Scaling Your Supply Chain from Zero to Retail with Denise Papa

Will Davis (00:15):

All right, everybody, we are back with another episode of Safety Stock. I’m Will Davis, and I’ve got Dan Magida here with me. Dan, Dan, you’re looking a little bit dewey today. You doing anything different? Your skin’s glowing, is what I’m trying to say. Dewey.

Dan Magida (00:31):

I do have a, I do have a nice little, you know, baseline tan going mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, and maybe that’s just my olive complexion, but I do have a nice little tan, you know, I try to keep my face clean, have a, you know, a routine.

Will Davis (00:45):

Use sunscreen when you’re out in the sun.

Dan Magida (00:48):

I’m like a really bad sunscreen user. I don’t wear it every day. I put it on when I’m like going to the beach and like those things. But every day walking, I’m terrible with that should be better. That’s okay. Get told all the, I could told all the time, but you know, I have a routine that I lightly adhere to.

Will Davis (01:05):

Yeah, same here.

Dan Magida (01:06):

Getting, getting better. You know, women in your life really promote it, so you try to listen as much as possible to that. But, you know, I got my little face moisturizer in the shower that I put on. And, you know, if I’m, if I’m feeling confident, I’ll put some on my face before I go to sleep. But it just feels, I don’t, I don’t know if I like all of that. Do you like it?

Will Davis (01:28):

I do. I’m just lazy and I forget sometimes, which I feel like is a larger portion of…..

Dan Magida (01:36):

Yeah. Do you wanna get into, do you wanna get into that now or do we wanna save that?

Will Davis (01:39):

Let’s save that for later. But, you know, speaking of later, why don’t we just go ahead now. We have another great guest lined up for us, Dan, and this guest is our first skincare, full-face body, head of operations supply chain guest that we’ve ever had. Denise Papa, how are you doing?

Denise Papa (02:00):

Hi guys. Thanks for having me.

Will Davis (02:03):

Yeah, thanks for coming on.

Denise Papa (02:06):

Yeah, super excited to be here.

Dan Magida (02:08):

We’re excited because now our routine is gonna get so much better with your insights of what you’re doing at Fig.1 Beauty. So we’re excited to learn how we can change up our nightly skincare regimen. We’re more so incorporate a nightly skincare regimen into our every day.

Denise Papa (02:26):

Well step one for you, Dan. SPF every day.

Will Davis (02:29):


Dan Magida (02:30):

What, 30, 50, 15? What are we talking here?

Denise Papa (02:32):

At least 30. At least 30. 50 would be gold standard.

Will Davis (02:37):

Now, Denise, for, you know, for the people, can you tell us a little bit about what you’re doing right now at Fig.1 and you know, a little bit about the company as a whole?

Denise Papa (02:50):

Sure. So, Fig.1 is a new skincare brand we launched about 18 months ago. We’re a high-performance, high-quality skincare brand that’s priced for everyday use. So our core collection is priced under $42. So that’s something that we’re very proud of. We’re founded by three female co-founders. So we’re, one is Lizzie Charleston, she’s a cosmetic chemist. And we have Dr. Courtney Ruben, who is a board-certified dermatologist. And then Kimmy Scotty, who is a serial entrepreneur and also a co-founder at a venture capital firm. They really, Kimmy and Courtney together with their background formulate all of our formulas in-house. Something that we’re also very proud of and we have, so we formulate with really highly active ingredients. So it’s very high efficacious skincare. And it’s also something that I’m super proud of. Super beautiful packaging. We really think of packaging as an extension of our formula. So it’s airless packaging that’s also refillable. If you buy the refill it’s $5 less. So it’s also attractive for consumers as well. So it’s a little bit about Fig.1. And then I am head of supply chain, so I manage everything from product developments all the way through delivery to customer. So touching every facet of the supply chain.

Dan Magida (04:30):

That’s, that’s, that’s really interesting. On, on the refillable side, just cause we’re seeing that trend. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> more, I mean, we’ve seen it in the, I mean, we’ve seen the bathroom with like refill pouches. Or I mean, soap exists already today where you refill. What’s the consumer mindset have you seen so far on the, on the refill and then like that whole more eco-friendly approach to it? Positives? Is it harder for the consumers to conceptualize that or pretty good so far.

Denise Papa (04:59):

I mean, our, our overall like penetration into refills continues to climb month over month. So it’s, you know, the repeat rate of consumers that come back. They come back for a new full full-size product. And then they’re also like refilling their existing. So we’re definitely starting to see that the, we call it our starter kit, which includes like the glass bottle, the pump, and then the refill kit, which is just the cartridge itself. You’re starting to see the volume pick up now more on the refill side, which is about right. Where, you know, like when you buy a new product, you know, it’s gonna take you a couple months to work through it. Obviously if you’re using it every day, you’re gonna work those faster. But we’re hitting that, that clip now, like where those refills are starting to, to get a little bit more traction. So it’s exciting to see.

