FTG 0001 - From Side Hustle to Main Gig: Launching Redoux with Asia Grant '17

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Guest Bio:

In this debut episode, we chat with Asia Grant ‘17 Bus, the founder and creative director of Redoux, a cosmetics company in Philadelphia, PA where she oversees growing the brand. Prior to founding Redoux, she worked as a user experience designer and research for IBM and then Capco in New York, NY. She earned a BS in marketing with Honors from Penn State’s Smeal College of Business in 2017. She is happy to connect with Scholars to discuss branding, marketing strategy, entrepreneurship, and design. Asia served as the President of the Scholar Alumni Society from 2019-2021.

Episode Specifics:

Asia shares great advice and insight on:

• The Presidential Leadership Academy and making the most of the Honors College as Scholar starting in their third year

• The importance of connecting with faculty and using your thesis post-graduation

• Transferring skills from a corporate role to a start-up including time management

• Advice when taking the plunge of going full-time on a side-hustle

• Getting involved as an alumni volunteer

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Credits & Notes:

This content is available in text form here. 

This show is hosted, produced, and edited by Sean Goheen ‘11 Lib (Schreyer). 

The sound effect is “Chinese Gong,” accessed via SoundBible used unde r Creative Commons License. 

The theme music is “Conquest” by Geovane Bruno, accessed via Pixabay and us ed under Creative Commons License.

Greeting scholars and welcome to following the Gong, a podcast of the Shire Honors College at Penn State. Following the gone takes you inside conversations with our scholar alumni to hear their story so you can gain career in life advice and it spanned your professional network. You can hear the true bread of how schollar alumni have gone on to shape the world after they rind the gone and graduated with honors, and learn from their experiences so you can use their insights in your own journey. This show is proudly sponsored by the Scholar Alumni Society, the constituent group of the Penn State Alumni Association. I'm your host, Shawan Goheen, class of two thousand and eleven, and college staff member. If this is your first time joining us, welcome. If you're a regular listener, welcome back. In this debut episode, reach out with Asia grant, class of two thousand and seventeen, the founder and creative director of Redo, a cosmetics company based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she oversees growing the brand. Prior to founding Redo, she worked as a user experience designer and researcher for IBM and then Capco in New York. New York, she earned to bs some marketing with honors from Penn State's Meal College of business in two thousand and seventeen. She's happy to connect with scholars to distress branding, marketing strategy, entrepreneurship and design. Asia also served as the president of the Stolar Alumni Society for in two thousand and nineteen to two thousand and twenty one. In our conversation today, Asia shares great advice and insight on the Presidential Leadership Academy and making the most of the honors college as a third year admitted scholar, the importance of connecting with faculty and using your thesis post graduation, transferring skills from a corporate role to a start up, including time management, advice when taking the plunge of going full time on a side hustle and getting involved as an alumni volunteer. Now let's dive into our conversation with Asia Grant. Thank you for joining me today. Asia. I'd love if we could just start out a little bit what you currently are doing at Redo. If you can walk us through a little bit about your company and what exactly you know you're working on there. Sure, my pleasure to be here. It's funny because radio was started with another scholar alum. So I was even contemplating. I was like should I have him guest appear? And I was like no, that'll be too complicated. But some context around Redo. I started a passion project with my best friend back in two thousand and nineteen. I just graduated. I was like two years out of school and he just graduated, was taking a gap year in between his PhD program and graduation, and we were both kind of like, we're living these corporate lives, we're going to love these corporate lives. Maybe let's just start a side project together so we have a reason to speak to each other every single week before we get way too busy. So we started Redo, which was very type a scholar of us, and we wanted to create a skincare company, since something that we had a shared love for when we were at school was skincare. We wanted to focus specifically on scent because of the emotional ties to how people relate to, send interact with scent and how it's really based around nostalgia. So we're we've just turned to this pastial I I actually quit my full time job last October to pursue reading full time because it was such an explosive year for us. So now that we are technically in our third year, a lot of the stuff that I do is the sales and marketing side. A lot of the creative direction, all of the partnerships and just building out with the brand vision is overall. So it's been a lot of fun working on that full time. Definitely exciting and for anybody listening, we recorded this in August of two thousand...

