About this episode

Our guest this week is Mia Plecic. Mia is 27 years old and has started 6 companies all leading her towards her current startup, Her Organics Australia. Her Organics is a subscription service through which women can sign up to have tampons delivered automatically each month. The company, Her Organics, is Mia’s 6th startup and her 5th e-commerce startup. In fact, when she was just 22 years old she launched her first e-commerce product and reached $30,000 in daily revenue within 6 months! However, that success did not come without some very serious challenges, which we discussed in this fascinating episode.

What makes Mia’s story so incredibly unique is that because she is only 27, we can see how the challenges she overcame as a child played such a significant role in her current success. After all, her teen years were only a decade ago! This is Mia Plecic’s startup story. 

In this episode, you will hear

  • How Mia learned about business and leadership and decided that business was where she wanted to be, and how e-commerce came into her life
  • How important it is to believe in yourself and know that with your hard work, things can get better if you believe in your goals and are motivated to go after them
  • How helpful it can be to follow others on social media who have the same goals as you and to recognize that if someone else can do it, so can you
  • That she discovered branding, marketing, and finding a gap in the market are skills at which she is very good, and how those skills led to her early successes
  • About the challenges of going from nothing to $1million in revenue in 6 months and how working with a partner can create huge problems, especially when you are inexperienced
  • A reminder that others go through failure, and you are definitely not alone in those experiences
  • How amazing new ventures can be born after terrible losses
  • The importance of bringing a product to the market that fills a niche
  • Entrepreneurship is not easy, but you must keep on persevering

“I'm never short of an idea. And that's one thing that I pride myself in more than anything is...you can outsource paid marketing, you can outsource branding and marketing, but you cannot buy visionary. And that is my biggest strength...being able to have that ability to visualize a gap in the market or find an everyday product and market it and brand it in a way that targets certain demographic that I want to target or...having the ability to just kind of create a feeling through a product more so than anything else.” –Mia Plecic, Her Organics Australia

Resources from this episode

Connect with Mia on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mia-plecic-33830899
Her Organics Australia website: https://herorganics.com.au/
Her Organics Australia on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/her.organics/

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Full Episode Transcript

Special Guest: Mia Plecic.

Sponsored By:

Episode transcript

The Startup Story - Mia Plecic

Mia Plecic: Hi. My name is Mia Plecic, the founder of Her Organics, and this is MY startup story.

James McKinney: Every wildfire began with a spark. Every superhero has an origin story. And every single startup has a moment that they point to as their beginning. And every founder has a purpose that drove them in the midst of all obstacles. THAT is The Startup Story.

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[01:05]
James McKinney: Before we jump into our episode this week, I want to share a review that was posted in iTunes by RFMeyers03 who gave The Startup Story a five star rating and wrote, "I love the episode with Darbie Angell. She's such a down to earth, courageous, and inspirational person. Hearing her story and all the ways she has been told no, but didn't let that stop her, made me feel like anything is possible. I appreciate the way that James led the conversation as well. He asked insightful questions and ones that I was thinking as well. Overall, this was a great episode and I found a ton of value from it." Thank you so very much, RFMeyers03. You are absolutely right. Darbie's story is amazing and one that I hope many more people will hear over the coming months. My hope in sharing these amazing stories is that it will expose the challenges that one will face during the entrepreneurial journey. You will have a realistic perspective of the journey as well as an understanding that your challenges are not unique to you. All of this is to help inspire you and all the listeners to keep moving forward. So for all of you that are listening right now, if you have found any value in any of The Startup Story episodes please leave a review on iTunes. I'll continue to read one each week so plug your brand in the review as well. Giving your business a plug, a little micro mini ad in an episode that will last for years to come, is the least I can do if you take the time out of your day to write a review.

Now let's jump into this week's episode. Our guest today is Mia Plecic. Mia is 27 years old and has started six companies all leading her towards her current startup, Her Organics. Her Organics is a subscription service where women can sign up to have their tampons delivered automatically each month. Like I said, Her Organics is Mia's sixth startup and her fifth e-commerce startup. In fact, when she was 22, she launched her first e-commerce startup and reached $30,000 in daily revenue within six months. But Mia's journey was not met without challenge.

[03:07]
Mia Plecic: I opened the envelope and I read it, and it was a letter from their lawyer saying, "This is what's happened. They're removing you from the Bronx." And I remember the day we had… I had my own private office and there was a big glass door, and it was only the day before that they'd gone and put frosting on the glass so you can't see in. I remember looking at the door thinking, "Thank God no one can see me right now because I'm about to have a mental breakdown." I'll never forget the day I said to myself, out loud, "I'm going to give myself five minutes to cry." Like cry so hard because I just was at my lowest. I'd just lost my first business and felt like I'd let my whole family down, and myself. I'd just lost another business and felt like is this ever going to end? Am I making the right decision in life and this whole business thing? Is this for me? I set the timer on my phone for five minutes and I literally laid on the floor, under my desk, and I just was hysterical. I put a pillow over my face and I screamed and cried, and just got to my lowest of low.

[04:15]
James McKinney: In listening to Mia's startup story, you will hear how important it is to trust in your own ability, regardless of the naysayers that surround you, even if the naysayers are your own family members. You will learn how important it is to have a real passion and motivation for the industry or product that you're wanting to bring to market. And you will discover that anyone at any age can pursue their entrepreneurial dreams and reach incredible levels of success if they're willing to put in the work and push through the challenges because there will be challenges. Mia's story was such an inspiration and encouragement to me, and I know will be an encouragement to you as well. Her entrepreneurial journey has many challenges that we will discuss in this episode, but what makes her story so incredible is that because she's only 27 we can see how the challenges she overcame as a child played such a significant role in her current success today. I mean, after all, her teen years were just a decade ago.

[05:13]
Mia Plecic: I didn't come from a business oriented family. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I came from very average family, on an average income, in an average house. I didn't miss out on anything as a child, but we didn't have the luxuries that some families have, which I believe was a benefit to me in some ways because it allowed me to dream of having that things that maybe other people had that with couldn't have. I'm from Melbourne, Australia so I grew up around Melbourne. My mother actually married a man over in Croatia when she was 20 years old, fell pregnant with me. That war started in '92 and she had to flee back to Australia, and he never came. Hadn't met my father until I was about 18 years old, which I think definitely had… it did have a little bit of a play on the person that I've become. But you know, it definitely in a positive way as well.

So mum moved back to Australia and started her life again here, and she actually got back with her childhood sweetheart, who I now call my dad. He's been around since I was two years old. So that was my childhood. A bit different to a lot of other families, but I think it's made me the person I am today definitely.

[06:25]
James McKinney: Do you think not having your dad, not knowing who your dad was and meeting your dad until you were 18, that's a disruptive childhood. Do you think that gave you some level of tolerance for I don't want to say brokenness, but a level of tolerance for disruption, a level of tolerance for not the norm? Do you think that helped set a foundation for what you were able to accept as a human for your entrepreneurial journey?

[06:49]
Mia Plecic: Absolutely. I think that it initially, growing up I always thought why me? I always kind of felt sorry for myself. I thought that there's something wrong me, is there a reason why he's not here. But as I got older, I became more I guess susceptible to that and I became a bit more aware of the surroundings and how that high school made me the person I am. So it made me stronger. It made me more resilient. It made me learn how to deal with my feelings and deal with those emotions and those thoughts. Honestly, it did make me stronger.

[07:20]
James McKinney: That's awesome, that's awesome. So in your high school years we'll say, and obviously I don't know what high school in Australia is like, but here in the states your junior year of high school, your third year, you're going to college and career days, and they're having these fairs. It's like here's what you can do for a job, here's the schools you can go to. What did you think you wanted to be in the latter part of your high school years?

