In this episode:

Wendy Liebmann talks with Mindy McKnight, CEO of M-Star Media Inc., content developer and founder of Hairitage by Mindy, about how to build a successful CPG brand today.

They discuss:

  • The essence of building a successful multi-million dollar brand without losing its founder soul, and its solution driven reason-for-being
  • The keys to creating a modern business collaboration: a partner with the right intellectual capital, a retailer [Walmart] eager to experiment, a digital expertise, and a willingness to let the consumer/shopper be part of brand building
  • The value of real-time consumer feedback that comes with having a devoted, engaged digital community
  • How new social platforms, including the metaverse, will make for exciting retail times in the future
  • How a successful content-driven, social brand will make them laugh, cry, teach something or make their life easier

Don’t miss upcoming episodes, subscribe to our podcast with your favorite app. 

Watch the video episode:

Wendy  00:00

Hello, everyone. I’m Wendy Liebmann. I’m the CEO and chief shopper WSL Strategic Retail and this is Future Shop. Here I talk to innovators, disruptors, iconoclasts and big thinkers who are shaking up the future of retail. Today, my guest to kick off the year is all of those and innovator, a disrupter, an iconoclast, and a very big thinker. She is Mindy McKnight. Those of you who are social media followers, we all are, you should all be, especially if your viewers of YouTube will know Mindy and her extraordinarily beautiful family. And now her hugely successful Hairitage by Mindy brand. You know, while I’ve been a follower of Mindy success on YouTube, her Cute Girls Hairstyles, and at Walmart, it was only this past October that I actually got to meet her, or to hear her speak at the Emerson Industry Day event. And I was absolutely bowled over by her acumen, her passion, her work ethic and her just joy in her business development. And really about them very modern approach is taken to building a brand. And so that’s what we’re going to talk about today, as we take our first steps into 2023. Welcome to Future Shop, Mindy.

Mindy  02:30

Thank you. And thank you for having me really excited to be here.

Wendy  02:33

Ya know, it’s, it’s great to have you I feel like, you know, you bring a whole new modern take on building brands in this world. So I’m really excited to have you here. So let’s begin at the beginning. 2008 I think it was, yes. Why the heck did you go to YouTube and expose all your beautiful family to the world.

Mindy  02:54

So I actually originally started as a blogger, it when the days of the blogosphere, you know, was huge. And we got to a place where taking the pictures wasn’t really cutting. It just didn’t showcase how to do the hairstyles as well as we wanted. And at the time, it was relatively new, but YouTube had just started. And we literally put up our first few videos simply as a place to embed the videos that we were trying to house. So if we didn’t even think there was like a, like a career in YouTube, it wasn’t a thing yet being a YouTuber. So that’s literally how it started. It was truthfully, quite by accident.

Wendy  03:31

So prior to that when you were blogging, I mean, this was really all about helping other people have good hair days, right?

Mindy  03:41

Yeah, it was. I mean, literally, if you look at some of my original videos, they’re they’re very scary. But it’s like, bad lighting. My kids are on the bathroom countertop. I’m still in my pajamas. You know, it’s truthfully, like a very organic mom just doing the little girl’s hair in the morning as they’re rushing out the door to school. And we were just doing creative hairstyles, and it was before the days of Pinterest. So people were excited to see what we were coming up with.

Wendy  04:08

Yeah, what amazes me that you even thought about I mean, did somebody say friends, family people, so I didn’t know what to do with my kids hair. And you said, Well, I do. Well, I

Mindy  04:20

think, again, sort of an organic story if I’m being honest, because I had five girls. And so we were doing a lot of hair at home. And we were just trying new things and being kind of silly and fun with their hair. And it was a great time for me to go over spelling words or, you know, just like talk to him one on one when you have as many kids as I do. It’s hard to get one on one time with them. So that little moment in the morning was always kind of nice. And then as they would go out and about people would be like can you undo that hairstyle and show me how to do it. And so finally we’re like let’s just start a blog and put up these pictures because this is if nothing else, it would be like a great memory book for our kids right of like how the how many hairstyles did we do when you were little? That’s kind of where it all started?

Wendy  05:02

Yeah. So now that you’ve talked about your family as I did, tell us about the family first. So for those of you who don’t know, Mindy, you’ll you know, click on immediately, but just tell us about your gorgeous family.

Mindy  05:16

Um, so I am married to my lovely husband, I think we hit 25 years this year. And then we have six beautiful children between us. We have a multiracial family. So I have four biological children that are obviously white, and then two adopted black children at the end. So there’s six total five girls, one boy.

Wendy  05:37

And so within that a lot of interesting hair issues, no doubt,

Mindy  05:41

the lot of varying hair types and textures and learning how to do all of the above and really do great things with all of the hair.

