This week we are joined by guest Eric Toda.

Eric is the Co-Founder of Hill City, which was the first digital direct to consumer brand launched by Gap Inc. in 2018.

Eric spent his career building challenger brands from Facebook, Nike, Snapchat and Airbnb and now advises challenger brands including Stitch Fix. In addition to his advisory roles, he is also an opinion contributor at Adweek on the topic of challenger brands.

Join us as we explore the rise of challenger brands, the power of personalization, and why smart brands are taking social stands.

Episode 65 of RETHINK Retail was recorded on Feb. 13, 2020.

 


Hosted by Julia Raymond
Researched, written and produced by Gabriella Bock
Edited by Trenton Waller

TRANSCRIPTION

Julia Raymond:
Hi, today we’re joined by my guest, Eric Toda. Eric is the former head of marketing and Co-founder of Hill City, which was the first digital direct to consumer brand launched by Gap Inc. in 2018. He has spent his career building challenger brands from Facebook, Nike, Snapchat and Airbnb and now he advises challenger brands including Stitch Fix. In addition to his advisory roles, he is also an opinion contributor at Adweek on the topic of challenger brands. Eric, thanks for joining today.

Eric Toda:
Thanks for having me. Excited to be here.

Julia Raymond:
Absolutely. It’s my pleasure. I want to hear from you, a little bit about your background. You have really extensive experience across retail and now advisor roles. So just a little bit about your journey.

Eric Toda:
Sure. My journey is an interesting one and it’s one that’s relatively unconventional. It goes all the way back to when I was graduating college and applying to law school. So my entire vision for my future and my career was actually to be an attorney. And that was at the same time that digital companies were on the rise, like Facebook, Twitter and some others. And my girlfriend at the time, she suggested to me, she’s like, you know what, you can be an attorney. I think you’ll have a lot of fun, but I think you’ll have a lot more fun joining a tech company, it does people your age everybody has a lot of fun, it’s good work. And so I drop out of law school and I joined Facebook.

Eric Toda:
At the time Facebook was relatively small. It was smaller than Myspace, Yahoo. It’s very well documented Yahoo was actually trying to buy us, so was Google. I joined Facebook at a time where is the first couple hundred employees. It was very young. It was very disruptive and it was just a good place to learn.

Eric Toda:
And from Facebook, after about five years there I go on to Nike to really pursue my passion in marketing and brand. And I joined]one of the … What I believe, one of the greatest brand marketing organizations in the entire industry. And I joined a digital brand team there in which I learned an incredible amount about how to be a marketer or what it takes to be a marketer, how do you work with agencies, et cetera. And from Nike I went back into tech to Snapchat to be one of their first business hires focused on go to market, focused on product marketing. And so I focused on partnerships. Really just, I guess Swiss army knife of a business which is fantastic.

Eric Toda:
And after a year there I go to Airbnb to join another iconic marketing team led by Jonathan Milton Hall, who was a great friend and mentor of mine. And we did some of the most challenging and some of the most culture shifting work that I’ve ever seen from whether that was giving free homes to refugees affected by the Trump travel ban or whether that was creating a social-first video in response to the 2016 election saying that this is what we as Airbnb stand for, to then having that video run during the Superbowl was again some of the most creative and best work I’ve ever had in my career.

Eric Toda:
And from Airbnb after about two and a half years there, I decided that I wanted another challenge and that challenge was to go to a legacy brand and build something for them that they haven’t done ever in their history. And that was building a digital first direct to consumer brand servicing, men’s athletic and lifestyle apparel. So I was obviously me being the demographic and me being from a tech and digital background, direct to consumer was very natural to me.

Eric Toda:
But what I found there was direct to consumer isn’t the only strategy you have to build, I mean, if you want to disrupt the ecosystem then, you have to build a challenger brand. And this notion of a challenger brand is now a strategy that many other brands employ. And that’s certainly has some directing and super components in it. But it’s about understanding the ecosystem, understanding the sea of sameness that many brands plan and having a point of view and being able to go past that point of view to stand out and stick out with your purpose and values.

