Investing in Walking Birthday Cake with Brandless CEO Tina Sharkey (encore)

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When Brandless Co-Founder and CEO Tina Sharkey turned 30, she  didn’t want a birthday party- she just wanted the cake. Specifically a photograph of a walking birthday cake with legs that was by artist Laurie Simmons. Little did she know the significant role that work would play in her life. 

In Tina’s money story you will learn: 

-How Tina was able to re-direct her mom's budget for a birthday party to a work of art she had been eyeing

-Why the art meant so much to Tina

-The reason art is both a passion and an investment for Tina

-How she applies her art-buying philosophy to her entrepreneurial ventures

-What inspired Tina to start collecting art as a teenager

-How the art now has multi-generational significance

In Tina’s money lesson you will learn:

-The importance of commemorating milestones in life

-Creative ways to marking important moments including crowdsourcing

-Why she believes investing in significant items will have long term impact

In Tina’s money tip you will learn:

-Her grandmothers strategy for getting discounts, when things are not on sale

-The specific things tina’s grandmother would say

-Tina’s philosophy of never being afraid to ask

-How to get online discounts, even when you are in a store

-The new way Brandless is offering free credits to it’s consumers

In my take you will learn:

-Techniques to re-direct sincere, well intentioned gifts that miss the mark just like Tina did

-What to do if you are giving a gift and don’t know what to get someone

-The value of giving a memorable gift that will hold the test of time

-Why we should re-think the value of the brands we buy

EPISODE LINKS:

Learn more about Brandless on their website: Brandless.com

Follow Tina and Brandless!

Instagram: @tinasharkey @brandlesslife

Twitter @Tinasharkey @brandless

Facebook: Tina Sharkey  Brandlesslife

 

Here is a link to the fabulous birthday cake photo Tina bought!

Learn more about Laurie Simmons http://www.lauriesimmons.net/

As Tina mentioned, her art hangs at museums including Moma 


Transcription

Bobbi Rebell:
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Tina Sharkey:
That piece of art has since appreciated tremendously in value, probably 100 times, in fact, I even found out that that photograph is now hanging in MoMA. All the art that I've ever bought have been appreciated tremendously in value, and I've only bought things that I thought were real investment pieces.

Bobbi Rebell:
You're listening to Financial Grownup with me, certified financial planner Bobbi Rebell. Author of How to Be a Financial Grownup. You know what? Being a grownup is really hard, especially when it comes to money, but it's okay, we're going to get there together. I'm going to bring you one money story from a financial grownup, one lesson, and then my take on how you can make it your own. We got this.

Bobbi Rebell:
That was Brandless CEO Tina Sharkey talking about a piece of art that has been very meaningful in her life and not just because its financial value has literally skyrocketed as in it's in museums, people. But first some quick housekeeping notes before we get to Tina's interview. First, welcome if you're joining us for the first time, and welcome back if you are returning. If you enjoy this show, please share with someone in your life that you think would also enjoy the podcast. For those of you who have spotted our video promos, want to win a custom one? Pretty easy. We are having a little experimental competition from now until July 1st, if you see them, share them on social media, share on Facebook, retweet, repost, all that good stuff. The winner of the competition will get a free custom video that could be for your business, for yourself. We're going to look at who is the most active in sharing those videos.

Bobbi Rebell:
By the way, this a very special episode, we are at episode 50, time flies. I'm so excited about this guest for this milestone show. Tina Sharkey, she heads up one of the most buzzed about brands out there, Brandless. So named because they take out what they call the brand tax sale, so sell everything for just $3. $3, you heard me right, they're pulling it off major retail disruption happening. Not such a surprise though, when you hear a little bit about their co-founder and CEO Tine Sharkey. She also co-founded the women's media site, iVillage. She headed up BabyCenter, so much more. Here is Tina Sharkey.

Bobbi Rebell:
Hey, Tina Sharkey, you're a financial grownup. Welcome to the podcast.

Tina Sharkey:
I'm so psyched to be here. Thank you for having me.

