I had the pleasure of interviewing Mikey Wu is a passionate individual who has lived his life in a carefree manner since a young age. He calls the world his playground because he’s able to connect with people through the businesses he builds. Mikey enjoys different cultures, people, and experiences. With his latest marble fashion accessory company, MIKOL, he’s able to really express himself and his ideals through the brand. Natural marble is luxurious, beautiful, and unique due to its characteristics and ever-changing patterning. At the same time, these characteristics may not appeal to everyone just as Mikey’s free-spirited mind may not suit societal norms of being an “adult.” So, he finds people that share his philosophy of beauty and life.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Being curious and always looking for an adventure brought me to my current career path. After college, I went to China to explore opportunities as everyone said it was a “sleeping giant”. Unfortunately, for me, it wasn’t as everyone said it to be and I didn’t receive the success I wanted. Several trial and errors led me to work with a Canadian marble quarry. Long story short, I would gain some momentum and success and then we would hit a wall. There is no story without a struggle, and it is because of each obstacle that forced me to find a new path. Working with exclusive quarries to innovative technology to brand strategy. The internet exposed all the hidden gems, and in our industry, the technology was too advanced to be accepted. Therefore, it lead me to build a lifestyle accessory brand in order to raise awareness directly with consumers. All I knew was manufacturing. Building a retail brand was completely new and I had to start from the beginning. Since it was a new startup, it forced me to learn everything all over again. PR marketing, influencer marketing, web design, SEO, all this was new and had to improvise fast!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
The most interesting story is a family member saw our initial success and tried to copy the same exact products. It was upsetting at first, but looking back it was a good laugh. It does show that it’s more than just the product. It’s the entire brand experience that customers want.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Funniest thing that happened when I first started was I underestimated the power of the internet. I was so used to B2B business and how long it took, I didn’t think there would be much consequences uploading products, building a site and social media. I thought I get the ground work ready so I have something to present. But not too long after, orders started coming in and we didn’t even have a product ready! It was just a prototype! So we had to scramble and spend extra money to make a few pieces to fulfill these orders and keep our first customers happy. The lesson is to always be prepared and watch over every detail! Details matter a lot!
How did you scale your business to profitability? How long did it take? Please share the steps you took.
What really helped generate sales was getting good press, social media and influencer marketing. We were pretty lucky that it only took us about 6 months to profitability.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Most exciting project was building our company. Our thin stone technology was almost unheard of and we had sooooo many people doubting it was real marble or that it’s possible to produce that thin. Slowly educating the mass was very rewarding. Aside from our own project, collaborating with other bigger companies which I’m not allowed to mention. But to name a couple products that we incorporated our marble were air purifiers and cameras. It’s exciting to take such a traditional business outside and be the pioneers of it. And from a PR perspective, you need not just a good product, but also something unique. Building products outside traditional realm is definitely an attention grabber.
Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to young people considering a career in PR?
It’s become easier now because we have a network already and over time we’ve built friendship with journalists which is very very very important. For young people starting off, the best advice is to be different. Don’t be afraid to be whacky and weird! PR should be fun! Readers want to be enticed by something, so give it to them.
I like the author Seth Godin and his “purple cow effect” theory. In PR you don’t care as much about a regular cow that produces the best milk in the world. It’s a much better story and attention grabber when you find a “purple cow” because it’s simply unordinary.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I used to read a lot of books, but lately I’ve slowed down a little. I find YouTube, podcasts more relevant as our behavioral patterns are changing so rapidly. I do like Simon Sinek, Seth Godin, and Tony Robbins. I personally like how they think outside the box and tackle problems from a different angle. Tony’s messages help me focus and stay on track as there are a lot of struggle to starting your own business.
Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
At the moment MIKOL will make donations to more environmental causes. But if I had time, I would love to bring proper education throughout the world, especially to less fortunate families. I believe we can make the world a better place through education. Through proper education you not only gain knowledge, inspire innovation but also learn good morals and values.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1. Networking: We all know and hear the word networking. But to really find the right people to work with and grow together. I have been lucky enough to meet a lot of people. But what would have really helped was someone to tell me who to network with. Whether you need exposure, or you need freelance help to grow your company as a startup. It is so much faster to focus on who you need to work with than just meeting random people trying to sell you something.
2. Hardwork: Especially in PR, you are competing with millions of people and companies trying to get the same attention. You have to be personable, really figure out how to make yourself standout from the crowd. Journalists receive thousands of emails, if you’re just a bot message, you’ll most likely be ignored.
3. Don’t be afraid of change: With the internet, everything is happening so fast. What worked last year may not work this year. Keep learning, adjusting and seeing what works. Analyze your data and focus on that rather than your gut.
4. Be bold: You will face a ton of rejection! But keep trying! All you need is a few good ones to build up that momentum. And when that dies, you find something new! Keep growing
5. Have fun! 90% of business struggle and there is always a hardship to it. So have fun, make the best of it so you can power through those tough times.