[07:42]
Mia Plecic: Look, for me I hated school. I despised school and even talking about it now at nearly 28 years old, I get a bit anxious and a bit shaky thinking about it because it was a really horrible experience for me.

[07:56]
James McKinney: Why so?

[07:58]
Mia Plecic: Well, when I was in the seventh grade, so my first year of high school, I was diagnosed with this health problem called leaky gut disorder, which is an autoimmune disease where my body wasn't absorbing nutrients through my stomach lining. It sounds quite gross. Basically, in short, whenever I would digest food it would leak out of my digestive system, go into my bloodstream, go to my brain, and I'd have full on blown seizures several times a day. So that was a really, really hard probably three or four years of my life because not only could the doctors not diagnose me because they didn't know what was going on, but it really affected my mental health because I was so scared to go to school, to leave the house, to open the windows. It was a really hard time for myself and my family probably more so, because I would not leave my mother's side ever. That caused a lot of anxiety, a lot of fear.

It's funny, I look back now and that was quite a long time ago, but how far I've come from the feelings that I used to feel. I would never go into a shopping center or a grocery store. Even if I was to get into a car, I'd have to sit in the backseat with a pillow and lie down. It was just like I almost became so paralyzed to the anxiety. Then I didn't go to school for three years because I was scared that something would happen at school. But through help and through time, I managed to push through that. I still have my days where I feel a bit nervous or whatever, but I think because I was so different at school, because I was quite anxious and I was quite… I didn't want to be around a lot of people because that would make me feel quite worried. I was always quite a loner.

From that, organically bullies come about and you get teased. I used to have panic attacks in class, and kids would pick on me for that. It was a really horrible time. I don't know why for me personally, but I was naturally always a leader. I always wanted to be a leader. I always wanted to be somebody who gave input and gave inspiration for different ideas. But I think I was really held back at school from the other kids so I wasn't able to fully flourish into that role that I was naturally born to be. I think I was really held back at school which is why I didn't enjoy it. I don't know, it just wasn't enjoyable. Kids were horrible to me. I used to get picked on every day. I used to get pushed down stairs. I used to get, you name it, it happened to me. As emotional as it makes me talking about it, I look at that person that I used to be and I feel sorry for that vulnerable girl. But at the same time, now being 27 years old and the position that I'm in, I'm actually so grateful for that period of my life because it made me so strong. It made me so resilient and it made me realize that if I can get over that hurdle in life, I can really get over anything. Bullying is a big thing. I'm not sure what it's like in the states.

[11:06]
James McKinney: It's very prominent.

[11:07]
Mia Plecic: It's very prominent, and it's really scary. I'd love to be able to help as many people as possible to realize that if that is something that they're going through, you will get past that. It's not the be all and end all. It's not the definition of your future. But it was a really horrible time. So school for me wasn't like oh I'm going to go hang out with my mates. I would try and be by myself as much as possible at school. And in saying that, I went to a really small school. There was probably 10 to 12 students in my year level.

[11:35]
James McKinney: Oh wow.

[11:36]
Mia Plecic: Yeah, it was a really small school and majority were male. It wasn't easy.

[11:41]
James McKinney: Yeah. So I assume then that your last two years of schooling, you probably weren't thinking I want to keep staying in academics.

[11:50]
Mia Plecic: No.

[11:51]
James McKinney: So what were you thinking?

[11:53]
Mia Plecic: I'm actually surprised I even finished high school, to be honest, because I knew that I didn't want to go to university. I knew that studying wasn't something that I enjoyed. I also believed that through the illness, I lost a lot of memory. I do struggle to retain a lot of information for certain things. We'll obviously talk about this further on in the podcast, but when I found my niche, when I found what I'm passionate about, my bubble of e-commerce, that helped me a lot. But in terms of studying further, it just wasn't something that I really was excited about doing. Even though my entire family was saying that's what I had to do, that was the normal. You need to go to university, you need to go and get a 9 to 5, you need to get a corporate job. But the thought of that for me was just hell. I did not want that at all, but at the same time, I didn't know what I wanted to do. But I knew that I wanted to be a leader.

I've always been a very creative person. I loved to visualize the end result of something, creating something. Like I was always that kid in the shed, building furniture or going to the tip and finding destroyed furniture and recreating it into something else, or finding a piece of furniture on the side of the street and rebuilding it and making something out of it, and then selling it. You know? Like little things like that. So I always knew that I was creative, but I didn't know what e-commerce was. I didn't know what business was, so it wasn't until later on in life that I found that.

[13:27]
James McKinney: Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding of where you were at age 18 based on what you've just shared with us, a lifelong illness that caused you to be somewhat of recluse. You withdrew from people. I assume your non-family relationships were really, really small. Had to deal with bullying and all the adversity that comes from that. You didn't have your dad in your life. You had a lot of things that I think would probably cause people to want to play the safe route, right? There's all this unknown, but you obviously did not want university or college, and so you're like… because that would have been the safe route coming out of high school, maybe a trade school. What was that first post high school next step for you?

[14:16]
Mia Plecic: Because I didn't know what I wanted to do, I had to do something. So the first thing that kind of came to my mind was let's become a personal trainer, because it seemed to be such a trend when I came out of school, and where I grew up there was only one university and anyone who wasn't going to college or university was going and doing their personal training certificate. So I was like well I may as well do that as well. It's something that I did and I was PT for about three years.

Whilst I was actually doing my personal training course, somehow I was manipulated into actually going to university and starting an exercise science degree. I got one year into it and I absolutely hated it, and I said, "What am I doing? I'm wasting my time and my energy, my money." I just decided to throw in the books literally, and to my family's disgust I just walked away from it. But I tried it. It wasn't for me. I validated that, I was right from the start. But that was my first step when I was 18 in the real world. I was making a little bit of money. Nothing exciting. I was just paying my way.

[15:21]
James McKinney: Was your illness getting better? Because personal trainer, back to the idea of how it impacted your childhood, personal training you're one on one or in a class setting where you're in front of a dozen or so. Now begins the process of you're putting yourself out there. Was your health getting better?

[15:35]
Mia Plecic: By this stage, 100%. My illness lasted for about… having the seizures lasted about two to three years. Once they diagnosed me and medicated me for that condition, it was on the recovery path. The really great thing about that experience was I'm sure here as well, gut health is now like a trend. But 20 years ago when that is happened to me, or just 17 or 18 years ago, it wasn't a thing. Gut health wasn't known. Your general practitioner didn't believe in it. It was just another little naturopathy kind of illness. At the time, when I was diagnosed by a naturopath/pediatrician, I learned so much about self… not self diagnosing, but self fixing the issue that I had. It was through food and natural remedies and all that sort of stuff. So I learned so much about that. It took about five years for me to really understand the fact that the seizures had stopped and I need to believe that it wasn't going to happen anymore, and it hasn't. tap wood, it hasn't happened.

[16:40]
James McKinney: That's awesome.

[16:41]
Mia Plecic: So by the time I was 18 and doing my personal training, I was well and truly over that hurdle and I was on the path to better things. But like I said, it still comes and goes every now and then. I have days where I wake up feeling a little bit nervous and anxious, but I think we all do. But by that time, I was fine.

[16:56]
James McKinney: That's awesome. So now, we're here together because you are a serial entrepreneur and you're young. You're 27 as of now, and so between being a personal trainer and your first startup, my assumption is just a bunch of little jobs in-between to get that. Where were you at in life before your very first startup?

[17:19]
Mia Plecic: So I started my first company when I was 22 years old. So between 18 and 22, I was obviously a personal trainer for a little while. Decided I didn't want to do that anymore, but also at the same time refused to go and get a job. I didn't want to get a job because I felt like I was just going back to where I didn't want to be. So in my mind, I'm strange. I'm a very strange human in how I think sometimes, but I was like well I'm going to go onto welfare, government welfare, and I'm going to get the government to pay me while I decide what I want to do in the sense of starting a business.