Bobbi Rebell:
You are the head of one of my favorite new companies, Brandless named. You have so many accolades. Ad Age startup of the year, Fast Company Most Innovative Company of the Year, I mean, we could basically spend the whole podcast talking about how loved your new company is. Tell us a little bit about what makes Brandless so special.

Tina Sharkey:
I think it probably, just starting with the name. I think the name definitely catches people off guard because they think "Wait, are you anti-brand? Are you not a brand?" I'm like "Wait a second, we are unapologetically a brand." We're just reimagining what it means to be one, one that's built in total collaboration with the community that we serve. One that its core belief system is about scaling kindness. One that's all about truce and trust and transparency, and most importantly, we're hoping people will live more and brand less. At Brandless, everything that we make at Brandless.com is non-GMO food, mostly organic, vegan, gluten free, clean beauty, EPA Safer Choice certified cleaning. Everything that we sell at Brandless is $3, even in our first 10 months of life, we feel like we're really making a dent in democratizing access to better stuff at fair prices, and we live by the belief system that who says better needs to cost more? We want to make better everything for everyone. That's what we do at Brandless.com, and we're having a great time doing it.

Bobbi Rebell:
I can't believe it's only been 10 months, I feel like it's already changed our culture so much. All right. Speaking of culture, art, let's talk about art, because that has to do with your money story.

Tina Sharkey:
It does. I am not an artist, but I definitely see the world in pictures. There's an expression in French called [foreign language 00:04:37], and [foreign language 00:04:39] means struck by lightning, but the French interpretation of that is like love at first sight. When you say to someone in French, like "I had a [foreign language 00:04:47]," it means you feel in love with someone at first sight. That's how I've always admired art, and loved art, and found art, was that, I admire a lot of art, but there's times when it's like a [foreign language 00:04:58], where I feel like "Oh my goodness, that is like needs to be in my life." Because, at the end of the day, we don't ever really own art, you just take care of it while you get to have it, because it should withstand the test of time. I've been collecting art with every saved penny, nickel and dime since I'm a teenager.

Bobbi Rebell:
You wanted to share the story of your first big piece of art, which you got because you were actually, your mom was going to throw a party for you, tell us the story.

Tina Sharkey:
Yeah, yeah. When I was turning 30, my mom wanted to make a special party for me. I said "You know what, mom? That's so kind and generous of you. I love that. But what I really want is I have my eye on this piece of art, and there's no way I can afford it. If you wouldn't mind, maybe we could just do a small like family dinner or something, whatever budget that you were going to spend on the party, if you would help me towards this piece of art, then it would be something that I could have forever." It was actually a photograph of a walking birthday cake, it's like that giant, giant birthday cake on legs, by the artist Laurie Simmons. It's like a birthday present, because I'll have my birthday every day by looking at this photograph.

Bobbi Rebell:
Oh, my gosh. I love it.

Tina Sharkey:
That was many years ago. That piece of art has since probably 100 times in value. In fact, I even found out that that photograph is now hanging in MoMA.

Bobbi Rebell:
Wow. It's something that you love, and it ended up being an investment as well.

Tina Sharkey:
Yes. All the art that I've ever bought, not that I've sold any. Actually, that's not true, I think I've sold two pieces. But all the art that I've ever bought have been appreciated tremendously in value. I've only bought things that I thought were real investment pieces.

Bobbi Rebell:
Do you approach art as an investment first or purely from love? Or do they naturally go hand-in-hand with you?

Tina Sharkey:
I think it's that [foreign language 00:06:51]. It's like first it's about love, and really, really feeling like "Oh my goodness. I can't sleep." Like art you don't buy like shoes or clothes, it's not something you just make an instant decision on, it's something that's considered, because you have to live with it for the rest of your life, or you know, that's the idea. When I first see it, and then I think about it, I think about how I would live with it, how would it be part of my own family legacy, my own family history. That particular one, the story is even deeper in that my son was late in his verbal skills, he was sort of a running toddler before he was really forming sentences. But the only two words that he had were happy birthday.

