A Top 25 Business & Marketing Podcast
Purpose-driven Marketing with Jann Parish, CMO and President of Girls Like You

December 22, 2020

Purpose-driven Marketing with Jann Parish, CMO and President of Girls Like You
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In this episode, host Ryan Alford talks with Jann Parish, founder, President, and CMO of Girls Like You.


Happy Tuesday and welcome to another episode on The Radcast!

In this episode, host Ryan Alford talks with Jann Parish, founder, President, and CMO of Girls Like You.

Before starting Girls Like You, Jann was the CMO at Victoria Secret, VP of Marketing at Calvin Klien, and VP Marketing at Tommy Hilfiger.

In this episode, Jann shares:

  1. Her marketing background.
  2. Why she started Girls Like You and dissects the Girls Like You message.
  3. What makes Girls Like You a radical brand.

Enjoyed this episode? Then share it on Instagram and tag us @the.rad.cast | Do you want to hear more from our host? - Give him a follow @ryanalford on Instagram. | The Radcast is a product of @radical_results | #theradcast

Transcript

Ryan Alford [00:00:23] Hey guys, what's up? It's Ryan Alford, welcome to the latest edition of The Radcast. Here we are in the holiday season. We've got our toasty fireplace actually brewing here on the TV screen that’s making me feel warm. And I'm also feeling warm with our latest guest here, Jann Parrish. Great to have you, Jan. 

Jann Parrish [00:00:40] So good to be here. Thank you. 

Ryan Alford [00:00:42] Hey! I like that cozy background there. In the home, like most people. I think most of our guests these days have been at home and about and we're fortunate enough to have a spread out office. So we keep things warm in the studio and a light. But Jann is the founder and CMO president extraordinaire of Girls Like You, GLU for short. Did I title everything right, Jane? I mean, you know, you're a woman of many capabilities and things which we will get into. But you’re wearing a lot of hats there at GLU. 

Jann Parrish [00:01:16] The startup mentality. Right? A little bit of everything. 

Ryan Alford [00:01:22] Exactly. Startup life, which you've had some experiences here recently, including your own. So I know we'll get into that. But so, Jann, first and foremost, I guess we're staying safe and sound this holiday season. Anything crazy on your end? Are we trying to keep things as normal as possible? 

Jann Parrish [00:01:39] Exactly that, as normal as possible. It's a beautiful snowy day here today in Ohio. So, you know, it's all nice and snuggly inside the house. And, hopefully it'll stay like this throughout the next couple of weeks and we’ll get to the holiday season and get to spend some time together. Makes it so much easier to be indoors when it's so beautiful in winter. 

Ryan Alford [00:01:58] I am jealous of the snow. We're still dreaming here. Like last night, I don’t know what it was here in upstate South Carolina. We had like three inches of rain. It was thirty six degrees. So we were this close to having some precipitation, frozen type of precipitation. But it was just rainy and yucky. So we're hoping, including all of my kids, my four boys under the age of 11 and we’re all praying for a white Christmas. I'm like, I wouldn't count on it. 

Jann Parrish [00:02:25] No, I grew up in Texas and Texas was the same thing every year. I wanted that one white Christmas and one year, like just randomly it got to thirty two degrees and it snowed for about fifteen minutes. And it was like it was the best day ever. Best Christmas ever. It didn't stick. 

Ryan Alford [00:02:41] The one Christmas I can remember here in South Carolina, it was like gone by 2 p.m. in like the morning. So like, dusting. But we don't get so fortunate. But we do get wonderful weather in South Carolina. So no complaints. But Jann, let's give everyone the background. I know you've been in fashion design and all those things, being the CMO at several large companies and VP of marketing, really heavy and impressive marketing background. But let's just kind of give everybody that background on Jann. 

