New gen bosses: Vanessa Cuccia, founder of Chakrubs, on how she turned sex toys into a luxurious must-have

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Feb 15, 2020

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New gen bosses is a new series created to guide and inspire more people to go out there on their own, either as new business founders or freelancers. And what better way to do that than to ask the ones that already succeed at it? We want to know about big fuck-ups and even bigger successes, and the risky decisions they had to make along the way. We want to be the last little push you needed.

Job title: Founder & CEO
Industry: Adult and wellness
Company founder or freelancer: Founder
Company name: Chakrubs
How long have you been doing it: 9 years
Age: none
Location: Detroit, Michigan

What pushed you to start on your own?

When my great grandparents immigrated to America from Italy, the first night they arrived they baked bread all night and sold it all day to support themselves. My grandparents would later on open up a car wash. My father is an inventor who created a non-surgical medical device that straightens the spine. My mother is a musician who developed her own record label after producing and writing a concept CD that no other label knew how to place, later became the CEO of the company that sold my father’s invention around the world.

Since I was 18, I have been financially independent and worked many jobs that helped me understand myself better because I figured out that I hated working for other people or ‘having’ to wake up at a certain time. Being on my own was a choice I needed to make in order to feel more aligned with how I fulfill my potential. Entrepreneurship is in my blood and I believe the fact that I was able to see that creating something from nothing is possible, it never seemed so crazy.

What was the very first thing you needed to do to set everything up?

The first thing I needed to do was to get the product in my hand. I had this idea for pleasure tools made from crystal and had months of thinking about it and why it would be good in theory, but I needed to get the designs and prototypes, and hold them in my hands. That’s when it became real.

What was the riskiest decision you had to take?

When I launched my business, the idea of utilising crystals as a material for an adult product was even more radical than it is today. I remember a friend of mine who was a notable spiritual teacher advising me to market Chakrubs as ‘reiki massage tools’ and not go so heavy on talking about masturbation and sexual healing. The product and philosophy marketing was very risky, but I’m glad I stayed true to what the mission was.

What was a skill you didn’t foresee needing that you had to learn?

Relaxing. When you work for yourself, it’s easy to constantly be working. Turning off my brain and relaxing has been a skill that I need to relearn time and time again.

Everywhere around us, new gens are founding businesses and redefining their careers. New gen bosses is here to inspire those who might want to do the same, this time with extra tips, some lols from those who have been there, done that, and £20 in your new ANNA business account if you dare to take the leap.

At what moment did you realise that this was going to work out?

I knew the minute the name Chakrubs popped into my head. This wasn’t a business idea that came from me sitting at a chalkboard trying to figure out what kind of product I could sell. This was something that came from outside of me. To this day I say that I work for Chakrubs—because it is an entity on its own that I am simply helping facilitate its growth so it reaches who it needs to reach. I am deeply connected to my business but I also recognise that I am the vessel that works for this entity that is beyond anything I can take credit for.

What did you spend your money on?

Inventory. Getting the product. Everything else, in the beginning, I did myself. It’s not too hard these days to start a website, to get whatever certifications you need to start a business. You don’t have to know everything to start, just do little by little. Keep refining. If you’re doing something like making your own website or taking your own photos to start off—this is the time to compare yourself to other brands you admire. I know I’m going off on a bit of a tangent, but I do think this is important. When people start out and they need to do things on their own and let’s say take photos of their products, for example, a lot of times people aren’t looking at their work as objectively as they should because they feel this sense of pride that clouds their vision.

I think it’s good to see your work with a sense of pride, but you have to separate yourself from it and objectively see if it’s up to par with where you want to be. If you keep doing this with the things you want to save money on, you will learn valuable skills as well as save money. Of course, you may not be as good as hiring a professional in the field, but you can get by with this at least and learn more about your own taste along the way.

What was your biggest fuck up?

My biggest fuck up has been to take out loans. After being in business for a while, you start to get calls from people who will give you working capital but they are usually at high-interest rates. This starts a bad cycle. My advice is only to spend what you have. Don’t take loans if you can avoid it.

What was your biggest success?

Having my products appear on Conan was such a major highlight for me. It was a dream come true.

What do you know now that you didn’t know then?

One thing that I know now is that my stubbornness is something I have to honour instead of fight. I heard that I was stubborn my whole life but now I understand that instead of trying to be easy-going or accommodating with my visions or ideas, I have to just stay true. Any time I’ve tried to work in someone else’s vision into my own it doesn’t feel right and I know it has to feel right to me if it’s going to be successful.

What are three tips you would give someone who wants to start on their own?

One: Everything is an experiment. Keep doing things and refining the things you do. Don’t wait until it’s perfect.

