Salty Cali – Two Ladies Earning the Good Life – Opt Out

Salty Cali – Two Ladies Earning the Good Life

9 months ago · 1:09

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You’ll hear a fresh energy in this episode.It’s an energy that only comes from a growing venture in the midst of both challenges, and pleasant surprises. Listen to how genuinely excited these two are to get up each day. Unlike so many people, and even unlike the version of themselves that felt trapped by an hourly job or working for someone for else, Leslie and Miri are not stressed out on Sunday night in anticipation of the week ahead.

Who are our guests?  Meet Salty Cali.

In 2014, friends Leslie DeSimone and Miri Bescansa bought $50 in materials to create a few pieces of surf-inspired, handmade jewelry. On a whim Leslie took what they’d made and dropped it on the checkout counter at the surf shop where she worked. The jewelry was an instant hit with customers. Leslie excitedly called Miri and told her that they might be onto something. Less than 4 years later, these two are the proud owners of Salty Cali, with a line of jewelry being sold in over 150 shops and growing.

The Salty Cali girls are proof that anyone can escape the rat race, so long as they have a curiosity to test ideas, and abandon any fear of not succeeding. Leslie and Miri are not experts in jewelry design, photography, building websites, or necessarily in retail sales. This is a reminder that anyone can take a shot at business, and it doesn’t have to be a big investment of time, money or risk. As they tell us, you just have to do it.

From their offices in Pacific Beach, Leslie and Miri are only a few blocks from the ocean, and have a yoga studio across the street that gets frequent visits. Miri is also a young mother of two, who now has the freedom to pop out for a few hours in the afternoon to spend time with her young kids.

What’s great about this Salty Cali episode is that we caught Leslie and Miri in the midst of a growing business, that was a side gig only a little more than a year ago. Many of the Opt Out Life guests are seasoned entrepreneurs whose stories took place years prior. Let’s listen to this real, “Here and now” story of how two friends took a side gig turned full time business and found their version of the opt out life.

Highlights from Episode 10 with Salty Cali . . .

On the nerves, and ultimate success of their first trade show . . . “I’m like, “You already said, ‘Yes, we’re doing this.'” I was frothing. I was so nervous. I’m like, “I hope this works out for us,” and it did, and we were a great team and, the trade show, we got a lot of new accounts, and it’s like the satisfaction afterwards is just unbelievable . . . Everyone was telling us, like all our neighbors were like, “Hey, the first day, we don’t make any sales. It’s like the second and third day when things happen,” and, yes, it was just like that. At 5:00 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, we’ll be like having beers and celebrating and high-fiving.”

Telling us the humble beginnings of them deciding to start making jewelry on the side . . .Before the whole like, “Let’ do a business,” it was more like, “Let’s make jewelry just for ourselves,” and there is no simple, affordable jewelry that we liked, so we went to this bead and gem store and bought materials and made a few things for ourselves and then wore it, and we were getting compliments on our own jewelry, and then I was thinking about it and I was like, “You know what, Miri, like I don’t have any jewelry at the surf shop.” I was like, “I could probably bring this stuff in.” I was then getting compliments on it, “Might as well see, maybe we could make a couple of sales at the shop.

Recounting (Miri) how she made the leap to go from her job to doing this full time  . . . “Yeah, I know, for sure, but as I told you before, I’m a risk-taker, and I was like, “Let’s just do this.” I mean, we cannot be just like working on this part time. It’s like, “If we’re going to do it, let’s just do it,” and Leslie was on board. Actually, she was 100% on board. I was surprised, but, yeah, she called me and she was like, “I’m quitting. I’m quitting today. I’m quitting today.”

The “dream” they’ve created of flexibility and freedom with their time  . . . “Now that I’m a mom, obviously, time is money, or it’s more valuable than money, so I really don’t care that much about making a lot of money. I mean, it would be nice to feel relaxed because we’re always, at the end of the month, we’re like, “Okay, how much did we make?” I mean, it’s not like a regular job that you know how much you’re going to make every month. To me, it’s more important to be able to spend time with my kids and my family, to have a flexible schedule, to get along with my co-workers and just be happy. I’m still happy. I wake up every morning and thinking, “Oh, cool, I’m going to work on Salty Cali.”


