Sramana Mitra: What about your team? What kind of team did you need to make this happen?
Griffin Thall: Right now, we have about 40 employees. Everyone is an amazing team member. They are creative and hardworking. A lot of our experienced team members have come from other surf brands or apparel brands.
We hired them so that they could bring their 10 to 30 years of experience into Pura Vida. We have a mix of that type of staff. We also have the younger staff that have graduated from college.
Sramana Mitra: Talk to me about the trajectory again. In 2010, it was just you and your partner?
Griffin Thall: Yes.
Sramana Mitra: You got to $750,000 with just the two of you?
Griffin Thall: We had a couple of people helping us with shipping and organizing the office.
Sramana Mitra: Where were you doing this?
Griffin Thall: San Diego.
Sramana Mitra: How did you scale the team? Where did you bring in new people and, in what function, and at what point in the history of the company? Talk about the team building.
Griffin Thall: We hired people to help out with shipping, fulfillment, customer service, and social media. It grew to graphic designers, product designers, supply chain, operations, wholesale VP, directors of the sales team, support of sales rep underneath them, and global sales representatives around the US.
We’ve hired a director of finance from Tiffany’s. He has tons of experience working for a public jewelry brand. He’s brought a ton of value to us. From entry-level to C-level employee, we definitely have a rock solid team right now.
Sramana Mitra: What is the plan? Are you trying to go public? Why are you bringing in the CFO?
Griffin Thall: We were acquired last year by a company called Vera Bradley. They are a handbag company based out of Indiana.
Sramana Mitra: What do they do?
Griffin Thall: They valued our company at $130 million. They acquired 75% of it. My business partner and I still own the remaining 25% of the business.
Sramana Mitra: You got a partial exit and you got some equity, but you are still running the show with 25% of the company. What else is interesting in the story that you would like to share? What else did you do as part of the journey that is interesting and might be worth discussing in this case study?
Griffin Thall: We’ve taken about 800 artisans out of poverty and given them full-time jobs. They make the bracelets by hand for us. We raise awareness for charity through different bracelets and jewelry items on our website.
For example, if someone buys a bracelet or a ring, a percentage could go to that charity. Since 2010, we’ve donated $2.5 million to our charity partners and we are very proud of that.
Sramana Mitra: Where are the artisans that you work with?
Griffin Thall: The majority of them are in El Salvador, Central America.
Sramana Mitra: The majority of them are in El Salvador? Why is that?
Griffin Thall: We started the brand in Costa Rica and the two artisans that we started with have scaled their operations between Costa Rica and El Salvador. They are Costa Rican by descent and they have scaled their operations to support the demands by expanding to El Salvador.
Sramana Mitra: I see. So your entire production happens from Joaquin and Jorge’s company. It’s not like you are working with hundreds of artisans yourselves. Jorge and Joaquin have an operation that they have scaled in Costa Rica and El Salvador and you basically source from them. Very interesting. Congratulations!