Allison Moss on her Type:A’s mission to create high-performance body care without compromising on clean ingredients
Describe your business in a few words?
Here at Type:A, we’re on a mission to help people lead healthier lives. We create high-performance deodorant and body care that makes it easy to switch to clean, better-for-you products.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I knew a truly better deodorant with stellar performance and safe ingredients was absolutely possible; it just needed to be created. On my own personal journey into using safer products, I naturally made clean-beauty swaps in my daily routine. When I decided to switch to a natural deodorant, I tried dozens of them, but each and every one was a disappointment. With my background of 20+ years working in product marketing in the beauty industry, I had an idea to build a better deodorant that really worked. So I engaged a freelance chemist, took a leap of faith, and never looked back. We started this brand with a high-performing aluminum-free deodorant and have grown into more bodycare categories more recently where we truly bring a better performing product to our consumers.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I’ve spent my career working in the beauty industry, focused on brand and product marketing. At the start, I worked with mainstream brands like MAC Cosmetics, Lancôme and L’Oreal Paris, and more recently I’ve shifted to work with smaller brands that have a clean or natural focus, including Jurlique and Beautycounter.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I think I’m what some would call an “accidental” entrepreneur. I didn’t have my sights set on it early on in my career, but I saw a deficit in the category and an opportunity to do something better… I couldn’t ignore that.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
When we first launched, we were small and scrappy… what you might call “grassroots” in the early days! We leaned on friends and family to help us spread the word. We also took to rolling up our sleeves and cold calling (or cold emailing) any editor who would talk to us, to get our story out there. The feedback and support we received was incredible. We also were extremely fortunate to partner with Credo Beauty, the leaders in clean beauty standards with the largest assortment of clean beauty products, as our exclusive retail partner just one month after we launched our DTC business. Their partnership helped to put us on the map as a leader in the aluminum-free deodorant category.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
Being an entrepreneur is not easy. We know that. Of course there have been struggles along the way, but I really see each challenge as a growing pain and always come out the other side with more knowledge, more passion, and motivation to keep going. One of our biggest challenges early on was in manufacturing. I leaned on advisors in my network for guidance on planning production and inventory management. So I figured I was in pretty good shape when we launched. But as the business took off, it turns out we still weren’t quite well enough prepared. Three months after we launched, we ran out of product and were out of stock for a painful 3 weeks. The lessons learned during that stock-out helped us prepare and stay in stock for the remainder of the year.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
In all honesty, I’m proud of how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time. We created a product that helps people make a simple positive change in their life – discovering a clean deodorant they love using, that really works with zero tradeoffs. We’ve sold over 600,000 tubes of deodorant since we launched – that’s really incredible when I think about it.
We’ve been extremely fortunate since launch with positive accolades from customers, press, and even celebrity fans. One big highlight early on was when Ashley Graham posted about her favorite deodorant which happens to be Type:A, talk about an incredibly exciting surprise!
We’ve also had some great industry recognition in the clean beauty category winning 3 Clean Beauty media awards including Self Magazine, Health Magazine and Women’s Health Magazine. Additionally I was honored the last two years in a row as one of THE 100 MOST INTRIGUING ENTREPRENEURS by Goldman Sachs.
So I guess you could say there are a few things I’m really proud of!
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
I like to ask potential candidates to walk me through their day. The amount of detail someone provides really gives me good insight as to what kind of employee they will be. How strategic are they? Do they have a passion for the details? What kind of relationship do they build with their direct and cross-functional teams? These are all important qualities I consider in addition to the direct skills needed for the role itself.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
We had started the year with all of our efforts focused on retail expansion. When COVID hit, people simply weren’t wandering the aisles, lingering to discover new products. Also fun fact in 2020 – deodorant usage was down double digits. People weren’t leaving their houses, they were staying in pajamas all day, they weren’t partaking in the same routines (gym, nights out, even hygienic routines 😉 as they were previously. However, seeing what was happening in March and April of last year, we pivoted quickly to revise our strategy. We pulled forward product development to launch new products in high-demand categories like hand sanitizer, bar soap and hand cream to support our online channels, and we expanded retail partnerships to ensure our products are available where people are shopping, with strong regional partners like Meijer and HEB, and national online partners like Thrive Market and Walmart.com. These pivots started nearly a year ago now have paid off. We’ve had incredible momentum these past few months and are seeing sales up to 2x over goal with many partners.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Category expansion! It’s already started with the launch of our new Probiotic Bar Soap just a few months ago. We’re continuing to bring new innovation to the body care category. We’re focused on keeping your whole body clean and protected.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
One of the biggest lessons I learned early on in my career, which really rose to the top for me in 2020 is “get comfortable being uncomfortable”. 2020 was a year of never knowing what was coming and what was going to happen… we had to be comfortable making changes to our roadmap, pivoting our marketing focus, and in some cases just “waiting things out”.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Know your unit economics and plan for volatility. Nothing is forever. You can be achieving amazing CPA’s one week, and horrific ones the next. Always have several model scenarios to get to profitability, have a backup plan and be ready to make quick shifts.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
I have two small children which helps in this area. As a brand founder, it’s hard to find time to be with them all day, so I find pockets of time where I completely disconnect and focus only on them. Even if it’s 15 minutes… 15 minutes of dedicated time helps to keep our hearts happy and our feet on the ground.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
For a while I’ve believed that with today’s technology and blurred boundaries, we have to redefine work/life balance. It used to be that you come home from your 9-5 job (or 8-6!), turn off work and be present for your family. What I think is realistic and what I practice (most days) is setting shorter boundaries that involve putting a phone down and away, so I’m not accidentally looking at it (often without realizing). Phones down from dinner through kid’s bedtime, for example, is one rule we practice. Sometimes we fall off the wagon, and we simply recognize that and get back on.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I once sang on stage during the Kennedy Center Honors! To be clear, I’m not a professional singer, I love being on stage but am better suited to a business panel or presentation. I was in a chorus as part of an honor for Neil Diamond. It was an incredible experience.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
1) The two-minute rule. If something (usually an email task) can be completed in less than 2 minutes, don’t leave it to linger. Get it done that minute. This avoids a growing long list of small items that can be overwhelming and slow down productivity.
2) A solid to-do list… identifying the “can’t go to bed before this” list helps me prioritize throughout the day and ensure I don’t get side-tracked on other things in the business which can be so tempting.
3) But first… coffee!
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being an Entreprenista, while it wasn’t initially my career goal, has allowed me the amazing opportunity of being part of a community of women striving to do better, make small positive changes to our world. It’s not an easy journey to embark on. But having a network of support, all working toward a common goal is truly a tremendous inspiration. And I hope that I can be inspiring as well; sharing my voice and business to help others learn from our story and inspire new Entreprenistas for years to come.