This week we end the Where Are They Now series with my good friend Dustin Lee. I met Dustin in 2015 at Creative South. I signed up for his workshop thinking it might not be that crowded. Boy was I wrong. We were pilled in there and I was sitting on the floor. He and I talked afterwards and it was like I met a brother from another mother. After all the years and so many conferences and conversations over zoom and the phone, he is one of my best friends.
We first had Dustin on the show back in August of 2015. (Wow over eight years ago!) Dustin was able to build a business in his off time, pay for diapers and more from this passive income business. In 2014 he made over 125k on his own. Over the years I have connected him with students that have freelanced and he has grown his business by miles.
We have talked about everything under the sun on episodes, passive income, different revenue streams, building a team and those growing pains, creative block, launching a course, relaunching a course, and teaching on LinkedIn learning. We talk about family, anxiety, stress, business ideas, collaborations, and community. Dustin has been a big part of some of the pivotal moments in my business. And he is someone who understands and can ride with me through my dark valleys.
I made a book with his brushes and continue to use them and the other products he and his team are continually inventing for us to use to create great art.
I hope you will join me for Episode 447, LIVE on WEDNESDAY, Sept 6, 2023 at 11:30am PT / 2:30pm ET / 7:30pm BST / 8:30am in Hawaii
You can be part of the conversation live with us. Simply join the Creatives Ignite Family by giving me your email and get a reminder email 30 min before the show: https://creativesignite.com/signup You can also add it to your calendar so you don’t miss it. (Those links are in the emails). See you there, then you can type in the chat and ask questions live.
Questions for Dustin
- Dustin, can you tell everybody a little background about you, who you are, where you are, and what you do?
- You’ve been on the show four times, first on the show back in 2015 and the last time was in 2019. How has life and business changed since last time we talked?
- What has been the biggest hurdle you’ve faced in regards to your business since 2019?
- How do you come up with new ideas for products? Or new ways to sell your products?
- What is one thing you struggle with about being a manager/leader in your business?
- Tell them about the conference where you went old school and stood in line and shook people’s hands. How did you feel after doing that?
- How do you go about learning new skills?
- Do you have any systems or processes that you have implemented that have helped your business the most? What types of business skills have you had to learn?
- Looking back, have you found or realized a new superpower you weren’t aware of before?
- Do you ever deal with being overwhelmed? If so, how have you dealt with that?
- Do you have any creative outlets or non creative outlets that you do regularly to keep you balanced?
- How have you avoided burning out?
- What elements make up a perfect collaborative project for you?
- What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself in the last year, that has been most impactful to your life or business?
- What’s one piece of advice you would tell your past self 8 years ago?
- What is next?
Connect with Dustin:
If you would like to give to the Save the Ta-Ta’s which is for Medical Expenses for Julie Reed’s Cancer that returned: Go Fund Me: https://www.gofundme.com/f/Save-The-Ta-Tas-Again
[00:00:00] diane: Hey everybody, welcome to another episode of, I was about to say Design Recharge. The last four times that Dustin was on, we called it Design Recharge, but now we’re calling it Creatives Ignite. We haven’t finished the full brand change, but we’re working on it. John Ingalls, good to see you. Got lots of people here live.
[00:00:24] If you didn’t know, you can actually come live to, [00:00:30] um, The session. So it’s helpful and it’s great for you to feel like you’re part of the community. So Dustin has been on, we met in at a creative South. He was teaching a workshop and it was about passive income. And I thought, Oh, I bet a, not a lot of people are going to know what that is.
[00:00:50] And it was packed. I had to sit on the floor. There was tons of people who knew what that was and it was a great. Uh, I was, I had pulled out my [00:01:00] sketchbook from that, um, Creative South in 2015 and I had written all these notes from what Dustin’s talk was. So, it’s nice to see that we have, our friendship has withstood the test of time, for sure.
[00:01:18] And I’m just excited to see how far. So this is a really good one. So from 2015 to now, so it’s almost, it’s eight years, almost, almost 10 years. And [00:01:30] it’s crazy that so many things, you’ve had such changes from when you, the very first time you’ve, Offered courses, passive income for designers. You’ve done courses on LinkedIn learning.
[00:01:42] You’ve done, um, I mean, there’s been all kinds of things. Your business has grown. You’ve offered there’s community in retro supply. Um, you do, you’re always finding new things, new products, new tools that are really old and cool, and then you’re able [00:02:00] to make them into a way that we can use them. Now, so just in case somebody doesn’t know, can you, um, tell people who you are, where you are and what you do?
[00:02:12] Dustin Lee: Yeah, so I’m Dustin Lee. I live in Vancouver, Washington. I run RetroSupplyCo. We sell digital design resources, uh, including Analog retro inspired brushes, textures, digital products, fonts, uh, courses, [00:02:30] um, content, and make them for illustrators and graphic designers.
[00:02:37] diane: And they are, there is a huge range and they’re super helpful.
[00:02:44] They take a ton of time out of what we’ve, what we’re able to do, but you’ve taught, uh, in this very first one at creative South, you were talking about finding a niche and being able to create, make something, and then you use [00:03:00] creative market, you use your own website, making a list, email list. But there are so many things that have you’ve products you’ve offered.
[00:03:09] I asked, um, I think I asked you, I was like, what was, what are some of the most recent? products. I’m on the list. Um, and I’m like, man, there’s just always stuff, new stuff coming out. Um, so four times you’ve been on the show, plus you did camp both years back in 2015. So after this, [00:03:30] I can’t, I wrote it on another piece.
[00:03:31] Of course I didn’t bring that piece, but it was like somewhere in August, somewhere in September when we had Um, when you were on and then maybe one was in the November, but the last time was in 2019. So from 2019, how has life and business changed? Did you have any Children between 2019 and now? I think they were all born,
[00:03:53] Dustin Lee: weren’t they?
[00:03:54] They were all born. My littlest Jack was probably just like one or something like that. Yeah, [00:04:00] you know what? I think that there, I mean, it’s been like a whirlwind of things. I feel like that have changed the businesses has grown obviously and, uh, expanded, but, um, I think the two biggest things, there’s a big business thing and a big personal thing.
[00:04:16] And the big business thing is that when I started it, like you said, you didn’t know if people would know what passive income was, um, people. Didn’t really make brushes and things like that. There was not a very, uh, competitive industry. [00:04:30] Um, but like it slowly has become more and more in vogue and you have, uh, you know, you can, you can do it so easily now with a set like gum road or something like that, there’s, and there’s a lot of talented artists out there, man.
[00:04:43] Um, and everyone has something that they’re making. So the competition is a lot higher. Um, sadly people are trying to push prices down. I think a lot of artists, as we tend to do undervalue their work and they undervalue their products as well. And that really pushes down the price of the [00:05:00] products. Um, and then personally I’m 42 now.
[00:05:04] When I started, I was 31 or something like that. And I’d had my first little girl on the way. And I have three kids. Um, I let my littlest one just had his first day of kindergarten today. We just dropped them off. So my priorities have shifted. Um. That this is not everything, you know, my, my Children are everything.
[00:05:22] So that’s, that’s it. Yeah. Well,
[00:05:25] diane: and you have other people in the business. You have, uh, everything’s not on your [00:05:30] shoulders there. You’ve had to shift and grow in other ways. So Most people have that as, okay, this is the American dream. You’ve started a company has grown, but most people are like, oh, it’s hundreds of people.
[00:05:42] Well, that’s not the case for you, but there are, you have, uh, partners, you have people that are, are full time. And then you have, um, you know, it’s still pretty small, but there are, everything isn’t on your shoulders as it was in [00:06:00] 2012. Did you start in 2012, 2013? So, I mean, that’s what we hope is that we can grow and, and there have been, we, the last time you were on, we talked about growing pains because there are, there are always things that, um, hit us.