...and twenty one. So helped you get the timeline right there. But I want to go back a little bit further Asia and was this something that was always something you wanted to do or, as you talked about, was it something that's kind of crept up? What did what brought you to pend state originally? Sure, so there's there's two questions that are the first one was was this always something I wanted to do? I think from you're a young age, I knew that I wanted something that I could call my own. When I was very, very little. I wanted my own hotel, I wanted my own art gallery. There were all of these different little projects that I wanted to be able to just do an own because I love seeing the creative process from beginning to end. And when I was at Penn State, I was when we were going to the career fairs and talking to talking to potential employers. Everything felt very overly structure for me. Not that the jobs or internships were bad, but I always wanted to do more. So I felt like entrepreneurship was something I was always interested in. I just didn't know how that would manifest, but I was always looking for friends to start little projects with and say like, Oh, you know, we should try this out, or we should go over here, we should talk to this person. So I think it's always been something that I was eventually going to get to. Corporate Job was absolutely not for me. It's definitely purposeful and necessary and I appreciate both of my corporate jobs to help me get to where I am now, but for the long term it was not within my cards. How did I get to Penn State? It was so I'm a Pennsylvania native. I grew up here in Westchester, Pennsylvania. Penn state was, to be honest, a fall back school of mine. I thought I want I was thought I was going to go to Harvard or Stanford, got rejected from all of those schools. Emotionally devastated it. Got Into Penn State and realize I was like, okay, if I'm if I'm looking at school as a means of of an experience, what do I want to get out of this experience? I didn't really care for the party scene. I didn't really like care for the social side, which now I realize, yes, you absolutely did, but I really wanted to see or like go to a university that cared about like who I was after I left, not just the four years while I was there. So Penn state became my top pick just because of the alumni network, tied to the rigorous nature of the of the curriculum. I wasn't a scholar when I first came in, but those were the two reasons. I was like, there's an alumni network here that wants to support me after I leave. I know the only way that I will be successful in life is based on the people who I am connected with, because at the end of the day, your network is your net worth. So that's why and how I ended up at Penn State. So when you were here, I know that one of the choices you made was to apply for, and you were ultimately accepted into, the Presidential Leadership Academy, or the PLA. Could you tell us a little bit about your experience and for any maybe prospective or current first year scholars who are listening to this, why they should consider applying for that and for maybe current PLA students, how they can make the most of their time in the PLA? Sure the way I heard about PLA I was actually nominated by my academic advisor. She said that it would be something that would be really suited for and funny enough, someone else actually applied, whose name was also Asia, and through the application process I think there was like something that went wrong and our applications got switched, so I technically did not get a first interview with PLA, which was crazy to me. I was like I also had another company that I started my freshman year and I like wrote about that during my application. They said, we're sorry, like we're not interested at this time, and I met some other people in PLA and they they essentially like went to bad for me and they're like...

...who, like, why didn't Asia get in, like she should at least have an interview. So there's like this whole thing, and this is kind of one of my life mantras where it's like the the squeaky wheel gets the oil. If there's something that you don't think is right, if you speak up, it's probably going to work in your favor. So I ended up getting an interview and then got into PLA and then realize that the people around me most I was not a scholar at that point. I think about half of us weren't scholars in the other half were scholars, and I was just so impressed. I was like this is the most diverse group of intellectuals I've ever met and I kind of had a moment of dissonance because I was like, Oh, I'm also here, so I guess I also fall into this category. But I think my favorite part of PLA was just hearing how passionate people were about the work that they did that was so different from mine. I'm still very close with a lot of the individuals that I went to or that was part of my pela graduation class, as well as one below me in the one above me and two years above me as well. But I think the best thing to get out of it is just connecting with people on not an academic level, because it's just the way and I think that's what brought PLA, brought us together and PLA. It's just the way that we think so many different ways that people are able to kind of get to the places where they are. So I don't think I ever like had truly academic conversations with my pla or we talked about like weird, esoteric things that we all enjoy or that we personally enjoy. I think one of the last conversations I had with someone from my Pala class was how they went on a trip through Chila and got like tricked into like doing this weird tour that they then had to sleep in a tent, and then how that allowed them to reconnect with one of their like fifth cousins. Like very strange lives that we all live, but I think that's what made it special. And then, you know, I want to go back a minute into our conversation, since we took a little bit of a detour to talk about the Plam. You made a comment about the power of alumni and that got me thinking about really networking and I know that it's a key part of your origin story as a scholar. I know because we have a we go back a little bit, so I've heard this story, but if you could just trying to maybe rehash it for me on how you came to, you know, decide to apply and begin your journey in the Honors College? Sure, yes, and I will be one hundred percent transparent to everyone here, because I've been saying this more and more frequently, just to give credit where credit is due. All of my success, yes, I work very hard and there's a lot of luck, but all of my success and all of the opportunities I've been fortunate enough to receive is because of my network and someone saying, Hey, I think age would be good for this. So with that, related to the Honors College, in high school there was a girl who was, I was a freshman and she was a senior and she went to Penn State and was in smeal similarly to me, and then when I came to penn state as a freshman, she was a senior and she had gone through the process of entering the college or, yes, entering the college as a third year. And everyone's like you're going to follow in Marquis footsteps and I was like no, I'm not, but she essentially paved the way for me to be able to get into the Honors College. Kind of grooved being coached me. I was originally accepted into the finance major just because my GPA allowed for it. I thought I wanted to do finance. I thought I wanted to go to Goldman Sachs. Then I met with the honors Advisor for finance and I remember one of my favorite classes my freshman year was marketing three hundred and one. After...

