How a bootstrapped wellness business adopted Settle alongside venture capital to accelerate their expansion into retail

Background

Founded in 2017 by high school sweethearts Trinity Mouzon Wofford (CEO) and Issey Kobori (Creative Director), Golde is a superfood health & beauty brand offering a distinct array of products from papaya face masks to high-grade matcha powder. The duo bootstrapped the much talked-about brand with $2,000, gradually growing a loyal customer base through a strong focus on building a community for their target audience. Golde has since been featured in the likes of New York Magazine, Inc., Elle, and more. 

The challenge

It’s no surprise that with their rapid growth, Golde’s team have done a lot of learning and adapting on the go. After growing the business for four years without any significant fundraising or debt partners, Mouzon Wofford felt in 2020 that it was finally time to more seriously consider these options.

Mouzon Wofford had ambitious plans and some non-negotiable values that Golde’s financial partners would need to support:

  • Expanding Golde’s retail distribution channel after selling mostly direct-to-consumer (DTC)
  • Collaborating on payments, invoice management, and cashflow with a growing team of operators and accountants
  • Acquiring equity investors that added more value than just capital—Mouzon Wofford didn’t want to feel desperate to take on cash from just anyone
  • Not giving up too much equity in their first round of fundraising
  • Working with speed and flexibility—their strategy was nimble and they needed to ensure that any debt instrument or partners they brought on would allow them to allocate cash to the right places

The solution

The Golde team explored other alternative lending solutions, including Shopify Capital, but ultimately went with the flexibility, transparency, and ease of use that Settle’s cashflow management platform provided. Golde was also able to selectively bring on equity investors at the same time that they started using Settle, allowing them to expand not just more quickly, but also more efficiently. 

Mixing traditional fundraising with utilizing Settle had some serious benefits for the brand: 

  • Easy onboarding of their external accountants and internal team members to manage cashflow in a centralized location that everyone could access
  • Ability to raise some money from investors they really liked, without giving up too much equity
  • Ability to extend payment terms on inventory purchases through Settle, giving them up to 120 days of extra time before spending the capital to acquire that inventory
  • Flexibility to extend payment terms on invoices for other use cases like an Amazon merchandising agency—this allowed them to generate a profit on the services they purchased before actually paying for those services

The outcome

All-in-all, their two-pronged approach of utilizing Settle while also raising a small seed investment allowed for some great outcomes:

  • Expanded the team from four full-time employees to 10
  • Started selling on Amazon in collaboration with an agency
  • Launched in over 1,000 Target locations nationwide
  • Launched 5 additional SKUs

Advice to other founders

“Know your numbers and get comfortable with them,” says Mouzon Wofford. “A lot of [ecommerce/CPG] founders are more on the product & brand side, but the earlier you can feel empowered by the numbers of your business, the earlier you can start to scale it.” 

She also stresses bringing on the right people for the right jobs—finding teammates who can not only fill in your blind spots, but also teach you more about those areas can make a new founder’s journey a lot smoother.

And finally, when it comes to cashflow management, Mouzon Wofford urges founders to do their homework. “There are so many fintech and lending products out there now, you have to do your research and make sure you find the solution or solutions that work for you. Many of these options can actually work together, so it’s important to understand what your goals are and work off of that.”

“The flexibility of Settle was really appealing to us…the idea that we can use it not only to finance inventory, but also pay our marketing agency.” - Trinity Mouzon Wofford, CEO of Golde