Nate Broughton: This episode of the Opt Out Life podcast on the Opt Out Life Media Network was recorded here in San Diego, and it’s the Opt Out life story of Salty Cali.
Dana Robinson: Welcome to the Opt Out Life podcast, the no-BS guide to living the modern good life. Hosted by subversive millionaires Dana Robinson and Nate Broughton, the Opt Out Life podcast explains exactly how creative hustlers are turning side gigs into real income and taking back control of their time.
Dana Robinson: From their studio in sunny San Diego, the Opt Out Life welcomes guests who are solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, travelers and creatives who are proof that you can choose a lifestyle over money, but still make money, too. If you feel like you’ve been chasing your tail, running the rat race or stuck in a system that’s rigged against you, we’d like to offer you an alternative here on the Opt Out Life podcast.
Nate Broughton: In 2014, friends Leslie DeSimone and Miri Bescansa bought $50 in materials to create a few pieces of surf-inspired handmade jewelry. On a whim, Leslie took what they had made and dropped it on the checkout counter at the surf shop where she worked. The jewelry was an instant hit with customers. Leslie excitedly called Miri and told her that they might be onto something.
Nate Broughton: Less than four years later, these two are the proud owners of Salty Cali, with a line of jewelry being sold in over 150 shops and growing. The Salty Cali girls are proof that anyone can escape the rat race, so long as they have a curiosity to test ideas and abandon any fear of not succeeding.
Nate Broughton: Leslie and Miri are not experts in jewelry design nor photography or building websites or necessarily in retail sales. This is a reminder that anyone can take a shot at business, and it doesn’t have to be a big investment of time, money or risk. As they tell us, you just have to do it.
Dana Robinson: Our guests work hard, but they already enjoy the lifestyle that comes from self-employment. From their offices in Pacific Beach, they’re only a few blocks from the ocean and have a yoga across the street that gets frequent visits.
Dana Robinson: Miri is also a young mother of two who now has the freedom to pop out for a few hours in the afternoon to spend time with her young kids. As you hear their story, listen to how genuinely excited these two are to get up each day. Unlike so many people and even unlike the version of themselves that felt trapped by an hourly job or working for someone else, Leslie and Miri are not stressed out on a Sunday night in anticipation of the week ahead.
Dana Robinson: What’s great about this Salty Cali is episode is that we caught Leslie and Miri in the midst of a growing business that was a side gig only a little more than a year ago.
Dana Robinson: Many of the Opt Out Life guests are seasoned entrepreneurs whose stories took place years ago. You’ll hear a fresh energy in this episode. It’s an energy that only comes from a growing venture in the midst of both challenges and pleasant surprises, like recently going to their first big trade show where they were told not to plan on getting any orders and then ran out of purchase order forms before it was over.
Nate Broughton: Let’s listen to this real here-and-now story of how two friends took a side gig turned full-time business and found their version of the opt out life.
Nate Broughton: Here on the Opt Out Life, it is a day of firsts, several firsts, the first time we’ve had two guests at once, the first time we’ve had female guests, I know people are going to like that, and the first time we’ve had someone who’s had a side gig turned into a real business that has allowed them to quit their jobs and do full time in the last couple of years. I think it’s all happened since 2014, right?
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, that’s correct.
Nate Broughton: Welcome our guests, Leslie and Miri from Salty Cali.
Leslie DeSimone: Thank you.
Dana Robinson: Thanks for coming.
Miri Bescansa: Thank you for having us.
Dana Robinson: I think a great way to start with somebody in your position is just asking what your typical day might look like, a day in the life of Salty Cali from maybe either of you or both of you.
Miri Bescansa: Basically, right now, we’re just checking on accounts. I remember a couple years ago, it was hard because we had to knock door to door and trying to open accounts and, right now, we have a stable market and we just got to check on the accounts and make sure that they have all the products that they should be having and keep productivity, which is the hardest part because all of our jewelry is handmade, so that’s one of the hardest part.
Dana Robinson: Right, so you have to manage the production of your products, at the same time you’ve got to manage customer service?
Miri Bescansa: Yes.
Leslie DeSimone: Yes.
Dana Robinson: Calling on your customers, is this a sales function, a customer service function or both?
Leslie DeSimone: We wear a lot of hats, yeah. It’s going around and being like a salesperson, being a rep and going into the stores, doing that aspect of it, and then going back to the office and doing fills to shipping, receiving.
Miri Bescansa: Getting ready for trade shows or fairs that we will be doing.
Dana Robinson: How many employees have you got?
Leslie DeSimone: Right now, four college girls that make jewelry for us …
Dana Robinson: Cool.
Leslie DeSimone: … and then we’re trying to get interns for the marketing aspect of it because our Instagram game is not what it should be.
Nate Broughton: You’re still doing a lot yourself. You almost were saying, “No, we’re just kind of checking in on accounts and keeping us going,” but that’s still a lot of work, and if you’ve only got four employees and a growing business, you guys are still running around pretty hectic, I think.
Miri Bescansa: Oh, yeah, I mean, we’re so busy and it’s like … I feel like we don’t have enough hours to work on things that we should be working on. That’s why, right now, we’re looking for more people to help us out so we can focus on the marketing aspect or grow our business as much as possible, but, yes, when you run your own business, it’s so time-consuming.
Nate Broughton: How do you guys balance the things that you need to do between each other? I mean, it’s the first time we’ve had partners on the podcast. I mean, Dana and I have been in a lot of partnerships, and I think a lot of people struggle with should they take on a partner, how do they handle the legal aspects of having a partner, but, beyond that, how do you guys manage a business together and all the tasks that come in day to day?
Leslie DeSimone: Really partners, like everything is 50/50 with us, and she’ll pick up the slack when I am not doing one thing or the next, and it’s so nice to brainstorm and have the other person to give you the push, especially with me because I’m the conservative one, and Miri and I are completely different. I’m more of the safe road, and she’s more of the risk-taker, so we balance each other out with her crazy ideas, and I’m like, “Oh, no, no.” I have to pull her in a little bit, but then some of her crazy ideas work out, and I think we’re a great team and-
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, I think there is a great balance between us. I’m from Spain. I’m a little bit more crazy, and she brings me down a little bit when I’m just dreaming way too high, and I think we’re just really good friends, and that translates to our partnership. We’re like great partners, great friends. We get in fights sometimes.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, let’s hear about that, but, more seriously, I mean, you mentioned all the positives of it, and it sounds like it’s a good partnership, but what’s the time that comes to mind for you that was a harder time that she either helped you with or that was a conflict between the two of you, and how did you deal with it?
Leslie DeSimone: Recently, just like a couple of months ago, we decided to do a trade show, and it was our very first one, and we went all out. We did like the biggest show you could go to and the most expensive one, and I was like, “Oh, my God, what are we doing?”
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, so I was pushing for it like crazy, and so I was trying to convince her, and she was like, “No. No. No,” in the beginning. Then she changed her mind, and she was like, “Okay. Okay, Miri, I’m going to trust you. Let’s do it. Let’s do it,” and then she will call me 30 minutes later, “Oh, my gosh, no, no, no, let’s not do it. Let’s not do it.”
Miri Bescansa: I’m like, “You already said, ‘Yes, we’re doing this.'” I was frothing. I was so nervous. I’m like, “I hope this works out for us,” and it did, and we were a great team and, the trade show, we got a lot of new accounts, and it’s like the satisfaction afterwards is just unbelievable. It’s like we’re a really good partnership, yeah.
Dana Robinson: You put some relationship capital on the line to force this through a little bit?
Leslie DeSimone: Oh, yeah.
Dana Robinson: Holding Leslie to do it, set her feet to the fire, “You said so.”
Miri Bescansa: No, it’s true. It’s true. It’s like, “Oh, yeah.”
Dana Robinson: It hit off. It was a good bet.
Miri Bescansa: Yes. Yeah, it was great, and she’s very detail orientated, so the booth looked great. My husband and her boyfriend helped us out, and everything was-
Leslie DeSimone: It came together. Like we were getting compliments on our booth. We signed up the last minute because I was pulling in and out of it, so we got stuck in the corner of this giant trade show in Vegas.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, at that point, I was like, “Oh, my God, [inaudible 00:09:03]. We shouldn’t be doing this.”
Leslie DeSimone: Luckily, our booth came out amazing, and people were coming up because they like had heard about us and liked to come check out what we had done, and she could sell candy to, I don’t know, any of those things, but she’s a really good salesperson so.
Dana Robinson: [inaudible 00:09:24] for our listeners that are thinking about doing business, but maybe haven’t gotten to the point that you’re at, was this your first trade show?
Leslie DeSimone: Very first trade show.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: What was the trade show called?
Leslie DeSimone: MAGIC.
Dana Robinson: MAGIC is?
Miri Bescansa: It’s a fashion trade show.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, it was the original apparel show. It is the biggest apparel trade show in the US, maybe in the world. These little companies [inaudible 00:09:47] trade show and going for the 500-pound gorilla.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: I think a lot of people who start a business might make the mistake of going to that kind of trade show before they’re ready. It’s a big investment that’s … It could be tens of thousands of dollars, depending on your position. It sounds like you maybe slipped into one of the obscure locations. I hope you got a deal on it.
Leslie DeSimone: No.
Miri Bescansa: No, not at all.
Dana Robinson: It’s a big investment financially, and then you had a very good problem that can ruin other companies, a lot of business, a lot of orders.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, actually, it was a little bit overwhelming. We were writing down orders, and we will look at each other and be like, “Oh, my gosh, this is amazing,” but …
Leslie DeSimone: How are we going to do this?
Miri Bescansa: Oh, my God, how are we going to, yeah, have all the inventory ready for all these people?
