“Launching and scaling creator product lines” with Pietra's CEO

Creators work so hard to build audiences from scratch, so why are they promoting other brands' products vs. their own?

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Have you heard of Pietra?

If you're a creator wanting to build your brand with a physical product, take note.

Because just as creators are disrupting traditional gatekeepers, Pietra is short-circuiting the conventional way of getting a physical product to market.

Think about it.

Musicians stream their music without the big record labels. Authors now self-publish their books. YouTubers don't need a movie mogul to help them gather millions of fans.

But if you wanted to build a physical product, the road was tortuous and expensive. Until now!

Because now creators can turn to Pietra. In "Creator Economy Club" this week, we were thrilled to talk with Ronak Trivedi, Pietra's co-founder and CEO, to discover what makes his company unique.

Pietra's platform makes it easy for creators to develop, build, ship and sell physical products to their audience anywhere in the world.

The challenging traditional route

Pre-Pietra, a creator's route to developing the "next big thing", looked something like this:

  • Contact and visit many suppliers — trying to find your "best fit."
  • Review samples
  • Talk to sales reps
  • Get your product made
  • Design and organize packaging
  • Box the product
  • Store it
  • Market it
  • Take orders
  • Ship it

It could take years and tens of thousands of dollars to take a product from conception to reality.

Fortunately for Creators everywhere, Pietra's co-founders decided that there had to be a better way. They knew that tech entrepreneurs had access to all sorts of infrastructure that enabled them to get their ideas up and running.

Why couldn't the same thing happen with physical products?

Pietra’s three pillars

Pietra's process is straightforward. It provides all the pieces you need to build, market and sell your product in three easy-to-use sections or pillars.

Pillar One: product sourcing and development

"We make sourcing and product development super, super easy by basically digitizing the world's best suppliers."

Pietra's suppliers go through a rigorous selection process before they make it into the system. Once in, they join Pietra's digital marketplace. Creators can sort through likely candidates, order samples, and work with their suppliers all through the platform.

Pillar Two: commerce infrastructure

"We then provide turnkey commerce infrastructure so that once you find a supplier, you can be confident that you can transact with them securely and have the items delivered, assembled, and put into a fulfillment center ready for global fulfillment without ever having to leave your house."

Imagine having your New York City apartment stacked with cartons of candles on one side and packaging on the other. Your job is to fill the orders, box and label the candles and send them on their way.

That was the reality for many an entrepreneur until Pietra launched in 2019.

Now, the commerce infrastructure pillar helps you manage product, packaging and distribution with co-packing, shipping & assembly and order fulfillment.

Pillar Three: e-commerce

The tools that help creators build their brand and successfully sell their products.

In section three, you can set up your own Pietra Shop in the creator marketplace. It's an easy option if you want to start quickly without the fuss of building a whole website.

You can link the shop to a Shopify store and social media, e.g. Instagram Shop.

Lessons Learned: The first iteration is never the last.

Pietra originally had a curated list of suppliers and envisaged pairing people with manufacturers based on the product specifications.

The system began well but soon ran into problems. That format didn't allow for enough differentiation. Naturally, creators wanted to develop unique products for their audiences. Manufacturers also experienced difficulties as they were overwhelmed with orders and their backlogs grew.

So Pietra's designers went back to the drawing board. Two years later, the company has evolved into a marketplace website where creators choose their suppliers from the extensive list.

We actually have a pretty rigorous check and balance process for supplier onboarding... And we like to do a production run with them… and test all their samples.

To keep things running, they must support the suppliers too. So Pietra has supplier tools to help them work in different time zones, send a message, invoice etc. Some suppliers are unfamiliar with working in the digital world.

"We're talking (about) people in a textile market in India servicing a creator in e.g. Los Angeles."

Ronak's excited about giving these new suppliers access to new markets — provided they pass the stringent quality tests, of course.

Private Label or Unique Product — what's the difference?

What we realized very early on is that the differentiation of products is of the utmost importance.

Most creators want to work with suppliers who can offer plenty of variety, but not everyone wants to design something from scratch. So Pietra provides two ways to work with your supplier.

  1. Private Label - choose from a supplier's regular line of products. For example, you could choose from a manufacturer's ready-made library of fragrances to scent your new line of candles.
  2. Customized products - you work directly with the supplier to create a unique product. In the candle example, they'd put together a new fragrance unique to your candles.

Having the two choices gives creators the flexibility to work how it best suits their business and budget.

Growing the Creator Economy

Creating content is a full-time job, more than a full-time job for most people. So doing it in a super-efficient way ends up being very, very valuable. And (that's) something that we want to do as the creator economy continues to mature over the next 10, 20 years.

Pietra is built as a self-service platform to allow millions of creators to use it. However, they're not aiming for the "freebie market." They serve brand-building creators who are prepared to pay some upfront costs to achieve their goals.

At the same time, it doesn't matter how big or small you aim to be. The company is just as happy to serve a mommy blogger who wants to order 50 units for her community as a creator requesting thousands.

Many more creators will make a move from talent to entrepreneur in the next few years. Pietra plans to continue making it easy for creators and manufacturers to connect, regardless of where they are in the world.

At less than three years old, Pietra is only just getting started. They have big plans in the pipeline, from adding more product categories to rolling out technical services and more.

We at Creator Economy Club can't wait to see what Ronak and the team at Pietra will do next.