...my first class with my professor, who was Dr Coopeland, I went to her class. I gave her my business card and I was like I love this class so much. Marketing makes so much sense to me, and we just kept in touch from that point on and I went to her when I was considering applying to shryer and she was like you should absolutely do it. I'm part of the committee that chooses who is accepted through smeal and let's just work on your on your thesis like proposal together, because we will essentially most likely work on your thesis if you get into the Honors College. So she was the second person to brew me to help me get into shryre and then was ultimately my thesis advisor for what I actually went through the process of writing it. So I think that's a perfect tea Asia, if you can then dive into what that thesis was once you were, you know, accepted into the college and delved into the more academic side of marketing. Sure, so I'll be completely transparent again. I was very intimidated by the thesis because I didn't really understand what it was. From the business side of writing a thesis, it looks very different than say, the engineering side or the medical side, because it's more of nebulous thing where you can explore whatever you want. That's how Dr Coupland explained it to me. She's like, you can either find something new or you can do like an amalgamation of existing research to then kind of define it under a new concept, which is what I did. So mine was the typology of cuteness. I wanted to see the different and explore the different dimensions around the concept of what cute actually is from a physical and emotional attribute standpoint, and I looked at that through the lens of packaging design and packaging design specifically within the cosmetic industry. In Korea. So it's very different than how Western beauty standards are, where it's very chic and luxury and bright and shiny. Think you know your Air Mez, your Chanel's, your goyards, versus how it's done in eastern beauty cultures, which is very cute. They do collaborations with like Disney or even like these animated television series, but it's still marketed towards adults and and different ages. So I really wanted to get an understanding of why people emotionally invest and how the different categories of cute, whether it's like baby cute or like whimsical, cheeky cute or like more esthetically clean and chic cute, these are all different types of communicating without actually using any words, just using visual cues to elicit a certain response in a customers. So that's what my thesis was about and I still use it to this day as it relates to my company, because packaging design is something that affects a lot of people, which they don't realize, but a lot of people assign a lot of personal identity in the things that they purchase. If they took the time to kind of just like look around and see all the things they buy in questions like Oh, why did I buy that? Like what did it make me feel like when I when I saw it on the shelf? So it's it's a lot of fun. Could you give maybe a little bit more of an in depth explanation on maybe some kind of standard item that maybe students who are listening to this might identify with? Let me think they're let's think about the very classic example would be apple versus Samsung. So if you look at an apple product versus Samsung product and how they present themselves to the world as a brand and who the person is that purchases those products, there's definitely like very clear delineations, at least from the marketing...

...standpoint. If you're purchasing an apple product, you're more inclined to design, your more inclined to creative freedom, you're a little bit more rebellious, you're a little bit more free form, Silicon Valley type, like open, creative, versus a Samsung product, which is a little bit more direct, aggressive, you might have a little bit more technical knowledge. It's very funny because you'll see a lot of like basketball references. It's relate to like android products, but that's that's essentially the the delineation. The the Samsung products are a little bit more rigid and structured and direct and aggressive and even if, in their like design it's a little bit darker, versus the apple products, which are lighter, more open, airy and creative leaning. Fantastic. I think that's definitely one that a lot of us no, specially as I sit here talking to you through an apple macbook, and so I can relate to that and I hope our listeners can as well. So you wrote this thesis and we'll dive back a little bit into your Undergrad experience later in our conversation, but I want to move forward. So you graduate and can you share a little bit about your first couple of rolls outside of graduating before you took the plunge into your own startup? Sure, so, straight off school, and I'll go actually a little bit back into my senior year, I had no idea what I wanted to do and when you're in the business school and have no idea what you want to do, everyone tells you to be a consultant. So I went the whole consulting route of let me study for my case studies. Let me, you know, put together all of this like rigorous forming around. Okay, this, so I need to interview this, how I need to actually like present my ideas. This is how I make a pitch deck as it relates to any type of like business analysis work. And my first job was at IBM and I was placed in essentially what was an internal creative agency at IBM, and they're in their consulting arm. So we would have companies come to us and pitched us like, okay, this, this is the issue around what's happening with my business, whether it's around the brand or whether around it. It was around like business operations, and it was our job to essentially do like very design intensive work and essentially pitch them a new way of like doing business or solving their problem. So I was actually chosen for that program because there's only about like thirty or forty of us because of my thesis research. So I was placed in the user experience design role, where it was my job to kind of get an understanding of how people interact with digital products and why they made the choice of that they did when using it. So making sure that when, for example, if you have an APP like if you need to play an order, what is the natural behavior around placing an order? Doesn't make sense to them? What's a way to make it easier? It's very niche and granular, but tied back to what my my specialty was, through my my thesis in the research I did with marketing and like consumer behavior, was that IBM. For about a year I was working on a lot of kind of like operational and like telecom telecom company projects, which wasn't my favorite. I wanted to get into something that was a little bit more related to one of my other passions, which was finance, since I said I previously wanted to be a finance major. So I left IBM, which a smaller consulting firm called CAPCO, and they specialize in financial consulting. So their clients are like Morgan Stanley and Goldman, Sachs, JP Morgan. So I thought it would be a great way to kind of combine my two interests. There I specialized even more so, rather...