Tina Sharkey:
Happy birthday meant everything at that time. This photograph has so much meaning to me, because it was a picture of a birthday cake. Charlie was saying happy birthday all the time, and my mom gave me the money that she was going to spend on my birthday party, and I put this photograph in my will to give to my son, because it always reminded me that his first two words were happy birthday.

Bobbi Rebell:
What is the takeaway for the listeners. How can they apply this to their own lives?

Tina Sharkey:
I think the way to apply to your own life, not everybody loves art, not everybody wants to invest in art, not everybody has the home, or the walls, or wants to be in that way, but thinking about when there is a milestone in your life that you want commemorate, how can you use that milestone to really do something that either is an experience, or something that you can both love and express your joy, but also have something that can withstand the test of time. Not just be like if you're going to have that great bottle of champagne or whatever it is. Do you really want that or would you like something that you can have forever, for a longer period of time? Thinking about milestones and passion, but also investments and time, because those things can withstand the test of time.

Tina Sharkey:
Taking that longer term view and commemorating those milestones with savings, or with opportunities, or with crowdsourcing a gift rather than having everybody get you something small, maybe you put it in a pool together to invest in something that's really going to be something that you're going to have for a long, long time to come.

Bobbi Rebell:
What a great idea. You also have a great idea that I totally buy into for your money tip that you're going to share.

Tina Sharkey:
This is great. My grandmother, we called her the goddess of goodness, and she was seriously the nicest person you ever met in your whole life. But, she did not believe in paying retail. Wherever she went, it didn't matter whether it was the finest boutique on Madison Avenue, or TJ Maxx, or Target, she would always say "Is this in line for reduction?" I swear to you, nine out of 10 times, she would always get like a 10% discount, or they said "Oh, we have a sale coming up, why don't we'll give you the sale price now." Or "We'll let you know when this goes on sale." Or "You know what? We're happy to get that, given that you're buying two things, we'll give you the second one at a discount."

Tina Sharkey:
The money tip there is never be afraid to ask. There is no harm in asking. Likely, there is a discount to be had. One of the tips that my grandmother didn't know that I now use, which is very much in line with that, is that many physical retail stores also have catalogs or also have websites. Often, when you sign up at their websites, they'll say "If you sign up and give us your email address, we'll give you 10% off," or something like that. You can say to them in the retail store "Do you offer that discount upon signing up for your email on your website?" If they say yes, then you can often say "Would you mind applying that discount if I do that here, right now?" They often will give you that right there at the retail store.

Bobbi Rebell:
So smart. Another way to save money is something happening at Brandless right now. You have exciting stuff coming up, tell us.

Tina Sharkey:
We do. We do. Just less than a year into our life, we are just recently rolling out our referral program. If you have an account on Brandless, which costs nothing to set up, and you share Brandless with friends and the discrete code that you can get in your account page, you can give a friend a $6-credit towards building their Brandless box. When they use it, you get a $6-credit to building your next Brandless box. That referral, when you think about all the people in your network, and the fact that everyone deserves to have better and everyone deserves to have better fair prices, you can give them a running start, and for every friend that uses it, that gives you more Brandless dollars to use towards your Brandless box.

Bobbi Rebell:
Basically, free money. Thank you, Tina. Tell us more about where people can find out more about you and of course about Brandless.com, but also you.

Tina Sharkey:
If you want to find out about me, you can follow me on Twitter @TinaSharkey, you can follow me on Instagram @tinasharkey, you can follow me on Facebook, but I would say the most important thing, because it's not about me, is really go to Brandless.com and tell us about you, join our communities at Brandless on Facebook, join our community and follow us @Brandlesslife on Instagram, because it's not about us, it's really about you, and we want to highlight and spotlight and share the incredible stories of the awesome people in our community. If you have recipes you want to share, if you have stories you want to share, if there's a favorite Brandless product that you love, or if there's a product you'd like to see that you think should be Brandless, let us know.

