critical stage of life and feel really good about it. And so that’s, that’s how it started. I thought, okay, I’m gonna get a few hundred bottles like of this produced, which actually is something we could talk about. That’s very hard to do.
there’s a volume issue , with this business, but a few hundred bottles produced. I would use it in my practice. I’d use it myself. And, I knew at the time, you know, I had a pretty good network of colleagues. I knew that there was, there would probably be an interest, you know, of others working this from others, working in this space.
But, I didn’t know what it would evolve into. Like how, how big of a need this actually did fill and an already pretty saturated market, right? Like prenatal multivitamins are not new to the scene. Right? Like that, that in and of itself, isn’t innovative. There’s other aspects of the formula or the product that is, but, Yeah.
And, you know, there’s all kinds of barriers to the product, too. Our, our hero product, the prenatal, like the number of capsules, things like that, but I’ll, I’ll stop there. So that’s how it started. And it’s grown. It’s grown since then. Yep.
Erica Julson: Great. Yeah. I can imagine people listening, even if they’re not in the prenatal space, maybe they’re in another area.
like, I think I’ve seen a couple people do some supplements related to maybe P C O S stuff, or athletic. Related supplements, depending on who you serve, maybe this is jogging something for, for you, the listener, to think of what holes are in your niche and that you could possibly fill as well.
I bet there’s some people resonate with that idea of like, I can’t find the exact thing that I would want to recommend, you know, and I love how you said you love to dive into the research and really understand it. Cause I’m the exact same way. and so then it’s totally like that when you get really into it, you’re like, wait, this doesn’t even really line up. You know, sometimes I feel like the research moves on and maybe the supplements are the same , you know, or whatever the reason may be. But.
Ayla Barmmer: Well, and I can tell you, I think the reason is honestly, I would love to see more health practitioners, more dietitians in particular, behind supplements because being in this industry now I realize how many I’m gonna just be honest.
It’s like, middle-aged white men. who don’t have a health background. And they are looking at data analytics and consumer data and market research data. And that’s how these formulas are made. The majority of them, there might be like some brands are using some health experts to come in and consult on the formula.
But those health experts aren’t part of like the whole process. So when it comes down to making cuts based on cost of ingredients or whether or not it will fit into a capsule or there’s so many packaging, you know, price points. So there’s so many things that would that wind up changing things. I think along the way from the initial ideation and, So I would love to see more health practitioners behind, you know, supplements. I think we’d have a much better, more consistent quality, you know, in the industry.
Erica Julson: I love that I have so many questions, but I’m gonna try to keep going in, in order. That makes sense. I don’t wanna jump ahead too fast. so first of all, Did you know anything about this industry before you started and where, what did you do to get started?
How did you educate yourself?
Ayla Barmmer: Yeah, so I, I mean, I had at the point where I, I thought I could take this on, I had for, for years at that point, at least let’s see. So it was probably 2016, actually that I initially started looking into this and formulating and researching and seeing what would be possible.
There has been, so many iterations of this before what you see, like what you see today. There were many iterations prior to that, and things I’ve learned, along the way, but I had had quite a bit of functional medicine training, a lot of training from supplement manufacturers, very familiar with, dietary supplements that were out there was working with a lot of the health practitioner lines.
You know, and which for a lot of practitioners that can be a really smart, additional revenue stream, you know, but of course you wanna do it ethically and make sure that you are recommending things that, you know, are going to be efficacious that are warranted, right? Like you can justify that makes sense.
and that are good quality and are gonna help you get better outcomes. Right. But, but I think, you know, just, utilizing some of the options that are on the market, you know, and doing kind of wholesale drop shipping, I mean, that can be a smart revenue stream. Right. So it started that way for me. And then it was, you know, still from these health practitioner lines, I don’t feel like I’m getting the information I want.
Like, there’s this sort. Message that I see repeated over and over again, that these health practitioner lines are better quality. That they’re better, that they’re, you know, superior. And I don’t see that being the case. in reality, there’s not much that actually differentiates them aside from having that barrier, which is more about legal liability than anything they’re putting more liability on the health practitioner than themselves.
So it’s a little bit, that’s, that’s a message. I said, too, you know, in, in practice I’m like, this is be, these are better quality, better options. The reality is there’s not a big difference. It’s very individual supplement manufacturer based. So, so sorry, I kind of meandered from your question.
Erica Julson: no, that’s super helpful. I love talking about this stuff. I’m like, Ooh, tell more. so, yeah, I mean, were you trying, did you like email them and try to ask them questions and they just gave you vague responses type of thing or?
Ayla Barmmer: Yes, exactly. Yeah. So, you know, the, a lot of, most of these, most of the supplement companies, whether they’re direct to consumer health practitioner base, definitely the health practitioner based ones.
They had sales reps, you know, their account manager, sales reps, you know, and, and when I was, really in private practice and functional medicine back in, like, I would say between like 20, 20, 12 and 2016, that was like really big. Like they would show up at your door with tons of samples, things like that.
It was great. You could use those with clients. It would, it was, it was really good, you know? but. Sometimes they would have a health practitioner background. Other times they were just kind of marketing in sales and, you know, I never could get, I could never get what I really wanted for information.
And a lot of the testing data and formula information was kept behind was, was I was told it’s proprietary. Right. and that’s, you know, there is a business case to be made for that, but when it comes to something like you’re consuming and putting in your body, especially like in the stage of life that I’m trying to, to really serve, it just, it never sat well with me, you know?
So we’ve really, I’ve really built full well on the foundation of transparency and making our results, available and, really accessible. Awesome.
Erica Julson: Yeah. And one of the first things that comes up for me, when you’re talking about, oh, like more dietitians should get into this. And then we touched a little bit on the liability stuff.
Like that’s kind of where my head goes. I’m like, oh, but like, yeah, that seems. A little intimidating, like, what am I liable for? If I’m creating a supplement that people are taking for their health? Like, how did you. Learn about that. And what is, what are your thoughts
Ayla Barmmer: yeah, so I, in this process, I definitely have, I have pretty expensive liability insurance at this point.
And, I would say even if you, no matter what, I think the, for dietitians in particular, there’s the, the very standard, low cost, like liability insurance that like everybody gets, I think it’s a group plan from the academy kind of thing. When I really went through that with, an expert, a lawyer, it, you know, what it would actually cover is so limited.