It's funny because I was living in this horrible one bedroom apartment where I'm from down in Melbourne, and I laugh because it was just a typical story that you hear from an entrepreneur. It was so horrible. It was like leaking pipes. I'd open up the cutlery drawer and there'd be like mouse poo in there. It was just your typical story, entrepreneur story. But it was true. That was my life. I didn't want to go and live at home. I didn't want to go and get housemates. I wanted to be on my own. I wanted to be in my own space because I knew that things were going to get better.

I would do anything I could to make money. I would go to the hardware store and buy bags of concrete and I'd make concrete pots in my front yard and then I'd paint them. Then I'd go to the Sunday market and I'd sell them, and I'd want to make enough money on that Sunday market to pay for my rent for that week, and I would just do anything I could to kind of get through. Then I found a network marketing company. I tried that, multilevel marketing, for a while.

[18:54]
James McKinney: What was that company?

[18:56]
Mia Plecic: It was Arbonne.

[18:57]
James McKinney: Oh, okay, yeah.

[18:58]
Mia Plecic: Arbonne international. I did that for a couple of years, and I'm not in that anymore. I personally found that business model wasn't for me. It works for some people.

[19:08]
James McKinney: It does.

[19:09]
Mia Plecic: It really does, but I just, I liked the idea of creating my own products and being my own leader. I felt like being in that industry, you're very much in a bubble and the outside world don't really give you a positive light. You only get that positive light from the people in that community. So having my dreams of being an author or being a public speaker or whatever, it would only really come about in that bubble.

[19:29]
James McKinney: Got it.

[19:30]
Mia Plecic: I did that for a while. I didn't make much money out of that business, but at the same time I didn't lose money. But what I did gain from that industry was I learned about business. I learned about leadership, and most importantly I learned about personal growth. So I'm really grateful for that couple of years in that business because I did learn that I wanted to be a leader. I wanted to be on stage. I wanted to speak about business and being a leader. That's when it kind of hit me. I found my calling, and that is business. That is product based, tangible business. Although I didn't want to be in the network marketing industry anymore, it just wasn't for me, I knew that I wanted to be in business somehow. That's when I found e-commerce.

[20:16]
James McKinney: That is awesome. So because I know your parents, you mentioned your parents were pushing towards university and the safe route we'll call it, when you were on welfare in the ghetto, what was your immediate family circle preaching in your ear at that time?

[20:34]
Mia Plecic: I don't even think we had much of a relationship at the time. They were really disappointed in me, which makes me upset because I kept on saying to my family, "Just trust me. Just trust me. I'm going to do something. I'm going to make you proud." But because my family, I come from a European background, it's just so standard and tradition that you go to university, you get a 9 to 5, and you grind until you're 60 years old. I didn't want to do that. I wanted yachts and private jets and designers and all this stuff. It's funny because that's never been in my blood in my family. I don't know where I got that ambition from. I still don't know. When people ask me, I say I have no idea because my family are the complete opposite to me. But they were disappointed.

My grandparents especially, being European and migrated to Australia 50 odd years ago, they didn't want to see me not working. They didn't want to see me uneducated as they would call it. For me, it was hard because I felt like I was letting them down, but I knew deep down inside me that I was going to make them proud eventually. So although they weren't happy with the route that I was taking in my life, I just had to continue to believe in myself, which I'm so glad I did because so many people don't. So many people don't believe. The inability to believe in themselves and the path that they're taking, regardless of whether I started on welfare or not. So yes, they're upset and disappointed. There were a lot of family arguments and a lot of family stress and tears, but I just pushed through and I believed that it was going to get better.

[22:13]
James McKinney: Because you knew.

[22:15]
Mia Plecic: I knew. I can't explain it in words. You just know. You know when you just know something? You just have this intuition. You just have this feeling inside you. You just know that even if you are at the very, very beginning and you have no idea in the world what you're doing, I just knew that things were going to get better. I just believed it.

[22:36]
James McKinney: What's funny is I ask that question because I know that we have people listening that are on a set path in their journey because of their upbringing. We've had Goli Khalkoran two episodes ago, runs the Lessons from a Quitter podcast. She's an Iranian American immigrant, and she was on a set path because that's what her culture was, that's what her upbringing was. We can go back founder by founder, and there's a similar story where they're just on a path because that's what their upbringing was, the parental influence was. But you knew otherwise, and I wanted to kind of unpack that a bit, and thank you for being so transparent.

Because I know there are listeners that are in that space, and they need to hear if your inner being is telling you that you are meant for something different in this journey that you're on, give credence to it. I'm not suggesting jump ship right away, but you can't ignore it and then how do you navigate through that? So I just thank you for being transparent. But during that season on welfare, creating concrete pots, and you're going through. You knew that you were meant for something more. You wanted to create enterprises and be the leader in industry.

Were you using that season of a season of learning, or were you consuming again not university learning, but school of hard knocks, real life learning. Were you listening to podcasts or on YouTube watching videos? What was that season for you in order to keep encouraging and nourishing that concept of, "I know I'm capable and I know there's something great for me." What were you doing in that season?

[24:06]
Mia Plecic: Well I was so obsessed with learning other people's stories and being motivated and driven by other people's, whether it's their success stories or just their startup stories. Again, being in that network marketing industry for that short period of time, I was introduced to people like Tony Robbins and Robert Kiyosaki and Gary V and all of these people.

[24:29]
James McKinney: We love all of them yeah.

[24:30]
Mia Plecic: Yeah. All of these people who they preach what we're trying to preach in this podcast, and that is to if you've got a vision, you've got to execute. I wasn't really into reading, but I would go and buy books just so I'd have a good collection on my bookshelf. But I loved audio books. I did love podcasts, I still do. Even just YouTube videos of these people. I think I also utilized social media to its greatest advantage and that was to follow people who were on the similar journey to where I wanted to be. So that was definitely what motivated me to keep moving forward through the personal development and learning and hearing other people's stories. Because the more I learned from other people, the more I think, "Well, if they can do it, I can do it." I'm hearing Oprah Winfrey's story and her upbringing. I thought well if she can do it, why can't I? I've always had that mentality that if someone else can do it or someone's done it before, anyone can do it.

[25:29]
James McKinney: I love that. I love that. There's probably a listener right now saying, "If Mia can do it, I can do it."

[25:33]
Mia Plecic: 100%.

[25:34]
James McKinney: Love that. So now, let's jump into your welfare, you're creating concrete pots, love that story. You're doing Arbonne, that season comes to an end. Let's talk about your first startup. You're a serial entrepreneur. Five or six companies?

[25:48]
Mia Plecic: Five startups.

[25:49]
James McKinney: Five startups. Let's talk about your very first one. This is right out the gate. This is your first venture you're starting up that's not… I mean, the upside to network marketing companies like Arbonne is that there's an existing infrastructure for you to operate in.

[26:04]
Mia Plecic: Correct.

[26:05]
James McKinney: Now, you are creating something from nothing, which is the startup. What was that venture and what was that experience for you?

[26:16]
Mia Plecic: So I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was in that apartment that I was speaking of earlier. I was laying in bed. It was probably 11 o'clock at night. It was around October 2014. I was scrolling through Instagram, and at that time, influencer marketing wasn't very prevalent. It wasn't big like it is now. So it wasn't that often that you'd see an influencer promoting a product. So when you did see them promote a product, you'd actually be more aware of it than you would be now because it's everywhere.

[26:47]
James McKinney: Yes, yes it is.