Eric Toda:
And so I’ve taken all that experience and I’ve now started to advise a bunch of companies. Stitch Fix is one of those companies, which is a personal styling service. I’m just having a lot of fun. Like I said before, my journey is unconventional, but it’s unconventional in the best way because I never had a plan of where I wanted to go. I just wanted to continue to do amazing, life changing, culture changing work that challenged me to be more creative than the last job.

Julia Raymond:
Certainly. And it sounds like you made some great picks. I mean, going to work for Facebook at a time when you said, I think you said it was smaller than Myspace at that time.

Eric Toda:
Yes. Yes.

Julia Raymond:
So you definitely went with the winner there. And that was just four years after Facebook was founded, which is just crazy to think about.

Eric Toda:
Yeah, it was a crazy time and I think that a lot of people, to be honest, a lot of people said maybe you shouldn’t go to Facebook. I think Myspace will be much bigger than it. And to be honest with you I told my parents who were very against me going to Facebook I get it. This is a big risk. This is a huge risk for me to go to Facebook. But as long as I could be here long enough to save up money to buy my girlfriend a wedding ring, I’m good. And if it does end up failing, I’ll go back to law school, I promise. So obviously it didn’t fail and I ended up marrying my girlfriend and so yeah, that’s kind of my mindset going into this life.

Julia Raymond:
Absolutely. And she led you down the right path, it sounds like a little bit there. You said Airbnb was really interesting because you worked on the very well known commercial aired during the Superbowl, that’s a touchdown I would say. What is your stand on brands taking a stand? Because there’s been a lot of controversy with the Nike story and Starbucks and a lot of these brands that are in the news.

Eric Toda:
Sure. My stance on brands taking a stand is that they shouldn’t just find a cause and go after it because they think it’s the right thing to do or because they’re like, this is what the consumer wants. But instead, they need to look at their own values that they are structured within their company. Whether it’s about trust, whether it’s about safety, whether it’s about [Medi 00:07:05], whatever that is. Every company has values.

Eric Toda:
All those things contribute to when it comes to taking a stand, is making your values externally facing. That’s all it is. What we saw and we had an Airbnb really stood for is community. And we believed in humanity and we believed in making sure that anywhere, any place, any person belonged anywhere. And what that means is if there are people that are being told that they don’t belong somewhere, we will take a stand because that’s not just what we believe our community wants. But instead that’s what we as employees, and so we as a company have structured into our value system and all we’re doing is saying, “Hey, we’ve always believed in this, and so because of that, we’re going to take a stand right here and tell you, no matter who you are, no matter what your religion is or what your skin color is, we accept you.”

Eric Toda:
And that was the Superbowl spot. And I think what Nike’s doing, is taking a stand in the most elegant of ways and sensing, we believe in every single person that wears our logo and we’re going to stand behind them. I think we live in a time right now where there is some distrust for mainstream media, but what you’re seeing is there’s a rise in trust for brands and people to align themselves to those brands. And so as brands, you have a greater obligation now to stand for what you believe in and stand for who your employees are, stands for who your consumers are in a way that can hopefully push culture and society forward. And I think if you could do that successfully, yeah, I think you could stand just a little bit taller that day that you put that work out there.

Julia Raymond:
Absolutely. Well said. When it comes to Nike specifically, they broke away from Amazon as they’re not selling through that channel anymore. Do you think we’ll see a lot of other brands do that or do you think maybe is just so well positioned to take that stand? That they have just more advantages than other brands?

Eric Toda:
I’m getting a lot of thought about this, I think a lot of brands use Amazon as a distribution, right? They have massive distribution and a massive population of people going through their network to find items and goods that they need. That distribution though is controlled solely by Amazon. Now if you’re Nike and you look back on how Nike has always done, and Nike has always been so meticulous and so crafted on every bit of the experience from when you want that pair of … Like when you get that inspiration to get that pair of shoe, down to when you try it on, down to when you play. And by them going on Amazon, you lose a little bit of that storytelling. You lose a little bit of that control to control the entire experience. Very Apple in that way, right?