[00:06:20] And I think in this, one of the things that I’ve asked, and I’m kind of asking the same questions, I’ve tweaked them a little bit, but is there have been there. And I, [00:06:30] in this book, I was telling Destin and I both read a lot or I listen, he might read real. Do you read real books or you listen?
[00:06:37] Dustin Lee: I buy the books and then I listen to them and then pretend like I read them.
[00:06:40] diane: Okay. Well, that is reading them if you listen to them. So we were talking about this book that I just finished this morning and it’s called by Adam Alt. Anyway, it’s blue. It’s a it’s called, um, the the anatomy of a breakthrough. And you know what he said? And he said it twice in the book. He said [00:07:00] success is lumpy.
[00:07:02] And I was like, man, is it ever? You know, it’s like there are times when, but it was talking about Edison and he had so many, he invented so many things, but if they were talking about AC and DC and Tesla and how Tesla wanted to do AC, but Edison was all about DC and he was like, I think we can make this better and talking about how somebody [00:07:30] who’s new in the business can actually, Or in anything, it could be in chess, can actually, even if they’re annoyingly asking you questions, they still make you think differently because they’re, they’re bringing in a new perspective and it makes, it makes the product better and I think that we forget that we have to go through growing pains and so from the last time we talked, families [00:08:00] changed, I think you moved, I don’t know, no, you were in the house, this house then, um, Yeah, I was in the south.
[00:08:06] Um, so there’s more competition, which is stressful, right?
[00:08:12] Dustin Lee: Yeah. I don’t know that it’s more stressful. I think, um, it makes you more alert, more, um, trying to stay on top of it. Maybe the stress is caused by the fact that my priorities are more towards my, my children. At the same time, you need to be a little bit more, uh, diligent about watching what other [00:08:30] people are doing, um, and thinking ahead.
[00:08:32] And so you’re trying to focus. On the important things. Yeah. While also trying to give extra time to the other thing and that can be hard and that causes a little bit of anxiety.
[00:08:44] diane: So in this, cause you’re in the house where your kids are, unless your kids are at school. So how do you handle, I mean, I know you’re on another floor, but used to, you were on the ground floor and you kind of had the dining room or something.
[00:08:58] I don’t remember. It was a [00:09:00] long time ago. It feels like when you were in that other room, but a
[00:09:03] Dustin Lee: little, a little office downstairs.
[00:09:05] diane: So that, how do you deal with working in the same. space as your kids when they really are needy and they can’t, um, you, they don’t understand that you’re just talking to a screen or that.
[00:09:20] Do you know what I mean? Like how working from home and having kids, cause that does seem like something that a lot of people that are here have to deal with and there [00:09:30] has to be something. And if their priority, I know doc Reed and I have talked about this and I know you and doc are friends, but it’s like, how do you keep them a priority, but you still, you still have to make money.
[00:09:41] You still have to give time towards the business,
[00:09:44] Dustin Lee: right? Yeah. Well, um, my wife and I were talking this morning because it’s Jack’s first day of school. So it’s the first time we’ve been alone in the house in a long time. Um, and, uh, we were feeling kind of sad about it. You know, you don’t [00:10:00] have the mornings, except for in the summer with them.
[00:10:01] And, um, I think that, you know, the thing I thought of was, I remember talking to someone that was pretty wise at 1 point. Um, and they said, well, we’re homeowners. And he didn’t mean it just like technically homeowners. He meant we all wish we could be kind of Zen, like be like, Oh, calm monks, or we could sit down and, uh, you know, cross legged circles with our kids and do things every day and do the, you know, we picture these things in magazines or TV shows, but we’re [00:10:30] homeowners, just like some people are monks, we’re homeowners, whether you live in an apartment or you live in a home, right.
[00:10:35] And that means that you have to, you have to play the role of capitalism. You have, you have to go to work. You have to try to make your business work, whether it’s making money or not. You got to get up and you got to work on it. Um, you have to pay your taxes. You have all the things you have to do all the things.
[00:10:49] And it’s just part of the cost of it. And, um, I look at it and I just think, Hey, I’m, I’m blessed. I made the business because I wanted to be around my kids. Now, have I been not as much as you would [00:11:00] think you were if you’re at home, but I do know that some people drop their kids off and go to work and they come home at night and see them at six o’clock at night after a long commute.
[00:11:08] I get to go down and see them for, you know, 15, 20 minutes, you know, every couple hours, and they see me around, um, but they know not to come up here. I mean, they do come up and, hey, dad, can you print me a picture of a cat, you know, hey, can you help me fix my marble run, but for the most part, they know that I’m working and they don’t, they don’t come interrupt [00:11:30] too much.
[00:11:30] And sometimes I just tell them I can’t and that’s part of being a homeowner. Right. And, um, yeah. And then I just make sure to have time for them in the evening and have something to do with each of them. So we have date nights, take my daughters out or, you know, I like make goals with them. Like, Hey, we’re going to do something manageable.
[00:11:44] 15 to 20 minutes of soccer practice, try to help you become forward. Right. Or, um, 15 to 20 minutes of, uh, Zelda, my other, my other daughter loves dragons and Zelda and things like that. We’re going to do a Zelda where we’re going to read, um, her favorite dragon book, you know, so you just, you make small amounts of [00:12:00] time and it seems like not enough, but when you do it consistently.
[00:12:03] It’s rewarding, because it’s really easy, as anyone here that’s a parent knows, to have days go by where your only interactions are telling them what to do and giving them food.
[00:12:13] diane: Well, and I think, um, so for me, um, Dustin, you lost your dad when you were in your 20s. And so Dustin is one of my best friends.
[00:12:23] So when my mom died, he’s somebody who I could talk to that understood. I’m going to try not [00:12:30] to cry. Hopefully won’t. But I think that there are times where I’ve been like, Oh, I wish I had gone home more. I’d wish I’d seen my mom more. And I think about when you’re talking about that and spending time with your kids and just being consistent.
[00:12:44] I never really realized that my dad wasn’t. I mean, my dad was. He went to work every day, um, and he got home about 30, and then we ate, and, and we had time as a family, and I always knew, um, you know, he was there, he was there [00:13:00] for us, but I know that my mom was the one who took us to soccer, and, uh, took us to dance, or they, she went to the soccer games, and she did all these things, and I think sometimes we’re, it I mean, I don’t even have kids.
[00:13:14] This is why I think God didn’t give me kids, because it’s like I I can’t separate enough. I’m like, oh, I have to do this. Somebody has to do this. Somebody has to work to be able to pay the mortgage or to do the whatever. And so I have a hard time [00:13:30] separating just that initial need with, hey, it’s really actually more important to go to the soccer game or to Just take the weekend off and go see now.
[00:13:42] I mean, I go, my dad’s probably like, man, your mom would be so mad if she knew she was missing all these weekends that you were here, you know. But but I think about that and I’m like, it’s really hard for me. It’s really hard to keep that priority in line. [00:14:00] Do you have any like how maybe losing your dad helped you to be able to keep that priority tighter?
[00:14:09] Or I just feel like I’m really bad at that.
[00:14:13] Dustin Lee: Yeah, no, I do too. I mean, I was getting that conversation this morning with my wife. I told her, you know, I wish I’d spent more mornings. With him doing things, I can’t believe I didn’t learn my lesson better after two other [00:14:30] kids that had the same thing happen. I had the same regrets about it.
[00:14:33] Um, the reality is it’s hard. Like again, we’re homeowners, right? So you just, you have to do stuff. And, and if you’re doing, if you’re spending that time with them, it’s easy to then tell yourself that it’s irresponsible. I’m, you know, I’m being a poor steward of this gift. My family’s been given through a business.
[00:14:48] I need to provide for them and be responsible for making sure that they have what they need. Then if you come do this, you say, I should be watching them do that. You know, we’re so good as people at, um, [00:15:00] whatever we do, finding a way to feel like it wasn’t the good answer. If I had spent all the time with my kids.