Will Davis (05:51):

You know, I think the other thing that’s interesting about your website is that you can buy pumps mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you can buy O-Rings. You know, you’re, you’re actually com or, and, and I say buy is zero cost, it seems like if you need to replace it. So you’re, it’s one thing for y’all to have refills and some people honestly use refills as a gimmick mm-hmm. <Affirmative> because they’re not actually buying into it. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But it seems y’all are really pushing it in terms of it makes sense financially for y’all. It makes sense from a packaging perspective, shipping, you know, do you, do you also see a helpful push from a sustainability side or is that just, you know, it’s a nice benefit or maybe could be more done there?

Denise Papa (06:37):

Well, I mean, I think more can be done just in general in the packaging space around sustainability. Our, our, in our refill bottles, they are fully recyclable. So, you know that that’s a big bonus. The, the pumps, if you ever decide that you’re just like done with it, the pumps can be recycled. You just obviously have to take off that like metal spring, which is super easy to do. I mean it’s something that, you know, sustainability is like within our heart. It’s at our core, that’s what I’m trying to say. It’s at our core and we have lots of conversations around what are most optimal sustainable packaging. And we really try to be as eco-friendly as possible, but there are just certain limitations within the packaging landscape.

Will Davis (07:38):

Yeah. I mean, you have some actives that y’all sell as well. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and, you know, there’s been times where, you know, from a packaging perspective when I work, you know, with L’Oreal or even mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, some with, you know, mass Bath and Body Works L Brands, but mostly with L’Oreal, when you see actives mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, they do weird things. And they have offgassing and they can cause your droppers to blow up if you use, and I say blow up and like expand. Right. Not physically like explosion.

Dan Magida (08:06):

Kinda like those balloons flying, Will. Not, those types of explosions.

Will Davis (08:11):

Kinda like those yeah. Not those type of explosions. These are more controlled, you know, they look like a balloon <laugh>, but then you’re like, this isn’t what you wanna be selling as a cosmetic mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. So, no, that, that makes total sense. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> you know, I think the interesting thing though, Denise, that, you know, you were at Fig.1 even before you were making products. Correct. And so you have literally been there from the beginning mm-hmm. <Affirmative> I think you were the first operations mm-hmm. Supply chain hire. Mm-Hmm.

Denise Papa (08:41):

Correct. Yep.

Will Davis (08:43):

And you’ve had a chance to see things from absolute zero to where you are now. How, how is that unique to some of the other roles that you’ve, you’ve had where, you know, for lack of better word, you, you were working at really big companies mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and while you were doing a great role, you know, in some ways it’s a machine and you gotta just keep the machine moving forward.

Denise Papa (09:07):

A hundred percent. So I think, I mean, you hit the nail on the head. So I was at Unilever for nine years, Victoria’s Secret for five years. Unilever was really great in that they really loved to like, promote and make sure that you had a lot of breadth of knowledge across the supply chain. So they didn’t want you to like, stay in one role too long. So there I had a lot of opportunity to work in transportation, procurement, all facets of planning. But when you get in those roles, like when I was in demand planning, that’s all I did all day long. Right. Like, you’re just like running, like, you know, your S&OP like the back of your hand here when you’re starting, you know, I, I started, I was, I think the number two employee and first in operations and had to stand up the entire supply chain.


So we had to find all of our packaging suppliers, find our contract manufacturers, find our 3PLs. And no easy feat doing that in the height of COVID. Like, this is like September, 2020, no one’s traveling anywhere, right? So it’s not like you can go and visit these guys in person. So you’re taking a bit of a leap of faith in a sense when you’re, you know, bringing on a new supplier and you’re just like hoping for the best. But, you know, it’s been, it’s been a wild ride and it’s been, it’s been incredible. So we, when I started, we had in our formulas, we work with independent formulators to, that confirmed all of our testing. So we did all of our stability testing, P E T H r I P T, all that good jazz. So we knew that we had very viable formulas.


So we were in a position to easily tech transfer those formulas to a contract manufacturer. But we had to find one. I think we, we found a, an amazing partner with we’re, I mean we’re, there are only CM currently, well actually that’s not true. We have a few other CMs, but they’re our primary CM that we still work with. And whenever we have new development, they’re our first phone call. We are formulating in tandem with them now. So that’s also, you know, fabulous. But you know, they, we did all the tech transfers and it, thankfully most of them went off without a hitch. Some of them needed, needed some work on the formulas. And you know, that’s where having a cosmetic chemist as a co-founder is a blessing. So she was able to really partner with our lab team to troubleshoot through some, some of those like scaling challenges, right?