Leslie DeSimone: We actually didn’t bring enough order forms because we never … Everyone was telling us like, “Don’t expect to write orders there. They’ll roll in afterwards. If you don’t get any orders, don’t worry about it,” and then, sure enough, we were getting … like the first day, I think we wrote like 12 orders, and we were like, all right, this is-
Miri Bescansa: We were like, “That’s okay.”
Dana Robinson: [crosstalk 00:10:54].
Miri Bescansa: [inaudible 00:10:54]. It is good, right. Everyone was telling us, like all our neighbors were like, “Hey, the first day, we don’t make any sales. It’s like the second and third day when things happen,” and, yes, it was just like that. At 5:00 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, we’ll be like having beers and celebrating and-
Leslie DeSimone: High-fiving, yeah.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, it was [inaudible 00:11:18] some trade show and I will never forget that feeling.
Leslie DeSimone: It’s like, “Oh, we made it. This is really working.”
Dana Robinson: This was … this is a pivotal event.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Nate Broughton: All right, Dana, let’s cut in for the first time here in the Salty Cali story. I love everything that they have been saying here, and we’ve kind of let them go for a while to talk about their partnership and a day in the life of Salty Cali with these two, and they’re telling us also about that first trade show that they just recently went to, MAGIC in Vegas, and it’s just such a perfect entrepreneur story.
Nate Broughton: I don’t know if we could have like written this fiction to be as true as the reality is. It was cool sitting here and hearing them because they’re kind of new to all this, too. Like there’s a freshness that they have in their voices and just their interest in seeing where all these go, and I’m also just very happy for them. I kind of respect that they’re navigating through building a business and going from side gig to full time and doing that as partners. That’s something that’s not easy, so, as I listened to this, this is already one of my favorite episodes, hearing their tale.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, absolutely, I thought it would be so real for so many people that it’s attainable, and it answers so many of those questions people have when they’re maybe just starting that first [Etsy 00:12:28] shop and they’re thinking, “Should I partner with somebody. Well, what happen if I partner with somebody? Will this ever grow into a business? How will I get into a store? Can I sell wholesale, retail? What happens when you go to a trade show?” These amazing questions just happened for Salty Cali.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, and should we even go to a trade show? I think it’s cool to have them both here complimenting each other in the conversation, but also hearing stories about how Miri was pushing Leslie to just go to the trade show. I think that if either one was off on their own, they’d be a lot less successful than they are together because they truly do balance each other, and, I don’t know, it’s just … They’re eyeing each other as they’re telling the story and it’s just like, “I needed her there to make me do that. She convinced me and I’m so happy that she did,” and it’s like pushing this further and further along, balancing off each other each step of the way.
Dana Robinson: Right, which is a great reflection of what it takes to make a business partnership work. It’s the same as when you sit across from a couple that’s been married a long time. It seems like [inaudible 00:13:24], right? They’re collaborating and bantering and talking about that time when someone didn’t want to do something and the other person said, “Yeah, we better do it,” and how the outcome was positive, so you get the sense that these two know how to make that partnership work, and I think that’s a great lesson for people that are looking to take their side gig to a real business and trying to figure out the partnership thing. It’s a really good example.
Nate Broughton: We’ve heard kind of where they’re at today, and let’s hear a little bit more about how this got started.
Dana Robinson: All right, we were just talking about your most pivotal event. You have the ultimate trade show experience, which is something that can absolutely transform a company. How did you even start this?
Leslie DeSimone: Miri and I met through mutual friends and we hit it off right away, and we were always just hanging out, and I was managing a surf shop and wanted to do something out with my life, and she was in the process of becoming a mother and she had a real estate license and-
Miri Bescansa: Basically, we became really good friends. We were very handy, and we both wanted to change our career. I was becoming a mom. I was so stressed out because, here in US, you guys don’t have any vacation time. I just had like three weeks off after giving birth to my first child, and I was like, “Oh, my gosh, no, I’m not going to do this. This just sounds crazy. Like I need to spend time with my kid,” and she was tired of being at the surf shop, so we were just pondering, “What can we do?” We were just looking for a way to start a business, and one Sunday we decided to go to this gem shop.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah, like a jewelry wholesale supply store.
Dana Robinson: [inaudible 00:15:07] gems and jewelry supplies.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah, and we bought $40 worth of materials and went back to her dining room table and just started messing around, like making things.
Leslie DeSimone: Before the whole like, “Let’ do a business,” it was more like, “Let’s make jewelry just for ourselves,” and there is no simple, affordable jewelry that we liked, so we went to this bead and gem store and bought materials and made a few things for ourselves and then wore it, and we were getting compliments on our own jewelry, and then I was thinking about it and I was like, “You know what, Miri, like I don’t have any jewelry at the surf shop.” I was like, “I could probably bring this stuff in.” I was then getting compliments on it, “Might as well see, maybe we could make a couple of sales at the shop.?
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, we will make jewelry after work from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m., and she will bring it to the shop and then, a week later, she called me and said like, “Miri, it’s sold out.” I’m like, “Oh, my gosh. Maybe we’re onto something,” and that’s how we started …
Leslie DeSimone: Started, yeah.
Miri Bescansa: … like with $50. We spent $50 on materials, and then we got paid from the surf shop. We used that money to buy more materials, and the guy that used to work at the gem shop used to make fun of us, like, “Guys, you will never make money buying 50 feet of chain.”
Leslie DeSimone: Because you’re buying at the premium price because you’re aren’t buying enough of it, so he is like, yeah, I see …
Miri Bescansa: People [crosstalk 00:16:39] all the time …
Leslie DeSimone: … people all the time-
Miri Bescansa: … and, no, you will never make it, and we’re like, “Okay, I don’t care.” I mean, we’re not ready to take any risk. We’re just going to do this just for fun. We were enjoying it. It was kind of our passion. We were handy. We were spending time together and it was just fun, but we were not thinking about making money out of this.
Nate Broughton: All right, another break in here. I love that their attitude about hearing from the naysayers so early on, it was funny to hear that the guy that’s selling them the parts to assemble the jewelry was maybe their first naysayer, right? Like, “You’re going to get so many of these,” and, right up front, this guy goes, “Why are you spending so much money on this stuff? Why are you paying like the highest retail price when you could be buying at wholesale?” and they’re like, “You know, we’re just kind of getting started here. We’re fine.” They don’t listen to the haters right out of the gate, and that’s a good omen for the future, and it’s part of the reason they’ve been able to build this thing.
Dana Robinson: Right. I mean, they could have immediately had an obstacle and been thinking, “Well, maybe we shouldn’t do this. It’s very expensive,” or even the obstacle of saying, “Oh, we better go hunt and find the cheapest place to get these things.”
Dana Robinson: The reality is because they were willing to just get the products to put together the jewelry at whatever price, it got done. Right? This is the big mantra for so many people that do and don’t succeed in getting a side gig going or getting a business going is execution. You’ve got to just do it, and it doesn’t really matter that they didn’t make a big profit on that first round. They got the product done. Once you get the product done, you can figure out how to buy the cheaper volume quantities of your silver and all of the clasps and all the things that you need to make the jewelry, so, yeah.
Nate Broughton: It’s a theme with them, and we’re going to hear more of this playing itself out, but, yeah, they don’t get hung up on things that other people might get caught up in. Maybe that’s just naturally who they are. Maybe that’s because they have the partnership where they can kind of keep each other on track, but also let’s not forget they could have just raised the price of the jewelry, and they didn’t do that either, because I think they were smart enough, knowing like what people were going to buy, where these purchases were going to happen.
Nate Broughton: As Leslie told us, she could start in the surf shop there. She wanted this to be an item that you’d grab on the way out at the checkout counter, and putting it a price point that was even 10 or $15 higher, as we talked about, may have hurt sales, and they were like, “We just wanted to sell stuff.”
Nate Broughton: They get off on selling, and that’s cool because it’s constant feedback that this is working, this working, this is working, where a lot people who are either doing high end jewelry or just sitting on the veranda contemplating if they want to do a business overthink it.
Dana Robinson: A lot of entrepreneurs get bit by the [inaudible 00:19:07] entrepreneur bug when they’re young. They sell lemonade. It’s the first time where you make lemonade for free and then you get a buck for it or something like that. I think there’s a chemical change that goes on in people’s mind when that happens, and it happens at various ages. Was this where you got bit? Was this the experience, or have you had some previous ambition toward entrepreneurship?
Leslie DeSimone: Before Miri came along in my life, I did something crazy and I moved to Barbados to sell clothes with a friend.
Dana Robinson: That doesn’t sound crazy at all.
Miri Bescansa: It sounds like [inaudible 00:19:41].
Nate Broughton: Yeah.
Leslie DeSimone: She was like former Ms. Barbados and she was very well known on the island. Her sister owned a nail salon, so she’s like, “We’re behind in fashion, and US is up to date, so we can sell clothing over there, and it’s way more expensive,” so I was like, “Oh, all right,” so this is before Amazon and all that, and so I went online and I bought a bunch of cheap clothes, but they were like fashionable, and brought a suitcase over to Barbados and sold them at this nail salon …
Dana Robinson: That’s cool.
Leslie DeSimone: … for a couple of months.
Dana Robinson: Did it pay for your couple of months [crosstalk 00:20:18]?
Leslie DeSimone: It did, yeah, and then I got … I was like I got the island fever. I came back home.
Dana Robinson: At that point, you had this feeling of like, wow, I bought some clothes for X dollars and I sold them for X times $3 or something.
Leslie DeSimone: I was like, “Yeah, it paid for like my vacation there or to live for a little bit.”
Dana Robinson: That’s cool, so then that simmered for a while before Salty Cali?
