Building a Business for Small Boobs

Today is the boob show.  But not really.  We’re inviting Jaclyn Fu, Co-founder and CEO of Pepper, a company bringing exceptionally comfortable bras to small boobs everywhere.

We talk about the long journey from idea to being in market, and what it means to hold fast to your vision, lead with what you know to be true and stick to your plan even in the face of nay-sayers.  

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Today we have a great guest, Jacyn Fu, Co-Founder and CEO of Pepper Bra, a company bringing exceptionally comfortable bras to small boobs everywhere. 

We knew we were going to haveon the show so I bought bras for the ladies on the team.  One of our team members texted me and said “OMG my pepper bra came today. I almost CRIED it fits so well.” Yes. Amazingly, good bras.

But this episode isn’t really a boob show.  We invited her on because she’s a woman who started something from scratch and I want to talk with her about what it means to tell a story over and over and over again in order to carve a path for her company.  And, what it means when you tell a story folks don’t understand.  Do you change it? How do you carry on and make it to the other side of what Seth Goden calls ‘The Dip’.  Also, what is the role of exploration on the journey toward something new?

Jaclyn shares with us her tinge of imposter syndrome and how she handles it.  Dia calls her out for saying she was “faking it” in the early days of Pepper. She wasn’t faking it, she was doing it!

Listen to her story and shop Pepper bras.

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Check out all things Dia Bondi here.

Dia Bondi  00:04

It's easy for us to say like, oh, embrace our full selves, you know, incorporate our full selves, but we can't exhaust ourselves either.


Jaclyn Fu  00:12

Yeah, being my full self doesn't mean I have to be everything. I have to be me and what what is good and what is happy and what is what is awesome for me, but it doesn't have to be everything.


Dia Bondi  00:47

Hey, everyone, welcome to the Dr. Bondi show a big huge podcast for women with goals. And if you're somebody other than a woman with goals, welcome to you as well. I am so happy to have you here. I'm Deobandi, I'm on a mission to help you ask for more and get it speak powerfully so you can reach your goals faster. And as in every episode, I am joined by my on air best DT Baby A Hi, baby. Hey, dia, what's up? It's been a long time. Yeah. Do I say that every time?


Arthur  01:15

Well, the last two the last time you did, because it had been like a month and a half since we recorded right. It's only been two weeks since we last recorded but we weren't doing we were doing them a much quicker frequency before. It's


Dia Bondi  01:29

funny say I feel nervous. Today we're having a guest. Today we're having Jacqueline foo with us today who is co founder and CEO of pepper bra, a company bringing exceptionally comfortable bras to small boobs everywhere. So it's the boob show.


Arthur  01:42

Nice. Hashtag boob show,


Dia Bondi  01:44

we're not going to talk about boobs, actually, we're going to talk about I'm having her on because I want to talk to her about her founder journey, I want to talk to her about the role of storytelling and you know how to how to be a marathoner and the world of storytelling when you go from the seed of an idea all the way for it, to it being you know, a reality in the world and what that experience has been, and you know, what she's had to hold on to and let go of as a founder trying to grow something. You know, as we've said, our common friend pistol says, you know, what you start making isn't what you end up making. And I'm really curious what her journey to starting to make something and what it ended up being and what that experience was like for her so that for all the all of you who are listening, if you've got a seed of an idea, or maybe you're in the middle of your pathway to building something new and you're having frustration, or you're a little tired, or you're running into some things that are surprising to you, if you're if you're halfway through your marathon, you can maybe get a little boost from Jacqueline foo. So I added something today, because I saw that we have review. Did you see that?


Arthur  02:51

I did see that I saw you added to the script. It's super exciting. It is is it it? First of all, it's it's five stars?


Dia Bondi  02:58

Yes. Yes. Yes, it's five stars. So I thought that was you know, that was the first thing that caught my eye about it.


Arthur  03:05

Sure. And it's very succinct. Yeah. Then whoever


Dia Bondi  03:09

wrote this, thank you so much to the person who wrote this on Apple podcasts. These reviews totally mattering count. And, you know, even the succinct ones like this that are just like, I don't know, they're just like, to the point not not messing around at all. Yeah.


