Meet the Entreprenista duo, Lindsey Johnson and Liz Eichholz, making Weezie towels the hottest product of 2021
Lindsey Johnson and Liz Eichholz sit down with us to share how their desire for higher quality, accessible towels led them to create Weezie towels, why they are critical of the idea of “having it all”, and why resisting traditional advice can pay off.
Describe your business in a few words?
Weezie is redefining modern luxury, making towels and robes worth celebrating.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
The idea for what ultimately became Weezie came several years ago: Liz had recently gotten married, bought a new home in Savannah (upgrading from a tiny NYC apartment!), and was on the hunt for fresh towels. Unfortunately, the process proved to be frustrating and overwhelming: the jargon was confusing, quality was unpredictable, and embroidery options were archaic. What should have been a joyful experience really fell flat.
Liz approached Lindsey about the idea while she was in business school. In talking with others, it quickly became clear there was a gap in the market for a go-to, luxury bath towel brand. A year and a half of customer research and product development later, we launched Weezie in October 2018.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Liz: I graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in graphic design, and I started my career on the in-house creative team at UncommonGoods.com. I later moved on to become the first Creative Director at BDG Media (Bustle.com and Romper.com).
Lindsey: I attended Vanderbilt University and imagined a career for myself in the finance world. Prior to launching Weezie, I worked in a variety of roles at Morgan Stanley, BlackRock and a hedge fund. I then went on to Columbia Business School with the plan of going into Venture Capital before Liz approached me with the idea for Weezie.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Liz: While at UncommonGoods, I was bit by the entrepreneurial bug and launched my first company as a side hustle, selling embroidered sleep masks @Tempe Rowe. I’ve always dreamed of running my own company and feel so fortunate to be living that dream with Weezie.
Lindsey: I became fascinated by early stage consumer businesses while working at the hedge fund and began angel investing in the space. I really thought I wanted to go into Venture Capital, but it quickly became clear I really wanted to be an operator. Looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way! Though not without its fair share of challenges, being an entrepreneur is an incredibly rewarding experience.
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?
Locking down launch day press was a top priority for us. We didn’t have the resources to invest in a big PR agency, so we got scrappy and pounded the (virtual) pavement ourselves, emailing editors and introducing them to our brand… and it paid off! Elizabeth Segran’s Fast Company article on launch day undoubtedly contributed to a successful launch, and we’re so grateful.
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?
This is tough – we truly feel like we are making mistakes and facing challenges on a daily basis! That said, we’ve established a mantra for ourselves and our business and that’s to trust our gut. Nobody knows your business (or situation, or problem, etc.) as well as you do. While you can certainly lean on others for counsel, there is no “playbook” and at the end of the day your gut will usually lead you to the right answer. There are several situations in which we have looked back and realized we were ignoring red flags. Fortunately, as time goes on, we’re getting more and more confident in trusting our intuition and making the best decisions for Weezie accordingly.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
On October 9th, 2020 our business turned two years old. Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined being where we are today in just over two years! We are so proud of the team and culture we’ve built and can’t wait to see what year 3 brings.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
Preserving our culture has been of utmost importance as we’ve scaled our team. Early on, we defined a set of values in collaboration with our entire team, and tailor interview questions to assess how those values resonate with a candidate. Questions vary candidate to candidate but we’re always sure to test for a customer first mentality, resourcefulness and a “can-do” attitude. Additionally, each candidate meets with multiple members of the team, even those with whom he/she might not directly work, to really get a robust view of fit.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
The pandemic altered nearly every aspect of our business: from operations to marketing, product development, human resources and more. From sourcing raw material and manufacturing towels in Portugal to customizing products and fulfilling orders out of our Savannah warehouse, the operational impacts have been profound.
We’ve had to make changes that allow us to be more flexible and nimble so that we can continue to deliver the best possible product and experience for our customers. On the marketing side, we dreamed up creative ways to engage our audience in the absence of in-person events. We leaned into social media and digital extensions of our brand: even meeting with Weezie loyalists for virtual coffees! Like so many other companies, internal changes were significant, as well: our corporate team has been 100% remote for nearly a year.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
There are so many more fun things to come from Weezie in 2021 and beyond – we truly feel this is only the beginning! Wherever we go next, we aim to continue to bring moments of everyday delight to our customers – one towel or robe at a time
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
2020 taught us to be more nimble, flexible and efficient. We made and unmade plans more times than we can count, and have learned how to do more with less. At the end of the day, we’re grateful for lessons in flexibility and resourcefulness, and are hopeful that these experiences will allow direct-to-consumer businesses like ours to emerge from this period better prepared for a successful future.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
We both wish we had known that it’s ok for our path not to look exactly like other direct-to-consumer companies’. Every time we have gone against advice or done something entirely different than a company we have admired, it ended up paying off. In the beginning, it was really easy to get caught up in advice from other people and think there was a certain way to do things. Now we are more and more confident at looking at our company, our values, our brand pillars and paving our own path.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Liz: Putting my phone DOWN. It’s so easy to be constantly sucked into your phone whether it’s work, texts, instagram. I’m working really hard on focusing on one thing at a time and being intentional with my phone use!
Lindsey: Admittedly, it used to be very hard for me to “turn off,” but now that we have a baby (and one more on the way!) I have to stop working when the nanny leaves! I have also been going on walks as much as I can – it’s a great way to unwind and get some good thinking done.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
The old school notion of “having it all” is a bit delusional, and can put unnecessary pressure on women. Sure, there are some days when things click and everything is perfectly in balance between work, family, friends, wellbeing, etc. Other (most) days, not so much, and that’s okay. It’s important to define what having it all means to YOU, and then give yourself some patience and grace as you work towards that.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
Liz: I love to paint, however, these days I never seem to be able to find the time! When I was in college at University of Georgia, I was in the art school and minored in painting.
Lindsey: People always perceive me as confident, but many times it’s just a front! I definitely suffer from imposter syndrome.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
Own your to- do list. Keep it front and center…on your calendar, in a notebook, wherevest is most accessible for you.
Block out periods for deep focus / concentration. Turn off your notifications and get a great playlist or podcast going.
Take a walk! Fresh air is our go-to whenever thinking through a project or needing some inspiration.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Liz: It’s a huge responsibility–we have people’s livelihoods in our hands–and at the same time, it’s one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Getting to dream something up and then go build it has been amazing. This is something I try to remember during some of the more trying times.
Lindsey: I think it’s more of a mentality than anything else – working hard, not being afraid of failure, maintaining resilience, etc.