...than the overall prospect of user experience design, where you're actually like building the APPS, I was just in user experience research. So I would be conducting user interviews, getting an understanding of what people's pain points are, what their problems are, writing usability reports on products that were already developed and giving designers and developers directions of how they could better improve the product to make sure that is more usable for the end user based on how they are already interacting and what other things they need to consider building out in terms of functionalities and user stories. So I was there for about two years and while I was at the job is when I started Redo. But I was really only in corporate life for about three years before I took the plunge into my own business. So you're at these roles and you know you decide to take the plunge, how do you still use the stills that you do all in those corporate settings in you know, I think you could probably use a startup or maybe even the term Boutique, as you're growing, to describe your business. How do you leverage those learnings in your current role? Yeah, I would even say like micro business. And when people are like start up, blahball, I was just like we are like super tiny, super super tiny. But there's very basic business skills that I think you learn from consulting and any entry level job that is transferable to whether it's a side project or a new job or or an elevation in your own role, and those are basically running a meeting, organizing and running a meeting clearly, being able to articulate an idea in a way that people are able to resonate with and build a pawn, managing a schedule, managing your own schedule, because when you're running your own company your day starts whenever and it also ends whenever. And then some more soft skills around just being able to communicate clearly. Something that I learned that was really helpful through consulting is just the the art of cold emailing and being able to receive know as an answer. There's a lot of times that I had to just reach out to people, and this comes back to to networking. I think pen state kind of supports this very much so, because there's always the encouragement. It's like, if you know someone went to Penn State, if you reach out to them, they will respond to you. So I've kind of taken that same energy with Redo and I'm like, okay, if someone has a similar interest to me or they have done something that I want to do, if I just approach it in a way where I'm very clear of what I I'm asking for, very clear on the advice that I'm looking for, and I articulate that to them and show that I'm not going to waste their time, they will reply to me. So I cold email all of the time, like stores saying hi, do you want to stop our product, or people in business. That I would love to have is, quote unquote, mentors, or at least like advisor, saying like, Hey, I'm working on this thing, like can we chat for fifteen minutes about x, Y and Z? I read about you doing this thing and I want to know, like how you did and what your approach was. And that has been unbelievably helpful, and that's something that I learned from consulting, because there's sometimes we're just sitting on the bench and you need to ask someone to give you work so you don't get fired, and then they give you work and then that's it. So you talked about your schedule and time management and that's often, at you know, a common refrain for all college students, but particularly for shriyer scholars who want to come in and you know they're taking eighteen credits, twenty one credits, they're leading organizations on campus, they're doing research, they're studying abroad when that is permissible, and you know that's a hard skill to develop. It sounds easy, but it's really hard.

So are there any specific strategies that you found have worked for you that perhaps a student could see if that works for them? Yeah, it's something you're absolutely right shown it's wildly hard and sometimes I wish I was actually in a school setting because it's so nice to just have, in my opinion, have those times blocked off specifically for class. You're like, okay, I have class time from, you know, eight am to twelve PM and then I can exercise for a little bit and then I can rest and then I can work. That's so for me, works so well. So I still try to implement those those boundaries around my week. So there will be days where I cannot take any external meetings and I'm like, we can't talk on these days because I need undisturbed work for eight hours just so my brain can kind of flow in and out of flow state, and then designate time blocks during the week where I can actually take like internal meetings and external meetings. Of course I'm always accessible via bea slack but something that has really hoped me that I've just started implementing in the last three months is, at the beginning of the week is just setting out what your goals are for the end of the week and being like okay, looking at them every day, like I need to like mine are this week. It's like I need to write for email campaigns and I need to call email like six new stores. So I'm like, every day I look at that and say, where am I on the progress of writing these campaigns? Have I reached out to these stores? Who Do I need to talk to on my team? And then at the end of the week, just looking back and I'm like, okay, crossed all of these things off of my list to make sure that they're done. And then at the beginning of the month I make like an entire month's worth of goals and then at the end of the month I look back at how those goals were achieved and it's just built up from like the week. So it sounds very you know, like stepping stone. It's like have your monthly goals, have your quarterly goals, have your yearly goals and breaking it down to the week and then to the day. It kind of works like that, but it doesn't always work like that. So I give this advice with like a grain of salt, where something might happen and you're not able to hit your goals, and that's okay as long as you're tracking what you're doing. Is is the intention and what help you move things along and have a clear vision of why you're working on the things that you're working on. That made sense, you know, I think I've used the expression as long as the cars and forward. You know, he maybe you're only moving a few miles an hour, but you're not in neutral, you're not in part you're moving forward. So I think that's the sage advice for for students and for other faults that are listening now. Moment ago, you mentioned that part of your cold calling or cold emailing that you undertake is making connections and specifically looking for mentors. How do you approach that specifically and whether now in your role or as a student, as a scholar, how did you approach that and what tips would you have for a scholar trying to find a mentor for more accurately mentors? Mentors? Yes, and I know we've discussed that, as this a lot shown around, like the concept of what is the Word Mentor and what does a mentor actually do for student or for anyone? So I think it's evolved for me from one I was a student versus now when I'm a little bit more season in my professional career, and I've even had to go through the the mental growth of being like, okay, I'm no longer just trying to be like a vessel of like I don't know anything. I still try to come with that level of openmindedness, but I found now, like as I'm more of a professional, that when I speak to my quote unquote, mentors, they're like listen, you don't know, like I don't know...