Wendy  05:48

Yeah. So at what point after showing people you know how to do something with their hair as you took the kids to school and brought them home and chatted with them? And did all of those things. At what point did you decide it was actually time to develop products for people’s hair?

Mindy  06:07

Well, I mean, because we were YouTubers, we were often getting approached by brands to do sponsorships or, you know, campaigns with them. But every time hair came around, it just didn’t feel like we really shied away from it. And I don’t know if it was strategy, because I don’t even think we were thinking strategically at that point. But we just naturally kind of shied away from doing a lot of hair branded content, we wanted it to just be more organic, we didn’t feel like there was a brand that just really resonated with our family and hit all of our family’s needs. And so it didn’t make sense to speak to one brand. And I think ultimately, that frustration, both as a mom and a consumer is what kind of led to the development of Hairitage was just like, hey, I’m not finding what I need. I’m having to shop to aisles. I’m finding really amazing ingredient lists and these products, but they cost a fortune. I’m finding terrible ingredients in these products, but they’re affordable. So how do I bring all of that together to find and create something that works for my entire family?

Wendy  07:07

Well, you know, most people wouldn’t automatically think about okay, now let’s develop a brand, right? So you and your husband have business backgrounds, right? I mean, you. Yeah, I mean something or you would just like I, you know, whatever we can do better.

Mindy  07:23

All of the above, I’m naturally a little competitive. And so I think like, I’m not afraid of competition, I’m not afraid of working hard and you know, really digging in. And I think when we could see, like we were we could work with other sponsorships. Or we could do it ourselves. It just kind of made sense. I did grow up with my dad’s an entrepreneur, I come from a long line of entrepreneurs. So maybe it’s something just in my blood. And my husband obviously has a really great business background. So the combination of the two, I think we were just a little more courageous, maybe than other people.

Wendy  07:54

Yeah, I come back, I’m come from a background like that, too. So sometimes people say to me, why did you start your own business? And it was like, Well, you know, I sort of watched my family do that. And you know, the ups and downs, right? You know, do that wasn’t a good move works? Or, Oh, that’s a good year, or how do I do something I like and bring the family with me and all of those sorts of things. So I, I, when I first heard you talk about that, I thought, yeah, I get it, you know, I get the entrepreneur thing. So it’s, it’s, it’s brave and bold. So what made you having come out of sort of what I would have called the digital economy in terms of YouTube, and before that, as a blogger? Why did you decide you wanted to launch in physical retail, when you started with Walmart versus Oh, I can do DTC or, you know, whatever.

Mindy  08:42

So we actually have an own a couple other brands that are DTC. So we have done that business model, we know what that feels like, looks like I mean, we do all of our own fulfillment in house. I mean, everything from the ground up and I think with the hair thing, it just made more sense. It was it’s quite overwhelming. The it’s a big, like finding manufacturers developing formulas, obviously, I’m not a chemist, you know, I mean, there was there’s a lot more to that one than just simple products. And so I think we knew immediately we needed to find a really good partner that had some you know, intellectual capital they were bringing with them and then using my intellectual capital and my expertise in the digital realm and the marketing realm to kind of marry those two and then if we had found if we could find the right partner, we knew that we could really like push it to retail and go big or go home. So that’s the we just went for it.

Wendy  09:35

And that’s what you’ve done right? Yeah. Gone big not gone.

Mindy  09:40

To most people don’t go to Walmart right out of the gate. No, right?

Wendy  09:44

Usually, and Walmart doesn’t say come to me if you’re really a startup brands, so I think clearly between the two companies or the two organizations or three organizations, you really, you know, saw that in each of each other as a You’re a developed all of that. One of the things that struck me about that was you have created a really unique proposition even within Walmart, right? And so you talked about running up and down the aisles as a mom to try and find this product or that product and not very convenient. So you you really convinced them to bring it all together? At Walmart. Right? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Mindy  10:25

I mean, I think it was really lucky. Because when we went in we, our buyers were looking for a brand that they could help build. And they were also just really eager to try a few new things. And they could see the digital expertise. And Walmart’s always trying to get better. They’re learning just like we all are, right. And so they were like, Let’s try it. There’s this new brand, it has a digital piece, we think we can do something here. And so it we got lucky that the buyers were willing and able to say yes to us as because we really had, I had very, I had no retail experience, right very little. And my partners had worked with, you know, Target and other retailers. I think it was their first foray into Walmart. So we got lucky with the buyers, but Walmart was also ready and eager, which really helped to

Wendy  11:14

Yeah, to your point. And I think we all know that if you’re an entrepreneur, you know, it’s your boldness, you’re willing to willingness to shake up things a bit. But your timing also can be really helpful in that and it struck me that was seem to be at the moment when Walmart was also bringing together their merchandising staffs, their digital Merchandising, and their physical merchandising staff to say, what’s that, you know, whole thing that we can, because that’s the way people shop. So it felt to me like right brand right place, you know, right integrity Hairitage here