I’m not sure it’s worth it. That was my assessment. So I, my best advice would be to find just a, it could be a local, insurance, brokerage agencies, maybe based on referral, like get someone that get a agency that you feel really confident knows their stuff and will let you tell them everything you’re doing.
you know, cuz then they will find a policy that matches what you’re actually doing and not just the standard. What the academy says a dietitian should be doing or is doing, or, you know, and, and it’s gonna cost money, but it’s worth it. You know, you need to protect yourself, protect the business. You think about the way you set up the business.
You know, you, I wouldn’t get into this without, at least making. Your business, a limited liability company, which is, is even if you’re a single owner that can be done fairly easily, fairly inexpensively, but that’s a smart move as well. I ultimately chose to separate out so full well started as full circle prenatal.
It actually started as Boston functional nutrition, prenatal, multi vitamin was a mouthful. And I quickly realized that I, I really wanted to have this be separate, have its own. It was cleaner to have it be its own LLC. Its own business have its own liability insurance. it’s not that the two are not legally connected and there wouldn’t be some overlap there.
So you have to work to protect both, you know, both businesses, if you’re someone with a practice and, um, and a supplement line or a product line. But, that’s what I would suggest.
Erica Julson: Yeah. And is there, and I don’t know if you know, this is obviously like a pretty detailed legal question, but does it matter whether you created the whole thing, like your whole formulation, everything from scratch or whether you were white labeling, does that.
Impact your liability or not really?
Ayla Barmmer: Yeah, that’s a good question. I actually think that, the risk is very similar, because when you white label and in fact, I, I would argue that the risk is greater when you’re white labeling, because you are putting all of your trust in all of the control in this company that may not be may or may not be sharing with you, the data that you need to really be confident, right.
Like, right. Or that you even know that you need. Like, it’s hard to even know what kind of information to ask or what you really need to know. And that was my issue with white labeling is that they, you still don’t, you don’t have control over the manufacturing process. The testing you could, I guess, if you white labeled go and get your own your, that same product independently tested and have those results, that’s something that you could do.
but that’s kind of the issue there. And so then when you put your own branding and name on it, the, the liability is really transferred to you. That’s your product. So, Really a lot of these agreements, whether you’re white labeling or you are from scratch, working with a contract manufacturer, you know, make sure that you’re working with a lawyer that specializes in this industry that can help work through a contract that is advantageous and protective for you.
I have been through a nine month legal battle being in this business. I have been through a lot of contract stuff. I’ve learned a lot, and that is like one of my biggest pieces of advice is that do not sign the standard manufacturing agreement that the brand or, you know, the, the CMO, the contract manufacturer, gives you make sure that you’ve got a lawyer that’s looking at that it’s worth the investment.
Erica Julson: How did you find somebody who had the right experience?
Ayla Barmmer: One thing I will say that has served me well in my, my career is I am pretty relentless about finding what I need. when I know it’s like, not something I can do. It’s not in my wheelhouse. I can find it . but it’s usually through pinging connections and just asking around, like, that’s it, you know, we work with a firm, they’re actually based outta Colorado.
and they, they work with a lot of supplement brands. they specialize in the compliance, side of things. So there are lawyers that, that do this, you know, that work with the consumer product goods, but even more specifically dietary supplements. And that is it’s worth it because there are so many, not only the contracting with your manufacturer, but also there’s a lot.
I think there’s the perception. That the supplement industry is completely unregulated and that’s actually not true. I mean, there is the FDA has a lot of things that you need to follow and be really careful of. And that’s been challenging for me. because as a health practitioner and someone who’s really like my whole career been educating on the science and trying to teach and just be scientifically accurate, I have to be really careful with that because you there’s things that you cannot say, if it’s also an ingredient in your product, right?
Like it’s, it’s called structure function claims you’ve gotta be careful not to do that. And so one of the things I’ve found invaluable, and again, it’s an investment though, is to make sure that you’ve got a legal firm that can help with, the compliance side too, to make sure you’re not getting FDA warning letters.
And, you know, cuz if you put all the work into this, you know, getting, getting that can be, that can be tough.
Erica Julson: And is that only on. Stuff related to full well directly like the full well website, or does that extend to you as like the practitioner on your blog or something? That’s, you know, since you’re technically the owner like, how does that work?
Ayla Barmmer: Yeah. It gets a little bit gray, in that area. So based on the assessment of what I’ve been doing, I mean, I have on my practice site, I’ve kept quite separate. I do have mention of full, well, I actually may take that down. so that anything that we do there really is viewed separately, and then full well is its own thing.
And so I think that’s important is to keep it really separate. Now that’s not always the best. Business move though, for certain people. And so you may have that together. So you, you do have to, anything you write on your blog, it will come, it has to be compliant. So if you are a practitioner who has got a supplement line, white labeled or not.
You’ve gotta start thinking about any, all the content you have on your site. The blog, anything that’s written versus verbally said is, is looked at more intensely by the FDA. now most, a lot of people fly under the radar, right? They’re gonna go after the bigger, the bigger things first, but at any point that could, that could come into play.
I will say that the first step from my research in talking to my lawyers is that they send a warning letter and then you can make adjustments , you know? And so it’s not like the biggest deal. Like they’re gonna come and raid you and take your whole business down or anything like that. But, um, but it’s just, it could be a lot of work potentially
Erica Julson: and something that I think maybe not everyone even had on their radar. So it’s good to bring that up.
Ayla Barmmer: Yeah. Yeah.
Erica Julson: So what was the, I know we touched on this a little. You wanted to order maybe a couple hundred bottles and turns out maybe that wasn’t quite possible. So what does that initial investment look like? Is this something you can get into? If you don’t have a ton of cash? Like how do you start
Ayla Barmmer: yeah, actually I’m glad you came back to this. Cause I feel bad. I didn’t really answer that. when you asked him initially, so, you know, I started out by literally just cold calling these supplement manufacturers and interviewing them to see if they could do what I wanted them to do.
I have gone through a number of manufacturers, some of which have been complete disasters. There’s been times where we’ve had to scrap the whole batch. There’s been, it’s been a journey, but I would say,
Erica Julson: wait, so can I, can I ask one question first? So you started, this is at this point when you’re interviewing, did you already, you already had like a concept of what you wanted. Yes. And like a list out of these are the ingredients and this amount, like that detailed.