Arthur  03:23

Should I read?


Dia Bondi  03:24

Should I read it? Uh, yeah, you might have taken you might take a big breath.


Arthur  03:26

Okay, here we go. Very good. But with an exclamation point, so maybe it's more like, very good.


Dia Bondi  03:37

I love it so much. Thank you so much. Cattai 1991287. I'm so thankful, thanks for taking a minute and saying that we are very good. Are there we're very good. I mean, we're getting better every day. We're getting better at this.


Arthur  03:53

Yeah. And I see a new segment on the show, maybe where I do dramatic readings of the reviews. I love the


Dia Bondi  03:59

two takes that you did. I would like to know for our listeners, which take you appreciated more of the first one or the exclamation point one anyhow, nonetheless, thank you so much. These things do make a difference. I forget to look. And then I look and I see oh my gosh, somebody listened and gave us a review. It's really wonderful. And it makes a huge difference and how we're surfaced on on the platforms that you listen to your shows on. And we can't do this without you. So thank you so much for that.


Arthur  04:24

If you are into what we're doing here on the Deobandi show, there are a lot of ways that you can help support the program. You can like, subscribe, rate and review on your favorite podcast app. And that will help us reach more people. You can do the old fashioned way by telling your friends about it or the new fashioned way, share it on social media.


Dia Bondi  04:45

The other thing that you can do is help us find guests that matter to you. If there's somebody you want to hear from who you think could be a great match for a show. Please send us a note and make the introduction at


Arthur  04:58

That's right and you can send us any suit ingestions are questions by email, or you can give us a call at 341-333-2997.


Dia Bondi  05:08

So before we get to Jacqueline foo, I have to say, I'm still taking my singing lessons for those of you who are new listeners, for those of you who are not new listeners, I've been taking singing lessons for the last couple of weeks, as a way to address some strain in my voice, but also as an exploration for what it means for me to grow a little range in my voice. And I had a breakthrough last week. Oh, yeah, yes, we're doing such. So you know, I didn't expect to do singing, I just wanted to hire a singing teacher, a singing coach. And she was like, sorry, we're gonna have to address some stuff using, you know, actual singing. And so we've been doing some voice warm ups, and some they're not scales, but they're sort of like, you know, sounds that go up and down the scale. And she had me move from a lower note to a higher note at the top of what felt like my range. And it felt really impossible until it didn't. And it was so interesting, the way I could make the purest sound and actually reach it was to do it. In the most, the only way I could make it happen was by not making it happen at all, which was such a compelling and bizarre experience to have something work with, like, I intentionally had to back off of the notes so hard that I felt like I wasn't even doing anything at all.


Arthur  06:31

So just like happened,


Dia Bondi  06:33

it happened. I mean, I would, I had to be intentional in everything that I was doing. But the things that I would do, I was doing was not trying to do singing, it was like, right, I was positioning my body in a certain way, I was using my breath and breathing into my back ribs a certain way, dropping my shoulders a certain way, having a looseness in my, in my chin and jaw a certain way. And then having the sound come from a different place in my body, but without any force in it. And it was like it had an a, an ease to it. That felt like, so simple. But so it was, it was actually hard to recreate because I had to, I had to so carefully not force it or do anything, it was such a meta experience for me. And I think there's something about these things where you can where sometimes the the purest moments we have in our voice, and I don't just mean in terms of making sound in your voice. But there's moments on stage, there's moments in front of an audience, those moments when you're having a critical, you know, conversation, those moments when you're having to like hold the line or stand up for something, I don't know, that the the the times that you're in, that you're so good, and it's ringing. So true, is the times when or the time often the times when it's so you're so in flow and engagement, that it's almost effortless, while you're super focused on it at the same time. It's just very wonderful.


Arthur  07:58

Yeah, I have experienced that on stage performing music before, I've been able to do things that I could never replicate in the studio or in practice or something, you just get into this flow state of being there on stage and, you know, performing your guts out, and then just stuff happens.