[00:15:06] I would probably be, and something happened with the business, I would be punishing myself about it saying how, what a horrible steward I was of the business, how irresponsible I was. So it’s kind of like either way, you know, I try to remind myself that either way you won’t be pleased, but I do try to remember that business and money and selling Photoshop brushes and doing design don’t matter.
[00:15:28] They really don’t matter, like [00:15:30] they matter in a way, but they don’t matter in the grander scheme of things. And, um, I think as I get older, it really hits me. It just, it really doesn’t matter. I know some people hate that, or they’d say, well, that’s not true. You can’t, you can’t run things that way. But, um, I really feel like money doesn’t matter.
[00:15:46] It’s a dangerous thing that messes with our heads. And I think it’s part of the same balance of things. I. One at one point, it occurred to me, you know, for a long time, I had, I was in debt right before I started retro supply, you know, I kept trying things and I was [00:16:00] really far in debt and that was bad and I didn’t feel good about that and it started retro supply and I have money and savings.
[00:16:05] Now we’re able to pay our house payment and that’s good and it feels good. But when you don’t have it, guess what? You stress about not having it. You make yourself anxious about not having it. When you have the house and you have the things you’re stressed about losing it and stress doesn’t have flavors.
[00:16:23] It kind of feels the same. So, you know what I mean? Every, every problem when it’s removed presents itself [00:16:30] with another problem. And so I try to remind myself and I’m, I’m horrible at it, but I do try to remind myself that what matters is, is these, is your, these kids, your loved ones, like this other stuff.
[00:16:41] It really doesn’t matter. And you’re not going to reach a point where you’re pleased with it. It’ll always present new challenges.
[00:16:47] diane: Yeah, that’s true. We, um, we sometimes, uh, magnetize towards those, like I think, and as designers, I feel like we’re really good at looking at all the ways [00:17:00] the thing could fail, and then we’re trying to.
[00:17:03] Um, make it so that we don’t. So we’re crossing all these T’s and dotting all these I’s so that these things don’t fall apart or so that the client can’t break it or whatever it is. But does that annual report really make or, you know, change the rest of the world? Probably not. I think that, you know, there is there one thing I think about for me with you is.
[00:17:29] You’ve [00:17:30] given people hope in when you talk, when you talk about passive income and creating something and sharing your story, but having, um, you had an idea, you didn’t think that this would make this, um, you know, I think, so the first month in the vintage logo badge kit, I wrote in my notes, you made 827.
[00:17:55] So I loved that you were sharing actual figures. Do you remember this? I did not make [00:18:00] this up.
[00:18:01] Dustin Lee: No, I don’t, but it’s, it’s really, uh, I don’t know, like balances you to hear that because that made my day. Yeah. I’m so excited about that.
[00:18:11] diane: Right. And you, you had this idea, um, that your mom was just creating email addresses and buying things because she felt sorry for you.
[00:18:20] Right. And I think sometimes we are like that. We think it must. Not really be real, and I think sometimes when we get a really [00:18:30] good client job, or I know when I got into grad school, I, this was when we had, um, we had voicemail on the answering machine, you know, and if you deleted it, it was gone and you couldn’t get it back, um, and, or I don’t know.
[00:18:45] But I remember calling the guy John Malinowski back and said, Did you say I did get the internship bit? And he was like, yes. And then he said later, he’s like, when you called and you were confirming, I was like, what did we just [00:19:00] do? We gave, she couldn’t even remember if I said, you know, like, why would I delete it?
[00:19:05] I don’t know, but I guess you just get so excited. So in, in regard, I mean, you’ve had how many products do you think you’ve had since 2019? But since the last time you were on.
[00:19:17] Dustin Lee: Um, well, if you count them for different softwares, uh, versions, uh, probably 60 or 70.
[00:19:26] diane: So I’m, why I’m going to say yes, let’s count them for different, because you have [00:19:30] to make them completely separate for Affinity as you do for Photoshop and, or, um, Illustrator is different than Photoshop if you have, or Procreate or something, I mean, there’s some, I don’t know, I, I don’t make brushes, so I don’t know what the magic happens, but you do have to do other things, it’s not like you just save as Photoshop, save as Affinity, right?
[00:19:54] Dustin Lee: Right, you have to, you have to adjust it for them, and then of course, you know, that’s an important and big part, but you also have [00:20:00] to, you know, make. Artwork and campaigns and all sorts of other things for it.
[00:20:07] diane: Yeah, absolutely. Okay. So what is, and this is number three on our sheet, but, um, and this is kind of what I’ve asked everybody.
[00:20:16] And if you think about if you were in 2015 answering this question, it would have been very different than it is maybe in 2019, but since, since 2019, what’s the biggest hurdle you’ve had to face in your business? [00:20:30] Was it COVID?
[00:20:33] Dustin Lee: That’s funny you say that. Um, no, you know, it wasn’t COVID. COVID actually was really good for the business.
[00:20:40] diane: Yeah, because we were all at home looking for fun things to do or different things to…
[00:20:45] Dustin Lee: Right. I was scared to death when I thought that maybe the business would end overnight. But, um, the business actually overnight, like really increased in sales for the reason you said. People had money, but they didn’t have places to go and, um, they were willing to invest more time.[00:21:00]
[00:21:00] In there in the things they were doing at home. So, um, that definitely wasn’t the challenge. I think the challenge for me has been like, as I has been more internal challenges and challenges with, um, things that I never signed up for that. I wasn’t aware of that happened when you have a business. So when you start, you’re just doing what you do.
[00:21:20] Okay. I want to make brushes. Let’s make brushes. And I like this. Well, when you hire people and you get partners, well, then you’re having to deal with, like. Okay. Interpersonal communications, [00:21:30] delegating, SOPs, uh, standard operating procedures. Um, not to mention you’re dealing with like your own battles of like how much time to spend on things, how much time to spend away from the business.
[00:21:42] Um, so I think that the biggest things have been probably, um, the battle against like what the world expects from you and what you owe to employees or partners. Versus yourself. Well, and it’s
[00:21:56] diane: some, it’s some of that stuff you don’t know you didn’t [00:22:00] know was coming because not that you were, you just didn’t realize, like, um, I think when I had an intern, I had an intern one time, I’ve had lots of interns, but I had an intern one time and she spent four hours on a certificate.
[00:22:17] And I’m like, uh, I’ve just lost money on this. Like, I didn’t know I had to tell you to, um, not spend four hours on a certificate. So, [00:22:30] again, that was stuff I didn’t know to tell, but now, for sure, I say, hey, this should only take you two hours. It’ll take me 15 minutes, but it should, I don’t, if you go to two hours.
[00:22:41] So, is some of that is just the growing pains of, I didn’t realize. I just
[00:22:46] Dustin Lee: didn’t realize. Right. It’s just, um, you don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t know what you know that you’ve, how do you say it when you have other people come on, you don’t, you forget what they don’t know that you do know. You make [00:23:00] assumptions that seem obvious.
[00:23:00] And I kind of had this rule in the business that I would, I would, I’ve told to employees that it was just, Hey, if you’re having trouble making a decision, there’s just two questions ask, does this make us money? Okay. And, or, or, and does this make a customer happy so they’ll want to buy again? Does it build a relationship with them?
[00:23:20] And if, if the answer to either of those is yes, that’s probably the way to go with the thing, right? If it costs us money and it makes the customers happy, that might be [00:23:30] good if it’s a good customer, right? So, but it’s the specific things. Um, people magnify your own deficiencies. When you hire them, so I’m fairly unorganized.
[00:23:42] I don’t use standard operating procedures in my life. So when people would first come on, well, they will learn from you. So then they’ll do you do. So if I’m unorganized in this and you hire three people on and they start doing it, putting files into Dropbox to following your lead. You’ve just tripled the amount of disorganized [00:24:00] files you have.
