Episode 74 – How a Zumba Instructor Became an Amazon Influencer
Here in Orange County California, we are surrounded by both exotic cars and a bounty of fitness studios offering everything from paleo spinning classes, to equestrian yoga.
It’s not at all unusual to have to navigate past six-wheel Mercedes Benz G-Wagons, Paganis and Ferraris on your way to the local coffee shop to pick up the morning latte.
Leave it to the host of this program to remind us that exoticism isn’t always about spending money.
This is to say that without both the Nissan Skyline and Zumba Fitness, Helium 10’s Director of Training and Customer Success, Bradley Sutton might not have found his way to Amazon.
One of the questions that always comes up in the conversations that occur in this space, is “What is your Amazon origin story?”
Today on the Serious Sellers Podcast, Bradley is going to answer that question himself. In doing so, we’ll learn a little bit more about him and understand that it’s not just the podcast he hosts that’s unscripted; it’s his whole life.
As Bradley tells it, he split his time between Japan and the US as a child, and because he didn’t have the opportunity to participate in sports, threw himself into scholastic pursuits.
He studied computer programming and the Japanese language before deciding that there were things out there that interested him that weren’t available in a traditional school setting.
We constantly hear that success on Amazon is a question of finding your opportunity and differentiating yourself from your competitors.
Early on, even Bradley’s choice of cars revealed that the concept of setting himself apart from others, wasn’t exactly a foreign concept.
While everyone else was customizing their Hondas and Toyotas, Bradley reserved his attentions for his beloved Hyundai Elantra.
The “Fast and Furious” movie franchise had only begun when Bradley decided that the one thing cooler than a Hyundai Elantra, was a fully modded one. He soon found a Korean auto-parts company that was impressed enough by his passion to allow him to run a branch of their customization business.
Soon, his business had caught the eye of the big players in the industry, and eventually Hyundai offered him two cars so that he could create showpieces for their ad campaigns.
The recession affected most of us and soon the market for carbon-fiber hoods had all but dried up.
While studying Japanese, Bradley was also learning about its culture.
That’s pretty much the only way that a westerner might be made aware of sumo wrestling.
I’m guessing you saw this coming, but a fringe sport, and Bradley Sutton were a match made in heaven.
It was through his determination to lose a few pounds to qualify for his sumo wrestling weight classification that Bradley took his next unorthodox detour which ironically would lead him directly to Amazon.
I could go on, but that would spoil the surprise.
Listen in and find out more about Bradley and what in the world Zumba fitness has to do with Amazon.
In episode 74 of the Serious Sellers Podcast Bradley discusses:
- 01:10 – Back to the Very Beginning
- 03:10 – University Might Not Be for Everyone
- 04:54 – Fast Cars and Hot-Dog on a Stick
- 06:25 – A Duke Alum Gives Bradley a Company to Run
- 09:27 – Working for the Man as a Potato-Salad Logistical Engineer
- 13:15 – Not Half-Bad as an MTV Profiled Sumo Wrestler
- 15:50 – Bradley Gets His Zumba Credentials
- 19:05 – How to Be Memorable? – Crazy Sock TV is Born
- 21:43 – A Cellphone Case Mini-Empire is Born
- 27:16 – A Safety Scare Grounds Bradley’s Hover Boards
- 30:20 – “Hey Guys, I know what I’m Doing.”
- 34:00 – Playing the Odds and Putting Yourself in the Best Position
- 36:30 – Walmart Purchase Orders Give an Idea of the Size of Brick and Mortar
- 38:45 – A Dream-Car and Goats Bring Happiness
- 40:20 – Bradley Finds His Way to Helium 10 as a Customer
- 42:25 – An Invitation to Lunch Becomes a Job Interview
- 44:17 – An Ideal Job Means Lightning Does Strike Twice
Enjoy this episode? Be sure to check out our previous episodes for even more content to propel you to Amazon FBA Seller success! And don’t forget to “Like” our Facebook page and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play or wherever you listen to our podcast.
Want to absolutely start crushing it on Amazon? Here are few carefully curated resources to get you started:
- Freedom Ticket: Taught by Amazon thought leader Kevin King, get A-Z Amazon strategies and techniques for establishing and solidifying your business.
- Ultimate Resource Guide: Discover the best tools and services to help you dominate on Amazon.
- Helium 10: 20+ software tools to boost your entire sales pipeline from product research to customer communication and Amazon refund automation. Make running a successful Amazon business easier with better data and insights. See what our customers have to say.
- Helium 10 Chrome Extension: Verify your Amazon product idea and validate how lucrative it can be with over a dozen data metrics and profitability estimation.
- SellerTradmarks.com: Trademarks are vital for protecting your Amazon brand from hijackers, and sellertrademarks.com provides a streamlined process for helping you get one.
Bradley Sutton: Today on Story Time with Bradley episode, learn about my origin story from being a non-athletic nerd and then becoming a Sumo wrestler to being a YouTube influencer for Zumba fitness with 25 million views to being a consultant for Amazon sellers to working for Helium 10 and throughout, I hope you can learn from my good and bad experiences that can help you and your business.
