“You get people to trust you when you share vulnerably. Anytime you can let your personality come through, people will want to root for you.”
Special guest Taylor Capuano is the cofounder of CAKES Body, a brand dedicated to creating alternatives to the traditional bra while supporting women’s health. CAKES was in the top 1% of Shopify stores launched in 2022, has donated thousands of dollars to women’s health causes, and is surrounded by a growing community of supportive women.
Tune in as Taylor shares her experience of using TikTok to make waves in the eCommerce world. She shares her experience with supporting a brand as a spokesperson on QVC, as well as insights on how to monetize and social sell, the importance of being the face of the company, and creating unique content. Hear her advice on building trust through authenticity, and the difference between TikTok and Instagram for marketing. Discover why she doesn’t script videos and how she’s approaching influencer partnerships. Learn about key formulas and frameworks, like The Trust Factor, The Hype Girl Strategy, and Commission Breath. Get ideas for turning this innovative approach into live shopping events that convert. Taylor’s journey as a scrappy, female business owner is a testament to the power of social media for eCommerce entrepreneurs. This is a great episode if you’re interested in personifying your brand and feel ready and able to be nimble on social media.
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The Power Of Becoming The Face Of Your Brand With Taylor Capuano
Our special guest’s name is Taylor. I’m going to let her introduce her full name in a moment. She is the Co-Founder of CAKES Body. I discovered her on TikTok, and I’m delighted to have her on the show because CAKES is a standout brand in my mind. They are dedicated to creating alternatives to the traditional bra while supporting women’s health.
CAKES was in the top 1% of Shopify stores launched in 2022. They have donated thousands of dollars to women’s health causes, and they are surrounded by a growing community of supportive women. I consider myself part of it because I support everything that you are doing, Taylor. I have been blown away by the way that you promote the brand so authentically and persuasively on TikTok. I’m thrilled to have you here and connect you with Nicolas and our audience. Would you please introduce your last name?
Taylor Capuano. That felt like James Bond. I’m so excited to be here. I honestly love what you guys are doing. Since we launched, I joke that I need a downer before I talk about TikTok because I’m so passionate about social selling and the ability to monetize particularly TikTok. I’m excited about what you guys do, too, and I’m sure we will have a lot to talk about.
I couldn’t agree more. I feel like a great place to start is the evolution of your journey, which you were sharing before we started doing this with me and Nicolas on how you had some experience with QVC. It’s a platform that we often refer to when we are describing exactly what live shopping is. Would you take our audience through that journey of what it was like to do some live shopping in the more traditional sense? How that led you to the shopping type of videos that you are doing now on TikTok?
You never know how your career is going to lead you to different things. When I was 25, I was working at Life is Good, which is an apparel brand run by two charismatic, awesome guys. They needed an understudy for QVC. I didn’t know what I was doing. I’d never done anything like this. I didn’t see the connection between TikTok and QVC until later on in the TikTok journey, but I think it’s cool. I look at those hosts as the original influencers. A lot of what I learned from them is the authenticity piece. You only get people to trust you when you also share vulnerably and openly about the hard parts and the negative parts of your life, too.
I sound like a downer, but there’s this one host who would share openly about struggles she’s going through with her family, husband, and kids, and people would buy anything from her. It was that trust factor. It’s cool to see some of those elements popping up now that TikTok is so accessible. You don’t need to have a big brand with huge inventory risk to go on QVC. You can start small, which we did with literally $5,000, and grow your brand with social selling. I have a lot more to say, but there’s so much to learn from QVC. You guys are smart for being able to take that format of selling and translate it beautifully onto social.
I don’t know if we beautifully transform it, but we were trying to. What’s amazing about your story is it gets back to this notion that in some way, the QVC model is this model where it’s formalized. You have this whole production set and everything. What you are saying is, you came up with this notion of authenticity, rawness, and engagement with the users. You started to learn from that, and then you realized that that medium was resonating well with the TikTok audience. You know which audience embraced that. In a way, it reduced your barrier to launching your own company.
That is an interesting thing. I’d love to continue exploring a little further on that. Through your journey, through your videos, a lot of those videos are made by you. I wonder, when you thought about being the face of the company, was it something that was intentional? Did you at some point have to do it? How did that come out that you now became this, I won’t say TikTok star, but in some way, you are into your space and being the star of the company bringing that face on? Why not a creator, a host, or someone that has much more expertise? I’d love to hear your thought on that.