...that much more than you. Where we can just be here to like collaborate and like bounce ideas back and forth, versus when I was a student, where I was like please tell me all of the answers. So by my advice is when you're when you're looking for a mentor or looking for someone to give you advice, do a lot of research on that individual. First of why you even want to speak with them. What is it about their career? What is it about their journey what is it about their story that intrigues you and that you want to learn more about? So when you reach out to them, you have a very specific question that you want to ask and discuss. Don't go to a mentor or someone that you want to be your mentor and be like Hey, will you mentor me, because the next question they're going to ask is on what and for what? Because that's a that's a very big ass to just be like here I am, a formless shape of clay. Please mold me into what you are, because hopefully a good mentor will be like you. Don't want to be what I am, because you are what you are, but I can share my experiences with you so you can be the best version of you by learning from what I was able to achieve. So that's my biggest piece of advice. Don't go just asking for a mentor. Ask for specific, specific advice based on what their experiences are and how that then ties back to what what you're looking to do with your life. I've done this many times and it's it's the best way to kind of form a relationship and then realize that there's some mentors that will stick and you talk to them every single week and there's some that you might only talk to every couple of months, which is also okay, because it's just a matter of getting the perspectives and insights from people that are doing the things that you want to do. Did that answer your question? I want to make sure that that was. Yeah, we are. Yeah, that's great, and I think if they're you know, if you're listening to this and you want to follow up with Asia afterwards, definitely take her advice when you're reaching out and will cover how to connect with her at the end of our conversation. But I was like these ask me. There's too many times where people have reached out and be like how do I be successful like you? And that'll be on a day where I don't feel successful and I'm like, you just have to wake up every day and do your tasks and drink water and go to sleep. That's the advice I'm going to give you and you're going to be very upset. You're like that's not helpful. I want to know how you did. You know, how did you win a glossy, a grant, or how did you get into vogue? I'm like, if you ask me those specific questions. We can talk about that, but not how to be successful or how to be like you. Yeah, and hydration and sleep are definitely two key components for success in any industry, not just in marketing, not just in the startup entrepreneurial space, but if you do research Asia and you know you google some of the things that will them up or some successes that you've had, like you just referenced. You want a glossy a grant. You were featured in vogue, you were featured in the New York Times and you received a shout out from Sheryl Sandberg, I believe, right on a facebook quarterly earnings call. Is that correct? How how do you handle that at such a young age, trying of this blow and I don't know if I want to use the word fame, but sudden attention that you know, you said your firm is a micro business, but you've gotten the attention that a lot larger brands get. How do you handle that? How do I personally handle that, or how does the business handle it? Both the business handles it by having a fulfilment center that handles all of the orders, so I don't have to pack anything anymore. So the business is handling it just fine, thank goodness. From my perspective of how I handle it, we look at each of those opportunities where people are kind enough to share our story or feel motivated to share a story as like indirect ways of them saying you're going to make it and you're doing the right thing.

So it's just a reinforcement of encouragement of what we're already doing as a what I've heard from other founders and what I've also experience is that it's very lonely to be working on something that is your own because you're kind of in this micro vacuum of like, okay, am I doing the right thing? Do People like what I'm doing is even useful, like is this worth my time? Because it is a lot of hard work and most of the time it's it's very Wyatt and just you and yourself and your thoughts. So every time we get any type of like external recognition, it's just like Oh, look like people are resonating and people do like it and we should just keep doing what we're doing and we should trust our gut. Without being said, when more people talk about you, a lot of people, everyone has an opinion, so people will be like, Oh, you should do this, like I can't tell you how many times people have said we need to come out with a perfume or we need to come out with a soap dish just because of the things that we have, and it's it's super encouraging. But you get to a point also where you're like, okay, I know what I needed to do to be able to get to this point and I can still trust my good of what I need to do to get us to the next point. But just fostering that positive energy is how we handle it. And you know, it's sometimes people don't talk, and that's fine also, and then when Shara wants to say something nice, we're just like thank you, Cheryl. We right, thank you cards all of the time. But yeah, that's how we handle it. We just take it as a as a verbal pad on the back. You know, it's interesting you mentioned thank you cards, because that is a bit of a lost art. So editorial interjection here. Make sure you're right. Thank you cards as often as possible. Sometimes mail is the only way you can get a hold of somebody, but if you can send a physical thank you card and have the time and the stamps to do so highly recommend I start planning our holiday cards so actually all year. This is something I learned from SME on. This is also something I learned from one of my favorite books how to win flip friends and influence people. Cars are unbelievably impactful. I do my own personal thank you cards and then I do any business relationship that we had with Redo throughout the entire year. I save everyone's addresses in this massive exel spreadsheet and I track it by year. So there's like a two thousand and nineteen one, at two thousand and twenty one, and then there's a two thousand and twenty one and one, and I start looking at it in November order all of our stationary right in all of them. It's like its own project at the end of the year that I have to manage and then like buy so many stamps ahead of time. I even bought like a label maker for each of like the the mailing labels, and I send like two to three hundred like holiday cards at the end of the year just saying thank you for being a part of reading success this year, like we couldn't have done it without you, because you might be are you, meaning I or, if you w whoever is working on their project. Like you might be the one putting in the hours every day, but the reason that your business or your project is successful is again because of those that believe in it. So you want to properly thank them for just spending the time and energy to support you, because they don't have to. Yeah, and you know you talked to about honoring the success and that it's a team effort and you you know, you know you have team members, you have vendors and partners and mentors, and I know we go back a little bit, and so I would definitely describe you as a bit of a realist. And so I have to know that you made a very calculated decision when you took the leap to go from side hustle to a full time venture with Redo. But I have to imagine that there was some unexpected challenges that even, you know, the most planning calculating person, may not have anticipated. So could you walk us through a couple of those? Sure, for sure. And Sean, that's so funny that you say I'm...