[26:48]
Mia Plecic: So I looked at this product, and it was an in home teeth whitening product, and I thought well that's quite interesting. Being at the time, didn't have any money, I remember thinking, "I'd love to have my teeth whitenened," but didn't have that income to be able to just go to the dentist and spend however many hundreds of dollars to get my teeth whitened. So I was quite curious at this product. I don't actually remember the name of the company. I don't believe that they're around anymore, but I did purchase one of the products out of curiosity to see if it would work, because it was only around the $50 mark, so I was really curious. I received the product, I used the product, I loved the product. I got incredible results and I thought, "Wow, this is really smart. I feel that there is a big gap in the market here," and that's one thing that I've always prided myself in is I have the ability to step away from that consumer mindset and step into the position of a potential business owner, and to see where there might be a market gap.

With this particular product, I remember thinking this is a really smart product. It's consumable. It's a product that a lot of people would like. Everybody wants whiter teeth. Nobody likes the dentist, and nobody wants to go and spend that exorbitant amount of money at the dentist to get it done. It was the exact same product that dentists would use, but you had the ability to do it at home, in the comfort of your own bathroom, and at quite a cheap price. That's when I had that light bulb moment, "This could be a product that I could potentially sell online myself." With every e-commerce business that I've started to date, they've all been white label products in the sense that I'm not an innovator. I've never claimed to be an innovator. But what I am great at is branding and marketing and finding that gap in the market.

So when I had this idea, I needed to find a manufacturer that was already producing this product, because one I didn't have the capital behind me whatsoever to go and spend tens of thousands of dollars in formulating a whitening product. But I wanted to find company that was already producing this product that was safe, that was FDA approved, and wasn't going to get me sued basically.

So what I needed to do, again I had maybe under $100 to my name with rent owing. I started selling the product without having any stock in hand. So that evening, when I got the product and tried it and used it, I thought, "Yep, I'm going to sell this product myself." I set up an online website. I don't know how honestly. I used Big Cartel, which I don't know if it's even still around.

[29:35]
James McKinney: I have not heard of that so probably not.

[29:36]
Mia Plecic: I'm now Shopify through and through, but I remember Googling how to build a free online website. I didn't even know what the word e-commerce was. Online website was my word. So I Googled that. Big Cartel came up. I built a Big Cartel website in a couple of hours, very, very basic, and just used generic photos from Ali Baba or Google or whatever. I used Instagram. I set up an Instagram business account and used hashtags to make my first sale. Hashtags were like huge back in those days, and I feel like they're making a comeback now as well. But at the time, I would do #teethwhitening,

pearlywhites, #whiteteeth. I knew that I needed to make 20 sales in order to

afford my first shipment, which was 100% generic. There was none of my branding on it. It was the generic packaging from the manufacturer, but I knew that I needed to sell 20 units of this product in order to be able to pay my manufacturer to send me the products.

So I was risking big time, because one I knew the type of person that I am. Once the money came in, I knew that I had to pay the rent but I also knew that I needed to have enough money to pay for the stock, so I was really nervous because if I didn't sell 20 units and only sold 10, I'd have to send that money back to those people, and I was really risking it, but I'm a massive risk taker. That's just how I am.

So within 24 hours, I had already sold like half of what I needed to sell, and I was like, "Wow, this is amazing."

[31:07]
James McKinney: No paid ads, just social-

[31:09]
Mia Plecic: No paid ads. I didn't even know that you could pay for ads. I just used hashtags. I'd sold 10 units and I knew I needed to sell another 10, and within five days I'd sold the 20 units that I needed to sell. I'd made that $1000 that I needed to pay my supplier. I'd never had over $1000 in my bank account. It was huge for me. I sent the money by PayPal to my manufacturer who was based in China. The stock was sent to me and I sent it out to my customers, and I just remember that feeling. I was sitting on my lounge room floor, packing orders, and it was just the best feeling. I was like, "This is so cool." Like just having that inventory around me and the packaged orders. I was looking, it was like a pile of money on the floor. I was so excited.

From that, I kept on selling and I kept on selling. I sold $1000 worth, I got the stock. I remember ringing my mum and saying, "Mum, I've just made $1000 from this teeth product," and she goes, "Okay great. So what are you going to do with that $1000 now? Stop selling it. Now you need to get on with life." I was like, "Mum, no, I'm going to reinvest that money back into the business." She's like, "You're crazy. You're so stupid. What are you doing? Why would you waste that money?" Fast forward six months, we'd done $1 million in revenue.

[32:22]
James McKinney: Within six months?

[32:23]
Mia Plecic: Within six months. So we had the capital to kind of take the inventory to that next level, having it fully customized, fully branded. That's when Pearly Whites Australia was born.

[32:33]
James McKinney: So let's pause real quick. So from your initial 20 orders to your custom branding when you really started growing, I'm assuming the exponential growth happened when the custom branding came out.

[32:48]
Mia Plecic: Absolutely.

[32:49]
James McKinney: So what was that time period from first orders to custom branding?

[32:51]
Mia Plecic: I needed $20,000 capital to pay for my first initial custom branded stock.

[32:55]
James McKinney: With the manufacturer?

[32:56]
Mia Plecic: Correct.

[32:57]
James McKinney: Got it.

[32:58]
Mia Plecic: That's what it cost to get the however many units it was fully customized, their minimum order quantity. I was at a point where I was like, "This is awesome. I'm loving this journey. I'm loving this business." But honestly, I had no idea what I was doing. I still feel like I don't.

[33:14]
James McKinney: You were an expert at concrete pots. Whitening teeth was totally new.

[33:17]
Mia Plecic: Exactly. So I knew that I needed some help. I knew that I wanted somebody to partner with me to help me kind of take that next step in business, to get the business to where I wanted it to be because I didn't believe that I had it in me, at that point in time, to execute that alone. So I wanted to find somebody who had done e-commerce before who had sold products through e-commerce in the past, and would not only assist me in that journey, but also guide me, mentor me, and help me learn because that was most important to me. Because I knew that product wouldn't be around forever. I knew that was only going to be the stepping stone to my business journey, which it was. At the same time, I didn't have people around me in business. I didn't know people in business. I didn't have that credibility that I do now to just walk up to someone and go, "Hi, I've heard you've been in business before. Do you want to be my investor?" I was just this girl on welfare, you know? I wasn't anything special.

I met this guy who was in e-commerce and I knew of him. I'd met him the past and I was actually on my way to Thailand. I was on the train going to the airport and I've never taken the train to the airport before, but for some reason on this day I decided to. The train station that I got on the train was the train station I'd never been to in my life. For some reason I went to that train station instead of the one that I would usually go to. And I sat next to a guy that I knew of from the past and we were just chatting. I was saying, "Yeah, I recently started this new business a couple of months ago. I'm very new in the game. I don't really know what I'm doing, but I've got a great product and I've got a great name, and I see huge potential." He obviously did as well.

[34:54]
James McKinney: Well, I mean you made $1 million in six months.

[34:56]
Mia Plecic: Well, at this point, we were only a couple of months in. This is when I met this guy. I'd said to him, "I would love to find someone who could help me." That was when he kind of proposed that he could be that person, which really excited me because I didn't have anyone around me, not a single person around me, believed in my vision. No one supported what I was doing. I was just very much on this journey all by myself. I didn't have a mentor. I didn't have a supportive family. They supported, don't get me wrong. They love me, but they weren't really supportive of this new venture because they were scared, and I believe that now. It's not that they weren't supportive, they were just really scared that I was going to stuff it up and dig a deeper hole for myself.

So when he offered to give me that $20,000 that I needed to buy that stock, for me that was like anything I could have dreamt of. It's so funny because I look back now at how excited I was over just a $20,000 loan for a business. Whereas now, we're seeking millions of dollars in investment for capital, do you know what I mean?

[35:56]
James McKinney: I bet that $20,000 though, at that point in your life, was more than just the money. It was validation that someone believed in you, right?

[36:03]
Mia Plecic: Exactly, 100%.