I joked before that it was out of necessity because we couldn’t afford to pay anyone. All of a sudden, I became the model, the spokesperson, and whatever. When you are just starting a brand, especially if you are bootstrapping it, you do need to wear all those hats. Our original thought is we started our Hype Girl program. We are going to send the product every day inspiring women and they are going to send us photos of them using the product and demoing the product. We will use those in our “ads.”
It turns out that’s great for Instagram, but TikTok operates completely differently where it’s not like this curated feed. It’s much more beneficial to have consistency with a single person who’s talking about the same thing. As you guys know in marketing, you have to see a message six times for it to even register with you. How much easier is it to remember someone’s face, someone’s bright, and I have a flower wallpaper behind me? If you are seeing that consistently versus a logo or someone’s brand name.
I think that was a pivotal turning point. There’s a formula we have been following that was inspired by my friend who’s successful with her brand on TikTok. One of the key pieces was, people want to follow people. People don’t want to follow brands. I can’t name one brand I follow on TikTok. I will leave it there.People don't want to follow brands. People want to follow people. Click To Tweet
That’s the reason you are here on the show right now it’s because you stuck out as the person. I think of Taylor first and CAKES second. The way that you deliver the marketing messages doesn’t even feel like marketing. It feels like you are my friend who’s telling me about something. You do such a great job of talking about the pain points. You compare it to the average product of this type. It’s not a bra, it’s like a nipple cover.
First of all, thank you. The first product we launched is an alternative to a traditional nipple cover. It’s much larger and much more seamless, and we have the largest cover on the market to fit actual women. The others are like, I don’t even know. Maybe they cover ants. Anyways, that’s where we started. It was a very simple product. It was a very inexpensive product to get started with in terms of we had low order minimums. It was accessible to us as a self-funded startup. What was your question?
You answered it because I didn’t want to identify the product wrong.
To close the loop on where we are going, through the process of launching this simple product, we have identified a much larger challenge, which the existing lingerie market does not solve for all of the unique things that women go through. We are now on a mission to create alternatives to traditional bras. If you think about what SPANX did for butts, we want to do for boobs.
That’s exactly what I was thinking of. Your brand feels a lot like what I associate with thanks. Bringing something that might not be new, but doing it in a way that’s more appealing. My follow-up question with that clarity is how you think through the marketing because it is so authentic. It’s a keyword that comes up in many of our conversations on this show. Authenticity seems to be one of the biggest recommendations, but I love to hear the specifics of the authenticity.
I think some people struggle with how they remain authentic, but also keep the sales in mind. To me, it almost seems like two separate things in a way. How can you not be salesy because that’s what authenticity sounds like? You are selling and being authentic simultaneously. Is that something that you strategize? Did that come about organically for you? Was there a formula or something in mind? Is it something that other people can replicate through the lessons they learned from you?
The number one thing to keep in mind is if you are approaching your TikTok strategy of, “How can I get my content to blow up? How can I get my content to drive sales?” That’s the completely wrong way of thinking about it. My husband calls it commission breath. It turns people off, you can tell. My approach with my TikTok is, how can I help people solve a problem that they might be having? If they are not having this problem, my product isn’t for them, and that’s fine.
I even think about that, which is why I would recommend people think about personifying their brand on TikTok, whether it’s through them or a member of their team. Infusing more values into it besides just the product. There are other solutions I try to help people solve based on my own experience of finding purpose in my career or navigating life as a working mom.
I have heard a lot of creators talking about the challenges with the algorithm, which is always changing. A lot of them are coming from the place of, “How do I get my views up?” I think if you can implement that mindset shift of, “How can I reconnect with where I can help people and provide value?” That is going to win every time.If you can implement that mindset shift of 'How can I reconnect with where I can help people and provide value?' that is going to win every time. Click To Tweet
I love that you are saying that because when we talk to clients, in times of objection. When we are in conversation with folks, one of the big objections we have is obviously, “Who is doing my live? Where do I do my live?” I experienced that over the weekend when I was at NRF, “I don’t have the right product for this.” The other thing that I’m hearing quite often is like, “We only have 3 or 4 products. The video is not for us because we can’t speak about the same product over and over every day or on a live stream.”