So when you go from a lab to a CM making sure that your formula is scalable, there’s always some curve balls there. Yeah. So that, you know, that actually went pretty well. And then we have been very thankful and have, you know, we have really great suppliers across the supply chain for all of our primary and secondary packaging. And we found a really great 3PL, so really stood up the entire supply chain. So I started in September and we launched our products in June, so like nine months later. So that was, that was a wild ride. Super fun. <Laugh>.

Dan Magida (12:21):

Yeah. Will, and I always talk about how important like, trust is in the supply chain because it’s a, it’s a partnership, right. And Will and I have both been at that stages previously. Like we, like we’ve either stood up a new operation or you keep evolving mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and growing with that partner, especially on your side when you’re going in and you haven’t launched yet mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you’re taking a leap of faith with these partners. They’re also taking a leap of faith with you as well, because they see hopefully a mutual growth opportunity here as well. What are some of those, like learnings you’ve uncovered since you gone from bigger companies to obviously a, a pre-launch company on like, how do you pitch, like, Hey, we’re gonna be here for a while, like, trust us, we’ll grow with you. Cuz at the end of the day, your supplier is your partner. Yeah. And if your communication is tight and you’re see that hey, there’s like a opportunity, like you’re selling yourself ultimately to, to them mm-hmm. <Affirmative> like what challenges have you uncovered or how rewarding has it been as well to see that growth with these existing partners you have today?

Denise Papa (13:24):

I mean, I think the challenging part is really just like getting your foot in the door. I think once we’re really good at our, our foot in the door and we’re, you know, we convey our vision to the suppliers, like they see it, right? Like, you know, like we, the skincare space is, is crowded, right? And there’s, I would say a lot of greedy brands out there that are priced in the luxury price points. But their formulas are not necessarily luxury, right? So we’re trying to be a luxury brand at an accessible price point. So I think that that resonates with suppliers. And they, you know, feel our vision and they’re, they’re on board. So that, that’s been great. But like getting, getting in, cutting through, you know, once we make that connection, we’re good. But it, it was hard to lock in some of those suppliers initially.


Thankfully, I had a lot of great connections across the industry from my previous life. So that, that helped a lot. And after I, you know, worked for Unilever and VS. I worked at Away on luggage. So I was able to like tap into like that network as well. Like, a lot of those folks have like left and gone on and done other things. So you’re able to kind of reach out within your network. Like, hi, I need a 3PL, who do you guys use? Who do you guys recommend? That’s how we found our current 3PL and it’s been great. So it’s trying to make sure that you’re, you know, leveraging your network where, where you can to make those connections.

Will Davis (15:01):

So I think one of the interesting things you talked about was, you know, you, you’ve now taken something from zero mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and you’re effectively at one in terms of where you are from selling. Yep. the website’s up, it’s launched, it’s doing well now. I think it’s doing well enough to where there’s some other things that are on the horizon too, in terms of here in the very near future. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you’re launching into a pretty big player. You got more things coming down the pipe. What’s coming up here for the near future here for Fig.1?

Denise Papa (15:36):

Well we are launching in a big box retailer, so we’re launching in CVS in early March. So that’s something that we’re super excited and proud of. And, you know, we’re in 3,200 stores, so that’s where in a, you know, not across their entire fleet, but pretty, pretty close there. In terms of, I guess like stores that like, are like, not specifically like focused on like pharmaceutical sales. Like some of the CVS stores are, like the bread and butter is the pharmacy and other stores like bread and butter is the store itself. So we’re in those doors. So that has been a whole new challenge in of itself. When you’re selling DTC, you can kind of get that down pat pretty quick, right? It’s, that’s not necessarily super challenging. Retailers, you have case labeling requirements, you have pallet requirements, you have EDI capabilities. So like now you’re adding in like a whole new set of complexities with like system integrations and that never goes smoothly <laugh> ever. So like we started our testing with them in September and while I can see all of the EDI orders, our EDI orders don’t get communicated to our warehouse. So I have to currently manually place them with our warehouse right now and manually do all of the case labels and pallet labels. So that’s been so much fun.

Will Davis (17:13):

We’re making faces right now, as, as she’s saying that

Dan Magida (17:17):

There’s nothing worse.

Will Davis (17:18):

There’s yeah.

Dan Magida (17:18):

Nothing than making caseload

Denise Papa (17:20):

Nothing worse.

Will Davis (17:21):

Yeah. Especially when you say manually too. Like, it’s one thing to like have a template and then have it generate, but then doing it one by one. And, and also too, you’re saying you’re fulfilling the orders manually to the warehouse, and so …

Denise Papa (17:37):

Yeah. No, I’m manually placing it.

