Founded in 2016, Sweet P Social is a tech platform that connects brands and innovative creatives all around the world. The reason why Doone Roisin and Pierre-Antoine de Preux, a perfect mix of a playful heart and a forever-growth mindset, decided to launch the company is that they wanted to capitalise on all the knowledge that they had gained from content creation to distribution, and then reflect that on the actual brand. A few months ago, they also started their new adventures, th-ty Studios – A jewellery brand that offers fancy styles for women who want to buy something to spoil themselves, without an expensive price tag. Recently, their hard work earned a feature on the Vogue Australia.
So, Doone and Pierre talk to us about the secrets behind their successful customer engagement strategy; explain what causes them anxiety attacks and what they do to make the situation better; and point out what’s the proper way of power napping in order to maximise productivity.
What is your typical work schedule like?
Pierre: For us, we run multiple businesses at the same time and all of them are being run internationally. So, we don’t really have much of a fixed schedule like 9-to-5 working hours for both businesses. For example, if you look at Sweet P Social, we’ve got the IT support team in Australia, which means we may have to work with them in the middle of the night when needed.
Doone: I think we’ve built businesses that allow us to have the freedom to run our schedule with our own terms. Sometimes, if we have a friend who is in town, we’re able to have that freedom to catch up with them. As Pierre mentioned before, it also means there may be times when we may have to work until midnight, like we both were up until 2 last night to launch a new collection for th-ty Studios.
Pierre: I think the only thing that we’re tied by is physical meetings, otherwise everything is online. But everything we do contributes to 95 percent of the success of our company on a daily basis. Having said that, the work itself doesn’t feel like work, which is awesome.
Doone: Honestly, I don’t feel like we work all the time. For me, with the jewellery brand, I’m always on Instagram engaging with our community, such as constantly chatting with customers about which style suits them.
What are your tips on building a successful customer engagement strategy?
Doone: I think what makes th-ty so special is the really high touch; we spend a lot of time engaging with our actual customers. Sometimes, they come to us on our Instagram’s page and they’ll be like, ‘Oh I love this necklace so much!’. We start interacting with such customers and soon we develop relationships with these people, who we have never met before, and we know they buy our jewellery every month.
Pierre: Just engaging with them. That’s all that matters.
Doone: I received a message from a girl yesterday. It was one of those moments where I was really proud of what I’m doing. She said to me, ‘I just wanted to thank you for creating beautiful jewellery at affordable prices. I’m in a long-distance relationship with someone who has often mentioned that it sucks because he can’t afford to gift me that he thinks I deserve, which I think is ridiculous. And then, he found out how fond I was of your mermaid collection and gifted it to me. It really meant a ton for our relationship and I cherish these earrings and necklaces more than anything I’ve ever bought for myself.’ It’s really sweet.
I think people feel the need to share their story because they know we have such a personal touch on our Instagram community. They also know it’s us running behind it and not some well-known big brands trying to push their dollars.
Pierre: And you’ll see every package we ship is packed with a handwritten note. I mean, we’re really trying to get as close to our customer as we can, and find something for them that they feel they are treating themselves with, that too at an affordable price!
Have you ever burnt out before?
Doone: I think we have definitely burnt out in the past where we have gotten into habits of working too much, to a point where we were not enjoying what we were doing every day, and we’ve had to take a step back. But I think it’s pretty common with every young entrepreneur, isn’t it?
Pierre: Yeah, we really did. So, I guess this is where I decided to get less exposure to people who have crazy success. For example, when we went to the phase of raising money, I was following 20 different entrepreneurs and all of them managed to raise 300 million or more than that. But then, when I’d compare our situation to theirs, I was like, ‘Why am I not doing this?’ This sort of thing is what really pushes you further down in downward spirals of, I am not doing well.
For me, the depression and feeling bad about myself mainly came from comparing myself to others and feeling that I did not do enough. But the reality was totally different. If I look at 99 percent of the people around the world, we’re taking steps that will allow us to achieve more than other people. It just takes time.
Doone: And I think when we’ve gone through periods of time where we haven’t been in the best position, that’s when we’ve been like, ‘Okay, we need to find a balance within ourselves to be able to live our life happily and successfully.’
How do you deal with burn out?
Doone: How did we deal with it? Communication – Talk about what we need to change and take the steps to change it.
Pierre: I’d say find the problem and solve it.
Doone: Yeah and then figure out a way of solving the problem. But I think more practical ways are definitely working out… I know it sounds really cliché. (Laughs) For a man, I think that would be a big difference.
Pierre: Definitely all the clichés of drinking less alcohol.
Doone: And a healthy diet.
Pierre: But for me, social media was really one of the things that was poisoning my mindset the most. So, limiting your time on social media helps. If you’re already doing all these things we mentioned, I personally think you’re in a better place. The other two things you must do are, look back at your goals and find people who are more uplifting.
Also, when you talk to someone and they say things like, ‘Oh! You still haven’t done this?’ or ‘What? You didn’t make 10 grands in sales last month?’ Instead of, ‘Are you happy with your business?, try your best to reduce exposure to such people. They really suck all of your good energy.
Being a “no” person is also important to me. We go to events a lot, and we were often in situations where we were not eating the food that we would normally eat and were drinking more alcohol than we would otherwise. You really need to strip those kinds of things out of your life and say no, because you need to take care of yourself and keep your health as a priority.
Do you suffer any mental illness? How do you smooth an anxiety attack?
Doone: I’m naturally an anxious person especially when I have any caffeine in the morning. So, when I have an anxiety attack, I take a bottle of lavender oil and smell it. But I think anxiety also comes in phases; sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less.
