Interview by Evan Faber

Brands with Moxie Sozo
001 Good Day Chocolate

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Join us in a conversation with co-founder Simeon Margolis as we explore this sweet (and sometimes bittersweet) journey.

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Good Day Chocolate began with a most noble mission: a doctor wanting a better way to help soothe his young patients post-tonsillectomy. Dr. Andy started crafting calming lollipops in his kitchen and is now a global brand found in over 15,000 stores worldwide. Watch, listen or read their story below.

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Evan Faber Welcome to the inaugural episode of brands with Moxie Sozo. My name is Evan Faber. I’m the CEO and Chief Strategist of Moxie Sozo. We are a branding agency based in Boulder, Colorado. Moxie Sozo translates to the bold application of intelligence and creativity.

Throughout this series, we’re going to explore the bold moves brands make: their wins their losses, and their learnings. And we’re going to kick things off with talking to one of our longest clients, Simeon Margolis from Good Day Chocolate. We’ve been working with them for a number of years now and we were there when they came to the office with their prototype in just a baggie and now they’ve advanced quite away from that, but Good Day Chocolate began in the kitchen of Dr. Andy, who was an ear, nose and throat doctor as well as a facial plastic surgeon, and he was looking to create a responsibly-dosed, dietary supplement that could taste good. Simeon Margolis was a longtime friend of his and he has a background in international marketing for RCA Records and Island Def Jam Music join the team and the two of them grew this brand from scratch. So this is the story of a brand that began from scratch and now has international distribution and the challenges they faced along the way.

So without further ado, my name is Evan Faber and this is brands with Moxie Sozo. Simeon, thank you so much for joining us today. Good Day Chocolate is a brand that’s been near and dear to Moxie’s heart for many, many years. We’ve been there since the inception and you all have taken it into amazing, amazing places. And so first off, just thank you for being here. We’re excited to have you.

Simeon Margolis Thanks for having me. And thanks to you guys for being here. You guys really were at the inception of this brand. So fun to be doing this, particularly with you guys.

Evan Faber
Awesome. Well, just to kick things off. Could you let everyone know, just tell us a little bit more about Good Day Chocolate. What it is, what it hopes to be?

Simeon Margolis
Sure yeah, so Good Day Chocolate, we affectionately refer to as “chocolate with benefits.” So an indulgent treat. Some people even call it nostalgic, it’ll remind you of an adult-sized M&M, but with a functional supplement inside. So if you have trouble sleeping, as you can see from the banner behind me, if you need a pick-me-up in the form of an energy product, or perhaps you’re struggling with stress or anxiety, where our Calm product would be, you know, a great alternative to, you know, some of the other remedies. And it’s really in that kind of magic between the mood enhancer of chocolate, that we all reach for instinctually. And then the really pharmaceutical-grade supplements that we’re including within that delicious treat, to provide extra relief for that need state that you might find yourself in, whether it’s wired, tired or tense.

Evan Faber
Totally. And I know that your partner in this Dr. Andy, had that vision early on, of how can we deliver an anecdote or what could be a new vehicle for offering people better access to these to these supplements?

Simeon Margolis
Absolutely, I mean, the origin story for the brand really begins in Andy’s medical practice where if you go way, way all the way back, it started as medicinal lollipops. The first one was for kids actually before and after a tonsillectomy, to numb their throat and their mouth, and that was really the genesis of the of the notion of a sweet delivery mechanism for a functional ingredient and, and what drove Andy to really start thinking about that and I walked into Andy’s kitchen. I’ve known Andy since I was 11 years old. So we joke that the blood is thicker than the chocolate at Good Day Chocolate.

We had not lived in the same city for a few years when I moved to Boulder in 2011. I walked into Andy’s kitchen in January 2011. And he was mixing energy premix and caramel on his stovetop. It smelled like a candy factory in his house. Everybody was running around all energized and that was that was the moment when we when we started messing around with it and teamed up. So Andy had already been working on this notion of a sweet delivery mechanism for a functional ingredient. And we just iterated and iterated and iterated. Obviously caramel turned to chocolate, candy-coated chocolate, multifunction, right about the time that you guys got involved. In fact, Moxie Sozo was the genesis of the multifunction. We were really an energy play before you guys came along, and said, Well, if you’re going to do this, why don’t we broaden the horizons, I remember that meeting well, and you guys were, you know, extremely informative of the path that we went from there and the direction that we took the whole brand.

Evan Faber
It’s incredible, and what a novel product, the category has expanded since 2010 when the lollipops are being made to 2013 I think when the brand finally went live, but we might take it a little more for granted that we have these novel delivery systems for supplements but at that time in 2013, to be putting these things into chocolate was an incredibly brave move and courageous move. So you started it from scratch. How big are you now?