Jann Parrish [00:03:15] Yeah, sure. So I would say from the time I was 8, I knew that I wanted to work in fashion and marketing in some capacity, marketing probably less so. If you asked my eight year old self, you probably would have heard I want to work and be the editor of Vogue magazine. What I knew was that I wanted to be creative and I wanted to find ways to be creative and to express myself and most importantly, through clothes. It was just something I felt really strongly about. Over the years. I started first in Texas and I graduated from TCU and actually ended up going into technology because that's what you did in 2000. It was the tech boom and that's where you started. So I work for Texas Instruments, working on DSPs. And if there's one thing that didn't look like another, it was Jan Parrish doing digital signal processors. So I went for a couple of years and moved to New York City. And by sheer wit and verve and tenacity found my way into the fashion space. I started with magazines. I was with a title called DNR, and it was a men's publication that was tied to Women's Wear Daily. And then I just kind of worked my way up. I left from there to go into the beginning of my marketing career working with a company called Castlewood who did a bunch of early OT's brands like Baby Fat in My Michelle and XoXo and then grew into beauty. And I was at L'Oreal for a while. After L'Oreal, I went to Calvin Klein and that really began, I would say, close to a fifteen year step between Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. I worked for Calvin for a couple of years, was then recruited to Tommy Hilfiger, then the parent company who owned both of them, acquired Calvin Klein. Excuse me, they acquired Tommy Hilfiger and other parts of Calvin Klein. So the bulk of my work has been with those guys. And it's really been about rebranding and creating moments of inspiration for the consumer and tying it as closely as I can to the execution and monetization of that experience. So ,in 2008, it was magazine spreads and beautiful content and that sort of thing, and as time marched on, what I loved was the science that began to show up in the marketing space. And it was taking the beauty that came from the fashion imagery and turning it into content they could share with the consumer and they could engage with. One of the big feathers in my cap was several years ago with the hashtag McAlpine's campaign, which is one of the first fully monetized social media campaigns in the industry featuring Justin Bieber. And then I found my way to Victoria's Secret and for a few minutes after that, found my way into the cannabis space. And through all of that, I've had this really strong desire to start my own company. I know I've had a lot of experiences with a lot of big places. And now I sit here and a little studio above my garage, which is GLU headquarters, creating this kind of next big dream. 

Ryan Alford [00:06:09] That's awesome. A lot to unpack there. We have more in common than I realized. I did six years in Manhattan, but on the agency side, working with Hill Holiday. And now what's up in Cohering Greensville there, Balsan agency as Hill Holiday. And I opened their New York office, actually, who's owned by Hill Holiday and IPG Belardi Larger Holding Company. And so I worked on Verizon, iPhone, Apple, Samsung, large brands and have too watched that transformation from print and traditional mediums into what's now the digital world, the art and the science of marketing. So I love that and I love the perspective. We work with a lot of boutique type fashion brands and we really love the visual content of it. But the only thing that's kind of been maddening and I was curious about your take on it is as much as I love the science and we're a digital agency, but it's been a little all the talk of performance, marketing and everything like that, I hate how the brand and some of the visual aspects of branding has gotten pushed down a little bit. I don't know your perspective on that. Working and coming like me wearing both sides of the fence in a marketing world. How do you feel about that? 

Jann Parrish [00:07:28] Yeah, it's a funny thing. I completely agree with that. I would say there was a point in time where we worked really hard to make sure every image that found its way into any channel kind of beyond traditional print was as beautiful as print and then realized that was untenable. And there was this crazy aspect of like, OK, what do we let go of in that process and what do we create from it? And what I have found to be really remarkable through all of that, particularly, when you think about content creation, is really what's been put into the hands of the customer and the end consumer and what they can do and, while it’s not nearly as polished, it is sometimes a lot more interesting. And it's been really cool to see how creativity comes to pass in these times. What I find to be kind of a drag is when you put all those algorithms behind it, what actually gets to the forefront of the consumer's attention. And sometimes the really good stuff doesn't make it. It doesn't fit whatever crazy thing is happening inside that science part. And that can be totally maddening, too. So, yeah, it's an interesting mix. What comes to life can be really beautiful and really unique. And then you wait for it to really hit and sometimes it doesn't. And that can be just totally bonkers. 

Ryan Alford [00:08:40] Yeah, it does, because sometimes we now producing some of the best videos and when I say best, I mean sometimes it's not even production value, but what you feel like is quality concept and strategy and consumer insight. And then it gets beat out by whatever the borrowed interest of the day is from TikTok or otherwise, which can be maddening, like you said, with the algorithm. Before we transition into what’s been happening with GLU. you know, you talked about it -- that love the consumer. I hear that. I read that in some of the other pieces you've talked about, which really hits with me. But is there any like your biggest take away or your biggest insight that you feel like you've brought now owning your own business from all those experiences? Is it just kind of leaning into that customers or something else? 