Breathing is the main thing when you have anxiety because my natural breathing habit is to be quite shallow. I’m don’t really breathe properly, which means the stress hormone cortisol is a bit high in my body.
Pierre: For me, it’s funny because I never had anything resembling any depression or anxiety before 18 months. I just couldn’t relate to it at all. I was never really worried about the future because I was just on a path of hitting it as hard as I could.
Doone: Go as hard as you can.
Pierre: But I think, I could slowly relate more and more with them, especially in the last year. I started feeling a bit depressed or anxious, but definitely, there were days when I couldn’t breathe as well as I normally used to. I guess that was the first episode of an anxiety attack, even though it was not dramatic.
But recently, I have realised that every single person I have ever looked up to also has the same issues. All of my friends who have extremely successful start-ups have terrible anxiety attacks.
Doone: You just need things that help you make your situation better, which could be lavender oil or something that helps you remain calm. I haven’t used the Calm app, but I have used Headspace before; they have guided meditations for like 10 minutes and they’re super easy.
Any tips on making a day the most productive?
Doone: Well, I think drinking loads of water is a really important one because sometimes I forget to drink water and my brain doesn’t function resulting in me not being able to work properly, when, in fact, I’m really just dehydrated.
Pierre: You could use a notebook. But in terms of tools, I just started using this plug-in called Google Keep. It’s great for making lists and tasks and is tied to the Gmail account.
Doone: I also listen to a lot of podcasts that are focused around the things that keep me inspired such as ‘Unfu*k Your Brain’ by Kara Loewentheil – She is a life coach who always gives you a lot of advice on how to keep your brain productive. In one of her podcasts, she mentioned that your brain can really keep only three tasks in front of your mind all the time. So, when someone tells you to do something, it actually just goes in and out, unless you have a structure to your day with the list of things that you need to accomplish. If you don’t do so, you will not be able to mentally keep a note of your tasks and they will never be ticked off your list.
There’s another great podcast called ‘Masters of Scale’ by Reid Hoffman, the Co-founder of Linked-in. He talks a lot about how businesses scale. I find my days are a lot more productive and motivated by listening to podcasts.
Pierre: When you do have the motivation for your day, having a bit more of a structure would help you be more productive. At least this is what works for me, as I’m a very much structured person, lists, excel, data, all of this stuff.
Doone: He is the analytics guy. Not me. I am the creative one here. (Laughs)
Pierre: We use things tools as Freedcamp, Asana, Monday.com for project management, but we haven’t found the one that we love yet. Of course, Dura is the ultimate product management for developers for anything related to technology, but it has a lot of functionalities that make it too complicated. I’ve got to log in, create a new task, lodge a ticket, explain and then put in a project…
Doone: It’s just too much. Too much admin!
Pierre: But in all fairness, for me, what works the best is just a pen and a piece of paper. A little notepad where every single day I write my to-do list and the three or four major tasks that I really need to do.
How do you motivate yourself to work when you’re not really in the mood?
Doone: If you’re not feeling it, it’s better not to push it. I mean, we’re lucky because we run our own business, so we can make those choices, which is quite different from those working in a corporate environment.
You have to understand why you don’t want to do it at that moment, and then figure out how to prioritise it. Maybe it’s really boring? If this is the case, you should focus on the stuff that you really enjoy doing. The boring tasks shouldn’t be left until the end of the day, because then you will surely put it off to the next day. I still do this sometimes. No one is perfect.
Pierre: Another really practical tip on this is to outsource the tasks you don’t want to do as much as possible. For example, you’ve got to find a new office but you’re so busy travelling that you can’t find the time for it. You can literally go on Upwork who will do all that for you for only £10-20 per hour. I do that so many times. That’s a new trend – Everyone who runs their own business does this.
I think it’s about finding a way to progress the task. If you’re basically going to keep putting it off and you’re not going to do it, find another way to progress the task, rather than just never doing it.
Doone: And you just need to think, is that cost more valuable to spend than my time? Chances are it is better to pay the cost and be like, ‘Done. Off the list.’
What are your effective ways to boost energy at work?
Doone: The simple one is, water. Keep hydrated.
Pierre: Or a coffee break.
Doone: Having green tea is great as well. Because it’s a slower release of energy, versus coffee which is more like an instant hit of energy. What else?
Pierre: I think whether it’s water, tea or coffee you just stand off your desk, walk for 10 meters, 20 meters, then add the most energy boosting item, which for me is coffee. I can drink coffee a second before going to bed. I’ve got no problem.
Doone: I can’t do that. If you’re lucky enough to be able to make your own schedule and you’re feeling a bit sluggish, you can do a yoga class or go for a run, and then that will naturally pick up your energy because you’ll have endorphins to keep you going. It’s about finding what works for you and then sticking to that.
Pierre: Obviously, this is a bit harder if you work in a corporate office. But for me, especially during university, I developed the capacity to take power naps, where I can put 6 minutes on the timer on my phone and literally sleep.
Doone: He does it all the time. I can’t do it.
Pierre: If I’m really tired, I have a coffee, but makes no difference. Whereas 6 minutes literally can change the day. It’s easy. When I used to work in finance, I couldn’t do it either on the floor or desk, because people would be like, ‘What the heck? But you can go to the bathroom.’
Doone: It’s too obvious when you are sleeping on the desk.
Pierre: I don’t really listen to music or anything. I fall asleep because I’m in the habit of doing it now. But I feel like that’s where people go wrong with power naps. They try power napping and do 20 minutes. And they’d put pressure on themselves and would be like, ‘There are only 12 minutes left.’ So, you’ve got no chance of really doing it.
What I do is, I think about a place that I’m the most comfortable in such as bathtub. And then, I will be imagining I’m in that and doing nothing for the next five, six minutes.
Doone: And not being on your phone.