Bradley Sutton: What’s up guys? Time for another episode of Story Time with Bradley. So a lot of people have been DMing me and saying, Hey, we love how you’d give the origin story of all of your guests. And it’s interesting to see the wide background, but we don’t know too much about your story. You give them little bits here or there, but we’d love to hear your story. So this episode is gonna be a little bit about Bradley, but I just want to like hopefully tie things into showing you some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way and some of the successes and even in life there are things that have happened to me that I think we can apply as a serious strategy for serious sellers. Because that’s what this show is about. All right, so just first of all, let’s go back to the beginning. My dad is American and my mom was born and raised in the Philippines and I was born here in Orange County, California in the 1970s not gonna say exactly, when my dad was a coin dealer. And so we travel a lot around the world and he had a business in Japan so we would go back and forth from Japan a lot. And then when I was nine we actually moved to Japan. And so we lived there for 3 years. I didn’t learn Japanese while there because I was doing homeschool and, and so I didn’t have to learn, Japanese, I picked up a little bit, but I fell in love with some things about the Japanese culture, namely Sumo wrestling, just loved it. And then I’ll also, my favorite car, became the Nissan skyline that was like, okay, Hey, that is my dream car. Now after came back to America, I was in middle school and then I love sports, but my parents never let me play sports. So I was just kind of a bookworm nerd, not by choice, but I did well in high school. I had a 4.8 GPA my senior year and was just stereotypical nerd, had all AP classes and, and started going to college actually when I was a junior in high school.
Bradley Sutton: So by the time I graduated high school, I already was like one semester short of an associate’s degree. I had taken Japanese so I can almost speak Japanese at that point after taking it in college. And so anyways, after I graduated high school, I was a volunteer, for my church. And then I would go around for 90 hours a month, giving Bible classes while also continuing, my studies at the local junior college, even though I, was one of those book nerds and high SAT and all that stuff. I did not go to a 4 year university. At first I was like, you know what, my parents, even though they wanted me to be a nerd, they understood that here in this country, it’s not a guarantee of success to go sink money into university and not to berate anybody who does that. But for those of you out there who are still in high school and wondering what you’re gonna do, everybody talks about it a lot. University is not for everybody. How many people out there are, have bachelor’s degree and now working at McDonald’s or living in their parent’s basement, still with tens of thousands of dollars of debt. So that was kind of like our philosophy. So right when I graduated I was like, Hey, I’m gonna continue going to the junior college. And learn some actual skills. I was, you know, studying Japanese. I was studying, computer programming and just different things that I thought that I could use in life. And that was pretty, pretty much it. Volunteering, took up a lot of my time and, and I was good. So when I was 19 I actually moved to New York. I had never lived outside of the house. I moved to New York and was a volunteer again for my church is headquarters there in Brooklyn, New York. And I worked there kind of like, almost like as, as a janitor. I was in a cleaning department for one of the buildings, but it was very exciting to live away from home and to kind of like be my own person. And that was something that, I didn’t have living at home my whole life and it was a great experience for me. Kind of just like to be thrown out into the world and have to worry about, all these things I never had to worry about before, whether it’s getting my clothes washed or, or paying bills or things like that. So again, for you young people out there, I definitely suggest doing something like that. It was definitely a great experience for me, but I had to move back. My parents health was and grandparent’s health was not good. So when I was the only child, by the way. That was another thing I forgot to mention. I am an only child. No, I’m not spoiled. It’s the opposite. As many only children would say all the discipline it has on you and not your brother or sister. You can’t put the blame on anybody else.
Bradley Sutton: But anyways, I moved back when I was about 19, 20 and then I started working as an executive assistant to the CEO and the vice president of a chain called Hotdog on a Stick, Hotdog on a Stick or those places in the mall with the funny outfits people stomp up and down in the lemonade. But I was the executive assistant because I could type 80 words a minute and I was just like, Hey, it does. It’s not just women who can be secretaries. I can do it too. And that’s what I chose to do. Now in the meantime, I started getting into cars. This was when the Fast and Furious came out and everybody was all about Fast and Furious. Me, I’ve always liked doing things a little bit differently. You guys will see that throughout this, this episode. And it’s something that, we can talk about later at ties into business. But I was like, I don’t want a Honda or Toyota or an Acura like everybody else has. I want to be a little bit different. So I’ve got a Hyundai Elantra, Hyundai so that’s a Korean car. Now. At the time, green cars did not have that great reputation like they do today. They were kind of like, the Pinto, you know, people made fun of you if you had a Hyundai, but there pretty good cars. So I’ve got a Hyundai Elantra and there was no part I couldn’t like trick out my car like I wanted to do because of the Fast and Furious. So, I started just scouring the internet and I found this company in Korea. Now in Korea, the Hyundai’s is like the Honda of Korea. Like that’s where all the car, after market car accessories are made for. So there’s really good parts. I started importing it from my own car and then I thought, wait a minute, I know there’s tons of people like me here in the States who have these Korean cars, Hyundai, Kia Daewoo and can’t find products. So let me see if I can work something out with this company. The owner of the company, he spoke English, he had actually gone to Duke university of all places. So how’s that? Hey, let me run like a branch office for you here in the States. And basically we came to an agreement and I opened up a 3000 square foot warehouse here and started running his whole online business for here. And, we would ship things out and, kind of, I would get paid of course. And then I would get all the parts I wanted for my car. Now this was going for a while I was working full time, still at the Hot dog on a Stick place. And then it got kind of big. The Hyundai kind of got wind of what we were doing and they offered me 2 free cars to like completely check out and, and put in magazines and, and to put help with the next Fast and Furious movie.
