Profile of a Growth Marketer is an ongoing series where we feature leaders in the performance marketing industry.
There’s a Costa Rican philosophy that encourages the appreciation of life’s simple treasures. Slowing down, celebrating good fortune, refusing to take anything for granted and living life to the fullest. In Spanish, that word is “pura vida” (“pure life”). Those who understand and embrace this concept know that it’s much more than a saying; it’s a lifestyle.
Pura Vida Bracelets, co-founded by Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman, embodies this philosophy and lifestyle.
Every product they sell – online and off – is carefully handcrafted by artisans around the world, all of whom are all dedicated to the “pura vida” way of life. This is demonstrated in the quality of their work, innovative styles and beautiful color combinations of every product they make. Each bracelet, ring, bag, necklace, etc. is as unique as the person wearing it.
As a part of our Profile of a Growth Marketers series, we spoke with Griffin Thall on our Outperform podcast and asked him to share his journey of co-founding Pura Vida Bracelets and growing it into a thriving company. Here’s a snippet of his answers to the questions we asked him during our discussion.
You can hear the full interview on our Outperform podcast.
What was the inspiration for starting Pura Vida Bracelets?
After graduating from San Diego State University in 2010, Paul and I decided to take a surf trip. Initially, we were set to go to Thailand, but the trip got cancelled due to a bomb threat at the capital. So we changed our plans and headed to Costa Rica.One day after surfing, we were walking back to our hotel and we met Jorge and Joaquin. They were on the beach making bracelets by hand and we thought they not only looked cool, but that they’d make great gifts to bring back to our friends and family. We bought a few and then, after discussing it more later that night, we came up with the idea of taking more back with us to see if we could sell them back in the states. So we returned the next day and asked Jorge and Joaquin to make 400 for us. They agreed and that was the last day they were ever selling bracelets on the beach.
What were some things you did in your first year of business that took you from selling a few of these bracelets here and there to having such a strong online presence and customer following?
Initially we built out a few, basic web pages with product photos and started selling them online that way. As our social presence grew and word-of-mouth increased, our story and bracelet sales really took off. It didn’t happen overnight by any means, but growth has definitely been impressive. We leverage as many online channels that we can, including social, search, paid and affiliate marketing.
At what point did you start leveraging the affiliate model to sell Pura Vida Bracelets your other products?
We started leveraging affiliate marketing about two years ago. It’s a channel that we leveraged later in our online growth because I don’t really think you’ll be as successful with it unless you already have a solid brand presence, good word-of-mouth and strong organic traction online. For us, we first leveraged social marketing, then email marketing and then branched out into affiliate marketing.
What kinds of affiliates do you typically partner with?
We do work with the top coupon affiliates as they fit well with what we sell and how we sell (promotions, offers, etc.). We also work with content publishers, whether it’s people who create lists (“Top X Products to Own This Summer,” etc.) or lifestyle bloggers, mom bloggers, fashion bloggers, it’s about partnering with people who authentically write about products that they value and enjoy.
How has your partnerships with Acceleration Partners helped in establishing and growing your affiliate program?
The team is super organized and strategic. Every week I get emails of the past seven days of our performance, what’s in the pipeline, what’s working, what’s not, etc. Working with Acceleration Partners has allowed us to have a more professional, strategic view for our affiliate program. Before working with AP, our program was honestly a mess. Now, it’s data-driven, streamlined, organized and has set goals.
What’s surprised you most about this marketing model compared to when you first got started with it?
At first, I was honestly a bit frustrated because I had unrealistic expectations. I thought we’d be seeing massive results in the first few months, kind of like with Facebook or Instagram ads. You can just crank up the ad spend and your traffic just goes up.With affiliate, it’s more about authentic relationships. It’s about connecting with these affiliates, sharing your story and your value so that they can do a great job sharing all that with their audiences. And that takes time. So initially, I thought it would be a quicker process. But now, after doing it for close to two years, I think we have a really strong foundation and are set up for long-term success. Our affiliates are doing a great job. They are consistently posting about us, they are brand-aligned, and really believe in what we’re doing.
What are some offline marketing strategies that you’re using to get the word out about Pura Vida?
We have a campus program where people can sign up on our website to become a Pura Vida rep on their campus. They get a special coupon code to our website, they get bracelets, stickers, etc. We encourage them to share Pura Vida products via their social channels, blogs, etc. Then, when someone uses their unique coupon code to buy a bracelet, we pay them a percentage of the sales they generated.
We also bought a 1963 airstream trailer, redid the whole thing inside and out and built a retail store on the inside with a bracelet wall, benches, an Instagram wall, plants and other fun stuff. It’s pretty sweet. We bring it to music festivals, street fairs, food events, surf competitions – wherever we can take it. It’s a fun way for people to shop, meet the staff and experience Pura Vida in real life.
Check out our full interview with Griffin Thall on our Outperform podcast.