JJ Resnick explains how stories have been at the heart of his eCommerce success (episode 258)

JJ Resnick is the founder of multiple 7-figure brands, including the Moscow Copper Co–the creators of the famous Moscow Mule cocktail. JJ’sjoining us to talk about some of the brands he’s built, and how story has been central to success in each case.

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About JJ

  • Exceeded six figures monthly in revenue within 12 months with his first company
  • Builds brands around a central story
  • Has broken the components of story down into easy to follow actionable steps
  • Recently launched a new venture aimed at creating partnerships with budding entrepreneurs

Getting Started

JJ’s start in eCommerce, he says, was a bit of a fluke. In 2010, he was planning on making his living as a professional golfer but was unable to continue his path due to a knee injury.

Even though he wasn’t necessarily planning on being a business owner at the time, JJ says he’s always had an entrepreneurial mind. From selling sunglasses to his classmates in grade school to stashing money in his pillowcase as a kid, JJ was never far from his next business idea. While he was recovering from his injury and trying to figure out his next move, he had an unexpected encounter that would ultimately lead him to his first online business.

One night at a party, JJ was speaking with an old friend who had recently returned to the United States after active duty in Afghanistan. Like many service men and women returning from the Middle East, JJ’s friend has sustained multiple injuries and was struggling to adjust to civilian life. The one thing that was helping him succeed in his rehabilitation was his service dog, who he relied on daily.

The problem was that a lack of education and awareness about the role of service dogs meant that JJ’s friend and his dog were being kicked out of public places and businesses daily. JJ felt strongly that this was unjust treatment and together with his partner, launched the brand Service Dog Registration of America. The company quickly became a pioneer in the industry of identification items for service dogs.

The project, which started as a side gig ended up exceeding $10,000 in sales in the first month. JJ had no experience in eCommerce but they were able to grow to 6 figures monthly and by the time he sold the business, they had increased sales to $300,000 in sales monthly. When the business began attracting customers looking for an easy way to pass their pet off as a service animal, JJ felt it was time to move on. 

Moscow Copper Company

JJ’s next business was inspired by his own heritage. Not everyone can say that their Grandmother invented a famous cocktail, but JJ isn’t everyone.

A lucky set of synchronicities made it possible for JJ’s Russian immigrant grandmother Sophie—who was tasked with selling her father’s unsuccessful copper mugs in America— to connect with a then flailing Smirnoff distillery owner and the owner at the Cock n’ Bull pub, who was trying to get people to buy his ginger beer.

Together, the three flailing business owners came together to craft a drink that has become an American favorite.

During a business trip in China, some copper mugs caught JJ’s eye and reminded him of the story as well as the original Moscow Mule copper mug his grandmother had passed on to him.

He decided it was the perfect opportunity to get out of the dog business and continue the family legacy. The mugs he saw in China didn’t have the heft or quality of the aged mug he had a home and he set about finding the perfect manufacturer to do justice to his history.

JJ says that even though he knew next to nothing about manufacturing, he just dove in with everything he had to make the Moscow Copper Company a success. 

The Importance of the Story.

Surprisingly, the Moscow Mule Story has been more critical for the success of that business than the story of his friend was to the success of Dog Registration of America.

JJ says that the service dog products were a necessity for those customers, but getting people to invest in buying a high-quality copper mug over lots of less expensive, lower-quality alternatives was more of a challenge. Engaging customers with the story of his Grandmother and the science of real copper was critically important to getting customers to buy.

JJ says the single most important thing he’s learned during his years of building high profile, high revenue companies is that relationships remain the most important and effective way to grow revenue. Storytelling is the best way to engage with the human emotions that dictate people’s actions.

Ultimately, they lead to better understanding, trust, comprehension and more. He points out that we use fables to teach important ideas to our kids and engage most emotionally through stories. Stories allow empathy and empathy creates trust. According to JJ, building a unique brand story is the single most important thing any business can do.

JJs Story Top Tips

  • Your story is not about your company—it needs to be centered around your customer and the value they receive engaging with or using your product or service. 
  • Your customer is the hero in your story and you (or your product/service) are the guide leading them to success
  • A story is broken down into three main parts:
  1. Problem
  2. Solution to the Problem 
  3. Success. 

Get Started Creating Your Story

Always start with WHY

  • Why do we exist?
  • How do we contribute to the world?
  • What is our mission?
  • What motivated me to start my business?

Often brand stories are the outcome of an individual who couldn’t find what they were looking for and how they filled that gap.

More Story Guidelines

  • Your story should be simple
  • Your story should have a problem solution and success
  • Your story must connect with your customer
  • Customers should buy a piece of the story—not just a product from you.
  • Give your customer permission to share your story

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Find the leading publication for your niche and do whatever it takes for them to write an editorial piece on your brand.  Key is to make sure it reads like a true editorial and not an advertorial

Tool Top Tip

  • Blinkist—allows you to get all the key points from a book in 15 minutes

Growth Top Tip

  • Eliminate distraction of everything promising overnight results. Pick your favourite platform and focus on creating a lot of quality content. Create Create Create! Simplify that down to one platform and you’ll be successful.

Interview Links

Related episodes

  • Violent Little Machine Shop’s Yanne Root “Be unapologetically you” the power of the personal brand
  • Maison Rustic’s Georgina Hustler how and why she’s taken her physical stores into eCommerce – it’s all brand
  • Beard Brand’s Eric Bandholz on growing to a 7-figure turnover since 2013. By delivering on a vision

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