Here, you are taking this whole thing, and then you are blowing it away. I don’t want to come through in a negative way regarding a product, but I don’t think it’s like a shiny diamond or something that people will say, “The product solves a problem. It has a real function. It addresses a problem and solves it in a good way.” It’s nothing fancy. It might transform your life having it, but it’s not a new iPhone or something that you can talk about forever. There’s always something new to tell about it.
Yet, you are able to create content because the way you phrase it, it’s not about the product. The product has ingredients, and those ingredients won’t change. They have a shape and they won’t change. You are able to phrase a conversation with your audience about it, and you do it daily almost, so you do create content.
The other thing that amazed me is it’s nothing about the product. The fact that you don’t have many products is also not a problem. I think that’s powerful because something that I see a lot of entrepreneurs struggling with. They are like, “It’s not for me because of that.” I’d love for you to tell them, why do you think it’s for them?
I want to make sure everyone knows I don’t work for TikTok, but I’m going to tell you why everyone should be on TikTok. You can sell anything on TikTok besides maybe heart transplant surgery or something. Even that, you could sell. Just for context, we launched with one single product in three different shades, and now we are in the process of developing more.
In one year, we hit over $1 million in revenue, and 90% of those sales were driven by organic TikTok. We did not put $1 behind any of that content. That means our customer acquisition cost was zero. If we were to have launched with more products, we would not have been successful on TikTok. We got good, and it took us a while. It took us probably two months of being consistent multiple times a day posting on TikTok to get our first viral hit, which completely sold us out in one day.
What I would say to anyone is to get on TikTok. Part of the process is putting out a ton of content, and you will find what works. The algorithm rewards consistency. I would also say one of the crucial pieces to any TikTok strategy or probably any social selling strategy is pain and tension. Finding some pain point or a way that your product can help people. It doesn’t have to be a physical problem like ours is, it could be emotional or spiritual.
Do you experiment with going live on TikTok? That’s a relatively new shift that we are seeing because creators have been going live for a long time, but live selling is something that’s evolving in the United States. Is that something that you are working on, have worked on, or planning on working on with CAKES?
I would love to. We should talk and I will get your expertise on that. I have a friend, her jewelry brand is called PlayHardLookDope. Her name is Ebony Mackey. She gave me this whole roadmap that I have followed. It’s worked and helped us a ton. She goes live a few times a week, and she excels at social selling through the live platform. There’s something there. I can’t bite it off at this exact moment, but I’m so excited about it. It’s huge.
We are not properly supporting TikTok, but we have seen a lot of our customers that come to us also selling on TikTok. What I’m hearing is that TikTok is an interesting platform, especially if you have a following. Even if you don’t have a following. You need to have at least 1,000 followers to go live. That’s the thing for them to get you in, but once you are in, and then when you start selling, the difference between someone that wins and someone that doesn’t win is the consistency. Bottom line.
That’s something that Michael from The Bond Wise had mentioned and is very passionate about. You have to be there consistently. Your audience has to know about it. If you do that, then you are going to be promoted. We have seen some TikTok live where you have over 7,000 people on that live. When you have an audience like that, it’s a relatively curated audience, because that’s what the beauty of TikTok is. It creates the content, then all of a sudden, if people can buy, then it makes for a powerful sales channel, for sure.
I don’t know if you guys see this too, but I think with live selling, regardless of the format or the social channel, anytime you can let your personality come through, people will want to root for you. I mentioned that I had a harder time selling on QVC than I do on TikTok for my brand. That was one of the struggles.
On QVC where I was representing another brand, there were talking points I had to hit. There were product-related points I wanted to get in to make our team happy with how we represented the brand. There was a lot of pressure around being portrayed in a certain way and representing the brand in a certain way. Versus, when you can let your true personality come through. That’s whether you as a founder are the “face” of your brand, or maybe you have a representative from your team whom you feel more comfortable with. It doesn’t matter who it is. You should empower them to be themselves. Whatever they like, they should bring to the cell.
Given that you have that perspective and the experience of both being the spokesperson or brand rep for a brand that you were not a founder of, or you were not deeply involved with in the way that a core team member would be, for instance. Now, be the face of your brand and the spokesperson for your brand. If you were to hire somebody else to either join you or replace you in being the face, what would you look for and how would you train them to be as successful, if not more successful in that job?
