Coffee N5 - Lauran Grant

Episode 106 – Coffee N5 – How to Develop a Custom Product in an Oversaturated Market with Allie Egan

On this episode of Coffee N° 5, we welcome entrepreneur and world traveler Lauran Grant.
Lauran is the founder of the big and bold yoga accessory brand Stratosphere41. She expresses how yoga changed her life and ultimately led her to create the brand. Former corporate flight attendant, yoga teacher, and yoga brand entrepreneur talks branding, authenticity, and how to create superfans at trade shows.

What you’ll learn: 

  • How to build a brand from something that you love 
  • How to stand out and make lasting connections at your next trade show
  • Why being authentic shines the brightest in your branding to attract YOUR audience
  • How to network and lead with a value-add

For more information follow Stratosphere 41 on Instagram, Facebook or visit its website.

Follow our host Lara Shmoisman on social media:

Instagram: @laraschmoisman

Facebook: @LaraSchmoisman

LinkedIn: @laraschmoisman

Twitter: @LaraSchmoisman

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Lara Schmoisman  0:03  

Hi, everyone, welcome back to coffee number five, I’m ready here with my coffee. And I was thinking about those ugly days that I hate High School. I always hated high school, and I will never go back there. It wasn’t the best time of my life. As you all know, I was super overweight. I never got into any sport. And either you were like in the clique with the girls, or they were like the sport girls, or you were the geek or an Heidi and fit anywhere. And it’s hard. It’s really hard. But I’ve read today, a lady that I met, and she’s incredible. She created an incredible brand, but also she got inspiration from those that time of her life. So welcome, Lauran, thank you so much for having coffee with me today. So you always tell the story about that how yoga changed your life.

 

Lauran Grant  1:01  

Yeah. So

 

Lara Schmoisman  1:03  

how did it happen? How did you find it?

 

Lauran Grant  1:06  

I actually stumbled across a studio one time it was up the street from my house. And I was home for the summer. And I just wanted something to do. So I asked my mom to sign me up. I really didn’t know what I was getting into. But it was a big room studio. And I ended up going about three times a day.

 

Lara Schmoisman  1:24  

Oh my God, that’s yeah. I became

 

Lauran Grant  1:28  

like, super addicted overnight. Well, I

 

Lara Schmoisman  1:32  

obviously it was your thing? If

 

Lauran Grant  1:35  

Oh, yeah. It was definitely my big. Um, I think I was really struggling with a lot of teenage angst, too. I was dealing with a lot of grief because I had lost my father some years prior. And that was like the first time that I really felt like my mind was kind of getting clear. And I could actually sort through my thoughts.

 

Lara Schmoisman  1:55  

Oh, my God, I was about to ask that it was about your mind, it was about your body or a combination of both.

 

Lauran Grant  2:01  

I think it was both. I think like, I was able to address some challenges that I was having that I didn’t really understand that prior to yoga, you know, just being like 15 or 16. You’re going through all those hormonal changes, and you’re trying to navigate High School, like you said, and then with my body, I just got super fit that summer, and all I was doing was yoga. Okay. But it wasn’t like grueling for my body. So I used to run like in high school, and I would always have shin splints and stuff like that. But with the yoga like, I’d be sore, but my body wasn’t like being depleted.

 

Lara Schmoisman  2:41  

Oh my God, I want to start yoga right now. But I’m so lazy. Anyway. So you can do in this year, in the years, you’ll also have a successful job in private aviation. And then tell us a little bit how you got into private aviation. And then you decided that you want to start with a brand and connected with your passion create the community. So how all this came up together, and also the name of your brand, please.