Dia Bondi  08:19

It sat stands out to me that one of my early mentors told me that the best workshop he ever delivered, just you know, and for those of you who are facilitators or who teach or speak for a living, you know what that feels like or perform maybe even for for you know that the words the content of the workshop is not the thing that makes it a great workshop, you can always deliver the content. It's you know, what's happening in the room. He said the best one that he ever gave was one that he was he was super sick, is like I was so I didn't, you know, and in this case, it's you know, he, this was way pre COVID This is like two decades ago, this story comes from, but he said, I remember, you know, I had flown halfway across the world to teach this workshop and he wasn't going to not go do it. So he loaded up with medicines stayed away from folks. But did this workshop he said I was so I was really sick. But it meant that I I couldn't try very hard. I had to let it happen and not make it happen. And he said it was the best, the most elegantly delivered the most resonant, the most, you know, delightful experience for the room because he wasn't pushing. You know, it's very interesting.


Arthur  09:35

I had an experience almost exactly like that about 20 years ago when I performed a big New Year's Eve show at like a really big venue back in Vermont in my hometown. And I was I had the flu or something. Yeah. But I had to perform. Yep. And I I performed one of the best shows that I'd ever performed up to that point. Yeah. And I don't know how did it I mean, I didn't feel sick when I was on stage. Yeah, it just kind of melts away for a little while and then, I don't know. And then I went home and fell asleep at like 1130.


Dia Bondi  10:10

Yeah. No partying on the bus afterwards. Alright, well listen, we're gonna have Jacqueline foo. She's on the show today. Jacqueline is the co founder and CEO of pepper, a direct to consumer bra company for small chested women and they are on a mission to inspire women to celebrate their bodies just as they are. She has been recognized on Forbes 30 under 30, and Inc, Magazine's Top 100 founders for her work, redefining society's harmful body standards. Thank you so much for being with us today. And hello, Jacqueline foo. Alright, Jacqueline, thank you so much for being with us today. I'm so happy to talk to you.


Jaclyn Fu  10:56

Thank you so much for having me.


Dia Bondi  10:57

It's so great. So I've been I was just saying before we started recording that I have been following you on the interwebs. For a while I remember there was one post you put up a lot, because we have a few folks in common. I think from earlier life, you know, chapters. And so you shut up my feed. I remember there's one question you were like, I should have actually looked for it on the internet. But it was like on Twitter like Does anybody know manufacturing somebody or it was like a quiet was like such an a question where you were just crowdsourcing information about the things that you needed as you were building pepper in the early early days. And I thought it was so cool that you were just boldly asking the questions of the things to the world or the things that you needed to try to make your dreams come true.


Jaclyn Fu  11:40

Yeah, I'm surprised they didn't ask how do I start a business? 101?


Dia Bondi  11:45

I think that's cool. I mean, I think that's a fair. It's a fair question. But and, you know, unfortunately, unfortunately, or fortunately, I think the answer is gonna be different depending on who you ask, and what industry we're in. Like, I find that I talk and I work in my communications work. I work with a lot of founders. And there's a big difference between how do how does one and how do I? Yeah, right. So, so our, I wanted to start with talking to you a little bit about, you know, storytelling as a founder. And before I do, maybe I'll just ask you to say like, what pepper is and what it's on what it was designed for, and how long it's been in the world.


Jaclyn Fu  12:25

So pepper is a DDC ecommerce broad company. And we specialize in bras for small chested women. very much inspired by my personal struggles. I'm a 32. A. And I would say for the longest time, I probably didn't want to tell people I'm a 32, eight, right? Society tells us bigger is better. The word flat is used in a negative way. So pepper is here to change that it's here to create a world where a flat isn't an insult. And we're doing this through bras that perfectly fit and celebrate your body.