[00:24:00] So, um, a lot of it was learning to deal with things like that. And yeah, like you can ask people to do things and you give them the wrong instruction. And then, you know, I didn’t clarify that was supposed to be a draft and don’t post that to social media. Let me make a draft for me to see. I may post it to social media.
[00:24:18] Uh, the other day I didn’t check a calendar. We’re doing fright ball, the drawing challenge coming up. We’ve done it. I think it’s our third year doing it. It’s tons of people. Do it right. And we give out freebies and people can win [00:24:30] iPads and Apple pencils and get their work featured. And we have a calendar for it.
[00:24:34] Posted the calendar everywhere, announced it. And then someone was like, Hey, these days don’t line up with the calendar. Well, someone else made the calendar, not me. And I just, you don’t think of it. You just don’t think of looking at it. If someone hands you a calendar, you assume the calendar has the right days.
[00:24:51] Right. And I kept thinking, I was like, how would I have caught that? I don’t know. You know what? I don’t know how to cut it. And I’m sure someone here has the answer. So [00:25:00] writing me if you are someone that’s really good with with that kind of stuff, I would love to talk to you. But those kind of things are challenging and they slowly can add up.
[00:25:07] All those things add up to money.
[00:25:09] diane: Well, so whenever in my business, then I’ve let somebody else have. So you’re either, this is how I think, I think there’s usually, well maybe there’s three ways, I think people are either micromanagers, they are, okay I’ve given it to you, go, right, they give a lot of autonomy, and then things [00:25:30] maybe, maybe they don’t check, or whatever, or there are people who, um, Are really good at giving you lead, but then they’re also good at, um, you don’t have such a short rope, but they, you’re not just totally cut off like the full autonomy and things making mistakes.
[00:25:52] But again, it’s social media. You can fix things, you can change things, and it’s not life or death that the dates were wrong. You know, it’s not like, [00:26:00] I remember I had a, um. One of my students said her boss, after she graduated, her boss, like, yelled the F word at her because they spelled something, they were doing something for Ole Miss, which in the South we say, not O L D, we do O L E, and then M I S, that’s like for University of Mississippi, we call it Ole Miss.
[00:26:24] And so, You know, O L E isn’t a word, so I guess probably spell check [00:26:30] correct, and the dad, the, not the dad, the, that’s what it feels like sometimes at work, the, the boss yelled the F word, and I’m like, oh my gosh, it’s social media, you can like, delete it and put it back, you know? It’s not, um, that’s where these make or break, or having that in your, um, hey Mario, that’s where in, um, your, in your brain, you’re like, This doesn’t really matter, but when you’re so worked up, sometimes those things you’re like, Oh my goodness, you know, [00:27:00] like you, it, I have blown things out of proportion or that boss, uh, that yelled at the student for doing that blew it out of proportion.
[00:27:12] But like, if you’re thinking about the type of boss you would want, you try to be that boss, but that isn’t always the boss that. Like for my students, they need more of a short leash in some classes. They need a long leash in other classes. And then they just need to be reminded of [00:27:30] what they missed if, if it wasn’t.
[00:27:32] And that’s the same way I’ve felt. If you were, when you were working at a bank, obviously it wasn’t a great, you weren’t designing. But, I mean, a micromanager is hard, but it’s hard to find where you are. As a boss, especially if you haven’t had that, um, you haven’t had a lot of trials and, you know, figuring this out or practice doing stuff.
[00:27:58] I don’t know where I’m going with this. [00:28:00] Um, but it is a big hurdle. I guess I’m just trying to, I don’t know. Do you have anything else?
[00:28:07] Dustin Lee: Hopefully most of us have been there, right? Like dealing with people and organization is hard. I guess it’s just hard. I mean, it’s hard to run a business. That’s why there’s so few great businesses.
[00:28:17] Like it’s hard. To organize everything and make everything run smoothly. There’s a lot of things to think about. It’s hard to please everybody. Yeah. And that’s why, like, we’re so appreciative when we see great businesses, [00:28:30] right? Like, I really am astounded sometimes. You see, I see a great business and I’m just like, wow, to be that consistent.
[00:28:37] For instance, Disneyland turned our kids to Disneyland the other year. Now, Disneyland is evil. Some people say, right? Disneyland gouges people for money. It costs too much. It’s spreading propaganda. That’s like making us all into like, I don’t know, like crazy liberals or crazy conservatives, whichever one it is for you.
[00:28:53] Right? But like, when we went there at the end of the day, like, I was like, wow, I [00:29:00] understand why they’re so successful in many ways. I was like, because we came here and they delivered the promise and it’s a hard promise to deliver. Everything was ready when we wanted it. Everything was clean. Did they charge a lot?
[00:29:10] Yeah, they charged a lot. But, there was always someone to help you. When they said they’d do something, they did it. When they said you’d go to the front of the line if you paid for this pass, you went to the front of the line. When they said you’d get your picture with the princesses, you got your picture with the princesses.
[00:29:23] And in the time they said you would! And you’re just like, wow! Like, it’s hard! Now, granted, they have billions, a [00:29:30] bazillion dollars, and millions of, uh, or not millions. probably hundreds of thousands of people to help make that happen. But I think that’s why we appreciate it when someone does, because it’s hard to organize a business in that manner, whether it be a one person show or a big business.
[00:29:43] diane: But it’s, it’s hard as an employee in one of those, you know what you’re supposed to do and your job title is smaller, maybe, or your job. Not title, but your description, like what you have to do, like they are like focus on this, you’re gonna let people in [00:30:00] this ride, you know, you’re gonna keep sending the people on the ride, sending the people on the ride.
[00:30:06] Um, but I think sometimes when you have a smaller business, it’s hard. I tend to be like, it’s hard for me to let go of something because I have a hard time trusting people. To really do make the right choice or with Ashley. She always, I never even, I had people before Ashley, [00:30:30] Ashley did her job so well that it was like, it was, I never thought about what Ashley did and Chris Martin does all my, uh, Uh, so I don’t ever even, I don’t really listen to the podcast.
[00:30:44] I don’t check it to make sure he cut things out. I just, I trust that he’s doing it. And so, but that’s two people, like out of all the people that I’ve had, I, I feel it’s hard to me and [00:31:00] there’s a lot, I think for you, for anybody who’s owning their own business or you’re growing, that’s a big. Because the other, so there are going to be people who are, and me and you have talked about this, there are going to be employees that are, they just want to, um, when I worked at the magazine in Colorado, I was like, I felt, I felt ownership over it.
[00:31:27] Even though I, I mean, I was making. [00:31:30] But I felt like there was a lot of collaboration with me and the editor and the other designers and it was just really fun and we got to make things and I felt like My, I was part of something and that was really important, but I don’t know if there’s a lot of employees like that so much.
[00:31:50] I don’t know. I don’t have any employees, but, um, but when I think about how do you make that, how do you find those people [00:32:00] compared to just somebody who’s like clocking in, clocking out? Doing, doing the, you know, turning the ride on, turning the ride off. You know, I think at Disney, they’re like, they’re like infused with some sort of joy drug or something, you know, like they’re, I mean, I know that they do pay their people, but pretty, pretty well, even if they’re just turning the ride on and off, you know?
[00:32:22] Dustin Lee: Right. I think they have really specific expectations for them. Um, you know, I always think that classic [00:32:30] one that if a princess, for instance, sees trash. She’s not allowed to bend over to pick it up. She has to swoop because princesses don’t bend over. They swoop, you know, and, and the fact that I think they have all those details really, really helps, you know, and instead of being vague, and it’s probably a good thing to apply, I think in, in any business is the more specific.