 

Lauran Grant  3:11  

Okay, so I got it to private, I’ll just backtrack a little I it. I initially worked for an airline in Dubai. And that was a commercial airline. And so they used to have open calls in Atlanta. And they had not gotten to my application yet. But I was like, This is my one chance. So I just showed up to the open call. And I was like, Well, I hope they don’t send me home. So that’s like initially how I got into working for airlines. And then when I moved back from Dubai, my friend recommended me for private. And so I was always like traveling around a lot. We were flying a toll a ton. And I was still doing yoga. I was going to yoga all the time. I was doing my teacher training when I was back in town, and then I was making up the other days. So it’s always been like a really big part of my life. And that’s why I named it stratosphere because I was like, wow, aviation is a huge part of my life. But then also yoga is and like, How can I tie the two together to reflect like me and the brand.

 

Lara Schmoisman  4:10  

And so it’s started here for a while. So what

 

Lauran Grant  4:13  

Yes, what’s that 41 stands for 41,000 feet in the air. And that’s the level of the ozone that usually like a G six, which is a type of private jet. We’ll cruise that they usually cruise at around 41,000 feet.

 

Lara Schmoisman  4:29  

That’s awesome. So you’re ready to go out and buy in, and then you decided that you want a product for your community. You’re young.

 

Lauran Grant  4:38  

Yeah, so I it’s funny enough, I still have some of my yoga towels from when I was like 15 or 16. And I just felt like we hadn’t updated the designs and I just never felt like they really truly spoke to me. I’m like I should be able to have a functional product but it should also be really fun with like cool designs and bright colors. And so I was sitting in my bread’s yoga class at 7am. And I remember I looked around the room and I was like, No, I’m gonna make yoga towels, like, we got to make something cool and fun. So that’s how it started.

 

Lara Schmoisman  5:12  

But it also, I mean, let’s explain what yoga is because it’s not the yoga mat is not a regular towel once a day difference in this product.

 

Lauran Grant  5:21  

Yeah, so it’s not a mat, you would put it on top of your mat to absorb your sweat and hot yoga class, because that’s what I primarily practice is hot yoga. But then you can also take it to, you know, like the beach and the park and stuff and leave your mat at home. But it’s different from for instance, a normal towel because it fits the length of the mat number one, and then it’s also microfiber, so it absorbs more sweat. Because if you’ve ever been in a yoga class, literally, like, I’ll be next to the guys and their sweat is like flinging across the room at me, I

 

Lara Schmoisman  5:56  

think I can not even start thinking about that. Yes, so

 

Lauran Grant  6:01  

I and then you also want it to be grippy. So it’s soft enough that you don’t want it to like hurt your hands. But then you need that grip. So I always say like don’t use fabric softener on it. Because while you’re in Downward Facing Dog, the more sweaty the towel gets, the more that it grips the mat, and then it grips like your hands too.

 

Lara Schmoisman  6:20  

And also makes total sense that if you go to take a class and they offer a mat, you bring only your small tower that you can pocket really small and put it in on top of it not that other people touch.

 

Lauran Grant  6:33  

Yeah, so I was getting a lot of back knee because I was traveling. And I didn’t want to bring my mat with me because I was like, Okay, I’ve already lugging around this suitcase, my purse, I don’t also want to bring a mat because we were hopping around like every day when I first entered private aviation, because I started at a lower level, of course, so I was getting back maybe because the mats weren’t sanitary, you know, it’s like, you don’t know who’s used the mat. And we all have different like sweat and stuff like that. So I ended up just starting bring a towel with me. And I was like, well, at least I can lay that on top of the mat. And so that’s why I made our towels fit the mat exactly like fit along mat for you.

 

Lara Schmoisman  7:13  

And they really pack small, I really have to say that you can put it you can put it in my purse and it’s a nobody knows it’s and that’s it total pro. Like it’s it’s easy to take. I mean, I hate to see. I know it’s fashionable. I know a lot of people love to be showing that they carry their mother their Yogi’s, sometimes it’s not necessary.

 

Lauran Grant  7:40  

No, yeah. I’m all about making it easy and accessible to work out. Because I’m all over the place. I have a lot of going on. And I know everyone else does. And so I’m like, I need something I could just throw in my bag and go.