Eric Toda:
And I think what Nike is doing is just saying, all right, the experience to us is more important than the distribution. Like we’ll get the distribution. And I think they do it in a way now that they have apps on your phone, like sneakers and they have like the Nike app that they have that connection with the consumer, so they know where you’re going to buy. But what they are trying to do now is saying like, we want every step of the experience with us to be premium, to be excellent, to be consistent with the brand.

Eric Toda:
And that’s something that I learned at Nike when I was there. It’s that meticulous understanding that if I’m speaking to a potential customer, I want to make sure I’m presenting myself in the way that I believe is the most premium version of Nike every step of the way from when you buy it to when you’re wearing it to when if let’s say you have an issue, I want to make sure that you’re hitting up customer service and we’re going to make sure that we solve that issue for you because I want to control that entire experience.

Eric Toda:
I think you will see more brands do that because I think that builds loyalty and Nike is obviously a big loyalty player and the brands that understand that branding isn’t just commercials and advertisements, but it’s an entire experience for the customer. And more brands understand that the more that they will try to look to control that and a higher shopping experience.

Julia Raymond:
Absolutely. Like you said, they have a meticulous control on the brand experience and that’s I’m guessing one of the key components to being a successful challenger brand. Are there other success factors when it comes to challenger brands given your experience at so many of them?

Eric Toda:
No, totally. I think the notion of a challenger brand is not new. They used to call them disruptors or whatever. But I think the thing is like the reason why people attach themselves to challenger brands is because a challenger brand now, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a start up. And I think I proved this by creating Hill City forgot think is that it can be incubated within a legacy brand. It’s just about understanding if I’m in a legacy brand or if I’m a startup, how do I look at the status quo and go right up against it? How do I look at how it’s always been done and try to find the, Oh, we’ve never done it like that. And that’s what a challenger brand really takes is that you just understand on a greater and grander scale, there’s a sea of sameness in every single industry.

Eric Toda:
I swear to God, like there’s a sea of sameness. There’s like every brand looks exactly the same. They all market exactly the same and they all talk to the customer exactly the same. If that’s the case in your respective industry, you have then an opportunity to say, let me take a counter approach to that. Let me take it from another industry and try to cut through my own by doing something different, by being provocative, by standing for values, by making it easier for you to buy from me and making it easier for you to exchange products or whatever. It’s just about understanding that being a challenger brand, all you’re doing is challenging the status quo and I think that there’s an evolution going on right now where people believe that direct to consumer brands, DTC brands were the first step towards challenger brands.

Eric Toda:
I don’t believe that’s right. I think that direct to consumer brands are realizing that being a direct to consumer brand, you can’t just stop there, just because you own the relationship with the customer and you have that data and you own that shopping pattern doesn’t necessarily mean you stop there. Being a challenger brand means you employ the mechanics of a direct to consumer brand so you have that there, but you also have a greater point of view of what your brand stands for. And then the DTC component is literally just that. It’s a component, but you also have personalization.

Eric Toda:
You also have a good CRM strategy. You also have a great narrative that transcends the actual product itself. And so I look at challenger brands as not something that is necessarily fleeting, but it’s something that if I’m a startup and I have a great product, I’m looking at how I disrupt my own industry. If I’m a legacy brand, I’m saying to myself, “I can’t let this start up disrupt me. I need to disrupt myself.” And so I’m going to go incubate a challenger brand within, that then we can take the innovation or the learnings that they can do, but my other brands under this umbrella are too slow to do. I think you’ve seen that happen a lot with legacy brands, but also starts like.

Julia Raymond:
Absolutely. And you said a few times the sea of sameness out there, which is definitely apparent to many consumers, I think. And you said CRM, personalization, brand storytelling, those are all components that are really important. Even if you have the same product, do you think there’s been winners that just had a better CRM and story?