That’s one of our goals right now. There’s a risk to being very dependent on one person when you think about your revenue streams. I love the idea of having other people speak about the brand. We have a couple of people on our team who do. We are diversifying our influencer strategy right now. What I would look for is genuine love and excitement, because energy is contagious. You can feel it through any screen, you can feel the excitement, and that’s so contagious. Also, I would say, let them figure it out and don’t give too much direction, because that’s when I see things feel too scripted and it’s such a turnoff. It’s a challenging line when you are trying to drive sales. There’s not just one way to do it and not one way to talk about a certain product.Energy is contagious. You can feel it through any screen. Click To Tweet
There’s something that I have been thinking about. It was a conversation that we had with one of our previous guests, Josh. He said that once upon a time when you were making a video of a product, and he was for a product then he was following you through the whole life of this product. With the TikTok era, we are now in this moment where that video has a life of a day or 2 or 3 until the next one comes up.
I wonder if you feel that, because you say, “Bring on someone. Let them try. Let them experiment.” Are you leveraging this notion of, regardless of what’s going to happen, that video is not going to stay here, and there’s nothing wrong about a video that can be detrimental to the company? Do you still have a fear of letting someone represent the brand because that video can live somewhere and maybe misrepresent? Based on everything you experiment with, I wonder where you are on that.
Social media moves so fast. What you are asking is if the pressure is taken off a little bit because it’s a flash in the pan. I feel both ways. To be honest, it’s empowering to be a small scrappy brand in the era of social media we are in, where we have one person who works full-time on our team. She will bring me these raunchy lyrics for a trend that’s going around. I’m like, “Just do it. We don’t need to go through crazy approvals. This is trending. It’s not offending anyone in particular. Let’s go for it.”
It’s cool to be able to do that. To your point, it takes the pressure off knowing things are moving fast people. That’s why some people who are more creatives and intellectuals, not to diss myself, but have a hard time with the format because they are like, “I’m going to put time into this.” It’s only a flash in the pan.
That works well for me because I’m a space cadet, I like to move fast, and I’m very impatient. It takes the pressure off of, “You can’t let perfection be the enemy of the good,” and just get something good out there. That being said, things can be found later on. In general, I agree with you. It takes a ton of the pressure off just knowing how fast things move.You can't let perfection be the enemy of good. Just get something good out there. Click To Tweet
I’m so glad that you touched upon this because I imagine various brands, perhaps based on their size or perhaps based on their comfort with taking risks, may take a while to get out content on a platform like TikTok or even live. Things are moving fast. If you are live, there’s a big opportunity to make mistakes. Even when you are not live, let’s say you are doing a recorded TikTok video, if you are moving quickly, you might do something that accidentally offends. You might mess up something and nobody catches it. I’m curious about what the behind-the-scenes is like for you.
It’s a two-part question. One, do you script your videos? Do you plan them out? Are you considering things like trends while you are doing that? Two, how much time do you spend on these videos? Is it just like, “Let’s do it in one take,” or maybe a few takes and then move on? Is it a longer process where you are very intentional but simultaneously remain authentic and it takes a while with a lot of thought and carefulness involved?
I want to go back to what you said. That point is so important, and it’s such a huge opportunity for either smaller startup brands or maybe established brands that are able to be nimble and move fast. Whether you are talking about like a livestream cell that you want to do consistently or just pumping out a lot of TikTok content a day. If you are able to move quickly, you will be with the trends.
At my last company, I would get a brief for a TikTok. They found out about my side hustle, so they are like, “Can you do TikToks for us?” They sent me a brief for three months from now. I’m like, “This trend is over tomorrow. This sound will not be trending in five minutes.” This is why I’m so excited about brands that are willing to be nimble and able to get over the red tape and the corporate approvals to be able to compete in this era. That was my rant.
In terms of process, I don’t script any of my videos and I don’t think you ever should. Someone gave me good advice when I was on QVC. They are like, “Think about it as index cards. What are the three points you want to get in?” It’s sometimes better to say less and put a period on it than say everything you want to say. I don’t script my videos. I spend a lot of time thinking about how we want to communicate a message. Anyone can do the editing. There’s so much technology out there right now to make it accessible truly to anyone.