Mindy  11:48

very much agree. I think that all of those combined, I think that they were very willing to listen to the ideas we were bringing to the table, and we were willing to listen to the information and the, you know, just wisdom that they had in the data they were bringing to the table on things that moved or didn’t move, and how well they moved. And so it was like this, truly when I say we built the brand, like my first buyer, Rachel, she, she and I still talk like we’re in we’re in text to each other. It mean when we when I always joke, I’m like our baby, you know, it’s like our baby, you know, we built this brand, like it’s our baby, you know. So it was really, it was a beautiful relationship to have at Walmart.

Wendy  12:26

Yeah, that’s the other part, I think of thinking about a modern brand. Because that collaboration with the retail partner, you know, often it’s big national brand, lots of out, you know, lots of doors, same product, basically everywhere, but more and more retailers wanting to have some degree of exclusivity for a period of time. And it felt to me like that was the other thing that really helped get this brand to where it needed to be. You’re working together with the same goals here, which was really interesting. The other thing that struck me, and this struck me when I heard you talk at in October, was the piece about how you collaborate with the community you have. And you really I mean, you know, tell us how many millions billions, but that you engage your community of followers to help you think, in some ways about the development of the brand? Right?

Mindy  13:25

Yeah, well, being an online personality, content creator, influencer, whatever you want to call them, you definitely are getting real time feedback all the time, from your, you know, audience, sometimes it’s terrible and horrible. And sometimes it’s great. But I think it’s like having a giant Think Tank. It’s kind of like the old school focus groups, you know, that companies used to pay for. And, I mean, literally, if we’re having a debate in one of my meetings, I can literally be like, Hold on, I’ll put up a poll, and I’ll pull it and you know, within a matter of hours, we can have 50,000 responses, you know, and it’s just like, Okay, well, then this is how we should go. And so I think it’s, it’s just like, you know, sometimes you sit in a room and you kind of in a vacuum, you think you’re making these decisions that everybody wants. And in reality, maybe it’s not what everybody wants. And so my little pieces and access to my community, allow us to have those sneak peak moments that make it a lot more focus to what actually is going to fix the problems that consumers are facing. But I think also a lot of brands aren’t willing to pull back the curtain, you know, like, just allow them in. And so, I mean, they see me on a bad day at the warehouse, packing out boxes, they see me at a good day, when I’m walking the red carpet for something, you know, whatever it may be, they’re kind of along the journey, and everybody loves a good underdog. And I think that they feel like they relate to me. So it’s like, oh, this mom had all these kids and now she’s trying to build this brand and she’s like the underdog and we want to root for her. And then you ask them things like Hey, should I do this gray or this gray for the hot tools and you allow them to be like part of the conversation with even the basic stuff. And they, when we put it on the shelf, they’re like, I helped build this product like I relate to it. This is something that we designed that we helped with. I remember when she asked us this question, I’m gonna buy this because I have this now relationship with this brand and this product.

Wendy  15:22

Yeah, I think that’s so interesting, because we, you know, traditionally in consumer packaged goods and lots of things, fashion, all of these things, right. There was always as well, there’s the brand. And the brand will tell you, what Mindy, Wendy, what you should wear, how you should, you know, do your hair, what price all of that and that, that feels like it’s been totally democratized. Now, with successful businesses, whatever it is, in all the collaborations, whether it’s designer collaborations for fashion, or whether it’s, as you say, and in all the beauty care, particularly the haircare side of things that you’ve created. Where is that? I mean, there’s obviously some limitations to that in terms of the questions you ask what you do and what you don’t. Where does that work best? And where do you say, I’m not going to ask on that one? I’m going to limit the choices or things like that.

Mindy  16:15

I mean, it’s definitely Guided Discovery, right? I mean, you’re not going to be like, What color should we make our hot tool today? And I mean, you might get like black and white stripes with pink criss crosses, you know, I mean, you’re not going to go that crazy, you’re just, I think it’s, I think it’s knowing when you can present options. Or if you’re stuck between two taglines for a campaign you’re running, or something that’s maybe not going to live forever in the future. You know, it’s like something that’s a little shorter time frame can be useful or helpful. A lot of times, it’s just questions like, Hey, we’re talking about launching new products again next year, what do you guys feel like the line needs? What don’t we have, and those, you know, you can bring that back. And I mean, get a lot of feedback on whether they’re more interested in being earth friendly and Earth conscious, or they’re more interested in having a pump on the bottle, or if they’re more interested in, you know, fragrance free, and that type of thing? Like, you get a lot of a lot of feedback on that kind of thing you can get from your audience.