Leslie DeSimone: My friends were always like, “What the hell is Leslie up to, like chasing some crazy pipe dream,” but then-
Dana Robinson: Yeah, that’s a theme amongst the Opt Out guests …
Nate Broughton: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: … is all their friends and family think that they’re crazy.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, but just being willing to take that risk and go to Barbados, a lot of people would not do that, but … and that’s cool because I think that experience somehow is deep inside you as you build this business one way or another.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, I haven’t done anything like that. I’ve been always into sales, and my family always makes fun of me because I get to manipulate everyone, and they end up doing what I want to do without them knowing, they’re like, “Be careful with Miri. You’re going to end up doing like what you don’t want to do.”
Miri Bescansa: I used to work in an advertising agency back in Spain and, here, I got into real estate, too, so I’ve been always passionate about marketing and selling and … but I never found something that I really believed in. I wanted to run my own business, but I was not sure about what to do or what to sell, so this was the perfect opportunity so. She was in the surf industry, and I was in sales and marketing, so we’re like, “Let’s do this.”
Dana Robinson: That’s great. You give Miri something and she’ll sell it.
Leslie DeSimone: Yes.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, I think that’s a cool story for people to hear that feel like they may want to do something like this eventually when they’re not happy in their career, but they feel like they can’t make the leap by themselves, but they have the skill set, right? Your skill set is sales. You know that. You find a partner, and it all comes together where we can launch a business together, right?
Miri Bescansa: Exactly.
Nate Broughton: That’s a good example.
Dana Robinson: Right, so you sold some product at the surf shop and you’re kind of stoked, right?
Leslie DeSimone: Super stoked on it, and then I was like, “Do you know how to build a website?”
Miri Bescansa: I mean, but we were not making money at this point. I mean, we were making just a little bit of money, and we were [inaudible 00:22:32] based that money, so, at this point, I’m a mom. Like, “Listen, Leslie, I don’t think this is going to work out. We’re not making enough money. I need to change careers and do something,” and I go to Spain for the summer, and she calls me and she’s like, “Miri, people are reaching out. They like our jewelry. We have to do this,” and I’m like, “Okay, I’m coming back,” and I came back in September and we-
Leslie DeSimone: I was like, “I made this summer $1,000. I’m so proud.”
Miri Bescansa: I was just like laughing at her. I’m like, “Oh, my God, Leslie, you’re so funny. Like $1,000? What do you expect to do with that? I mean, we need to have a job and then we can do this on the side,” and that’s exactly what we did until last year.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: You said you made your thousand dollars. You came back to jump into this venture. How long of working and doing this-
Miri Bescansa: One more year.
Dana Robinson: A year?
Leslie DeSimone: One more year, yep, and that’s when we started doing our door knocking. We had people reaching out through the website wanting to bring in the jewelry into their shops, and it was all local stuff. Like they saw it at the shop that I was working at and then looked us up online, and so I think, at that time, we were maybe in three stores, and I was like, “All right, we probably should take it to the next level,” and it was embarrassing because it was almost like having a science project and walking into a classroom and be like, “This is what we have. Like what grade do we get?”
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, and let’s say that, I mean, all our displays are handcrafted, all made out of driftwood. We pay a lot of attention to detail, so the display was pretty cool, and we felt really proud of it, so I was like, “If we want to open accounts, they need to see the display. It’s not just about the jewelry. It’s about the presentation,” so we’ll be at the door of the shop, like staring at each other and like, “Okay, let’s do this,” and we walk in, super shy, and Leslie will staring at me like, “Miri, you start.” I’m like, “All right.”
Leslie DeSimone: I would hold the display and Miri would start talking.
Dana Robinson: [inaudible 00:24:48].
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Miri Bescansa: Basically, yes, she was just right next to me, smiling at me, and I’m like, “Okay, here we go,” and it was shocking. We got really lucky. Everyone was into it. They wouldn’t even look at us. They were just like staring at the jewelry and the display and they’re like, “Oh, my gosh, I love it. It’s handmade. It’s handcrafted. I don’t have anything like this in the shop.”
Leslie DeSimone: They would take it right away, so we would walk in with like our one single display, and then we would walk out of the store and we won’t have anything. We’re like, “All right, well, that worked,” and we would be super-
Dana Robinson: You opened an account.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah, we opened an account.
Miri Bescansa: Now, we have four accounts, and just like that.
Leslie DeSimone: That’s-
Miri Bescansa: Like, today, we have over 150 accounts, and it’s just unbelievable that we went from $50 to this small company and it’s like our full time job and-
Leslie DeSimone: We were just, “Can we survive off of it?” It’s crazy.
Nate Broughton: What is it about Salty Cali, the story behind it, the name, the product itself? It certainly sounds like the product sells itself based on that story. Is that what it is? Is it that unique or the designs that unique? What do you think about it made it possible to grow that quickly, because that’s really impressive? It’s a crowded market in my mind. I think there’s a lot of handcrafted jewelry out there, right? I mean-
Leslie DeSimone: Oh, for sure.
Nate Broughton: Why, you guys? Why is this working?
Leslie DeSimone: Having it be handmade and then the price point, so we keep it under $30.
Miri Bescansa: The design is super simple. I mean, we always say less is more. It’s very simple, with natural stones like green jade, aquamarine, amethyst, rose quartz, turquoises, and it’s really simple. The chain comes from Italy, very delicate, and the stone is a natural stone, and it’s handmade, so people like it, and we don’t really have a target market. All ladies like it. Kids wear them, too.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah, teenyboppers, so it triggers every age group and style. It’s so simple that it can go with anyone’s attire so.
Nate Broughton: What was the decision that you made to keep the price point at $30 or below? Is that because you saw other things in the market that you felt were overpriced, or was it something else, because you’re giving up profit, for sure, I mean, and this is your full time gig, why keep it that low?
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah, quantity. We want to just move products versus do one-offs and sell to sellers.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, I feel like that’s what’s happening with a lot of the jewelry that is expensive jewelry. You don’t sell as many pieces, so the profit, it will be much lower. I mean, she was working in a surf shop and she knew exactly what.
Leslie DeSimone: The market.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, you knew what the impulse buy price point.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah, like leave it up at the register, and it’s enough for someone just to grab as a touristy kinds of gift because of the name. Everyone loves California, so we did play of … I mean, I’m not even from California and [inaudible 00:27:42], so we kind of just stole that.
Dana Robinson: It doesn’t take long to become native.
Nate Broughton: All right, Dana, so on our last break, and we talked about their pricing strategy and their willingness to do stuff, and now we’ve got more of the story where they like embarrassingly walked into a surf shop in the middle of the day and tried to pitch their product, which is such a cool story because Leslie talks about just walking in and she was just looking at Miri and waiting for her to kind of make the move, because she’s the talkative, bubbly, salesy one, another [inaudible 00:28:12] for having a partner, but they just do it, right?
Nate Broughton: There’s so much of this that we’ve already said, but it is nerve-racking and scary to walk in the door of a place and try to just pitch a store owner on your product, but they did it, and it went well, and they kind of attributed it to luck, but I think that maybe there’s a little bit of luck in it, but they’ve picked a good market. They knew the market better than they even give themselves credit for. They picked a cool name. That plays really well, too, and they had a lot more going for them than they even thought when they walked in that door.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, I can think of just so many people that, at cocktail parties, family events, have these ideas, and what keeps them from doing it is embarrassment, this obstacle in their head that says they can’t just pick up the phone and call.
Dana Robinson: You have to pick up the phone and call someone you’ve never spoken to before and say, “I have a brand of jewelry. Can I can show it to you?” or have the audacity to just walk in the door. I’ve spoken to several people that aren’t wholesale business, and the way they got their first round of retailers was get in the car with a whole lot of display items and drive up and down the coast and find stores and walk in and just ask if they can get your opinion about it, and, yes, it’s embarrassing, and if you’re a little bit of an introvert, it’s going to be out of your comfort zone, but as you can tell with their story, it paid off big.
Nate Broughton: The high is greater than the pain, and they’ve realized that early on. You can tell they got addicted to it I think, as I mentioned, when they started making those early sales, and I think they’re able to focus on that and the bigger goal of, “Hey, we don’t want to work for people anymore. We don’t want to be working hourly in the surf shop being the ones getting pitched.”
Nate Broughton: If you want the luxury to be able to take time off to go hang out with your kids at the park in the afternoon or to not work on the weekends when your boss tells you to, that’s the pain you have to go through, and they did it. It’s so real and so cool and so here-and-now. It’s great.
Dana Robinson: All right, so talk us through that year of doing the side gig. I mean, it’s a tough year for a lot of people because they’re striving to get to that point and every day thinking, “God, I have so much to do. I wish I didn’t have this damn day job.”
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah, I would be at work and I would just be frustrated with being there because I’m like, “Oh, there’s so much that needs to be done with Salty Cali,” and I have to go to Miri’s house after work, and we’d work until 9:00-10:00 and like, “Oh, if we only had the time to spend working on our own business, but can make it?”
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, and, at that point, we both realized that we were not growing the business because we were not spending enough time working on it, so then we decided to work on Salty Cali part time. You went part-time.
Leslie DeSimone: I went part-time at the shop, and she hired a babysitter, and so it was a big investment. She’s giving up motherhood.