[00:32:48] You can say how something needs to be done. Um, the more you can create habits out of it, where it’s the same thing over and over. Um, it’s easier to get people to do things. Um, the problems I think are [00:33:00] tricky when like in, in my business, in retro supply, there’s a lot of times when. There’s creative, like for instance, we’re releasing this like brand new kind of a revamped thing from years ago.
[00:33:11] That’s like create some vintage printing press effects and no one’s really done it before. There’s not like a system to go by. We can’t look at a system of how we did it. So you have to it. Look at what everyone else is doing, look at the old stuff, then you try making some actions, and you try making some templates, then you try scanning some [00:33:30] textures, and then you look and compare, and then you have conversations about how do you do this, how, what doesn’t look right about it, why doesn’t it look right, what is on August Not authentic, where can, where is it okay for it to not truly be authentic and it’s a bunch of improvising.
[00:33:44] It’s people sitting around improvising ideas. How would we do that? And that part, I don’t think you can really train super well. I think you can encourage people to do it, but I think it In my experience, some people just have the ability to do that. And some people don’t, some people, um, [00:34:00] they just, they miss things where they go off the mark often, or they can’t emphasize, empathize with the position of a business.
[00:34:09] Um, for instance, I think it’s a common thing for, in a business for the owner to think about the bottom line and about the survival of the business. And it’s easy for, I think, employees. To think about, um, what would be really cool, you know, which is good. You want both, but you, you have to pay attention to what would make, what makes money.
[00:34:28] For instance, um, we’ve had [00:34:30] conversations and civilly economy is bad. You know, maybe we should lower prices for people because the economy is bad. Well, that’s true, but the economy is bad for us too. You know, we pay bills and we live in the same world. Everyone else does. So you’re like, yeah, that makes sense.
[00:34:42] Anyways. It’s tricky. It’s amazingly tricky. Yeah, I think
[00:34:47] diane: sometimes, so my friend who’s in Portland, she has a design firm, Carina. She’s been on the show before. Carina, um, had, uh, two full time designers. And during COVID, [00:35:00] she kept or took on a client that wasn’t ideal. And she kept that client because she wanted to be able to pay.
[00:35:09] She didn’t want to have to let her people go. Not, not only because she loved her people. That’s awesome. But part of it was that there is so much that goes into training. Right. But she took the yucky thing and she did. And I think when the economy is bad, bad, you have to kind of like, well, I’m going to do this.
[00:35:28] So that [00:35:30] certain, you know, like. You some people I know there are businesses that are like, hey, we lost a client. See y’all. Goodbye You know, like they just they they’re they let people go and take on people and it it’s a whim You really don’t know why you lost the client why your company lost the client because you’re it’s above your pay grade or something But it can be super stressful and I know for me like I wouldn’t that’s something that I I wouldn’t want to work I’d rather work for somebody like Karina who’s gonna [00:36:00] She might not have even told the people, her, you know, staff that she was taking on this, this yucky thing so that they could keep on.
[00:36:08] And I think sometimes that happens, and we just have to decide as an owner what we’re going to do. And then. And we just have to stick to it. It’s just hard. Absolutely. Okay, so talking about new products, moving on to number four here. Um, so new products and new ideas. So how do you come up with things? [00:36:30] And if you can’t tell us, you can just say rooster and we’ll move on.
[00:36:34] Um, new products or new ideas or new ways to sell, um, products because I think that stuff mean you are always talking about is like, Things aren’t working like they did before. So now you have to adjust and explore. You’re always exploring. Marketing is just a whole bunch of exploration.
[00:36:56] Dustin Lee: Yeah. Um, well [00:37:00] we do a lot of, anyone who’s on our email list knows we do a lot of surveys, we send a lot of surveys to people and we get a lot of feedback.
[00:37:05] So when you purchase something, you’re asked for a review and we, of course, read all the reviews. We send out surveys probably two or three times a year. Um, typically targeting, um, our best customers. Um, and what I mean by that is customers that like maybe repeat purchase have given us good reviews, people that we please.
[00:37:27] We want to know who are the people that we please. So we can do more of [00:37:30] that stuff for them as opposed to maybe the person that buys 1 time never comes back wasn’t happy. So we listened to a lot of that and and you’ll typically find. So you might find a bunch of your people are really into, uh, Archie comics.
[00:37:45] You know, they’re really into that. So, okay, then you start looking at you. You just ask if you ask him enough questions about their problems, they start coming up a lot and things like chat GPT have made it even easier. So something we’ve started doing is we’ll get questions that people ask [00:38:00] in. Um, I don’t say I think the sensitive subject, right?
[00:38:02] But like,
[00:38:02] diane: Oh, no, I know. That’s good. Let’s use
[00:38:05] Dustin Lee: it. So we’ll get like the survey information and like, at one point, like, put it in and say, like, and this doesn’t have personal information. It’s just the answers. And we’ll say, what trends are we seeing? And, and it, and it will go through and tell you, what do people do?
[00:38:19] Like, what are they interested in? Um, what are the commonalities and the things they like? And so that’s one way you also have hunches. You kind of like know from selling products, which ones will do well. I can take a pretty good guess at how well [00:38:30] a product will do purely based on what it is from experience.
[00:38:33] Um, and then getting new people to buy. That’s tricky. You know, I think, uh, I really relied on my email list a lot, but I think that. Um, I should take more advantage of things like reels or I haven’t gotten on threads, but assuming threads, you know, the business model for social media is to deliver lots of free traffic to people until they’re essentially addicted to it and then start charging them to get [00:39:00] access to those people again.
[00:39:01] So, I think leveraging whatever the social media is, is a great way to get in front of people. And I think you have to just freshen things up. Sometimes you have to change covers to go with the trends. Sometimes you have to adjust the product to go with the trends. Sometimes you just have to, um, try to get the average order value higher.
[00:39:17] So, for instance, it’s hard to get someone to a site. It’s hard to get them to put something in a cart. It’s hard to get them to pull out their credit card or put in their code and make a transaction. So when you do, try to make sure they understand everything they could [00:39:30] get, what an upsell to something that they save money and get more for the price.
[00:39:36] Um, it’s a lot of trying different things and most things fail and every so often something works strangely, shockingly good. Um, trying to think of one that blew my mind that worked really well. Um, you know, one thing that works well that you can’t really emulate, but it’s shocking to me is one time, this happens every couple years, one time I’ll [00:40:00] work on, I’ll work on an email for five hours.
[00:40:02] We’re going to see mom crafting it. We’re going to have a special on our phantom paper and our paper texture packs. Right. We’re going to do 30 percent off, um, these packs and spend four or five hours doing it. Trying to get the email, right. Trying to make it look good. Trying to make it as good as my competitors, make their emails look right.
[00:40:19] And send it to my team and they all test the links. So it’s all good. We check it on, you know, phones and different things. Okay. We send it out. Um, and then someone [00:40:30] writes in, in five minutes. Here you said it was 40 percent off, and here you said it was 30 percent off. Which one is it?
[00:40:38] diane: 70? Is it 70? Add them together.
[00:40:41] Dustin Lee: Yeah, right. It said 30 and 40. We had, we had done it
[00:40:44] diane: wrong. And so then how do you, what do you
[00:40:46] Dustin Lee: do with that? Well, that’s where these kind of unintuitive things come in. So then I didn’t have time. I was out of time. And so in 15 minutes, I wrote up just a plain text email and said, I messed up. I did the price, these two different prices.[00:41:00]
[00:41:00] I’m going to honor the higher price for you. It’s 40 percent off. Um, go grab it. It’s going to last just as long are bad. I think that’s like the subject line was something like are bad or like, Hey, I can’t believe I did this. And that email brought in 20 times what the 1 I spent 5 hours on was. So sometimes you stumble across things like all of a sudden you’re like, oh, wow, like people don’t care sometimes how pretty the email is.
[00:41:26] They just want you to be authentic and people wrote in saying, wow, I really appreciate that [00:41:30] you wanted that price. You know, some people try to like, you know, try to squirm their way out of that. So, um, that’s how things come up. A lot of times you put something out into the world and you don’t expect it and you’re like, oh, interesting.
