Hi everyone, and welcome to the first Milk Jelli newsletter!
Whether you’re here from shopping at our store, finding us online, or via one of our influencer collab drops, we are so grateful for all of you and hope to use this weekly email to bring you all a little more into the inner workings of our world.
Since this is the first email, it only makes sense to start by sharing the story of how Milk Jelli came to be! It all started during the pandemic. The original idea for Milk Jelli started with Founder Roshan (that’s me!), and Creative Director Courtney. Looking back three years later, it almost feels surreal.
At the time, we were mostly operating out of uncertainty. The beginning of the pandemic felt like a scramble to figure out how it would effect our existing business where we worked together, but by the end of the pandemic things were starting to shift. Courtney had used her time at home to rekindle her love of content creation and fuse it together with her lifelong love of anime by making TikToks. I remember the moment her platform blew up after creating a catchy Fairy Tale video where she joked she would only walk down the aisle to the Fairy Tale theme song. As a creative and mental health advocate, I had seen her immerse herself in project after project despite many difficulties, and it was so exciting to finally see something take off in a big way for her.
(I’m definitely simplifying this part of the story since it’s not my lived experience, so perhaps in a future email she will come on and share more details of her experience with you all!)
While Courtney was working from home learning the ropes of Tiktok, I had just received an aggressive cancer diagnosis that left me reassessing every part of my life. I had two children and was working 50 hours a week in-person and at-home trying to build and support our family business. While I was grateful for my life and all the choices I had made up to that point, there was very little adventure and creative freedom to pursue my own passions in my life. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but I made myself a promise that if I lived through this, I would make the best of the life I had left by taking bigger chances and dedicating time to my creativity even when it felt impossible.
By the grace All that Is and Ever Will Be, I was connected to an incredible surgeon who agreed to operate during the height of the pandemic and do an aggressive 12 hour surgery along with radiation therapy. Three weeks of recovery time is a lot of time for an entrepreneur to sit still, and I spent a lot of time thinking about what I loved and remembered about myself as a child. The key takeaways I remembered were:
1) How much I loved writing letters as a kid with the Kawaii stationary my dad brought home from a work trip to Singapore.
2) My first trip to a Sanrio store.
3) How cool I thought Lip Smackers and old school Bath & Body Works was.
4) How weird everyone thought my love of metal, Kawaii and anime was.
5) Honestly there’s like 10 more things but this email is getting crazy long…
Our very first meeting back in the office, I told Courtney I was ready to do something different. It was time for us to take all the things we loved and cared about, and turn it into a bath and body line for people just like us. We launched in April 2022; all our dreams were coming true!! Everything was so cute and just perfect.
Except it wasn’t. I’m not going to lie, the beginning was rough. No one was buying. I was ready to give up 100 times, but I KNEW there was an audience who would appreciate what we offer; we just weren’t getting in front of them. At the end of August I went to the Boise Towne Square mall to fix my iPhone and walked by the empty Body Shop space. The rest is honestly history. Within days I had formulated the plans in my head and felt confident I could create the retail space of my childhood dreams, AND make it cash flow. Anime and kawaii were becoming mainstream; the market was ready, and I had years of experience working in the different aspects of wholesale and retail to make it work. Somehow it all came together and the first Milk Jelli retail store was born as a holiday pop-up. If it paid the bills I was happy, but since then the brand has grown so much that our vision continues to evolve.
Courtney and my creative vision is as strong as ever, and in addition to all the new products you’ve seen us release this year we will be launching four more collections by the end of 2023 including: stationery, makeup, sheet masks, and another bath and body collection. We hope to open two more stores in Salt Lake City and Denver in 2024, and we got into our dream retailer, Urban Outfitters.
We are still a long way from meeting our full potential as we put in the daily work to get there, but things are finally coming together into the magical vision we had hoped for.
Thank you for reading this long story, and thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for being a Milk Jelli customer. We are so grateful for all of you because none of this would be happening without you. We hope that we can continue to provide you the most magical experience possible, whether it’s in our stores or in the comfort of your own homes.
In future emails I’ll share more about our different products, team and the creative process behind everything. Signing off, just for now!
To the future,