How we built an odor-eliminating shoe insert company that grew its sales by over 400% in 2019

Zorpads feature image
Zorpads founders Sierra and Taylor
Taylor Wiegele (co-founder)
Founded: December 2016
No of employees: 2
Location: USA

Taylor Wiegele is the co-founder and head of Marketing and Product at Zorpad. Zorpad is an odor-eliminating shoe insert company – the world’s first, in fact. It’s made using NASA-tested technology. This doesn’t just hide odors but completely removes them, making Zorpads far more effective than competing brands.

While the company can’t go into its sale insights in too much depth, Zorpands generates roughly $25,000 a month. Excitingly though, throughout 2019, its sales grew by over 400%. And after an appearance on Shark Tank, orders started fling out the door. We chat to Taylor to find out what’s next for the business.

Who are you and what brand did you start?

Hi! I’m Taylor Wiegele and I’m one of the co-founders of Zorpads. I’m also the head of Marketing and Product. Zorpads are odor-eliminating shoe inserts made with NASA-tested technology — but we have big aspirations beyond shoes! We view ourselves as the world’s first odor-elimination brand, not just masking odors but getting rid of them. We’re officially based in New York but I work out of our LA office. Fun Fact: we grew our sales over 400% last year!

How did you come up with the idea, brand name and logo for Zorpads?

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the aerospace industry and came across a lot of interesting materials, specifically what we use for Zorpads. We found that all of the other brands on the market spoke about freshness or had a really direct odor covering message and decided to take a different direction. 

How do you know that our product actually works? By focusing on the material inside — and its NASA-tested nature — we could immediately connect with consumers on the merits of the product.

Zorpads product image

Consumers actually hate everything on the market. When we poll consumers, they are extremely unlikely to recommend any of our competitors, but are 4x as likely to recommend us.

The brand name was actually an amalgam. ‘Zor’ lets customers know that our product has a space-age theme and is an indicator of what the product actually is. ‘Pads’ highlights how our product is different to what consumers are used to. ‘Zorpads’ has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

The logo was designed by our dear friend CatCoq, who beautifully combined our space theme with a striking, consumer-friendly image. We wanted to stand out amongst our competitors, which led to us using the black, white and turquoise colors.

Describe the process of launching Zorpads?

We started this thing in my apartment during business school with some dried baby wipes, leftover material from our eventual partner, and a heat sealer we got on Amazon. We started making handcrafted products and then eventually distributed it and gathered feedback. We were humble at the very beginning and surveyed ALL THE TIME. Once we gathered the early feedback, we ended up raising a little money from Rough Draft Ventures and launched the first version of the product.

We sold most of what we made through our own website and Facebook ads, and had a great partnership with a PR firm. They were instrumental in helping us get the word out about Zorpads.

We tried EVERYTHING in those early days (including an As Seen on TV commercial!) and ultimately found the sweet sauce with Google search, social, and earned media. It was off to the races from there.

We were on KTLA’s morning show back in the fall of 2017, which was a real highlight for us and so much fun.

Since launch, what has worked best to attract and retain customers?

1. Have excellent customer service and listen to what people are saying about you. One thing is that anyone could write a review for your product so treat everyone as if they are going to. The other important thing to consider is that every piece of feedback is a way to make the product or the marketing better. We’ve had many people complain about the product only to realize that the way we were telling consumers to use Zorpads was not super clear. When you work with folks to make them happy, you understand how to better talk about the product — some of these people have become our most avid customers!

2. Incentivize folks to come back to your business. A great way to do this is through a subscription option. We offer 30% off on your first three shipments and 10% after that if you sign up for a subscription. This gets folks in the door to try the product early for a discount. It’s a win for consumers and, if they stick around, a win for us!

3. Attracting customers is a big reason why we exist. Shoe odor is a huge problem for a lot of folks and only 2/3 of them have ever tried a solution. Why? Everything else is pretty terrible. We are on a quest to give people a solution that works at an affordable price point — and they’re responding! Consumers are over 4x as likely to recommend Zorpads to a friend as our leading competitor. How ‘bout that!

With regards to business growth, how have things changed from a digital, revenue, customer and sales perspective?

We can’t get into too much detail on this, but we can tell you that being on Shark Tank is a really big deal for sales. To put it into context, we sold more Zorpads in 2 days than we had sold over the entire course of the business. Which is crazy. 

The night that we aired, I was on my computer nervously monitoring traffic statistics hoping that our Squarespace site could handle the spike in traffic. It did — phew — and we got a ton of new visibility! This was truly a milestone for Zorpads.

How is the business doing today and what does the future look like?

Right now, we are focusing on our most profitable channels —  Amazon and our owned e-commerce. We’re lucky in that we haven’t raised a bunch of money and don’t necessarily need any additional funds to expand (we run a very lean operation). We are, however, right in the middle of testing some new products. Specifically, we’re testing to see how effective a bigger Zorpad is in the underside of a garbage can lid or a diaper pail. These are huge pain points for consumers and we think we have a solution, but want to be sure before we launch.

Long term, we see this as more of a viable business rather than an exit plan. We continue to grow and want to do so sustainably rather than dump a bunch of money into the business and exit. That said, we naturally think there’s a point where a bigger company could expand the brand much more than we could, so we’re open to having that conversation when the opportunity is there. Our main focus is making sure as many people have access to Zorpads as possible and are minimizing the bad smells in their lives. However we can do that, we’re game!

What’s been the biggest learning experience since starting your own brand?

It is NEVER a linear process. There are ups and downs and lefts and rights and all sorts of movement. You have to believe that what you’re doing is the right thing and be able to convince customers, retailers and investors of it as well.

Don’t ever start a business that you’re not passionate about. If you carry on with it, you will be talking about it ALL THE TIME for the next many years. If you’re not passionate about your overall mission, you’re setting yourself up for years of boring and annoying conversations with people who will always ask you about your business.

What are your top 3 tips on how to setup an Ecom store for success?

1. Install an email popup and have a discount code to capture folks who might be interested in the product.

2. Blog posts are huge traffic drivers if you do them right. Our “8 signs you have a foot phobia” is our second-highest performing page next to our home page. Thanks SEO!

3. Bury a code in a blog post. When people hit the checkout page and see the discount box, they will likely google discount codes for your product. If they can’t find anything, they’ll churn out. Even if it’s a dollar, it’s better than nothing and you can boost your SEO for the blog post when folks search for the page.

What are some of your favorite online business tools you use to run Zorpads?

We love, love, love Shipstation. They’re so simple for shipping and integrating with our 3rd Party Shipping Team. We switched to Shopify recently and it’s been so much better for our platform (sorry Squarespace, but fix your recurring payment options!)

TypeTool Name
Project ManagementGoogle Sheets
Email MarketingMailchimp
AnalyticsGoogle Analytics
PaymentsShopify, Paypal, Stripe
AdvertisingFacebook Ads, Google Adwords, Amazon Advertising
DesignAffinity Designer, Affinity Photo

What have been the most influential books, podcasts or other educational resources?

Who have been the most influential people for you during this business journey?

Our families and our support network have been the most influential by FAR. Entrepreneurship is not just a solo journey. Your partner, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend — whoever they may be — all sign up for the journey too. And without a great support system it’s pretty lonely.

Any other advice you’d like to share with other aspiring entrepreneurs?

Don’t do it unless you REALLY want to!

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now or open to new investors?

We’re a lean and mighty organization, so not looking to hire and are not open to strategic investment.

Where can we go to learn more about your current offers/promotions/programs?

Use code MYBRANDJOURNEY for 10% off your purchase! We’ll keep the code live through 2020 - click here to purchase.

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