[00:41:41] That’s. People responded and you try to do more of it.
[00:41:46] diane: So then, like, deciding three years ago to do Fright Fest? Is that what you’re, you call it? The thing in October? I don’t know. I couldn’t, you know, I don’t have a good ear, so I heard it [00:42:00] as Fright Fest. Is that not what
[00:42:04] Dustin Lee: it’s called? Frightful. I’m going to really, Joe Barone said, would that be a new strategy?
[00:42:10] Messing up on an email? No, that’s not a new strategy, but the lessons you can learn, create the new strategy. So you see that. And then maybe you write more emails that are plain text emails more. Maybe you would just make them more straight into the point and honest about what’s going on. Um, so that’s what you take from it.
[00:42:27] And that’s how you come up with new strategies. Things like that [00:42:30] happen that you think are disasters turn out to, to shed lights on little, little areas of opportunity. Well, and it’s
[00:42:36] diane: also, you spent five hours on something and then you spent 15 minutes. So maybe if you just did more of the 15 minutes, it, it actually produced more than what the one before, maybe.
[00:42:51] Dustin Lee: Right. So that, that’s how you discover things all the time. Something happens and you know, like all famous, like there’s so many stories of inventions that were accidents, right? Like. Sometimes you come up [00:43:00] with new ideas that work well by making a mistake.
[00:43:02] diane: Absolutely. Okay, so, um, I want you to tell about, um, the conference that this, I think it was in the fall, last fall, um, in October, y’all went to And you were one of the, I don’t, were you one of the, uh, sponsor people?
[00:43:24] Dustin Lee: Yeah. We were the sponsor for, um, creative works in, um, Tennessee, [00:43:30] which is a really beautiful place and everybody.
[00:43:32] diane: So then the situation was you were standing at the end, uh, of everybody was packing bags and they were, or they were getting bags or something. And you just decided you want to tell them this story.
[00:43:47] Dustin Lee: Yeah, um, so they, you know, as you know, if you’ve been to a conference when you get there and Diane knows because she’s done lots of this stuff very kindly for Creative South and different conferences. And, um, do you do such a good job on it? But, um, there’s [00:44:00] typically you show your ticket and they give you your lanyard and.
[00:44:03] Lots of times they give you a shirt, they give you a little goodie bag. And so we had made up like just a bunch of, um, a bunch of buttons, like in little button packs. And some of them were made by Lincoln design somewhere by us. And they’d have little pictures of our products are just fun ones to have.
[00:44:17] And you could pick your button pack and they were, they told us. Hey, you know, here’s the bags, you know, you can give them to us and we can put in the bags. And, um, I just, you know, I just was thinking to myself. I was like, when I get these [00:44:30] things in bags, they might not ever come into that of the bag. They might sit in that bag in my hotel room and then they get onto the airplane with me and then I bring them home.
[00:44:36] And I think that 1 of the bags is like, somewhere around there. I don’t know that I ever put my hand into that thing, you know? And so I thought, man, you know, this, this could be an opportunity for everyone that passes by, we can hand it to and have a conversation with. And so, um, that’s what we did is just every person that came by, we would kind of tell them about, here’s what the pins are and, um, what do you do?[00:45:00]
[00:45:00] Would you like this one? Do you not like this one? Or we make a joke like, Hey, you know, like, be careful what you pick, you know, this like says a lot about who you are, like, you know, um, but. The dot just being that
[00:45:13] businesses are run one on one right at the end of the day, like everything is person to person. Now, I don’t know how, how good that did. You know, there was no way that I have to say that someone picking that helped, but I do know they remember me better because that passed their hand. And I do know that they know that it cost me practically nothing to give him a pin, [00:45:30] but it cost me my time and my attention to talk to them.
[00:45:33] And And I think that when we get something that we know really is of value in that way, it matters. So who knows, but it was nice. I got to meet a ton of people really fast and met some partners through it and makes you feel good to see
[00:45:46] diane: people. So and I’ve been on the other side and I’m not going to say who the person was.
[00:45:50] Um, I know I’ve told you who the person was, but I remember at Creative South, it was somebody who I had bought a lot of their stuff. This was before I knew you. And um, [00:46:00] I said, Oh my gosh, you know, I’m checking them in their ID. I said, Oh, my gosh, I buy your stuff and they’re like, Can I just have my I. D.
[00:46:09] back? And I was like, Oh, okay, I remember that person. I know I remembered you would. But one thing I love about Dustin is that at a conference, I think this was a really good kind of old school way of being a face instead of just a business, you know, a business without a face. You [00:46:30] actually were, were, were really.
[00:46:34] You got to be a person. And then one of the things I love is when I have seen you do this, you somebody comes up to you and they do what I did to that guy and they say, oh my gosh, I love your. Dustin will pull out his phone and be like, Oh my gosh, let me show you this. This is my kid’s bike. You bought this bike.
[00:46:56] You know, it may not have been all one person buying the bike. [00:47:00] Right. But you feel like they have a invest. And I think this is a mindset that if we take this on and we help people be part of that success that we. It is, that is a great tactic, I think, um, Tim Frame says, I bought that bike, um, no it wasn’t, it wasn’t Draplin, um, this person, I don’t know what they’re doing anymore, like, uh, after, I mean, I don’t, I don’t know if this person’s even selling, uh, [00:47:30] brushes anymore, but, but to me, you, you bringing them into, And you asking questions about them, what do they make?
[00:47:39] And I think that as retro supply in social media has a really big presence, they’ve bid, they’ve, they’re. They’re there. They respond. They, the community, you’ve built a community. And I think that there’s, um, there’s something special there. It’s hard to build a community. I think that you’ve done a really good [00:48:00] job, but it’s like, um, you just, people forget that you’re a person and that you, um, but you as a business, don’t just look at them like a wallet.
[00:48:12] You look at us as, Um, people that are helping you to live the life that you’re living and, and helping your kids to have bikes and it’s just, and I remember you had an email one time where, when you finally, um, Uh, I think you had a Honda [00:48:30] and you finally a Toyota and you finally were like, we go and you just you shared that.
[00:48:36] And I think that that again is a, um, I think that’s a really good
[00:48:43] Dustin Lee: way to I told them I was having a sale and I said, let me show you why I’m having a sale because our car had broken down. And so I sent a picture of ours and we had, you know, a little daughter and the car broken down and we finally. And I was like, here’s the car.
[00:48:57] I was like, here’s why we’re having the sale. Because, and it’s [00:49:00] not to be like, buy for me because like my car broke down. I need help. It’s just to add some context, like human context. I’ve noticed that whenever you do that, people respond way better. Um, as you know, people can sniff BS and I, and we deal at dish out BS in the email, just like everyone does.
[00:49:16] But I mean, when you tell personal stories, it really helps and, um, and it makes it more meaningful, but can I show you something real special that’s reminding me of, yeah,
[00:49:28] so we got [00:49:30] this, um, The other day from Shopify, that’s where we sell our stuff through. And, um,
[00:49:41] this just was really special. This was just really special to me. You know, when you own a business, you don’t get a lot of like accolades, accolades really, right? But this came from Shopify. It’s kind of hard to see this. Let me see if I can. There. We
[00:49:53] diane: see it now. You did tell me about this. I’m glad Dave says he’s glad you were [00:50:00] wearing pants.
[00:50:01] Dustin Lee: Oh, yeah, yeah. I don’t always, um, but you see what it says there. It says retro supply 100, 000 orders. Now, what’s special about it is that’s not, um, 100, 000 orders. Actually, it’s 100, 000 people. So the only way more than 100, 000 orders. That’s 100, 000 individual people. And that’s the thing I think about is I’m like, I live my life because A hundred thousand individual people [00:50:30] decided to vote for us and buy something.