Wendy  17:13

Yeah. And so that feels you really have sort of an insider view in terms of those emerging issues. I mean, you know, we no big companies sit there and say, Oh, well, you should it should be this versus that, or all you when you were talking about, you know, people caring about is the packaging sustainable? What does it even mean? What do I does it matter? What’s the price that I can afford those, even where you’re using that as sort of just general discussion, you must get some good feel for what your audience wants to hear?

Mindy  17:46

Yeah, one example was when this new stuff that I’m launching coming next year, we were discussing whether or not to put pumps on the bottle or not. And obviously, from a margin standpoint, pumps are more expensive. So my team didn’t want pumps. And I kept telling them, the consumer wants pumps. And so we finally just went to a poll, we were like, Hey, would you rather pay a little bit more and get pumps? Or would you rather pay a little less and not have pumps, and like, overwhelmingly, it was pumps, like everyone wants pumps. And so I mean, just things like that are so simple, but it’s such interesting feedback. And if you go where I’m going next on the shelf, like there’s not a lot of pumps. So that’s actually a great differentiator for my brand is that I do have pumps, knowing that people want pumps.

Wendy  18:35

So you’re not going to tell us all about this, right? Yeah, we just have to wait. We can’t give it away. Have you what you reveal? Yeah, no. Oh, I don’t know. Maybe, maybe we’ll take if we were there in the room together. I could take a look. Because I you know, I know that you guys like a good laugh and a good song and a good that. So maybe we should attempt to do with something a cocktail, something like that. Anyway, do you think so the way you built certainly Hairitage by Mindy. I mean, as you say you built other businesses, and you’ve now done some, your daughter’s now have a skincare line? ITK I get the initial round the wrong way all the time? Because it means something right. Tell

Mindy  19:16

me what No, no, it means In The Know

Wendy  19:18

you know, thank you. Thank you. I knew I couldn’t do it if I looked at my notes in the know. So do you see the model that you’ve created here? That sort of the filling the gaps, building relationship? Collaboration with a retail partner, all of those things? Is that is that a model that can work across here across skin? Do you think that works? I don’t know across soda? I don’t know making it up, or do you think it’s selective to a category?

Mindy  19:49

I don’t think it’s selective to a category. I think it could work other places too, but I think you have to really find the right partners like it I think you have to find the right founder or you know, face of the brand. And it has to be somebody that’s actually like really in tune with their brand, whatever that is, like whatever their people are wanting, they have to be really aware of it. Like I, I’ve met plenty of content creators over the years, and some of them do it really well, and others don’t do it very well at all. And I think just finding the right ones that are also business savvy enough to be able to start a business and like run it like an equity partner, not just like a royalty, you know, I’m gonna put my face on a bottle and hope for the best kind of thing. I mean, because I really am in the weeds, like every day, every day. I mean, this is my brand, I eat, live and breathe this brand. And I think it’s that passion. And that drive that people resonate with, they can feel it when it when you see the shelf, it looks and feels like me or my family. And it sounds like me on the packaging or in our socials that we post. And I think that’s very different than the royalty model that has been happening in the past with like, more like a list celebrities.

Wendy  21:03

Yeah. And I do think about it too, then that quality, that integrity and intensity that when brands sell to big companies. So often that is is lost, I figured there’s a moment where big companies will learn when they need to keep their founders with them, and let them run. That seems to be the issue. Right? That’s the traditional model has been Okay, thank you very much. Here’s the money now go away.

Mindy  21:31

I agree. And I think that CPGs, like big CPGs need to recognize that that’s some of the secret sauce to the brand is that founder and their voice and the way that they want to touch and feel or knowing where to put money and pull back because of margin or things like that, that sometimes, you know, if they’re just looking at shareholder or bottom line is easy sometimes to clip and get rid of, I think Honest, has done a really good job at it. Like with Jessica Alba. You know, Hello Bello is doing a decent job at it with their founders. So I think there’s a few that get it, and the ones that get it are doing well. So it should be a model that CPGs want to keep copying?

Wendy  22:13

Yeah, and I do think it’s learning. I think in the beginning, it was, Oh, gee, these people, these smaller innovators, whether they were content creators, or they began mixing a potion, you know, like Carol’s Daughter in a bathtub and in Brooklyn or something, you know, and big companies said, Oh, we can’t innovate that quickly. Let’s buy the innovation. But they bought the innovation, and they lost the heart of the of the brand. Yeah.