...a realist, because I still death fully identify as like an idealist. was like a realist twist. I don't think anything is out of reach if you if you speak it into existence. Like I was like we're going to win the glossy a grand of people are like, okay, tenzero people applied. I was like we're going to win, which in my mind was like a real reality, and then we did win, but it took a lot of work to get there. Some things that happened that I didn't didn't consider any think this year. So, like I said, I'm very strong on the sales and marketing side and an area where I was still in the process of learning proactively was around like the finance, like small business finance, is very different than you know, like corporate finance, or like the finance that you're looking at it when you're like an investment banker, because you're looking at companies with like hundreds of millions of dollars, sometimes billions of dollars, that also have like all of this debt to be able to function and grow their business. Very different from you know, a small team of one full time person in a whole bunch of contractors. So looking at like a balance sheet and looking at like a profit law statement and being like, okay, am I profitable. Like what do we need to plan for demand next year? Like all of my business acumen from SMEAL was super, super helpful, just partially irrelevant when it comes to like small business, because I can't demand plan. I don't have like historic data on like what we've been able to like sell through, because last year was crazy for us and then this year there's like supply chain shortages and whatnot. So it's just balancing. Like the price of glass has gone up sixty percent. What does that mean for our cost of good sould? And then what does that mean when we have to hand things over to, you know, pricing, over to to our customers? So, to be clear and honest, there's been a plethora of things that have gone terribly right and terribly wrong, and the only way that we've really been able to address them is just acknowledging that it is something that has happened and looking at what our next best steps are, which I guess kind of plays into what you're saying about me being a realist. It's like we can't expect everything to go right, and that's something we had to learn, that a business does not run as smoothly as one talks about. A business running. So just dealing with problems head on and addressing what needs to be addressed on that day and being firm in our decisions, but also for giving enough in ourselves if we do make a mistake, because mistakes do happen, and just pivoting from there if necessary. I hope that answered your question now. That's a great answer and if you end up following your connecting with Asia on Instagram, one of the things you'll see is Asia actually you make all of the soaps that you create. You actually have a lab in Philadelphia and you have kind of the odds and ends that you pack up, or the the misfits, I think you call them too. Thing is a great example of turning the lemonade lemons into lemonade. In that sense. That actually brings up something I wanted to chat about real quick before we kind of pivot. Is You were in New York and then you suddenly learned Philly. How did that change come about? Sure, and this is so fun because I can to reference one of my favorite podcast episodes. It's from second life. This woman named a Roora James who started this beautiful company called Brothers Allays, which is a shoe brand and beyonce has borne it. But all of that information is relevant. I was in New York, I was working my corporate job, making close to six figures, living in my studio apartment in Brooklyn in two thousand and twenty. Then the pandemic hit. I'm an only child. My family...

...freaked out. They were like please come home, because I was living on like one of the busiest streets in Brooklyn and everyone was freaking out. Didn't know if it was trended, like if the coronavirus was transmissible on like surfaces. Grocery stores were stocked out, everything was pandemonium. So they're like, please, come back to Pennsylvania, to the suburbs, stay in your childhood room, like and you can go back to New York when all of this is handled at the end of summer. We all know that the coronavirus and that's not handled by the end of summer, I was playing paying some absorbitant amount of rent just to have my things fester and sit in my New York apartment. So, and this is also when Rido was picking up throughout the summer, like in June is when we really started hitting like significant growth and by August, I was like there's no way I can continue making this soap when I'm in New York because I needed the help of my family and my friends that were around me here. So I decided to break my lease last October and like officially move home. Still had my full time job at that point and then was just kind of managing that, working from like eight to six in my full time job and then six to eleven with Redo. Very unhealthy, very bad, very much burning the stick on both ends. And then two things, two or three things happened actually at the end of last year where we got a purchase order from the reformation. They wanted to do a third party by to have is their holiday season product on their website. We won the glossy a grant and then we were reached out to by the New York Times to be in the holiday gift guide and I was like all of those things show me that I am going to burn to a crisp during que four if I don't put my fulltime jobs. So I quit my fulltime job because I had the flexibility of being at home with my parents, which I still am here, something that I don't think a lot of founders talk about is like the sacrifices that they have to make in order to make their business work. You just see all of like the beautiful glamorous side, like a lot of money, a lot of press, and I try to keep the realist side alive so people don't have this unrealistic expectation on themselves and put all this pressure on themselves to do something that they don't technically need to do. But I do live at home with my family still, they don't make me pay rent, bless them, so I can really just focus my energy on Redo and reinvest the money back into the business, because that's what I want the business to thrive on and have its success around. And then, you know, later on I'll be able to do all of the fun things, and that's fantastic and I appreciate that. You know, nobody operates in a vacuum, right. So you've got this community, you've got your family supporting you, which is absolutely fantastic, and you know no business is successful without, as you mentioned earlier, a simple face value, but very difficult still, just like time management of running a meeting, and I know you had plenty of experience firsthand learning how to do that, and this is something that you know, if you're listening, that you can take to your club or your business or your side hustle or your startup. That as you've had serving as the most recent president of the scholar Alumni Society, which is the constituent group for the Shryer Honors College and the University Scholars Program under the Penn State Alumni Association. So I wonder if you could just talk a little bit about your other career, which is your volunteer career, and some of the successes that you had and reflect on your on your tenure a little bit. Sure. Yes, so I applied to be a part of the board pretty much straight out of school. So back in two thousand and eighteen I felt very indebted to the college because there was just so much, so many opportunities and so many doors were opened and the stuff was just unfathomably supportive and just...