[00:50:35] I don’t think of that as us. I mean, I think of that as people, people like, we’re like, you know, like, I’ll put my trust in you. I’ll buy this. Like, I could do this on my own. I could make these brushes on my own. I could make this texture on my own. I like you. I like the idea of doing that. I think this is fun.
[00:50:49] And I think it’s like seeing that meant a lot to me, not because. Of me, maybe because of my employees. Yeah. Thank you. You know, they helped to make that happen for sure. But thanks to [00:51:00] people, 100, 000 people. That’s a lot of people. I didn’t think that 100, 000 people would ever hear about anything I did. You know what I mean?
[00:51:08] So it just means a lot. And so to anybody here that’s like said anything about us, that’s like something on social that’s bought something, you know, thank you. Everybody here, not everybody, but lots of people here. I recognize their names. Jason’s going to be on tonight on the thing we’re doing tonight.
[00:51:25] Dave, Dave was so cool. He came and met me in [00:51:30] Portland. He said, you know what? I want to show you my support so much for this business. I’m going to take you to the Apple store with me and I’m buying an iPad and I’m buying the iPad so I can use your brushes on it because I love your business so much. And I went into the Apple store with him and watched him buy it.
[00:51:45] And you know, Amy Lyons, every single thing we’ve ever done, she supports it. Um, Lenny’s not here, but one time someone was saying, Oh, it’s just a cash grab. You guys are doing a community. You’re just trying to make cash off of it. Lenny Trenzi pops up and is like, Hey, you need to get out of [00:52:00] here. And you know, you need to shut up because like, you know what you’re talking about?
[00:52:03] Like they make all this stuff and I’m joining the community right now. And then by the way, Dave popped in and was like, yeah, you need to get out of here before like you get yourself hurt. And I’m joining the community too. Like, yeah. How great is that? You know, like, man, like people, I don’t know. I feel like I’ve gotten like more like kindness and like support from people than I, than I deserve.
[00:52:21] Like it’s. It’s really cool, man.
[00:52:23] diane: It’s really cool. Also, even on the other side, uh, with Shopify, Shopify didn’t have to give you a [00:52:30] silver, what, it’s not a purse, it’s a shopping bag, silver shopping bag. Silver purse, yeah. But on the other side, it’s like, And you do stuff like this too, like you will reward your best customers or you will, um, I mean, there are just things that if people are tuned in, they can, they get, they feel the love.
[00:52:57] And I think that sometimes as. [00:53:00] We are. We just want to be recognized. So they’re Jason Karn in here or Amy Lyons or Dave or whoever is done something. It makes a difference, um, that you use it and love it and that you tell people about it. And I think that if there was something, Amy Lyons, let’s say Amy’s like, Hmm, Dustin, I think that there’s a glitch here.
[00:53:24] You would rather her tell you about a glitch so that you can fix it. And [00:53:30] that’s her being a real friend. And they, that’s the thing about for me with retro supply is that it feels, it feels real. It does feel like you actually listen. And I think that that to me is one of the differences in all the other businesses.
[00:53:44] It doesn’t, it doesn’t feel real. And that’s why when you said that y’all did this, um, at that conference, that was so, uh, on brand for y’all to me that was, Really that it’s like how can we [00:54:00] find the things that we, that really are what we value and how can we do more of those things? If something feels like a cash cow or something feels slimy, we shouldn’t do it.
[00:54:11] You know, even if it’s something that we’ve seen work for other people. If it’s not, uh, I don’t know. I think that you do a really good job of. Figuring out what those are, maybe they’re by chance, you know, that it happens. But I think you’ve done a really good job of being just authentic. Well,
[00:54:28] Dustin Lee: I come from a copywriting [00:54:30] background, and that’s what I learned.
[00:54:31] And, um, a lot of that is, they tell you, they give, they tell you certain guidelines about that, right? And that’s something for everybody. Like, I know, like, if you guys are like me, you’re worried about, like, AI to some degree, whether it be for ChadGBT and it taking jobs or taking over the world, or whether it be all these other things, you know, taking your work and turning it into other things.
[00:54:51] Yeah. Oh, that’s bad. And I don’t know, I don’t know what to do about some of that stuff. There’s some great stuff about it too. Right. But like they can’t care about people. It can’t [00:55:00] make something because it mixed together. This person meant something in this person, that connection. And no one, people might want to buy art.
[00:55:08] Like they get from target and put it on their wall. That was made by some AI program. But when Lydia, you know, makes a stained glass piece.
[00:55:19] I want it because it’s from her hands and because I know the story behind it. I think that’s the thing that like we just need to like lean into more as all this stuff happens is being like, hey, you can’t have feelings. I can have feelings and [00:55:30] stories and it doesn’t matter how well you replicate the feeling or story.
[00:55:33] I have the feeling or story. And uh, And that really matters. And let me add one more thing, but I think why this what’s really cool about the business, because I don’t do a good job of marketing this, I think, and I wish I did a better job is that we have 3 full time people. So, we sell brushes, right? It’d be easy to make the brushes and then, I don’t know, go live on a beach or do whatever and lots of people do and that’s fine and good for them.
[00:55:56] I’m not saying it’s not okay to do that, but we have a [00:56:00] full time community person. If you write in with a question about a product. They’re an artist, they work, they publish stuff, they do books, and they’re going to answer you. And if it’s a business day, they’re going to answer you the same day. We have Suzanne, who’s been with me for seven years, and who has made tons of the products, who lives and breathes the products, and cares, and every day is working on it.
[00:56:21] You don’t see it, you go look at the site, it’ll look the same for… 3060 days, you can’t really tell the difference, but there’s people that are there working on things are making [00:56:30] products are making updates. They’re answering emails. If you have a problem with the product, and it’s supporting people that are creatives, not to mention, like, 25 plus different contractors, um, and another, probably 50 partners.
[00:56:42] So lots of people, this is a family type business. There’s lots of people working on stuff. And I think that’s neat because you don’t see that very often and you could write it in and be like, Hey, give me some recommendations. Let’s talk. And they’ll give you recommendations. Where else are you going to do that?
[00:56:56] Right. It’s, it’s neat. [00:57:00]
[00:57:00] diane: Matt Wood has two questions. One being married to any business over time can take a toll and wear you out. What is still feeding you and keeping you fresh?
[00:57:10] Dustin Lee: Um, yeah, it is wearing me out, to be honest. Um, man, man, that’s such a good question. I don’t know if I have the right answer to that.
[00:57:20] I think that, I think that what makes like businesses and all artists successful, and I think everyone here probably knows this feeling, is that you have your [00:57:30] ups and you have your downs. Sometimes I get up and I do this and I’m just like, why am I doing this? It seems like no matter what I do, I’ve hit a brick wall.
[00:57:36] I can’t make any more. One time I went to a conference and the time I was gone, we made the same amount of money as when I’m working. Felt like some guy like tapping on a keyboard thinking that it’s making him money and it turns out I could have just been laying on the couch, but I think like the thing is, we all know that like every so often you have exciting breakthroughs.
[00:57:50] Like we’re about to release this new printing press pack. I hope a lot of people buy it, like, not just because I want to make money, but because like, we work really hard and it feels [00:58:00] good when people buy something and then they write you and say, now that was nice. I really liked that. Or they feel like every piece of art I can put through this.
[00:58:07] And it’s like, I got a whole new thing real quick that I could do with it. So I think that’s what keeps me going is those little bit or those big bursts of excitement when something great happens. That’s what keeps you going. Well, cause you’re helping employees and your
[00:58:22] diane: partners. And you’re helping people.
[00:58:24] They’ve, they didn’t know they needed this or they were having to do so many steps and now they [00:58:30] don’t have to, because now you’ve made it quicker or faster or better. Now they can get what they were trying to achieve, um, better or faster than they were. I think sometimes it’s like, hey, that was a really good sandwich.