Ayla Barmmer: Yes, so, okay. So yeah, so backing up basically, the way I started was with a formula. Okay. I, I wanted this amount of this nutrient in this form, you know? And so this is what I want it to look like I had in my mind how many capsules I wanted it to be that was blown up.
But, you know, you have to kind of decide. And then, then I started interviewing manufacturers, based on a number of different things, working out contracts with them. And then usually these manufacturers will have an R and D team like a research and development team that will help you, help you see, okay.
What is PO it might be part of their quality department. I’ve found that different manufacturers are set up differently, but there’s someone who will be there that will look at the formula. They’ll not just only price it out, but they’ll tell you, okay, this is what we can fit. This is how many capsules it’s going to be.
This is what they might make suggestions for. Well, they always will make suggestions. Why don’t you use this less expensive ingredient? Why don’t you, why don’t you just shave out like, you know, half of this? And so a lot of it was me being like, okay, no, no, no, like we’re doing it this way. And everyone’s saying, well, you’re not gonna be able to sell it.
It’s gonna be really expensive. But anyway, that’s so it started with a formula and finding the right manufacturer. Then, in the contract, you know, it really was the, oftentimes you start with like a build sheet, which is the formula. Exactly. Like it’s down to like what the capsule’s gonna look like, the size of it, what the look and feel the packaging, the bottle specs.
I mean, a build spec sheet is very important and actually per FDA standard you’ve, you’ve actually gotta have one of those on file for everything. And you’ve gotta like retain samples. There’s a lot to it. But yeah, so once I had the build sheet, you know, in the contract, it was okay, this ultimately has to meet the specification packet in the end.
Right. So there’s some liability on the manufacturer to meet, meet that through. So if the testing comes back and there’s something off, then that’s on them to redo it. And that’s happened plenty of times. So
Erica Julson: that, that’s how somehow the ingredient they sourced wasn’t up to par or something like, how does that even happen?
Ayla Barmmer: Yeah. Uh, let me give some examples. So cause like everything has happened so, I mean, there’s been times where we’ve bulk ordered like, like the copper BI ate we use in the product, you know, that came back the raw ingredients. So they test all the raw ingredients when they initially come in. and then we go, we in turn then test the final product.
So that’s, that’s a step beyond what a lot of, companies actually do, which to me is mind blowing. like of course you would test the final product, right? beyond just the basics, which there’s some basics that you have to do, like microbials, but, yeah, so the copper came back and it was high and heavy metal.
So we couldn’t use that. So then you go back to the drawing board with that. There’s let’s see, what else, what else has happened? I mean, sometimes it’s like. Like they didn’t get the blending. Right. And the fill wasn’t proper, didn’t work out for the capsules that this, that happens has definitely happened with the prenatal because it’s a 26 plus ingredient product.
And it’s, it’s a tough one, actually. It’s really tough to make this product. So yeah, there’s things that can happen with the raw ingredients. There’s with supply chain stuff over the past few years, there’s been a lot of, unavailability, you know, the availability of certain ingredients and even like, We had trouble getting the caps to our bottle, like, you know, for a long time. I mean, it’s just kinda wild.
Erica Julson: And then you, for, you had a glass bottle for a while and then it was glasses. Yes. Yeah. Oh my gosh. Sorry. I I’m a customer full disclosure. So .
Ayla Barmmer: Yeah, so I loved, I loved the glass bottle. It was very like emotionally attached to that blue glass bottle and I wanted to keep it, but when the, the pandemic hit and, the mail carrier system was absolutely overloaded and an undated.
Our bottles were just winding up shattered. You know, they were arriving to people shattered. That was a huge risk for people putting their hands in and getting cut, you know, and just obviously not the quality we’d want. And so my plan was to switch and there was also an availability issue with the blue bottles.
We, we couldn’t get them, they weren’t making them, you know, anymore. So there was all these factors. So, and then the shipping prices were increasing a lot. And so I was trying to find a way to, to make it work. So we went to, we went to plastic and I will say that on the roadmap is absolutely, we’re trying to get to a place.
You’d be surprised by how little is available for safe, sustainable options for the supplement industry. It’s more for, food and beauty right now, packaging, sustainable packaging options. But, that is something I’m really concerned about and do wanna change.
Erica Julson: Interesting. Yeah. So many little things.
Yeah. Okay. So. I think we’re still working our way to the answer of how much money really is the initial investment, like based and how much volume do you have to order typically in your experience?
Ayla Barmmer: So I did find initially in a manufacturer, which I would never recommend them, so that’s not something I would, I would, not in good conscience recommend because they were, they were so incredibly difficult to work with.
and problematic. It was like fighting tooth and nail to get what I wanted, but they, they did do a relatively small volume. So I thought. A few hundred bottles. I quickly realized that that the absolute bare minimum was gonna be a few thousand bottles. You know, there’s no, unless, and this is why a lot of people do go the path of white labeling because typically you can get very small volumes and it can be.
Erica Julson: Can we also explain, I don’t think we explained what the difference is in case people don’t know, like what is white labeling
Ayla Barmmer: yeah, so like a little side part. Yeah. white labeling is when there’s already a product on the market and you put your own branding on it, basically. So it’s, it’s a product that’s fully produced, by another company, it maybe on the market under a different name as well.
It usually is. And, you basically purchase that wholesale or maybe even less than wholesale, depending on again, the volume. And you put your own branding on it. And so we talked about some of the limitations of that. I actually think the liability is more concerning to me, but the initial investment would be a lot less cuz they typically have these things in stock.
They’re producing them for other reasons and they might be able to do, low volume. Sometimes it’s very low, like just tens of bottles, you know, like not, Not a huge volume, so that can be appealing, but, but again, you lose the control. So, you know, at the time the, a few, the few thousand bottles that I ordered, I mean, it just, it was really scary.
It was a huge risk for me. It was a big investment. I wanna say, I’m just trying to think about the initial order. I mean, it was definitely tens of thousands, you know, of dollars. And so that was, that was wild to me, you know, for sure. I had a successful private practice and so never went out for like investment money to do it, or even a line of credit or anything.
I just, I basically took money for my practice. It was a lot for me um, and invested that in it, you know, with the. Knowing the risk, you know? Um,
Erica Julson: did you have orders already or were you just like, I’m pretty sure it’ll go well,
Ayla Barmmer: yeah, no, uh, this is kind of what I do. I’m like, I’m just gonna take the risk and I’m really grateful.