Mindy  22:38

And that’s maybe the biggest takeaway right now, in my honest opinion is like you can’t have you have to be a brand that has a heart. Like I don’t think if you’re just a heartless brand, that’s like a no name, you’re just sitting on a shelf, pumping out commercials, it’s just it’s not resonating with consumers anymore, the way that they absorb. And, you know, they’re on their phones all the time, they’re getting so much information fed to them, they want to believe in something, they want to feel something whether it’s good or bad. You probably heard me mentioned this in Emerson, but I always say with my social team, you have to either make them laugh, you have to make them cry, you have to teach them something, or you have to make their life easier. You know, it’s about how are we helping the consumers? Is there any emotion that we’re evoking when we’re bringing things forward? When we’re showcasing things when we’re going out to market? If we’re not, we’re not doing our job, right? So

Wendy  23:29

does that so do you think of yourself still, as a content creator, as a storyteller, whatever you want to call that, as opposed to a brand? Developer?

Mindy  23:42

Hi, can I say all of the above D. I mean, honestly, I mean, the heart of it is that I started as a YouTuber, I mean, so I’ll probably always identify to some degree as a YouTuber, content creator now. Influencer, I think would fit but I mean, obviously, the portfolio is diversifying now to entrepreneur, you know, mentor, whatever you want to call it. So

Wendy  24:05

yeah, so mentor to your community or beyond that.

Mindy  24:12

I try to be all of the above. Certainly other women owned brands that are starting up. I mean, I definitely believe that a rising tide raises all boats. And so if I can help in some way happy to make a connection or a phone call, give you advice. Always that kind of thing. I believe strongly in karma. Karma always comes back, you know, and I just think you got to put good vibes out do good things for people. consider myself a mentor for my girls and their burgeoning ITK brand, you know, and kind of walking them through some of the pitfalls or the wins of doing retail and working with partners and building out your own brands. So all the above?

Wendy  24:50

Yeah, no, that’s great. Now, speaking of your family, it mean you really have built this media world. In addition to all these other aspects, sermon and, and it’s constant. It’s demanding. I know you’ve talked about how you know, you’re always on your phone. And because it’s part of the way you build your business and stay connected. How do you manage that balance between? mean, you had a wonderful wedding for your older daughter? And like, it all blew up? Right? Because I don’t mean the wedding was fabulous. Everybody was like, so excited to be part of the wedding. How do you balance? That? Is there another McKnight family that we don’t see this hidden? closed doors? I mean,

Mindy  25:32

the McKnights after dark, so we always say it’s after

Wendy  25:35

midnight, right? Yeah.

Mindy  25:38

Um, what you actually see online is like such a small piece of what we really do, I mean, I might film in a 24 hour period of time, 30 minutes, you know what I mean? It’s just not that much of my actual day. So certainly, there is still like the mom who’s driving the soccer carpools, and cooking dinner and feeling frustrated, because I don’t have my Christmas shopping done. And it’s almost time to get it going. You know, there’s all of the very normal mom things behind the scenes and normal human things. But I think that yeah, so yes, there is another side to what you see. But it is a very precarious balance. I think that just in general, people never feel quite like you can do it all. And I think you just have to give up the dream of doing it all. Some days, I do momming better. And some days I do CEO doing better. And some days I do content creation better. And I’m probably not ever going to find that perfect balance. And I think it even changes as my kids grow, you know, and their needs change. So it’s, it’s an ever evolving process and an evolution of figuring out I mean, at the beginning of the year, my husband and I always sit down and have like a did what we what we were doing last year on shared household duties working, do we need to reassess that? You know, do we need extra help inside the home? You know, what’s happening? Like, what does it look like? And I think those are really healthy conversations to have, but just recognizing that sometimes you just might need help. Can’t do it all.

Wendy  27:06

Yeah. So you launched Hairitage by Mindy, at the very beginning of the pandemic, because I can’t I think it

Mindy  27:15

will launch in February of 2020. And the pandemic hit in March. So yeah, don’t do that. biggest advice. Don’t do that.

Wendy  27:23

Well do it you learn a lot, right? When there’s a lot. Yes, you learn a lot. It’s amazing as entrepreneurs or any business person, as long as you absorb what you learned, right? So what are the you know, what are the things you learned that you would pandemic are not about doing business that that is the big partner like Walmart,

Mindy  27:45

Woo I mean, certainly during the pandemic supply chain has been an issue, we’ve probably learned a lot more about supply chain than we thought we would be in, you know, the first three years, and raw ingredients supply, you know, that kind of thing. Walmart prepackage your end caps. I think that was a huge learning lesson. Like because our first ones went out, and then we were like, Oh, my gosh, we should have prepackaged them. So we don’t, we don’t do that anymore. But I think it’s just a lot of work. Just go into it, knowing that you’re gonna do a lot of work. I quit like, Have you ever heard the saying I quit my nine to five. So I now work 24/7? Yes.