[36:04]
James McKinney: That's, especially for a first time entrepreneur, that validation can change the game for you as it did, right?

[36:13]
Mia Plecic: Yeah. I was really naive. Again, it's a part of the journey but I was really naive. I thought that $20,000 was so much money. Like so much money. I was just naive. I was stupid. I gave him 50% of my company for a $20,000 loan and I regret that. I really do. But at the same time, it was part of my journey. It's got me to where I am today. Ever since then, it kind of all just went downhill. And we did, we made a lot of money. The company was turning over between $20,000 to $30,000 revenue a day. We were just flying teeth whitening products all over the world. I couldn't keep up. We couldn't keep up with inventory. We were bringing cargos, like big shipping containers from China full of stock, and that cargo, that shipping container would be sold out before it would even l and in Australian shores.

[37:05]
James McKinney: So was your business model, I know it was white label. I know you had someone making this product overseas somewhere, but it wasn't drop ship. Like it came to you and you were handling fulfillment.

[37:14]
Mia Plecic: Correct.

[37:15]
James McKinney: All right.

[37:17]
Mia Plecic: Initially, we would hold it in our own office but then we got to the point where we just couldn't… I was spending upwards of 13 to 15 hours a day just packing orders, which isn't smart from a business perspective because I wasn't able to work on the business, you know what I mean?

[37:33]
James McKinney: Working in the business, yeah.

[37:34]
Mia Plecic: I was working in the business, and packing orders wasn't growing the business at all. So although my partner had the strengths that he had in the sense of social media marketing, that was his bread and butter. And again I didn't really understand it. I look back now and go how naive I was. I obviously have way more understanding of the power of paid marketing now, but at the time I was just letting him do what he did, and I was kind of just working in the business, trying to… I was doing all the customer service and the emails and the live chats on the website, like it was nonstop packing orders. We got to a point where we just couldn't really sustain that anymore. I needed to do a lot more in business so we decided to get a 3PO logistics company that would hold our stock, and they'd fulfill the orders for us. We just couldn't keep up. We were selling so much product that we were selling out before it would even land in Australia, so our fulfillment center was empty all the time.

[38:31]
James McKinney: Were the margins good?

[38:32]
Mia Plecic: The margins were incredible, yeah.

[38:34]
James McKinney: That's awesome.

[38:35]
Mia Plecic: We were profiting upwards of $80 a unit.

[38:37]
James McKinney: Wow. Selling for what, like $150 or so?

[38:39]
Mia Plecic: Yeah, between $130 and $150.

[38:42]
James McKinney: That is awesome.

[38:44]
Mia Plecic: Yeah. It was really good margins. I think that's a huge thing that I think a lot of people need to, when they come up with these ideas and these product ideas, sometimes they don't really give themselves those margins. I think that's obviously the most important thing.

[38:57]
James McKinney: I mean, the margins help you sustain the business.

[38:59]
Mia Plecic: Correct.

[39:00]
James McKinney: So you're growing like crazy. What happened with that business?

[39:03]
Mia Plecic: So yeah, we were growing like crazy. We started to do pop up shops in Westfield's across Australia around the Christmas season. The business was growing. We were getting some influencer marketing happening and becoming aware. Everyone knew the brand and even to this day, people know of the brand. It's still running, but I exited the company which we'll go into. It does still run, but I do believe that product was a trend. It had its time and there's a couple of other companies, one in particular, that really just took off. They had millions of dollars for marketing and they're like the prevalent brand now.

We just didn't have a great working relationship, myself and my business partner. He was very dominating. He didn't really give me the time to learn and I think because he was quite a few steps ahead of me in the game, he wasn't patient in letting me catch up and learn. That was a bit thing that we discussed at the start of our partnership was I want to learn. I want you to mentor me and teach me how to become an entrepreneur, because that's what I want to be.

[40:03]
James McKinney: Yeah.

[40:04]
Mia Plecic: But he just wanted to make money, make money, make money. So did I, don't get me wrong, but I wanted to be able to duplicate this model again, and again, and again with future products. So we kind of got to a point where we were just clashing heads. I wasn't allowed to make any business decisions. What I said didn't really go. He was kind of the god of the business and what he said went. That didn't sit well with me because I'm not a "yes man" kind of girl. I felt like he was taking my baby away from me and I think there was just so much pride in that business because I was the founder, it was my idea. I was kind of like, "Who are you to step in and just take this away from me?" So we did butt heads quite a lot.

I definitely don't like to take the credit away from him in the sense that he definitely assisted in the business growing because of his strengths in social media marketing and the ability to promote this product to the right demographics, and get the name out there. But we just weren't working. It got to a point where he became quite nasty would probably be the right word. I think he just wanted me out. He just wanted to take over the company on his own.

He came to me one day and said, "I've got an investor based in Los Angeles who I want to give a certain amount of equity to, 18%, to run this company in the US. So we wanted to launch Pearly Whites USA. I was all for expansion, I was all for going global. We were obviously already shipping globally, but we wanted to brand this business to the US market. So he had someone in mind, he knew an investor who was willing to take over 18% of the company for no upfront capital, but they were going to run the US side of the business. I remember in my mind thinking, "Why would you give away equity to someone with no capital?" I get it now, more understanding now, but again we clashed around that idea. But we decided that we're going to give half that 18% each to this investor, and we were going to move forward. I'd still be majority shareholder, because I actually gave him 49% of the company. I owned 51% of the company. We were both directors.

But I was so naive and so stupid, I still to this day think how dumb can I be? But somehow he manipulated and persuaded me to giveaway full 18% of the company of my shares, which dropped me down to a minority shareholder to him. He then combined his shares with the new investor. They obviously had a plan, and they pretty much outvoted me. So I lost my directorship in the company. Then I just held the 34% I believe that I still owned. It was a really hard time for me because I felt like I was back to square one.

[42:45]
James McKinney: From the time that you started the first order until that moment, how much time has passed?

[42:51]
Mia Plecic: Probably about nine or ten months.

[42:54]
James McKinney: So really fast growth.

[42:55]
Mia Plecic: Really fast turnover.

[42:56]
James McKinney: And this experience was still really close the beginning stages of this.

[43:01]
Mia Plecic: Correct. We were still at the start in my eyes, but at this point I'd lost my directorship. I'd lost everything. The bank had rung me 20 minutes after this board meeting where I'd been outvoted, and said, "Just letting you know, we've cut your credit card. You don't have access to the bank anymore." He changed all the social media passwords. He changed the lock on the office. He just got really, really nasty.

[43:22]
James McKinney: So it was just a full takeover.

[43:23]
Mia Plecic: It was a full takeover, and that's what he wanted. That was his plan. Although I still held that equity, I knew that he was going to do everything in his power to not issue any dividends to ensure that I wasn't going to take any money from the company. Even in that time where we were making so much money, I understood the concept of having to reinvest money back into the business because we needed to buy new inventory and update websites, and social media marketing, that costs money. But he would never allow us to really take a wage or a dividend. I was like this is really weird, then why can't we take a bit of profit? Like why can't we take a little profit? I had some other ideas that I wanted to execute as well. I really wanted to own… I had this dream of owning a cold pressed juice bar. I really wanted to explore that because where I was from, this town that I'm from, didn't have that. We didn't have that concept. We didn't have the cold pressed juice trend, so I kind of wanted to be the person filling that gap.

[44:15]
James McKinney: Let me pause you there for a second. So person X, your investor, executes this takeover. Cuts you out completely. You're still working in the business because you have your equity position. They can't take your shares away. No salaries, no dividends, nothing like that. Why did you stay engaged at that point in time? Was it just the equity position or why?