Like, I’m thankful I have a husband who is an entrepreneur too, and he’s also like, he’s not risk adverse and he’s always been really supportive of my, my stuff, even when I’ve like, I’ve like, okay, I’ve got this business, I’ve got $2 my bank going to, we’ve been through everything, you know? But so that helped.
but yeah, I did not have pre-orders, you know, for it. I think I had a sense that. I knew, I knew of colleagues that I knew were gonna use it. I knew it had a two year shelf life. I knew the volume of in my practice. I, I felt pretty confident, but it still was. It definitely still was scary. So I, you know, I wanna say it was just a couple thousand bottles initially.
I mean, we’re doing tens of thousands of bottles each run now. So it’s kind of, that’s still is scary. , you know, the amount of investment in an inventory.
Erica Julson: Yeah. But you, I feel like you sell. Somewhat often, or like, maybe it’s a supply chain thing, but sometimes you’re like, okay, there’s like a little gap before it’ll be available again.
Yeah. I dunno what, what that, that is behind that. But, um, it seems like it’s selling.
Ayla Barmmer: Oh yeah, yeah. Oh it, yeah. Oh, it absolutely is. Yeah. it’s doing really, it it’s doing really well. I mean, far surpassing by many times what I did in my private practice and that was, uh, you know, a successful practice, but yeah, we, we had growing pains because one of the challenges too is inventory forecasting.
I mean, this isn’t stuff you were taught as a dietitian that’s for sure. Right. I mean, none of this, it’s been like an MBA by trial and fire, you know? Right. But yeah, really inventory. Forecasting’s really tough, especially when you have lots of variables coming in and, it’s hard to know how much you’re gonna need and it’s a balance between not tying up.
All your money in inventory, right. And selling at a rate. That makes sense. So you don’t want too much inventory. You don’t wanna go outta stock. So that’s, I’m still working on that
Erica Julson: and this might be a really rookie question, but like, are you keeping these in your house? Like is there a warehouse, like who does the shipping I’m. Such a newbie. I have no idea how any of that works.
Ayla Barmmer: Yeah. I think I, I recognized pretty early that I needed someone else to be doing the fulfillment and shipping for me because I just, I just knew that wasn’t the kind of thing I wanted to be doing. and I was too busy, so yeah. Um, I’ve worked at the few different fulfillment centers, but there’s a lot of options for that, that doesn’t require high volume, either.
So even if you’re doing it on a smaller scale, there, there are options. Like we did ship hero for a while. We did ship, we’ve done ship Bob there’s. they all have that kind of similar names, but there fulfillment centers with good tech dashboards that kind of help you with your inventory. Management and statistics and basically, the orders we use Shopify as our platform, uh, which I would recommend getting on right away, uh, that like from the beginning, Shopify makes a lot of sense, um, over like a square space.
Erica Julson: Yeah. For people who don’t know, that’s like a, how you could sell online essentially. Yes. Through your website. Mm-hmm
Ayla Barmmer: yeah. Mm-hmm . Yeah. I mean, even if you had a website that also had like your practice information or other things on it, I mean, a Shopify template or a store would allow you to do both. And I, I, I think that’s smart.
I mean, you’re kind of the queen of like, um, I mean, you could still do a blog and the SEO and like all of that, but, um, anyway, yeah, so in Shopify can integrate with a lot of these fulfillment centers and, we’ve gotten to a point where now we’ve got a west coast, east coast, Midwest location. so that feels really good.
Things are getting out really efficiently to people. And, yeah.
Erica Julson: So just to recap, you’re sort of like the, the overseer, it sounds like. And then there’s lots of moving parts of people who are doing, doing different pieces. So you’ve got the manufacturer that you’re contracted with to make the supplement.
Yeah. Then somehow, so they make it and then you test it, I guess, to make sure it’s. You do that yourself?
Ayla Barmmer: Yes. So we, we do two things. So first the manufacturer will do in-house testing. so they test the wrong grads when they come in, they will do their own testing to make sure that it meets, it’s just passing that first.
Then we send it to an independent third party lab. Like I will, I will do that. And we get those results and make sure that it’s verifying. What the manufacturer has tested. Plus we typically add on extra, extra markers. So there’s the contract manufacturer and we have a, we have a couple depending on the product.
So not all manufacturers will do all products. It depends on what you are making.
Erica Julson: We haven’t even touched on that, that you’ve expanded now, you know, more than just the prenatal, but yeah. Okay.
Ayla Barmmer: So yeah, contract manufacturer, the fulfillment centers like shipping and fulfilling is the whole thing that sometimes is referred to as just like three PL third party logistics. Um,
Erica Julson: does the manufacturer send your stuff to them or do you yep.
Ayla Barmmer: Okay. Okay. Yeah. So we just, we, we will, ship it in bulk on pallets basically to, you know, the fulfillment centers from the manufacturer after we’ve reviewed the testing results.
Erica Julson: And then you or someone you hired sets up your whole online store mm-hmm you use Shopify and then that I’m assuming is somehow synced up to the fulfillment people.
So someone places, an order on your website, fulfillment people fulfill it, and then that’s sort of the bigger picture
Ayla Barmmer: that’s. Exactly. Yeah. And you know, the nice thing about it is you’re paid at the time of purchase, right? So that’s, that’s really nice because there’s so many, um, with services and things like that, you may not get, you’ve still got work to fulfill, or you may not get paid until after some of the work is done.
So anyway, it’s just that, that’s nice when it comes to this business model.
Erica Julson: Wow. This sounds like an incredible amount of work. So kudos to you. how the heck you did that on top of running a practice?
Ayla Barmmer: Yeah, it was, it was, um, it was kinda like a runaway train a little bit and got really intense for, for a while.
I actually, it wasn’t until February of this year that I was like, okay, we’re, we’re going to wind down the practice a little bit. I’m gonna take a little breather from that. And then, uh, you know, maybe come back to that. So I did that up until February. But, uh, yeah.
Erica Julson: And then what was the timeline like from when you had the idea and you wrote down your formula that you wanted, how long from ideation to product in hand? I guess like for people,
Ayla Barmmer: it, it was honestly a long time and I don’t wanna totally discourage people. I don’t know that it needed to take this long, but I made a lot of mistakes and it was like, I, like I said, I mean, I, I don’t know if it, well, I don’t know if I’ve said this clearly enough, but really this was, I had no idea where to start, you know, with this.