 

Lara Schmoisman  7:55  

That’s awesome. So that day at 7am. In your you’re in a yoga studio, you decided you’re gonna do towels. what was next? How did you come up from that idea to have a product and sell it? How did you get there?

 

Lauran Grant  8:09  

It was a lot of trial and error, because I’ll be honest, it didn’t really know what I was doing. But I did know that I had to start with branding. So we started with a mood board and like the name and just colors that I love. And at that time, this was like very early 2021 I still felt really stifled like in my life. And so I was like, Okay, no, everything that I want to do in my life, I’m going to have it reflected in the brand. So we’re going big, we’re going bold, and I started just picking out like my favorite colors. I started looking at other brands and deciding what I liked about them and like what spoke to me. And I really use my intuition to go with like, my first gut feeling about everything. And then I ended up

 

Lara Schmoisman  8:52  

anyone with good vibes you want everything to give you a fine ambience and a good vibe, that energy that you need to put into Yala. Yeah, exactly

 

Lauran Grant  9:02  

like we want. When you look at the brand, we want you to feel like celebrate it. And we want you to feel like you’re just having a lot of fun and you’re getting a lot of great positivity. And not we’re not trying to make it toxic positive, where we’re dismissing other feelings and stuff. But we want this to be a safe place where you know that you can come and like feel recharged.

 

Lara Schmoisman  9:25  

That’s great. But also you make it accessible because it’s not super pricey. It’s something that people can afford and being part of this group or be part of this community. Yeah. Yeah. And they have the same believes that’s what you because yoga is more about than bending your body is about the energy and the philosophy that goes with it.

 

Lauran Grant  9:48  

Exactly, exactly. And even when I was growing up and I was taking yoga like I only had one yoga towel because it was really expensive and I just couldn’t afford to have multiple So I was always washing that same towel. And so when I was building out the brand, I was like, everything about the brand needs to be accessible for as many people as I can make it for. So I really thought about that with the price point as well.

 

Lara Schmoisman  10:14  

How do you feel like your experience of working in so many countries traveling and having all this cultural background, which is very unique, most of them, they don’t have the experience that you have knowing so many cultures? How do you think that you brought all that knowledge into your brand? Yeah. So

 

Lauran Grant  10:33  

I think what’s the beautiful part about traveling in yoga is it brings people together and creates this like tribe, of people who are so different, you know, when I go to a country, and they’re speaking a different language than I know, and you know, they have different customs, and but I respect it. And then we find this common ground, I think it’s something so beautiful. And that’s why I really want to travel and yoga to be brought together within the brand because it creates this tribe where you’re like, wow, this person is the complete opposite of me. And that’s okay. Because we have this mutual respect for each other. And we learn from each other, and we grow. And that’s what traveling did for me. Like, I really hit my biggest growth spurt while I was traveling the world. That’s amazing.

 

Lara Schmoisman  11:21  

So let me ask you a question. Because your target audience your your target audience, you Yes. Which is unbelievable. And you are, you’re surrounded by your target audience.

 

Lauran Grant  11:34  

Yes, my target audience practices that my home yoga studio, which is yonder yoga in Atlanta, and it’s actually where I also work. So I literally, I could go to the studio tomorrow and ask them, What do you think about this color?

 

Lara Schmoisman  11:49  

i And that’s great. It’s a way to do but do you think that the you’re in Atlanta, right? You’re the people, the community in Atlanta in yoga? Do you think that it is different from the one in LA or in New York? What’s your experience with that, knowing so many cities and so many communities?

 

Lauran Grant  12:08  

Yeah, I think they do have their differences, for sure. But I think what I’ve found is, so our yoga studio, we like it to be like hot, and we like the music blasting, we like to flow fast. And so I’ve gone to other studios throughout us. And I’ve found a lot of similarities. And we’ve started actually gifting some products to other Yogi’s, like in LA Miami, New York, and they really liked them too. So I think while there are some differences, because you know, us is really big, and we have kind of different subcultures without that within the country, but I do think there’s a lot of similarities.