Simeon Margolis
Gosh, we’re about 10 people. We’ll probably do about $10 million in revenue this year. And, gosh, we have a portfolio now of 10-15 products and skus out there. Ironically, now in these Coronavirus days, we’re actually bringing that in, and focusing more on the the core Sleep, Energy, and Calm products that are really core to our value proposition and to our consumer benefits. But yeah, it has grown. It has grown quickly. And I think you guys know, and I’m sure it’s a theme that will emerge as as these talks keep doing, and certainly one that I noticed and I think many of the professional commentators notice on entrepreneurship in general, that it really is about timing, right. I mean, we were probably still too early in 2013.

We finally put it on shelf at the way-end of 2014. And we were probably still a little bit too early, just in terms of consumer trends and consumers willingness to understand something that was genuinely new. But obviously, we stuck with it. And it’s grown a lot since then. And again, to Moxie’s credit for recognizing that this was more than just an energy product or a sleep product or a calm product or a kids line or an adult line, that it was really a household brand that we could, that we could build in this unique form factor that everybody loves.

Evan Faber
We deal with so many clients that are visionaries, they have ideas that are ahead of their time. They have huge ambitions to change a category or a conversation in society. It’s incredible so when you said that you were early to market and you weathered that storm. How? How did you weather that storm? How did you hang in there? How did you protect the business and ensure you could wait for people to catch up to the need?

Simeon Margolis
Yeah I mean, I’m still wondering that. I’m not sure I have a great answer for that. It really is a question of survival. I think for any entrepreneur for any new brand, really, when you are starting something from nothing, it never ever goes the way that you think it’s going to go. I don’t know another brand or another person who would say differently that it’s not, you know, two steps forward and three steps back and you know, five steps forward and 10 steps back and then a whole bunch, you know, and it’s just very herky jerky and you try to keep your eye on your North Star and and the long-term vision for what you’re trying to accomplish. You know, for us, it became very obvious, very quickly, that the thing that we set out to do was the thing that consumers wanted, it was, you know, providing some semblance of control over your day.

And it was providing relief to people for the need state that they were in. And providing that indulgence. We don’t deny people their sweet tooth. We think that you could eat less. And that’s the point. Have a piece. Have two pieces. Have three or four pieces. But you don’t need to sit there with an entire trough of candy to satisfy your sweet tooth and hey, you can get a functional benefit out of it as a result. But yeah, I mean, we’re we’re here for the good graces of a product that sells, and has sold since we put it on shelf with great velocities because we’ve been successful in raising venture capital from a very active community. And because we’ve been able to do business with great retailers who have their own priorities, just as venture capitalists do, just as competition does, but grit and persistence and a product that sells help along the way.

Evan Faber
Certainly, and you mentioned a North Star that you had, certainly that North Star translated into the type of product you were producing, and it met the human need. Do you also think that the North Star you had from a business-model perspective was also part of the reason why you weathered those early days where you, if you don’t know what the strategy was to grow the business but had you take an aggressive approach versus more of a modest approach, like in those early days, were you looking at that side, and maybe adjusting expectations at all.

Simeon Margolis
Right. Yeah. Well, I think we still adjust expectations every day. Right? It’s, it’s fighting against entropy just as everybody does. But yeah, I think that’s one of the things that we, I don’t want to say we got it right, but that we had our eye on, from early on.

We knew that we were doing something very new, and it’s no disrespect to the vast challenges that every other consumer product brand and food brand faces, but we recognized actually pretty early, that there was no aisle for us to sit in.

Right. There was no chip set or bar set or ice cream or yogurt or produce or meat or bakery. There was no place where people were walking in saying “where’s my functional chocolate.” And so we knew that whatever we did, the strategy of how we did it needed to fit inside of itself from end to end. And so for, for that we knew from like, from a product perspective, we knew that it needed to be insanely indulgent, right? Like you needed to actually enjoy this, you couldn’t eat a piece and go, alright, well, it was acceptable. I guess I’ll choke it down because it works. That wasn’t gonna work.

We knew it actually had to work and it had to be effective. And even when you look at the packaging that we worked on together, we knew that you know, everybody along the way said don’t do that packaging. Don’t do that packaging. You can’t do that little box that you guys have. There’s there’s no way to scale it up. There’s no machinery in the US that’ll make it, nobody understands it. And that was the point to us. It was like right. Nobody is looking for this. Therefore we need to stand out and be at least a curiosity to people, the uniqueness of the value proposition, the uniqueness of the product itself needs to be reflected in the uniqueness of the brand as well as the packaging that the brand sits on top of, or the imagery, I should say. And so I think that that’s the maybe the only thing we’ve gotten right, right from the beginning is is we recognize that we recognize that for lack of a better term, we were doing category creation, and to category create much the way that Five Hour Energy did (not that I’m trying to compare us to Five Hour Energy), you know, Five Hour Energy, did, in many ways employ that same strategy.

