Peacock with Sunga Style!
Jeff Gum is the Founder of Sunga Life.
Sunga Life brings the hottest in patriotic bathing suit designs with a Brazilian flair. They also offer accessories such as sunglasses, headbands, and fanny packs.
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Welcome to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, Founder and CEO of UpMyInfluence.com. We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. stick around to the end of the show, we're all reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go.
Alright with us right now, we've got Jeffrey gum, Jeff, you are the founder of Sunga Life, which is a clothing brand was it's a Brazilian swim Brazilian swimwear line, and it's themed with patriotism and freedom. So well first off, welcome. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank
you. Thank you. It's awesome being interviewed by fellow Navy So that's very exciting today. Yeah,
yep. Yep. All right. So for someone who doesn't know, explain Brazilian swimwear, what does that mean?
So I was actually down in Brazil with the Gracie family. I trained Jiu Jitsu for a long time and I'm down there and I saw everybody wearing this Brazilian swimmer called syngas. And I thought they just they just looked amazing, super comfortable. They're almost like a hybrid between shorts and a speedo. And then after experiencing them, I'd say they have the benefits of both and none of the weaknesses. You get better suntan, so dry off super fast. And so I was talking to a Brazilian girl. I was like, Oh, I think I want to get some of these singers. They seem really cool. And she goes, Oh, I think they're so sexy on men. And I'm like, Alright, so I went and bought bought a bunch of them and started wearing them all over and just had kind of the best experiences super comfortable. And I just felt really free as it was and then I'm like, you know what this is? I want to share this with the rest To the US cuz I feel like they're missing out. Yeah.
And yeah, so clearly like men's swimwear. Now obviously there's the zoom guns which are a little bit more, you know, they're, they're, you know, they're definitely going to show off a little bit more of the upper thigh or whatever. And but you're absolutely right like most men's, like if you're just getting like swimming trunks, right? They're just the most horrible fabric. It's, they generally never fit very well.
Then you go you get wet and you're just walking around in a soggy pair of shorts and nobody Yeah, that kind of what they do in Brazil. They were so they it's a lot of beach towns, Rio de Janeiro. Everyone just wears board shorts throughout the day. So you don't want be at the beach, getting sandy beach getting wet, and then be wearing the same shorts throughout the day. So a lot of times they'll have sunglasses on underneath. Then they'll take the board shorts off, they'll get in the water, they'll get that better son, they'll dry off real fast. Yeah. And they'll get the boardshorts back on and, and doesn't get much better.
Yeah, I seriously, I don't know what so I don't understand what's wrong with swimwear for men in the United States, but it's terrible.
They started showing it to all my friends. Some of them were a little bit skeptical at first, but they're like, Alright, I'll try it, I'll support you. And then they're like, these are the best things ever. I can't believe how boardshorts all my life, you can swim way, way better, like go and swim with dolphins or sea turtles. And I'm just feel so free and streamlined. Yeah. Follow me. So
I never wear conventional swim. You know, swim bottoms, right? I don't even know what to call them. Right? I usually just wear like my running shorts because it's at least a little bit better than theirs. Alright, so you're up. Go ahead. So, again, so the fabric is a little bit different.
Yeah, it's it's a light bulb. You know, it's almost what like Lulu lemon pants would be. But a real real like drying or even like bikini bikini material or, and but all like, sublimated I created my own camera pattern or your camera that pays homage to the original frogmen, the UDT that were clearing the beaches in Normandy and he would Jima and I put little tridents in it and everything in like a subtle way to kind of pay pay respects to them. And
yeah, okay, so when did you come up with this? How long ago was this? You came up with the idea.
So I was down in Brazil probably almost five years ago, and, and just started wearing them all over. And then I was like, I was starting to transition out of the Navy. I was. I was teaching combatives for the seal teams at the time. And I was looking I'd always been drawn entrepreneurship. And I was like, Oh, I think I want to create a company create the first American soon good company. Making based on based on freedom and and share, share that. And so I ended up creating my first minimally viable product. It was two different scenarios one was a shark and diver single from when I went free diving with ocean Ramzi and in Hawaii, she, she has like, does all this conservation and shark conservation and fell in love with sharks and then created the loud mouth patriot design as well, which is kind of an American flag math where he's just, uh, just real patriotic and created these two and started selling them but things were slower. I didn't have powerful social media at the time. We're not even hardly supposed to have social media in the seal teams. Yeah. So you know, it couldn't, but it had I had some friends who were who were influencers are doing, whether it's jujitsu or whatever, and just started having friends where, and then start creating other products that go along with the brand Created The Patriot shades, which has his polarized and floating bamboo sunglasses that had the laser engraved stars and stripes on the side. Different headbands that went with it. And sometimes if you're only wearing assume, do you need something to carry your stuff? So it's funny Baywatch, VA fanny packs, and then start creating silkies and board shorts and my own camo patterns and just went from there. And yeah.