Bradley Sutton: So I was like, you know what, I got to put more time into this. So I stopped being an executive assistant and just went full time, kind of, I guess you can call it almost as an entrepreneur even though I wasn’t the owner of the company, I was running the whole operation and, I was hiring people, I was still 19, 20 years old and it became million dollar business and I was running it all hiring people and, and just, it was, it was a good, it was a good time and it was something that I love doing. Just like, what it’s always suggested, try and do something guys that you have a passion for and it’s gonna come out in your work. And from that time I would stay overnight in my office. I had one, I had like five offices in our warehouse that we got and I converted one to a bedroom. I was a new father, so there was a crib in there. So I would have my wife and my daughter, sleep there, the office with me cause I would pull all-nighters. It was a good time. So, I did this for a few years, but what happened was, the recession hit, right? And when there’s a recession, people don’t have money for carbon fiber hoods or exhaust. And so the, the business was going down and down. I joined it with another company who has, who had done accessories up in the LA area. I moved my whole family up there to LA, but still the company was going down and down cause all of these things, just people didn’t have no money for it. And that’s something that’s important. Like you can get in a really good booming industry, but make sure that it’s not reliant on the economy, right? If it’s food or something like that. Right. I mean, people are not just going to say, Hey, we don’t have enough money for food anymore. But if your whole entire business model is based on things that by definition, you really don’t need to survive. If people don’t have money for it, they’re not. That’s one of the things that’s gonna go. And that’s what happened to us. So, I probably should’ve thought about that a little bit more. So that company just kind of like went down and down. But I would still work with, with those individuals I had met from Korea and it was all Korean people. I was like the only American in these companies. So he was about four or five years I was in this industry, still with the same connections. And, but eventually when that company almost died down completely, I moved back to the San Diego Oceanside area.
Bradley Sutton: And it was like, what I’m gonna do now? So I decided to work for the man again, I guess. And so I got a job at this company called Fresh Creative Foods. It was a division of resource foods. If you guys are in the States, you guys know a billion dollar company that, that makes the potato salads and different salad kits around. And I was working as a marketing assistant and again, I was not really passionate about it. So at first, I wasn’t that motivated. And so I, learned I learned though is even if it’s something you’re not passionate about, it’s so important to kind of like convinced yourself you are and figure out a way to do that. So what I did was I made it like a game like work, like one of my responsibilities was making sure there was enough inventory and it wouldn’t expire at all the grocery stores in the United States in our network. And I made it like a game, like a challenge to myself. Like, Hey, how close can I, can I cut it? How, how little can I spoil? And then they had me doing the trucking and I found myself again staying overnight. Nobody would ask me to stay overnight and pull all night 24 hour shifts. But I would do it because it was exciting to me. Here’s something that would seem like, what in the world are you doing? You just spent years working for yourself and being your own boss and now you’re organizing semi-truck routes for the deliveries for the next day. Like isn’t that totally boring? But again, I made it a game. Like I would just go there all night thinking how can I make this route the smallest or shortest route so I can be so effective with how I’m sending out our, five drivers in the morning and then sure enough that, you know, people would find me in the office sleeping under my desk the next morning because I had spent the whole night. There again, nobody had that, it wasn’t like they were like making me stay overnight and giving me too much work, but I just did it because I loved it. And again, this is something I think that any of you guys listening here, regardless of if you’re selling on Amazon or, in some other e-commerce endeavor, you’re gonna end up doing things that maybe you’re not naturally passionate about. Like not many of us can do our hobby like I did for a while with the Fast and Furious stuff, right? So that was good. But you might end up being selling a product on Amazon that, that you think is the most stupid thing in the world. But you’ve got to find a psychological way to cite yourself out, to get yourself motivated about what you’re doing because that’s when quality is gonna come on your work. If you’re not motivated or excited about what you’re doing, you’re not gonna have good results. And again, not everybody can just do what is their passion. I talk about this in Amazon training all the time. If you’re an expert in cell phone cases, right? You can’t just go out there and sell cell phone cases on Amazon and because you’re passionate about it and you’re gonna be successful, no, most of the time you’re going to have to end up selling something like paper straws or something that you have no passion about and is the most boring thing in the world and maybe that you even hate, like who likes paper straws? Like I hate paper straws, they melt in my drinks, but if that’s what is gonna make me money on Amazon, I’ve got to find a way to be passionate about selling it. So that’s one piece of advice that I definitely learned.
Bradley Sutton: Anyways during all this time I actually started doing Sumo wrestling. I never knew there was amateur Sumo wrestling. That I couldn’t be a professional Sumo wrestler. And like I said, when I was younger in Japan I love Sumo wrestling. So I found that there was a club here in the States that did it. So I, I took it up. I’d always been a little overweight in my life. So I was like, wow, this is something I can actually be an athlete at, I would go to the training’s and, and this company or this club that I joined, they actually were the ones who would give all the, in commercials and movies, anything that had to do with Sumo wrestlers, they were the ones that kind of like orchestrated all of that. So, so, you know, while I would work on movies like Memories of a Geisha and Oceans 12, Oceans 11 and helping with their –and I started going to tournaments and I wasn’t half bad. I dedicated myself again to it. And because it was such a weird thing to do, MTV True Life, they came out and did an episode about me. You can still Google it now. MTV True Life, I’m a Sumo Wrestler. So I’m one of the three that they profiled and I got fairly good, one of my peaks was I was 4th place at US nationals in the open weight , just one win away from representing the US at the world championships. But I lost it my last bout. But anyways, Sumo wrestling was great. In Sumo wrestling there’s, there’s weight classes just like in boxing, right? So an amateur Sumo wrestling that is, so I had increased my weight to about 260 because middleweight was up to 253 I want it to say above weight. And then I would cut weight right before a competition, just like in these other sports. Right. But that was not a good weight for me. My health was getting bad. I got a physical and they’re like, Hey, your good cholesterol is low, your bad cholesterol is high, you basically have to lose weight. So I was like, you know what, I can’t keep doing Sumo. I want to, but I got to figure out a way to do it while losing weight. So I started going to the gym and I’m like, it took me one day to like understand that the treadmill was not for me. I’m like, what is in the world is going on here? This is so boring. And then I looked on the board and I saw this thing for a group exercise class and it said Zumba and I’m like, I didn’t know what the heck Zumba was. This was like 10 years ago. Where were, you know, Zumba wasn’t a household name.