Now you can say what you want about the taste of the product, but it works. It was in an exceptionally unique package, positioned in exceptionally unique places with I mean, maybe not the most beautiful brand like the one that you guys helped us create, but certainly unique. And so we recognize that pretty early on, then we’ve been adjusting against all the other market factors ever since.

Evan Faber
Yeah, I want to talk a little bit about that strategy, because it’s one that a lot of entrepreneurs face. And that is they’re creating a new category. And they’re trying to balance some kind of consumer education and trying to figure out “How do I focus my messaging and my marketing dollars?” Like, how do I get people to understand what this is, understand the need, and I think sometimes they go into an over educational overload where they’re trying to communicate everything all at once, and it becomes a lecture and not an experience. You mentioned the word we wanted to be a “curiosity.” And that’s such a fascinating thing. There’s an old saying that if you want to sell a surprise, make it familiar. And if you want to sell something familiar, make it a surprise. But you seem to be saying, yeah, curiosity was your angle. So for people trying to navigate creating a new category, what should they be leaning into, to inspire that initial trial?

Simeon Margolis
So first of all, don’t create a new category. Don’t do it! It is uh, you know, we really did survive till now because the product is great and because the brand is great and because there is a curiosity, and we priced it right and we like to say that, you know, in so many things, including life, the old cliché is, you know, expectations are up here, right and reality is down here and the gap between those two things is disappointment. Kind of life, right. And we’d like to say that the inverse is true of Good Day Chocolate, that when you first approach the brand and begin to understand it, your expectations kind of start down here, where it’s like, it’s too cute. It’s not gonna taste that great, and it’s not gonna work. But it fits in the palm of my hand. And it’s so cute. And I’m so curious what’s inside, and it’s on sale for $2.50 cents. I’m gonna buy it. So your expectations are way down here. And then you get it to the car or you get at home that night. And oh my gosh, that tastes really good. Tastes just like, Wait, is that better than an M&M, holy cow. And it actually helped me sleep tonight or it actually gave me energy, and now all of a sudden this gap is joy. Right? And is like this aha! moment rather than being disappointed. So that’s what we’ve been leveraging that consumer experience, you know, really from from day one.

But to answer your actual question, you know, you for us, we again, recognized pretty early on, that both doing category creation and education at the same time was going to be logistically too challenging to pull off. And way, way too expensive for a brand of our size and financed the way that we were. And so we made a pretty conscious decision early on, that we were not going to educate. That we were simply going to look for the categories and the subcategories on the marketplace that were clearly lasting categories, that were fiery in their consumer base, that had a passionate consumer base. And we were simply going to be the delicious chocolate alternative delivery mechanism for that category. So whether that was energy, where you would traditionally get your energy from a shot or from a beverage or calm where you were either, you know, sipping tea, or mixing a potion, or listening to meditation, or sleep where you were taking a pill or a tablet or a gummy, or again drinking a drink, we were going to rely on all of those companies who are generally much larger than us to do the education, then we were just going to sit there on the shelf, as the curiosity purchase promising the same thing at the right price point and in a chocolate form factor.

You know, we are not a billion dollar brand. So maybe our thesis is right, maybe our thesis is wrong, but we’ve stuck to that even through the introduction of things like tumeric, right, where plenty of questions around what it does and why take it and, and that’s true of any kind of new in-vogue ingredient that we are or are not currently producing. And it’ll continue to be our ethos that we’re not out there waxing poetic about the benefits of tumeric. That’s for the other guys to do. We are going to be the chocolate that you wanted to buy anyway.

Evan Faber
It’s a fascinating approach because there are a couple things that stood out. Number one, you weren’t just borrowing, you couldn’t borrow what other brands are doing inside of your category to educate, you were borrowing from neighboring categories, categories that were outside that were educating the population and saying, Look, they’re doing that for us. Let’s just show up at the right time. And, and your tactics seem to have been psychological and emotional. And oftentimes, in you know, we talk a lot about the importance of that and branding of like feelings, making somebody feel something that a feeling will drive an action. Logic just justifies that action.

Simeon Margolis
Right.

Evan Faber
And so oftentimes it can feel squishy as you’re thinking about a business plan or model of, we’re going to spark curiosity, we’re going to, you know, provide these triggers that make people, emotional triggers that make people want to gravitate towards something, but how powerful that can be.

Simeon Margolis
It gets back to your category creation question, right? where it’s like, I can’t think of another way to do it than in an emotional way, right? Especially for us with an emotional product in chocolate, right and emotional and moody and need-state driven products. It’s exactly it, if you’re not focused on you know, we’re super passionate about the emotion that goes into our product and the emotion that people feel and the like we were talking about earlier, that end-to-end experience of how you discover it, where you discover and how much you’re paying for it, the delight that you get eating it. The experience that you have taking it and feeling the relief all the way back to repeat purchasing that product, that almost the entire cycle is, to a degree, an emotional one when you’re creating a new category.