[44:41]
Mia Plecic: Well, I didn't. I didn't. So once that happened, once that takeover happened, I pretty much stepped back from the business straight away. I knew that I needed to do everything I could to sell that 34% that I still owned because I needed money. We were taking some ridiculous like $400 to $500 a week each wage, which was enough to live okay, not much, but that was enough to pay rent for a week and a bit of food. But the company was making so much money I thought why aren't we taking a little bit more? It was part of his plan. Once he did the takeover and took over the business, I knew that he wasn't going to issue any dividends. I knew that he would probably just burn the company out until sales stopped. He obviously increased his director's wage and kept on reinvesting into international business trips.

[45:28]
James McKinney: So you sold your shares out to the…

[45:32]
Mia Plecic: No. I ended up finding a buyer to buy that. I actually ended up paying someone to pretend to be a buyer and then he ended up finding another buyer who he would rather work with. That person ended up buying my shares, so that kind of gave me a leg up.

[45:49]
James McKinney: Got it, okay. With whatever payout that was, you started the cold press?

[45:55]
Mia Plecic: Yeah. So again, this guy that was my investor, I had this dream of owning a cold pressed juice company. Because that was more of a brick and mortar business as opposed to e-commerce, I mean I laugh at myself now thinking what the hell was I thinking, why did I want to own a brick and mortar business, but I did and I think that's because all I knew… I didn't know what e-commerce was. I actually wanted to won this cold pressed juice company before Pearly Whites came along, but I needed so much more capital behind me in order to do that. So whilst we were in the middle of Pearly Whites, I'd actually approached the same investor saying, "I've got this idea of a cold pressed juice company."

[46:31]
James McKinney: the guy who took over Pearly Whites from you?

[46:33]
Mia Plecic: Correct. And I had another investor, a friend of mine, who had already invested. So this ex business partner, he said, "I want to be a part of this juice company."

[46:45]
James McKinney: This was before or after he stole Pearly Whites from you?

[46:48]
Mia Plecic: Before. This was half way through.

[46:50]
James McKinney: Got it.

[46:51]
Mia Plecic: So we were in the process of actually, the three of us, setting up this cold pressed juice company. When I exited out of Pearly Whites, we were just about to launch this shop. So it was a really hard time, because he'd just done the dirty on me so bad with Pearly Whites that I was just about to go and birth another business with him, it was really hard. Long story short, and you know it's almost too much to even believe, but he pretty much did the exact same thing again with the juice company.

[47:19]
James McKinney: So you stayed in business with him, under the cold pressed juice company, even though he did one over on you on the Pearly Whites?

[47:31]
Mia Plecic: Yes, but that was the first juice company. I then opened up a second one. So he combined the shares with the other guy and booted me out of the Bronx Pressed Juices, which was my first juice company.

[47:46]
James McKinney: How, because this all sounds really fast… from the time he took Pearly Whites from you, what was the gap until he took the juice company from you?

[47:58]
Mia Plecic: Eight weeks.

[47:59]
James McKinney: So within a 10 month period-

[48:02]
Mia Plecic: I'd lost two companies.

[48:03]
James McKinney: Unbelievable.

[48:05]
Mia Plecic: I'll never forget the day. I was sitting in my office, and I've got this receptionist in my office building came and put a letter on my desk. I looked at the letter, and I just knew straight away what was about to happen. It was just like I had this feeling in me. I looked at the envelope for about a minute before I had the guts to open it. I opened the envelope and I read it, and it was a letter from their lawyer saying, "This is what's happened. They're removing you from the Bronx." And I remember the day we had… I had my own private office and there was a big glass door, and it was only the day before that they'd gone and put frosting on the glass so you can't see in. I remember looking at the door thinking, "Thank God no one can see me right now because I'm about to have a mental breakdown."

I'll never forget the day I said to myself, out loud, "I'm going to give myself five minutes to cry." Like cry so hard because I just was at my lowest. I'd just lost my first business and felt like I'd let my whole family down, and myself. I'd just lost another business and felt like is this ever going to end? Am I making the right decision in life and this whole business thing? Is this for me? I set the timer on my phone for five minutes and I literally laid on the floor, under my desk, and I just was hysterical. I put a pillow over my face and I screamed and cried, and just got to my lowest of low.

The alarm went off. I brushed myself off. I sat on my chair, and I said, "You need to make a decision. You need to go head to head with these guys or you just need to give up, throw in the towel, and say this business thing is just not for me." Being me, Mia Plecic, I was like F these guys, I'm going head to head. I still, to this day, have no idea how I managed to execute as fast as I did, but within a period of six weeks, I had launched a new cold pressed juice company and a new teeth whitening company.

[50:04]
James McKinney: Within six weeks of the breakdown.

[50:07]
Mia Plecic: Correct.

[50:08]
James McKinney: Under the desk, face in pillow, sobbing hysteria. Six weeks, executed.

[50:12]
Mia Plecic: Yeah.

[50:13]
James McKinney: There's two questions that I have to ask from those things, and I ask this question a little bit from my own journey o the times where I've lost my companies, and I remember the emotional wear and tear. As you were telling me the story of losing Pearly Whites, I saw your posture shift. When you retell those stories, what is that experience like for you as you're retelling it? Where is your mental space in the retelling of those stories?

[50:42]
Mia Plecic: It makes me really upset because I just remember being that young, vulnerable girl who just had a dream, and someone tried to take that away from me. I guess yes, my posture shrinks because it's just such a hard thing to talk about. It's such a hard time. I think if I had made this decision or if I had done this better would that have happened, would the outcome be different? But at the same time, we keep going back to tough times don't last, but tough people do.

I'm a very strong person. I have been through my fair share in life that have made me the person that I am today, which is a strong, resilient, independent woman. Because of those tough times, I am who I am today. So I don't like to disregard those times as negative, sad, poor me, poor Mia. I actually like to look at them as a massive lesson. I'm so grateful that I went through that lesson at that age, not when I'm 45, because what I learned through that journey I would never allow that to happen to me again. So yes, it's hard. I get a bit like my heart rate will probably raise a little bit talking about it, I get nervous because I-

[51:49]
James McKinney: Well I saw your cheeks get rosy, your posture shrunk. I physically saw it in you, and having gone through it-

[51:57]
Mia Plecic: You get it.

[51:58]
James McKinney: I Knew what you were feeling and I wanted to unpack that for the listeners, because there are people listening that have been through it, but they haven't yet gone through the recovery.

[52:09]
Mia Plecic: But this is the thing, and I think this is such an important point to make, is more people fail than they do succeed. As hard as that is to say, it's the truth. I needed to realize that because when I was going through that, I honestly didn't believe that anyone else had gone through what I was going through. I honestly thought that I was one in a million, but as my journey in business progresses, where now five or six years into my business journey, every second person that I meets goes, "Yep, been through it." I'm like, "Really? Like it wasn't just me?"

[52:40]
James McKinney: And that's why I tell The Startup Story because the journey is not linear by any means, but the threads are the same.

[52:48]
Mia Plecic: The same.

[52:49]
James McKinney: It is, and I just love when I get incredible founders like yourself that are so transparent so that the listeners can learn from this. So you have your crying moment, you have a coming to Jesus moment where you're like I am not going to just sit on the wayside, I'm going to go head to head. So because I want to get to your very current venture. Real quickly, what was that head to head journey?

[53:12]
Mia Plecic: Honestly, I was in autopilot. I freaked myself out thinking about it. I remember getting on the phone to a real estate agent. I needed to secure a commercial property, which I happened to do in two days. You've got to remember, I just sold my equity in Pearly Whites so I had a fair bit of money behind me, thankfully. I went and got myself a big warehouse. I fitted out the warehouse myself. I was there until like 3 or 4 in the morning, tiling the walls myself and painting the factory. I bought this big, $20,000 cold press juice machine. I imported 20,000 glass bottles from China that were coming in on a big ship within five days of this decision. I was branding, I was recreating new recipes, new IP of this company because one thing I said to those boys is I'm not signing a restriction of trade. You can kick me out, but my God you're not going to stop me from executing another business.