Dia Bondi  12:53

So interesting. So I'm in the middle of my life, I've had kids and so I've had lots of different bra sizes in my life. I was went from like a D plus a little bit to now being an A after nursing two kids for you know, my kids were let's just say they were there that a lot. They were very good nurses. So and and I am actually wearing and enjoying my pepper bra right now. I know, I know that you're coming on the show, I bought all the women on our team. Pepper bras, I think I sent you a note a couple of weeks ago, that was like when one of our team members got her bra. She texted me right away. And she said, she said, Oh my God, my pepper bra came today, I almost cried. It fits so well. Because she and she's a woman who falls into the category of you know, always being small chested, and always feeling like the world. Like she didn't fit into the intimates category, basically. So, so thank you for that. So, you know, when you were launching, maybe it was even pre launch when you were first sharing this idea in the world was it? What kind of feedback did you get early days?


Jaclyn Fu  13:55

Um, it depends on who I was talking to. So if it was my family, it was wholeheartedly support. So actually got this idea. When I was in the car with my parents, we were driving up to the Bay Area for my brother's graduation. And in the six hour car ride, I had this little notebook where I was just jotting down ideas. And I was reading these ideas off to my mom. And I said, you know, bras for started off is actually for Asian women. She was like, What do you mean? And I'm like, Well, you know, I we tend to have smaller cup sizes. Bras never fit me. Do you think that's a good idea? And she said, there's so many broad companies out there. And I said, Well, does your bra fit? And she said no. And I said, See there's something here, right. And then from that point on, she was really excited about the idea. And then if I talk to, you know, just anyone out on the street, I think it's it's met with that same tone of oh, there's so many broad companies out there. How can you possibly stand out? And especially if you're not in the size range? You just don't understand on how painful it can be, to not have a bra that fit you, and how much it affects your self confidence. You know, this is also exacerbated if you talk to investors, right? Who are primarily male, they definitely don't get it. But all of this is so different. If you talk to our customers, they're like, oh, my gosh, where have you been all my life, I need this, give me everything you have. And it's just, it just really hits the nail on the head, in terms of like, what they've been missing and what we're offering to them.


Dia Bondi  15:28

It's so interesting to me that, you know, I hear these stories a lot about how you know, customers or users are on fire about something, they just love it, and you know, that it's a real need. But when you talk to some, you know, important and sometimes gatekeepers to the, to the things that you need to resource, the dream that you're building for yourself, when they don't get it, it can be really, it can be really, I mean, how was that for you being met with that? I'm sure it wasn't just once or twice,


Jaclyn Fu  15:54

and there's a lot of eye rolling, I'm surprised my eyeballs are still in my socket. Because, you know, the questions that we get the blatant, you know, sexism inherent in some of these questions. Definitely, you know, definitely made my eyeballs roll a few times. So what


Dia Bondi  16:11

was it for you to tell the Pepper's story over and over and over and over and over? And I mean, I'm in, I say to my founders all the time, like you, you might be tired of the story. But for us, we're just hearing it for the first time, you know, and whether your audience gets it or doesn't get it? No, there's, it seems to me that there's a certain sort of Marathon nature of having to tell the story over and over again, what that what's that been like for you?


Jaclyn Fu  16:37

I love telling the story. And I think I think it's because the pepper story is my own story, right? It's like, my own feelings about my body and my struggle with it. And I'm creating a product that, you know, not only solves some of the issues I've gone through, but surprised there's a lot of people who felt the same way about their body. So it doesn't get old for me. I love telling it, it does get tired, experiencing some of the feedback if they don't get it. But I'm at the point now, a few years, and I know we're onto something amazing. It's working, we have customers, we're growing really quickly. I I'm not, I'm not as affected anymore, because I know what we have, which is really special.


Dia Bondi  17:18

And when you say affected, say more about that. And and the reason I ask is that, you know, my dream is that folks listening to this show women listening to this show with a seed of an idea that are starting to talk about it in the world that are that are hitting roadblocks, they're hitting energetic stopping points, they're, they're being told no, they're getting the eye rolls, you know that to stay the course and to stay aligned with your vision and to keep going can be really challenging for folks. So I just want to understand how someone like you, who's who's moving forward, who was on the other side of the first portion of the storytelling of that managed to navigate their way forward in the face of all of that feedback. That was, as you said, like, tiring, varied, you do, how did you do that?