Will Davis (17:39):

It’s not, it’s not two orders, right?

Denise Papa (17:41):

Oh, it is not. Like we’re, I mean, we’re talking like, I mean, we’re, we’ve shipped over like 2000 cases across like over 50 POs right now. So like doing all of those ASNs, the, you know, it’s, that’s, that’s been, that’s been real, real fun. Right. So real excited for this integration to get done.

Will Davis (18:05):

Yeah, I was gonna say, so, you know, that kind of leads us to the next thing is that mm-hmm. <Affirmative> we talked about the problems from zero to one mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. Now, what are some of the things that you’re tackling, like one to two, what are those issues? How do they change what, and also two mm-hmm. <Affirmative> from an urgency perspective, is there different levels of urgency and implications if things don’t get done?

Denise Papa (18:28):

Yes. you know, I think bringing on a retailer just brings a whole new set of, you know, complexities and challenges. So I think it’s really, you know, like making sure your systems are as robust as possible, right? So, I mean, we, we use Anvyl, huge Anvyl fan, so that helps us to make sure that all of our master data purchase orders, everything is organized in a like, really beautiful, seamless way where there’s like traceability across the supply chain. That, that helps us tremendously. And, you know we use Flexport with all of our bringing every, you know, components you know, overseas. But I think that, that, when I’m starting to think, like, I’m thinking about like how do I make sure that our supply chain is built to scale with the growth. And, you know, I think we’re there, but I do think that we’re going to have to bring on some new systems, new tools, like a BI tool.


Cause I think our Google Sheets are about to bust <laugh>, they run super painfully slow right now. It’s quite quite comical. And really, you know, a lot of our, you know, half of our components are still produced overseas. So it’s how are we thinking about prepositioning components domestically in a way that you can kind of, you know, house the components here. You’re pulling from a warehouse here that triggers a supplier then to like backfill that safety stock. So you can just kind of have a continuous, like, just in time type of supply chain. Right. And then ultimately bringing all of that overseas, like component production done here domestically, because ultimately like you’re going to need like more supply chain agility and, and then doing, so I think having that, having your components here domestically is, is the way to go.

Will Davis (20:33):

So, you know, a couple things from there. Do you have it, do y’all use an ERP now?

Denise Papa (20:40):

I mean, it’s really just Anvyl and Google Sheets,

Will Davis (20:43):


Denise Papa (20:43):


Will Davis (20:44):

At what, at, and then as you continue to grow mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, when you look at that, you know, both from, as you think about inventory. And as you think about, you know, the reporting that has to get done to right now, you’re venture-backed. And so, you know, on that side of it, it it’s a small group of people that mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, that you have to look at. But as you start evaluating other systems or you start evaluating those needs, how do you like, prioritize or rank, like where you say, okay, you know, you’re thinking about a BI tool, right? You know, how are you deciding like, okay, here’s, here’s what I’m thinking we might need next. Here’s kind of what maybe my budget would be for those things. How are you worse ranking those things to decide what you need?

Denise Papa (21:29):

I don’t know. It’s kind of just trial by fire. I don’t I mean, for me, I, I know that I need a way that aggregates all of my data across all of the various portals that I have now, right? So I have like component inventory at my contract manufacturers. I have finished good inventory at our warehouse. I have stuff on order, I have stuff on the water. So I think it’s like having some sort of tool that aggregates that together, that can like link into all those systems. To me, that’s, that’s the most important. At Away we used Looker, and Looker was a really great tool that can synthesize with like large data sets and also like have great API connections to other systems that kind of brings everything all to like one house. You know, I think eventually as we grow and expand, you’re going to need a demand planning tool.


 You know, my, my Google sheet is, my formulas are pretty impressive. So I do think that, you know, we’re pretty good in terms of forecast accuracy, but as you grow and scale, like you’re gonna need something more robust. So some sort of demand planning tool. And then, you know, eventually I think there comes a point where you’re gonna have to pivot to like a true ERP, like a NetSuite, D 365, or, I don’t know about SAP, although I would never after being a Unilever and Victoria’s Secret, I was just like, SAP block. But like, now, I have a greater appreciation for it. So <laugh>,

Will Davis (23:09):

You know, it’s funny you say that because it’s true. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you, you use something and then you’re like, Ugh, this is annoying. Or it’s like, it, it’s, there’s a lot of steps mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. but then when you go to a place that like, you don’t have anything from that mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, it’s nice to at least to have a process. So yeah, you, you’re like, maybe there’s better ways of going about it, but it’s nice to have something, but then you also see some of the bad ERPs, right? And you’re like, man.