Evan Faber
Totally. And so I think we’ll revisit that end-to-end experiences you just described it. We’ll talk a little bit about expansion, and then a little bit about how you’re handling today and the current situation, and how that might have changed the end-to-end experience, what that looks like, how you’ve already mentioned, how it’s changing where you’re focusing on a product line, but we’ll get to that in a minute. But going back now in time, you were early to market, you weathered the storm, you gained initial traction, and now you’ve decided to start expanding into new categories. What was that moment like? What were the factors leading up to that decision? What were you hoping to accomplish with it?

Simeon Margolis
You know in some ways I feel as though we’ve gotten a lot of our innovation wrong. It’s one of the areas where there are types of innovation for instance introducing the product in different form factors and by that I mean not outside of chocolate, but you know traditionally people think of our brand is a little box (I’m sorry I don’t have one right now). The little box of chocolate with eight pieces in it with the face on it. In fact so much so, that when I would mention to somebody, “oh yeah I work with Good Day Chocolate,” they go no, don’t know them, and I’d say “you know the boxes with the face.” Oh, yeah, yeah, the box with the face on it that says energy or calm or you’re right, that one. And so, moving from that to larger format, you know, 50-count and 80-count bottles, you know introducing it for kids. And as a value pantry item for adults. Those were those were natural successes. Because I think again, it comes to listening to consumers and considering people’s experience. So much of our consumer base is use-case driven. I’m getting on a plane, the in-laws are coming over, right, the 2:30 slump, and and that use case is really well complemented by the little box. It’s always there just in time. It’s in the car console. It’s in the top drawer of the desk. It’s in my pocket. It’s in my purse. But plenty of our consumers, when we were doing that, in the early days, would ask, Hey, can you sell this to me in a larger size? Because now I love it and it just sits on my desk or in my pantry. So could you sell it to me in a larger size at a better value? And hey, could I give this to my kids? Because my kids are really hyper or my kids having a sleep issue this week. Is it safe for them and so those those pieces of innovation were really easy to come up with because we didn’t come up with them, our consumers came up with them. We just listened. When you start considering things like tumeric, I think that we, I think that it’s a valid product that sells with good velocity, people love it. It should have been called something else. It should have been called “joint” or you know “relief,” something that speaks to the consumer and the benefit just the way that Sleep and Energy and Calm do Our Probiotic product should have been called Tummy. Right? Because that’s what we’re addressing. We’re addressing your stomach and your digestive system. And so, you know, in some ways, we’ve gotten it right, in some ways we’ve gotten it wrong. I think the thing that we’ve really discovered is that need states mood states, mood, fits with chocolate in a much more compelling manner than, you know, a tumeric or a multivitamin, or things like that. I love telling the story. We went down to Walmart and got in an Uber from the airport in Bentonville. And you know, these guys, they see people like us every day, ah you going to pitch Walmart on something. What do you make? You got any samples? You know, he just struck up the conversation like that. And we said, oh we make, chocolate with benefits. Oh, chocolate, I got a story for you about chocolate.

He said when I was a kid, I was like a really big, obese kid. And my parents didn’t know what to do about it. And I loved chocolate. Loved it. It’s all I wanted to eat. So one day, my mom said to me, You aren’t allowed to eat anything but chocolate. And they did it for two weeks, basically. The kid was not allowed to eat anything except chocolate. And he said to this day, I can’t touch it. They completely traumatized me on chocolate. I hate it now. I don’t want it. He was really thin guy. And it there was like this. There was this moment that went off in our heads we’re like right, when you make somebody do something, or in other words, you make somebody comply with a multivitamin, say, and you put it in a treat, like Good Day Chocolate, by forcing somebody to do it every day you’re taking the treat out of the treat. Right. And there’s no joy in complying with something that you’ve agreed to either with your doctor or with yourself for health reasons.

Now that isn’t to say that they’re not valid products. Our kids multivitamin does very well. Though I would suggest that that is a need-state for the parent who has decided that the kid needs to eat the thing and this makes it easier for them. And certainly our other products sell well as well. But that passionate consumer base, that extreme velocity that, you know, aha moment for consumers, it really marries up in our form factor with things like Sleep and Energy and Calm and for sure some of the innovation that you’ll be seeing from us in the future.

Evan Faber
Nice. Well come for the brand tip stay for the parenting tips.

Simeon Margolis
Exactly.

Evan Faber
But it’s not prescriptive. It’s it’s very much indulgent. And it’s interesting because obviously, we’re seeing a rise in wellness trends, health trends, and I think people do approach it with such rigidity, that when they even bend, they break. And part of the struggle of why people, it’s so hard to adapt the wellness is because they prescribe these things to themselves and don’t give them the flexibility to enjoy the process of it. Not just struggling and slogging through a process to get to the result. And it’s the cliche of the journey and the destination and all that but it’s true.

Simeon Margolis
It is a struggle. It is bad. For you guys as well, right?