Jaclyn Fu  18:03

There's, I think several things in the beginning, you're refining your pitch, you're finding your story. And because you're refining, you're not confident in it yet, right? Because you're trying to learn you're testing, you're gauging people's responses. And it was a long process of refining, refining, refining. And I think I also feel more confident telling the story now because, well, when we have results to back it up, right? It's not just a concept. And too, I refined it so much. Now. I feel like I can also tell it, like in my sleep. Because I just know it so well. I've told it so many times. And that comes with confidence. The beginning I was like wait, did I miss something? Or, Oh, I forgot this, I really wanted to say this, I forgot. Right? So it just takes practice as well.


Dia Bondi  18:50

That's interesting, because we say on this show, and I say in my work, both helping women ask for more and get it and you know, in the world of communications is that, you know, confidence is an outcome of action. And you're pointing to another example of where that's true. We talked about in our last our last episode with Selena Luna, that you know, we that confidence can come as an outcome you don't have to wait for it, you can build it through the process of practice and you know, and and every time you learn something new and integrate it in a way that makes sense to you, it can produce another level of confidence that lets you get in front of a bigger audience a higher stakes, conversation, etc. And hold and hold to it right.


Jaclyn Fu  19:25

Yeah, you can also fake it to I think there's definitely moments where I really didn't know what I was doing or talking about. And the thing I learned is a lot of people also don't know what they're doing or talking about, and that gave me some sort of permission to be there to take up space and that also gave me confidence but


Dia Bondi  19:44

hang on a second you weren't you didn't know what you were talking about.


Jaclyn Fu  19:48

You had a you had to visualize now.


Dia Bondi  19:51

Yeah, and so I you know, I hear a lot of folks say like, oh, I fake it till I make it my I kind of want to call bullshit on that. I don't want to call bullshit on you. But you know, like I want to call bullshit on that cuz we don't give ourselves credit, like whether it feels like we're faking it, or we're or it's something we're for sure of, you know, you are actually doing it.


Jaclyn Fu  20:09

You're completely right. I take that back.


Dia Bondi  20:12

I mean, I just want all of us at all the stage of our journey of bringing something to life that even when it feels really shaky in the beginning it that's not a signal that it's not real, or that you're not actually doing it. Yeah, I


Jaclyn Fu  20:27

even sending that tweet or asking for help that feeling it right. It's


Dia Bondi  20:31

doing it. Yes, it's doing it. So I feel like I you know, I want to reframe that to say it's not fake it till you make it, it's do it until you make it and keep doing it until you make it. So, um, so so far. Okay, so did I just did I just step on your toe to step on your hand? I didn't mean to,


Jaclyn Fu  20:49

oh, no, no.


Dia Bondi  20:52

I just feel like I want that I think that sensation that you're faking it? What is that sensation? Actually, let's just stay here for just another second. What is that sensation? What does that feeling like? We're faking it? Hmm.


Jaclyn Fu  21:08

I think for me faking it is not being able to point to something on my resume or past results. To say, Look, I've done it before, or I have all the qualifications that would tell you, I could do this, because as a founder, most of the things you're doing have never been done before. You definitely have never done it before in your career. Well, not definitely. But oftentimes, because they're solving so many different problems. And those problems didn't exist, you know, a day ago, a week ago, a year ago. So there's also a lot of imposter syndrome. And I'm curious to hear if all the founders you work with also have it but for me, that's a that's a very real thing. And also being young, being a woman being a woman of color, like all these things kind of compound like, am I the best person to do this? Am I the right person to do this? Can I do this? And then I have to, you know, really force it into my head like, yes, the answer is yes to all of it.


Dia Bondi  22:04

Yes. I hear you saying that, like you decided i Yeah. Like I know, you have support around you, as you said, you have unwavering support from your family, I'm sure from your friends and you know, there's components of your professional community that are bolstering you and, and scaffolding us you go, but I hear and that that there's a decision to say, Yep, it's me.


Jaclyn Fu  22:22

Yeah. Because if you don't make that decision, you'll crumble. You know, you'll combo from the pressure and the weight and the just just thinking that you can't do it. And then and then you don't continue.