And it was completely just like researching and calling and like, like just trying to learn from anybody that I could basically to figure it out. Um, and so that took the longest, so it was 2016, maybe even 2015. Before I was pregnant with my first , um, where I was really, I was like, okay, mapping out the formula.
And like, how could I do this? What would I do? I looked into the white labeling, cause I’m like, oh, that, that could be an interesting business decision, but I’m like, oh, that doesn’t, that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Like it’s not worth the hassle. I’m not trying to just put my branding on, on something.
Um, I really wanting to change formulas and have the control. So it was around then. I was, I was, I was really working on the formula and I don’t, and I, I scoped it out with a couple of manufacturers over a couple of years, you know, and I think I just, I kept meeting dead ends like walls. Right. So it wasn’t until, I guess I technic I didn’t technically launch, I had what I would call kind of like a beta in like 20 end of 20 17, 20 18.
And I used that with practice clients. It was like, Not a lot of bottles. It was. Yeah. And then 2019 is when I really launched, And I was like, right at the end of my second pregnancy, which is not when you launch a new brand or product, I was just like, I’m like, what am I, what was I thinking? You know? Um, but I, you know, I did it cuz it had taken so long and it was just like, I really wanted to get it out there in the world, you know? And uh, so that’s what happened. And so 2019, and that’s when it really started. So it’s been about three years.
Erica Julson: And what were, were some of the dead ends? Like people just couldn’t make the formula.
Ayla Barmmer: Couldn’t get trying to get the formula right. Was a big, was such a big problem. So one of the things that I learned in this. I, it feels very basic to me now, but I’m guessing because I ran into it that others probably would too. Um, is that one thing I learned in the process is that, I mean, the labels are interesting and the way things have to be formatted when I gave my formula to the first manufacturer and we did the beta, it came out to be three capsules, which is a big difference from what I have now at the eight capsules.
Right. And the reason for that was when I gave the formula, I specified, I want magnesium as magnesium glycinate. And so what they put in was 300 milligram grams of magnesium glycinate, the compound, not 300 milligrams of elemental, magnesium, which is actually what you want. Or what would match the research, right?
That’s how researchers are looking at it. And we look at the evidence it’s like the it’s magnesium, not the compound. So, so basically on the labels, you can actually tell if that’s what’s going on, because it’ll say magnesium glycinate, 300 milligrams versus magnesium. As magnesium glycinate three milligrams.
Anyway. Interesting. Yeah. So like once I realized that I was like, it was a good product, it just didn’t have enough, you know, of what I wanted in it. So that was like, kind of actually the very first iteration and, needed to be revised, you know, pretty quickly.
Erica Julson: Interesting. Yeah. All right. Learning a lot. I hope you like, did you like keep a journal of everything? I feel like you probably have so much wisdom,
Ayla Barmmer: honestly. Uh, you know, it’s funny cuz we, um, I was excited about this interview cause I’m like, gosh, this way, this is a good chance to just like reflect on the craziness of like what this journey has been. Um, because I haven’t been great about doing that, you know, like pausing and being like, just, just thinking through what it’s been more like one day at a time where I’ve almost quit about 25 times along the way, maybe more.
I mean I’m not gonna lie. This is not, it’s not easy. It’s not necessarily something I. Wholeheartedly recommend, you know, to everyone, like you’ve gotta be prepared. I would love to see more health practitioners doing it, because like I said, I think there needs to be that oversight the clinical expertise in, um, in this business. But it’s not, it’s not easy and there’s risk for sure.
Erica Julson: Yeah. So let’s talk about your first official launch, I guess when you launched it. yeah, to, I mean, what kind of audience did you have, obviously you had your private practice. How many, maybe how many clients were you seeing there as well? So people get an idea. Where you were at when you started?
Ayla Barmmer: Yeah. I mean, I hope, I hope that this is actually kind of inspiring for people and not, um, and it might cuz it might be surprising at least. Um, I had, I have still have very little social media presence, you know, like not, not a significant following at the time. It was under a thousand people.
I mean, that’s where, you know, we’re talking, right. So, you know, it, wasn’t a big social media following that helped me. I think that that’s, that’s something that I actually talk about a fair amount, like, because I, I think there’s the perception that you have to have that audience in order for, to you to be successful in business.
And you can waste a lot of time in that, that avenue and it, it can be important, but I, I actually don’t think that’s, that’s still is not the majority of really where our business comes from. I mean, we haven’t even hit 10,000. Followers on Instagram and we’re, we’re a big business now doing, really well.
So, so when I launched, I had, yeah, I had my private practice clients, but I mean, I was, it was myself and one other part-time RD at the time. It wasn’t, I had more, um, after I got back from that, leave in the practice. But, so we didn’t have, I mean, I think we probably had a list of like a couple thousand people.
Like I hadn’t even done the basic things to try to really build a list. Like it’s, it’s like crazy. But I did have a good network of colleagues. I think what helped, what helped me the most was I had been doing, webinars right through the women’s health nutrition academy. I had the Facebook group.
Erica Julson: can you explain what, um, women’s health, nutrition academy is as well? Yeah, so that is though. I do think that’s a big part. You know, you, you, even though you may not have had a large. Public audience. You definitely were like an established authority, I think, in your niche amongst peers.
Ayla Barmmer: Yeah. So with the Lawrence Hall nutrition academy, that I co-founded that with, Lily Nichols, um, who is, is, is absolutely a well known, really smart RD.
And, we do continuing education for health practitioners through that. And so we had started that in 2018 and had some, a little momentum with that and a list there. Um, although I’ve been very careful not to, do a lot of marketing through that, but that was part of my network, you know? And so there was that I had, um, a Facebook group dev devoted to.
Um, health practitioners in women’s health. And, yeah, had just, I think had done over the years, a lot of networking and, connections with, with colleagues. And so when I launched, I think what really helped was I started right off out of the gate with an affiliate ambassador. We call it our master program, that does not have a very competitive commission.
I will say that right out out of the gate, not compared to what practitioners can get from other companies, but I have always tried to prioritize, keeping the price point of the product reasonable given how expensive it is to make. And anyway, I think there was really what helped is the organic kind of, it was colleagues sharing the product, appreciating the formula, appreciating the product, our transparency, the affiliate program out of the gate. So lever, it was really leveraging other people’s audiences. In a lot of ways.