 

Lara Schmoisman  12:48  

So you feel like there is a yoga community that is above everything above every culture, and you’re just connect through the yoga?

 

Lauran Grant  12:57  

Oh, yeah, we’re gonna connect through the yoga, I want everyone to feel celebrated. And I want you to embrace the differences too. Like, we don’t all have to be the same to get along and flow together, me and my friends, even within the community, we’re so different. We like different things. But I find that we all kind of bond over like, different brands like such as mine, or like different colors or topics. So

 

Lara Schmoisman  13:23  

yeah, that’s great. So what’s next, I’m gonna keep a variety of power. So I know you’re thinking that something more to bring to the community?

 

Lauran Grant  13:32  

Yeah, so we’re gonna have another color that’s dropping soon.

 

I just don’t want to say which color Yeah, because I want to do a contest. But I’ll give a hint, a lot of the guys wanted this color. So I don’t know if that helps. But we’re gonna do another color. And that’s coming hopefully in the next like month and month and a half. And then I really want to get into athleisure. And I want to do that very strategically. And so what I’ve been doing is asking a lot of people like what do you like about brands? What don’t you like? What do you think is missing? For me, I know that I could use crop tops over my sports bras because I don’t want to walk out into the parking lot like in a sports bra. But I also don’t want to put on like a hoodie when it’s 100 degrees outside. So I would like just something I can air out in

 

Lara Schmoisman  14:22  

like a little cape or something like something like that. Like it’s I mean, I kid No, I know so for the ones that that were more self conscious about our body that you feel comfortable covering it up and you’re loving the safe place of the class all the time.

 

Lauran Grant  14:42  

Right like and when I’m in the class like I have on a sports bra on like leggings, but when I’m out in a parking lot like I don’t really want to wear my sports.

 

Lara Schmoisman  14:50  

On some places here in LA you actually need to walk a few blocks to get from your to your class or a studio because I didn’t even realize that parking structures or hell here from I was part of the gym actually had to go through a whole mall. Oh, I felt like,

 

Lauran Grant  15:14  

No, I just feel like people are like looking at me even if they’re not, I just felt really self conscious. So that’s kind of what I’m thinking about going forward with, I’ve been asking around, and I’ll probably whatever I decide, I’ll definitely do a set of samples and like, give it to all my friends at the studio and get a

 

Lara Schmoisman  15:30  

lot of feedback. That’s how we started with the towels. The towels,

 

Lauran Grant  15:34  

I had to just place the order, but we did look at designs together. So I had a mood board of about 12 designs. And I asked my friends, I asked him to pick two of their favorite. But now we’re working with a new manufacturer based in us, and so I’m able to do it a little bit differently this time.

 

Lara Schmoisman  15:57  

That’s amazing. So before we go on, I know that also as a new entrepreneur, brand owner, you had the first experience and I love this I can talk about your parents going into a trade show. Yes, I want I know that it wasn’t that long ago. So I want for all the audience that who are listening. And they’re I think it’s amazing to do trade shows actually, I’m going to Vegas next week, she has to interact and be in a trade show. And I think is it’s incredible, but I want to experience it on the other side we do.

 

Lauran Grant  16:34  

Trade Shows are the best thing that ever happened to my brand, number one. Number two, they’re also so crazy. So I underestimated what kind of beast the trade show is. I have always gone to different conferences and trade shows. But I didn’t really know what went into planning. Oh, yeah. There are so many things involved like such as you know, you shipping the product and will the product even make it to your booth? Or are they just gonna drop it off at you know, the studios and you have to go find it. There’s a lot that goes into like the decorating of the booth. Because you want it to be inviting and you want the buyers and the clients and you know, other brands to come over. So there’s a lot that goes into that I didn’t realize. So I

 

Lara Schmoisman  17:21  

anyway, you want to be attractive, because there’s so much so many brands they are so you want buyers and people to stop and say, what’s this about? Yes, you