Wendy  28:23

When your name is on the package, right? Then there’s a lot of things. I remember the story of Estée Lauder, who was ready to launch a line of something and looked at the package and said, This isn’t right. And everything was done, was ready to go out the doors. And she pulled the whole thing. She said Oh, no. And they were like, no, no, it’s going to cost she said, That’s my name on the package. Right. So yeah, it’s a very different proposition. So when your girls work on, I think of them as ladies now women, I know them as girls so much they’re so grown, but when when they work on ITK, how are they? Are their perceptions of building a business different? I mean, I’m thinking about the generational differences, versus, you know, when you started many years ago, 2000. And whatever that was, they different when they think about what they want their brand to be and how they go to market and how they tell their stories.

Mindy  29:23

I think there’s similarities and differences. They definitely are even probably more digitally aware than I am having grown up with a phone in their hands their whole life. I mean, I’m kind of a Xenial, you know, so I had like that analog childhood and now had the digital adulthood. And the girls for the most part, that, you know, Brooklyn and Bailey have grown up digitally. And I think that they view things and see things much quicker and faster probably than I do or trends. They’re much more likely to jump on newer platforms than I am or move quicker. They’re just in very lean and nimble, I would say, I think that you just, they, their generation has learned how to be nimble, things are moving so rapidly. So it’s really great to see that. And that’s great feedback. For me, it’s awesome when they can bring me information and be like, Hey, Mom, there’s this new platform. And then I’m like, Hey, there’s this new raw ingredient shortage, you know, we kind of bring each other information, and it’s helpful to both brands.

Wendy  30:23

Yeah, I do think, again, if the whole thing feels like you have this sort of collaborative view, to building, whatever it is, you know, between your community of followers, the way you work with Walmart, you know, your daughter’s the way they think about it, that it’s not that sort of top down, or whatever they used to call that meritocracy or something about, you know, I know better. I am the CEO, and this is what you will do. And maybe we’ll do a little research for shoppers, consumers. And

Mindy  30:52

I agree, it’s really fun with our family, because we have so many social channels that we can collaborate with in our family. So example there on Thanksgiving, obviously, the twins had coordinated with the retailer to have markdowns on for Cyber Monday for Black Friday. And they were planning on, you know, they had a whole launch strategy developed and ready to go. And we were sitting around as a family, like the night before, and my other daughter, Camry, and I were like, you know, what we should do? We should post about this before the twins and like, so we sat and kind of had a conversation about like, Hey, we should like leak this for you, you know, like, we’re gonna, we’re gonna leak it. So like, they knew we were leaking it, obviously, we wouldn’t have done it without their permission. But Camry and I got on our socials, and we kind of spun this whole story of like, we’re telling our audiences now, so you can go get the sales, because once they’re gone, they’re gone. And you guys need to jump on it. And then the twins, you know, the next day talk to their audience about it. But it was a really fun way to just, it’s so different than just you’re like, hey, it’s on sale, go buy it now. You know, it was just a really fun collaborative way to do it. And it’s, that’s one of the really unique things we have working together so closely as a family.

Wendy  32:05

Yeah, and I do think, you know, there are so many choices out there today, I don’t care whether it’s hair or skincare or sneakers or whatever, right. And, and to have that I mean, you can see the fun behind not only watching you, and the whole famous can say the girls, but there are two men in the place, right? Between your husband and your son, who I assume are included at various points in time I’m, I’m very, you know, female supportive in my end of the world. So that whole focus, though, of sharing that and the excitement and the fun, and the game of, you know, togetherness in all of that gives it a very human quality. Yeah, it is true, right? It’s not Oh, here, we are pretending to be a big company, a big company pretending to be, you know, a small family or something. So that’s part that that really shows from the brand. So how do you grow? How do you think about growing, that the entire enterprise? If I may call that the McKnight enterprise? Maintain your integrity? What you know, your soul? How does that go? When you you’re building a huge business here?

Mindy  33:17

Um, I mean, I think it’s depends on I think the answer is different for everybody. For my family, like it was conscious decisions not to like move to LA, it would have been an easy move back in the day to like, go where we thought all the other influencers were living at the time, and we just kind of made the conscious decision that it wasn’t right for our family, and we wanted to have a little more normalcy within where we live, like, we wanted there to be work. And then we wanted there to be home, and kind of have like, two very different feels. And so as far as like normalcy, I mean, my kids don’t do the trash can, you know, I mean, we’re doing all the normal things. It’s just a, it’s just that when we go to work, we work big, and we work hard. And what we do for work is in front of a lot of other people. And I think that, you know, that’s gonna continue as we build the brands out either way.

Wendy  34:09

Yeah, so clearly, you’ve got things coming soon that you will not tell me even if I tickle you virtually. Can you feel me tickling your feet? So you’re not going to reveal that, but when will we know what’s next? soonish

Mindy  34:25

let’s see, the new Wet care always launches at the end of January at Walmart. So we do have another shelf coming. So that we’ll have all new fun products that I think people are very, very eager for, and excited about. And then later in the year in March, we actually are expanding to a new category for the first time.