Evan Faber
Certainly. Absolutely. Well, very cool. So there was a little bit of a decision of, Hey, we might be giving up some of our equity of this box, you know, and moving into these other formats, but we have a strong support, we’ve listened to the consumers. And that’s one of the things that I think will be interesting to see in the future. Because in the past, there’s always been this wall: we’re the company, you’re the consumer, you funnel through this wall and some things get through and some things don’t. I would love to see more collaboration between brands and consumers, like really opening up to make the consumers part of not just the tribe, or the community we’re building but a fundamental part of the company and what its mission can be and, and becomes more of a collective movement and a collaborative back and forth where the company is responding to the changing needs because they have this openness and that might be a strategy we talked a little bit about how to combat during COVID times but wanted to mention you know, one of the other things you expanded into was CBD, and you’re not alone.

Simeon Margolis
No, that category got created real quick!

Evan Faber
Real quick and, and so you know, what’s that been like? And how are you looking to have a presence in the conversations taking place?

Simeon Margolis
Gosh, CBD it’s funny it is one of the most passionate user-bases you know consumers that we have. But it is for a brand like us, I think that you know when you want to talk about expectations and reality…you know the gap being disappointment (not that CBD is disappointing), I personally am a big user of our CBD Sleep product it works incredibly well people who have tried it agree and are some of our highest repeat purchase rates are on CBD products because you know it tastes nothing like CBD, like that kind of funky, you know, bottom of a bong kind of thing that a lot of the other products on the market that are edible have going on. You know, just like our conventional line, we figured a lot out about how to implement that product and make it a real joy to eat and also make it highly effective. The regulatory environment is real, not that we’ve gotten in trouble, but it is limiting to the opportunity right now for a brand like us. We do well with it, you know, on our website in the funnels that we have, where we’re proud to be part of the fresh time Fresh Market set. We know that there are other opportunities out there, but it’s not core to the operations of our brand. So you know, strategically again, as a brand it makes a ton of sense. It is a functional ingredient. It is used largely when it’s not prescriptive, for you know, unfortunate conditions like epilepsy. Most people, a lot of people are using it for stress, and for sleep issues. And so our brand as a trusted brand, that was already playing and swimming in those value propositions, it did and it still continues to make a ton of sense. Strategically as a business, the opportunity is still exceptionally restricted because of the regulatory environment. And so the amount of resources that we pour into promoting it ,or to expanding that line are really going to be reliant upon how quickly or how slowly the environment in general opens up. Certainly when our key customers like Whole Foods and Kroger and Target and CVS and others, begin carrying edible CBD alternatives, we’re pretty confident that we have a trusted brand and we’re a good brand to do business with, and consumers like us, and we’re already on shelf, that we have an incredible opportunity in front of us but it is one of those things to your earlier comment that you just got to kind of navigate the bumps short-term strategically to survive. To take advantage of that opportunity,

Evan Faber
Truly, we could have a whole conversation on the CBD category, there’s so much to be said, it’s projected to be a $20 billion market by 2024. And brands should be ready, not waiting to react once those regulations are lifted, but proactively as soon as it’s lifted, they’re there.

Simeon Margolis
Yeah.

Evan Faber
And you were wise, extending into the new space with Original and Sleep and Calm and the big sellers that people have known you for, to get that support.

Simeon Margolis
It’s fun to have those conversations with the big retailers, right, where you, you kind of know what’s gonna happen you take the mask off, here’s what we’re making, and they all go “Uh huh.” You know, so what I’m supposed to say is, X-retailer currently is not able to carry you know, edible CBD products and then it’s like so, but it’s really good to know that you guys are making it and that one day when this all shakes itself out that we can buy it from you. It’s like yeah, that’s exactly the point. And it’s kind of exactly the strategy right now. It’s waiting in the wings. For those who discover it, we hope they enjoy it. They seem to be enjoying it. It fits in with the brand ethos. It’s highly effective. It’s delicious. It’s all of that. It’s just not our bread and butter.

Evan Faber
Yeah, yep, totally. If I was really talented, I would have a good segue now from the conversation into where we are today. And COVID but instead I’m just going to pull a parking brake.

Simeon Margolis
Thank you.

Evan Faber
Here we are, maybe the the only certain thing about these times is I will get communications consistently telling me about how uncertain these times are. It is a challenging time. And so, just with the blanket open question of how has this affected you?

