When faced with global supply chain issues during the pandemic, many businesses reduced their product offering. Direct-to-consumer women’s health company Stix not only expanded its product offering but grew its team and raised venture capital. Its cofounder, Cynthia Plotch, shares how she did it.
At Stix, we’re all about empowering confident health decisions. What we wanted to do from the get-go was listen to our customers and build what they actually need. This is a theme that has come up for us throughout this pandemic: listening to our customers and pivoting, listening and pivoting, and listening and pivoting.
We had, like everybody else, many supply chain complications during this pandemic. There were two big ones. The first was port delays. We have a great supply chain team and operations director. We were able to airship some things and work with suppliers to do batches of small quantities. While these aren’t long-term solutions, we’re talking about critical products, things that people need.
The second big challenge we faced was Covid-related shutdowns in our factories and our warehouse, either because of labor shortages or Covid exposures. You can’t just not get your yeast infection treatment. We had to get creative. We had to push launch dates back. We had to change pack sizes of certain products to ensure that we were able to get everybody things that they need all while prioritizing worker safety.
Looking to the future, there are still so many unknowns when it comes to the pandemic, global economies and the supply chain. But the core things that we’ve learned over the past year and a half will help us navigate any new challenges that come our way: having the right people on our team, being nimble, listening and pivoting, and really paying attention to our customers and solving their actual problems.
Throughout all of these challenges, we did a lot. In 2021 alone, we launched into the vaginal health category with yeast infection and UTI products. In addition to growing our product offering, we built our entire team of nine during the pandemic, which means for a long time everybody we hired we’d only ever met on Zoom. We raised $5 million. We had our customers and our revenue grow exponentially during this time. We became a necessity product distributed in a necessity way.
The most important takeaway from our experience is really to be nimble and to focus on your customer. They’ll tell you what they need and they’ll show you what they need. Businesses are really just here to solve problems for people. By listening, by pivoting, by being nimble, that’s the best way to be able to do that. —As told to Elana Lyn Gross
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