Miri Bescansa: I was like, “I need to make at least the same amount of money that I’m going to pay this babysitter.”
Nate Broughton: Yeah, that’s right.
Dana Robinson: If you break even at least [inaudible 00:31:01] invest your time.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah. Yeah, so we had that pressure, and it worked out. In no time, we were like, “You know what? This has to be our full time job.” That’s what we did. We were scared and freaking out, but …
Nate Broughton: Yeah, how about you talk us through a little bit the thoughts in your head and the conversations with your husband? We’ve got kids there. I mean, that’s a loaded decision to make and it’s not one that you can necessarily make just by yourself when you have a family.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, I know, for sure, but as I told you before, I’m a risk-taker, and I was like, “Let’s just do this.” I mean, we cannot be just like working on this part time. It’s like, “If we’re going to do it, let’s just do it,” and Leslie was on board. Actually, she was 100% on board. I was surprised, but, yeah, she called me and she was like, “I’m quitting. I’m quitting today. I’m quitting today,” and I’m like …
Leslie DeSimone: … and then she started freaking out. She was like, “Oh, I think you should hold off on that. Let’s like discuss this a little further.”
Miri Bescansa: She said like, “No, it’s happening today,” and, yeah, it happened and, yeah, I was scared, but my husband is like-
Leslie DeSimone: Our biggest cheerleader.
Miri Bescansa: Oh, my gosh.
Leslie DeSimone: He’s-
Dana Robinson: That’s great.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, he loves Salty Cali. He makes displays, and Scott …
Leslie DeSimone: My boyfriend.
Miri Bescansa: … her boyfriend.
Dana Robinson: You put them to work.
Leslie DeSimone: It’s like a family.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, we put them to work.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: Nice.
Miri Bescansa: It’s free labor.
Leslie DeSimone: It’s awesome.
Miri Bescansa: They really support Salty Cali, so it was easy.
Dana Robinson: A lot of people think they need to save up a lot and have reserves. I mean, it’s a personal question, but I mean did you guys just make the leap without like a boatload of money in the bank and just figure it’ll make enough to cover your personal [inaudible 00:32:35]?
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah. It was a gamble. It was one that really did pay off.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, but we were not making that much money at the beginning. It was just [inaudible 00:32:43] more than anything, and, now, we’re at a point that, finally, we have decent salaries and … but it took us two years to get here, so it wasn’t just that easy.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, a lot of work. Let’s talk about the early marketing. Did you do street fairs or did you just approach retailers directly?
Leslie DeSimone: We did a lot of the door knocking and we did a few street fairs, and that’s when we could tell it was nice to see the customer’s reaction, because we would go into stores and talk to the buyers and owners, but we didn’t know what the consumer really thought of it, so doing the street fairs was a good marketing research to see what people were into, so we still till this day do them. There’s one street fair that we love, and [crosstalk 00:33:33].
Miri Bescansa: The Encinitas Fair is a great fair.
Dana Robinson: How frequently is that street fair?
Leslie DeSimone: It’s twice a year. We just do it once.
Dana Robinson: What about all these weekly street fairs? I mean, are those not good markets for your product?
Leslie DeSimone: They are. We’d do the [inaudible 00:33:45], which is a smaller one that they do once a month, and we did that once, and we always do really well and it pays off for us to be there, but it’s just a lot of …
Dana Robinson: It’s a lot of work.
Leslie DeSimone: … set up and-
Miri Bescansa: A lot of work, yeah, and we bring jewelry. It’s so delicate and small that you’ve got to be very careful not to lose anything when you’re at a massive fair and people are touching it and everything is on the floor and …
Leslie DeSimone: The loss, yeah.
Miri Bescansa: … so we just try to pick now the big fairs [inaudible 00:34:17].
Nate Broughton: Do you guys have anybody or a circle of people that you talk to outside of the two of you? It’s nice that you have a partner because you can talk about business and figure things out, but is there a network of people in the same industry or did you have mentors or are there people that you follow online that you go to for inspiration or guidance when you hit a tough spot? Are you just figuring this all out on your own?
Miri Bescansa: We’re …
Leslie DeSimone: We are figuring it out.
Miri Bescansa: … pretty much on our own. We would love to have a mentor. I think about it all the time, but we haven’t found one yet. Yeah, it will be incredible to have some help from a person that has experience, but, for now, we are just figuring it out.
Nate Broughton: What are your comments on that, Dana, because you’ve worked in the fashion industry with people who are creative and have established themselves to a certain degree? Not necessarily do they need a mentor, but what benefits can come from that, and what have you seen work?
Dana Robinson: Yeah, finding a mentor in any business is difficult because everybody’s busy. It’s not the lack of altruism or the lack of generosity. It’s just that everybody is busy.
Dana Robinson: In my experience, the trade shows that you just started going to are a good forum for finding great personalities, and that makes those trade shows more fun. It also makes some more work because it means you’re socializing every day after working 10 to 12 hours on the floor, selling and writing orders and smiling and shaking hands. You’re going to need to go out and hang out with some cool people, but some of the best contacts we made in the shoe business were kind of [inaudible 00:35:53] and the trade shows is where you run across them.
Dana Robinson: Once a business hits a certain critical mass, the principal players are out of those trade shows, and so it becomes sort of a … I use the man word, fraternity, but it’s not just the man. It’s that you see the same people and hang out with them, and you might learn more from retailers than you would from somebody else that’s a competitor. The retail shop owners that’s been in the business for 30 years might teach you a lot and be more open over a couple of drinks.
Nate Broughton: Yeah. Yeah, I think you can go into those trade shows a little strategically in the future as you scale because you can bring employees along, hopefully, free yourself up to maybe have more energy to do those socializing things and be like, “My only job is to make sure things are set up, and then I walk around and network,” right?
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, I’ve been to trade shows where I never do any of the trade show stuff at all.
Nate Broughton: Right.
Dana Robinson: I know you have [inaudible 00:36:46].
Nate Broughton: It’s the only way to go.
Dana Robinson: [inaudible 00:36:47] and then everything you do is the social, sort of the social events.
Nate Broughton: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, finding a mentor is a challenge, and kudos to you guys for getting this far completely on your bootstraps. It’s really remarkable.
Nate Broughton: Let’s talk about lifestyle.
Dana Robinson: Where’s your office?
Miri Bescansa: In Pacific-
Leslie DeSimone: In Pacific Beach.
Dana Robinson: Right, so Pacific Beach, for those unfamiliar with San Diego geography, is remarkably close to something called the Pacific Ocean. That’s why it’s called Pacific Beach. You’ve move out of a home-based business. You’re actually in an office. I think I remember one of you telling me that you’ve got a yoga studio across from your office as well.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Miri Bescansa: Oh, yeah, it really helps.
Dana Robinson: I’m envisioning there are a lot of people that dream about owning a business that’s blocks from the beach and across the street from a yoga studio.
Miri Bescansa: Oh, yeah, I mean every time we get a little bit stressed out, we’re at the studio.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah, grab your mat and run across the street just like a quick …
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, and it’s nice …
Leslie DeSimone: … downtime .
Miri Bescansa: … too, because I’m a mom of two kids, and I’m like, “Leslie, I’m taking my kids to the park for an hour,” and I live in PB, too, so it takes me like five minutes to get home, take my kids to the park for an hour and get back to the office, and it feels just great as a mom.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, you can’t do that with a nine-to-five job.
Miri Bescansa: Exactly. Just to balance out my being a mom and being an entrepreneur is what I was dreaming of.
Dana Robinson: Do you guys have to suit up for work like a formal business attire?
Leslie DeSimone: Flip-flops.
Miri Bescansa: Messy hair, flip-flops and …
Leslie DeSimone: … yoga pants.
Dana Robinson: You know what’s cool about this, Nate, is a lot of people, when they sit down with us, they’re not quite sure why they’re on our podcast in some cases because they maybe look at us being out 10 and 20 years ahead of where they might be and we’ve got a little more resources and we’re doing some fun stuff, and they don’t realize that they’re already living the Opt Out Life.
Dana Robinson: They sometimes are so focused on looking ahead and taking on the day’s challenges that they don’t often step and look backwards and say, “Where was I a year or two, four years ago?” so I think it’s cool that you just prompted them with that question.
Nate Broughton: I said the magic words. It’s living the Opt Out Life, and I think they kind of figured it out while they were sitting here if they hadn’t before when we first had a conversation and met up with them, and you can tell, when people do come in here, they kind of realize it afterwards. They’re like, “I don’t know if that was very good, but I realized that my life ain’t so bad.”
Dana Robinson: Yeah. Yeah. I get to pick up my kids when I want to. I get to take a lunch off when I want. I’m not that stressed out when I go take yoga and don’t come to the office for two hours. I take a leisurely breakfast. All of these things that you really want to do when you’re working for somebody else, when you’re doing them, sometimes you forget just how special and precious that is.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, because there are other pressures and stresses that come along with owning a business or taking a side gig and trying to make it a full time thing and making that leap. We talk a lot about that and some of our other content, but, yeah, I think it’s just human nature to focus on the stresses and the problems that you do have to deal with, and you don’t realize that, in retrospect, they’re the ones that you chose, and you should own them a little bit and don’t forget about the flexibility that you do have.
Nate Broughton: It’s cool that, especially for them, like they tell us about how they’re in a full time career and also working basically full time hourly at the surf shop, and to be here, sitting here on the Opt Out Life podcast, and to really have earned it and to deserve it is pretty cool, man. They’re not some VC-backed start up. They’re not some geniuses with some idea that was going to revolutionize the world. They’re just people who tested something out, and this is going to sound inappropriate, but have the balls to do it, right?