Jann Parrish [00:09:39] Yeah, there's a couple of things that come into play there. I think the first is that idea of leaning into the customer. I think it's really easy, particularly as a founder, to fall in love with your own work and your own experience. And, because it's your baby just as well as your daughter or your sons in your case. And, I think that through all of these years of training, you develop that ability to be able to separate, I guess, just the passion for the work from what the end consumer is going to want from you. And I think there's a little bit of ego in there that comes with that, too, that you have to part with. But it took a good portion of my career to come to that place where you can really make that point of differentiation. And as I've launched GLU, that's exactly right. We're so early and we're two months into existence in the consumer space, nine months from back where I sit and it's all test and learn, like you can't love anything too much. You have to be willing to put a couple of other things out there, see what sticks, change your website around. Change the way you're doing emails and see how the consumer responds. 

Ryan Alford [00:10:47] What inspired? So let's just drive right into Girls Like You and the glue that holds and brought it together. I imagine family and some inspiration. But let's talk about what drove you to start Girls Like You and really maybe just the nuts and bolts of what it is and in giving our listeners kind of that background GLU. 

Jann Parrish [00:11:12] Sure. So GLU stands for Girls Like You. And the brand was built around the premise that it takes courage to grow up. A big piece of growing up, naturally, is kind of the physical changes that happen as you do. And whether you're a boy or a girl, those are experiences you have. And we chose to focus really on girls and those who identify as such and what that experience looks like. So, I have been in women's focused brands for a long time and most recently with Victoria's Secret (VS). And it was, I would say, largely born in my time at the VS where I was seeing the consumer was beginning to differ in the way that they chose to express themselves and what we were seeing in advertising and the way we were expressing the brand. And it got me thinking. I was like, well, so if we're to think about where the world is headed and of this generation of young women and what they're going to expect from us and with the way they're going to communicate about themselves, it's different. And I didn't want to create something that was going to really be an outward projection of an idea of just mine. My hope is that this is a community focused thing where it becomes a product and content and experiences that come from the greater sum and from all the individuals. And that's why it's not called Girls Like Us or Girls Like Me. That was really the idea behind it. I'll tell you truthfully, the concept itself came from conversations with my daughter Laila. My daughter Laila. I'm looking at a picture right here right, right now on the website of the dark headed little girl in the picture. She's not so little anymore. She's 12.

Ryan Alford [00:12:59] Is she a TikTok star? I got to know, is that who we're seeing on TikTok? 

Jann Parrish [00:13:03] You're seeing her. You're also seeing a woman who actually was my next door neighbor several years ago when we were living in New York. She was a babysitter. OK, yeah. And so a big part of me and my focus in business is really making sure I could grab young talent and bring them along for the ride. And that's the case. And Evelyn, who's a lot of the girls you're seeing, or the main girl you're seeing in TikTok videos, she's amazing. 

Ryan Alford [00:13:31] So that's not that is or isn't your daughter?