Dia Bondi  22:33

So was there a moment in your journey where you went from experimenting to committing


Jaclyn Fu  22:39

couldn't say there was an exact pain point. It has been, you know, almost five years on this journey. And I would say only recently, maybe within the last six months to a year, I feel like I really stepped into where I am today. But up until that point, it was just like, I don't know what I'm doing.


Dia Bondi  22:59

Yeah, yeah. So along that journey, can share with us a little bit about, you know, if there if you could name one of the hardest things that's happened to you so far on the path to bringing to life the idea of pepper, what would it be? It could be an event, or it could be an idea, but I'm just curious,


Jaclyn Fu  23:18

the hardest feelings so far, is having that reinforcement of oh, you maybe you don't know what you're doing? I think any moment that gives me that feeling has been really, really hard, because then your imposter syndrome comes back, right? So one of those moments that made me feel that way was when we had to, you know, let go of an employee. Because you tell yourself like, Oh, I could be a good manager, right, I got this, I know how to lead I know how to recruit people and, and prioritize and do all these things. And when you have to make the decision to let someone go, the story might be, oh, you're actually not a great manager, you don't know what you're doing. You couldn't train this person properly, you hired incorrectly. And because I take I care a lot about the people on our team, when you have to let someone go, it's a big deal, right? They trusted you with their career. And now you have to part ways with them. So it was a very tough and emotional experience.


Dia Bondi  24:18

And now what do you know about yourself?


Jaclyn Fu  24:20

Now I know that, you know, I, I can be a great manager and leader despite having


Dia Bondi  24:27

to have to let people go, what that is part of the it's part of the deal.


Jaclyn Fu  24:31

It's part of the deal. And sometimes there's team members that are great at that point in time what you needed. But also because when you're startup, you and the business are changing so quickly. And based on the business's need, you might need different talent at that time. And that's


Dia Bondi  24:49

okay. And now do you have an approach to letting folks go I don't like noticing those changes and stepping into you know, taking decisive action or do you have like a way in which you understand you do it that you feels aligned to who you are as a leader, or do you sort of hate it equally every time.


Jaclyn Fu  25:08

Thankfully, we haven't had to do a lot after that. But it does make me think more about the hiring process to prevent that from happening, making sure they're really going to be happy here. Culture, how we work, being really clear what the job description is, I have to double think about those things. So that I know this is going to be a great candidate and fit for the team and business.


Dia Bondi  25:33

So along, you know, that you said, it's been almost five years now as you go, you know, this is interesting dance, I think, with the founders that I work with, that are always needing to be, you know, to grow their range, and expand who they are, and call on different parts of themselves, but not lose themselves. At the same time. It's like interesting dance of like, being in I don't know, in relationship with everything around them, but also not letting go of them the core of who they are. So I'm really curious, I'm asking these two questions that are like, the, you know, opposite sides of one another. So along your journey, going from idea, you know, writing up the writing up the five or wherever you were, when you first talked to your mom about the idea of bras for small boobs, all the way until today, where you're in the market and making changes, you know, what have you really had to let go of in order to continue to go forward with your vision.


Jaclyn Fu  26:33

One of the biggest stories I've had about myself was, I'm someone who is really uncomfortable with feedback. And it's difficult for me to have hard conversations. I don't know where that came from. But since forever, that's the story I had about myself that that was my identity. I like harmony, and I avoid conflict. And because I kept telling myself that, you know, naturally, I avoided conflict. And something I had to let go was maybe that story isn't true anymore. Maybe I actually am really good at having hard conversations, and that I'm pretty good at navigating them. Because as a CEO of a company, no matter what, there's always going to be hard conversations. And now it doesn't give me that same like twisty turny feeling in my stomach anymore where like, I get super sweaty, and like, my stomach hurts now it's okay, I'm going to be prepared for this conversation. But we'll get through and it'll be okay.


Dia Bondi  27:30

Right. Sounds like you trust yourself now. Yeah,


Jaclyn Fu  27:33

I definitely do.