Dana Robinson: Right. Yeah, and sometimes it does. It takes an epiphany sometimes. There’s someone asking you to realize that even if you haven’t cashed in big and maybe you know you have goals ahead that you’ve got the Opt Out Life.
Dana Robinson: I can remember when, it was probably six months after leaving a law firm, I was helping my wife run her property management business. I had a shingle for my law practice and I was involved with the shoe business, so I wasn’t doing exactly what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it, and I was just walking the blocks from the little beach office to the little beach condo that I had, and it hit me. I had the absence of guilt from not being at the office, and I think a lot of people, if you’ve worked for someone for a long time, when you’re out doing something, you have the sense that you shouldn’t be. Like you’re playing hooky. Once you’ve been self-employed just long enough to realize that you’re only playing hooky on yourself, it’s a pretty awesome feeling.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, so you’re living the Opt Out Life now. You’re building a business that I’m sure has a long way to go and can be a lot more successful, but at the same time you’re doing things like leaving for an hour to go to the park with your kids or going across the street to the yoga studio. I think you’re doing all right.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, that’s priceless. None of my friends can do that. I feel so lucky and … because when I became a mom, with my first kid, I spent that first year at home, and I loved it. I love my kid to death, but I was needing to do something else. I’m like, “I really need to work,” so, right now, I just have the balance that I was looking for a long time, so I think it’s priceless. No money can pay that.
Dana Robinson: What were the biggest obstacles to your getting from the point where you started to the point where you went full time?
Miri Bescansa: I felt like our jewelry claims, and it is handmade, and that’s so challenging because, nowadays, every single thing you see is from China, comes from China, so we were like, “We don’t want to be like them,” but sometimes you dream about being just like them and getting all that inventory already. Like …
Leslie DeSimone: … and just repackaging it, having it redone.
Miri Bescansa: … but, of course, we don’t want to do that, but that’s our biggest challenge, to keep up with productivity and have good people making the jewelry because, I mean, not everyone …
Leslie DeSimone: … and keeping it consistent, like quality control, and then we’ll go to these bead and gem fairs and we’ll see like really cool stones and we’ll purchase all that they have and get contact information, and then we’ll run out of what we bought, and they no longer carry that, so it’s like that’s an ongoing challenge, so our sales is always changing because we can’t source those kinds of stones or beads anymore.
Dana Robinson: The handmade feature is such an integral part of your brand.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: You can’t give that up, but that also is the most challenging …
Leslie DeSimone: It’s challenging.
Miri Bescansa: Oh, for sure.
Dana Robinson: … aspect. You handmade them in the US, in Southern California, with full-waged labor and handpicked stones and keeping that going as you scale to hundreds of accounts.
Leslie DeSimone: Keeping it consistent, yeah, is the biggest challenge.
Nate Broughton: Because you haven’t made them in Mexico, handmade there? Will that work? I don’t know. We’re really close to Mexico. [inaudible 00:43:47].
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, we thought about it. I’m not going to lie to you. We thought about it. Right now, we have college girls that are doing a great job, so, for now, it’s okay, but, yeah, it’s something that we would consider.
Dana Robinson: Right, your challenge now is the same going from, say, 170 accounts to a thousand accounts.
Miri Bescansa: Yes.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: That ability to scale is going to be remain the same.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, and bring Salty Cali to Europe.
Dana Robinson: You’re thinking going international?
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Miri Bescansa: Yes.
Nate Broughton: You mentioned taking Salty Cali to Europe. I mean, what are the goals beyond growth, which I assume is quite common, generic? What do you want Salty Cali to be in three to five years?
Miri Bescansa: Right now, we’re in such a sweet spot that I want to get more accounts, of course, but our lifestyle and the way we live right now …
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Miri Bescansa: … is just-
Leslie DeSimone: Perfect. Like we have a structured schedule. I’m proud of us for keeping with it, and we do Monday through Friday, nine to five, and then, yeah, if Miri is about to see her kids for a little bit, like no big deal, but we have the weekends off for the most part. We have a great setup right now, and to scale bigger, I know that-
Miri Bescansa: I mean, we think about Salty Cali all day long.
Leslie DeSimone: All the time.
Miri Bescansa: We text each other on Saturdays and Sundays …
Leslie DeSimone: Midnight, right, just …
Miri Bescansa: … all the time.
Leslie DeSimone: … brainstorming.
Miri Bescansa: My husband is like, “Oh, my God, you are married to Leslie.” He’s insane. When you run your own business, it’s so hard to just disconnect and be like, “Okay, now, it’s the weekend. I’m not going to think about my business anymore.”
Dana Robinson: That’s not necessarily bad, right? It’s [crosstalk 00:45:23].
Leslie DeSimone: No.
Miri Bescansa: No. I love it.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Miri Bescansa: I love it, because we love what we’re doing. If we were hating it, it will be horrible.
Leslie DeSimone: That’s right.
Dana Robinson: All right, so sticking with jewelry for now. No designs? [inaudible 00:45:34] for cool T-shirts?
Miri Bescansa: Oh, yeah.
Dana Robinson: Oh.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah. Yeah. We’re just-
Dana Robinson: Do you want to make an announcement on the spot? [inaudible 00:45:43].
Leslie DeSimone: Coming soon, apparel.
Dana Robinson: Cool.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: It’s a great brand. It’s a great brand. I can see it on … in my mind, on surf shop, apparel for sure.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah, we made some materials for our trade show, like hats and T-shirts. Her husband and my boyfriend wear their hats all the time, and they’re always getting compliments on the name, and so we were like, “All right, I think that’s probably the next move.”
Dana Robinson: Maybe one where you don’t have to hand make [crosstalk 00:46:13].
Leslie DeSimone: Oh, yeah, that would be so nice.
Miri Bescansa: Oh, it’s such a relief.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: We’re talking about lifestyle, and I think a lot of people might hear you guys talk and think, “Wow, you have made it.” You’re working for yourself, nine to five if you want, leave when you want, not work on weekends, but the reality is you guys aren’t making millions of dollars at this point …
Miri Bescansa: Oh, no.
Dana Robinson: … and you’re okay with that.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, we have the lifestyle that we want to have right now.
Dana Robinson: Right, and so there’s a lot of people … I was reflecting on someone that I mentioned in my book, Opt Out, that have the big life and the big agency, making six figures in New York, and you can get all you want when you’ve got the money, but she didn’t have really freedom. She had a lot of nice purses. She had some Louis Vuittons, but it wasn’t until she made the leap to start a new venture in Hawaii and open a little shop of her own that she realized that she didn’t need all that money and that she could live the life she wanted on a lot less.
Dana Robinson: How do you guys being in the middle of that? What’s your feeling on that?
Miri Bescansa: Now that I’m a mom, obviously, time is money, or it’s more valuable than money, so I really don’t care that much about making a lot of money. I mean, it would be nice to feel relaxed because we’re always, at the end of the month, we’re like, “Okay, how much did we make?” I mean, it’s not like a regular job that you know how much you’re going to make every month.
Dana Robinson: Right, money matters.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Miri Bescansa: For sure, but to an extent, so, to me, it’s more important to be able to spend time with my kids and my family, to have a flexible schedule, to get along with my co-workers and just be happy. I’m still happy. I wake up every morning and thinking, “Oh, cool, I’m going to work on Salty Cali.”
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah, there’s never like a day of like, “Oh, I have to go into the office. I have to do this.” It’s like exciting. I’m actually pumped for Mondays. I go like, “Oh, it’s Monday. Great. I have like five days to work on Salty Cali.”
Miri Bescansa: I mean, it’s our baby. It’s my third baby. We just want to grow as much as we can, but without losing the freedom and the ability to have our own schedule and our own terms as we’re going to-
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah, making more money, if that was to give up time, I’m happy, I think we both are, where we’re at right now. Of course, it’d be nice to make more money, but if that’s giving up our lifestyle that we have, I don’t think it’s worth it.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, that’s cool, so the goal as you grow is to maintain what you’ve really achieved.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: What you’ve really achieved is remarkable. It’s freedom, and there’s a lot of self-employed people that don’t have that.
Leslie DeSimone: Have that, yeah.-
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, and, of course, to keep having a great relationship with Leslie and so we have this healthy environment, and hiring people and-
Dana Robinson: Yeah, tell me about the stress. I know most people are stressed out, and they’re stressed out a lot about their jobs. They’re stressed out about work. At the end of the month, they’re stressed out about money, and then it’s sort of a cycle.
Dana Robinson: My experience with stress and self-employment is that it’s a different sort of stress. What do you think?
Miri Bescansa: We feel stressed, yeah, of course. We are stressed out sometimes, but it different.
Leslie DeSimone: It’s like we are in control of how the outcome will be, so it’s like, if you’re stressed out about money right now, then we have to work a little bit harder. It’s up to us.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, and we have this monthly goals and weekly goals, and we’re like, “Okay, Leslie, we’re here. We need to make this amount of money like in these three days,” so we’re like-
Leslie DeSimone: Make it happen.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, it’s kind of fun. It’s challenging. It’s fun. It’s stressful, but, I don’t know, we don’t have to deal with a boss that we don’t like or a co-worker that is trying to ruin your life. It’s just us and we have the control over it.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, you’re not stuck anywhere. You’re not stuck at the surf shop. You’re not stuck in a real estate career. You’re in control, and that’s really what freedom is, the freedom to put it on yourself and make it work, right?
Miri Bescansa: Yeah.
Nate Broughton: I like that. Okay, Dana, here’s another spot where they’re going to give us some … It’s a little bit more like tactical, practical advice from their story, or not even necessarily advice, just them recounting how they did stuff.