Eric Toda:
Oh, totally, totally. I think like if I look at the general industry today, let’s take Kim’s for example, the company, Hims and Hers, and they sell pharmaceuticals and they’re health company, what they’ve done that Pfizer couldn’t do, that McKesson couldn’t do was they eliminated the stigma of saying you need help because you have health issues, because you have disclosures that you need to be solved. And that became their value proposition that became their challenge or proposition against big, big pharmaceutical companies. And the way they went to market was a direct to consumer. That was one aspect of it. Direct to consumer was one aspect of it.

Eric Toda:
But the other aspect was, what hasn’t happened in like 50 years at the pharmaceutical industry, I started marketing. All they’ve done is put out commercials during golf tournaments on a Sunday afternoon and said, that’s our marketing strategy. What Hims did was say, you know what, there’s a stigma here. There’s a stigma of going to the doctor saying you need help, and then getting prescribed and then going to the pharmacist and saying like, please help me and you have to have so many interactions in which you’re embarrassed.

Eric Toda:
Hims said, no, well you don’t need to be embarrassed. You could text this doctor, they’ll get you a prescription, end of story. We’ll mail his record to you. Super concealed, very discretionary, like it’s yours. And they just want to relieve that stigma from hundreds of thousands of men that are suffering but who they’re now positioned themselves as a new age health brand in which I’m going to trust them now because they’re not running TV ads during golf matches, but instead they’re talking directly to me and saying like, Hey, you know what? You got a problem, just come to us. We got you. And I think that’s sea of sameness in any industry is willing and able to be disrupted, should you understand the key insight of why that industry is the same.

Julia Raymond:
I love that you had that example just ready to go because that was a great one. I love it.

Eric Toda:
The CMO is a very good friend of mine, Melissa Waters. I’m a huge fan of hers. I think that’s one that a lot of people don’t talk about and I think that’s one that is an exceptional case study when it comes to disrupting a really big industry worth billions of dollars that just doesn’t change.

Julia Raymond:
And it’s really interesting just on our side of the pond compared to Europe, how we have marketing for pharmaceuticals and how it has always been sort of cut and dry and go ask your doctor if you need this versus having that conversation with the consumers.

Eric Toda:
And it’s crazy to me that people were okay with that. And I think that’s the issue, right? I think that’s where they got the insight they’re like, wait, there’s so many steps. This is something that can be embarrassing for many people. And even though we know it’s embarrassing, we still make you interact with a lot of people, which we could lose you at that point. If you’re okay with it, fine. But Hims and Hers is like, no, no, no, no, no, no. We can make this really easy. We can make this really easy, still legal and still abides by regulations. But we need to make it easier for you to not be embarrassed, to be more truthful and to be more self aware, to say like, I need help.

Julia Raymond:
Absolutely. That’s a great example. I will have to look more into them. You have a unique perspective, just because you mentioned that Hill City was incubated within a legacy brand. Are there unique challenges that you were able to gain insights on from that incubation period versus just startup?

Eric Toda:
Yeah, no, totally. I think there’s pros and cons, right? And I think when I look at the pros of doing a direct to consumer challenge, a brand type company as a startup, BC backed you and a few friends in a garage, you can do whatever you want. You literally can do whatever you want. But the number one thing that you are up against is do you understand your customer? Do you understand how are you going to get them? But also do you have the data? And how long will it take you to get the data to then build a CRM strategy or build a model of who your total addressable market is.

Eric Toda:
And that takes a long time for direct to consumer brands. Now, if you build it internally at a legacy brand, legacy brands have one thing that some have been able to utilize, others still trying to unravel that crazy ball of yarn, but it’s the data, they have like years and decades of data that they have on their customer, whether that’s  names, phone numbers, et cetera.