Erica Julson: Yeah. That’s really smart. Yeah. I know. I just, I bought it because I, like you said, appreciated the transparency and all the quality control testing that you were doing, that, like you said, you don’t see from a lot of other mm-hmm , uh, companies and yeah.
I just respect you as, like, I don’t know. I don’t know what the right word is, but I feel, I don’t wanna say like, expert. I don’t really like the word expert cuz like we’re always learning, but um, yeah, you are, you are always learning, I guess I should say like, I, I trust that you would keep up with the recommendations mm-hmm and you’re like current with the research and you’re not, I don’t know.
Like you said, you, you personally found that a lot of people running supplement companies aren’t even wellness practitioners. And so maybe they’re not doing that, that due diligence. So, um, well thank you. Yeah. I found that really inspiring. And I don’t know, just like confident, it gives you a lot of confidence to be like, this person is creating this product.
To fill a need that they directly see and understand mm-hmm , you know, mm-hmm, , there’s a lot to be said for that. Yeah. I feel the same way even, you know, with my SEO course, it’s like, it’s not just like a generic, like this. I was, oh, it’s like, this is for wellness practitioners. Mm-hmm this is big information you specifically need, cuz you’re not the same necessarily as everyone else. So, yeah.
Ayla Barmmer: Yeah. And that’s a great course. Yeah. Um, yeah, absolutely.
Erica Julson: Um, so let’s talk a little bit. What, like how, what does your week look like now? , you know, how much time is spent on this supplement business versus your practice? Mm-hmm what’s the work level at this point?
Ayla Barmmer: It’s yeah, it’s really been shifting, so, um, and it will continue to, so what it had been, I mean, I really bootstrapped this for longer than I should have, um, to be honest, but I, I don’t know.
I, I think I just, I’m glad I did in a lot of ways, because now I understand how every aspect of the business really works operates have, have I have my hands in all of it. So it was really just me and like a part-time like VA, uh, tech VA. For a long time. I mean, I actually laughed because, the website that I had, I mean, it was, and I’m not at the level that you, and a lot of I think probably the people listening are with website building, but it was just a website I built up until October 20, 21.
And that was the first time, like at that point we had re we rebranded and, and upgraded everything. So that’s, but it was really not up until then. so. Since then, I have brought on there’s, you know, I have a nutrition communications manager. She’s a registered dietitian. She’s awesome. There’s another part-time RD.
So I’ve got some help with the, our audience is, um, like next level wanting the research and the clinical, like other questions and things like that, which is what I wanted. And I appreciate so, so we I’ve really prioritized bringing on subject matter experts to help with that. So that’s part of help.
So there’s, there’s customer service. I don’t do any of that anymore. That would have made me quit a long time ago, mostly because I’m emotionally attached to so much of this, that it it’s, it’s hard. Right. So I do have support and help with the customer service side of things. And that that’s, I think really important.
I do, I had been running all the operations, you know, but I just recently hired a director of operations who’s starting next week. And I, I just like, could cry. I’m so excited about that. cause it’s so much work. Um, but yeah, and there’s a couple of other people on my team too. Like there’s some help with, some of the marketing, uh, yeah, marketing and graphics and, and things like that.
So now what I’m doing, so I was doing all of it. Right. So it was very heavily like. Kava Shopify tutorials um, working with like the merchant supports and account managers, myself, like just trying to figure it out. Um, but now I’ve started to bring on people to help where I’m trying to move into doing, fulfilling on our mission to really be not just a product based company, but.
Provide really solid fertility education. Um, and I, I think we’re doing that. And so I’m excited to move more into like, like a true more CEO role where I can, get out there and do presentations and teach, which I love, I love to do, um, educate, help drive the science. I’m always be absolutely the one behind, the formulas for any new products we have and heavily like involved in, I can’t ever not be involved in every piece of that manufacturing process and like the testing results and like reviewing that, all of that. So, so that’s what it’s turning into. But it’s only just starting to get there. Yeah.
Erica Julson: That’s super exciting. Yeah. and I know it’s hard to let go of your baby. mm-hmm it is. Yeah. It’s so powerful to step into the CEO role from sort of on my way, doing that as well, but, um, I don’t know how you feel, but having starting a family, it’s like, whoa, okay.
My priorities are shifting a little bit. So it’s going, and I’m working at a little slower pace here than maybe in the past
Ayla Barmmer: oh yeah, no, I mean, this is, um, when I had my, my kids are getting just to the point they’re three, just turned three and, um, six. And so it’s getting a little bit better, you know, and now bringing on help allows me even more time with them, you know? But it’s, it’s hard when they’re littler, you just, you go to slower pace, things grow at a slower pace. That’s just how it is. Yeah. Yeah. Mm-hmm
Erica Julson: but so grateful to it’s still so much better than, you know, having to clock in somewhere nine to five, everything. So
Ayla Barmmer: yeah, I’m unemployable at this point. yeah. you know,
Erica Julson: so I. I don’t wanna keep you too long, know we’re running, uh, close to the end of our interview, but so you originally started with just the prenatal, I believe, right? Mm-hmm yes. And then now you’ve rebranded cuz it used to be full circle, prenatal, and then you rebranded to full well and added a few more products. Right. So, yep. What was the decision making there?
Ayla Barmmer: Yeah, so, full circle, prenatal. That was, it was funny because when I launched again, this tells you kind of what I thought or expected the size of it to be. But, um, I don’t know if you remember this or you saw it, but I did kind of like a contest in the Facebook group that I read and it was a name and contest and like basically that’s how that, that name came to be.
Um, so not the greatest brand story in that way, but it was fun, you know? So it kind of involves colleagues and generated some excitement and maybe looking back that was actually a good move when, and kind of part of the launch, you know, in a way, But, uh, when we rebranded to full, well, it was out of partly necessity.
I mean, full circle, prenatal was trademarked, you know, and I knew that I was only gonna get away so long with having that, without it being an issue. And so it turned into a year long process because that was the height of the pandemic. And U S PTO was backed up so significantly that they didn’t get back.
They didn’t approve it. And they at first denied it. It took nine months for them to get the first iteration back, which was the denial we had to appeal it. So it was, it was, it was a really big process to actually get the new name, uh, full well and rebranding was supposed to happen a lot earlier because of that.