Wendy  34:49

Okay, shall I point to a spot on the body or could it be something all right, you know, can it tell me I know it, I know it, whatever it is. You’re not going to tell me it’s all right. I’m just comfortable. rush right as I said, I kind of got to check out the brushes. So for you, I mean, you have a unique view of retail. I mean you you’ve got a DTC business. You’ve got a, you know, the Hairitage, and ITK businesses Hairitage by Mindy sorry and ITK businesses. So when you look at retail around the US, what do you what do you see as opportunity out there? I mean, there’s a lot of specialty, there’s certainly the big boxes like you’re in, do you see any areas of retail that are exciting, just as an observer, just as a shopper, yourself?

Mindy  35:37

Digital, I mean, I’m so heavy on the digital. It’s like, I, my piece of advice to brands in general CPG companies, retailers would be if you’re not spending heavily in your digital, like, you need to take your marketing monies and stop spending them in the traditional ways. I mean, those are great to take half of your money. And, you know, focus it on your ad spend or your commercials or whatever you’re typically doing. But move the other half to content creation, affiliate marketing, PR box, send out I mean, whatever. The newer, you know, run some TikTok campaigns, like, you’ve got to get into the space where the eyeballs are, and the new consumer is, as soon as TikTok, or Instagram figure out a really great way of turning on the shopping capabilities like in app, it’s going to completely change the game. I mean, Amazon’s already taking some of that digital, you know, online shopping, but I think we’re going to continue to see that build out too with, you know, WMG building out with all these other retailers building out their own web spaces even more their own DTCs or their own dot coms very well. I think it’s just going to continue to see that growth in the digital piece. Yeah. And I actually think it’s really exciting. Very exciting. Yeah.

Wendy  36:54

It also feels to me, especially when people talk about, you know, the retail media that they’re working on now that it’s not just oh, here’s another campaign that’s going to be flashing around on a screen in the store. But where they’re really trying hard, and I don’t know who’s got there yet to look at their data. Look at you know, not only just purchasing data, but but look at shopper data, what we would call shopper data, so they can customize and personalize much overused term, the message to be relevant to me when I want it. And so it feels like it it. That’s the exciting piece that’s floating around. And dare I ask metaverse.

Mindy  37:37

Yes, I’m very interested in see what happens there. I mean, I own I own you know, like, been in the metaverse shopped in the metaverse, all the things. So, you know, definitely very interested to see what happens there.

Wendy  37:53

Yeah, it’s interesting, I heard the CEO of PacSun, talk about how they had used their Metaverse to, you know, develop unique t shirt design and you know, build out sort of NFTs and then think about how that would fit, Nike does a lot of work on it. You know, it’s interesting to me, because you’ve either got people who just poopoo it and say, Oh, this is another shiny thing that’s going to be nothing. Or you realize that people who love to game who love to play in that space who love 3D, it feels like there’s so much that we haven’t even discovered yet. So you’re probably much closer to it than, than me.

Mindy  38:31

I actually think it’s so much more tangible than that. I mean, maybe I’m over. And maybe I’m just like, you know, too close to it. But I, I think that it’s so much more tangible right now, people are always like, I don’t want to spend eight hours a day in Metaverse and in reality you already are, you’re just doing it in 2D, you’re out with it your screen time on your phone, you’re already there. I mean, you’re the only difference is the 2D versus 3D reality of it, right? And so if you can, you know, if I could figure out how to shop and put on some goggles, and then now I’m suddenly in an Amazon store, and I can touch and feel the product or look at it up close and turn it around. And, you know, then I just check out on my phone just like I am now why wouldn’t I do that? It’s it’s even better. It’s like, it’s a much more visceral experience than your 2D flat screen computers or TVs.

Wendy  39:21

Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that lately, because I’ve been looking for a rug for the living room. And I’ve been like, wait a minute, but how will that look in the space? How will it feel when I walk on it? You know, all of those things, right? And some people have obviously beginning to do work there but it certainly does feel like this. You know, there’s so much more in that than just sitting there and you know, watching Star Wars and 3D or something. So maybe that’s good too. But yeah, I really there’s that feels like there’s a useful component to it, in addition to the sort of emotional Wow, gee whiz kind of thing. So I’m glad to hear that. You’re in that so if you see somewhere that I can go and try on the The rug? Let me know because I’m really desperate for that.

Mindy  40:03

Yeah, I haven’t seen where you can feel it yet. But certainly, you know, there’s the online places where you can put it in your room. I mean, it’s starting starting for sure.