Bradley Sutton: I went into that Zumba class and I was like, okay, there’s great music here that I listened to. I love Spanish music and there’s 50 women in here, like 2 dudes. I’m like, Hey, I can work with this. So I started doing it and losing weight like crazy. I lost over a 70 pounds, total thanks to Zumba fitness and, and eating better. And then I heard about there as a Zumba convention where there’s like 10,000 Zumba instructors come together to Florida from all over the world and basically party. I’m like, I want to go to that. They’re like, you can’t go unless you’re a Zumba instruct licensed instructor. So I’m like, fine, I’m gonna go ahead and get licensed as an instructor so I can go to the Zumba convention. I went to the Zumba convention and I met this kind of influencer who was kind of like a masculine Zumba instructor and to me, I all, my Zumba instructors were female and, and I was like, I never thought of myself that I could actually be a Zumba instructor because it was like too feminine. You know, for me, I’ll say, I don’t have those feminine moves at the time. And I do now. But anyways, at that time I didn’t. So when I saw this guy and he say, Oh yeah, I’ve got a YouTube channel, check it out. His name was Nathan Blake and I checked out his YouTube channel. Like, this is amazing. It’s like a hip hop Zumba instructor. It’s masculine, and like I was like, I could totally do this. So then from that moment I was like, you know what, let me, let me try and be an instructor. Now, I started being an instructor. I was already licensed but I auditioned a 24 hour fitness and got a job and it was just amazing to me. Like I was actually being paid to do something that I was passionate about. And that’s the second lesson or another lesson here today guys, I’ve talked about this before, but to me the ultimate in job satisfaction is two things. If you can do something that you love so much that you actually used to pay to do or you would pay, like think about how many of you guys who are accountants or delivery drivers or something, if you weren’t getting paid for what you were doing, would you just go out there and pay to do it because you love it so much? No, not one of us will buy, literally paid to do Zumba fitness before I paid to be a student. Now I was being paid to do it. That just boggled my mind. And, and in addition, do something that can help other people that can make a change in their lives. And I found that in the Zumba, but I mean, I had students, you know, I, I started teaching for years. I had students who would come to me and tell me, Hey, I’ve lost 50 pounds. I’ve lost a hundred pounds. You’ve saved my life. These things like that. It’s amazing feeling to get statements like that from a job. How many people have jobs where they’re doing that, if you guys have that right now? Absolutely. Hold on to that. So I started doing Zumba. I was a very popular instructor locally, again, because it was, I was kind of a unicorn, like I said, 95% of Zumba instructors were female and I was like the only guy. And, and I was kind of like, this is relatable person. And that was kind of the secret to a lot of my success. I don’t know if there’s a lesson in this, but again, sometimes being relatable is better than talent. I’m sure there’s a way we can tie that to Amazon or, or selling.
Bradley Sutton: But how is that the case with me? Well, I was never the best dancer. All right? I was not the greatest, I was a Sumo wrestler for goodness sake. I never took dance in my life, but I was decent. But I was just a regular guy that people could relate. We would go to masterclasses as Zumba students for like these professional dancers and it’s great. It’s great to like watch. It was great to watch those guys, but you did it for this spectacle. Does that make sense guys? You did it for the spectacle, the Ohh and the ahh factor. But when you are watching these professionals, like you didn’t think like, wow, that could be me one day or that that’s total. I could totally do that. It was just to be in awe and, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but when people came to my classes, they’re like, wait a minute, this is just a regular dude who dresses funny out a little bit more on why I dress funny there later. But this just a regular duties to be a Sumo wrestler if he can do it, I can do it. And that is why I was so successful. Like my classes would be packed, people would wait 2 hours just to get into my class and pay extra money just to get into my classes. Anyways, I learned, like I told you guys from my friend Nathan Blake, who had a YouTube channel and a bunch of other people. That’s how I learned my routines, like from YouTube. And then I just thought about it. If I would see these people at the convention, at the Zumba convention, right. I wouldn’t even know who they were. Like I would not recognize him, but I loved them. I was like, I really would love to meet them. And I was thinking, I want to be memorable. I want to help other people too with a YouTube channel, but people aren’t gonna remember the name Bradley. So I was like, how do I make myself memorable? So what I did was I decided to create a character and I called him Crazy Sock TV. So what I did was I put one sock on my left arm or my right arm, I would cut it off. So that would go up almost like an arm sleeve. Right now everybody is doing arm sleeves. It’s like a Nike thing. But I still maintain, I’m the one who started that. But anyways, the other sock I would put on the opposite leg. So, and it wasn’t just any sock, it was just a ridiculous sock, like the most outlandish sock you’ve ever seen in your life. And that was my thing. So I would go on YouTube and the YouTube channel is called Crazy Sock TV. And then I would do Zumba routines. But then what happened was a lot of these would go viral. And again, people did not remember my name, but they remembered, Oh, that’s the Crazy Sock Guy. So what happened was these videos went viral. I eventually got like over 20 to 25 million views on Amazon and tens of thousands of subscribers and people would invite me to travel all over the world doing masterclasses. Was it because I was an incredible dancer? No, I wasn’t an incredible dancer. But it was those two things. Number 1, I was relatable. And number 2, I was memorable. You know, people remembered me, they’re like, Hey, we want the Crazy Sock Guy. So remember that guys, when you’re developing products to, when you’re talking about your listings, when you’re talking about your images, when they’re talking about the functionality of the product, make sure that it’s relatable to your target audience. I made sure I was relatable to my target Zumba students. So you guys need to do that as well. When you are developing products and developing your listings, are you relatable to your target audience? Also? Are you memorable? Are there things that differentiate yourself from the rest? You know, don’t just totally break the mold and do something different, right? That you’re not sure works. Capitalize on what you know works on Amazon, but at the same time differentiate yourself. Put your own crazy sock on there so that people can remember it. Even if they don’t buy your product at first it sticks in their mind. Make yourself a memorable one. And that’s what I did with Zumba fitness career and, and it was just, it was just amazing traveling the world and Zumba fitness would have me in all their DVDs and I would represent them on QVC. And it was all because I made this memorable, relatable character and, and I got rewarded for it.