Dia Bondi  27:34

And so what on the other side of it? Well, and maybe you just answered that. So I think what you're pointing to is really powerful in general, like, we tell our selves stories about ourselves that we've maybe outgrown. But the narrative hasn't. Yeah, you know, we're constantly having to, like, update our stories to match the current version of ourselves. In that same context, like what have you had to actually embrace over the course of the last five years, bringing pepper to life,


Jaclyn Fu  28:06

everything about myself, I think being a founder requires you to be at 100%. And maybe that's why this journey is so tiring, because they're just always at 100%. But it just made me embrace every single part of myself, the good and the bad. And I think embracing the bad part has been really powerful. Because the lets me recognize what are things maybe are not my strengths, maybe what are things I need to complement by bringing different people on the team? I can't do it all. And so being really aware of what those weaknesses are, has made me feel stronger and more confident, because I don't have to pretend like I don't know,


Dia Bondi  28:44

right. And so what I hear in that is to embrace my whole self, even the parts where I am, you know, less equipped, that that doesn't mean I have to fill that part up and be everything. It means I can resource those pieces differently. Yes, yeah. Right. So I, you know, this this idea, it's easy for us to say like, oh, embrace our full selves, you know, incorporate our full selves, but we can't over we can't exhaust ourselves either. And embracing ourselves means leveraging our community around us to close those, you know, to help us reach farther in the places where, you know, we don't have the resources we need internally to do


Jaclyn Fu  29:24

it. Yeah, being my full self doesn't mean I have to be everything. I have to be me and when what is good and what is happy and what is what is awesome for me, but it doesn't have to be everything.


Dia Bondi  29:36

Being my full self doesn't mean I have to be everything that is quote of the day. That's so good, Jacqueline, that's so good. So tell me when speaking of like embracing your full self, tell me a time when you had to sort of choose to do it your way. I'm going to call it your way where you had to like stand up do a thing in a way that was your way, even though maybe the industry or the context was telling you that's not how it's done. Can you think of a time when maybe that's happened for you? And how did you handle that?


Jaclyn Fu  30:12

That's like my everyday I think pepper in itself is me my co founders way. Because since day one, we've been very intentional how we wanted to grow the business. We didn't raise, you know, $100 million. Right, we didn't go down the regular route of building this really ultra sexy DTC digitally native brand. And looking back, it was, it was why I think we're so successful. You see a lot of these really sexy DTC brands that aren't doing so well anymore, because they made decisions that were all about optics, which I think it was about optics, I don't know. But for us, it was all about what what is going to serve our community the most, how do we ensure that we can make decisions that we feel are really going to get the product and the brand that's going to be obsessed by our customers, rather than what do we think the industry is going to think is really sexy. So because of that we raised less money, it took us a little longer to hire, we didn't pay ourselves a salary for the first two years of the business. So everything got reinvested back, and we had to grow painfully slow. But it's because we wanted to do it, right. And a lot of people would have said, That's not the way to do it, you need to grow faster, the competition, this and that. And also, we wanted to be a remote team. Since day one, even before COVID, before it was his cooler thing. And that was also because I wanted to have lower overhead costs, right? So we didn't have to raise money. And also, I think remote environments empower women more. So you have single moms you have we had a few people on maternity leave. All of that is better facilitated by remote environment, rather than forcing everyone to go into an office. I also think remote work, helps you hire better and diverse talent more because you can hire from anywhere, right? You're not tied to a single city. But everyone thought that was crazy. Before COVID. I remember in 2018, we were pitching to investors. So like, oh, this will never work. How are you going to build a team remote? I'm like, I don't feel like the internet exists. I should be you know, you could do it. But yeah, people thought that was a crazy idea at the time.


Dia Bondi  32:20

Yeah, I think there's there's so much narrative about the way startups are supposed to function in the world and the pathways that they're supposed to take. And if if that pathway isn't one that's fruitful for you, or aligned to sort of what you're trying to do, then you don't belong. And what I'm hearing you say is that, you know, a lot of the choices that you may you've made are aligned to who you are as a brand. And as a you know, as a co founding team of leaders who have a set of beliefs that you want to bring into action, and that you didn't have to take, I guess what I'm saying is that for folks listening, you know, this is an invitation and a beautiful example of you can take a path that makes sense to what you're building. And you don't have to get talked into it's this way or not possible.