But, full well felt like it absolutely encompasses more of what. What I’m trying to do what we’re trying to do now and, has the ability to really expand, you know, on it. So that’s where the, the name came in. I think the second part of your question was really, yeah. I don’t know. You have to remind me actually, I’m sorry.
Erica Julson: Yeah, I think it was just how, why did you rebrand and how did that process go? And then, I don’t know if you feel comfortable sharing, but like what kind of revenue numbers is your supplement company doing now with how many products
Ayla Barmmer: mm-hmm oh, yes, that’s right. so, yeah, we, um, we just, so we did, we just added our second product, so we were just the prenatal up until the end of, 2021.
And so we launched the second product V and V the men’s counterpart. Um, really the goal there for me is I am, I, I really strongly believe in the power of preconception nutrition. It is so important, I think is the, I think it’s this missed window that if we were to focus on that period of, of time, we would see it as the ultimate preventative medicine because it, it, it will impact future generations.
So it’s that powerful and men have to be part of that equation. So it was a real priority to get the men’s, formula out. And so that was our second product. The third was nourish nerves and I felt really passionate about getting that product out because of how much stress everyone is under and how frequently pregnant and breastfeeding women are told you can’t take anything.
you know, um, there’s nothing that’s safe. There’s no herbs that are, and that’s not true. Um, and so I wanted to create a really safe. Formula that that could help support women during such a critical time. especially the height of a height of the current state of the world. And then the fourth product was supposed to be a while ago and we can, we, we could, I won’t dig.
I won’t digress too much on that, but our fish oil, which is really the actual, that is truly an essential compliment to the prenatal, the essential fatty acids. So now we’ve got the four, yeah, we’ve, we’ve had tremendous growth and, you know, I feel like I was keeping kind of numbers around revenue, really close to the chest for a long time, but I feel okay.
Comfortable sharing at this point. I think a lot of, you know, revenue is like topline revenue. We’re. We’re shooting for and on track for around 5 million this year. So it’s, it’s really, it’s really grown, um, significantly. And it’s becoming an opportunity, I think, to, I’m, I’m excited to really fulfill the mission in a way that I didn’t anticipate when I started this. Yep.
Erica Julson: Yeah. That’s badass. I was gonna say it uh, yeah, and I mean, obviously it’s not like all profit, but right, right. Yes. But yeah, what I mean, I don’t know, what’s your experience? I I’ve never done physical goods or supplements. I know for watching shark tank, they’re like, okay, usually your wholesale’s like 50% or something of your retail.
So maybe you make like 50% of what it sells for. I think in a lot of like, if you’re doing a grocery product or something, is it, is that similar in. Supplements or not.
Ayla Barmmer: Yeah. I mean, you, you definitely wanna make sure that your margins make sense. And I think pricing out of the gate becomes really important for that because, um, you know, the margins have shrunk a bit as we’ve added like layers of complexity and different things to run the business, you know, um, grown the team and the tech that we use and things like that.
But generally speaking, the margins are still pretty good. I run, I operate with a smaller margin than I think, well, I know a lot of supplement companies do. You’d be shocked, by that because they, the, a lot of comparable formulas for any of the practitioners listening and kind of know our formula. If you look at the ones that are somewhat comparable, I I’d say we are different in a number of ways, but they are much more expensive.
I mean, we’re talking 20, 30, $40 more per, uh, one month supply than ours. And a lot of the strategy. Is so that you can get into places like Fullscript the dispensaries, which we get a lot of push push to do, but they require 70% off MSRP wow. To get in there. So at that point, you know, even if you’ve got the margin, you’re really just in the business of just cranking out manufacturing products.
So it’s, and you lose a lot of control, I think, in that way. So that’s, that’s my, um, that’s why we’ve kind of avoided that we do have a wholesale program, but, um, yeah, the margins for a lot of companies are huge. I really wanted to, and I still feel very committed, to keep this under $50 a month and, uh, you know, and have the vitamin and mineral needs fully covered with it. um, so, so that’s, that was how I approached that.
Erica Julson: Yeah. That’s a good point too, cuz. I guess that makes sense because when you’re for people who aren’t on full script, and it’s been a while since I’ve done anything with full script, but I remember correctly, um, as the practitioner recommending a product, you can adjust, it’s like a sliding scale of mm-hmm how much of the, commission, I guess, I don’t know if very word is, but as the practitioner recommending, you can keep up to, I think it’s like 30, 35, 5%.
Mm-hmm yeah. Of the sale price. As the practitioner or you could pass on that savings. To your custody.
Ayla Barmmer: Right. And then, so then full script is keeping 35%, no matter what, right. Um, right. So that’s how they’re making that’s their money so, um, you know, and to me it was like, all right, you know, I, I don’t know.
It just felt like, can I make, I want something I, I had already kind of explained earlier on my, my, um, I was getting a little bit jaded on the whole concept that health practitioner lines are better. Um, and in, in all these ways that we, we say that they are. And so, um, why to me, I wanted something. Really high quality and safe that would just be available available.
I, I understand how important it is as a revenue stream for dietitians and other practitioners. Um, and so I’ve battled with that a little bit and we’re try, we’re still trying to figure that out, how to make, how to support practitioners in, in, having an important revenue stream. But also making those accessible.
Erica Julson: And then what about like Amazon? Is there a downside to trying to put it on there?
Ayla Barmmer: Yeah, my, the thing I’m trying to sort through in my mind with Amazon is, I think the Mar uh, the margins, I’m not sure yet on that. I haven’t gone down the path of looking to see, I think it’s a, it’s a lot less than something like a full script, but I worry a little bit about the BR the effect of the brand on the brand quality or perception, you know, when it’s on Amazon.
Um, I also would have to be super clear on, and this is something that, um, is really important with fulfillment, that there’s temperature controlled facilities, that the product is gonna be stored safely and handled safely. And that’s something that I feel like, again, I would lose some control with, whereas now I can go fly and visit my fulfillment centers and see exactly where it’s, where it is on the shelf, you know? Yeah. And what’s going on.
Erica Julson: It’s been a while since I’ve looked into that topic as well. But I remember there being some stuff about counterfeit supplements through Amazon mm-hmm and stuff mm-hmm , which I’m sure is a concern as well.