Simeon Margolis
Yeah. Dramatically, on a personal business note, on an entrepreneurial note, it is everything all at once, right. It is the most challenging moment that I have ever faced at this company or any of the previous companies that I’ve worked on. And it is simultaneously the most engaging, most exciting, most head-on-fire engaged moment also. And that’s, I’m discovering about myself on a personal note that that’s why I do this. I think it’s pretty thankless. It’s a very lonely experience. But that like head-on-fire engagement, in-the-zone putting together a puzzle that seems impossible. Yeah, the 10,000 piece puzzle that’s all the same color-type of thing, that for some sick reason really excites me, really gets me going. And so I feel almost selfish saying that because there’s so much pain right now in the world and there’s so much suffering and I see people, everything from exceptionally sick and dying to just really bored and going out of their their gourds. And I feel so lucky to live where we live and to have something like this, to be engaged with and to be working on. That said, it’s been an extreme challenge of everything from supply chain disruptions, to decreased velocities on shelf to insane increased velocities online, to challenges in the fundraising department in the middle of something like this. We were, you know, as a brand, we were going out for a fundraise when COVID-19 hit. We were in San Francisco doing pitches in late February, early March. And we could kind of see it coming. It was on the news. It was a topic in late February, we were like, okay, we’ll figure this out. It’ll blow over and then you know, it’s not going to be as bad as anybody thinks, well, obviously, it was 10 times as bad and continues to be, and so not a good time to be with poor liquidity, right heading into something like this when you’re unable to fundraise, but an incredible time to have the team that we have and the product that we have and the ability that we have you know, I joke with the team all the time that we basically hired a bunch of entrepreneurs, even if they didn’t realize that they were. And so everybody on the team is exceptionally fluid in their thought and exceptionally creative and really gritty, and just ready to kind of dig in and figure stuff out. And so, that has allowed us over the course of the last month-and-a-half really here to make really like seismic decisions and act upon them really, really quickly to get the business pivoted from being heavily reliant upon brick and mortar. Right. That was we didn’t talk all the way through it. But part of that strategy was the discovery strategy of being in impulse locations with our cute little box. And man if we weren’t about to lean into that hard in 2020 and we were queuing up programs with every retailer that we were in to be positioning dump-ins and over-the-belt placements, and all of this budget and all of this effort and all of this marketing going towards creating more impulse occasions within the retail landscape just as this was hitting. And so we had to pivot as everybody else has had to do. And thankfully, we are a supplement at the end of the day, and melatonin and caffeine and anti anxiety remedies like l-theanine have never been more relevant to the consumer. And so then it was just a matter of figuring out how to structure a company that had been set up to do brick and mortar and to do impulse occasions and to do that really, really well and how to overnight literally turn that into a company that did DTC and large format you know, Sleep, Energy and Calm products with with maniacal focus and so far, it’s fortunately working for us. It’s a challenge every day. We still have, you know, liquidity challenges, but we have a great value proposition. We have a product that sells and we have a, you know, a passionate consumer base. And so we’re figuring it out day to day.

Evan Faber
Yeah. And you have all those things and a product that’s extremely culturally relevant at this time, the marriage between nutrition and enjoyment. People need both and they need the nutrition but they want and crave the enjoyment and so you will provide that as well.

Simeon Margolis
Well, it was complimentary of what you were just saying earlier and one of our core value props which is that indulgence without overindulgence, right. People, you know, it’s like the excuse to buy or product is that you wanted the sweet treat. But the benefit is that, you know, you can’t just eat the whole thing.

Evan Faber
Yep.

Simeon Margolis
You can’t just eat 80 pieces of energy chocolate, right? That’s a trip to the emergency room and so people know people take it seriously when with the function in mind, and so, instead of having to really flex that self-discipline of like, I’m only going to eat half the bag of M&Ms, right? You really can only eat 2,3,4 pieces of our product to get the benefit and to not overdo it. And that means that you’re also not overdoing your chocolate and your sugar intake. And so it’s, you know, the first time somebody ran up to me and said, Oh, the healthy chocolate. I was like, Oh, interesting. Wouldn’t it come up with that. Such a simple phrase, and not anything we ever use. But that makes sense, right? It’s portion control. You’re getting what you want. You’re getting the intelligence but you’re moderating your consumption, which is healthier.

Evan Faber
It would be a trip to the emergency room, but it would be the most energized and accelerating trip. Do you want that moment? So I want to go back to something you said earlier, because businesses are people and they exist. The great ones never take their eye off the ball that they exist to serve a human need. But they also are made up of people. So what makes a business successful? We also need to understand what makes people successful. And one of the biggest challenges of an entrepreneur can be when times are good. I’ve got my people around me, and when times are tough, or when I need to make a tough decision, I can feel completely alone. And you mentioned that loneliness feeling.

Simeon Margolis
Yeah.

Evan Faber
And I don’t think you’re alone in having it.

Simeon Margolis
No, I know I’m not.

Evan Faber
How do you handle that, when that comes on?