Eric Toda:
And building a challenger brand within a legacy brand, you have access to that data. So you can either say as we go to market rather than target out all these people that we believe is in our total addressable market, or we’re going to see our challenger brand as a growth strategy for this legacy brand and not target these people at all. So now we’re bringing new customers in to this legacy brand that they didn’t have before. So that’s two ways I think it’s really interesting.

Eric Toda:
The other thing is like in a startup, most times than not, you’re distracted by things like HR, or building a legal team, getting trademarks, all that stuff. If you build a challenger brand within the legacy brand, almost taken care of because you use their HR, you use their legal team, you use their trademarks team. And so then you can focus solely on the product and solely on the product experience.

Eric Toda:
And I think building Hill City, like that’s what I loved is that I was like, Oh, I don’t have to build an HR team. Wonderful. But instead I get focused on how do we make the best product possible that the customer we are talking to, and we will talk to [Watts 00:21:34] and they will buy. There’s pros and cons of doing a startup versus doing it within legacy brand. But I look at so many benefits of doing it within the legacy brand.

Julia Raymond:
So what I’m hearing is there’s no excuse for legacy brands to not be innovating?

Eric Toda:
Honestly, I’m a big believer in this. It’s that as a legacy brand, you can buy innovation, which many big companies do. They see a smaller disruptive startup and they’re like, all right, cool, we’re buying you. We’re going to injust you and make sure all the goodness is spread around everywhere. Or I thought this was brilliant for Gap Inc. because Gap Inc. sits in the middle of Sarah Cisco and their backyard is Silicon Valley. So they have this wealth of talent that they can pull from and say instead of us getting disrupted, getting freaked out and then buying a smaller nimbler startup, let’s just build one internally.

Eric Toda:
And I think more and more companies are starting to get accustomed to this and saying like, you know what? We’re going to build it. We’re going to incubate it, we’re going to give them resources, we’re going to push them towards innovation and the reality is whether they survive or when they fail, the learnings are going to be selling valuable for our other brands, the brands that we can’t be as innovative with. But we can take those learnings and make them better and stronger.

Julia Raymond:
Absolutely. And I had another question I like to ask this one because it seems like there’s a little bit of a merging between brands and retailers. How do you differentiate between the two or do you not as much anymore?

Eric Toda:
I don’t as much anymore. And the reason is because if you’re a retailer, you likely have your own brand, right? \I think it’s just about understanding that every touch point now, if you’re a retailer, every touch point from the minute you walk into that store to the minute you check out, to the minute you say goodbye, that’s all brand. That’s all brand. All those experiences that you just had walking in trying something on or buying and walking out, that’s all brand. If that experience was amazing, your brand will resonate with that person and that consumer and they’ll become loyal and they’ll come back.

Eric Toda:
If you’re just a brand, you’re not really focused on that. You’re only focused on outwards opinion, outwards expectations. But I think the two are so intertwined that to me, branding or just marketing in general, it’s no longer about what did we do outside of the walls of our stores. What did we do outside of the walls of our office? But instead, how is everything? How’s everything that we’re doing literally down to how we treat our employees or the workplace that they go into? How does this say our brand? And I think that brands and retailers are no longer separate. The entire thing is a branding exercise in my opinion.

Julia Raymond:
I like that answer. I agree most retailers, they’re all coming out with new private label brands in addition to the ones that they’ve had or just new in general. So it is one and the same. I do want to talk a little bit about Stitch Fix. So Stitch Fix, correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s purely DTC still no stores?

Eric Toda:
Sure. No stores.

Julia Raymond:
And you guys are not planning on … I think I read some articles where people have been very public about stores are not the route for us.

Eric Toda:
I don’t think Stitch Fix can say, never say never. But I will say the core proposition of Stitch Fix isn’t necessarily you walking into a store and pulling something off a rack. The core proposition is being able to scale something that when our parents and our grandparents were growing up was relatively a luxury. And that’s personal styling. Where someone would say, I know you. Like some will walk up to you Julia and say, “I know you Julia. This is what you do. Here’s how you do it. And so because of that, here’s your taste.” And I planned this out before you.

