The story of Pela begins on a beach in Hawaii in 2010. Founder, Jeremy Lang was vacationing with his family when he noticed his son had dug something up in the sand. Upon closer inspection, he realized it was a piece of plastic the sea had washed on shore. The moment stuck with him and got Jeremy thinking about the larger issue. How could he be a part of the environmental solution, reducing waste in our planet’s oceans?
Fast forward a few years and Pela was born with the mission, “to make sustainable, eco-friendly products the new normal,” specifically cell phone cases. From that fateful moment on the beach, Jeremy spent years trying to find an alternative to plastic that could be used in everyday products. Fortunately, he found it.
Founded in community, creativity, consciousness, and courage — Pela offers phone cases and other eco-friendly products that make the world a better and more sustainable place.
Coming up with a ground-breaking eco-friendly product was only half the battle. Pela also had to sell that product and enact real change. There seemed to be more questions than answers when scaling this brand.
How could Pela empower customers to buy multiple phone cases when traditionally a person only buys one for the lifetime of the device? How could the process be as seamless as possible so customers would share their findings with others to create a network of referrals? What other brands could Pela partner with to create a sustainability team?
The Pela team shifted their focus to awareness and distribution. The solution was a membership model, the Collective, to not only grow members in the program, but to also increase engagement as much as possible with existing customers.
"Creating a membership program allows us to engage with our biggest fans at an even deeper level. We can get quick feedback on launches and provide even more value to excite the customers who are most aligned with our company's mission."
Growth Marketer, Pela
The Pela team knew what had to be done so they set a plan to build the foundation for scalable growth. The first challenge was actually building their planned membership model which meant the limited in-house development team had a massive task at hand. Pulling inspiration from the MeUndies model, they immediately got to work.
Membership models are built to be flexible and offer customers any sort of benefits a merchant wants. The program was going to take some time, and there was a world of opportunities when determining the benefits.
Once the actual build had been completed, they shifted their focus to awareness. The age old adage, “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t exactly apply to ecommerce brands - customers have to know what you offer amidst a sea of ads from other brands.
Marketing, partnerships, and sales are large parts of the equation that don’t just show up once the process is built. The next and most important hurdle is creating partnerships.
Pela partnered with Save the Waves and Surfrider Foundation to create engravings and limited edition products that drove customers towards the Collective. With multiple organizations all working towards the same goal, it would be achieved faster.
First and foremost, Pela determined the benefits of the Collective. For a mere $4.95 per month, they would offer 30% off all orders, free return shipping, priority access to new products and members-only products, in addition to a $5 credit to a subscriber’s account that can be saved and spent at will.
The partnership angle was working as well. Between Pela, Save the Waves, Surfrider Foundation, and a separate venture called Pela vision, customers were buying into the value proposition, “reducing carbon emissions, water usage, and overall waste production.”
The product clearly has market fit. People are interested in an eco-friendly phone case alternative, as well as a company that lives by their values and is connected with impactful partnerships.
The early response to the Collective paid off, Pela gathered over 7,000 new customers in their first 2 months since launch. Additionally, Pela subscribers can expect a special surprise at the 6 month mark for being loyal to the cause.
"It’s exciting to extend our sites into the world of subscription ecommerce, which allows us to take advantage of the growing recurring revenue ecosystem. We’ve seen a stabilization in our revenue forecasting, and it’s been fantastic growing our LTV."
Director of Technology, Pela