Simeon Margolis
Good question. You know, we’re lucky to live in Boulder. To have the support system we do. I just went on a hike yesterday with two other entrepreneurs in our space and we just sat down for an hour in the middle of a grassy spot. 10 feet apart from each other and just bitched and moaned about everything, right? And just let it all hang out, like, here’s what’s going on here. And so there are there are, there is relief in that. I think, you know, for me personally, my wife is also an entrepreneur. And she actually runs two businesses simultaneously. And so there is you know, that pillow talk is not sexy pillow talk, it’s its business pillow talk. And, and just having a sounding board at home, she works in technology, she works in B2B, our businesses couldn’t have less to do with each other if they tried. I have no real concrete understanding of the challenges she faces and she, the same for me, but that core, emotional aspect, that core loneliness, of being an entrepreneur is again a shared experience. So least you know, within our household and for me personally, I struggled with it for a long time. And I think, for me, falling in love, I think a lot of entrepreneurs and oftentimes the unsuccessful ones come into this with the goal in-mind, whether or not that’s a big bank account or fame and glory or you know, reputation enhancement or, you know, whatever it is. And that can be pretty demotivating when things get exceptionally ugly, which they do. And I think a couple of years ago, I really fell in love like I was just talking about with that process with that, like head-on-fire engaged in-this-flow of figuring something out that you know, maybe it’s not impossible. I’m certainly not the smartest guy. But that perception of like, wow, I don’t think I can do this. I don’t know if this is possible. And that challenge of working the process to figure it out and experimenting and constantly changing, in some ways, it’s I think it’s the thing that would drive some people absolutely mad. And it’s actually the thing that brings me a degree of peace of like, there’s a consistency in the chaos, right? And just accepting that and in a very Zen way, just being present within that and kind of trying all the time to be, you know, for lack of a more corny analogy, like being the eye of the storm. Right, just trying to like have a calm engagement in the chaos that is surrounding you. It doesn’t make it less lonely. But it makes it more palatable.

Evan Faber
That’s on the personal perspective. You know how how to play a role in others lives and how to be that for yourself, taking that same thought to the brand level. So many brands right now have really meaningful people behind them with meaningful missions and messages. And right now, brands are trying to be good citizens, and they’re coming out with powerful messages. The challenge is that and this could be my own skeptical mind coming into play. I think consumers are, you know, it’s a challenge because you want to have a positive message. You’re also trying to sell something and I think consumers are skeptical of okay, you’re saying these things, okay, okay. Now here’s the hook, here’s what you want from me, here’s why we’re really having this conversation. And it might not be. I think a lot of brands genuinely want to be that in people’s lives. So it’s a two-fold question and then we’ll start to close up here. But the question here is, how are you threading that needle of being present and acknowledging the moment while also trying to run a business? And the larger question there, as well, might be, what do you think the role of a brand should be in the lives of consumers?

Simeon Margolis
It’s a great question. I don’t I don’t know if I have a great answer to it. But you know, I think when brands try to be something that they haven’t been in the past, all of a sudden, just to take advantage or to even if it comes from a genuine place and a desire to help. When you depart so radically from who you were in the first place, consumers, consumers see that. Plain as day, right. And they don’t trust it. Whether or not it is trustworthy or not really has nothing to do with it. It is a perception of not being trustworthy. I think it’s been a flaw of ours that we’ve always tried to do the right thing. But we very rarely toot our horns about it. Right. And that’s actually a disadvantage in these times where if we were that brand that was, you know, we give a portion of our profits to our proceeds, I should say, to Smile Train. We have for a very long time, which is an organization that helps with cleft palate repair. And we do that because obviously we have smiles on all of our packaging and also because Andy my co-founder is a facial plastic surgeon and an ear, nose, and throat doctor and so cleft palate and cleft surgery is near and dear to his heart and it’s therefore near and dear to us as a brand. It’s on our website we certainly talk about it you know on occasion but we don’t make a big deal out of it. It’s just something that we do. We’ve been donating product with that great organization Founder Made to frontline workers in in hard hit areas like New York City, giving them you know, Sleep and Energy and Calm chocolate, We do not go out of our way to kind of toot our horn about how great we are that we’re making these donations, it’s just kind of, of course that’s what we’re going to do, that’s what we do. That’s who we are. It’s how we behave as as humans that work at Good Day Chocolate and so I think it is a challenge and it’s not the time for brands to all of a sudden try to take advantage of a situation and think that that is going to garner them some long-term benefit. But if you can sell more Sleep chocolate and help people sleep better, right? If you can get more anti-anxiety, chocolate, you know, Calm chocolate into people’s hands and help them through a day or help their kids through a night. Is it solving the problem? No. But is it helping along the way? Sure. And so I mean, I hate giving advice. I try to never ever do that, I just like to speak from experience. But you know, if there were advice, I would say just do more of what you do, right, to the benefit of people who, who are going through something right now and be better at what you do, and be more compassionate, and be more empathetic in what you’ve already done. But consumer see right through it. I see through it, you see through it, right.

Evan Faber
Totally. It’s a discussion that I’d want to have at a different time to about the commoditization of virtue.

Simeon Margolis
Yes.