[54:02]
James McKinney: That is awesome.

[54:03]
Mia Plecic: And that's exactly what I did. At the same time, I launched another teeth whitening company called Bondi Smile. Did the exact same thing again. I'd gone through that branding process, I'd gone through the marketing, I'd gone into China and got all the products on their way over, and I'd launched two new companies within like six weeks. I'm mental, yeah? People around me like, "You couldn't be crazier."

[54:23]
James McKinney: That is awesome.

[54:24]
Mia Plecic: And I agree now, like years on, I'm like what was I thinking? I could have saved money, but it was that pride in me.

[54:31]
James McKinney: Well, you needed that recovery.

[54:32]
Mia Plecic: I needed that recovery. I needed to prove to myself more than anything that I could go head to head with these people who have done what they've done to me. But it got to the point where these two businesses were being built on hate. They were being built on negative energy, and because I lived in such a small city, outside of Melbourne we were just in constant rivalry and it was all over the media. It was in newspapers. People knew what would happen. People would look at me on the streets and know who I am. They would sympathize over what I'd gone through and be like, "Are you okay? I'm sorry," they would support my businesses. It was kind of like who would get into that big drive thru franchise where I had 10 stores for the juices, and I got that drive thru contract. I was so happy but I was happy in spite. I just got to a point where I wasn't enjoying running my businesses because it was built on hate. So I ended up exiting from both businesses and selling both of those businesses, and starting afresh basically.

[55:25]
James McKinney: But those exits were successful exits.

[55:27]
Mia Plecic: Correct.

[55:28]
James McKinney: They were positive exits. They were on your terms as well, right?

[55:30]
Mia Plecic: Correct.

[55:31]
James McKinney: So from that, one just what a great self awareness you had too, to understand that these are businesses birthed out of spite and malice, versus a passion that you had for what the products were.

[55:43]
Mia Plecic: I'd be driving past their shop like really early in the morning, undercover, to see how many juices were on the shelf. Then I'd go at the end of the day and count how many juices were on the shelf, or I'd get someone to go into their store undercover and see how many juices they'd sold for the day. It was just unhealthy.

[55:58]
James McKinney: Yeah, yeah. So how long did those second pair of startups last for you?

[56:02]
Mia Plecic: 12 months.

[56:03]
James McKinney: So just to recap, the entire four startup journey-

[56:08]
Mia Plecic: Two years.

[56:09]
James McKinney: … we are at two years, four startups. Unbelievable.

[56:13]
Mia Plecic: Crazy.

[56:14]
James McKinney: So 22 is when you started Pearly Whites, so at the end of 24, you're 27 now. So that's three years ago. Let's just recap those four businesses. You went from a distribution company with Pearly Whites, to a manufacturing and distribution company, brick and mortar company, with the pressed juice. You did it twice.

[56:31]
Mia Plecic: Correct.

[56:32]
James McKinney: Okay. Very different business models. I mean distribution is the same, but-

[56:37]
Mia Plecic: We still had the e-commerce component of the cold presses juices, because juice cleanses were a big thing. So we would sell juice cleanses online and we'd deliver them to the consumer's door. But yeah, mostly brick and mortar, supplying wholesale to cafes.

[56:50]
James McKinney: So let's talk about Her Organics, which is what your current venture is right now. As I say it, I can see the grin on your face, so I know that this one is birthed out of a passion.

[57:01]
Mia Plecic: Yeah.

[57:02]
James McKinney: How did you get to Her Organics and of your four previous startups, what model does this one more closely represent?

[57:11]
Mia Plecic: Probably more so Pearly Whites, being that it is 100% e-commerce, tangible product. But I'm 27 now. Finished at 24, so I've had a couple of years where I haven't had a product and I've really had time to kind of marinate in that whole e-commerce space. I'm never short of an idea. That's one thing that I pride myself in more than anything, is you can outsource paid marketing. You can outsource branding and marketing, but you cannot buy visionary. That is my biggest strength in business is being able to visualize a gap in the market or find an everyday product and market it and brand it in a way that targets my certain demographic that I want to target. Or just even having the ability to just create a feeling through a product more so than anything else. Teeth whitening, selling toothpaste, whatever the product may be, it's about creating that feeling for the consumer more than anything. That's one thing that I'm really, really good at.

So I've had time in the last couple of years to really marinate in different ideas and different concepts. I've been doing a lot more speaking opportunities and traveling the world for that, and doing amazing podcasts like this, and writing a book and really kind of being more growing my personal brand around e-commerce, and branding myself as this startup CEO, moving forward in that direction. But I was really missing that tangible, physical product.

One thing as well that I love in business for myself is I'm not like the everyday person where we just complain about problems, like oh I wish this was available, or I wish I could do this, or I'm sick of doing this every month, or whatever it may be. I like to run my pain into power. I like to find an everyday problem that society faces and I like to fix it with a solution. That's what I've done with every product that I've brought to market. Whether it's the teeth whitening, whether it's the juice company, or whether it's Her Organics which is the organic tampon subscription company. I also like to bring a product to market that plays with a large niche, it's not a small niche. Her Organics came about because I'm a female, I get my period every month like every other woman in this world. I know this to be fact that women forget to buy their sanitary items every month. It's just one of those things that we forget to buy, and we've got to do that awkward run to the supermarket every month, or get our partner to do the awkward run to the supermarket for us.

[59:41]
James McKinney: Been there, done that.

[59:42]
Mia Plecic: Exactly. And I wanted to create a product that would enable women to have that necessity sent to their door every single month conveniently. It takes away that awkwardness for some women of having to purchase it every month, and it's just a convenience play. Not only that, I really wanted to have that ability to educate women on the importance of using organic sanitary items, especially when it comes to tampons because most people don't realize this but your large, commercial sanitary brands on the market all contain bleaches, perfumes, toxins and chemicals that are really detrimental to our reproductive health and our overall health. That's why with Her Organics, I was so proud because our products are 100% organic cotton and we don't add anything to them. They're pure, they're healthy, and we're creating a community of women who are proud of their bodies and what we do with them, and what happens to us every month so we can achieve things like reproducing. I've just got so much excitement with this brand because 50% of the population are women. Regardless of what race, background, or walk of life, we all menstruate so we can really have a lot of fun with this brand.

[60:51]
James McKinney: That is awesome. So how long has Her Organics been around?

[60:55]
Mia Plecic: We only launched about seven weeks ago.

[60:57]
James McKinney: Seven weeks ago.

[60:58]
Mia Plecic: Yeah.

[60:59]
James McKinney: So when you approached me for this podcast, it hadn't launched yet.

[61:01]
Mia Plecic: No.

[61:02]
James McKinney: So we've been in talks for about two months maybe.

[61:04]
Mia Plecic: Yeah, a couple months.

[61:05]
James McKinney: Wow, that's incredible. So based on your previous experience, because you have tremendous experience in the e-commerce space, how has this first seven weeks been compared to the other seven weeks? Because now you have benchmarks. I'm assuming you're probably measuring this journey with Pearly Whites-

[61:24]
Mia Plecic: Absolutely, which sometimes I think can be detrimental. Because we grew so fast with Pearly Whites, I have such high standards. So in my head, I'm like if I'm not doing $30,000 revenue a day, I'm failing because that was the benchmark that I set really high, really early. Pearly Whites is a little bit more systemized because I know what I'm doing more so now. I personally have a relatively decent sized community of supporters behind me through social media, who follow my journey in business, who have supported my startups. So that was definitely a bit of a leg up. But at the same time, I love the subscription model. I think that it's so lucrative and it makes me so excited, especially with a product like this because it's a product that us women need. We don't want, we need. I was always very inspired by the Dollar Shave Club model.