Alright, so how did you break out? Like how did it sound like it was rude like you kind of looked around, you're like, well, this person I do have a friend. They've got a few you know, they got a decent audience on social sound like you had a few people that you knew like that that probably helped.
And it was it was kind of perfect for bootstrapping at the same time because I'll just basically self funded the company with my bonus I received and I and in Iraq in 2010, two things Thousand 11 I re enlisted I got a $60,000 bonus while I was in Fallujah. And then I invested that and I use part of that to fund funds the company in the beginning, I didn't have a ton of money to be doing all this advertising or even paying people. But uh, I just kind of leveraged the relationships I developed with different Jiu Jitsu or MMA friends or veteran influencers. We just give away product they would, they would, they would wear it, then I would, I would feature them on my page and it started it started growing. Then I then I had different veteran veteran friends who are girls as well and they would just be wearing their own kind of bikinis with it and have the headbands or have the fanny packs, and I saw the engagement was kind of higher with them. Fancy that people like the kidneys so bad, but uh but They Yeah, so I just started I was like you know what I need to make bikinis now and and I already have all these unique patterns and and just kind of made the typical triangle bikini and a string bikini and and start featuring my own patterns with that because a lot of girls were actually reaching out I love your patterns are so cool flamingos and peacocks and camo I love them all. I wish I had a bikini like that. And then then in like four months, my social media doubled almost up to like 100,000 sheesh, though, and my girlfriend she had about 2000 followers at the time, and I made her and then a year later she had 100,000 and then and then two months after that now she has 205,000
so that's unreal. Yeah. So look at that Sangha life. It's so it's soon good life on GRAEME, you have nearly 100,000 followers.
Yeah. Let me check out some of the engagement. Yeah,
People like people like biggie. Nice. All right. All right. So let's say that someone's starting their own clothing line someone's starting their own kind of consumer product line. Like what are the What did the conversation sound like when you're talking with someone that has a decent social media audience? How do you how do you get them to promote something and not want to charge you like 510 grand for that? Yes, you don't have it. It's at
In the beginning it was it was leveraging my my relationships with them. It would be warm introductions. Like my friend Artemis. he's a he's a like he's a bodybuilder and he has almost 600,000 and my friend Nick Santa stuff. So he was friends with my friend Kyle
and we met and
I gave him some of my stuff. He just started wearing it. He loved it. He he introduced me to Artemis. We just went out to dinner together. I was shown Artemis. He's like, oh, man, this is so cool. I want to I want to wear all your stuff. It's perfect. It's perfect for bodybuilding and everything. So I gave him a bunch of stuff. And then at this point, it's an asset in itself, too. Oh, yeah. He's, you know, definitely much bigger. But I've 100,000 myself. So every time I see, I see people who had been following me who had more than military connection and followed it because of that, now they're following Artemis. And then I got tons of the bodybuilder and guys who are real fit, following him all coming over to my, to my side as well. So it's all you know, thing where we're stronger, stronger together. And,
and so yeah, I found a picture of Artemis here on your Instagram. Yeah, he's pretty. He's pretty big. That's great. Um, so then I would imagine, do you do paid advertising.
So I just started maybe six weeks ago and it and it's been, it's been great I'm having maybe, at this point $10 for purchase for purchase cost, my average purchase is between 75 and $80. So there's some really solid ROI on. And then the thing that's great with that is the lookalike audiences. So you can basically scale it up as high as you want. I'm doing about $70 right now. And a lot of my, a lot of my sales still come from Google or SEO, and just social media, which is which is free and I'm doing at this point between like 1000 to 1300, and sales a day of Yes, whatever.
And, but, uh,
as just wait, say that again, way. I how much how much are you doing today?
1000 to 1300
a day. gratulations. That's great. Thank you.
Yeah, it's probably up almost to almost double From from a month before, and and I'd say probably even some of that isn't isn't necessarily tracked. It's probably even more that are coming over from Facebook because yeah, people might see it on their phone or Instagram and then they go to their desktop to buy it. Just because it can be a little easier to check out sometimes. Uh huh. Or, or Yeah, and big thing I did, too. I started pushing way more to my website. I I was selling last summer. It was more Amazon I probably was up 1010 to 12,000 on Amazon a mom No kidding when? Maybe 8000 on my website.
Uh huh. Which is better for you?
website is hundred times better because it's almost all revenue. And yeah, Amazon for me was kind of a profit destroyer, as well as people would return stuff. That wouldn't even be my product. And I was having major issues with that. No, I'm keeping my product on Amazon a few of my best sellers. Yeah. pulling, pulling off of there now that I also knew that Amazon was cannibalizing my website sales, so people were finding the product on social media or through other influencers. Yeah, checking out my website, then going to Amazon, seeing it was kind of a little easier to buy through just because Amazon they have all your information, and they buy it through there. And then my margin would just get kind of destroyed when they would have purchased it through my website. So now I only have a few of my best sellers on Amazon. And then, so I still get organic sales through there, but for the most part, it's it's coming through my website, which is ensuring and because Amazon they take all their fees before they even send you the money. So you might have thousand dollars in sales on Amazon. And your revenue from that will be six or $600.