[00:58:45] How often do we tell people who made our… My husband never says… If, if nothing is wrong… I mean, like the other day I made chicken wings and he was like, he always tells me I’ve done it wrong. And so he didn’t say [00:59:00] anything. And so I was like, uh, how were the chicken wings? And he’s like, they were good. They were fine.
[00:59:05] They were better than normal. I was like, maybe you could tell me, you know, all right, Matt, one other question, but I think we just need to, it’s important for you to hear it from the customers, what’s working and what’s not. But we often will tell what’s not working instead of, Hey, I really liked this. And I think it’s about cheerleading me and Dave, Dave talked about that a lot.
[00:59:28] So. Matt’s [00:59:30] other question is, is there anything new or different that seems way out there that you’d love to integrate or explore that you could end up being and that could end up being an evolution of your business?
[00:59:42] Dustin Lee: Yeah, I’ve been really, really thinking about that really hard, honestly. Um, I wish I could hang out with all of you guys for like another hour and just like.
[00:59:52] Watch this chat feed and see like brainstorm things for all of our businesses, because I think there is something I [01:00:00] don’t know what it is, though. You know what? You know what I think it is is I think that because the AI stuff is becoming such a strong thing, I think that, um, my theory is and let’s check back on this a couple of years and see if I’m right.
[01:00:14] My theory is that we’re going to start to value things that we can verify as being made by people. And that’s going to become valuable because the supply and demand, right? The supply of AI created stuff is going to get so high that if you can trace something digitally and know that it was made [01:00:30] by a person, you’re going to value it.
[01:00:31] And, um, for my own business, I don’t know if that looks like, you know, we have a paid community. I don’t know if that looks like expanding out the paid community. I don’t know if that looks like, um, you know, being that we are retro supply, there’s the opportunity to really push back. On the AI stuff and be like, we really care about these individual things.
[01:00:52] Let’s, let’s help people teach people to make individual things and become themselves and make things that they take pride in the fact that they can’t [01:01:00] be duplicated infinitely. I think maybe it’s in teaching or making things in small batches. And I’m excited about that. Most of it for a long time, we’ve been on this thing of ramping up what we can create and how quickly we can scale it.
[01:01:10] I think it’s exciting to think of maybe what kind of products could you make for people that there’s only so many, there’s a limited quantity of. Or that helps them make things of limited quantity and appreciate and like care about what they’re doing more. You know what I mean? Yeah. Um, not super articulate cause I don’t know exactly what that looks like, but boy, man, those are good questions, man.
[01:01:29] diane: [01:01:30] But you just gotta, you gotta dream. So Neil says the retro supply gouache brush has touched every one of my illustrations over the last few years. I love it.
[01:01:39] Dustin Lee: Oh, man, that’s awesome. I know. Yes. I’ll see stuff in like shows or on packaging and stuff and I’ll, I’ll look in the book and you’ll, you know, it says you have your little note, it says, I wish they put the illustrator’s name on the front of books, but sometimes they put it in little letters on the back or on the side of something and I’ll look and sometimes I’ll recognize like one of these names.
[01:01:56] And I’ll be like, I’ll look more and I’ll be like, I think they are a customer and [01:02:00] you see, and then I’ll tell my kids who think I’m crazy. Well, actually, I think it’s pretty cool. I’ll be like, see that texture. I think that’s from daddy’s store. I call it our store, our family store. I think that’s from our store.
[01:02:10] Right. And it’s pretty neat because God knows where it is, but it’s so many places and it’s so cool that it’s in so many people’s hands and they’re doing that.
[01:02:17] diane: Yeah. I love that. Okay. So we are going to wrap up. I’m sorry. We’re a little over. I do want to remind everybody until the end of the year, at least, um, Julie Reed, Doc Reed was on last week, [01:02:30] um, Dustin’s friends with Doc too, so we are, um, we have a GoFundMe, um, Julie has cancer again and she would like to do a different kind of treatment and, uh, unfortunately different kinds of treatment aren’t always Covered.
[01:02:47] And so, um, they’re raising money so that Julie can do the treatment that she wants. And if you want to read about it, you can click on this gofundme. com slash F, the letter, and then save [01:03:00] hyphen the hyphen ta, hyphen ta, T A S is the last one, hyphen again. So, unfortunately, this one’s a, that we have two rounds.
[01:03:11] She’s a mom of four little girls and I just want to help her. So any little bit that you can give is helpful. Um, um, and I’m just going to talk about it every week. So, and. I just want everybody to know it’s in the chat. If you are watching, it’s going to be right above Dustin’s [01:03:30] links. But if you are interested in finding out more about RetroSupply or about, um, seeing what kind of brushes, there are honestly so many things, tools you can use in different ways.
[01:03:43] The book that I made, um, I used all RetroSupply brushes. It looks different in different hands. Everybody who makes things, we don’t all draw the same. So, these brushes, um, it’s gonna look different when you draw with it. So, it’s [01:04:00] RetroSupply. com, I think if you type com, it’ll get there also, right?
[01:04:06] Dustin Lee: It’s com, but you could type com and get
[01:04:08] diane: there too.
[01:04:08] Yeah, yeah. And then on Instagram, it’s just Instagram. com slash, slash. Retro supply. So, um, Dustin, we, um. We didn’t get to everything. Um, I was trying to see if there was, oh, here, one last question. Looking back, um, have you ever found or realized a new superpower that you weren’t aware of [01:04:30] before? Resilience.
[01:04:34] Dustin Lee: Ooh. You know, or, you know, like they say, uh, what would you tell yourself 10 years ago? I found every time I ask myself that when 10 years has gone by that I should have gone back and said everything is going to be fine. Hmm. That’s probably what I’ve discovered is, hey, all sorts of things happen. And, uh, who is it?
[01:04:51] Someone said, uh, I think it was Marcus Aurelius, who said like most of the things I worried about never happened. Lots of people have said it, but boy, that’s one [01:05:00] thing I’ve learned is you’ll get through just about
[01:05:01] diane: everything. Well, we will. And thank you for being Hope and thank you for being a good friend to me.
[01:05:09] And I can’t wait for this new pack. You should do something. You called it a printing press pack. Is that what you said? You should do something with PPP or alliterations, because all the P’s, because it’s a little bit hard to say, like, Peter Piper picked the peck of, whatever, the Peter Piper printed with the, [01:05:30] whatever.
[01:05:32] Anyway, you could do something silly. Um. And it’s, it’s nice that so many people, um, you know, we’re here and just thank you guys for coming and showing up. And Jason Karn, you better go get your dogs from the groomer. Uh, what’s next for you? So this printing pack, when can we expect to see it? And what, and really you can get on RetroSupply.
[01:05:53] co and a pop up will come up so you can get on your mailing list, right?
[01:05:58] Dustin Lee: Yeah, and get 20 percent off. We also [01:06:00] have a drawing challenge of October. If you’re into drawing challenges, raise your hand or send me a little bat emoji. Um, we, we really work on it really hard. It’s a hugely popular event. We’ve had, uh, thousands and thousands and thousands of people participate, have lots of fun prizes.
[01:06:13] If you go to Instagram, you can click on our little link and bio and sign up and we’ll have 31 days of fun little prompts to do. Plus we give you some goodies to be a part of it. Um, and then that new pack coming out is going to come out probably next week, honestly. Yeah. Okay. I’ve never seen anybody work on actions for months.
[01:06:29] We’ve [01:06:30] worked on actions for months. We must have 300 hours behind this action.
[01:06:35] diane: So you want it to work for people?
[01:06:37] Dustin Lee: Oh yeah. It works good. It works really good. I’m excited.
[01:06:41] diane: Well, I can’t wait to see it. Dave has his hand up. I’m not sure if he wants to come on, but, um, RetroSupply. co.[01:07:00]