[62:15]
James McKinney: It's funny, because as you were speaking, I was thinking to myself for the listeners out there, and maybe the male listeners thinking, but the listeners out there thinking, "Really? Tampon subscription model?" They said the same thing to razors on subscription model. It is a real thing.

[62:30]
Mia Plecic: Worth billions, that company now. I love that story and I thought how can I duplicate that? Because that's one thing in business that I'm so transparent about is I'm no innovator. I'm a visionary and I copy. It's a copycat game and the best copycat wins. Anybody who denies that is really just too naive to admit it. No entrepreneur is really anything different to anyone else. We just have that ability to see a product, how can I manipulate and change that product slightly to create it in my own way or to target a different demographic. That's what I've done over and over again.

[63:04]
James McKinney: you know, it's interesting. I want to support and expand on that statement you just said where entrepreneurs, it's copycats. You take an existing thing and tweak and adjust. For those that are nodding their head like that's crazy, no, there are entrepreneurs that are innovating. Let's talk about Uber. Uber is the taxi business with a slight adjustment.

[63:24]
Mia Plecic: Exactly.

[63:25]
James McKinney: Airbnb, the hoteling business with a slight adjustment. Pick anything out there, for those listening, and think about what its true product or service is, and you will see that it's a slight adjustment from something that's existing.

[63:39]
Mia Plecic: Bumble, Tinder, it's just recreating an existing idea and manipulating it slightly. Whether it's from furniture, bathroom products, everything has been done before. We're just recreating the wheel slightly to make it a little bit different.

[63:52]
James McKinney: That is awesome. From our time together, I am such a huge fan of your snow.

[63:56]
Mia Plecic: Thank you.

[63:58]
James McKinney: Such a huge fan. So there's two questions though, as our time does come to an end, that I ask every single founder. The first one I ask because I truly believe that if we forget the people that have contributed to our journey, we'll reach a point where we think we did it all ourselves. We'll find ourselves isolated and it will inevitably lead to our failure. So when you think back to your 27 year journey, all its ups and downs, highs and lows that you went through, who do you look back and point to with immense gratitude for how they played a role in your story today?

[64:28]
Mia Plecic: The first person I thought of was actually my younger self, but that's only because I'm so grateful that I believed in myself, even after what I went through as a child. I still, for some reason, had the security within myself to believe what I could do. But I would have to say my dad because although he was hesitant in what I did with the rest of my family, this is my mom's husband who came about when I was two who I call my dad, he's my dad to me. I don't know anything else. But he was always very, very supportive of me and believed in what I was doing. He would be the only one in the family that would ring me and say, "How's business?" Mom would ring me and say, "Oh, how's your day going?" She would just kind of skip that very important topic, because she didn't want anything to do with it. Dad has always been really supportive with my journey, definitely.

[65:15]
James McKinney: That is awesome. Second question that I ask all my founders is The Startup Story is like a mentor for those listening. But now, I would like you to speak very specifically to one of the listeners, whether it be the existing entrepreneur who is super frustrated with where they're at, the reluctant entrepreneur who has a book of dreams and isn't sure what to do, or maybe it's the defeated entrepreneur because they've been kicked in the gut, they've had businesses stolen from them, whatever the case may be. They think entrepreneurship is not for them. I would like you to speak directly to one of those three and what would you have to say to them?

[65:50]
Mia Plecic: Well I'm probably more prone to speak to the person who has been defeated and kicked multiple times, because I've been there. What I want to say to you is that your past isn't a definition of your future. It's just making you a stronger person. You're becoming more aware and more educated on the journey that you want to take. I know what it feels like to feel defeated and to feel kicked down, and to feel rock bottom. But I also know what it feels like to feel achieved and feel success, and feel gratitude to the journey.

As hard as it is to remove that white noise of the people around you telling you not to do something, or that you're not good enough to do something, or that you can't do something, you really need to dig deep within yourself and find that self belief. Find that cave within yourself where you can feel secure and nurtured within your own self to be able to execute whatever it is that you want to execute. Because if I can do it, if you can do it, we can all do it.

I'm not saying that I've made it. I haven't made it at all. I have my fair share of hurdles every single day, ups and downs, but I think every entrepreneur does. That's the journey and that's one thing that I really want to paint to the audience today is that social media will paint that you're successful and you're making millions and millions of dollars, but no matter who the entrepreneur is that you look up to, they have days where their cash flow is down. They have days where their business they think is going to have to shut down. But one thing that we all have in common is that we just keep persevering. We keep putting one foot in front of the other and we keep moving forward. You've just got to ride the journey, because entrepreneurship is not easy. It's not a walk in the park. But it's definitely worth it.

[67:35]
James McKinney: Oh, Mia, thank you so very much for being so transparent and sharing with myself, and encouraging me and also our listeners.

[67:44]
Mia Plecic: Pleasure. Thank you so much.

[67:47]
James McKinney: After hearing Mia's story, I have to ask the question how would you have responded in the various positions she found herself? Would you have spent your last $100 to launch a website to try and sell a few units of product you just discovered? Would you have launched two startups immediately after having been removed from your first two startups, within an eight week period? While you take a few moments to think about those questions, let me just say one thing. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because those are not your challenges, they were Mia's. You've heard me say it before but I will say it again. The entrepreneurial journey is not linear, but the threads are what is common among all of us. Those challenges Mia went through are unique to her, and you and I will have our own challenges. What matters is how we respond to those challenges.

The reason I love the startup stories of all of our founders is that it gives each of us a perspective of what entrepreneurs have been through to build their businesses. All we hear about are the incredible success stories, and then when we hit a point of failure, we begin to think that we're alone. That's simply not true. Another reason I love hearing the startup stories of all of our founders is because the common threat in all those moments of incredible challenge and points of failure or obstacles is that it kept moving forward and did not allow those failures to define them, but that they allowed them to grow them and prepare them for the next stage in their journey.

I hope you found real value in Mia's journey and her willingness to be vulnerable and transparent with us. If you've been around The Startup Story for any length of time, then you know how much emphasis I put on the idea that entrepreneurs support other entrepreneurs. Well, I hope you will help support Mia's journey and her new startup, Her Organics. You can do this in a few ways. The first, follow Mia on Instagram @MiaPlecic. Follow her on Instagram. And follow her startup, Her Organics. It's @Her.Organics, again on Instagram. If you're an Australian listener, you can support Mia's startup by subscribing to her organic service at herorganics.com.au. For listeners here in the states and my listeners in the UK, make sure to follow Mia and Her Organics on Instagram as she hopes to bring her organics to the US and UK in the next few months. Stay connected with her there on Instagram. Entrepreneurs support other entrepreneurs, so let's make sure we show Mia some support for the value she brought us today.

And now, for my personal ask. The Startup Story community has been so incredible with sharing our podcast with others, but we have more stories to tell and more people to reach. We are a startup and the most powerful way you can support The Startup Story podcast is to leave a review on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcast. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @TheStartupStory.co. Share The Startup Story on your social media, either with a link or a screenshot. Make sure you tag or mention us @TheStartupStory.co so we can see your help and say thank you for it.

Lastly, share the podcast on your LinkedIn profile. The Startup Story is for entrepreneurs, so please do not underestimate the power of sharing The Startup Story on your LinkedIn profile so other entrepreneurs can discover us. In fact, most people struggle to share good content on LinkedIn anyways, so if you want to support The Startup Story then search for The Startup Story company page, follow us, and share our posts to help encourage other founders and spread the word about the podcast. Every single founder has a story, and the startup stories we bring you every week can encourage and inspire another founder. It might just be what they needed to hear to keep moving forward on their dreams. I look forward to sharing these stories every Tuesday with hopes to inspire you to start YOUR story.

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May 07 2019
Mia Plecic, founder of Her Organics

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