Bradley Sutton: So anyways, I was doing all of this and then now finally the story comes to Amazon, right? While I was working at that food company, I was approached by my former partners, those Korean guys, and they’re like, Hey, I’m, we’re starting this company for cell phone cases. There’s this, there’s this brand in Korea that we think would go, well, this was before there is such thing of wallet cases. It was around the S3, GalaxyS3, iPhone4 years, whenever, whatever year that was. And I was like, sure, I want to try something different, not have to work for the man anymore. I’m tired of getting 8 vacation days a year and having a get approval to call in sick and, and this and that’s all. I was like, let me take this dive. They’re guaranteeing a salary. So I started working for this company. We had no idea what we were doing. And long story short, we found another company who was an online.com company for cell phone accessories. We joined up with them and they’re like, Hey, let’s try and put these cell phone cases on Amazon. And then one guy said, Hey, I have an idea, let’s do 3D imagery for our or our picture instead of just taking pictures of them. And nobody had done this at the time before. Nobody. So we’re like, let’s do it. And these things took off like wildfire. I mean it was ridiculous. We were selling thousands of units a day total of these cell phone cases. And you know how small cell phone cases are, we are bringing containers of these things in it. We could not keep them on the shelves. They did not know SEO. They did not on Amazon. You know, they didn’t know keyword research. There was no keyword tools back then. They didn’t know about launch. They literally just threw it up there and 100% organically. These things took off. So we were like, man, we hit the mother lode here. So we just, we, you know, kept ordering and ordering. Eventually three of us, we split from that other company and we formed our own company. Okay. So it was three of us. One guy was kind of like the, the guy who was in charge of the supply chain, he was the one who ran the factory that we ordered this from. And he was like, I’m going to start a factory in China to get these made instead of Korea so we can save more money. That was his contribution. The other guy, his 33% was the Amazon know how, how to sell on Amazon, you know, supposedly was what he was, in charge of. And then my part was, I provided my house in a warehouse as of the new office. I had a house in San Marcos, we, I moved out, moved back with my parents and we made my house, an office for like 15 people. And then I had a warehouse in the back of my house that I was using for my Fast and Furious business way back in the day. And we’re like, we’re gonna convert this into the office. And so like that was my contribution to, to like provide, provide this. So we started this new company and then right off the bat though, things started going a little bit downhill. Basically the listing started going downhill, sales are going down and down and, and they would try just different things to, to boost it. They didn’t really understand about the search algorithms, so they would try and do these like Dan’s deals or, or some of these deal websites and just try and inflate the BSR, which is probably why exactly Amazon put that, Hey, don’t try to inflate the BSR. They were doing those things and it wasn’t working. It’s just their market share was going down and down. And what was happening was these other companies who actually knew what they were doing on Amazon, be it like speech or these other up and coming in phone case companies they like knew how to, work the algorithm and how to market and how to do their PPC. And we really didn’t. And for me they really didn’t like let me know how to do things. That was one bad thing about how our business relationship went I was a one third partner and they like didn’t want to teach me the intricacies of what they knew about Amazon and I don’t think that’s great or any kind of partnerships. So I was just kind of like the logistics guy. I was there in my warehouse. Packaging and shipping will fight more than 500 orders a day. FBM we were doing crazy FBM we had, I had this machine where it would just, you know, print out the addresses directly from seller central onto these labels and I would drop it in and I could show I could package and ship like 10 items per minute. It was crazy. And I would be in charge of keeping the Amazon FBA inventory up to date and stuff. And that was just about it. I didn’t know anything about PPC and my like login to seller central only could view certain things and, and that’s a good advice for you guys out there. Don’t, don’t do like we did. If you’ve got partners, everybody should have open access and everything should be shared because just wasn’t really, encouraging a lot of innovation when only one person knew how to do one thing.