Bobbi Rebell:
Great. I cannot recommend the website highly enough, it's very interactive, there's so much great content there. You will end up enjoying yourself spending lots of time there, and time well spent. Thank you so much, Tina Sharkey, this has been wonderful.

Tina Sharkey:
Thanks, Bobbi, have the best day.

Bobbi Rebell:
Okay, friends. That interview let me feeling pretty empowered as a consumer, and excited about the changes happening in the retail landscape. But here's my take on what Tina had to say about her experiences. Financial Grownup tip number one, we all have so many well-intentioned gifts, they're the things we just don't want, the gift-giver was really sincere, and we don't want to return them, or we give them for of course a lot of reasons, mainly you just feel bad about it, if you feel ungrateful, but you don't want it, and then it sits in your house forever. The truth is, when I give a gift, and I think when most people give gifts, they want it to be something that the receiver really wants. We don't want to miss the mark.

Bobbi Rebell:
Sometimes, it pays to be a little bit creative. This is just one idea, it can be tricky, but something to think about. One of my favorite presents ever is a very special Judith Ripka ring that my husband got for me when we were first dating. He was the one that picked it out, he went to the store, he made the choice, it was on him. However, that was after one of my friends discretely let him know the kinds of things that I would really like. He had some guidance. Because of that, he was able to get something that I just absolutely love and it's just perfect.

Bobbi Rebell:
Tina's mom was going to spend a whole lot of money on a party that frankly Tina just wasn't that into, what a waste of money that would've been. Thankfully, Tina spoke up. In the end, she was able to get a piece of art that she loved. It reminds her of her mother, it reminds her of that birthday, it has wonderful associations, it even is multi-generational now because of the way that her son has interacted with it. Even though she doesn't plan to sell it, the reality is she could, and she says it's gone up maybe 100 times in value. It was also a good investment. Of course, had she had the party, the money would've gone poof for something, again, she didn't really want.

Bobbi Rebell:
Financial Grownup tip number two. Rethink how much you're paying just to buy brand names. Tina of course does have an interest in pointing this out, it is totally true, and we're talking about that many of us mindlessly buy brand names. Think of things like medication where we have reservations about buying the generic version, which by law, literally has to have the same ingredients, and yet we, myself included, find ourselves often paying up for brand names, especially everyday household goods. We love our brands. But, just like Tina redirected her birthday party money, maybe think about it this way, if you redirect the money that you would save by avoiding paying the brand tax, and add that all up, think about what you could now afford. Just a reminder, I will always tell you if I have any affiliation, any ties to a company. I have no financial affiliation or ties to Brandless, I'm just a fan.

Bobbi Rebell:
Also, sticking to the birthday theme, I feel like we're celebrating a birthday here, the show turning 50 episodes. I can't begin to thank all of you for your support. Time goes so fast. Anyway, to learn more about the show, go to BobbiRebell.com/financialgrownuppodcast. You can also sign up for our newsletter, we don't send it out very often. I believe there's just too much email out there, so I try to be careful with it. But when we do send it, we make it meaningful. Hopefully you believe it's worth your time and enjoy it.

Bobbi Rebell:
Continue to keep in touch. I am on Twitter @bobbirebell, on Instagram @bobbirebell1, you can also DM me there, feedback, suggestions for the show, all that good stuff. On Facebook, my page is Bobbi Rebell. If you like the show, please take a moment to rate and review on Apple Podcast. Tina Sharkey is a total boss. I don't know about you, but I feel like I'm going to see little legs behind birthday cakes for a little while. Imagining it, I can't get the image out of my head. She emailed me a copy of the photo, so I'm going to try to paste that into the show notes. I don't know if it'll work, but I'm going to try ... I think it'll work. I'm going to try. You will get a kick out of the picture, if not, I'll certainly find a way to send a link so that you guys can see the image that she is talking about. Thank you, Tina Sharkey from Brandless for helping us all get one step closer to being financial grownups.

Bobbi Rebell:
Financial Grownup with Bobbi Rebell is edited and produced by Steve Stewart and is a BRK Media production.