Jann Parrish [00:13:34] No, that's Evelyn, that is our intern. And Laila is in about half of them. So you see they're both dark headed. So it's kind of hard to tell. Evelyn and Laila, they bring that aspect to that kind of self-expression moment to the brand. And so where we had gotten started was actually a couple of years ago, my daughter came home from school and she's like, “oh, hey, we're going to have -- we all go to body talk in school in a couple of days.” I was like, “oh, I know how you feel about that.” And she's like, “I mean, it's kind of weird that my homeroom teacher is going to be the one who's going to give us this big talk.” And I was like, “I hadn't really thought about it like that because that's just the way we do things, right?” Like the same thing that happened to me growing up in Texas all those years ago. And I think there's just a mass of different ideas and things that are unexplained. Or maybe the young woman has her own kind of view of what that is. But without the experience or having individuals to talk to about it, it's a scary thing. And so we decided that at that moment, what we were going to do was create a brand that helped dispel the myths associated with growing up. And, it can be everything from dealing with loneliness in the time of covid. Also to how to care for your body, how to care for your skin and the experiences that come along, social dynamics, all of that, none of that is off the table. So when we were looking at how we could work the contents with the product, the first place we launched was actually with this idea of an at home manicure kit. And if you can imagine, it's like March. We're all sitting at home and you forget what the outdoors looks like, basically because we were all too afraid to leave. We thought, well, why don't we create something that would give you a point of engagement with your friends? And we created this kit. So all the items associated with giving yourself a manicure, come in this kit, a bunch of fun colors. All the beauty products that we have designed are all organic. It's natural, it's non-toxic. That nail polish remover is a brand new product that's built. It's made out of soy oils rather than acetone. So create something that was beautiful, useful, and then package it in a way that it can be engaging. So the Girls Like You box, it's actually the product, but it comes in the box itself has a place that's been engineered to hold a smartphone. So that gives you a chance to watch the videos that we produce. You have the nails or Netflix now on screen, and that basically gives you a tutorial in there of how to do your nails. And it also gives you a place of engagement and conversation and you can use the phone stand. And in fact, all of our Tik Tok is shot using that phone stand that comes with the GLU kit, because it makes the perfect extra entity to help you kind of get your point across. And then from a branding standpoint, from where you and I set Ryan, it's got our logo on. It has identification. It's easy to get to our site from the information on the box. And it's a good place for a woman, for a young girl and for a young woman to express her creativity. So as we get out of the holiday season, we're really focused on gift giving. We're going to move on to talking about what kind of the winter blues look like for this generation and kind of the effects of technology and the combination of really just kind of the outward projection of everybody's having fun when life is hard and it's hard for everyone. And what are the stories that we can tell to bring comfort to the audience and to bring them along and find some humor in it, too? 

Ryan Alford [00:17:56] This is a woman after my own heart in many ways, starting an e-commerce brand with community in mind, with user generated content. Like this is like the rockstar plan for how you start an ecommerce business. I'm just going to give you props. I don't pump, if you listen, if you go look at the other podcasts, I don't pump up my guests, like, just naturally. That's just not my style. But we work with enough e-commerce brands that come in the door that want to hire us when they've either grown, they can't start grow any more. They want to grow more. And I look at them and they were in a they have a commoditised product and they don't have they have no community. And they think that doing sales every week is going to sell products and it starts with community. And you guys have started right square in the middle with that. I think it's brilliant. And I love how you're creating content and really building around the story of your audience in narratives that mean so much to them in something that's so underserved, which is whether it's the youth, girls, boys, whoever, and them kind of getting an image for themselves and helping them develop that. So kudos all around for the approach. And now if I've made your head big, it's been intentional because it really is great. It really is great. I love the community aspect. 

Jann Parrish [00:19:13] Well, thank you very much. We're super excited to get it off the ground and see where it can go. It's been kind of a true labor of love, it's like 24X7. There's no hours, totally away from it or it doesn't cross my mind or hit a dream or anything. 

Ryan Alford [00:19:28] Are we subscription based? So, there's a few things that I hear with monetization of this is obviously selling the boxes to the kids. Having worked with companies that get involved in doing the boxes, the Birchbox, those kinds of things, it feels like a blend of selling product that's branded as well as potentially the kind of box thing that maybe dive into that a little bit of the monetization aspect of this. 

Jann Parrish [00:19:52] Well, let me tell you a little bit about how we're approaching that. So what is the one thing I was most afraid of was I didn't want to create something that was e-commerce focused, that was a one time purchase. So I was going to spend my life and my daughter, who's very closely involved in this, just trying to acquire new customers. So they want to do it again. So part of the methodology to the band is to tie the storytelling to the product launches that will be doing as we go and then once we're a little further on, we're so early on phase 1 is where you'll see the beginnings of the subscription based business. So our second launch is focused on skin care. There's two kits that will be launching, one called All-Clear Here and another one called Sing Spots. And its beauty, its skincare products that you can basically match next to what you need most. And the hope is that through kind of bringing in that information about the consumer, the answer was much like you see a lot of other ecommerce businesses and then really coming back with all the tools and tech that come along with marketing now, is we can start to create that subscription moment and really develop a sense of loyalty and long term relationship with our consumer. And that's the content piece. The product can only take you so far, there's loyalty associated with that. But if they believe in you, and they believe in what you have to say, that's how you're going to keep up. 