Bradley Sutton: So that is definitely, I think something I learned from there. So things were going bad for us financially. So we were just trying different things, getting into different models of, of, you know, trying to import for other companies. We did a deal with a Japanese company who was a very famous japanese.com and, and we provided our warehouse for like 3PL for them and helping them do their listings and things like that. And that was okay for some cash-flow. But eventually they were like, Hey, we need to move back to Los Angeles. That’s where we need to be. So I’m like, I didn’t like that idea because I’m like, Hey, we’ve got this warehouse and I’m providing for you guys that really cheap. And then we moved to Los Angeles, it’s gonna increase our overhead, but they wanted to do it. So they did. And I was just like, at that time I was just like, you know what, this is, this is just not a good look, for, for my family and business is going down. Let’s, let’s try something or else, I have to go, I have to do my own thing. So I brought to them like hoverboards this was like around the time when hoverboards were going crazy and I found some suppliers, I’m like, let’s, let’s do some hoverboards guys. So we got in on the Hover board craze and again, we were doing great, you know, we were getting these things for like 70 bucks, selling them for over 500 making hand over fist. Then all of a sudden, all those crazy, these stories started happening about houses being burned down and things like that. And what Amazon decided to do with all of our recent customers that they hadn’t paid us for as like $150,000. So we hadn’t gotten that disbursement from Amazon. They’re like, we’re just gonna refund all those customers. So they refunded our customers have over $100,000 of hoverboards without even getting the hoverboards back. So we basically not only sent out these hoverboards but we got $100,000 of what we should have gotten just taken out and like our account was locked down. So we went from making ridiculous amounts of money with these hoverboards to now having lost our butts in it and being way in the hole on this. And like I said, that a $100,000 worth of cash-flow that we should’ve gotten that we didn’t and we couldn’t even get the hoverboards back to like sell it on the secondary market or something. So that just kind of like put a nail in the coffin for me and I’m just like, you know what guys? This is not for me. So I kind of like sold my shares in that company. And just went off on my own and I was like, Hey, I’ll help you guys out. I’m gonna try and learn some stuff on Amazon and I’ll help you guys out as a consultant or a storage or something. But I, I just have to be out of there. So I got out of that company and then I didn’t know what I was gonna do. I’m like, do I work for the man again? What am I gonna do? The whole Amazon thing is still kind of intrigued me. So I was like, you know what? I just like to learn what the opportunity is and maybe there’s some stuff that these guys didn’t teach me.
Bradley Sutton: So I was listening to a podcast, I think it was with Kevin Riser, talked about this before in an earlier episode and he was like, Hey, I got this discount for this, this conference is gonna be in Chicago. And in 3 days I’m like, you know what? Let’s just do this. I didn’t have much money saved over. So I went ahead and got a ticket and since I didn’t have enough money, I, I rented a car and then I slept in my car for this Amazon conference. It was a, I think it was a two day conference and that just basically changed my life right there because I learned things that you could do on Amazon and that other people were doing. That just blew my mind. I’m like, Oh my goodness. I had been in the dark all this time, all these things. I was kind of desperate to know. And at our company, like how, how we can get higher in the search results. It was just all laid out as a formula and I was just like, wow, the possibilities are endless with Amazon. So I went back home, I dedicated myself to just learning, doing courses and just studying all kinds of videos and reading and just becoming a total Amazon nerd. And, and I went all in and I started, at that time, my old company, they were mainly now instead of doing cell phone cases, they were mainly bringing in like Korean beauty brands and a lot of other brands from Korea of companies who wanted to sell on Amazon USA but didn’t want to start a branch office or like, Hey, I will sell for you on Amazon. But again, they still didn’t know what they were doing. And I told them, I was like, guys, I know what I’m doing now. So they’re like, Hey, we’ll pay you too, optimize these listings and to launch the products, get them on page one and stuff. And, and I was like, I got you, I can do this. So does started my, my career as a consultant, it was mainly for them, but it was for various companies, big brands from Korea, LG, Samsung headquarters or some for ironically some of their phone cases, big Korean beauty brands, like, skin, food and, and face shop and different things like that. So these, multi, you know, nine figure companies from Korea, some billion dollar companies, and I was running all of their listings and I launched over 300 products, for, for, these companies like this. And, and here’s the thing, here’s some things I learned from there. Not all of those 300 where success is actually the majority of warrants, successes. And I would tell them this is not how Amazon works. So it wasn’t my fault. So some of them, maybe I didn’t do the best job, but here’s the problem that, and you guys can learn from this, is these Korean companies, they were a big deal in Korea, right?
Bradley Sutton: Everybody knew their brand. Okay? They just put something up and it would sell because of their brand power. But in America, only the Korean population kind of knew about these brands, right? So it wasn’t just like, Hey, let’s put it on Amazon. It’s going to get crazy sales. Some of them, could do it. I feel like there’s some popular K Beauty brands that needed it, but they didn’t understand the fact that they’re just competing with any private label seller and private label sellers who were just getting stuff from China and at a fraction of the cost. So it was an uphill battle for them. And some of them were they wanted to do categories that was just too saturated. And I would try and tell them, I was like, guys, this is not going to work. Yeah, I’ll get you to page one. Sure. But I guarantee you’re not gonna stay on page one because your price is like 30% higher than everybody else. All right, this is not gonna work. Or Hey, everybody is doing crazy sales on this keyword. This is a saturated niche. But they’re like, no, no, no, no, we can do it. So that was one reason why I like being a consultant. It was like, Hey, I warned them with a clean conscience that a lot of this wouldn’t work. And, but either way I still got paid, you know, so. So I kind of liked that as far as being a consultant and not, not launching my own products. Cause again, never launched my own product. I didn’t want that risk and that pressure right now, it wasn’t all failures. You know, we, we, we had tons and tons of successes, a lot of stuff that is still being sold today. I mean the stuff that I launched is easily, making 8 figures. Now out of all those products, a couple that stick out in my mind, there was one toothbrush where I was like, I still wasn’t feeling it, but I’m like, you know what, there is a possibility for this toothbrush because it was bamboo or some weird stuff like that. So I’m like, we could maybe compete even though those other listings were where like Colgate and Crest toothbrushes and stuff. And sure enough, I got this listening to page one right away on some toothbrush categories. And within like one week it was selling like 60, 70 units a day and was just crushing it. And so we had a lot of successes like that. So it goes to show, just there is no universal yes or universal no for success. I always tell people, Hey, don’t sell collagen peptides because it’s so saturated, but it’s 99% chance that you’re gonna fail. But yeah, there’s a 1% chance that you could just hit something, a sweet spot or you have some big budget. Yeah, you could crush it doing collagen peptides So at the same time you could get in something where all the figures, all the numbers say that a product is going to work, like low reviews and small competition and then you could just totally fall flat on your face. The only thing do with Amazon is really try and put yourself in the best situation for that success and you play the odds and you got to understand that there’s no guarantee. So anyways, that was kind of like what I was doing as a consultant where I would play those odds and try and put my clients in the best position it was to get success. And a lot of times they were successful. But a lot of times they weren’t successful. And again, I could have told them that going in and I did tell them that, but they did not. They were too proud. They were too hot about their own brand power to understand how Amazon works. Another thing to learn from that situation was there is so much potential with bringing some of these foreign brands. Maybe there are some foreign brands out there that want to sell in America, but they don’t want to open up a big, they don’t want to open up a big, warehouse or big operation or marketing campaign will Amazon might be the way that they can get into the US market and there’s a way, if you have ties with one of these countries, you know obviously like I said, I was working with all Korean guy so they had good contacts in, in Korea.