Evan Faber
We need to fight against that thing, you know, where it’s just, you know, and I think you spoke to a lot of strategies to get there. So, in closing, two things that I like to do kind of in closing one is sort of a random, bold question that requires some, some on the fly thinking it’s totally not connected to anything we’ve talked about so far. Okay, so here we go. So, for you, Simeon, it’s a random question. Yours is, “What would be the title of your memoir?”

Simeon Margolis
Oh god. “Keep going.”

Evan Faber
I love it. And then the last thing, to thank you for being on here and all of the wonderful insights you’ve provided. Any any additional, shameless plug?

Simeon Margolis
I love shameless plugs.

Evan Faber
Anything further, you want to talk about Good Day Chocolate. Anything else you want to mention? I will say before that. Personally, you’ve talked about it being functional, delicious. It is a staple in my house.

Simeon Margolis
Oh, thank you for that.

Evan Faber
For sure. As we used to say at the beginning, every box counts. Now it’s every box or every bottle but it is true of that consumer orientation, right? No one consumer is more or less important than the other. Shameless plugs? Good Day Chocolate.com. We just went national with Target which is very exciting, an unfortunate bottom-shelf placement which, ooh, just burns as an entreprenuer but we are currently available, our kids Sleep and Calm products are available in every Target around the country and of course our favorite retailer, Whole Foods. You can find us you know, in our cute little boxes at most registers at Whole Foods and in the whole body aisle with our large and small format. Whole Foods has been with ust, yhey were our first retailer. They are still the retailer that has the widest assortment and most variety of our products. And we absolutely love doing business with them. So ya know, check us out on Instagram. Good Day Chocolate. Good Day Chocolate.com. Nice, and Amazon?

Simeon Margolis
And of course Amazon. Thank you. Especially during these COVID times. Thanks for the pivot.

Evan Faber
Great brands are founded by great people, and I think they’ve just seen one huge example of that. And and Simeon, thank you so much for your generosity of time, your willingness to participate today and generosity of insight. So really appreciate the conversation. Thank you.

Simeon Margolis
Thanks to you, and thanks to Moxie for all of the inspiration along the way and the the awesome, you know, brand that we get to work with. So thank you for your time.

Evan Faber
Absolutely. Thank you! Thank you so much to Simeon Margolis from Good Day Chocolate. At the end of every episode, we’re going to talk about the bold moves that that brand made. And we’ll pick a handful that are most relevant for all brands to listen to, or most brands to listen to and follow. So the first bold move that Good Day Chocolate made, was they had a product innovation that created an entire new category. And we see a lot of people doing that. And there are a lot of challenges you try and time the market properly to come out with that new product innovation. But oftentimes, you’ll find yourself slightly ahead of the consumer curve. And that’s where Good Day Chocolate found themselves. They had to weather a little bit of time from when they launched, having vitamins in chocolate, which at the time was extremely novel. So they had to weather from the time they launched until the time that it caught on and so it took a mixture of really savvy, smart business practices, and also balancing the foreign and the familiar. And so a lot of brands when they’re creating a new category, rely heavily on education. It’s the first thing that they talk about how are we going to educate people? And how are we going to convince people that this is, this is a good, good thing. Good Day Chocolate took a novel approach. They used emotion. They used curiosity, they used a new form factor. They used emotional drivers to get people to pick it up, pique their interest, and teach themselves. And so what we talk a lot about is that the heart decides and the brain rationalizes. The second bold move that Good Day Chocolate made was they changed up their entire marketing brand strategy right before they went to market. So they had an idea to be a niche product. And we talked about expanding that to be more of a household name more of a global appeal. And we pivoted from one attitude and emotion to a broader one, and for a brand to re-think what they have as their intention going in, and shift it based on research and informed decisions, takes boldness. And the last thing that is our takeaway here, is breaking down the wall between consumers and your brand. When it came time for Good Day Chocolate to innovate, they listened. They already were in dialogue with their consumers. And so they already had a great idea of what they need to do to broaden their product line to better serve consumer needs. And that’s a great question to continually ask of your brand. How am I serving our consumers? What new problems can I solve for them? Brands right now, there’s a wall between the brand and the consumer. And breaking down that wall, bringing the consumer into marketing, into even product development. How can we be closer with our consumers is an interesting challenge for a brand to take on. And so that’s the third move. So launching a new brand and a new category, changing the entire brand strategy before going to market and breaking down the wall between category and consumer are three bold moves that help Good Day Chocolate start from scratch and grow to international distribution. So with that, once again, want to thank Simeon Margolis from Good Day Chocolate, I want to thank Stephanie Danielson who is our producer, and researcher and all around guru has helped put us on as well as Catherine Walsh, and Gressa Rowland. For more information about Moxie Sozo, please visit MoxieSozo.com or email branding@MoxieSozo.com. These will be posted on YouTube and you’ll be able to check out other episodes there as well. Thank you for joining!

Published

August 06, 2020

A Special Thanks To

Simeon Margolis