Ryan Alford [00:21:11] Will this always be GLU? GLU branded products that you're selling? Is it always going to be your products or would potentially be a conglomeration. I'm blanking on the word, but I think you know what I'm asking. 

Jann Parrish [00:21:29] It's like cross promotion or other partners. It's a great question. So right now, we're starting with GLU . There's a couple of things that have come my way that are interesting that I'm looking to probably include in the site just for an overall experience. And we'll see just through testing and learning what sticks and what she wants. I would love to bring others along on this experience. I think the content component of what we're trying to accomplish makes a lot of room for that. All in due time. Trying to keep Type A under control with personality and take each step and sequence appropriately. 

Ryan Alford [00:22:03] So it might be the start of the next Glossy A, but with a more purposeful mission and function here. 

Jann Parrish [00:22:11] Nine years. I sure hope so. 

Ryan Alford [00:22:15] So talk a little bit more about -- you have a daughter, I'm sure that inspired it. I mean, is there any other, like, natural inspirations that and I mean, obviously, like in my monologue on how great this is, the importance of this with girls and their self-image and those things. But are there other things that have just been natural care points for you that have really tied you to this as have been your daughter as much as anything? 

Jann Parrish [00:22:45] So I would say it's just the aspect of womanhood that's really created this moment. And I think femininity is a word you could use, but I don't like it as much because I think it has different implications. I came up initially in business and an environment that was pretty dominated by men. It never bothered me because I just didn't choose to make it a point of differentiation. We're always going to be great business people. As I went along and looked at who was applying for jobs and that sort of thing, what I really wanted to do was be one of the individuals who could bring somebody along and then have them pay it forward and then that person would pay it forward. And hopefully over time we would have this really neat enough network of individuals who have a shared experience and are focused on that idea of community, much like I started describing when we first started speaking. And I found that to be really effective as I've moved up. And it's meant great relationships and great sounding boards and interesting people to talk to along the way. And you know, what you can learn from people that you bring into your circle and what they and what you can teach them are both important. As I approached this business, it was all of that. It was the spirit of openness and vulnerability. It's I think for me, early in my career, that was a hard thing to do. Not anymore. I'm a grown up now. I'm going to be who I'm going to be. But at that point it was and I want to make that part be as easy for young women, as they grow up, as possible. And that's where this idea of, like the interaction with the box, with your phone or Girls Like You and not Girls Like Me. The identity is open and allows for individuality. And I think what's been super cool is that I've talked to these young people who live in GenZ, whether boy or girl -- they're down. It's been exciting to see that. And it's been also really interesting because the product itself, nail polish, once upon a time was girl focused, or at least that's the way it was projected and the amount of these kids and. People have come a long way to them that it's not about a gender thing, it's about a self-expression thing, and that's too. So it could just as easily be “Girls and Guys” Like You. All in due time. 

Ryan Alford [00:25:24] Yeah, I love it. We're marketing podcasts. We've been talking to some marketing, obviously, holistically. What are the marketing avenues as being a startup, your two months out to the consumer, what are you guys leaning on from a marketing perspective for obviously building the community, which is going to be the big play and start to do some lifting for you. But what are the channels and what's the marketing plan for GLU? 

Jann Parrish [00:25:52] So we launched at a relatively auspicious time, 2020, one of the craziest year. I think what I'm really focused on and kind of where both Laila and I agree is that is the trust building exercise that comes first. And so right now, nobody knows us from anything else. And so  I think the user generated content will come as people become more familiar with the brand and understand what we stand for. So our focus has been largely on awareness driving, and we've been focusing heavily on digital marketing, a lot of the backend boring stuff with how we approach search. And the hope is to begin to syndicate some of the content that we're generating for the website. As far as the articles go, that live in the girl care section of our website, and using that as kind of the initial entry point into the business. From there we will continue to launch new tutorials and do what we can to keep the site fresh. And as the Google machine comes to know us and understand us that will start to kind of cool forward more and more. The next big thing I would say as we get into the spring season, away from the crowded holiday season is going to be how would we focus on press? I think the top of the funnel today. I know conversion is going to take some time and I think that's OK. Well, it can't take forever because I've got to sell something. But I really want to get out there and get people talking and kind of grow from that perspective. 