So do you mind sharing a little bit about like how you work with influencers today? Like what what does those one of those conversations sound like?
Yeah, really today it's a
it's I've kind of made my brand and asset at the same time. So and it's kind of a really like if you can kind of pick a product that you're going to go for. It can be it can be a random product that when an influencer is going to use it. It's obviously this is an ad, like, Oh, this is my favorite soda. I'm gonna drink it's obviously an ad. But if they're they're doing what they do anyway in a bikini or a cool pair of shorts. It's just super natural for them. It doesn't feel like an ad Yeah,
right, and asset
at the same time, plus, they're representing For me, they're representing a brand that stands for freedom support it supports other veteran foundations and is super unique with all the unique peacock and Flamingo and camo patterns and everything so it's not and so that that was kind of a strategy I had I want to create and it makes it super authentic for me at the same time, I basically have just been creating things I wanted, although, and not necessarily looking for the thing that is going to you know, sell, sell, sell best, I don't know where might be the easiest market to penetrate. Trying to change the whole swimmer industry in the US might not necessarily be the easiest thing to do. But uh, but it's what I was passionate about, and was super authentic for me and I just started creating things I wanted and, and people it really resonated with a lot of people
yeah So the the arrangement that you'll typically do with an influencer? I mean, it's wonderful when you don't have to spend a whole lot of money. So I think you have a few advantages in that, like, Listen, this isn't just clothes, you can buy a Walmart or whatever I mean, we're, we're part of something a little bit bigger, like, you know, this is a movement. So what's that term? Gosh, I'm not thinking of what it is. But you know, when you know, there's value purpose, you've got a mission behind what you do. It's cause marketing. That's what it is, like you've got a cause to what you do. So it's a lot easier to find if you can find people who share your cause. And they happen to have an audience as well, like if they believe in what you're doing, and that's a really, really great way to create a great win win together.
And it's been amazing. I've found some of my best friends through social media now. I've had amazing friends I already kind of but then my friend Rudy Reyes, who is a founder of the forest blue team. He was a he was a recon scout sniper marine. He had been hunting Bin Ladin right after 911. He was the first recon marine unit into Baghdad. He was one of the snipers for delta, like covering Delta Force at Blackwater bridge in Fallujah. And then he got out of the Marines and start as himself on HBO show generation kill. He did some contracting for a while after that, and then he felt he didn't have as much of a purpose anymore, and he was in a dark place. But then he was diving and he saw the coral reef and saw the coral reefs were being destroyed. And he any found a new purpose. He's like, I want to fight for this coral reef, the way I have been fighting for, you know, freedom and all these people that can't that can't defend themselves in these other countries. So then he started Diving and created a whole team of people who were saving the coral reef work working with scientists and researchers, triaging the reef and bringing it back creating these farms. And now is funded by the state of Florida because it's an $8 billion industry in Florida people going and diving on these reeds and they're being decimated down there, though, and now he he had seen single life and thought it was amazing and reached out to me. And then we went did a workout and became basically best friends. And now I'm part of the force blue team and the team is diving in my swim were just like they were fighting. They were fighting overseas wearing camo, now they're fighting wearing the naked warrior camo as they're saving the reefs. You people don't realize these coral reefs make over 50% of our oxygen they make up like point 02 percent of the ocean floor and they are literally anyone can google it right now. Over 50 50% of our oxygen comes from the coral reefs. And if we don't do anything, they can be destroyed by the year 2050. Yeah. And so yeah, pretty amazing. And then the adaptive training Foundation which Dave Bora is the founder of and he was an NFL linebacker that start training spinal cord injury and amputee veterans out of Dallas, Texas and I went out and taught some adaptive combative seminars with my friend Kyle Maynard and we were teaching the guys how to defend yourselves If anyone tries to attack you. And and then a gave gave them a bunch of the silkies and everything with the with the ATF logo on it and all that so pretty does try to connect with as many like amazing foundations as as possible.
I love it. All right. Well, Jeff gum, you're the founder of Sunga. And you're on the web at SungaLife.com that's S U N G A life.com I'll just say right now, if you're listening to us you go to SungaLife.com you'll probably enjoy the the Instagram I was gonna joke a we got some pretty unattractive people that flocked to your product. But Jeff, this is wonderful. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for the causes that you support. It definitely just builds a just a really attractive brand, because of all the things that that that you support and the people that you affiliate with that are all about making the world better. So thank you so much for joining us. I really, really appreciate it.
Thank Thank you. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.
Yeah, I've been very fortunate I kind of the way I set my company up is that it's been thriving in an uncertain environment like this because of kind of setting it up to rely on the technology and being remote as it was. So all of a sudden, when this when this happened. than that it was a it didn't slow down it actually picked up. So brilliant.
Thanks so much, Jeff. Awesome. Have a great day. Okay, you too.
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