Nate Broughton: We were asking them about, “How did you guys start a website?” We’ve talked about photography as well in the story where it’s like, “I know that if you sell jewelry or any retail product online, you need to have good pictures of it because people need to see it,” and then the expectations of those photos have gone up and up, multiple angles, high quality photos. These two aren’t photographers. They’re not Web developers, but, you know what, they found a solution.
Nate Broughton: We talked about it [inaudible 00:50:47] episode, so we don’t have to say too much about it, I don’t think, but it’s just another example of, “Oh, I’m starting a business. Oh, we’re going to have to have a website. I don’t want to do that. That’s going to be tough. I’m not going to do it.” It’s like they Google something. They find Wix. You don’t need to have a high technical acumen to build that, and it works.
Nate Broughton: If you go to their website right now, I don’t think you’re going to be blown away by the quality, but behind it is a business that’s supporting two adults full time, so who gives a shit?
Dana Robinson: Right. There are retailers who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to design and deploy a website, and I can imagine a lot of people feeling that’s a barrier to entry. There’s nothing special about hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions of dollars on a website. If you’re a public company, then it’s your prerogative to spend a million dollars to redeploy your website, but you can do this kind of thing yourself for zero if you learn a little bit.
Dana Robinson: You can pay some consultants on Fiverr or Upwork to help you and pay a couple of hundred dollars, and the product at the end is respectable. It’s a fine product. When retailers go look at it, they go, “This looks like a real company to me. There’s some cool product here,” and I can’t find any fault with what they’ve created, and they didn’t have to spend a lot of money to do it.
Dana Robinson: They did have to have some chutzpah, right? They had to have some desire to learn, some curiosity, and that’s all paid off, and that’s got to have made them feel accomplished as well.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, I think so, and it’s obviously working, and it makes me think back a little bit to the beginning when the wholesaler was telling them that they’re never going to make it work if they’re buying the product at that cost. Their attitude to that sort of comment I think helps propel them to do a website this way because there’s probably people that tell them their website is not that great, and they’re probably not even the buyers. It’s probably just their friends or consumers or something that’s like, “I was on your site. The page is broken.” Like I hear that now, and I’m like, “I don’t care.” That’s not the point, right? That’s not going to hold me back from doing what I’m doing and we’ll get to that when it’s important to get to.
Nate Broughton: It’s a certain mindset, too. I actually did some consulting about 10 years ago with a jewelry website now that I think about it, and a lot of it started with, “Well, we have all these competitors. My website’s … You know, it needs to be better than theirs, and I actually do this better on my website.” The only thing is you was just projecting other faults in the business itself or even in the entrepreneur behind the site, whether it was with sales or other decisions he’d made onto the way his website looked, and I’m like, “That’s not your problem, dude. The problem is somewhere else. Don’t blame it on the website.”
Dana Robinson: Yeah, and they’ve been really smart I think, too, about the mechanics. I mean, we talked about their target market is not selling direct to consumer at this point. They sell to retailers. That’s their business, and retailers don’t need a fancy experience on a website. They need the basics. “I want to see your products. Give me a couple of links. I want to contact you easily from there. I want to know what your brand is. I want good models.”
Dana Robinson: If they were selling to a direct consumer, the website might not even be the focus. A lot of people don’t realize that websites aren’t the focus of, say, a retail sales funnel, that you might actually have a bunch of landing pages built on specialty software, so that would be a completely different business, and they can get to that as their business grows and they decide to address that. That’s sort of a separate business plan that they can deploy down the road.
Dana Robinson: If they had tried to do that from the beginning, they’d still be spinning their wheels and they wouldn’t have a business paying them to work full time now.
Nate Broughton: Right, they went with what they knew. There are plenty of hurdles that they can choose to acknowledge and/or ignore, and they’ve stuck to the ones that they felt like they could push through, and they’ve built a real business. It’s pretty cool.
Nate Broughton: Way to go, Salty Cali.
Dana Robinson: Go, girls.
Nate Broughton: Let’s hear more from you.
Dana Robinson: All right, so one of the things that I think is helpful for people is to talk about some the specifics of when you first got started, and the first thing you said when you decided you were going to move from a thousand-dollar business to a real side gig was you started a website. Did you guys have to be programmers for that? How did you figure that out?
Leslie DeSimone: Wix is the best thing ever. I don’t know if you guys have used it before, but it pretty much built the website for you. You just plug in pictures and a store, so it was pretty easy to do that part of it.
Nate Broughton: What about the pictures, too? When you’re selling a product, you have to have great photography and, unless you’re a professional photographer with a kickass Canon, that can be challenge. How did you guys deal with that?
Leslie DeSimone: We’ve been so lucky.
Miri Bescansa: We’ve been so lucky.
Nate Broughton: Shout out to their photographer.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah, Kayla.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, Kayla, we love you. Yeah, so we have this friend. She used to work at the surf shop. She’s an amazing photographer, and she’s got these beautiful and fun girl friends that are always willing to take pictures and to pose, so it’s just … We get to have these natural, beautiful pictures.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah, she worked for trade, and she was so excited to get jewelry, and we were so excited to get her amazing pictures, so it worked out.
Miri Bescansa: It’s a win-win situation.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Nate Broughton: Nice. I like that because it harkens back to you being at the surf shop. You were working an hourly job at the surf shop, but it was really a platform for you to launch this business in a lot of ways. It’s a place where you could test market selling a product.
Leslie DeSimone: Absolutely.
Nate Broughton: It’s cool that they let you do that, and you knew the customers. You knew the market from working in there. You found your photographer and models through this connection as well, and I think it also taught you what surf shops are looking for just in general and how to maybe go in and pitch to them and get into these stores the way you guys sound.
Leslie DeSimone: Absolutely. Yeah.
Miri Bescansa: One that we should say is that everyone is willing to help us out. Everyone loves Salty Cali. Everyone thinks that what we’re doing is great, and so all our friends …
Leslie DeSimone: … are so supportive.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, and some of them, they’re like graphic designers and they help us out, photographers, like marketing materials. Like everyone is willing to-
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah, I think they believe in it as much as we do, and we’ve been blessed to have the helping hands that we had along the way and still to this day.
Nate Broughton: I mean, obviously, people that are your friends want to help you out. There’s something inside all of us that wants to do the type of things that you’re doing or that we’re doing with these podcasts. I’ve been amazed by the response and support that we’ve gotten as well, and I think it’s because so many people want to do that that they really admire that you guys are doing it and they want to see you succeed, and it’s an opportunity for them to not only be your fried, but to help something that we all probably have the desire to do, but you guys are making the leap to do it. I think that like 99.9% of the world is a watcher, not a creator a doer, and I think a lot of them want to be, but you guys actually are that, and the effect of that is all the support that you’re getting.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: That also matters in terms of the cost of the launch. I mean, a lot of people would sit down, especially people that are risk-averse and think, “How much is this going to cost?” and they start mapping it out, $2,500 to develop a website and $5,000 in advertising, $3,000 in legal. You guys started this with the help of friends and the bootstraps, doing things yourself on Wix.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, and every time that a friend is at one of the shops that we have a display in, they always take a picture. They know that we appreciate that, so we know that are low-
Leslie DeSimone: They’ll organize the jewelry for us.
Miri Bescansa: … very low inventory, we’ve got to talk to the buyer, so everyone is like-
Leslie DeSimone: Has an eye out for us, yeah.
Nate Broughton: I like the website thing, and I like you mentioned that because you’re bringing up all these hurdles that people could use to talk themselves out of doing this, right? They’re just like, “Well, I don’t know how to launch a website. That probably sounds expensive. I’m not going to do it. I don’t know how to file a business. That sounds complicated. I don’t know any attorneys. I’m not going to do it. If I’m going to sell this, I need to have really nice pictures of my product. I need to have models. I don’t know any models. How am I going to do that?”
Nate Broughton: It’s funny then to talk to people who have done it and say, “Well, we just got some help from a friend,” or, “We just Googled something and found Wix, and it was easy to use.” These hurdles aren’t as real as people think they are, and it’s cool just to see you guys knocking them over and building a business.
Nate Broughton: You guys are our first female guests. We’ve done eight or nine episodes, and we’ve been told that our events have too many men at them, although there’s always a handful of female entrepreneurs there that we’re friends with, and we talk about this over coffee that it’s a different challenge, I guess, being a woman entrepreneur than being a male sometimes. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t, but what’s your experience been with that? Where is it an asset? Where is it a challenge, and where does it maybe not even matter?
Leslie DeSimone: I feel like it hasn’t mattered, especially because we’re doing jewelry, so it’s more like, okay, a female … Oh, we have a male sales rep, so that’s the odd point of the male-female side of it, but, for us, to be female entrepreneurs in jewelry, it makes sense.
Miri Bescansa: Yes, and all the buyers, most of the buyers are women, so it’s nice. It’s like we connect, and they like what we make because guys, in general, they are like, “Oh, that looks nice. I don’t know.” They don’t really know about jewelry, so buyers that are females helps, and we have good relationship with all of them, so it’s good.