Ryan Alford [00:27:29] It seems like an easy story for people to get behind on the pressure, and that's another reason it's brilliant. It should just as you start to get some traction, I think whether - I mean, you can see I could see it on so many different avenues, I see you on the Today show. I could see you on a lot of different platforms and tell me that both empowerment feels right. But it's more than that. I'm feeling more than that here. The whole self care and it's more, I don't know, finding yourself. And there's just more to that than just empowerment. I think there's a deeper opportunity here for you guys. And what do we want? I hate to say you're two months in? I'm used to this question.It comes to my head. It's like, where are we headed? Like, where's Jan headed? Maybe it's not just GLU, but what's the future hold? Where do we want to be? Whether that's the brand or you've got a tremendous marketing background. Is it like starting a startup or die here? Are we where it's all headed? 

Jann Parrish [00:28:32] I've done the big company thing and I love the big company thing. I would definitely never say it's never going to happen again. But I've had this real desire to lead a full kind of enterprise, everything from the production and the finance and all of those things. I've spent all these years building beautiful marketing machines. I'd like to see if I could put together some of the other pieces, too. And it's just a personal challenge. As the business continues to grow, my hope is that we can find other supporting categories to add to it. And it doesn't have to be GLU . It could be BLU,  Boys Like You. It could be many other things. I could take a look at a different stage in the individual's life and focus. And if I'm dreaming now, it's like also thinking about what happens at 45 plus, which would be some relatively short order, something completely relevant for me. And so it's the world I think right now is kind of so open. There's so much going on. And I think that there's never been a bigger consumer appetite for businesses that are new. I've seen it even in the way that my unintentional habits have been from shopping for this holiday season. Where can I shop smaller? Where can I expand beyond just kind of traditional retail and find something cool and interesting and different? And I like that. I'm hoping that I can create and bring other people along to help create these really cool just kind of different ways and different products that can make our lives better. 

Ryan Alford [00:30:10] I love it. And they said that the pandemic has grown e-commerce and the type of discovery that you're talking about, like seven years and seven months or nine months or whatever it is like the trajectory of it. 

Jann Parrish [00:30:25] I'm not the only one in my circle who is starting a new business. I like the idea of a passion economy, it’s kind of cool.

Ryan Alford [00:30:31] Well, let's tell everybody where we can follow all things Girls Like You and Jann, keeping up with Jann and everything that's going on with the brand and you. 

Jann Parrish [00:30:43] Thank you so much for the opportunity. So you can find GLU, Girls Like You at BeautyByGlu.com. We have our first wholesale account with a boutique in Soho called Flying Solo that will be in for the next several months. That is upgraded to Broadway. You can find us on social - the handle is @gluesticktogether across all the majors. We are on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok. And then personally, I am really active on LinkedIn. I encourage anybody who's found this conversation interesting to please reach out to me. I'm Jann Parish. And yeah, that is the world of Girls Like You 

Ryan Alford [00:31:32] I love, especially where the pop up is. That was my apartment. Condo was Barclay Towers which is right in Tribeca and downtown. And I saw right down Broadway up to the Empire State Building from on the fifty second floor. And so I am envisioning where three fifty two is and so get out and check out the pop up and it's outdoors or in some way, shape or form I imagine, or outside or somewhere safe. And so get out and check out the pop up. I really appreciate Jann Parish coming on today. Jann, really appreciate your time. 

Jann Parrish [00:32:04] Yeah, it's been great. Ryan, thank you so much for inviting me along. 

Ryan Alford [00:32:07] My pleasure. Let's stay in touch and maybe do a follow up period. The six or eight months. I want to see where things are going. We really appreciate Jane coming on. Go as she said, follow along with everything girls like you. We can be found at TheRadCast.com for all future updates and episodes and all of our content. You can follow me @RyanAlford on Instagram. And we will see you next time on the Radcast.

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Jann Parish

Founder / President / CMO of Girls Like You.