 

Lauran Grant  17:30  

want to create that buzz because that’s what’s going to help drive your brand and your mission forward. But it’s so funny because I was like literally setting up my flight got canceled the day before. So I had to stop the Delta app and look for a new flight that I got in about an hour before setup. And I was literally there for like four hours going back and forth to target because I was like, how do I make this booth look better, like something is missing? So I bought like plants and stuff like that I bought, I recommend if you’re an entrepreneur dressed in bright colors, because I was like, Well, if I don’t have the best booth, I’m gonna bring my personality. I’m gonna like talk to everyone. So I mean really great stuff. That’s a

 

Lara Schmoisman  18:13  

part on streak. Like, if you go to a basic place, you always put your kid in a bright color.

 

Lauran Grant  18:23  

So yeah, you have to bring that to the booth and the trade shows. So that’s what I did. And we had like contests going in. We have a really cheeky email list that says, Are you down for friends with benefits, no drama just bombed deals. And so that got a lot of people talking about the trade show. They’re like, what I love this, but this is so crazy. I’m like, Yeah, we’re cheeky. We’re not following the rules.

 

Lara Schmoisman  18:49  

That’s awesome. That’s awesome. So what tips can you give to someone who wants to go to a trade show on?

 

Lauran Grant  18:58  

So I would first research the trade shows like I specifically chose founder made because they focus on new DTC brands. But then once you’ve signed up, I would ask a lot of questions. I asked so many questions, and I didn’t care if I sounded stupid, like ask them, Can you bring flowers? Can you tack things on the walls, you have to figure out about shipping. That’s very important, because some places like you can ship directly to your booth. And then other places, they might drop it off at the front door and you might not see your product. And that’s something that you spend your hard earned money on. So you want to make sure that it’s secure and safe. Another thing I would say is ask for the buyers list. So you know who’s coming. They’re not going to have the names of the people, but you can know which retailers are coming so you can be prepared if you see them. And I would say try to make it as fun as possible. Like this is an experience for you too. gain, super fans, you want to create like this cult, if you will, around your brand and community. And this is a way that you can show up and get people really excited about your mission. And so I was talking the most about my mission, I guess I was talking about the products, but people wanting to know why, you know, launching this brand and why it’s so important. And so I would say really hone in on your mission statement before you go.

 

Lara Schmoisman  20:27  

And don’t wear high heels. And don’t worry, oh my God, please

 

Lauran Grant  20:31  

don’t wear high heels. Were sneakers.

 

Lara Schmoisman  20:36  

Something else that I will recommend to all of you guys. It has to go to trade shows she has to watch and learn.

 

Lauran Grant  20:44  

Yes, because they’re very crazy. And then I would say, you definitely need two people to help you. So I had one person for the first half, and then I had to for the second half. And now looking back, I would have had to for the whole trade show because you’re going to be running around as the founder. But you’re also going to be at the booth and you’re gonna be here and there. And you’re going to want to talk to buyers, you’re gonna want to talk to other brands. And so you want to make sure that you have people supporting you.

 

Lara Schmoisman  21:13  

Yeah, and make sure that people they’re there for you knows your mission can be exactly speaker persons for your brand.

 

Lauran Grant  21:21  

Exactly. Because you only get one time at a first impression. Like that’s something my mom always taught me. And that’s something I really use in the brand, is I only get one time to captivate like our audience, or they’re going to maybe not by the mission, they’re going to be like, Oh, well, no, I don’t, I don’t really like this.

 

Lara Schmoisman  21:39  

And other tips that we can give us like I always use in your email lists, which is fantastic. But also you get business cards, and it gets very hectic. So make sure that something I do is either you right behind the business cards, but which I always forget. So I snap pictures, and then I make a put notes, or I now do note and I send it to myself.

