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"Pura Vida" means "pure life" in Spanish, a Costa Rican philosophy that encourages the appreciation of life's simple things. Griffin Thall founded Pura Vida Bracelets after visiting Costa Rica and seeing a need to help others. Fast forward to 8 years later, and their company has grown to help hundreds of artisans and raise millions of dollars for charitable causes. Slowing things down, celebrating good fortune, and refusing to take anything for granted embodies a "Pura Vida" lifestyle. Read on to discover how Griffin built his company, utilizes social media to grow and reach more people, advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, and more!
Hi Griffin! Please introduce yourself and tell us your background.
I'm the co-founder and CEO of Pura Vida Bracelets! The idea for Pura Vida Bracelets was sparked during a surfing trip to Costa Rica in 2010, with my friend (and now business partner) Paul Goodman. During our trip, we had a chance encounter with two bracelet artisans named Jorge and Joaquin and fell in love with their simple, bright and colorful creations. We got to know Jorge and Joaquin a bit better over the course of the trip, and developed a deep appreciation for the "pura vida" lifestyle -- the Costa Rican philosophy meaning "pure life" that encourages the appreciation of simple treasures -- they embraced, despite living in a state of poverty. In an effort to support our new friends, we went home to San Diego with 400 bracelets in tow and decided to sell them at a local boutique. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and the store depleted their stock in just a few short days. We saw a ton of potential there, and so we asked Jorge and Joaquin to partner with us to help spread the "pura vida" spirit with others. Since then, I've helped grow Pura Vida Bracelets into a multi-million dollar company, providing jobs to more than 350 artisans around the globe and raising more than $1.5 million for charitable causes!
"Giving back has always been part of our core mission and strategy from the very beginning."
We love that you use your company to give back and help others. There are so many different causes on board with Pura Vida - can you tell us more about that and how it works?
Soon after we launched, our fans started reaching out with bracelet ideas that represented and donated to different charities, as giving back had always been part of our core mission and strategy from the very beginning. Because of that, expanding to offer a charity collection seemed like the perfect, and most fitting, next step. It allows us to make fun products that people care about while donating to a number of great causes.
It seems like traveling is a big part of your role as CEO. What are your tips for staying organized and on track with work while traveling?
Remember why you are traveling and what you hope to get out of it. The search for wanderlust and adventure is how the brand started - with a trip to Costa Rica and a desire to learn more about cultures, people, and the world. Without this drive, we never would have met Jorge and Joaquin, our first artisans, so we try to remember that we never know where our travels will take us, personally and professionally. Maintaining this perspective makes traveling easier and more enjoyable, and this sense of ease is helpful in staying organized and focused on our goals vs. being worried about if we will be tired, overwhelmed, etc. from our travels.
How did social media play into the growth of your company when you were first starting out and how do you utilize it now to continue reaching more potential customers?
As the Pura Vida Bracelets brand evolved, we began to recognize the impact that social media could have on a brand's trajectory, so we decided to spearhead a program that would allow us to truly capitalize on that reach. We began by identifying and empowering a select group of micro-influencers that were true fans of the brand, which allowed us to organically build a powerful and authentic presence on social media -- we now have over 1.3 million followers on Instagram. Social media remains to be a powerful tool in our growth strategy, and we continue to use it increase brand awareness among new audiences as well as maintain a fluid, open and honest dialogue with our current customer base.
These days, brand collaborations on social media are everything. How do you feel about this marketing strategy and how do you utilize partnerships to spread your brand message?
As a community-minded organization, Pura Vida Bracelets regularly participates in collaborations with various influencers and brands. Cross-promotional opportunities with these like-minded brands allow us to reach an entirely different audience -- but one that still embodies similar core values and that make similar purchasing decisions to our current consumers -- because of that, we are way more likely to convert them into fans of the brand!
How have tools like PLANOLY helped you and your team stay on top of your Instagram game?
PLANOLY is the backbone of our Instagram strategy. Period. And as a company with over 1.3 million organic followers, we trust in PLANOLY for our social organization. PLANOLY has allowed us to grow our social following exponentially, not only by numbers but also by engagement. The platform is vital to our social efforts, allowing multiple employees to work on the platform at once, outlining the style of our Instagram grid, and analyzing and evaluating data, so we can see what works and what doesn't. Without PLANOLY, we wouldn't have been able to garner such a strong social following, while also sharing content that is true to our brand.
You have grown quite an impressive following on social media, Instagram in particular. What are your top 3 tips when it comes to curating content and posting on Instagram?
- Don't skimp on photography! Investing in professional photography will come back to you tenfold -- having amazing, hi-res images that are relatable and engaging is key to piquing the interest of a potential follower.
- Diversify your content! Constantly surprise and delight your followers with new and exciting content via different settings, people, and things. We have a wonderful mix of product and lifestyle images that provide a diverse balance that in turn, attracts a diverse audience.
- Engage your audience! Be super engaged with your followers (like, follow, re-post) to help them develop a deep connection to the brand. Identify the different audiences your brand may attract and engage with influential leaders in these sectors so that you can tap into their audiences.
For example, Pura Vida has followers who are interested in fashion, yoga, wellness, surfing, crafts, and more. These interests do not necessarily attract the same type of person, so we have fostered engaging relationships with leaders in those areas, so we can then engage with their audiences more organically.
"Planoly has allowed us to grow our social following exponentially, not only by numbers but also by engagement."
What is the best advice you've ever gotten? What is your best advice you'd give to other entrepreneurs?
Best advice ever received - If you have an idea that you know is good, value it and don't let outside opinions sway your thinking, discourage you, or influence you to do something that you wouldn't. Best advice to give - If you really want to build something, put your head down and start building. No one will do the work for you, and the only way to create something is through continuous hard work.