Dan Magida (23:36):

But you also learn what you didn’t like. Right? So when you implement it the second time, you know what to avoid. And then to put in place, so hopefully you don’t repeat that same behavior because you, I mean, you’re just going in, you’re just a, you’re just, it’s already set up, but no one’s maintaining it. It’s just like mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. Cause you end up just falling behind and then it just, that work just gets punted and punted and then mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you just never end up doing it. So if you can implement it and you have the time to do it, kind of set up correctly, just like you set up like a supply chain, it’s just like, it’s a step-wise function more so than hopefully reactionary.

Denise Papa (24:13):

Yeah. One would hope <laugh>.

Will Davis (24:15):

Yeah. There’s, there’s the hope. So Denise, March is Women History Month.

Denise Papa (24:23):

We get one month.

Will Davis (24:24):

<Laugh>. Yeah, exactly. I was like…

Dan Magida (24:26):

You guys get 12 months. Every month.

Will Davis (24:28):

Yeah. It should be every month. But specifically March. Have you encountered any unique challenges by working in supply chain or operations specifically that you think was because you’re a woman or anything that you thought yourself, you know, I wonder if this is unique or specific to me, or what you’ve seen in the past. Anything stand out to you there?

Denise Papa (24:50):

You know, when I first graduated, I, so I did, I did my co-op with Unilever, and that was an amazing experience. I then had to go back and finish up school. So I, and after school, I it was down between Unilever and a 3PL and I ultimately went with this 3PL cause I wanted to stay in Columbus. And what I found is that a young girl, fresh outta school, going into a 3PL environment, that was not the best culture fits. So there were you know, those like sexual harassment videos that you have to like, watch like every year mm-hmm. <Affirmative> that like mm-hmm. <Affirmative> where I worked, like, could have been that. <Laugh>

Will Davis (25:37):

<Laugh> Wow.

Denise Papa (25:38):

Where I’m like, I’m like, you, like you, you all know that. That’s not appropriate to say. Right. so after just like one too many like inappropriate comments I called my old boss at Unilever and I’m like, I made, I made a mistake. This was like, probably like eight months in and I told her everything that was going on <laugh>, and she was flabbergasted. And then five weeks later I was moving to Chicago and working for Unilever again. So, and that, that to me is then, you know, I, I’ve been very fortunate in my career Unilever, Victoria’s Secret, Away, Fig.1, especially working for women, but like working for women that support women. So that has been like, like my first boss at Unilever will always hold a very special place in my heart. Really take me under her wing and showing me the ropes. She’s still like a mentor to this day. And even, you know, like men who have been like very supportive of women as well. So like, once I kind of got out of a toxic environment, I’m, I haven’t really encountered anything negative. If anything, sometimes it’s women belittling, other women <laugh>, which is ironic. Yeah. <laugh>, but it’s but mostly it’s been incredibly positive and been really lucky in my career with that.

Dan Magida (27:08):

That’s great. I mean, even like Away was female-founded mm-hmm. <Affirmative> as well, and now Fig.1’s female-founded. So that story mm-hmm. <Affirmative> continues in your career.

Denise Papa (27:16):

Yeah. and I think, you know, it’s something that I’m super proud of, of working for strong female co-founders who have very strong visions, like for their brands. Like, that’s like something that you can easily get behind.

Dan Magida (27:31):

I think it’s also important even in skincare as well, where like female-founded, like you’re taking the product that’s designed for mm-hmm. <Affirmative> by females as well, who actually understand skin understand like mm-hmm. <Affirmative> the routine, your skincare treatment. Right. More so not saying like, Will and I, like, we could probably develop a great skincare routine for men, like totally understand, like totally get it right. But I think there’s a special connection when it’s female to female for something that is a female-driven product in that sense.

Denise Papa (28:01):

I mean, that Kimmy founded Fig.1 is Kimmy’s vision. So she was very frustrated with the skincare offering. So the, you know, things that she wanted, she didn’t think that they should cost that much, you know, like if a, if there’s no reason a moisturizer should cost, you know, $400, there’s no reason why a a, a treatment should cost $168. Like, there’s no reason for that. Like the, the formulas and the packaging of them themselves like don’t necessitate that price point. So I think she was getting frustrated with what she was seeing across the market and wanted to, wanted to create her own. And brought on Lizzie and Courtney onto the journey and Lizzie and Courtney were really instrumental and putting together all of our formulations.

Dan Magida (28:57):

I mean, not to call out Sephora, but we’ve all been there before. Oh my God. It’s like multi-level marketing in there. You walk in, there’s like, it’s a lot. What is this? And then they’re just pedaling the next hottest like mm-hmm. <Affirmative> innovation, like, you should try this and this. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> acrylic packaging, like your face will be wonders. And then 30 days later, her face breaks out again mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and try this. Right. And it’s just, you just keep changing. And so you never get like the base root cause of like, what’s causing it. So like, it’s all about consistency in a, in, I mean, that’s what a routine is at the end of the day. Right. But yeah, I could go on a whole rant about Sephora on how wild it is when you go getting advanced there. Sephora at this rate, they’ve just been too many. I’ve just been too many times. They’re promoting whatever they’re told to promote, they don’t know they’re doing their job.

