Talking Shop: 10 Questions with Daysie Founder, Tara Pate
Welcome to our new series, Talking Shop. Once a month, we’ll pick the brains of eCommerce brand founders and operators about how they turned their idea into a reality, what advice they’d give their younger selves, and more!
On this month’s brand spotlight, we interviewed Tara Pate, founder of Daysie. Daysie makes organic and delicious simple syrup, which makes your coffee better in every way. Read on as Tara talks shop about starting and growing her brand, how she tackled challenges during the pandemic, the secrets to Daysie’s outstanding social media game, and why Daysie gives more than 2% of their profits away (it makes sense, trust us!).
The interview below has been lightly edited for clarity.
Can you share with us how Daysie came to be? After working for years in advertising and marketing, what inspired you to take the leap of starting your own brand?
TARA: I’ve always been fascinated with entrepreneurship and brand building — I listen to just about any podcast on the subject and read tons of books. During the pandemic, I was furloughed from my job, so I had time to think (really think) for the first time in my adult life, while simultaneously building my at-home coffee bar, since my favorite local coffee spots had temporarily closed.
My background and interests led me to realize that there was a void, because I couldn’t find a simple syrup with ingredients I found desirable. Disappointingly, the taste and aesthetic of the available options were similarly lackluster. After copious amounts of research on the subject I wrote a business plan, and decided to try to do it myself. This condensed version makes it sound relatively “easy”, but I can assure you it was not… in the slightest!
Starting a business during a pandemic must have come with its fair share of challenges. What were some of the key hurdles you had to overcome to get Daysie from an idea to reality?
TARA: One of the hardest challenges was making contacts/relationships virtually. In normal times, I probably would have shaken a lot more hands, and had a lot more coffees. Doing everything virtually made it easier in some ways, but difficult in others — for example, when it came time to bottle Daysie, I thought I’d be able to be on the floor watching, helping etc. Instead, due to Covid regulations, I sat in a room and waited.
Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the supply chain. I was really focused on sourcing recyclable glass vs. plastic, and wanted a shape that wasn’t as common here in the US, so that the product could stand out. I’m incredibly happy with the decision I made BUT it has been 100x harder to secure the glass with the current supply chain issues. At one point I had to start Googling things in Italian…
If you could sip on a Daysie-infused drink anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
TARA: Positano, Italy. Daysie is inspired by travel, rooted in the south. That line is totally accurate, not just marketing lingo. When my husband and I traveled to Positano, we had an affogato that changed our lives — enough to inspire the Madagascar vanilla flavor of Daysie’s vanilla. I wanted to capture that exact feeling I had there — I hope it does!
We love that part of the proceeds of each Daysie purchase go to support women CPG business owners. Can you share with us what moved you to create the 2.1% pledge?
TARA: Women receive only 2% of all the money invested by venture capital — crazy, right? Daysie’s ‘giveback’ was integral in its founding, and it’s not just a ploy to get you to buy our product — it’s a promise that we’re going to help change that percentage by putting our money where our mouth is. Daysie was incorporated as a Public Benefit Company, which is an integral first step to becoming a certified B Corporation — our long term goal.
We’ve even written our first check without turning a profit, because this mission means so much to us.
That 2.1% is our call to move the needle forward.
You decided from the get-go to partner with a 3PL to help launch your brand. What influenced your decision? How has this partnership helped position Daysie for growth?
TARA: There are so many different routes a business can take, and in my case it was my goal to become as efficient and scalable as fast as possible.
When I ran the numbers, the choice to use a 3PL allowed me the freedom to focus my efforts (hello solo-founder life) on the pieces of the pie that couldn’t be as easily automated, i.e. social media, brand building, PR, bottling, sourcing, etc.
Working with a 3PL from the get-go was a total game-changer for me and for the business. As I look to grow Daysie into an omni-channel business, I know for a fact that Nice Commerce will be absolutely instrumental in helping me achieve these results!
Your branding and social media game is fire. Seriously, so SO good. As a one-woman-show, how do you find inspiration, let alone time, to devote to the seemingly constant pressure to always be posting?
TARA: Wow– that’s incredibly kind of you to say. Seriously, I am taking a mental pause to let that soak in a little, thank you.
Branding/marketing is what energizes me. I spent a lot of my time working for others, so Daysie is my chance to do things exactly as I’d like them done (and to kickstart the brand, I hired a wildly creative agency called Pulp & Wire). And then I outsource the things that bog me down (accounting and legal, for example).
Batch-work is also key: I self-produced the first shoot for Daysie — I hired talent from IG, bought props, outlined recipes, timing, inspo photos etc. All of this was in an effort to get 4–5 months worth of content in one shoot. I have a fantastic photographer (Andrew Cebulka) that I trust, and he deserves ALL of the credit for bringing my vision to life. This set me up for success, because I am not in constant search for content…though new pieces come in here and there with collaborations, contests, Tiktok etc.
Pro-tip: I load all of the content into a planning tool (Planoly) so that I can set up auto-posts every week (I do this on Sundays.) I also timeblock my calendar with tasks, to keep track of everything. I’m on social media at 7:30am, 12pm, and 9pm for 20–30 minutes depending on the day — and then I really leave it.
Additionally, I work with an incredibly talented freelancer for my Tiktoks. Faith and I chat on Saturdays to brainstorm ideas/trends for the following week, but really she’s the expert on that channel.
Don’t be fooled — I am incredibly bad at creating regularly engaging story content, and I have no real email funnel yet. You can also see that I work early a.m. late p.m. and weekends. Balance isn’t a priority for me right now — I hope that comes one day, but right now I LOVE what I do, so “work” is fun and I don’t mind the imbalance it’s taking to build Daysie.
You’re about to be on a deserted island and can only take one Daysie flavor with you. Which one makes the cut?
TARA: Island fever calls for Coconut Almond —give me a coconut milk marg any day.
What advice do you wish you could give to your younger self along this journey?
TARA: Things are going to cost 10X more than you thought and take 10X longer than you think.
No one will care about your business like you do, and you will be met with a lot of “no’s.” Your role will be to figure out how to ask why and how along the way — in this case “no” does not always mean “no”, so keep pushing.
If I had listened to the first “no” I got when asking about how to get certified organic, Daysie wouldn’t exist.
What does the future look like for Daysie? Is there anything in the books that you’re excited for?
TARA: I feel like I’m just getting started!
I am excited to focus on building an omni-channel business, and trying to find some strategic retail partners.
I’m also really excited to get out and meet customers through a summer cold-brew coffee cart activation I’m doing around Charleston. Catch us at the 2nd Sunday on King in June at Candlefish!
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