Ayla Barmmer: So yeah, I mean, right now it’s really nice to just be like, okay, we’ve it’s only available right now through our website, this one channel, we have a ton of control.
I mean, again, quality is like my biggest thing. And so mm-hmm, , um, I want control over all aspects of the quality and that’s what allows us to do that. I think there might be opportunities that I’m not seeing and why I, I really did decide to bring on a director of operations, you know, who’s been in this industry to help with that, but mm-hmm. Yeah.
Erica Julson: Awesome. And then I’m just looking back through the things I wanted to touch on. I think I didn’t explicitly ask this question, so just really quick. So you placed your first order and it was a big investment and then was it. Where you, once you sold all those, products in the first batch you were profitable or did it take a long time to get profitable? What did that look like?
Ayla Barmmer: Yeah, no, it was actually pretty quick that, it did become profitable because the, the initial investment is really in the product itself. Um, it isn’t some of the tech right. To deliver the product and the fulfillment fees and things like that. But, but really, again, the nice thing is you’re paid right away.
Right. And so there was, there was a point where, I knew I had to sell X, Y, Z number of bottles in order to be in the black at that point. And that was like, I was laser being focused on that number because, and then I could breathe again. Right. right. Um, and so I’m like, okay, this works. And then it became, okay, like, how do I, when do I put in what’s the lead time on the product?
I mean, our prenatal is so complicated to make and has so many ingredients. It can be six months, you know, to, so it’s hard to inventory forecast in that way, because you’re not. You’re not gonna get an order that you place like within a month. Right? So you’ve gotta, you’ve gotta take some risk there with the outlay of, um, one thing I would say is try to negotiate at the front because there are manufacturers that will do this, and sometimes you have to get to the volume where they will, but where they’ll give you net 30.
So, um, you actually are not responsible for paying until 30 days after delivery. I didn’t negotiate that until my last contract and it’s a game changer you know, for cashflow.
Erica Julson: Totally. Yeah. So to close this out, is there, this is probably a huge question, but is there anything major that you would do differently if you were to start over today?
Ayla Barmmer: I think I would’ve tried to invest in some more operational support at the get go out, out of the gate, mostly because it almost kills me to try to, um, do it all myself. But this was also while running a full-time really busy private practice. So I think I took on a little too much. I also would not recommend launching a brand when you’re pregnant.
Um, certainly not like two weeks before you’re about to be due. So I mean, there’s some things that are obvious, right. um, but I mean, you can bootstrap this, you can. And I think, I think though, start, I think start out of the gate. My biggest recommendations would be don’t consider getting into this unless you start with, A compliance lawyer team that, that specializes in this industry start there.
They probably can introduce you to a manufacturer they like and trust, and they know other customers use, or other clients that theirs use. I actually would start there versus trying to go to the manufacturer first. Um, and I feel like I had to, I went manufacture first then to the lawyers and then it was like renegotiating contracts and a whole mess.
Right. So I think that would be one really big piece of advice. Don’t try to do fulfillment yourself. It’s a disaster just don’t, it’s actually much more cost effective in the end to have a, a third party logistics company do it. And then lastly, start on Shopify. Don’t do something like Squarespace or try to integrate it into a WordPress blog. It just, there’s so many advantages to Shopify, that can help you help you out of the gate.
Erica Julson: Great. Well, Thank you for being here today. I’m I feel like I could talk to you for another hour, but uh, let’s see. I know you said that you have a special discount code in case anyone listening wanted to check out your product, so where should they go for that?
Ayla Barmmer: Yes, absolutely. So, and in fact, we can get that so we can get that set up right now. Do we wanna do unconventional RD? Sure. That works. Yeah. Unconventional RD. We can do that. So, so we, we usually do 10%, uh, you know, so 10% off first purchases, you know, to try the product. I think if you’re a health practitioner listening, um, just know that you, you have the option of being an ambassador.
We, um, that has a discount for you to purchase product, but also you can pass along a discount to others. And our ambassador program is really about giving clinical tools to help you be more successful and evidence based, um, information in the whole fertility space. So we’re really, I mean, we’re really proud of what we’re creating with the ambassador program in the content. So that’s an option. And I guess just lastly, there are wholesale options with us as well as if you’re a health practitioner.
Erica Julson: Great. So just go to full well, fertility.com and then use the code unconventional RD at checkout mm-hmm . Yep. Um, or check out. And, or check out the ambassador program. Uh, and then what about everything else that you’re doing? Um, are you still doing the women’s health, nutrition, um, practice group on Facebook? Yes in the academy.
Ayla Barmmer: Yep. So there is, the women’s health, nutrition practice group on Facebook, and that is a Facebook group just devoted to, um, health practitioners. I think I, I remember starting it and pinging you and saying, you know, would you even recommend I do this Sarah?
Like, how’s your group going? You know? And so you’ve been a trailblazer with that with, with running a really fantastic group. Um, and I, I hope to do more with it actually, as you do, but, uh, yeah, that group has got some great discussions in it. And then the women’s health nutrition academy it’s w H N a, uh, w H N academy.com.
Lily and I have taken a little break, um, because we were having babies and , you know, just like a little busy, but this fall I’m really looking forward to tackling topics like P C O S thyroid health. We love to do really meaty, super affordable continuing education webinars. And so that’s what you can find there.
Erica Julson: Great. Well, thank you so much for all of your wisdom. I learned a lot, uh, and I guess I should shout out that you are in the unconventional RD, Facebook community, as well. So if people have any other questions, maybe we could keep the conversation going in there. Mm-hmm um, I know you answer some other people in there who run supplement lines, so yeah.
Perhaps they’ll be able to chime in if you have any other questions that we didn’t get to, during the episode, but yeah. So thanks again. I wish you all the best and I can’t wait to see where this supplement line goes. I mean, I know you shared that you’re doing millions here in revenue now. Mm-hmm but I mean, honestly, I feel like that’s probably just the tip of iceberg.
Um, if you think about how many pregnant women there are out there in the world. So, uh, we should do a checkin in a couple, like a year or two, and just see where it’s gone.
Ayla Barmmer: That’d be awesome. Thank you for having me. This is really fun to talk about. Great.
Erica Julson: Well, have a great rest of your day.
Erica Julson is a registered dietitian turned digital marketing pro. She has over 12 years of experience blogging and building online businesses and has taught over 900 wellness professionals inside her signature program, SEO Made Simple.