Wendy  40:11

Now now I have to get them to send me a sample a square, so I feel it. So I’m waiting till it, you know, means I can actually touch it. And then I’m, then I’m good, then I’m there. So anyway. So what you’ve learned, if you’re talking to a big CPG, beyond the media mix, what do they need to know moving forward a big CPG, big retailer? What do they need to know based on your experience and success over the last 10-15 years?

Mindy  40:40

I think that they need to know they need to adapt or die. Like I just think it’s it’s kind of like riding a bike. If you stop pedaling, you’re slowing down. And I think that the world is changing. So quickly, apps are popping up digital space, you you can’t keep people’s attention for very long at all. So I think brands just maybe need to be a little more nimble. I think it’s really hard for those big CPG brands, but a little more reactive, a little more nimble, figure out how to shorten up their lead times to you know, hey, we see something trending on TikTok, let’s make it right now. It’s can’t be you know, like, this is trending on tick tock, two years later, it’s going to come out on the shelf. Some of that stuff, I think is really, really going to be helpful in the future.

Wendy  41:24

Yeah. And when you look at your children, girls and women and men, girls and boys, what do you see there? What do you see is sort of when I think we talk a lot about shoppers? And how people will have they live their lives and how they want to spend their money on goods and services. And they’re going to be spending differently? Or they they care about what we do? Or are they really thinking about other things and other places? And

Mindy  41:51

I don’t know is this predictions in my, in my mind, why

Wendy  41:53

not? You’ve got you’ve got six kids, no four kids.

Mindy  41:58

I think that we might see, like long term, like my little 11 year old now when she’s an adult, we might see a little bit of a swing back towards non digital, I like it just a tiny one, like in the toys that they play with, I think in the way that they’re raising their own kids. I think that having grown up in the digital space, they may swing back to like, hey, I want to raise my kids a little bit less online. You know, because I, I think that they’re gonna see and learn the pros and the cons to being in the space, like we are today. And my swing back a little bit. But I think shopping wise, I mean, I think it’s, it’s gonna be just a lot more savvy. I feel like the tools are getting better and better. The technical tools, the electronics, the web, the metaverse, all those things are just giving us more instantaneous access. You know, easier access, things are quicker. I mean, I don’t I don’t shop in the grocery store to save my life anymore. I just shop on my computer, send it to my house is dropped at the door, you know, things like that. I think it’s like making your life easier. And I don’t see that unwinding. I think people really enjoy the simplicity and the ease that the tools are giving us in our lives.

Wendy  43:14

Yeah, I will agree to that being a an online grocery shop rolls Oh, when I want to great cheese, I might go to the cheese shop and inhale all of that. Well, this is as I expected. This has been I don’t know what the word is revelatory. I think that’s a word. It was great to hear you in October, it’s been great to follow you and watch the family grow, which is really stunning. I’m sure at the moment, if you go back to the, you know, some of the earliest earliest of your digital content. It’s amazing to watch the kids grow right and see where they are in this. In this moment in time. You look like one of the most of the time. But I must tell you I was really taken by your, your your wonderful imagery for the holidays, you’re all dressed up and looking fabulous and glam. And then the next minute you look like you’ve been to the most amazing party. And I was thinking boy, where did she go over the holidays? That’s pretty fabulous. So I do feel like there’s sort of that, you know, that insider view of what Mindy McKnight and all the little and big McKnights are up to. So thank you for sharing all that. But really thank you for your content today. Thank you for all the work you’ve done. It’s really It’s exciting to see and it’s exciting to see that you’ve brought a big company like WalMart on the journey with you which is which is great. So Happy New Year. Happy 2020 23 We will wait to see what the new shelf looks like and what March looks like. I’m tickling your toes. You’ll text me later.

Mindy  44:39

Oh, thank you. Well, being 2023 is a great year for everybody. Yeah.

Wendy  44:45

Thank you, Mindy. Cheers. Thank you. You

Listen to this podcast on

Thank you for your message.

Your message has been received and we will be contacting you shortly to follow-up. If you would like to speak to someone immediately feel free to give us a call.
212 . 924 . 7780

    Subscribe to our Shopper, Retail Trends and Research Insights.

    *All fields are mandatory.

    You can manage your subscriptions and unsubscribe at any time.

    Thanks for signing up!

    Check your inbox for an email from Make sure to check your spam folder and add us to your Safe Senders list. Please allow up to 48 hours for the messages to come through.

    Have Questions?

      Tell us a bit about you.

      You will receive an email with the download link shortly. Check your spam folder if you don't see it.

      Thank you. Check your inbox.

      Check your inbox to find your download link. Please be sure to check your spam folder if you can't find it.
      Contact us for questions: 212 . 924 . 7780

        How can we help you?

        Thank you for your message.

        Your message has been received and we will be contacting you shortly to follow-up. If you would like to speak to someone immediately feel free to give us a call.
        212 . 924 . 7780