Will Davis (29:41):

Well, I was gonna say Denise, and I know the people who work at the places that sell the $400 moisturizers mm-hmm. <Affirmative> one of the brands, you know, that’s produced in Long Island mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, they’ve got a office in Soho, which was pretty close to where Denise and I worked. Yeah. I wanna get into in the same building. I wanna get into this at different companies at the time. We’ll get, I’m, I’m leading into it. Yeah. So Denise and I worked together mm-hmm. <Affirmative> at Victoria’s Secret, Bath and Body Works at the time, the operations group is called Mast or Mass Global. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> for that piece. And so Denise was on the 10th floor at that time. You know, I, when I worked there for the first year, you know, we were on the 11th floor. Denise, you know, from your time at Victoria’s Secret, you know, for me, there’s one thing that really sticks out specific to their operations, which I took away. You know, from working there is like a really big strength. Is there something that jumps out to you that was one of their big strengths that you took away that you used, whether it be at Away or now at Fig.1?

Denise Papa (30:50):

Yeah. So Unilever, your innovation timelines, like you’re, you’re planning like three, four years out, right? So this is like you’re, and like rightfully so, like if you’re going to change your packaging on Dove deodorant, you can’t just do that in the North America market, right? This is like a global brand. So you have to think about this like globally. So like, there’s like a global roadmap for changing a deodorant, canisters stick, right? There’s a lot that goes into that. And so that’s why those timelines are, you know, years long. I remember coming to Victoria’s Secret and being blown away at a commercialization timeline that is less than one year, which includes all new tooling <laugh>. That like blew my mind. So something that sticks out as a huge strength of Victoria’s Secret is just like their overall supply chain agility on the partnership that they have with their suppliers.


 The vertical supply chain that they have in Columbus, Ohio, where you have your bottle supplier, cap supplier, pump, label, carton guy, all within the same beauty park operation. Your contract fillers are all there. You truly run a just in time operation. In fact, the suppliers know, know your forecast, know your order patterns sometimes better than you do. And what you can get done in very little time. I mean we had we called it an instant program like where if something was like selling, you could chase into that and you’re not chasing into like 10,000 units. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of units that you could turn around within three weeks time. So that’s new labels, new fragrance, new juice. From concept to delivery like in store in three weeks. That’s impressive. So like they have a beautiful vertical supply chain that I would love to replicate one day. And I think that that’s something that is so uniquely different than Unilever, where Unilever owns their own factories. So you do have a bit of more control over like scheduling and like, you’re obviously you own your own factory, they have more skin in the game, no pun intended going Victoria’s Secret, <laugh>.


 And you know, I was worried going to Victoria’s Secret where you don’t own your own factories. I’m like, how is this really going to work? And it’s like, oh, if, if you have the right players and if you set this up the right way, it actually is genius.

Will Davis (33:29):

I think you hit a bunch of different things that I totally agree with you mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, I think the one thing that sticks out from that is, is you have to have the right mindset, partnership, and communication in terms of like how you’re going to have something mm-hmm. <Affirmative> both work be achieved and what’s the level of responsibility that all players play into that. Right. And there’s, and you know, there’s different ways, you know, the, the Unilevers of the world, they do a great job at knocking down price. Oh yeah. And they get to the absolute bottom pricing wise. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and those suppliers that support them ultimately have a division that is supporting them where they take more risk with other customers that they bring on mm-hmm. <Affirmative> at the point in time because they’re paying for those investments for those machines at the point in time that they may have some slack capacity come through.


Exactly. And so while those people are keeping the lights on, you’re ultimately that relationship can get a little bit tentative because if something goes wrong, they actually do lose money. A lot of money on those situations, a lot of money and mm-hmm. <Affirmative> in the instance where, like with the Victoria’s Secret model and with some of the other people, the partnership ends up coming into play because they end up do making a little bit more money mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, because you don’t own those facilities. There’s a little bit more of that markup, but they will partner with you. Yeah. And they will bring things quicker. They will bring things to a point to where they’ll say, Hey, we will give you X amount of dedicated lines. We will turn around this from a speed perspective. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, we won’t bring other people in because they’re making more money in that situation. And then they’ll help you in the backend.

Denise Papa (35:12):

Yeah. I mean, the supplier, most suppliers that I worked with at Unilever and Victoria’s Secret, like best in class that I have ever like encountered in my career, and they, you know, they’re truly, they’re truly an extension of, of those organizations.