Bradley Sutton: So that’s why they were able to get these brands over. That might be something that you could look into. I definitely want to make another episode about that later. So I would also know, because of my work I would get, I would bring on other clients. And so that was how I was able to launch over a hundred other products. And I started working full time again, kind of like for the man all this time I was still doing my Zumba fitness classes. I was teaching like seven, eight classes a week, staying in great shape and still traveling when I could. And one of my clients, they, I would go to their house, they were a CEO of a big company and they didn’t want to go to the gym. So I would go to their house 2, 3 days a week doing private Zumba classes for them, making like 80 a hundred dollars an hour. And that was fun. And we were there, like my friends, you know, we were, we would just talk while we were doing Zumba and we just have a great time. They’re like, Hey, we need to hire full time sales manager. So I was like, you know what, let’s do this. They’re my friends, great company to work for. So I joined them and I, I started working full time with them. I’ll as their sales manager, it wasn’t just Amazon, but Amazon was a prime, one of my primary responsibilities and I helped grow their Amazon business from a little under a million a year to over 3 million. And the year that I was there I would manage their other accounts and I was getting them into grocery store chains and I was managing their Walmart business, their Walmart store. As far as you know, that those relationships there with Walmart and guys, let me tell you, if you think Amazon is the is the top of the food chain no, guys, it still does not hold a candle to what the potential of retail brick and mortar is. I would see POS go across my desk for millions of dollars and just for like certain DCS, like certain regions of Walmart guy. So whereas like I said, they only made 3 million on Amazon the whole year. I would see POS for almost that amount. It was crazy. And a lot of their branding and stuff comes from infomercials. Dr. So they would pour in hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars a month on infomercials. And that was how they would generate sales on Amazon is crazy too guys. I told you $3 million for the sales on Amazon. They don’t have one product that has even 3 stars. Everything was like 2 stars. But when you get to be that popular of a brand people and that much marketing people don’t care about the reviews. They were still selling so much because of their brand recognition.
Bradley Sutton: So that was kind of fun and working for that company and helping bring up their business and it wasn’t all success. There is a product they wanted me to, to kind of launch. It was something that they bought from the rights to from somebody who is did it on kick starter. It’s kind of like a foam roller, except you put like hot or cold water in and the market just wasn’t ready. We poured money into it. I got it to page one of all the main keywords. But that technology was just too new. Like people just didn’t understand why it was so good. I mean, it was an amazing product, but again, nobody was searching for that product on Amazon. People were searching for foam rollers and things like that. So it was an uphill battle. And there’s another lesson for you guys. You might have the greatest invention known to mankind, but if people don’t understand it or if they’re not searching for it, you’re not gonna be successful on Amazon. So they did not create enough demand off of Amazon to sustain any kind of longevity on Amazon. And so I got those products to page one, but they didn’t do well because people just didn’t think that it was, it was necessary at that price point. It was like double, double or triple what foam rollers costs and they didn’t understand the hot and cold water thing. So, so that product pretty much died a slow death.
Bradley Sutton: So anyways, more time during this of just on a personal note, continuing my weirdness, considering of having just a dog. I would have a pet goat and a pet pig, almost like a mini farm. Even though I live in the suburbs here again, just try to be different. I ended up buying my dream car, Nissan skyline. I imported it from Japan. And had Japanese license plates stereo you on the right hand side. I get more looks in that car as if I was driving a Lamborghini. It’s, it’s kind of crazy, but that’s one thing that being an entrepreneur and be dedicated to my dreams kind of helped me. Like my dream was being an athlete when I was younger and, and being, I hate to say it, but like I want it to be famous for being an athlete. And so I kind of got that in double way with the Sumo wrestling and the Zumba. So for somebody who grew up as a nerd and a loner, it was such an amazing feeling. But I never, I always stuck to those dreams even though it seemed like pretty unattainable. Like a new Nissan Skyline, like a Nissan Skyline’s aren’t even legal. They weren’t even legal in America, but I waited until they were a car is 25 years old. You can bring it from another country and it, it’d be illegal. So guys, you know that this might sound corny, but if you have some dreams that are somewhat attainable, you know that the dreams I had were somewhat attainable. Stick to them because if you, if you stick to it, you’re gonna get, you’re gonna get there. And I’m definitely an example of that from an a non-athletic loner to becoming a YouTube celebrity as it were for Zumba fitness, traveling the world and getting on TV shows because I was a Sumo wrestler and being in placing a national tournaments and having my dream car. I mean I am a perfect example of a follow your dreams, so I hope you guys can take that from it.