Jaclyn Fu  33:07

Yeah, there's a lot of playbooks in the industry. Like, this is how startups grow. This is how data C does it. This is how SAS company grows. But you really don't have to follow any of that be informed by it. Like, oh, have a perspective. I agree with that. I don't agree with that. But you can do anything you want. You can create your company any way you want. I think that's the beauty of it's your company, you're in control, you're the boss, you can make these decisions, you really don't have to listen to anyone else.


Dia Bondi  33:34

Speaking of building things. So let's imagine we've got women, you know, walking around the planet listening to this right now in their ears. And they've got an idea there, maybe they just got out of a long car ride with their parents. And they've got their own little notebook where they've written down their idea, what is the very first step,


Jaclyn Fu  33:55

and the Zero to One is the hardest. I would say the very first step is just start whispering your idea out there. It doesn't have to be fully flushed, maybe it's even just the pain point or the problem you want to solve. But just start putting it out into the world, like vocalize it. Because when you start vocalizing it, you can start getting feedback, you can start turning it real, right? Like, as soon as it comes out of your mouth, it's real, like the concept itself is real. And that's how I started asking for help is I just started, you know, whispering it to certain people and be like, hey, what do you what do you think about this, right? And then from there, they'll say, oh, you should talk to my friends. So and so they know. They'll know the answer, right? And then your network starts to grow. And you start talking to more people, and then it starts feeling like wait a minute, I think it's doable. There's all this information out there. I'm learning so much. Maybe I can do this. And that just starts building confidence. But the first step is just telling someone about it.


Dia Bondi  34:58

I love the idea of it. No whispering it to folks, I think I also hear you say that you don't have to decide you're going to do it or not do it right now. The whispering it into your network helps you see more about what's possible. Is that true?


Jaclyn Fu  35:14

I think so. And there's going to be a lot of things you don't know. And there's going to be a lot of people out there who do no parts of those answers. So just start learning. So the second step after that is network, meet with as many experts as you can, in the field, learn about the pain point, learn about the industry, learn about why there hasn't been anything like that. So as you pitch your story, you can take all that information, and craft this really compelling story, because you have all these data points from other experts. So for


Dia Bondi  35:46

other founders in the world, who are having that little seedling of an idea, women founders, especially what is your hope for them, those who are at the very beginning,


Jaclyn Fu  36:01

my hope for them is that they don't burn out. I think especially as a woman founder, it's so easy to burn out you have the weight of so many things on your shoulders. And it's easy to get lost and lose yourself and feel like there's so much pressure for you to succeed and you have to succeed and you have to make this work that causes burnout. So, you know, go on the journey but go on the journey on your own terms and rest when you need it because it's a long journey. It's a very long journey. So you have to rest on the way


Dia Bondi  36:33

beautiful. Jacqueline, thank you so much for being with me today. It's so I love talking to women founders who are doing it on their own terms. I think that's a beautiful way a beautiful piece of advice. Because you know you're you're bringing yourself into the process and you know the the decisions that you've made it sounds like have informed a lot of a brought forth a brand that's very authentic to itself. And without without the founders voice and without the founders truth I think especially in early days that can be that can be dangerous for for a startup to not recognize that it is a it is often in early days and expression of the founders vision the world. So thank you so much for sharing your ideas with us today.


Jaclyn Fu  37:26

Thank you so much for having me. Okay, y'all,


Dia Bondi  37:29

if you want to get your pepper bra go to where This podcast is a production of Dia Bondi communications and is produced and music ified by Arthur Leon Adams the third, aka Baby A. You can like share rate and subscribe at Apple podcast, Google podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your favorite podcasts. Find us at DIA or follow us on Instagram at the DIA Bondi show. Want to shoot us a question for the show. Call us at 341-333-2997

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