Will Davis (35:32):

So Denise, you know, from that perspective, what’s next? You know, from, you know, you conquer CVS. You know, you start launching more products at Fig.1. Yep. You know, how do things continue on where Fig.1 conquers the world?

Denise Papa (35:48):

I mean, our vision is that we would love to be like the next, like L’Oreal, right? Like, so we want to continue to grow and become that next big thing. Right. So for us, it’s we have a very healthy product development pipeline. So we have between now in 2025, we have our launch cadence mapped out. We’re expanding into OTC products, which is a whole new beast of itself. That’s, I’ve never launched an OTC product before. So that’s been….

Will Davis (36:30):

Got some great contacts if you want.

Denise Papa (36:32):

It’s been a, it’s been a wild wild ride there. But so we have a lot of new OTC products. We are expanding into new categories. So we are launching into body care, so bringing that same quality of face care to the body. So that’s launching an early March. We’ll be expanding upon that new category and hopefully unlocking other retailers. So, you know, we, and not only just, you know, here domestically, but abroad as well. So we’re in talks with retailers in the UK and in Australia. So looking to really you know, get Fig.1 in as many hands as possible. We also have some really fun collaborations in the works. One that I’m like particularly very excited about that we’ll be launching hopefully this summer, late summer where it’s a very new innovative technology.

Dan Magida (37:35):

That’s exciting.

Denise Papa (37:36):

Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So stay tuned there.

Dan Magida (37:38):

For, for body, can you share what kind of products you guys are? Is it post-shower? In shower? Am pm?

Denise Papa (37:46):

Both. Yeah. So it’s, it’s both. It is a, it is a body scrub, so it’s, and it’s made with this volcanic pumice. So it’s gentle enough to use every day. And the fragrance in it is probably the best smelling fragrance in my shower. So that is probably my favorite product of the collection. And then we have a retinal renewal body serum. So you know, as you use retinol on your face to combat fine line wrinkles, discoloration you also have some, you know, sun damage across like your body, arms, legs. So this is to be used to combat some of those body discoloration and challenges. And then we have an all-over oil, which is super hydrating. It has vitamins A, C, and E in it. And really you use the Retinol serum and then you use this oil and that kind of really just like locks every, locks it all into place. So it’s really a three-step system. A lot of what we do, we wanna try to simplify skincare routine. So we, it’s always cleanse, treat, moisturize, like easy breezy.

Dan Magida (39:08):

You got that Will? Cleanse, treat, moisturize.

Denise Papa (39:10):


Dan Magida (39:11):

You got three words. You’ve done it by now.

Will Davis (39:15):

I know it now. I mean, what I’ve been wanting to ask though is that, are you gonna share which volcano you’re sourcing the pumice from?

Dan Magida (39:21):

I knew I was thinking the same thing. Like what? Volcano? Like Yeah, I mean, Hawaii immediately. Hawaii just erupted, right? Like, wasn’t there a volcanic eruption there? So like, did you just send your team there just to scoop up some ashes just to make sure.

Will Davis (39:33):

You go to Pompeii and try to dig in the dirt and find it? Like where does it come from?

Will Davis (39:38):

If it’s a secret, you can keep it a secret. It’s

Dan Magida (39:41):

A trade secret.

Denise Papa (39:42):

It’s a trade secret. But it is something that we’re, you know, like a lot of scrubs are super harsh, right? It’s like the sugars or the salts that’s really harsh. Harsh.

Will Davis (39:52):

They’re so scratchy,

Denise Papa (39:53):

So scratchy, so damaging for your skin. It actually, like damages like the top layer of your skin, the dermis mm-hmm. <Affirmative>.

Dan Magida (40:02):

I want to try this now. I’m really excited to try. It’s for men too, right? Not just female.

Denise Papa (40:08):

It’s, yes, it is

Will Davis (40:09):


Denise Papa (40:10):

Yep. A little unisex. And you know, packaging for this round was, you know, it was a new challenge too, because you can’t just like pick up your existing packaging, right? So that was like, you know, what is the optimal packaging for this? Like, like why is it this? So our retinol, renewable renewal serum, it’s in an aluminum tube. So we love aluminum tubes. They’re very recyclable and they’re airless, right? So with a regular tube, you always get that air suck back. And that is like what can degradate the formula. This with aluminum tube, there’s, you know, it’s airtight. So something that we are products that really protects the formula. The scrub we wanted, we just put it in a pouch. You know, when you go into a pouch, you’re using about 75 ish percent less plastic than you would in a plastic bottle. Something that we’re proud of as well. And then our All Over Oil is just a bottle with a pump, but it’s a PET bottle. So those are like the most, like recycled friendly. And then we’re launching a, a pouch refill for that here soon.