Two: Let things take the time they need. If you can avoid it, don’t have a partner.

Three: Have a good idea. Like, it seems simple but, is your idea actually good? Is it helpful? Is it unique? And are you passionate about it? The more passionate and connected you are to your idea the more successful it will be.

Bonus: You can’t do everything on your own—but you don’t need as much as you think at first to start a business. Let things develop. Learn. Build a strong foundation. Be solution-minded. There will always be issues. That’s the name of the game. Problems will arise every turn. Start having fun with figuring out the solution because there will always be one. If you feel stuck between two decisions, there’s probably a third option you aren’t aware of yet. Take your time for it to reveal itself.

Feel like you wouldn’t need to take out loans? There’s only one way to find out. Take the leap, open an ANNA business card completely free of charge for the first 3 months and get £20 in it, too.

Want to discuss taking the leap with other new gens? You’re in luck! We’ve created New Gen Bosses, a Facebook group to continue and expand the conversation started through this new series.

New gen bosses: Vanessa Cuccia, founder of Chakrubs, on how she turned sex toys into a luxurious must-have


By Screen Shot

Feb 15, 2020

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New gen bosses: Georgiana Huddart on how she turned Hunza G into the go-to bikini brand for influencers

By Screen Shot

Feb 7, 2020

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New gen bosses is a new series created to guide and inspire more people to go out there on their own, either as new business founders or freelancers. And what better way to do that than to ask the ones that already succeed at it? We want to know about big fuck-ups and even bigger successes, and the risky decisions they had to make along the way. We want to be the last little push you needed.

Job title: Co-founder and creative director
Industry: Fashion
Company founder or freelancer: Founder
Company name: Hunza G
How long have you been doing it: 5 years
Age: 32
Location: London

What pushed you to start on your own?

I thought it was a great concept and was worried if I didn’t do it, someone else would. It’s much easier to push yourself to start something on your own if you really believe in it. I sort of 100% just thought this is a great idea… even if it hadn’t worked I wouldn’t have regretted it or thought I had been wrong to try and make it happen.

What was the very first thing you needed to do to set everything up?

Register the name and buy the domain Hunza G.

What was the riskiest decision you had to take?

How much money to invest in the production—a chicken and egg situation. If you don’t have enough fabric then you can’t fulfil people’s orders, but you also don’t want to buy tonnes and be left with too much. I have seen many friends’ companies go under because of bad luck when it comes to taking the risk of where, what and how much to invest in different aspects of a business.

What was a skill you didn’t foresee needing that you had to learn?

Being a boss and being good at managing people. I really enjoy people, I am not a difficult person to work for but being a boss actually requires a different set of skills. It requires patience, diplomacy, encouragement, even when most frustrated… it’s been really eye-opening.

Everywhere around us, new gens are founding businesses and redefining their careers. New gen bosses is here to inspire those who might want to do the same, this time with extra tips, some lols from those who have been there, done that, and £20 in your new ANNA business account if you dare to take the leap.

At what moment did you realise that this was going to work out?

I actually went into it really believing in it, in quite a strange way, as I am slightly pessimistic in general. But I guess when we got some big stores and I started to go on holiday and see random people wearing Hunza G on the beach.

What did you spend your money on?

A good team of people being paid enough—no interning or minimum wage—I just don’t believe it incentivises people and creates a good vibe.

What was your biggest fuck up?

A couple of people I employed when I had no experience in hiring people. I didn’t interview people properly and just sort of took lucky gambles—some worked, some didn’t.

What was your biggest success?

Instagram! The outreach it gave us to different countries, people, ages—it’s so accessible for everyone and it’s free!

What do you know now that you didn’t know then?

That often, people aren’t either good or bad at things, they need the right encouragement and mentor in order to get the best out of them.

What are three tips you would give someone who wants to start on their own?

One: Speak to people and get lots of advice—don’t take it all as gospel—but equally don’t sit in silence thinking you should just do it all on your own or that someone might steal your idea. I got some of the best advice from people who had started brands recently, years ago, in different countries etc…

Two: Don’t spend lots of money before you have made any, you can do things in stages, like soft launch something and work out what you would change before having spent a tonne on branding you don’t like, colours people don’t buy etc…

Three: Accept that you need to just focus on work for a couple of years and less on the socialising and partying!

Feel like you would have never hired the wrong person? There’s only one way to find out. Take the leap, open an ANNA business card completely free of charge for the first 3 months and get £20 in it, too.

Want to discuss taking the leap with other new gens? You’re in luck! We’ve created New Gen Bosses, a Facebook group to continue and expand the conversation started through this new series.

New gen bosses: Georgiana Huddart on how she turned Hunza G into the go-to bikini brand for influencers


By Screen Shot

Feb 7, 2020

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