...gracious with their time and efforts to help me be successful. So when I left I felt like I was given a lot but wasn't able to reciprocate what I was given. So I looked to the board as a means of like, okay, I can give back my time, because right now I don't have like the the financial means to be able to give back in this scholarship in a meaningful way. So the thing that I have is my time. So I was back in two thousand and eighteen. I was a general just a general board member. That's when Aaron and Dave and Todd was president at the time, and I really just spent the first, I think, couple of months actually operating kind of from like a place of fear, because it was like only a few months beforehand where I was like all of these people were people I saw connector that I would see at these like recruiting events, and they just seem like these big, scary adults that are so knowledgeable. And then I was sitting next to them as their peer and also sitting next to them as someone with answers, because we were all trying to get young alumni involved at the point at that point and I was the youngest alum and it was like how do we speak to your demographic so that's essentially where I became, where I was able to find my voice and able to find like where I was able to actually deliver value, which changed how my relationship was with the other board members and again operating from a place of fear and kind of imposter syndrome, where I was like, Oh, I'm young and I don't want to seem like I don't know anything. I just put in so much work that everyone was like wow, Asia, thank you so much for contributing all of this time and energy, and I was like I just don't want to seem like I'm not actually contributing. So I just reflecting on that is still very funny for me. And then I was after Aaron Talbert was set to leave the board. She pretty much set me up to be the scholar Scholar Alumni engagement committee chair and then I led that and had the experience of like okay, now I'm not just like someone that's doing the work, now I'm like leading the meetings and help facilitating discussion and kind of empowering people to follow what they wanted to be able to do through their through their experience on the board. So doing that for a year, working with AIP and kind of expanding that and working with the other committee chairs. Then todd's term was coming up and he was like Asia, you've put in all of this work. Like I think you'd be greatest president because you have a very clear view of how to kind of expand what we've built here. So still operating from a place of my old imposter syndrome a little less. I think this is only maybe like two years in. I was like, you know what, maybe I can do this, and I think that's when I had already switched my other job, so I'm still working a consulting career, and I was like, you know what, I'm just going to be president of the board and we're going to see how that works out, and it was a great experience. I'm hesitating now because I'm just trying to remember what those early months were like, because I was like, okay, how has this board historically worked and where there? Where's their room for improvement, and what are my personal strength that I'm actually able to bring here to help those things come to fruition? And what that really landed on was I'm great at bringing people together. I'm great and empowering people and giving them a voice in the work that they do, all of that kind of falling under the umbrella of networking, and something that's very important to me is just being the voice for people that can't be present in a room so specifically around D and I efforts and under representing minorities and their representation at shry or. Since now I was in a position of very visible power working with the staff. I was very young. I think at that time I was twenty four when I was elected to be president, was only a couple of years out of school. So that responsibility I saw something very, very important and took that very seriously. So...

...making sure that that was a part of the strategy from from the get go. But my leadership style is very, very collaborative, so I wanted everyone in the board since, again it's time and volunteering time rather than money. You want to make sure that the individuals that are involved feel like they are actually contributing. So my reflections on the board is that it's it was a great learning experience and very rewarding in terms of being able to see people do work that they're passionate about and see the college be so receptive to working collaboratively with their alumni base to grow in areas where they know they need to experience growth and take criticism and constructive feedback on what can be done better in a more collaborative way with the existing alumni group and I just want to say thank you Asia so and my role, I work with the Alumni Society and the board and Asian I worked very closely together, first, as she mentioned, as a committee chair after she succeeded Aaron Talbot, and then as president after she succeeded Todd Bakistow, and also you mentioned when I give a shout out to David Horowitz, who helped inspire connect, which is our annual alumni and student career networking day that we typically host at the end of March. So, depending on when you're listening to this, it may be coming up, it may have just happened, but certainly one to have a shameless plug before that event. But I want to say thank you, Asia for all your work. I think you took the great things that Todd and David and Aaron had been doing in their predecessors and took it to a new level, including the formation of a committee focused on diversity, equity and inclusion in the college and how we engage alumni in that way and our partnership with the Assistant Dean frequity inclusion, Dr Lynette Yarger, bringing her into the fold with the board. So just want to say thank you for that and I know we're coming up kind of on the end of our conversation and you know, I think you talked about your leadership style and I think that something students should certainly look into and try to define. But I don't think we have time for to dive in today. But I do want to ask if you have a final piece of advice for students or alumni are listening to this, that you think is really important for a scholar to succeed in their classes and their leadership in their career? Yes, yes, yes, yes, this is something that I try to practice every day. I kind of switch between mantras here and there, but this is the one that has been really relevant to the work I've been doing, how I interact with my team and also, as I mentioned before, addressing some of those like fears and insecurities as being a young black woman in a in a predominantly male dominated world and kind of startups are very white and startups are very venture back. There's a lot of opportunity to to feel small and also I remember, as a student, feeling like I needed to over inflate the work that I've done or overstate what I am and just kind of like puff out my chest and and be more than than I sometimes felt. So something that I've been living by and that I've been telling people to kind of practice is the concept of being clear. is is an active kindness, both to yourself and to others, being clear on what you're able to deliver, what knowledge you know, like, what you're actually able to commit to, rather than overcommitting yourself and burning out or lying about something...

