It’s always pretty cool to see your product on TV. So when Roastar customer K9 Mask® appeared on Shark Tank recently, we thought it would be fun to sit down and talk packaging and hear about their entrepreneurial journey, and Kirby Holmes was kind enough to do so.
OK, Shark Tank. Congratulations! And how cool was that?
What a remarkable experience to go from an idea to a product to a pandemic to jumping in the Tank. What a wild experience for us. Things weren’t looking too good at first but it all came together at the end.
Yeah, that was a blast to watch. So, let’s back up. What led you to Roastar?
We talked to some entrepreneurs who said, “If you wait until you get your product and packaging exactly right, it’s going to be too late. Just get going, see if you can sell it, package it however you can, and see if you can make sales.” We kind of took that approach with packaging in the beginning. We might not have had the right packaging to start with but we needed something. We just bought clear acetate bags and printed two card inserts. We were just going to a local print shop and printing 8 ½ by 11 sheets and I’d sit there at the printer and cutter myself and just cut out however many inserts we needed at the time. They took time and they were just ok.
Being a new product we had to explain a lot and we had to be clear. We thought those inserts would give us the flexibility to keep updating the information, but when we looked at the labor it was taking to print, cut, and mailing the inserts and bags to where the masks were being produced, we realized we were paying too much for packaging. If we wanted to turn a profit, then packaging couldn’t cost too much.
So, I would be searching for packaging companies online, and Roastar came up pretty high in my search engine, so I found you pretty easily. Then I learned more about Roastar and I realized we could do smaller runs, 100 if needed, and that was a big plus. They also made it super clear that if I did 5,000 or 10,000 I’d get that price break I need, which makes our cost of goods sold go down and we could make more profit with a better package. So price benefit and volume breaks were both extremely helpful.
How about the bag design process?
I had to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator to upload the artwork, but as an entrepreneur, I am willing to break down barriers and learn what I need to in order to keep my business going.
To be honest, it was a little intimidating at first, but if I screwed anything up on the design I got immediate help from Roastar.
Do you know about Roastar’s Designer Showcase where we can hook you up with a designer for your packaging?
I did not, but now I do! Man, if you guys can say, “Hey you can skip Fiverr or skip whatever other designer outsource, because we can do that for you here,” then that is great for companies like ours.
What role does packaging play for K9® Mask?
One of the things we were asked after being on Shark Tank was how retail ready is our product? Is it shelf ready? Can it stand on a shelf? Can it hang on a peg? Do you have UPC codes? Product weight? USA regulations? With Roastar, we had everything we needed. We were retail ready. These were things we did not need out of the gate when we were just making the product and selling it on our website, but when the time came, we were prepared.
What did you think when you held the Roastar bags in your hand for the first time?
Well, first we realized that our old acetate bags seemed to hold one’s finger slime and juice more, haha. I know that’s a weird thing to say, but they also crinkled and crunched and didn’t hold up well. By the time we shipped those they got bent in the mail, too.
Compared to our new bags from Roastar where I was like, “Oh man, it feels great.” You can bend the material and mess with it and it holds its shape, which makes for a much better presentation from inventory all the way to the customer.
What I love about Roastar’s stand-up pouch, too, is we can do a clear window. When we started we just had the color blue, but customers were always asking if we did different colors. At first, that sounded like a lot of extra work and inventory, but we were able to move away from just putting colored stickers on our bags and not change anything about the packaging while showcasing all five of our colors. It’s a cool feature for us specifically because the color through the clear window on the packaging became a spot on the dog.
So the new packaging made a difference?
We believe the level of professionalism in the packaging speaks to the quality of the product inside, and therefore the level of someone’s emotional expectation is increased. When they open up a well-designed package, and they’re pulling out that product, they’re already psychologically anticipating that this is going to be good. Poor packaging makes whatever is inside not as cool and lower quality.
How would you describe the Roastar experience to other entrepreneurs?
Well, we just did another order for 17,000 bags. I’m thankful to have found a packaging partner that allows me to grow my business, to allows short runs, and increases the quality of my packaging, which is all about my customer experience. In the end, they are helping me to be profitable because they are lowering the cost of packaging for us.
Thanks for taking the time to hang with us, Kirby, and good luck to K9 Mask® moving forward! We’ll be watching our TV for your next appearance!