Eric Toda:
Now that used to be only available to a select few. Like a personal shopper. What’s Stitch Fix is main proposition is, is that experience right there. You can get that personal style anytime you want, no matter what time of the day. And the more you interact with them, the more they understand you. So I think you can have that in a store. Sure. But I think with everybody’s busy lives and why Stitch Fix does exist is that not everybody has time to go into a store, but everybody is on their phones. Everybody can fill out a survey, everybody can give feedback. And I think that’s what makes Stitch Fix such a great proposition is because it’s distributed and scalable.

Julia Raymond:
And scalable being the keyword, and I’ve always wondered this, so I wanted to ask is Stitch Fix stylist or hand-selecting clothing, but is this process a hundred percent manual or does the backend take the historical data from that customer to suggest things to the stylist to suggest to the customer?

Eric Toda:
I look out the secret sauce behind Stitch Fix is a combination of both the art of humanities. So making sure that you have like a person literally styling you, but the sophistication of technology and I think that that comes with, we essentially catch an amazing array of data points that suggest trends, colors, palettes, tastes levels from all over from that then the stylist then says, “Oh, this is what’s happening right now. Here’s what’s likely to happen two months from now. So I want to make sure Julia is ahead of that curve. I’m going to suggest to her pieces that kind of push the envelope and maybe she’ll like that.”

Eric Toda:
And let’s say you do like that, right? That’s a data point to say this style works and maybe you should suggest it to other people that look and feel like Julia. And so it is that beautiful blend of art and science versus a lot of people do shoot. Then it’s just the computer outputting stylist. No, it’s the best example I’ve seen so far of humans that are empowered by technology and data.

Julia Raymond:
And that’s amazing. That’s a great answer to know there’s actually a person looking at each customer of Stitch Fix is really cool.

Eric Toda:
Oh yeah, for sure. I think that the more that people understand that you can’t have one or the other, and having both is such an incredible proposition to have. I think more people should employ that strategy.

Julia Raymond:
Definitely. And how would you say this is different? Is the human element the big differentiator when it comes to like Amazon Wardrobe or any of the other competitors?

Eric Toda:
I think so. I think it’s really easy to plug your name into an algorithm. It’s super, super easy. But like I said, I think that by doing that you create a sea of sameness even in your own look and feel, your own style. Like how would you feel if you walk down the street and your neighbor and their neighbor, et cetera, all wear the same shirt as you because they put a bunch of boxes. You probably wouldn’t feel that great. You’d probably feel as if the person that sends that to you was like, yay, this is what people in your neighborhood likes. [crosstalk 00:29:14] It’s kind of strange, right? But I think if you have that human element, that judgment is like, no, that’s a terrible idea. We’re not going to do that. I think that human element is too powerful one that has to be in every strategy now. Because if you rely on the computer alone, you’re going to get that sameness that I dread, and as I’m think about it I’m literally cringy.

Julia Raymond:
Right. So the computer would be optimizing and with that would come a lot of the sameness. But the human element really makes a difference. That’s a good example. What do you think about personalization just in general? Do you foresee the future we’re going to each have different website home pages when we land on them. And to what extent do you think personalization will be incorporated in our everyday lives?

Eric Toda:
I think personalization is inevitable, but I think personalization is also, let’s say 20 years ago, 30 years ago, you used to walk into a bar as your favorite bar, just your local bar. The bartender says, “Hi Julia.” And passes you your favorite drink without you ever saying it. And the jukebox plays your favorite song because the bartender’s like, Hey, play her song. That’s the level of personalization that has always existed. We lost that level of personalization because of so many reasons mostly choice and like earth sprawl. But I think that level of personalization has the word personal in it and that personal in it is that connection between you and another person to that understanding. And I think that if we root personalization in that person then personal we can do it in a way that isn’t weird.