...you don't know and then trying to like scramble and make you work and delivering something that actually isn't good. When you're clear and you are respectful and very honest about the the work that you're doing and have integrity with the work that you're doing, people receive that very well and are more willing to work with you, and the type of people that you want to work with will be more willing to work with you. The people that don't, the people that you don't want to work with, will be self selecting out if you are clear, because they're the ones that will take advantage of you or like, you know, the grade your work or not actually give you constructive feedback, which I one hundred percent learn the hard way by over extending myself and not being being clear on my intentions. Are Clear of what I wanted. So that's my one piece of advice. Clear as kind practice. Clarity, practice intension. Be Clear with your boundaries, be clear on which you're able to deliver and hold that same level of expectations for others. And the last piece is something that shryre instills all the time, but want to reinforce his knowledge is power. Always, always, always, always, be in the process of learning, because you are never done learning. So that's all absolutely fantastic advice for anybody. You know who you're listening so appreciate that. Just to wrap up with some fun quick questions. Are there any faults in addition to the ones you've already mentioned that you would like to give a quick shout out to from your scholar days or from your time as the essays be? President, oh, sure, I feel like I'm at the the grammy's now or whatever, like Austar. Don't forget to thank the academy. Yeah, I know, I'm like. Well, one thank you to shry or overall for one, putting this together and just having this opportunity to allow alumni speak. I think this is a great way to people to be able to share their stories and again practice clarity and kindness through clarity. Shout out to a little lissit Dover Stop, the Director of PLA, and just keeping that program together, because I know it's crazy. Shout out to my cofounder, Alhandra Quevas, who is from the class of two thousand and eighteen. I'm like, there's so many people. Shout out to deep Brady, who is my original dean. I don't even know if he's gonna if he's going to hear this, but he was the dean of the Honors College while I was there and he dealt with a lot of my my personality, will call it, while I was there. Shout out to Natalie Keller, who's the WHO's my successor for the for the SESP as president. She's doing a phenomenal job. She was my vp while I was president. She's she's already killing the game, so I'm very proud of her. Also, Dean Johnson. Sorry, always I was like I knew I was going to get like, I'm so glad, John you're not playing like the exit music, but Dean Johnson, because she was the Dean while I was president and she was so receptive, and the entire staff, which is so receptive to working collaboratively with the with the board, and without her actually being receptive and engaging us in conversation, we couldn't have gotten done half the things that we got done, like expanding the board and focusing on D and I efforts. So big shout out to Dean Johnson, shout out to literally anyone who's listening to this. You're doing a great job. You're trying to better yourself. I'm proud of you. I'm sure Sean's proud of you, I'm sure all of your professors are proud of you, and you should also be proud of yourself because you're you're taking the time to improve yourself, you're taking the time to get out of your comfort zone and just explore what's available to you. So great job, shout out to you. Keep doing what you're doing. Feel free to reach out to me. I don't know when you're listening to this. I might be thirty by the time you're listening to it, but I'm here for you and I'm rooting you on. I don't want to, you succeed to so good job, perfect. So if they do want to connect with you, what are...

...the best platforms that they can hit you up on? The way people can reach out to me is through Linkedin. As everyone says, I'm Asia Grant. There's a whole bunch of Asian grants, but I'm the one that has redos as their job title. You can also just send me an email, which is a hit or miss sometimes because I have like twelve email inboxes. You can reach out to me on instagram. We'll see how that plays out, if anyone actually does that, but on Instagram I am Schmisia, which is my colloquial name in term, which is Shm Asia, or you can just reach out to me on red to NYC. I still I'm on the social media platform there, but I I warn if you're reaching out on any of the casual networks that you have to bring your a game in terms of networking. I will I will be a little bit more skeptabal of why are reaching out to me there. So I'll open that as a challenge. That's my chaotic my chaotic side from the from running a business, but you're going to find me anyway. So if you want to reach out there, you can. You can reach out there as well. Fantastic, and I love to close with a really fun question. If you were a flavor of Birkie creamery ice cream, which would you be? And, as a scholar, most importantly, why that play? Ever? Okay, my Gosh. Always at the PLA dinners they would have alumni swirl. Sewan. Is that the one with like mint chip and blueberries or something? What's in it? ALUMNI SWIRL? I apologize to my colleagues at the at the Perky creamery if I don't get this exactly correct, but I think in Leyman's terms it is vanilla ice cream with chocolate chunks or chocolate chips and a blueberry type of swirl which, if you've never had it, highly recommend trying. It sounds like it shouldn't work, but it is a beautiful collaboration of flavors and that is why I am that you just gave my why I'm looking at it now, of course, searching on my phone. Vanilla ice cream, Swiss mooka chip, see, not even chocolate. That is that's the unexpected nice part. And then Blueberry Squirrel. Yes, I like it because it sounds like it shouldn't work. It's a little bit chaotic, but there's also some some forms of normalcy through the Vanilla. The MOGA chip is definitely a form of caffeine, which is what I need to be able to power my life. And then the blueberry swirl, again, I think, is that chaotic agent where it shouldn't work, but you know, you tried. You tried something crazy and it did work, which is essentially the structure of my entire life. Let's just try something crazy and somehow it worked and now we're living this this beautiful dream. So Alumni Swirl, I stick by it. Perfect. That's always a great choice. Asia, thank you for joining me today. You heard how to connect with her if you want to follow up, ask any specific questions, perhaps even approach her about being your mentor or, you know, remember, come with a specific asked specific problem, as Asia shared. So thank you for joining me today and we'll catch you on the next one. Thank you so much, sewn, and thank you to everyone who's listening. Have a great day. Thank you, scholars, for listening and learning with us today. We hope you will take something with you that will contribute to how you shape the world. This show probably supports the Shryer Honors College Emergency Fund, Benefiting Scholars experiencing unexpected financial hardship. You can make a difference at rays DOT PSU DOT Edu. Forward Slash Shreire. Please be sure to hit the relevance, subscribe, like or follow button on whichever platform you are engaging with us on today. You can follow the college on Facebook, twitter, instagram and Linkedin to say uptodate on news events and deadlines. If you have questions about the show or a scholar alum who'd like to join us as a...

...guest here on following the gone, please connect with me at scholar alumni at PSU DOT eat. You until next time. Please stay well and we are.

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