Dan Magida (41:27):

That’s great.

Will Davis (41:27):

Nice. Mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. Well, Denise, where can we go and where can you go and find Fig.1 products? What’s the website? Yes. Outside of going to CVS here soon.

Denise Papa (41:36):

Please visit us at That you can see our entire assortment and shop all of our beautiful formulas and packaging there. And then we’re launching in CVS on March 3rd. So again, we’re in over 30, 200 stores, so hopefully we’ll be at a CVS store near you.

Dan Magida (42:03):

Denise, you’ve been so flexible with your time today. Just before you go, if you want to just share one story about your relationship with Will over those years, or tease him and do a little Oh H chant, since he’s a Clemson guy, feel free. We’re happy for free to do either of those.

Denise Papa (42:20):

Will Will’s a big Ohio State fan, right? Yeah. I’m trying to think. So at our time in Victoria’s Secret, we didn’t, or I guess masked whatever we wanna call it, we didn’t overlap too much because he was on the Bath and Body Works side. I was always on the, the VS Beauty side. But something was funny. So when I was on maternity leave at Victoria’s Secret, at that point in time, I was just like itching to go into something smaller, into like a startup space. Like, I, like I’m kind of done with the, the big CPGs let me go small and scrappy. So I started talking to Away luggage and I’m like, great, this sounds awesome. I am totally down. And then they gave me the address and I was like, 503 Broadway. And I was like, huh, that’s right upstairs sits all of my Bath and Body Works colleagues. So when I came to the interview, I was on maternity leave, so like I shouldn’t be in the building. So I come in with this like giant hat, giant sunglasses, scarf that covered up to my nose. And I like rode the elevator up with Will Rebo at the time it was just me and Rebo and the elevator and I was shitting my pants <laugh> <laugh>.


So that was, that was a good, a good time. But I did get in and out unnoticed.

Will Davis (43:49):

And it’s fair to say, you know, some people may disagree with this, but the majority of people that are bright will agree that the 503 office is so much better than the office on the 47th and Broadway. Oh, the VS office hundred. It’s like night and day better.

Denise Papa (44:05):

Yeah. Like, can’t even like compare the two. Like I will say the only thing that I liked about the Columbus Circle office is that I could walk there from where I lived. So that was nice. Otherwise like being down at 503, that was, that was great.

Will Davis (44:23):

Soho has the best food.

Denise Papa (44:25):

No, no. I mean, you’re right above Zara. That was dangerous. <Laugh>.

Will Davis (44:30):

Yeah. It, you’re literally next to Zara. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> you know, Prince Street Pizza is literally like two and a half blocks away.

Denise Papa (44:39):

There actually got to the point where I got sick of Prince Street where I’m like, I can’t, yeah. I, I can’t eat this again for lunch. <Laugh>. I

Dan Magida (44:45):

Can’t do it either. Like it’s better places. But that’s a whole different episode where we can just read and review pizza places with Denise. Maybe that’s the, the next one we do.

Will Davis (44:52):

That’s, yeah, that’s the,

Dan Magida (44:53):

That’s the summer, that’s the summer episode when we’re putting sunscreen on and doing a walking tour of New York City and Chime Pizza.

Denise Papa (45:00):

Well Dan, you’re gonna be wearing SPF every day, right?

Will Davis (45:03):

Yeah, seriously Dan,

Dan Magida (45:04):

I mean, I’m gonna do SPF 30 at least after this. I’m gonna go on Fig.1 and buy some SPF 30.

Denise Papa (45:10):

Well, we don’t have SPF just yet, but

Will Davis (45:14):

OTC, Dan. Oh yeah, OTC. That’s fine. That’s fine.

Denise Papa (45:17):

It’s okay. Those timeline. Sorry.

Dan Magida (45:19):

I’ll just use my banana boat. It’s okay.

Denise Papa (45:21):

There you go.

Dan Magida (45:22):

Yeah, I’m just kidding.

Will Davis (45:24):

<Laugh>. well Denise, we really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. I think it’s been super helpful for a lot of people as they listen to what some of the challenges have been. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> both from a career perspective, from, you know, growing a company from zero to one, what you’re gonna do from one to two. Thank you so much. We look forward to talking to you more soon and yeah. Yeah.

Dan Magida (45:46):

Thanks a lot.

Denise Papa (45:47):

Yeah, thanks so much for having me guys. And go buy some Fig.1 products.

Dan Magida (45:51):

You got it. Well done. Well as always, everybody, you can listen to us on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your streaming devices services. I don’t even remember what the tag phrase is anymore. It’ll, we’ll figure it out at some point. But if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us or I can give you Will’s personal phone number at any time. But we look forward to talking to you guys next time. Another episode of Safety Stock.