Dana Robinson: That’s great. A lot of the women in the legal profession I feel like face a challenge about a while male dominated world, and, in my opinion, the female employees I’ve had and the attorneys I’ve worked with have been, and my mentor as a new lawyer was a woman, have been the best lawyers, the best professionals I’ve ever worked with, but we white men have privilege, and I know it from being [crosstalk 01:00:20].
Miri Bescansa: Oh, yeah, it’s a reality.
Dana Robinson: It’s a starting point that is ahead of everybody else, and so it’s cool to hear that you haven’t faced challenges from being [crosstalk 01:00:29].
Miri Bescansa: Yeah. No, we haven’t, but I see it all the time, and we are looking for a nonprofit organization to help with, and we were thinking about helping women, and they [inaudible 01:00:40] between those two groups, and, of course, it’s a reality that women don’t have the same privilege than men. Yeah, we want to help out with that, so we’re still discussing it, but we’re going to do something soon about it.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: You can contribute to our networking group, because one of the comments we’ve had is why are there so many white guys here, and I think it’s partly … maybe it’s partly geographic, it’s partly coincidence, but when we get together with our [inaudible 01:01:12] Cali networking group, it’s 60-70 people and maybe five women.
Leslie DeSimone: Oh, wow.
Miri Bescansa: Oh, we’re showing up this time.
Dana Robinson: Because a critical mass of women would be really encouraging to the other female entrepreneurs for sure.
Miri Bescansa: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Leslie DeSimone: Kick down that door.
Miri Bescansa: We will be there. Let us know the time and the date.
Nate Broughton: Cool.
Dana Robinson: We will. Maybe some fun stuff …
Nate Broughton: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: … what kind of music are you guys into?
Miri Bescansa: Oh, my God, we are-
Leslie DeSimone: Our office music, it’s mostly, “Alexa, play Shakira.
Miri Bescansa: Shakira music, party music. We want to feel energized, so we’re always playing, yeah, samba, whatever.
Nate Broughton: That stuff’s hot right now, the Latin crossover, right? The Despacito is going to fall down to all of these other artists with all these Latin crossover pop songs this year. It has to happen, right? I love Shakira, by the way. I love Shakira.
Miri Bescansa: Oh, I love Shakira.
Nate Broughton: She’s my favorite.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah, actually, when I first met Miri, I was like, “Oh, my gosh, this fun, little like Shakira-looking chick, I need to be friends with her.”
Nate Broughton: She’s married to a Spanish soccer star, too, right? [crosstalk 01:02:18].
Miri Bescansa: Oh, yes, I don’t really like him, but …
Nate Broughton: What? Why?
Miri Bescansa: … it’s okay.
Nate Broughton: Okay.
Leslie DeSimone: Just to show you how shallow I am about music, I guess, I was a Tito Puente fan in high school. I don’t know why. I like weird music in high school, like punk, early punk and jazz.
Miri Bescansa: Oh, and I like jazz.
Nate Broughton: Who’s Tito Puente?
Dana Robinson: Tito Puente is the sort of Latin [crosstalk 01:02:37].
Miri Bescansa: I have never heard of it.
Dana Robinson: Tito Puente is the-
Miri Bescansa: Tito Puente?
Dana Robinson: You’ve heard of Oye Como Va?
Nate Broughton: Yeah, sure.
Miri Bescansa: Oh, yeah, but that’s like-
Dana Robinson: Think of Santana. It was originally in 1961, I think …
Nate Broughton: Really?
Dana Robinson: … when Tito Puente performed it and wrote it, so [crosstalk 01:02:54].
Miri Bescansa: Oh, nice.
Dana Robinson: In fact, Tito Puente has been cameo-ed more than in The Simpsons.
Miri Bescansa: Oh, really? Okay, next time, [crosstalk 01:02:59].
Nate Broughton: You continue to date yourself. No one watches The Simpsons. No one, right?
Dana Robinson: [crosstalk 01:03:05].
Nate Broughton: Were you guys alive in 1990?
Dana Robinson: Yeah, Tito Puente, you should put on next. Ask Alexa to play …
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, Alexa.
Dana Robinson: … Tito Puente.
Nate Broughton: Right after you say, “Alexa, play the Opt Out Life.”
Dana Robinson: That’s right.
Nate Broughton: I’m still trying to get that to work. It’s supposed to work.
Dana Robinson: What doesn’t Alexa [inaudible 01:03:21]?
Nate Broughton: I don’t know. It’s not popular enough.
Dana Robinson: Maybe. Things you do for fun?
Leslie DeSimone: I’m currently obsessed with volleyball, so I play a lot of volleyball.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, we-
Dana Robinson: Beach volleyball?
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: Two-woman volleyball? I didn’t say two-man because that’s kind of sexist.
Leslie DeSimone: Coed.
Dana Robinson: Coed?
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: Two on two?
Leslie DeSimone: Sometimes, but I get my ass kicked, so it’s-
Dana Robinson: It’s a lot of movements.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Nate Broughton: You play out at Mission Beach? Is there like a-
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Nate Broughton: Is there a league or is it just-
Leslie DeSimone: It’s just like I play-
Nate Broughton: [crosstalk 01:03:51].
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah, pick up anyone that will take me. I’m like, “I have a ball. Anyone want to play with me?”
Dana Robinson: Cool.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, I love yoga and working out. We both like working out. Our next accomplishment is to play tennis together. We both play tennis when we were younger, so let’s see how it goes.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, [crosstalk 01:04:15].
Nate Broughton: It’s going to kill the partnership.
Miri Bescansa: Oh, yes.
Dana Robinson: Maybe you need to play doubles on the same team so you could keep [crosstalk 01:04:22]?
Leslie DeSimone: Oh, that’s a good idea.
Nate Broughton: Yeah.
Miri Bescansa: You know what? Sometimes, we really need some time apart.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah.
Miri Bescansa: It’s just like, “Oh, my God, I see you like 12 hours a day.” [inaudible 01:04:34] like two minutes later we’re hugging each other and like, “I love you.” “I love you, too,” so it’s always nice.
Nate Broughton: What’s your favorite piece of jewelry you guys have ever made? Is there a favorite?
Dana Robinson: I’ll ask it this way. Is there anything you haven’t sold that you’re keeping and that you’re just wearing it and that you should have just sold?
Miri Bescansa: Actually no. Now, I look back at our first collection, and I’m like, “Oh, my God.”
Leslie DeSimone: This is hideous.
Nate Broughton: It’s another great example of entrepreneurship, right?
Miri Bescansa: We keep it. We keep it and we get it, and we laugh about it, and [inaudible 01:05:06].
Leslie DeSimone: We’re like, “And people bought this?” We’re like, “How did we even make it this far? This is-
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, right. We change the styles all the time. It’s like one month, my favorite is the turquoise and the following month is the mini beads. I go through phases, but I’m thinking about the new collection, and that’s what I … It really keeps me excited.
Leslie DeSimone: Yeah, she’s the one who’s always like, “Okay, I’m done with those. Let’s like start a new collection.” I’m like, “Ah, it s a new [inaudible 01:05:34],” so Miri is like the designer side of it. Like she’ll come up with new styles, and then I do like all the graphic design side of it, the website and [inaudible 01:05:45], and so whenever she comes up with a new idea, I’m like, “Ah,” on my end, then I have to add all the stuff, but-
Dana Robinson: Where do you get inspired? Where does the design inspiration come from?
Miri Bescansa: European trends. I mean …
Leslie DeSimone: They’re ahead of us.
Miri Bescansa: … I got to say we’re ahead, and I see it on my friends. All my friends back in Spain, they have such a great style, and I’m always looking for brands, European brands to get inspired, so I always show her pictures. I’m like, “What do you think about this?” and she’s like, “Oh, it’s a little bit crazy.” I’m like, “I swear to God, it’s going to be a trend in two years, one year and a half.”
Dana Robinson: Yeah. Yeah.
Leslie DeSimone: Sure enough, yeah.
Dana Robinson: Then to get inspired, you’re watching the magazines websites, traveling?
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, everything.
Dana Robinson: You used to travel in Europe?
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, Instagram helps a lot nowadays, and, of course, magazines and TV channels and things like that and, of course, my friends. I go to Spain every summer, so I get to-
Dana Robinson: Get to hang out in Europe.
Leslie DeSimone: Scope it out.
Dana Robinson: Yeah.
Miri Bescansa: Oh, yeah. You should come with me this summer.
Dana Robinson: Spain is beautiful. It’s my favorite place.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, Spain is the best.
Miri Bescansa: I always say Spain is fun. I don’t know. There are other … I mean, Italy, all these countries are beautiful, but I feel like Spain is just so much fun. People really enjoy life.
Dana Robinson: Yeah.
Nate Broughton: Can we do a giveaway to those people who are listening to this when they hit us up? Can we give away one of your pieces?
Leslie DeSimone: Oh, absolutely.
Miri Bescansa: Of course, yeah.
Nate Broughton: Even a hat or a T-shirt, too, if you’ve got those coming send them our way.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: All right.
Nate Broughton: We can ship … All right, listeners, if you want something from Salty Cali, send me an email, Let’s talk about it.
Dana Robinson: You’re only going to know this if you’ve listened to this podcast.
Nate Broughton: That’s right. That’s right. Thanks for sticking with us.
Dana Robinson: Ladies, thank you for taking the time to come on our podcast.
Leslie DeSimone: Thanks for having us.
Miri Bescansa: Thank you for having us.
Dana Robinson: Congratulations on your success so far. We look forward to interviewing you again in a year …
Nate Broughton: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: … and seeing where you’re at.
Miri Bescansa: Yeah, that will be great. Thank you.
Nate Broughton: All right, cool.
Dana Robinson: Thanks. I like them.
Nate Broughton: Thanks again for listening to the Opt Out Life podcast. If you like this episode or any of our episodes, we’d love to have you as a subscriber. Click the “Subscribe” button iTunes or wherever you get your podcast. Then head over off to optoutlife.come. There, you can enter your email address to get on our email list so you’ll be the first to know about new podcast episodes as they come out, including handpicked highlights, links to resources we mention and top quotes from each episode.
Nate Broughton: Dana and I are also publishing new articles on the site, including how-to guides and blueprints for you to use to find your next side gig or find a creative idea to help you live the Opt Out Life.
Nate Broughton: Opt Out Life email subscribers also will be the first to get access to upcoming video content, which includes a short documentary we shot recently here in San Diego, as well as opportunities to interact with us in our growing community through the Opt Out Life Premium Membership. All that and more starts by heading to optoutlife.come and entering your email, but that’s not enough. You can follow us on Instagram at Opt Out LIfe. Give us a shout out or ask a question about your business, your travel plans or anything we might be able to help you with.
Nate Broughton: We’ll talk to you soon. Opt Out out.

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