Eric Toda:
We could do it in a way that isn’t creepy, but do it in a way that’s useful and more natural. I don’t think we’ll get to a point in which everything is highly personalized for you because I think that there’s a lot of data privacy acts now going out that now will likely hinder that. But I also think that there’s got to be a point for us to say, “Okay, that’s enough.” It’s like, I don’t want you to know literally every nook and cranny about me to say, this is why you should buy this toothpaste. I liked the notion of discovery and trying different things. So it’s great that you can likely predict what I’m going to get. But I like the discovering because discovery and curiosity is what makes us human. And I think that we can’t lose that human or personal within personalization.

Julia Raymond:
I would agree. I think there are also some data challenges when it comes to an extreme level of personalization. But in the future, surely this will be solved. Well, the last thing I wanted to bring up is cannabis retail, a lot of buzz about it. I know you’re in California, one of the 11 States that have legalized recreational marijuana. So from your unique perspective, what are some industry trends that have emerged or what do you anticipate for the future of retail in terms of cannabis?

Eric Toda:
Cannabis is an incredible industry and one that has been stigmatized for a number of different unjust, and it’s somewhat racially-biased reasons. And I think with the rise of legalization of cannabis in many different States, you’re starting to see more entrepreneurship when it comes to the growers, when it comes to the retailers. But you’re also seeing something that literally has no boundaries right now. I think that it’s such like probably a pawn, but a budding industry.

Eric Toda:
And what we’re finding is that when these entrepreneurs decide to go to the cannabis industry, they need to get out in the market. However, while it’s legal, there are still so many regulations of how you can market, how you can advertise, where you can advertise and how you can use data and targeting that oftentimes again, they’re just doing what they’ve seen other brands do so therefore causing like this sea of sameness.

Eric Toda:
Now, I am very fortunate to be an advisor to a company called Fyllo, which is a digital cannabis agency that helps cannabis retailers and brands understand regulatory issues and regulatory balance. And so what we offer is services to say, okay, great, you want to speak to this customer, here’s how you can do it legally and here’s how you can do it creatively. Those two things, those two words never existed literally in the cannabis industry. Like legally and creatively. And honestly, I think that is such an opportunity for a lot of people to get into it. So I’ve been very fortunate for myself to work with Chad Bronstein, the CEO of Fyllo, to help him understand how do you do things creatively but also within the legal bounds. And I think you’re going to start seeing more and more people focused on the health aspect. You’re going to see more and more people focus on the recreational aspect.

Eric Toda:
Like the wine industry for example, or the alcohol and beverage industry as a whole. Like they focus on the lifestyle aspect and I think focusing on that lifestyle aspect is going to serve cannabis to a new consumer, but in a way that isn’t stigmatized, that isn’t from another generation that you thought cannabis was bad, but rather you’re going to see a lot of brands show the health benefits of cannabis, which are a lot of them.

Julia Raymond:
It looks like you came full circle because you wanted to get into law and you’re not necessarily in law right now, but you’re advising for a company that deals with that.

Eric Toda:
It is full circle. Well, the funny thing is I think you could tell from the way I approach marketing, the way I approached branding, it pushes the envelope quite a bit. So I actually see lawyers quite a bit throughout my journey. To tell me, Eric, this is illegal or Eric, this is not compliant with some grounds. But honestly to be able to do that versus just doing the status quo, I would take that any day of the week.

Julia Raymond:
Absolutely. And Fyllo sounds really cool. Is that almost a collective, so they work on behalf of many retailers?

Eric Toda:
Correct. Yeah. Think of it like a creative agency. You as a brand or a retailer and say, “Hey, I need some branding work. I need some help with go to market. I need some help in my media strategy. Is there something that can help me?” Fyllo steps in and says we’re full service. We could do this.

Julia Raymond:
Eric, thank you so much for all of your insights from DTC brands to innovation to the cannabis retail market. It was really fun talking with you.

Eric Toda:
Thanks for having me. This was a blast.