There’s also something I want to point out in your strategy as it relates to videos. Obviously, in preparation, I had a chance to browse your website and there’s this FAQ page. On this FAQ page, I was so surprised to see so many videos. I was like, “What a great thing.” Instead of doing a boring FAQ page like 99% and I’m one of them. You are taking this notion of, “I’m good at the video. I have tons of content that I have created anyway. Let me repurpose that to take it and answer some of the main questions that the customer has.”
I know more about bras right now than I ever will think I will know because I watched every single video. I end up saying, “I haven’t done much of the preparation, but I have watched a bunch of fun videos.” It was interesting, so it made me go through all those videos and made me go back to this notion that we have been talking quite a bit on the show. There’s the live element of it, but there’s also the video element of it, and what can you do with your content having it on your website?
When you have videos on your website, it increases the lens. Your site becomes a destination. People stay more engaged on your site, they watch your video. I wonder when you created that, did you have the FAQ page with the video from the get-go? Is it something that you say, “Why don’t we leverage that?” Did you see some difference and can you comment on that?
I’m so glad you saw it. We just relaunched our website. I haven’t seen any major changes based on that yet, but people’s attention span is so short. If you can portray something visually, it’s probably millions of times better than just text. I have even noticed on TikTok, sometimes videos with people talking, which is crucial on the platform, don’t do as well a five-second eye-catching visual. Keep in mind how short people’s attention spans are, and to your point, being able to repurpose all that incredible content that you are getting from your live streams on your website, talking about products, and making it work hard for you. It looked bad before, so I’m glad that you saw the new one.
You are embodying the evolution and the benefits of experimenting through all of this. I think that’s a massive takeaway. You used the word nimble earlier, and I love that description for your company and a great word that people can use to evaluate where they are at. It’s the question, “Are you being nimble? Are you willing to be nimble? Are you willing to take risks? Are you willing, as Nicolas pointed out, to stumble, maybe make some mistakes, and learn from it?” Knowing that there’s a huge advantage with both short-form video content and live content because things are moving so quickly. Someone might forget the mistake that you made, or not even care.
To one of your greater points, Taylor, that shows your humanity and your authenticity. If you are approaching things with that natural desire to connect with people and to help them solve their problems, even if you do make a mistake, it’s not seen as something negative because it’s coming from that desire to help and maybe that’s helping bring you closer to them. You were a beautiful example of that.
I have loved hearing the behind-the-scenes. You certainly did a great job in inspiring people to play around with TikTok, reevaluate their strategy, and utilize the power of video on their website, as Nicolas has pointed out, as a way to connect with people. Hopefully, in the future, we will see you experiment more with live content, which is exactly what we are here to support companies and amazing spokespeople like yourself with. Just evaluating how it can play a role.
Nicolas, I loved your point of bringing in why some people don’t consider live to begin with. What a great example CAKES is that you can turn one product into so many pieces of content and a never-ending list of ways to address people’s challenges, questions, and needs. I have enjoyed talking with you, Taylor, and all of your great questions, Nicolas. It’s interesting to listen to.
Thank you both. It’s so nice to meet you guys.
Tell us where we can find you.
Maybe go get yourself a pair of CAKES. Maybe you are like Nicolas, and you can buy them for someone else in your life, not for yourself. Although, Taylor said that men buy CAKES, too.
I don’t want to be misleading. That’s a suggestion though, apparently, from male runners. They need some nipple guards.
That’s so great. I can see with a shift in the branding how could be helpful. As we learn more through people that are outspoken about gender, is that people’s bodies don’t always align with their gender. It’s important to look at something like this in all the universal properties and not limit it, which could certainly add to your video content in the future.
We are working on revamping our website a bit, too. If you check it out in the near future, you will see some beautiful new blog posts for every single episode. Speaking of episodes, we have the backlog and future episodes coming up every Tuesday. If you haven’t subscribed yet, we would love to have you as part of that community. Any questions you have can be added to our private community over in The Live eCommerce world.
Nicolas runs this amazing group of people, including guests that we have had on the show. We hope to see Taylor there. Audiences, people that are interested in Live eCommerce and video content, the Creator Economy. We have so much there for you to support you with your journey. Thanks again to Taylor and Nicolas. To you, the reader, we will be back again. Bye for now.