 

Lauran Grant  22:01  

Yeah, so I was writing. So that’s something I did I write on the business cards about what we talked about, you know, just because you are meeting so many people at one time, and then make sure you follow up. I think that’s like a lot of people don’t say that, because we think it’s just understood, but really follow up the next week, I would wait until probably like the next Thursday or something because they’re probably getting so many emails that follow up and like talk about, if they told you that they have a dog, that’s something that you need to remember. So it shows that you’re actually listening to them.

 

Lara Schmoisman  22:35  

Absolutely. And also remember that there are people and they have lives, sometimes. Sometimes you got them in a bad day. So some days they have something going on in their life, or they’re busy. So don’t be afraid to follow up. Like my mom will say you have been already. So until they tell you no, you keep trying. Ya

 

Lauran Grant  23:01  

know, my mom says that the same. She says closed mouths don’t get fed. So just ask. And if someone tells you no, you’re no better or worse off. They just told you no. So

 

Lara Schmoisman  23:12  

yeah. I know what is to be on the other side. And you get overwhelmed with emails and you get overwhelmed with problems. Because these are buyers that they have. They’re working with hundreds of brands, and they’re working, we’ve had so many people and it’s not that they have made a bad impression is not that finally, your gut feeling about that person that you met. Remember, that’s why it’s so important. The notes that you make to yourself.

 

Lauran Grant  23:41  

I agree. And I actually reached out to a lot of people because I’m going back to New York and just ask them if they’re around you, like grab a cup of coffee or like a lunch or something. And I think that really shows that you care about them. Like as a person to you’re not just asking for things.

 

Lara Schmoisman  23:59  

Yeah, and also, I mean, when you go in a trade show, don’t be afraid to use your social media. Like when you have your social media, you need to know that the core part allies, and that if for example you have for your brand, your LinkedIn and you make connections in LinkedIn with all those people I like for example, I’m gonna go in Vegas next week. So I put in my link today I’ll be in Vegas. Anyone wants to grab a cup of coffee together?

 

Lauran Grant  24:24  

Yeah, exactly. I think. I think the most important tip that I can say about you know, networking in general, which goes with trade shows is think about how you can provide value to other people, instead of thinking about what they can do for you. I’m always like, how can I make friends and what can I give to provide value to help them? Yeah, and that’s how you really build long lasting

 

Lara Schmoisman  24:49  

I’m a networker, so if you need something, ask I met so many people. So if you need ask something, ask I mean if I know someone I’m always happy to connect, I never understood those people who said, I don’t want to get in the middle is like,

 

Lauran Grant  25:07  

like the whole point is to build relationships at the end of the day and build long lasting ones. And so if that means I’m connecting other people, then I’ll do it for sure.

 

Lara Schmoisman  25:17  

Absolutely. So now for sure. Before we go, one more question. If you had to do it all over again, what would you do different? If I

 

Lauran Grant  25:28  

had to do all over again, what would I do different? I would start failing out loud, from the very beginning, because I think I was so afraid I was being such a perfectionist in the beginning, that I didn’t want people to see me making all of these mistakes. And now I’m like, oh, yeah, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was wrong. And I think that really humanizes you and it humanizes the brand. And people can grow with you and see the struggle, because it’s not perfect by

 

Lara Schmoisman  25:59  

alliance with yoga, you have not going to strike it both the first time you try.

 

Lauran Grant  26:03  

No, you’re not going to strike it and you might have at one time, and you might lose it. And so now I think I’m very authentic about the brand. And if I don’t know something, I just say it or if I fail, I’m like, well, at least I tried. We’ll keep on

 

Lara Schmoisman  26:20  

moving. Yeah. And in these times you need to pivot and to make sure that you can try something and if it doesn’t work, you try something else.

 

Lauran Grant  26:28  

Exactly, exactly. Hey, Lauran, thank

 

Lara Schmoisman  26:31  

you so much for being here. Today was such a fun conversation. Thank you for having me. And to you guys. I’ll see you next week with more coffee number five

 

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