Bradley Sutton: Going back to business now. Anyways, I was using Helium 10 starting right before I started work. At that diet pill company from for my friends and it was just an amazing piece of software that at the time I was using like eight different software and my, my Chrome browser was so slow because I needed something for sales estimation and I needed something for keywords. I needed something for this and so I had like seven or eight different, tools and extensions, Chrome extensions. When I, when somebody turned me on to Helium 10 for their keyword tracker, I was blown away. I was like, holy crap, I can just like cancel all this other stuff that I have because Helium 10 is taking care of it for me. So I started using Helium 10 exclusively for all those launches. It was probably like 200 launches in a 100 to 200 launches in where I started switching things to Helium 10 I would go on their Facebook group and I’m the kind of person who is kind of argumentative, right? Like if people give wrong information, whether they’re marketers, gurus, or people, other tool companies, and they’re using their, their position or their platform to, to steer people in the wrong way, either for personal gain or for their company game. That pisses me off 20 years ago when I was in the whole Fast and Furious thing, I would go on message to what we call the message forums, right? And people arguing that Honda’s were better. And I would put all my dyno graphs about my horsepower to the wheels of the Hyundai cars and I would just get in these big long arguments and stuff with people. I was the same way on Helium 10. You can still go back and see my old rants where people would say, giveaway launches don’t work or this or that. And I would go on there and all the time and like rip people new ones and show all these graphs, showing them why they’re full of nonsense. And then I guess Manny and G, you know the founders of Helium 10, who is this guy, we’re gonna invite him up here. We’re going to invite him up here to, to meet with us and hang out cause they’re about an hour away in Irvine and I was in San Marco, so I was like, sure, I’ll come up there and meet you guys. That’d be cool. I looked up to Manny a lot, listen to the Am Pm Podcast and, and he was one of my inspirations. So of course I was gonna, you know, go up and hang out. They invited me to this restaurant and there was boy on the CTO, Guillermo and Manny. And basically it was a job interview and I didn’t even realize it was a job interview. Is it weird this as a conversation thereafter, after later we’d like you to work for us. I’m like, nah, nah, I’m good. I don’t want to drive an hour each way to work. And I’m in my friend’s company and I’m good. But they kept after me. They kept after me and they were like, Hey, you can work home from the whole on Fridays because you live so far. And eventually I thought about it and I was just like, you know what? I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna go ahead and take this leap of faith, leave disability, have a, have a job. Well up until that time was my favorite job. I ever had 5 minutes from my house, great benefits and let me just do this because I have a feeling that this is what I need to be doing. So I came on to Helium 10 in July of 2018 as the operations manager, things started doing well. Like I started doing the videos and, and it went over kind of well, like there was a good reception and we were doing to these AMA’s and thousands of people were watching the AMA’s and everybody liked the way I did the pro training videos. So then Manny and Gui were like, Hey, we think we, we found somebody who who’s really good at what you’re doing, we want you to do this kind of focused on this full time. So I transitioned away from the operations manager and I was kind of like, the, the front face of Helium 10 and it wasn’t even planned that way where I could really take over all those things that would take Manny so much time that didn’t allow him to really grow the business. And so I was more than happy to do that. And then I, I just sat there and realize like, wow, I just lightly just struck twice because member guys, what I told you about my Zumba fitness and how that was the ideal job about how it hit those two scenarios, how number 1, I was being paid to do something that I used to pay to do because I loved it so much. And the number 2 hours helping people, well somehow his lightning struck twice. I used to pay to use Helium 10 and now Helium 10 was paying me to use their software. And not only that, I was changing people’s lives even with the training videos because I would get messages all the time from people and say, Oh my goodness you for these videos, you guys have transformed my business and now I’m doing like 6 figures because of you. And so again, I hit that holy grail of work.
Bradley Sutton: Somehow I’ve, I don’t know. So like so many people don’t ever have at once and I’ve had it twice. So I highly suggest to you guys that I use that to as a benchmark, like do something that you love so much that you used to or would pay to do it even if you weren’t being paid. Like think about that. Those of you who are on Amazon selling on Amazon, you kind of hit that already, right? You used to pay to use Amazon because you’re an Amazon customer and now you’re being paid to sell on Amazon. So almost all of my listeners out there, you guys probably already hit one of those categories and now, you might be able to hit that, that second one, depending on if you have a product that really is helping people, so like put some time and effort into your product, make sure that it solves a problem and, and you’re gonna have that, that, that cool feeling of fulfillment that very few people in this world have. But by being an Amazon seller, you have the opportunity for that.
Bradley Sutton: So anyways, guys, this was a super long one. This is probably the longest episode so far. I apologize about that, I can ramble if you guys are watching the video, you can see that I’m not really going off of a script here. I’m just talking to hear my head rattle. So I apologize for rambling or if you guys fell asleep on this, but I think some of my story might be interesting, but at the very least, try and take some of those big points that I brought about partnerships, about your mentality, about liking what you do and being passionate about making a game out of it, even if it’s something that you might not organically like to do, but you kind of make yourself like to do it. Think about how to make your job fulfilling. Like I said, think about the mistakes that I made and my companies have made along the way and learn from the good things that you know I’ve been able to do. Hopefully you can learn something from this episode and at the very least you can get to know you’re as truly a little bit better. So there you have it. There is the Bradley Sutton origin story. Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Facebook what you thought about this episode if you actually made it this far and we will see you guys later.
Bradley Sutton: Quick note, guys, don’t forget that regardless where you are listening to this podcast, whether it’s on your iPhone or on Stitcher, on Spotify, that you hit the subscribe button so you can be notified every time we drop a new episode.
- #266 – Here’s How TikTok and LinkedIn Can Power Your E-Commerce Business - July 27, 2021
- #265 – New Seller Recap – They’re Not Beginners Anymore - July 24, 2021
- #264 – Introducing the Serious Sellers Club, and More! - July 20, 2021